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.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Future of Modular Nuclear Reactors

City, state, and local governments have to own their nuclear reactors the way they own police stations and provide electrical energy the way they do police protection.

Country of Lithuania was able to provide for over 70% of energy needs for its roughly 3.6 million population in mid 1980s with one 1,500 megawatt nuclear power plant. Kyshiwazaki-Kariwa 8,212 megawatt plant powered 16 million homes in Japan. Such feats can be scaled down to small political units owning modular reactors that are relatively quickly and cheaply constructed (and even delivered by ship or rail if small enough).

Think about the potential of cities like Boston or San Francisco deciding to build a third generation hyper efficient and safe 2,000+ megawatt plant to power their public needs. Think about a small city of 50,000 people having a train deliver a factory manufactured modular 125 MW reactor and not only having its needs met for decades but allowing city's expansion.

Public Ownership of Energy Sources

The cost of government falls dramatically if capital intensive long term construction and management systems like power are controlled by the public. Just as with public provision of healthcare, the overhead cost is substantially lowered.

The essential foundation of all modern civilization and growth is how much electrical output is available per square kilometer and per human being. Most of public expenditures in the future will be to power electrical buses, trams, firetrucks, police cars, garbage disposal units, water treatments plants, vertical farms, medical vans, construction equipment, various tools, etc. Acceleration of resource expenditure on fission (and later fusion), not austerity, is the way to cut public spending and increase growth. This will mean state directed efforts. The tax payer will be a lot less bothered by government expenditures on constructing clusters of small fission reactors if it means lower long term spending overall. The borderline superstitious "not in my backyard" mentality is easily overcome by multipronged propaganda campaigns and top down repeated appeals by authority figures. The elderly public can be easily swayed if even half as much propaganda effort is put into supporting nuclear industrial production as is put into homicidal military "humanitarian" interventions abroad. The nationalism of many conservative boomers should be tapped to "beat the Chinese, French, Russians, and Japanese in a nuclear development race while cutting dependence on Arabs". Great emphasis should be placed on the green and carbon free aspect of nuclear to co-opt boomers who are former hippies. When analyzing public support, almost no other industry stands to have as broad of a public coalition behind it.

For large central and federal governments to become more flexible and efficient themselves, there has to be political decentralization via increased and effective autonomy for local governments. That is only realistically possible if local governments, down to the city level, are allowed to own, staff, and operate their own next generation nuclear reactors. This allows infrastructure building efforts to eventually become relatively independent of the often hated political center.

The central governments however can help in this effort by coercing/taking over large multinational energy companies and negotiating deals with them. This would provide localities with cheaper fission reactor parts or finished units themselves (via pulling together local government funds to tap economies of scale with large purchases/orders).

One can visualize a federal state holding company bending Lockheed-Martin and Boeing to its will and pushing them to mass produce thousands of large parts for modular reactor assembly the way bomber airplanes or ICBMs are built during wartime. A city of 500,000 people can acquire five 150 MW medium reactors and be set indefinitely for basic routine tasks once it undergoes energy grid and vehicle modernization. Smaller cities would require newest small reactors spun off marine/submarine designs. The center can continue to play the vital role of standardization so mass production is applied to small, medium, and large reactors and matched with political units based on population size and energy needs as required. Central regulatory planning is not incompatible with decentralized locality rule (think of individuals ruling themselves while the center standardizes their cellphones and food quality).

Average American house is roughly 200 sq meters (more than twice the average of many European houses) and consumes roughly 10,000 kilowatt hours of energy annually. New 21st century housing and appliance standards should half the consumption. As the countryside gets depopulated due to aging and migratory outflows, many small towns will increasingly be able to come under cover of relatively tiny 21st century "hot tub"  reactors in the 20-30 MW range. These can even be delivered by heavy helicopters or specialized trucks. This will allow many rural areas to continue to be productive and lead dignified lives, even in relative isolation. Additionally, once thorium is developed as fuel for this range, safety system costs should drop dramatically.

The key is to cut out the profit driven private middlemen and overhead costs that come along with it. County reactors (their quality, brand, model number) should be a source of pride and care for the locals. Introduction of new reactors should be combined with festivities and bottle breaking /ribbon cutting ceremonies seen with introduction of new battleships. Actual production of the reactors however should be performed by large supranational monopoly government managed cartels as mentioned in a prior article. On a large enough scale, a factory made reactor to power high tech 21st century civilization for 200,000 people is but a "Volvo truck" in terms of mass assembly.

