Are We An Experiment That Did Not Work?
By David Anderson
20 October, 2015
Deepak Chopra, well-known Indian/American author and speaker on eastern thought has for many years represented in the US a form of spirituality apart from American Abrahamic religious thought. It is the product of a mindset going back well before the religions of Abraham; encompassing forms of introspection centered on discovery through meditation and enlightenment (nirvana).
This makes his recent statement to Jared Leto all the more meaningful:
“We may be a human experiment that did not work.”
BEYOND THE HORIZON DIRECTED BY JARED LETO S1: E1 | DEEPAK CHOPRA In the first episode of Jared Leto's series on the future, Deepak Chopra gives insight into spirituality, technology and his hopes for life on earth
In nation after nation throughout the world over the last fifty years this same dire warning has been building among many intellectuals like Chopra. Two American ethicists are worth noting; Garrett Hardin and Herschel Elliott. Beginning in the sixties they proposed as a solution a new form of human ethics apart from what heretofore has been considered the societal norm. It spoke to our continued existence on the planet.
First a note on Garrett Harden:
Herschel Elliot, July, 2003
“I consider Garrett Hardin to be one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century.”
Writing in 1968 to a scientific audience, Garrett Hardin examined the disconnect between world population size and the earth’s finite resource availability. He stressed that a laissez-faire system (letting individuals choose as they like) cannot as if by an invisible hand solve the extinction problem. He concluded that a primary objective must be the cessation of exponential population expansion. Hardin placed the discussion in the metaphorical framework of what he called “The Tragedy of the Commons.”
Now to the other ethicist; Herschel Elliott. His signature statement was:
“All ethical behavior must be relative to the protection and sustenance of the Earth's diverse yet mutually supporting systems of all living things.”
In his “A General Statement of the Tragedy of the Commons” Elliott challenged much of what our civilization considers to be ethical and moral. His firm conviction was that if we do not adopt a new form of ethics, there is not just a strong possibility but there is the certainty of the end of our species.
This concern has now in our present age become universal. Scientists of all nationalities in various fields of observation are pointing to the possibility of an environmental collapse. The American, Michael Klare, professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of “The Race for What's Left” is one of those. He speaks to this in the Countercurrents essay shown below:
Climate Change “Tipping Points” And The Fate Of The Earth
By Michael T. Klare
October 8, 2015
Ethical and moral standards of human behavior have since the beginning of the bronze/iron/agricultural age been considered a religious matter. In our current era superimposed on this has been Roman Law as well as vestiges of eastern thought. Both Hardin and Elliott upset all of these former presumptions.
They challenged much of what we refer today to as the human civilizational philosophical/religious basis for our ethics and morals. Their ethics and morals are based on one and only one objective; the preservation of the human species on this planet. Theirs’ only recognizes human behavior that furthers human continuance on the Planet earth. Any and all behavior that does not further the continuance of humans on Planet earth is considered unethical and by definition immoral.
A moments’ thought forces one to consider the societal implications of this new ethical/moral foundation. Are humans able to control population size? Can an economic system be designed and implemented that does not endanger the Biosphere? Can those powers; political, social, theological, economic, adopting non-survivalist behaviors be controlled? And how do we in the first place make the general population aware of the problem?
Following are some of Hardin’s ethical principles. They raise the above concerns. I have changed the order of a few words—without change in meaning in an attempt to provide brevity. The captions are mine.
A complete listing of them can be found in my new book
The chapter is available on request.
Also included are references for both authors
Say New Book Chapter 9
Summation of Ethics for a Finite World
Principle of the Finite in the Commons
Continual growth is impossible in any finite domain.
Should individuals or societies steadily increase their exploitation of the finite ecosystem supporting them; that system, regardless of the causes or ideals which drive the individuals, will eventually collapse.
For the first time on a global scale human beings are exceeding the sustainable land and resource availability of the Earth.
Principle of Equilibrium in the Commons
If a sustainable equilibrium cannot be maintained, then the step-by-step destruction of the Earth's ecosystems will remain the persisting – and eventually tragic characteristic of human activity.
Principle of Ethics in the Commons
All ethical behavior must be relative to the protection and sustenance of the Earth's diverse yet mutually supporting systems of all living things.
