Thesis Number: #1 (Page 1 of 7)
The West shaped a global civilisation whose operating mechanism is a culture of greed. Societies are regulated by a statecraft that is incapable of adopting the policies needed to challenge the existential crises of the 21st century. Financial mechanisms that would enrich people’s lives are politically taboo. Democracy must be reconceived as a therapeutic process, empowering people to escape the trauma inflicted when their ancestors were ruptured from authentic cultures and natural habitats.
Dynamics of the Statecraft of Greed
NATIONS are governed by a culture that was incubated in Europe in the 16th century. England played the leading role in enabling that culture of greed to mutate into a statecraft that propagated chaos through its laws of the land. The statecraft manages the anarchy that was embedded in traditional communities as a result of the violent transformation of people’s rights of access to the commons. Understanding that history is the pre-condition for addressing what the CIA calls the mega-trends that threaten all our futures.
The doctrine that rationalised the statecraft of greed was called the social contract. This philosophical device was constructed to argue that when people came out of the “state of nature” they consented to a particular kind of authority. The arch exponents of this myth were the philosophers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. Their discourses justified the violent re-distribution of land by monarchs and their courtiers. In Britain, the aristocracy used Parliament to justify the enclosure of the commons. Comparable trends occurred in most parts of Europe. People’s authentic cultures were ruptured as an alien order was imposed on them. The social creation myth legitimised and sanctified the power of the aristocracy.
The erosion of liberties was directly related to the erasure of people’s rights of access to land. The monarchs silenced opposition by claiming that they ruled by divine right. Their courtiers then employed devices like “the rule of law” to secure their monopolisation of land. They executed coups against kings in a struggle over the power to tax. It was imperative for the barons and knights to control taxation, so that the Land Tax could be reduced and the fiscal burden shifted onto peasants. They succeeded. The outcome was the statecraft of greed.
Now, politicians exercise sovereign power through “democracy”. That power is conditional: we know from the cut and thrust of 20th century history that they are not free to transgress the material interests of those who appropriate the rents which were traditionally reserved to fund the services shared in common.
Today, governments are not free to institute the one reform – to the financial system – that would enable people to resolve the crises of the 21st century. Global under-employment of labour and capital, debilitating mass poverty, suicide on an epidemic scale in southern Europe, planetary degradation of natural habitats, all are symptoms of a pathological social structure. The guardian of that structure is the culture whose agents are embedded in the seats of power.
If people are to successfully challenge the statecraft of greed, they first need to understand the terms on which healthy societies evolved over the past 100,000 years. For what is today regarded as “normal” is pathological. And without the restoration of the ancient rights and the code of natural justice, there is no prospect of remedial action capable of undoing the damage wrought over the past five centuries.