Real needs address immediate bilogical needs in order to allow and sustain life.
Looking at the complex connections between life and evironment, we can appreciate that there are many needs.
Among the natural creatures that produce things that incorporate labor value are human beings. We have made a science out of it. Not all species do this; most do not. Most species live day by day relying on use value objects alone to maintain existence. In fact, without obtaining the basics of use value, such as food, water and shelter, survival itself would be impossible in the context of the material world. Thus, the need for basic use value must be satisfied before anything else can occur in society. Human beings being part of the natural world must satisfy basic needs before moving on to something like the production of surplus value that can be used in exchange.
In the modern era we have gone a long way in frivolous directions as far as thinking that we need many things when in actuality, we do not. We think we need a car, a cell phone, TV, computer, a job, lots pf money, the latest fashions, life insurance, taxes, various gadgets and widgets when in reality our basic needs are much simpler, more basic and naturally derived. On the natural human level, the necessary requirements for life read like this; air, water, food, stimulation, rest, shelter, land, clothing, justice, health and healing, light, sex, elimination, acknowledgment, education and knowledge, exercise, defense, hope, and so on. Our basic needs can be divided into two categories; those that are absolutely essential to individual life and those that are necessary for the survival of the species. Of the needs that fall into self preservation and survival, are air, water and food, shelter from the extremes of weather, elimination, rest and exercise. Of the needs that are necessary for the survival of the species are things like light, land, communication, hope, learning, teaching, defense and sex.
Each one of these items can further be described as a set of collected conditions, chemicals or phenomena. Air, for instance must be of the right type; 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen, 1 percent carbon dioxide and traces of other gases like helium, argon, etc. The gases must be at the right barometric pressure which is about 100 kps plus or minus 10 kps for optimal human function. The air must be uncontaminated as much as possible and for the sake of greater feeling of well being, charged with negative ions such as found in the air after a thunder storm. This actually helps in oxygen absorption. Humanity needs air to breathe as this drives the energizing and respiration cycles of the body. Without air, for even a short duration of minutes, the body goes into anaerobic shock from lack of oxygen, and the complex interweaving of processes that make up a human being collapses and begins to disassociate. Thus fresh air is one of the highest priority needs that people have individually and collectively. Profiteers fortunately have not been able to rig a way to charge everyone for the privilege of breathing, but there has been some speculation in this with the move to privatize everything. However, it is common practice to use the atmosphere of the earth as an open cesspit, which is decidedly unhealthy for all life, human and non human.
Water is the second highest priority for living things. Though some life forms can exist in a state of hibernation in some cases when water is short or absent, this is not characteristic of human beings. Water is the universal solvent and a very necessary ingredient for a myriad of chemical reactions. Without water, something as marvelous as photosynthesis cannot even occur. Life was born in water and evolved in it and from out of it according to all the leading and informed scientists, one of whom was Charles Darwin. Water too, must be the right sort, preferably liquid, between 1 and 45 degrees Celsius for most life, clean and non saline or non brackish. Without water, the human body can live at rest in the shade for approximately a week. In activity under a strong sun, the prognosis is much poorer. Water is also essential for all other life, upon which we as a species depend. It is a substance which is continually needed to support the body’s chemical dance, which is the foundation of material biological life.
Profiteers assume much more control over the dispensing of water and do so with mammoth control projects. They control quantity, quality and who gets water and who doesn't. Claims have been made and enforced with legislation, that even the rain that falls is private property. They will sell pure water for a profit and contaminate the rest with questionable health measures and the dumping of toxic waste from manufacture. One thing is certain about chlorinated water, is that it will kill all marine life in less than twelve hours because of the waters acidity. This does not bode well for healthy human life either and perhaps accounts for the western worlds craving for heavy salting of food as a measure to neutralize acid water. Without this, humanity would die from acidosis because of the chlorinated and/or fluoridated water.
