Worldpolitics

Worldpolitics is a reading group dedicated to major political issues worldwide.

ActivitiesEdit

Possible activities:

  • Looking for texts (or other media)
  • Discussing these

ParticipantsEdit

LiteratureEdit

Hubert Sauper: Darwin's NightmareEdit

Hubert Sauper

Hubert Sauper is an Austrian filmmaker. He has a postmodern view on filmmaking, meaning that he is a strong sense of perspectivism. He countered the massive antipathy towards his documentary Darwin's Nightmare, on the influence of capitalism on the lifestyle of people living on Lake Victoria in Tanzania, by stating that he has manipulated the documentary as every documentary maker does, by choosing the subjects which he did and by arranging some film effects, like filming someone at night instead of during the day in order to gain a desired effect. Sauper says that the film could have been made on several third world countries. He merely chose Tanzania.


Darwin's Nightmare

The reason for the enormous antipathy, has to do with the messages that Sauper tries to tell the world. The Unique habitat of Lake Victoria is being destroyed by a new fish. There are several species of fish, but they are getting extinct. The new fish has been put in Lake Victoria in order to catch them for the industry. Fish is being sold to Europe for consumption. The fishermen who catch the fish have to work in such bad condition that many of them drown on the lake. Working in the fishing industry doesn't pay enough money to raise a family, so the women are forced to work as prostitutes and die of AIDS. Children often have to live on the streets. Many areas around the lake are suffering from hunger. These people eat the rest of the fish caught on the lake. European countries give aid to the fishing industry, because they see it as a positive development towards a modern society in Tanzania. Strangely enough, the local population earns nothing of the profit of the industry. Airplanes carry loads of fish to Europe, but it is unknown what is coming back. One Ukrainian pilot (many of which die of AIDS) tells at the end that most of the cargos back to Africa are filled with weapons, and a minor portion is with food to help the hungry people.


