Understanding Growthism

Resistance may be futile, or not



TUCSON (A-P) — Corporations began to subsume nation-states by the mid 19th century.

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country..... corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.” — President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together." — farewell address of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 17, 1961

Despite the soldier turned part-time politician's warning, who couldn't say what he saw until his farewell address, the global hegemon could claim the end of WWII as the end of nation-state empire building and the beginning of their effectively unchallenged global corporate hegemony. Some areas took a bit longer to subsume, but consider the Russian billionaires and the 7+% growth rate of China, who recently used more concrete in three years than the U.S. used in the 20th century. Any question of whose memes subsumed China to enrich Communist Party members?

The conquest of public narrratives by political ideology (replacing the dominant religious narratives of earlier centuries), for better or worse, has been by the more virulent and profitable ideology of growth (aka prosperity) for its own sake. The ultimate heresy involves noting the conquest, the exponential growth, and then asking, "And then what?"

To ask is to subvert. The power of the growther system depends on its narratives being believed in. Once its lack of clothes is noted (when humans are forced to take note), support will pass away. But until then, everyone 'knows' what feels good to believe and doubting verities is disconcerting, so only a few ask and are politely ignored until they "get over it." The media serves best (maximizes viewers) by telling us what we want to hear or at least must end any potentially troubling story on a positive spin. The media, including social, isn't valued just for the milk and cheese and profit it brings.

To understand the corporate entities among us, imagine giant amoeboid creatures blobbing about the planet pursuing only the contingencies of profit. Amoeba are not noted for their intelligence. They blob about pursuing only the contingencies of eatable: Is this eatable? No, move away. Is this eatable? Yes, then subsume it. Something in the way? Blob around it...

The internal biodynamics of an amoeba is quite complex, sophisticated, implying a high level of evolved intracellular intelligence, but in the world they just blob about engulfing what is eatable. Corporations are the same. The humans within the corporate body may be very clever apes, but basically the body corporate only responds to the opportunities of profit and avoidance of interference. Blaming corporations or getting angry with them gives them too much credit. They are inhuman. They are as predictable as amoeba. They will blob about the planet until all the energy and resources are used up. That there will be no tolerable planet to live on means nothing to amoeboid entities lacking foresight intelligence as only the short-term contingencies of profit matter.

Not listening to Lincoln, Eisenhower, others, or to one's own still small voice was a mistake and still is. Humans need to correct the mistake and sooner will be better. As H.G. Wells noted, it comes down to a "race between education and catastrophe." Those attempting to educate are marginalized and if they become prominent, media fast guns for hire will hammer them down as they have hammers and anyone who sticks up looks like a nail.


To know thy enemy, consider this offering from John Oliver's comedy tonight. The last journalists to retain a toehold on critical thinging within the media are comics, valued for their entertainment value and ratings. Those paying attention may note a bit of subversive truth within the Colbert, Stewart, and Oliver style comedy. But comics, for some reason, aren't being taken seriously. If they were ever to actually interfere with, much less threaten, business as usual, they'll be hammered down.

If you think the tobacco multinationals are in any way different in their business as usual modus operandi from all other corporations, then you haven't been paying attention as the years go by. Perhaps a new world order won't be so bad.

Imagine Phillip Morris had been informed by its own scientists that there was some evidence smoking could be harmful. Executives, certain that smoking was mostly healthful, wanted to know if smoking could somehow cause some harm, however small, which they could avert by developing a completely healthy cigarette. If science were to find evidence that cigarettes posed some risk, they wanted to be the first  to market a fully safe and proven healthy product and profit immensely. They believed in their product and in their science. They put together a brain trust of the best scientists money could buy to research tobacco safety. They even allowed their scientists to publish early studies that showed tobacco use involved serious health risks. But when their scientists merely confirmed the growing consensus within the scientific community that smoking cigarettes had no health benefits, Phillip Morris cease to fund their research, hired "better" scientists to inform the public of the truth, and were reduced to hiring people with "MD" after their name to do TV ads asserting that they smoked Phillip Morris cigarettes and urged their patients to as well.

Phillip Morris, like other corporations, never actually wasted money going real science that wouldn't help them make more money. One corporation, however, did. In the late 1970's Exxon's scientists told them about global warming. They funded research, allowed early findings to be published, then defunded their brain trust and became leaders in climate denialism.   

So, shall it be business as usual? Seven billion growthers can't be wrong, right? Oh, and don't forget to ask, "And then what?"

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain

Corporations have been enthroned. — Abraham Lincoln

It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be. — Isaac Asimov

Democracy no longer means what it was meant to. It has been taken back into the workshop. Each of its institutions has been hollowed out, and it has been returned to us as a vehicle for the free market, of the corporations, for the corporations, by the corporations.... Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing. —Arundhati Roy

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. — Arthur Schopenhauer. That there are limits to growth is still in the first stage. By the time this is self-evident, people will likely be eating each other.


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