The medium sized reactors of course can have mass manufactured large modular parts be assembled on site, have the plants floated to coastal cities, or even have them delivered by heavy lift transport military airships. Chinese will probably be the first to make breakthroughs in modular mass production of reactors considering the scale and speed of some of their other modular projects such as 30 story hotel in 2 weeks assembly (even if it is 4-6 weeks, it's nothing to sneeze at).

United Nations can help a lot by setting realistic goals such as raising global electrical output via fission to 30-40% from current 15% over a certain amount of years. What humanity really needs is a Henry Ford of nuclear industry.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Defining Left-Libertarianism in United States

Easiest, most marketable, practical, and productive way to unite dissident movements in United States is to utilize the umbrella term of Left-Libertarianism.

This article is less about existing left-libertarian constructs, some of them stretching back to the egalitarian ideas of a small minority of US founders. It is more about the emerging peripheral fusion between two seemingly antagonistic dissident political forces, the ones behind the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements.

Previously I wrote that there are enough commonalities between the two dissident groups to create a very concrete and mutually agreeable political platform to be shared by both libertarians and progressives. That was written long before the other dissident shoe dropped in the form of OWS and before Ron Paul and Ralph Nader agreed to join forces. The platform was thus very general and tilted to the Tea-Party faction. Now that both sides are roughly co-equal in public consciousness, it is time to re-examine the dynamics of what can only be called Left-Libertarian political emergence. Ultimately, any framework for restoring the economy on the North American continent (to make it a healthy global pole as described in the previous article) will have to involve constitutional political reorganization favorable to both dissident sides.

Here at The Pragmatist, ideology and ideological titles are generally disliked. That is due to ideology stagnating society if adapted by the public as a guiding framework on a large scale. The individual brain and thus society at large defers its ability to think by going on an autopilot. However, there are two instances when an ideological name can work alongside pragmatism of thought and action (something that IS liked on this website unsurprisingly):

1) Memetic engineering. Ideological titles can be used as a cynical marketing tool on a tactical level. Left-Libertarianism has the effect of triggering entire meme clusters among the very energized Internet literate demographics. Many within OWS have always sympathized with the anti-imperialist message of Ron Paul and may see a way to co-opt a number of post-financial crash libertarians. Many within Ron Paul's faction have similar thoughts about co-opting new recruits from among the medley on the OWS left. Left-Libertarian label at the very least serves as a starting mechanism to bring the dissident groups together for a serious strategy centered discussion.

The fusion is accelerated as Left-Libertarian label neatly peels off entire layers of libertarians from the Tea Party. This is more possible by the day since majority of younger/Millennial libertarians have had time to thoroughly study how the Tea Party was co-opted by corporate forces. Many of them have chaffed at rubbing shoulders with elderly conservative religious crypto fascists and having to exert energy to ideologically educate them to be more in tune with Ron Paul's vision. The GOP primaries (and the ongoing total meltdown of the once national party) has heightened the tensions within Tea Party allowing desertions to accelerate.

2) Formation of a formal alliance with a Left-Libertarian label (or multitudes of unique local alliances as the case may be considering numbers of Occupy and Tea Party groups) also serves to pragmatically force thought about the platform and ideology of such alliance. Although ideology with a relatively coherent platform stagnates the mind by deferring thought, a relatively undefined ideological hybrid without a tangible mutually agreed platform increases thought. In the case of Left-Libertarian label, the thought is forced in these particular ways:

___a) Those on the Left/OWS side of the equation have to think of how to fuse/define/summarize their thought in order to better balance the relatively more coherent and united libertarians. The far seeing among them will realize the sheer utility of first trying to find major points of agreement among social democrats, socialists, zeitgeist followers, communists, technocrats, etc and second to think of most strategic ways to combine these points of agreement with the libertarians.

___b) Thought is also forced on how to fuse strains within previously existing left-libertarian dialogue and make it applicable to the particularities of post-financial crash American dissident forces of Tea Party and OWS.

