Thesis Number: #9 (Page 1 of 10)
Our community of nations needs a new doctrine of human rights. For in their present forms the nation-state, parliamentary governance and the rule of law do not authentically reflect people’s needs. England, more than any other nation, shaped the foundations of our globalised civilisation, but her people did not consent to the Social Contract that was crafted to favour the feudal aristocracy. A new Social Contract would empower people to create the quality-of-life that fulfils their aspirations.
Induced Ignorance & Social Change
OUR WORLD is locked into an aggressive state of bi-polar disorder. The emerging half, centred on Asia, will continue to grow if it can avoid a military conflict over lumps of rock in the China Sea. The retreating half is centred on the trans-Atlantic nations. They are preoccupied with depleting their assets (human, cultural and material) to preserve the fiction of authority and prosperity. The outcome will not be a partnership of equals.
The fractures in our globalised civilisation are revealed by the civil disturbances: 843 of them between 2006 and July 2013. Most were protests over the lack of “real democracy” (Ortiz et al 2013). But proposals for reform advocated by think-tanks and governments will not banish deep-seated problems. The OECD (2014) classifies its proposals as “structural”, as capable of delivering “strong and sustainable growth”. In reality, they would dismantle arrangements that were originally intended to alleviate suffering. Labour markets, for example, would be de-regulated. No assessment is offered as to who would ultimately gain (the net benefits would be capitalised in the land market).
Change is needed, but the West will endure a deepening cultural crisis if it fails to reappraise the foundations on which power is constructed. For the prevailing economic doctrine is causing the West to haemorrhage its vitality. We see this in many tragic ways: the dispiriting effect on young people who cannot find employment; declining standards in schools; corruption in the law-making and law-enforcing agencies; the de-skilling of middle-aged men; families that cannot survive on their wages and must turn to food banks for hand-outs…the list goes on. Governments retrench, incapable of meeting their moral and financial obligations. In Britain, the health service allows elderly people to die needlessly, and money is saved by cutting the funds that are required for life-saving drugs.
With the exception of Germany, western governments are desperate. The implications are dangerous. The US justice department, for example, has confirmed “the legal basis on which the US government can kill Americans in a way that does not contravene a US government ban on assassinations” (Dyer and McGregor (2013). At the UN, member states discussed the use of battle robots – “fully autonomous weapons” – to kill people (Chivers 2013). These are anecdotal indicators that reveal a civilisation out of control. Geopolitical space is being fashioned for a power struggle in which everyone will lose.
Absolute decline in the West is proceeding apace. What would it take to reverse the process? The only way to develop sensible answers is to examine the formative process. Western civilisation is the accomplishment of the culture of rent-seeking.
The core of this process may be simply stated. Wealth created by working people is transferred to those who monopolise the assets which are (for most practical purposes), fixed in supply; on which we all depend for our existence. These are the resources of nature. Those who control the land are consequently endowed with the power to control the culture of the communities on those territories. Why does this follow? Populations fund and sustain their culture and physical infrastructure out of the net income they produce. This is technically called economic rent. Social rent is the organising principle that governs the fate of complex societies.
- Correctly applied, social rent makes the Good Life possible for everyone willing to work.
- Diverted from its social purpose, rent rewards behaviour that causes society to spiral out of control.