Sunday, April 21, 2019
Can You Imagine?
written 14 April 2019
published 21 April 2019
Imagine an organization that freely provides nourishing food to every one of its members, along with water, waste disposal, health care, and high-speed communication. Everyone receives energy supplies and resources for a meaningful job, suited to their talents and skills, including ten times as many foreigners, who provide essential services. No one is valued more highly than another, even if their job is more central to the core of the organization, for the fate of each individual determines the fate of the entire organization.
This might sound like utopian socialist fantasy, but these organizations have existed for 600 million years. You inhabit one right now, a multi-celled organism, the most recent biological expression of the power of cooperation over competition. Life on Earth trends toward increased complexity and scale of cooperative structures. Human society needs to follow a similar trajectory.
From a unity perspective, the root of human dysfunctions is conflict between the illusion of an autonomous individual and the reality that we arise from the same basic source: exclusive competition versus inclusive cooperation. For the last few millennia humans have prioritized competition, distracted by a left-brain bias toward differences. Our economy profits from killing people and the planet, ignoring that life is massively cooperative, even between apparent individuals.
Successive empires, oppression by class, race, religion or gender, and endless wars, including the consumptive war on finite planetary resources, have failed to bring enduring peace and prosperity. Designers know that life has already solved most of the problems that confront humanity, and we can benefit from that wisdom by the practice of biomimicry. A convergence of lethal crises is now demanding we apply biomimicry thinking at the level of global civilization.
Beginning in Europe 500 years ago, capitalist economic theory, based on the fallacy of exclusive gain, has grown to dominate the world, with financial crashes and misery increasing over time. The crash of 1929 was so destructive that socialist, cooperative limits were able to prevail, generating 40 years of relative economic stability, primarily benefiting America. As the world recovered from WWII and corporations grew from national to international, the lure of exclusive gain by a global elite eventually prevailed. The economy was de-regulated, unsustainable debt and income inequity exploded, and economic crashes around the globe became more frequent every decade.
The crash of 2008 almost froze the global banking system, averted only by a massive infusion of public money from the US Federal Reserve. Rather than acknowledging the failure of free market capitalism, the system doubled down, demanding privatization of public systems and ruinous austerity of targeted populations. This fueled Brexit, the rise of extremist movements in Italy, Sweden, France and Germany, and the election of proto-fascists like Trump and others in Hungry, the Philippines, and Brazil. A decade later, the same banking system still runs the show. Wealth inequity and global debt are even larger and more unsustainable, European unity is at risk, and the US, no longer a credible global leader, will not be able to fund another miracle rescue.
While the global economic system staggers toward the cliff, our energy system is running on fumes. Centuries of industrial development now demands a torrent of finite fossil fuel every day, and the sources are beginning to fail. Massive debt investment allows the system to continue working, but we know the economy can seize up without notice.
Include the fact that climate change threatens near term human extinction, and we see that we truly are all in this together, whether we like it or not. If civilization doesn't work to nourish all the parts, including non-human members, everyone stands to lose: no elite exceptions or rich, white man, discounts. The sooner we recognize this, the better.
Everyone is a co-creator in this situation, because the illusion of separation is a mindset residing within each of us. Despite what we were taught, expecting exclusive gain in a unity reality is childish fantasy, potentially lethal, and no longer functional. Humans are too numerous and too powerful for that.
If we expect to survive much longer, we must do better. The good news is that life knows how, and we are still part of life, if we pay attention. Can you imagine?