THE FUTURE IS RUSHING UPON US
We're in for a wild ride. Exponentially accelerating technological, cultural, and socioeconomic evolution means that every year will see more developments than the previous one. More change will happen between now and 2050 than during all of humanity's past. Let's explore the 21st century and ride this historic wave of planetary transition with a confident open mind.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
There are so many coercive influences acting upon the individual's quest for personal sovereignty that it's very easy to slip into fatalism and emotional surrender. After all, some of these influences stem from massive structural arrangements on the national and global level. It seems passivity is logical given the other options of masochistic self sacrificial activism and total embrace and support of the coercive structures.
There is a fourth option however. That option is to enable yourself to better resist external influences on a day to day basis with simple preventive/proactive measures. Prevention, as we all know, is the most energy efficient way of minimizing damage from random unforeseen disasters as well as from known threats. Helping to build a strong immune system is a good illustration. To decide what type of preventive action or inaction (distinction is a false one in terms of opportunity costs) to pursue, one needs to see how it will impact personal resources/space, level of respect from strong social forces, and autonomous decision making. All of these, as discussed in part 1, are necessary components of a quest for real freedom.
After listing what needs to be done preventively, it makes sense to organize the list based on ease of accomplishment. Two things readily stand out:
1) not burdening oneself with children
2) not trapping oneself in marriage
It is much more comfortable to act locally selfishly instead of engaging in draining foot soldier activism for elite bourgeois do gooders. What many don't realize is that helping yourself also helps those around you as well as weakens tyrannical structures higher in the social food chain. Power is a zero sum game when it comes to individual human beings. If hundreds of millions of people do what is necessary to achieve greater influence over their surroundings, they will gently reduce ability of stronger exploitative individuals to do that in their name.
1) childless existence - This is the easiest step to take in terms of inaction. Vasectomy and tubal ligation procedures are relatively cheap and accessible throughout the Western world. They help reduce expense and risk of non-sterilizing contraception. We all know about the rather unpleasant potential side effects (for individuals and relationships) from hormonal modification, pregnancy termination, and/or legalistic child support payment avoidance. The only reason to hesitate in becoming biologically incapable of being burdened (by self sacrificial genetic and artificial traditionalist imperatives) is concern about the safety and expense of the procedures. That is legitimate although we can see how it can be far more unsafe and pricey to risk becoming a breeder.
financially, psychologically, physiologically, and morally drained over the years by raising human brood is the best personal investment one can think of. The butterfly effect from not spending years of resources on a parenting project of choice is far more empowering than the one from the investment of higher education. A person who never went to college can easily achieve higher levels of tangible freedom, greater psychological empowerment, and even more material power than a person who went to college but decided to saddle up with raising a human or two for 18 years. It is widely recognized that high fertility disproportionately burdens the poorest people. The constant drain on personal energies makes them sink deeper into poverty while the richer less fertile classes gain and leapfrog ahead.
If all the poorest people in the world reduced their fertility by even 30%, their economic and political power would dramatically rise. They would have augmented mobility, purchasing power, time for reflection, and physiological energies to grow and exert themselves further in society. It would be a welcome break from just surviving to old age. Overburdened people are the ones who accept structural coercion most readily (no matter how impudent and blatant it is).
Such simple dynamics push oligarchs to promote family and children throughout the world. It creates a larger pool of poor workers that drives their wages down and makes large majority of the population too exhausted to resist divide and conquer tactics from above. We have seen American republican party fight tooth and nail against abortion and proven effective contraception education for this particular reason.
Part 2 described how most elites no longer need excessive fertility for cannon fodder. Some politicians, such as the ones in China, even publicly admitted that great fertility stifles economic progress. In the Western world and especially in United States, promotion of fertility still serves as a way of keeping domestic wages down and keeping the third world in dependent poverty. When there is insufficient childbirth among the poor, Western power brokers have to either cut a bigger slice of the economic pie from the rich, import more immigrants, or develop high end robotics (as in the case of the xenophobic Japan).
It is also very clear how the Catholic church blatantly discourages contraception (while dooming millions to contract HIV) to keep its organizational influence and donations flowing in South America and Africa. This is even after new studies are emerging that abortion reduces crime long term, that overpopulation will be the biggest contributor to world conflict in the 21st century, and that higher fertility directly contributes to a crushing cycle of global poverty. Western governments have not forcefully spoken out against the incredible damage that the Vatican is causing.
childlike reasoning for engaging in masochistic behavior that is parenting. There's also those who are already too far on the road of no return and want others to be in the same boat for psychological camaraderie. Finally, we can't discount the minority of people whose neurochemistry makes them incredibly empathic and emotional. Such individuals will truly be suffering if they don't take care of weak little humans. Although they'd make ideal medical providers, we must respect the absolutely biologically controlled humans who need to spawn. In his novel, The Island, Aldous Huxley envisioned parenting being done by multiple individuals so the kid is raised with a well rounded perspective and is protected from potentiality of 1-2 of the parents being neurotic. Hopefully in the future, those (who absolutely cannot override being slaves to their genes) will share in raising each others children. Everybody else should be left alone by their "community leaders" when it comes to not taking on economic and political burdens of parenting.
The family of a poor man helped him pay for the enormous dowry so he can buy an unmarketable girl from an upper class family. Marriage was a matter of life and death and one of the most serious things you can think of. The roots of this union stem from thousands of years of vicious clan warfare, blatant power intrigues, and dire necessity. There has been so much negative and positive cultural reinforcement that the powerful inertia of marriage continues long after it stopped being necessary for survival. Today, marriage as a term is as empty and anachronistic as slavery because it no longer performs its original basic function.
Obviously such a function continues in many parts of the underdeveloped world, but in the Western world, marriage has been slowly transforming from basic physical survival of both partners, to economic survival of the wife. Around the middle of the 20th century, being married became a socially accepted way for most women to get constant income and shelter. Poor women, of course, always toiled in the fields and even in the factory regardless of the married status. However, mid 20th century gains in productivity and real incomes have allowed Western men to provide for the whole family. Many women from proletariat/peasant backgrounds began to imitate the upper class women and became sit at home housewives. We saw how blatantly the advertising in 1950s paraded technological advances in making housework easier.
Since marriage in the Western world is an arrangement cut off from its original intention, its decline in a secular world is irreversible. Although modern oligarchical capitalism is making marriage appealing again as a form of female economic welfare, that blatantly flies in the face of socially promoted individualism and economic gender equality. This friction and loss of original function has already pushed divorce rate in America to over 50% and will soon raise a generation of people who laugh at the concept.
Besides being a tool for paying lower income taxes and a way for a woman to legally extract greater post-divorce income, marriage doesn't serve any empowering purpose. Even the tax benefits are counterbalanced by the stuffy culturally constructed pressure for the couple to live together. Perhaps a social protest movement can be created for the sole purpose of mocking the authorities by marrying for tax breaks. Couples can live separately but do a quick marriage with a prenuptial agreement in a government building. That will put a final nail in the coffin of a bankrupt ceremony. The government will get out of marriage business altogether and have its hands off religious ceremonies like in the 19th century.
Thinking globally and acting globally can begin with something as easy as simple prevention of self enslavement. Doing something simple to make yourself stronger, freer, and healthier goes much further than running around and getting people to recycle or signing petitions. Acting with your body in your own benefit leads others by example and creates ripple effect within society. Each person deciding to not put on traditional chains is a step closer to rising from his or her knees and pushing for greater personal sovereignty. Global freedom begins with personal freedom.