Here are published some English language material on the book The Collected Explanations for The State of The World (Maailman tilan kootut selitykset) written in Finnsih by Olli Tammilehto. Its translation and publishing in English or in any other language is desirable. However, first you should consult the author .

The Collected Explanations

for The State of The World

Material on a book by Olli Tammilehto


Finnish press on the whole has given positive reviews of this book. Some examples of these are:

· According to Eero Ojanen who writes for the largest newspaper in Finland, Helsingin Sanomat, "The Collected Explanations for The State of The World if anything represents the publishing of information that is extensive, well-organised, well-researched and clearly presented." (17.2.1999)

· In the largest Finnish Swedish daily newspaper, Huvudstadsbladet, Mikael Kosk wrote: "The content is wide with different themes and dives into history at the same time. In spite of the comprehensiveness Tammilehto cannot be accused of being a charlatan. He is a man of wide reading and as a whole the book is penetrating discussion around difficult world ecplanations." (in the original Swedish: "Registret är brett med olika ämnesområden och historiska dykningar på samma gång. Vidlyftigheten till trots går det inte att beskylla Tammilehto att vara charlatan. Han är ordentligt påläst och som helhet är boken ett fylligt resonemang kring de svårhanterliga världsförklaringar.") (22.8.98)

· Juha Siltala, a well-known Finnish social scientist, recommended the most significant non-fiction book award, Tieto-Finlandia, for this book at a book introduction event at Suomalainen kirjakauppa, a chain of bookstores in Finland.

· According to Juha Rantala who writes for the radically ecological Elämänsuojelija, "this book is not good - it's excellent". (2/1998)

· Elina Mikola in Nuorten Luonto, the publication of the largest environmental organisation for Finnish youth Luonto-Liitto: "It is rarely possible to find a book on this theme that could be understood by an uneducated teenager like myself." (4/1998)

· Teija Laurinolli in the leading newspaper of the county of Northern Karelia: "Tammilehto avoids all traps and copes with the explanations logically, smartly and with insight, and probably most important of all, intelligibly." (15.4.1998)

· Ville Lähde in the most largely distributed philosophical journal in Finland, niin & näin: "One rarely comes across a book of which there is hardly anything critical to say. The Collected Explanations of The State of The World is simply the most significant Finnish work tackling the environmental crisis for years."(2/1998)

· Paula Saukkonen in Diakonia magazine: "I recommend Tammilehto's book to as large a readership among the church as possible."

· Jimmy Ruokolainen in a literary magazine Ping: "Criticism presented by Tammilehto is thorough and interesting. Also, the language is easy to read, and the jokes embedded in the text, as well as the irony that sometimes comes across, make it lively. It is obvious that Tammilehto has a lot to say, and has detailed arguments for his statements, and a genuine interest in generating discussion." (12.11.1998)

· Walter Fortelius in Folktidningen Ny Tid, a Finnish-Swedish intellectual weekly: "It is a simple joy to find a well-thought-out book written by a wise person."(in the original Swedish: "En enkel lycka är att hitta en genomtänkt bok skriven av en klok människa.")


This book is included in the sociology degree requirements at the Oulu University, in basic studies (approbatur), "Other Areas of Social Research".

A second imprint was taken of this book eight months after its first publication.

This book is not only a contribution to Finnish environmental discussion but is also closely linked with many international debates. It presents fresh insights to e.g. the causes of environmental problems, wars, hunger and impoverishment, the nature of technology, the ideological background of the current social order, and the ways that human mental structure, ideologies and power are intertwined. Tammilehto does not come up with these out of thin air though, these are new articulations, interpretations or syntheses of the findings of many different disciplines and the texts of authors from a multitude of areas. This book is particularly closely linked to discussions in the following fields: environmental philosophy, environmental sociology, human ecology, and development-critical anthropology.



Pp. 13-15

We are sometimes overcome by depression. It is not necessary to find reasons for this in our early childhood alone: if not our own problems, environmental and global issues give plenty of cause for grief.

Yet our ability to perceive evils means that somewhere in our mind, we have an idea of what is good. And of course, there are plenty of beautiful and valuable matters in our lives.

We may appreciate a large income and material possessions. Some may consider the praise of their colleagues and career success as important. When taking a closer look, we may notice that there are many issues which are far more valuable. This hits home at least at the point where there is serious illness or an accident in our near surroundings. When weighed against our own health or that of someone close to us, many items that we have reached for prove unworthy.

However, there are issues other than health involved in making it a good day, a good year, or a good life that we wish for ourselves or those near us. Life needs to make sense. It is possible to go from cradle to grave with the aid of good meals, cakes, booze, sexual experiences and entertainment. If this does not involve a rich social field and good human relations, few would call this a good life. For most of us, a meaningful life requires meaningful work - paid or unpaid. Freedom is another prerequisite for a life with a meaning: the fact that we can and want to have an impact on our path in the framework of some accepted and necessary boundaries. Even well meant force cannot bring meaning to anyone's life.

Sigmund Kvaløy, a Norwegian eco-philosopher, defines meaningful work thus:

"It is an activitynecessaryfor the person's material existence, giving it a direction and practical seriousness not shared by any other human activity. Its products (material objects, services and various thought structures) are such that they do not cause damage to the continuance of life's organisational complexity (either in the ecosystem or in human culture) without time limits. It poses such challenges that potential talents and capabilities in the individual and her/his group are brought to bloom. It demands of its partakers the building of solidarity and loyalty, as well as practical techniques of co-operation. In general, It engages children, not as play only, but in ways needed by society."

A peaceful swell coming from the open sea, meeting a family of beavers in a stream surrounded by cliffs, an evening walk when you notice new details in an old building… Such experiences remind us of the fact that beautiful and valuable does not end when we go outside the walls of our own home. When our immediate surroundings are threatened we sometimes feel the same as when the health of people close to us is threatened. Even if sense for some strange reason tried to avoid these feelings, it is not sensible to repress them. Many changes in our environment risk our health as well as that of our life companions - if not physically, at least mentally.

How about our neighbours and their environment? Or different cultures and nature on the other side of the globe? Or those strange-looking, oddly behaving people somewhere in Ouagadougou? It is easy to ignore these when considering what is valuable.

And then we remember the charming old gentleman who lives next door, the stunning Chinese lady we almost fell in love with in Bangkok, the two giraffes who were staring at us in the most friendly manner when we left the car to take some pictures of them in Rift Valley - oh and then that impressive Japanese film, the splendid Russian symphony, the Guatemalan novel…

Thus what is good changes from one small circle into hundreds of points in different countries. It is as if the world of good consists of little holes stuck on the surface of the globe, through which a light coming from the centre can shine. When travelling, a look or the shaking of hands magically changes bad or indifferent to good, and more shining points are created on the globe.

No! There must be something wrong here. Of course the old gentleman was charming and the giraffes were friendly even before we met them. What about all the people, creatures and cultures that we have not got to know yet? Maybe many of them are charming? Perhaps after making their acquaintance, we might appreciate any of them. It goes without saying that few of the creatures we would meet would be saints or pure as snow. But let's face it: bad deeds are also familiar to us and those close to us. Even if a real professional of bad and evil came our way, it might be difficult to wish for their sudden death or sufferings of hell after a closer look. According to Aristotle, too, "Even when travelling abroad one can observe that a natural affinity and friendship exist between man and man universally".

