The UK election is over. The bombast is past. Now, not only Britain, but most of the world is facing a future that will become ever more difficult even in the richer countries, and catastrophic in the poorer. While politicians, most of whom are profoundly ignorant about the realities of the world and the period they live in, will will continue to make statements about ‘recovery’, ‘back to propserity’, etc. — thinking people and the few public voices that are honest as well as aware will have to come to terms with the single choice that lies before us: either accept a long regime of austerity, that will include rationing of the essential things we need to live, or, sink into a new dark age where hunger, thirst, famine, anarchy and tribal warfare will be the norm.
We are certainly going to run out of oil and gas. There are other forms of energy available. but they must be expensively cultivated and shared equably. Over the planet as a whole, food and water, especially the latter, will become scarce and need to be shared — which means rationing. There is no room for vulture capitalism in this. Whatever name it takes on, some form of socialism must eventually take over. It does not have to be corrupt and run by uncaring bureaucrats as has been so often in the past, but unless real education causes people to think and act responsibly to their environment — instead of being led by a corrupt press and the demagogues of the moment. We must expect the worst. Compassion, understanding of reality, willingness to do without and to share, are the qualities we need now.
We must start taking Malthus seriously. That considerable nineteenth century thinker, like many before and after him, realised that the world is finite and can only support a certain number of people on any kind of level. The current world population is well over double that number. Either by some chemical means, or through surgery, must individuals learn that they have no right in the society of the future to have more than one child per couple. The population must come down to two milliard (or two American Billion) and stay there.
Look at 1950: the war was over, but wartime shortages remained. Taxation for the super-rich went up to 97.5 percent. The difference in spending power after taxation was roughly one to fifteen. Today it is many thousands to one. It should go back to the 1950 level and tax-avoidance can be eradicated by taxing the individual where his income arises, not by not by where he chooses to live. You cannot make a fortune by activities in the tax havens. It is a disgrace in a country that calls itself democratic, Lord Ashcroft shoudl be able to finance the successful Tory election while contributing nothing to the country that he partially rules and is given totally undeserved honours.
A Conservative government can be expected to turn back to the old class divisions and dominance by the rich. The Liberal-Democrat element in the coalition, which may continue for some time — as the need to avoid anarchy, revolution, total collapse of the economy is paramount — may hold it back. We have learned more about Clegg in the last month than ever before, and while his good points are not those likely to appeal to the right-wing press, they certainly appeal to me. Also Vince Cable, a voice of reason and intelligence, is in the cabinet — so there is some hope!
The moment to fact reality has arrived. We must understand the situation, the impossibility of going back, and above all be willing to accept a future where sacrifice, fair shares and self-control can still make a more civilised, if not more affluent than first anticipated future possible.
John Calder 15/5/10