Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

2013 Will Probably Suck

September 30, 2012

Climate change is helping to change the world in many ways. Aside from the obvious natural catastrophes of millions dead, it is aiding the cutting of the thin strings that hold the world together. This stems from one of the most critical factors climate change assaults; food. Shortage of food cause humanitarian disasters, but it is also the catalyst of something more profound: revolutions. Many things have led to revolutions throughout the ages, but food is the factor that above all increases the chance of them happening, people who can’t afford, or can barely afford anything but food not surprisingly having less to lose. Therefore, I think it is likely that quite a few parts of the world could mimic the Arab Spring.

The background is that extreme weather effects give worse harvests all over the world. The US has broken the heat record from the dust bowl days of 1936, and has the worst corn harvests in six years, despite also a record amount of corn being sown. Russia and Ukraine has a similarly poor wheat harvest. India battles with low monsoon rains. Italy, Australia, Brazil, Argentina and lots of other places have similar problems. This, combined with the unscrupulous speculation on food on the financial markets will contribute to very high food prices come 2013.


Graph from this study

What countries in particular are in the risk zone? Well, as it relates to food there are two factors in particular:

  • The amount of money spent on food per household, as shown here. Risings in price will affect them more, especially since they already buy the cheapest possible food.
  • Net food importers. Food exporters can shield themselves by stopping exports, while importers are at the mercy of the global market.

This change in climate has more consequences besides food alone, of course. The hare-brained scheme of corn-to-ethanol will ensure ethanol prices rise, and other types of energy, such as shale oil, has been affected by the scarcity of water. It probably will have other, more indirect effects, which I don’t know much about. In any case, 2013 will be one hell of a year.

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OPEC Numbers: A Strange Dissonance

June 14, 2012

Going to repeat my habit of reposting what others have written in forums/comment pages:

The OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report came out yesterday with the production numbers for May. (Page 45 of the PDF) OPEC, in previous years has never reported what they themselves produced. They always posted production numbers and stated they were “According to Secondary Sources”. However three months ago they started reporting both data from their Secondary Sources and just below that data they say are from “direct communication”. In other words they get data from Platts or perhaps an average of the numbers from other sources, then they poll the OPEC producers themselves and asked them how much they produced last month.

The numbers for some countries are very similar but for they are quite different. For instance Venezuela has for years claimed they are producing almost half a million barrels per day more than OPEC’s Secondary Sources say they actually produced.

OPEC production according to Secondary Sources crude only in thousand barrels per day

	 2010	 2011  Change 10 to 11	April	May    Change from April to May
Algeria	1,250	1,240	   -10		1,217	1,197	-20
Angola	1,783	1,664	  -119		1,769	1,730	-39
Ecuador	  475	  490	    15		  489	  499	 10
Iran	3,706	3,621	   -85		3,210	3,138	-72
Iraq	2,401	2,666	   265		2,994	2,952	-42
Kuwait	2,297	2,538	   241		2,789	2,858	 69
Libya	1,559	  462	-1,097		1,394	1,452	 58
Nigeria	2,061	2,111	    50		2,175	2,126	-49
Qatar	  791	  794	     3		  778	  757	-21
Saudi	8,271	9,268	   997		9,877	9,917	 40
UAE	2,304	2,517	   213		2,587	2,578	 -9
Venez	2,338	2,380	    42		2,362	2,378	 16
Total  29,236  29,751	   515	       31,640  31,582	-58

OPEC production according to Direct Communication crude only in thousand barrels per day

	 2010	 2011  Change 10 to 11	April	May    Change April to May
Algeria	1,184	1,173	   -11		1,220	1,206	-14
Angola	1,691	1,618	   -73		1,769	1,762	 -7
Ecuador	  475	  500	    25		  500	  498	 -2
Iran	3,544	3,576	    32		3,758	3,760	  2
Iraq	2,358	2,653	   295		2,942	2,915	-27
Kuwait	2,312	2,660	   348		3,007	3,000	 -7
Libya	1,487	  462	-1,025		1,504	1,552	 48
Nigeria	1,968	1,896	   -72		1,882  *1,834	-48
Qatar	  733	  734	     1		  733	  732	 -1
Saudi	8,166	9,311	 1,145	       10,102	9,807  -295
UAE	2,324	2,565	   241		2,716	2,383  -333
Venez	2,779	2,795	    16		2,831	2,826	 -5
Total  29,020  29,942	   922	       32,964  32,275  -689

*Nigeria did not report for May so I estimated their data based on the 48.5 kb/d drop that the Secondary Sources reported.

