The goal sets the direction for a system. Hence the goal for our human society, our system, is clearly a subject that should be discussed.
Especially since we seem to have gotten stuck in details of what practically possible now with our bounded rationality and lack the ability to see the bigger future picture. We pretend to be grown ups but on the way to adulthood it looks like we lost the imagination or forgotten to ask ourselves, what are our goal as human being and human beings?
Some pointers can be given on what an appropriate goal for us humans could look like. What might not be that good to strive for and what might be better to strive for.
Donella Meadows said and as discussed above:
“If you get how we are interrelated with the environment and that all of this throughputs that run our lives come from the environment, go back to the environment and that we cannot be out of balance then you start inventing new functions and purposes. The first thing that you see is that growth is one of the stupidest purposes ever invented by any culture! We got to have an enough!” To be able to set an appropriate goal we need the world view (mindset/paradigms) that we humans are for our survival all dependent on nature, its resources and complex functions. We need to understand to the marrow that destroying our environment means destroying ourselves. This is why environment movement should be called survival movement (Extincition Rebellion have realized that) and be highly revered. This is why economy and economists must respect nature not the other way around. This is why we cannot have growth as a goal because
“growth as a goal is asking for unsustainability on a finite planet”.
(And it doesn’t matter if we state other goals but our behavior produces growth. Goal is what is deduced from the systems behavior).
What we need instead for ourselves as a species is a goal,
“a meaningful, moral, satisfying goal – with a sense of enough."
A goal that we can evaluate all our activities against.
Based on the notion that we need a functioning ecosystem to survive a proposal for a goal could be, as others has suggested, something like:
A society that provides all human beings and the rest of the biosphere with the ability to prosper within ecological limits.
If we want to be a little more specific we can be inspired by A BLUEPRINT FOR SURVIVAL a document drawn up by people in the 1970 who saw this existential conundrum coming with 4 conditions
“a stable society: one that to all intents and purposes can be sustained indefinitely while giving optimum satisfaction to its members — are:
(1) minimum disruption of ecological processes;
(2) maximum conservation of materials and energy—or an economy of stock rather than flow;
(3) a population in which recruitment equals loss; and
(4) a social system in which the individual can enjoy, rather than feel restricted by, the first three conditions.”
It sounds and is a bit tricky but thankfully we have to our help of these and other professionals who have been studying and thinking about exactly this and can point us in the right direction and give us guidance. Ideas based on their ideas can be elaborated more in detail under specific areas in the sketch of a blueprint of a system with the goal of flourishing within ecological limits.
Briefly can be said that human beings are not just dependent on nature for survival. We are also dependent on other human beings. The goal is set for all human beings. Excluding some human beings, here and now or in the future, would morally be unfair regardless what imaginary boundaries we have created. It would also be stupid as including all human beings is a necessity, as we are all dependent on other human beings. This is obvious when we are really young and cannot cook food for ourselves and have to be fed.
However we continue be dependent on other human beings long after that. For example locally farmers bring us food, teachers teach us how the world works and doctors help us when we are sick. Our relationships to our fellow human beings really do help our well-being but not just locally. Regionally and globally human beings fighting in war, human beings burning carbon and human beings destroying the environment do threaten the near and dear locally and it is a constant reminder that our well-being is dependent on a shared vision of prosperity.
To rebuild our hope that the prosperity for the near and dear in future will continue and not abruptly end tomorrow, we need a goal that the helps us prosper in the future. Within the limits.
How would a system with this goal look like? No one has an answer but through the help of the ideas of others we can break through the accepted overwhelming reality of “not possible” and find another reality that respects ecological limits and helps everyone to prosper for as long as is possible. You will find some seeds to solutions here that with all humbleness of our own ignorance and embracing uncertainty we are sure will be further developed by you!