History tells us that there are two possibilities for fundamental change: revolution and evolution. Evolution is much more preferable because it allows for society to continue adjusting structures and institutions to changing conditions. Evolution expresses itself most effectively through democracy. Abraham Lincoln stated in a speech two years prior to the American civil war that “this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free….” It will either be all one or all the other. What Lincoln was saying is that society needs to be all democratic or all authoritarian. It cannot sit on the fence because decision processes must follow consistent procedures or they will deteriorate and become entirely ineffective. Democracy is superior because there are checks and balances that prevent the abuse of power and it allows all members of society to contribute their talent. Therefore there is a greater buy-in by the society as a whole. The fierce resistance of the Ukrainians against the Russian invasion that we are currently witnessing, as well as the overwhelming support of Eastern Europe, stems from their collective experience of a kleptocracy and resistance to being under Russian domination again.
We are at the beginning of the greatest social, political and economic change in the history of the species. The outcome will not only determine our species survival but much of life of this planet. And it will be determined in this century. The era we are in today is based on predatory capitalism and aggressive nationalism, both of which are diametrically opposed to the democratic process and are far less likely to succeed. History has repeatedly shown us that authoritarianism simply does not work. Though globalization started in the late 15th century with European conquest of the America’s and Africa; has accelerated in the last century. It is an exploitative system both of persons and resources. It has led to two world wars, a Cold War and millions of lives lost as empires clashed for control of those resources. It is crucial to survival that we cooperate and democracy is the most effective means to that end.
As humans march toward expanded globalization, it has become very clear that we are in the process of destroying the capacity of the planet to sustain life. There is still time to change this, but not without great cost. The stark reality is that this cannot be done under the schema of exploitative and predatory capitalism and nationalism. It will be necessary not only to stop Putin’s aggression in Ukraine as he attempts to expand the Russian Empire, but to prevent all economic exploiters like Putin, Bolsonaro (a Trump want-to-be from Brazil) and others who want to commercialize all land, driving out native tribes, sacrificing crucial wilderness and habitats for all other species on the planet.
The critical problem of exploitation which cannot be regulated by the current global system of competing nation states can only be dealt with at a planetary level. The cost of rising sea levels, global warming, and the rapid reduction and elimination of glaciers, will be astronomical and the human dislocations as just started. The only way that these issues can be successfully dealt with is through regulation at the global level: a world federal government. (I will elaborate on this in a later post). What Putin has done is exposed to the world the dangers of the limitation of the current system. In his megalomaniacal desire for Russian expansion, he is willing to destroy the rules-based systems that are increasingly necessary for survival in a global society. The danger of a catastrophic event is here and the risk must be taken to eliminate this madman.