P. 18

pp. 24-26


How about Western Europe? Does this cradle of industrialisation not prove how a food situation is dependent on economic performance? The chroniclers of the Middle Ages frequently report on dreadful famines. People suffered from hunger also in the New Age Europe. It has been calculated that in 17th century France, each peasant went through a famine at least once in their lifetime. In the last two hundred years, there has been a decrease in malnutrition, and to a large extent, it has disappeared from Western Europe. If anything, is this not the blessing of economic growth?

Unfortunately, once again, my reading on and careful consideration of the issue has made me diverge from the safe and sound explanation. Instead of economic growth, certain concrete historical changes in Western Europe had an impact on the yielding of hunger, some of which did create growth in industrial production in some countries. In the past history of our continent - similarly to the current state of the Third World - famines were not due to peasants' lack of skill or understanding to produce a sufficient amount of food and store it for a rainy day. Farmers were not independent, but they had been pushed to the lowest steps of a hierarchical social system. They had to hand over a large portion of their crops to their landlords, the church and the state. In cases where making preparations against capricious weather through increased production was permitted or possible, it often would have meant just giving a present to the gentry. In addition, in Old Europe famines were often not due to the scarcity of food production, but instead, foods were destroyed in wars or, for some reason, they were not available to those most in need. It is telling of the potential production capacity that before industrialisation, people had more spare time. It has been estimated that in the Middle Ages, hardly more than a half of the days in a year were working days. There were 141 official holidays in a year; e.g. in Finland in 1998, there were 113 official holidays including Saturdays.

This situation, creating hunger in Europe, started to unfold first in Great Britain, then in other countries, in three ways. Firstly, poor small farmers migrated to overseas colonies in great numbers, to areas the Europeans had colonised with the help of famines, genocides and other such means befitting of an increasing level of civilisation.

Secondly, increasing amounts of foodstuffs, animal feeds and other groceries replacing the produce of European fields were being imported from other continents. The best farmlands of the peoples in the colonies were taken over for export production. The natives were left landless or they were forced to move to fields which yielded poor crops or were difficult to farm. Often even small-scale self-sustaining farming was brutally repressed, in order for plantations to have sufficient amounts of cheap labour. On the other hand, sometimes local farmers were forced to grow export crops on their own plots. Thus peoples were made dependent on export foodstuffs, the trade of which was controlled by the Europeans. Consequently, price fluctuations and other trade disturbances led to serious famines.

All in all, these means to decrease European hunger meant that famines were exported elsewhere. The final result was that there was an increase in global malnutrition. The enormous economic growth in Europe practically led to the deterioration of the living conditions of the majority of the people in the world.

There is a third social change which also improved the food situation in Europe: the decline of the feudal oppressive system. With capitalism gaining more of a foothold, most peasants were forced to leave for towns or for other continents. The remaining farmers were no longer oppressed by old limiting hierarchies. There was an increase in production, and little by little the capitalist necessity to increase production developed into a new oppressive system - this will be illustrated in greater detail further on.

Thus the increased productivity of the European farmer took place as a side product of the development of a new, world-revolutionary production system. This was hardly the only means available. The peasants' liberation from feudalism could apparently have taken place as a result of their own movements. There were distinct signs of this in the 14th and 15th centuries. At that point, political structures had become weaker due to wars between elites, and more and more popular movements with demands for equality arose from the sphere of the church. Feudalism could have been replaced by a relatively egalitarian system in which the productivity of independent small farms would have easily sufficed to feed people even in the years of crop failure.

In any case, the food-producing side products of European economic growth are not of much use to current areas of hunger. The first two factors mentioned above - emigration to different continents and exports from them - cannot be repeated: there are no more continents disconnected from industrial growth economics. The way the third factor - the capitalisation of agriculture - is now operative in the third world increases hunger: where there is a shift from self-sufficiency to production for the market, more and more often purchase is the only way to acquire food. And the poor rarely have much money, so foodstuffs drift to those with "spending power", i.e. the rich both in and out of the country, and their animals.

p. 48



Technology has been needed not only against the external, but also against the internal enemy: it has been developed especially for the maintenance of the power structure, the suppression and control of people - however incredible this may sound from the viewpoint of mainstream thinking. The supremacy over nature, openly pursued through machines and equipment, has often been primarily about supremacy over other people. The elites have defined their own interests as those of the nation, which technological development must serve. Due to the fact that there is a constant power struggle inside circles of power, and technology is a tool in this as well, some technological innovations also benefit - at least superficially and in the short run - many non-elite groups who are necessary as allies.

There are several examples in history of links between technology and power. In France, since the heart of the Middle Ages, wheat was generally ground in water mills. This was not due to the idea that this would have required less human labour than the use of other known methods such as wind, horse or hand mills. The explanation is social: it was easier for feudal lords to control and tax people more effectively by forcing them to use their water mills. The upper class of feudal society destroyed farmers' windmills and banned the use of hand mills. The ban was renewed in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The industrialisation of 18th century England was not so much based on factories being particularly efficient producers of welfare. A more important cause for the change of the means of production was the desire to have more efficient control over workers. Previously, employers used to have the work done by craftsmen in their own huts (the putting-out system). In this situation, people used to be able to take care of their own welfare by choosing between the tasks of the employer and self-sufficient production, taking care of children and the elderly, or some other task or idleness - where the satisfaction and benefit through these were superior to the small reward provided by the "putter-outer". This diverse and efficient production of welfare was seen as laziness through the eyes of the capitalist.

The division of labour in such a way that in the production of several same items (e.g. needles), certain stages of work are done at once (e.g. eyes for all needles), has apparently been a common way to increase work efficiency. However, the fact that in workshops and factories, each worker was made to specialise and work on only one stage from week to week had no direct link to efficiency. This was a question of control: where none of the workers mastered the entire production process, they were more at the mercy of the industrialist. When the alternative of independent craftsmanship was shifted further and further away, the capitalist's portion of the results of the work could be increased.

Thus in factories, people had to work harder and more intensively under more stressful circumstances. Naturally, it was not easy to have them yield to this. And this is where machines came to the industrialist's aid in two ways. Firstly, connected to their external power source, they forced the workers to their own merciless rhythm. Secondly, it was those inventions in particular that were implemented which made the traditional handicrafts skills unnecessary. This way, the workers were easier to substitute and thus easier to handle. For instance, the famous Spinning Jenny, invented by James Hargreaves, a weaver, never became popular, since it could only function under the supervision of a skilled weaver. Yet at the same time, a spinning machine using an entirely different principle, developed by Richard Arkwright, a money-grabbing barber mentioned above, spread fast: it made human skills unnecessary.

Around this time in revolutionary France, Nicholas-Louis Robert invented the predecessor of the current paper machine. Even in his own words, its purpose was to undo the power of paper-producing craftsmen.

There was widespread opposition to industrial revolution, which points to the fact that there were other issues at play than the improvement of the lot of man. At the beginning of the 19th century, a negative outlook on industrialisation was common in the camps of both the conservatives and the left wing. Workers rebelled against mechanisation in different parts of Europe. In England in 1811-1813, the movement of Luddites, focusing on the destruction of machinery, became a force which was seen as a serious threat to the entire social order. In practice, there was a civil war in the country. An army of 14 400 men was needed to subdue the Luddites. This army was the same size as the one the British had used to fight against the French in Spain four years earlier.

