The Source of Our Polluting Culture

March 26, 2023 by Joshua
in Freedom, Nature

Consider two cultures, one living sustainably, one unsustainably. Does the following sound familiar?

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The sustainable one must be living within its means. In fact, it must have some abundance to withstand an occasional flood or drought. Many cultures have survived and thrived for tens to hundreds of thousands of years.

The unsustainable one is living beyond its means, decreasing what resources it needs to survive. In most cases, it can either change its culture sustainable or see its population collapse when key resources run out. If it has the technology and organization, as it sees its resources run out, it may look at the sustainable culture’s abundance and decide to take some of it.

If the unsustainable culture stays unsustainable, it will use up its newfound abundance. It can then collapse on a bigger scale, change to sustainable, or find other sustainable cultures with abundances it can plunder. This pattern will continue until all global abundances are used up, the global population collapses, or the culture becomes sustainable.

This pattern is imperialism. Does it sound familiar to what is happening today? The pattern rarely stops at using up the invaded culture’s material abundance. Invaders also use their land, which is colonialism, and labor, which is slavery.

The people in the armies and navies that invade aren’t risking their lives for the fun of it. They’re paid to do it. Who is paying them? The money is coming from the home market benefiting from the plundered resources. That is, imperialism, colonialism, and slavery are paid for by people buying what they provide. Our polluting system is driven by people buying plundered things. We can claim individual action doesn’t matter, but it’s exactly what’s driving our system.

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