„In the pursuit of economic growth, modern human culture appears as a self-organized, mindless, energy-hungry superorganism that functions much like a mindless amoeba with simple tropisms.“
By Lars Schall
“Our whole … culture has been moving for a long time with an ordeal of tension,
which grows from decade to decade, as if towards a catastrophe:
restless, violent, precipitous: similar to a stream that wants to come to an end,
that no longer reflects, that is afraid to reflect.“
Friedrich Nietzsche (1)
The German word for „senseless“ (2) in Nietzsche’s use came to my mind, and it occured as follows:
In a study worth reading, „Economics for the future – Beyond the superorganism,“ N.J. Hagens arrives at the view that global human society functions like an energy-hungry superorganism. „In the pursuit of economic growth, modern human culture appears as a self-organized, mindless, energy-hungry superorganism that functions much like a mindless amoeba with simple tropisms.“ Hagens says, „In principle, a superorganism could be superintelligent but ours is not.“
The direction human society is taking, he says, is not currently controlled by anyone – “neither billionaires, politicians, nor a secret cabal. We are all caught up in the global growth imperative, which is immune from self-criticism. In the same way that ants pursue individual tasks for the growth of the colony, humans have outsourced our individuality to the ‘cloud’, which is itself devoid of an actual brain. The more people involved in a decision/process, the more our decisions resemble simple bacterial tropisms which unconsciously move towards energy acquisition. At the largest levels, the global economy is moving much like a starling murmuration following simple emergent rules. In the year 2019 C.E. the emergent result of 7.7+ billion hominids living their daily lives is an energy seeking Superorganism, out of control, yet still hungry. This superorganism is not human. It’s a thing-in-itself (Ding an sich) with its own survival instincts that override the individual humans that comprise it.“
The energy hunger which the (senseless) superorganism possesses is not least laid out from the start in what man strives for every day: money. For money is created as debt, (3) and basically money is “a claim on energy“, since „every single good and service which generates GDP requires some energy conversion“ – from which then follows that „debt is a claim on future energy“.
(2) Senseless = besinnungslos – opposite: besinnen = to reflect.
(3) Hagens in his paper (section „4.10. Energy and money“): “Money is the only part of our economies not subject to laws of thermodynamics because it is created as debt subject to mathematical laws of compound interest (Soddy, 1933). Commercial banks are not intermediaries that lend out existing capital (Jakab and Kumhof, 2015), but rather create money by loaning it into existence (McLeay and Radia, 2014). Contrary to what is taught in economics textbooks, money is not lent out from existing wealth – it is created (Werner, 2014; Ament, 2019). This new money eventually gets spent on a good or service which will contain embodied energy. Money is a claim on energy yet its creation is not tethered to energy availability or cost.“