Problems of Humanity
Reflections by Arcane School students on the Problems of Humanity
The Sanctity of Work
Work is the accomplishment of a human being. Work is the life. Each life is given work, is work in progress from the standpoint of the soul. A society that denies work as the ultimate dignity of the heart sabotages the Divine Plan and plays into the hands of the destructive powers of evil. Understanding work is essential to sanity, equilibrium and balance. Regulating work in a way that the Whole Being is served is another essential for there is outer work and inner work and each must be given its proper space. Understanding the rhythms of the creative mind is therefore vital to reach that balance for creativity uses the external and the internal, the esoteric and the exoteric, the subjective and the objective. One thing amiss in our society is the acknowledgement of the true purpose of individual work, and holding the whole perspective of earth's travails. At our point in evolution, individual work has become meaningless for lack of the overview. Man is no more the contained entity it used to be, animated by self-care only and care of the close environment. Man has become a unit forced to adapt to a society that has such expanded boundaries that his own sense of self has decreased and his work often seems futile and bound only to survival and money- making. The sacredness of work has been tempered with leaving men 'puppet-ized, robotized, almost nullified as to the usefulness of their import in the vast scheme of earth's life and government - apart, that is, from some select few. It is all too big and he is all too small. After centuries of having struggled, explored and conquered, proud in his identity, suddenly all precedent values and desires have exploded and man is left with ravages and a world to build anew. Like Job, he may feel bewildered and shocked senseless. And many feel today traumatized, helpless, destitute, powerless. The Saviour must now be found within and courage harnessed out of humility, faith and kindness. The power of a self-interested will has been rendered useless in front of the tides of a nature that remains beyond man's control. Man must now know himself subjectively and rediscover riches that belong to a world long barred to him. That is the saving grace that he can hope for. Only by creating the balance between his inner and outer life will he grow again the power to travel confidently the roads of the future that are being carved at present by the bulldozing elements ravaging his past achievements.
Humanity is now awakening at a surprising rate and I can’t help but wonder if we are moving almost too fast for the natural unfolding process that evolution has “intended”. Our biology changes slowly and we live in a form that was selected under very different conditions than those we now live under. Our brains and the inherent “zombie” programs that automatically run within it were designed for a life in nature with different physical and psychological demands than those we now face. Can we learn to control the brain/lower mind and intelligently change the programming to allow a transition in consciousness? If meditation can become a more widespread practice (perhaps even taught in our schools some day), there is hope that we can adjust to the changes needed in humanity.
Is there any evidence of world citizenship today? Yes, there is definitely evidence of world citizenship today. There is a rising awareness of the interconnectedness of all kingdoms or forms of life on Planet Earth (human, animal, vegetal, mineral, elemental). Many theories that had built “separations”, “divisions”, or boundaries among beings have now removed those barriers and are now emphasizing “porosity”. On the human level, this removal of ideological isolation has been compounded by the removal of physical isolation. Human beings seem now to be thrust in one world, one global or planetary community. Even those people who do not willingly see themselves as world citizens, nevertheless find themselves living in this particular community. The consciousness of world citizenship is heightened by certain planetary events and trends. Here are a few examples:1. The evolution of language. The seeping of terms like “world citizen” itself, and “global village” into popular speech eventually makes people wonder what those terms mean.2. Electronic communications (radio, television, the telephone, the Internet and associated technologies). These technologies allow people to transcend borders and realize that if they can communicate with people on almost any spot on the Planet, maybe there is only one home to which all people belong.3. Transportation (by land, sea, and air). These make it possible for people to physically go almost anywhere on the Planet, and again, give them the experience of belonging to the One Planet.4. The tendency toward political federalization. In the Americas, the