Monday 6 August 2018

Ted Trainer's Eco-Anarchist Vision 2030 - 2050. --- It is Too Utopian

Dear friends,

My good friend Ted Trainer, a professed eco-anarchist, has recently published a very interesting fictitious Interview entitled

How the Great Transition was Made

    In it he describes how the transition to an ideal eco-anarchist society took place between 2030, when the Great Crash began, and 2050, when the transition was more or less completed.
    I found his vision utopian in the negative sense of the term and suggested that we had better start working on a “soft landing” after the Great Crash, that would certainly come.
    I am posting here the link to Ted’s fictitious interview and then my criticism of his vision. Please read Ted’s interview first.

Here is the link:

Ted Trainer’s Eco-Anarchist Vision 2030–2050. – It is too Utopian

(a letter to Ted)


Dear Ted,

I read your article How the Great Transition Was Made with interest. Good that you are still so hopeful. I have lost all hope. If I am still writing, it is only because I still can. And because I want to do my duty. In the latter sense, allow me to make a few comments. I will not repeat my arguments on anarchism vs. strong state/leadership etc.

(1).You are counting on the Great Depression of the 2030, and then you hope that within twenty years, people would transform capitalist society into a model eco-anarchist one corresponding to your vision. But such great depressions took place earlier, in the 1930s and 2008ff. In both cases, nothing happened in Europe and North America. In the first case, it is only the Second World War that helped overcome the depression. Of course, in those days nobody could imagine limits to growth and resource shortages. But in the second case, everybody of importance in politics and economics new about it. Peak oil and oil price of 140 Dollar were realities. Yet nothing happened. Not even in Greece. The country was offered the possibility of “walking out” (your words) of the Euro-zone; Euro-leaders even offered them financial help for the process. But neither the Greek politicians, nor the Greek people were willing to walk out. They even decided in a referendum to remain and suffer in the system. So much for “people”.

You are writing about the whole world, the whole humanity. But it seems to me that you have in mind only the highly advanced countries of Europe, North America, Australia (The First World), and maybe also China and India, where there are many factories etc. It appears you have not considered the situation in the whole continent of Africa, many states of which have de facto already broken down, have become (or are in the process of becoming) failed states. Also in South and Central America (Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil), in South Asia (Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan), and in the Middle East and North Africa (Syria, Iraq, Libya, Tunisia etc.), states and/or societies are breaking down. Millions of desperate people/migrants/refugees from such countries are trying to gate-crash into the First World. There are also unwanted migrants from some countries of Europe (e.g. Poland, Balkan countries) into Western Europe, where fascism has already raised its head again and is becoming stronger with every passing day. Violent attacks and insults are taking place there against unwanted migrants, especially in the small towns.
    All such things have been happening for quite a few years/decades now. In the 12 years that remain till 2030, the situation would only worsen. And you are thinking that citizens of the First World would, after the great crash and onset of the Great Depression, start building your ideal basis-democratic, egalitarian, anarchist society! This is utopian in the negative sense of the term. I am afraid, then all hell will break out.

(3) The main (but not the only) cause of this development is
overpopulation relative to the resources, which are dwindling. You have not included it in your list of main causes. Only in the context of dwindling Middle East oil supply you mention the problem once, and write: “because their … increasing populations and declining water … and food production meant … they had to use more and more of the oil they produced.” But population explosion is taking place all over the world except in the First World. Let me again quote Paul Ehrlich. Addressing the good people of the world, he wrote: “Whatever [be] your cause, it is a lost cause unless we control population [growth]”. Marx, at least in this particular respect, was indeed wrong. He (also Engels, Lenin et al.) rejected stubbornly the obvious truth that Malthus had already discovered in the 18th century.

(4) Against the background of the situation described above,
community consciousness is evaporating. Remember what Margaret Thatcher once said? She said, “there is no such thing as society, there are only individuals.” When the great crash takes place in 2030, you expect people (not a few leaders/intellectuals) to “realize” (your word) immediately, and then quickly in the next 20 years, what they never realized before. I fear, most people – like those in Africa today – would then think like being on a sinking ship . They would then say “Everyone for himself” or “save yourself if you can!”
    How can you expect that in the coming12 years, the sense of solidarity, frugality, community consciousness etc., all the virtues that you perhaps, wrongly, assume to be still existing in the world, will remain intact in 2030? And after that?

Let me come to a close. The crash will come. That is certain. But I do not want to speculate on what will happen
then, or what the “citizens” would or could do then. I would rather think about what we, the citizens, could do before the crash comes. (I have written about that to some of my friends, including yourself, Johny and Steve, 2-3 years ago.). We have just 12 years left. So let us try to utilize the time preparing the world for a “soft landing”. And if we have a little good luck, who knows, a better society may in the long run emerge out of the turmoil. Let us keep it open how that may look like. It may look like your ideal eco-anarchist society. But I would not bet on that.

With warm regards