Civilizations are built in accordance to the cultural values embraced and practiced by its people. These values are developed over long periods of time, cultured and nourished from many sources, from their combined history, traditional, religious and geographical and environmental factors. These are “evolutionary conditions” which cause the evolving changes in cultural values.
The aggregation of cultural values is what we often refer to as “civilization”, a representation of human activity meant to exemplify the best of human endeavor. Civilization is a mirrored reflection of the cultural values held (stop for a moment and think about our present civilization and how it reflects our true values).
Over time, these cultural values change and hence, civilization itself changes. This evolutionary process is traceable to several factors, including industrialization, technological advancement and even religious leadership. Any of these factors can create a massive upswell in cultural values, both good and bad, resulting in civilization taking a turn for the better or for the worse. In any case, these values continue to be represented by the civilization itself within its culture until when and if, they are replaced with something else.
Cultures motivated by money exhibit some of the worst forms of human behavior possible. Exploitation of people, places and things is the result, as temporary exchange of (ultimately) natural resources is exploited for human gratification at the expense of everything else, including natural ecosystems and resources.
The American Indian was wiped out because of a clash of cultural values. The intrinsic value of the land and the animals was recognized as being common to all Indians, but the white man saw the value of the land and animals in a much different light. The result was genocide as the improved technological advancements overruled the primitive defenses employed by the Indians. The motivation for the land and it’s value by both sides was very different. The “superior” culture “won” those wars in its quest for control and ownership of the natural resources. The result was the subjugation and control of every living thing on earth.
Since that time, the cultural values of the new Americans has changed very little. The imported Western culture to the New World has remained the same for quite some time, evolving only slightly with industrialization and technology, but essentially remaining the same.
It’s extremely important to note Western culture is at odds with the entire earth – people, places, land, resources, plants, animals, fish, even the air, minerals and space itself. The cultural values embraced by Westerners is based upon the concepts of ownership, control, profits and manipulation (exploitation). This is in a direct and dangerous contrast to the cultural values that were long practiced on the planet by indigenous cultures, most of where were exterminated. That many of these indigenous cultures survived for tens of thousands of years gives strong proof to the fact that their way of life and cultural values were sustainable, while ours as Westerners are not, as discussed below.
But even this fact regarding the former civilizations is widely ignored as the Western world (now most of the globe) continues to embrace the same cultural values as ever. The Western world believes that its values are “best” and insists upon importing its values by force upon the rest of the world. The result is always genocide, including cultural, human and environmental, which can be summed up as planetary ecocide.
That is not to say however, that other former cultures are not without their examples of ecocide and genocide. Many previous civilizations have collapsed for exactly the same reasons our civilization is now collapsing. They also chose the wrong path with their cultural values and resulting civilizations and eventually, wiped themselves out. They failed to adapt (evolve). We can learn a great deal from these former examples, but it remains doubtful that we can learn enough, fast enough and widely enough to avoid our own collapse because of our continued insistence upon our present cultural values.
Values that are in direct conflict with the supporting natural earthly systems are destined for failure. Technology can never replace natural systems (although this is the implied, but failed promise), neither can civilization itself. Agriculture for example in its many varied forms can never replace the natural cycle of life and death in the plant world. Agriculture is a exploitive and forceful method of plant production, destroying unwanted species (right down to the microbe level), soil nutrients and the natural hydration of entire regions, in an effort to create certain crops and high yields.
Even “natural” gardens are not natural at all, but planned (cooercive) approaches to coexist desired plant growth amongst natural plant growth for human consumption (usually, although some are purely decorative).
It’s nearly pointless to discuss the “why” this occurs, we all know why. The purpose is ultimately, food production (versus food harvesting). Even commericial forestry (logging) is ultimately based upon the demand food production. Supporting billions requires coercive production – natural systems are no longer able to support natural harvesting and have long since been “replaced” by coercive agricultural methods.
