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The Human Agenda: The Social Justice of Survival

For those of you wondering where our moral compass comes from, and where society is heading, the essay The Human Agenda: The Social Justice of Survival.pdf, explores the relationship between human nature, society, the free market, and productivity gains as an expression of a deep seated human survival trait. We in the year 2012 are already part way in to a major social transition where productivity gains are creating surplus labour that cannot be utilised by businesses for further progress because of fundamental growth limits. This is creating an unstoppable social dilemma that will require a serious redress of our governing and financial structures to fix, and we have less than twenty years to do it. A method is given to address this major structural problem inherent and becoming apparent in large social structures.

I argue in this essay that societies can exist long term only because the principle of reciprocal altruism in human nature confers improved survival prospects to a person in a society, than on their own. By providing benefit and receiving benefit from specialisation in work we do better together than going it alone. This alone is what raises us above Tennyson's "Nature Red in Tooth and Claw" I also argue that any social engineering that does not also embed altruism as a cultural value in our governing bodies is ultimately doomed to fall when challenged by circumstances from without or within.

I further argue that greed is a natural human trait and survival strategy that need only be managed and which cannot be eradicated; but it must be controlled so that it does not compromise the productivity gains accruing from the cultural altruism of larger social structures. Practitioners of greed must be taught when and how to switch survival strategies to this cultural altruism in order to avoid the destruction of both their society and themselves.

The conclusion is that we should base our governing and financial principles on a cultural altruism I call "The Social Justice of Survival" that has stood humanity in good stead throughout history, which has delivered us growth and survival as a human species through the free market economy using technological change and productivity gains to act, and finally and most importantly can affordably deliver a social justice based on equality of opportunity, and not on equality of outcomes. Social justice derived from a moral principle of equality on the other hand fails to deliver the same human rights outcomes because it fails to account for human nature.

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© Copyright 2008 Andrew Jonkers