Some thoughts for discussion

  • (update) An inconvenient Truth by Al Gore. Describes the climate disaster that we are facing.
  • (update) Earth: The Power of the Planet by Iain Stewart on the BBC. Is mainly on the beauty of earth but also warns for the annihilation of human kind due to the fast way in which humans change their own natural habitat.
  • (update) Jeffrey Sachs interviewed by Joris Luyendijk on Nederland 2. The interview is in English with dutch subtitles. (It is not yet online)
  • This year, i was in Ecuador in the Yasuni National Park. Yasuni is the largest park of Ecuador, in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest. Recently, oil companies have build raods deep into the jungle. Poor Ecuadorians have emigrated to the jungle en masse and live beside these roads. 25% of the jungle has been gone. Local indians in Yasuni National Park have been chased away by the oil company. This is a second example of the state of our world.
  • Natives in Brazil, who have never had first-contact with 'civilization' have a good chance to be introduced by employees of big corporations. These employees have a tendency to kill these natives with machine guns. If the natives aren't killed, than the place would automatically become a national park. If there aren't natives, than they can do what they want. The natives are not known yet to civilization, so nobody would miss them when they are gone. Also, they live in very remote areas, so nobody will hear or witness the murders, except for the employees of these corporations.
  • What are the motives of people to continue these destructive behaviours?
    • Overpopulation. The hunger and deforestation is often due to increasing population growth. The excess of humans destroys natural habitats, thereby dangerously changing the earth's climate, of which the effects can't be determined clearly by scientists. Many mechanisms of climate change are unknown. Especially religion plays a large role, since many muslim and christian populations are very strong in advocating child birth. The fishing industry in Tanzania shows us the combination of industrialism combined with a severe lack of wealth and welfare. Excess population is able to stay alive in such an industry, but in inhumane circumstances. It should be noted however that enough food could be produced for 24 billion people. Russia has a lot of land was used for agriculture, but which stands barren now. At present, the free market economy ensures hunger to continue, because products are only made and transported if something is produced in return.
      • The problem of overpopulation is that measurements to improve living conditions can become pointless, due to the ever-growing population. It could lead to mass-starvation. Given the free market system, the western world will be effected by this. Many products that could be produced in the west are being made in poorer countries, because of low income. Gertrude Himmelfarb (see above) claims that the worldpopulation is getting lower and that people should have more children.
      • Two solutions for overpopulation are birth control and innovation. The last with the hope to improve the living conditions of people in such a way that they will make less children as in the west. The pope is against fighting poverty in Latin America, because people should focus on heaven instead of the temporary life on earth.
    • The ideal of progress and the ideal of having the right to earn a decent living.
      • A major motive of the destruction done by oil companies in Ecuador, major agricultural corporations in Brazil, the fishing industry in Tanzania has to do with the idea that it would make the world better. It is perceived that this is the way the economy will grow and people can afford a nicer way of living. Actually, this effect is short-sighted and dubious, because the destruction of our natural habitat can have a major impact in the future, while the progress is only temporary.
      • Earning a decent way individually can be another motive. Earning a decent living is temporary. People have to organize their environment in order to be able to satisfy their needs. Also, it is defended that people who work hard, or who are very succesfull in a trade are able to earn a lot for their excellence.
      • This kind of progress is crude and won't work. There need to be more communication between humans in order to come to real progress. This is the solution that Sauper is in favour of. People hardly communicate with eachother, but are very dependent due to trade relationships. Internet could help by establishing communication networks.
    • Inhumanity is a major concern. Managers of corporations who determine to earn money by killing natives, employees who kill these natives, western producers of weapons, African elites that buy weapons instead of resources for the local population all share a clear lack of humanity. A characteristic of these kind of people is that they don't want to be perceived as evil. In our liberal world, that means that they want to keep their acts hidden. Liberal-minded journalists and concerned citizens ensure that their deeds become known. Inhumane people can be egoistic, wanting to satisfy their personal needs, without caring for all other people. They can be elitist, defending their family, friends and class and do like they are respectable citizens with good manners. They can be racist or nationalistic, trying to things for their own kind and don't mind hurting others. Also, many religions and ideologies are deemed to be only able to survive if if a hard hawkish policy is being pursued.
  • Europe versus Africa; rich versus poor.
    • On the television, i saw a program about the friendship between a Dutchman and a Senegalese. The Senegalese man had lived in Amsterdam, illegally, for 5 years and went back to Africa, being a rich man. In Holland, many illegal immigrants are very unhappy with suicidal tendencies. They expect Europe to be a paradise and discover it is not the case. Also this Senegalese man had this problem. Illegal immigrants have to fear to be discovered by the police and sent back home. They perceive Dutch society as hostile.
    • In Africa, people watch television and are able to see European wealth. That is why they think of Europe as a paradise. Besides, Europeans give a lot of aid to Africans. Africans want to flee from their hell on earth by going to the continent where the aid is coming from. Many emigrants return to Africa with wealth, thereby contributing to the local economy.
    • There is a huge braindrain of specialists, like doctors, from Africa to wealthier places. These specialists want to earn a better income and live in a more accomodated society.
    • A Lot of popular genre of songs that reach the top of the music charts in West-Africa are suicide songs. These songs describe life as a hell and prefer being dead over living. Many Africans flee to Europe, and don't mind dying during the trip, claiming they will die of hunger when they stay home.
    • Emigrants are required to be succesful, if they come home to Africa without money, than they will be seen as losers. The Senegalese man came back wealthy, and everybody came to ask him for money. He was supposed to share all his wealth. When he refused many, they got angry with him. So, even when someone retreats home succesfully, he will be treated without enthusiasm.
    • Theory on African elitism: African elites have little regard for the needs of the common men. Perhaps it has to do with the enormous pressure of common people for whom life is a major struggle for daily survival. For a happy family life with a customary satisfaction of daily needs, it is needed to be part of an exclusive inner circle. These inner circle will not be haunted by people who try to survive. Elites are suffering from a constant threat to lose their power and the base of their wealth. The common population has no interest with this concern and the elites can't do anything to adress the suffering, and this leads to alienation between the elite and the wider population in Africa.
    • Happiness and poverty. In a book on centenials, i read about a Dutch woman who was young 100 years ago. Europe was much poorer back then, somehow comparable with present third world countries. She was amiguous about the present wealth in Europe. Poverty is terrible, so it is good to live in a wealthy society. But, she said that people don't sing loudly anymore on the street or are openly laughing. Somehow, wealthiness reduces the ability to share feelings with others.
  • Aid organizations are dependent on attention from the media on humanitarian crises. Humanitarian crises often occur in areas dominated by armed forces who caused the crises itself. In order for aid organizations to help those who suffer, they have to give a lot of aid to these armed forces. This aid helps armed forces to continue the war.

