25 February 2008

What do we do now?

Its been a while, but I'm back. I haven't had much of an inclination to write so I simply haven't done so. But today I find myself wanting to write something again. Here I am tackling a big question, namely: "What do we do now?"

So...what the hell do I mean, now, and what exactly am I pulling you into by saying "we"? By "What do we do now?" I am asking what "we", as a society, as a race of sentient beings who have great power and hence great responsibility, should do next. By next I basically mean in what direction should we head, where should we take humanity now...or next as i just phrased it?

Personally, I feel that we as a society have made many mistakes over the years, but having said that I'm sure we've avoided quite a few too, so I shouldn't be too critical. There are however some problems which are of immediate concern which include problems with wealth inequality and poverty, problems with materialism and unhappiness, and problems with profit, greed and damage to our dear earth.

I feel that the capitalist system, despite its potential benefits, has been used to justify wealth in the form of monetary profit, over all other things, including our morals and values, hence including the very basis for our desire to live. The gap between rich and poor broadens, not just within countries but also between them. The poor struggle more, while the rich enjoy ever greater luxuries all the while living unhappy lives of hedonistic greed. Its been proven that doing things such as volunteering for local organisations that help those in need gives a great feeling of purpose and happiness. Why then is it that we don't all help each other to reach for higher and better things and at the same time improve not only our physical standard of life, but our emotional one?

Are you really proud to live in a world based on greed, exploitation, callousness and a moral imperative to make money over all other things? I thought not. Few of us are so fanatically inclined, yet that seems to be the system we live in. Unfortunately we, as tacit participants of the system, are, whether consciously or not, supporting such a system.

The problem need not necessarily lie in capitalism per say or forms of liberalism for that matter, but rather the ways in which they can be appropriated. I feel that a welfare liberal state could solve many of our problems. A state in which the individual has great freedom so long as he does not hurt those around him. Classical Libertarians argue this too, however their definition of "hurt" only includes physical harm and not economically crippling people by condemning them into debt cycles and so forth.

We need some degree of social welfare. We are after all, only human, and we will all have times in our lives in which the going may get tough. Its only far that if someone loses their job, or is seriously injured, or disabled or something of the sort, that there is a kind and supportive governmental system in place which can provide financial assistance to these people. The mere fact that such a system exists will also greatly reduce anxiety and worry within a society as people will no that if they should fall in life that they will still have a basic standard of living assured for them. Overall I think the benefits of such a societal structure will improve the happiness of the society. This will also be highly likely to improve not only the quality of life, but interesting the societies productivity and ability.

In contrast a complete free-market, akin to what is developing in America, creates a broader gap between the rich and the poor and creates a society based on fear and greed. The large majority of the people live lives of subservience and essential slavery, with moments of hedonism for escape. They live tough and unhappy lives, with consumerism being the favourite attempt to avoid the feelings of unhappines. In many ways I think that many of America's problems stem from its unhappiness, which stems from its inequality and harsh free-market, laissez fare system.

Don't read me wrong here, I have nothing wrong with some people being rich and some poor, difference is all well and good, however, i feel that the poor should at least be afforded the basic necessities of life while the rich should not necessarily have such a reckless excess of luxuries. I think everyone would be all the happier for this arrangement too.

With the development of technology and general advances in the world, everyone should be able to live easier lives, with more time to simply enjoy life. Yet we still seem to work so much? What for, why are we driven to work so much? A large part of our expenses are on consumerist shite which we probably don't need but feel good about buying because we typically feel so bad. So one solution is to simply be happier and hence need less stuff, and hence need to work less, in turn giving us more time to enjoy life. The cycle can however spin the other way too. It we work harder we end up having less freetime and often feel less happy and hence buy more crap we don't need and then need to work all the harder to afford the lifestyle we become accustomed too.

I suppose the big question here is what sort of society do we want to live in? I personally feel that a welfare liberal society will create a happier and more stable society, who will in turn be more positive and also, rather ironically, achieve more by doing less. Work smarter, not harder... thats something we should be remembering here. When i say achieve, i don't mean make lots of money, what kind of fucking goal is that? I believe that a welfare liberal society will support more environmental awareness, more equality, a closing of the gap between the rich and the poor, a reduction in exploitation and material greed. I believe it will allow morals and ethics to resurface, for our race to become all the more learned, and wise, with the knowledge that we live to support we believe in, and that those values should not be how many golden coins we can stuff into our pockets.

Many people yell angrily when leftists talk about government intervention and raise a whole bunch of valid points about how the money is often lost in beurocratic systems and so forth. This is true to some degree but there are two simple answers to it:
1) in a free-market economy the same ridiculous "loss" of money would occur, even on a much greater scale, except that it would be done by large corporate businesses that will come to dominate certain sectors in life.
2) I believe the welfare liberal government would eventually, over time and with the development of our values, become a much fairer and honest system than many governments such as those we have today.

As a further point I would much rather have the government held accountable for what goes on in the world that giant corporations who have no interest except profit. I want ethics to matter, I want humans to be treated like I feel humans should be. As I said in “Classical Liberalism vs. The Welfare State – Which is the better ideal?” "A welfare liberal state is far more humane than a laissez-faire based one. And as a human I’m all for humaneness."

This is all well and good Sam you argue, but what are we going to do about it? Well realistically it might be hard to completely change how the world is run in one day, but then again it took them a fair arse long time to build rome so... One step a time tiger. The beginning, like so many things, starts in the mind. It starts in us collectively wanting and craving a change, and hence demanding it, hence supporting it, hence living it. If you believe in a society where the environment counts buy recycled toilet paper. Yes it will cost you a buck more, but it will mean that you are craving, demanding, supporting and living the life you choose, on the smallest level perhaps, but just imagine the potential for mass change. Imagine if everyone took that mentality, imagine if everyone bought recycled toilet paper... i think you see where i'm getting at... Alone we are divided, but together we are strong.

God, I do sound like a communist. Anyway, theres so much more I could right, but i'll save that for another rant. I think I've gotten the broader picture across. Remember to live life as you want it to be, not as you feel forced to by society. What ever made social norms right? Just because everyone else is being a stingy capitalist and cutting down all our trees to save a buck on toilet paper doesn't mean you have to. Now go out there and do your bit by buying some recycled toiletry accessories...

PS: A special thank you to the all philosophical Dominic Jarkey, for giving me the courage to get off my arse and write something inspiring. Bless you matey, for firstly sneezing into recycled tissue paper, and secondly and perhaps more importantly for simply being there for a friend in need.

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