establishment of the United States of America in North America inspired many thinkers to establish federal entities. In South America, Simon Bolivar thought that it would be a good idea for all the South American countries becoming independent from Spain to be united under one country called La Gran Colombia. Even though his enterprise did not take root, the idea of a united political entity did take root. Venezuela, for instance, the country of Bolivar's birth, is officially “the Bolivarian United States of Venezuela”. Europe is slowly but surely becoming the European Union and Africa, the African Union. The indigenous peoples of the Americas have a Union of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, which extends from North America all the way to South America. There are many more general political, or economic regional groupings in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. And, there is of course the United Nations, that unites all the nations of the Planet. When the Charter of the UN states “We the peoples”, it means “We the peoples” of Planet Earth—the One Planet Earth.5. Spatial explorations. When astronauts and cosmonauts leave the Planet and then come back to it and document the process, it gives all human beings some proof that they all live on One Planet.6. The ecological movement. This sense of living on One Planet has always been the wisdom by which many indigenous peoples have lived for millennia. But for people in areas of the Planet who lived more on the plane of the concrete mind and needed more “proof” than the intuitive knowledge of the indigenous peoples, space exploration provides that proof. This has helped the awareness of the Planet as the One “Ecology” shared by all of us. Ecological disasters like tsunamis, earthquakes, or pollutions originate in one area of the Planet, but eventually affect other areas, are also reinforcing the awareness of planetary citizenship.7. The spread of diseases and economic crises. Communicative diseases like Ebola, AIDS, SAKS, and others, have led people to the realisation that there are energies and forces that “borders” cannot contain. Since these diseases can potentially affect all people, they are in fact One People. They therefore need to live and work as One People to handle these challenges. Just like there seems to be one global network of health, there also seems to be one global network of the economy. The recent cycle of economic crisis has brought to the surface the realization that we are all global citizens, both during economic prosperity cycles and cycles of economic downturn. 8. Migrations. Displacements, whether voluntary or involuntary, are helping many people grow in awareness of world citizenship by giving them the experience of being integral parts of two or more places on Planet Earth at the same time, in this particular one life.9. Education. Multicultural and international educational programs within countries, as well as study abroad programs at all levels of the educational system (primary, secondary, and tertiary), are increasingly training students to be “world citizens”, or citizens of the Global Village.10. Cosmopolitan thinking. There are many thinkers and groups who are assiduously working to articulate what cosmopolitanism or “world citizenship” would actually look and feel like, as we fully enter the 21st century.
We know that the cause of cleavages between races and nations is the heresy of separativeness. Solutions can be reached by changing values. Separateness and selfishness, based on a lack of vision and understanding, must be transcended by the sacrifice of selfishness, which will release new values into relations between countries and races. It will encourage sharing and prosperity for all humanity. The progressive development of desirable spiritual values will happen as a result of the increasing consciousness of humanity. This means that we cannot look only for own salvation and our own materialistic survival. This means that while each racial group fights for its own self-interest there cannot be a new world order based on correct human relations, unity and freedom. What is good for the group is good for each of us.In fact, survival on Earth has always been based on militarism and exploitation of minorities. A different reality can be built by a radical change of human heart, by loving humanity as a whole and with the sense of the oneness of life. The changing values include the practice of right thoughts, worlds and deeds, looking for unity-in-diversity, and values of inclusiveness and integrity. These are qualities of the soul.The recognition of the energy of goodwill will transcend the chronic and deep cleavages between people and nations—this is the energy of love in action. This means the fusion of the individual with the whole, without loosing the sense of individuality. This means that our main task is to work for unity, synthesis and mutual cooperation.