Noticed that Secondary Sources says Iran is down, in May, about half a million barrels per day from their average of 2010 and 2011. However Iran says their production is up about 200 kb/d from their 2010 and 2011 production.

But the main thing I wanted to point out is what Saudi Arabia and the UAE reported in May. OPEC’s Secondary Sources says Saudi was up 40 kb/d from April to May but Saudi themselves reported they were down 295 kb/d. And OPEC’s Secondary Sources says the UAW was down 9 kb/d April to May but the UAE themselves say they were down a whopping 333 kb/d in May.

[…]

Oil Settles Lower Ahead of OPEC Meeting

OPEC’s output decisions are influential in setting global oil and fuel prices. The group produces around a third of the world’s oil supply and holds more than 80% of global proven oil reserves.

I find this very strange. OPEC says they have 80 percent of the world’s proven reserves and everyone believes them. OPEC says they reduced production by almost 700,000 barrels per day and no one seems to believe them. Not a ripple in the mainstream media about that dramatic one month decline. Everyone believes the word of others about OPEC production rather than “Direct Communication” with OPEC about their production. Why is their word taken as truth in one instance and as a blatant lie in another case?

The Grand Stagnation

August 22, 2011

It has been said that things are going very fast lately. Perhaps it can be said that, equally, there is a slowing-down effect, a stagnation. Things don’t seem to be going very well for the world economy lately, but I am nevertheless tempted to say that this one of the “happy” periods of capitalism. One of the reasons why is that a financial crisis does not necessarily weaken capitalism as a mode of production, it can indeed serve to strengthen it in the long-term. Not even individual capitalists seem to be particularly worse off – the number of millionaires just keep growing.

The primary reason I can say it is a happy period for capitalism, though, is through looking at history – and the emphasis on class struggle. World War Two is usually said to have had a knock-off effect on labour strengthening its position. But as James Heartfield writes in the article World War as Class War the war served to weaken it. The economical growth in the 50’s was tremendous, mostly due to the technological knock-off effects from the war. There was a lot of stagnation in the “social” field, though, with the glass roof ever-present and the Cold War environment hampering the development of commons.

The thing with how society worked in the West (the state capitalist USSR not deserving much of a mention) is the strong position labour nevertheless came to have, due to the craftskill of each individual worker and the general shortage of labour, giving great negotiation power. This was most visible in Sweden, which was the least effected by the privations of war. A high minimum wage and great security of the worker forced companies to constantly innovate. A turning point would perhaps be the wild strikes and general social upheaval of the ’68 revolutions.

The Oil Crisis, when the oil-producing countries of the Middle East used their oil as a political weapon could perhaps obfuscate matters here, since it happened in 1974, very close to ’68. I am not sure if they excacerbated the tendencies I shall elaborate upon next or not. The artifical oil shortage did push innovation in alternative energy sources, only for them to be mostly discarded once the crisis was over.

Anyway, this turmoil forced capital to renew itself, try to shake off the dependencies of the worker, or the strong unionized one of the West at least. Note that this way of looking at the developments of capitalism differs from how the worker is often painted as a passive subject of the reshaping of capital. Labour-saving technology was invested in – contrary to the trumpeting of technology as requiring more poly-technical skill – as part of the so-called “knowledge society” – these machines defanged the worker as it required less skill to use. Requiring less people overall to use made capital less vulnerable to labour shortage, and unemployment levels worsen the position of the working class overall.

After, and as this went on, capital also found another weapon in its struggle against labour. Letting production happen overseas, especially in Far East Asia, where labour standards are worse and the cost of production markedly lower, despite the distance. This pushed countries in the West to carry out the seemingly foolish action of disestablishing its own industrial base.

There’s a conundrum for capital here, of course, one which has been present in capitalism as a way of production from the very beginning, and which Karl Marx has written about in great detail. Overproduction. This way of breaking the position of labour through labour-saving technology and outsourcing has the obvious effect of pressing wages down, and thus leaving fewer to actually buy the products being produced. A  way to try to combat this has been the increased financialization of the economy. Simplified, the people in the West are the consumers which the global economy hinges on, and the way to try to keep their consumerism going has been through increasinly indebting these. The current crisis could be seen to be partly caused by this specific type of action. Heck, even the Eastern countries have fallen prey to this, as debt keeps increasing behind the bureaucratic walls of China.

