Let’s Get Money out of Politics


John Scales Avery, Ph.D. - TRANSCEND Media Service

Why COP26 Failed Future Generations

In discussing the threat of catastrophic climate change, we need to be aware of the contrast between the short-term future and the long-term future. Unless we take immediate and drastic action, we risk passing environmental tipping points, beyond which uncontrollable feedback loops will take over, making human efforts useless.

However, it is difficult to mobilize the political will needed for immediate and drastic action, because the worst effects of catastrophic climate change lie in the very distant future.

What will happen if we fail to act decisively and immediately on the issue of climate? Then most of the earth’s surface will eventually become uninhabitable, starting with tropical regions, and with low-lying countries, such as Bangladesh, and all coastal cities. A terrible conflict-loaded climate refugee crisis can be predicted with certainty.

In the long run, only a few regions will be habitable, for example polar regions, and high mountain regions such as Tibet. The global population of humans will necessarily be very much reduced, but not without the threat of serious conflict.

In the meantime, many plant and animal species, unable to move to avoid the effects of climate change, will become extinct.

But at COP26 in Glasgow, this vision of the long-term future was not discussed. Why? Because politics is dominated by money; because economics is seen to be more important than the health of the planet; because China and India wish to continue to use coal; because the economies of Russian, Saudi Arabia and Australia depend on fossil fuels; because the largest delegation at COP26 came from fossil fuel industries.

Why War Is Continually Threatened?

The military-industrial complexes of the world do not really want war. What they want is the threat of war. Tensions must be high enough and perceived dangers must be great enough to justify obscenely enormous military budgets. Last year the world spent roughly two trillion dollars on armaments and military budgets, an almost unimaginable sum of money. If this money had been spent constructively, many of our most pressing problems could be solved. Furthermore, when the weapons and the tensions and threats of war are present, there is always a danger of a thermonuclear Armageddon through technical of human error or through the uncontrollable escalation of a conflict. In a full-scale thermonuclear war, all people would be at risk, also the citizens of neutral nations. Scientists tell us that the nuclear winter effect would produce a deadly global famine.

The circular flow of money driving the war machine has been called “The Devil’s Dynamo”. Money from the immensely rich corporations of the military industrial complex buys the votes of politicians and the subservience of the mass media. The politicians then vote for enormous military budgets, and the voters, numbed by soothing voices of the mass media, re-elect the bribed politicians. Like the circular flow of current in a dynamo, this circular flow of money drives the military machine.

Benefits of Equality

Many countries that call themselves democracies are really oligarchies in which a few very rich people control the government through the large donations that they make to politicians. Among the countries that can claim to have true democracies are the Scandinavian nations, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. This is because the Scandinavian countries have high and sharply progressive income taxes, which make it difficult for anyone to become very rich. The taxes go to provide many social services such as free medical care, and free higher education.  Social security nets have also been provided, and poverty has been virtually eliminated.

The social epidemiologist Richard G. Wilkinson has presented evidence demonstrating that in countries where the contrast between rich and poor is small, all the social indices are better. People are happier. Drug-related problems are fewer. Mental health is better. Crime rates are less. Teen-age births are fewer. Society is more cohesive.

Another advantage of more equal societies is the fact that their economies function better. When there is a great contrast between rich and poor, the poor do not have the money needed to buy back the output of a country’s industries. Nor can the rich do it, because they are too few in number. If factory owners reinvest their profits to enlarge their factories, they make the problem worse. This is an additional set of facts showing that equal societies are the best.


Politics Must Not Be Motivated by Greed

In Christianity, Greed is listed as one of the seven deadly sins. Despite this warning, politicians today seem to be motivated primarily by greed rather than by their duty to save the world for the sake of future generations. To prevent future disasters, we must work with dedication to get money out of politics.




John Scales Avery, Ph.D., who was part of a group that shared the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in organizing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, is a member of the TRANSCEND Network and Associate Professor Emeritus at the H.C. Ørsted Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is chairman of both the Danish National Pugwash Group and the Danish Peace Academy and received his training in theoretical physics and theoretical chemistry at M.I.T., the University of Chicago and the University of London. He is the author of numerous books and articles both on scientific topics and on broader social questions. His most recent books are Information Theory and Evolution and Civilization’s Crisis in the 21st Century (pdf). Website: https://www.johnavery.info/

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 29 Nov 2021.

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