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London and the Myth of Innosence [Jul. 9th, 2005|11:31 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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London, and the Myth of Innocence


The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking...the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker.

- Albert Einstein


The so-called “war on terror” has to be the most one-sided major military conflict in history. Since September 11, 2001, the world's only super-power has invaded 2 countries and added to the more than 700 foreign bases it had prior to the destruction of the World Trade Center.

Thursday's bombings in London should be a wake-up call for the West, but probably won't be. Tony Blair's laboured rhetoricd does not suggest the gentleman is for turning, but rather, is determined that more of the same must, sooner or later, produce the desired results.

And meanwhile, our chattering class is breathless with the effort to state the obvious: That murdering innocent people by blowing them up in subways and buses is Not a Nice Thing To Do; that those responsible for the London bombings are “evil”, “barbaric” and most likely foul-smelling and short, to boot.

Despite the luxurious wealth enjoyed by those of us in the West, along with the burgeoning middle-classes in former Third World states like India and China, our world is rushing headlong towards a cliff all of us can see if only we open our eyes.

Global climate change; over-population; environmental degradation; and imperialism designed to maintain the current power-structure – all of these problems are bad and getting worse. If we are going to survive the next century, we must break the habit of thinking that we are not, in part, responsible when bad things are done to us.



It shouldn't need saying, that I don't consider blowing up buses and subways to be a good thing; but those whose brains jerk with smug self-satisfaction and the “knowledge” that democracies only do wrong by mistake will no doubt brand me an “apologist” for terrorism simply because I am unwilling to value victims of terror on one side over those on the other. So, permit me to belabour the obvious: killing people – especially killing civilians – is morally wrong. All right? Need I be any more explicit?

The Globe and Mail's reactionary curmudgeon Rex Murphy tells us “the terrorists” kill because they can.

Terrorists, on the other, dark hand, have declared the opposite [of the “fact” that the leaders of the G8 “very clearly stand in the sunshine of human political activity”]. Death to all outside their own warped mania is all their means. The terrorist would see the world in ruins, and mutter some perverted hosanna over the spectacle of millions dead, if a ruined world, or millions dead, served his grim and fanatical idea of purpose.


Leaving aside the partial truth in the sentiment quoted above – al Qeada is a barbaric organization; radical Islam is a savage and reactionary creed the despises just about everything I hold dear, like women's rights, religious freedom and free speech – let us examine the half-blind apology for this status quo Murphy declares “the sunshine of human political activity”.

  1. The governments led by George W. Bush and Tony Blair, standing behind pulpits constructed entirely of lies, invaded Iraq and continue to occupy that country in defiance of international law and their own nations' stated morality. (Must I recapitulate? Perhaps I do, our memories can be so very short.)

    There were no “weapons of mass destruction”; Iraq had no ties to al Qeada; Iraq was no threat to the United States, to Britain or, indeed, to anyone but the Iraqi people themselves. It did and does have a great deal of oil, however.


  2. Not 50, not hundreds, but thousands of innocent civilians have been killed by coalition forces since the invasion. (Estimates vary, from “only” 5,000 to 10,000 as early as 2003, to well over 100,000, mostly women and children, murdered from the air.)


But to the Rex Murphys of this world, these murders apparently do not stain “our” side, because our side is, by definition, on the side of the angels, standing “in the sunshine of human political activity”. Some sunshine. Some political activity.

Apparently only “our” deaths matter. Others may be a cause for regret, but they are only regrettable side-effects - “collateral damage” - of our good intentions. The possibility that our intentions may not, in fact, be good is literally unthinkable. To examine the question would necessitate not only a difficult and painful analysis of our activities, but would – without a doubt – have a significant impact on our economies and standards of living.

With only 5% of the world's population, the United States alone uses more than 30% of the world's energy and a similar percentage of the world's other resources. The rest of us in the west, though perhaps not quite so profligate, use almost as much per capita.

As China and India begin to approach the west in wealth and power, we are going to hit the wall. We will be forced to examine ourselves and our relation to the rest of the world. We are going to have to realize that we are part of the world, not its owners. To ignore this fact is not only morally idiotic, it is but suicidal. If we do not change our ways the carnage to come in the 21st century will make the the Second World War look like a schoolyard scuffle. Billions will die – and the human race itself may not survive.