One way to control rebellion was to continue the changes in technology. For instance, the number of tasks that required any skill at all could be reduced by increasing the size of the machine. This made it possible to decrease the proportion of adult labour and increase that of children who were easy to handle. One of the central defenders of industrialisation, Andrew Ure, wrote in 1835: "Through doubling the size of the spinning machine the owner can get rid of reluctant and listless spinners and thus regain the mastery of his factory, which is not an insignificant benefit."

There is also a great number of examples of the links between technological changes and power politics from this century. As early as the 1920-30's, the aim of power companies to replace local electricity production with large power stations and high-voltage national network was met with strong criticism in Germany. The fact that this turned out successfully in spite of the opposition was largely due to co-operation between large companies and the Nazis in the construction of the war industry.

After the so-called oil crisis of 1973, there was widespread awareness of the potential of solar energy in future energy management. In spite of this, the progress in its implementation was slow, and a great proportion of research funding went into very expensive applications such as sun satellites. This was largely due to the manipulation of large power companies: they were scared of losing their position to the production of potentially inexpensive and dispersed production of solar power.

When it comes to information technology, there is an interest in maintaining the power structure too. Especially in the USA, by the end of 1950s, many centralised administration systems had grown to be hopelessly complex. These could be found in the state sector, but also in industry, banking, and stock and commodity markets. There was a danger of the system collapsing. Computers arrived just in time for a political and social structural change to be avoided. With their help, it was possible to continue with the old trend of centralisation.

Charles Wilson, the CEO of General Motors and the Deputy Chairman of the War Production Council of the USA, stated in 1949 that America had two great problems: "Russia abroad, labour at home". The automation of the machine tool industry in 1950s and 1960's played a part in solving the latter problem. There were two methods available, different in principle: in one, a skilled worker programmed a machine while making the first piece of a series manually; in the other, the machine had some standard series of movements in its memory (coded on punch tape or some other form) which were applied continuously. Industry management selected the latter, so-called numeric control, because even "monkeys" could use machine tools equipped with this. At the beginning though, automation did not succeed to plan, and there was a slump in product quality. The line was not altered however, since it was most important to diminish workers' skills-based power in the workplace.

There has been a similar kind of automation in the chemical industry for a long time. There has been a continuous shift of process control from the workers to the management level. The objective has been to turn workers into passive observers who act like machines. Under these circumstances, alienated workers have not been capable of very creative actions in surprising situations. Accidents have followed - for which workers' human errors have been blamed!

Household machines, which usually have been considered as making life easier, may have hidden purposes. According to many studies, the time women use for housework has not decreased in comparison with the beginning of this century. Tightened norms for cleanliness have undone the time saved by household machines. Instead, the mechanisation of homes, besides being a lucrative business, has also been a means to strengthen the nuclear family structure, increasing consumption and women's oppression. The change in household techniques has always been based on the idea that housework is done inside the nuclear family, and done by women who are separated from each other.

P. 65

pp. 79-83


Causes for the current direction of technological development may be searched for inside technology itself: according to many writers, technological development has got out of hand due to its too great a speed or for some other reason. Development is uncontrolled - or even worse: technology controls us. The idea of technology that has turned into an independent force might help us understand the situation, but this hardly yields much hope: if this is the case, then apparently nothing can be done. Is this possible? Is it not people who develop and utilise technology?

At many workplaces, especially in factories at conveyor belts, technology controls people's actions in a concrete fashion. People are mere parts of machinery. Yet people were not born on these jobs, and the majority of their actions takes place elsewhere. So in the final analysis, everything depends on people's goals which lead to intentions and actions with different consequences? How would technology control us?

The implementation of technology changes what and how big the consequences of our actions are. The anticipation of changed consequences alters our intentions, and finally our goals.

Take the following example: we look inside the fridge hungry and notice that it is empty. We decide to take a walk to the local shop. In the yard it occurs to us that we have just bought a car for commuting. Why not go shopping by car and thus save time? Our intention changes: we go shopping by car. On the way we think that we might just as well drive to Superultra down the motorway. At the supermarket our goal changes: in addition to food, we want equipment for our car and other necessities.

When it is not only us but also many other car-driving inhabitants in our suburb who change their intentions and goals similarly to us, the local shop will be shut down as unprofitable. The car-less will also have to go to Superultra, and thus many of them acquire a car. As a consequence, streets are jammed and travel takes more time and is more unpleasant. In order for us to be able to go shopping or to the centre of town less often, we get a larger fridge, a freezer, a better television, a vcr…

The additional consequences of our actions brought on by technology impact our acts not only through altered goals but also directly: we may not be capable of implementing our goals due to either physical or psychological difficulties or obstacles. These may be such as city structure, our body weakened by pollution, or our mind paralysed by stress and the multitude of influences. For instance, we may not be able to realise our intention to meet a friend who lives the other side of town, but instead, curl up in front of the TV in our lonely hovel.

So it is starting to appear that a technical change may determine human action. It is possible for an apparently small technological innovation to revolutionise society against the purposes of product users. The following may bring more light to this, taken from the recent history in Lapland.

As late as the beginning of the 1960s, in the winter the Skolt Saame either walked, skied or used a reindeer drawn pulka or a sleigh as means of transport in their own area. An aeroplane or a "snow bus" were used solely for the transportation of the sick, or for foodstuffs that would have been easily damaged by the cold. In 1962, the teacher of Partako village bought the first snowmobile; the next year his example was followed by several other Skolts. Four years later, the snowmobile had become an essential part of reindeer herding. At Sevettijärvi, only four people used the pulka, and did so with embarrassment.

A rapid "snow mobile revolution" created an upheaval in reindeer herding. The animals grew wild as a consequence of, on the one hand, the noise of the snowmobiles, and on the other, the fact that there was now no reason to migrate with the reindeer due to the speed of the snowmobile and the expense of kilometres driven. This, as well as the stress for the reindeer caused by the new methods, led to a decrease in reindeer fertility. The number of reindeer decreased, especially those that were caught: in the winter 1960-1961 the Skolts had over 2 600 reindeer, in the spring 1971 less than 1 700. Since at the same time the use of the snowmobile increased the cost of reindeer herding, it became centralised. In 1971, one family owned every third reindeer, and two thirds of Skolt families had so few reindeer that they had to find their livelihood through other sources. A great number had to migrate for paid labour outside the area of Sevettijärvi. The Skolts became more integrated with the rest of Finland both economically and culturally. There were only remnants left of their old ecological way of life.

A related impact may be detected in the fate of many other native peoples and their adoption of new western technology. For instance, in the history of many North American Indian societies, the impact of firearms and "firewater" has corresponded to that of the snowmobiles of the Skolts. In the same way, many idealistic communities set up around the world have fallen down or deteriorated in technological changes.

The situation of contemporary people is more complex than described above, since it is not a question of an individual technical change but a series of changes. A "dictatorship of circumstances" prevails: as a reaction to new problems or possibilities, intentions and goals are changed constantly, with the pace of technological changes. In addition, technical changes are anticipated, and goals are changed (or are left unchanged) according to these. Technology appears to control our behaviour decisively.

However, in the above - as in many other related texts dealing with technology getting out of hand - there is an assumption in the background which easily goes unnoticed: we take it that people always react to technological changes according to the same pattern - i.e. as if the impact of new technology on our intentions and goals would somehow be a constant. According to this assumption, for instance increased production, purchasing power, effectiveness or speed brought on by technical development would always be utilised. We would always be prepared to discard the old and look for technical solutions to problems.

