Bryden Allen's Website

The Four Fundamental Problems

- that Civilization Must Face



There are many fundamental problems that mankind must face – getting enough food, water and energy; creating adequate homes; transporting goods around; educating our young; and looking after the weak and sick among us. But these same problems were faced by primitive man and by most animals as well. Possibly our hardest problem is how to obtain good leadership for our various communities. But animals and primitive societies face this same problem also – and often they solve this problem just as well as we do.
            In this tract therefore I shall only be dealing with the problems of civilisation that are distinctly different from the problems of animals and primitive societies. In fact these problems are really problems that the civilization process has brought upon itself. So that’s why I think that there are just four problems of a very fundamental kind. The surprising thing is that, of the four problems, three of them most people will not recognise at all. So that is why I am writing this tract.
            All problems can be solved to some degree. But first it is best to read about the nature of these four problems.


1.         Pollution

2.         Wealth Accumulation


3.         Autonomy and the Support Problem


4.         Ownership and Sovereignty of Land



Before talking about possible solutions to these four problems, there is one further awkward subject that needs to be considered. This is – what should our societies be trying to achieve over all? But most people naturally try to avoid answering this awkward question. However, in practise, our current accepted aim is to maintain economic growth. But, in the long-term, this aim is untenable because economic growth will always require more resources. And the resources of our world are strictly limited. So we have a problem.
            The only other accepted general aim, that I know of, is Jeremy Bentham’s famous “greatest happiness of greatest number”. The trouble with this aim is that it is hard to quantify the term “happiness”. One gets a feeling that in China people are taught to feel happy all the time. So China would win hands down. When I first started working in this field, what I did was to use “the maximum amount of spare time for everyone” as my measure of what is a good society. My basis for this was that people could then use their ample spare time for being happy – in the many and varied ways that this is possible. (I personally liked to go rock-climbing and folk-dancing.) What essentially this measure says is that a society should provide all her people with the essentials for life in the most efficient manner i.e. with the minimum amount of effort. And then I regarded the essentials of life to be – adequate: food, water, energy, accommodation, transportation, education, welfare and government. So, when all the people had done enough work to provide these essentials, they could do what they liked – i.e. have fun. But these people might need to do some extra work in order to pay for their fun.
            However the point you must note here is that this measure of “spare time” is directly opposed to the concept of “economic growth”. This is because the more spare a community has then the less will be its economic growth. So there is a very fundamental conflict between these two aims. And this conflict in aims will be reflected in how I propose to solve my four fundamental problems. So you must remember this situation when I propose my solutions. When I have talked about my solutions to my four problems, I will return to this problem once again.


I have spent the majority of my life thinking about and working on these four problems. I am a mathematician and I, like all mathematicians, like to work on genuinely difficult but general problems. But naturally I won’t be able to give you a complete solution to these problems in this short tract. The major part of my solution is contained in a book of mine called Green Living - book”(pdf). So the purpose of this work is partly to try to persuade you to read this book. {The cover and the contents of this book are given in the webpage Green Living} But here I can at least tell you how hard these problems are and give you an idea about how they can be solved.
            But before doing this you, my reader, should think about these problems and how they might be solved by yourself. This will help you to get everything into perspective. These are very fundamental problems and so are worthy of your individual effort. I know they are not of immediate concern. But everyone should just occasionally think about the very long-term problems of the world.


The difficulty about our pollution problem is that people don’t like to change their ways. And this is a real problem. But, if any group of people really resolve to live in a manner that causes no pollution at all, then this need not be a difficult task to do. In my Green Living book I show in detail how a community can live a pollution-free life by just the sensible use of our modern hot water panels and PV panels. This is shown in my energy section – section 6.6. This section is relatively easy to read but if you want to check that my result is correct you must go through the calculations in detail. But to show how the community’s other activities will not cause other forms of pollution is more difficult. So you really need to read most of the rest of the book if you wish to confirm the total picture.
            Human over-population will be really hard to stop. I think half the world’s land surface needs to be devoted just for wild-life national parks. I show how the world’s population could easily live on half the earth’s land surface. But it will be very hard to persuade the nations to form these parks. My full definite suggestion on this matter is given in section 4.5.
            The possibility of nuclear pollution is terribly worrying. I think the only solution is for all nuclear activity to be tightly controlled by the United Nations. There is no other way. And there is no reason for nations to restrict access to their nuclear facilities.


There are various ways that nations can prevent the accumulation of wealth. But all such methods must mean that there will be less incentive to gain wealth. And this can mean that there will be less economic growth.
            In my Green Living book, I basically limit the amount of work community members can do when their equity in the community has grown to a sensible level. To see how this process works in detail, you must read my section 5.2 carefully. The basic result of this limitation is that young people will be given plenty of work in the community, but the older members will receive less work. Then this procedure will prevent the excessive build up of wealth in the community. But all members would also work in the outside world and so they could still accumulate excessive wealth there. If my basic community was to be extended, in a structured manner, to form an independent state, then this extended process would continue to stop the build of excessive wealth. And this means that older people may not receive as much work as they would like. To see how this total process would work in detail, then you need to read my chapters 7 and 8 carefully.
            I can limit the accumulation of wealth in my small green community because I am not worried about economic growth. But in the outside world, which is devoted to economic growth, there is going to be a problem. I will talk about this problem again at the end of this work, after I have discussed about the fundamental “economic growth” and “spare time” conflict in more detail.