Capitalism thus have the wheels burrowed in the mud again, and looks to be needing a push. Capitalism has the odd ability of being able to die, but to keep going as a zombie, but we need to dezombiefy it and ensure it’s actually living and… OK, I’m not sure where I’m going with these metaphors, but try to misunderstand me correctly. Commons can serve as an alternative to capitalism. Voluntary labour between free people on the basis of “from each according to ability, to each according to need” can compete directly with capitalism, mayhaps forcing it to reshape as it always has done. The thing is to try to keep pushing until it dies. And stays dead. “The shortening of the working day is its basic prerequisite”, as Karl Marx put it.

Reflection on Hare Krishna

March 31, 2011

This is a text I wrote as a reflection regarding a visit by a member of the Hare Krishna. (Originally in Swedish):

“It was a very interesting man who came and visited. Mukunda Das was dressed in a sort of white garb, which looked simple but very durable. Around the neck he carried a necklace with wooden pearls, which would symbolise the eternal rebirth, the pearls as bodies and the thread representing the soul. One also gets the impression that he is very skilled in using metaphors to describe his thoughts and ideas. His speech and demeanour was also incredibly calm. One got the impression that he was a very deep and insightful man.

This sort of metaphorical and living language aided in giving a very educative performance from the start, where he presented himself and explained some of what Hare Krishna is about. This sort of calm rhythm also remained when it was time for questions and he got to answer them. One got the impression the he gave elaborate answers whenever he was asked anything. Unfortunately there was the tendency than whenever anyone asked a more direct question which questioned some of these questions, he answered very evasively, had a tendency to change subject to things not entirely related to what it was about from the start. No straight answers. Personally I think that this sort of direct dialog between people is not always a good way to present concepts, but I think no one was very convinced by him, even if one could argue that there are no straight answers within religion.

Something which I found very interesting was that Hare Krishna seems to see itself as just one answer among many, that all religions are true, or at least that there is a grain of truth (that was at least my impression, too bad I didn’t get the chance to clear this up). From a pragmatic point of view one could see that as good, because it encourages peace and greater understanding among religions. But I still think there is something, I am almost tempted to say insolent about saying that. If one asked all, say, Christians or Muslims about this, probably many would protest. It has the effect that their (those who don’t agree) own belief is seen as by something else, which can’t be seen as very humble. Going one step further there are other religions, for example Baha’i, which also believe that there have been avatars on Earth in form of other religions’ prophets. Their take on it is significantly different compared to Hare Krishna’s.

Another interesting thing was the dig at science. He argues that science doesn’t have all the answers (which it actually doesn’t have, and will never do, which is not a reason to fill the empty holes with just about anything) and that it is in the end dependent on the senses. The last one is interesting because that’s what Hare Krishna’s whole world view is built upon. One claims that the god(s) communicate with people in different ways, in an utterly subjective way. From that point of view it is actually logical to claim that everyone which have religious experiences have had contact with god, because if religious experiences of other religions are denied, the step is not logically far to denying them all. Mukunda Das mentions a scientific article he read once (I don’t remember the context). If one actually takes science seriously, neuroscience crushes beyond all reasonable doubt his claim that memories are transferred from person to person after death.

I also found it interesting that he emphasized that the Self, the Atma, was different from other denomination within Hinduism, which deny the Self. There is thus something fundamental, but still irreconcilable with other closely related religions, which says something about Hare Krishna’s claims of universality. But this, that some believe and some don’t believe in the Self, can be compared with Buddhism. In the West Buddhists meditate to find themselves. In the East they deny the Self and instead try to become one with everything. One can draw parallels with “the Western civilization”. For the Western civilization to conquer the world, it was forced to empty itself of contents, be as universal as possible, in order to penetrate cultural barriers and minds.

One last thing I found interesting was that about god as the highest intelligence. He simply stated that there is no higher intelligence than god. I think he could have dug deeper than that about why it was so, but he ignored it. Particularly, the personal contact with god and the avatars I didn’t find very humble, because it implied that an incredibly powerful human (I say human as per the metaphor with small flames and large flames he used) care about small humans. One can compare it with those who believe aliens came and built the Pyramids. That one with the aliens deny the old Egyptians’ craftsmanship and wisdom and the one about the highest intelligence denies the fundamental self-organization of the universe, where small things with time become more complex.”

