Easy enough to blame something else, but ourselves. Is there really something outside, part of the social organization, which urges us to adapt certain behaviours we would not normally have if there weren’t those “structural forces”?
I think yes, there are structural forces, and they come down to individuals’ Selbsterhaltungstrieb, i.e. the instinct of individuals to keep alive. What an individual needs to do in order to keep alive is in fact determined in a large part by the social organization. In a de-territorialized capitalist society, to keep livelihood security you need to do quite different things than you needed in an agrarian society. What do you need to do to keep your job? Don’t you need to bow to (or at least follow) a load of unwritten rules? All small and big ills of society provide livelihood security to someone and therefore they are maintained. What puts oneself or ones livelihood into question is tabu.
Not only the feedback loop between human activities and ecological impacts is weakened in a de-territorialized society, but isn’t also the impact of our actions on other humans completely out of reach, and the feedback between moral deeds and own satisfaction is weakened as well? In a localized society, if we dump our wastes in the neighbours’ backyard it is very likely that we will have to face the neighbour’s feedback. In a de-territorialized society, when I dump my wastes in the garbage bin and that goes to a landfill, it is the enterprise running the landfill that has to cope with resistance from the local population, not me. Therefore I don’t care to produce as much waste as I manage. I won’t be exposed more to direct consequences if I produce 1 Kg of waste a day or 10 Kg. So what’s my point in reducing waste production? This is a moral disconnect. How can we become “better” if this connection, that allows for the feedback that promotes learning and adaptation, is non existent or very weak? Will we become even more evil over time? Homo oeconomicus is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
E ainda para mais, Helena Norberg-Hodge is right when she says that human relations are becoming weaker as well. Formerly we were dependent upon each other and therefore we had to find ways to deal with each other. However tuff this is, it stimulates personal development and gives one the feeling of being needed on the planet, I believe. Nowadays money substitutes for human relations. If formerly some relative had to care for another when he was sick, nowadays the sick pays for someone to look after him. With an increased commoditization of goods and services, more and more things become interchangeable with money, and, as a result, human care and direct interaction become obsolete.
Peace is war. 1984.