First published in the RADIX thinktank
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is not all it seems.
When I was employed by Liverpool City Council in the 1970s, amongst other things, I was responsible for traffic signals in the city.
At that time, there was widespread trade union activity. It was important to who did what.
I remember being told that a gang of men, whose role was digging trenches to hold cables, became fed up waiting for the gang who laid cables to arrive to put a cable in a trench they had dug. So they did the job themselves.
Which led to a dispute. The trench diggers had to reopen their trench and take the cable out for the cable layers to relay it, and the trench then had to be refilled.
Those were all activities that contributed to the local GDP.
Another aspect of GDP is how it creates an impression of growth. Tim Morgan points out that “we’re manufacturing ‘growth’ by relentless borrowing. Borrowed money is spent – that’s what it’s for – and hence boosts transactional activity, measured as GDP and wrongly assumed to represent economic output.
In a fascinating video by Prof Bill Rees debunking just about everything we are told to believe about global reality, he mentions the term “post-truth”, not a phrase I had come across.
Our friendly robot Chat GBT tells me that:
“The term ‘post-truth era’ refers to a contemporary social and political phenomenon characterised by a disregard for objective facts and a reliance on emotional or personal beliefs in shaping public opinion and policy decisions. In a post-truth era, emotional and subjective appeals often carry more weight than objective evidence or verifiable facts. This concept gained prominence in the early 21st century as a way to describe the changing dynamics of political discourse, journalism, and public communication.
“It’s important to note that the post-truth era does not imply that objective truth no longer exists or is unimportant. Rather, it highlights a shift in how information is processed, shared, and valued in contemporary society. Addressing the challenges of the post-truth era requires critical thinking, media literacy, and efforts to promote the importance of evidence-based decision-making and open, honest public discourse.“
This is how things are now. GDP is a myth of our time.
We don’t know what is going on. GDP is useless if I, as a person, want to know how things are for me.
My reality is down here in the grassroots, where everything up there seems to be collapsing. Down here, we are preparing for reality to dawn – up there. And if it doesn’t, we will do what we can to survive.
Post-truth is a top-down characterisation of how things are. So long as it exists, the future of the world is doomed.