___c) Thought is forced on logistics, marketing, and operational/technological aspects of a Left-Libertarian label.

Thus we see a potential for an ideological label that pragmatically begins to will substance and definition into being. What starts out as a marketing ploy acquires a life and genuine belief on its own. Not only that, but it actually serves to solidify OWS/left in general in case there aren't enough committed leftists and libertarians who want to work together this closely. Total collapse of such dialogue is not likely due to the current form of libertarianism burning out in the minds of many American intelligentsia. It is unlikely for Ron Paul's thought to continue rapidly increasing in the general national imagination (after the current last campaign hurrah). This is due to the amount of people educating themselves about the causes of the financial crash and the inefficiencies of run away capitalism in general. We should therefore see youthful OWS leaders supporting Left-Libertarianism to better define themselves and youthful libertarian leaders supporting it to not become marginalized/irrelevant.

This process is already happening without the title being prominently talked about. The key word in the last paragraph is "youthful". Left-Libertarianism serves as an effective political consolidating tool for the Millennial generation as it begins its long struggle with declining Boomers for reigns of power. All stripes of Millennial political activists are defined by technological optimism and ability to rapidly leverage decentralized communication on a tactical level. It naturally follows that technology will increasingly play a key role in whichever political program Left-Libertarians eventually settle on. Ideas of Henry George, Thorstein Veblen, King Hubbert, Jacque Fresco, and Buckminster Fuller are increasingly becoming popular again. These ideas are often seamlessly compatible with decentralization and technological optimist of Millennial thinkers. Technology may serve as an even better glue among Left-Libertarians than disgust with the corruption and inefficiency of the current neo-feudal system we live in.

Marketing, the engineering and production of psychological states, is the key instrument of power and if dissidents want to become relevant they will have to utilize proper labels and label clusters for maximum effect. Left-Libertarianism taps into the current American zeitgeist and allows existing libertarians to become involved in the project of building society of the future while saving face publicly.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Future of Global Industrial Development

Large hypersonic passenger plane being designed in E.U.
Major Countries Will Have a Mission: To become a key piece in a "spinal cord" of world management. 

Their Method: International alliances will become increasingly centered on specific long term goals of industrial production and distribution and less on military or ideological needs as was the case in the 20th century.

The essence of 21st century competition is competition in efficient product output and jockeying for position to be the main link in a global state directed heavy industry chain. Countries with highest capacity to mass produce and distribute complex infrastructure related things will be most able to provide structure for planetary unification/governance and acquire popular legitimacy for it. Individuals in relevant capitals of the world will go to great lengths to have their states be as indispensable within this spinal cord as possible. This involves creating links between so called "national champions" and national industrial sectors in general (and thus political units themselves as public sectors increasingly get involved in the long term planning and funding).

For example, elites in Mexico City may realize that the rapidly growing Mexican industrial sector may not take leadership in the northern hemisphere by itself. BUT if they integrate it sufficiently with Canadian and American sectors then their ability to make influential decisions far up the spinal chord gets dramatically increased. Their psychological ego drive to get better and better seats at collective decision making table will thus drive the countries they manage towards merger.

One might argue that this isn't any different from the process that has happened for the last 400 years as various cartels pushed their governments into cooperation/merger, into international or supranational alliances, and occasionally into warfare with each other over surplus production. One might also argue that the post-hegemonic fragmentation into a multipolar world is also a seemingly cyclical typical occurrence. However, the current process of financial and industrial cartels influencing supranational mergers will take place in an environment that differs from a previous multi polar period of the early 20th century. That is since:

1) Dogmatic economic and political ideology in general has been discredited (with decline of the last two major ideological powers: USSR and US)  
2) Nationalism has been discredited in its older forms by technological globalization and by major migratory flows of humans
3) There is tendency towards continental political blocks that build on and improve on the EU model  
4) Warfare between cartels (and thus the governments they control) is prevented by the existence of nuclear weapons
5) World is now in a fragile situation where:
_____a) Due to accelerating technological progress and the Internet, world's rich find it increasingly difficult to maintain/create artificial scarcity (on at least light industry level) to prevent major profit collapse and corresponding social unrest
_____b) Major transnational cooperation is constantly required (on at least continental level) to coordinate fiat money generation and banking-monetary policy in general to prevent major profit collapse and corresponding social unrest
_____c) Capital intensive heavy industrial production (of fission reactors, high speed trains, etc) cannot really be fully managed and funded by individual cartels anymore and requires constant state/tax payer subsidy, support, and assistance
_____d) Ramping up capital intensive heavy industrial production/infrastructure is required to resolve and manage rapid population growth, resource depletion, and environmental degradation. This is needed in order to prevent civil unrest stemming from these 3 key global issues (civil unrest = major profit collapse = civil unrest).

