Rape of the planet has become something we take for granted. It has become a central figure of speech and an assumption about the existential condition, as if such actions are an implicit part of human nature. But the very metaphor indicates that patriarchal sexual prerogatives are driving human impact. Rape is, by its nature sexual, and intimately connected with male violence in the pursuit of insemination by violent 'power over' the other. It is brought into an altogether unseemly conjunction with our deep cultural emphasis on the Earth as 'mother', becoming at once an original sin of mankind - the rape of Mother Earth.
For a current research overview see: Planetary Ecocrisis: A Real Time Research Documentary
Forest destruction Amazon (New Scientist).
We have seen from the previous discussion that rape of the planet does not occur because humanity is a violent dangerous species. Rather, we have emerged stably over evolutionary time scales in an apparent state of sexual paradox. The very idea of raping the planet is an outgrowth of the male spermatogenic imperative manifest in biblical terms in the Fall from Eden and the free-slather paradigm of dominion over woman and nature.
From this initiative springs the imperative of spermatogenic dominion as Abraham was promised offspring as the dust of the Earth and as the stars in the sky. It is by no means confined to the Hebrew tradition, emerging across the whole Near East, from ancient Greece attested by Zeus stringing up a recalcitrant Hera, to Enki masturbating the waters of Sumeria. It emerged with the rise of the shepherd kings and was possibly exacerbated by the Indo-Aryan migrations.
The Spermatogenic Imperative
To clarify the situation we need to focus briefly on the essential characteristics of the male spermatogenic reproductive strategy taken on its own:
Firstly it is frequently involved principally in mating, rather than parenting. As we have seen this remains substantially true in extremely patriarchal societies. It thus lacks essential characteristics for parental and generational survival promoted by maternal natural selection. Given a bare mating strategy, it is easy to see how this becomes rape of the 'silent' Earth in a patriarchal society.
Secondly it is specifically a short-term investment strategy resourcing the current offspring, at the expense of future progeny, commanding all the available maternal resources, by contrast with the balancing maternal investment for all progeny. It thus lacks the characteristics of stable long-term investment.
Thirdly it is a high variance strategy which seeks to monopolize maximum resources to empower an exponential bounty in reproductive advantage typified by the huge harems established by many powerful male despots, expressed in history and religious doctrines on reproduction. This leads to a false idea of exponentiating fortunes, interrupted by life and death crisis in boom and bust.
Fourthly it is based on a winner-take-all form of reproductive competition lacking compensating networks of cooperative resourcing more typical of females, where competition is only necessary when resource become scarce. It is thus intrinsically highly exploitative.
Fifthly it is a venture-risk strategy which risks death to achieve high reproductive gain. From the male's point of view this embraces apocalyptic final conflict, and preparedness to annihilate to achieve social or reproductive ends.
Sixthly it is a strategy which involves male combat, competition and the implicit use of violence and war, setting up a paradigm of conquest of opponents, of the female and of nature.
Taken together, these reproductive characteristics invoke (1) exponential boom and bust insatiability, (2) lack of any long-term survival strategy (3) winner-take-all competition without compensating cooperation (4) exploitation of available resources without regard to continuity (5) risking death to achieve life (6) the notion of final confrontation and (7) implicit violence in a state of perpetual conflict.
The spermatogenic imperative is destabilizing human society. The evolutionary strategy of the female to build a sustainable world into which her massive reproductive and nurturing investment will be realized over time has been pushed aside by the spermatogenic venture-risk exploitation strategy of the male, who can always afford to sacrifice one opportunity for many others, or even risk death to reproduce.
Latest high accuracy predictions show no sign of population growth peak by 2100. Left: World population trends in the latest 2014 study show high confidence estimates of world population growing from the current 7 billion to 11 billion by 2100 with no sign of reduction (10% and 5% variations in darkening colours). Right: Growth by continent with Africa failing to curb population growth (Nature doi:10.1038/nature.2014.15956).
Patriarchy and Population Boom and Bust
Historically the world population grew only very slowly from about 2.5 million at the beginnings of urbanization to some 50 million around the time of the black plague of the middle ages. It is only with the industrial, scientific and medical revolution and the colonial expansion of Western powers, that the world population has climbed to the dizzy heights. During the 20th century, the world's population increased almost fourfold, from 1.6 to 6 billion. Until very recently there were fears that in the next century, world population would explode to some 12 billion people, leaving little room for wilderness areas to preserve wildlife and putting extreme pressure on food production, water and non-renewable resources.
At a time when there has been a manifest need to curtail runaway population growth, the leaders of the world's great patriarchal religions have, almost without exception been ordering their populations to continue to multiply making frontal attacks on any effective form of contraception and family planning. The Catholic church has waged war not only on abortion but cursed any effective form of contraception as simple and protective of disease as the condom. Islamic leaders have also roundly opposed family planning. The leaders of both the Christian and Islamic world share an agenda of male reproductive right and a calculated determination to multiply the faithful by advocating unrestrained fertility even in the face of the manifest damage such policies have caused. Desmond Morris makes no bones about it:
"If we are honest there is only one root cause of the disaster facing the planet, and that is the appalling rate at which our human species has increased its population in recent centuries. ... Who is to blame for the crisis we face? First and foremost, I accuse the religious leaders of the world. They have fed mankind with the dangerous myth that humanity is somehow above nature and that it is our god-given right to hold dominion over the Earth and subdue it. In many cases, they have actively encouraged over-population and have gone out of their way to prevent family-planning schemes. They are a disgrace. Secondly, I accuse political leaders, almost all of whom follow a policy of national growth, regardless of the consequences. ... But we are not designed as a high-quantity species. We are a high-quality species, and all our social thinking should be directed to this thought" (Porritt R550).
The attitude of world leaders has also been irresponsible and self-serving. While leaders of major western powers push for ever greater gross national products, honing their economies as if there was never an end to increasing production, 9/10ths of the world population sinks further into poverty, losing educational, resourcing and livelihood opportunities.
Fortunately 2002 figures showed a drop in fertility. Current trends suggest a population in 2050 around 9.2-9.3 billion (UN, Population Research Bureau BBC 18 Aug 2004). To everyone's surprise in 2002 a very significant drop was detected in the fertility rates of a broad spread of diverse countries spanning the developed and developing world comprising half the world's population and with little in common between their governments and social attitudes. In 1950, worldwide the average woman had five children. Today she has just 2.3. Although in many countries there are still a large number of people at or below child-bearing age and actual birth rates will remain very high for some years to come, this fall has already led to a downgrading of future population predictions and fears of a population crash with societies full of the elderly unable to support their own services. However 2004 predicitions have incresed again from around 8.9 to 9.2 billion.
Few of the countries showing declines, bar China, have forced contraception or sterilizationon their populations. Opposition from the Catholic Church has ensured that Brazil has no state family planning programme. Even so, millions of its women have attended sterilisation clinics, and fertility has halved in 20 years to today's 2.3. The case of Iran is even more remarkable. In 1994, the mullahs ruling the country went to a UN population conference in Cairo and declared opposition to much of the international agenda for cutting birth rates. But back home, women were taking charge of their bodies and sending fertility rates crashing from 5.5 children per woman in 1988 to just 2.2 in 2000. Italy the country that is home to the Catholic Church, noted for its opposition to artificial birth control, is notching up super-low fertility rates way below replacement levels. At just 1.2 children born to each Italian woman, the rate is little more than half the figure needed to prevent the population plummeting, closely matched by Greece, Spain and Czechoslovakia (Pierce R540).
Top left: Historical population trends. Centre: Falling fertility rates in 2000. Top right: Falling predictions 2002 may see the world population peak at about 8 billion by 2050, although current UN predictions in 2011 anticipate 9.3 billion by 2050 and more than 10 billion by 2100. Increasing use of contraception (lower left) and improved female education (lower right) both correlate with falling fertility rates and reduced population pressure.
There are some notable exceptions. Conservative Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan still have some of the highest birth rates on the planet. In India the Muslim community grew by 36% between 1991 and 2001 and now stands at 13.4% of the total population. Hindus account for 80.5% of all Indians, a growth of 20.3% in the same period, down from 25% in 1981-1991. The Muslim community fares poorly in literacy compared to other groups - which is seen as one reason for their increasing numbers (Indian Muslim community growing BBC 7 Sep 2004). African results are uneven, but here HIV is wreaking havoc on young populations. The UN expects 15 million deaths from AIDS in the next five years, the great majority in Africa. Life expectancy in Botswana and Zimbabwe has plunged from 60 years to close to 40 years.
Contraceptive use in the developing world has risen from one in 10 couples to more than half of all couples. A 15 percent increase in the use of contraceptives means, on average, about one fewer birth per woman. Thus, in Ethiopia only 4 percent of women use contraception and the fertility rate is seven, while in South Africa 53 percent use some method and average fertility is 3.3. The desire for smaller families is spreading. In 1998 researchers associated with the Asian Development Bank in Laos, one of the world's poorest countries, invited people there to say what help they wanted most. The men requested jobs, but the women's number-one priority was family planning (The Unmet Need for Family Planning Scientific American Jan 2000).
