Tuesday, 20 October 2015


The notion of 'creative destruction' was coined by Schumpeter over half a century ago, but is making more and more of an impact:
Wired 10.03: The Father of Creative Destruction
Creative destruction - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Futures Forum: Creating/destroying jobs >>> Creative Destruction and Artificial Intelligence

The FT looked at 'digital disruption' earlier this month:

FINANCIAL TIMESTo view this email as a web page, click here
The Connected Business
The obsession with digital disruption has reached a flashpoint with the arrival of the smartphone, which is the platform for an invasion of older companies’ hallowed grounds.

View this special report
Special Report
Inside this Report:
Digital disruption becomes the norm
Established companies need to make use of their advantages
Flexibility is crucial in attracting millennials
Today’s employees want the freedom to develop skills outside the workplace
Automation risks ‘deindustrialisation’
Industrialisation made the west rich, but emerging economies may have to miss it out altogether
Digital option not for the faint-hearted
To win, you need to rethink priorities and processes
The FT produces approximately 250 special reports a year written by FT experts in business and international affairs. Each report provides a forensic assessment by country, region or industry sector plus big trends in finance, business and management.

The Connected Business - ft.com

As part of this bigger picture, the FT has also been looking at 'de-industrialisation' - which doesn't sound quite so 'creative':

Cheap automation raises risk of ‘premature deindustrialisation’ - FT.com
Dani Rodrik's weblog: On premature deindustrialization

But need this phenomenon be seen as 'destructive'?

De-Industrialization - P2P Foundation
Can de-industrialisation be reversed? - BBC News

It could also be seen in terms of 'peak industrialisation' - and the promise of a 'transition':
Society transition through peak industrialisation
Peak Industrialisation
Peak Mining Implications For Natural Resource Management Simon Michaux

All of which is connected to other 'peaks' and 'transitions':
Futures Forum: Peak coal > peak shale oil > peak gas >>> peak fossil fuels
Futures Forum: Peak Oil... and Transition Towns ...and the energy descent action plan

Perhaps we should be avoiding 'peaks' anyway and looking to a 'steady state':


Published on Mar 3, 2015

Dr Simon Michaux - "Throughput and consumerism - a key elephant in the room", at the 2014 Fenner Conference of the Australian Academy of Science.

Dr Simon Michaux - and the Steady State Economy - YouTube

This largely chimes with the Transition Movement:
Society Transition Through Peak Industrialisation

But perhaps we should go back to the 1970s and what the late Edward Goldsmith had to say on the subject. This is the first part of a very prescient article:

De-industrialising society

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Five years after A Blueprint for Survival, Edward Goldsmith updates and reaffirms the original message, that we must create “an economically and politically de-centralised post-industrial society”.
The article was originally published in The Ecologist Vol. 7 No. 4, May 1977. This slightly revised version was published as Chapter 7 of The Great U-Turn, published by Green Books in 1988.
IT SEEMS UNNECESSARY to list the ills our world is suffering from or to demonstrate that they are getting worse, or that the measures undertaken by us to combat them are increasingly ineffective. It is important however, to determine why all this should be so.
The tendency, of course, is to blame our failure on mere technicalities, errors in the implementation of our policies, not on the policies themselves, for these are the only ones consistent with our world view, hence the only ones the society it gives rise to, or is capable of providing.
Let us begin by considering the main features of this world view. Implicit to it is the notion that the world we live in is imperfect. In the Middle Ages, the Cathars and other heretical sects also regarded the world as imperfect. Their reaction however, was to cut themselves off from it and live instead in a spiritual world of their own making.
We, on the other hand, have set out systematically to improve it. By means of science, technology, and industry, we have persuaded ourselves, it can be transformed into a veritable paradise, in which everyone will have at his or her disposal an extraordinary array of consumer goods and ingenious technological devices and in which vast specialised institutions will deal so ‘scientifically’ with all such problems as unemployment, homelessness, ignorance, disease, crime and delinquency, which are supposed to have afflicted us since the beginning of time, that these will be eliminated once and for all.
This transformation is referred to misleadingly as development and the direction it is leading us in is referred to as progress. It is thereby not surprising that any problems which arise are ascribed to underdevelopment, and that, to solve them, it suffices to invest in more scientific research, more technological innovation and more industrial expansion, i.e. in more development, to which-needless to say-our society is, in any case, committed.
In other words, rather than interpret our problems objectively (which is what science is supposed to do for us), we interpret them subjectively so as to make them appear amenable to the only solutions we can provide without radically altering our world view and the social behaviour pattern it gives rise to – the only solutions which, among other things, are at present economically viable and politically expedient.
Thus, for instance, we define poverty as a shortage of material goods, which justifies the production of more and more material goods. It does not occur to us that it might be more realistic to regard it as an aberrant situation in which more material goods are required than can actually be produced, for then the solution would be to create those socio-economic conditions in which less goods rather than more were required.
Or again, we interpret the housing problem as a shortage of houses, which justifies the building of more and more houses. It does not occur to us that it might be more realistic to regard it as an aberrant situation largely caused by the disintegration of the family, as a result of which, where there were eight to ten people per house, there are now two or three. This latter interpretation would be inconvenient, since though we know how to build houses, industrial society does not provide the means for restoring the integrity of the family unit.
In the same way, we regard the high crime rate as a sign that the police force is inadequate or that it is not sufficiently well equipped. It does not occur to us that it might be a symptom of social disintegration. This is because, though it has been up to now reasonably easy to engage more policemen, build more prisons, and manufacture more armoured cars and burglar alarms, there is no mechanism available to us for creating a sounder society without compromising the achievement of other goals to which we attribute a higher priority.
If our interpretation of these and all the other problems which face our society today was the correct one, then, on logistical grounds alone, one could state unhesitatingly, that they could never be solved, and that the future of man was very grim indeed. Fortunately, it is our interpretation that is wrong. Our problems are of a very different order and the correspondingly different solutions are much easier to apply. Let us look a little more closely at this process of ‘development’, or more precisely ‘industrialisation’ – its latest phase.

De-industrialising society · Edward Goldsmith

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