Enbridge proposed exit-way: the monster destroying itself

Enbridge Northern Gate/ Exit-way III -- "The capitalist monster consuming itself..."

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This illustration came about following my reading of physicist as well as author, business thinker, and philosopher Danah Zohar. She has written several books relating quantum physics to the world of business and society in general.

Quantum physics is a fascinating study of the world at a level that begins to boggle the human mind:

Quantum physics is a branch of science that deals with discrete, indivisible units of energy called quanta as described by the Quantum Theory. There are five main ideas represented in Quantum Theory:

  1. Energy is not continuous, but comes in small but discrete units. [hmmm, sounds like wild salmon…]
  2. The elementary particles behave both like particles and like waves.
  3. The movement of these particles is inherently random.
  4. It is physically impossible to know both the position and the momentum of a particle at the same time. The more precisely one is known, the less precise the measurement of the other is.
  5. The atomic world is nothing like the world we live in.

While at a glance this may seem like just another strange theory, it contains many clues as to the fundamental nature of the universe and is more important then even relativity in the grand scheme of things (if any one thing at that level could be said to be more important then anything else). Furthermore, it describes the nature of the universe as being much different then the world we see.

As Niels Bohr said, “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.”

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I have used the idea of particle/wave duality for many years in many contexts. Simply, if one analyzes a ray of light — say one blasting off the sun at however many millions of km/hr like the current ‘solar storm’ — one will either see light as a series of waves, or, as a collection of particles.

It all depends on what they are looking for, and how they are conducting the test.

At any time light can display properties of waves, or of particles — however never at the same time. Therefore, distinguished scientists could argue until the end of time that their empirical tests show, without a doubt, that light is waves. They could publish peer reviewed articles, books, white papers, memos, briefs, and even assist in drafting legislation to create an international “Day of the light wave”…

And, yet, another group of scientists could also argue until the end of time that light is particles. Proclaiming that all instruments to measure light as waves must be abolished, burned at the stake, heresy, and we must never speak of light as waves again…

And, yet, neither would be wrong (at least about the wave/particle duality) — the kicker is that they might actually have to get together, drop their assumptions and come to understand the others’ perspectives and realize that light is both wave and particle. This is the duality of light… and… probably many other things.

Now one could make this even that much more mind boggling by adding in Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Simply, one can never know the exact position and speed of a particle at the same time — referring to #4 above. (this includes particles that at a fundamental level make up our human bodies).

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Ms. Zohar has a post on her blog which quotes one of her books:

Changing capitalism from within

In 2004, in my book Spiritual Capital, I wrote:

Our capitalist culture and the business practices that operate within it are in crisis. Capitalism as we know it today—an amoral culture of short-term self-interest, profit maximization, emphasis on shareholder value, isolationist thinking, and profligate disregard of long-term consequences—is an unsustainable system, a monster set to destroy itself.

I did not expect my prophesy to come true so quickly, but our current financial and economic meltdown demonstrates the truth of what I said. Capitalism is, indeed, in crisis, and the monster has destroyed itself. But now the question facing all the world’s leaders is, what can replace it? On the answer depends not just the soundness of our economic system, but the sustainability of advanced human culture itself.

The answer to the present crisis being suggested by virtually everyone is more regulation of the markets and of the business practices used within them. But a few extra regulations won’t bring about the change that we need. We’ve tried Keynesian economics and socialism in the past, and we know that both dampen down the creativity and output of the markets. As both George Soros and I have pointed out, our global capitalist system is a self-organizing system poised at the edge of chaos. When such systems are exposed to outside control, they seize up.

No, to change capitalism in a way that sustains the freedom and creativity of the markets, capitalism must change itself, from the inside. This kind of change will require a radically new leadership ethic, one driven by a new set of motivations and a broader understanding of wealth.

Capitalism as we know it has been driven by the lower motivations of greed and self-interest. Business leaders have been out for themselves, and their own drive to increase their personal and corporate material wealth. Nothing good can ever come from actions driven by negative motivations. They only evoke and reinforce other negative motivations, in this case fear and anger.

Customers, consumers, home owners, and the capitalists themselves are filled with fear today, and all but the capitalists are angry that the present situation has been allowed to happen. Those capitalists with any conscience are now filled with still deeper negative motivations of guilt and shame.

The only thing that can change behaviour driven by negative motivations is behaviour driven by higher, positive motivations—exploration, cooperation, personal and situational mastery, generativity and higher service. Business leaders must become servant leaders, leaders who serve not just themselves and share holders, but leaders who serve employees, customers, the community, the planet, humanity, future generations, and life itself. This new leadership ethic will require a revolution.

Not a revolution with guns and bullets [think of recent US imperialist invasions, and Iran’s threats in Middle East to block oil routes], and, God forbid, not a regulatory revolution, but a revolution in thought, and a consequent revolution in moral behaviour. Business must become a vocation, like the higher professions, and capitalists’ sense of wealth creation must expand to include spiritual capital—wealth accrued by acting on our highest aspirations and deepest values.

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Now some may jump on the: “well that’s a bunch of fru-fru, hairy-fairy, bumpf…”-Train.

Fair enough.

However, it’s hard to look at the proposed Enbridge Northern exit-way pipeline and see how this makes much sense. And at the same time it’s quite reassuring to see  regular BC residents stepping up and saying “NO”. In all of the hearings thus far being conducted by the National Energy Board in various BC communities. The sentiment has been “NO” to the proposal.

As Zohar describes: Capitalism as we know it today—an amoral culture of short-term self-interest, profit maximization, emphasis on shareholder value, isolationist thinking, and profligate disregard of long-term consequences—is an unsustainable system, a monster set to destroy itself.

Hard to disagree with that thought… especially when one starts to think of the dangers posed by having a pipeline and tanker traffic (over 200 super-oiltankers a year on BC’s north coast)… simply to export raw bitumen to China. Even to a hardcore capitalist, it can’t make sense to be sending away an immensely valuable product, unrefined. Where’s the value-added in that?

Time for a change?

What does that look like, feel like, and sound like…?

And smell like? As the residents in Abbotsford would suggest after the oil spill there yesterday from Kinder Morgan’s pipeline.

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