Global enlightenment, development, and democracy

In two major respects our planet is heading towards a confrontation:

In the poor world population figures are still rocketing, for biological and social reasons, and with good reason.

In the rich world we have founded an economy that has to grow exponentially, for financial and political reasons, and with very little reason.

The rich world is carpet-bombing the poor world with air-borne propaganda for the ‘rich’ lifestyle. These poor people are made familiar with cars, videos and energy consumerism - so that’s how they want to live, too. The process has been set in motion, and those images can no longer be deleted.

Getting on from that point will require an enlightenment project, a development project, and a democracy project of vast dimensions. The greatest project could be the enlightenment project, to make these people understand that whatever images of the wealthy world they are watching on their tellies are all lies. The development project involves a consistent stake on viable technologies for the agricultural and industrial production that we need so urgently, in order to provide material safety. Our luck, that we only know three effective means of reducing population growth: material security, education and women’s liberation. In a similar way, the democracy project is closely linked up with security, a prerogative for the equitable distribution of goods and for a sustainable resource management.

In the rich world growth springs from simple greed, though necessitated by structural need. This makes modesty an irresponsible behaviour. We have opted for an economy that will collapse without growth. This choice will have to be redone. Consumption must go down, the McDonaldization must be stopped, quality and meaning must fill the gap of junk-food and junk-culture ... This will call for organisational modes in which are able to navigate, and which make visible the impacts of our actions.

A political two-way ticket
Creating true and necessary advances will have to be a combination of two movements - forward and back.

Forward - towards new viable technologies - in which energy consumption and violence are replaced for insight, co-operation with nature and resourcefulness. Technologies, and an economy household in which resource efficiency implies that any resource will generate a maximum of human effort, instead of a minimum. Communism’s and capitalism’s joint, imbecile quest for the so-called economies of scale has to be exchanged for sound judgement and usefulness.

Back - to productions re-specting nature’s wisdom, as well as the experience-based insights of craftsmanship. Back to a culture rooted in the process of life and production, instead of consumption. From consumerism to consumption, from McDonaldization to versatility, from tititainment to standpoints, from mass-produced idiocy to meaningful merriment.

Free us from over-exertion
As for the societal management of what considers itself a consumer society, ‘the political consumer’ is a central figure. Central enough for some (mostly politicians) to confound consumption with democracy, and therefore refuse to control it. What we get is a democracy in which money is power, much money is much power, and over-consumption is over-power. Advocates of the system think of the money note as the most important ballot-paper. However, if we do want to re-think a democracy concept that will not just address man, an infinitely free subject, the measure of all things, but also nature and ‘the needful’ - then we will need to address the conceptual part and the frame conditions set by nature, economy and technology. Such a broad scope will require attention to specific and qualitative aspects, and to differences: We cannot drive a horse as we do a tractor, we cannot run nature as a man-made device, and we cannot run a theatre as we run a shipyard. We’ll need sound judgement - a commodity only available to those who have their feet right in it.

In this country - where until recently, the expression of “voting based on heads and not on cattle” used to be common primary school knowledge. With that in mind, insisting on a different agenda should be possible. An agenda making democracy equal common rule, and something new: a development in which things are much more inclined to go the right way on their own, and where we don’t need to suffer the permanent over-exertion of political consumers. Where we can allow ourselves to plainly shop, when we do so. Where the choice between milk and milk is a based on price and taste - and not one involving groundwater, sperm quality, marine environment, ozone holes and the climate and sea level of future generations - on the antipodes. Where, occasionally, you can allow yourself to simply not care, without endangering Planet Earth; and where, as a minimum, you have to put in a special and deliberate effort, if you do feel the pesticide level of the groundwater is getting too low. In that case, you would have to ask for P-milk, pesticide milk. - Actively. And pay extra for it. Unless we decide to leave out that option entirely. Determined to rule the ordinary popular way - common rule.

All power to the simpletons
Numskulls are not ascetic in terms of power - they just detest it. By now, only the truly political politician can re-politicise politics. “Hey-ho”, cried Numskull Jack - and smack, went the loveliest handful of sludge right in the mugs of general managers, management folks and consultants - and in the prime minister’s, too.

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