I am not a green radical, by any means. I am relaxed about the fate of the Earth and hardly concerned about the fate of human society. The former is far beyond our comprehension and the latter is far beneath my common interest. If you add consciousness and intentionality to a flu virus, and scale the organism it invades to the size of our planet, I think you get a good picture of what we are. The likely difference is that a flu virus with consciousness might turn vegetarian. We won’t. So, while we are likely to last but a week in Earth’s time, before we are extinct and it moves on, starts dating again – we are really not a society whose fate is worth a second thought.
That being said, I would like to motivate firstly my current state of pessimistic anger by the results of the Copenhagen meeting last week and secondly my title – by the fact that I sincerely believe that if at some point our society will end, it will owe it to colonialism.
Just like Troy. But reversed.
Let me elaborate on that, with a little logic: there are two basic ways in which humans can expand – the Colony and the Horde.
The Colony means that certain people, who exceed the population limit in terms of space or food are sent out to seek and establish a new society, in a new place. They are the bottom ranking citizens, the homeless, the ones who start out with the premises that they cannot achieve any better in the homeland. Sometimes, they are the criminals or otherwise the outcast.
The Horde means that certain people, including the old and the crippled, or the small children – are left behind to tend to the homeland, while the best people ride to establish new civilization in new lands, often by converting or eradicating the locals.
At first glance, there are good things and bad things to both approaches. At second glance, for some reasons, the first approach seems to have been a constant plague on humans, for as long as we can remember. The reasons might be psychological: the outcasts walk away with spite and ambition. Given a marvelous load of opportunity, with fresh resources and new sense of freedom, that spite and ambition turns on the former homeland, in an attempt to surpass it and often to annex it. So, as soon as they overcome the initial hardships of colonization, their goals are rarely peaceful. Not a single forceful hegemony comes to mind, in human politics, where the world leader was not a form of colony-based society. Greece, Rome, the USA would be my first examples. I might also note, slightly amused, that the societies with horde origins, such as France or Germany have also kept their habits, trying to invade everyone when opportunity arises.
But let us get back to the radiography of our diagnosed disease. Colonialism. We owe it the extinction of a few dozens of antic societies. We owe it the political form of government called „democracy with the exception of slaves”. We owe it the atomic bomb. We probably owe it the extinction of our race.
The essential difference between the Colony and the Horde is how they relate to the rest of the world. The colonist is scorn by his kind. He leaves because he craves respect. He strives to obtain resources, to build up power, to obtain respect. If he succeeds, he returns the same treatment he was originally paid. To everyone. The Horde is made of the best warriors, precisely because it respects the others, it acknowledges their strength – therefore, in either defeat or victory, it will continue to do so.
Coming back to Copenhagen – I feel cheated straight to my face. By an imbecile. Imagine you go to the market and buy a bag of oranges. You pay the amount as requested then the guy behind the counter takes the next customer before handing you the oranges. Normally, you would point out the abnormality and he would laugh, embarrassed of his own clumsiness and hand you the oranges. Except this time he shrugs and says he’s never seen you. Then he winks visibly at the other customer and asks him if he had seen you, and he also says no, with a mocking smile. You see, an educated person would usually decide to just walk away, because the price of a bag of oranges is not worth an argument with the low lives. But at Copenhagen the low lives are the ones who dominate the world, which means you don’t get to argue.
Seriously, at some point the dialogue might end up with: „-Cut off your pollution! -Or what?”
The Horde is visionary. It doesn’t form out of the distress or hunger of each individual, it is formed out of the potential distress or hunger of the whole society in the years to come, therefore it does not have the concerns of today and tomorrow. The Colony does – and inherently it lacks vision. So, while the Horde utilizes strength to grow extraordinary people, for something that is about to happen in a century, the Colony utilizes strength to purchase or attract extraordinary people for the „now” purposes, without necessarily knowing what to do with them, in general.
With the right technology, though, the president can come out with a grin on his face and announce that the conference went really, really well. The Colonial Dream can go on, undisturbed. Their mommies will sing them each night to sleep and chase away the Ice Age monster from beneath the bed.