An acceptable system of ethics is contingent on its ability to preserve the ecosystems which sustain it.
Principle of Morality in the Commons
The stability and well-being of the Earth's biosystem has moral priority over the welfare of any of its parts, including the needs and interests of human societies and individuals in those societies.
The environment is unlikely ever to be protected when all are free to use as much energy and to consume as many goods and services as they can afford and while society honors the moral obligation to supply the material necessities to everyone who lacks them.
People's first moral duty is to live as responsible and sustaining members of the world's community of living things.
Principle of Nature in the Commons
Nature controls any exuberant species either by drastically reducing its population or by its extinction.
Material demands are constrained by the limited resource use which the bio- system can sustain. Exceeding this carrying capacity will cause that system to collapse into a simpler state.
The additional stress of continued growth will make the system collapse suddenly and without warning.
There is no assurance that people have the will and the intelligence to live within the necessary limits of nature.
Principle of Excessive Consumption by Wealthy Nations in the Commons
The march of events toward biological tragedy is being driven by the excessive consumption of the wealthy industrialized nations.
Principle of Economic Reality in the Commons
When the majority of the people come to accept the modern economic ideal of a steady increase in their wealth and consumption, a collapse of the commons which sustains them is inevitable.
Principle of Medical Provision and Population Control in the Commons
Society must discover controls to prevent unlimited growth in population.
Population is likely to remain unstable as long as individuals are free to have as many children as they want while society at large has the moral obligation to pay for food, medical care, schools, and the increase in sanitary and employment facilities necessary to support those children.
Exhorting people voluntarily to protect the environment and to reduce their fertility is not an empirically effective means for accomplishing necessary goals.
Principle of Necessary Coercion
Necessary coercion need not be tyranny. On the contrary, effective coercion is a necessary condition for having enduring freedom for all.
Societally enforced constraint is necessary to prevent the tragic breakdown of the Earth's bio-system.
Principle of the End point in the Commons
The continuing increase in the exploitation of the Earth's limited resources is aggregating the stresses already placed on the Earth's ecosystems. The end point will be the rapid loss of the Earth's ability to support human society in its present form.
There is no assurance that people have the will and the intelligence to live within the limits of nature.
The ethical principles here noted illustrate how far apart Homo sapiens is today from ethical/survival reality. A reason for this is that our relationship to Planet earth is greatly influenced by several thousand years of deeply embedded images that have helped us distinguish between “right” and “wrong,” between what is “lawful” and what is not “lawful” and they are so deeply embedded in our group psyche that even those individuals who profess not to believe in their validity and usefulness find themselves under their control.
The world is in need of a new survivalist ethics calling for us to question them. It is self-evident that any and all behavior that does not further the continuance of humans on Planet earth must be considered unethical. An increasingly damaged planet is crying out for sweeping and permanent change in the way we view our relationship to it. We are being called to experience a metamorphosis, a change in the way we think. If we resist, as Deepak Chopra is telling us:
“We may be a human experiment that did not work.”
Our survival cannot take place without reinvention in all of the areas of our religious, social, economic and political thought and their supporting structures. This is not to say that all past thought and the structures supporting that thought should be discarded. But there needs to be a far reaching human synthesis built on a reconstituted human ethic. It must be global. All of Humanity must in a sense “reinvent the sacred.”
David Anderson brings together a wide range of interests in his writings, namely; theology, history, evolutionary anthropology, philosophy, geopolitics, and economics. He has written three books. A fourth titled “Our Planetary Challenge - Moving Beyond a Fast Approaching Critical Fork in Our Evolutionary Road” is near completion. (see http://www.inquiryabraham.com/new-book.html ) It is about a necessary geo political, social, religious, economic paradigm shift for human survival. The book calls for a radically different understanding of the relationship of Homo sapiens to Planet earth and the cosmos. It challenges the implicit ecological legitimacy of our political, social, religious, and economic institutions and makes recommendations as to how they can be restructured in order to meet oncoming demands. It spells out in chronological detail what is likely to occur if this does not take place. David is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Hawaii (Harvard Asia Pacific) Advanced Management Program. Over a thirty year career he was an international risk manager and senior executive at several of America's premier multinational institutions. During that period he became increasingly aware of the underlying cultural, institutional and religious causes of past and present civilizational dysfunction and conflict.