By Doug Cocks
Written by way of an eminent Australian human ecologist, this article deals an outline of the extensive, competing philosophies which are shaping one of these nation we're leaving for our grandchildren.
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74 It is difficult to judge how well that social learning system has served us and whether it is an asset or a liability in the complement of social capital (that is, ongoing collaborative activities) with which we face the future. Obviously Australian society has not foundered—we are still here—but could we have done better with a more directed and planned system than the present reactive system? We certainly would not want to change the present system radically on a whim. But, never fear, such change would not come easily.
We have a somewhat more humane (no death penalty for example), less poverty-ridden and less Timeship Australia violent society than in the 1890s or even the 1930s. In the realm of social organisation, Australia is now one of the world’s oldest democracies, ranks seventh in the world for the United Nations Development Program’s human development index (which covers life expectancy, literacy and per capita income) and is—in my opinion—an intellectually and culturally exciting country. Our music, art, film and literature is the envy of many and our achievements in science and the humanities distinguished.
The collapse of a society we regard as comparable to ourselves. While a shock could be a pleasant shock, as the discovery of gold in 1851 perhaps was, it can be generally assumed that shocks are unpleasant. Any of the above shocks could significantly reduce quality of life for ordinary Australians and reduce the capacity of the society to cope with further shocks—perhaps to the point of affecting the long-term survival prospects of Australian society. However, for the next few chapters, we will set these concerns aside and assume that Australian society is not to be subjected to such destructuring shocks.