anatomy of collapse

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 | Uncategorized

just returned from a meeting with the African sustainabile development group at the World Bank. a few impressions & reactions:
–the Bank has come a long way from their old (and much critized) Washington Consensus model (of privitization, deregulation, etc.) to an advanced thinking on how to put sustainable development into practice better, faster, and at more scale. sure, there still is a lot resistance and there still is a long way to go. but it was inspiring to work with this group of sustainability pioneers inside the Bank.
–we also looked at the case of Zimbabwe. we all know the facts from newspapers: a difficult postcolonial history leading into the collapse of the sectors of agriculture, water supply, energy supply, food supply, manufacturing, and the monetary system, resulting in mass poverty and hunger (absolute poverty going up from  29 to 63% ), and mass exodus (about 4 million fleeing the country).
–looking at the extreme version of a collapse in Zimbabwe makes clear that what is needed is not only instant action and help, but also, a new approach to developing, healing, and regenerating the whole. how would that work?
–talking about collapse: aren’t we also in the midst of a collapse in the West right now? having seen socialism collapse after the crumbling of the Berlin Wall in 1989, now it appears as if the other shoe is dropping: the collapse of extreme market capitalism (meltdown of the unregulated financial sector at the expense of the real economy).
–and now, what?

2 Comments to anatomy of collapse

Greg Eden
October 23, 2008

What’s been extremely encouraging and not particularly noticed (is it now taken for granted?) is the level of co-operation between Western institutions during the collapse. Perhaps not so long ago fierce protectionism and war might have been the very different result.

The level of communication, connectedness – ‘togetherness’ (driven amongst the general population by the Internet??) now largely present is warming.

That’s not to say further progress isn’t needed especially with regard to including our natural environment more tightly into this feeling of togetherness.

I lived in Zimbabwe as a child in the early 80’s poverty and shortages (petrol, bread) were all too evident then – as was the megalomania of government officials.

Given that forceful intervention to remove the Mugabe government is not a viable option (ahem, Iraq) one slow but deeply effective/empowering option might be to encourage the growth of non-political general educational organisations within the country to effectively educate the populace out of dictatorship. The difficult part of that would be gaining the permission to do that, given that dictators are wisely fearful of propaganda free education. Perhaps it could be linked to aid / sanctions.

November 27, 2008

its a good point Greg: as the level of crisis goes up, the level of collaborative response also moves in the same direction. thats important and encouraging. as the old Hölderlin / Heidegger line goes: Where the danger is, the saving power also emerges… (or something).

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