How did we get here? (1)

Part 2 – The immediate causes of our predicament

This Part has eight chapters in it.

The first four summarise some key features of historical developments over the last 600 years.

Chapter 13 looks at the Western “enlightenment”, and the cult of “reductionism” which arose from it.  This has now been abandoned by science, but still dominates political and economic thinking.

Chapter 14 examines the rise of mercantilism and capitalism, and the four “great thefts” of the affluent world.

Chapter 15 looks at the rise of the United States, focussing particularly on three aspects of its development – individualism, modern conservatism, and neoliberalism.

Chapter 16 backtracks slightly to the development of modern economic theory, describing the key features of neo-classical economics.

Chapters 17 to 19 summarise some of the most recent developments, particularly in the economic sphere.  They look in turn at key features of modern capitalism as a whole, the modern corporation, and the financial system.

Chapter 20 rounds this all up with a description of our current state as the “market society”, and foreshadows Parts 4 and 5 by giving a brief summary of what we need to do about it.

I describe this Part as “the immediate causes” because it is about systems humanity has developed and is currently operating with.  These systems are changeable – we built them, and we can unbuild them and build new ones.

The next Part then goes on to look at the “underlying causes”, which are more deeply ingrained in human nature, and will need ongoing management, regardless of what new systems we might create.

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