Been working on a LONG post...as usual started out small and ballooned as I had more and more thoughts. It speculates that Japan is our future, and no, it has nothing to do with tsunamis. I had actually been planning to write it before all that. It was inspired by a post I read entitled "Is Japan the World's First Post Growth Society?" Basically Japan, which has been the world second-largest economy for most of the twentieth century (it was passed by China only recently), has failed to grow in the conventional economic sense for two decades. While this has had an unfortunate and profound effect on Japanese society, they are coping with this remarkably well compared to us in the United States, where we are preparing to liquidate our society and turn it into a mass dystopia in a mad pursuit of more growth at all costs.
Obviously nothing grows forever, and that goes for economies too. Our mass consumption is already damaging the planet beyond repair. As I talked about in my automation posts, there is a point of diminishing returns to growth - personal transport, mass communications and vaccines are only invented once. New growth seems to be simply growth for growth's sake...as John Kenneth Galbraith put it so aptly, business is creating the wants it seeks to satisfy. Really, how much more shit can we cram into cell phones, anyway? It seems the only "innovations" we produce are distractions from reality and toxic financial products. Let's face it, growth stopped making our lives better a long time ago.
So that's one half of it, the other has to deal with the fact that before industrialization, Japan actually managed to create a stable, steady-state economy with zero population growth for two hundred years. Oh, and it was a also highly literate culture that produced some of the finest works of art, music, poetry, craftsmanship and architecture the world has ever seen. Not too shabby. I included a section on the disaster because I couldn't not deal with it in some way. I learned a great deal writing it, and I'm sure my exploration into these topics will continue.
It's long - nine parts, and I'll start putting up tomorrow. It turned out surprisingly well - maybe I can shop it around and get it on a blog that people actually read besides myself. That would be sweet!