We also know that the next generations will be busy with this problem, and we also know that this problem can only be solved on a global level. But how can a global solution be found in a world divided into strategic hemispheres? In a world that has not abandoned war as a means of enforcing its political interests? Are we thinking of carbon neutral armaments? Of tanks running on renewable energy? Weapons are becoming more modern but war remains what it always has been: bloody, hopeless, paid for most dearly by the poorest, by those who could not flee – not from conscription, not from the bombs.
Do we need new beliefs, do we need a new fallacy? Our illusions, our stories determine history. Humanity’s projections, fears and desires guide its actions. We believe what suits us, what doesn’t shake our conviction, our idea of how the world must be. In the last four or five generations, the world was primarily meant to be profitable and predictable. We have gathered information. We have turned human life into a data set. We compare these data sets and compile rankings and ratings that we apply globally. We measure, we enter figures into a spreadsheet, they appear in columns and rows, both of which require the creation of a category. Without categories, no prices, no values, no wealth and no status. But the categories like the viewpoint, the columns like the rows, the X and Y axes: they are all models but none are the world.
The world is rich and is neither peaceful nor secure. From a financial perspective, peace and security are a deficiency: the employees grow accustomed to procedures, but the company, if it wants to survive the market, must constantly transform itself.
Our society, Western liberal democracy, is vulnerable because it has not resolved an internal contradiction.
It depends on tyrants, autocrats and dictators. Our democratic society is susceptible to blackmail through its hunger for energy, through its insatiable appetite for oil, gas and coal.
Western democracies are addicted societies. They cannot do without certain materials. At the most they can replace them, find substitutes, and even then only with patience and pain.
The materials needed by our Western democracies are used according to formulas and rules that today appear esoteric. The salvific words of macroeconomics are competition, growth and market dynamics. There is a correlation between war and the economy. There is a correlation between the oil that heats our living rooms and the oil that creates and powers weapons systems.
Ideas of how we can escape from the death trap that modern society has led us into do, indeed, exist, but so do okapis and »lefty« snails; they’re just very rare. Even the thought that someone might have a utopia seems utopian. Draft versions are useless. The world has been constructed; the best we can do is to develop it. For that, we need technological progress. It is the ultimate in visionary power. The solution must and will be instrumental, greater efficiency, lower costs, higher productivity. For the rest, for the piston jams, for the porous elements of the system, we use an old method: patchwork repairs.
What importance we gave to profit, how negligible joy was for us! Who dared insist on it? Who dares even now to base arguments on the fullness of one’s living environment, on the brevity of a life span? Who attempts to found a political system on the good moments in human life? Who understands happiness as a social value? Who understands how precious, how rare, how fleeting it is? Who insists that we must anticipate cutbacks and power’s mockery and scorn? Power demands performance indicators and there is no place for joy in this scheme, nor for hate, nor dreams, neither good dreams nor nightmares.
What was calculable was considered realistic, was seen as reality, but equivalences are mirages, symbols at best, and they have a tendency to become fetishes. They depict what they can capture and thereby shut out much of what is most essential. Equivalences create absences. They return as ghosts in the comprehensible. Human consciousness and its capabilities, both good and bad, do not fit in a formula, in an evaluation, in numbers. Human beings cannot be understood through bookkeeping or accounting or through their instruments and processes. All those who believe that controlling can improve operations through controls are dangerous fantasists.