Life on Earth is far from perfect, and we have many issues that need tackling before we can claim to be putting care for life over care for profit. Framing these everyday circumstances against a much bigger picture, some have posed the concern that the galaxy will succumb to capitalism.
Anastasia Romanou, a climate research scientist for Columbia University and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, presented the idea — that the desire to explore exoplanets and mine asteroids is the direct result of the need to nourish capitalism — recently at the Left Forum Conference in Manhattan:
[Exoplanet exploration] has been masked as a scientific interest, a human interest, and human curiosity to explore different worlds. Late era capitalism is feeling the pressure from resource scarcity, and therefore, it has to find its own way out. It cannot think outside its own box of solutions, and it will have to find another place, and another place, and another place to exploit.
According to Romanou, as a result of our desire to grow capitalism, exoplanets will be mined for minerals and drilled for oil, just like our planet was.
The idea of “late capitalism” involves capitalist economy, as we know it, coming to an end. Its final days will be marked by resource shortages and weakened manufacturing practices.
Kai Kaschinski, a representative of the Fair Oceans organization, gave additional perspective on the subject, relating the future fate of exoplanets and asteroids to that of our oceans, currently being independently acquired to mine by resource extraction companies. He even noted that the 2015 U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, which permits American companies to mine celestial bodies like asteroids for valuable minerals, might actually violate the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, because the treaty didn’t specify who was allowed to mine asteroids.
The argument of the government was that there is an international secret authority of the law to sea, and the law of sea makes it possible to dig in the area. So the Obama government was of the opinion that if you can dig in this area of common heritage of mankind, you can also dig in the common heritage of mankind in space.
Asteroid mining remains just an idea for the moment. Despite the obvious engineering and ethical issues in play, however, technology is underway to make it a reality.
For instance, Planetary Resources hopes to get telescopes to analyze asteroids before craft are sent to mine them. The company has some promising backers, and believes it could be operating in space by 2025.
Meanwhile, NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has over 2,000 exoplanet discoveries under its belt, 21 of which lie in a “habitable zone.”
Life on other planets was once a thought made merely for the movies, but with the reality looming near, concerns over how we will take our faults here on Earth to exoplanets need to be addressed sooner rather than later.
GOODBYE DEMOCRACY & CAPITALISM – IT WAS FUN
This is an attempt to look at current global problems from a perspective digging deeper into the root of the system. For as Einstein said, “A problem cannot be solved from the same level of consciousness as created it.” It is also an attempt at phrasing it so, that it builds the better arguments to challenge the conventions and offer alternatives that shift the paradigm.Disclaimer: It will not be perfect. You may disagree at times, find imperfect arguments and or reasoning. I ask you to help me improve or build your own new ideas aside, on top, underneath it. Stories that liberate us from current stuck paradigms are desperately needed and hopeful alternatives offered. I know world wide many already are doing so. Many things are improving. There is hope! Yet, somehow what makes sense for us, doesn’t yet make sense for the majority. They have yet to begin to see or accept the stuckness in a damaging system.This piece was written by Floris Koot and was originally posted on Medium. It was reposted with permission under creative commons license.
Perhaps biggest current problems of our planet are:
Ravaging of our ecological systems for the profits of parties who’ll do anything to keep their profits rising. Yeah, corporations consciously deliver stuff of which 85% is garbage in the making. Either it is produced to be outdated, break, or out of fashion soon. And we, we buy it and ask for more.
Poisoning of seas and systems. So who is really busy stopping the amount of plastic in our oceans, soon to be on nano level in all our food? Who stops the amount of oestrogens (estrogens in American) rising in our systems, damaging fertility of men? Who stops the rising amounts of waste, that leak and endanger humans and nature? I don’t hear no governments crying out loud. It can’t be just the tragedy of the commons.
Widening gap of poor and rich. The poor either turn to crime, ravaging what few resources still available or turn aggressive to those believed to be competitors. The answer can’t be harsher laws or corporate owned prisons. And the promise of more jobs when you vote the right person isn’t really addressing the core of the issue.
Wars instigated by elites for interests that only benefit a few (read themselves). For instance Syria has been instigated because of a gas pipeline, that would either benefit the Russian Elite or the Western Elite. Who will get the right to sell us stuff (gas in this case) for what price? Why don’t we protest our own side more, rather than fear the other?
The playing out of differences between populations, through means of religion, nationality, race, gender, etc. ‘Leaders’ love this. And anyone with (imposed) fears, low self esteem, racial bias, endangered jobs, strict beliefs may follow the leader. Because disagreeing may make you outcast or traitor.