Recognizing and overcoming the tribal instinct is another vital step needed at this time in human evolution. Many people grasp the need to dampen down tribal instincts at the grossest level; our interest in and commitment to overcoming racism in this country is a good example of this impulse. Yet few people really understand how deep-seated the tribal instinct really is. Would parents on a sports field obsessed with "my team" or people thinking about "our part of town" or even "my family" recognize the seeds of the tribal mentality? So many of our ideas circulate around the tribal impulse. We like to see people who look like us, dress like us, believe like us, worship like us. We defeat one prejudice, only to replace it in our minds with a whole host of other "differents" that need to be disliked, rooted out railed against. The American experience with regards to race has been a good start of the effort needed to move beyond the tribal point of view, but it is only a very small start. These more expansive attitudes need to spread beyond their relatively narrow confines deeper into humanity's collective mind and the idea of tribalism needs to be expanded to include all its manifestations. Passionate sports fanatics might resist, although sports are probably a better channel for these kinds of feelings than the wars and pogroms of the past. But the need for tribal identification is still deep and dark in all parts of the world. Spiritual workers need to work hard, very hard, to root out this need in themselves and identify and experience all kinds of people in all kinds of life situations. We all need more writing and discussion on this issue to even recognize tribalism's face in our individual and collective psyches.
A significant element of the tribal mentality also relates to the realm of economics, in which we are literally and mentally divided into "haves" and "have nots." Various economic theories have been put forth in the name of greater general effects appears to be a reshuffling of resources, creating, not a truly new system, but a new group of "haves." Time spent living and traveling in Eastern Europe revealed to me the fundamental similarity between "socialism" and "capitalism;" both assign the majority of resources, or control over resources, to a relatively small group of people within the broader society. Both systems moreover, are rooted in a scarcity mentality that assumes that there will be "losers" in the system and both come up with powerful rhetoric to justify why these "losers" deserve their losses. An economics of abundance and generosity struggle to find a way to ensure that all people have access to basic necessities begin to believe that we can create abundance and that it is possible to bring up developed elements within the culture. This reality, rooted in the spiritual principles of evolution (the whole advances) and abundance (seek, and ye shall find) needs to emerge as an electrifying set of ideas, inspiring creative individuals to devise an economic based on generation, generosity and innovation, rather than envy, fear and greed.
It is a cliché that we say of youth that they “don’t know how lucky they are”, and of course it is true in a material sense. Most western youth have opportunities which the majority of young people in the world will never see. But how do we install a sense of perspective by which they can judge their circumstances? There is already available a wealth of information available about the global distribution of wealth, the circumstances of war and displacement, etc.. And yet so many advantaged youth grow up believing themselves to be somehow persecuted or ‘hard done-by’. Perhaps it is because adults complain so much about their own situation – for children will always follow their parents’ example. If there could be such a thing, I would recommend a doctrine of gratitude, of appreciation for each moment of life and the ability to strive for full expression. This in itself might hopefully lead to the desire to make a fuller contribution, and to develop the faculties through full exercise of opportunity.
Ultimately, I do not think doctrines, handed from elder to younger, are essential. Rather, regardless of their importance, they will often be ignored and accordingly have little effect. Behaviour by example – the influence of one person in a youth’s life who keeps their promises and does not betray, who acts with integrity and honesty – will have a greater effect than any particular teaching can hope to. I think most of us can relate to this when we consider the greatest influences on our lives: they are more often decent people than doctrines of any form. Those old words, ‘common sense’ and ‘decency’ are immensely difficult to teach, yet remain essential to both safety and happiness, and they are only learnt through the experience of seeing them lived here in the present.
How can we abolish the great lines of demarcation between races, nations, groups, and heal the cleavages that are to be found everywhere, working in such a manner that the ‘one humanity’ emerges on the arena of world affairs?
This is obviously a most complex and difficult problem. The problem of races is something that I have written about extensively in earlier reports, so I will not repeat myself here. I believe that in order to begin eliminating these artificial lines between ‘races’ and nations, we must start educating our children at an early age. Currently, children go through life not realizing that race (in its true definition of biologically distinct sub-groups) has not been applicable to humanity since the last Neanderthal died some 30,000-50,000 years ago. Most students that I talk to actually believe that people with white and black skin actually are genetically different. This is simply not the case. What we call ‘race’ is actually better termed as ‘ethnicity.’ Most students do not learn this until they get to the college level. This means that a large proportion of children who do not go to college or do not take an anthropology class, never learn this at all. This has to change. These kinds of lessons need to be taught to children at a younger age before they form all of their ideas about race and the differences between humanity.
