Monthly Archives: February 2012

Breeding

I have a casual acquaintance who is publicly outspoken on the problems facing this planet in general and humanity in particular. I agree with his conclusions and share his pessimism for the future, that tempers my daily activities. It also makes me appreciate my good fortune at not only being me, but having lived through one of the only periods in the history of humans in which egalitarianism and social welfare were considered essential to the running of a just and fair society. Those days are already gone, unfortunately, and we rush headlong towards…

It surprised me, therefore, to hear from him that, at the age of thirty-two and happily married, he decided to get a little fitter and lose excess flab because he had decided to breed. To have children. Therefore he had to make an effort to live long enough to see them independent.

What about the impending catastrophe? Does he not worry that he’s bringing children into a world running out of air, water and food? A world already enmeshed in warfare that is only going to get worse? A world where the rich are getting obscenely richer while the poor are not only getting poorer, but increasing in numbers?

We saw on TV the other night a woman who had endured seven years of drought in East Africa—along with thousands of others, existing on handouts, always on the brink of starvation in the most miserable circumstances imaginable. During this time that one woman had added three children to the problem. Is this a sane act? Am I wrong to think people should stop breeding until things improve because it is cruel to bring children into such a world?

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Government

Government

Like most mammals, humans are social animals and, like them, we’re also individuals so we require strong leaders to keep groups protected and together.

Being able to think and reason using experience and concepts, most people realise that it is unlikely everyone will get fair treatment if the leader is a bully boy. And that has proved to be the case in most societies throughout history, in which a small elite live off the work of a large poor underclass who receive little remuneration and less justice.

In the beginning, small societies usually employed a system of democratic government in which the men, and sometimes women, sat around and discussed and argued until they reached consensus. Larger groups, however, rendered this too time consuming and consensus almost impossible to reach.

Representatives were then appointed to ensure the rights of specific groups, but powerful people soon become impatient and dissatisfied with consensus, which tends towards stasis and security, conservation and tradition. Consensus was then replaced by majority rule, in which 51% of the votes gave the ‘winners’ the right to ignore dissenting opinions.

Faced with this situation, it becomes apparent that the only form of government that is completely fair to everyone would be a ‘benevolent dictatorship.’

Equally obvious is the fact that no human has all the qualities or abilities to be a truly benevolent dictator. Such a person would have to exhibit superhuman strength, intellect, compassion and foresight—omnipotence. He would also need to know the details of every individual in his jurisdiction, and know what was happening to everyone everywhere at all times—omniscience. To do this he would have to be invisible, and as his death would be disastrous, he would have to live forever—be immortal.

A few thousand years ago the Jews invented a god exactly like that to protect them and guarantee their interests. A later break-away sect took this a step further by dividing the same god into three, and a few hundred years later another breakaway sect received new messages about laws and dogma relating to this same god. But the system is so successful these three sects of judaism are now followed by most of the people in the world.

Unfortunately, this supernatural benevolent dictator/god decided not to communicate directly with the individuals he loves and cares for, leaving daily communion and transmission of directives to mere mortals—priests, rabbis, imams… and, as we are too well aware, they are human and humans aren’t perfect and if an imperfect person is left in charge of a perfect system it won’t remain perfect for long.

So, we’re left with democracy or dictatorship—very imperfect systems indeed to govern vast, ever-growing populations on a tiny planet fast running out of everything essential to the survival of life.