Cancer cells don’t know they are cancerous! Though this may be an obvious fact even a so what fact to many, if we think more critically about this we realize that it is quite significant. Why? Unlike other cells, cancer cells grow uncontrollably and without limit and in so doing attack the viability of the body they live in thus leading to the death of both their host and themselves. So if they knew they were cancerous then they’d stop killing the body upon which they so much depend. No reasonable cell would behave in a way that diminishes its viability.
So to stop cancer all we have to do is let these cells know that (their) uncontrolled growth—using up the body’s supply of energy—is detrimental to the viability of the living system they live in and in turn to their very own ability to continue to exist; that is, such behavior would be suicidal. If only we could educate and reason with cells that unlimited growth and the exploitation of one’s environment is self-destructive! While this sounds so simple a solution, the problem with it is that cells haven’t the capability of self-awareness and for learning at this level. Cells aren’t so evolved that they can critically examine their own purposes and behavior relative to the environment within which they exist.
Analogously business executives seeking increasing growth in profit through the exploitation of people and Nature are committed to purposes and behaviors that are unavoidably self-destructive—business is not outside of society but a part of society. The good news is that unlike cells that don’t know they are cancerous these people do have the capability for self-awareness and learning at a higher level; they have the capacity to understand how deeply interconnected we (as human beings) are to each other and Nature.
Yet, although the deleterious effects of such actions have been explained it unfortunately appears these executives don’t care to exercise their ability to understand. Seemingly they won’t let go of what they know that ain’t so to understand the implications of their parasitic behavior and the need for their stewardship.
Large Scale Irrationality
Nowhere is this irrationality more evident than in the governments of many of the industrialized countries adhering to austerity —even in the face of evidence showing it to be a falsehood. The fervor for austerity is connected in ideology to the notion that the cause of economic difficulty lies largely with government—an idea from Francois Quesnay and the physiocrats in the 18th century—and in a peculiar way its practice is somewhat analogous to bloodletting. Bloodletting is ancient medical practice for riding the body of ‘bad blood’—one’s humor is out of proportion—that was believed to be the cause of a person’s ill health.
Quesnay, a physician, arguing against mercantilism viewed the economic system as if it was an organism. The essence of the argument rests on the notion that similar to the natural order in organisms there is a natural order in the economic system and thus no need for interference by government. Underlying this analogy is the false belief that the economic system is a divinely provided or discovered naturally occurring system and not a human created system. That said, continuing with the analogy the economic system just as an organism produces and distributes throughout the body according to need, so too will the economic system if unencumbered by government.
Two critical issues often not recognized by ardent followers of this view is a) government is part of the system and b) money—the medium of exchange—like blood in the body must flow freely through the system. On the first point, government is an employer providing services to citizens of society. Hence reducing government in effect reduces employment along with much needed services citizens depend upon—the services are a needed benefit to citizens in a society. In regard to the second point, the value of money to society is in its flow, not its accumulation. No societal value is realized if it is channeled solely to or hoarded by one part of the system—all segments of the system must have access to its nourishment according to need for the organism to remain healthy.
What Concerns Us
The intent of bloodletting in the economic form is to rid the system of public services thus reducing the government to a size of anemic proportions (if not kill it) so it can’t muster the power to supplement the shortcomings of capitalism and to regulate self-interest behavior. It took some time for the evidence to be accepted that bloodletting as a general practice was ineffective—in spite of the many principles developed and followed for effective bloodletting. In the recent economic bloodletting precipitated by the sequestration, the ill-effects from cuts that impinged upon air travel—a service politicians and business rely upon—was very quickly countermanded (in less than 3 days by our elected representative) but the effects upon the poor, the ill and the elderly have gotten no such counter measure.
Like cancerous cells the decision-makers in these austerity-bent governments are pursuing something—likely prosperity or unhealthy growth—but surely it is not viability. The only question remains is for whom is the prosperity sought?
Self-serving behavior is like a cancer in society that will grow its way toward destroying society and in turn it self. If only there were self-aware people holding decision-making authority, we’d be able to educate and reason with them! It is rather revolting, don’t you think?
It seems we’ve numbed our self to our humanity. If only the industrialized world would understand the system of economics to which they are addicted is a self-serving system—like a cancer it destructively serves only itself—and that there can be a more humanly productive system for economic activity.
That is, the system is not divinely planned rather it is a human creation and thus can be re-created. If only there was the will to change, if only there was an understanding of what the real crisis is. If only we would re-think our fixed system.
The organic analogy of the economy makes sense to me, as does the notion of austerity. Though I don’t think the sequestration is about austerity, but politics, as the denial of services were selective, chosen to make a political point.
The government’s spending over the past decade could not be described by the practice of bloodletting. The cancer analogy seems to be the better one as the cells of government are robbing the cells of small businesses and local communities of nourishment needed to sustain life.
Good thoughts. Thank you.
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