Saturday, January 16, 2010


This is the year, says Prime Minister John Key, back from
holidaying in Hawaii, when the Government starts
‘delivering on the faster growth agenda that we want.’
And in an article published under his name in the New
Zealand Herald on 4 January, Finance Minister Bill
English talks up the case for economic growth, declaring
that the Government has identified ‘six key areas as
potential drivers of growth’ and concluding that, as New
Zealand ‘emerges from the recession,’ the challenge now
is to ‘get the economy growing again at a stronger rate.’

Yes. One could hardly ask for a better illustration of
progressolatry, or worship at the altar of materialist goals
predicated on ever greater exploitation of the Earth’s
resources and an unshakeable faith in the capacity of
those resources to ‘grow,’ apparently without end. As
previous blogs have sought to show, what we humans
have extracted from fossil fuels has grown just about as
much as it can—it can only shrink from here on. And
fossil-fuel energy is so central to the kind of society we
have built that, without it, we face—to put it at its politest
—a radical readjustment of expectations. No sign of that
in Key's or English’s outlook. English’s article, published
barely two weeks after Copenhagen, makes not a single
mention of global warming, peak oil, fossil-fuel depletion,
the full ecological cost of the Western way of living. It
seems to have been written inside a sealed cocoon with a
supposedly impermeable shell. As if the Government’s
best thinking was: if we keep our heads down and
concentrate on going from A to B and then to C and,
whoopee, maybe even D, we won’t have to worry about
the fact that the whole fucking alphabet is collapsing.

One can understand this mindset and sympathize with it
to a certain extent. Key and English’s kind of thinking is
the same kind of thinking that has (apparently) made New
Zealand prosperous and secure, compared with many
countries. It’s worked before, you can hear them saying,
so why change it? Especially given that we’ve ‘emerged
from the recession' in (apparently) good shape. Let me say
only this for the moment. Countries like New Zealand
aren’t prosperous and secure despite other countries being
hungry and poor and conflict-ravaged. Countries like New
Zealand are prosperous and secure because other countries
aren’t. No mention of that in Bill’s article either.

1 comment:

Southernrata said...

Thank you Denis. I'm really enjoying your daily tirade. I hope you can maintain it.

The thing I have read that struck me most in recent weeks was from George Monbiot, via Pundit's Claire Browning

"Today the battle lines are drawn between expanders and restrainers; those who believe that there should be no impediments, and those who believe that we must live within limits. The vicious battles we have seen so far between greens and climate change deniers … are just the beginning. This war will become much uglier as people kick against the limits that decency demands."

So good things do come out of Masterton, you, me and Claire (not so sure about George). Please keep talking.