Thursday, 26 July 2012

Is It Time To Go Small?

Size matters. Ask anyone and they’ll all have their own reasoning:
“I enjoy a larger size” says Mark.
Nadine disagrees: “A small one packs more punch. All you need is a shot of caffeine in the morning. That’s why I like an espresso.” Mark of course, is into his frothy latte so enjoys the ‘grande’ beverage offered by some.

Now what I’m going to write about is probably impossible to achieve in this day and age but what I hope to provoke is thinking! Think about the possibilities of downsizing society. My reasons for doing so can obviously be debated, and I may be taking the most extreme examples but I believe extreme is what works. There’s so much out there today that makes us say “oh. That’s terrible” and click to the next news story.

So here it goes.

I believe that a downsizing of society is necessary. I believe that we are proving ungovernable as sizable entities and I believe this is being shown by countries like Greece, Spain and even America. It is too hard to govern from one particular city, a vast country with so many differing political philosophies. I believe that it is easier to corrupt someone who is far from their electorate than someone who lives and works amoung their voters. I hope my following examples will help my cause of why I’m beginning to believe that less is more.

The nation state system we currently live in emerged after the Treaty of Westphalia. We had defined borders, ones which other states could not interfere in. All well and good until the transnational ‘person’ came to be: the corporation. The world we live in right now is being overly influenced by the power of the multinational corporation. Their size and their power are massive influences on so many lives. Most worryingly, their monetary influence in democracies is ever increasing. America is going to have the most expensively bought presidency this November. The figures being mentioned are just frightening and sickening. Not wanting to state the obvious, but when you invest millions and millions of  $’s, €’s or £’s in a parties or individuals campaign, then it’s expected they repay your ‘generosity’ by passing laws that benefit you, the donor.

But it seems to have come to a stage where the laws and bills passed, are nothing but a gigantic benefit to corporations and are eating away at our humanity. The mantra is now consistently ‘profit before anything’, be it humanity or the environment. And personally I find this very troublesome. Capitalism has taught a large section of humanity to care, not about each other, but about their ‘stuff’. People’s concerns now are about their property. While laws are passed that “don’t affect me” people don’t care. This apathy is allowing big business buy control so much of what affects us and what we do. People who want out of this society and want away from the corporate bought governments are finding that laws written to protect them, are not there for the people any more.

In regard to the environment, well it truly is frightening what corporations are doing. Bad news? Lets just buy silence. Artic is considered off limits for oil drilling? Let’s buy our way to that limit. Lets prove that everyone has a price. It’s hard not to write they’re proving that everyone is corruptible, but for the most part, people live in the here and now, for themselves. If someone offers them facilities that they previously didn’t have, they accept. No thought is given to the generations that we’re passing this earth to. It’s going to be in some state. There are some victories for the small guy, but they’re becoming so rare and localised that it’s disheartening for the society we live in. Look at some of the other battles that are on going and you realise the relentless push corporations engage in. They have the means to keep on fighting in the courts and as shown in this amazing documentary they are becoming less able to lose, if indeed they lose at all.

Smaller society could prove more difficult to buy as individual communities would need to be negotiated with. A government based in Dublin for example, couldn’t just sign away the rights to an oil field in Cork. Responsible governments like Norway’s for example, are increasingly difficult to elect. Lies are told to get people into power and so it exists until the next lying, sorry, election cycle. Look at what is possible with a government for the people. A solution where society as a whole benefits, and the people get a little bonus also. But how many countries firstly have the ability to stand up to corporations, backed up by the countries governments they’ve bought, or are brave enough to do so?

Now I know downsizing what we have is nigh impossible, but what I hope to show in this writing is that it is possible; small victories have been won but we need to want this change to last. By having smaller society, communities will be willing to fight for each other more. I think this would lead to a ‘decommercialising’ of our lives, but what we would lack in capitalist consumerism, we could enrich our humanity with. I’m not asking for a return to pre technological era, I think that technology could only improve the community experience. We are all, after all, one big worldly community. But I believe energy needs can be met locally with the improvements in solar energy, wind power and wave energy. My examples above of small victories, I believe more are possible in smaller society. Local, small victories make nice stories in a national press. Nice stories that are forgotten about a few months down the line by all those except those that fought.

We need to have more than symbolic victories which corporations simply show their cunning and patience, in order to win at all costs.

My argument is currently thin, it needs fleshing out, but these are just my formative thoughts!

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