History is littered with the collapse of civilizations, failed recoveries, and false starts. To ignore this information is to invite more of the same.
Europe almost made it out of the Dark Ages before the Renaissance. Historians have noted that During the rein of Charlemagne, France was developing into what could have been an early Renaissance. But this was also the time of the raiders from the North; the Vikings. These raiders looted the developing system, and ruined the possibility of an early exit from the Dark Ages.
The irony is that had the Vikings known what the results of their actions would have been, they probably wouldn't have cared. Looting was far more profitable for them than aiding in the development of Europe.
We saw a somewhat similar situation in the U.S. during the 20th century:
America almost made it out of the Industrial Age during the 1970's. (Yes of course, in some ways it did. But, like Charlemagne's France, so much more could have been achieved.)
In the 20th century, a different kind of raider has looted our country – the corporate raider. These raiders have looted our developing sustainable system, and ruined the possibility of an early exit from the polluting, destructive, and climate changing Industrial Age.
The irony here is that these raiders do know what the consequences of their actions are. We are beginning to see these consequences now. Our economy is failing. Our nation is failing. Our environment is failing. Our civilization may even be on the verge of collapse. We could even be heading into another Dark Ages. But, like the Vikings, these raiders don't seem to care. And if they do, there is always another raider to take their place.
Maybe the French could have stopped the Vikings; had they known where to find the raiders, had the will to fight them, and the knowledge of how important it was to stop them. We, on the other hand, know exactly where our corporate pirates are. They are amongst us. And we don't have to fight them. All we have to do is enforce our laws – and reform those which are not fair.
This was beginning to happen during the 1970's. Activists such as Ralph Nader were changing the system for the better for all. President Jimmy Carter was listening, and pointing the way to more enlightened political, economic, and social systems. Someday, historians may compare Jimmy Carter to Charlemagne.
Unfortunately, the massive corporate engine (that is the dominant force in our economy) saw bigger profits in the exploitation of the world.
Moreover, forces within the religious organizations of the Dark Ages feared this enlightenment. Some power hungry religious “leaders” took advantage of their positions of authority (to become even more powerful). They demonized that which was different and called for a stop to change in a changing world. Ironically, they would rather force their customs upon the unwilling than usher in a new era of peace, justice, and prosperity. Ironically, they chose to sell their souls to the systems of exploitation than ally themselves with those for rational change.
In the past eight years, the Republican controlled administration has started another Crusade in the Middle East, directed our nation towards proto-fascism, and driven our economy into the dirt.
Though overall our nation is spiraling downward, there are those who see things differently – because things are quite profitable for them so far. In 1980, the ratio between highest paid and average compensation in a Fortune 500 company was 42 to one. By 2007, the average American CEO makes 364 times the pay of an average worker – which is 885 times the annual income of a full-time minimum wage earner!
If you only keep score with cash, things are going pretty well for those who make the decisions. However, even the “winners” at this game have to see things with a serious case of myopia. No amount of money can replace fresh air – and peace... Yet, ironically, the Industrialists' answers to our problems are more Industrial Age systems – and the militarists' answer to our problems is more aggression.
Our economy is failing because the military/industrial complex has sucked us dry. And now they're trying to convince us that the solution is more Industrial Age “jobs.” Doesn't anyone see the irony in all this?
The Industrial Age has run its course. We have polluted our environment with linear Industrial Age systems. It is time to stop treating our planet as an infinite source of resources and as a bottomless pit for our waste.
We need to rethink our political systems. We need to rethink our economic systems. We need to rethink profit – or the winners among us will just be the last ones to lose.