Sunday, June 14, 2009

The World I Want to Live In

I've pretty much concluded that the kind of world I want to live in will be a cooperative community of people who provide for each other's basic needs and those of future generations to the extent physically possible, and then using what's left (or finding more) to provide opportunities for everyone to optimize their personal happiness without diminishing that of others. By contrast, the world we currently live in is largely based on individual competition without enough concern for the consequences to others, now or in the future.

From all the study I’ve done, the most convincing approach to creating such a world is the cultural emulation of an ecosystem, whose parts survive the longest that are best at maximizing the long-term survival of the system. Individuals and species may perceive that they are merely pursuing their own self-interest, but the range of ways they can do so have been restricted by the demands of sustained survival.

It is self-evident that much of humanity does not recognize any restrictions on its behavior, and is in fact dedicated to removing as many as possible. It sees its self-interest as served by the subduing and eventually replacing of the rest of Earth’s ecosystem (the biosphere) with its own creations, extending to those of other planets when possible. Like a virus eating away the body of the planet, it must spread to another host to survive.

Capitalist economies have evolved so that people can maximize their ability to meet their needs and desires by minimally helping others to do the same. Democratic governments co-evolved to offset the worst consequence of this, the starving of the majority of the population to the advantage of the few (though not always successfully, as recent history demonstrates). These two components of society, even when functioning well together, do not adequately (if at all) account for the world they live in, merely its current human inhabitants; they are therefore fundamentally incapable of surviving for very long, because they allow the pursuit of a physical impossibility: perpetual and exponential growth.

A cultural ecosystem would be the kind of world I mentioned at the beginning, where people identify their self-interest with the long-term survival of everyone and everything on the planet, whether consciously or by training. To the extent that we were limited in our awareness, we would live in groups whose size and power allowed us to responsibly operate without our ignorance adversely affecting the whole, just as the biosphere does with localized ecosystems. The net result would be a restructuring of our perception so we can accurately feel that we are helping ourselves while helping others.

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