Something I didn’t mention in this, but  which I also got thinking of was the simplistic view on materialism he employed. He vaguely mentioned something about society being too materialistic, yet he means that Hare Krishna is supposed to be some sort of “guide” in life, to bring meaning to people. I’m currently reading First as Tragedy, Then as Farce by Slavoj Zizek and found one part which might be relevant (p. 66):

“Western Buddhism” is just such a fetish: it enables you to fully participate in the capitalist game while sustaining the perception that you’re not really in it, that you are well aware how worthless the whole spectacle is, since what really matters is the peace of the inner Self to which you know you can always withdraw… In a further specification, one should note that a fetish can function in two opposed ways: one the one hand its role may remain unconscious; on the other, one may think that the fetish really matters, as in the case of the Western Buddhist unaware that the “truth” of his existance lies in the very social relations he tends to dismiss as a mere game.

Replace “Western Buddhism” with “Hare Krishna” and it still works.

Sixth Sense

March 19, 2011

A new sort of cell phone is in development, with those working on it describing it as a sixth sense. It projects a new image on any surface, which one can interact with in a manner of ways using one’s fingers. It is not difficult to be awed by its sheer awesomeness, and indeed it gives a sense of the future being here. It’s enough to make any nerd jitter in excitement. Nevertheless, I’m going to attempt to reflect a bit on some of the consequences it could have.

Added Complexity

A mobile phone used to be primarily for mobile phone calls. A mobile telephone, basically, being different from cordless phones in the sheer vastness of geographical range it could be used. But as phones developed they began to have “additional services” such as being able to send text messages, play music, alarm clock (how many still use an  actual alarm clock, as opposed to mobile phones or radios?) have an inbuilt camera, internet access etc.  This new device being so much broader in available uses, can it even be called a mobile phone?

They aren’t bashful in the video about the sort of future availability they want; mass-produced sixth sense phones so cheap (and of so short lifespan and quality) everyone will have it. Of course, if contemporary cell phone devices are of any indication, they will also be quite complicated to use. A guy called Antoine de Saint-Expury once said Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but then there is nothing more to take away”. But then again, I doubt perfection is what they’re after. Anyway, I can see that maybe many of the current motions, voluntary or involutary, could be interpreted by this device to mean something. Perhaps similar to the sometimes inconvenient times the cell phone rings?

Connoisseur As Norm

I am reminded of a quote from Anti-Dühring:

Just as in the modern state it is presumed that every citizen is competent to pass judgment on all the issues on which he is called to vote; and just as in economics it is assumed that every consumer is a connoisseur of all the commodities which he has occasion to buy for his maintenance — so similar assumptions are now to be made in science.

The sixth sense phones could possibly fulfill the above bolded part. We can see in the TED video how the consumer checks products he is interested in buying. This could perhaps be seen as similar to the “self-scanning” process currently being built into many supermarkets. It can think of two consequences of this: The producer puts more responsibility on the part of the consumer, and it can be seen as a way for the consumer to “redeem” hirself by buying green products.

Of course, I can see this having the effect of rendering many professions specialized in informing the consumer becoming more unnecessary. Seeing the broad picture, this is a good thing, freeing people for other activities. The information society abolishes itself. From a more immediate viewpoint though, in light of current norms and values, it could lead to unemployment, which is unfortunate.

Erik Henriksson

The talker at the start of the video talks about the problem of not being able to easily check up on the identity of the people she’s talking to on TED, implying that sixth sense phones is the solution to that. Further along, we see how the device is used to project a “tag cloud” on one of the MIT students. This can be seen as a further step in the commodification of actual people. I see tendencies in contemporary societies towards the common person being a seller of hirself, everyone being an entrepreneur. You make a trademark out of yourself. This sort of vulgar individualism leads to, among other things, a greater amount of conformism. You are not free to be who you are, as you find yourself being more conventional, sellable, making sure you have the right tags. One consequence I can think of: The transperson which has succeeded in emulating the appearances of the biological sex sie wants to be, might find hirself having the “trans” tag.

I can also be seen it being misused by regimes to further bolster their power. It is not far-fetched to imagine these devices being used to quickly and handily identify people. Information technology is often assumed to be tools for democracy and revolution, but I think you’ll find it a two-edged sword. This is of course part of a greater tendency towards less anonymousness both on the internet, and also now in “meatspace”.

