Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tom and Barbara: kept pig in kitchen
I was going to write this whole thing about ecology - I'm reminded of this with Warszawa's essay. This was an interesting essay. I disagree about Iraq though. The revealed powerlessness of the general population in this country is surely a very bad sign. These banal points relate more to other things:
1. Consumption is related to work - all other things equal the more people work the more is consumed and vice versa. A reduction in consumption is equivalent to an increase in leisure. That this leisure is expressed as unemployment rather than a shortened working week is really political not economic. How much people would work if the only factor to think about was consumption, so not including this constructed insecurity, is hard to gauge. Probably people would want to work less.
2. In the most industrialised countries only a small proportion of the population work in agriculture now (in the UK 1%, in the US 2%, Denmark 3%*). Even in a crisis this figure is not going to be greatly multiplied. the most realistic response to a food shortage would be more intensive agriculture not a return to peasant agriculture, especially for office workers etc. Reprocessed neoliberal "knowledge workers" are not going to be better at farming than experienced farmers. They might be better at writing CROP FAILURE on one of those jumbo pads in marker pen with arrows pointing out the reasons: FARM MANAGEMENT, CLIMATE CHANGE, SKILL BASE, WEEVILS etc, or setting up a projector slide of a cartoon character saying WHAT NEXT? in front of a withered field.
*proportion of those in work, Economist World in Figures 2007