Political and Economic Organization

An Outline of Benefits from a Lower Energy Civilization

Monday, December 12th, 2011

The Premises
The universe ultimately runs on an energy economy, not a market economy as the dominant economic ideology claims. Ecological damage is tied to energy use of any kind in our peculiar type of economy where the operating rules of the system require maximization of profits at any cost. Unrestrained profit maximization in turn impels [...]

Implications for Agriculture of Peak Cheap Energy

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

By way of introduction to what I have to say, let me explain the evolution of my thinking. As a farmer for 30 years, I have been an active participant in the movement to develop alternatives to Industrial Agriculture. As you may know, much of the motivation for that movement was a growing awareness of [...]

Gleanings for an Understanding of the Endgame

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

This essay takes as its premise the energy descent future described in an earlier essay, Invisible Ships and Boiling Frogs: The End of Industrial Affluence. As the endgame of this future deepens and the mass media and government remain stubbornly opposed to enlightening the general public, the internet blogosphere has become an excellent alternative knowledge [...]

The Case for a Disorderly Energy Descent

Friday, May 20th, 2011

The energy descent from peak oil production imposes decades of contraction in the global economy. An orderly contraction, particularly in the US, is not likely for a number of reasons. This is a summary of the case for a disorderly descent, garnered from many sources, a couple of which are listed at the end of [...]

What Every Marxist Needs to Know about Ecology

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

Karl North 2010
The problem and some options
Nature rules. Everything we do that violates the rules of nature will eventually fail. Nature’s rules include broad ones like the laws of thermodynamics, and more specific ones like those that govern how the soil food web feeds plants.
It follows from the laws of thermodynamics that there are limits [...]

Close Encounters with the Trots: A Sort of Socialist Mini-Memoire

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

“What do two Trotskyites do on a deserted island? They found two Trotskyite parties!”
Taking their riddle seriously, Trotskyite parties tend to be fairly small, but there are many of them.
My acquaintance with the Trotskyite perspective has been a matter of brief glimpses over a forty year period. My friends in SDS in the sixties fingered [...]

The Population “Bomb” and its Distortions in Capitalist Culture

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Ever since Malthus, the question of population overshooting carrying capacity has been cast as the specter of unwashed ever-breeding hordes who will overrun the society of “developed” nations and bring an end to “progress”. That this way of thinking became an historical pattern arises from a capitalist culture that justifies its economic system and excuses [...]

Through the Looking Glass: Adventures in Landgrant Land

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Through the Looking Glass: Adventures
in Landgrant Land
-         Karl North, 5-09
“If Alice were reborn in these times, she would not need to step through the mirror; it would suffice that she lean out the window.” – Eduardo Galeano

Once upon a time in a faraway empire, a land so prosperous it overflowed with gmo milk, [...]

Economics as brain damage

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Economics as Brain Damage*
Karl North 2004
On the first day of my first formal introduction to economics as an undergraduate, the professor defined the discipline as the scientific study of the distribution of scarce resources. But the course from then on was concerned only with such matters as market variables like supply and demand, and market [...]

Two Folktales for Comprehending Late Stage Capitalism and its Scientific Culture

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Karl North 2006
Folktales distill the wisdom of the ages. All too often their teachings are applicable to any era. Perhaps their continuing relevance comes, as the saying goes, from the human propensity to repeat history, once as tragedy, again as farce.
My favorite tales to explain the hilarious but tragic human behavior patterns of late stage [...]

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