The First Post – economy and consciousness

infrastructure-jt.jpg
(image “INFRASTRUCTURE ” by John Tracey)

Welcome to the first post of Paradigm Oz.
by John Tracey – the editor

Paradigm
“ a typical example or pattern of something; a model” or ” a worldview underlying the theories and methodology of a particular scientific subject”

Oz 
“Australian” or “representing a pronunciation of an abbreviation of Australia”

Over the last 200 years Australia has settled into a particular “paradigm”. A British system of Law and justice, English language, cities, motor vehicle dependence, nuclear families, electronic communications and consumerism. Also homelessness, increasing obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and suicide rates.
Oz in the 21st century has developed dysfunctional habits. We are stuck in a social and ecological track that we cannot deviate from because of the sheer mass and momentum of the status quo.
Political activists and parties have developed cunning strategies for social change. But these strategies are at best tokenistic and overwhelmed by the size of the task in hand, or they remain as interesting ideological debate amongst the deck top chatter on the Titanic.

The “political” campaigns have been simply commentary from within the Oz paradigm, pointing out inherent contradictions and deep analysis but nothing in terms of a realistic response to the real situation. Too little too late is a gross understatement of our capacity for reform thus far.
Perhaps it is time to challenge the paradigm?
What if the real engine of Oz society was not the economy or the political process but the psychological and spiritual process?
Karl Marx and his adherents claim that the economy creates social consciousness. The modes of production determine our position in and perspective of the world.
Mr. Marx is not so relevant these days, but I use him as an example of European political dichotomies and discourse that operate in the same paradigm. It is the paradigm itself that needs to be reformed, not the balance of power within it.

Mr. Marx, with all respect, failed to have the vision to analyze the capacity for industrialization and economic determinism to destroy the environment and therefore the primary economic base – the land itself. His prescriptions for industrialisation as the step towards the emancipation of the working class was in fact a recipe for economic scarcity such as is evolving through our now having to pay the dollar cost of withdrawing from energy intensive, in particular fossil fuel economies. It is not the barons of industry that are tightening their belts but the working class and the rapidly expanding underclass who are suffering through the new Oz industrial relations laws and cutbacks to social services. The growing division between rich and poor is not just the consequence of ten years of a Howard government but of the restricting nature of the economy itself. Ah, but the Oz economy is growing! It must continue to grow in order to maintain the profits and affluence of the Oz paradigm. If growth slows, let alone reaches a stop, then our growth economy stalls and we hit recession.
Most of the globe has been exploited today. In Mr. Marx’s time and even into the twentieth century imperialism and colonisation saw a continued expansion of cheap raw products, cheap labour and developing markets as the European economic empires revved up the global growth economy. Today with ecological and supply restrictions of fossil fuels plus the decreasing availability of products such as, for example, timber and seafood plus the absence of new land to colonise, a growth economy is not a sustainable paradigm for Oz at all.
Marx and the Barons of industry, while being poles apart ideologically, shared a common consciousness that saw the industrial paradigm as the only one.
About the time of Mr. Marx, in Oz there was an ongoing frontier war between the new British Paradigm and an Aboriginal paradigm, including economy, had reached a point of economic stability that included personal prosperity for all. The Aboriginal Paradigm is based on spiritual (or psychological if you prefer) connection to land and family. The elders of the families controlled and managed the modes of production.
Ceremony and art as well as kin relationship were central to the economy as well as teaching and training into the modes of production. Consciousness drove economy rather than the other way around. Consciousness was created through socialisation into the natural environment, not the workplace.
The European economies of Marx’s time bear little resemblance to global capitalism today. It is logical to expect that a modern Aboriginal economy, had their not been an invasion, would bear little resemblance to the stereotype of eighteenth or nineteenth century Aboriginal lifestyle. However the Aboriginal economy was smashed completely to make way for cows, sheep, pigs, sugar and grains. The English agricultural paradigm.

Today the socialist ideal is fading and being replaced with a new ecological ethos driving movements for political change. However the notions of the environment and ecology – what this country is – is based on European traditions of science and with only a very short time in this country. The colonial ecological paradigms are greatly different from Aboriginal paradigms that have developed through thousands of years of being part of the Oz environment. The European model is to protect the wilderness from human impact. The Aboriginal model is that human impact is a crucial aspect of the wilderness. The natural habitat for the human is the bush, not the city. Since the invasion has removed the human species from the ecosystem the wilderness has lost balance without management.
It is only through dumping dysfunctional European modes of lifestyle and land management that can bring about any chance of disrupting the momentum of our growth economy. There are no models for ecological lifestyle in European consciousness, as the process of environmental destruction has been occurring in Europe for thousands of years.
I do not advocate rushing into a Stone Age existence. I do advocate rushing out of the European consumerist paradigm and consciousness that drives the growth economy. Beyond that we can only use our intellect, creativity and spirit to build a new Oz paradigm.