In fact, reactions to technology have indeed been stereotypical in modern societies. In its aim for efficiency, people's own activity has, to a great extent, followed the principle of a machine, and they have thus turned into parts of technological machinery. As stated in the previous chapter, attitudes to technical changes have not always and in all cultures been the same: the application of many inventions has been rejected, new production methods have been rebelled against, and they have been banned.

On the other hand, other cultures adopting the common western way of reacting has not been so matter-of-course. For instance many North American Indian shamans and religious leaders insisted that their tribes abstain from the use of firearms. It is unlikely that the snowmobile revolution would have been possible without the Skolts first losing a large portion of their old spiritual culture. Christianity, elementary school, conscription, participation in the Second World War, evacuation for the war in Lapland to Central Ostrobothnia, as well as trade trips to the "civilisation" of Northern Norway 2-3 times a year, had had especially men assume a multitude of western attitudes and ideas.

Alternative ways to react to technological change are more difficult now than earlier, even at the material level. On the one hand, our way of life is connected to technology, on the other, technologies - especially due to information technology - are intertwined. Yet other ways to react are not impossible. Why then does new technology always have a similar impact on our intentions and goals so that the "surplus production" is always utilised? How did the prevalent attitude towards technology come to be? Where did cars, snowmobiles etc. actually come from i.e. what is it that maintains the current technical innovation process? Again, these questions take us beyond technological explanations.

P. 84

pp. 87-90


A more living version of mechanical determinism is provided by its biological variety: a wish to explain human activity solely on the basis of biology in the same way as the behaviour of other animals. Since it usually has been biologists who have been aware of ecological disasters first and most acutely, there has been a tendency to explain environmental problems biologically. Famines are also explained in this way, as many believe that they are entirely ecological problems.

On the other hand, irrespective of ecology, many have wished to explain wars by human biological aggressive instinct and natural hostility towards group-external members of the same species. This explanation is often complemented with competitive instinct, the instinct to defend one's own area, and an ecological hypothesis that there is a constant shortage of life's necessities.

In Finland, Pentti Linkola has been the most outstanding representative of this doctrine called biologism. According to him, "there is no other way to understand the human than through the study of the evolutionary history of the species and animal ethology". It is possible to explain environmental disaster by a track of errors of biological evolution which has produced a malignant tumour - the human being.

The hereditary equipment of man, a result of incidental mutations, includes a "progressive instinct" due to which "it would be against the laws of nature that s/he could leave some {technical} instruments unused" or limit the growth of material well-being.(1)

Yet we cannot deny the existence of human consciousness. The supporters of biologism do not deny it, but believe consciousness to be a peripheral or an epiphenomenon which has no impact on the course of events. It is not very easy to swallow this argument, and Linkola also constantly vacillates: is it possible for consciousness to take over "instinctive primitive forces" or not?

For a logical proponent of biologism, having a conscious impact on issues is impossible. On the other hand, everything is not predetermined - chance also plays an important part in evolution. According to Linkola and other proponents of biologism, participation is similar to being a sports fan: we can publicly cheer at those whims of fate which alleviate problems, and boo at those which make them worse. Of course it is boring that participation is limited to sitting in the audience, but presumably this is what we have to settle for if science proves that our behaviour is biologically based.

Fortunately, biologism is supported neither by common sense nor by the predominant scientific view, although some varieties of social biology advocate Linkola's view. Edward O. Wilson, a North American zoologist, who is one of the most well-known representatives of this doctrine, defines social biology as "the systematic study of the biological basis of all social behaviour". The idea is that the basis will be found in human genes in particular.

On the other hand, it has been professional biologists who have been most critical of social biologists' generalisations. There is no direct evidence of links between a certain gene and the social behavioural tendencies of intelligent animals - including humans. The arguments of social biologists are based merely on speculations which intend to prove that some characteristics have guaranteed the survival of a gene or an individual better than others. In order to be able to draw conclusions about genes, we need to assume at the start that behavioural differences are hereditary - a hypothesis the truthfulness of which is supposed to be proven only by this speculation.

In addition, according to evolution theory, intelligence and the ability to learn - i.e. that animals can change their behaviour while the genotype remains the same - have developed for certain animals just therefore that they would survive better than others.

Biological explanations for war take it that aggression is like steam which people, especially men, have to let out every now and then. If circumstances prevent the outlet of pressure, an explosion follows.

Even simple tests on mice contradict this theory: a mouse that benefits from aggressive behaviour becomes more aggressive, whereas those that are hampered by it turn less aggressive. Thus mice learn either aggressiveness or its avoidance. A common view amongst researchers is that aggressiveness is only partially hereditary.

On the other hand, warring people do not have to be in the least aggressive - particularly in a modern technical war. It is possible to participate in a violent conflict out of the widest range of motives - e.g. out of fear of punishment for breaking social norms or orders of those in power.

Soldiers must be especially trained to kill. In spite of training, the desire to kill may be poor: in a study concerning 400 infantry companies in the Second World War, 85 per cent of soldiers did not shoot the enemy in combat even in a case where their position was threatened and their lives in danger. They only shot if others, especially officers, were present. (On the reasons for the destructive behaviour of soldiers, see also the chapter "Power Hierarchies" in the following text.)

Correspondingly, an aggressive motive may lead to a variety of acts - not only violence. For instance, aggression may be behind a large and unilateral donation: the idea may be to make the beneficiary dependent and obliged to follow the will of the donator.

All in all, any human psychological tendency - which may be genetically based - may lead to a great range of different acts. Also concrete behaviour may hide a number of varied psychological tendencies. This is enough to make the socio-biological explanation of destructive trends impossible.

P. 93

pp 96-99


(PREVIOUS SECTION: Why has an increase in population been selected as the explanation?)

Perhaps because the increase in population growth after World War II has been isolated from its contexts and seen as an inevitable phenomenon due to the humanist aspirations of our culture. High birth rate and high mortality which keeps it under control have been considered to correspond to some kind of natural state of affairs. After World War II, Europeans and North Americans went to poor countries for humanitarian reasons and shook this balance: medication, pesticides and better nutrition have reduced mortality. As birth rate has remained in the natural state, rapid increase of population has followed. "Population humanists" wish to include birthrates in the "civilisation" of poor countries, and export contraceptives. "Population brutalists" for their part wish the return of the natural state and propose the increase of mortality.

In reality, no natural state prevailed before WWII. For over 400 years, Europeans had spread diseases, hampered and hindered food production and preparation for crop failures, destroyed local cultures, warred and punished native inhabitants in other continents, as a result of which there had been an increase in mortality.(2)

In addition to mortality, there was an increase in birth rate. This was partly caused by the deterioration of the norms guiding sexual interaction in traditional societies. Birth rate was also increased by the exploitation of labour especially from 19th century onwards. The colonial lords wanted to subject the productive capacity of families and villages to their own purposes, whereby large families were more viable than small ones. Communities were often broken up simultaneously, which left the family as people's only security and thus it was important to ensure its sufficient size through having a large number of children. The growth continued in many countries in the 50s' and 60s' and - contrary to the "Humanitarian Europeans" theory - it largely explains the rapid population increase of post-WW2. (3)

In so-called primitive cultures and amongst native peoples who are often seen as models for a natural state, birth rate is controlled. They have their own methods for this, independent of western medicine. Before the increased impact of European cultural imperialism this century, apparently most non-European peoples moderated their birth rates through, for example, the regulation of the price for a bride, late marriages, the use of contraceptive or abortive herbs, and especially with long nursing periods and taboos linked with that. Some of these, like the practice of infanticide in certain situations (infants not being always considered fully human, similar to most Europeans not seeing foetuses as human), are not ethically acceptable in our current view. Even so, the fact that these methods exist and work disprove the general European illusion that other peoples have been incapable of independently solving population problems.

