Friday, January 28, 2011

Going beyond technical solutions -- into the territory of meta-cognition and abstraction

I'd like to address a commonly held misconception regarding the functioning of human societies -- specifically pertaining to the nature of social conflict. It seems that organizations such as the Venus Project and the Zeitgeist Movement subscribe to the notion that conflict is the result of material scarcity. This concerns me, as I see some potential in the general direction proposed by those organizations -- and am, as always, interested in the revaluation of our society and culture -- but see no merit in passively espousing the "scarcity" point of view.

The problem with this proposed line of thinking is that it brazenly ignores the intensity and fervor with which the average person defends his preconceptions -- about life, politics, economics, religion, practical matters, art. Even in a society free from social stratification, material inequities, barter, ownership, etc., there would still be a need for stringent monitoring of thought systems, for having open access to material resources would in no way mitigate the stresses of philosophical division. For example, sure, there would be less incentive to steal in a society where no one could profit from reselling a stolen item, or where no one would cache items in order to conceal them from neighbors, but would this so-called technical solution have any impact whatsoever on whether someone thought that the purpose of life is to reproduce and have fun? I think not.

Hunter-gatherer societies were almost universally egalitarian, and rarely generated murder or went to war with one another, but they were also notoriously superstitious in constitution. Technical solutions should be greatly favored over the band-aids and services which are in current practice, but they're only part of the solution as long as minds are involved.

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