[ExI] Socialism and Environmentalism are inevitable

Omar Rahman rahmans at me.com
Mon May 26 01:51:50 UTC 2014

Dear All,

	The main problem I have with most Libertarians is that they ignore that, at a very fundamental level, we are social animals. We seek to group and cooperate even before we, as infants, acquire language. We simply haven't evolved to operate alone. Alone we are weak apes with patchy fur and no language; in short, prey for the first infection or large predator that we encounter.

	So, why do I say 'socialism' is inevitable?

	First let me say that by socialism I mean mutually interdependent groups. I do not mean the socialism of communist Russia, or the socialism of the national socialism of 1930s/1940s German, i.e. Nazism.  Those were obviously and monstrously flawed systems. Some people take as an a priori that any kind of 'socialism' leads directly to Soviet Communism or Nazism. Those two systems, however, are best described by their fascism and intolerance.

	Let's take a journey of 4 steps:

1.	Our cells, eukaryotes, are descended from simpler cells which accepted symbiotic bacteria.
2.	We have a larger number of bacterial cells in our bodies than cells with our DNA.
3.	We are born dependant on the good will of our parents, society, and the legacy left to us from those who have gone before. (Dependant even on the bacteria, or perhaps especially the bacteria.)

	Well, what's next?

4a.	(Externally) As we connect to ever larger social groups through social media, such as mail lists like this one, we are experiencing increasing rewards from this interaction. Also we are increasingly interdependent on international trade to meet our needs. By needs I'm not thinking about food/t-shirts/housing, which are all things we can provide ourselves if we have some land and the strength to work it. I'm thinking about our health needs, or other scientific, or technological needs. These have ONLY been achieved through the 'scientific community'. 

4b.	(Internally) I think that as our minds expand (via technology which is currently present only in Sci-fi or waaaaay out on the horizon) our thought processes will begin to fork and we will begin to 'truly multitask' (The definition of 'truly multitasking' will become very important.) and our individual thought processes, if faced with a problem of sufficient complexity, might acquire the resources necessary to pass a Turing test. We might be willingly inducing Multiple Personality Disorder and reintegrating personalities more or less continually. A 'singular' person without this ability might seem as incongruous as a forlorn weak ape with patchy fur. The future individual will resemble in some ways today's community.

4c.	(Environmentally) Some people say we are in the Anthropocene, a geological era where humanity's effect is the defining characteristic. Some people say climate change is the result of human action. 'Some people say' is not a strong argument to make. So what I say is that we should be in the Anthropocene, and that climate change should be the result of human action. By that I don't mean that we should let laissez-faire capitalism rule us, not at all. But we should take control of and responsibility for our environment. Mother nature will just as happily give us an asteroid or an ice age as a sunny day at the beach. It is up to us to steward our environment precisely because we can, and we should do it in a way that ensures our survival, and that way will ultimately be informed by forming a sufficiently broad definition of 'our'.

	While 4b is really just conjecture, I do feel quite certain that 'humanity' will develop some added layer of 'internal' complexity which I think supports what I see as part of an evolutionary trend to 'socialism'. However, 4a and 4c seem to me to be relatively uncontroversial, perhaps even trivial notions for many here. These latter two are enough for me to conclude that both socialism and environmentalism are inevitable. I think they are inevitable even if we launched all the nukes and tried to sterilise the planet because I'm betting that life would start again and would head in the same direction.

	My vision of socialism is based on an ever more inclusive social network which manages the environment. A private organisation is conceptually unable to do this as its motivations are not the same as the larger group's. The environment is something real and measurable, as opposed to money which has no value other than what we give it. The body of scientific knowledge is something testable, and a shared legacy of humanity.

	Capitalism worries about solving the 'free rider problem' constantly while in fact capitalism itself is the ultimate selfish meme. By this I mean that capitalism takes, for example, a forest and transforms it into a smoking wasteland and exports the wood to another place so that it shortly ends up in a landfill where the biomass is polluted with toxic chemicals. This is described as efficient and profitable and many numbers are added to somebody's column. The fact of the matter, however, is that we have a degraded environment in the real world. Capitalism itself is the free rider, constantly taking real things and giving entries in account books in return.

	Libertarians, basically by definition, worry about being forced to do things, especially by governments. While the communists declared that 'property is theft' it might be better said in the Libertarian context that 'property is a declaration to keep something by force'. Any Libertarian economy would have to have some sort of property from which to produce all the basic resources. Hence force is implied in any Libertarian system thus rendering it inconsistent.

	The myth of the 'self made man' and the 'open frontier' are the core lies of capitalism and libertarianism respectively. No one makes a fortune without an army of workers, or a patent developed on top of the body of scientific knowledge. No one alive today is standing on a piece of land that someone thousands of years ago someone didn't say 'this is my place'. Even some post singularity entity eating some asteroids would owe a debt to the scientific community and whoever instantiated it on its first hardware.

	Socialism, would be well advised to accept both the practicality of money as a means of exchange and property as a basic human need but these both must be subordinate to the development of the group and the protection/stewardship of the environment. 

Best regards,

	Omar Rahman

P.S.	I have tried to write without reference to any 'experts' or 'authorities', and have only referred to political parties to specifically disassociate myself from them. I would like a dialogue which continues in the same vein. I would be especially interested to be informed about any factual or logical errors I may have made.

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list