Balancing Individual and Collective Rights and Interests
In order to address the root motives of war we must move towards modes of governance that support a healthy cooperative interdependence with capitalistic incentives. This may lead to a new evolution of government which I call ‘Progressive Collectivism’. This is a system of governance where Progressive Capitalism is mixed with aspects of Community Collectivism. Progressivism is a form of Capitalism where taxes and governmental funds and energies are directed at helping those in the most dire situations as well as doing what is best for the majority of the people (What is Progressivism?, 2010).
Collectivism has its roots in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s ‘Social Contract’. This can be seen in his writings proclaiming “Each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will, and, in our corporate capacity, we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole” (Rousseau: Social Contract: Book I, 2010). All people make up an important entity known as the Republic here in the U.S. and other democracies or as Rousseau put it, the body politic (Rousseau: Social Contract: Book I, 2010). This is the moral and collective body of a society that gives it a common collective identity (Rousseau: Social Contract: Book I, 2010). This is where we as societies and ultimately, as a global civilization, must make conscious shifts towards achieving responsible government. While it is intrinsically important to retain individual rights and liberties, we must also take our collective interests and destiny as a species and planet into account if we are to survive and prosper well into the future. I believe that one answer to this need is a governmental balance of Progressive Capitalism with Community Collectivism. Both Individual rights and group rights should be upheld and when they contradict one another resolutions should be made that give mutual respect.
An example of this can be seen in the BP oil spill. The individuals who own and make up BP deserve to drill for oil but not at the expense of the collective environment and humanity, or American citizens in this case. BP and other energy companies should have to pursue profit through forms of energy that support the collective, not damage and deteriorate it. If oil is to be explored it must be done so in a safe and secure manner where any accident or disaster can be quickly mitigated. This is not the case with deep water drilling and therefore BP and other companies should not be allowed to drill in deep waters as the risk is too great for the collective at large, regardless of it being profitable for the individuals that make up the companies. There is always a way to make profit and earn and fulfill incentives but doing it at the expense of the collective is not necessary and should not be tolerated. There are clean energy avenues with little to no risk that BP and other companies can look to explore and exploit for profit. The BP Deepwater Horizon Oil geyser spill is an example where the collective has been trampled by the greedy interests of big business and individuals. This can be corrected with sound regulations protecting the collective from energy disasters.
Therefore, Community Collectivism is a form of governmental structure where people work for and keep in mind the greater good of the population or collective as a whole. While it is important to keep self interest and capitalistic incentives intact in our current social and financial model, we must also draw dividends from working for our respective communities, countries, humanity and the Earth as a whole. This is a mindset that must be nourished and grown in our educational and financial incentive systems. Incentives need to be created and put in place motivating individuals to work for the improvement of society at large and not just self serving individual gain. If individual and collective interests come into conflict and are not able to be reconciled and compromise is impossible, it would seem logical that the collective interests would supersede individual interests. Further study and research needs to be done in this field.
U.S. Policy (Potential)
The U.S. needs to implement the following policies and programs effective immediately to help aid in ending war and conflict both domestically and internationally. The U.S. needs to fully create and authorize the Department of Peace as an effective cabinet level department in the executive branch of the Government (The Peace Alliance - Campaign for a Department of Peace and Youth PROMISE Act - Dept. of Peace Bill, 2009). It will be “dedicated to peacemaking and the study of conditions that are conducive to both domestic and international peace [and] there shall be at the head of the Department, a Secretary of Peace” (The Peace Alliance - Campaign for a Department of Peace and Youth PROMISE Act - Dept. of Peace Bill, 2009). The U.S. Peace Corps needs to be expanded and renamed the ‘Peace & Sustainability Corps’ sending Americans abroad in record numbers to be good ambassadors in aiding and helping to sustainably revitalize and rebuild our global civilization. There should be both domestic and international branches in this new expanded Corps and they should be heavily involved in the U.S. educational system particularly with U.S. high schools and institutions of higher education.
The U.S. should promote within this Corps a new principal of doing business both domestically and worldwide. This is the ‘Win-Win-Win’ principal. The Win-Win-Win principal is one where business, development and trade agreements are 1) economically sound, 2) ecologically sound and 3) socially sound (i.e. fair trade). The U.S. also needs to set up online ‘Citizen Feedback Forums’ to allow the citizenry to see and mock vote on each issue that government representatives vote on. This is necessary to see where the American citizenry is standing on all issues, both large and small and to look past the liberal-conservative divide. The U.S. also needs to compliment and help coordinate this effort with councils formed by experts and knowledgeable people in order to get the most informed and experienced opinions to help guide the masses who may not be very aware of particular issues, problems or solutions. The U.S. needs more in person and online town hall meetings where the goals are to draw up recommendations and policies that representatives should then embark on legislatively that the majority of people feel are both relevant and important. These should be weighed in line with the Constitution and U.S. liberties so as to avoid racist, sexist or other biased opinions being reflected towards becoming law and thus hindering rights and wasting the Republic’s time.
The U.S. also needs to put monies and energy into sustainable development in the wars occurring in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military might is not long lasting without sustainable development so policies should be written and put in place that allocate at least 50% of monies spent be invested towards creating sustainable development and not just policing, defending and attaining the continued upper hand in ongoing (seemingly never-ending) conflict. Overall U.S. foreign policy must evolve out of policing and dictating its power all over the world to planting and watering its ideas and policies all over the world. The focus for the U.S. needs to be win-win-win based transactions and exertion of healthy soft power. For this to be genuinely effective the U.S. must change its attitude from one of competitor and conqueror of other ideas and cultures to one more akin to Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. The U.S. must use the Dept of Peace and Peace & Sustainability Corps to work with and help co-develop the world sustainably in ecology, development, business, trade and in social agendas.
The U.S. cannot obviously dictate this in its entirety but U.S. can change its international attitude to one who now fully promotes the new ‘Win-Win-Win Principal’. When the U.S. changes the majority of its interactions to align with this principal then our friends, allies, neutral states and even foes will have a whole new view of us and one that need not be defensive. We can solve many of our problems by working towards sustainable solutions in nations rather than continue our route of political pressure to simply democratize and mimic the U.S. in practically every way. Democracy will flourish and war will begin to abate when the U.S. uses the Win-Win-Win Principal in accordance with strong sustained soft power. Each international transaction and decision on a governmental level should be weighed against this principal and enacted only when it is in concert with it. Progressive Collectivism as discussed above is a perfect model for the U.S. to evolve into and fully realize. U.S. democracy has its brightest days ahead of it.