The “being” part of life as a “human being” isn’t easy. (As you possibly know!) This difficulty ultimately stems from an inherent conflict that we face on an ongoing basis, minute by minute, throughout our lives: the endeavour of balancing self-interest with the “greater good!” As individuals the quality of our lives depends on us optimising our potential, yet our survival depends on our ability to co-operate. Certainly, we would never have survived as a species without this important second attribute and the ability to work as part of a group or tribe.
This conflict between the ‘selfish’ and the ‘selfless’, identified by Simon Sinek as “the human paradox”, is innate to both our physiology and our psychology and permeates everything we do, in all aspects of our lives. Yet we seldom recognise it for what it is. Rather we tend to label, and judge, its effects. Including in our politics and social systems.
Here we talk about “right” wing and “left” wing, often with distaste, disrespect or even opprobrium, even though, basically the terms refer to nothing more than philosophical thinking that is respectively more individual focussed versus more collective focussed. Yet, taken to extremes, they have resulted in massive ideological differences that have, directly and indirectly, led to the deaths of countless millions over the past hundred and fifty years or so.
These ideological conflicts have centred around capitalism, on the right, and socialism, on the left, and even now they continue to polarise the political landscape. This despite the failure of socialist systems in Eastern Europe and the capitalist excesses that caused the Great Recession in 2008. Even now virulent capitalism, ironically rooted in the ideal of individual freedoms, is pushing for corporate rights to supersede human and national rights, and thus destroying democracy itself; while socialism fights against “privatisation” and “austerity”, failing to recognise that – under present economic conditions – there is little or no other option. And fighting the wrong battle means losing the war. It won’t then matter which side you were on; we will all ultimately end up as losers.
Greece has provided a very good example of this; a country that is de-facto governed by powerful, big business interests. Yanis Varoufakis was right when he said, “There is no Greek crisis; Greece is simply the weakest link.” When the weakest link breaks the chain breaks and becomes useless. We need to recognise and address the human paradox. When the balance shifts too far in either direction, our survival is threatened. At present it is too far to the right but polarised opposition won’t shift the moment back. If we don’t act urgently to change the systems it will be too late; the cartels are at the gate.
Please get hold of my book, The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped read my ideas as to how we could change our economic systems and promote discussion and debate around them so that we can restore democracy and safeguard a better future for future generations.