The rise of depression and disconnectedness from life and meaning. Most work is organized around process and efficiency, rather than around meaning, healthiness for natural systems, being of real service to real needs, rather than boosting sales for profit. But we want a career, so we don’t have time to challenge this idea. We rather secretly feel the pain. In careers which rationale condones damaging people and planet for profit in return for bonuses.
The danger of financial system collapse. Isn’t it scary and totally ridiculous that when the financial system collapses millions will go poor and probably hungry, while there is enough food, manpower and means to provide for everyone? That means the whole system is built on the wrong assumptions and rules. That means you have to play along to prevent banks from falling. Hmm.
Perhaps the biggest problem of the future, and probably already is, will be our lack of adaptation. Rather than change our ways big corporations will sell us medication to treat the symptoms. It’ll be as a overweight smoking junk food eater buying expensive medicines, but not changing his behavior. And the side effects of the medicine will bring new medicines. But hey, if you sell medicine, true healing means no sales, right? Exactly, thus the assumptions beneath our whole profit based outlook is sick as well.
Recognize these problems and how hard they seem to solve or even address?Why aren’t enough people doing something about it? We have to consider that most people on our planet just want peace, a hopeful future for their children and have a warm family life. So they should care. But of course challenging the way things are is scary, because you don’t know what you’ll get in return. Yet for a secure future this is clear: Being connected to nature is essential. Having enough nature, living blooming systems flourishing around us, is key to feel at peace, build trust and know we are part of a living system. We are nature. So how to support our role within and for nature and the whole system called mother Earth? How to shift the system so we provide for future generations as well?
How Our Old Solutions Don’t Work
We tried kingdoms. Didn’t work. Great kings and queens inspired their people with ideals (of national power, mmm). Children of great kings can be awful. And one ruler taking all decisions is already a bad idea.
We tried communism. Great to be liberated from a self serving elite..to be replaced by a new one?? Didn’t work, because everyone had to agree to (be) the same. And you can’t plan the future. 5-year plans made up by an elite make millions suffer. And the distribution of needed goods sucked.
We are still trying capitalism. The distribution is great. As is the marketing that it’s all great. It isn’t. It doesn’t work, because everybody fending for himself damages the system as a whole. The promise that competition will improve products and service for everyone is clearly a lie. We can’t trust our food and we can’t trust our medicines anymore, as profits seem more important than consequences for people, nature and the planet. And the corporate lobbies turning governments into their advertisers (TTP!?) promises an even more ravaged planet for a superrich elite. The danger of a Corporate Dictatorship is real, perhaps even already begun.
We are still trying democracy. Oh, the nice promises. Yet, what we have is the choice between a few preselected candidates of..an elite. Also democracy doesn’t work as long as people vote for their own shopping list and the ‘leaders’ seek to win (by promising you dreams, rather than caring for the whole). And most leaders serve the hands that feed them, read mostly huge corporations. Have you seen any government really addressing one of the issues above? Well other than blaming ‘them’ and then using your vote to strengthen their side, while not solving any real issue?
The Root of the Problem
What is clear is that a small minority of humans are willing to lie, cheat, manipulate all others for power and riches. Many people are caught in damaging paradigms that result of this. They too will support the manipulative ones. They endorse ideas like: ‘It’s either us or them’. ‘My believe is so much more worth than yours, so your voice may be silenced if you threaten my position (or even just speak out)’. Ideas often reshaped into ‘Make me, rich or more powerful, and you’ll benefit from it.’ or ‘Let us raise our profits and it will prove to enrich everyone.’ ‘Buy this thing or idea and become happy/safe/rich/powerful.’ And since these ideas currently provide the best jobs, anyone in a great office and view, will be securely locked up in this rationale until the shit hits the fan, like in some banks in 2008.
Because most people are willing, collaborative, positive kind people, they assume what others promise them is to be trusted. We slowly see better and better, not all promises are in our interest. From corporate commercials to political adverbs we are being sold a dream or fears, in return for money, transferral of power and loss of safety (both military as in quality of food and healthcare). Be even a bit more suspicious of NGO’s. What? Yes, they get funded to heal the effects of the system, but never really change the root of the trouble. Greenpeace protests pollution, Unicef helps children. Neither solves the unchecked greed that allows for pollution or child labour.
