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...middle... - Nick Taylor

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This is an entry in The Future We Deserve - a collaborative book project about the future. See all the entries or talk about this entry.

-1) WTF?

This is a scattered collection of thoughts that starts in the middle, and ends in the middle.

This is the age of information-overload, and our hero has the attention-span of a gnat. Take what you like, discard the rest.

0) The Future we deserve.

Oh God no, that's got to be bad - like "The Leaders we Deserve"... that's always bad as well. That's what it means, "The Leaders we Deserve". No. We don't want that. The last thing you want is what you deserve.

In many ways the future's not looking good - and it IS what we deserve... we do deserve the monster coming down the hall, because we are pretending it's not happening. We smoke. We drink. We borrow and gamble - shield ourselves from the consequences of getting stuff cheap. And we play along with a system that does all of the above, but on a tyrannical scale.

Our kids don't deserve this future we're building for them. Squirrels and things don't deserve it. What have they ever done? They just want to eat nuts and get on with their lives. God I hate squirrels. I hate them for their freedoms; their lack of aspiration. The nut-handouts they get from trees. Socialism basically. The chattering classes. Idiots.

So. New Question: "How do we deserve the future we want?

How do we create a future that our children and squirrels and things won't hate us for dumping on them?

What in the name of all that is holy are we going to do with all this stuff we've bought?

How much would it be worth (in dollars say) not to actually want stuff? If you could take a not-wanting-stuff drug?

You happy?


1) Precursor: Let's not dwell on the future.

We have absolutely no idea what's coming. We could all die, we could all become immortal - the stakes are that high, that wide, that weird. All the exponential curves that for the whole of previous history have been more or less horizontal, are becoming more or less vertical. We're not just hitting peak-oil - we're hitting peak-everything - every resource we have is running out - except sunshine and manpower, and who wants that? You have to feed it. You have to listen to its bullshit.

Coming the other way is a tech explosion that is creating tectonic social change - and carries the very distinct possibility of extending human life indefinitely, or blowing us all up. Or turning the entire planet into goo-soup. We could become immortal. We could all become croutons.

And nobody who pretends to know what they're talking about, actually knows what they're talking about.

We have absolutely no idea - the event-horizon of predictability is now about 5 years out.

2) The biggest problem we've ever had, will ever have:

Is Other People.

Sure Acts of God can be bad, but usually because they create the conditions for Other People to be worse.

3) the only thing we can do to fix the problem of Other People is:

For them to be happy.

The biggest problem we have is inequality. Any way you cut it... in the end all roads lead back to this one undeniable fact: Inequality is always in direct proportion to social illness.

Inequality as a driver of progress is pretty toxic. Inequality is the 40-a-day cigarette habit that abandons you in the cancer-ward, taking its (youth orientated) advertising elsewhere. Marx had the problem side of things right... it's just the solutions didn't go so well because inequality is not "just" about economics.

So. Forget about self-serving moralities of the type that say "rich people work harder". They don't. Forget about theory or ideology, and look at the data. Look at what works. Inequality isn't working. Anywhere.


So... a bunch of things, some of these are doable, others are general principles to gravitate towards:

1) Get resilient. The best way of doing that is by becoming friends with your neighbours.

2) All of our life-support systems should deliberately be geared towards a diversity of approaches - monoculture is dangerous. So grow carrots and give them to your neighbours. Nothing needs to be a 100% solution. Nothing should be.

3) Global challenges require organisation at a global level. National at a national level. Town at a town level... street... house... family... individual...

We need to minimise organising things too far up the food-chain. All power should be systematically devolved to the smallest units possible. All authority is inherently illegitimate.

4) All policy should be evidence-based rather than ideology-based... which is to say, every new (and every old) law should be predicated on a set of measurable goals. If it doesn't fulfil these within a specified time frame then it should be automatically repealed.

5) The problem that democracy was invented to solve is the problem of unaccountable power. Democracy today is being undermined by unaccountable power - "special interest groups", mainly corporations. We need to do something to limit the size of these private tyrannies so they can't "own" the political process. This is a big one. We absolutely have to do this.

Personally I'd scrap all human-tax and replace it with a sliding-scale corporation tax where profits over one $billion are taxed at 100%. It's not a tax on people, it's a tax on things. Corporations are things.

This is never going to happen though, so instead we (the people) need to route around the unchecked power of corporations. A deliberate choice - like buying green. Buy small. Organise our life-support systems to be free from top-down control.

6) Route around the currency. Route around rent. Route around debt.

Big and difficult to do - but until you do, you're a slave. Our currency is loaned into existence as a scarce resource, at interest. We're the victims of a type of derivative slavery, which is compounded by the way banks are set up, and the way real-estate is managed. And it's getting worse.

We need to reinvent currency so that it's based on the value we create, rather than being drip-fed to us from on-high.


1/5 of humanity is suffering from clinical depression. We're not happy. Not even the 1% that own everything is happy. People that win the lottery aren't happy. Look at squirrels. They're happy. Why can't we be happy? Bastards.

We're being played like fiddles by an artificial culture that is selling us identity in exchange for... everything? A lot anyway. We've been immersed in this culture since we were born.. we know nothing else, and now the money is running out... for us 99% at least. So where goeth identity?

The possibility that the wheels are coming off the machine may be no bad thing - if we look after each other through the transition. If it allows us to recalibrate who we think we are. We need to re-assess (and make sure we cater to) our hierarchies of needs - and much as I hate to say this (being a recluse), we have to do it together. It has to be us.

Log in; Link up; Drop out - because the bottom is falling out of it all anyway. It's not really a question of rebellion any more.


ps: I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is." - Kurt Vonnegut