Wednesday, October 10, 2012
The Traumatised Society: How to Outlaw Cheating and Save Our Civilisation
Author Fred Harrison Calls for renewed Spiritual Leadership
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
LONDON, UK (ANS) -- Back in the 1970s I worked as a senior reporter with the Sunday People, a rather sensational London-based tabloid, where I specialized in crime, religion and show business (which were often interconnected).
Since those rather crazy days, both of us have moved on – I to Southern California – and Fred to become quite a social reformer.
Fred Harrison has just finished his latest book, The Traumatised Society: How to Outlaw Cheating and Save Our Civilisation, in which he calls for “renewed Spiritual Leadership.”
Fred was the first to forecast (in 1997) the events that ruptured the global economy in 2008 by applying an analysis that exposes the fault lines in the structure of the market economy.
Having correctly forecast the timing of the global crisis, he now extends that same analysis to the future of the West, to evaluate fears from distinguished commentators who claim that European civilisation is in danger of being eclipsed. He concludes that the West is at a dangerous tipping point and provides empirical and theoretical evidence to warrant such an alarming conclusion. But he also explains why it is not too late to prevent the looming social catastrophe.
Attributing the present crisis to a social process of cheating, he develops a synthesis of the social and natural sciences to show how the market system can be reformed. He introduces the concept of organic finance, which prescribes reforms capable of delivering both sustainable growth, with a more equitable distribution of wealth, and respect for other life forms.
“The great social reforms of the past were driven by the re-awakening of spiritual and moral sensibilities,” he says. “A new Great Awakening is needed to inspire the leadership required to rescue a globalised civilisation which is in crisis.”
Previous civilisations collapsed because of the stresses created by the mal-distribution of income. Harrison explains that, in modern times, this corrosive process was initiated in Britain nearly 500 years ago and exported to North America. The outcome is a political culture that cannot recognise the root cause of social problems. The result is a social system biased to favour rent seekers. Fred Harrison says:
“Rent-seeking offends the theology of land which is what the Old Testament is all about. In Genesis, we read that God entered into a land deal in which the price was compliance with a moral code. If people honoured the commandments, the foundations of society would be solid. Governance would be for the common good,” he adds.
“Modern society has deviated from that theology. When land was privatised, the rents that were previously devoted to funding social services were captured to fund the feudal aristocracy’s narcissistic ways of living. That practice was carried over into our world. From this we can trace all the great crises that challenge nations in the 21st century. Economic booms and busts, unemployment and poverty, abuse of the environment – they all automatically follow when financial incentives are distorted.”
In the controversy between the spiritual and scientific approaches to problem solving, Harrison explains that pre-literate peoples were successful in creating sustainable ways of living because they assigned ownership of nature to deities. The same formula for property rights in nature was adopted by monotheistic communities. By recognising God as the owner of Earth, they removed the social divisions based on unequal access to nature’s life-sustaining resources.
Fred Harrison challenges scientists who reject the role of God. He says: “The secular scientific social model has failed to come up with a formula that ensures fairness for everyone. We all need access to land and the resources of nature. Scientists who disparage spiritual approaches need to show humility. If they can provide a solution that is fair for everyone, which can be enforced, they will have provided an alternative to the theological model. Until then, they should respect the spiritual approach which is laid out in the covenant with God.”
Biblical narratives focus on what goes wrong when the sacred covenant is breeched. The outcome is the trauma of landlessness.
Mismanaging the relationship with nature automatically means the mismanagement of culture- the social commons. This is because those who live off the labours of others preserve their privileges by perverting power. The power of creativity, the power of good, is corrupted, argues Harrison. His thesis is tested against the evidence from the UK, Argentina and China. The histories of the first two expose how populations were traumatised when they were severed from nature. China is examined as a real-time study in the conversion of a population into the model of property rights that favours rent-seeking. A few individuals become billionaires by extracting the community-created value, the rents that people pay to use nature’s resources.
The “decline of the West” thesis is a tenable forecast, warns Harrison. He analyses the inability of US and European governments to solve the great problems of our age. He provides evidence to demonstrate that so many people now want to live off land rents that they cannot be supported by the people who produce them. Financially, this is an impossible equation, which explains why western nations are suffering the crisis of debts which they cannot repay.
It is possible to rescue Western civilisation, argues Harrison. The West needs a modern version of the biblical Jubilee – the cancellation of debts and restoration of land rights. The modern version of the biblical code, he explains in The Traumatised Society, is a tax reform. Governments would raise revenue from the rents of land and natural resources, and cancel taxes on people’s earned wages and profits. This formula makes it possible to pay down the debt burden.
But, Harrison warns: “This solution is known to governments, but they refuse to even talk about it. That is why I believe people must seek out the sanctuary of sacred spaces – the places of worship – where they can discuss the issues. There is a special responsibility on spiritual leaders. Once again, they need to step forward as leaders of social reform. The world’s great religions can fulfil a function that is being ducked by the political elites.”
Media comments on Harrison’s 10-year (1997) warning that the global economy was heading for a depression:
Ross Clark, Spectator Business: “Economist Fred Harrison proved to be the canary in the housing market… Nostradamus could scarcely have been more accurate.”
Martin Wolf, Financial Times: “A superb new jeremiad”.
MoneyWeek: “Frankly, when we first saw Harrison’s ‘Cycle 18’ discovery in the MoneyWeek office back in 2005, we thought it was too good to be true. Then we checked the facts. Everything added up. Then we quizzed Harrison ourselves. Again everything added up. Then his 2008 prediction came true. And we really sat up and paid attention.”
The book is published by Shepheard-Walwyn, London (£17.95). US distributor: Independent Publishers Group (IPG), Chicago (www.ipgbook.com) @ $29.95
The launch of the book will be on October 28 at St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London (http://www.st-james-piccadilly.org/)
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