Although the factors that create current cartel driven tendency towards political merging are not always stated this clearly, they nevertheless direct this process for the most part.   

What is apparent is that powerful egos cannot compete in the old ways via violence or in a free for all technologically enabled resource depletion. Financial speculation has also proven as inadequate to provide a long term release valve for psychological competition. The process of elimination leaves world leaders with a rather novel benign (and rather difficult!) way to compete via production and welfare generation for the people they oversee. 

To help visualize what is needed, what is happening, what will increasingly continue to happen, and what needs to be ingrained in global consciousness as needing to happen, think of this example:

[ There are 5 continents in the world with multiple countries each. 4 of these continents have at least 2 strong industrial countries with industrial monopolies that are cozy with their respective governments. Elites of 3-4 of the continents (North and South American companies may merge on this one) decide to create supranational "Japans on steroids" for each specific heavy industry. With state aid and coordination, a beefed up equivalent to European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) is created on each continent for energy, high speed rail transport, bridge/tunnel equipment, air/space transport, modular housing, and a few others related to resource extraction to feed the new "continental champions".]

Obviously a far greater amount of state capitalism and state funding/management is required to create these continental champions. This is made palatable to tax payers via sharing half or more of the profits with government treasuries the way Gazprom does. This rapidly builds on, combines, and goes further than European Coal and Steel Community, Euratom, EADS, Gazprom, and others.

The main goal is not only to rapidly streamline and take advantage of economies of scale in heavy industrial production of energy plants, large energy power plants parts, trains, planes, modular housing, and resource extraction/recycling. The main goal is to turn every continent into a supranational factory making 5-6 broad categories of things needed to prevent global social unrest AND to maintain competition, evolution, and diversity of product within global industry. The beauty of this process is that each country can increase or decrease the level of state ownership/(macro socialism or state capitalism however you'd like to call it) as it sees fits while maintaining the country within the industrial chain. Being part of the chain also creates incentives to boost technological, infrastructural, and social development in all spheres to remain part of and embed further into the chain. The incentives to make holistic improvements are greater than those driven by neoliberal emphasis on reform since success and failure is more obvious. The public can easily tell if their country doesn't have what it takes to design and cheaply construct a large part for a next generation transatlantic hypersonic heavy passenger plane. To catch up and enter the chain, the production capabilities of military industrial complexes should be converted to civilian use when possible and utilized to the maximum.

Additional positives of this arrangement is that a lot more capital intensive experimentation can now be allowed due to pulling of resources and supranational tax payer guarantees. Macro Gazprom type build up in production inefficiencies is more than compensated by introduction of new generations of hypersonic aircraft, mass production of MagLev transport and passenger train wagons, fission reactors, etc.

There is also an Orwellian twist to this new global competition (although a positive one). One can see the 6 continents entering into a triangular macro competition where not even 2 beefed up EADS type super companies can ever hope to fully win. Lets be more obvious. Say there is Oceania Rail, Eurasia Rail, and EastAsia rail all developing newer, better, and differentiated MagLev train products (ranging from magnetic heavy loader factory chain carts, to city subway cars, to transcontinental passenger, etc). Triangular competition like this tends to produce simultaneous launches of product by all 3 entities. This has been observed in product ranging from flat screen television to next generation fight airplanes. We see first seeds of what's to come in the Boeing and Airbus rivalry with China working on its own super heavy transcontinental passenger plane.

click to enlarge
If triangular competition reaches total planetary scale then the cost of the new products, time to make them, and time in between each successive generation of product falls. Yes, there will be entire continents filled with monopolies fused into supranational continental monopolies but it is small price to pay for macro level technological progress. New experimental continent scale protectionist policies and competition over guiding/exploiting the development of African Union should prevent any 2 supranational factories from totally overcoming the triangular arrangement. Tripolar world is dramatically more dynamic as elites within each industrial cluster need to always be focused to prevent indirect strategic collusion between 2 rivals while working and competing with each rival indirectly as well. Anybody who played 3 way chess knows this. Some projects like manned mission to Mars may require occasional industrial unipolarity but for the most part the tripolar arrangement described has sufficient economies of scale to really benefit humanity.


