To drop the mask

Are the physical limits to growth relevant?

The physical limits to growth [1] are they relevant?

Since the famous phrase KE Boulding [2] as well as the publication of the Club of Rome report, this physical limit has become a commonplace: all the more reason to be wary of it and to question the validity of the assertion, since with global warming, these are the two pillars of a soft "ecological" critique of the functioning of our societies. If I qualify this type of criticism as "soft", it is because it is blind to other phenomena and, if it is, it is because, basically, it completely agrees with our way of thinking. functioning and only deplores the fact that material obstacles hamper its triumphant march.

Of course, it would be futile to deny the reality of these obstacles, however, when one considers that the dynamic of capitalism is to create priced abundance from the destruction of free abundance. [3], these limitations could, to a certain extent, provide it with new nutrients. The functioning of the commodity cycle can be read in two complementary ways: sometimes it is hyper-rationalized, considered in its internal metabolism in companies, during the production phase, sometimes it is the reverse if we examine consumer work on [4] which is done as irrational as possible (ie, with a maximum of waste).

From this particular point of view, nothing prevents to think that the scarcity of raw materials, as the increase in unwanted effects does not constitute new sources of profit: after all the aim of a company is not to sell the maximum of goods (this is true only in certain circumstances, but never for this alone objective), but to achieve maximum profit. It is possible to imagine (words can be written!) Subtle technologies that would independently recycle our least waste, solar energy that would produce enough to continue to destroy the conditions of our existence and at the same time something to bring to it. costly palliatives (Cf. transhumanism) ...

Read also:  Save energy thanks to cold accumulators

Thus, superficially, the limits of growth would appear rather like a limit of a reasoning which is locked in a framework which corresponds only to the reality known hitherto (presentism) and neglects other possibilities. This is why the only external limit of capitalism is not sufficient to produce a coherent analysis of its evolution, which one concludes, as is generally the case, with necessary reforms or on the contrary, in the case of a few. (influential) scientific currents, by a desire to accelerate a process feared by others ...

Both approaches are equally false one than the other because they are based on a truncated vision of the initial data of the problem. The external limit is in fact accompanied by an internal limit and a logical limit, and it is this set that it is important to consider. I will not expand on the subject, having already discussed it extensively, but I would remind you that the internal limit results from the combination of the fall in the unit prices of goods and the ever lower share of human labor in their production => lower rate of profit. The logical limit appeared more recently, due to the untenable nature of the internal limit and this led, contrary to the usual functioning, to accumulate the abstract value from a putative work which could only be realized in a future more than improbable… I mention this last phenomenon for methodological reasons and also because it sheds light (if one looks at it seriously) a usual zone of great confusion on the role of the debt and the debt. financial industry.

Read also:  For a future without incinerators

Thus, while the political debate is centered on the form of the redistribution of resources, it appears that the only fundamental critical point that has appeared on the front of the stage, sometimes in a theatrical way (“the house is on fire!”), does not allow to produce a coherent analysis of the current socio-economic metabolism and its crisis. Only an analysis taking into account all of the underlying mechanisms allows us to understand that capitalism, like any system, tends to follow its logic to the end: this is what it does when it employs increasingly improbable in order to postpone its inevitable collapse a little longer.

To know more: is the "soft" ecology myopic

Notes and references:
[1] What is examined here is the growth of the accumulation of abstract value, which is roughly comparable to the growth of commodities ...
[2] “Anyone who believes that exponential growth can continue indefinitely in a finite world is either a fool or an economist. "
[3] Which is another way of saying it creates scarcity ...
[4] This concept makes explicit the symmetrical function of the destruction of the commodity which, alone, allows the cycle of the commodity to continue; inasmuch as the commodity corresponds less to the satisfaction of an authentic human need than to a necessity of the circulation of capital with a view to its increase, it is not inappropriate to integrate consumption into this cycle in the form of labor , even if it is never perceived in this form.

1 comment on “Are physical limits to growth relevant?”

Leave comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *