We cannot let the market rule over us. We must rule over the market.

Posted: June 27, 2012 in News, Stupidity
Tags: , , ,

Pepe Mujica made a speech at the Rio Summit about how he must protect his country from the free market when it needs the free market the most. This is perfect rainy-day material. Thanks to ExFedBob for the link, and thanks to the Wanderlife blog writer for her translation even though I strongly disagree with her opinion on it.

Full speech:

To all of the authorities present here, from every latitude and organization, thank you very much. I want to thank the people of Brazil and Mrs. President, Dilma Rousseff. Thank you all for the good faith undoubtedly expressed by all of the speakers that preceded me.

We hereby express our innermost will as rulers, to adhere to all the agreements our wretched humanity, may chance to subscribe.

Pepe hates humanity and thinks it wretched. This is a fairly common Uruguayan sentiment, accompanied by self-loathing. Too bad. Humanity is wonderful. Just the fact that we are capable of violence and horrible things should not diminish the whole; if we weren’t wonderful we would have extincted ourselves already, despite the governments and psychotic despots of the world trying their hardest.

Notwithstanding, let us take this opportunity to ask some questions out loud. All afternoon long, we have been talking about sustainable development, about rescuing the masses from the claws of poverty.

As if governments are capable of either: taking peoples’ money away while producing nothing of value, and meanwhile blocking their own efforts at self-improvement is not sustainable, nor a way to reduce poverty.

What is it that flutters within our minds? Is it the model of development and consumption, which is shaped after that of affluent societies? I ask this question: what would happen to this planet if the people of India had the same number of cars per family as the Germans?

Cars would be cheap and fuel would be unaffordable. For a time. And then things would equal out in a free market, because (A) someone with the will and the brains would come up with a better alternative than individual car ownership, (B) the masses would seek that alternative to avoid the high prices of fuel, and (C) nobody would be in the way to keep them from transacting. Also, the potential of (D) alternative fuel sources and/or (E) cleaner fuels or cleaner cars, etc. would be made financially viable. Just look at the pollution in the 1960s and 1970s where everything contained lead, including the air. We’ve come a long way since then.

How much oxygen would there be left for us to breathe?

Plenty. It’s the CO2 most morons are concerned with, and that’s not an issue either if you have read any real material on atmospheric science and ice core climate studies.

More clearly: Does the world today have the material elements to enable 7 or 8 billion people to enjoy the same level of consumption and squandering as the most affluent Western societies?

If people were allowed to figure it out on their own I am sure it would. Otherwise it won’t, and 7 or 8 billion people won’t be consuming and “squandering” like affluent western societies. In which case you have nothing to worry about. But you’ve got to look like you have to “do something,” and you think you have to “do something.” Pepe Mujica, savior of the people for chaining them into poverty and limitation.

WIll that ever be possible? Or will we have to start a different type of discussion one day? Because we have created this civilization in which we live: the progeny of the market, of the competition, which has begotten prodigious and explosive material progress. But the market economy has created market societies. And it has given us this globalization, which means being aware of the whole planet.

The market has begotten explosive material progress because it has made things cheap which were previously unaffordable. This is why, now, even people living in plywood and corrugated steel shacks have cel phones and MP3 players. Many of them also have electricity, running water, and television. That’s not poverty. That’s progress. Don’t shit on it.

Are we ruling over globalization or is globalization ruling over us? Is it possible to speak of solidarity and of “being all together” in an economy based on ruthless competition? How far does our fraternity go?

Globalization is not a thing with a will of its own, it is simply there. It is a side effect of human advancement and technology. It is here whether you like it or not; embrace it or be forgotten as an extinct fossil. One thing I believe politicians hate so much about globalization is that it exposes them for the obsolete frauds they are.

I am not saying any of to undermine the importance of this event. On the contrary, the challenge ahead of us is of a colossal magnitude and the great crisis is not an ecological crisis, but rather a political one.

This is probably the only thing in the whole speech that is correct, and makes sense. Yes, it’s a political crisis. You are not wanted or needed anymore. Better figure out something to do, fast!

Today, man does not govern the forces he has unleashed, but rather, it is these forces that govern man;and life.

To which I call BS. You *can* be governed by forces outside of your control, but only if you bend over and take it. You are free to resist or seek alternatives elsewhere. Really. Nothing is stopping you. Except governments.

Because we do not come into this planet simply to develop, just like that, indiscriminately.

Some of us do. And that’s OK. If none of us did, you’d have no iPhone or Internet or Satellite TV. Or microphone, or television, or radio, or heated stadium with podium in which to do your grandstanding.

We come into this planet to be happy.

Some of us do. Some of us do not. And some of us can only be happy if we are not being kept from “indiscriminately developing our planet” under government regulations.

Because life is short and it slips away from us. And no material belonging is worth as much as life, and this is fundamental.

Until your life becomes the material belonging of the government.

But if life is going to slip through my fingers, working and over-working in order to be able to consume more, and the consumer society is the engine-because ultimately, if consumption is paralyzed, the economy stops, and if you stop economy, the ghost of stagnation appears for each one of us, but it is this hyper-consumption that is harming the planet.

How so? I think it’s benefiting us like never before. We can talk freely instantly to anyone in the world either through text or voice. We can strap ourselves into an aluminum tube that flies in the sky and cross oceans in mere hours where before it took months. We can sit in a room in Santiago and operate a business from Timbuktu, managing employees all over the world, conducting commerce at the same time, digitally publishing good material that people want to pay for, and letting the computers do most of the hard work so that we can all take it easy and still make a decent living, spending more time “being happy” as Pepe claims is his goal.

And this hyper-consumption needs to be generated, making things that have a short useful life, in order to sell a lot.

No. I make quality and get paid for quality. You only have to buy cheap things with a short useful life in Uruguay, because nobody can afford any better due to the import taxes, restrictions, and monopolies, and even if they could afford it they cannot get it, because the market is too small and too twisted to make it profitable for importation of high-end items.

Thus, a light bulb cannot last longer than 1000 hours. But there are light bulbs that last 100,000 hours! But these cannot be manufactured, because the problem is the market, because we have to work and we have to sustain a civilization of “use and discard”, and so, we are trapped in a vicious cycle. These are problems of a political nature, which are showing us that it’s time to start fighting for a different culture.

There are light bulbs that last longer than that. Look it up. And they are old models, obviously. Once again I point to my previous paragraph about why Uruguayans are forced into cheap disposable merchandise.

I’m not talking about returning to the days of the caveman, or erecting a “monument to backwardness.”

Yes, you are. You force your own people to build, farm, and conduct business with ancient machinery and hand tools no more advanced than shovels, hammers, and pick axes. This is why there are no huge works projects in Uruguay, because they simply cannot be done on an affordable scale with tools from the 1800s.

But we cannot continue like this, indefinitely, being ruled by the market, on the contrary, we have to rule over the market.

Good luck with that. The market doesn’t care; you mean nothing to it. You will be left in the dust wishing you had let it snatch you up in its current.

This is why I say, in my humble way of thinking, that the problem we are facing is political. The old thinkers. Epicurus, Seneca and even the Aymara put it this way, a poor person is not someone who has little but one who needs infinitely more, and more and more.” This is a cultural issue.

What about the old thinkers like Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, whom you are channeling? This is political. No, it’s cultural. Which is it?

So I salute the efforts and agreements being made. And I will adhere to them, as a ruler. I know some things I’m saying are not easy to digest. But we must realize that the water crisis and the aggression to the environment is not the cause. The cause is the model of civilization that we have created. And the thing we have to re-examine is our way of life.

So because of socialism keeping people stuck using old stuff that pollutes, we need fix this by clamping down on them to ensure that they continue to use these old dirty methods of doing things, or worse. That will surely fix things!

I belong to a small country well endowed with natural resources for life. In my country, there are a bit more than 3 million people. But there are about 13 million cows, some of the best in the world. And about 8 or 10 million excellent sheep. My country is an exporter of food, dairy, meat. It is a low-relief plain and almost 90% of the land is fertile.

How quaint. It could be the exporter of lots of other things too, leading to lack of poverty, if you and your Frente Amplio fascist thugs quit stomping out personal endeavor wherever they saw it.

My fellow workers, fought hard for the 8 hour workday. And now they are making that 6 hours. But the person who works 6 hours, gets two jobs, therefore, he works longer than before.

Too bad they can’t fight against poverty by working as much as they feel like in order to determine, on their own, what sort of life they want to live.

But why? Because he needs to make monthly payments for: the motorcycle, the car, more and more payments, and when he’s done with that, he realizes he is a rheumatic old man, like me, and his life is already over.

So let’s take all that away from him, so he doesn’t feel “poor.”

And one asks this question: is this the fate of human life? These things I say are very basic: development cannot go against happiness.

Development brings happiness, or at least makes it more attainable and more likely. Unless you are a fearful, xenophobic communofascist. Or a murderous terrorist.

The opposite of development is: decline, decrease, stoppage, block, failure, impediment, recession, stagnation, abridgement, compression, condensation, contraction, decrease, lessening, shortening. Is that what you want? You already have a lot of that in Uruguay.

It has to work in favor of human happiness, of love on Earth, human relationships, caring for children, having friends, having our basic needs covered. Precisely because this is the most precious treasure we have; happiness. When we fight for the environment, we must remember that the first element of the environment is called human happiness.

So are you fighting for or against development now? Or for happiness, or for friends, or for basic needs, or for the environment, or for happiness again? If you are so obsessed with human happiness, take a good look at the world around you and see: what is the most common thing that puts people closest to happiness? Leaving them alone to pursue it as they see fit.

The Penguin, er, President.

  1. [...] by someone who considers president Mujica to be a dangerous misanthopic Communist, please visit ExPatBob’s blog. I am most certainly not a Communist sympathiser, but I find it very hard to fault President [...]

  2. Martin Lack says:

    Dear ExPatBob – I am really pleased to have found your blog post regarding President Mujica’s speech because, had I not done so, I would have naively thought it impossible to refute the logic of what he said (notwithstanding poor simultaneous translation)

    As I have said on my blog, I am not a Communist sympathiser. In fact, apart from a crazy decade in which I was duped into voting for the Labour Party as a result of a personality cult that sprung up in the mid 1990s in the UK, I have always voted Conservative. However, I must admit that this loyalty is now being severely tested. This is because, I am not sufficiently ideologically-blinded (as is our Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne) to believe that I can win a fight with history and/or science.

    There is a great deal I could say in response to your commentary on President Mujica’s speech but, to be honest, I could not put it more succinctly than I did in ‘Know your limits’ (i.e. 500 words) on the website of the Geological Society last December. I accept that you may have first-hand reasons for not being a fan of his. If so, fair enough; it would clearly be wrong of me to criticise you for not liking him because of adverse impacts his policies have had upon you; or upon your adopted country.

    However, I really do find it hard to understand how people can fault the logic of what he said about resource consumption unless, that is, they believe all those who say perpetual growth on a finite planet is unsustainable are anti-human, anti-progress, anti-Western, etc.? If so, then I should like stress that I am none of those things; I am just someone who accepts the reality of Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    • Expat Bob says:

      Human beings will only be able to expand as much as their environment will allow them to. Until then why worry about it? Also, if anything will free the environment of destruction, it is in private industry. We’d all be energy-independent, using clean pebble bed reactors, and driving (flying) electric cars by now if governments the world over were not interfering with every conceivable technological advancement.
      Also, as populations gain in education, they reduce reproduction. And the internet is replacing conventional education, so there’s that to look forward to. And private space travel/colonization. I’m not worried about it, and I hope to be one of the first Singularity generations that reaches the immortality curve in medical science to be able to see the posthuman future and beyond.

      • Martin Lack says:

        I am not anti-progress but neither am I worshipping at the temple of globalised Capitalism. The latter has brought many benefits to some but, overall the disparity between rich and poor has increased. Far from trickling down, wealth and power has become progressively more concentrated.

        Unfortunately for those still struggling to better themselves (i.e. a perfectly legitimate aspiration), there is no way that the planet can support 7 to 10 billion people living Western lifestyles: I think you need to read William Ophuls’ Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity Revisited (1992), a good summary of which can be found on the Internet (i.e. not my blog): http://www.greatchange.org/ophuls,ecological_scarcity.html

        If that sounds like too much of an eco-fascist rant then, perhaps you would appreciate John Gray’s False Dawn: The Delusions of Globalised Capitalism? I found the 2009 edition (revised in light of the financial meltdown of 2008) particularly enlightening…

        Growth cannot be the solution to all our problems because it is our ultimate problem: As such, climate change is the most obvious demonstration that there are limits to the Earth’s capacity to assimilate and/or recycle the waste products that humans generate:

      • Expat Bob says:

        Probably not a good subject to breach here. Despite your degree I have probably read more on the subject than you have, including outdated texts like “The Cooling” and the come-and-gone overpopulation panicmonger books by doomsayers like Ehrlich. Using Climate and Change in the same word is like saying Water Wet or Sun Bright. There is as yet no real consensus on anthropogenic global warming or cooling or any change whatsoever, especially when you throw out Michael Mann’s BS which has been proven time and time again to be faulty at best, blatantly fraudulent and propagandist at worst. Don’t even get me started on failures like Kyoto, Al Gore’s Chicago Climate Exchange, etc.
        Your best solution for a clean earth is to let free markets reign and find technological solutions to keeping things clean. Overpopulation is a non-problem and will sort itself out whether we like it or not. The planet can only sustain so many? OK, then, don’t be one of the people who starve.

      • Martin Lack says:

        What was not a good subject to breach here – the environment, growth, or the libertarian ideology underlying the denial of all our problems? Also, to which of my Degrees are you referring – (1) geology; (2) hydrogeology; or (3) environmental politics? These give me a good understanding of (1) palaeoclimatology; (2) probabilistic computer modelling; and (3) big business’ track record of obfuscating unpleasant scientific truths.

        Therefore, although you may well have read more books than me, you appear to be simply reciting fossil fuel lobby propaganda (such as “the climate has always changed”). Presumably, therefore, you would also claim that:
        Global warming is not happening (a.k.a. “global warming stopped in 1998”).
        Global warming is not significant (a.k.a. “less than 1C after 250 years is no big deal”).
        Global warming is not necessarily bad (a.k.a. “CO2 is plant food”).
        Global warming is not a problem (a.k.a. “we will adapt”).
        Global warming is not worth fixing (a.k.a. “we cannot afford to fix it”).
        See http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/pythagoras-and-plate-spinning-for-fake-sceptics/

        If, however, your main point was to dismiss Ehrlich as a doomsayer and claim that population is a non-problem, this would be consistent with belief in the Watermelon fallacy (that all environmentalists are Communists in disguise). This is such a ludicrously simplistic idea that I cannot be bothered to refute it, apart from to refer you to the following:

      • Expat Bob says:

        Ahhh, I see what you’re doing. You’re spamming my blog with links to generate your own traffic and toot your own horn, cleverly disguised in an intellectual debate.

      • Martin Lack says:

        No, Bob, I am trying to help you understand who it is that has lied to you (i.e. it is not the scientists). Also, for the record, your suggestion would only have made sense if your blog had more followers than mine. It doesn’t.

      • Expat Bob says:

        Woe is me, I hath suffered for the wrongful god of mistruth at the hands of miusguided science. Pity my unfortunate soul!
        FYI, it was scientists who “lied” to me. Real scientists like Singer et al. You’re wasting your time here.

