I called the foregoing Part “the immediate causes of our predicament”. In summary, “extractivism” based on the idea of mastery of nature, the effects of the rise of mercantilism and capitalism, and, more specifically, some of the effects of the power of the United States over the last century.
But, even if we were able to change these things, there are underlying issues which would inexorably lead us back into the same or similar situations, just by different routes.
This Part is about some of those underlying issues. They are deeply rooted in the human psyche and/or culture, and are much more difficult to change. You might think capitalism would be a pretty hard thing to change, but it’s a doddle compared with curbing the tendency of humans to be corrupted by power, regardless of how they achieved it.
Some of the five underlying causes I’ll explore below are pretty universal, some are shared by only some of us, and some are dependent on opportunity.
But they all need to be improved, or better managed, or better controlled. Humans need to act in a more grown-up way – this is what I call “civilisation” – the curbing of any natural or learned tendencies to put ourselves ahead of others in ways which damage or destabilise ourselves, or the others, or society.
Chapter 21 starts this Part off with a good old Biblical problem, one of the seven deadly sins – greed.
Chapter 22 then looks at power, a central issue in any society, whether in the personal, political or economic spheres.
Chapter 23 considers the problem of consent – how citizens are persuaded to go along with economic and social policies which are not necessarily in their best interests.
Chapter 24 looks at the problem of misguided ingenuity – humans are very clever, particularly with material technologies, but they are not always wise in how they develop and use them.
The fifth problem is “otherness”. Chapter 25 examines thing in us that resents, or fears, or rejects, people who we regard as unlike us.
Chapter 26 then foreshadows the next Part by giving a brief summary of what we need to do about these five problems.