The reasons for this reduction are complex, but the critical factor is that cultural changes have increasingly liberated women from the home and child-rearing. In poor countries with a traditional patriarchal society, the spread of TV has opened many women's eyes to a whole new world, and modern birth control methods have allowed them to turn those aspirations into reality. Demographer Tim Dyson attributes this to 'cultural diffusion'. Not having children has become a statement of modernity and emancipation, and women are unlikely to give up the new freedoms. They are also taking over from their brothers and husbands the role of shaping their societies. "Go to rural India, and you find that women are fed up with the men, who seem to be going nowhere. It is the women who are running the farms. It is the women who are getting jobs and taking charge. They don't have time to have children any more." With men no longer in charge, their usefulness to society and the old Indian preference for sons may diminish as a result, he says. That, too, will help reduce fertility as couples see daughters as well as sons as potential heads of a new generation (Pierce R540).
In Sweden they have 1.6 children per couple, Norway 1.8 and Britain and Finland 1.7 much closer to replacement. The difference is more chance of combining a career with motherhood. Suitors are more likely to have set up home on their own before marriage, are better house-trained, and Nordic governments are better at helping couples juggle family and work. About half the jobs held by Swedish women are part- time, creches are near-universal and paid parental leave lasts for a year. All this is unheard of in Italy, where only 12% of employed women have part-time jobs, and in eastern Europe, where fertility rates have plunged since the collapse of communism wrecked state-funded family support services. To cope with this Singapore's prime minister has announced financial incentives for families, increased maternity leave, and cut working hours so single people can meet more easily.
Peter McDonald, argues that the southern European phenomenon is a result of the lopsidedness of moves to gender equality. Women have got the freedoms that arise from better education and employment, but not in their relations with their men or in terms of state services for the family. Economic liberalism has clashed with social conservatism. Result: a childbirth strike. Jean-Claude Chesnais goes further. With poor state child-care provision, and most men unlikely to help in looking after their offspring, "the obstacles to childbearing in countries like Italy [and Japan (BBC Japan sounds alarm on birth rate 3 Dec 2004)] are enormous and the economic sacrifices made by mothers are viewed as unbearable". Caldwell thinks the signs are clear: "The Mediterranean patriarchal model is far more common in the world than the northern European model of more helpful husbands." McDonald says we can already see this in eastern Asia, where conservative family values lie behind the ultra-low fertility rates from Shanghai to Tokyo (R540). These low rates could bring about a serious crash in populations. McDonald calculates that the population of Italy is set to crash from 56 million now to just 8 million by 2100. Likewise Spain would lose 85 per cent of its population within the same time frame and Germany 83 per cent. Russia's population decline is accelerating, according to the country's official statistics agency, equivalent to 100 people dying in Russia every hour.
The UN warned that Russia's population could fall by 1/3 by the middle of the century. Many solutions to the problem have been proposed, ranging from family-friendly tax breaks to legalising polygamy. The WHO suggests putting up the price of alcohol or forcing people to wear seatbelts (Russia's population falling fast Steven Eke BBC 23 June, 2005).
Japan has seen a rise in its birth rate for the first time in six years, government statistics show. The number of births for 2006 has been estimated at 1,086,000, an increase of 23,000 from a year earlier. But the health ministry expects the rate to fall this year and continue a downward trend that may see a 30% drop in the population in the next 50 years (Japan birth rate shows rare rise BBC 1 Jan 2007).
Scarcity of oil may exacerbate falls in birth rate and cause a reduction in infant survival (Energy crisis 'will limit births' BBC 13 Feb 2004). Paradoxically perhaps, the more feminist attitudes that have helped bring about the dramatic decline in family size in the past 50 years will need extending rather than dismantling, if family sizes are to rise from the worst-case Italian model. But the new agenda may be less about creating new freedoms for women and more about instilling new responsibilities in men and the state. In most of the world , fertility rates are plunging because women have decided they want to become more like men. Right now that leaves little room for babies. To change that, men must take the plunge and start to become more like women. The future of humanity could depend on it (R540).
By any standard of ecological biodiversity conservation, all these population figures are vastly too high to preserve existing ecosystems. More than a third of the planet's land surface including its most productive land is now commandeered for human monoculture. In the midst of this situation the Bush administration encouraged by the religious right, has cut funding for the UN Population Fund, on the basis the agency was supporting coercive family planning in China. The White House continued to withhold funding even after the State Department declared these charges were false (Sachs R605). Population in the sub-Saharan Africa is expected to rise from 667 million to 1,085 billion by 2025 where total fertility rates remain at 5.4. The Middle East with fertility rates at 3.5 will also se very high birth rates. These high rates reduce economic growth, stress environmental resources and young populations with excess adolescent men cause manifest political instability and violence. The world rate of population increase has fallen from 2.1% per annum to 1.3% but the overall increase is still continuing with large young populations with high birth rates. These religiously-motivated actions continue to be manifestly irresponsible.
World frontier (virgin) forests as they originally stood and as they stand in 2000. There are additional areas of secondary growth and other regeneration , but these tend to have predominant weedy species and not the climax diversity of virgin forest and jungle (World Resources Institute).
Mass-extinction of Biological and Genetic Diversity
Nowhere are the disastrous effects of the patriarchal view of dominion over nature and winner-take-all exploitation of resources more clearly expressed than in the destruction of Earth's major ecosystems, the felling of our great forests, and the mass extinction of the living species of the planet with its consequent loss of genetic diversity, which could haunt us for millions or tens of millions of years.
The Earth is entering the sixth great mass extinction recorded over evolutionary time (Leaky and Lewin R403). All previous mass extinctions of biodiversity were precipitated by huge astronomical disasters. The dinosaurs were wiped out by one or more asteroids which plunged the Earth into a 'nuclear' winter after causing global flash fires burning up much of the natural cover, setting off volcanic activity in its wake opposite in India, followed by a dark cool period and then sudden global warming, leaving oxygen levels semi-permanently reduced by a third. But this is just a blip on the map of biodiversity compared with the Permian extinction in which 90% of living species became extinct, amid what is believed to have been an even greater impact which first caused the oceans to recede by perhaps a third and then rise again in an oceanic flood. Such extinctions always been caused by massive interventions, cometary or asteroid impacts, supernovae, massive volcanic intrusion or solar flares.
What is absolutely unique about the sixth extinction is that it is not being caused by any such disruption, but simply by the explosive exploitation by a single species who ought to know better and that it is completely unnecessary and deleterious for this species' own survival. It is estimated that over 25% of living species will become extinct in the next 25 years unless radical world-wide efforts are made for collective conservation on a genetic, species and ecosystem-wide basis. Long term prediction by the end of the century could see more than half the living species disappear. Just as the asteroid which hit Yucatan wiped out the dinosaurs, so the great apes are facing extinction in the wild, along with our own founding human groups such as the San, leaving our own human evolutionary strategy unprotected.
Decline in species populations reflects a world rate 100 to 1000 times greater than normal and predicted to rise to 10,000. 90% of large predatory ocean fish are already gone from overfishing. Loss of biodiversity will result directly in human poverty and hunger. (See http://www.maweb.org/en/index.aspx 2005).
This mass extinction is being caused by a host of factors, but habitat destruction and the islandization of the great tropical forests and their diversity hotspots into unsustainable fragments, which cannot sustain species diversity are pivotal and systematic overfishing of the oceans to exhaustion. Logging, poaching, release of exotic species and pollution all play a serious part, as well as burgeoning threat of precipitate climatic change.
Paradise Lost? History and Projected Future of Life's Diversity
No matter how grandiose our technological pretensions, humanity depends on living species as foods, medicines and the key to our commercial products to survive. Yet at the same time as we are mindlessly tearing down the remaining biodiversity hotspots, having only characterized about a tenth of the living species, or the medicinal or life-enhancing properties they may contain, we are also busy reducing the genetic diversity of the species we do depend on. The use of monoclonal hybrids, on a world-wide monocultural scale, genetically modified varieties, genetic cloning and the choice of varieties which have no hope of surviving in the wild are reducing the innate viability of the species on which we depend and hence our own viability to a vanishing equation. Our food production and distribution systems are becoming ever more dependent on high technology, while the naturally viable 'heritage' seeds from which we derive our commercial varieties are given no viable habitat, are stored in gene banks where a power failure could render much of our genetic heritage 'dead-in-the-water' overnight and the patenting of wild varieties by large agrochemical companies such as Monsanto ( who recently tried to buy the rights on virtually all wild Chinese soya varieties at the same time as marketing round-up ready soya) thus taking these very species out of the human orbit altogether.
The innate robustness of the biosphere which brought us here is being reduced to a fragile human technical fantasy. When the triple-witching hour of natural catastrophe arrives, we could be a defenseless blip on an ever more precipitous and accelerating boom and bust chart. The final stock-market crash. Given the unremitting exploitation of nature and the consequent instabilities to human survival, the human species may become extinct (Leakey and Lewin R403). This is clearly an issue of patriarchal short-term, winner-take-all, boom-and-bust exploitation of the Earth with no long-term nurturing strategy to compensate. It raises huge questions about the role of Western democracies and corporate capitalism as entrenched institutions of patriarchal power and exemplifies the way sexual dominion can lead to an irrational and wholly damaging situation which escapes our civilized control.