Railing about the evil behind the bombings in London may make us feel good about ourselves, but it does nothing to address the problem itself. Denying our own capacity for evil does nothing to address the problem. Refusing to seriously examine why al Qaeda – despite its barbaric morality, despite its evident weakness – is not only unbeatable but also popular among large numbers of Moslems, can only lead to more death, of “us” as well as of “them”.

It is time we make the effort to live up to our rhetoric. It is time we acknowledge our tribal instincts and set them aside. It is time we open our eyes as wide to the evil we do as to the evil that is done to us.

A dead child in murdered from the sky in Iraq is no more and no less of a loss than a dead child murdered underground in London.

If we are really horrified by the bloody carnage in London, we must be as horrified when it happens in lands far away, by those who kill in our name.

Granted that we are animals, whose nature developed in heart of Africa more than 100,000 years ago and matured over millenia, during which unimaginable stretch of time almost no one lived in a group of more than 100 people until very recently, we are also home sapien sapien, blessed with both imagination and the power to reason.

We can “imagine the other”. We can walk in others' shoes. We don't have to reserve our empathy and compassion only for those we know personally, nor even only for those with whom we share a language, a religion or skin colour.

At least, that is the ideal to which most of us in the West pay lip service. It is past time that we live that ideal.

We have the ability to step back when attacked and ask ourselves if – maybe – we have done something, if not to deserve it, then at least to have caused it.

If killing civilians is wrong (and it is) then we need to think very hard before we kill civilians. If our standard of living consumes so much of the world's resources that others must starve (and it may), then we need to think hard about whether to buy that SUV or pave over another hectare of farmland. If we are afraid of terrorists (and we should be), then we need to think hard about why they exist and why they are so hard to defeat.

To smugly declare that our enemy is evil (and al Qaeda is the enemy of anyone with remotely western values) and that we “walk in the sunshine” is not going to defeat that enemy, nor will it prevent more such enemies from arising. That kind of rhetoric is not thinking. It is delusional and self-destructive. It makes us less capable of defending ourselves and more likely to destroy our own values while we destroy far more innocent lives than have been taken from us.

Albert Einstein's remorse and fear was as genuine as it was pointless. The jinni's can never be returned to the bottle. We must move forward, remembering the past, understanding the present and doing our best to prepare for the future.

We can only start by examining ourselves, acknowledging our flaws as much as celebrating our virtues. (Do I need to say it? We in the west have many virtues. Our values of inclusiveness, our open-mindedness, the way we cherish individual liberty, all these things represent some of the best elements of human nature.)

We in the west have the responsibility that comes with power. The human race as a whole has power that not at all long ago was reserved for the gods themselves. We can fly, we exist underwater and in outer space. We can level mountains and make rivers run backwards. We can turn forests to desert and make deserts bloom. We can destroy all human life itself.

Like a 16 year-old driving a powerful automobile, we must grow up. We can no longer let someone else worry about consequences for us.

When bad things happen, Americans have a tendency to wonder, “Why do they hate us?”

Allow me to offer up a few reasons.

  • Because your government rules over an empire that makes the British Empire look like a neighbourhood gang;


  • Because your government maintains over 700 bases in foreign countries;


  • Because since the end of the Vietnam War, your government has murdered hundreds of thousands of men, women and children (you can look it up; none of this particularly secret) in dozens of countries around the world;


  • Because your government preaches individual freedom and political democracy and yet not only tolerates but supports vicious dictatorships on every continent but for Antarctica.


I could go on, but I fear for the tolerance of my Gentle Readers.

(As a Canadian, I must add that my country is not without responsibility in much of this. Those Americans who claim that Canada is a freeloader on the US are partly right. The opulent lifestyle enjoyed by my fellow citizens is a direct result of pax Americana. We too foul our waters, pave over our farmland, and sell guns to Third World dictators. We have reasons for pride but no reason to be smug. Nor do we have any reason to feel safe. A subway bombing is not even a preview of the calamity to come if the world doesn't start, collectively, to think beyond the next fiscal quarter, or even the next election.)

The world is crowded and getting more so. We are running out of clean water. We are running out of fish and forests. Gasoline is only going to get more expensive, because there are more and more rich people who want it. The earth's atmosphere is warming fast and no one knows what the results of that will be. Though we know it from personal experience as well as political (when the Soviet Union fell, it fell fast), we are in collective denial about the environment. It too is a camel and the straws are piling up fast on its back. We know that things have changed very quickly in the past and there is every reason to think they may do so again.

