Who that lived during that day on November 9, 1989, and the following days could forget the exhilaration of seeing that symbol of hate, separation, cold war, and suffering, a wall fall, signaling the death of an era, and the beginning of hope in a new future.
But actually things have not turned as rosy as people hoped to be, Lane Wallace from the Atlantic tell us:
“The dream in its ideal form didn’t last long, of course. The revolution was wrought by factions, burdened by bureaucracy and characterized more by brutality than any cooperative utopia from almost its first bloody days. But when I left Vienna, I discovered that the taxi driver taking me to the airport was a recent émigré from Berlin. East Berlin. I asked him about how reunification was going, and he told me about some of the same problems I’d heard before: East Germans being second-class citizens, economic resentment on the part of the West Germans who had to pay to upgrade East Germany, and the like. But then, he said:
“You know, everyone sees it as the West helping the East. But it could have been done better. We could have helped them, too. But nobody wanted what we had to offer.”
Intrigued, I asked him to explain. There was a long pause. Then he answered:
“For all the problems of the system, in East Germany, it wasn’t all about consumerism. It wasn’t how much you could buy, how much ahead of your neighbor you could get. We really did have more of a sense of helping each other out. Community really mattered more to us than things.”
Who better to see the difference than those people behind the iron curtain, who now face consumerism, naked capitalism, and the rat race to survive in a world were you are on your own, and get nothing but stabs on the back by the people who suppose to uphold our Government, and our private institutions like our banks who gambled and lost with our money?
Who, or what will bridge this gap in our political, and economical system, now wide open?
Richard Heinberg, director of the Post Carbon Institute, begins his book, The End of Growth, as follows: “The central assertion of this book is both simple and startling: Economic growth as we have known it is over and done with.” He then presents over 300 pages of various kinds of supportive evidence backing up this conclusion. The book was published in 2011, the evidence in support of this conclusion seems stronger than ever.
The reason are complex, and many, but simply put unlimited growth, and unlimited consuming, in a finite, and ecological frail world, this cannot be sustained. In the past we liked to tell ourselves that continual progress in science and technology will keep paying off by creating the new energy sources and the improved technology that we need to maintain ourselves and solve our problems, especially when we take care to grow in a smart way with sensible restraints. It is obvious this is not possible, the Achilles heel of expanding economies is the necessity for them to grow producing goods, and consumerism, this has brought an ecological nightmare at our doors, that we can no longer ignore, but our governments married to capital, refuse to yield to reality, the fact is we do not trust our government any more, and even less when there is not a system in place to make sure people in power behave ethically, and think first on the well being of others, rather than the benefit for their pockets, and bottom lines, that by the way they seem to be insatiable.
Few economists in the day of Adam Smith or Marx, with the notable exception of Malthus, could foresee a day that there would be any important limits to economic expansion that could not be overcome by human ingenuity and continually improving technology. If there were such limits, it was presumed that these were local limits that could be dealt with rather easily. If natural resources such as metal mines were exhausted in one area, one could always move to a fresh area, and use the advantages of continually improving technology to keep production expanding, ad infinitum.
In reality it is found that technology tends to harvest the low hanging fruit in terms of available resources first and then moves on. While there was an abundance of cheap energy available, this exhaustion of resources and a simultaneous increase in unwelcome consequences could be concealed for a time. In the USA, there has been a well-funded, right-wing corporate disinformation campaign to lead the public to deny that burning fossil fuel is changing the climate for the worse. Now people are beginning to realize the unhappy truth.
Are we facing a doomsday future?
The Optimistic View
Theoretically, there is enough acreage already planted to keep the planet fed forever, because 10 billion humans is roughly where the United Nations predicts that the world population will plateau in 2060. But success depends on portion control; in the late 1980s,Brown University’s World Hunger Program calculated that the world then could sustain 5.5 billion vegetarians, 3.7 billion South Americans or 2.8 billion North Americans, who ate more animal protein than South Americans.
Even if fertility rates rose again, many agronomists think the world could easily support 20 billion to 30 billion people.
Anyone who has ever flown across the United States can see how that’s possible: there’s a lot of empty land down there. The world’s entire population, with 1,000 square feet of living space each, could fit into Texas. Pile people atop each other like Manhattanites, and they get even more elbow room.
Water? When it hits $150 a barrel, it will be worth building pipes from the melting polar icecaps, or desalinating the sea as the Saudis do.
The same potential is even more obvious flying around the globe. The slums of Mumbai are vast; but so are the empty arable spaces of Rajasthan. Africa, a huge continent with a mere 944 million people on it, looks practically empty from above. South of the Sahara, the land is rich; south of the Zambezi, the climate is temperate. But it is farmed mostly by people using hoes.
If food became as pricey as oil, we would plow Africa, fish-farm the oceans and build hydroponic skyscraper vegetable gardens. But they see the underlying problem in terms more Marxian than Malthusian: the rich grab too much of everything, including biomass.
Possibility does not imply Feasibility
Vegetarians are minority as right now maybe not even 6% of the population today, and that would be a very optimistic, more likely a 2% or 3% at most, besides it ignores that the production of meat it is a well established machinery, that provide ample profits for those who control it, not likely to be abandoned just because suddenly everybody got conscious and decided it was morally unjustifiable, a waste of resources, like water, grain, and arable land, on top a great source of methane, and the pollution of our water, air, and land, contributing to global warming, just like people do not abandon alcohol, sugar, tobacco, coffee, tea, oil, carbon, and many other consumer products, that are not good for our health, but that produce wealth for some, and satisfaction for many.
