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Sunday, 28 July 2013

And up pops Prometheus!

Life can be strange at times; within hours of writing my previous blog about the Prometheus Syndrome, up popped Prometheus demonstrating how modern thinking is tied to the past by the unbreakable chains of ideology.

It happened when I was watching television on the evening of the Sunday that I posted the blog in question. The programme was Countryfile on the BBC One channel. For those not familiar with Coutryfile, this is a rural affairs magazine programme. I watch Countryfile because it is often a useful source of information and insight concerning agriculture; I am at the moment writing two books about this topic, one being a novel and the other non-fiction about the issues addressed by the novel. Several Prometheans manifest themselves in both books in the form of: a scientist, a technologist, an engineer, an economist, employees of multi-national corporations, and a government representative.

The ideology that was given an airing on this BBC programme, was macro economics, of the type found from 1776 (the year Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations was published) onwards, and most notably in the 19th century, which basically manifested itself in this programme as an ideological attack on the new agreements for the EU Common Agricultural Policy. The mantra is a well known one; subsidies are bad, no other industry gets them (not true), and the markets should determine the prices farmers receive for their products. These are the three delusions that this particular manifestation of Prometheus was mostly concerned with.

Some facts might be useful here. Subsidies are provided to farmers by most governments across the globe. The markets for agricultural produce are often global, so any government unilaterally abandoning subsidies will place its farmers at a serious disadvantage. Removal of subsidies will result in many small farmers going out of business, which the ideologue in question felt was a good thing (no compassion here – the emotional suffering of the farmers concerned was of no interest (see how far we have come since the 19th century!)). That most farming in Europe is undertaken in small holdings was not considered. And the result of all these small scale, inefficient farms going out of business would be the creation of large farms driven by profit, which means maximising output, and where the environment becomes a cost, and one to be minimised (this is the reality of big businesses in all sectors).

Imagine a world where washing machines, toasters, and other consumer goods where not so readily available because some of the companies that make them had gone out of business. The unavailability of a consumer good, would be inconvenient for sure, but one that most people would be able to live with. Now imagine a world where food is scarce as a result of farmers going out of business, or crop losses resulting from extreme weather conditions. Actually you do not have to image food scarcity, for it has already happened a few years back, as have the consequences (food riots).

Food is not a commercial commodity, it is a basic human right, and it cannot be treated in the same way as other products. If people do not have food, cannot afford food, then they have to be supported. Or perhaps not, surely these people should be allowed to die, and as Scrooge says in A Christmas Carol, “… and in doing so decrease the surplus population.” This, is the where Darwinian type of macro economics leads. That we do not allow this is a tribute to the extent that we have made some progress, yet we still tolerate the ideology that starts us down the track that leads to …

One could go on listing these counter-arguments, and pointing out the stupidity inherent to this outdated macro economic dogma. I will not though continue; the matters linked to it, and the alternative macro economics perspectives, will be explored in the two books that I am writing, which alas will not appear until 2015 at the earliest.

I conclude by observing that, here in this macro economic dogma, one begins to see why the world is in such a mess. Take this ideology and combine it with all the others that have been let loose on the modern world, and one has a recipe for the disaster that is unfolding before our eyes, but which most seem to think cannot be prevented. This is not true of course, and if people in the developed nations started using their votes, their wallets, and their life styles, we could ensure that all these Prometheans (ideological lunatics and their followers) are isolated and marginalised, and that humanity begins to walk a different path.

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