Real Cooperation with the Nations is the Best Survival Tactic
By John M Repp
Unexamined assumptions are the real dictators in a culture and society. Too many people in the USA believe that human beings are by nature competitive and competition brings out the best in us. This idea is seldom questioned. Our media saturates us in stories of competition. The sports networks give us games all day long. Fortress America looks out and sees danger everywhere, every country wanting to “destroy” us as the foreign policy advisor to Donald Trump writes. (“Flynn adds to the confusion of Trump foreign policy” by Trudy Rubin, The Seattle Times, July 24, 2016, p A13 http://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/flynn-adds-to-confusion-of-trump-foreign-policy/ ) Our current economic thinking, so terribly wrong-headed and incompetent, is focused around competition.
Even the teaching of the science of biology, thought to be objective, is full of rhetoric about competition. Darwin’s idea that natural selection is driven by competition is the platform from which too many biologists leap to the conclusion that all life is competitive. But that is a leap too far. “Although competition is an inescapable theme of life, the essence of life is cooperation” (Colin Tudge. Why Genes Are Not Selfish and People are Nice: A Challenge to the Dangerous Ideas that Dominate Our Lives. 2013, p 71 http://www.florisbooks.co.uk/book/Colin-Tudge/Why+Genes+Are+Not+Selfish+and+People+Are+Nice/9780863159633 )
Cooperation makes life possible. The chemical cycles that are the basis of life are more like a square dance than a street fight. Living things have a very complicated structure, lots of different chemicals acting together, depending on each other. The eukaryotic cell, a cell where the DNA is enclosed in a nucleus, evolved when formerly competing, smaller non-nucleated single cell creatures combined to become one organism. A similar evolution happened when multi-cellular organisms evolved. And of course, most plants and animals live in societies. When we look at the ecology of a rainforest, a meadow, or the ecology of the microbes in our gut or the soil, we see an infinite number of exchanges between countless different species that depend on each other. Insects and flowers co-evolved. The whole earth has evolved so it acts like one living organism. To quote Colin Tudge again: “Life in general is a balance between competitiveness and cooperativeness, but cooperativeness must prevail – or life could not exist at all”. (Tudge, p. 98)
Now consider the times in which we live. We, the whole world, need to cooperate to deal with climate change. To achieve the goals outlined by the Paris Climate Change Conference of 2015, the nations will have to work together. If the USA would really get serious about climate change mitigation, by getting completely off fossil fuels and changing how we farm for example, and helping fund the rest of the world to do the same, then we would do more for our national security than anything else. We are actually behind the rest of the advanced countries in climate change mitigation. Where is our vaunted “leadership” in the world”?
In this historical moment, why have our leaders in Congress and in the White House, very quietly, decided to “modernize” the nuclear arsenal to the tune of $1 trillion! A whole new set of ICBM’s, cruise missiles, a new bomber, and an all-new fleet of nuclear submarines plus all the warheads they carry will be built over the next thirty years. This is totally immoral, illegal, intolerably expensive, massively dangerous, and militarily useless! No wonder this is being kept quiet. (Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, summer 2016 newsletter, p. 4 http://www.psr.org/chapters/washington/summer-2016-newsletter.pdf )
Our leaders are breaking the highest law in the land. Our nation signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty in 1968 where we promised to abolish nuclear weapons. Treaties rank above all other laws of our land, just below the Constitution itself. In the face of this blatantly illegal activity by the highest levels of government, we have the right to rebel. We should do it nonviolently, but we should do it. We should continue the political revolution the Sanders campaign started.
We can make agreements with all our supposed enemies and order our military to stand down. We should follow Article 6 of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and get rid of our nuclear arsenal. Instead of spending $1 trillion on a new nuclear arsenal, we should spend it on dealing with climate change.
“the best survival tactic by far…is to co-operate” (Tudge, p.94.) We have a right to live on this beautiful planet. No one should threaten it.