I think an even greater problem than relation between the ‘races’ is relation between nations. The artificial boundaries creating various countries have been a source of conflict and consternation since Ancient Egyptian times. Numerous examples exist today. After World War II, the Western colonial empires broke up. This led to the creation of numerous new countries in Africa and the Middle East. These countries were drawn up artificially and cut numerous ethnic groups into pieces. An example is the partition of Kurdistan into parts of Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. One needs only to turn on the news to see the problems in Iraq. These are largely being caused by nationalism and ethnic resurgence.
Early education is one way to address this problem. Another way is to encourage students to travel to other parts of the world. When I was younger and participated in a study abroad, it opened my eyes to the poverty that much of the rest of the world was living in but also made me realize how similar people are no matter what their ethnic or national background. This was my first real experience with the ‘brotherhood of humanity.’ Encouraging student travel while in college is very important. Today, I encourage my students to study abroad, and many choose to do so. When they return, the inevitably relay similar experiences to those I had when I first traveled abroad. Even if they do not travel again, the experience stays with them for their entire lives.
By encouraging early education and world travel, I believe that the idea of‘one humanity’ will slowly emerge onto the world stage. There are, of course, many other political and economic measures that can be taken, such as a stronger UN with rules that are fairer to small nations, but I believe in starting with the grass roots. By educating our children as to the reality of ‘one humanity’ and then encouraging them to experience it for themselves, a large core group of people will believe in the ‘one humanity’ principle. From this core group, those political and economic changes that will eventually erase ethnic and national boundaries will take shape.
The problem of territorial possessions is the group correspondence within the family of nations to the materiality of the individual. Simply stated, this is the nationalistic love of land. The love of land and of territory has a psychic effect on people and constitutes a major world glamour.
Territoriality and nationality have deep roots in the human psyche. Current archaeological research suggests that territoriality arose in the Pre-pottery Neolithic B of Southwest Asia. This took the form of burying the heads of one’s ancestors under the floor of your house to associate it with being your family’s property. Today, this problem has grown so that it encompasses the rampant nationalism seen throughout the world. The essential factors of this problem are rooted in individual materialism and include the recognition of ‘differences’ between people living in one geographical region from the next (these differences of course being artificial), a feeling of superiority for one’s own geographic area vs. that of other geographic areas, and the desire to fight and protect one’s geographic area to maintain that superiority.
This problem is very old and will be one of the most difficult to correct in the coming decades. A first attempt at correction was made (on the world scale) with the creation of the United Nations. Unfortunately the UN, as a world governing body, has been rendered largely ineffective to deal with world problems because of the way that it is structured. The countries responsible for creating the UN, such as the USA and Europe, built safeguards into the political body so that they could maintain control of the United Nations. These safeguards render smaller, less developed nations under the control of the developed nations of the West. In this way, the UN is neither a fair or representative body. In fact, it may have had the opposite of its intended effect and served to accentuate the differences between nations by causing anger and distrust of the less developed nations toward the larger countries.
The problem of nationalism has, in general, only continued to grow. The roblems in the Middle East are based on issues of territory. For example, the Dome of the Rock is one small piece of land that is being fought over by Muslim, Christian, and Jew at the same time. After the New York terrorist attacks, nationalism once again came to the forefront in the United States. Having one’s patriotism (or national loyalty) questioned has become a sever offense. At every turn, the US government has attempted to separate the US out from all other nations via such rhetoric as the axis of evil. This separateness has led to one war with the potential for others. We can easily see the destructiveness that this separateness has wrought on our modern world and in recent history (such as the two world wars, Vietnam, Korea, etc).
