Thursday, March 15, 2012

humanity and kapital

In the year one C.E., when Jesus was a new-born*, contemporary demographers estimate the earth's human population to have been about 200 million, or one-fifth of a billion. There was no doubt by this time that as a species, humanity had been fruitful, and multiplied, and had "dominion over the earth."

Still, it took 1,650 years for our numbers to increase to half a billion, but only 150 years went by before it had doubled, to a billion in about 1804. It doubled again in 123 years, then doubled again to four billion in the 48 years after 1927. That's where things were when I reached maturity, in 1975.

And that appears to be the top of the curve. World population now stands at seven billion, and the doubling of 1975's four billion isn't projected to occur until 2025, which would yield a 50-year interval since the previous doubling -- a light improvement over 48 years, and according to the numbers, beginning a trend.

It's feasible to imagine 10 billion people living in the world, as predicted for the latter part of this century, and even living fairly well, although those numbers would certainly tax the planet's carrying capacity. However, it is not our number that has fouled the air and water, laid waste to much of the best farmland, and brought violence and terror to people who have done nothing to deserve them.

In this country, still accounted one of the "better" places on earth to live, the role of the individual citizen is now reduced to an economic "unit," a "consumer" of goods and services who needs a "job," both to function as a unit of production and to make money so as to keep on "consuming."

The Kentucky farmer and American prophet Wendell Berry writes, "The idea of competition always implies, and in fact requires, that any community must be divided into a class of winners and a class of losers. (snip) ...In fact, the defenders of the ideal of competition have never known what to do with or for the losers. The losers simply accumulate in human dumps, like stores of industrial waste..."

However, Berry saw the cult of competition self-destructing, and events of the past five years have vindicated the prophesy, because:

1) The ideal of competition neither proposes nor implies any limits;

2) Unlimited economic competitiveness proposes an unlimited concentration of economic power.

Humanity might still flourish on the earth, but will not do so under the rule of kapital and competition. It's no exaggeration to say that the rule of kapital is not only incompatible with a functioning society, but with life on earth as we know it.

*Or was he? Modern scholars believe Jesus was born some time between 7 B.C.E. and 2 B.C.E., so that in 1 C.E. he was most likely around five.

1 comment:

Joe said...

Indeed, the system of growth relies on more and more waste of lives and resources. The practice of competition against others culminates in warfare, the ultimate in such waste.

Instead, compete with all people against harmful things (not including the people themselves). It boils down to the mental attitude of not wishing to hurt others.