Extropian principles - #5 - lets take a look

From: Emlyn \(hotmail\) (emlyn_oregan@hotmail.com)
Date: Fri Jun 09 2000 - 22:31:22 MDT

 5. Open Society - Supporting social orders that foster freedom of speech,
freedom of action, and experimentation. Opposing authoritarian social
control and favoring the rule of law and decentralization of power.
Preferring bargaining over battling, and exchange over compulsion. Openness
to improvement rather than a static utopia.


I support this principle wholeheartedly; when I joined the list I did not. When I joined, I was one of those democratic socialist leaning types, basically thinking that western capitalism is nasty, and a bigger government would help. Now I am much, much more in favour of dynamic, bottom-up solutions to social organisation; thank you. A caveat: I still support many current big-government ideas (such as welfare) out of pragmatism; they do not belong in my vision of the future to anywhere near the extent that they exist in my ideals about the present.

OK, on with the meat of this post.

What I have garnered so far from being on the Extropian list is that Western Capitalism (+ Parliamentary Democracy) are seen as the way of fullfilling Principle 5. In the libertarian case, I observe (perhaps wrongly) that people are for a much freer market, minimalist government. There also seem to be anarchists out there, and I have no idea what they propose (do you propose anything in particular?)

Shrewd observers may have noticed an anti-capitalistic streak in my posts. I must define myself presently as a reluctant capitalist (that durned money stuff!)

What I want to raise here is that I think discussion has been rather narrowminded in it's approaches to what could constitute a free, open, dynamical society, etc, to fit Principle 5. The only real answer I've seen here is standard capitalism, with or without a government.

I feel that capitalism, or standard "free"-market organisation, does not fit principle 5 very well.

--------- freedom of speech - Is this true in the corporate world?

freedom of action - Within strict boundaries. Particularly, one is excluded from any kind of real say in how any org is run, unless one runs or owns that org.

experimentation - Sure.

Opposing authoritarian social control - many list members have particular views on this; I wont go into it

favoring the rule of law - No, we have the rule of money, which is entirely coersive in many cases

bargaining over battling - Much of the really big, really influential market behaviour by the big orgs looks a lot more like battling than bargaining; they just don't physically attack each other.

exchange over compulsion - As above; the rule of money is all about compulsion (power), and coersion.

Openness to improvement rather than a static utopia - Within strict bounds!!! The market favours short term approaches, because it's such a shit fight. Improvement then is strongly limited to local solutions, and goes for local maxima all to easily. However, it's not static, and it's not Utopia, so there is some fit. ---------

I have two major problems with the free-market economy.

1 - Exclusion: Most people are excluded from having a say in most things. Parliamentary democracy was meant (maybe) to address this, and is an admirable institution... which looks like an anachronism in the context of the information/communication revolution.

2 - Destructive competition. As far as I can see, there are two types of competition; constructive (lets run a race, first one to the end wins), and destructive (well, you are faster than me, so I'll trip you up, and then I'll win). Destructive competition is what people complain about with Microsoft, and it is hard to blame them for using it; that's how this system works. While it is easy to see the benefits on all sides of constructive competition, the last-man-standing approach just seems like a bloody waste.

I have the beginnings of a viable alternative, but I'll leave that to a later post.


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