To finish off, these days when evaluating the strength of a country one should overlook non-industry sectors within GDP and focus on 1) nominal value of industrial sector as % of GDP and 2) efficiency within this sector.

Industrial Sector By Nominal Dollar Value and Industrial Growth in 2010

China____________$3.3 trillion______(growth of 11%)
United States______$3.3 trillion______(growth of 3.3%)
Japan____________$1.4 trillion______(growth of 15.5%)(highest before quake hit)
Germany_________$862 billion______(growth of 9%)
Brazil____________$677 billion_____(growth of 11.5%)
Russia___________$666 billion______(growth of 8.3%)
UK______________$521 billion_____(growth of 1.9%)
France___________$519 billion______(growth of 3.5%)
India____________$484 billion______(growth of 9.7%)
South Korea______$458 billion______(growth of 12.1%)

Nominal industrial sector of US empire and key satellites____________$7.06 trillion

Nominal industrial sector of BRIC______________________________$5.127 trillion

The world is a lot more balanced now when it comes to making and distributing large physical objects. Increasingly transnational and amoral corporations like General Electric and Siemens can strangely become a source of transnational pride for billions of humans if they merge into a state fused productive arrangement described above.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Terraforming The Sahara Desert

click to enlarge
Sahara desert is almost the size of United States and Europe. Making it arable and livable is the first great infrastructure project of this century.

Funding! ("I'm sure the article proposes something neat but how will we pay for it?!")

Alright alright ye jaded reader, first things first. International Tobin Tax on financial transactions. When working with Tobin Tax rate of 0.1% (as suggested by Nicolas Sarkozy), plenty of funding becomes available for megaprojects, especially those that are fundamentally transnational in nature. Overall amount of financial transactions has steadily been rising to be 70 times the official global GDP ($ 63.12 trillion in 2010). This allows a United Nations body receiving the tax to collect $4.5 trillion annually. That's substantially more than say, nominal GDP of Germany ($3.6 trillion) and the number will increase if Asian financial centers continue to expand to accommodate neighboring growth and to compete with London.

Transforming 9,400,000 sq miles of Sahara desert will increase world's agriculture capable land by 20% and arable land by 70% (if taken to that level). Benefits of terraforming this particular region include:

1) Promoting regional and global cooperation. Helping narrow the Arab North African and Black Central African geographic, cultural, and economic divide. Creating a breadbasket to be shared by over 10 large countries previously polarized by this divide. Thus...

2) Helping consolidate African Union as a political and economic block. Thus...

3) Allowing African Union to become a powerful pole in a multipolar world. A pole that is able to sustain its own population (which is set to double) and to be in a better negotiating position when exchanging natural resources for advanced machinery from other continental unions.  And of course...

4) Wiping out hunger close to its source and creating food export potential for nearby Indian Subcontinent and parts of Asia. Allowing more land to accommodate continent's industrialization and population rise that comes with it. Thus ultimately...

5) Lowering chances of major regional or global wars, reducing chances of imperialism 2.0 on African soil, and creating additional mechanisms necessary for some form planetary governance (that finally brings about world peace and significant reduction in weapon systems expenditures).

Global Political Feasibility

Pushing for a creation of global Tobin Tax (or any transnational tax) collecting body in the UN security council has primarily Britain as an obstacle. Britain has historically relied upon financial parasitism and used various economic and physical pressures against societies that attempt rapid infrastructural development. Small financial centers like Singapore can be browbeat into compliance via combined pressure of the Security Council. Britain can be pressured by making it clear that its soft power projection ability will be severely damaged for decades to come if it obstructs life saving funding mechanisms for transnational projects. It is way past time for majority of the world's population to make it clear to London that it can no longer defy major developmental powers without consequences. Of course Britain, being militarily occupied by United States, can also be pressured in more crude 20th century ways. At the very least, Britain needs to agree to not interfere in transnational infrastructure projects.