Trends in global warming as of 2000 from the Cambrian to the present.
Climatic Chaos and Human Hubris
As shown in the above chart, during its history, the Earth has seen major shifts in temperature, often accompanied by changes in the level of carbon dioxide or CO2. These have generally been accompanied by major changes of an astronomical nature, such as changes in solar brightness, or volcanic changes to the carbon dioxide content, and major evolutionary changes in the biota such as the advent of photosynthetic cyanobacteria in the ocean and land plants.
The Gaia hypothesis proposes that the biota and other geological cycles are involved in a form of homeostasis which helps to maintain Earth's environment in a stable atmospheric state, however there are also clear examples of processes which can instead bifurcate and flip into a new stability pattern locking us into a runaway warming. Venus for example has a runaway greenhouse effect which has driven the surface temperature to 400oC. Carbon dioxide which is an almost universal output of our carbon-based economy is the major chemical contributor to atmospheric global warming. People have cited a variety of other factors, from solar fluctuations to cosmic rays, the incidence of sulphate haze and differing absorbency caused by changing forests and ice sheets. There are also major questions of deposition of in carbonates on the ocean floor into limestone. Previous changes have resulted in major fluctuations of the ocean of up to 60 feet, far more then the 60cm rise predicted this century. Even this amount will be disastrous for many countries from Polynesian atolls, through Bangladesh which lost 110,000 people in flooding in the 1990s to the Nile delta. Two worrying positive feedback influences which could cause a flip to a long-term warming are melting of the polar ice caps which reduces reflectance and so increases warming and the release of massive sub-ocean methane hydrates as a result of the warming itself. Methane, CH4, although currently a less major contributor to warming, is about 20 times more potent than CO2, although it is degraded over time by oxidation. Its contributions are currently coming from increased termite action from whole sale rain forest destruction and large numbers of burping ruminants on pasture land.
World's Top Ten emitters 2005 and 2006 (China and US)
There are already signs of major disruptions to both the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets which seem to be accelerating. Changes in global temperature may also be linked to a more chaotic climate with more frequent costly and damaging storms and changes in the North Atlantic conveyor which powers the Gulf Stream and keeps the north from extreme winters and possibly El Nino, although this is debated. However by far the most serious effect is the potential destruction of genetic and species diversity. The above map shows the regions of the planet which would remain stable to several current predictions of global warming. Most areas are expected to go through such climatic shock that neither the plants nor animals endemic to the areas will find themselves in a viable climatic habitat. The pace of global warming is so rapid that there is no time for plant species to spread by seeding and whole ecosystems are predicted to die out. Global warming is thus one of the potentially most major contributors to mass extinction. Recent experimental studies in 2008 have refuted ideas that global warming could be partly a result of solar cycles of activity, leaving humans with both the blame and the responsibility.
Life zones remaining stable in four different global warming models (Groombridge R271).
The most disquieting aspect of this situation is that the country with by far the greatest production of carbon dioxide, the United States, which emits about 150 times as much CO2 per head of population as under-developed countries is doing its utmost to continue to exacerbate the situation. Along with its rejection of many other major world treaties, such as the Biodiversity Convention, unlike Europe's responsible attitude as a developed region, the US has mounted a vigilant campaign of opposition to any form of control on its own profligate waste of natural resources. This failure of any kind of global ethics, reinforced by spurious arguments that the massive injections of human produced CO2 are having no effect on global warming, or that the effect is beneficial, need to be looked at very carefully. If the rest of the world were to follow suit, the situation would clearly be untenable and possibly lethal.
Per capita emission of CO2 in metric tons per person per year. Green coastal areas are threatened by rising oceans. Sample figures: Qatar 16.9, USA 5.2, UK 2.63, China 0.42, India 0.21 illustrating the excessive emissions by developed nations. The US produced 23% of world emissions. Over 80% of Brazil's emission came from forest burning. Sumatran peat fires contributed as much CO2 as Western Europe (King redrawn from 1996 data).
This is a clear case of the principal world superpower acting as a rogue nation in the interests of competitive exploitation of economic advantage over the rest. It is an arch male strategy which makes the pretensions of US society to be a sexually-emancipated society where women's rights and approaches are as keenly expressed as men's completely hollow. Central to this is the role of venture capital transnational corporates sourced in the US and the non-genetic 'free-market' philosophies corporate capitalism espouses which are themselves representative only of the spermatogenic aspects of reproductive strategy.
Linked global climatic instabilities due to warming in the tropical Atlantic: Left: Hurricane Katrina peaking the highest hurricane season on record. Right: Severe drought in the Amazon basin (www).
Research confirmed in November 2005 from ice cores in Antarctica confirm that current atmospheric concentrations of CO2-380 parts per million (ppm) - are 27% higher than the highest levels found in the last 650,000 years. The ice core data also shows that CO2 and methane levels have been remarkably stable in Antarctica--varying between 300 ppm and 180 ppm - over that entire period and that shifts in levels of these gases took at least 800 years, compared to the roughly 100 years in which humans have increased atmospheric CO2 levels to their present high. If nothing is done to reduce emissions, current climate models predict a global warming of about 1.4 – 5.8°C between 1990 and 2100. (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change).
Predicted state of the Amazon by 2020 New Scientist 15 Oct 2005 35-39.
In addition to significant indications of melting in Antarctica and at the North Pole, there is also evidence that because of massive influxes of melting glaciers and ice sheets in Greenland that the North Atlantic conveyor, which carries energy equivalent to a million power stations, is failing because of the distruption of circulation caused by the mass of cold fresh water dumped into the Arctic. This is likely to cause severe winters in Northern Europe despite an overall warming and significantly increase ocean levels. The average sea level has until recently been predicted to rise by 9 to 88 cm by 2100. The most recent research as of April 2008 predicts an ocean rise of up to 1.5 meters by the end of the century with major impacts on low-lying countries from Bangla Desh to the Pacific atolls. This would be caused by the thermal expansion of the upper layers of the ocean as they warm, with an additional contribution from melting glaciers and polar ice sheets. The most dramatic such change, the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet, which would lead to a catastrophic rise in sea level of 6 meters, is now considered unlikely during the 21st century.
Accompanying a peak in severe hurricanes in the Carribean due to rising ocean temperatures in the tropical Atlantic has been a severe drought in the Amazon, accentuated by runaway deforestation from burning and logging, killing the majority of fish life and rendering many centres of population inaccesible, because the only access by river boat is impassable. Predictions from deforestation and underestimates of the effects of selective logging are in a worst case scenario for the Amazon to be essentially gone by 2020.
Analysis of world oil production indicates that we are already reaching the limits of oil production and that a permanent decline will set in during the next decade (Sci. Am. Mar 98). Massive efforts of technological re-alignment are required to convert the freeway-based emission culture into a sustainable transport economy based on renewable energy. Below left new discoveries have been falling since the 1950s. Below right: Three predicted scenarios for future consumption. (New Scientist 12 Aug 2003 9).
Resource and Energy Exploitation
Central to this hubris is a failure of the most technologically sophisticated nation, the US to develop a rational policy to world non-renewable resources or to develop in advance the alternative technologies to make this possible. While Europe is making a massive investment in wind power and a variety of solar, fuel cell and hydrogen-based technologies are clearly within sight, the US has no national strategy for advancing these technologies, and continues to make its major thrust cornering as much as possible of the dwindling world supplies of oil, engaging wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq with oil pipelines and supplies the centre of strategic attention. This failure of constructive engagement is again a manifestation of a complete failure of constructive sexual relationship underlying the corporate basis of US consumer society where up to 40% of the 'management' positions are nominally held by women but the corporate ethic remains one of patriarchal handshakes behind the corridors of power and in politics as ever 'money talks'.
Apocalypse and Armageddon
By far the most direct and troubling manifestation of the nightmare of unbridled patriarchal dominance is the endless gravitation towards a paranoid scenario of final conflict in an Armageddon type apocalypse between the forces of light and dark epitomized by the 'evil empire' be it Hitler, Soviet Communism, Islamic fundamentalism or Saddam Hussein and his illusory weapons of mass destruction, or the President of the United States claiming if you are not with us you are against us.
While we can all accept that Hitler's heritage and Stalin's too were totalitarian monstrosities in the name of the people they misled, and that Shoah, the Jewish holocaust, is a warning of eugenic genocide the world should continue to remember in the genetic age, the attributing of evil to the 'other' is the classic gambit of the patriarchal apocalypse of the war of dark and light. In these circumstances, it is all too easy to ignore the evil at one's own doorstep in the sleight of hand with focuses attention on the evil of the dark 'other'.
We also need to be mindful that it was the allies who developed nuclear weapons as a final solution, to counter Hitler's 'holocaust', sparked by the scientific genius of Jews whose relatives had been incarcerated or killed in the Nazi death camps, and that the first detonation at 'truth or consequences' took place in the name of the Christian Trinity. Oppenheimer even cited Bohr's vision of 'complementarity'- that although the Bomb might be the greatest disaster to have befallen humankind, it may well be a great blessing, 'a turning point in history'."
