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Brave new creed

By philosophy editor Lee Full-Chamber

Posted April 12, 2012
Everything's gone green: Ex-NATO boss Javier Solana. (Check bottom for credits)

Religions come and go but is a new one currently emerging in the name of saving the planet?

According to the philosopher Lord Bertrand Russell, "A creed or sentiment of some kind is essential to social cohesion".

Without it, he wrote, a community disintegrates.

Is this the premise that lies behind contemporary concerns for the environment and the ensuing calls for "global solutions" to "global problems"?

A reading of The First Global Revolution: A Report by the Council of the Club of Rome1 suggests that the answer is a resounding yes.

The report, written in 1991 by Club co-founder Alexander King and Bertrand Schneider, details the problems and challenges faced by a post-Cold War global society.

In a chapter entitled The Vacuum they explain that the traditional means of ensuring order and cohesion, through religion, patriotism and respect for the political process, has "evaporated".

They continue by saying that the need for enemies seems to be a "common historical factor" and observe that "the ploy of finding a scapegoat is as old as mankind itself".

"Bring the divided nation together," they wrote, "to face an outside enemy, either a real one or else one invented for the purpose".

"Can we live without enemies?" they ask and then assert that, as the disappearance of traditional enemies in a global society has left a great void to be filled, "new enemies had to be identified, new strategies imagined and new weapons devised".

After discussing the limits of democracy and stating that "sacrilegious as it may sound [this form of government is] no longer well-suited to the tasks ahead", they conclude by telling us that "in searching for a common enemy against whom we can unite, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like, would fit the bill".

As these are caused by human interaction with natural processes, "the real enemy then is humanity itself".

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