There are simply too many of us for us to have the luxury of believing tomorrow will be just like today, only more so. We can no longer treat the world's resources like a Barbary pirate looting Spanish galleons. We can longer treat the world's people as nothing but cheap labour and colourful photo opportunities.

If we in the west do not wish to see Thursday's crime in London repeated a thousand times; if we in the west do not wish to (continue to) commit worse crimes, we must stop and look at ourselves. We must work at understanding our role in the world, for good and for evil. We must put aside our prejudices and our fears. We will probably have to sacrifice some of our comforts today for the sake of our children (and for the sake of “their” children, too). We will have to think and insist that our governments do the right thing, not the convenient thing.

For a start, we must look at the “war on terror” and understand that we are not the victims here. Or rather, we must understand that we are only also victims.

We in the west live in democracies, however bent. It is our moral and our pragmatic responsibility to understand the world and to force our governments to do what is best for the world, not just for their own citizens, or (more often) their corporate masters.

No one likes to be punched in the mouth, and London just got one hell of a fat lip. A desire for revenge is not only understandable it is legitimate. But the best revenge against al Qaeda would be to free the Moslem world from its despicable governments, not by raining death from the sky on uninvolved people.

The truth is, the west has been poking a lot of the world with very sharp sticks and taking their lunch money for a very long time. We are strong and they are weak. Nevertheless, they fight back. As they have no tanks, no jet planes and no armies that can challenge us; and as most of their governments are bought and paid for, by us, they will fight back with the weapons at hand – suicide bombers, small arms and whatever other weapons they can get their hands on.

In the near term, we have a choice. We can change our ways and suffer some material hardship. Or we can carry on, doubling and redoubling policies that clearly don't work and bathe in the blood of our victims, while we create more fanatics who will happily die for the chance to hurt us, if only symbolically.

In the longer term, we have a choice. We can change our ways and suffer some material hardships. Or we can carry on, doubling and redoubling policies that clearly don't work and someday (probably sooner than later) starve to death in a desert of our own making.
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: tydestra
2005-07-10 04:48 am (UTC)
September 9, 2001

o_0

I think you just pulled a Bush when he messed up on the date.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2005-07-10 01:37 pm (UTC)
Fixed. And thankyouverymuch!

"Pulled a Bush" - Young Geoffrey hangs his head in shame.
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[User Picture]From: tydestra
2005-07-11 02:00 am (UTC)
Oh it could be worse, you could've said it while delivering a speech about on 9/4 you stood on the rubble of the Towers and stuff... in NYC.
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From: venividivici3
2005-07-12 11:06 pm (UTC)

Pulled a Bush"

Ouch! You know Geoff, I may just start calling you Bushy or something henceforth.

But then I'll forget after 20 minutes of harassment, so don't worry too much about it becomming habbit.

I can't believe you screwed up that date though...I mean, it clearly wasn't a typo.

*mwah*

Later Bushy Mcgee
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2005-07-12 11:38 pm (UTC)

Re: Pulled a Bush"

That is the trouble with posting things essentially first-draft. For some reason, though, I've often had trouble with that date - usually, though, I end up typing "7/11".

(Meanwhile, it's 7:45 and I don't even know I'm coming home tonight. I'll call shortly to let you know the prognosis.

(*mwah* to you, too)
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[User Picture]From: mollymolekular
2005-07-10 05:15 pm (UTC)
I liked this a LOT . . . good stuff.
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[User Picture]From: sck5000
2005-07-10 10:56 pm (UTC)
I don't know, I debated arguing with you over this due to the usual sloppiness in your analysis of causality, but couldn't find the heart for it. Instead some evil elf inside me hopes it will irritate you more if I point out there is a typo, three or four instances of missing words, and twice you opened parentheses that you never closed. If your argument were html code it wouldn't even compile. My evil-hearted elf only wants to point out that sloppiness is intellectually pervasive. You can't see the flaws in your analysis for the same reason that you could read this a million times and never see the two missing closing parentheses.