It is interesting to note that this acidic water has a pH of 6.2 and the human body is dangerously acid at 6.8 pH. The human body in electrolytic and chemical balance is slightly saline at 7.4 pH, reflecting our oceanic ancestry. Drinking several quarts of acid 6.2 pH water on a hot day must be counterbalanced with sufficient intake of salt to keep the body in balance or death from acidosis will result. How much is sufficient? Enough to balance the water to at least 7 pH, the pH reading of distilled water. All too often, open bodies of water are also used as a cesspit for all kinds of toxic waste from carcinogenic chemicals to spent and radioactive nuclear material. The consequences of these acts have staggering implications for the whole planet. In light of the fact that we don't actually need nuclear power and carcinogenic chemicals only serves to drive home the point more emphatically. The powerful states of the world can deliver or withhold water as a means of coercing a desirable response and action. This works only on the powerless. Any one with arms would immediately go to war, and wars over water have been fought in the Middle East for centuries. A war brews between India and Pakistan over the same issues. Water is essential for food production as well as for drinking. Without fresh water, growing crops is impossible; so water is essential for food production, unless one uses sea life exclusively.
Food of good quality is something that is necessary continuously to ensure good health and stamina to withstand the challenges of nature and the stresses of the environment, whether nature or mankind induced. What constitutes food depends on culture, variable conditions influencing availability and what is allowed by intervention. Essentially, food is both fuel and building material for the animal or human body. Of all the resources, it is one that is easily manipulated and controlled by various states for political ends. We can see the reality of artificially created scarcity and the bureaucratic management and control of that scarcity in order to artificially increase prices. Here we see without deference to human suffering, price fixing, engineered famines, destruction of surplus, the "no market" concept and tampering by irradiation, preserving in chemicals and now genetic alteration of food items. We are told it is for our collective benefit; that it will help feed humanity. But we still have a growing world hunger problem.
What benefit can come out of engineered famine or the "no market" concept except genocide? What benefit comes out of irradiation save the creation of something totally dead and foreign to the human body with loads of carcinogens, pathogens and free radical ions that reek havoc at the cellular level? What benefit derives from withholding food from starving people simply because they are excluded from the economic restructuring of the world? Food has become a controlled substance, as illegal to have by the “no market, cashless society as drugs like cocaine, heroin and hemp are illegal to have in possession or for trade by anyone. By denying this necessity to people who helped to find, secure, develop and grow it, capitalists have committed one of their gravest atrocities upon humanity. They have sentenced innocent people to the same end reserved for hardened murderers and war criminals. The latter usually dies more humanely and quickly with a good deal less torture and suffering. The control of this necessity by a few has eliminated freedom for the masses. They must obey the whims of the capitalists as if the oligarchs and bourgeois were the very god they claim to believe in, worship and support. Ultimately, to restore equability, society needs to be transformed by a major paradigm shift such as a mass revolution and leveling. Food must be for people, not for profit!
Human beings have learned to cope with weather extremes in a large variety of ways, whether from making buildings as diverse as igloos to sky scrapers or by dressing according to the demands that the weather causes. In a dynamic world where weather is in constant change, people need a way to adapt when extremes are such that the body alone cannot handle the extreme changes. The individual thus must have adequate shelter according to the dictates of the local weather extremes. If they venture outside in such extreme circumstances, they will also require adequate protective clothing. All of this is fashioned from the environment from a large number of sources that provide their use value.
Through long eons of evolution, the human body evolved to accept various stimuli. The body is crammed with sensory receptors of mind boggling sophistication inwardly and outwardly. People can sense light and dark, heat and cold, pressure, sound, taste smell, emotional sensation of a wide variety, sexual arousal, pain and pleasure, direction, motion and thought to name some. The body was designed by nature in response to environmental stimulus to interact in nature, to meet and exceed all the challenges thrown at it. To this end, the human species has been extraordinarily successful. The input of nature constantly fluctuates and changes, thus providing maximum stimulation for species response. Without stimulus, people become rapidly bored. Too prolonged exposure to the same type of stimulus, and the sense dulls, losing acuity. It is true that the non stimulated muscles and bones atrophy and it is also true of the mind. The modern world has succeeded in doing this to most people to the point of zombifying large sections of the population. Gone is the lightning quick response to natural stimulus, destroyed in a lifetime of repetitive boring tasks, enforced by the terror from the task master. Look around and stare into empty eyes and vacant faces, whose excitement no longer come from the direct contact with the world, but prepackaged with a message eulogizing the very system that oppresses. Stimulus and response is now contained in the field of sports and video games.
Response to stimulus can be reawakened; either through direct contact with experiential dialectics within nature or forced upon the person who is jettisoned by the capitalist system onto the scrap heap to fend for themselves however they can with absolutely no training. Here the system unwittingly plays with disaster. It is only a matter of time before an awakened and alive individual comes to revolutionary consciousness. So within the nature of stimulus, response comes the synthesis of action, generating it own polar opposition, adding to the already cosmically immense record of conscious and unconscious knowledge.