itulip.comEdit

  • Itulip.com is an American website for investors. It tries to give the best investment strategies for common investors. The makers of this website were fed up with the many lies that were told by many representatives of the financial world and government officials on economy in America. Collectively, they tried to seek out the truth in order to determine where your money can be the safest. A problem with investing is that money can dissapear without a trace, if you don't invest wisely.
  • (Update: Article on the kind of crises we can get. The present crises could be worse than the crises of the 1930s.)
  • (Update: This article gives a decent summary of the recent changes in thinking about economics. According to the writer, who is the owner of Itulip, we are now at a turning point in economic thought. Economic thought will change considerably and neoliberalism will disappear in his view.)
  • (Update: We are now at a breaking point. Present economy will change from now on and the whole text i wrote here is rapidly becoming outdated. This could also shed a whole new light on the two articles above on on the views of Himmelfarb and Sauper.)
  • (Update: The main reason for the present credit crunch is not the problem on the house markets, but the war on Iraq. The American government is paying the war with credit, which cost 3 billion dollars already. The economic result of the Iraq war will be that American consumers will be less able to consume in the coming years. This will lower the cost for labour in America, so jobs will be created at the cost of the rest of the world. Which will have consequences for the economy worldwide. In the end, all consumers in the world will pay for the war on Iraq.)
  • (Update: Some British sense of humour.)
  • Itulip gives a grim picture of the present economy in the west. The free market counts for common people, but at the top-level there are is a lot of government intervention. One of the active participants on the Itulip forum sees America as a kind of Soviet Union where apparatshiks rule and the common population is mislead to think to live in a country with a free economy.
  • At the moment, the economy of America is at the verge of a major recession. American banks have lost trust in eachother. They are afraid that if they lend money to eachother, the money will be lost. The Federal Reserve has made an end to all control on money lending in the 1990s, which created a huge money bubble (favourite word on Itulip). Also, China and other countries lend a lot of money to America. America will become less wealthy as it is now in the coming decades and the economic system or the mentality of the American elite has to change, in order to bring back trust.
  • In the meanwhile, the economic growth in the Third World and the ever rising worldpopulation is getting its consequences in the rising prices of food and commodities. Oil is getting more and more expensive due to a lack of production. Shell thinks that it will take a couple of years before energy is cheaper again. There are many alternatives to the present sources of energy.
  • What is the best way to organize the economy?
    • If a choice has to be made between America and the Soviet Union in the 1980s, than it would be easy. The Soviet Union had a deteriorating economy, that couldn't even produce enough food and America had the most flexible and the most modern economy of all ages. And an economy which was expanding at a rate which was faster than ever. The economic problems were the main reason for the collapse of the Soviet Union, as can be seen by the discussions that took place in the Polit Buro of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s.
    • Still an easy choice for America is not enough, because why would the succesfull economy of all ages suddenly be heading towards a disaster? Economists say that the American economy is flexible, but it is a big gamble as well. Many possible disasters are being avoided with temporary solutions and this can be repeated untill all temporary solutions are done and than there can be a major collapse. Of course, due to the flexibility, the economy will be growing again in the long run.
    • In the Soviet Union there was a large state which ruled the entire economy. This was the main reason for the economic deterioration. The elite didn't help to develop the society and critical institutions were not maintained. In the west, many critical institutions, like food supply are handled by the invisible hand of the economy. The free market is essential for a succesfull economy.
    • At the moment there is a crises where a lack of trust is apparent. Neoliberal economics needs economic growth to make high risks profitable. Now, the economy is decreasing so banks tend to become defensive in order to prevent a risk to lose money. Perhaps the state is needed to repair trust. Problem is, the state is already intervening on a major scale, using tax money to safe business.
    • A theory on the problems of this moment is that there is a lack of transparancy and responsibility by the economic elite. To deal with difficult economic problems requires an elite which is dedicated to the welfare of common citizens and is willing to ensure that the society invests in critical institutions, like education and welfare. This can be perfectly done in a free market economy.
    • The benefit of the state is to bring security when the free market fails. Therefore it is good to have a strong and reliable state. The best recipe for success in the society is to have a state dedicated to the welfare of common citizens and not a state which builds up a major army like in the USA.