For what it's worth, my elf and I disagree on the nature of your handicap. He thinks you're just intellectually negligent, that like missing words you also frequently lose your car keys and remote control and often can't remember what you came into the kitchen for, and he simply doesn't trust the precision in analysis of someone who consistently can't remember when they opened a bracket. He thinks you're just one more placard-waving troll whose crippled ideological reasoning is really a transparent quarry from which he mines self-esteem, down there day after day clawing at the walls for missed veins of ore in an increasingly spent and wasted hole.

I am more charitable than my elf, and think that sometimes you become so enamoured with what you imagine to be the persuasiveness of your argumentation that intellectual diligence becomes a kind of annoying obstacle. You would make a very good politician but an exceedingly bad cryptologist and I bet you have trouble assembling furniture.

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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2005-07-11 01:47 am (UTC)
If I thought for a minute that a challenge to you - to attack my ideas rather than my typing - wouldn't send you fleeing like a ten-year-old pick-pocket on the next train to smug, neo-liberal, self-satisfaction, I might ask, "But what is it with which you disagree?"

Sadly, years of shared history have shown me that you are far too lazy to brave the exchange of ideas, prefering the sniper's cheap shot to actual argument.

The typo has been pointed out. I'll look for the unclosed parentheses.
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From: venividivici3
2005-07-12 11:04 pm (UTC)

Furniture

Geoff can assemble furniture!! He assembled 4 ikea book shelves with minimal amounts of frustration...and a rather large wardrobe...with doors and shelves and things. He's plenty competent with furniture. So hah! Good day to you sir.

-laura-
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2005-07-12 11:46 pm (UTC)

Re: Furniture

As you know, I also kept a 1971 Volkwagen minivan running for two years and tens of thousands of miles through the deft use of plastic clothesline.
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[User Picture]From: sck5000
2005-07-14 03:02 am (UTC)

Re: Furniture

I don't know, I have never seen any furniture at Geoffrey's. Everything is made out of milk cartons and prayers. I think even his TV is a milk carton. He once tried to make me a sandwich out of plastic.


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[User Picture]From: frandroid
2005-07-12 08:19 pm (UTC)
fix: (To I need to say it?

The only thing that I would add to this is that we wouldn't even need to sacrifice any of our consumption in order to make poverty history, have others have said. We do have enough grain to feed all those that go hungry at night, today. The only people that would have to make serious sacrifices are the ultra-rich. I mean we are faced with environmental depletion, but there are lots of things we can do to alleviate despair without even sacrificing our lifestyle. We're just that wealthy, and the economic system is just that fucked.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2005-07-12 11:48 pm (UTC)
I mean we are faced with environmental depletion, but there are lots of things we can do to alleviate despair without even sacrificing our lifestyle.

For now, yes - though I fear the time for action without a bloodbath is running short. If climate change causes a significant drop in food production and/or shuts down the Gulf Stream so that Europe freezes in the space of a decade we may find we aren't nearly as rich as we thought we were.
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[User Picture]From: sck5000
2005-07-14 03:45 am (UTC)
The only people who would have to make serious sacrifices are the ultra-rich? That's hilarious. You don't remember last decade's hip musical Live8-equivalent, the Willie Nelson, Neil Young farm-aid concerts?

Do you have any idea how many poor countries whose GDP is 95% agrarian would spiral into the toilet if grain was given away? Overproducing grain would save thousands and decimate millions. This is exactly why IMF loans to third world countries are contingent on their governments moving away from agricultural exports and towards industrialization. It's also why well-meaning countries (particularly the US) take upon themselves a huge financial hit deliberately by paying their own farmers not to produce certain crops just to help sustain the fledgling economies of poorer nations whose entire sustenance is dependent on stable agricultural prices.

In fact, the US even spends money destroying their own crops when over-production threatens to destabilize world prices, not so much for themselves, but because the economies of third world countries suffer the most when 95% of their export values tank. Look at it this way. The ideological content but poor understanding of global economics in your post suggests to me that you are someone who sells beads on the street. What would happen to you and all the other bead-sellers if suddenly nicer, better beads all flooded onto the market, and all for free? If you wouldn't want that to happen to yourself, why would you wish it on the entire populations of those countries who produce and export only agricultural products? Why would you happily, let's say, feed the Sudan for free and in the process, starve Kenya? Why would you feed the perpetually-engaged-in-civil-war peoples of Nigeria by destroying the barely-functional economy of Zimbabwe?

