Ends and Means

Good Trends, Not Good Conditions

It is not the intention in this blog to establish a perfect world of perfect conditions. Such a thing has been imagined and described by many in the past, but it must always remain an abstract possibility in the indefinite future. What we should be doing is not seeking to establish a perfect world where there is no more need to progress; to cease to progress is to be dead. Rather we should seek to establish positive trends; an improvement here, there, going on all the time.

In judging the state of a nation, we should not look just at the actual conditions at any time, but at the trends. Is that country getting better? If so, how fast?

It may be that a nation with fully developed civil rights and democratic institutions, which however are deteriorating through neglect and abuse, being ignored by complacent citizens and manipulated by cynical politicians, is worse off than a nation oppressed by totalitarian violence and superstition where, however, democratic ideas are spreading and democratic institutions are forming in embryo.

It is on trends that people judge a government at election time. The actual level of unemployment, for example, is no indication of the likely outcome of an election; the rate and direction of change of unemployment level is the indicator. A high level of unemployment on the way down will help the government return; a much lower level of unemployment on the way up may give the reins to the opposition.

In dealing with economics, a subject of great importance to humanity’s relationship with the life-supporting environment of this planet, I only seek to set in train progressive trends, to break away from a static attachment to economic notions that have remained basically the same for thousands of years notwithstanding clever superstructures of ideas which have been built on them in the last couple of centuries. I do not promise a perfect world economy or know when that may be achieved or precisely what its form may be; but I hope for a better world economy, that is, a more sustainable, more life-oriented economy, and one that will continue to improve in those directions. The goal is to provide a stable context in which humanity can be, not perfect, but able to continue its muddled and harrowing progress towards perfection.

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