Sunday, July 19, 2009

Civilization - State of Affairs

The Pulitzer prize winner Arundhati Roy rants eloquently about the neo-imperialism and India's policies and asks What can we do now that democracy and free market are one?. To summarize it she argues that democracy does not encourage equitable development of all as it is pandering to corporate who look at india as consumers ignoring all the other people who are poor and destitute. She asks if there is another form of government which can do better and she prods us all to fight against the government.

There is a comment in the post which struck a chord with me.. It is below the fold

For better or worse, what we're all experiencing today, world-wide, is simply the consequences of being civilized. And, civilization itself is a consequence of the Neolithic Revolution that emerged as the Earth started to warm and the glaciers began to recede some 12,000 years ago.

Becoming civilized is a long, complicated story, but the most important factor is that humans did not "progress" to a sedentary subsistence and life way, no, the first herders and farmers were forced to it in order to survive. The practices of agriculture nearly always borrow too much from the future to maximally enrich the present. Always. The reason this survival strategy has lasted so long is because the Earth is huge. In time, agricultural / industrial civilization will collapse. Survival strategies are never sustainable.

In every case, where agriculture emerged, civilization soon followed with it's social hierarchy, organized warfare, the pyramid of power and wealth, an ever-expanding human population, simplifying the local biota, the selection of plants and animals by size, the need to store and defend surplus food, a coin economy, writing, music, organized religion, monumental architecture, etc.

Democracy, in all it's forms, is simply the rule of the majority, and sometimes, the tyranny of the mob. Yet, small-scale, regional, direct democracy is probably the most accountable, and thus the best form of government possible (most likely, because it mimics the egalitarian ways of our paleo-lithic evolution) to civilized people.

Concerning capitalism and socialism and feudalism and fascism, all these economic systems work basically the same way with the same outcome. As each system matures, it creates a pyramid of wealth and influence for a small elite while simultaneously stripping the natural resources of it's region. Naturally, this creates the need for ever more resources to provide for an ever expanding population. It has always been so.

I suggest, the greatest illusion of being civilized is the illusion of "human progress" by means of technological, political or social schemes. Human beings, like all species, do not progress. Humans evolve, meaning, our populations change over time. Which human populations evolve - not progress - is based on our abaptation (our genetic ability to survive and thrive as conditions change) and adaptation (our good choices and good luck).

I think that is the root cause of everything, we have come till here all along solving problems and we will live to see another day solving the problems. As darwin said, it will only be the survival of the fittest. Evolution favors only those who are able to adapt to these problems and come out.

I have a question for Arundhati Roy. What is the other way in which India can develop if it will not embrace free markets? She writes

Today, words like “progress” and “development” have become interchangeable with economic “reforms”, deregulation and privatisation. “Freedom” has come to mean “choice”. It has less to do with the human spirit than it does with different brands of deodorant.

Yes I too agree that that freedom has come to mean choice.

Is she suggesting that we go to stone ages and live like that? If she is so keen to show the world how to develop sustainably, let her take a village which is not doing well and somehow make people happy there, then the whole world will be ready to listen to her words. Otherwise it will just be a rant and sustainable living just a wish.

I am not saying that sustainable living is not possible, but that doesnt mean that building infrastructure or more electricity is wrong. I think the government should find ways of doing in a sustainable and in a way that is least disruptive to ecology there but building them cant stop till an ecologically sustainable way can be found.