Left: The Trinity bomb. Right: The Trinity test at 300 ms (Scientific American). Hiroshima: Humanity gains the ultimate powers of mass extinction of life. A transition to the prospect of mutually assured destruction in patriarchal combat.
Michael Ortiz Hill (R315) describes the godly patriarchal 'climate' as follows:
"It is impossible to ignore or to diminish the religious element that turns up again and again in the accounts of the Trinity blast. ... It was named by Oppenheimer, invoking by way of John Donne the mystery of the martyred and resurrected God: 'As West and East In all flat maps - and I am one - are one. So death doth touch the Resurrection.' 'That still doesn't make a Trinity,' Oppenheimer confessed - and then speculated that perhaps he was influenced by a better known poem, one of Donne's Holy Sonnets, beginning, 'Batter my heart, three person'd God; for you As yet but knocke, breathe, shine and seek to mend; That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee, and bend Your force to breake, blowe, burn and make me new'. After Trinity, Thomas Farrel wrote: 'The effects could well be described as unprecedented, magnificent, beautiful, stupendous and terrifying.... The lighting beggared description. The whole country was lighted by a searing light with the intensity many times that of the midday sun. It was golden, purple, violet, gray, and blue. It lighted every peak, crevasse and ridge of the nearby range with a clarity and beauty that cannot be described but must be seen to be imagined.' ... Other observers were more explicitly religious in speaking of the event. ...It is striking that, following Oppenheimer's lead of naming the site of the first nuclear test "Trinity," Weisskopf and Laurence - both Jews - saw in the Bomb the glory of Christ. ... William Laurence wrote that it was like being 'privileged to witness the Birth of the World-to-be present at the moment of Creation when the Lord said: 'Let there be light'. He compared the experience to witnessing the second coming of Christ. ... Ferenc Szasz notes, "Others whispered, more in reverence than otherwise: 'Jesus Christ'. Another striking theme that repeats again and again ... is birth and paternity. William Laurence called the rumblings of the Trinity explosion the 'first cry of a newborn world'. ... Teller sent a telegram to Los Alamos saying simply, 'It's a boy'. ... one notices a vivid absence of the feminine amidst all this imagery of birthing."
Debate continues about the wisdom of unleashing the world's first nuclear war on Japan and the fallout that has continued since. It is clear that actually carrying out such an act is the clearest provocation possible to the Soviet Union for its own defence to immediately embark on a program of nuclear weapons, leading directly to the nuclear Cold War and the build-up of enough nuclear weapons to lay waste to the planet 40 times over.
This situation dramatically reduced the viability of the human race to one small accidental error, amid the continuing strategic jockeying for the capacity for a unilateral first strike, in which a variety of circumstances, including unusual cloud cover and miscommunicated weather rocket launches several times nearly caused and accidental nuclear mobilization. This philosophy of MAD mutually-assured destruction became a psychic and social deadlock that overshadowed much of the 20th century, leaving many people uncertain whether to have offspring because of root uncertainty they would have livable lives to lead.
Left; Ground zero from satellite during the fire. Centre: Chernobyl radioactive. Right: The global extent of the radioactive contamination cloud (National Geographic)
It was only with the nuclear explosion at Chernobyl, fifty times as polluting as Hiroshima and Nagasaki, its name "bitter grass" echoing the resonances of the Biblical 'Wormwood' and its bitter waters (Kravchanka 1990), that the spell of this gaze of fatal nuclear attraction was shattered and people on both sides of the dissolving 'Iron Curtain' realized that things had gone too far. We however need to continue to be mindful that, despite a closer dialogue with Russia, we are still in a state of 15 times overkill and that the nuclear threat is becoming ever more subtle and complex as the impossible 'war on terror' itself a contradiction terms, motivates smaller groups to mount a counter-cultural act of asymmetric warfare.
Again here the threat is not from the 'other' so much as the 'devil we know' in our own back yard squandering resources which could save biodiversity and educate the world's women on 'star wars' and 'mini-nukes' which could be used in conventional warfare. Israel as part of this legacy has 200 nuclear weapons in what they call 'the Sampson option' to pull down the pillars on the whole Middle East. We need also to be mindful, given this history, that the advent of an Islamic bomb in Pakistan developed in opposition to India's nuclear development, (along with its possible dissemination to Iran and North Korea) and attempts to enrich fissionable material in Iran are a reaction to real perceived threats of a crusade against Islam. The nuclear apocalypse has fed the imagination of religious extremists more than any of the equally apocalptic issues we have discussed. Only a nuclear winter prospect as lethal as a large astronomical impact has brought people to a semblance of their senses.
Boom and Bust and World Poverty
Them that's got, shall get them that's not,
shall lose, so the Bible said,
and it still is newsMama may have,
and papa may have.
God bless' the child, that's got his own
(Arthur Herzog Jr., Billie Holiday)
The Western economic model is not based on the fluctuations and natural cycles characteristic of the feminine reproductive strategy, but concentrates almost exclusively on exponentials. The gross national product, interest rates, and inflation are key manifestations of the exponential growth scenario. The exponential characteristics of the male strategy taken on their own are almost inevitably going to lead to boom and bust dynamics for the lack of adequate stabilizing long-term feedback. Capital markets are thus chaotic and display dynamical instability. The free market model is non-genetic and thus also provides for unstable fluctuation lacking any of the integrative genetic processes that mutational evolution by natural selection engages. Electoral democracy, particularly in a first past the post system, involves pure competition with winner-take-all rewards, and highly fluctuating fortunes all concordant with the male reproductive strategy. The exponential dynamics and the pure competition and instability which form the basis of the capitalist free market are thus all central characteristics defining male reproductive strategy. This male instability of mutual defection also occurs spatially in the massing of personal fortunes, which in turn empower the capacity to command greater advantages. Consequently we have manifest power law inequity of resourcing on a male reproductive distribution.
A common theme in the distribution of wealth and poverty is that the richest 20% control 85% of domestic investment, domestic savings, world trade and gross national product. The bottom 20% hold only 0.7% to 1.4% of these nearly a hundred times less. The extreme variances in wealth are common to most human societies and reflect a fractal-type power law relationship which assigns wealth on a roughly inverse square to inverse cube law formula. A variety of models have been used to explain it including tensile wires on a random landscape. The gist of such models is that a major factor in opportunistic wealth is not elite expertise so much as being in the right place at the right time. ("The Rich Get Richer" New Scientist 19 Aug 2000). Such a resource power law is clearly reflected in male reproduction in the approximately 1 / 23 men who can support 2 wives in societies which permit polygyny. Historically male reproductive power has been directly translated into dynastic family power through patriliny, so the link with capital and estates is clear.
Such wild differences in resource wealth are unparalleled in the natural world, even among hoarding animals such as chipmunks, except in terms of variance in male reproductive fitness, where for example, one male elephant seal may have a harem of twenty females and another male none at all. Neither is it common, particularly for females, for there to be frank resource competition under circumstances where there are sufficient resources to feed an entire population. This is exactly the situation currently faced by humanity, even given an overblown population of six billion.
We thus have to ask ourselves how much this very uneven assignment of wealth is an indirect consequence of male reproductive strategies underlying the monetary acquisition and possession of wealth and its application in personal and corporate capitalist investment. Ironically, it was one of communism's forerunners, Engels who feminists frequently cite in discussions of the rise of class-based patriarchy (p 174). This is a double irony because the egalitarian 'collective wealth' of the communist system has been as manipulated by nepotistic patriarchs with aspirations to sexual despotism, such as Mao Tse Tung, as has the capitalist system and has been even more prone to totalitarian control. However such extreme inequity raises a basic question about the patriarchal basis of venture capitalism and what feminine or ecosystemic antidote might become capitalism's evolutionary successor.
Among the 4.4 billion people who live in developing countries, 3/5 have no access to basic sanitation, almost 1/3 are without safe drinking water, 1/4 lack adequate housing, 1/5 live beyond reach of modern health services, 1/5 of the children do not get as far as grade five in school and 1/5 are undernourished. The divergence between rich and poor is accentuating as time goes by. The 3 richest in the world own assets that exceed the combined gross national product of all the least developed countries and their 600 million people. The richest 20% of the world's population enjoys a share in global income that is 86 times that of the poorest 20%. More than 1.2 billion people in the world live on less that $1 a day. More than 50% of them are children. Nearly 1 billion cannot meet their basic consumption requirements. The assets of the 200 richest people are more than the combined income of 41% of the world's people. A yearly contribution of 1% of their wealth or $8 billion could provide universal access to primary education for all.
Industrialized countries hold 97% of all patents, and global corporations hold 90% of all technology and product patents. Over 80% of foreign direct investment in developing and transition economies goes to just 20 countries, with China receiving the maximum share. Debt relief for the 20 worst affected countries would cost between US $5.5 billion to $7.7 billion, less than the cost of one stealth bomber.
Further figures from the UN Human Development Reports (1998-2000) note the following contrasts between basic and feminine luxuries and minimal resources such as sanitation and education of women:
Basic education for all would cost $6 billion a year; $8 billion is spent annually for cosmetics in the United States alone.
Installation of water and sanitation for all would cost $9 billion plus some annual costs; $11 billion is spent annually on ice cream in Europe.
