Ecological democracies part 1

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In the post “A spiritual experience with Sister Earth”, we talked about some possible future evolutions (if humanity continues its predominant western way of living). They all seem rather gloomy and we will talk about the first possibility, namely “ecological dictatorship”. We will begin by very general remarks.

I already said in the post “A spiritual experience with Sister Earth” that I don’t like the concept of dictatorship because this kind of political form has been used for ideological reasons that I personally don’t appreciate. All the historical left or right dictatorships (Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot…) are more or less at the opposite of my political vision of things.

I think that more than a dictatorship we need political forms (locally, nationally, internationally) with a strong moral dimension. We already stressed the fact that in the present-day conditions we have to focus mostly on ecological moral ideals and socially on three basic moral demands (no theft; no useless violence; no deceit. See the post “Santosh”, second point). In my opinion we don’t necessarily need strong changes in the political forms and structures, nor revolutions, but an increased awareness of the ecological issue and the will to apply simple and intelligent moral principles, at all levels of the societies, and most importantly at the top of the decisional apparatus.

Obviously, such changes in the global direction, movement, of our societies might appear as a kind of dictatorship for some persons, especially those who don’t have a really strong connection with the ecological issues. Nevertheless, we have to remember that :

  1. Freedom is not absence of constraints. Freedom seems to flourish when a few basic moral demands are accepted and applied (the basic social rules for an harmonious and healthy society). For the moment we face ecological problems and non-renewable resources and energies exhaustion. If we forget this, we may face huge problems in a near future (compared with a normal human’s life expectancy), loss of freedom being precisely one of these problems, see the end of the post “A spiritual experience with Sister Earth”.
  2. It is a fact that our economic and social systems are full of rules and constraints, sometimes very heavy ones. The goal would not be to increase once more all these constraints but to re-direct efforts, energies and constraints towards ecological necessities while maintaining in the best way possible a global social cohesion. When these ecological necessities are integrated and applied, we will have to wait until the global ecological situation betters itself and then we will be able to work on a simplification/harmonization/sublimation of moral and social values.
  3. In democratic systems, each general election leaves roughly 45% of the total population dissatisfied with the result. It is difficult to please everybody and there will always be dissatisfied people. So let’s put these feelings in the background and let’s focus on the urgent ecological necessities, while we still have freedom for action.

We can also add that :

  1. Globally, most citizens are like children who follow the example of their parents (the persons in power). Citizens act accordingly to good or bad examples given by their leaders.
  2. Education is a great tool for transformation/improvement. Each citizen should understand the multiple dimensions of the ecological emergency. This work has more or less been done by all the persons interested by ecology, but we should extend this awareness to all levels of societies, without exception, because the ecological problems come from a sum of individual and collective actions. All of us are responsible of and concerned by all this.

It would be interesting for example to create an interactive internet site that could present basic knowledge about ecology and problems affecting Earth’s ecosystems, ways to solve them, practical environmental friendly activities and comportments, problems that don’t have any solution yet, links to other internet sites, references to develop the studies… This internet site would not only present information but also gather data, ideas, critics… coming from the users (this would speed up the researches). This site (or these sites) should be understandable by most of Earth’s citizens, regardless of their country or culture and it should be made, not by some kind of alternative, unofficial association or political movement (such internet sites do already exist. But it does not work ; the world is still burning at high speed non-renewable energies and resources) but by (it is important) the top of the hierarchy and the most recognized experts on the subject. Something official, clear, at the same time definite and adapted to each circumstances. Despite their role in the modern-day difficult situation, the top of the hierarchy should not be afraid to face criticism coming from the base of the pyramid, because if they don’t do anything about necessary ecological actions, then they will be more and more accused and responsible (in this life or in after-life) for future gloomy events.

So let’s imagine that at the highest international levels, all the highest ecological (and social) moral ideals are (finally) accepted as essential for the very survival of the planet, its ecosystems and human societies, and that all economic, political and social decisions would be centered around these necessities and ideals. This would already be a great step (and maybe the biggest) towards improvement. Next, the problem would be : how could we spread these changes to all levels of all societies in the most harmonious, healthy and efficient way possible ?

Many problems (rational or not) could come from different levels of human societies. We could sum-up a part of these problems under the term “resistance to changes”, that is to say, unwillingness to change despite the fact that changes are necessary.

A great part of these resistances may come from (physical and/or mental) habits. To change means to go out of one’s usual habits. For example when you begin a self-transformation work on negative habits then you realize that we are individually and collectively deeply attached to many good or bad, conscious or unconscious, habits.