Despite the problems, progress has been made toward a solution. The most positive aspect has been the creation of the European Union. This is a truly fully integrated governmental body (unlike the UN) where all of the members have equal say and all are held to the standards and laws passed by the international body. Nations that had been recently at war or had long histories of dislike/distrust (such as England and France) are now working together to build a better future for all of Europe. The recent expansions of the European Union to other nations, such as Turkey, demonstrate how people’s of entirely different cultures, such as Turks and Europeans, can come together into a unified body.
The rest of the world continues to ‘shrink.’ It is easy to communicate with people on the other side of the globe at light speed. All nations in the world have become intertwined and bound together economically so that what happens in one nation has dramatic effects on another. This change has not been all positive. Some countries have been drawn into deeper poverty by this new system. Hopefully, the presence of a stronger and more equitable world governing body will rectify these economic imbalances and lead to a truly united world.
Why are isolation and national politics doomed to fail in the future? What effect does an individual have on public opinion?
Isolation and national politics are doomed to fail because they are based in the idea of contraction. Contraction is a negative energy. In a man, it will orient him back to his lower self. Focus on the lower self cuts him off from the source of divine energy and eventually his manifested ideas will fail. In any situation, once the energy is focused off the whole and back to the individual, there is a loss to the whole. We’ve learned that what is true of the individual man is true of nations. Once we stop thinking in a global sense and focus on isolationism and nationalism, divine energy is blocked and the ideas that make manifest are doomed to failure.
It there’s one idea I learned from my readings this month it’s that good economics means expansion. Economic expansion, from an esoteric sense, means to think of the economy in ever widening spheres, locally to nationally to internationally. In order to align ourselves globally within a spiritual perspective, we need right human relations. Today more than any time in history, we are thinking globally. This is evidenced today in the Internet, global investing, and interestingly enough, the problem of the environment and climate change. It will perhaps be in the arena of the preservation of the environment that we find true unity and right human relations. Individually, I don’t think I have much effect on public opinion or am a large figure in the international community. It is a rare person indeed who is placed so prominently in the public eye. However, as a member of the new group of world servers, I am a small piece of a very powerful group and together, unified, we can make a difference.
Many esoteric workers and disciples find a field of service within the church. In this transition into the New World Religion and the Church Universal, care is taken to secure the base of the new form while the old forms rapidly crumble to dust. We take heart from our understanding of the spiritual Hierarchy, the spread of Bible knowledge, the healing power of the sacraments, and the beginning of tolerance leading toward inclusiveness in organized religion (The Externalisation of the Hierarchy, 510-11). We press toward the time when the voices of the prophets again ring out the truth and "We shall know and see and understand. We shall not just believe, have hope and try to comprehend. We shall speak openly of the Hierarchy and of its Members and Their work" (The Externalisation of the Hierarchy, 417).
Clearly, many in the churches prefer to develop the spiritual life and arrive at truth by the process of accepting new authorities and comparing them with previously established doctrines. A newer approach is emerging in both the religious and philosophical worlds based on scientific methods. "Spiritual teaching will be increasingly accepted as an hypothesis to be proved less by scholasticism, historical foundation and authority, and more by the results of its effect upon the life lived and its practical usefulness in solving the problems of humanity", as Foster Bailey suggests.
Esotericists know that "Only those truths which are wrought out individually in the crucible of experience really penetrate into the living consciousness and bear fruit" (Discipleship in the New Age I, 11). Disciples know that our greatest duty is to apply our training to prepare others for the reappearance of the Christ. To do this, we must face the truth within ourselves as we strive to meet and surmount the crises in our lives of loving service.
