Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How to raise a phoenix from the ashes of riotous London.

The main problem is - there is not enough 'Stuff' to go round - at least there isn't enough while we who have it waste so very much. There is plenty for all if we design and create an environmentally sustainable economy not based on growth and consumption.

The solution?

Jo Average is the problem - but, Jo Average didn't do it consciously. We need to keep almost everything the same as it is - on the surface - but change the way things work at a deeper level. We accidentally destroy our world's resources by shopping, eating and day to day living. A government's job is to enable industry and societies systems to change the 'back end' of the economy so that far fewer and far less of the world's resources are consumed and far more - to all of them - can be and will be re-used easily. That is what ' Sustainable' should mean.

Once we are living within our means it will be easy for everyone to have 'enough'. Advertisers should stop trying to make us want more though - another big requirement. We can still have change and improvements, sustainability is not stagnation.

This ideal may read as being a Utopian dream, but, it is as achievable as has been the terrible mess we are in already. The same - existing- system can be used to fix rather than worsen the situation. Already in Industry, or under development in universities and groups all around the planet, we have all the technologies needed to sort things out in the way I describe.

Society will follow the good in the same way it is now following the bad. By Society, I mean the youths who are not part of the massive existing majority sensible society - the one that is accidentally causing the problems.

Environmentalists are not golden age - back to nature cave lovers, and by the way - we don't have all the answers - but we know people who do - everyone else. A Green government's job is to point everyone in the right direction. How we get there the Government doesn't need to and can't understand. It's job is to direct and ensure no more damage is done on the way.

We must not criminalise the rioters, yes, the acts are criminal but that is not the point. We should see beyond that simple comfortable - them and us - hiding place. They are us, our children or our students, certainly or future whether we like it or not. To stamp down hard now would be like imposing punitive restrictions on Germany after the first world war. It would create another war in the future.

Most of the rioters are just bored and 'up for' some excitement and fun. Opportunistic is the right term here. This is not a revolution, but it does have a cause. The rioter have no thought of other people, they are mindless with nothing to think let alone say. We must teach them to think and be people together - and then listen and act when they speak. But, this violence tells us we have been doing things wrong and we have no option left but to change. In fact, this is not a choice at all any more.

The next Elephant issue to address after education is - Jobs. What are Jobs for? Until now it has been the only way you could keep yourself alive, a route to and a hope for the future improvement of your lot. Today though things have changed and the future can be different. Technology has advanced so much - thanks to the way we have been doing things - that now we have a chance to do things differently. On the back of a wasteful economy we can and now must build a new economy that does not despoil as it 'grows'.

'Growth' without boundaries kills - in the body of a human this is called Cancer. Sustainable economies do not need to grow to live, they may expand or contract but at their will rather than because of any Malthusian effects. Sadly it will soon be evident that most of the 'Jobs' we do today are very much part of the problem, yet we think that jobs are the solution. More jobs are not the answer. More of the same will add fuel to the ecological fire, we need some of something different.

Life not Jobs.

If resources were not lost during the course of daily life but instead, if they were recovered and renewed - which modern technology and age old common sense has long allowed - then it would be clear that most jobs need not and indeed should not be done.

What do we do then? No jobs and time on our hands? That is the very problem as we and more importantly the rioters see it now. What must we do? We must address both issues in a different way.

World governments will soon admit what they must have known deep inside for years - that there is no alternative but to provide a Basic Income for everyone - sufficient to give homes, health and comfort to all - simply based on the fact of a person's existence. Yes, it can be afforded, it can't not be afforded.

Secondly - the real issue can be asked, then possibly addressed. What do people do when they don't have work to fill their time?
Historically the answer has been - join the Armed Forces (and start a war to take people's minds off things), join the Clergy or - in modern times - stay in education for life. Education is essential, but for Life, not for employment. We need better answers today.

May be we can continue to be consumers after all - but this time - of the Arts. The world can be our oyster and it can turn this grit in to pearls.