Published 2008-10-04 by John McMurtry
Science for Peace and University of Toronto Students Union Conference
Climate Catastrophe and Social Justice: Analysis and Action
October 4, Earth Sciences Building, University of Toronto
The destabilization of the world’s climate and hydrological cycles is a catastrophic effect of a more general disorder to which it is not connected — the failed global market experiment and its regulating money-value system which brings degradation and despoliation of human life and life support systems at virtually every level of life organization.
This incisive article by Professor John McMurtry was first published by Science for Peace and Global Research fifteen years ago in May 2003
“It is easy. All you have to do is tell the people they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.” –Hermann Goering
Genocide used to be a crime without a name. Although the most heinous of all crimes, the concept was not introduced into international language until after World War 2. Until then, military invasion and destruction of other peoples and cultures masqueraded under such slogans as progress and spreading civilisation.
The following article was part of a Science for Peace Forum and Teach-In, about How Should Canada Respond to Terrorism and War on Sunday December 9, 2001. A speech was made there by Professor of Philosophy, John McMurtry. It looks at a wider and deeper issue of totalitarianism that is creeping in, or, as McMurtry suggests, continuing in more earnest.
Philosophical reflections by John McMurtry and Martha Nussbaum are presented in this article qua projections of the capabilities approach to life that has been developing in the humanities and social sciences over the past twenty-five years. In particular, it is shown how both McMurtry and Nussbaum reveal that human life is under attack not solely because of the eco-biological collapse denounced by the world’s scientific community at its highest levels, but also in many of those socially evolved civil commons that contribute to the flourishing of life’s capabilities and, in essence, make life worth living. What is more, a common causal root is found behind this ongoing two-pronged assault upon life capabilities, that is to say, the defining search for ever-increasing profits of the global free-market economy.
The world is experiencing a twofold crisis. On the one hand, the global, virtualised economy is collapsing and, in its fall, it is bringing down significant sections of the real economy. On the other hand, the environmental collapse of the planet is also marching on, and there is no clear sign that this may stop soon, for the most commonly discussed paths for economic recovery seem to rely upon further spoliation of the Earth’s life support systems. In this book chapter, the reader is to encounter an account of this twofold crisis in light of the deeper axiological grounds that are causing it. To this end, the present author refers extensively to the theory of value developed by Canadian scholar John McMurtry, according to whom: “[F]inancial crises always follow from money-value delinked from real value, which has many names but no understanding of the principle at its deepest levels.”
0.0 Capitalism and freedom is not only the title of a 1962 book by Milton Friedman playing a pivotal role in asserting worldwide the neoliberal paradigm, but also the slogan that leading statesmen, politicians and opinion-makers have been heralding in recent years, in order to justify, amongst other things, the slashing of welfare states and the invasion of foreign countries…
It is not “the rising tide of human numbers” simpliciter that loots, pollutes and destroys the life carrying capacities of the planet. It is what all over-populationists conveniently ignore:
(1) the much still exponentially self-multiplying tides of private money demand on the earth’s resources that drives every degenerate trend in the planet’s life carrying capacities, and
(2) its ultimate driver of limitlessly self-maximizing private profit to the top which now puts more demand on the earth’s resources by a few plutocrats than by 90% of the population .
At the heart of informal logic is its concern to detect fallacious structures of reasoning in natural language discourse. The normal procedure is: where we are able to identify a flaw in premise, inference, relevance or the like in any route of reasoning, we hold that a fallacy has been committed and we seek to demonstrate it. Otherwise put, logical analysis is directed at what is argued, and fallacies are found in this or that particular way of arriving at a conclusion.
This method of analysis is indispensable to sound logical construction of individual arguments, but misses the overall pattern of assertion and non-assertion for the particular claims within it. What has been so far overlooked is that reasoning can be misled not only in its steps of making a case, but by what is ruled out from being made a case: not only by what is wrong within this or that route of assertion, but by what is wrong with the structure of these routes of assertion taken together. We have, that is, missed the forest for the trees, or more accurately, for the logical landscape within which the forest and trees are located.
I will argue that there is a deeper, more comprehensive structure of subverting reason that misleads our thinking across propositional routes, and not through any fallacy of any such route. And I will show that this disorder obstructs and deforms our thinking and our reasoning by a general system of deception which has so far operated underneath the reach of our tools of logical detection and correction.
As we know, big lies can run free across borders with few joining the dots.
For example, no media reports that China’s growing dispute with Canada is based on Canada’s enforcement of the Trump administration’s unilateral and illegal embargo against oil-competitor Iran. A cynical reply is that this is predictable. Canada attacks any designated US Enemy in junior partnership with global corporate command.
But this time there is a new twist. Canada is attacking itself without knowing it.