Itulip.com and Sustainability?Edit

  • www.itulip.com is an interesting website, but I wonder if those that have analyzed have missed still other even more underlying causes. Sustainability is a topic that is currently widely being studied. Much in the world's economics is rooted unsustainable resource extraction. There is consumption of materials that cannot be renewed at the rate of consumption (if indeed at all). It might seem unlikely that environmental limitations would explain financial contractions but consider the issue of resource extraction in the America.
  • America has depleted its resources rather rapidly and in nearly every aspect harvested or extracted resources unsustainably. Therefore companies extracting those resources have moved to other countries. What began as just a loss of jobs in extracting resources such as wood, lumber and metals would progress to jobs using those resources (since it is more economic to ship finished products than resources to other countries. That creates a technological need in those countries (extracting resources) and leads to more technological development. Lastly, jobs in finance are in peril because there is no longer enough income required to complete the transactions of individuals whom were relied upon the current level of business development.

Financial instruments by design are instruments that tend to conserve the future availability of money. These instruments ,call them debts, were made in eras of high profitability due to the sale of unsustainable resource extraction. One worrisome thought for any American, is that our federal government is, in this context, An financial instrument used to guarentee furture availability of money. Could it default?

  • Since some of our efforts seem unsustainable? the question arises that has long intrigued philosophers- what will happen as we globally deplete resources? Even within my own industry, there is controversy about the potential reserves of petroleum. Still there seems an expansion of drilling and more oil is produced than at any time in our history. however some critics charge that misleading information is given about this and still others point to the undeniable future reality... petroleum production cannot be continued at ever higher amounts forever. prices have rose, creating financial incentives for additional production. This is somewhat artificial, we make it Look like there is more oil because we take more money out of the economy for it. but the money or value must come from somewhere.

I think these issues underly the debate about financial speculation. at this point I do not have too much on this source data on this. Sustainability is talked about in wikipedia herew:Sustainability.

I have compared and contrasted some of itulip/sustainability. I intend to keep on digging. I also wanted to relate it a little to a personal project. this could be interesting.--Jolie 15:33, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

I agree with you. Itulip is mainly focused on maintaining the economic system and wants to reform this system by producing more products instead of consuming Chinese products on debt.
What will probably happen when resources deplete in a world with an ever growing population is mass-starvation. Perhaps billions of people will die when oil is done, because a lot of the food worldwide is produced thanks to oil. America has a large area for food production and a highly organized country, with a high amount of educated people, so America will probably not suffer from this pandemic, though wealth will decline. Present resources should be used to modernize the whole economy to base it on durable resources. I think major government intervention is important to make this transition happen, of course aided by the free market. If the free market keeps on getting a free ride, resources will be depleted before durable resources are implemented. The present credit crunch could be beneficial in halting the depletion of resources.
I would like to reorganize this page, otherwise it will be too much of a mess. Discussion can be held on the talk page ;-).--Daanschr 09:17, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
There is also a Wikiversity article on sustainability.--Daanschr 15:33, 10 October 2008 (UTC)

Topic for which literature has to be found yetEdit

Science fiction?Edit

New advances in science could create a complete new world with new issues. Believe in a major change of human life due to science was huge in the 1960s and 1970s. But, many visions of the future have not emerged, like that all people would own an airplane in 2000. We are still stuck with many people suffering from hunger instead.

Maybe, major progresses in artificial intelligence will be the start of a complete change of human society or even of humans themselves. Evolution could speed up due to technology and create cyborg mutants. Of course this future perspective is very questionable.

check out [1] for some musings about the future. they do some pretty farfetched thinking about stuff like brain transplants, self-replicating robots, etc. Pretty wild stuff. I question wether any of it happen because of the difficulty in cost, infrastructure, further technical advances, etc.

I think that socio-economic limitations are greatly underestimated in future visionaries. Nevertheless we could talk about some things that seem more likely and things that seem more difficulty. Many visionaries still think that humanity will enter space and colonize it. --Jolie 18:05, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

I can't find the documentary that i saw on the television a few months ago. But here are some things that were in the documentary and related things:
José Manuel Rodriguez Delgado
Visual prosthesis
Artificial intelligence
Technological singularity
I can't remember much anymore of this documentary. It is too long ago.--Daanschr 09:19, 14 October 2008 (UTC)