Reproductive health services for all women would cost $12 billion a year; $12 billion a year is spent on perfumes in Europe and the United States.
Basic health care and nutrition would cost $13 billion; $17 billion a year is spent on pet food in Europe and the United States.
By comparison with these small items, $35 billion is spent on business entertainment in Japan; $50 billion on cigarettes in Europe; $105 billion on alcoholic drinks in Europe; $400 billion on narcotic drugs around the world; and $780 billion on the world's militaries.
20% of the world's people in industrialized countries account for 86% of total private consumption expenditures, while the poorest 20% account for 1.3%. The share of the poorest 20% of the world's people in global income is 1.1%, down from 1.4% in 1991. There are 16 cars per 1,000 people in developing countries and 405 cars per 1,000 people in industrialized countries. On average, developing countries have one doctor for every 6,000 people whereas industrialized countries have one for every 350 people.
Compare this for a minute with the dissatisfaction women in the US have which makes for such reluctance to admit there are any sexual differences even if they are complementarities:
"Though the women's movement has begun to achieve equality for women on many economic and political measures, the victory remains incomplete. Take two of the simplest and most obvious indicators: women still earn no more than 72 cents for every dollar that men earn, and we are no where near equal numbers at the very top of decision making in business, government, or the professions" Betty Friedan (Pinker R544 351).
As of 2003, although women comprise 46.6% of the U.S. labor force, 50% of managerial and professional specialty positions, women hold only 13.6% of board seats at Fortune 500 companies. The number of seats held by women of color has increased from 2.5% in 1999 to 3% in 2003. Of the Fortune 500, 54 companies have 25% or more women directors. However seventy two percent is a good deal better slice of the cake than one part in eighty-six, so those seeking sexual equality in the US deserve to be mindful of the fact that their cosmetics bill would provide two-thirds of the world's costs in reproductive health care for all women. Shattering the glass ceiling of 'gender' depends on being able to critique the male reproductive inequity of the US capitalist system, not simply clammer greedily for as much of the income as any man in the street, while women in the rest of the world can't express their own maternal ambivalence so fortuitously, nor spend as much on make-up.
Why do you want to get to the top of this patriarchal dominance hierarchy? Is this a case of transsexual aspirations? Where is the egalitarian network of mutual caring and support?
Commenting on an earlier UN Human Development Report (Mukerjee R494) notes that poverty is not foremost among the criteria by which wealthy nations choose to disburse their aid. This indicates that all aid has a measured degree of self-interest and strategic-interest associated with it, rather than selfless altruism.
Two thirds of the world's poor get less than one third of the total development aid. Donor nations routinely tie assistance to military spending. In 1992 countries that spent more than 4 percent of their GDP on their military received $83 per capita in aid, whereas nations that spent less than 2 percent got $32. A large part of this imbalance is brought about by bilateral donors, who offer not just military but economic aid to strategic allies. For instance, Israel and Egypt received more than $2 billion of the $7.4 billion of bilateral assistance the U.S. gave in 1994. (The two nations receive an additional $3.1 billion in military assistance from the U.S. every year) The US, Russia, China, France and the UK - the five permanent members of the UN Security Council supply the most weapons to developing countries. Although multilateral institutions are more evenhanded - the World Bank gives about half its aid to two thirds of the world's poor, they do not redress the imbalance. As a result, a Brazilian woman living below the poverty line receives $3 in such support a year, whereas her Egyptian counterpart receives $280.
Inequality at home between men and women leads to poorer health for the children and greater poverty for the family, says a new study. The UN children's agency, Unicef, found that where women are excluded from family decisions, children are more likely to be under-nourished. There would be 13m fewer malnourished children in South Asia if women had an equal say in the family, Unicef said. Where men control the household, less money is spent on health care and food for the family, resulting in poorer health for the children (BBC 11 Dec 2006).
Far more foreign capital flows to developing countries in the form of private investment instead of aid In 1992 more than $100 billion was invested as opposed to the $60 billion donated. Unfortunately for the poorest of the poor, this form of cash flow misses them too. In the late 1980s sub-Saharan Africa received only 6 percent of foreign direct investment. Trade, another means by which developing countries earn foreign capital, also benefits the more developed and illustrates the ambivalence of wealthy states toward the world's poor. Although poverty wins a measure of sympathy, the cheap work force of poor nations makes them an economic threat. By one estimate, if developed countries lifted all trade barriers to Third World goods, the latter would gain in exports twice what they now receive in aid. Another constraint on the development of the Third World - foreign debt - keeps growing. In 1970 total debt was $100 billion; in 1992 it stood at $1.5 trillion, including service charges. During the decade preceding 1992, net financial transfers related to loans amounted to $125 billion-from the developing to the developed world.
The Goddess of Democracy: Hong Kong commemorating Tiananmen Square (NZ Herald).
Capitalism and Democracy
Democracy is the capacity of a group or population to make decisions or choose a government by majority vote. It is spoken of as a holy grail of a free society as if democracy and freedom were synonymous, yet democracy carries with it a form of totalitarianism which can become oppressive - the tyranny of the majority, for democracy is not based on support for the diversity of a people but on absolute numerical domination.
Democracy also leads to an adversarial form of politics divided into parties with opposing political agendas rather than members elected by the people on their merits. In a first past the post system a tenuous majority can lead to absolute power, potentially 51% of the electorate can result in a government with no opposition at all. These knife-edge characteristics are precisely those of male combat for ultimate reproductive reward. They encourage gerrymandering and provoke wild swings of policy calculated to advantage one side or the other in the Machiavellian round of vote enticement. Various forms of transferable or proportional voting have been devised to dilute the absolute domination of democracy.
In an MMP system, the extreme male competition is diluted by also having a party vote. This ensures that there will at least be an opposition, although a party with a majority can still govern outright. It tends to favour smaller parties and leads to more feminine strategies, of coalition-building, in turn lambasted by critics, as involving back room deals by non-elected 'party list' members. Mixed MMP as in New Zealand and Germany divides the vote between pure competition in the case of electorate candidates to an integrative continuous party vote. The 5% threshold for small parties without electorate candidates ensures the number of small parties will be few enough to enable a consensual coalition to emerge. The end result is that the individual vote has 'wave' and 'particle' features and that majority and consenus play a role in forming a governement both through hierarchical leadership and collegial coaliton reflecting sexual paradox and the prisoners' dilemma.
Steven Pinker (R544 161) contrasts two traditions of sociological government, the utopian and tragic, closely associated with assumptions of human altruism and selfishness:
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner,
but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves,
not to their humanity but to their self-love. - Adam Smith
From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs. - Karl Marx
"Smith the explainer of capitalism assumes that people will selfishly give their labor according to their needs and will be paid according to their abilities (because the payers are selfish, too). Marx the architect of communism and socialism assumes that in a socialist society of the future the butcher, the brewer, and the baker will provide us with dinner out of benevolence or self-actualization - for why else would they cheerfully exert themselves according to their abilities and not according to their needs?"
Pinker notes (R544 294) that the communist tradition is based on utopian heroic optimism: "Marx wrote that a communist society would be the genuine resolution of the antagonism between man and nature and between man and man; it is the true resolution of the conflict between existence and essence, objectification and self-affirmation, freedom and necessity, individual and species. It is the riddle of history solved. It doesn't get any less tragic or more utopian than that," contrasting it with the tragic view of democracy as the lest diabolical of evils: "'Two cheers for democracy,' proclaimed E. M. Forster. "Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried," said Winston Churchill. These are encomiums worthy of the Tragic Vision."
Continuing (R544 169) he notes: "What stands in the way of most utopias is not pestilence and drought but human behavior. So utopians have to think of ways to control behavior, and when propaganda doesn't do the trick, more emphatic techniques are tried. The Marxist utopians of the twentieth century, as we saw, needed a tabula rasa free of selfishness and family ties and used totalitarian measures to scrape the tablets clean or start over with new ones. As Bertolt Brecht said of the East German government, 'If the people did not do better the government would dismiss the people and elect a new one.' Political philosophers and historians who have recently 'reflected on our ravaged century,' such as Isaiah Berlin, Kenneth Minogue, Robert Conquest, Jonathan Glover, James Scott, and Daniel Chirot, have pointed to utopian dreams as a major cause of twentieth-century nightmares. Twentieth-century Marxism was part of a larger intellectual current that has been called Authoritarian High Modernism: the conceit that planners could redesign society from the top down using 'scientific' principles." Pinker's comments about cultural feminism are also pertinent here.
The totalitarian nature of the one party state, in contrast to the extreme male combat of first past the post democracy, is partly a reflection of the monolithic feminine strategy in which full agreement is imposed by the unity of the one party. As we have noted, Engels intimated such a swing of the sexual pendulum in conceiving of socialism as a correction to the transition from primal matriarchy to patriarchal class-based capitalism. Of course communism has never been a feminist system, rather one hijacked by male nepotism, but the appeal to altruism and the nurturing principle for all is both feminine and matriarchal, just as the Islamic umma was originally a 'mother unit'.