Tobin Tax has a more "volunteer" feel to it as opposed to funding global infrastructure projects via direct income taxation by state governments. The popular mood in post financial crash Western world will also increasingly allow for it. That is especially true if the sheer amounts that can be collected are explained by heads of key states. In elite priming magazines like Foreign Affairs we already see a major shift towards open mindedness concerning global experimentation. Some recent examples of mainstream suggestions are global debt jubilee for first world and a call for a hybrid economic post-liberal system (made by Francis Fukuyama of all people). In their desperation to reverse decline, create domestic jobs, and wrestle some leadership from Beijng and Moscow, elites in DC, London, and Paris should be more open towards terraforming. Their countries have the best technologies and talent for it. It also allows them to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to all the incessant harping of global warming.

Even a partial planetary funding mechanism for arable land increase will find eager sponsors in New Dehli and Beijing. Chinese government is already beginning to implement decades long North to South river reversal project as well as efforts to stop and reverse the spread of the Gobi desert. They will have the mass workforce, expertise (quantitative edge versus Western qualitative), and machinery to contribute in Africa for resource swaps. India's interests in helping construct a breadbasket in the Sahara is self explanatory.

Regional Political and Physical Feasibility

Sahara desert region has the least amount of "not in my back yard" mentality, the least amount of people living in the desert's overall periphery, and less potential for great power rivalry hampering the terraforming efforts (as opposed to say, Saudi or Iranian deserts or the Central Asian plains by the Aral Sea). The nation states touching the desert are generally poorly armed and can be collectively pressured to cooperate with sufficient incentives (unfortunately appeals to wipe out hunger on the continent don't work that well). Over 25 countries are directly affected by the Sahara question. Once the process begins, Sub-Saharan African elites may begin to take over and get creative with it (possibly partially being inspired by the way South American societies are collectively getting out from beneath the USA boot.) Nearly double digit GDP growth in many African states over the last decade helps in this regard.

click to enlarge
Governments of North Sudan, Egypt, and Algeria will require projects to keep their youthful populations occupied and will get on board with breadbasketization of their back yards (even if UN/China/India require a certain long term agricultural quota promise in return for the investment funds allocated). Nigeria, the continent's most populous country and a sort of regional superpower, has a chance to really shine as well. The new Libya perhaps has the greatest amount to contribute with its experience of building world class Great Manmade River.

Southern Europe (France/Italy in particular) have an interest in a stable expanding North Africa that provides a market and corporate opportunities rather than refugees and illegal migrants. France will be looking for ways to expand its influence/leadership into the area to compensate for Germany's present and future expansion of influence/leadership in central Europe. It will be proper since Sarkozy was the first Western world leader to talk about the sheer possibilities of global Tobin Tax.

Process (steps should be conducted simultaneously)

1) Arresting the spread of the Sahara by combining and massively augmenting local transnational projects already in process. Even a sliver of Tobin Tax money can dramatically speed up the process of drawing a permanent line in the sand (ha ha) by bringing world class technical personnel, equipment, and desert coordination. This would be the fight against the 1930s Dust Bowl on steroids. Thousands of kilometers of trees (and possibly genetically engineered specialized vegetation) and bacteria hardened dunes  will create a permanent border.

2) Creating ocean fed artificial great lakes (think Lake Nasser supersized) at the furthest extent of sea level parity ground. This will feed rain clouds that travel deeper into the Sahara.

3) Connecting fresh water bodies of Lake Nasser and Lake Chad by a canal to improve economic communication within eastern Sahara region and to bring economic development closer to terraforming zones. The task itself it just 4-5 times the scale of Erie Canal undertaken in early 19th century. Additionally there must be proper understanding and measurement of the enormous quantity of water under the Sahara and making use of it to supply working settlements in Northeastern Sahara.

4) Making use of bacterial dune hardening as canal and artificial lake "edges" to protect new construction from sand and to prevent sand storm formation. Only a fifth of the Sahara has sand dune formation problem and it can be decisively solved via mathematical "cutting" in proper locations. Making use of the Niger river to feed a series of artificial lakes as well in western parts of the desert.

6) Mass introduction of hardy species, fungi, and plants into reclaimed areas to create new ecologies.

The first stages can be summarized as stopping, partially reversing, cutting up, and making Sahara psychologically and physically manageable to humanity. Stages after that will require mass produced small fission reactors to power human advance towards the Tibesti Mountains.

PS: The word terraforming is more marketable than geoforming or geoengineering as it touches on "space race on earth" concept mentioned in the previous article.