In many cases, missionaries and colonial lords banned traditional contraceptive customs and destroyed data concerning those: in the eyes of colonialists who needed paid slaves, poor countries were underpopulated at the time. (4)

On the other hand, birth rates decreased decisively in Europe and Northern America even before modern contraceptive methods were known or available - even at times when a government was openly hostile towards birth control.

The naturalness of high birth rate and mortality cannot be proven even by emphasising the animal in us: many species control their population density largely through self-regulation of their birth rate.

So if population increase is not the fundamental cause for poverty, it apparently is a connecting link in the chain that causes poverty. Or is population increase always even that: it could be that the real causes of hunger and environmental disaster also create a population increase? So the growth in the number of people would be a symptom of poverty instead of even its indirect cause. For instance, the fact that hats and other headgear as well as slippery roads occur simultaneously does not make one conclude that headgear causes slippery roads. Many factors suggest that, in many cases, there is this kind of relationship between population increase and destructive developement: they do not cause each other, but they have common causes.

Some light may be shed on the connection of population growth with hunger and environmental disaster through considering how the first leads to the latter two. It is common to think that there just simply isn't enough food for extra population. In reality, a sufficient amount of food is produced in the world to feed everybody. At least in the mid-eighties, even in most countries suffering from hunger enough food was produced to feed the population. Often a lot of food is exported from these countries. During the Sahel famine at the beginning of the 1970s',the value of exported foodstuffs from that area was three times that of the wheat imported there. While Sudan was suffering from famine 1982-1985, 621 000 tonnes of wheat was exported during that period. The causes that have prevented the poor from getting enough food have been in effect regardless of the ratio of the amount of population to food production.

p. 139


p. 140-143

In order to clarify the issue, we can look at a simple case: a general's power in the army. Contrary to biological and psychological explanations of war, most often soldiers aren't aggressive and have no desire to kill. Yet they kill when the general so wishes. One could imagine this to be because soldiers are forced to kill through a threat of violence. The issue is not this simple, however: in reality, the violence machinery of the army is in the hands of soldiers - the general barely carries a pistol. Soldiers can, in principle, turn their weapons against the general and other officers and refuse to yield to their power. Why does this happen very rarely?

If the general tried directly to order soldiers into action repulsive to them, insubordination might be common: the relative strength would be obvious, and it would be easy for the soldiers to communicate their reactions to each other. Thus the general's operational orders are communicated to ordinary soldiers through many levels of officers. These levels form a strictly hierarchic, pyramid-shaped system on top of which is the general. Soldiers contemplating rebellion in this situation seem to be faced with the immense power of the rest of the army and not just a single general. There is no point in opposing the officer who gives the direct order as there always appears to be a sufficient number of other soldiers to support this officer or to revenge violence against him. At the same time, there is usually no knowledge of support for potential insubordination in other than one's own unit since communication between units goes mainly through the levels of officer hierarchy.

The officers closest to the top of the hierarchy still have the opportunity to defy the general successfully. However, these positions have been carefully filled with people who have internalised the army ideology, so dissidence occurs only in issues of the timing and the means of killing or "military defence". In addition, top officers compete for the general's position and won't thus easily ally with each other.

The army organisation outlined above helps to understand causes of war, but it also explains destructive behaviour more generally: power hierarchies are common everywhere in our societies.

Let us now examine the operation of power hierarchies in a polluting factory or a power station. Even if the employee realised that her own actions undermine her own well-being as well as the future of her children, she probably still wouldn't change her activities: If the employee refused destructive activities, her position would become difficult in the organisation in many ways. The foreman would disapprove and colleagues think her strange. Hopes for career promotion or salary increase would go down the drain. She would be placed in a more boring and lower-salaried position in the organisation. In the last instance, she would be threatened with dismissal and endangering her entire livelihood. Similarly to an obstructive person in the army, she would feel that the whole organisation is against her. The feeling of helplessness is increased by high division of labour and complex technology, since the employee only knows a small portion of the production process.

The impact of hierarchies is increased by the fact that they are often in a hierarchical relation to each other and many of them share the same basis. Our societies as a whole are reminiscent of mountain ranges of pyramids.

It is the huge scale that supports the standing of this massive system: it feels impossible to figure out the powers that control it, and this is why people submit. It is easy to work in a role defined by the hierarchy. We are primarily soldiers, clerks, engineers, shop assistants or workers - and only secondarily people. We can put aside the ethics and feelings of our lives outside working hours. This is how organisations start to look like vast machines and people just cogs of them. And it's pointless fighting against a machine. When, despite the demands of reason, it's impossible to hold back anger and hatred, we most often offload onto a lower or mid-level member of hierarchy, which of course does no good to anybody.

An essential part of the exercise of power is an aspiration to a certain efficiency. If the ruler constantly had to remind the subjects of his will and punish those that got on the wrong path, lots of time and energy would be wasted. Thus all power hierarchies create norms, conceptions about how one has to act in different situations. Often these norms are written: laws, statutes, rules, agreements, contentions, declarations etc. Alongside these official norms, there are always a large number of unofficial ones which no one has any intention of writing down: good behaviour, common practice, "this is how we've always done it", "it's worth doing it like this if you want to make it" etc.

Norms are created also in non-hierarchical co-operation where no one oppresses the other. For instance, completing a task that benefits everyone may require the input of all, or at least the majority, which creates a strong demand of everyone's participation. Power hierarchies muddle up these norms with their own, and so the rulers' objectives appear to benefit everyone.

Hierarchies are not held together just by their power over people but also by the fact that through them, a large number of people below the top level of a hierarchy gain power. In most cases, people on different levels of hierarchy cannot realise their own aims, but they can regulate the details, allocation and schedule of decisions coming from above, and thus feel more important than others. This regulation easily brings additional power to the person using it, which he can then use for his own purposes.

Nowadays, a hierarchical organisation looks natural to many. The bypassing of individual ethical consideration and working to the manager's orders and according to the norms of the workplace appear perfectly normal. However, it is important to keep in mind what kind of crimes these organisations may be guilty of. In Nazi Germany for instance, the genocide of the Jews was committed by a hierarchical organisation rationalised in a modern way. Particular care was taken that among the actual killers of Jews, there were no over-enthusiastic, sentimental and fanatically anti-Semitic individuals. The killers only needed to implement the orders from above effectively.

p. 161-

p. 163-166


The simplest way to increase revenue is to put the prices up. Unless it is a question of an absolutely necessary product for people or organisations, the limits are soon in sight and the product will sell no longer. In many areas and fields, companies' autonomous price rises are out of the question due to competitors watching the same market areas. So the only remaining option is to increase the amount of sales, which means an increase in production. The consequences are the depletion of natural resources and pollution, which have been examined previously in various contexts.

But in a market economy, don't consumers decide for themselves how much of each product is manufactured? It is pointless accusing companies of the large quantity of production! In most cases however, companies aren't satisfied with just informing but use advertising, the manipulation of people's ideas, and one-sided persuasion. In the USA for instance, businesses have used over one billion dollars per year in advertising. An average American watches 21 000 television advertisements a year.

