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The problem of Inequality – and why we need “equipotentiality”!

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
10th February 2013


Republished from Ray Podder:

“If there is any one fundamental idea standing in the way of a bright future for all, it is the idea of human inequality. The idea that someone is above you or that someone is below you. It is the most confused and most dangerous idea in our existence borne from the assumption of scarcity.

The root of the confusion I think stems from the idea that differences are gradable. No one is equal in ability. Everyone is a genius in something, but that genius is lost if the criteria for excellence is measured by a curve where their brilliance does not fit. IQ is one measure of cognitive ability but it is not the only one. Popularity is one measure of appreciation but not the only one. Wealth defined by the acquisition of money is one measure of success but it too is not the only one.

In nature everything grows and everything moves. How it grows and how it moves is contextually unique. We, in contrast have devised a singular modality for growth and think that we are brilliant for having done so. In effect what we have actually done is place our natural differences that creates interdependent value, and then proceeded to grade those values along a spectrum of worth we made up. This makes us judge economic value by production and consumption separated from human fulfillment and judge experts and their wisdom on popularity and their number of television appearances. Worse yet, it makes us treat living systems like plants, animals and even people like they were machines and to be discarded when we have sucked all the useful energy out of them.

That’s a shame. We can do better.

The problems plaguing us today have multiple approaches and multiple solutions that are contextually relevant. Controlled centralized solutions are not the answer. They are what got us here in the first place. They are based on the proposed idea of scarcity requiring control to manage it, but the deeper truth is that they are about those who have more keeping more of what they have at the expense of those who serve them.

With Renewable Energy (the subject I am writing a book about now), it is silly to think we need economies of scale to produce energy at a particular location at the expense of the local ecosystem and then distribute it to everyone for a profit. The sun, wind, heat, biochemistry, pressure, temperature, human and animal motion (kinetics) are everywhere. The electromagnetic spectrum is everywhere and accessible (as Tesla had proposed, and now proven in labs and garages around the world). But distributed energy systems shouldn’t cost $50K per home or $40K per car. That leaves majority of the 7 billion out of a renewable energy future. We need simpler ideas like the water and bleach in recycled bottles to create lights in the Philippines or the $100 fuel cell electrolyzer from water to bridge the gap. The technology is already here, what needs to go away is the politics of inequity that keeps it from proliferating.

The problems with water and food is in a similar predicament. We waste water for mass scale industrialized processes from everything from food to farming to energy production and it can be averted if solutions for capture, reuse and condensation is looked at from the local level. The Gates foundation has already conclusively proved that more food can be sustainably grown locally than with mass agriculture, which now leaves both people and land out of work.

At the core of all the problems are the ideas that confuse inequality with diversity. If we want the awesome future the futurist are now promising, we first need a new narrative that makes that first idea obsolete.

The fire in our belly is the fire of creation, but the world we have been creating is not of our own. It was told to us with the ideas of others who shackled our minds to sit on their thrones. Never by the creators we are who invent, build and make; but only by the few selfish fools we have blindly allowed to take!

It’s time to rethink those ideas. “

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