[ExI] Religions and silliness

darren shawn greer dgreer_68 at hotmail.com
Tue Aug 17 15:16:29 UTC 2010

> Might it be economics with a long view? Dirt-poor people have no
> money to spend. If we uplift them to the point they have surplus
> capital then they'll want to buy consumer goods like iPads and
> Lexus-es (Lexii?). The more people on the consumerism treadmill the
> more wealth can be created when they mortgage their futures to get
> increasingly expensive stuff... And those magnanimous few who make
> the humanitarian choice today collect the benefit of being atop a
> pyramid with a now-larger base.
> Maybe that's what you just said though?

Naw. I hadn't actually thought it through that much. I believe I was thinking along the lines of linear vs non-linear economics. Capitalism is a very linear idea, and since it is the dominant organizing principle of many developed nations, it would be natural to think that it will continue to march along in semi-linear fashion -- buying and selling goods and amassing wealth and drawing the whole caravan of humanity into some technological utopia where robotics do all the work and we are free to fulfill what Ted Kaczynski called secondary power urges -- prestige via distinguished intellectual achievement.

But what if ideas become as or more valuable than technological augmentation as a result of this? What if information becomes the most valuable commodity, and, if you concede it's extremely hard to package and sell given the viral nature of its replication and dissemination, classical economics goes out the window? I got this idea, in part, from Robert Metzger's novel C.U.S.P.

Money didn't seem to be very important in that particular speculative future. But power, control, technological advancement, information, and the future of humanity or post-humanity did. Right now wealth is an effective and respectable means to achieve these ends. As long as material wealth is valued above all else.

If our value system changes intellectually however, it might change materially. Meanwhile, it might not hurt to keep people alive if we have the means, as for every one or two million people that die this year of AIDS there might be an Einstein or Edison among them. Of course, we could let "nature"--which is usually a corporate synonym for individual greed these days-- take its course and reduce the world population to a manageable size. In which case AIDS, the wars in the middle east and events like 9/11 and earthquakes in Haiti have a certain base utility.

That idea is particularly repugnant to me, however.

But I know people to whom it is not. I tend not to invite them to dinner parties.


'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

-Alfred Lord Tennyson

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