Clear the Decks for Eco-Humanism

Clear the Decks for Eco-Humanism

“Not only isn’t there a widely-shared flexible and adaptable vision of what we are fighting for…there isn’t even much debate about such a thing…activists rarely put forward even the barest hints of an institutional vision, much less a compelling, well-worked out formulation that could inform strategy and provide hope and orientation.” [i]

The specter of Trump cries out for systemic guidance for the flourishing of planet and people, concrete eco-humanist envisioning, conceptual readjustment, messaging, and strategy.  The nomenclature of eco-humanism allows us the laser-like focus on the planetary needs and human activities that make us healthy and whole, answering the critical unanswered query laid out a century and a half ago: “These questions about the system of needs and system of labors—at what point is this to be dealt with?”[ii]

System of Needs

The methodological point of departure for any systemic and therefore revolutionary, stable and healthy eco-humanist vision must begin with identifying human needs, since humans will decide the fate of the planet.  A vision of human value, not capital value, must fully encompass the totality of life’s true needs and all necessary labors to achieve those needs. 

In the past 14 years Human Agenda[iii] has asked over 70 groups—young old, US-born, immigrant, in three different countries—to identify their true human needs and the human needs of any social formation in any period of history[iv].  Asking what it would take to survive alone and what any social formation would require to reproduce itself, the results of these inquiries are outlined in the human needs chart.

These are the needs of the social individual, human needs.  Although such a composite typology may be incomplete or imperfect, as a starting point it provides great methodological strength and theoretical purpose, knowing that at least for over 1000 individuals, no fundamental aspect of the human condition has been overlooked.  Meeting all of these needs for every individual on planet earth is the object of the next system.  

Focusing our understanding and attention on the system of needs is quintessential for six purposes.   

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