Catastrophes are necessary
The 12th article in the series "Political Catastrophes".

Natural catastrophes have sometimes positive effects.

Agadir in Morocco was rebuild after the devastating earthquake of 1960. The modernisation could otherwise not have been achieved. Bangkok or Mexico City hardly know how to cope with pollution and traffic congestion caused by too many people in relatively small cities.

Humans cause also sometimes catastrophes that are necessary because society or humanity cannot advance fast enough on a slow way.
In the second half of the 19th century Baron Haussmann created the wide boulevards and characteristic buildings that now make Paris attractive but destroyed much of the ancient charm and cohesion of the city. The reason was by the way the elitist need to show off its grandeur and power and the possibility for the army to quell revolts in the densely populated Paris quarters.
But now Parisians like the broad avenues.
German cities had after World War II an advantage over not flattened other European cities. New concepts can hardly be introduced in cities where historical buildings block any progress.
These catastrophes took place in relatively simple situations.

Politics is much more complicated, it can hardly be foreseen what the effect is from radical actions.
When all people should get enough food, decent housing and a good education other people will lose something. A euro can only be spent on one way to support the already better-off or to support the policy to give all people equal status. To reach that situation a political catastrophe is needed.
But most political decisions are based on short term considerations. Contemplations about what is needed in the future that is twenty-five or fifty years away are rare. The threat that we run out of oil, water or many other commodities is concealed behind beautiful words and much inactivity.

Society is ruled by evolutionary thinkers that want small changes because otherwise they lose control. Politicians depend on voters to prolong their stay in higher circles and do not take decisions that damage part of the electorate even when much more people will benefit from different decisions. The minds of decision-takers are working faulty. I propose means (masspeople that invade the eliteworld) to change these minds. Only then leaders will take decisions that open the road to solutions of now seemingly unsolvable problems.
A recent UN-report
reveals that more than 40% of the world's population does not have even the most basic sanitation. More than one billion people have no access to clean water sources. A key development goal is to cut by half the number of people without clean water and sanitation by the year 2015. But then still 800 million people should be drinking unsafe water in 2015. Some 4,000 children die every day from illnesses caused by lack of clean water.

The UN development goal is insufficient because in the next ten years ten million kids will die unnecessary. But no one wants to take shocking decisions that could solve this inhuman problem. Leaders continue to apply slow evolutionary measures. But indeed only unknown others die.

About how to bring a catastrophe nearer I have written in my series Political Catastrophes
It is more humane to work towards a catastrophe that may solve some big human problems than to indulge in petty political discussions that at the most lead to small improvements.

Joost van Steenis (September 7 2004)

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13. Discontent is only the beginning of change
To the index of Catastrophes