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Sunday morning quotes: Wake-up call

April 13, 2014

As a public service, we offer a few current news items digested here for those who may have missed them.

“The taste of “success” in our world gone mad is measured in dollars and francs and rupees and yen. Our desire to consume any and everything of perceivable value – to extract every precious stone, every ounce of metal, every drop of oil, every tuna in the ocean, every rhinoceros in the bush – knows no bounds. We live in a world dominated by greed. We have allowed the interests of capital to outweigh the interests of human beings and our Earth.”

“People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change.”

“It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future. To serve as custodians of creation is not an empty title; it requires that we act, and with all the urgency this dire situation demands.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Like the unrealistic dependence upon fossil fuels, the economic system that promotes unfettered accumulation of wealth and lionizes those who attain it through unscrupulous means has at last definitively been proven to be unsustainable.

“…The present situation cannot be sustained for much longer. This is not necessarily an apocalyptic vision. I have made a diagnosis of the past and present situations and I do think that there are solutions. But before we come to them we must understand the situation. When I began, simply collecting data, I was genuinely surprised by what I found, which was that inequality is growing so fast and that capitalism cannot apparently solve it. Many economists begin the other way around, by asking questions about poverty, but I wanted to understand how wealth, or super-wealth, is working to increase the inequality gap. And what I found, as I said before, is that the speed at which the inequality gap is growing is getting faster and faster.”

“You have to ask what does this mean for ordinary people, who are not billionaires and who will never will be billionaires. Well, I think it means a deterioration in the first instance of the economic wellbeing of the collective, in other words the degradation of the public sector…There is a fundamentalist belief by capitalists that capital will save the world, and it just isn’t so. Not because of what Marx said about the contradictions of capitalism, because, as I discovered, capital is an end in itself and no more.”

Thomas Piketty, École d’économie de Paris

 

 

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2 Comments
  1. David Lamb permalink

    Desmond Tutu and Thomas Piketty are right, but in a Cassandra kind of way. Economic inequality and global warming are rising at rates out of control, and those with the levers of power are doing everything they can to ignore the threat. In fact I believe that we have already reached the tipping point, and I think we can see where it is all going to end. We mortals always die no matter what, and that is as it should be. I mourn at the thought that perhaps within the 21st century, all the music, art, science, and overall culture will also die in a general collapse of civilization. It is hard to write music about that.

  2. Awareness that the problems exist is a first step towards positive change. Sadly, we don’t see the news items quoted above circulating in US media outlets, and I suspect the French Revolution simply could not happen today because we are, metaphorically, busily eating cake as we starve for something more substantial.

    We share your despair for the future of culture, but we also see a spark of interest in things that are “real”, particularly among young people. Giving that spark of interest some oxygen and fanning the flames is the way forward, and perhaps eventually people will cease to accept the nightmarish fantasy foisted on us by those guys behind the curtain with their levers. We live in hope.

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