It is December 19, 2016, the day America’s electors decide whether to break with tradition to keep a crazy authoritarian leader from running our nation or not. I am sure that no one is brave enough to keep this man out of office. My mind cannot help but move ahead into the future we are about to usher in, although our reasons are good ones because we are between a rock and a hard place. We take a chance on destroying our nation either way. But this is also a referendum on Capitalism and our global environments.
Even as I await the surely inevitable results an image comes alive in my mind of the conference table at the G8 Summit (yes we are back to eight nations because I am certain that DT will reinstate Russia). At one end of the conference table will be Putie and at the other end The Donald, finally face to face and, for the moment, sharing power. Each of these men is determined that fossil fuels and GDP and military might will still determine which nations are most powerful. If we switch away from fossil fuels how will the order of power among nations be determined?
So the G8 has changed its mission statement and has become the Board of Directors of Planet Earth. It plans to make sure that gas and oil continue to be a currency mill pumping money into the economies of the eight member nations. This old energy, fossil fuel energy will be used to bring back an Industrial age that has been rapidly morphing into something else, some je ne sais quoi. We know that industry is being turned over to robots, with less human fodder required to run the world’s engines of manufacturing and commerce, and soon even in the service sectors. Perhaps we will turn away from robotics for decades so that the Board can find a use for all of the world’s extraneous masses.
Because with an exploding world population and less and less work for humans to do what will the leaders do to keep the thumbs of their power on the people, to keep them as useful consumers, but to never allow them to believe that they can have something for nothing. Life should be a “beach” for the wealthy, but for the poor it should be a struggle. We can’t have people enjoying themselves all over the place on the public dime. And that will not even be acceptable to poor folks. Most of us expect to have to pay our way in life. But we do not expect the obstacles to be so strong that we cannot get over or around them with a reasonable amount of effort.
So given all that, what will this G8 Board of Directors do in this all-Capitalist-all-the-time world if we are still earthbound with no technology to expand into space? I don’t think it will be pretty for anyone except the top 1%. Human life will be cheap. We will be cheap labor and no one will mind if our lives become hamster lives – running endlessly on a wheel to nowhere. Perhaps drugs will become plentiful, but I don’t think these folks will offer the new peasant class any way out of their servitude.
And when I say that life will be cheap that means that our new Board of Directors will not care if we live or die – in fairly large numbers. Disease may wipe out huge sectors of the population. Violence will also be quite common. Why would the Board require order when they do not have to live anywhere the rest of us live? Perhaps building walls will become common – walls to keep us out.
But what will the upper echelons do with their money in such a world. Perhaps they will not go this far just so they still have the world they are used to in which to enjoy their power and success and people to envy them and wish to join them. Perhaps there will be chances to climb out of the muck and revel in life at the top. Nine billion people is a really big audience though. Probably too big. Many of us will have to die to keep the population of the planet within comfortable limits. Perhaps the population will always be set to what it was in 1950.
Will there be any concession to keeping environmental conditions that offer beauty, biological diversity, and fresh air and water? If the Board of Directors is limited to living within the confines of this planet it is safe to say that they will have to find a way to balance their avarice with their survival. It will be interesting to see how they create that equilibrium.
A Capitalist dream may take over the minds and hearts of our new global Board of Directors for a while but even they will soon discover the disadvantages of fouling their own nest. Will they get it in time to save the planet? Maybe not. It does seem as if money makes you stupid.
[The Group of Eight (G8) refers to the group of eight highly industrialized nations—France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Japan, the United States, Canada, and Russia—that hold an annual meeting to foster consensus on global issues like economic growth and crisis management, global security, energy, and terrorism.]