Borys Bradel's Blog
How the world works
Tags: blogs, culture, society August 8, 2008
The way that the world works is quite interesting, and open to debate. The two best blogs that I have found on the subject are by Dave Pollard and Joe Bageant. The first blog is more analytical while the second is more entertaining. Another good site which focuses on politics is TomDispatch. The following is my summary and view of the positions at those sites.
The basic conclusion is that humanity is in trouble and that there is not much that can be done. The current society is a giant pyramid built without a foundation, where the powerful and wealthy control almost everything and because of greed make everyone else fight for the scraps that are left, and everyone else fights for those scraps out of greed.
I don't fully agree with that sentiment. In my opinion, there is a good deal of incompetence in there as well, and the two are a devastating combination.
There must be some positive aspects in this world though. Unfortunately positive and negative aspects can only be described relative to some reference point, preferably another world. Since such a comparison is impossible, the best that can be done is to list some aspects and note that there may be unforeseen consequences or relationships.
I can think of four positive aspects.
The first is that there is a wealth of information, both scientific and artistic, that is available. However, some of that information can be used for ill purposes, and the acquisition of some information is prevented by the government.
Second, transportation is also readily available. However, that may have been achieved for only a brief period of time by an unsustainable overuse of resources, and transportation may become much more difficult.
Third, many diseases that were before incurable are now curable. However, the demand for medicine is outstripping supply, and there are serious access issues.
Fourth, people live in cities that have very high population densities and relatively little violence and corruption. However, just like readily available transportation, this aspect may be achieved through an unsustainable overuse of resources. Furthermore, the high densities may have an adverse affect on people's psychology.
I can think of many negative aspects.
First, the current approach is not sustainable and is causing major damage to the environment. That in turn is causing available resources to decline and humans to be less healthy.
Second, the powerful and rich have set up the money system to ensure that they receive ever more money. This is accomplished by taxation of gains due to inflation/money expansion, preferential access to opportunities, and preferential borrowing terms. That is, ever more money is printed, causing increases in prices; corporations are given subsidies, access to commons such as air, water, and land, and the power to do with these as they wish; and corporations are allowed to borrow money pretty much for free.
Third, the money system makes it difficult for the poor to have basic necessities, including the possibility of a better life. If a person is poor, e.g. because of family violence, lack of education, a work injury, bad health, or unsurmountable debt, that person may not have enough for basic necessities and may be unable to change that situation.
Fourth, the government and corporations, the powerful and the wealthy, are trying to control others and affect them in negative ways. For example, take away fair use rights, spy on anybody they want for as long as they want with no oversight (e.g. USA or Sweden), punish those that have opinions that are too negative (e.g. Australia or Ireland), punish people beyond their sentences, kill people, send people to be tortured, print lots of money and give it to cronies while inflation goes up, use evidence in court and claim that it is better than it really is, give people compromised computers that show child pornography and then convict these people, prosecute people for using computers and the internet without following every last letter of every potential end user agreement, keep possibly incorrect secret files on citizens who organize together to practice their democratic rights, make appropriate avenues of complaint difficult to access, and advocate (and possibly use) censorship and control of the press, destruction of infrastructure, warrantless searches, employment of terrorists, false prosecution, and false flag operations. Furthermore, any interaction with the legal system is prohibitively expensive. And the pollution and environmental destruction impacts regular people the most, while it originates from the wealthy and powerful.
Therefore people that are not wealthy are given very little freedom, are treated miserably, and do not have money for necessities, while the powerful and rich do what they want and destroy the world. These problems are on top of the ones that people create for themselves because of decisions that are detrimental in the long term. Such a state is possible because regular people are for the most part are too obedient and are given relatively comfortable lives and don't have the power to stand up to the militias of this world.
What can be done?
Remove wealth and power, and make people act intelligently and responsibly. In other words, educate everybody, provide the necessities of life, do not allow people to go into debt, prevent injustices, and make the world a paradise. That's not happening. Furthermore, studies have been done that show people who gain power become self centered. Therefore there's an always present chipping away at the good parts of society. Now you see why people are pessimistic. There is a large and proportionally growing number of self centered and incompetent people.
If hyperinflation destroys money, that will destroy everybody's ability to buy life's necessities. Environmental destruction, which would remove power, will cause much pain as well.
The only possible ray of hope that I can see is if an important resource runs out that prevents the world's population to progress further while still leaving the environment intact and people's lives not too miserable. Given the propensity of people to substitute what they need, that is a very slim ray.
Two alternatives that are proposed are to create independent communities and to try to come up with local improvements without support of leaders. Completely independent communities are not possible because of the reliance on transportation, medicine, law, and communication infrastructure. The second alternative is not possible because without strong leadership, many problems arise. Having said that, these approaches might be part of something that works.
There's only two that can work.
First, to make the world better by opposing on their own terms the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world along with human nature itself.
Second, to try to live the most happy life possible while minimizing the amount of effort involved. If the effort involved is minimal or the preceding approach makes people happy, all the better. Unfortunately, chances are that neither condition is true for most people.
Copyright © 2008 Borys Bradel. All rights reserved. This post is only my possibly incorrect opinion.