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Friday, March 2, 2012

Politics in the Age of Technology Induced Social Fragmentation

Most of world's people culturally live in different time periods ranging from 1820s to 1970s (Western time). This should be taken into account in international relations to avoid conflict and to speed up transnational construction projects.

When forging political coalitions to push through great infrastructure projects in the near future, we need to take into account continued rapid acceleration of two opposing social trends:

Trend A: Continued disintegration of unitary mass culture.

Mass culture was previously spread among the majority by top down mediums like television/newspapers or concepts like religion/geographic nationalism. As the demographic still affected by these mediums and concepts gets older and/or poorer, mass culture will become increasingly peculiar and less unifying for the whole population. In a way, that is worrying since the glue holding the diverse personality types will really only continue to exist among the diminishing baby boomer block.

Horizontal Internet communication allows the diverse rich spectrum of human breeds to not only find those similar to themselves but also to only communicate and interact (socially polarize) among those like themselves. Thus we see emergence of micronations and tribes within these micronations to a level unseen before. This explains why there is greater amount of difference within Millennial generation than there is between Millennials and Boomers. We see such technology enabled socially polarized clusters reflected in rising acuteness of various movements (libertarians, atheists, etc). There is little to dampen the fervor of these micronations since social media and search engines increasingly cater to people's informational preferences thus isolating, reaffirming, and making them more "acute" by the day. All of this of course was said when newspapers, television, and radio came into being since people could select among the channels, stations, or papers. Horizontal, socially emergent, bottom up, and cheaply widespread nature of the Internet is a qualitative step above these past mediums. There is possibility of major disruptions comparable to immediate post-Guttenberg press period.

At the very minimum, a cutting edge hybrid of proportional representation and direct Internet enabled democracy will need to be provided so at least the major personality clusters (SJs, SPs, NTs, NFs) can have political parties to represent their sensibilities. However, it is not sufficient to just provide the tools for these social clusters, tools that allow a political release valve for their feelings and energies. We need to start thinking of a unifying strategy and platform to prevent major paralysis stemming from intergenerational bias, intercultural bias, and particularly 21st century biases (micronationalism versus globalism and "inter-era bias"[see below]).

In the Western world, the disintegrative trend has started among the elites many decades ago, moved on to the professional upper middle classes in the 1960s, and is finally reaching majority of the population. The process of atomization and cultural disintegration described above is rolling like an accelerating wave from most culturally developed countries to all areas of the world. Four decades ago, Alvin Toffler's Future Shock and Between Two Ages made it clear that world's population lives in overlapping "eras" (preindustrial, industrial, post-industrial, technocratic [post-capitalist]).

One could be upper middle class in Nigeria living in industrial period culturally reminiscent of America in the 1840s, one could be lower class in Berlin living in early technocratic period, one could be an Afghan elite living in a pre-industrial stifling society, one could be a rural educated kid in Bahrain independently discovering the values of the hippy movement of 1960s America, etc. Russian Federation for instance, displays many cultural tendencies of late 1940s early 1950s USA. The overlaps and permutations are endless and there is great urgency to avoid mass psychological disturbances and violent frictions from reactionary conservative movements.

It is the shared responsibility of the trend setting Millennials at "ground zero" of cultural atomization (North America) to figure out how to lead productively in the informational spheres like TedTalks, documentaries, conferences, and newest mass media. With their proper informational leadership, they can show how to go forward as a global society without becoming stifling or reactionary.

Trend B: Continued increase in popular desire for more collectivism and community among those who already spent years living in very fragmented atomized societies.

An example of this was seen in the manufactured "Reagan revolution". As minority of the population (Ivy Leaguers who discovered their ego and hedonistic potential that comes with it) grew tired of the rest of society not catching up with them and the loneliness that comes with it, they chose to reabsorb themselves into a new form of corporate nationalism (that emphasized endless individual material expansion and dropped the need for collective sacrifice of prior exhausted FDRist nationalism). In the years ahead, we will see top down and bottom up calls for a still newer nationalisms that try to remedy mistakes of the American experience of both 1930s-1970s period and unfortunate 1980s-2008 period.

