Natural catastrophes have sometimes positive effects.
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
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
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)