The Problem of Capital, Labour and Employment
It is a salutary experience to re-read the chapter of this title in Problems of Humanity. Behind the phenomenon of humanity’s industrial and empire-building enterprises and the capitalist system of finance and control that has powered these together with the emerging tyranny of misused trade union and labour power, lies the inherent selfishness of the human personality. However, central to our work is the knowledge that man is not just a ‘personality’. Behind the form lies the soul, the real Self, a being of love, wisdom and global consciousness. The challenge and realistic opportunity facing humanity at the time that this book was written was to start to rise above the limits of personality and to make the values and qualities of the soul the foundation of a new humanity and consequently – and without hyperbole – a new age. It would be new and revolutionary in the spiritual sense because never before has humanity en masse given birth to a global expression of the values of love and co-operation.
In this chapter the Tibetan lists eight questions (page 78), the answering of which he suggests will help humanity solve its problems “or, if they remain unsolved, the human race will come to an end”. Such a stark warning should lead all servers and lovers of humanity to investigate to what extent these questions have been resolved, to help think through immediately practical steps to help in their resolution, and to formulate further questions which could be added to the list because of circumstantial change over the decades since this book was written. For the purpose of this paper let us briefly consider four of them.
Is the capitalistic system to remain in power? (question 1).
This issue was decided for the then foreseeable future in the 1980s with the collapse of the Soviet communist bloc. The reasons for this collapse are superficially complex, but boil down to two causes. The first is the fact that the Soviet Government was inherently dishonest in its manifestation of the communist ideal and ruled by fear, information control, state censorship and deep infringements of the “Four Freedoms”. The second is the fear of the communist system by what came to be known as the “West” leading to the confrontation between the capitalist West and the Communist East. Major mechanisms of this confrontation were the cold war (which extraordinarily did not turn hot), an economically destructive arms race and many small “proxy” wars focussed in the Middle East, the Far East and the African and Latin American continents. The cold war was truly a manifestation of the Tibetan's words, “a world in which all nations live in an armed armistice in which distrust is forever rampant and in which science is prostituted to the art of destruction. In this world an explosion must and will eventually take place which will destroy humanity …” This came to a denouement with the financial implosion of the Soviet Union and its fragmentation in the late 1980s. Incidentally, this collapse has also undermined and compromised the spiritual triangle of the Soviet Union, the British Commonwealth and the US that held so much potential for good in the world.
Question 3. Can labour and capital form a working agreement or amalgamation? Do we face another war between these two groups?
My childhood memories in England are of continual disruption to industry particularly motor manufacture, shipbuilding and transport as these two protagonists fought their respective corners. What many considered to be the irresponsible uses of power by the trade unions in Britain evoked Mrs Thatcher as their nemesis and her government emasculated union power far beyond what was necessary to curb abuse and set things on to a better footing, to the detriment of all working people and indeed the country as a whole. So in that sense in the UK there has been an imposed working agreement. Also, things have moved on and in the 21st century the relationship between capital and labour is now transnational. The policy of the multinational corporations is to outsource much of their manufacturing to third world countries where labour costs are minimal and laws protecting working people and the natural environment seem to be either non-existent or ignored. The results include “sweat shops” where child labour and other abuses, reminiscent of 19th century Britain for example, are again manifesting to humanity’s shame, and have also given rise to industrial and environmental disasters such as the explosion of the chemical plant in Bhopal in India.
Question 4. In what way can the Law of Supply and Demand be implemented so that there is justice for all and plenty for all?
This is a most thought-provoking question, as this law is regarded as an unavoidable basic truth by economists. But what is this law? It is clearly not like a law of physics, gravity for example, that is inherent in the physical nature of the universe. Rather, it seems to me to be an observed mechanism of human relationship. Relationships are governed by the motives of the people involved. Where the selfishness of the personality rules, these relationships are acquisitive, exploitative and harmful. Where the altruism of the soul rules then relationships are empowering, healing and lead to the true meeting of human needs. We can conclude from this that when it is properly implemented by the soul, the law of supply and demand will indeed lead to justice and plenty for all, and it can then be re-named as the law of supply and need. What evidence is there for this happening? The answer is, not much. The global economy is still very much organised by acquisitive capitalist enterprise and there is a consequent ever-widening gap between rich and poor. The soul does not yet govern the international economy. This leads automatically to a consideration of question 7.
