Transition to a New Society

What does human-centeredness mean?

While in studying physical systems one could make useful approximations and idealizations and treat many topics separately and independently, we have to remember that the essential feature of our society is interconnectedness; everything is interdependent. All problems have to be treated simultaneously. The current paradigm is rapidly leading to a catastrophe and so all problems have to be addressed promptly, since they are urgent. New economic paradigm has to be intertwined with new governance paradigm, and they all have to be sustainable and peaceful. The sources of the interdependence are individuality of human beings and integration of humans and Nature, integration of humans among themselves, as well as our values, identity, our aims, aspirations and expectations shaping humans into historical conscious beings.

Humans are an integral part of Nature, and preserving Nature is a vital aspect of human-centeredness. The present paradigm grossly violates Nature. Notwithstanding several successes, governance of the environment has been and is dismal. The economy maximized for profit and greed, and ignoring the commons is unacceptable in the new paradigm. New ecological economy has to maximize the use of abundant resources, and human and social capitals are abundant and underused, and it has to minimize the use of scarce resources like natural capital. As in physics some “sacred cows” would have to be modified. Again, one has to be careful in assessing concepts (property, virtual wealth) and tools (e.g. money, banking). One should be careful that some of our “revolutionary” ideas, which may appear to be new, could be part of our old grudges. Adam Smith was a moral philosopher and economist concerned with human welfare. Economics developed its own measurements and became an independent scientific discipline. It took humankind millennia to develop the system of units that was finally codified at the time of the French Revolution and we got meters, kilograms and seconds. It is no wonder that indicators and measurements in economy ? productivity, competitiveness, GDP, Human Development Index and many others all the way to happiness indicators ? are far from satisfactory, but some of them, when based on good theory, produced good policies and effects. It is often stated that the current age is the age of measurement, but we have to be careful and humble as we use these indicators and derive policies and actions from such measurements. The present disillusionment in every­thing, sometimes including science, leads to questioning the results of pollution and climate change. Of course, there will be progress in climate models and even more in understanding the enormously complex climate system, but as nobody would jump from a high story building arguing that we still do not properly understand gravity (it is absolutely true that we do not fully understand gravity), so humankind should stop violating Nature arguing that our current knowledge is not perfect and will soon be improved. We just have no time and the call “let us all have the standard as in highly developed countries” is not unrealistic, but senseless since that standard is not necessarily high or satisfactory.

Humans are social animals, and the Golden Rule is an integral part of all major religions and cultures is imbedded in our genetic code. Violence, arrogance and inactivity (sin of omission) have characterized the old paradigm and each and all lead to catastrophe. Violence is destroying human dignity, and all forms of violence from individual violence to terrorism, to war, to state-terrorism (democide) and social suppression are part of an old paradigm unacceptable in the age of a new paradigm. Part of the old paradigm was preparing for war, but contrary to any and all superficial analyses there is clear evidence that WMD are counterproductive, immoral and unusable, and through their enormous economic burden (it is estimated that the USA, within the next decade, will spend 1 trillion dollars just to maintain its nuclear capability) lead to economic destruction. Arrogance is common to humans, and all “end of …”s show that at various times we believed we achieved complete understanding and a perfect structure. There is a joke that astrophysicists are often in error, but never in doubt. Since our world is so rapidly changing according to the “rules” we do not yet understand, such conclusions are wrong. As quantum physics/theory of relativity provided explosion of surprises, so the forthcoming paradigm shift can produce an explosion of even richer surprises. Possibly the sentence “There are more things in heaven and in the Earth, my dear Horatio, than are dreamt in your philosophy” has to be turned around: our creative power is supreme. We may enter an age when we share our Earth with robots – automatic and artificially intelligent robots ? and our economy and rule of law have to be modified, producing unforeseen and unimaginable integration of us and them. There is an old joke from communism: when expert economists encounter two workers pushing a cart, they comment “why do two of you push it, when it is easier for one to do it?” and the reply comes “since the third one is ill.” The Future will likely replace their work with robots. This does not imply unemployment; it implies that people will do much less manual work, and a lot of creative work which is badly needed: we do not understand, we do not have answers, solutions to problems we face, and not acting will not solve any of these problems. Aristotle argued “That all men (he should have used humans) by nature have a desire to know.” Society has to assure education for all at all levels (including lifelong learning), research and creativity. This is what governments today are for since this is part of justice, prosperity and human security. Full employment is a human right, intertwined with human political rights. It is often emphasized that the current economy is a service economy. This is true, but beware that services do not overwhelm us through unnecessary and obstructive services (it sounds as an oxymoron, but services, e.g. various over-controls can suffocate the system; each step of mandatory services involves an error and they add).

Humans are political animals, and though Aristotle stated that “politics” has a special position in scientific activity, it is true that research, science and politics were constantly in conflict as demonstrated by Justinian abolishing the Plato Academy. In a global world we need global education and global governance. Present structure of sovereign states and present international regime should be constantly improved to include global dimensions and to add existing richness to the system of sovereign states. Some of this has been done long ago, e.g. ILO (first international labor organizations date from the 19th century and then immediately after WWI and through the League of Nations) having a tripartite governance structure representing governments, workers and employers (in 2:1:1 ratio) and it would be very useful to implement similar structures throughout the UN system. Proposals for establishing UN Environmental Security Council and UN Social Security Council are more than three decades old, but nothing has been done so far. There are other existing forms that could be implemented. For instance, referenda are integral part of a political process in several countries, but global referendum was never tried there. Referendum is a rather complex political process with many drawbacks, but it would be rewarding to contemplate referenda on basic human rights that would then force legal consequences in each and all sovereign states laws. Examples could be protection of basic human rights such as the abolition of WMD, abolition of war and full employment.

We showed that no matter what, the world is facing major paradigmatic shift. In a world characterized by uncertainties actions of humans require interplay of science, creativity, political actions and decisions. Collaboration and harmonious actions by independent structures such as the UN system, Club of Madrid, Club of Rome, Pugwash, European Leadership Network, World Academy of Art and Science, regional academies, national academies and many other organizations such as research centers, sovereign states, various movements are necessary to implement leadership in thoughts that leads to action.

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