J.D. Moyer

sci-fi writer, beat maker, self-experimenter

Tag: capitalism

Eyes On The Prize: My Current Vision for a Messy Utopia

These days, reading the national news is like watching a whirlwind of shit in high definition.

Emboldened white supremacists, the orange racist-in-chief, plans for an expensive useless wall, a government actively working to roll back environmental protections of every kind. Not to mention the very real possibility of nuclear war.

So I’m writing this post to remind myself what kind of world I’d like to live in. What kind of policies I’d like to see in place, in a more sane world.

I don’t believe in the pursuit of perfect utopias. Reaching that high is like flying too close to the sun. You have to start with a clean slate to build a perfect society, which means destroying everyone and everything and starting over. Which has been tried, several times in history, and generally ends in mass starvation and/or genocide. So no thanks.

The alternative is a messy utopia, one that builds on pretty good systems that already exists, one that takes a more-or-less empirical approach to solving problems, and one that doesn’t require perfect moral behavior on the part of its citizens. I’ve written in more detail about this idea here.

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What's Holding Us Back as a Species? (Part II – Unpacking Assumptions)

One way to look at it.

In a recent post I contrasted the utopian visions of the “Libertarian Space-Men” vs. “The Gaia Collective.

The “Libertarian Space Men” value free market principles, private property, technological progress, and personal freedom. This group defines human progress in terms of economic growth, (galactic) expansion, increasing intelligence, and an ever-improving capacity to understand, predict, and manipulate reality.

The “Gaia Collective” values environmental conservation and repair, sustainable living, peaceful coexistence, and spiritual growth. This group defines human progress in terms of ending war, lifting all people out of poverty, compassionate treatment of the young/old/infirm, humane treatment of animals, and a sustainable way of life with minimal impact on Earth’s geology, climate, and ecosystems.

The two groups are not so much opposed to each other as they are to “future-by-inertia,” which is the future we’ll get if we continue business as usual, pursuing short-term interests while ignoring long-term consequences. Almost everyone, including myself, is a member of the future-by-inertia group on at least some days. Like most people, I burn fossil fuels, use electricity, consume products, eat ocean-caught fish, and so on. Business-as-usual, which leads to a possibly dystopic future.

My best guess for what future-by-inertia looks like (the future we’ll get if neither the Gaia Collective nor the Libertarian Space Men have much of an impact) is a 100-year dark age during which energy demand outpaces energy supply. Not the end of the human race, but an ugly stretch that will include population decline, continued environmental degradation, continued poverty and war, and declining standards of living in terms of education, healthcare, leisure time, and expendable income for most of us (with many exceptions and bright spots).

What Beliefs Do We Hold Re: “What Has Gone Wrong?”

As a species, we’ve picked the planet’s low-hanging fruit. First we ate all the mega-fauna, then we chopped down most of the planet’s forests for fuel. We found and burned the easy-to-get oil and coal, we’ve eaten most of the fish. Lately we’ve noticed the atmosphere itself is warming up, with a strong possibility of disrupting stable climate patterns that we’ve become accustomed to.

On the other hand, there are many reasons to be hopeful. We know how to live with less environmental impact (even if we don’t always do so), most nations/tribes/groups peacefully coexist (and intermingle/share cultural wealth), and there are new technological miracles everyday that expand our understanding of reality, open up new creative spaces, and expand the realm of what is possible.

I’ve already looked at different concepts of “human progress,” including the possibility that all human progress is illusory. But what about “anti-progress”? What kind of assumptions do we hold about what’s holding us back as a species?

I’ve revealed one of my own assumptions by looking at the human timeline through the lens of reckless resource depletion (megafauna, forests, oil, coal, fish).

What are your own assumptions regarding what is “wrong” with humanity? What is preventing us from taking a great leap forward into an age of global peace, prosperity, and discovery?

Let’s unpack a few of the possibilities, and look at the evidence for each.

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Disruptive Distribution – a Shareable.net Interview with Michel Bauwens and Neal Gorenflo

I met Michel Bauwens over at Marvin Brown‘s place when Michel was in town giving a talk on The Future of Peer Production. Talking with Michel (and reading some of his work) was part of the inspiration for my recent post “Watching Open Source Destroy Capitalism.” I forwarded the post to Marvin, who sent it on to Michel, which eventually resulted in the following interview with Michel and shareable.net co-founder Neal Gorenflo. The original can be found here.

Civilized comments from any point of view are welcome as always.

Michel Bauwens: You are a music entrepreneur, and reportedly doing quite well. Can you explain the basis of your success and whether you use music that can be shared, for example based on Creative Commons Licensing?

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The Main Effect of Occupy Wall Street Has Already Happened

I’ve been thinking about the Occupy Wall Street movement and where it might lead.  Up until today I entertained the view Chris Hedges expresses in the interview below, that we may reach some sort of tipping point where the police “cross the line” and refuse to follow orders (to disband protest encampments), leading to who knows what (revolution? new government?).

The more I thought about this possibility, the less likely this scenario seemed.  Why?

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