Capra begins the next section of Web of Life with discussion of the word paradigm. Starting from Thomas Kuhn’s definition as applied to science Capra expands it [p5]:-
“to that of a social paradigm, which I define as “a constellation of concepts, values, perceptions, and practices shared by a community, which forms a particular vision of reality that is the basis of the way the community organizes itself. ”
As Matriellez, I described one of the four dominating aspects of education as the corporate paradigm. Capra’s adaptation of Kuhn’s definition would apply very well to this corporate paradigm “a constellation of concepts, values, perceptions, and practices shared by a community, which forms a particular vision of reality that is the basis of the way the community organizes itself. ” It doesn’t need any alteration, it fits as a perfect description of the way things are except for one important caveat, the Mandtao caveat, that ought to be included:-
“a constellation of concepts, values, perceptions, and practices shared by a community, which forms a particular vision of reality that is the basis of the way the community organizes itself but whose totally dominating influence is the increased profits of the 1%.”
No wonder science is embraced by the 1%, they sugar-coat reality for the benefit of the 1%. Where is the genuine understanding of what is without a recognition that the paradigm profits the 1%. It is the same as saying we live in a democracy without saying the Mandtao caveat “democracy whose totally dominating influence is the increased profits of the 1%.”
He goes on to describe the mechanistic view of life, Newtonian Cartesian paradigm, as disappearing. Because he does not include the Mandtao caveat it appears reasonable to see this change from the mechanistic view as feasible, but with the caveat we can understand the failure of science to embrace the changes he so eloquently described in his earlier books. In his scientific paradigm he considers developing awareness, but with the caveat one has to ask “will the profits be affected?” And that is difficult to answer. If his awareness change demands a sustainability pre-requisite then such a change is in direct conflict with 1% profitability to such an extent that the 1% has established a think tank whose specific purpose is to promote climate change denial.
To be fair to Capra, I could interpret the rest of the chapter as tacitly including the Mandtao caveat. He promotes deep ecology as described by Arne Naess (I came across him when I relived my 20-something ecosophy – amusing). This deep ecology is a more elucidated version of my ONE planet page in which humanity recognises itself as integrated with all being – as opposed to shallow ecology which sees a separation and natural resources to be used in a “nice” way.
Capra also drew an interesting distinction between holistic and ecological [p6]:-
“A holistic view of, say, a bicycle means to see the bicycle as a functional whole and to understand the interdependence of its parts accordingly. An ecological view of the bicycle includes that, but it adds to it the perception of how the bicycle is embedded in its natural and social environment – where the raw materials that went into it came from, how it was manufactured, how its use affects the natural environment and the community by which it is used, and so on.” I have a particular beef about plastics. The plastics industry produces an excessive amount of plastics, and leaves government to clean them up (discussed here). This is complete dishonesty because the only way they can be cleaned up is for business to build plant that can recycle the plastics. The gyra and other plastics eyesores (as discussed in “Tapped”) are completely caused by the 1%, and with all the will in the world the 99% cannot do anything about it because plastics requires plant to convert them – despite the efforts of the industry spokespeople to blame the 99% and government. Because of my beef about plastics I say that ecological disposal of manufactured items needs to be part of the ecological outlook (I have no doubts at all that Capra was including this ecological disposal in his “and so on”).
I choose different words than ecological. I consider that the businesses of the 1% need to be accountable for the environmental damage they cause, and by accountable I mean that they must pay. It is ludicrous that in Tapped the water spokespeople were allowed to blame the local councils for the failure to provide sufficient collection points for their plastic bottles. It is not up to the local council to provide collection points, it is up to the businesses. Furthermore those businesses also need to provide plant where these plastics can be converted into other useful plastic items. Once created plastic does not biodegrade as does wood or other natural products. The plastics become an eyesore causing environmental damage because they have been created by business. It is up to Bill Gates to build factories that recycle the polystyrene, not anyone else. This is the benefaction that community responsibility requires, not usurping Africa with Monsanto GM seeding.
Here the problem lies with the legal, social and scientific axiom concerning the environment. Our legal system is controlled by the 1% but it tries to give the appearance of compassion, and occasionally judges risk the wrath of the 1% control and dish out environmental settlements. But throughout these legal processes the lawyers funded by the 1% tie up the legal process with law, case law, previous settlements and so on. There are many scenarios where Erin Brockovich fights for the rights of people and the planet against big business; in the movies the person who wins is miraculously portrayed, in real life there are few legitimate cases that are actually won. This is because the fundamental basis on which the law is fought is the Mandtao caveat, the protection of the 1% and not the genuine axiom of ONE planet, Capra’s ecological imperative.
Here we have the underlying problem. Our system is based on the 1%, the Mandtao caveat “whose totally dominating influence is the increased profits of the 1%”, and not on ONE planet. ONE planet needs to be applied across the board, our law, our economy, our science and our society. To be civilised means to be in harmony with ONE planet not creating technology that allows the continued domination by the 1%. This is the reality of discussing paradigms. Token changes from mechanistic world views might rock the world of science but if our whole system does not change this basic axiom there is little chance that such paradigmatic scientific change will be anything other than whistling in the wind. How far along this road did Capra go?