“The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor.”
Coming out of World War II, as our planet changed from making Things of War to Things of Peace, we knew that we could now feed the world. The technological advances and the huge factories and manufacturing plants could be put to good use making dams and bridges and aqueducts and farms and medicine. We could bring clean water to the world and build housing for everyone.
The problem is that when a population is well fed and secure that it will begin to choose for a say in how it is governed. Governments don’t want that. An educated and healthy population at peace is a threat to those in power. George Orwell had an answer to that and put it forward in his book called 1984.
He wrote that, instead of making bridges and dams and clean water, put the population to work making disposable things; not permanent things. This way the population is constantly working but never achieving. And, so, dependant on the government to make the big choices for them; like how to spend all of the money.
When I read that book, my first thought was bullets. Make millions of them and dispose of them so more need to be made; for our own safety and security. I thought of War Games where nations would put on a show of power by shooting off millions of dollars in missles: a completely empty message and gesture – dispose of the surplus and make more.
What I did not think of was This Year’s Fashion or the Newest Model of Automobile or Blue is the new Purple or the latest television, computer, ipod, cellphone, software, subscription service or Keeping up the the Jones. I did not think of the insidious ideal of getting married at 18 and walking into a 30 year mortgage, locking down new families in a faux American Dream. I did not think of the chain to living on credit and debt as the chain to a giant cannonball to be dragged for one’s life.
This idea of a population making disposables and then consuming and refreshing those disposables was genius. This idea is not for the elite as much as it of for all classes compounded with a driving need to conform and fit in with everyone. Can you find anything in your house that is older than ten years or thirty?
It is an endless loop that we can not get out of as it drives the world-wide economy. The model is almost seventy years old and we can’t shake it; our civilization has not matured to the advances in technology of seventy years ago; much less those of more recent times.
Right now, today and every day, our planet throws away one-third of it’s food. That is a lot of food! A staggering amount of food is thrown away; every day, week, month, year. No one should be starving, hungry, hurt, without medicine, cold, wet, in fear: anywhere on this planet.
We know, all of us know, that we need clean water and air and healthy food. We need solid and pemanent improvements like bridges and dams and railways; built to last forever. We can have these things. We have the knowledge to plan for the next thousand years and, I think, that we should start today.