The end of an era, a new civilization or the end of the world?
Some well respected individuals warn that we already are within a Third World War. The most authoritative is Pope Francis. Last September 13, visiting a cemetery of Italian soldiers killed in Radipuglia, near Slovenia, Pope Francis said: “The Third World War may already have began, fought in pieces, with crimes, massacres and destruction.” On December 12, 2014, former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, now 95 years old, warned of a possible Third World War (Boletim Carta Maior, 22/12/2014). And other authoritative voices are heard here and there.
To me the most convincing analysis, which I consider prophetic because what he foresaw is already taking place, is by Jacques Attali in his well known book, Brief History of the Future, (Breve historia del futuro, Paidos 1999). He was an advisor to François Mitterand and now presides over the Commission of the «brakes on growth». He works with a highly qualified multidisciplinary team. Attali foresaw three scenarios: (1) The super-empire, composed of the United States and its allies. Its strength lies in its capacity to destroy all of humanity. But it is in decline, due to the systemic crisis of the capitalist order. It follows the Pentagon’s ideology of «full spectrum dominance» in every field, military, ideologic, political, economic and cultural. But it has been surpassed economically by China, and has trouble forcing its imperialist logic on others. (2) The super conflict: With the slow decline of the empire, a Balkanization of the world occurs, as is presently seen in the regional conflicts in Northern Africa, the Middle East, Africa and the Ukraine. Those conflicts can intensify, with the use of weapons of mass destruction (look at Syria, Iraq), then with small nuclear weapons (there are thousands the size of an executive briefcase) that destroy little but leave entire regions inhabitable for many years due to high radioactivity. With the wide-spread use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, a time could come when humanity realized that it could self destruct. And then would come (3) the final scenario: the super democracy. So as not to destroy itself and a great part of the biosphere, humanity would develop a world social contract, with various instances of global government. With scarce natural resources and services we must guarantee the survival of the human species and the whole life community that is also created and maintained by the Earth-Gaia.
If that phase did not happen, we could see the end of the human species and a great part of the biosphere. The fault would lie with our rationalist civilization paradigm. Economist and humanist Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo recently put it well: «The Western dream of building the human habitat based only on reason, repudiating tradition and rejecting all transcendence, has reached a blind alley. Western reason cannot simultaneously realize the values of universal human rights, the ambitions of technical progress and the promise of well being for one and all» (Carta Capital 21/12/2014). With its irrationality, this type of reason develops the means to bring about its own destruction.
It would probably then take the process of evolution thousands or millions of years for a being to appear that was sufficiently complex, and capable of sustaining the spirit that, first of all, is found in the universe, and only thereafter, in us.
But it could also bring about a new era that unites sensible reason (love and caring) with instrumental-analytic reason (techno-scientific). Finally there would emerge what in 1933, in China, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin called the noosphere: minds and hearts united in solidarity, in love and in caring for the Common Home, the Earth. Attali wrote: «I want to believe, finally, that the horror of the future mentioned above will help make it impossible. Then would be fulfilled the promise of an Earth that was hospitable to all the travelers of life» (op. cit. p. 219).
And in the end, he leaves this challenge to us Brazilians: «If there is a country that looks like that into which the world could convert, in both the good and the bad, that country is Brazil» (p. 231).
Free translation from the Spanish sent by
Melina Alfaro, email@example.com,
done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.