Who controls Humankind's Future?

Plato, Dewey, and others believed, the task of making societies nice should be placed (by the educated governed) in the hands of the super competent. That is, people trained to address the group's present problems and long term interests. Only they can weigh the costs and benefits of various group goals, correctly determine institutional actions and cajole constituent behaviors. Society's success lies in the training of these leaders.

Humankind has made great advances under good leadership. Each century people experienced improved, means of production, transportation, health care, access to information, and support for the arts. However, the human condition has not escaped, scarcity, conflict, and environmental destruction.

All past civilizations have disintegrated. Each, in its death roll, destroying most of what it built, squandering vast amounts of the world's non renewable resources, and killing or abusing most of its subjects.

It is still unclear if Homo Sapiens are a step upward in the evolution of intelligent life or just a sideshow that will burn brightly for a moment in earth's history.

Plato, Dewey and others might have been mistaken. The destination of humankind is not determined by the successful education of its leaders. Instead, the control lies elsewhere. Maybe the creation of scarcity, conflict, and environmental destruction results from the collected behaviors of 6 billion individuals. Possibly unknowingly, each, through their normal behaviors of creating and supporting families, collectively, increase the intensity of these problems.

Dewey's, like Plato's leaders, will soon find themselves overwhelmed. Our civilization, like many before it, will collapse trying to address problems whose growth its leaders do not control.

A better future may require different guidance. Instead of succeeding in educating our elite, our educational process may have to be successful in obtaining different behaviors from the six billion. For example, a one child per family behavior might set course for ever increasing abundance, peace, and environmental quality.


Jack Alpert (Bio)     mail to: Alpert@skil.org     www.skil.org      position papers

  (more details)