Such a pessimistic view of democracy as the least dangerous of selfish social contract systems does not sit well with Islamic theocracy. Karen Armstrong (R23) outlines the landscape of this divergence between Islam and the democratic ideal pointing out the tenuous capacity for an Islamic state to accept a separation of religion and politics and consensual decision-making although in a more theocratic than democratic context (p 268):
"But politics was no secondary issue for Muslims. We have seen that it had been the theatre of their religious quest. Salvation did not mean redemption from sin, but the creation of a just society in which the individual could more easily make that existential surrender of his or her whole being that would bring them fulfilment. The polity was therefore a matter of supreme importance, and throughout the twentieth century there has been one attempt after another to create a truly Islamic state. This has always been difficult. It was an aspiration that required a jihad, a struggle that could find no simple outcome. The ideal of tawhid [unity of and with God] would seem to preclude the ideal of secularism, but in the past both Shiis and Sunnis had accepted a separation of religion and politics. ... Democracy also posed problems. The reformers who wanted to graft modernity on to an Islamic substructure pointed out that in itself the ideal of democracy was not inimical to Islam. Islamic law promoted the principles of shurah (consultation), and ijmah, where a law had to be endorsed by the 'consensus' of a representative portion of the ummah. The rashidun had been elected by a majority vote. All this was quite compatible with the democratic ideal. Part of the difficulty lay in the way that the West formulated democracy as 'government of the people, by the people, and for the people'. In Islam, it is God and not the people who gives a government legitimacy. This elevation of humanity could seem like idolatry (shirk), since it was a usurpation of God's sovereignty".
Pinker (R544 284) distinguishes the traditions of sociology, communism, postmodernism with the social conract tradition on a similar basis:
"In the sociological tradition, a society is a cohesive organic entity and its individual citizens are mere parts. People are thought to be social by their very nature and to function as constituents of a larger superorganism. This is the tradition of Plato, Hegel, Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Kroenber, the sociologist Talcott Parsons, the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, and postmodernism in the humanities and social sciences. In the economic or social contract tradition, society is an arrangement negotiated by rational, self-interested individuals. Society emerges when people agree to sacrifice some of their autonomy in exchange for security from the depredations of others wielding their autonomy. It is the tradition of Thrasymachus in Plato's Republic, and of Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Smith, and Bentham. In the twentieth century it became the basis for the rational actor or "economic man" models in economics and political science, and for cost-benefit analyses of public choices. The modern theory of evolution falls smack into the social contract tradition. It maintains that complex adaptations, including behavioral strategies, evolved to benefit the individual (indeed, the genes for those traits within an individual), not the community, species, or ecosystem. Social organization evolves when the long-term benefits to the individual outweigh the immediate costs. Darwin was influenced by Adam Smith, and many of his successors analyze the evolution of sociality using tools that come right out of economics, such as game theory and other optimization techniques. Reciprocal altruism, in particular, is just the traditional concept of the social contract restated in biological terms. Of course, humans were never solitary (as Rousseau and Hobbes incorrectly surmised), and they did not inaugurate group living by haggling over a contract at a particular time and place. Bands, clans, tribes, and other social groups are central to humane existence and have been so for as long as we have been a species. But the logic of social contracts may have propelled the evolution of the mental faculties that keep us in these groups. Social arrangements are evolutionarily contingent, arising when the benefits of group living exceed the costs.' With a slightly different ecosystem and evolutionary history, we could have ended up like our cousins the orangutans, who are almost entirely solitary. And according to evolutionary biology, all societies - animal and human - seethe with conflicts of interest and are held together by shifting mixtures of dominance and cooperation".
Madison wrote, "What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?" The question this raises is immediate - if the sociobiological tradition falls squarely into the social contract tradition, what forms of social contract would adequately reflect the state of sexual paradox, so misrepresented by the predominance of male reproductive features in the form of capitalist democracy - the dominant form of governance on the planet?
Capitalism is tightly linked with Western democracy in the twentieth century, by contrast with the monolithic unelected governments of communist and fascist regimes. However capitalism has no fundamental connection with democracy as such except in so far as both are manifestations of the social contract. Capitalism does not apply directly to electorates but to the right of private enterprise to use its capital to invest for its own benefit with minimal state control. While democracy mediates the power of government, capitalism is the foundation of corporate power. Capitalism has a long history, which is in no way identifiable with electoral democracy, from the first merchant societies through colonial organizations such as the East India company to modern transnationals which evade the constraints of any democratic electoral mandate. Essentially capitalism confers a right on the possessor of capital to invest as they see fit, without placing on them a moral or regulatory burden to act for the benefit of society as a whole. Corporate interests can also become central agents maintaining fascist leaders in totalitarian power to ensure corporate domination remains unchallenged. Capitalism is intrinsically amoral, having no manifest ethic for the common good, other than survival of the fittest under pure competition, and is fundamentally exploitative because it empowers capital holders over those with few or no resources. It thus tends to exacerbate inequalities, in which the rich gain a stranglehold over the poor. As we have noted these are again key characteristics of the male reproductive strategy.
Linked to capitalism is the 'new right' idea that the interests of a free society are best served in a minimally regulated economy in which there are no monopolies and competition alone is the guarantor and benefactor of welfare and innovation through corporate entities acting in competitive paradox to improve efficiency and hence the common good. Free competition is contrasted with the state controlled monopolies of communist societies specifically dedicated to the common good, because they are prone to becoming monolithic, inefficient and totalitarian. However pure competition is an unstable un-ecosystemic application of the male reproductive principle that leads to short-term winner-take-all exploitation, boom and bust economies, relentless takeover and ultimately the domination of markets by a few ruthless players. For this reason, even the 'purest' capitalist systems find it necessary to enact laws which mediate the negative effects of capital dominion.
A clear example of this ruthless drive to a domination perilous to the planet is the octopus grip the diversification of agricultural and chemical giants such as Monsanto into biotechnology and monopolizing world seed production. Monsanto, starting out with a chequered track record over agent orange has attempted to ensure continuity of its patent on the herbicide roundup beyond its natural term by developing GM roundup-ready soya which contractually requires Monsanto roundup to control weed growth. Monsanto also courted terminator technology despite widespread opposition to gain complete control over the viability of its seed products. At the same time Monsanto has been acquiring major world seed distributors in a strategic attempt to monopolize the world's genetic resources of food and commercial species. Through aggressive takeover by Monsanto and other giants such as Aventis, a major proportion of world seed production has recently fallen into the hands of only a few dominant players. The future of many of the world's source food species in germ banks is also threatening to pass into private hands. The drive for intellectual property rights patenting the world's natural genetic heritage is perhaps the greatest theft of all time.
As of writing Monsanto is seeking to monopolize one of the world's main food crops, soya (wild and cultivated varieties). China is the centre of diversity for soya with over 90% of (more than 6000) existing wild varieties . At the start of the UN Conference on Biodiversity in Bonn, Greenpeace revealed Monsanto's application for a patent, which would grant the company an exclusive right on soy plants, their seeds and progeny with high yield traits. Monsanto claims rights to a natural gene sequence discovered in wild plants originating from China. This sequence is directly linked to high yield characteristics of the soybeans. The patent application was filed simultaneously in over a hundred countries, including the US and Europe. "Monsanto is a ruthless biopirate. The company tries to hijack the genetic resources of a major food crop - basing their claim on a discovery of a gene sequence found in nature. Once this gene sequence is identified even in wild plant, Monsanto has an exclusive right to profit from it," said Greenpeace China. Chinese scientists were shocked. The patent would have large scale consequences.
Neither does such competition necessarily lead to the best solution for consumers as Brian Arthur, economist at the Santa Fe Institute has made clear. Microsoft, which has been the target of continued anti-trust litigation over blatant anti-competitive practices has by far the largest share of the market with its Windows operating system, a redesigned Apple OS look-alike. But the massive number of virus attacks, security glitches and intimations of floating spy code as well as general system inefficiencies confirm it is by no means the optimum product on the market, its huge share maintained by dynamical system stratification because it is too hard for individual users to switch to any other system because of its stratified dominance. John Cassidy explains this idea succinctly:
"When Brian Arthur presented a paper entitled 'Competing Technologies and Lock-in by Historical Small Events' he drew a strong, and largely hostile, response ranging from 'If you are right, capitalism can't work,' to 'Your argument cannot be true!' However since then the example of Microsoft Windows has proved the thesis to the tune of an incipient anti-trust suit for exploiting its market domination in unfair anti-competitive practices. The essential point which goes beyond the monopoly such a large company possesses is that in some commodities competition does not result in an optimum product because any large market share locks consumers in, regardless of the product's real value. As long as Windows is dominant, no form of competition can crack the dominion, because of the lock-in effect the Windows standard sets up (New Yorker 12 Jan 98 32).
Heinz Pagels in "The Dreams of Reason" (R526) concludes that in the absence of a good understanding of complex systems, economists are led into ever more rapid instabilities. 'The economic system, if it is anything, is a system far from equilibrium like the evolutionary system or the immune response. It is continually making adjustments to keep itself far from equilibrium (although there may be local equilibria). Next to nothing is understood about dynamical systems far from equilibrium. Probably the various kinds of attractors - fixed points, limit cycles, and strange attractors - play a role in coming to grips with how a complex system like the economy functions."
