pattern language, politics

Are We In A Permanent Recession?

Are We In A Permanent Recession?

Matthew Yglesias writes:

… if the recession ends, then it seems likely that we’ll slip right back into a new recession. I wish that weren’t the case, and that everyone would just react to an oil price spike by biking to work, but realistically we don’t seem to have made nearly the scale of adjustments that would be necessary to let the country shrug off a return to oil that costs over $4 a gallon. SOURCE

In essence he is saying what we should have known when Frank Lloyd Wright wrote, wrongly, that we would all plant vegetable gardens in our suburban lots. Mother earth incarnate. No takers.

My impression is that Yglesias is all for some incremental moves that would signal some acknowledgment of the need to move beyond slavery to an oil economy. But he also knows that incremental moves will not achieve the change that is called for by the current crisis.

The perfect storm in the world is created by the collision between finite oil and continued slavery to the notion of private automobiles. Both these forces create a dysfunctional society that eats away at the possibility of a humanity that is not itself profoundly dysfunctional.

At the center of what is dysfunctional is the suburb which is entirely subservient to the requirements of the car. The combined costs of the car, the detached house and the costs created by reliance on the automobile is indeed the origin of a permanent recession. This is why there has been no bounce-back in valuation of either cars or detached houses. In essence, these are becoming less and less marketable.

The solution to this conundrum would be simple enough if our vaunted designers and architects and planners could do what Wright failed to do — stop being naive about human nature and stop building the car into everything. In fact, eliminate the car from the areas where people live. And reintegrate into living areas all the institutions and services needed to create well-rounded lives.

The thought of Christopher Alexander and the constellation of ideas we associate with the phrase pattern language is the answer to the economic crisis which is at bottom not economic but evolutionary.


Seen differently. we are not in a permanent recession but in the throes of a move in the market away from what hurts us to what helps us. It is that simple. What helps us is not something we can buy with money but what we can earn by the application of common sense and some smarts to the problems we face.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s