Stimulus, response and action are a dialectic triad of phenomena that grow from a single fundamental input. The stimulus serves as the motivating thesis and the response to the stimulus, which is to say, the awareness of it is the antithesis. The two in contradiction and interrelationship create internal and sometimes external action as the synthesis of their combined interaction. As an example, sunlight falling upon a plant causes a photosynthetic chemical response. This response triggers a host of active interrelated chemical and electrical phenomena that make up living activity; such as bending toward the sunlight, growth, flowering and setting seed from the quantum up to the size of trees. This is a positively motivated action from the response to the stimulus. Another example is the flight or fight response to a threat of violence. The threat is presented and immediately the awareness of the threat in response, triggers chemical imbalances such as increased adrenaline, respiration and blood circulation that further creates a need for electrochemical balance. Internally the decision is made to fight, if strength is judged adequate to overcome the threat physically, or to flee if not. The decided upon action comes out of the complex of chemical reactions and instantaneous decision making. This is a negatively motivated action from the response to the stimulus.
As a counterbalance to stimulus, there is the need for rest/recovery. Remember that it has already been stated that over stimulation in any one particular sense leads to a partial but temporary deadening. The chemical and electrical network needs time to rebalance to its original receptive state after put into action by the stimulus response cycle. Muscles in contraction produce lactic acid which inhibits further action until the acid is removed. After a day of stimulation in nature, on the streets of any capitalist metropolis or in the capitalists mines and factories, the body is depleted and chemically out of balance. The tiredness response overwhelms the body and without stimulants it slows to unconsciousness in order to rejuvenate all the interrelated systems. Without regard to circumstances, capitalist society has unbalanced the equation of equity of distribution to such a degree that the average worker needs the stimulation of addictive substances to dull the pain of bodily imbalance and to stimulate a further response drain to further activate an overworked, over stimulated body. In Japan, where driving oneself to work ever harder is held in high regard, it is not uncommon for workers and young executives to literally work themselves to death. The Japanese even invented a name for the condition of death by overwork; Keroshi.
In ancient times, the Jewish workers established for themselves the right of a day off, which originated the Christian Sabbath. In modern times, the union movement brought in the eight hour work day through radical action, reducing the work day from the 12 or 16 hours then existent. Today, the grip of radical unions is gone and many shops are slipping back into the old exploitative routine of 10 to 16 hour workdays and some of these 7 days a week, such as in Wal-Marts in Malaysia. This effectively runs the working class into an early grave because no recovery time from stress and continual monotonous stimulus is allowed. It is non-dialectic and inhumane. The so called owners of the means of production accuse the workers of laziness while they themselves idle in luxuriating indolence at the expense of those driven by necessity to earn capital in order to eat, to work in horrible conditions 10 to 16 hours a day 7 days a week. Many offshore people including children are forced to work as slaves. In North America, the trend is to private for profit prisons and now private for profit juvenile detention centers. Slavery and child labor has now been sanctioned by “appropriate legislation”.
Machinery that displaces ever more workers into the scrap heap daily exacerbates the situation with a desperate army of the unemployed. Unreasonable demands are made on the working class, employed and previously employed at the whim and leisure of the bourgeoisie. The workers still "lucky" enough to be still earning a pay cheque must comply, or so they have been well taught to believe.
Now humanity, being totally naked as discussed by Desmond Morris in the book The Naked Ape and other writings is naturally a peculiarly tropical animal because of the lack of body hair. Mankind essentially retains this trait and is thus very sensitive to radical and wild weather swings. Human beings, particularly those who were outcast or driven due to circumstance to migrate, moved to less tropical climates. People were forced by the very real circumstances of those places to seek out shelter. At first it was purely caves but later people developed constructed shelters, particularly if caves were lacking. Just about every material imaginable was used for sheltering and shelter construction; from leaves, bark, skins, stones, dung, and mud to snow. As long as society remained essentially egalitarian, there was little problem of creating shelter from the surrounding environment. Being without shelter during inclement weather was a recipe for death by exposure, especially in more severe climates. Clothes, if they existed, were insufficient to deal with extremes and contradictions.
