Anyone with a serious interest in history knows that there is no such thing as steady progress. There are times when things go forward and life improves, but always there is a counter-force that comes along, stops the advance and pushes human progress back. The golden age of fifth century Athens (BC) ended with the Persian wars, civil wars and then the growth of the Roman Empire, which itself was brought down partly by invasions from Germany and the East and its own internal upsets, but mainly by the rise of Christianity, anti-intellectual and anti-progressive, it always tended to support royal tyranny which was meant to reflect heavenly tyranny.
Global capitalism, supported by a right-wing media and public relations industry, has given us a bubble of illusionary prosperity in certain parts of the world, based on credit, high debt-levels, and a culture of general belief that things could only get better in the future. Although the bubble has now burst, the same media & PR industries are trying to persuade us that the last two years are a blip that will soon pass, no thought is given, except by a very few willing to face reality, to the real situation, which is the following.
The planet has a growing population that it cannot sustain. At the same time we are running out of what we need most, water, oxygen created by large forests, oil, gas and other finite products that give us energy, heat, means of travel and products we have come to take for granted, and many other things. Yet we never seem to run out weapons with which to kill. In Malthusian terms there are those who see the destruction of much of the overpopulated world as a good thing. Nothing seems to be able to stop nationalistic, ideological, religious, civil and other wars which international institutions such as the UN seem unable to control. In addition to this there are natural disasters and adverse weather conditions such as those that we have already seen this year in Haiti, Madeira and Chile, for which very little is done in advance in preparation. Some have become very rich by bringing down essential regulation, through fraud, and by taking advantage of the extreme complications of the modern stock market, financial systems and global interconnections that now have made the world ungovernable.
Democracy, which only works in a few places where there is a high level of general education, a single observed culture that includes an acceptance of law and order, governmental regulation and tolerance of difference, is no longer valid. A proper government has to be willing to treat all of its citizens equally, eliminate poverty, ignorance, illiteracy and find ways of creating and maintaining full employment, raising the living standard of teachers, nurses, civic employees and others who do essential work but are undervalued, as well as taxing heavily those who are overpaid or have too much property. The level that should be the norm, after taxation, in terms of available spending money, should be one to fifteen, and no gap should be wider than that. Of course, no government at present has the courage to even think of such a future, but just wait! Extreme violence, even revolution is on the horizon, and the many disasters that will surely arrive this year and thereafter will make such a re-orientation of society not only feasible but likely.When unemployment rises above ten percent and it may soon go to double that or more, then the disorders will start and no-one can predict the future after that.
Sacrifice is what it has to come and it should start at the top. If there is no viable government, then we will have mob rule. History tells us what that can lead to. Things are not going to get better. Be prepared for sacrifice and even welcome it if it leads the way to a fairer society.
John Calder 12/03/2010