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[User Picture]From: frandroid
2005-07-14 06:54 pm (UTC)
Before ranting, you should make sure you're not attacking a straw man you made up. I didn't say that we should just give this grain away. I specifically said that it was the economic system that was fucked up. Because I mentioned that there is enough grain for everyone didn't mean that I meant for surplus to be given away for free. I was just pointing out how fucked up it is that we have enough grain and people go hungry anyway.

The U.S. could reduce its subsidies to farmers, if it thinks that it's producing too much cheap grain, instead of destroying grain. Actually, I don't believe that U.S. farmers destroy crops on a large scale in order to stabilize world prices. You'll have to prove that. They already are the main reason (along with the EU) why world crop prices are so low, and that third-world agrarian economies are suffering so much.

I mean, I know that the EU does subsidize its farmers a whole lot to not produce more than a certain quantity of food, with their quota systems and such. But that's nowhere as much the case in the U.S.
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[User Picture]From: sck5000
2005-07-14 10:35 pm (UTC)
It sure looked like you were suggesting that to me, given what you said about having enough grain and then immediately following that with an assessment of who would have to make sacrifices.

Anyway, the problem you are describing in your above post is not problem with the "economic system" at all, that is a poor analysis of the causality - the problem is a much simpler one, it's a consequence of living in a (for all practical purposes) 3-dimensional universe.

A man holding up a bag of grain in Kentucky can more easily sell his grain to his neighbour than to a man in Bangladesh. Even if he gives away the bag of grain for free, absolves all ownership of the bag and sticks a post-it note on it bequeathing it to a specific man in Bangladesh - behold, the bag of grain still sits there at his feet, unable to be consumed by its new rightful owner. That is the whole of the problem with the equal distribution of food across the planet, it has nothing to do with a bad "economic system" in terms of buying and selling the food itself.

If you imagine a world in which it is possible for a man in Kentucky to sell his truckload of corn to anyone in the world through effortless teleportation, that would create the missing ingredient: customer parity. All customers would become equal, and there would no longer be a need to destroy a mountain of corn simply because it exists in one inconvenient location on a sphere in order to safeguard the economic microcosm of another part of the sphere.

If anything, the economic system works to mitigate these food losses, but unfortunately this involves another even more complicated global economy: oil, 99% of whose functional use is solely for transporting one inconveniently located 3-dimension object, person, container lorry or turnip from a place of lower value to a place of higher value. Again, a spatial problem, not an inherently economic one. Unfortunately (again), rising oil prices raise food costs (through overhead) to countries who import food, as opposed to who are relatively agronomically self-sustaining, so rising oil prices more drastically affect the food costs of third world countries and the problem is compounded.

All of which is to say, blaming rotting food piles at one X,Y coordinate that would not rot at another X,Y coordinate on an inherent economic flaw is faulty, it's simply a limitation in a physical universe in which moving an object with mass from point A to point B consumes energy. It would be like saying it is an economic flaw that people cannot simply directly consume their money; and maybe that would solve all the problems if money were edible and printed on Graham crackers, so that it always in every part of the sphere had a minimum value as fibre.

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[User Picture]From: frandroid
2005-07-15 05:48 am (UTC)
Even before India had to lift import quotas to enter the WTO in the late 1990s, it had huge surpluses of grain, wheat in particular. This is one of the nations that has the most hungry people on the planet, and it has grain surpluses that rot, mere kilometers away from starving people, grain you could deliver using a few tanks of gas. So even locally (say, the subcontinent), there is enough food. Every nation on this planet, except for a few very small ones, city-nations like Monaco, Luxembourg, the Vatican, etc, have the agricultural capacity to answer their own food needs (although not the variety, but that's another issue, and it's not relevant here). The technology exists. The problem is economic, not fucking geographic.

EVEN IF IT WAS GEOGRAPHIC AND PHYSICAL, I don't know if you've been reading the news, but there's that little thing called "globalization", which, while it has been marking human civilization since its earliest times, has been greatly increased in recent years. Note in particular the trade in goods between Asia and America, as we send back and forth the cheapest as well as the most expensive commodities. We (Canada as well as the US of A) are already sending boatloads of grain across the world (we sell wheat to China, for example), and sell it in these markets at cheaper prices than the local farmers do there. There are these things called boats, and they have capacities like "PanaMax" and "SuezMax", which are humongous quantities, and take a very low ratio of fuel-to-weight ratio to move around. I was talking about earlier civilizations; it is agriculture that gave rise to the first human empires, and the trade in crops along long distances. Agriculture, and trade in agricultural goods, is the oldest commercial activity that humans have engaged in.

