CAN HUMANITY BE SAVED?
D. R. Khashaba
When WWII broke out I was a boy of twelve years. I remember distinctly my puzzlement at the stupidity of the world leaders who could not understand that they gain nothing by war and that if all peoples lived together amicably in peace they would all be better off. Sadly, that puzzlement has faded, not that I have become wiser but that I have become blunted. With stupidity surrounding us on all sides we – all of us – no longer see it as something surprising but as the norm.
That the whole of the human race may be wiped out in the near future is no longer a remote possibility. Leaving aside for the moment the real dangers of our facing our end (1) as a result of what we are doing to the natural environment, or (2) as the result of our foolishly putting ourselves at the mercy of the ‘thinking machines’ we are devising, the possibility of a global war cannot be ruled out.
For millennia human groups have been making war on each other. But these were always local events. Even the wars waged by the armies of a Ramses II, an Alexander, a Caesar, were a local affair. WWI and WWII were just a foretaste of the global conflagration that can engulf the whole of humanity. The present organization, or rather disorganization, of the world system makes such a conflagration almost inevitable sooner or later.
The world is divided into, on the one hand, greedy, competing, consumer-mad, ‘advanced’ countries, and, on the other hand, poor, backward, superstition-ridden countries. The economic system ruling in the advanced countries not only necessarily makes the rich countries richer and the poor countries poorer, but even within the advanced countries themselves makes favoured groups gain at the coat of the less favoured.
This inbuilt imbalance in the world system is flagrantly evident in many ways. We learn that half the food produced in the United States is thrown away while millions are dying of famine and malnutrition in various parts of Africa. The money spent on arms production in the advanced countries and on arms purchases in other countries could, I imagine, support the education budgets in all the poorer countries. A portion of the huge profits of the giant pharmaceutical producers could fund the eradication of the endemic diseases all the world over.
We badly need a world government that would wisely manage the resources of the world for the good of all the peoples of the world. Perhaps the best hope is for the UN to develop in that direction. The first step may be to give such organizations as the WHO, the FAO, and the UNESCO more funds and overriding authority. But that the present world leaders – or any leaders likely to comie to power under the conditions ruling at present – is a forlorn hope.
Perhaps the remaining alternative is for the peoples of the world to be made aware of the imminent dangers and be roused to demand the change to a saner world system. This task of enlightenment should be seriously undertaken by the thinkers, writers, and artists everywhere in the world.