You can only sell a limited amount of the same product even to a well-manipulated group of consumers, and an efficient factory will be able to manufacture it in a short time. In addition, if there happen to be competitors, their advertising may be even more effective, so the clients may be leaving. This is why it is necessary to alter product details and range constantly.

Isn't this where customers show their power? Don't companies offer the new products that people want? Market research is carried out to learn about consumer attitudes, but they have no interest in finding out what people really need. Instead, they study the popularity of new products suited to the technology used by companies. Or they study what kind of marketing would best affect each target group. It is unlikely that a consumer's virgin needs would be the basis for constant new car models, cd-players (the improved sound quality of which, compared to good mechanical record players, cannot be detected even by experts), or cleansing agents which are side products of chemical processes.

Big corporations design and plan production for the effective implementation of their technological machinery and innovations that arise linked to it. Thus it is necessary to plan the demand for products. Due to this, as well as the need to increase sales, people must be made to reject their old, perfectly usable clothes, gadgets and other goods and to replace them with new ones. There are many ways to achieve this. One way is to change social structures so that it is made necessary to obtain a new product.

A more common and easy way is to use advertising, fashion, specialist product magazines etc. The production of symbolic meanings and myths linked to products, directed from above, is equally significant as their material production. This has been the case since the beginning of industrialism.

The production of meanings starts well before the manufacturing process. It aims at turning new products into symbols of people's different goals, or at linking the products to a brand to which these goals are already linked. It is essential to create dissatisfaction with the old: symbolic meanings are constantly transferred from one product and service to the next, which means that it is necessary to keep buying new products in order to maintain the illusions promised by advertisements. David Kettering of General Motors stated in 1920's: "The key to economic prosperity is organized creation of dissatisfaction."

It is also crucial that advertising and information in support of it link products to certain positions in social hierarchies. This supports climbing competition on the social pyramid. At the same time, people have a chance to compensate their modest success in competition through the purchase of status objects or the consumption of goods and services, which symbolise being a part of a certain social layer. The acceleration of consumption is aided by both cheap disposable products as well as expensive special gadgets which attract buyers through status value and peripheral improvements.

The top of economic hierarchies is well aware of the power of advertising. Thus 90% of corporate managers who participated in a Harvard Business Review poll were of the opinion that it's impossible to sell new products without marketing campaigns. 85% admitted that advertising often leads to the purchase of unnecessary products. 51% of the managers went even further and stated that advertising makes people buy products which they don't actually want.

Often corporations spend more money on marketing than the production itself. For instance Michael Jordan, a basketball star, got about US$ 20 million in exchange for giving his permission to link his image - in the usual misleading fashion - with Nike training shoes. The sum is larger than the annual salaries of all the 75 000 Indonesian factory workers who make these shoes.

As production has increased, raw materials and buyers in the countries and regions that corporations have been located in haven't sufficed. Market areas as well as sources for raw materials from remote regions and other countries have been taken over through more or less violent methods. In order for this to succeed, it has been necessary to oppress peoples. In the process their cultures and languages have been displaced or marginalized. There has been more hunger and poverty as a result.

In addition to marketing and taking over new market areas, there is a third way to maintain and increase a company's sales volume: collective consumption. States, local authorities and other such organisations may make consumption decisions for the private individual. Traffic routes, public buildings, large research projects, space programmes and other such projects funded through taxes have a great impact on the demand for goods and services: purchases for projects are quite different and differently timed from what they would be like if the money had remained with private individuals or if the state had used it e.g. for social services. In this sense, rearmament is particularly significant as this has eaten up a large portion of the revenue of many countries.

Corporations have been and still are capable of having a multi-faceted impact on how public money is spent. Very often they do a great portion of the development of new products on state funding, and thus improve the rate of their sales in the future. Rearmament and space projects function as experiment and PR projects for new technology. On the other hand, even if public spending did not have these indirect benefits, it may be cheaper and the profits more certain to influence state and local authority purchases than to work in the private market.

p. 173-


p. 178-181


But isn't this too gloomy a picture of the state? Now, modern states offer plenty of health services and social care. Doesn't this prove that they are capable of working against destructive tendencies?

However, in part social policy is only an attempt to compensate for the losses and problems created by political and economic change. There are many reasons why this attempt cannot succeed but to a very limited extent. Firstly there are the general problems of hierarchically organised "charity". Secondly, government aid is both historically and currently burdened with mixed objectives to simultaneously control and train people so that they would form a suitably calm "passive population", or later again suitably obedient "active population". For instance, when Bismarck pursued old age and unemployment insurance in Germany in 1880s', he was particular that it would be financed out of state funds. This would have the workers support the established order, and at the same time, it would decrease the importance of workers' self-organisation and the significance of social democrats.

Thirdly, social policy often means that governmental and economic, instrumental and quantitative ways of thinking penetrate even deeper into the people's way of life, so that the ability to find goals and thus sense in life decreases. People are not helped as individuals but they are maintained the same way as the photocopier in the office.

At the same time, government organisations together with corporations destroy autonomous economy as well as people's ability to take care of themselves and satisfy their needs. This creates radical monopolies, to use Ivan Illich's term, which often force people to become their clients. Yet they can only provide the minority of people with the benefits they claim to offer. All this creates the counter-productivity of many organisations: they produce what they were supposed to remove. The hospital institution for instance may create illness by decreasing people's ability to look after their own health. So we end up "out of the frying pan and into the fire".

When examining the "state good", it is essential to notice that even though some states provide free or nearly free social services, have progressive taxation and other policies for income distribution, they are and will be a long way from equality: the ability of state and economic organisations to use power and buy people as their lackeys is based particularly on large income disparities.

In spite of all the conditioning that takes place at schools and elsewhere, not everybody is prepared to take inequality as a law of nature. Either income disparities as such, or the current criteria for income distribution, are questioned frequently. It is not especially easy to find latent justice in that often a corporate manager who does damage to people, the society, and nature, sometimes earns a hundred times more than for instance a nurse who saves people's lives.

For instance in Finland, in 1994 a hospital nurse earned the average of USD 2000 per month - in most countries decidedly less. The same year, Finnish corporate managers earned USD 16,000-120,000, calculated according to their tax rates. Some capital owners earned even more than this. Hans von Rettig for instance, a member of a family of tobacco manufacturers, made USD 0.5 million of unearned income per month.

In the USA, the CEO's average monthly salary of the thousand largest corporations was USD 3.8 million per annum in 1992, i.e. USD 317,000 per month - that is 150 times more than a nurse's. The manager with the largest income made USD 127 million a year, which is 4,900 times more than our nurse.

Those who question this may always form movements that demand equality, warning examples of which are populist and labour movements. Thus it is of crucial importance for the state to justify inequality. One of the central means is the rooting of the growth thesis to people:

When Economic Growth turns its face on us, blessings will come to all people. Growth promises Its grace and all good to those who trust It. We must fear and love Growth, and offer up the sacrifice It requires. Since man is sinful and possessed with lust, nothing will make him work harder that the hope to get more than his neighbour. This is why there will always be the rich and the poor among us. Thus do not lust after your neighbour's salary or anything that is his own, but wait patiently that Growth will pour goods and sustenance for everybody.

