January 5th, 2011
|11:38 am - A new life in the off-world colonies|
When Europe set up colonies in America and Australia and elsewhere these worked as a sort of safety valve. People who were for some reason excluded or suppressed in their home country could leave, and have a chance abroad. Jewish people left Eastern Europe, and working class people left Ireland and so on. And before that, there were wild places on the fringes of Europe, to which people could escape if they were desperate enough. There seems to be no out-place like that nowadays. People think there is no alternative, no possible escape, from capitalist hierarchy, because it extends over the whole world. I think this emboldens ruling groups to exploit the underclasses more ruthlessly than before, because there is nowhere for them to escape to.
There have been SF stories that propose an escape into space, or Antarctica, or the deep ocean. But I think faith in those routes is weak nowadays.
But what I think might happen is that a viable 'outside' could exist in the same geographical space as the 'inside'. We can see it already in the practice of war. If you want to make war on the powerful industrial nations, you don't do so from an external offensive position, because you would be nuked. You do it by interpenetrating the same geographical space, and by recruiting people from within one world to move into your world.
If people could make a living in a shadow-world which interpenetrates the same geographical space as our culture, then people would move into it as our world becomes insupportable. For example, if there were hospitals in the shadow-world, and schools, and everything, then people could live there - just as America or Australia eventually became livable by families not just by adventurers.
And I think the shadow world could be more viable in the long term than the hierarchical repressive world. For example, if clever people are excluded from Universities for being 'the wrong type of person' - I've said this before - in the end this is a problem for the Universities, and for the hierarchy itself. There will be another world into which people can move, and this world will then have all the cleverest people in it. And our world will have educated only the rich and dumb. Who is going to win then?
A flexible and egalitarian economy would be more efficient and effective, and more fun to live in. People like to be able to exercise their talents and to be creative. People don't like having to obey low-IQ bosses. If they have a choice smart people will move to the flatter looser structures. Perhaps they will start to have that choice.
I totally agree. I wish more people would set up communes and alternative living systems.
I do. It's hard to do it at the moment, because it's hard to be self-sufficient, and unless you are self-sufficient you have to play the game at least some of the time. I was thinking - imagine if there were an e-University, which was really high class, and utterly external to all current nations, and most importantly had a functioning community of members. It would take anyone and give them knowledge. Imagine it created doctors who could fix you, and technology that you could get without being ripped off. And now, why live in the old system at all? I am too old for this, but perhaps my grandchildren will live there.
I'm not sure what it would do that would produce radically different doctors, or that technology is a ripoff at the moment, but I'd be prepared to try anything that's offered to me.
There is already more than one type of medical system, for example the NHS and the American system (just to pick two examples). So, variation is undoubtedly possible.
The ruling class may think they can make more money out of an American-type system, and currently there seems to be little the population can do if there is determination to push this through. But a ray of hope is that an alternative co-operative system could be established in some way, inter-penetrating the expensive system, and better than it (as the NHS is currently better than it, so 'better than' is definitely possible)
Aaaah, yes, I can see that. Yup, I can see that working, bearing in mind that it would require people to come together and pay for an NHS equivalent voluntarily, which isn't going to work if most of the people in need of it most are poor.
More mutuals are, however, something I'm very much in favour of. So I could see it working if you could persuade enough people it was more moral, and it wasn't (much) more expensive for them.
Poor is only relative to one system of currency. If the 'poor' make the products and grow the food (as I think they generally do) then in a sense, it's only an arbitrary system which makes them 'poor' and somebody who does much less work 'rich'. If a system rewards the people who actually do all the work, and enables them to learn how to do the jobs that they are currently excluded from - then I have to say, what use are rich idle white people any more? (I know the lazy privileged people aren't all white, but you get my drift)
I was thinking Trystero would run the post, but I'm not sure they're reliably egalitarian.
You are so right. The Crying of Lot 49 is a great early example.
I'm pessimistic enough to think that a shadow system could be just as oppressive as the conventional one. I think of the Free/Libre Open Source Software movement, and while it thinks of itself as a meritocracy, it is still sexist, and even more difficult to change because it doesn't acknowledge that it is sexist.
Yes, I know exactly what you mean. We might imagine a better system but no doubt any new way of doing things will have massive flaws in it. I used to deal off and on with Open Source people and they were often quite irrational and difficult. I can well believe they are sexist.
Did you ever see the Beiderbecke series, about the underlying black economy? It mainly worked by barter though, and that would be difficult to get to work fairly.
I have that trapped and helpless feeling too about capitalism and the lack of any real alternative. I like the idea of small socialist units, like factories or other enterprises, much like kibbuzim. They don't work when they got too big for the people in them to feel they have a voice (about 500 seems optimal) but sadly they seem to be dying out in Israel. I wouldn't have lived on one there because they were very regulated.
If there were an alternative system like yours I could opt into, I certainly would.
Yes, I would be unhappy in a very regulated system. In 'Collapse' Jared Diamond seems to imply that the societies which survive times of austerity are super-regulated and authoritarian, which is a bit of a sad thought.
I also don't fit into the corporate world, not being good at obeying low-IQ bosses are carrying out stupid orders. I'm having to keep my mouth shut doing short-term contracts and letting people assume I'm biddable and not that bright. I don't qualify for unemployment though, being married to someone with a job (this rule applies to males too), so I'll put up with it as long as it doesn't last long and I get enough money to feel I have some dignity.
the upside I guess is the lively variation in what you do from week to week, so it's not so boring