Monday, February 11, 2019

Participation and Self-Government


From a young age my generation has witnessed the consistent and persistent degradation of our global environment with the potential for a permanent environmental catastrophe. Whether it be acid rain in the 70’s, loss of the ozone layer in the 80’s, the smog belt of the 90’s, or our current polar ice cap melt, the sensitive members of my generation have grown accustom to nothing less than the apparent total and inevitable collapse of our global environment to support life as it has existed on this planet since the last ice age. As a result, the next generation is serious about issues of pollution, unlimited consumption, production and distribution. Such a generation is willing to accept a wider sense of social responsibility than has been the norm in the post-war “me” generation unable to halt the current destruction. 

For this generation, the political belief in unlimited growth and technical progress does not provide a warm feeling of security but rather a general distrust of language that does not disclose an accurate picture of the world. If such is the case, the average audience member is well advised to develop a critical distrust of language that fails to disclose an accurate or inclusive picture of the world. This new seriousness takes the shape of a willingness to know about changes occurring in our environment as a result of overpopulation and methods of mass production. The climate of the planet has changed dramatically during our lifetime and some scientists are predicting a six degree global increase in temperature from the last century into the next. In the words of social advocate Paulo Freire, we must “be prepared to condemn the fabrication of illusions in which the unprepared become trapped and the weak destroyed.” Goals of acceptable pollution and exclusive forms of private development that are worthy of sustainable public standards and avoid environmental degradation are necessary to see beyond the “necessary illusions” created by the social domination of the greedy, arrogant, violent and the well-organized that represent a significant portion of the current status quo and arguments that exclusively rely on market rules in a semi-democratic capitalist world system.

I believe that a real ethic of respect for the dignity and autonomy of all people can best be realized in a public duty to organize responsibly around a communications, production and distribution network designed to address the well being of individuals and collectives.