By Neil Pitts
In prehistory, six Cradles of Civilisation began to emerge: in Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, China, Mexico and Peru. These were places where people had developed their own autonomous writing and language systems. This was before major civilisations had even reached Europe. Three of these were in Asia, thus it preceded Europe at this time. However, two of these became trapped in the Americas and the people who travelled over there became trapped in the Stone Age. Following this, their interaction produced four major empires in Eurasia: Assyria-Babylonia, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. Asia thus preceded Europe in that sense, too. The empires of Mesopotamia lasted 1500 years before Persia invaded, then the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great emerged in the 300s, closely followed by its collapse and the rise of Rome. But, then Europe had the initiative, and its Christianisation led to the creation of those nations which recolonised the Americas during the Middle Ages and created the European world-economy. Thus, Europe became the major growth area in global civilisation.
After that, Capitalism and Communism polarised the world, as Europe had come from behind to take the lead, but in doing so had exploited the worker. Maybe if they had seen this at the time, people would have got along with each other better and Europe would not have broken down into World War 1. Even now, it seems, only because of the problem of nuclear weapons, has the issue had to be resolved. What this says about the world is that it has traditionally been more about organising people into social systems that people being able to think and act for themselves and what we have now is the whole idea of world history reflected in those social systems. The people who try to modernise and solve problems become excluded from traditional society. Wealth is used to monopolise positions of power.The idea that we are solving the world’s problems has dwindled in direct proportion to the fact that we have, well… solved most of the fundamental problems threatening our existence. Thus, the idea of social inequality seems to have become more acceptable, in relation to the position humanity is in. There is no immediate crisis, so where is the incentive to change? Thus the situation been turned increasingly into a divide between rich and poor due to the fact that the type of raw power we have traditionally needed to create progress has run out.
In other words, with the problems of the world fundamentally solved, the people with the ability to do so have closed the doors and put security guards outside of our institutions of democracy. This is to protect us from the bad people, they say. People who are not part of our social system, the ones who do not believe what we do. With progress being controlled by political systems, all most people can do is compete for the scraps of progress left over by the great people who made the world what it is today. Yet, it does give us a new type of freedom: freedom from having to solve the problems of the world and, thus we can all start working more together.
If only people would realise this, then they would see a new sense of social equality. We are all here in this world for the rest of our lives; so we can enjoy it together, orcompete against each other. It does not sound too difficult to understand, but in practice everyone is trying to make as much profit for themselves as they can. Globally, there is still not enough to go round. However, the more we can involve people in the solution, the less people we have being part of the problem. Thus, we can all see that creating more social equality is better for all of us and solves the problem of social exclusion.
Even though it is tempting to exploit markets simply for profit, an option which enables ourselves to increase investment in our own business, there is always the risk of making others poorer, as there will be less money in the markets we all wish to take from. It has become like a new definition of evil: because of the fact that, just as we seem to be at the point where we could solve the rest of the world’s problems, we seem to have become caught up in a new type of power struggle: this time one based purely on greed and selfishness. Despite the new type of freedom the world is now giving us, taking as much as we can for ourselves and building a castle to live in has become a new method of escaping from the problems of the world. Inevitably it means taking from others, leaving them with less, sometimes not enough to survive. Crucial problems are not being solved and it is making governments look stupid as it leaves homeless people on the streets.
Some political theorists are even suggesting that creating a social system which divides people between the rich and poor is the only way forward, as it is the first step to ending the dividewhich exist between nations. Yes, some people believe that this should come first, by forcing them to produce a social system which keeps public opinion firmly under control. In this way, governments should have the power they need to end wars (so it is the lesser of two evils). They argue that, even though the problem of securing the bigger picture is over in most places, countries still have problems which their societies cannot solve. For example, too many people want to live in richer areas, as there are already jobs and welfare systems created for them, while there are skill shortages in other parts of the world. In other words, the world’s population is gravitating away from the problem and towards what they see as the solution, but this is only leading to further exploitation as it just means that poor workers’ labour then becomes invested in rich people’s companies. What we need is investment from richer areas into poorer ones. Somehow we must turn this into a new area of economic growth and that means we are all going to have to invest part of ourselves. Not only in the financial sense, but through the acknowledgment that it is what we should give our governments permission to do. This is what we must do to create a happy and successful world, to find a new balance between nationalism and progress. Otherwise, we will create success in some places, poverty in others. But, currently everyone is jumping on the nationalists’ bandwagon and progress is nowhere in sight.This is the problem of the unipolar direction the world has acquired and it means that the north/south wealth divide will continue to create inequality.
So, how can we create investment where it is needed? At some point, the richest 1% (more like half a per cent by now) will become increasingly politically isolated, as people have the power to vote. What they need to understand is that they can vote for or against themselves on any issue. Of course, politicians will try to manipulate the process, opting instead to try and find a balance of power within the ruling factions of society. But, if people tend to vote more for progress, more investment will come their way. By giving politicians the incentive to create progress, they will create new politicians who can make a living from representing real people and not just themselves. Vote for the ruling faction and you will vote against yourself. By giving them the power to decide what is best for you, whose interests do you think they are going to represent?
So, how do we tell the real progress-makers from the fakes, who are just in it for themselves? The traditionalists will try to marry themselves to their country trying to gain access to power, but they will both put themselves in a position where they are making unreasonable promises and that is how people can tell the difference. The good guys will explain exactly how their policies work and, will add them up under the current budget. They will let you know where we are going to be in five years time. The bad guys will promise you the Earth, but not deliver what they say they are going to. In other words, if people are going to have to accept a new period of nationalism, they must also have the right to affect the direction of their country – something which means we are all ultimately equal at the end of the day.