As for the world population fitting in to Texas, I am sure the nice folks of Texas would be very happy to pack up the rest of the world in their back yards, as no doubt the cosmopolitan, and always nice to all, Manhattan people, would have no qualm to pile more people up! And for that matter any other people around the Globe, will be reluctant to be the safe haven for millions of ecological refuges, now think on billions! it is unrealistic to expect borders, and governments of many nations to melt away, and disappear when asked to sacrifice themselves in order to make room for those who lost their ecological resources, and now bent in taking over theirs as well!
If there is vast unpopulated areas of the glove are for good reasons, they lack water, or the weather is extreme like in the Artic, not fit for living and not capable of sustaining population, ecologist cringe at the idea of robbing Peter to pay Paul, which it is basically what happens, when we shift resources, like water for irrigation to desert areas, or destroy forest to cultivate the land, basically we are borrowing with a high interest, that would be very unlikely we will be able to repay, destroying ecological habitat that it is not renewable, and irreplaceable, for short time gain.
Technological innovation, so far if smart, had proven no solution to ecological mayhem, if anything they have been the cause of most of the problems, and to the challenges we face today, there is no easy solution, or shortcuts to fix our problems, but to acquire the wisdom to live in Harmony with our environment, regardless of the loss of revenue this may inflict on our consumer slash, and burn make a quick profit economy of today, pay with high interest tomorrow based economy society, the time of blind exploitation need to be over, and done, for the survival not only of our own, but for life on Earth, and the only solution, is a more wiser, and conscious Mankind who by force of survival will manage our resources better.
The God that failed
Democracy: The God That Failed is a 2001 book by Hans-Hermann Hoppe, containing a series of thirteen essays on the subject of democracy. The book “examines modern democracies in the light of various evident failures” which, in Hoppe’s view, include rising unemployment rates, expanding public debt, and insolvent social security systems. He attributes democracy’s failures to pressure groups seeking increased government expenditures, regulations and taxation and a lack of counter-measures to them. He discusses as solutions secession, “shifting of control over the nationalized wealth from a larger, central government to a smaller, regional one” and “complete freedom of contract, occupation, trade and migration introduced”. It concludes that democracy is the primary cause of the de-civilization sweeping the world since World War I, and that it must be delegitimized.
Hoppe characterizes democracy as “publicly owned government,” which he compares to monarchy “privately owned government” to conclude that the latter is preferable; however, Hoppe aims to show that both monarchy and democracy are deficient systems compared to his preferred structure to advance civilization—what he calls the natural order, a system free of both taxation and coercive monopoly in which jurisdictions freely compete for adherents. In his Introduction to the book, he lists other names used elsewhere to refer to the same thing, including “ordered anarchy,” “private property anarchism,” “anarcho-capitalism,” “auto government,” “private law society,” and “pure capitalism.”
The title of the work is an allusion to The God That Failed, a 1949 work in which six authors who were former communist (or former communist sympathizer) describe their experience of and disillusion with communism.
A change is Needed
On my view the models based on the wrong values we pursue today are at the root of our problems, the accumulation of wealth it is not a bad thing in itself, but has been corrupted almost totally, almost to the exclusion of any other considerations, and it has been an individualistic quest, with the exclusion of others, were the disparity lays naked in front of us for all to see. Our governments have become accomplices in this ruthless enterprise, corporations, had hijacked the agenda, and made their policy to make our goals, and structure society according to their benefit regardless of the cost, as long it is not their cost.
This state of affairs need to be over, we need to move to a total new way to make society work, it is my thought that we have been shepherded in to compliance by our apathy, and reluctance to get involved in to the political process, after all busy with a full day at work, and the burden of making ends meet, bills to pay, children to care for, and educate, who has time, or energy to confront and battle the status quo?
Sure we have an ecological, and environmental problem in our hands, but the origin of it is like Uruguay’s President Jose Mujica told at the Rio Summit:
“Today, man does not govern the forces he has unleashed, but rather, it is these forces that govern man; and life. Because we do not come into this planet simply to develop, just like that, indiscriminately. We come into this planet to be happy. Because life is short and it slips away from us. And no material belonging is worth as much as life, and this is fundamental.But if life is going to slip through my fingers, working and over-working in order to be able to consume more, and the consumer society is the engine-because ultimately, if consumption is paralyzed, the economy stops, and if you stop economy, the ghost of stagnation appears for each one of us, but it is this hyper-consumption that is harming the planet. And this hyper-consumption needs to be generated, making things that have a short useful life, in order to sell a lot. Thus, a light bulb cannot last longer than 1000 hours. But there are light bulbs that last 100,000 hours! But these cannot be manufactured, because the problem is the market, because we have to work and we have to sustain a civilization of “use and discard”, and so, we are trapped in a vicious cycle. These are problems of a political nature, which are showing us that it’s time to start fighting for a different culture.
I’m not talking about returning to the days of the caveman, or erecting a “monument to backwardness.” But we cannot continue like this, indefinitely, being ruled by the market, on the contrary, we have to rule over the market.
This is why I say, in my humble way of thinking, that the problem we are facing is political. The old thinkers. Epicurus, Seneca and even the Aymara put it this way, a poor person is not someone who has little but one who needs infinitely more, and more and more.” This is a cultural issue.
So I salute the efforts and agreements being made. And I will adhere to them, as a ruler. I know some things I’m saying are not easy to digest. But we must realize that the water crisis and the aggression to the environment is not the cause. The cause is the model of civilization that we have created. And the thing we have to re-examine is our way of life.”
Mujica, 77, former guerilla who spent more that 14 years in prison, two at the bottom of a well, gives 90% of his salary to charity, refused to live in Presidential Palace and continues to stay at his little farm, guarded by a three legged dog, excuse to say that if our presidents, and government officials would live that way, then we may have a chance of a better future.