Our ‘leaders’ made it normal to frame success as your capability to join their ranks and paradigms. Failing to do so, or dropping out makes you a loser. Everything is economized, which means if you don’t increase profit to the system, read are old, sick or unemployed, you are ballast to society. As if the millions of non earning humans, think volunteers and activists, taking care of elderly, sick, refugees and nature are ballast!? As if a tree standing in a forest has no value for the whole, even when we don’t know how it exactly enriches the whole system. As if indigenous people are the barbarians. It’s us, the industrial society ravaging the planet who are the barbarians. It’s us defending ‘our way of life’ who are denying others theirs.
Even worse perhaps is that most of us, think within these paradigms too. Most Americans are stuck between choosing one bad candidate to prevent the other bad candidate from winning. As if there are no other options. As if it isn’t clear the system is broken, not just one or both of the candidates.
Changing leaders will change little. When crooks, let alone leaders of damaging paradigms are replaced, others take their place and nothing really changes. So don’t expect any next president to be a solution.
The one big shift needed is to transcend such limiting ‘us vs them’ beliefs, including, hahaha, the my own about ‘those leaders’. Yes, because many leaders and their cronies, eh, sorry, read managers, really worry too. Sadly, since they seek solutions within the system or with them not losing power, their attempts are doomed to fail. Even tribal as we still are, whistle blowers, and people stepping out, are seen as traitors instead of people seeking to support a bigger value, than their organizational interests.
The (corporate) media aren’t helping either. They advertise and sell consumerism and success stories within the current paradigm. They don’t inform on real needs, real issues that would challenge the interests of their advertisers. The big media hardly mention the rise of the change makers. Yes, the amount of people around the globe working on improvement of the whole, let alone current issues is stunning. People inventing non corporate solutions for healthy care, agriculture, permaculture, transition towns, peace, equal rights, ending slavery, ending torture, ending poverty is downright stunning. So where are the change 500? The hopeful 500? The solution 500?
We educate our youth to be part of the problem!! I could have written this quote by Shelly Ostroff. It is, to me an such essential statement: “When children are forced to sit still at their desks in crowded classrooms they become disconnected from their bodies, nature and life. They are not given an opportunity to develop their instincts, intuition, or critical thinking. They are not educated to become creative and caring problem solvers willing to contribute to their larger environment.”
What I Think Is The Deeper Root
(Skip this part if you want the solutions now! It’s a unproven theory by me.)
For centuries mankind walked the earth in small groups. These small groups suffered and enjoyed nature to its fullest powers, until mankind started to use its brain to find solutions. Diversity within tribes also grew. Healers, leaders, caretakers, mentors, makers arose. Biology also added psychopathic tendencies in about 6% (I think) of the population. In small groups the rest can balance such a person. And they are handy when killing, or setting broken bones of an horrible looking wound needs to happen. That means almost every group of about 25 people, had at best one or two of them, probably of different generations.
In many indigenous peoples we see, that solving challenges without controlling nature is quite possible. Yet few tribes sought control over and sought domination over nature and others as well. This ‘solution’ was countered by many tribes to increase power as well. Populations grew. And while our biology and deepest social conditioning was for small groups, tribes became empires. Suddenly within these groups you’d have small groups of psychopathic individuals starting to work together. They could and would plan takeovers. They could and would plan manipulation to gain control with conscious planning. Hence the birth of the elites and perhaps even religious customs.
And be aware, many psychopaths are well adjusted citizens, like surgeons, being able to cut into your body, without freaking out. Or pilots staying calm when everything seems lost. Be happy they are there too. Yet in board rooms or as leaders of peoples who are anxious, self serving psychopaths are totally the wrong leaders. And our whole educational system keeps teaching us, to be like them to succeed. We mistakenly have been taught decisiveness is better .What we really need is considerate, caring, world serving doubters, who think twice about consequences of their decisions. People that will consider the whole system, rather than a minority within the ‘us’.
So Where To Go?
We have to explore how to include all voices, enrich the diversity (read let nature and poor populations flourish) and how our endeavors can help the whole web of life grow richer. What system will let everybody and everything win? What system will provide enough for everyone on the planet? And there is proof enough that there is enough.
The beautiful thing is that life itself shows us. Our bodies are a superrich collaboration. Nature is the most delicate network of teeming diversity. Nature doesn’t have cancer, where some things grow too much, without restraint. Human civilization has. From cancers in our bodies, to huge corporations that affect the planet as a cancer by gobbling up natural reserves. We need a system that is medication, not more of the same.
So how does nature really work? The survival of the fittest concept has, by now, been shown to be the survival of the most adaptable. Those turning the world to their wishes might be the least adaptable, as they don’t accept things as they are. The majesty of concrete jungles are dangerously incapable providers of food in times of need and huge contributors to global warming. Acceptance, adaptability, integration of the natural world into our cities, agriculture that enriches the soil rather than depleting it, and dare I say, love, care and compassion for all could become part of a new paradigm. Or if you’ve been looking around longer, very old paradigms rediscovered.