In the current world it would be very hard to give more autonomy to smaller community elements because usually such elements simply don’t exist. So our current world is forced to continue on in roughly the same way in supporting its people in need. However, if one is forming new green communities that want to be self-sufficient as much as possible, then it becomes very natural to give a lot more autonomy to the various smaller communities. And this is naturally what I do in my Green Living book.
            However, as regards supporting disadvantaged people, drug addicts and criminals, a small community is very limited in what it can do because such a community has to obey the laws of the land - as laid down by their superior state and national governments. A community can only do something about supporting these people when it can make its own laws. And, to do this, the community must have grown into a full town-state. Such a community is described in chapter 8.
            Then in section 8.2, I show how criminals, drug-addicts and disadvantaged people can all be supported in a sensible manner. But the various people, who do the supporting, have the power to limit their commitment to this task if they want to. So this total problem can be solved in a very sensible fashion.
            In general the carefully thought-out autonomy system I develop in chapter 8 makes all the problems associated with criminal justice and support much, much easier.

           I think the total problem of land-ownership is the hardest problem that is known to all normal people. {Clearly this problem of land-ownership is nothing like as hard as the fundamental problems of quantum mechanics, black-holes and general relativity. But a normal person, like me, does not know the details of such problems. So the ownership of land is the hardest problem for which all people do know the full details.} Thus I have devoted many years of my life trying to solve this problem. And my solution to this problem is given in my book called “Society of Choice”. But my solution is quite difficult and no one will read the book. In fact, my thinking now is that, if people accept the normal expectations of this current world, then the problem of land ownership is insoluble.
            However, when I started working on my Green Living book, I realised that this whole difficult problem could simply be ignored. Because I wanted my green communities to continue to enjoy the facilities of being close to towns and cities, I made sure they didn’t need to use too much land. And I was very successful in doing this. My essential results are given in section 4.5 on World Resources and “Footprints”. But to confirm how these results are obtained you will also need to read my other sections – in particular: 5.1 (on Physical Form), 6.1 (on Agriculture) and section 6.7 (on Water). But, because my communities could be so efficient in their use of land, they could buy all the land they needed without any difficulty. So my communities don’t need to obtain their land by either inheritance or sovereignty. So the horribly difficult problem of land ownership could then be ignored.



So now I have told you how these four problems can be solved. But most people will find the solution that I have given in my Green Living book to be too radically different from the current world. Thus normal people would prefer a form of life where they could continue to work as much as thy liked. And then they could enjoy extra facilities and possibly luxuries. And to some extent these goals are certainly attainable.
            My solution is based on giving people more spare time and so I forgot about giving my community much economic growth. But it is possible to bring these two concepts closer together.
            I said that economic growth is not sustainable. This is not entirely true. Thus governments could simply forbid pollution and also put correct long-term values on our scarce resources. Then no pollution will occur, green energy sources will be developed and recycling will naturally occur. So the current economic system can continue to flourish.
            I gave my community’s members a large amount of spare time for leisure. But leisure can become an industry, as it is in the current world. So all the leisure activities can be run by professional people and so the national economy can continue to grow. I personally would detest such a system. I love the club system that I was brought up in, where people do most of their leisure activities in amateur clubs and societies. People then work in these clubs, not for money but for recognition of the work they do and for the help they give people. And this is what I have done all my life. But, I suppose if people prefer to always work and pay money for everything they do, then this is their decision. I will leave them to it – I have no desire to impose my own ideas on other people.
            In my system I stop people accumulating too much wealth by not giving them any more work, when their equity in their community facilities becomes too great. But the same effect can be obtained by simply taxing our wealthy people at a much higher rate (or by death duties). People can then work as much as they like and so the economy would continue to boom.
            However the problems associated with autonomy and land sovereignty are much more difficult. These problems can only be solved by the radical suggestions that I put forward in my Green Living book. But the most important feature of what I suggesting in my Green Living book is that, by forming small communities, people are able to do something for themselves right now in creating a better and more just society. Otherwise people will have to rely on the national government to do something. And this may never occur.


I hope this little tract then will have persuaded you to think about these fundamental problems just a little bit more. Changing one’s lifestyle into something more sensible is not going to be easy. And it will require a great deal of thought. But it can be done. If you want to get my Green Living book then just give me a ring on the phone number below. The book costs me $20 to produce and you can have it at this price.



You might now also like to look back at:

either my "Home Page" (which introduces this whole website and lists all my webpages),

or Political Fundamentals (which introduces this major set of webpages.


My next normal webpage is Pollution.


Updated on 17/11/2016.