Habits themselves are not really the problem : they reduce the necessity for thoughts and decisions and free the mind for other things. The problem comes from the consequences of the habits. We already stressed the fact that our (mental and physical) habits (the western way of living) have deep negative ecological and social consequences.

We have to change all this (if we want to avoid total destruction) but in my opinion the changes must be global and international to avoid splitting up the human societies into two groups : the ones who want to change and act accordingly and the ones who don’t want to change and just want to continue their social/ecological/physical/mental bad habits. This would only lead to fractures within the societies, dictatorships, revolutions… These changes in the habits must come not from the individuals (how can an individual or a sum of individuals change alone years of collective wrong actions ?), but from the top of the hierarchy, the decisional apparatus, the mind.

Resistances can come from many different factors : physical, psychological, emotional, intellectual, ideological… An example of such resistances is what we could call “the idea of superiority”. This idea was at the center of the colonial logics during more than three centuries. It is still highly present in the western neo-liberal logics and has been applied to nationalistic logics : “our (western) nations are the best”. These logics have been adopted by nearly all nations on Earth (in order to imitate and/or protect from the western model). As a result each nation thinks that it is the best. It is a good logic to fuel the global economic competitions and wars, but unfortunately gives little room for the emergence of a collective ecological awareness.

Another consequence is this one : “since we are the best, why should we change ? Let the others change, work, transform, this is not our job”. Behind the logic “we are the best” or “we want to be the best” is often hidden the fact that this very superiority will exempt us from the moral demands and other constraints applied to the base of the pyramid (the classic “two morals” system : a moral for the base of the pyramid and a different moral for the top of the hierarchy. Personally I think that this “two morals” system is a deep fundamental and costly mistake). The base of the pyramid has the role of solving dirty, annoying or difficult problems, the ecological problem being one of these dirty problems.

If knowledge, education and increased awareness are not enough to initiate positive changes and if humanity continues its excessive use of non-renewable (social and material) energies and resources, then constraints, obligations and other restricting initiatives might be necessary to overcome résistances.

We will have to recognize and analyze these resistances, wherever they come from, and find ways to alleviate them, get round or break them directly or indirectly. This will be our collective work during the next 20 to 50 years. This will imply possible risks of splits, fractures within the societies. We also have to keep in mind that the forces underlying the resistances may transfer to other problems, take other forms, and we will have to find solutions to these other resistances until the problem is solved at a global level (this kind of logic can be found in psycho-analysis). We will therefore have to improvise, be alert, use delicate measures and rely on will and determination, because the process of improvement might be long.

Therefore it seems that the solution of inner changes and collective/individual ecological awareness is better. We have to improve collectively and individually our actions, and after this accept the other constraints (if they are rational, justified) that may be imposed by the top of the hierarchy (and which will depend on the extent of the ecological damages to heal). Moreover, in my opinion, the more we resist to necessary changes (at the top or bottom of the pyramid), the more these changes and problems will become important and difficult to solve or implement.

We can add two remarks :

  1. The solution is not necessarily to impose a unique ecological model on everyone (it would be close to a dictatorship’s logic), but to adapt the ecological logics and necessities to each condition, circumstance, individual or collective capacity, culture or theoretical system. For example, while at a global level the general directions are clearly defined, at a specific level each individual or collectivity will be attracted or feel close to particular practices or researches and will be more efficient at a global level than if they were forced to do the same things as everybody. It is therefore possible that beyond a basic universal core of ecological and social practices and obligations, many different possibilities for positive actions could allow a great deal of freedom and choices (exactly as it is the case in our modern-day systems : if you don’t kill, steal or destroy private properties, then you are free to do many things).
  2. We should not deny the notions of pleasure or happiness. The point is to attain pleasure or happiness by the most positive ways possible (ecologically and socially). We already talked about this in previous posts but we must stress the fact that to think that spiritual, ecological or moral activities are boring, annoying, difficult or heavy, is a mistake. Just check the amounts of energies and efforts necessary to enjoy a few seconds or minutes of material happiness and then compare them with the efforts to attain stable states of happiness with spiritual means. We have to change our habits. Meditation, relaxation or intelligent moral values are also habits, but habits which can free the individuals and the societies.

About buddhananda
independent spiritual researcher, I find inspiration mainly into the buddhist, hindu and new age fields. I try to find connections between religions, philosophy, economy and technology. My aim is to contribute to the emergence of a better world. I also practice reiki.

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