Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Militantly Utopian

Ok, I was discussing some thoughts with two friends, Scott and Meredith the other day, at work, in relation to my Extropian beliefs. And they were making claims about what is natural and what's not natural. Death being one of the natural things. I must say though, that I feel differently. I truly do think that we're on the cusp of some radical changes in technology, changes that will make it possible for us to control matter on the atomic scale. That's not too shabby.

So, I was thinking about what is "natural" and what is "unnatural" as far as technology and the human condition. Let's say that human beings have existed for about 150,000 years. Modern homo sapiens, that is. And then when we factor in that what we call "civilization", that is, farming, living in cities, all that stuff, "civilization" has only been around for about 5000 years. That's a pitifully small slice of time compared to the total existence of humanity.

What it boils down to for me, though, is that I don't feel beholden to the past. I'm not obligated to live a certain way just because my ancestors did. My grandfather was a farmer in Mississippi. Then a carpenter and a postman. My father was a priest and a police-chaplain. I'm not obligated to be any of those things. I'm a bookseller and a musician.

Fire was once magic. So were antibiotics. And electricity. Meredith thinks that "just because we can do a thing, that doesn't mean that we should do a thing."

And I say that the vast majority of humanity suffers, at least on the physical level, because of the global economic system that we have, which is based on scarcity of resources, or in other words, suffering. Why is something worth more than something else? Because fewer people have it. Wealth requires poverty. But if you have control over the very foundations of matter, if industry can be automated so that people can spend more time being people instead of being cogs in an economic machine, then you can eliminate need. Economics are primitive, almost voodoo. Currently we let products (stuff) go where people want it to go, instead of where it needs to go based on need. So in America crops rot to support higher prices while in other places people starve. And it's all based on illusory ideas about what things are "worth."

People are programmed to die. Genetically. It doesn't mean that we necessarily have to. If we can create sane and rational economic systems based upon human need instead of greed, if we can manipulate the atomic structure of materials and basically eliminate need, then shouldn't we? If we can reduce suffering, shouldn't we? That is ultimately what I'm talking about. Most people think I'm crazy to even talk about such things, but I think that we're on the cusp of a new era in human history, as different from the last 5000 years as they were from the preceding epoch of human history. That's the dream.

Call me a dreamer, that's ok. I don't care. I'll continue to be militantly utopian though. Why? Because I believe that it's possible. That's the hope.


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