Economical Viability, a contradiction

by Antonio Dias

We spread poison and paralysis around us
…in that we want to educate all the world around us into reason.

C. G. Jung

Economic viability, I came across this expression in one of JMG’s comments. A commonplace of Peak Oil debate. I think it deserves a closer look. It is a grounding assumption for just about anything we might do. One of the first barriers we encounter as we attempt to respond to our predicaments. All of our institutions, and even our own internal conditioning, are established on the foundation that our endeavors must be economically viable. Even so-called non-profit entities swim in this current, dealing with an inexorable pressure to meet its expectations.

We are deep in the land of double binds. When we have binged on a surfeit of polarized thinking, as we have for so long, when the only way our shadows can break through our unwillingness to accept them is to manifest as projections; the outcome of our actions will inexorably appear to us as a series of seemingly insurmountable double binds.

This is true for an individual on a path into insanity. It is also true of cultures descending into madness.

At every turn we are confronted with polarities masquerading as options that contradict each other, leaving us paralyzed as to how we might proceed.

One of the most visible – if only we care to look – is the way Fukushima has illustrated collapsing industrial society’s “nuclear option.” There are over four hundred nuclear reactor facilities world-wide. It was the deepest insanity to have built even one. But here we are. The God of Progress was supposed to present us with an easy way to defuse the time bomb of nuclear waste.

Technological miracles haven’t arrived on schedule. Lacking “illegal aliens” to do the deadly work of pushing the poison around, TEPCO hires the homeless as modern day Kamikazes. Sacrificing their own lives for the Emperor no longer high on the priorities of Japan’s Neoliberal elites. We face the certain prospect that over the next few hundred years – to be wildly optimistic on how long this will take to unravel – they will all begin spilling their guts, adding virulent spice to the cocktail of slow seepage from waste facilities we’ve endured over the last sixty years.

This was a given before Fukushima. What Fukushima has done is make it quite clear that any ecotopian fantasy of blowing up all the dams and hastening the demise of this killing machine we are strapped to would do anything but hasten the day when the “peaceful atom’s” Mutually Assured Destruction option comes to pass.

Not even Dr. Strangelove could have envisioned what our emotionally crippled elites have actually accomplished over this span of time.

Economical viability is, in comparison, a much milder form of contradiction. At least it would be if it were not so prevalent. We run into its constraints at every turn. It channels all of our actions no matter what our allegiance to its internal logic.

This logic…. Even the Salem witch hunts proceeded by the “rule of law.” There are few terrors unleashed that vie with our own monsters of reason. Internal logic, internal consistency, an engine of insanity since it came to dominate us at the beginning of this fading Age of Reason.

It’s simple really. Internal cohesion; of an idea, of a concept, of a corporate entity – using that term in its broad original meaning: something with a body – does not ensure coherence. Taken in isolation – the source of this concept’s immense power to do harm – internal logic maintains itself by actively breaking any wider connections. It ensures the isolation of an element from a broader whole. As everything is a part and a holographic aspect of the whole of everything, this extends to the entire universe. This tearing loose from the entirety of being ensures that every effort we make to follow an internal logic will be destructive. Down this wormhole goes any intended “objective” perspective. The motivation behind our acceptance of its narrow reasonableness. All these attempts lead us into expressions of what is, or would be – if we were not so blinded by our own spectacle – seen as obviously extremely insane. It’s been a point of pride throughout Modernity to point out this insanity – in relation to what is considered an outmoded common sense – as a sign of the value of a radical position. The subversion of the survivor’s strategy of detachment into the modern notion of “cool.”

This is how the challenge of thought plays itself out within “the economic realm.” A series of internally consistent delusions has been built into a body of social constructs, from laws to customs, that have generated a projected horizon that limits all potential options to those few that fit its insane parameters. Like dogs held in a backyard by a series of little flags marking the range of their movement as dictated by zap-collars, we hold ourselves to this barrier whether the power is turned on or not. We cannot imagine any other way to be.

There are two broad possibilities to keep in mind. It could be that there are ways to change how we behave that might alter what seems to be an unavoidable course into exceedingly bad-days. It could also be that it is far too late to do anything that will outwardly alter the course of events now under way. That nothing can be changed by our direct action, within a timescale we now consider relevant.

It’s important to realize that it doesn’t matter which of these broad channels holds our Fate. There is present, immediate benefit, as well as the possibility of some longer range amelioration, to discovering some clarity and proceeding in a more  coherent manner.

This is not a perverse insistence on de-motivating people. It’s important to see how our expectations of how motivation should work hold us to contradictions like economic viability. At the bottom of this pressure to feel that we can only act when we feel some external reward will repay us for our efforts is the mechanism driving the entire engine of economic viability. It is inseparable from an expectation of salvation. That life is something to be endured while we wait for some other entity to save us from its suffering and make us whole. It’s a profound misunderstanding of the proprioception of thought. It turns our efforts into a struggle that cannot be resolved from within its internal logic. It holds us within a fundamental contradiction.

Clarity is the result of an insight into what-is, in relation to what only appears to be. When we achieve a moment of clarity we find purpose and a buoyancy of spirit to counter the pressures of forever marshaling will to push us to do things our organism rebels against. We have a visceral, tacit response to any effort to channel our being into these tunnels of coercion. Yet faced with the prevalence and sheer habitual power and the ubiquity of these toxic illusions we find it easier to repress those instincts and conform to destructive edicts. As this process erodes our abilities to respond, instead of merely reacting to the dangers around us, it becomes ever more difficult to break free.

This is where the amazing restorative powers of finding even the most fragile form of clarity can reawaken our capacities to live. Once the first steps are taken and we begin to experience change as it happens – not as we have been led to expect it to work – we find each subsequent step easier to take. Through a process of mental and emotional hygiene we find our selves turning away from madness. Not as a force of will pushing us to avoid a negative. We find the pull of life takes us to places where our attention is otherwise occupied than by the insanity of internal consistency constraining us to the paralyzing bondage of the double bind.

We don’t resist the binds. We don’t fight them. We don’t break them. We discover that there is an infinity of possibility in all the other directions we were unable to see while fixated on the two poles of our dilemmas. Coming down off this “cross,” we no longer need to be saved. Life is sufficient.

Economic viability is a fiction maintained to “prevent” that we fall into suffering. Focused on suffering as a given, jumping right past the reality of pain and accepting the illusion that pain equates with suffering, it is intended to keep suffering at bay. As with every strategy of “problem solving” it ensures that its “unintended consequences” will proliferate the very thing it is intended to prevent. Acting incoherently, basing our deliberations on a profound misunderstanding, reacting to any attempt to uncover the traps and illusions holding us in its binds as an attack on our well-being; we fall deeper into madness.

So long as we keep looking over our shoulders at the demands of economic viability we hold our selves and our societies trapped in the binds of its contradictions. Suffering is a mental state. It cannot be alleviated or removed by physical manipulations of circumstances and situations. Suffering disappears when we recognize what it is.

Eliminating this distraction, this illusion and the perverse results it forces us to perpetrate in its name, we can then deal with pain.

Life and pain are inseparable. This is borne out in the way our efforts to eliminate pain may result in the destruction of all life. This is an inevitable result of any tantrum. Fixated on suffering, looking for its elimination in all the wrong places, insisting that our will – driven without guidance by our panic and anxiety – must be defended against any intrusion on our delusions; we are incapable of dealing with any aspect of life. Shying away from suffering we inflict enormous damage, ensuring that pain increases beyond any necessity.

These are the wages of economic viability. The sooner we recognize them for what they are the sooner we can lift this tremendous barrier to unleashing our capacities to live.