Selfishness is such an ugly human trait. And yet, we live in an economic system that mandates it. It is required by law. We must all be in it for ourselves, crushing every rival and obstacle underfoot, in the relentless pursuit of “more”. More of what? Stuff that breaks and has to be thrown away and replaced with another piece of garbage? We’ve lost control of the Domesday machine.
This is a system that can only function so long as a large population are impoverished and thus constrained out of any possibility of reaching their full potential as human beings. It creates mass underemployment so that a few can live in luxury. To add insult to injury, having created a huge population of mouths to be fed, that cannot contribute their finest gifts and talents to the world for fear of utter starvation, we then get a class of (usually some of the wealthiest) people beginning to worry about all these “useless mouths to feed” and thoughts of eugenics and population control begin to take root. The lucky ones try to solve “the problem” of the unlucky ones by eliminating them entirely, blind to the fact that the economic system in which they happen to have prospered caused the problem in the first place and would cause it again, even if the poorest could somehow be eliminated.
The capitalist system requires that there are the poor. If there are none, it will create them. That is the only way that game can operate.
We’re told that this global economic system is the best system yet devised and that there can be no better system, for axiomatic reasons. The paucity of collective imagination allows this pernicious lie to persist. Of course there can be other, better systems. First you must believe that there could be, then you can begin thinking of them. If you do not, you will not.
Of course, the paucity of collective imagination is not a natural state, it is one created by ceaseless propaganda and control, whether by corporate powers, religious powers or state powers. But the natural tendency of humanity is to have soaring imaginations. The evidence is everywhere apparent. Left to his own devices, the human animal is capable of spectacular feats of ingenuity and insight. And we all possess the power.
I assert that were it not for the operation of markets in creating a vast underclass of dirt poor creatures, the power of collective imagination, if unfettered, would solve many more problems than the few elites think they can today. It’s a no brainer, really.
Consider an economic system that was sharing instead of selfish, which actively worked to ensure that every member of society was able to reach his or her full potential and permit them to produce their finest and most fulfilling work. The problems that we struggle to solve today, due to a over-reliance on answers coming from a very small number of people on the planet who all share very similar backgrounds and ideals, would be solved far more easily if the collective imaginative brain power of six billion diverse individuals were applied to them.
At a stroke, we’d solve pollution, hunger, cancer, disease, conflict, waste and destruction. All we would have to do is enable the wetware carried in all of those “useless mouths to feed” to express it’s innate intelligence and imagination. It would be to the betterment of the species to do so. It would make eugenics unnecessary and its practitioners would be marginalised, as they should have been long ago. Killing in the name of some higher goal is such a primitive and ugly concept – a selfish idea.
Humanity is a distributed organism. It will find ways to survive, if it is possible to survive. It will find ways to rid itself of the disease of ideas and idea holders that are parasitic to the distributed organism. Evolution is a subtle and powerful force.
I don’t know how much longer we, the human distributed organism, or indeed all life on the planet, can indulge the uncritical belief in the economics of selfishness. We’re reaching an end point and a turning point. Imagination will break through the constraints on thought imposed by a corporate culture hell bent on preserving itself through propaganda. The thinkers of the world will find a new system, a new way and a better future.
I believe that, as the most agile practitioners of imaginative thought, artists may well lead the way. Imagination will save us all.