The problem of male competitive motifs to the exclusion of cooperative ones is noted specifically by the financier philanthropist George Soros (R653). He contends that capitalism itself has become a threat to democracy. That the free-market, in claiming unilateral possession of the truth, has inadvertently become an enemy of the 'open-society': "Although I have made a fortune in the financial markets, I now fear that the untrammeled intensification of lassiez-faire capitalism and the spread of market values into all areas of life is endangering our open and democratic society. The main enemy of the open society, I believe, is no longer the communist but the capitalist threat. ... [Karl] Popper showed that fascism and communism had much in common, even though one constituted the extreme right and the other the extreme left, because both relied on the power of the state to repress the freedom of the individual. ... I contend that an open society may also be threatened from the opposite direction - from excessive individualism. Too much competition and too little cooperation can cause intolerable inequities and instability."
Once again here we have the sexual prisoners' dilemma between competition and cooperation rearing its 'genitals'. Soros emphasizes the intrinsic instability of financial markets and their 'reflexive' capacity to bring about the very circumstances they claim are realities:
"If we look at the behavior of financial markets, we find that instead of tending toward equilibrium, prices continue to fluctuate relative to the expectations of buyers and sellers. There are prolonged periods when prices are moving away from any theoretical equilibrium. Even if they eventually show a tendency to return, the equilibrium is not the same as it would have been without the intervening period. Yet the concept of equilibrium endures. It is easy to see why: without it, economics could not say how prices are determined. ... In the absence of equilibrium, the contention that free markets lead to the optimum allocation of resources loses its justification. ...Economic theory has deliberately excluded reflexivity from consideration. In doing so, it has distorted its subject matter and laid itself open to exploitation by laissez-faire ideology. ...There has been an ongoing conflict between market values and other, more traditional value systems, which has aroused strong passions and antagonisms. As the market mechanism has extended its sway, the fiction that people act on the basis of a given set of non-market values has become progressively more difficult to maintain. Advertising, marketing, even packaging, aim at shaping people's preferences rather than, as laissez-faire theory holds, merely responding to them. Unsure of what they stand for, people increasingly rely on money as the criterion of value. ... The cult of success has replaced a belief in principles. Society has lost its anchor."
This is profoundly true of the US stock market which dominates the world financial markets to such an extent that rising expectations which drive up prices can in turn provide such financial windfalls to transnational corporations that it enables them to unilaterally intensify their venture capital exploitation of the rest of the world and its resources in turn feeding profits and their stranglehold on power. Mere sentiment can thus become dominion.
A critical development in the rise of world capitalism has been trans-nationalization and its offspring globalization. Since the time of the Phoenicians merchant enterprises have transcended national barriers. With the travels of Marco Polo these activities became global. Colonial developments like the East India Company carried this process forward into the current paradigm of corporations in developed countries acting globally to exploit the resources of the developing world.
There is a stark contrast between the activities of national governments, which are, by definition regional to their land and population, and those of corporations, which are in no way bound by national barriers. This means that the relationship between government, people and corporations is not a level playing field, because corporations can evade the limits of national control, and any responsibility or accountability to the very electorates who constitute the peoples of planet Earth. This 'divide and rule' over national democracies enables transnational corporates to evade both social controls and local taxes and to penalize recalcitrant governments by diverting investment to compliant states. Consequently the power of transnational corporations has eclipsed that of many national economies and the direction of world development and exploitation has become driven by international corporate investment rather than any policy decision of an elected government or population.
However there is a clear alliance with key superpowers, in whose domicile many transnationals originate. The power and dominance of the US economy over those of other countries, as manifested by the world financial domination of US stock markets, is spearheaded by US-sourced transnational corporations. Ensuring world transnational domination even at the expense of reneging on key treaties such as the Biodiversity Convention and renewed Biological Warfare Convention in the interests of intellectual property rights has become a key strategic interest of the US government, advanced by trade threats and litigation. Patenting of genetic sequences and species, including those in the wild, is robbing the people of the earth of evolutionary resources. A further erosive trend has been the rise of 'neo-liberalism' with a dedicated agenda of reducing the regulatory power of government to free the corporate sector to pursue its goals minimally affected by government interference. While this has been touted as removing bureaucratic red tape, reducing taxes by leaning government, and freeing economies to become more dynamic, its net effect has been to marginalize the autonomy of national electorates to make decisions over their own economic futures.
Corporations are neither genetic nor are they ethically based in benefiting society or the common good. Company law does not predicate the nature of the business to be conducted nor does it require a company to benefit, rather than exploit, society or the natural world. The conditions determining company incorporation are simply the rules for convening the board and general meeting of shareholders and provisions for paying any taxes due. Public corporations thus have a responsibility to the board and less directly to the shareholders, but only through national regulation, if any, to the consumers, employees, affected third parties, or the common good. The result is a fragmentation of world democracy into a host of small unaccountable competing units, none of which have a vested interest in the common good, of humanity, nor the preservation of natural resources. Neither are there adequate safeguards of the moral kind invoked by theories of the social contract for human personal interactions. Corporate institutions become faceless entities where people do not have to take personal responsibility for the effects of executive decisions until a company goes into receivership. Just as with tropical forests it is the fractal islandization of democracy which poses the greatest threat to world freedom and justice. We thus need to find ways of restoring democracy and consensual society to planet Earth. Entering into this mix has been the phenomenon of globalization driven by corporate advisers and members of institutions such as the World Bank holding closed door conferences with leaders of dominant nations to establish a new contract between transnational investment and national sovereignty which would pass to the corporate world much of the autonomy possessed by regional democracies. Many free trade agreements marginalize national governments by making them subject to international litigation if they act to protect their national interest. This power of corporate litigation over elected governments represents a watershed loss of democratic autonomy by electoral populations. ßThe reaction of protesters and the enclave mentality of those sponsoring globalization shows clearly that this process is not democratic, but is rather a gambit for control of the world's resources by the corporate sector. While this may not be a totalitarian conspiracy as such, but rather a dynamical force driving whole economies inexorably to a conclusion through established media interests and stock market fluctuations, it is nevertheless undemocratic, unethical and damaging.
Despite being weakened in many countries by globalization, national sovereignty is in turn used to weaken international bodies such as the UN to create a form of tragedy of the commons by a reverse consensus of non-interference in another country's affairs. This means that issues involving global resources such as the Amazon and its biodiversity can be stymied by a single nation exerting unilaterally its territorial imperative over what is genuinely a world heritage resource for the whole of humanity and the diversity of life.
The major dynamical feedbacks in global political decision-making
In terms of environmental health, the planet is a dynamical system driven by at least four major factors: (a) the 200 or so national governments some democratically elected some otherwise, (b) multi-national corporations, (c) the globalist influence of the UN and its bodies, (d) NGOs, and (e) the 'North-South' dialogue between developed energy-hungry countries and developing energy-lean countries, which also possess a large proportion of the genetic resources of the planet. The same deregulated conditions which encourage transnational investment encourage evolutionary democracies. These provide an opportunity to redress the loss of democratic autonomy, by providing a means for the whole of human society to cooperatively deal with the ethical decisions required to provide a sustainable future for all of us.
The continuing pattern of exploitative venture capital investment competing to take advantage of all remaining natural resources is a direct threat to biodiversity planet-wide. It is likewise contrary to any grass-roots move to establish the future ecosystemic society upon which we will have to depend for a sustainable existence. It is both devastating to the future sustainability of the planet and as contrary to the interests of the people in the very developed countries which are the source of the initiative as it is to people in developing countries who become exploited by the undemocratic investment initiatives of the developed world. It is sourced in three evolutionary fallacies, the idea that an ecosystem survives by competition alone rather than a mix of competition, cooperation, niche formation and diversification. It invokes male winner-take-all reproductive mating competition, to the exclusion of the female honest out-front long-term investment for survival across the generations. Finally the process is non-genetic, has no generations and has no principle of selective advantage across generations. Although capitalism has brought developed countries a period of high living standards, and a strategic dominance in the world arena, its exploitative instabilities are leading us towards a precipice of collapse of this temporary abundance through rampant resource exploitation and increasing world conflict because of its exacerbation of poverty and inequality and failure to bring about a compassionate and just society which caters to the common good of humankind.
Gareth Hardin (R289) in "The Tragedy of the Commons" outlines the way in which many of the crises facing humanity are examples of the 'commons tragedy', in which individual advantages, regardless of exhortations to altruism inevitably lead to the destruction of common resources in ways which cause an irresolvable dilemma for each of the participants. It applies to population explosion and the exploitation of mineral resources like oil and the destruction of biodiversity. This is exacerbated by a cutting edge free-market based on competitive instability under individual incentives of a winner-take-all nature. The tragedy of the commons is a warning and a terminal metaphor for the entire capitalist competitive paradigm and a warning to us about the impending holocaust of biodiversity.