Perhaps this RSA Animate video could be of relevance:

Posthumanism

The title says it all, really: Developing a sixth sense. A rather daring vocabulary, but I’d wager with a lot of truth. A human is composed of many factors, social, biological, technological etc., and cannot be seen as seperate from these factors. Is the walking stick of a blind man part of him or not? From a posthuman perspective, the answer would be yes. We are all cyborgs. Technology can be seen as a way for humans to extend their power. From this perspective, this sixth sense, true to the phrase, could be empowering for humanity. And that’s what makes it awesome. As with all technologies, however, it can be used for both good and bad, and that is worthwhile examining.

Update: It appears that this TED talk was from 2009, so one can assume this technology has developed a bit since then.

F*cking Cars

March 14, 2011

No, this title does not allude to autosexuality (hurr hurr) but rather expresses the utmost contempt, yes disgust I have of cars. I don’t really know where to begin. A must read on cars: The Social Ideology of the Motorcar. Written in 1973 but still very actual. It starts out as thus:

The worst thing about cars is that they are like castles or villas by the sea: luxury goods invented for the exclusive pleasure of a very rich minority, and which in conception and nature were never intended for the people. Unlike the vacuum cleaner, the radio, or the bicycle, which retain their use value when everyone has one, the car, like a villa by the sea, is only desirable and useful insofar as the masses don’t have one. That is how in both conception and original purpose the car is a luxury good. And the essence of luxury is that it cannot be democratised. If everyone can have luxury, no one gets any advantages from it. On the contrary, everyone diddles, cheats, and frustrates everyone else, and is diddled, cheated, and frustrated in return.

The car, in essence, started as luxury good for the bourgeois, one of the toys they could play with. The point with a car, though, is that it isn’t for the masses. But as capitalism entered the post-war period, its golden age, the latter part of “a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage” started to be fulfilled. The result is disastruous, and wrong on so many levels.

As I briefly touched upon in a previous blog entry, car as a mass means of transportation is incredibly bad for cities. While you could travel pretty well in a car if you were the only one driving, when everyone does it, it leads to disaster. The roads in the inner cities (as well as other places) get full, the city gets full of parking spots specifically for these steel bubbles, and it becomes a more dangerous place to live in. Another result of this is so called urban sprawl, which, to quote Wikipedia, is characterized by the following:

  • High car dependence
  • Inadequate facilities, e.g.: cultural, emergency, health, and so forth
  • Low public support for sprawl
  • High per-person infrastructure costs
  • Inefficient street layouts
  • Inflated costs for public transportation
  • Lost time and productivity for commuting
  • High levels of racial and socioeconomic segregation
  • Low diversity of housing and business types
  • High rates of obesity due to less walking and biking
  • Less space for conservation and parks
  • High per-capita use of energy, land, and water
  • Perceived low aesthetic value

Cars, in other words, have made cities, which possibly could have been pleasant places to live, into f*cking hell holes. Or as The Social Ideology of the Motorcar puts it:

Maybe you are saying, “But at least in this way you can escape the hell of the city once the workday is over.” There we are, now we know: “the city,” the great city which for generations was considered a marvel, the only place worth living, is now considered to be a “hell.” Everyone wants to escape from it, to live in the country. Why this reversal? For only one reason. The car has made the big city uninhabitable. It has made it stinking, noisy, suffocating, dusty, so congested that nobody wants to go out in the evening anymore. Thus, since cars have killed the city, we need faster cars to escape on superhighways to suburbs that are even farther away. What an impeccable circular argument: give us more cars so that we can escape the destruction caused by cars.

The car is so deeply ingrained, ideologically, on both the left and right. It’s not merely a means of transportation. As “Bil Sweden” (yes, that’s what they’re actually called (“bil” meaning car like the bil in automobile)) puts it: ” The car is a symbol of freedom”. If it is a symbol of freedom they’re after I’d like to build a Statue of Liberty or something instead. But the truth is that the car is one of those things the neoliberal society worships. As Fossilized Subjectivities: Petroprivatism, Neoliberalism and Entrepreneurial Life puts it:

As postwar accumulation was materialized through the construction of vast sprawling suburban housing tracts, liberal ideas of government intervention and the social safety net were slowly transfixed into more and more privatist forms of politics. As many suburban historians have shown,7 the political victories of the right in the United States – and with it the neoliberalization of American capitalism – depended upon the mobilization of a pettybourgeois strata of white suburban homeowners increasingly distrustful of government handouts, high taxes, and the redistribution of wealth. While this suburban geography was in many ways laid during the immediate postwar period, sprawl and suburban and ex-urban development intensified and expanded after the crisis of the 1970s (Garreau 1991; Duany et al. 2001). Underlying the suburban geography of private homeownership is what Evan McKenzie refers to as an “ideology of hostile privatism.”(McKenzie 1994:19). The hostility itself emerges from what Edsall and Edsall (1992: 147) call “conservative egalitarianism” which posits that everyone has an equal opportunity to work hard and succeed in life and, moreover, that life success was itself purely a product of entrepreneurial life choices.

