Saturday, August 29, 2009

Evolving Utopia Part 14

Part 14: What Next?

This essay has provided us with a number of controversial notions. We created an entity, the Deus ex Machina, or "DeM", that is more-or-less a model of God (if God exists) and which resolves at least some of the paradoxes of quantum theory. We used the History of the Universe that the DeM (and presumably God, if God exists) perceives to create a matrix that describes the pattern of behavior of anything that exhibits behavior.
With that we showed that the notion of specific creation by an intelligent designer is unnecessary to evolve complex organs and entities, as long as we use Darwin's evolutionary principle (non-survival of the unfit) rather than Spencer's principle (survival of the fittest). Darwin's principle is the proper scientific rule and both Intelligent Design and Spencer's rule should be regarded as unscientific and not taught in schools.

The notion of Intelligent Design is not only a religious rather than scientific notion, but it is based on a primitive religious model. We have shown that a DeM (and presumably God, if God exists) is consistent with Darwin's version of evolution.

We also showed that human societies are based on mutual conformity so we can get the maximum use out of our facility for mouth-noise communication. We operated on the principle of mutual conformity for the first 50,- to 100,000 years of our existence, five to ten times as long as our written history.

When we discovered the idea of agriculture we could produce more than we consumed, and we had a surplus to support skilled technologists and to store for emergencies. This let us have a population explosion, and we had to invent popular religion to keep a city-based culture ("civilization") stable. The competition between city-states created empires and produced a class of warrior aristocrats and kings who took over secular administrations. They needed status symbols to show they were important.

Around 1500 Calvin invented a way to make middle-class upward mobility compatible with religion, and we kept doing that until getting status by wasting resources became hazardous to species survival. Since 1950 our society has reversed its progress toward a global egalitarian civilization, and, as a result, our society has become unstable. This culminated in the fiscal crash of 2008 and the election of Barack Hussein Obama.

We will assume that Barack Hussein Obama will manage provide a degree of stabilization to the financial industry by setting rules that will make it difficult to create the same kinds of financial bubbles. That does not guarantee that people will not invent new ways to create other kinds of products that will facilitate speculation in new kinds of bubbles. That kind of activity will persist as long as status can be obtained by the acquisition of money or things that can be valued in money.

It is likely to be the case that Barack Hussein Obama has so much personal charisma that, as long as he does not completely fail to prevent the decline and fall of Western Civilization, the fraction of the elite that constitutes the establishment of governmental bureaucracy will remain dominant for a few decades. But he is mortal, and when he is replaced by someone with more pedestrian qualities, we will be back facing the same threat of collapse because the environmental crisis cannot be solved if we are still wasting resources to prove status.

In addition, while the simple accession of Barack Hussein Obama to the leadership of Western Civilization, without any specific political actions, will raise the hopes of the external proletariat and reduce their support of the guerilla warfare of terrorist organizations, it will not reduce the ambitions of the leadership of those groups. They will continue their guerilla warfare until they are convinced that the egalitarianism that might be brought to Western Civilization by Barack Hussein Obama will apply to the global population, and that can only happen if we stop associating status with the display of resource consumption.

And that can only happen if we make a deliberate effort to change our myths and values: in other words, change our religions.

Luckily, conspicuous consumption is not an essential part of any of the major religions: it was not preached by Jesus, or Gautama, or Mohammed, or the Zen Masters, or even explicitly by Luther or Calvin. It is something that has crept into our belief-structure as an imitation of the status symbols of the medieval warlords of the dark ages. Ecological responsibility is something that can be added to the values appreciated by modern religions. All we have to do is understand the functional structure of modern religions so we can fit it in.

But we have to understand the structure and characteristics of religion, without getting bogged down in the particular content of myth or ritual.

That will be discussed in the following chapters.

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