The logic of income disparity maintenance thus ties states to the growing of corporate capital in one more way, and so to the destruction of life. This tie was particularly strong in western industrialised countries in post-WW2 decades, when a fear of the Soviet was projected onto left-wing movements that demanded economic equality, and there was a desire to stop their growth in advance.

p. 193-


pp. 196-199


In towns, workers' quarters which bred social movements were a constant headache for those who wanted the construction of an industrial society to make progress, regardless of its human costs. It was probably the National Socialists of Germany, the most rational builders of modern industrial infrastructure, who came up with the idea of a final solution to this question: workers' quarters in towns were to be demolished. However, since workers were still needed and they had to live somewhere, the demolition had to be more subtle than with the Jews. A central element in the Nazi plans was played by Volkswagen, the people's car.

Hitler met the French car industrialist Renault in 1935. He explained why Nazis backed the people's car so strongly. The "cheapened vehicle" was supposed to help to "diffuse the industrial labour force by transferring them from the factory location to the country". In 1938, Hitler laid the foundation stone for the Volkswagen factory near Braunschweig. The war postponed the start of mass motorisation, which has devastated our environment, to the successors of the Nazis.

The National Socialists managed to establish the basis for a motorised society. They constructed a then unique 3500 km highway network which was required for mass motoring and the rapid movement of the armed forces. The road project was also supported by the idea that "the people of Germany had to be merged into an entity politically and economically stronger than previously" and that "the last remains of provincial thinking now had to be removed".

Even though Hitler's idea of ruralising the labour force has not been realised quite literally, the worker family's (husband's) car and large road networks have made it possible to demolish factory town quarters. Most often nowadays, factory workers live in suburbs spread all over town, consisting of disintegrated groups of people. The social basis for the grassroots level labour movement has been broken. More and more people struggle in the social poverty of suburb life in order to obtain and "sustain" a car filled with status and other meanings. This is how it has been possible to involve a decisive portion of the labour force in consumer lifestyle, that only used to be characteristic of the rich. The deceptive promises of goods and commercial services now compensate for sensible things to do, ways to be, and human relationships.

One form of power in a consumer society is to manipulate people's purchase behaviour through town planning and traffic route solutions. Exits from highways, as well as parking places, are placed suitably. Decent routes for pedestrians are built in one place, demolished in another. This is how "moving units with purchase power" may be directed to shopping centres.

Town planning and the construction of new routes in other ways which promote the use of cars is justified with the saving of time. This however makes the life of those without a car more difficult. Town structure is decentralised. It is necessary to watch out, go round, or under, motorised streets. In fact, the time motorists save - often just theoretically - is taken away from those without cars.

In the same way that town internal physical structures direct everyday life, roads leading out of towns as well as the "traps" built along them regulate people's activities at weekends or on holidays. They destroy nature, old cultural diversity in the countryside as well as potential activities based on these, and replace them with superficially versatile funfair-type amusements. The impoverishment of the environment is of course also based on the fact that natural resources are transported away via roads - which is the reason why most new roads are built nowadays.

A national road network has one more function that is linked to power: with it, all corners of the country have been connected to the sphere of influence of tax collectors, the police, the military etc. In the Roman Empire, roads especially served this purpose, and hardly any goods were transported along them. Even now, areas without road connections still offer an opportunity for many resistance movements in poor countries to continue their struggle in spite of the superior weaponry of the government and its superpower allies.

A person born into motorised culture easily finds a private car and the infrastructure it requires necessary, useful and normal. Motoring may bring many kinds of satisfaction. Accidents and pollution may lead to a guilty consciousness, but not usually to giving up a car. If however one looks upon the private car system as power petrified in metal and stone, which benefiting only a few, ties us down to an ecologically unsustainable way of life, perhaps sympathy towards building a society independent of private cars might increase.

Road networks, town construction and other physical structures consisting of large areas are not the only form of "petrified" power. Inside buildings and elsewhere at the micro level of a society, power is materialised. Often a physical position simply shows the power position: the higher up in a hierarchy one is, the higher floor one's room in the headquarters of a corporation or a state organisation.

p. 201-


pp. 231-35


But at least there is the United Nations amongst international bodies. Surely the UN protects mutual interests in fighting against war and environmental disaster? Unfortunately the 185 nations that are united are in fact states also in this case. And they have united in a special way which keeps the UN in the reign of the rulers of the world.

In the UN, the Security Council is in charge of peace and war operations. Five out of the fifteen seats are permanently reserved for the big brothers of nations which currently consist of the USA, Great Britain, France, Russia and China. The opposition of one great power member can stop decision making and UN operation. The USA used its power of veto very actively in the 1970s' and 1980s' and stopped the implementation of a number of UN General Assembly decisions. The General Assembly had passed these decisions which had upset the USA, based on the fact that each state has one vote. The second on the brakes was Great Britain. So the UN had hardly any say in the activities of the USA or other great powers, although there was plenty of opposition to these around the world.

When the eastern power block started to break down in 1989, the position of the UN changed in the eyes of the rulers in the USA and those who sought the shelter of the wings of its fighters. Instead of a harmless pain in the neck, it started turning more into a useful tool.

Even before this, the position of "great power holders" in the UN had become easier as the Third World countries stopped their unified demands for the New International Economic Order. This plan aimed at more equal economic relations between countries - though not between people. Since the beginning of the 1970s, it had been widely seen as an alternative to the exploitation of the Third World practiced by industrialised countries.

The altered role of the UN was underlined by the interventions to Iraq and Somalia in the beginning of 1990s. It was now possible for the USA to fight for its own oil companies as well as those of its allies, under the flag of the world organisation. This was not the first time. E.g. the USA fought the Korean War in the name of the UN at the beginning of 1950s. In reality, this only makes the "original" purpose of the world organisation come true.

The history of origin of the UN is similar to the World Bank and the IMF. All three were outlined for the first time during WW2 in American planning committees. Their purpose was to guarantee North American (corporations') living space, the Grand Area. The UN would be the organisation which would enable the use of power necessary for US safety, without the need to resort to the "conventional forms of imperialism". A secret federal committee drew a plan for the structure of the UN in 1943, which was essentially implemented.

Of course, the UN is not just the Security Council and the General Assembly. It consists of a large number of sub-organisations. The IMF and the World Bank are also members of the UN family. These however are exceptionally independent family members. Closer to the core of the UN are e.g. Food and Agricultural Organisation FAO, World Health Organisation WHO, International Labour Organisation ILO, UN Development Program UNDP, and UN Environmental Program UNEP. These have a great impact on the food and environmental policies in many countries. In these organisations, each member country has one vote and so the superiority of great powers is not as obvious as for the institutions founded in Bretton Woods. The representatives of these organisations have sometimes even voiced cross words about corporations and other multinational power.

However, as hierarchical organisations, UN organisations have been easily articulated to world power machineries. Their bureaucracy to start hinders the initiative of employees who understand problems and are enthusiastic about their solutions. On the other hand, initiatives that come from the upper levels of other hierarchies are helped by straightforward corruption, as well as the UN employees' social connections with prevailing elites. A large group of men on high salaries, enjoying all possible perks, lead organisations the official purpose of which is to help the poorest people in the world.

Even though there are representatives from different countries in the UN organs, it is by no means clear what they actually represent. Their backgrounds vary, but in any case, multinational corporations have a large representation in the world organisation. FAO for instance works in close co-operation with corporations that manufacture agricultural chemicals and machines. The courses it arranges for the Third World farmers use books written by chemical manufacturers and expert lecturers who are company representatives. The FAO mechanisation committee has representatives from e.g. the following companies: Caterpillar, John Deere, Fiat, Massey Ferguson, Mitsui, British Petroleum and Shell. Thus the organisation in its own programmes and fieldwork strongly support the chemicalisation and mechanisation of agriculture. As a consequence, fields and their produce accumulate to the few rich at the expense of the poor.