      • Martin Lack says:

        Presumably, Bob, you mean you believe what Singer has told you to be reliable…? Sadly, I suspect, in your final sentence you have made a correct observation, so I will not bother linking to any evidence that might suggest otherwise.

      • Expat Bob says:

        I have done plenty of research into the matters of population, natural resource management, energy, climate, and government’s involvement in all of the above. I have formed my opinions based on available scientific data from both sides of the propaganda machine. I’ve crunched the numbers and graphed the ice core data, etc. In the end, my opinion is that y’all worry too much, and you should leave the problem fixing to the problem fixers (ie: capitalists) and not the problem makers (ie: governments).

      • Martin Lack says:

        You say I am wasting my time here, Bob, though I am not sure why. I am not seeking to change your political views. All I am trying to do is establish whether those political views are getting in the way of the science (as they have done for people like Dr Dick Lindzen and Fred Singer)… Ever the optimist, therefore, I would like to ask you 3 questions (with not a single link to my Blog in sight)…
        1. Do you accept that the Earth has to maintain a long-term radiative energy balance; and that the primary control mechanism is atmospheric greenhouse gases? If so…
        2. Do you accept that natural climate changes in the last 1 million years were all triggered by Milankovitch wobbles (etc) and that CO2 lagged temperature as a result? If so…
        3. Do you accept that, since we are now well on the way to doubling atmospheric CO2, temperature rise is occurring (and will continue) until that radiative energy balance is restored?

        Remember this is not New Age thinking (akin to Reiki); this is just Physics.

      • Expat Bob says:

        1. Yes to the first part, undecided on the second. There is no conclusive data to maintain that the “greenhouse effect” is more important than liquid water in keeping temperature balances.
        2. Yes.
        3. No. In fact there are past geological periods where CO2 levels were many times higher than Al Gore panic levels and life went on. In fact the atmosphere itself has gone from one extreme to another several times not just with CO2 but with other gases and things turned out fine.

      • Martin Lack says:

        With regard to Q1, Bob, I would like to see you provide some peer-reviewed science to back-up your assertion that the greenhouse effect is not the most significant control mechanism. Were the greenhouse effect not a reality, there would be no liquid water on the surface of the planet.

        With regard to Q3, if it were not for the build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere in late-Precambrian times, the planet might never have emerged from its Snowball Earth phase. Furthermore, the fact that the Earth has at times had much higher CO2 levels and temperatures in the past is irrelevant. All life on Earth today is adapted to the way things are now and human activity is now changing things faster than most life forms will be able to adapt (and trees and fertile soils cannot migrate). In causing this to happen, humans have now brought to an end 12k years of relatively stable sea level and temperature which themselves made agriculture, urbanisation, and civilisation possible. Up until about 50 years ago, it could have been argued that we were not aware of what we are doing but not anymore…

        I regret to say, therefore, that you are just repeating fallacious arguments made by people who want this problem to disappear. Bad news, I am afraid; that ain’t going to happen.

  3. Martin Lack says:

    Dear Bob,
    It was good of you not to pick me up on my mistake (made in the early hours of the morning here). The Holocene era began about 12k years ago but the relative stability of sea levels and temperatures only began about 7k years ago. I have never claimed to be infallible, so I am happy to have this comment record my initial mistake. However, so as not to distract readers from the point being made, could you please correct this numerical error in the final sentence of the second paragraph 2 of the comment above?
    Yours sincerely,
    Martin Lack.

  4. Mayumi says:

    Hi, This is Mayumi Niiranen-Hisatomi.

    I found your blog about the speech by the The Uruguayan President José Mujica today, and I put the speech you wrote on my tumblr. I hope it was no problem for you (please write here if there is a problem)

    Thank you so much for the great translation. It is nice to share with more people about the speech and I hope more people would read it and think about our life style…

    Thank you again and Merry Christmas to you from Finland.

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