A New Human Age

Maria Branyas, survivor

In isolation at a care-home in Spain where she’s been living for 20 years, Maria Branyas (113) survived Covid-19. For The Guardian, she reflected on what the world may look like after the pandemic: “…I think nothing will be the same again, and don’t think about redoing, recovering, rebuilding. It will have to be done all over again and differently. … You need a new order, a change in the hierarchy of values and priorities, a New Human Age…”

The old order which Maria rejects is, of course, the economic system that informs and directs society. But the Oxford Dictionary defines “economy” as: 1) “the wealth and resources of a country or region, especially in terms of the production and consumption of goods and services” and 2) “careful management of available resources.” Note no mention here of an “order” or “system,” and “management” is simply an undefined process.

Our old order has been in place for millennia. Ever since humans lived in trees, on savannahs, or in caves, there’s been only one rule for management of resources: Take what you can get and keep it. The sole modus operandi for humanity’s economic activity has been private enterprise.

Since absolutely forever, private enterprise has been the only game in town. Political systems will sometimes tweak the rules—and simply complicate matters and magnify existing inequities and injustices. Maria is totally correct about doing it all over again and differently. We don’t need to change the rules of the old game but to start a whole new ball-game!

As the old order, private enterprise has now outlived its effectiveness for managing resources and providing for the common good. In a new ball-game, the wealth and resources of countries or regions can no longer be private property of individuals but public property. And the people can manage their resources themselves, with benefits accruing to the public at large.

A new order of public enterprise and benefit can focus on the common good, supporting, embodying and perfecting democracy. Vigorously and very likely violently opposed by the entrenched old order, such a systemic switch of values and priorities for a “New Human Age” will not come easily. And I’m certainly not the one to say how to make it happen.

After the pandemic devastates economically all but the (corporate) elite, for at least a decade, they say, the old order will try to redo, recover and rebuild. Fantasizing about a future on a global, monopolistic scale, the obsolete system of private enterprise will surely prove even less productive of common good then with the world’s population essentially infinite in number.

If it doesn’t kill us first, this wretched pandemic ironically offers us a now-or-never opportunity to birth a New Human Age. At this unprecedented crux in human history, maybe we can at last create a truly humane society.

Let’s do it!

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3 thoughts on “A New Human Age

  1. Paul C Kennedy

    For a new human order we will need new humans that overcome our innate characteristics of competition, self preservation and self image. Throughout the years there have been many attempts by governments, communes and religious sects to create such a utopia. I believe they only work with very small tribes of relatively isolated people. We’ve overpopulated the world and like rats will eat each other when times get rough. Maybe the pandemic just wasn’t strong enough! Sorry for the gloomy commentary but although our problems are mostly economic inequality in don’t see any societal model that shows promise….BUT….we won’t know unless we try!

  2. Thank you, Paul–I agree about humans’ innate characteristics and lament them. But I had to express my utopian thought because I think it may be the only solution. Otherwise, the species is on a suicidal track. Indeed, we have to try something! And Maria’s comment was so right on. We need a whole new ball-game.

  3. Paul C Kennedy

    If only we could build 3 ships and sail to a new land…. where to start? Make religion as I like to see it. That the only God is a force that lives within each person. That God only wishes to be thanked for your life and blessings. That God only responds to your hopes with your actions. And lastly that God recognizes all the other Gods with the same reverence as yours.

    We all have what it takes but we must cast out all other Gods and politicians. (You could create Aztec inspired “God-O-Grams” for each of us to wear)

    I am mostly serious. PCK

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