ECOLOGICAL CIVILIZATION

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What is economic growth if it entails the destruction of life itself? The modern world system has always been oblivious to such pertinent questions. It is this chronically shallow ideological fixation (of the system) that has led the world astray, to say the least. Our planet is exhibiting changes that can be (most likely) ascribed to Homo sapiens. In fact, scientists have now coined the name ‘anthropocene’ to describe this phenomenon. What is really scary is the very real possibility of extinction, especially of the more complex organisms inhabiting our planet, not excluding humans. Currently, over 200 species of fauna and flora go extinct on a daily basis! Why cannot the existing world system acknowledge the precarious nature of life and its very short duration? Why is destructive greed given the upper hand in our world system? Why can’t we change our ways?
The so-called material development, as we have been pursuing it, needs to be rationally interrogated, particularly from the point of view of preservation/conservation and possibly sustainability, if it is not already too late. Time has come to be modest and accept our infantile notion of development as nothing more than a shallow and imbecilic manipulation of nature! We are so infatuated with our profuse tinkering and very rare thinking, we have lost our common sense that helped us distinguish between what is important and what is frivolous, throughout the eons. As we enter our twilight zone, the very ideas of growth and development must be reexamined by all and sundry. So far, these economic issues have been left, mostly to greedy power cravers, who tend to be thick upstairs when it comes to the genuine appreciation of creation, including life! We should note that non-domineering interaction with the natural world is quite alien to our reigning psychopaths/sociopaths. To these creatures, the alpha and omega of existence is centered on power/domination and greed/gluttony. Cooperation is hardly a virtue in the society of psychos. Experience dictates the power of entrenched interests must be severely curtailed by the pro-life living multitudes, if the propagation of life is to remain the primary objective of our very reason d’etre!
In late modernity, it is monopoly capital/corporations that run the world (See, David Korten’s ‘When the Corporation Rule the World’. Incidentally, David helped set up the Business School at the former Haile Selassie University in the early 60s.) Corporations are inanimate entities with no values, except the obsession to perpetuate their lifeless existence based on ever-increasing accumulation. In the logic of these man-made entities, consequences don’t matter. Corporations do not genuinely appreciate limitations, be they of time, natural resources, etc. These entities are set in such a way as to assume that everything is there for the asking; air, water, fossil fuel, uranium, human labor, etc., etc.! This is one of the saddest shortcomings of these man-made creatures. Infinite growth on a finite planet is an impossibility, at least to any thinking human, but to entrenched interests and their highly organized accumulative machines, the truism doesn’t hold water, so to speak! As it stands, these lifeless legal objects have been given the green light to do almost anything they desire on the planet. But what these concocted regimes want, compared to what humanity ultimately desires, are on very divergent trajectories, notwithstanding the propaganda of the globally powerful beneficiaries of the archaic system. It is these obvious digressions that must be dealt with, if humans want to survive the impending calamity! See the articles next column, on page 45.
Recently IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) of the UN and other institutions have been very vocal and rather bold in their reports about the crisis the planet is facing, of course from the perspective of life. These recent reports are quite alarming and predict an accelerated extinction process that might not be reversed, unless we immediately embark on a different system of collective existence! In this regard, ‘Ecological Civilization’ is a phrase that is gaining currency. Significant countries like China have endorsed the idea. China might have a capitalist economy, but it is hardly the corporations that rule the country, unlike the core countries of the world system (OECD or what is traditionally called the West but now includes Japan, Korea, etc.). Therefore, there might be some hope here.
In essence, ecological civilization means living within our God-given ecological limits! Important as this idea is, developing countries, by and large, do not have the wherewithal (intellectual, etc.) to develop their own policies, for their own social reproduction, based on this principle. Hence, these countries must align themselves, per force, with other significant nations boldly pursuing the new initiatives. Here is the late Nobel laureate (physiology/medicine) on our predicament. “The cost of our success is the exhaustion of natural resources, leading to energy crises, climate change, pollution, and the destruction of our habitat. If you exhaust natural resources, there will be nothing left for your children. If we continue in the same direction, humankind is headed for some frightful ordeals, if not extinction.” Christian de Duve. Good Day!