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Are We Creating a Global Death Culture?

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Message David Weiner

In the May, 2009 issue of  Scientific American  appears the article, "Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization," by Lester R. Brown.  He describes the causes and likely consequences of these shortages given current political trends.

"In the 20th century the main threat to international security was superpower conflict; today it is failing states....[Notably at risk,  in descending order, Brown listed Somalia, Sudan, Zimababwe, Chad, Iraq, Democractic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, ivory Coast, Pakistan, Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Ivory Coast, Pakistan, Central African Republic, Guinea, Bangladesh, Burma/Myamma, Haiti, North Korea, Ethiopia, Uganda, Lebanon, Nigeria, Sri Lanka]. States fail when national governments can no longer provide personal security, food security and basic social services ... Failing states are of

international concern because they are a source of terrorists, drugs, weapons and refugees threatening political stability everywhere..."-


And most importantly, it seems to me,

"Our global civilization depends on a functioning network of politically healthy nation-states to control the spread of infectious disease..."-


Can unmanned drones, robot soldiers, and all the instruments of repression at the command of our imperial-power-that-is protect us from this consequence? 

Some will argue that population control is essential, and if this means allowing massive die-offs in depressed parts of the world, so be it.  Forget the inhumanity of this argument for a moment.  It is also entirely irrational.  Population expansion occurs when cultures transition from more or less communal to more or less industrial.  Left alone to accomplish this transition normally, it happens fairly quickly with little population explosion.  Under the pressure of first-world efforts to control third-world development, it occurs much more slowly, and painfully.  Population control takes longer to kick in.  This description of reality is not conjectural.  The S shaped curve of Demographic Transition has been well established by demographers.

What does this mean?  It means that imperial oppression (Neoliberalism/Neoconservatism) creates the conditions it strives to control in a manner precisely like throwing gasoline upon a fire.  Unless citizens can quickly grasp how incompetently our leaders address global issues the future looks bleak indeed.  These leaders, still very much in control notwithstanding finally a rational, competent, and apparently enlightened  occupant of the white house,  are seen by many in the world as admirals of a powerful pirate-fleet-of-state on which U.S. citizens are passive passengers.  Increasing evidence suggests that unless the president receives massive public support for removing them from command, they are unlikely to keep it afloat for long,  but in the process of trying will create massive destruction.  They as well as we shall drown, more surely than those these crazed admirals target.

What is needed now is more awareness not only of the inhumanity of our foreign policies, but of the high level of improbability that they can sustain our society.  The cognitive part of our brains must perceive the need for change before we can truly feel it.  We will not become more compassionate until we know that we must in order to survive.

These fundamental elements of mass education, it seems to me, need more focus on the Left than they have received.  It is all very well for Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky to describe the horrors of ruthless imperialism and to insist that to be a moral nation We-the-People must refuse to allow it.  Unfortunately, morality is too often defined as what works for one's own group, whether or not it devastates others.  What is needed is more attention paid to the feasibility of these immoral practices.  It is necessary for people to understand that they will not serve to keep us secure at terrible cost.  They will not keep us secure at all.

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David Weiner has been a sociology professor, high school teacher, community organizer, and anti-racism activist for more than half a century. Nowadays he teaches sociology and social psychology at a community college.
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