What must be done to prevent the moneyed interests from again mobilizing for the exploitation of the world?
It is obvious that after the 2nd World War the moneyed interests did indeed mobilise and consolidate for the exploitation of the world. This they have been able to do far more ruthlessly than before because of globalisation and the consequent reduction of the control that can be exercised by governments, groups of governments such as the EU, and the UN. The present huge international cartels and businesses are characterised by “exploitation of man-power, the manipulation of the major planetary resources and the promotion of war for private or business profit”, to use the Tibetan’s words again. As an example of the latter I recently spoke with a Sri Lankan acquaintance who works for the BBC foreign language service and asked him about the possibility of ending the current civil war in Sri Lanka. His view is that the civil war will not be allowed to end as too many people are making huge amounts of money out of it, particularly in arms sales. So we still have in this – and I am sure many other examples – validating evidence of the Tibetan’s assertion that “the capitalistic system has emerged and has wrecked the world”.
Answering these questions can be a bleak exercise leading to frustration at the perceived lack of human progress, a level of despair when the extent of the obstacles to this progress is recognised and probably magnified by an over pessimistic imagination, and an incapacitating fear of failure – the disciple’s greatest fear and one that is negatively affecting (or should we say infecting) humanity, the world disciple at this time.
What can we say that will present a more balanced view of the truth. Let us take the advice of the Agni Yoga teaching, “As through a magnifying glass behold the good, and belittle tenfold the signs of imperfection, lest you remain as you always were.” (Leaves of Morya’s Garden 1: 32). So let us put a magnifying glass to some of the good things that have happened and are happening.
Speaking generally it should firstly be noted that, despite all fears and premonitions, a thermo-nuclear third world war did not happen. Many who lived through the Cuban missile crisis and the worst excesses of the arms race still find this a remarkable fact. We can be sure that this was due to two interrelated factors; firstly the work of Hierarchy in evoking the good the beautiful and the true in humanity, and secondly the prevalence of goodness and altruism in the human family without which any attempt by Hierarchy to help humanity avoid a final conflagration would be impossible as well as futile.
Secondly, world public opinion has become so strong that it is now internationally a force to be reckoned with. It has even been proposed that it is now “the next superpower in the world”. Again as the Tibetan put it: “When men everywhere – within the boundaries of their particular state and whilst upholding its authority and its civilisation – begin to think in terms of mankind, then public opinion will become so potent and so right in its inclusiveness that state policies must inevitably conform to the larger ideal…(Externalisation of the Hierarchy p.219)”
Today in 2008, there are cracks appearing in the dominant world system of free market economics. Some former laissez-faire economic experts are now having second thoughts about the ability of the invisible hand of the market to resolve all issues, and are recognizing that attempts by the World Bank and the IMF to impose free market solutions on developing countries has led to a worsening of the situation for them and their people. In contrast, the countries which chose to ignore these institutions advice and followed a path of government controlled development are now seen as the most successful of the emerging economies. Two examples are South Korea and Malaysia.
A recent significant development is the founding of the “Bank of the South” in Latin America. This is deliberately intended as an alternative to the World Bank and the IMF. Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela is the originator of the idea. Other participating countries are Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay. All twelve South American countries will be eligible to borrow from the Bank. Loans will not be contingent upon imposed economic policies that dictate privatization of services such as water and power and reduction of government spending upon healthcare and education. Many view this as a breath of fresh air in the sterile harshness of imposed fiscal policy and as a real contribution to effective development programmes.
The obvious remedy for the situation of labour exploitation by globalized production is a globalized trade union or labour movement that has the power to compel the multinationals to measure up to their responsibilities as employers and as institutions that have a huge impact on the global environment. Happily this is manifesting in many ways. One example can be seen in the website for Global Unions which states :–
Increasingly, the name “Global Unions” is being used for the major institutions of the international trade union movement. Global Unions comprises:–
- The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), which represents most national trade union centres. Most individual unions relate to the ITUC through their national union centre.
