If we limit the conversation to what we can realistically do, our choices are limited. But if we’re talking theory, anything is possible. Since I’m in charge of my own theoretical world, I’ll offer some solutions. I’ll start with solutions to environmental problems. Any changes in politics and economics will be limited to what is necessary to the particular environmental goal. Finally, everything will be done with an eye to social effects.
It’s been said we have 50 years to do something about the oceans. Every continent contributes to the problem of pollution, much of it from industrial farming, so ideally every country would have to participate. I propose dividing industrial farms, which also contribute to global warming, into smaller, sustainable operations. Start with the farms that drain into major river systems. This would decrease the amount of chemical fertilizers flowing into the ocean and begin to address the problem of dead zones.
It would also create the potential for using these sustainable farms as the nucleus of a different kind of community. Such communities would have to develop over time as the underlying political theory is discovered, but they should be conceived as centers of a vibrant life—not oppressive sloughs of despair that the youth can’t wait to escape. They would have to offer opportunity; they would have to inspire and challenge all members.
In the United States, we could consider creating another governing center in the middle of the country, specifically to serve this new type of grassroots community organization. This is not as a replacement for Washington—it could interact with Washington D.C. For example, it could facilitate the development of candidates for national office, as well as local delegates.
The critics might say that if one country breaks up commercial farms it would cease to be competitive with other countries. Or if everyone does, we couldn’t feed the world. First, we don’t feed the world now. Second, this isn’t necessarily true. However, the first objection is important as an example of something that might work, but that can’t be tried because of outside pressure. The same thing happened in pre-war France. In a time of political and military turmoil, the French suddenly discovered that their birth rate was much lower than Germany and Great Britain. Then a series of European furniture exhibitions made them realize they were falling behind their neighbors in the decorative arts by limiting themselves to traditional French designs and methods.
I think this illustrates that we have to develop criteria for healthy versus unhealthy competition. For example, it may have been healthy for the furniture makers to be challenged, while the manipulation of the birth rate for ideological, political, economic, or military reasons is unethical, undemocratic, and hazardous to the environment.
What if we put limits on unhealthy competition? I’m not talking isolationism. I’m talking about the kind of limits that make it possible to solve domestic problems like dead zones in the ocean. Because of its social and environmental implications, we could start by eliminating the pro-natalist nonsense, followed by trade agreements—at least the worst aspects of them. The medieval guilds limited competition among their own members and it was effective until some hotshot broke the rules and ruined it for everyone else. This is the same idea only on a global scale.
If you are screaming ‘Nooo!’ then maybe you don’t understand the seriousness of the world’s problems, or maybe you sense that your own privilege is being threatened. On the contrary, what we’re doing now is stupid and it threatens all of us. We are on a precipice and those responsible for it—ideologues who tell other people what to do and who have no intention of doing it themselves—look down their noses and demand to be told where all these needy people came from. In this way they prove they are unfit to wield authority of any kind, and yet there they remain.
Iran has drained its lakes through climate change, dams, drought, and inefficient irrigation. ((Iran in Race to Save Largest Lake From Drying Up, Ali Akbar Dareini, Feb 20, 2014. The National World. Avaliable: http://www.thenational.ae/world/middle-east/iran-in-a-race-to-save-largest-lake-from-drying-up)) In parts of India, half the population is homeless. Half of India’s population defecates on the ground. Worse, even the feces that ends up in the sewage system is untreated. India is awash in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Babies are born with these germs and they often can’t be cured. Further, the crowded conditions make it more likely they’ll pass on their infections. It should be no surprise that some of those germs are coming here. ((Harris Gardiner, Superbugs Kill India’s Babies and Pose Overseas threat, Dec. 3, 2014, New York Times. Available: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/04/world/asia/superbugs-kill-indias-babies-and-pose-an-overseas-threat.html?src=me&module=Ribbon&version=origin®ion=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Most%20Emailed&pgtype=article&_r=0)) And of course, there is evidence of America’s contribution to the problem, both from oil spills and farming, in the Gulf of Mexico.
Women should be able to control their own fertility. In fact, the relationship between mother and child should be understood as the essential human relationship, and therefore as the basis of all other relationships. This would guard against artificiality and indifference in a community’s social relations.
I’m aware that my solutions are radical but in my opinion, they don’t have much competition at this time. First, we have the Democrats who can’t seem to come to terms with the demise of Marxism. It’s not clear what they’re doing in this election cycle—maybe pretending to be different from the Republicans for the sake of appearances. As for the Republicans, they are becoming famous for serving shady interest rather than the interests of their own people. Incredibly, they don’t even try to hide it any more. But it’s probably remarkable that either party can still come up with a coherent platform at all. Both are operating on old ideas that were never established on firm ground in the first place so it shouldn’t be surprising that they function more like political religions than rational approaches to the world’s problems.