[extropy-chat] A view of what politics is.
jef at jefallbright.net
Wed Oct 12 19:54:58 UTC 2005
On 10/11/05, Brett Paatsch <bpaatsch at bigpond.net.au> wrote:
> Jef Allbright wrote:
> > Why should politics be limited to issues of scarcity?
> Because we are built of biological stuff. Selfish genes that
> wanted to replicate.
Actually, if I were arguing your point, I would argue at the cultural level,
with a legacy of Malthusian scarcity driving our traditional political
approach. But we're already moving past the assumptions of Malthus, Paul
Erlich, Club of Rome due to the changes in societal choices and increasingly
efficient production accompanying accelerating technology. [Which breed new
challenges along with opportunities, and increasing awareness of the need to
develop innovation/sustainability together, but that's for later
To mortals time matters. Humans are mortals.
> If one wants the assistance or attention of others to pursue
> ones needs/wants/desires one usually has to compete for
> it because the others that can help are mortal too. Their
> attention and concentration of others is itself a limited
> resource. We humans can't do much on our own and we
> have evolved to be social and to try to do what we can
> to get copies of our own genes into the next generation.
I would say you're still confusing the evolved biological basis for human
behavior with the dynamics of the larger socio-economic system. But we agree
that effective social interaction is key to our survival and growth.
> Isn't it appropriately called political action when working
> > together to promote development toward increasing
> > abundance...
> Maybe. The words are too general for me to say.
My point was to generalize a conception of politics, not mired in
competitive zero-sum thinking related to reducing scarcity or authority, but
in functionally neutral terms, and open to cooperative positive-sum thinking
related to increasing growth and freedom.
I suggested that we think of politics as "social decision-making applied to
groups, expecially with respect to methods of influence within those
This definition works at all scales, and applies to directly competitive as
well as directly cooperative approaches.
I once thought that transhumanisms great offering and political promise
> might have been something along the lines of a bold offering to the
> haves (and have nots) of something they didn't have. More time.
My own view is that the best we can do is decide and act in the present such
that we maximize the survival and growth of our subjective interests. Since
my interests include a vision of increasing opportunities for growth, it
follows that I am motivated to promote improved frameworks of awareness and
cooperation to facilitate this vision.
I think it is misguided to hope for more time, given the environment in
which we find ourselves. With the promise and peril of nanotechnology upon
us, most likely followed by recursively improving AI, but not necessarily in
that order, it appears that we have only a brief window within which to
promote the growth of those human values which work, and thus perhaps
improve the odds of living in a future more of our choosing--before the
rules of the game change drastically.
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