However, this replacement methodology as practiced by civilization is at the very heart of what is wrong with our cultural values. Industrialization and technology, including agriculture, aquaculture and all othe forms of “x-culture”, deemed so necessary for food production, are the replacement methodologies for natural food production. This is essentially what all of civilization is for – food production.
Artificial food production (as practiced today) is an exploitive, coercive process, rather then cooperative. The natural abundance of the earth has been supplanted by the industrial and technological aspects of our civilization, which in turn, are the result of our cultural values. We all know the result of this collage of coercion – overpopulation, pollution, resource depletion, collapsing ecosystems, extinct species and a world full of crime, war, disease and widespread destruction.
Civilization created all of these things, or more aptly put, our cultural values caused all of these things. These root reasons for our common collapse and impending self-destruction must be acknowledged if we are to have any hope for a course correction before our extinction.
Money is the driving force behind much of the cultural values of “worth”. Worth doesn’t necessarily mean control or ownership, but the intrinsic worth of natural resources (what we call “assets” in today’s capitalized society) was replaced by its relationship to civilizations worth. That is, if civilization deemed a resource a value (even a single human individual could do this), then that resource had to be controlled or owned. These resources then became “possessions” which had value in context of the existing civilization at that time. What was once “valueless” became valuable as the evolving civilization identified a way to exploit or utilize that resource.
Of course, the ultimate result was far more then this as the earth itself became divided up into tinier and tinier possessions, through a unending series of wars and conquests, extracted of its cultural “values” (resources) and sometimes, eventually discarded (meaning disused or disposed of) – until the next evolutionary change within civilization occurs and discovers an even further use for those idle possessions.
There are many examples of this all over the world, such as oil, uranium, natural gas, plants, animals, oceans, forests, deserts (good places to build casinos), etc., all unused and ignored at one time until the evolutionary changes within civilization occured that suddenly discovered the value in its natural possessions. Actual ownership or control of these natural resources never proved to be a problem, since wars could always be fought to take control as required. The result was (and always is) further exploitation, wars and conflicts, which of course in turn creates even more planetary damage on humans and ecosystems alike.
It’s pretty easy to see where this is all leading as evolutionary changes take place within civilization itself. The entire process is self-defeating and self-eliminating as artifical “systems” are employed to replace natural systems all over the world. The ongoing exploitation of natural systems and resources has already reached above and below the planet. The goal is to strip mine the stars apparently, but this is deemed necessary simple because there’s nothing left on earth to easily exploit. That is the driving reason why space exploration is deemed “essential”.
The question of whether our civilization should even be evolving in this direction of ongoing self-destruction is most often never even asked. But if the stars or the asteroids are are not available to us for exploitation (and they may well not be), then we need to seriously question our very way of life – our cultural values, our concepts of ownership, control and possessions and the fabric of civilization itself.
Personally, I am stunned with disbelief that this is the best we can do. As a product of Western civilization, I acknowledge my own extremely limited understanding of how things could be much different. But even I can identify the dangerous path that we are on and that we do indeed need to be living much differently. We need to embrace an entirely new set of cultural values and “rebuild” our civilizations and way of life in accordance to these values. However, I strongly suspect that such values would not be “new” at all, but rather rediscovered values that were once held and practiced by many ancient peoples before us. We need an evolutionary cultural value change as soon as possible.
That our values replaced the ancient values once held is without a doubt (otherwise, we’d not be here today with these values), but it is also without a doubt that our cultural values are horrifyingly terrible for sustaining life on this planet. We’ve only “gotten away with it” because of the fantastic abundance that the earth once offered, but now that we have thoroughly plundered that abundance, it’s evident that our values must change if we hope to survive.
We’re dinosaurs in effect, so far unable to cope with the environmental changes and now facing our own self-caused extinction. But unlike the dinosaurs – we do have a choice. Evolve or die. Adapt or perish. Cultural values that are only increasing the planetary extinction of any species must be discarded immediately.