The problem is economic. In an era where we can put a man on the moon, (although not in the deepest reaches of our own oceans) we have absolutely no problem moving grain from Uttar Pradesh to Bangladesh, or even from Edmonton to Jakarta, and it doesn't even cost that much.

Anyway, all that said, I see that you are a Torontonian, I hope we can meet some time; you're articulate even if not quite on the same spot as me.
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[User Picture]From: sck5000
2005-07-15 10:42 pm (UTC)
I believe I took the economics out of my example and yet the "problem" still existed, which means that the source of the problem must be something other than economics.

Here is another example: suppose I give you a gold brick. I want no money or service for this gold brick, I expect nothing from you. The "system" that requires you to be economically viable or even not economically inert is factored out: I merely give you the gold brick. The brick is in my apartment. All the problems you might have economically had prior to this moment to enable you to "become the owner of" a gold brick are gone, yet you still have two problems: acquisition of the brick, and management of the brick.

The gold brick is probably too heavy for you to come and get yourself, and even if you do come and get it yourself, you are still "spending" your energy (I use the term spending on purpose because I don't see any qualitative difference between spending money or energy or time). But likely you'll have to possess economic viability beyond my having given you the brick, merely to acquire the brick. Once you do acquire the brick, now you have to possess or buy management skills and knowledge skills in order to maximize your value of the gold brick. You must spend your time and resources to gain from the brick.

I have taken all the initial "economic system" out of this example, everything that requires you to be economically strong enough, smart enough or diligent enough to own a gold brick. If you want to describe the *subsequent problems* as problems with your own personal economic power I can accept that, but your original message branded the entire economic *system* as haphazardly fucked. You have merely cast such a wide and analytically lazy net as so allow *all problems*, even the physical problem of the atomic weight of gold, to be encapsulated in a "fucked economic system". That's nonsense. The system is just a tool to facilitate mutually agreeable trades. It enables a breadmaker who wants a turnip not to have to look everywhere for a breadless turnip farmer, nor engage in some long, time-consuming series of barters in order to finally acquire a turnip in exchange for bread. When it comes to the system, there is no difference between gold bricks and grain: there are physical realities beyond the scope of the economic model for which, sure, it is frustrating to watch and emotionally draining to bear, and tempting to assign blame to a more controllable ideology instead - but ultimately misanalyzed.

Your dismissal of transportation costs is also misguided. Even if you call the food free, there are many more costs besides fuel associated with sending big ass ships across the ocean. All the crew and ship maintenance costs are rolled into a shipping cost for the shipper. There are often export duties and in countries with no trade agreement, import duties. In the kinds of countries we are talking about, more often than not there are also "extra-judiciary" fees and then no garantee that the shipment to the people you want it to. All of that adds up. If you accept then that it costs the person donating free food a large amount of money to also help the recipient acquire the food - where do you think that money comes from? It gets subsidized by that seller's legitimate food sales, which drives the food prices up *for everybody else*. You help some people and harm others.

For some reason I want to launch into a long harangue about globalization but I think I am running close to the LJ character limit.

(aw fuck, I still hit it)

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[User Picture]From: sck5000
2005-07-15 10:44 pm (UTC)
Well, I hit that stupid character limit but I'm going to avoid my globalization harague anyway. I only want to say that in my opinion, most of what you call problems with the economic system are actually cultural problems which keep impinging upon the system. By this, I mean the fact that just about every African country has been involved in an unaffortable war in the last 50 years, and that about 60% of them are chronically irresponsinble in this regard, and presently at least 20% of them are still engaged in civil conflicts. I call these cultural problems because largely they are the results of tribalism, racism, corruption and the poor enforcement of rule-of-law. To use the global "economic system" being fucked as a catch-all to dismiss the widespread and parasitic effects of these deeper humanitarian and cultural issues is just... moral cowardice.

Yes, I will look forward to meeting you perhaps at the end of time when Young Geoffrey finally hosts the LJ party that he has been claiming he is going to host since the beginning of time.

PS. I disavow any actual giving you of any actual gold brick.

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