Independence is a Delusion; Individualism is a Lethal Mistake

CrusoeHumans are interdependent. We all depend on each other. That starts on the day we are born: Every infant is utterly dependent on parents or other caregivers. But it continues throughout our lives. The capitalist who proclaims himself “self-made” is dependent on the labor of his employees. Even Robinson Crusoe was dependent on tools and knowledge, developed by other people, that he brought to his island from the sinking ship. No one can ever be independent. The closest you can hope for is to achieve harmony in your relationship with other people – and not just with other people, but with the rest of the ecosystem, the rest of the planet, the rest of the universe.

Some recent crises make our interdependence more obvious:

  • Mass shootings have become commonplace. How do they happen? Well, the dog-eat-dog competition in our economic system replaces empathy with fear. Unfamiliar people come to look like threats. Every once in a while some friendless, desperate man flips out and starts shooting. Solution: Universal basic income, to end the dog-eat-dog competition. Change culture so everyone befriends their neighbor, and no one is left behind.
  • We have always been interdependent for health. If your neighbor gets sick, then you are at risk for getting sick. Thus, there is no “health of one person” – there is only “health of the community” – and the “community” has become global. That becomes more obvious during a pandemic, when some illness is highly contagious and highly harmful to those who catch it. And if you only take care of rich countries, the disease will continue mutating to new forms in poorer countries, and those new forms will come back to bite you in your rich ass. Solution: Take care of everyone, not just those with money. But the pharmaceuticals industry won’t like losing their profits, and so they will bribe congress against this solution. Presently, congress is run by the rich. We will only end rule by the wealthy class when we no longer =have= a wealthy class. We need a great cultural change.
  • nuclear blastWars are started by lies to make rich men richer. We’ve been tormented by wars for thousands of years; always some people have survived. But in the last century our weapons became far more fierce. A war between two nuclear powers would immediately wipe out only one or two billion people – but its aftermath would leave drifting clouds of radioactive fallout that might, within a few years, wipe out the rest of humanity, like in the 1959 movie “On the Beach.” We’ve managed to avoid nuclear war so far, but that has only been through luck. There have been many incidents in which a nuclear war =almost= started accidentally, like in the 1964 movies “Dr. Strangelove” and “Fail Safe.” It was only averted by some junior officer (such as Stanislav Petrov) refusing to obey orders. The longer we depend on luck, the greater our risk becomes, and it’s not helped any by the fact that lately our leaders have been getting more crazy, more belligerent, talking about “winning” a nuclear war. Solution: Universal disarmament. That requires universal friendship. That, in turn, requires a different economic system, one in which everyone shares and there are no have-nots. But the current haves will resist this change with all their might. Again, we need a great cultural change.
  • The climate apocalypse is coming even bigger and faster than the IPCC says; the IPCC has been overlooking feedback loops and tipping points. If we continue with Business As Usual, it will soon kill us all. Pollution doesn’t stop at national borders or at the door to your gated community. Think of Earth as our shared spaceship, and think of its ecosystem as the sole life-support system of that spaceship. We all have to plan together, to maintain the life-support system; there is no Planet B. Solution: Do what the climatologists say, not what the market says. But the oil, car, plane, and beef companies, and other companies who profit unsustainably, will resist. Culture change.

We’re all in this together.

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2022 June 5, version 1.01.

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