The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Full Interview on the Current Situation and the Future

I put up a couple excerpts from this interview before, but this is the full shot. Some of it is around the election, but I redirected those questions, generally speaking, to either discussion of the the logic of the current situation with Covid, oligarchy, and neoliberalism (which has not changed significantly), or to what you can do.

(I am fundraising to determine how much I’ll write this year. If you value my writing and want more of it, please consider donating.)

If you listened to one or more of the excerpts and would prefer to not listen to them again, this page has the podcast broken down into six pieces so you can pick and choose.

This was a fairly light interview in the sense that Chris Oestereich generally let me run with my answers.



The US Can Have a Boom Economy Six Months from Whenever It Gets Serious


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – November 15, 2020


  1. Trinity

    I’m treating this as an open post, hope that’s okay.

    Quoted from the previous post:

    the complexity humans create in their futile attempts at trying to come to some ultimate understanding the world

    While I understand what you are trying to say, I want to prevent any redefinition of what is a very important term. Humans create complicated systems. Many human cultures do NOT create complex systems, the proper kind that take into account natural cycles, natural processes, or anything natural (universal law). We do not create systems that are sustainable, and resilient. Instead we destroy existing complex systems, and seek to destroy complexity (diversity) within our cultures and within nature.

    What we have is a culture literally at war with nature, a culture that considers itself to be above nature, not even needing nature. We invent GMO crops that will feed the world that in reality are destroying nature and it’s natural diversity. We focus on drop shipping food to overly large (e.g. starving) populations, destroying local farming efforts in the process. We do this instead of educating women to reduce the population. We destroy our own resiliency.

    We also oversimplify, trying to ignore reality (complexity). Our bodies are complex systems but new drugs do NOT take that in to account, by design. They instead come up with new drugs to fix the problems caused by the older new drugs. We take that same approach to everything we do. We need new policy, they say, to fix the new problems. Same as the old problems, is what I say. Why else are the problems so difficult to solve, have always been difficult to solve, must always be re-solved? How many times do we need to keep solving the same problems? Could it be because they have no basis in reality in the first place? Because they were designed within a construct that ignores nature and complexity completely?

    The only thing we do is invent complicated systems with complicated rules that require groups of individuals who train for years just to explain them. These rules are then administered by an ever larger group of people, cementing these complicated systems in place to the point no one can imagine a world without them. In the meantime, less and less actually gets done and the problems grow worse over time.

    There is a balance inherent to nature, where every time something eats to live, something else must die. But complicated systems of rules require hierarchies. Human cultures like ours are hierarchical by design, where certain people are more important than other people, and this is the antithesis of nature, it’s entirely unbalanced. It’s possible to say our culture is focused on increasing imbalance in all things. Climate change, after all, is nature trying to rebalance the distribution of heat and cold. And this imbalance is exactly why cultures like ours end in disaster. We are ignoring reality, the reality of physical limits, the reality of natural cycles, the reality that nature requires maintaining some kind of equilibrium, the reality of the complex nature of our world. We’ve gotten to the point where we ignore reality completely: it’s a bad idea to build housing in floodplains and areas known (for centuries) to be prone to fire.

    Start there. It’s absolutely nuts, what we are doing. That is the one constant through centuries of western culture. It’s literally insane. But oh, it’s difficult to imagine anything different, because organizing by hierarchies and ignoring nature are so embedded in our culture and our minds.

  2. Nice. Sort of a quibble: I like to think of your “circular” systems as closed. Finite resources. Potentially perpetual motion machines bound by the laws of physics to fail, not unlike maggots consuming the host, and then themselves, before they die. Hollowed husks imploding.

    Water comes to mind. There’s only so much of it, but that’s for another day.

    I’ve long been fascinated, Trinity, by the similarities twixt the old Chinese balance of Yin and Yang and many of the more established pre-European cultures, notably the Dine`, concepts of the world in balance: of harm, pestilence,of whatever negativities, are all the mark of a world out of balance, and the need to strive to returning it to balance. To this day a common Dine greeting/parting is “Walk in Balance.”

    Walk in Beauty …

  3. edmondo

    Yes. We need lots more trains to no where. Then we can subsidize the trains that no one rides and eventually just disband them for lack of use. This is a great plan- for the 1970s.

  4. Dale

    Don’t be so hasty to condemn maggots. For millennia they have been used in the medical field. They consume the rotten and leave the healthy flesh alone. We need societal maggots to cure our diseased culture. If we can get out of our anthropocentric mindset we can perhaps view climate change as a maggot. It would be interesting to see into the future. What rotten flesh will it end up consuming.

  5. StewartM


    Have you been on a superb rail system? If you have, you recognize the benefits; it beats driving or flying (Hint: you can’t find a great one in the US; among other things, thank the Koch Bros, who try to strangle even the beginnings of one in the cradle).

  6. Ten Bears

    [chuckling] Thank you Dale, you’ve just provided an even better verbal rendition of a graphic representation of the perpetual motion machine hollowing out itself out: maggots eating rotted meat. Eventually, there’s nothing left to hold it all together. Not unlike the plastic first tearing in small hole, them opening into larger holes, and eventually just blowing away in pieces from the frame of your geodesic backyard greenhouse. Which doesn’t quite touch it either, because eventually even the frame fails. It implodes, collapses in upon itself, like a black hole sucking everything nearby in upon itself, with itself.

    Cheap sunglasses, invest in …

  7. Trinity

    Thanks so much, Ten Bears.

    The cycles all vary in time. That’s the part we ignore. Wait enough time (several million years?) and the very crust of the earth “renews” (gets recycled) and we will have access to more “rare earth” elements. That’s how long it will take for smart phones to be reinvented.

    I’m continuing my informal studies in indigenous cultures alongside Taoism and am amazed at the parallels between the two. The Diné are amazing, as are the Hopi and many others. People don’t know that the Iroquois helped draft our constitution (but with the most important parts of their processes left out of ours). When you learn a little of the knowledge the indigenous peoples possess it’s no wonder their cultures are constantly threatened or faced with assimilation/destruction. The Native Americans have retained their knowledge (as best they can), but the Chinese, like us, keep having to relearn the lessons. I believe there are entirely abandoned “new” cities in China that died very young, choking on their own environmental disasters.

    I like the visual of climate change as maggot, eating the rotten flesh so that the body might still live. Yet the world will never be as it once was. Too much has been lost, perhaps. As I write this in the middle latitudes on the east coast of NA, it’s short sleeve weather again today. They keep promising us freezing temps, but I’ve noticed that their ability to predict even short term weather (the next few days) was better 20 years and several supercomputers ago. Oh, the irony.

    May all who read this Walk in Beauty, Walk in Balance. 😎

  8. different clue

    About water on the earth . . . . I heard a little newscast some years ago about how a lonely astronomer who was mocked for decades for claiming that fragments of comets and iceteroids and etc. came to earth every year, bringing about a total of one hundred million tons of water every year from outer space . . . was finally recognized and vindicated for the truth of his claims. I don’t know whether he was still alive to enjoy his vindication.

    And I thought: now THAT’S radically optimismogenic in a very small but real way. Earth system is not entirely sealed-and-welded-shut closed. A hundred million tons of “new water” comes in every year.

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