An Epic Choice

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Human societies face a choice between two primary models of organization. One is the Empire model of dominator hierarchy that divides societies between the privileged few at the top and the desperate many reduced to servitude on the bottom. Because of a continuing competition for positions of power and the resources necessary to maintain the structures of domination, violence is inherent and pervasive and much of the society's real wealth is expropriated by the rulers to secure themselves from competitive threats.

 

The other is the Earth Community model of democratic partnership in which power and resources are rooted in communities of place and equitably shared among all people. Conflict is thus minimized and the efficient and sustainable use of resources is maximized.

 

The End of Empire

Empire has generally prevailed over the past 5,000 years of the human experience. For most of this period, the dominant societies were ruled by kings and emperors who lived and ruled by the power of the sword. Now they are ruled by Wall Street CEOs and financiers and their global counterparts who live and rule beyond public accountability by the power of money.

 

All Empires ultimately self-destruct because the dominator model creates social and environmental imbalances that are inherently unstable and unsustainable. The relentless competition for power and privilege creates extreme and ever growing inequality, leading to arrogance and moral corruption at the top, rebellion at the bottom, and destruction of the natural resource base.

 

Historically these dynamics have been localized. Now they are playing out on a planetary scale.  The multiple economic, social, and environmental crises of contemporary societies mark the death throws of the imperial model and its deadly competition for power, privilege, and material excess. Dramatic change is inevitable, but the outcome will be a matter of choice, not destiny. We can choose as a species to cling to the imperial status quo and bear the consequences of terminal system collapse. Or we can make a conscious collective choice for Earth Community and transform  our cultures and institutions accordingly.

 

System Failure

Because the problem is systemic, temporary fixes like bank bailouts only delay the day of reckoning. Our future depends on a top to bottom redesign of our economic culture and institutions based on the answer to a basic question: "What's an Economy For?"

  

Is the primary purpose to secure and enhance the well-being of all the people who depend on it for a source of livelihood or to maintain and expand the power and privilege of a ruling elite? The devastating failure of our current system is a direct consequence of system design choices made by members of the Wall Street power elite to create a global economic system that consolidates global economic power in their private hands beyond democratic accountability. As citizens, we have the right and the means to chose a different design that roots economic power equitably in people and communities of place and serves the needs of all for essential goods, services, and a meaningful source of livelihood.

 

A Corrupt Ideology

The first step toward  a living Earth economy designed to serve all people,  strengthen community, and nurture life is to recognize that our failed economic system is the product of a corrupt ideology based on false values and a perverted assessment of the potentials of our human nature.

 

Proponents of the corrupt ideology dismiss the very possibility a more cooperative and democratic alternative with the claim that it is our human nature to be violent, individualistic, materialistic, and competitive. By their reckoning, unrestrained market competition organized by powerful global corporations is our best hope to channel these impulses to constructive ends.

 

Human Possibility

This claim ignores or denies the substantial body of evidence, including from our daily experience, that psychologically and morally mature humans are naturally generous, caring, nonviolent, and capable of extraordinary acts of cooperative self-organization in the service of a larger common good.

 

Violence, individualism, materialism, and ruthless competition are characteristic of emotional and moral immaturity and psychological dysfunction. We have, in effect, allowed the emotionally and morally dysfunctional to design our institutions to reward and serve their dysfunction. The devastating consequences were inevitable.

We have the right and the means to chose instead to create an economic system based on the organizing principles of Earth Community designed to nurture and reward the highest rather than the lowest potentials of our human nature.