Saturday, August 29, 2009

Evolving Utopia Part 25

Part 25: Conclusions

The conclusion of this analysis is that it is possible to eventually evolve into a global civilization that is egalitarian, ecologically responsible and creative. In addition, Barack Hussein Obama has already contributed to that result and is likely to do more.
But it is not clear that we are going to achieve a Utopia in my lifetime, nor Barack Hussein Obama's term of office because we are not yet ready to stop basing our economy on tchotchkes, things which display the unnecessary or wasteful use of resources.

We have been doing that since the neolithic when we invented agriculture and the hierarchical society we thought was necessary to make agriculture function. We invented tchotchkes as devices to identify those who were in charge. That caused us to spend several thousand years maiming and killing each other to allow someone to get to the top of the pile, and wasted a lot of our resources to demonstrate that they were there.
The big difference in the last few centuries is the number of people who can accumulate tchotchkes and claim to sit at the top of the pile; now groups of people, currently bureaucrats, occupy that position rather than a handful of kings and emperors.

That's more democratic, but it is the step before everyone sits at the top of the pile because we are all equal. In the tradition of the Industrial Revolution we do that by having everyone waste resources by accumulating tchotchkes, and there aren't enough resources to do that. We have to do something to break that tradition, and we have little experience in doing that.

We've also wasted a lot of intellectual resources spent to justify oneupmanship, to make it "natural". If anything is natural it is the mutually conformist system we lived in during the Paleolithic, but there are too many of us now to use that.
Even if post-neolithic stratification is ingrained in our traditions There is a way to change. We can bring Western Civilization to a complete collapse, so we have to start again from scratch. Then we might realize we ought to be cooperating rather than making things difficult for one another.

If Western Civilization does collapse there will be a general chaotic anarchy, because Westerners have organized the world for their convenience. However that will be traumatic only for those who depend on civilization and the exploitation of the external proletariat. The external proletariat themselves will probably not be much worse off than they are now and will probably survive to follow the creative minority who set the example [Toynbee's "mimesis"] by building the next global civilization.
Even the lower strata of the Western establishment who can no longer survive by serving the elite, can minimize the trauma by avoiding the conventions of their stratum, reducing the symbolic waste in their lives, and keeping their transactions ethical. If they take the opportunity and make an effort to be autonomous their expectations will be more realistic and their personal solutions more creative.

And there is just the faint chance that the leadership of Barack Hussein Obama may cause Western Civilization to try to avoid a complete collapse by finding a way to reach a stable civilization in a gradual way. That is extremely unlikely, but not totally impossible. To the extent that the populist governments look to global rather than parochial values they can move in the right direction.
The main objection to that process will be that it defies "tradition". However, we have shown that hierarchical systems are so unstable that they have to be regarded as "make do" solutions. Few are so stable that they last more than decades or centuries at best. The real human "tradition" is the way we organized in the paleolithic, which was stable for 50 to 100 millenia. All we have to do is use modern technology to make global consensus possible.

In any case we can feel good that our descendants will probably live in a Utopia that is egalitarian, ecologically responsible and creative. If we have to suffer the destruction of our present civilization and a period of anarchy afterward, it is merely the price we pay for using the shortcut of autocratic religion and politics to solve the problem of coping with agriculture and technology.

And we always have the opportunity to make better choices.

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