Citizen Action Monitor

“The ‘business-as-usual’ scenario can only lead to increasing social problems.” – Peter Joseph

Social control and oppression is structurally codified in the current socioeconomic system.

No 2031 Posted by fw, August 15, 2017

Peter Joseph

“The bottom line is that when we trace the systemic chain reactions of our most detrimental social problems, we almost invariably end up at the doorstep of the economy. If we expect to achieve new levels of prosperity, peace, and social justice on this planet, while also stopping or reversing many detrimental trends currently on pace, then it is about time we started to expand our sense of possibility. While the future has yet to be seen, it is safe to say that a “business-as-usual” scenario can only lead to increasing social problems at this stage of social evolution. While we have seen great strides over the past 200 years, the value of those strides is only as good as our ability to maintain them. Social and ecological trends now show not a path toward further prosperity, but a path toward social destabilization and an overall public-health crisis.”Peter Joseph, Introduction to The New Human Rights Movement

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This is what the NY Journal of Books wrote in a review of Peter Joseph’s groundbreaking new book, The New Human Rights Movement: Reinventing the Economy to End Oppression, (BenBella Books, 2017) —

Society is broken. We can design our way to a better one.

In our increasingly interconnected world, self-interest and social-interest are rapidly becoming indistinguishable. If the oceans die, if society fractures, or if global warming spirals out of control, personal success becomes meaningless. But our broken system incentivizes behavior that only makes these problems worse. If true human rights progress is to be achieved today, it is time we dig deeper—rethinking the very foundation of our social system.

In this engaging, important work, Peter Joseph, founder of the largest grassroots social movement in the world—Zeitgeist Movement—draws from economics, history, philosophy and modern public health research, to present a bold case for rethinking activism in the 21st century.

The conventional wisdom views poverty, social oppression and the growing loss of public health as unfortunate and immutable side effects of our way of life. Joseph argues that these outcomes are, in fact, contrived—only natural to our outdated economic system. Social activists can never succeed in dramatically improving human life on this planet until they understand the structural reasons these problems exist.

Arguing against the long-standing narrative of universal scarcity and other pervasive, legitimizing myths that defend the current state of affairs, The New Human Rights Movement, ultimately presents the case for an updated economic approach. Joseph explores the potential of this grand social shift and how we can design our way to a post-scarcity world—a world where poverty doesn’t exist and the human family has become truly sustainable.

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Below is an excerpt from Peter Joseph’s introduction to his visionary new book, with my added subheadings

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Introduction: The New Human Rights Movement, by Peter Joseph, BenBella Books, 2017, xix-xx

Almost all forms of social oppression are rooted in socioeconomic inequality

… almost all forms of social oppression are rooted in socioeconomic inequality. And most forms of destructive environmental destabilization are rooted in the essential nature of our economic mode. These two issues are for critical to understand.

Before we cast blame, consider that the true “cause” may be a result of deeply rooted structural pressures  

Causality surrounding them may not always be direct or obvious. As will be discussed, our minds have a hard time understanding extended chain reactions. We tend to think in a very proximal sense rather than a systemic one. This means when we see, for example, a company polluting a water supply, hurting a local population, we tend to blame the company, ignoring the larger structural pressures that may be occurring beyond that company, motivating or even coercing its decision to pollute.

When we connect the dots of social problems, we often end up at a the doorstep of a dysfunctional economy

The bottom line is that when we trace the systemic chain reactions of our most detrimental social problems, we almost invariably end up at the doorstep of the economy. If we expect to achieve new levels of prosperity, peace, and social justice on this planet, while also stopping or reversing many detrimental trends currently on pace, then it is about time we started to expand our sense of possibility.

Our “business-as-usual” scenario can only lead to increasing social problems

While the future has yet to be seen, it is safe to say that a “business-as-usual” scenario can only lead to increasing social problems at this stage of social evolution. While we have seen great strides over the past 200 years, the value of those strides is only as good as our ability to maintain them. Social and ecological trends now show not a path toward further prosperity, but a path toward social destabilization and an overall public-health crisis.

“What we have today is an increasingly incompatible social system, clashing with a world very different than the one it evolved out of”

I wish to reiterate that the real issue of concern today isn’t moral; it is structural. It has little to do with people’s general, day-to-day intent and everything to do with the organizing framework of global society. All the best intentions in the world are not going to stop the existing and emerging problems as long as the current socioeconomic framework remains unaltered. What we have today is an increasingly incompatible social system, clashing with a world very different than the one it evolved out of. While it is convenient to assume that we humans, as smart as we are, will naturally adapt society to new requirements, given current trends this very well might not be the case. In the same way, the abolition of abject slavery or apartheid didn’t occur through polite, rational conversation, at no time has the march toward social equality and rational societal adjustment been fluid.

“The character of our social system favors preservation and elitism”

… the character of our social system favors preservation and elitism. Social dominance and the facilitation of social control and oppression is structurally codified in the system; a normative function born from its inherently competitive, scarcity-driven ethic. Given this, the odds of any kind of easy transition are slim. That is because those with great power and wealth, those who have been rewarded greatly by the system, naturally find cognitive dissonance with the idea of altering the very mechanism that has rewarded them so disproportionately. In the words of Frederick Douglass: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them . . .[Source: Ludwig von Bertalanffy, General System Theory: Foundations, Development, Applications (George Braziller, 1968), 30–53.]

“The need for social movement on the global scale … is now critical to progress”

Therefore, the need for social movement on the global scale, with very specific and strategic plans to shift the social architecture, is now critical to progress. These needed adjustments have already been made clear by both modern trends in economic or productive means and the sociological and ecological revelations presented by contemporary science. The train of thought as to what socioeconomic preconditions will allow for a highly sustainable and socially just world is virtually self-evident. How we get there — and if we get there in time — is the ultimate question.

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