TUMBY BAY - As Paul Oates has frequently pointed out in his comments on PNG Attitude, before you can solve a problem you have to clearly identify its root causes.
Once you’ve done that, you can devise strategies to eliminate or overcome those causes and solve the problem.
Enough has now been written about capitalism and its most egregious iteration, neoliberalism, to make plain the root cause of the problems it creates.
In simple terms, it comes down to human greed and selfishness.
Enough has also been written about the many and varied tools neoliberalism uses to promulgate its interests, including the subversive use of technology, as discussed in Bernard Corden recent article.
Similarly well understood is the extensive collateral damage it causes. It would take many pages to enumerate a complete register of this damage but it ranges from social inequity through to existential threats like global warming.
Suffice to say its numerous disadvantages far outweigh its uncertain advantages.
So how do you mitigate human greed and selfishness? How do you stop a billionaire lusting after even more wealth?
How do you deal with someone who is prepared to ruthlessly trample over people and imperil the future of the planet to entrench already vast fortune and power?
How do you deal with the vast numbers of acolytes and aspirants who think that achieving billionaire status is a laudable ideal that is somehow analogous to finding the ultimate meaning of life?
Not so long ago the idea of dealing with the disgustingly wealthy and the parasites that hung off them was to stand them against a wall and shoot them.
This, it was deemed, was both just and also served to discourage anyone with like-minded ideas.
Unfortunately, even if you are inclined to savagery, such measures usually require revolutions, which are notoriously difficult to organise and even harder to sustain beyond the heat of the moment.
Sooner or later the revolutionaries sitting on top of the heap use their new power to subvert whatever ideals and principles they held. They transform into something resembling those they overthrew.
In any event, bloody revolution in the age of the culturally woke would probably have limited currency.
Today, the modus operandi of people seeking change, in the developed world at least, is to stage protests and rallies, preferably in a non-violent way.
This may work to a limited extent to mitigate the collateral damage caused by neoliberalism but it is unlikely to have any impact on the root cause of greed and selfishness.
Raising banners and making stirring speeches to get the message across to billionaires that they need to change their ways just isn’t going to work.
Such people have come to believe that what they are doing by accumulating enormous wealth, or power or both, is virtuous.
And they believe that objectors and critics are an affront to their morally correct position and probably people of a subversive mindset.
There now appears to be a significant adjustment beginning to occur in relation to climate change which activists might be tempted to claim as a victory but clear eyes know that this is not the case.
Driving the move to address climate change is a new realisation by the wealthy that it can be monetised and by the powerful that it can be used to accrete even more power.
There are big bucks can be made as well as a habitable planet to save.
If anything, the greedy see opportunities to become greedier, the powerful more entrenched.
Therefore, despite Paul Oates’ advice about rationalism, it appears that we face problems that have no readily available solutions.
Short of the annihilation of the human race, neoliberalism seems set to be with us for a very long time.
At least it gives us something to complain about, which is, after all, like greed, an often most unpleasant human trait.