Monday 26 September 2011

What is the nature of the crisis? Material or spiritual?


There is a material crisis, rooted in economics.

The world is headed for a catastrophic (cataclysmic) collapse in material standards; and is doing nothing to prevent this.

(The only thing which could prevent it are effective, radical, harsh measures to increase productivity - increase the amount of material output of necessaries per capita, preferably by increased efficiency but if not by increased effort - re-allocation of economic man-hours. And this could only be done piecemeal and one place at a time - global strategies do the opposite. And this is impossible due to democracy.)

And the longer nothing is done, the worse the crisis will be.

The nature of the crisis will be the death of hundreds of millions - or maybe a billion or few - people, whom the planet is no longer able to sustain - death by a mixture of starvation, disease and violence.

Current global policy suggests that the crisis will be made to penetrate every corner of the globe; nobody is allowed to exempt themselves.


But the economic crisis has its roots in spiritual crisis - the apostasy of the West.

Its symptoms are alienation, psychosis and the active pursuit of evil among the ruling elites; who then enforce this upon those they rule.

Alienation because life has no meaning, no purpose, human individuals have no relationship with anything outside their own thoughts.

Psychosis because reason and common sense are subverted and replaced with nonsense and wishful thinking.

Evil because there is a morality of anti-Good: i.e. the systematic and progressive promotion of vice (inverted Virtue), ugliness (inverted Beauty) and lies (inverted Truth).


So the material crisis is inevitable because of the spiritual crisis; however, the material crisis cannot be averted by means of curing the spiritual crisis: the spiritual crisis must be repented for the right reasons (i.e spiritual reasons) - and not in order that the material crisis will be averted.

If we tried - and the attempt could not be sincere hence could not be effective - to promote spiritual reform as a means to the ends of material prosperity, then we would indirectly but certainly amplify the size of the material crisis.

There is no alternative to repentance, and repentance can neither be secret nor strategic.



Gabe Ruth said...

Do you think this material scenario will occur without a serious change in material circumstances, like peak oil or an epidemic? As sad as the times are, I have trouble imagining a catastrophe on this scale in my lifetime, barring some such event. The firepower in the hands of the powers that be and the ability of the people to distract themselves makes the system stable enough to stagger on, deteriorating by any standard, but with a good majority believing (probably correctly) that any alternative would mean an immediate downgrade in quality of life.

Life will be nightmarish in undeveloped countries, and developed ones will help, but that help will be limited to the degree dictated by proximity to the desperate, and the ability of the closest countries to be ruthless. And since we know their nature, I don't doubt they're capable.

Bruce Charlton said...

@GR - I think there are dozens of possible, and combined, reasons why the material scenario will happen within a generation, but maybe much sooner. The underlying constraint is demographic - vast changes in the size and nature of the world population which ultimately derives from Western modernity. The economic process of modernization would have to run very fast even to keep up with this - but in fact it is now in reverse, and has erected vast psychotic thought structures to prevent itself even perceiving what is happening, never mind the reasons for its happening, never mind knowing what to do about it, never mind actually doing anything effective.

Proph said...

"There is no alternative to repentance, and repentance can neither be secret nor strategic."

In other words, there's nothing short of the second coming of Christ (and we can always hold out hope of that happening) that can stop this train we're on.

cantillonblog said...

BGC is it too late for a religious and spiritual awakening (motivated by recognition of the importance of what we have neglected, not by the instrumental value of religion) to save us from the worst potential aspects of the material crisis that you allude to ?

Gabe - as somebody elsewhere pointed out (possibly Jim Kalb), it in the nature of a bubble that nobody can ever imagine what might lead to a phase change. In the world of investments, people always say "yeah, maybe you are right, but what is the catalyst". The catalyst is never just one single thing; it is a bunch of connected things all coming together at the same time, as if organized by some intelligence. These have always been working away slowly for a long time before reaching a stage at which they grab the attention of the mass media.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Proph - as I understand it (from Fr. Seraphim Rose) the second coming will mark the end of this world, so that will not solve this world's problems!

@C - no, it is never too late for a religious awakening. I just don't see any sign of one. Or rather, I don't see any sign of a *Christian* revival in the *West* (if we don't count Russia as the West).

Jonathan said...

A worldwide material meltdown is certain, probably in the next 5 years. But the driver will not be primarily demographics; it will be debt levels. If you want "proof" that a major economic catastrophe must happen soon, look at the charts in

and reflect that Europe and Japan labor under similar or worse debt levels. These debts absolutely can never repaid. There's enough historical precedent to say with certainty that we're headed for a once-per-century magnitude debt bubble crash, except this one will probably be bigger than all previous ones and will definitely be the first worldwide one.

One point I want to emphasize is that one shouldn't be distracted by the stock market, central bank actions, or a million other economic indicators; it's the unpayable debts (at all levels of society, from household to government) that tell the true story and show that a world-shaking crisis absolutely cannot be averted by any heroic actions or brilliant economic thinking.

I don't mean to dismiss demographics entirely; I expect massive famine in Africa once they no longer have the aid to buy wheat for their populations. But on the grounds of Generational Dynamics, I fully expect a world war in the wake of the coming economic crash, which might alleviate the demographic problem somewhat. Expect to see nuclear bombs used against people for the first time since World War II.

Cantillonblog said...

Africa strikes me as one place where one does not need to be all that concerned about the future.

In part, Chinese provision of human capital and organization with no strings attached helps solve some long-standing problems.

And more generally, many countries in the region show signs of rising organization and confidence. Look at the Somali pirates - it is something straight out of Toynbee or Sir John Glubb! Standards of living have improved since the central government more or less disappeared.

Christianity is growing very fast in the region, and if it's Anglican Christianity then it is a rather different flavour than the version we have here today.

The terms of trade are an important variable for these sorts of countries - what price do they get for their exports vs what they pay for imports. And obviously agriculture + commodities are a big component of exports. If I am right about a coming cold period, then we should see very much higher agricultural prices which will be very supportive both of their economies and of their social organization.

(People feel they can afford to be high-minded when times are good).

So in the longer-term Africa is the last place we should worry about a famine.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Cantillon - of course there has been continuous famine, of varying severity, in much of sub-Saharan Africa for several decades; and the lowest standard of living ever recorded on Earth (lowest calorie intake per day).

This is possible because the populations are kept alive and reproducing, very fast, by Western medicine.

When populations are doubling every 15 years, and the median age is in the mid teens, then life is going to be hard - but the cause of this is Western aid.

Until a hundred or two years ago, the dietary standard of living in much of Africa was higher than Europe and people did not work hard - because the population density was kept low by disease.

If Africa was cut off from Western aid and medicine, it would lose the majority of its current population - maybe 90 percent?