Più Ferrari per tutti

In: Daniel In The News

17 May 2009

Laura Piccinini of Repubblica, a leading Italian newspaper, has written an article on John Naish’s idea that humans have Stone Age brains including a reference to my critique of his work. A summary and partial translation of the article by Maria Grasso can be found below. A link to my article on “Enoughism” is in the reviews section on the left hand column of my homepage.

The article starts by talking about Naish and his anti-consumerism (we need to cutback, the crisis won’t be enough, we need to take action to cut back even more); he cites approvingly Rutgers Trivers’ evolutionary biology idea that the reason we’re so greedy and consume so much is that we’ve been pre-planned through survival strategies/instinct to accumulate in order to deal with future scarcity. As such, we haven’t evolved since then and keep behaving irrationally towards planet/ourselves/future generations because we’re biologically pre-planned in the same way that the first homo sapiens was – we’re stuck there mentally, seems to be his argument. As evidence, he cites a study from the Southern California University that we release opioids when we consume. He fears that “over-information” and in particular commercials will suppress our development as a species to do something more than consume. To set the example, he doesn’t own a mobile or have a Facebook account – he says he lives in Brighton so he can network face-to-face.

[Then the article continues, translated word for word]:

“You’re either with him or against him. As is the critic from the magazine spiked, an anti-conservative and counter-current newspaper which has already attacked the well-known environmentalist George Monbiot. The subject of the disagreement was precisely the thesis that our brains are stuck in the Pleistocene period. This thesis was undermined by scientific expert Kenan Malik, who instead argues that human nature is flexible and adapts and interacts with its environment. When we point this out Naish disagrees, “I am talking about a pre-rational state in which these decisions occur – and in any case, you should check out the website of the journalist who criticised me.” We did: his name is Daniel Ben-Ami and his website is called, Ferraris for all – resources for the defence of economic progress against the growth sceptics. When we asked for his opinion, Daniel did not budge. “I am against Naish and all the pro-austerity folk such as Monbiot”. You’re either with Naish or with Mr Ben-Ami – make your choice. Perhaps after you’ve read the chapter “No more choices!” The one on (Young Experimenting Perfection Seekers) Yeppies (a syndrome diagnosed by Kate Fox from the Social Issues Research Centre), people who had the opportunity to leave when they didn’t like something, who run the risk of finding themselves at home at 40: the life-time procrastinators. Or the one about ex-workaholics, sent home during the crisis. Naish continues: “I invite people to read the chapter “No more work!” and to find the hidden Keynes. What’s wealth for? is also on Keynes’ . Naish argues that people are reviving the wrong Keynes – the one of over-consumer spending. Naish is against Obama’s faith in spending – even if he says he likes the Barack the man. “Why spend $900 billion when 1/10th of that would have been enough if he’d spoken to the alternative economists?” Would that be the ones that don’t want growth like you don’t want it Mr Naish? Obama’s change is there, but only within a capitalist system where the market reigns king. It’s not enough he thinks. The hidden Keynes that inspired him to a psychedelic Keynesianism is the one which authored Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren – the bisexual pre-hippy Bloomsbury man. Naish argues that: “Keynes predicted that in a few generations we would reach economic and technical abundance which would pave the way for worrying about greater issues. Not spending and creating money – to think instead about cultural evolution and the higher morals of our species. “That moment has come apparently. “Maybe this recession will finally convince us”. Since WWII we’ve finally arrived at maximum development he thinks. Then the crisis. After reading “Stop with stuff” “Stop with happiness” “Never enough!” one will certainly find a syndrome one is affected by. The chapter on “Stop with syndromes” isn’t there, but it’s there if you read between the lines. And before this one, Naish had published “Pocket handbook for hypochondriacs”. Maybe he’s trying to take advantage of our feeble Darwinian instinct which wants to have and know everything, including all possible diagnoses? In the last page he says sorry and invites us to say stop to this kind of book. Presumably only after we’ve read his though.