The car thus is an integral part of the creepy and twisted world view of the neoliberal. And they will stop at nothing to defend it.

This has so far been about the negative effects of the car right now. Let us ponder what happens when peak oil, which is when the demand of oil outpaces production, occurs (it may have already occured, or is occuring right now). The car enthusiast is not at all fazed about the prospects of mass automobility. The electric car is the salvation, they say. There are currently about 900 million-1 billion cars. One has to question if it is economically defensible ever to replace such a large amount.

It’s not just about building electric cars, as if that wasn’t bad enough ( for example: lithium, a resource badly needed for other things such as electronics, are used for batteries), it’s also about the infrastructure needed to use these electric cars, and most importantly: the electricity used for driving them. The energy needed for this are simply very hard to come by in the postfossil era. One litre of oil contains about 26 tonnes of plant and animals, compressed over the ages. Common sense should dictate that it would be simply nuts to try to continue with mass automobility. But no, gotta have f*cking cars, gotta continue with everything as before. This obsession with cars will have very bad effects for the future if it continues.

The only good car is a dead car.

Modern Life

October 13, 2010

A forum post I originally wrote on a topic about suicide. I was much inspired by Lasse Berg’s excellent book Gryning över Kalahari.

The modern life is weird. Thousands, millions individuals living close to each other. Grey urban landscapes of concrete and steel, where neither birds nor silence can be heard, where grass may not be stepped upon, and the horizon and the wandering antilope hordes have disappeared. Time is not measured by the movement of the sun or the seasons, but digitally, on the second. The most social primate of all has adopted an isolated orangutan life, and a hectical one at that. Now, I’m not saying natural=good, but that despite all the flexibility of our species, it is not obvious if a person living all too unnaturally is capable of life.

If human history was boiled down into one year, we have been hunter-gatherers since 1st of January. Suddenly on the morning of the day before New Years’ Eve, we start to live radically different. The transition to agriculture actually decreased our life quality at first. We are adapted to laziness, but now suddenly the human day was filled with hard work during long days. With agriculture we also traded an equal co-existance we knew well with hierarchical order-structures, in bigger and bigger organizations where we rarely meet the people who decide our daily life. Our new existance means the increased atomization of individuals. It is not only in West the large families vanish. Even in Third World cities the daily interactions in the small society disappears. Left are hard-working individuals for who family and friends become a burden, or at least a matter of planning. Moments of silent contemplation disappear in the wake of globalization and rationalization.

That obvious belonging, that you are nice and you just exist, becomes a desperate hunt for dignity and belonging which only qualified prestations can give. We sell ourselves. Our very strongest drive is to belong, to be respected. But our search for the approval of the group can in today’s commercialized society be easily turned towards us when we daily are reminded that we are not good enough, that we are not beautiful or smart, we don’t own the things which means we count. Peer pressure has such a strong impact on us, so strong it can override our will to live. If you don’t belong, you are dead on the inside. Living death is a fate worse than death itself. Bullying, something which in the past was as close to sin you could come, is now something we often see in schools and at work. And then there is the motto of media: “If you aren’t seen, you don’t exist”. Perhaps it is this reasoning which makes people commit suicide by webcam, or what is partly behind the school shootings in America, Finland and elsewhere. To exist for just a short while is better than not existing at all.

It is not possible to turn the clock back and become hunter-gatherers, we are too many, and there are hardly many who would want to. But a long-term solution would be one that is sustainable at least a couple hundred thousand years more. That life will probably look a lot more different than today. Our already incredible technology would give the whole of humanity a good life materially, but above all a good life for our souls. There we will all belong, feel needed and appeciated, and have the ability to show our inner goodness. There are no bullying bosses and frightened servants there. An impossible utopia? Well, maybe. Would be a pity in that case. But it would stop that assembly line of corpses which capitalist realism creates, and be a better way of preventing suicides than propping people full of anti-depressants. Suicides are just the tip of the iceberg of a fundamental flaw in our society.