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A Deadly Vicious Circle

AUTHOR:  Leonardo BOFF

Translated by  Refugio del Río Grande, Texas, USA

We find ourselves now in the midst of failed civilization and economic paradigms. That is what the present global crisis with its various ramifications reveals to us. In the short and medium term nothing appears consistent. We are passengers on a plane in a blind flight. What is being offered would make corrections and controls a la Keynes, which in fact are changes within the system, and not changes of the system. But it is the system  that produces unsustainable results, and cannot offer humanity a promising horizon. This is why we need different systems, and paradigms, for inhabiting this old, small, devastated and overpopulated planet. It is urgent because time is running out, and we have too little wisdom and the spirit of cooperation is all too scarce.   

Given the interests of the powerful, who do not take the necessary steps to avoid their lethal consequences, the solutions that are being enforced throughout the world are essentially «more of the same.» This is absolutely irrational,  because it has been that «same» that has brought us to this crisis, which can evolve into complete tragedy.

We are, then, caught up in a lethal vicious circle. Whether the economists -the «saviors» of the world- like it or not, we are within sight of two deadly ends: one humanitarian and another ecological. The first is of an ethical nature: the worldwide consciousness, arising from globalization, begs the question: how much inhumanity and cruelty can the human spirit support, when 20% of the population consumes 80% of the Earth's resources, condemning the rest to the cross of desperation, walled in by the demands of subsistence? Will humanity accept this death sentence... or will she resist, be indignant, and finally, given the instinct for survival, will she revolt? The capitalist ideal of unlimited growth in a limited planet can no longer be enforced, except through tremendous violence.

The second is the ecologic limit. Capitalism created a culture of consumption and waste, whose prototype is the Northamerican society. To expand this culture -the calculations have already been done - two or more Earths like ours would be needed, which makes the project unrealizable. Moreover, we have pressed the resources and services of the Earth to their limits, and have exceeded them by 40%. All the alternatives to fossil fuels, maintaining the present level of consumption, would only supply 30% of global demand. We can see that, following the same model, we are like a toad slowly being cooked with no possibility of getting out of the pot.

There are three creative proposals: an economy based on solidarity, not on the capitalist objective of profit maximization or individual appropriation; a change to regional currencies, and the third, the bio-civilization and Earth of Good Hope, of Ignacy Sachs, the Polish economist who runs the research center on Brazil in Paris. This proposal gives a central place to life and to nature, taking Brazil as the place where it could be anticipated. The three are possible, but none has yet accumulated enough strength to attain hegemony.

They could perhaps save us. But do we have still enough time? Gramsci said it well: «the old does not stop dying and it is hard for the new to be born.»  A culture is not abandoned from one day to the next. One who is used to eating sirloin steak, will hardly resign himself to eggs.

My sense of the world tells me that we are headed towards an encounter with a formidable generalized crisis, one that will take us to the very limits of survival. When we are under water up to our noses, we will do anything to save ourselves. Possibly we will all become socialists, not from ideology but from necessity: the scarce natural resources will be distributed impartially between humans and the other beings within the community of life.

Saint Augustine wisely taught that there are two factors that produce great transformations: suffering and love. We must learn now to love and to suffer for this unique Common House, that she may be a big Noah's Ark that shelters all. Then the Earth of the Good Hope will be the sign of a Garden of Eden yet to come.


Source: the author's site- Um círculo vicioso mortal

Original article published on July 24, 2009

About the author

Refugio del Rio Grande, a partner of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity, is a 45 acre refuge located outside Harlingen, Texas, USA. It was opened in 1986, to offer a place of refuge in the United States for political refugees from Central America. Now, refugees from all countries of the world are welcome. REFUGIO is also a refuge for a wide variety of wildlife, who find a safe and friendly environment. At REFUGIO, basic needs of housing, clothing and food are met. Those looking for asylum because of repression or oppression can find peace as they work through the process of their legal case, living with friends who work in solidarity for justice and peace in a small self governing community. A sense of balance is sought between nature and humanity as we live and work together.
This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author and translator  are cited.

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STORMING BRAINS : 26/08/2009