L e v e l - 7

Tools For A New Political Economy

Superagency without Moral Development or Civic Accountability

(Excerpted from Escaping the Failures of Capitalism)

Any new, more progressive system will fail unless we accelerate our individual and collective moral evolution to embody a more inclusive, collaborative, equitable and compassionate meta-ethical framework. This is in contrast to our current system, which reinforces ethical regression. History demonstrates time and again that civic institutions must operate from principles at the same level moral maturity as the electorate, because whenever they attempt to exceed that level, they ultimately become ineffective, corrupt or collapse entirely. And because state capitalism has endeavored for so long to infantilize consumers into perpetual dependency, selfless and compassionate participation in government and the democratic process has waned proportionately. But we can no longer remain children. For one thing, we now employ technologies that demand a more adult perspective and unshakable commitment to use them responsibly. Consider the damage oil leaks and spills have caused around the globe – in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, the Niger Delta, the Kolva River, the Persian Gulf, the English Channel, Alberta’s tar sands, and the Bay of Campeche – almost always as the result of disregarding safe drilling practices, or to save money in the cost of transport or production, or get oil to market more quickly. And as each wave of new technological innovations arrives in the petroleum industry, such greedy proclivities are further enabled, and the scope of pollution and destruction expands. Until relatively recently, it wasn’t economically feasible to frack natural gas out of the ground. New technologies made that possible, just as they make deep sea drilling more accessible, or tar sands extraction more profitable, and so on. And although the correlation with increased risks to aquifers, wildlife, and indeed human health become more evident with each passing day, the horrific damage continues.

And this is the trend of increasing technological sophistication and destructive capability, without concurrent moral and civic evolution, in all sorts of instances. So, for example, TEPCO’s various efforts to cover up the intensity of radiation leakage at Fukushima reveal a self-protective immaturity that disregards the well-being of others, an immaturity which has been echoed by the Japanese government’s collusion in concealing the deaths of Fukushima workers and the radiation health risks of foods grown nearby. These are the behaviors of naughty children who vociferously deny wrongdoing to avoid punishment and save face; it is despicable, but it is predictable in the morally immature. In Russia we have witnessed an insecure, paranoid, megalomaniacal dictator rise to power and keep it for over a decade, testing the political, economic and indeed geographical boundaries of the world community at every turn like a petulant teenager. And yet, again embodying the whims of a rebellious, self-important child, Vladimir Putin won’t let anyone take away his precious nuclear toys. After all, Russia must regain its former glory as a world power, and part of that status means retaining a nuclear stockpile that rivals that of the U.S. Shockingly, a majority of the Russian electorate seems content to let Putin perpetuate his megalomaniacal farce, if only to feel less of a sting over the failure of the U.S.S.R. Again…this is predictable behavior of the morally immature, in this case involving technology that can annihilate life on Earth several times over. And no one could doubt the childishness of the Bush administration’s pursuit and execution of the Iraq war – lying about Saddam Hussein’s WMDs as a pretext for invasion, mishandling the reconstruction with billion$ in no-bid contracts for Dick Cheney’s buddies at Halliburton, ignoring the concerns and counsel of world allies, etc. Subsequently, the Iraq War played out like a gang of wealthy schoolyard bullies trying out their newest lethal gadgets on the poor part of town – a trend that has, unfortunately, continued under the Obama administration’s drone attacks. And yes, the American people bear responsibility for electing and reelecting into office such infantile, brutish insanity, which of course speaks to the dearth of moral development of the U.S. electorate across both dominant political parties.

We could continue along these lines by illustrating how various industries - pharmaceuticals, agriculture, biotech, tobacco, etc. – have all demonstrated wanton disregard for our collective well-being and the stability of planetary ecosystems by developing dangerous technologies, then recklessly deploying and marketing them for the sake of increased shareholder wealth. Why are genetically modified organisms allowed to reproduce in the wild? Why are insecticides that decimate bee populations still being used? How have toys produced in China been allowed to contain heavy metals or plasticizing chemicals that endanger children everywhere? How did electronic cigarettes become available without health regulation? All of this points to the same mechanism: technological innovation that has moved faster than humanity’s moral development. And so this begs the question of how to inspire moral development itself, so that our species can catch up with it scientific prowess. As a developmental issue, this is simply about emphasis: we have become quite adept as training and improving our analytical capacities, and even our physical capacities, but we have we have not applied the same vigor and rigor to our emotional development, social development, spiritual potential and so forth. This lopsided emphasis is one of the imbalances that
Integral Lifework seeks to remedy.

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