Wednesday, August 31, 2011
What now for Libya?
TV, radio and papers are stuffed with all-knowing pundits telling us what is going to happen next.
In fact, no-one knows what is going to happen, because what is going to happen is in the future, and nobody knows the future. It all depends on what choices the Libyan people make.
It is a massive choice, and there are many dangers: chaos, tribal warfare, and a replacement dictatorship are the bad outcomes, which most of the "experts" dwell on with the gloomy relish of the Fat Boy in Pickwick.
There is also the possibility of a good outcome, and few mention this. Which is bad.
The revolution has happened because the Libyan people were of one mind: Gaddafi Must Go. Being of one mind, the people won, which proves the basic ground truth of democracy: the people are the ultimate source of political power.
Now comes the tricky part: the people have to reconstruct their country and nation. This is where the politicking, the jostling, the disagreements and the problems start. From being of one mind, they become of many minds.
To succeed, they need a single idea to unite them. There is such an idea, a sound, robust and simple idea that overrides all sectional interests. It is the same idea that can unite all humanity. It is simple, easily grasped, but it it so simple and so obvious that nobody sees it.
It is like the Sun, that gives light and life to everything, although nobody can look directly at the Sun.
It is the idea of sustainability.
What the Libyan people need is the same as that which the whole human family needs:
water, food, housing, energy, and safe waste recycling - foundational economic needs.
When those needs are satisfied, humans need education, healthy environment, health services, justice, equality, music, dancing, art, conviviality and happiness.
To satisfy the foundational economic needs, we have to work. All governments would do well to remember that youth unemployment is one of the constant drivers of rebellion, not just in the Arab Spring, but also in the recent English Riots.
Two problems, one solution: the proper work of government is provide work in providing for basic ecological needs.
The Libyan revolution deserves a new economics, one where unemployment and poverty is a thing of the past, and everyone has access to good, satisfying, meaningful and well-remunerated work.
Insofar as the revolution is a response to unemployment, it is a rejection of conventional economics, which is based on market values, and uses unemployment as an instrument to keep wages down and profitability up.
This is a distortion of real, ecological economics, which demands that if there is a vital task to be done, it is the job of the government to ensure that the work gets done. Governments must therefore invest in broad, employment intensive infrastructure projects to secure access to water and food.
In creating a new sense of purpose, of everyone working together on projects that have an immediate benefit to society, the power of the people is focused on construction rather than crime, self-interest and destruction, the unity of the revolution is maintained, and a new social and economic order can emerge, not just in the Middle East, but around the world.
Libyans are intelligent, spirited and are riding high on the wave of victory over an oppressive dictatorship. If they can create a new economic model that provides good work, eliminates poverty and reduces inequality, they will be giving leadership not just to the new nations of the Arab Spring, but also to the whole world.
Overview of the new economics
Water projects as channel of co-operation