One possible solution and an inverse of Reaganism may be material nationalism (such as communal claim to land and key natural resources within nation states), physiological nationalism ("we are all human! and no matter how diverse got common physical needs!"), psychological nationalism ("we got common emotional needs!") and a mix of all 3. At the same time, the middle classes will insist on continued room to build hyper individualism (if desired) and further personal autonomy in psychological, interpersonal, and material realm (example: perhaps the people collectively own the land but you own your own unique shelter and property on this land).

It is possible that the educated intuitive suburban youth in the Western world will continue to further individualize and create ever more acute microtribes indefinitely but the shared viral experience of global information will increasingly provide a sense of a real global community and desire to be part of it somehow.

Reconciling the Trends Politically

At first it seems that we have a recipe for endless conflict. First, the perpetual exponentially increasing friction within Trend A. Then the clashing of Trends A and B as some more backward segments of global intelligentsia strive to break free of mass community and older nationalisms while cutting edge intelligentsia tries to reassert some new postmodern community and high tech inclusive nationalisms.

Just as hippies in say, Indonesia, sell out and discover their own version of Reaganism, all of a sudden they see a trend coming their way from Japan that puts everything into question once more. Most human personality types can only psychologically handle and absorb so many paradigm shifts and trends in their lifetime (much less a decade).

This is why political platforms of the near future should be as broad and deep as possible. The material, psychological, and physiological nationalisms mentioned previously can be scaled up to the whole globe or scaled down to a small city. Lets review the MPP:

Material: (Land and key resources like minerals in the land are our collective commons and are to be managed by us as we democratically see fit)

Psychological: (We are all humans and have commonalities like need for self-esteem, autonomy, love, influence, etc. And these desires will be provided for via proper political representation and management of the collective commons)

Physiological: (We are all humans and have commonalities like need for water, food, shelter, and some material matter to manipulate with tools, turn into tools, etc. And these desires will be provided for via proper political representation and management of the collective commons)

These three obviously blend together and play off each other and are broad and deep enough to provide a common political platform for a majority of human personality clusters. A society can safely be federal, unitary, decentralized, part of a supranational unit, diverse, homogeneous, etc as long as these three nationalisms are emphasized politically. Cultural, ethnic, and value nationalisms will still exist and play a major role but unlike MPP they provide for major source of unhealthy friction. De-emphasizing them will be a major challenge and calling for word's elites in the decades to come (just as de-emphasizing and separating religion and state was for elites in centuries prior).

As could be guessed, mass infrastructure development is to play a major role in putting MPP to the forefront of popular attention and to make MPP possible. In essence, to create a new type of global "glue" that would hopefully go a long way to neutralize the frictions of Trend A and frictions between Trend A and B and to put the energy generated by these frictions towards productive use.

Although 21st century will be marked by top down elite emphasis on collaboration and cooperation, even competition can still be allowed to co-exist when it comes to infrastructural achievement. This would sublimate the psychological tendencies of more aggressive human personality clusters into a socially healthy mass effort. A way to think of this is a sort of "space race" right here on earth (example: "we beat them in building this amount of fourth generation vertical farm complexes!"). Ethnic, cultural, intergenerational, and inter-era differences will still manifest themselves in the types of infrastructure projects that communities build. And of course, in an awful potentiality of resource wars. More on that in a future article. Resource wars are serious business.

Super Summary: Infrastructure as key word and mantra so we don't forget why civilization is possible at all

Infrastructuralist focus is needed to make 3 new forms of healthier scalable 21st century unifying nationalisms possible (MPP). Infrastructure itself is scalable and can range from microcomunity level to planetary level. Infrastructure focus redirects the friction within Trend A and friction between Trends A and B towards productive efforts. Infrastructure pushes towards more informational sharing and friendly cooperation between communities that operate on different political scales and whose people live in different cultural "time periods".

Infrastructure sets short, medium, and long term national goals that pushes cooperation between different personality clusters and creates unity among them that doesn't stifle them on a personal emotional level. Having and building the means towards more energy, food, shelter, and resources is less disagreeable than national goals stemming from one dominant ethnic or cultural faction. In order for infrastructural focus to be had at all, short, medium, and long term goals need to be quantified and put out for the public to manage (example: quadrupling arable land within 20 years, eliminating a certain desert within 10 years, etc).

Finally, for these goals to be properly decided on and implemented, a major technocratic reform towards a more advanced proportional representation and direct democratic hybrid political system is to be undertaken.

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