The major US equity indices were relatively flat in what was a holiday shortened trading week in US markets, with Americans ‘giving thanks’ on Thursday before splurging in the madness that is the Black Friday frenzy. There is some debate on the origins of the term “Black Friday” (see The Origins of Black Friday) but either way it represents everything that is wrong with the advertising driven consumer society we live in. When you watch some of the YouTube clips (see CNN YouTube) of people acting like wild animals in the battle for a deal on some electric appliance, one can’t help but question the direction the human race is taking.
At a geopolitical level, one can take little hope from world leaders who seem content on perpetuating regional conflict. Last week, Turkey shot down a Russian jet that allegedly crossed over into “Turkish airspace”. Of course, Russia disagrees with Turkey’s official account of the incursion and Putin has apparently warned of “serious consequences”.
The Russian flight was on mission into Syria, no doubt to drop more bombs on a country that is being devastated by war. This is fuelling a refugee crisis in Europe as locals try to escape the misery at all costs. Interestingly, EU leaders last night agreed a deal to provide Turkey with €3 billion to stop the flow of migrants into Europe, along with other incentives such as more open access for Turkish citizens to travel the continent.
The 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will begin in Paris today, until December 11th, with the stated aim of: “bringing together world leaders to hammer out an agreement aimed at stabilizing the climate and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change”.
A quote from the philosopher Bertrand Russell (Sceptical Essays: Can Men be Rational?) seems apt when I think about the impact mankind is having on the planet and the society we are creating:
“If men were rational, they would take a more correct view of their own interest than they do at present; and if all men acted from enlightened self-interest the world would be a paradise in comparison with what it is.”