A long gone German philosopher by the name of Friedrich Nietzsche once said "What does not destroy you makes you stronger", while I may be using this quote out of direct context, I wanted to share a possible, optimistic idea of a recession.
I'm not denying that a recession (especially global ones) has devastating consequences for the world, which I believe it does. However, I am primarily concerned with the change of consciousness in capitalist societies where the myth was bought that exponential growth has no limits (which is unlikely as we are heading towards scarcity). Unfortunately it is a trait of the human race that we only act when threatened into a corner (or rather the majority or status quo do not see it, or refuse to act sooner).
However, a crisis cannot be ignored forever, and thus action (whether it is sensible or not) is inevitable. So without dwelling too much on the bad, I will be dwelling on the possible 'good' from a recession.
a recession forces consumers to be critical, and thus frugal with spending. When a bubble bursts it can force us to bring a change in consumer habits, one possible good is that car manufacturing maybe forced *finally* to deal with a world without oil. While it is unfortunate that alternatives could have been sought and developed sooner (of course, they wouldn't 'profit', if technology created abundance) it is none the less, a welcome change, considering the consequences to our health (pollution), environment (global warming, species endangerment etc) and money (company monopoly).
It is up-to us (in the long term), but more-so the government (who may act wrongly in the short term) to decide which industries should exist. Do we want luxury cars to exist? Or should ethical car companies and energy companies survive, and how do we make them survive? (windfall tax on corrupt businesses is one example, tighter regulation, tax incentives for companies and individuals).
It doesn't take a mathematician to know that free energy creates more flexibility in the world, and it doesn't take a scientist to tell you that we have the resources to allow such a change to happen. It is amazing that wars overseas and wars in general were so powerful that the effort investment in creating a military, arms and nuclear weapons was enormous, yet this human zeitgeist or 'Will to power' is most strongly manifested in destructive rather then creative process. This is a product of irrational, herd-like mentality of paranoiac, power-obsessed 'dominator cultures' which purvey politics and human civilization in general.
so some good? the generation in the recession would be more cautious about politics (as would there children) and in an information age, the message that frugal living and life satisfaction (living within your needs, and maximising well-being) is not dictated by frivolities self-imposed by the ego. While I am not optimistic that our obsession with celebrity, mass media and sports would disappear completely (nothing against it, but alot of time is devoted to a mild entertainment such as football in the UK). Perhaps we would be inspired not to seek material, and domineering positions in life (such as usury occupations, advertisement, and generally the 'sellers of snake oil' promises of happiness) but rather occupations which are purposeful - Governments in the past have tapped into our libido, and as a result, we excessively borrow and indulge, sometimes with no means to pay back (NINJA) but a shock to the world may help shatter the majorities illusion of wealth, and maybe. JUST maybe, a generation of socially responsible, technological/scientifically savvy and frugal minded, intellectually curious people may be born from crisis to warn the next generation if it happens again. Systems self-govern curiously, what if the time spent on wars were spent on sustainable living?
Your weapon is your wallet, your power is your knowledge, your salvation is in your morality.