‘I told you so!’ is a terrible thing to say. But - alas! -, ARCO did tell you so. About water too (see ARCO 33 and before). It won’t be long and we’ll have a serious problem with water shortages also. But, let’s leave water aside for a minute. The acute problem now is food. Staple foods, such as rice and wheat. Prices are rising and people don’t know what to do. In the meantime Brazil has taken refuge to hoarding and US supermarket chains have started rationing rice. These measures push prices up even further. Something serious is going on. Wake up, folks.
Of course, ARCO was not the first to sound the alarm. Lester Brown and others have been sounding the alarm for over thirty years. And providing answers. But nobody is listening, which makes one wonder why concerned citizens should bother to sound the alarm at all. Potent and convincing arguments have always proved to be futile in the face of ‘business as usual’. People usually need a few catastrophes before they get the point. This does not mean that ARCO and others should stop sounding the alarm. We just have to learn to be patient.
An extremely interesting and hopeful interview with Lester Brown can be viewed at this website: http://vimeo.com/869141
Who or what is to blame?
The present food shortages have been blamed by Fidel Castro and others on sharply increased production of bio-fuels. And indeed, this is one factor. View Bendib’s telling cartoon here: http://www.bendib.com/newones/2008/march/small/3-10-Oil-vs.-Food.jpg.
But whatever the reasons, the unrest stirred by rising food prices is fertile ground for the rise of socialism in South America. Bolivian president Evo Morales (leader of political party: ‘Movement toward Socialism’) recently addressed the UN stating literally (in Spanish): ‘If we want to save the planet earth, to save life and humanity, we have a duty to put an end to the capitalist system’.
He follows Hugo Chávez in believing that only socialism will save the planet. Morales is the kind of man one could easily trust as a leader. He is sincere, has a quietly serious manner and a noble character. And there is no doubt that he makes a lot of sense on many points in his discourses and speeches. Nor are all his socialist ideals ‘wrong’. The only problem is, that he does not see that socialism as an economic model actually results in more poverty coupled to repression. Cuba is the perfect example. What he should really do is analyze why Cuba’s economy is so far behind.
How come Morales and Chavez do not do this?
Morales (and Chavez) somehow believe that Cuba’s socialist experiment did not succeed because of the US economic embargo. They believe, in other words, that socialism will work, if only it is given a better chance. They seem to forget that before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Cuba’s economy did not work either. They forget that the poor performance of Cuba’s economy is inherent in the socialist system. People simply will not produce optimally in a collectivized system. Why should they? The immediate incentive (personal financial benefit) is not there. Under those circumstances the great majority of people slow down. Plain and simple.
Propaganda, repression and brute force proved to be insufficient motivators to counter such slowdown. Democracy’s reliance on private property and the profit motive (capitalism) was more effective, resulting in economies that outperformed the socialist ones by far. This is how the West won the Cold War. The economies in Russia, China, and the East Bloc simply were no match for the West. In other words, it is true that the US embargo is hurting Cuba, but it is not the major reason why its economy is failing. It is failing, because Cuba’s socialist economy is an inferior economic system.
The Green Third Way of Universal Justice and Realism
Socialism contains certain excellent principles, solidarity being one of them. The socialist economy is clearly inferior, but its social content is clearly superior. The extreme poverty in the Dominican Republic may serve as an example. A comparison between Cuba (socialist) and the Dominican Republic (capitalist) shows that the poverty excesses in the latter country (poor public health care and education) are unthinkable in Cuba because of its high social standard. Cuba‘s health care and education are truly impressive, despite the US embargo!
What we have to do is combine the best of the two systems (socialism and capitalism), not by way of compromise (in which case both sides are unhappy), but by sublimating the best of both into a third system all its own, adding its own distinct dimension. Such a system has already been invented and tested in practice (to a certain degree at least). View the websites: www.cesj.org and www.binaryeconomics.net. We refer to this third system as the ‘Third Way of Justice and Realism’. Its economic base has been labeled ‘binary economics’.
The system is based on universal spirituality, i.e. the belief in a Supreme or Divine Being without any further description so as to emphasize that no religion or denomination ‘owns’ God. So its basis is interfaith and inter-racial solidarity. It is compatible with all faiths. And all human races are included in it on an equal footing. That’s why it’s called the ‘Third Way of Universal Justice and Realism’. The ‘realism’ refers to the fact that it is based on the best of both systems.
Tipping-points, environmental, political and economic
The world is reaching a number of tipping-points. South America is reverting back to socialism, partially as a defensive move against the West’s rapacious greed (= capitalism disguised as ‘market economics’). If nothing is done to provide some balance here, chances are that a North South Cold War may ensue, with Africa no doubt following South America’s lead. This would serve nobody’s interest. In such an ideological divide the Islamic world would probably choose the South’s side, causing a setback for the whole world for decades to come (until the South learns by experience that socialism is indeed based on an inferior economic system as Russia and the East Bloc realized at the end of the 20th century). So we are clearly reaching an economic / political tipping point here: either a renewed Cold War or the development of a new system.
But environmentally we are also reaching a tipping point. If we do not tackle the ‘green problem’ seriously soon, Nature itself will rebel against our constant environmental assaults. Environmental disasters of a magnitude we cannot handle will ensue, ending civilization as we know it. Again the Third Way is the key to the solution here. For to tackle environmental issues, we need money. We have to be able to afford cleaning up the environmental devastation. The Third Way predicts and promises that binary economics will outperform capitalist economies by far, producing the necessary means to effectively tackle the environmental problem. That is why the third way system is called the Green Third Way of Universal Justice and Realism.