Pinker (R544 161) notes that dealing with defection is part of our traditional moral dilemma, but we have to find effective ethical paradigms to deal with the corporate sector:
"Everyone, regardless of Politics, has to be appalled at people who impose costs on society in pursuit of their individual interests-hunting endangered species, polluting rivers, destroying historic sites to build shopping malls, spraying graffiti on public monuments, inventing weapons that elude metal detectors. Equally disturbing are the outcomes of actions that make sense to the individual choosing them but are costly to society when everyone chooses them. Examples include over-fishing a harbor, overgrazing a commons, commuting on a bumper-to-bumper freeway, or buying a sport utility vehicle to protect oneself in a collision because everyone else is driving a sport utility vehicle. Many people dislike the suggestion that humans are inclined to selfishness because it would seem to imply that these self-defeating patterns of behavior are inevitable, or at least reducible only through permanent coercive measures."
Noam Chomsky, despite being branded a socialist, has validly highlighted the exploitation of the developing world by the West for raw materials and particularly the neo-liberalist agenda to diminish democracy sufficiently so that corporate power will be able to run so-called free societies through their financial monopoly as a group. Minimizing the state, which means minimizing the public arena in which people can act to determine their futures. Instead, power has been transferred to financial institutions such as the World Trade Organization, IMF, the World Bank and to transnational corporations via international 'free' trading agreements. Citing Orwell, Chomsky sees the media in free-market societies as representing the business establishment view of their major financiers by executing a voluntary form of censorship more insidious and pervasive than a police state could achieve by force.
In "From Corporatism to Democracy" John Ralston Saul affirms 'government' as opposed to the corporate sector as the bastion of personal autonomy. "The most powerful force possessed by the individual citizen is their own government. Or governments, because a multiplicity of levels means a multiplicity of strengths. The individual has no other large organized mechanism that he can call his own. There are other mechanisms, but they reduce the citizen to the status of a subject. Government is the only organized mechanism that makes possible that level of shared disinterest known as the public good. Without this greater interest the individual is reduced to a lesser, narrower being limited to immediate needs. He will then be subject to other, larger forces, which will necessarily come forward to fill the void left by the withering of the public good. Those forces will fill it with some other directing interest that will serve their purposes, not the larger purposes of the citizen. ... This is what makes the neo-conservative and market force arguments so disingenuous. Their remarkably successful demonization of the public sector has turned much of the citizenry against their own mechanism. Many of us have been enrolled in the cause of interests that have no particular concern for the citizen's welfare. Our welfare. Instead, the citizen is reduced to the status of a subject at the foot of the throne of the marketplace."
The Free-market Myth and Ecosystemic Society
The myth of the free-market is that the lean mean world of competition is a more ecosystemically efficient system than any regulated economy. This has a tragic flaw. Ecosystems are conserved sustainably because all surviving organisms have a cumulative genetic imprint of their entire evolutionary history. They are survivors in a surviving biosphere. The leopard cannot change its spots in a single generation and become a shark.
Companies have a non-genetic charter which determines only how they hold meetings, nothing about their evolutionary niche. Their directors are generally only financially accountable to the shareholders, not strategically accountable. In the absence of societal regulation, they are completely non-accountable to the human and natural environments in which they operate, consumer, worker, affected citizen and impacted environment alike. They are unstable dynamical systems striving to exploit resources more quickly than their competitors and capable of liquidating their assets and changing their strategic identity and line of business if they exploit and destroy a given resource.
The North Atlantic Cod fishery, probably the richest fishery in the world was destroyed because competing deep sea fishing companies partly sponsored by the Canadian government fished out the entire cod spawning grounds. Fisheries inspectors were not adequately equipped to keep up with this devastation until too late, but the companies themselves sold their plant, liquidated their assets and entered new lines of business, creaming the profits of destroying a world resource which had been successfully fished from the time of Columbus until the 1970s. Genetic corporate constitutions are essential to prevent this kind of hit and run. An Economist article "Flexible Tiger Lives by Law of the Economic Jungle" on Taiwan business and its survival without government support illustrates how naive ecosystemic ideas pervade competitive free-market thinking. In fact, the only ecosystemic ideas in the picture are 'tiger' and 'jungle'. The idea that no government regulation of the birth, competition and bankruptcy of businesses fosters a lean mean 'round of selection' is false Darwinian reasoning since the genetic principle is completely absent and there is no cumulative selection over generations. In the article, the turnover in chemical companies in five years was so high that the virtually all the market leaders were essentially replaced and many had been taken over or ceased to exist. The consequences for accountability of such high-impacting industries are alarming.
The other aspect of this tragedy which is non-biological is that the venture-risk winner-take-all model of competition is not actually a truth of genetic conservation, because genes and organisms, even selfish genes and predator and prey systems which are apparently antagonistic are often bound in constructive feedback (p 507), leading to long-term genetic survival. Risking death to make large venture capital gains is the male reproductive imperative of mortal dependence on competition to fertilize the opposite sex, with immense reproductive windfalls if the venture brings in large resources. The female strategy, unlike the sneaky, low investment, short-term male strategy has always been honest and 'out-front' (human pregnancy is the most massive and hardest to hide) and it has always been an investment in which risk has to be minimized for the mother in consideration of a large investment made across future generations. In a male-dominant society it is easy to understand how institutions and economic policies can become a product of the spermatogenic imperative but for our survival is it essential to correct this imbalance.
Both multi-national corporations and political democracies are founded on the concept of a charter of association, which determines how the executive is elected and how democracy of management and members proceeds. Changes in concept of charters of association to a more genetic type of paradigm including an ethical memorandum of ecosystemic function with accountability to all 'interested' parties, consumers, workers, third parties affected for example by pollution, as well as investors and shareholders, could dramatically change the principles of both corporate and political worlds and the face of the world for the better.
Heavenly Paradise and Earthly Destruction
One of the most damaging aspects of this paradigm of 'dominion over nature' is that to the religious Christian fundamentalist it is the way the 'late planet earth' can be consigned to oblivion in seeking a heavenly paradise, based on a pagan Pauline myth of 'rapture', which abnegates personal responsibility for apocalyptic destruction, and the rape of the planet that results from such disregard and disrespect for the umbilicus of nature:
we who are alive, who are left,
shall be caught up together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess 4:15).
Islam, which shares the apocalyptic agenda of final conflict (p 264), also shares this error. When al-Quaeda terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Centre they presumably knew Muhammad himself is reputed to have suggested the end would come when people built buildings too tall. When George Bush Jr. says in invading Afghanistan after the fall of the twin towers: "this crusade, this war on terror, may take a while" he is exposing the true nature of the conflict as a clash of partiarchal religious imperatives and when he invades Iraq, finding no weapons of mass destruction, it is clear the conflict is motivated by the culture of honour in family feud (p 188). Both are blatant manifestations of male combat.
"I said to him, 'I believe in Allah.'
So he said, 'But I believe in torture and I will torture you.'
Because they started to hit my broken leg, I curse my religion.
They ordered me to thank Jesus I'm alive." Iraqi US abuse victim
In the technophiliac mind, the rapture gains another 'incarnation'- a space-race utopia of human galactic-colonization; having 'unfortunately' wasted our home planet in our 'growing-up'. In a sense, this is the greatest expression of unbalanced male reproductive ambition possible in the apocalyptic scenario, excelling the stars in the sky granted to Abraham. Even the seeding of life in the universe has been claimed to be cosmic 'panspermia.'
Without being unduly pessimistic, we are foolishly heading towards a needless and serious risk of extinction. Human society still contains unacceptable levels of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. These nearly became an Armageddon of mutually assured destruction during the cold war and should be removed completely. Our impacts are rapidly leading to mass extinction of the diversity of life and our population growth is still unsustainable for the future diversity of the biosphere. While many people are watching science fantasy on television and imagine escaping to another planet, we are unwittingly precipitating the 'sixth extinction' of life which could become as serious as the Permian one, taking 50 million years to make a substitute recovery.
This indicates a serious mismatch between cultural and technological fantasy and sustainable evolutionary reality. Genetic engineering, cloning, reproductive technology could next be used to turn the entire biosphere into a bunch of 'boys toys' - a potentially terminal condition, because the underlying diversity of natural medicinal and food species is replaced by a fragile assortment of genetically-engineered near zero-diversity products which are non-viable in evolutionary terms but dominate productive areas. At the same time our own natural human viability is being compromised by runaway biotechnology (p 393) including IVF, routine Caesarians, the drive for often cosmetic germ-line engineering and male-driven eugenics, including artificial wombs, and ambitions for cloning from religious and utopian movements and their leaders. All it would take is a small astronomical mishap to bring on a mass extinction of humanity from a complete failure of the food distribution system. Even a small asteroid impact on a brittle culture in a damaged biosphere, dependent on computer planning (albeit with a 'nuclear proof' world-wide web), highly technologized food-distribution to urban centres dependent on agro-tech, and foodstuffs, made using genetically engineered agricultural species which have no natural viability, with a human population propped up by extreme medical technologies, could cause almost certain demise of humanity, from the very brittleness of the society we have generated, to natural disruption.
While these technologies, used for the right purposes, have great potential to do good, it is natural diversity upon which we depend to survive and diversity we should foster. Without a clear ethical consensus from society at large to protect genetic diversity, the gene technology industry stands to burst the bubble of living diversity while playing scientific and financial 'he-man'. We urgently need to heal these wounds to our viability through an appreciation for the sustainable evolutionary endowment we possess as a species.