Ladies and gentlemen, we are locked in an insane cycle of solving problems through economic growth.
Take poverty for example: where it exists, we just think it means we don’t have enough growth in that area, or on that country as a whole. While fiscal growth does combat poverty to a degree, it invariably has other costs such as environmental degradation through resource extraction, and still has a long, long way to go to redress the chronic geopolitical and social inequality that epitomises our human culture.
Mainstream economic thinking has always held that the more wealth you create, the more it flows across society and everyone benefits. While this works up to a point, today we know that:
- the vast majority of created wealth remains with the wealth creators;
- the continuous creation of wealth requires continuous consumption of the planet’s resources;
- having wealth creation as our primary objective has the inevitable side-effect of less care being given to the welfare of people, other species and our essential eco-system.
But there is another way of solving poverty — and the myriad of human issues — and it begins by objectively contemplating our individual humanity.
In my opinion, to truly solve global problems such as poverty, poor education, unemployment, crime, greed and environmental destruction, we have to fundamentally re-evaluate what it means to be human and be part of a global community of species.
Thankfully, we have reached the point where we are beginning to realise that how we operate society urgently needs to change. This is why we are seeing the rise of green technology like Tesla, Virgin Hyperloop, solar, electric planes, etc. But these solutions tackle environmental problems, not social ones — and there may be far greater social problems in store as intelligent machines displace more and more humans from their jobs. Since any market economy requires employment for it to operate, we can expect far greater social problems in the future as jobs become more scarce.
But the solution is not to keeping shuffling the numbers and letters around trying to make sense of it, but to entirely re-think how we operate on this planet, how we structure our priorities and expectations of life.
All of our problems stem from one basic failure: to organise ourselves according to our shared reality — realising what is truly important and what isn’t.
Years of consumer culture — borne out of post-war recession — have distorted our priorities and values away from natural reality and shoehorned them into a crazy, arithmetic economic binary system — what we can afford to do and what we can’t.
We need to rediscover and reclaim our fundamental priorities and values, and begin restructuring our society accordingly.
The Free World Charter makes a good start by redetermining better personal and social values that work for everyone. This is an initiative that seeks to put the utmost priority on life and our shared fortunes on this planet. It also proposes implementing an open access economy that operates without money, employment or a market system — providing optimum abundance and care for all through shared community objectives.
Individualism doesn’t work. Not even for the individual. The richer we get, the higher our walls become, the more isolated we are. We need to start basing our thinking in group and environmental outcomes, not just ourselves. This is just not possible through an individually-rewarding market system.
Like it or not, regardless of your particular political persuasion, we are all in this together. Our fates on this whirling rock are inextricably entwined. If we are not working for each other, then we are the subtle architects of our collective destruction.
It is simply not possible to ‘fix’ poverty or any human problems within our existing frame of reference. We need to fundamentally shift the mindset of the individual first. A traditional economic system based on individualism demands an imbalance of wealth in order to create flow. This imbalance — in a winner takes all mindset — will always increase over time.
In short, fix the individual human and society will fix itself.