History and geography demonstrate the changing attitude with regard to land. Historically and today in different spots on the planet, we can find examples of two distinct attitudes with regard to land. People who are mainly hunter gatherers and migratory in nature have no concept of land ownership as we in the capitalist industrial enclaves are familiar. Historically, with the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas prior to the colonization by Europeans, most tribes of the migratory, hunting gathering character did not regard land as an item to own by individuals. The people had use of the land’s resources with all due respect to nature. It is still true in places like the Amazon rain forest, the outback of Australia, New Guinea and portions of Africa’s southern desert regions, but even here, these are being displaced with the civilized paradigm.
With the development of agriculture came the need of a static civilization and the ability to hold land until the crop was gathered. Out of this single act came all of property law as we now know it in agriculturally based civilization. With ones investment tied to the ground and thus the very means of survival itself, the defense of land from marauding animals and people became of primary importance. The ways of the migratory lifestyle was displaced by agriculture that allowed for surplus production for the first time. With that came the need for defense, a standing army, law and all the other new necessities that became the order to protect ones source of life. With this, land apportioning, water acquisition, land division, land lording and homelessness became reality. With the advent of class division, came the problem of the dispersion of the dispossessed class and homelessness. Land was apportioned to certain powerful landlords and anything useable for fabricating dwellings was also appropriated for the use of these power enclaves that ruled by force and brutality. Force and brutality evolved in direct response to the need of defense and offense over the question of land use. The history of conquest and enslavement is written as a result of this and with the deliberately spilled blood of billions. No other animal but man does this.
Of all the species needs, perhaps the most important is sex. In all complex life forms that exist apart from single cell life, sex is the means by which the next generation and adaptations to the environment are mainly accomplished. When people lived in nature, sex was accepted as was sunshine and the need to hunt for food. It is only with the advent of civilization and class division that taboos and controls originated on sex. This is a control device that serves a double purpose. The first is to keep control through fear of the unknown and the other is so that it can be repacked for profit. The sexual drive is a powerful one as can be attested by observing nature and examining yourself in the light of objective truth with the encumbrances that society and religion impose upon it for control. But sex is not essential for individual survival, which makes it an idea target to control others. For the individual, food is essential, so it is harder to maintain a control this way than it is for sex.
For species that live in a group or a herd, whether insect or people, communication is important. Communication allows for things like massive engineering projects and trips to the moon, which would be hopeless if there were no communication. Communication also serves the need for survival of the group through warnings of impending danger. With communication comes acknowledgment and acceptance by the group. A lot of mental illness originates from alienation from others. In huge cities and megalopolises, people have to deal with far more people than what was common in a more agrarian culture of hunter gatherer society, The sheer numbers of people, most of whom are strangers is a potent alienating force. This serves to isolate us from those who are close. Hence within the context of civilization, we see the development of communications technology. Whether it is passive like TV or active like video games or cell phones, these have come to serve our collective need to communicate.
Justice is at the heart of all disputes, especially when someone is wronged by another. Whether or not this is actual or perceptual, an innate sense of balance exists where recompense is sought for all interactions. Justice may be resolved “on the street”, in the courts or through money. Sometimes it is resolved by constructing an egalitarian society, which is a rarity. Justice is something that can exist only in a group where many people interact within a community or between communities. It is necessary for the peaceful co-existence between large numbers of people. We have heard “No justice, no peace” over and over in the current period of history, simply because justice is either lacking or has been perverted to profit a few at the expense of all others. Yet the basic need of justice continues because at heart we all have essentially the same basic needs despite the uneven and combined developments of the world at large. It will be justice in the true sense of the word that will change the world in the end, hopefully to a better place for all instead of a slide into universal terrorism.
The education of the newly arriving young for most species is important for the continuation of the species. Human beings are not excluded and education plays a pivotal role for the individual and the collective. In the context of nature, the young must learn all the sills necessary to survive and to carry on to the next generation. Within civilization with all its specialization and interdependence, education takes on a highly specialized character. The only problem here is if civilization were to suddenly collapse for one reason or another, the specialized education is usually worthless within any other context including surviving in nature.
There are many needs that need fulfillment, but there are wants that arise from living in modern society. These wants are often related to genuine needs, such as a car to pick up and deliver food to the diner table. However, when it comes to things like video game players, the connection to absolute need becomes vague. The same is true for anything like addictive substances. It is hard to see any link between absolute need and desire to fulfill some wish or want.
Gambling on People's Needs to Make a Profit
- Johann Hari: How Goldman gambled on starvation - Johann Hari - Commentators - The Independent
Speculators set up a casino where the chips were the stomachs of millions. What does it say about our system that we can so casually inflict so much pain?