The 18th century enclosure of our planet’s common natural resources that fueled the rise of capitalism began in Britain and was described by Karl Polanyi in the Great Transformation (1946). I explored in depth all the issues of human development and our positive opportunities for more sustainable, equitable, cooperative development in Building A Win-Win-World: Life Beyond Global Economic Warfare (1996, now an e-book). Proliferating global crises have brought human societies to accept the necessities of transitioning to new forms of culture and behavior if we are to survive, envisioned as Three Zones of Transition. (See Fig. 1.) A group of international experts report in ScienceDaily that “Pervasive human-driven decline of life on Earth point to the need for transformative change”.
Human societies have always involved the power games of various groups and individuals able to capture resources formerly used freely in common by all, as further documented in many books I cited, as well as Acemoglu and Robinson in “Why Nations Fail”, (2013). Historically, such power and domination have involved violence, conquering of land and subjugation of others by invading hoards, capture, enslavement, torture and murder. Such early power-wielding patriarchal domination has engendered eventual backlashes against tyrants and dominant elites have been overthrown in revolutions.
As humanity’s technological prowess evolved along with the physically destructive power of weapons, ever more sophisticated psychological means of subterfuge emerged beyond instilling fear and terror. Powers of persuasion evolved with the invention of printing and ever wider reaches of communications technologies, from books, pamphlets, newspapers to radio, television, advertising, the internet, satellites, Wi-Fi and today’s social media. Control spread via attention economies, mass media and influence industries based on psychological methods of behavior modification, as described in “Mediocracies And Their Attention Economies”. I began opining in the 1990s about the need for global governance of the emerging Information Age. I became worried that the infant internet was already being overtaken by commercial values and Silicon Valley’s focus on Wall Street’s short-term interest in greed, making money out of money and maximizing shareholders returns. All this consumerism catering to advertising-stoked demand for ever more material goods and desires, was leading to a dystopian “Social Cost Market” of companies trying to clean up the mess. (See Fig. 2.) As markets continually evolve, they became dominant. In the USA markets exacerbated hyper-individualism where families and communities began to dissolve. Economic textbooks see markets as steered by individuals with money used to intermediate individual relationships. This focus on individualism created today’s craving for community and clans potentiated the effects of social media in fostering networks of “likes” and false communities based on shared beliefs and competing conspiracy theories.
© Hazel Henderson 2019