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by Masse Bloomfield

Islam or Moslem terrorists have been in the headlines with their worldwide bombings.  We get news stories about how fanatical the jihad believers are.

The real problem of terror is not religious.  It is economic and technological, although it is more economic than technological.  The problem stems from the disparity between the way the First World lives and the way the Moslems live.  This is the reason for the terror.

Even in the United States, there are pockets of urban terrorists.  That the violent gangs of Los Angeles go around shooting other gang members is the indication of terrorism embedded in our culture.

However, I see chaos all around us.  That chaos comes from the enormous changes taking place in the world.  Before our very eyes, we have changed from being a peasant world and have become an industrial world.  Five hundred years ago, ninety percent of the total population had to work on the farm to support a hundred percent of all humans.  Now it only takes less than three percent of Americans to support the rest of us Americans.  Many of the Moslem countries still have peasants.

Another way to look how the world has changed, is to see the statistics for population growth.  Ten thousand years ago, there were but one million people on earth; this had grown to over a 100 million by the time of Jesus; 500 million by 1650; a billion by 1850;  two billion by 1930; three billion by 1960; four billion by 1975; five billion by 1990; and six billion by 2000.  This growth of human beings is indeed a substantiation  that we have succeeded beyond our expectations in terms of increasing the productivity of the farm and the increasing productivity of the factory to support us with television sets, automobiles and all sorts of other goods.  Productivity has been the key to changing the world and that productivity has not stopped.

But there are still countries in the Third World where at least half of the population have to work on the farm as peasants without political rights and are kept in poverty by landowners.  When people grow up in these poverty stricken countries and see how Americans live, they have got to be upset with their conditions.  And many of them have turned to terror to express their opinions about that disparity.  Many of them have used the Israel-Palestine conflict as the barometer of that disparity.

There is no way I can see to reduce the disparity with the way global economics has been structured.  It is also true, that no matter what the economic circumstances are today, we are in the midst of such economic, social, technological and political turmoil that it is almost all we can do to maintain some stability.  I have written in my 1993 book Mankind in Transition, “Thus the challenge of our time is to maintain some stability in an unstable world.”

We are in the midst of a transition from a stable peasant, agricultural society changing into an industrial society.  Countries like China and India are in the midst of becoming industrialized and seem to be doing that with a minimum of social upset.  Still China has its Tibet and India has its Kashmir.  And Los Angeles has its urban gangs.  Using the example of Japan, there is a case where a peasant economy in less than a hundred years, has become as industrialized as any nation.

Why is terror fairly well restricted in the industrialized world?  The answer is pretty simple.  Give people enough money to eat, buy a car, live in a decent house, have clothes and there is little need to go out and shoot somebody.  This is not a very high standard to meet in my opinion.  It is the price we are going to have to pay to bring terrorism to an end.  And we, the people of rich nations, are still willing to let people in other parts of the world live in poverty.  It is poverty that fosters terrorism.

At the same time, the terrorists are at work, we have another bunch of people at work as well.  These are the good guys.  These are the people who are working to increase productivity.  It is my opinion that the changes that have occurred over the last three hundred years have all been related to technology.  The guide to where we are in the transition from a peasant society to an industrial society can be measured by the productivity on the farm.  Deevey in a 1960 article in Scientific American wrote that tribal societies could support 0.4 person per square kilometer of food producing land, peasant or agricultural societies could support one person per square kilometer and 1960 industrial societies could support 16.5 people per square kilometer.  This is the way productivity has been increasing with food production used as a standard.  It was the plow and the domesticated animal that transformed the tribal society.  It was the tractor that put an end to the peasant, his plow and his horse.

We have come a long way from the days of the horse and plow and much of that change has come from technology.  We are in the midst of becoming an automated society where machines controlled by computers are going to do all the productive work. And when the automated food factory takes over food production, you can bet we have arrived at the automated society.  But this is in the future.  We have terrorism now.  How to control it?

If we were able to put the food factory into operation everywhere in the world, so that everybody had enough to eat, then perhaps it would bring some stability to the political and religious areas.  What we need to do to stop terrorism, is to feed them, clothe them, house them, give them a car and a decent job, and then watch the disappearance of terror.  When people have all the goods and services they want or need, what reason would anyone have to go around bombing his neighbors or his government?

The reason we have terror in the world, again from Mankind in Transition, is that “the chaos of our current transitional period [is] the problem of uneven distribution of goods and wealth, of clashing cultures, of too many people speaking too many languages, of trying to establish new technologies in a world that still have a few pockets of tribal societies and many areas of agricultural societies.  The chaos will be with us as long as we continue the transition or as long as we have tribal and agricultural societies catching up”  It is surprising that we have so much stability in an unstable world.  Even with the terror and chaos, we still have an increasing population.  Despite all the terrorists’ acts taking place like 9/11 and Mumbai, we are going pell-mell towards the future automated society.  OK you terrorists, try and stop that progress if you can.

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