The Anatomy of a Sustainable World

Our Choice Between Climate Change or System Change

And What You Can Do About It


Glen T. Martin

IED Press, copyright 2013


Introduction

Human awareness of our environmental and social situation on the Earth today is conditioned by a number of powerful forces. Vast media outlets owned by even more vast private corporations control and filter the mass media in defense of the status quo and their own interests. These corporations also sponsor many billions of dollars in advertising daily to condition potential consumers to buy or want to buy ever-more unsustainable goods and services. These goods and services themselves are manufactured or designed to be used up, to break down, or to be thrown away so that consumers will continue to buy new goods and services without end.

 

       It is important to notice, here, that unsustainability is connected with structure. Our dominant institutions condition and insure unsustainable practices. It is not that their employees do not care about the future. Rather, the structure of the organizations that employ them predetermine a restricted range of thought and behavior. The organizations are structured so that their successful operation and survival are incompatible with sustainability.

 

       Similarly, the industrial-military complex puts forth immense quantities of propaganda promoting a fear mentality and a corresponding security and war mentality. Huge numbers of scientists, engineers, and manufacturers around the world are employed in creating ever-more weapons of war, and ever-newer weapons of unimaginable destructive capability. This aspect of corporate capitalism promises the most lucrative investments, and nearly every multinational corporation is involved in the industrial military complex in one way or another.

 

       At the same time nation-states around the world encourage loyalty to the nation and pride in being born to this or that fragment of humanity. They all encourage “supporting our troops” with special respect and legitimacy accorded to the men and women who “serve” the nation in this noble way. While the world sinks into planetary environmental disaster, vast sums of the world’s wealth are poured down the toilet of militarism annually. Again, the structural features of these institutions predetermine a certain range of results.

 

       All the while, the interlocked world system of some 193 so-called “sovereign” nation-states and global corporate capitalism lies in the background of all surface events and activities— silent, unquestioned, and assumed— as if these social phenomena were natural features of the Earth or inevitable laws of nature. Human beings everywhere are conditioned by this system, not only psychologically, but their working lives and necessity to survive requires that they participate in this system and support it in one way or another. Back in the 19th century, Karl Marx pointed out that unless human beings become conscious of their situation, they will be forever trapped within that situation. Unless they see what the system has done and is doing to them, they are fated to doom by the system itself. That is also our situation today.

 

       This book shows the deep connections between our collapsing global ecosystem and our current world system of militarized nation-states and globalized corporate capitalism. It also explores the necessary connections between an ecologically sustainable planetary civilization and the absolute need for economic and political structures of our world social system that will make this possible. It makes very clear that we cannot deal with our lethal environmental crises without simultaneously dealing with the vast systems that underlie and cause those crises: global corporate capitalism and the system of militarized sovereign nation-states. And it shows in detail what the necessary social contract for a transformed world system would be like, how it would work, and the practical steps we can take to make it happen. This book, therefore, lays the groundwork for a sustainable planetary civilization—our last hope, and our only hope.

 

       This volume makes clear that our situation is not at all hopeless. Human beings are in the midst of a paradigm shift from a world view that is inherently fragmented and mechanistic to a new paradigm that is inherently holistic, ecological, and premised on unity in diversity. This new paradigm is examined and elucidated at length in order to make very clear what it entails and how it bears on the creation of a sustainable planetary civilization. But a new paradigm cannot involve only psychological and cultural changes on the part of human beings. It must also involve real structural change. For just as certain institutions are structured so as to predetermine unsustainable results, so properly designed institutions will predetermine sustainable results.

 

       We examine below how this emerging holistic paradigm is embodied within the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, a document that can serve as a blueprint for a transformed world system—democratic, peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable. This book shows the necessary connections between a quality world economic system, a democratic governmental system, and the possibility of an ecologically sustainable civilization. It also shows the practical steps that we can take to make it happen.

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