- The ten Global Union Federations (GUFs), the international representatives of unions organising in specific industry sectors or occupational groups.
- The Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD
An individual union will usually belong to a national union centre in its country, which will then affiliate to a world body such as the ITUC. The same individual union will also usually affiliate to a GUF relevant to the industry where it has members. Often, unions with members in many different industries will belong to more than one GUF.Global Unions is also the name of this website, which is jointly owned and managed by the 12 Global Unions organisations. The website gives its members the ability to draw the attention of their partners, their members, and the press to the news they produce and the campaigns they run.
Regarding the law of supply and demand, there is considerable thought being given on how to create a more equitable sharing of wealth and resources in the world. The “live-aid” phenomenon, the huge popular demand for debt relief and, more prosaically, the UN initiatives like the World Food Programme are all examples of the human soul trying to implement supply and demand and meet basic needs.
Another phenomenon is the “fair trade” movement in which consumers can be sure that a significant portion of the money they spend on, for example bananas or coffee and so on, goes to the growers and is not siphoned off into the profits of the middle men. A few statistics from the Fairtrade Foundation web site are most encouraging:
The Fairtrade Foundation reveals an increase of estimated retail sales of Fairtrade products to £493m, a staggering 81% increase on 2006 sales of £273m. Sales have been increasing by over 40 percent year-on-year since 2002.
- Fairtrade bananas are the best selling Fairtrade product with sales topping £150m, an increase of 130%. 1 in 4 bananas sold are now Fairtrade and we eat 3m Fairtrade bananas a day
- Fairtrade coffee sales rose 24% to over £117m
- Items made with Fairtrade certified cotton increased from over half a million to just under 9.5m units
- Fairtrade tea rose 24% to just over £30m. And recent commercial developments mean Fairtrade tea should account for a tenth of tea sold in the UK by the end of 2008
But it has to be pointed out that these examples exist to meet needs that have been created by the dominant selfish application of this law of supply and demand. Nevertheless, they are heartening indications that we are collectively beginning to move in the right direction.
Today we have to acknowledge that behind all present economic and manufacturing programmes lies the major problem of the ability of the earth to provide the raw materials for and to absorb the waste products from this level of activity. It has been variously calculated that if everyone in the world were to have the consumption level of the average American then we would need at least 3 more planets like our earth to provide the food raw materials and to process and absorb the waste we would produce. This is clearly not going to happen.
However, some experts are optimistic that we can steer a path to a future that will be collectively acceptable. This view was cogently expressed by Dr Jeffrey Sachs in his 2007 series of BBC Reith Lectures. He pulled no punches in outlining the magnitude and complexity of the situation, but presented a convincing view that if we, humanity as a whole, work together there is a possibility that we can resolve the issues and create a sustainably developed world in which all people can have a reasonable share in the world’s wealth and in the opportunities for education and personal development and fulfilment. An opposing view was expressed by Dr James Lovelock in an interview in the Guardian Newspaper on March 1st 2008 when he asserted his conviction that, from a climate point of view, we have already passed the “tipping point” and that there is nothing we can really do now to avoid significant planetary changes that, from the human perspective, will be catastrophic.
It has long been my view that humanity has effectively tried to postpone having to make decisions about the choices facing it in the late 40s and early 50s. We are now at a time of reckoning when all the problems are coming to be seen as converging into one problem, the problem of building right relationships between the peoples of the world, and between humanity and the world and the other kingdoms in nature as well, in short the problem of rising above personality and manifesting the soul. In our collective struggle to rise to the soul, that “something extra” can happen as Hierarchy will match every advance we make with its own benevolent action and unanticipated gifts. There is no doubt in my mind that we can achieve what is necessary. But will we?