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Government: Big brother control

December 6, 2009

Government: Big brother control

By Denise Scammon

According to Christian (2004) in Maps of Time, Malthusian cycles, in which population growth outpaced agricultural production, were followed by the appearance of capitalism in exchange networks; however, the tributary system remained dominant. Technological innovations increased agricultural production and steam engines in factories increased industrial production. The use of fossil fuels was an outcome of industrial growth which came with a transformation in government to protect wealth, “resources and political support” (437). Since the 18th century, “government began reaching into the daily lives of a majority of its subjects, concerning itself with their education, health, and attitudes” (438). I think the government has become too invasive and controlling in some aspects and that we are losing personal freedom. For example, government doesn’t want populations wiped out by disease such as we saw in the film, The Seventh Seal, and so government mandates vaccinations. However, the validity of some vaccinations is questionable.

Science has been an important factor since the 18th century as the foundation on which technological innovations are based. Access to science/technology separates the affluent from the poor and quality of life. The Modern Revolution in the 20th century brought the greatest changes to human history, including living standards in industrialized, capitalist regions. Not all progress is positive – destructive changes took place in other regions of the world, such as Communist nations, that “destroyed traditional lifeways” (463). In the early days of technological innovation, who could have known that disasters, such as the Bhopal gas leak, lay ahead in the future? Twenty-five years after the Union Carbide homicides of innocent people, have we learned how to prevent similar disasters from happening again?

No one can predict the future with 100% certainty because of unknown factors, but historians can look at patterns and discover future probabilities. Humans continue to increase their impact on the biosphere – “humans began to live beyond sustainable limits… and [this century] will stand out on the scale of planetary history” (463). Trends from the big bang theory and the expansion of the universe show, “The Sun and solar system will die within 4 billion years, but the universe will survive much longer” (491). If humans continue to abuse the planet, and each other, future generations will inherit a barbaric wasteland. We need to be aware of “global sustainability of the environment” and a global economy “to raise the living conditions of the poor” (490). Technological trends point to a future of humans living on planets other than Earth and greater use of genetics. Does that mean human clones will inhabit our future living space? Will humans become a disease-free race?

In “Globalization From Below,” the discussion is about resistance and solidarity. The overall image is of a huge discrepancy in the quality of life among humans. On planet Earth live people at one end of the scale who have access to more resources than they could ever use and on the other end of the scale we have poor, impoverished people who die because they lack access to food, shelter, water and other basic human needs. There are many other important problems discussed, but equal access to resources for all of humanity should be top priority. Some of the other problems discussed included “environmental destruction, warfare, animal rights” (213), all of which have aroused grassroots efforts to find solutions to these global problems. The chapter also describes levels of activism and the value of participating in forums and organizations – or watching the actions of those organizations – such as the World Social Forum.

After reading the assigned articles in New Internationalist (a magazine which strikes a chord with me because the writers get at the gist of problems in lay terms with researched information that can be easily shared with others) on “Cotton: The Peril and the Promise,” “Crisis! Crisis!,” “State of the World’s Oceans,” and Cristine Russell’s “First Wave,” regarding cotton, food, ocean/water, global warming, I then watched Crying Sun, Missing Lives, and finished reading The Oath. I think that the human rights violations – taking care of humans – should be our top priority. The same people who are enforcing the disappearances of Chechens are also hoarders of resources that should be available to all people no matter what their affluence. Take away the power of the politicians and government bodies that allow atrocities against humanity to continue and replace them with a democracy that values human life. Statistics from PRB show that the estimated population growth in 2050 will increase in developing countries while developed countries will see a drop in growth. I wonder if we can use our collective learning, our knowledge of cycles, hierarchies, politics and economics to benefit developing countries – and mankind.


(2007). Cotton: The Peril and the Promise. New Internationalist 399. 2–21.

(2007). State of the World’s Oceans. New Internationalist 397. 2–27.

(2008). Crisis! Crisis! New Internationalist 418. 4–31.

(2008). World Population Data Sheet. Population Reference Bureau.

(2009). Students for Bhopal. International Coalition for Justice in Bhopal.

Baiev, K. (2003). The oath: A surgeon under fire. New York: Walker & Co.

Bergman, I. (dir.) (1957). The seventh seal. Sweden: Svensk Filmindustrie.

Christian, D. (2004). Maps of Time. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Conway, D. & Heynen, N., eds. (2006). Globalization From Below. Globalization’s Contradictions: Geographies of Discipline, Destruction and Transformation. London: Routledge. 212-225.

Mukusheva, R. (dir.). Crying sun: the impact of war in the mountains of Chechnya. (2007). New York: Witness. m28IS4GYLYydlAeW84W6Dg&q=crying+sun&client=firefox-a

Russell, C. (2009). First wave. Science News. 175(5). Retrieved 28 Nov. 2009 from


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