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  • Writer's pictureJanika Byington

First World Problems

Updated: Sep 3, 2022

The connections between global problems, centralized power, and individual needs.

1. I don't believe in dichotomous thinking. Debate of polarities generates extremism by believing the answer must be one or the other. Further, the act of debating solidifies opinion in a way that it behaves as fact in the mind of the debater. Nothing more dramatically illustrates this reality than the acidic, divisive social media/political climate of 2020 and beyond

2. I am a proponent of General System Theory (von Bertalanffy 1968). For science to remain scientific, we must discover universal laws of operation that are applicable across multiple disciplines. Only then can we put everything into its systemic, interrelated context.

3. Major global issues have common roots. Isolating topics prevents meaningful discussion that leads to efficacious resolution.

Therefore, the post that follows puts the following topics into context

  • Climate change

    • Pollution

    • Religious conflict and violence

    • Lack of education

    • Unemployment and lack of economic opportunity

    • Government accountability and corruption

    • Food and water security

    • International drug trafficking

    • Poverty and income inequality

Government Corruption

Locke affirmed that the purpose of the government was to protect the rights of its citizens, and when they do not, the citizens have the right to revolt (Tuckness 2020).

Lord Acton noted that "absolute power corrupts absolutely" (1887, para. 13). This plays into Marx's Conflict theory (Crossman 2021) about oppressed classes (races, genders, etc.) rising up against their oppressors. This is, of course, the topic of poverty and income inequality.

Consumer Greed

To curb the cycle of revolution (because when the oppressed class rises up, they gain power, become corrupt, and oppress others in return), leaders have learned that if you keep the bourgeoisie and the proletariat content--keep their bellies full and their genitals engorged--they will not rise up against the growing power of the ruling class. Enter, hedonistic consumerism.

Marx framed capitalism as the problem. But the economy is just another ruling system that requires consent of the governed. No company has any money that they were not given by consumers (unless they have been given unfair advantages and funding through government corruption, which has been allowed for by consumer/taxpayers). Therefore, the consumer is the problem, not the capitalist who is exploiting hedonist behavior.


Pleasure seeking leads to addiction--not because of any singular pleasure, but because it overshadows multifaceted human needs (for love, self-actualization, etc.). The continued sense of emptiness in spite of pleasure or physical comfort generates deeper hunger for escape from emptiness. Enter international drug trafficking (also human trafficking, etc).

Pollution and Climate Change

With consumerism comes pollution and climate change as we focus on personal gratification without regard to the impact of our usage. So how do we maintain food and water security with everyone selfishly engorging themselves? With less greed, yes. But we are also brilliantly capable of innovation in industrial and agricultural science, rather than reverting to primitive minimalism. We even have the capacity to do it as part of a global ecology that benefits nature at the same time as humanity. This contradicts zero-sum-game dichotomies that pretend the growth of humanity comes at the expense of the natural world. The age old lie of scarcity and competition allows fear to become a tool for manipulation of the masses.

Religious Conflict

The promotion of hedonism and scarcity is central to the maintenance of power by the ruling class. The only thing that can overcome it is a powerful ideology. Enter religious conflict.


But what we believe is in no way restricted to formal or informal religion. Our cultural expectations shape our perceptions of how and why the world works. Those beliefs are taught. Enter education. When government takes it upon itself to proscribe the nature of learning (which is also a human need) they can mold beliefs of the masses to suit their needs and maintain their power. Therefore, creating curriculum to support "future success" while indoctrinating mediocrity (we put our grades in a statistical, normal distribution and promote normative compliance) allows the poor to believe that they can be socially mobile by complying with the indoctrination program that teaches them how to be a cog in an archaic industrial-capitalist machine.

Economic Opportunity

When governments and large corporations subjugate with hedonism and ideology, individuals are taught that their place in the "collective" is more important than valuing uniqueness and innovation. Capacity for meeting personal needs is undermined by dependence on massive organizations. Individuals who accept indoctrination that opportunity is limited because of gender, educational, socioeconomic, or racial factors limit their own personal potential, creativity and motivation.

Therefore, the solution is
1. Correctly addressing and educating people on their fundamental human needs
2. Rejecting organizational co-dependence that feeds corruption
3. Empowering capacity to meet physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs in a cooperative and sustainable way.


Crossman, Ashley. (2021, March 3). Understanding Conflict Theory. Retrieved from

Tuckness, Alex, "Locke’s Political Philosophy", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2020 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL =

Lord Acton (5 April 1887). Letter to Archbishop Mandell Creighton.

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