Tag Archives: man’s nature

My Tale of Two Cities

1524_medieval-ii-total-war-kingdoms-screenshots-20070510005326319It’s time for a fairy tale, so pull up a chair and I’ll tell ye me yarn… Once upon a time there existed two great tribes in all the world. They were sworn enemies because of generations of bigotry and fear. They built their civilizations in lands far, far away from one another. Yet many wars occurred between them because of their fears and greed.

If each had desired to ensure that both became prosperous, then neither would have gone to war with the other and neither would have needed the protection of warriors. But the world did not progress nor will it ever much, for that is the nature of man.

Each tribe therefore kept great armies of warriors and made their greatest warriors king. Each king created coins from shiny metals to aid his people in trade and commerce. Each king also divvied up his lands according to loyalties and kinsmanship. Some tribesmen received vast estates, but half of the tribesmen received no land at all.

Upon their vast lands, the most favored of tribesmen aspired to expand commerce and to increase their lands further. With land as collateral, vast landowners were given coins by the king to spur the work of others on their lands.

Whenever a tribesman was deemed ready and able to provide future labor, he was provided coins through debt contract to purchase goods from other tribesmen. Metals bound the work of each tribesman to the benefit of the vast landowners, to the king, and to his kingdom.

The king and vast landowners expected each able tribesman to do all manners of work for the tribe. Those that contributed most received the most coins and could therefore live most comfortably within the tribe. However, provisions were made so that all tribesmen who worked diligently could eat and have shelter, for this was the other side of the coin of man’s nature.

For those tribesmen that could not work enough to feed themselves, other tribesmen were commanded by a vote of all tribesmen to share their wealth so that each might eat. Through this vote, the kings endeared their subjects against insurrection, for all men were better off in their kingdoms than in facing the world alone.

This is where the similarities between the kingdoms stopped. For one kingdom became very prosperous, well before the other. One kingdom was wise to invest labor in schools, roads, and laws to govern commerce. Over time, because of its investment, some ingenious tribesmen were able to capitalize the tribe’s investment through their own ingenuity to create much better means of commerce, and they became wealthy in coins.

They accumulated many more coins than they could use, for even when they lavished coins to obtain the finest huts and goods, they still had stockpiles of coins. They found with so many coins they did not need a king. So they set about to use their excess coins to grow great armies of warriors to break free of the king, to form an empire, and to colonize the other tribe, for this was still the nature of man.

They then forced the other tribe to take less gold for each hour worked and to accept less goods in trade. They forced the other tribe to dig for raw materials, while keeping the skilled trades to themselves, claiming these labors to be worthy of more coins.

After many generations, a calm came over the lands of the two tribes, and many forget the true nature of man, that of bigotry and fear, lust for power and enslavement of others. Assuming the world had evolved to a peaceful existence, the vast landowners and ingenious men of commerce found that they could employ the colonized tribe for many less coins. So, instead of using these coins to employ their own tribesmen, they gave fewer coins to the other tribe in exchange for labor, and slowly the colony began to prosper.

But in transferring coins to the colony, the vast landowners and ingenious men of commerce idled their own tribesmen. Skills were lost, assets were obsoleted, and the empire slowly withered. Little by little, more and more tribesmen could not earn enough coins to feed their families. Fear and mistrust overtook the once great civilization.

The vast landowners and ingenious men of commerce had made great profits from the colonized people, but in so doing, they impoverished their own tribe. Their choices stressed the coffers of taxation. Empty coffers brought into question the very nature of the empire’s commitment to its people. Too many needed fed.

Vast landowners forgot that they had been given their land by virtue of their kinsmanship. Ingenious men of commerce forgot that they were able to capitalize their ingenuity on the infrastructure provided by the investments of others. And all of the empire’s elite forgot that the darkest nature of man can ultimately only be suppressed by warriors.

Over time, the empire withered and the colony continued to prosper until it was more powerful than the empire. The colony then refused to accept less coins for its labor. And it refused to help fill the coffers of the empire that were now barren. After a generation had passed, the colony became the empire and the empire turned colony. Now a colony, its people were given less coins for their labor by the colony turned empire.

Where once vast landowners and men of ingenuity had grown their stockpiles of coins, they now found in a mere few generations more that their stockpiles of coins were gone. They had foolishly squandered their inheritance. They no longer could afford their warriors and accepted their fate in watching the nature of man rise against them.

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Cautious Worldwide Win-Win Solutions Should be Sought

Vaclav Havel, Former Czech President, Commencement address at Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts, May 1995
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http://www.humanity.org/voices/commencements/speeches/index.php?page=havel_at_harvard
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The problem with the premise of Vaclav Havel’s speech stating that we have essentially reached a single global society is that he contradicts himself throughout as if to say that it is merely his hope for future global achievement. I do not see evidence that mankind is evolving toward his ideal. Havel idealists can point to certain social structures and advances in the precedence of laws to suggest that we are progressing as a species. For instance as of 1981, all nations on earth have passed laws against slavery. And yet, others would point out that the earth contains more slaves in 2011 than at any other time in the recorded history of mankind.

We can point to the relative peace that has been achieved since WWII but this peace is not without precedence and has been at the extraordinary cost of the United States as hegemonist spending more than all other nations combined on military assets and personnel and creating technologies that could destroy the world many times over. And yet, with all this extraordinary expense of national will power, the number of battles has not decreased nor has the atrocities committed by nations or men.

We can point to the evolution toward democracy intertwined with capitalism as a trend away from the captive ideas of feudalism and mercantilism, yet where on Earth does true democracy exist? Globalism has reversed any trend toward economic and social freedoms envisioned by those that espoused the virtues of free enterprise of capitalism back toward even larger geographies of quasi-feudalism and mercantilism.

The nature of man is unfortunately not evolving at any measurable pace. The capacity of all is toward evil although 99 percent seek our better natures. The 1 percent who are ruled by their own sociopathic desires find positions of power when opportunities arise with which to pursue societal evil played one nation upon the other. The tools with which to accomplish this evil are unfortunately far outpacing mankind’s social progress.

To protect ourselves from those evil doers who have successfully harnessed other nations or societies, our societies have evolved to nation states and even larger civilizations of shared histories, shared cultures, and shared socioeconomic futures. However, because of the nature of mankind, we are far from evolving to a society that encompasses the entire world.

So mankind must cautiously move forward accepting as best we can winning compromises that allow others to win as well. Cautiously because we do not know if like all other bubbles of this period, that relative peace and cooperation are a bubble as well.

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Filed under American Governance, European Crisis, National Security, social trajectory, War, World Sustainability