2 Comments

Filed under society, spirituality

2 responses to “The First Post – economy and consciousness

  1. Hello John,

    Thank you for your comments on the continuing usefulness of “Not Guilty”. It is good to see that Magistrate Noel Nunan can still recognise the power of a defence plea based on the principles in “Not Guilty”.

    You say in your opening statement on Paradigm Oz above that “we can only use our intellect, creativity and spirit to build a new Oz paradigm.

    You go on to say that Marx and the Barons of industry ‘shared a common consciousness that saw the industrial paradigm as the only one.’

    You say that Marx thought that ‘modes of production determine our position in and perspective of the world.’

    But what do you say of Marx’s humanist views on the ‘Estrangement of Labour’?

    “Firstly, the fact that labour is external to the worker – i.e., does not belong to his essential being; that he, therefore, does not confirm himself in his work, but denies himself, feels miserable and not happy, does not develop free mental and physical energy, but mortifies his flesh and ruins his mind.”

    “His labour is, therefore, not voluntary but forced, it is forced labour.”

    “It is, therefore, not the satisfaction of a need but a mere means to satisfy needs outside itself. ”

    “Its alien character is clearly demonstrated by the fact that as soon as no physical or other compulsion exists, it is shunned like the plague. ”

    Karl Marx “Early Writings” p 326

    NB: In the original German that Marx wrote he uses the word “Mensch” for man. This word is not gender specific it applies to both sexes.

  2. Hello again Ian

    Early Marx is kind of cute but his later writings and the bulk of his adherents seem to have abandoned notions of “essential being”
    I accuse Marx of being a captive of his ethnicity culture and time – can’t condemn him for that
    However in Australia in the 21st century we have the luxury of hindsight as well as exposure to another culture and mode of economy – Aboriginal society
    Marx like his contemporaries including the utopian naturalists naively saw the Earth as infinite
    It was a given as a free supply of primary resources to be exploited by humans – in Marx’s case as a fuel for industrialisation
    Lenin and Trotsky’s racist genocide of Russian Earth-based cultures (peasants) and the squashing of their land rights to feed the new urbainsed working class especially the military is perhaps the most striking example of Marxism’s disrespect for the Earth
    Today we see the Earth itself especially its limitations becoming a significant economic factor of itself
    Scarcity caused by ecological collapse as a direct result of industrialisation is impacting on the poorest first while the ruling class manages strategies to protect it’s affluence from scarcity

    Aboriginal society has developed through thousands of generations of stability without war and colonisation (until recently)
    This society is based on the Earth itself as being the primary economic unit – not labour
    In tribal communism people have work to do but their consciousness is determined by connections to family and country – not work
    In the absence of class scarcity the motivation for work is not the desperate struggle to put food on the table but rather to facilitate the weird and wonderfull ideosyncracies of consciousness
    Anthropologists have suggested the average days labour in traditional society is less than 4 hours a day -weaved amongst a plethora of ceremonial and artistic activities

    work is fasioned to fullfill the desires of consciousness

    The closest European capitalist consciousness comes to this is by placing economic value on such things as art and sex but the profit of bosses polutes this and incorporates it into capitalist alienation

    The affluent lifestyles of the ruling class is another example of how in the absence of scarcity turns labour into a mechanism for facilitating the ideosynchracies of consciousness except their consciousness is individualised and disconnected from others and the Earth

    “essential being” – got to get spiritual now
    The deliniation between “internal” consciousness and “external”material reality is an illusion of European war consciousness developed over thousands of years of war and dislocation

    God and the infinite cosmos are our essential being which is denied and ignored through the process of alienation described by Marx
    But such alienation is not just caused by capitalist work modes but by a range of dysfunctional social institutions such as the nuclear family schools the police etc

    The clearest example of this is the alienation that Aboriginal people are forced into through assimilation into European modes of society

    Today most Aborigines could not be described as workers
    Beyond Marx’s miscelaneous category for non-workers the “lumpen proletariet” both the Marxist analysis and prescriptions for liberation are irelevent to address alienation in colonised Earth based societies

    The truth is – before the invasion Aboriginal families were capitalist land owners within a fabric of tribal/family communism

    The essence of the Land rights movement is to restore Traditional owners to their place of capitalist land owners where they can again exploit their estates for their own self interest within the broader frameworks of spirituality and culture – not just material economy

    Marx’s early dreams of tribal communism were naive and constructed totally within urban European industrial frameworks with no reverence for the place of the Earth in human consciousness -apart from that Marxists have rarely explored this notion and have not managed to connect this utopian illusion to the real material manifestations of tribal communism in the 19th 20th or 21st centuries

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