All the old, may have new uses.
The New System
Oops. Yes, it’s still in the making. Many voices around the world talk about this. Here are some of my suggestions to include:
Science has to embrace the new realities it is discovering. If everything is intricately connected in a delicate system, then science can’t continue being of service to big corporations, creating lump solutions to drive profit. True science should be: How is it all hanging together? And more importantly: What impact would this ‘solution’ have for the whole system of life on this planet?
Just bringing new products to the market for fast profits has to lose out to making choices that help heal, improve the whole web to flourish. Better saws to cut trees, agricultural chemicals, GMO’s and cheaper plastics would get way more scrutiny before even slightly considered. We’d see that such ideas are not science at all. The question of what gain will we get from this, might sooner mean charlatanic rape, ravaging and murder of our natural world and would not be seen as science (the acceptance and discovery of reality as it is) at all. Because it excludes and tramples reality as we now understand it.
Bring in a bigger diversity of voices bringing in wisdom and more perspective before essential choices are made. No one with elderly, children, people of all faiths, and colours present will as easily make unjust laws. Healthy normal children will cry and protest if forests are cut or other children bombed. And kick self serving psychopaths out, however great their story sounds or how the threaten you. That’s what they’re good at.
Learn values from indigenous people, about relationships with nature. Learn from the Zapatistas and tribal Africans how to spread leadership around, how to grow local resilience. Learn from grassroots movements how to go really green in a way that can sustain everyone. Accept that care for the whole outranks any corporations economical interests…by far.
Dare to fire CEO’s that damage the planet. Dare to stop huge corporations that damage the planet. Dare to criminalize destruction of natural resources. Include all exterior costs of companies back into them, so we pay real prices. Stop funding and subsidizing powers that be, for everything more healthy, more green, more promising for the whole. And stop anyone from being able to deciding their own salary or bonus. Really. Customers should decide, to start with, then the workers at the bottom.
Teach every child more body awareness, more critical thinking, more eco awareness. Support every child that challenges school and or current paradigms to explore alternatives. Strengthen ideals and values of young people so they don’t lose idealism, rather expand it with knowledge while growing up. Arm them against brainwash and manipulative sales.
End (debt) slavery and poverty. End homelessness near empty houses (whomever accepted this idea, houses rotting away, with people living on the streets needing one?). People who do have a choice, will not stay working in meaningless jobs or unhealthy conditions. For instance with basic income all work has to be designed to have meaning and be pleasurable. It would change the face of human society.
Make cities green and self sustaining. France recently made it law to use every flat rood for either plants or solar panels. Good idea. More green in cities will clean the air, provide more food, reduce global warming, bring back bees, etc. There’s no reasons not to do it, but the trouble or fallen leaves and increase of insects. Hey it’s nature. Nature is life. Embrace it.
Develop economical systems that won’t stop people from working on essential things, when the money system breaks down. In the Netherlands thousands of people work every day to keep Dutch heads above water. This is an essential reality and no financial situation should be able to endanger it. Same goes for food, safety, health, nature for people all around the planet.
Develop yourself. Breath. Play. Venture into nature. Find meaningful work or service. Express your dreams. Ignore marketing and advertising. Celebrate beauty in the moment, not products from a shelf. Relate to and with your body. Learn to listen to its needs and messages. Develop intuition. Be deep, become wise. Become human and alive.
Develop visions of governments that will enrich the planet and all life on it. Develop paradigms that include nature and its needs as fundament. Develop ideas that solve root causes of poverty, war, destruction and pollution rather than addressing the effects. Develop space for diversity of ideas and voices, so no few radicals can push large groups towards violent ideas. And perhaps most of all, as Christopher Chase, calls it: ‘Accept you are part of nature.’ We must, as our cells surrender to our role within the whole of nature (and not human society alone) To do otherwise means becoming cancer. We need nature. We are nature.
Help me, help yourself, help the peaceful majority, help the planet to shift. We will only win, when everyone wins.
Support the Gentle Revolution, be developing what should come after. Innovate onwards.
Most of this post was written in one session after an inspiring online talk with Christopher Chase (see his blog CreativeSystemsThinking) and fired up chat with Shelley Ostroff (see her blog TogetherInCreation). And finally the new science paradigm was born in a short talk with Jan-Henk Bouman. Thank you all for your time and inspiration.
Part of his piece was written by Floris Koot and was originally posted on Medium. It was reposted with permission under creative commons license.