FAO and WHO's joint Codex Alimentarius commission formulates international food safety and quality standards. It is the body that approves the uniform safety norms for foodstuffs of the WTO agreement. In 1991 for instance, out of 197 of its pesticide committee members 50 came from agricultural chemical companies and 14 from food companies. There were only 2 members representing consumers. In 1989-1991 meetings, 49 per cent of the US and 61 per cent of the Swiss delegations were industry representatives. Nestlé, a Swiss multinational, had a greater number of representatives than most member countries. The toxic substance levels permitted by the commission are often tens of times higher than those approved of by e.g. the US laws and regulations.

The situation is similar in IPCS (International Program for Chemical Substances), a joint organ of WHO, UNEP and ILO. Its purpose is to evaluate data concerning the health effects of environmental pollutants, find gaps in this data and promote research that fills these gaps. At least in some cases, outlines for IPCS reports have been compiled by the industry that manufactures these chemicals. For instance both the first and the second versions of a report concerning benomyl, a substance used for the control of the growth of mildew and fungi, were put together by chemists who work for a factory that produced benomyl. These met with hardly any opposition in IPCS, as industry has a strong hold in it. In the member and observer lists of the 135 meetings held 1982-92, there was only one NGO representative.

One of the most brilliant achievements of multinationals in ruling the UN was the watering down of the Conference for Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992. The practical ways of achieving this were referred to previously. This was further aided by the General Secretary for the conference, millionaire Maurice Strong, who nominated Stephen Schmidheiny, a Swiss Swatch watch billionaire as his main adviser in issues concerning business and industry. This gentleman, who has the promotion of Latin American handicrafts as his hobby, is a board member of both Asea Brown Boweri and Nestlé, owns 30 percent of the largest steel company in Chile, and has produced asbestos through his family business in Brazil and Costa Rica.

The implementation of the decisions of the conference was given to GEF (Global Environment Facility), the realisation of the investment projects of which the World Bank is in charge. This organ, run by rich industrial countries, believes that environmental problems are primarily the concern of the poor countries. Consequently, companies building dams which flood vast areas in the Third World believe that they get GEF funding for their "water fall technologies", because they don't emit carbon dioxide. GEF loans have been used at least in Egypt, Ecuador, the Congo and Poland, as a green alibi for World Bank funded ecologically destructive forest projects.

Despite all this, the UN has taken some action to control multinational corporations. It had its own organ for this purpose as well, the UN Centre for TNC's. However, this was closed down in 1992. The same year, all proposals for the regulation of multinationals were removed from the UNCED agenda, including even the proposals for monitoring. It was believed that multinational corporations could regulate themselves.

Perhaps the name of the United Nations should be changed. United Boards might be more accurate.

The havoc would be much worse and there would be much less hope for the better if the only actors on the world stage were corporations, states, and their consortiums. Fortunately, environment, peace, and other such citizens groups and movements in different countries have a large number of global organs for cooperation and information networks. International opposition is directed at the work of destruction by multinational power. Roads to a new global society might yet open.

p. 236


p. 255-57


In the Chapter on Economic problems I stated that everything cannot be measured in dollars. In the predominant economic thinking however, it is common to put a price on living creatures and people. The report commissioned by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) compares in monetary terms the decrease of emissions to nothing being done. In their calculations, the price for a Western European human life is USD 1.5 million, a Russian life USD 300,000, and the life of an Asian or an African USD 150,000.

How can anyone think in this senseless fashion? This only becomes comprehensible when we realise that economic discourse has its own laws where what is ethically obvious in normal speech is constantly ignored. It's a manner of speech rewarded inside corporations and state economic organisations. This is why people continue doing it even though it regularly clashes with everyday thinking. Due to corporations' power position, economic jargon is a central discourse in today's societies. Alongside the discourse that rides on economic mathematics, there is the simplified version of practical economists and politicians. This for its part has spread expressions to almost all everyday talk.

Even though some economists have applied their calculus to romantic relationships and mating, it is essential that this is not usually done. When in a day or a week we are involved also in discourses that don't instrumentalize people, we can reconcile ourselves to the icy coldness of economic thinking. Humanly absurd economic discourse can only stand up as a part of a wider order of discourse.

The muddling of the contradiction between economic thinking and ethics is facilitated by the fact that economic discourse sees economy as a separate part of society, as a machine or engine that keeps the rest of the society running. This makes it possible to create the feeling that daytime talk about raw materials and labour appears to mean something different from the people and nature we meet on an evening stroll.

For instance, European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT) stated in 1993: "Industry cannot accept that the promotion of other objectives is used as an excuse to harm the machine that creates wealth, either through the raising of its costs or the hindering of its development. There cannot be a healthy society or a healthy environment without healthy economy that would pay for them."

The idea of separate economy is peculiar also in inter-cultural comparison, as it does not occur in other cultures. Even in Europe the thought is relatively new. It became more general in the 19th century, and before the 18th century, no one saw the society this way. The mercantilists who wrote in the 17th and 18th centuries mixed the phenomena we see as economy and politics.

It is the illusion of the separateness of economy that makes it possible to think of economic growth as a solution to nearly all problems. Some explanations for the occurrence of the thought are truly necessary: as I pointed out in the chapter "Economic Problems", the objective of growth is as equally absurd as heating a house by burning the walls.

The talk about growth and the separateness of economy are parts of ideological discourse which support the exercise of power of economic organisations. Corporations' expansion and profit seeking, through the taking over of nature and the oppression of people, is made to appear as an improvement to the economic machine, forming the basis for everything else.

A part of ideological economic discourse is to present competition as a universal and natural form of human interaction. It is as if a fair sports competition where the best man wins were the only model of inter and intra-company relations. One can ignore individuals' and organisations' unequal starting points in terms of resources and power. Looking at it this way, the complaints of someone suffering from crude injustices of economic organisations is made to look as stupid as the tears of a sportsman who has lost a competition.

Competition discourse is further completed by the fact that we talk about entrepreneurs, enterprises, companies, market economy and market forces - instead of capitalists, corporations, cartels, oligo- and monopolies, speculators, corporate economy or capitalism. This makes it appear that for instance Shell, Mitsubishi and Nokia are somehow similar and in the same position as Mary's cobbler shop, John's barbershop or Liz's farm.

Market economy discourse draws a parallel between corporate operation and the concrete market place meeting of large groups of sellers and buyers. Everyone can be an entrepreneur and offer their products for sale equally. This is how corporate oppression and exercise of power starts to look as justified as the success of a strawberry farmer who's selling his good crop at the village market.

At the same time, in this discourse everyone is entitled to, as a consumer, to select exactly the products that please her or him most, and thus in the final analysis, decide what is being produced. Corporate lack of democracy and the manipulation of consumers through advertising and state machinery disappear from sight.


1. Linkola has not always stood equally logically behind biologism. In some of his current presentations, he has introduced the idea of the existence of cultures having different ecological impacts.

2. Mortality started to decrease e.g. in Tanzania and India between the two World Wars, yet by the end of 1940's, did not reach the level it had been at before the colonial period.

3.Not only has the increase in birth rate continued for longer than the growth in mortality, but also, it has apparently started later.

4.Ignorance of these features of population history of poor countries - or memory lapse - is one reason why Martin Lewis for instance considers dangerous all ecological radicalism that brings forth the good points of village societies.

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