In the current deluge of wannabe leaders clamoring for attention and trying to convince us that they are the boss who should be applying rules to us, it strikes me that all of them are looking backward and none are looking forward. (I do not consider “My administration will give you more bennies” to be seriously forward-looking.)
So, since none of this crowd is going to venture anywhere outside of their hermetically sealed status quo, I’d like to give you an example of something a real leader might say.
Late summer 2015, Anytown, USA: A small platform stands at the edge of a cornfield. A very average-looking person steps up to a microphone and speaks:
I stand here, not to praise you, but to acquaint you with reality, at least as well as I am able. Perhaps that means I should be killed or at least run out of town. But if that’s so, then so be it. I am tired of living a life other than my own – the pre-scripted, advertiser-generated life that is shoved before my eyes day by day. And I suspect that some of you are tired of it as well.
Please allow me to begin by pointing out that all the fights from all the platforms this election cycle will concern trivialities – Team Red versus Team Blue – and competing varieties of fears – terrorists versus outlawed unions versus less free stuff versus whatever works in your little corner of the world. At most, these are fights over personalities – He’s an arrogant ass, she’s a conniving witch, and so on – all of which really come down to, “My opponent is scarier than I am.”
None of these bobbleheads will ask the questions that matter: Who are we? What do we want? Where should we be headed?
You see, once we get past all the publicized fears – some real, but most imaginary – the dialog we’re having, if we care to admit it, is mostly self-praise. We laud our great “democracy,” even though not one in a thousand can define it. Or we brag about our wonderful “freedom” but avoid defining it, knowing that our definition wouldn’t stand up to the test. Freedom is “what we have,” and further questions are evidence of stupidity, bordering on treason.
The truth is that we’ve trained ourselves to evade reality. Praising ourselves is so much easier: Team America!
By doing this, my friends, we’ve been blind to the greatest opportunity that has ever stood before a human generation: If we wanted to, we could quickly and easily step into a golden age. In fact, we’ve been doing just that, half by accident, for a long time. If we bothered to work at it, even halfheartedly, we’d go down in history as the generation that transformed humanity forever.
But perhaps most of us wouldn’t like that. And if so, that’s our choice to make. My objection is that no one bothers to talk about it.
I’d like for you, for just a few seconds, to take a look at two graphs, which I pulled out of Julian Simon’s The State of Humanity. The first graph shows how much wheat is not grown, because our production capacity is so much greater than our demand for wheat.
This second one shows the price of wheat measured in wages.
And I have others like this, for other commodities.
There is one message that comes screaming through here, and it’s one that I know can be deeply troubling. Nonetheless, that message is true: Scarcity on planet Earth is dying.
I’ll pause to allow you a small freakout over that, to let all those prerecorded messages run screaming through your mind.
You see, our ruling systems have been built on the assumption of scarcity, and the idea that scarcity may be failing throws us into crisis.
Isn’t it odd that good news should upset us?
Scarcity, sadly, became more than a sad fact to us; it became a psychological necessity. But what if we no longer need to fight over resources? Is that a concept that we should rush to eliminate?
And in actual fact, there are fewer and fewer starving people all the time, and most of those are starving because of political distortions, not because of insufficient production technology.
All of this reminds me of a comment from Buckminster Fuller that I like to condense:
I decided man was operating on a fundamental fallacy: that he was destined to be a failure. I decided that man was, in fact, designed to be an extraordinary success. His characteristics were magnificent; what he needed was to discover the comprehensive patterns operating in the universe.
So, what if humanity is designed to be an extraordinary success? Why should this thought repel us, even before we honestly consider it?
You see, these are things we need to discuss.
We are, whether we like it or not, stepping out of scarcity, and it seems to me that we should decide whether or not that’s a good thing.
Our problem – our real problem, if we can muster the courage to admit it – is that we’re living with space-age technology and bronze-age rulership. But we can get past this problem if we wish, and we can easily meet all of humanity’s basic needs… if we wish.
But perhaps we don’t want to. Maybe it’s more important to us that we should be the biggest dog in town and that everyone else should be a little yap-yap dog.
And if that’s the case, we need to admit it to ourselves. Perhaps we’ll decide that what we really need is to be the dominant dog, and that all the morality stuff we talk about – golden rules and loving our neighbors – was all juvenile blather; that what we really want is to dominate everyone else.
And if that’s the case, we should get busy rebuilding our civilization in the form of the Roman Empire. We should get serious about beating the hell out of everyone else… at least until a new Christ comes along (or perhaps just people who remember the old one) and convinces our subjects that there’s a better way to live.
But in the meantime, we could kick the crap out of a billion brown people for a century or two, minimum. That’s our choice to make, of course, I’m only suggesting that we be forthright about it.
So, my friends, let me conclude by saying this:
If what we really want is to be the big dog, to feast on the fact that we’re able to kick all the smaller dogs around, then let’s do it. Let’s go full-Caesar on ’em. Let’s conquer everything, steal what we like, and live it up.
Or, if that’s not what we really want, then let’s get the golden age started; let’s dump the hierarchies that steal half our earnings and labor to keep fear alive. Let’s build and plant and thrive; and let’s welcome others to thrive with us.
Thank you for not shooting me.