> > > I'd be paying less tax. But I'd be far less innovative.
> > >
> > > Emlyn
Waldemar Ingdahl wrote (amongst other things)
> You'll be just as innovative as other people tell you to be (its not for
> to decide, you don't have the means). But being innovative isn't really
> transhumanism is about. A nazi can "play a bit with computers".
> Transhumanism is a much greater stream of ideas that touch all aspects of
> life. Transhumanism has to interest itself in politics.
Hi Waldemar; good to have your opinion on this, which carries some weight in
I often harp on about welfare, and I have just stated that it makes an
strong positive difference in my (emotional) life, even though I don't use
it. It is a strong belief of mine that such a safety net, which it really
is, makes it very hard to fall far enough that you cannot get back up
(except perhaps if you have an expensive drug habit or get into lots of
debt, but there's a whole 'nuther story).
What I believe in is welfare, what I don't believe in particularly these
days is big government as is currently practised. For sure, I would
currently choose the "socialist" labour party in this country (I only ever
hear them described that way on this list!), over the "center right" liberal
party, because I find a country with decent social welfare programs
preferable to one without such. Interestingly, the liberal party (current
govt) seems happy to increase taxes (we've just got a Goods and Services
tax) without actually spending the money on it's citizens. Where does the
money go? I don't know. Anyway, that's totally off topic; back on track...
I think surely that for the (near) future there must be a way to devolve the
responsibilities (and powers) of government to the people, without losing
the quite substantial benefits of government activity; roads, hospitals,
schools, welfare systems. But I'd love to see that done without moving to a
pure market system, which in my opinion can only end in (yet another)
tyrrany of the few over the many.
I like the market system as an abstract object. It's quite beautiful; self
organising, incredibly complex, yet built from a few very basic rules.
Lovely. However, I don't think you want your life at the mercy of such a
My biggest issue with it is ownership. I think ownership is lack of
accountability. Once someone owns something, they have sole power over that
thing. The size of the "thing" in question can be incredibly large; small
private ownership of the vast majority of the world's wealth means lots of
people with access to nothing, and no method for gaining access. That's
What I've been toying with is the idea that the market system could work
very nicely, as long as ownership was removed. The idea is that all the
players in the market are "orgs" of some kind; call them corporations for
arguments sake (remember though that I am redefining this word). The
corporations behave as ever, with employees and money and ownership (yes) of
things, trading with each other, making stuff, doing things.
However... the most important change is that the ownership model of
corporations is entirely changed. Instead of saying that a single person can
exclusively own pieces of corporations, we now say that all the people own
all the corporations. Not the government (which kind of vanishes; I'll come
to that), but the people.
Grand statement, but what does it mean? Well, I think you still need some
limiting factor. So what we look to is the democratic model; we say 1 vote 1
person. Each person has a vote, and that vote is a measure of the direct
power they can have over the resources of a society.
The vote is an important concept, and it must be understood that it cannot
be sold or traded, or in any way bargained away. I realise this is a
difficult thing to stop, if a vote represents power, and is a problem for
such a system to address.
In any case, each person has a vote. There is public registration of all
legal bodies (which I'm calling corporations here), and each person has the
power to become a member of the board of directors of each company. I
realise there is a difference between ownership and directorship; perhaps I
should say each person can become a shareholder, but I really want to convey
that the person has actual decision making power in the company. I'll call
these people directors for now, to keep the decision making emphasis; but it
must be kept in mind that the model might just be one where people can
simply act as shareholders, their ability to sack the management being their
People become directors by apportioning part of their vote to that purpose.
I might say "I will use .006 of my vote to be a director of Corporation X".
The person's say in the corporation is the amount of their vote apportioned,
in proportion to the overall amount of votes in the board in total. The more
you commit, the more direct say you have, but the less you have to put
Ideally, I would say that many top level decisions could be made by such
boards (a committee, hmmm). How would this be put into practice? Well,
technology. We are gathering the kinds of technology necessary now, in the
form of the internet, and the increasingly ubiquitous access devices;
wearable computing would probably be necessary.
(The lack of such technology is why such systems have never previously
arisen; democracy for instance has been restricted to a few representatives
acting "on behalf of" (laughter from the gallery) the citizenry. I also see
private ownership as the dynamic system equivalent; it's biggest virtue is
the minimal communications it requires between system participants. Once you
own something, you just hold onto it, and other people know you own it,
because you have it and they don't; easy.)
So, so far we have corporations that do things, employ people, all that good
free market stuff. Meanwhile, they are controlled by volutary boards, where
whoever wants to join does, by apportioning part of their 1 vote. There is
also room for an idea of corporations owning each other; as long as at the
top level there is an org with a board in which anyone can join and have a
say, there is no compromise of the basic idea; that everyone should be able
to have at least some real say in the goings on of the world.
At this point, you can see that government can be broken into parts and turned into such corporations, which hold special powers (like taxation, or policing, or justice, or all kinds of stuff) over the rest of the society. So the citizens truly control government; they can join up and be part of the system if they want to be.
Of course it is easy to say that this is just a minor change, and things would be just like now, but rosier. What I believe is that there is no easy way to predict where such a system would end up, or what states of equilibrium it could settle into. The only way with such a system is through experimentation; simulated or real. And, who's going to bet the house (literally) on the results of a sim?
I think there is a nice gradual path to such a system; you could begin by setting up orgs that ran this way internally. Break their functions into chunks, and have an idea of all the people with buy-in to the org; it could include all employees, or anyone who pays $1.50 or $1500 or $150,000 or whatever to the org, or some other system. Ideally the employees would be included, because I think this system wouldn't work if you don't give true power to the people doing the true work.
Then, you let them self-organise as above. Start with a particular set up of internal organising comittees, with the power to create new comittees, disband old comittees, transfer powers, etc. Probably you don't move to an internal competitive economy, at least below a certain size (internal billing gone beserk). The initial set of comittees have particular powers; mostly they map onto what were executive level decision making powers, including CEO.
If such an org were competitive in the capitalist economy, it would grow. As it grew, it might consume other orgs, expanding the amount of resources over which it (and it's members) exert control. Soon enough you would get an idea of whether this system was feasible, and the kind of detailed tinkering that is necessary.
There are already some example out there; the IETF looks like a good example.
Mostly, I think you are looking at a world that is run by "mailing lists" like this one, but with decision making powers attached (over orgs for which they are boards).
People can probably come up with many other examples of comittees out there doing real things based purely on volunteer efforts. In fact, these are much freer groupings than what I have outlined above, because the 1 vote 1 person restriction does not apply; anyone can join, no restrictions.
In fact, I would be happier with a system with no such restrictions; the only reason I have conceived it is because I would be concerned about people creating automated systems to allow them to have far, far greater say than those without. I think it could probably be safely removed (after all, what's to say everyone couldn't have an automated system to help them have equivalent say?); I would consider it a feasible variant. But it would want testing.
What I've outlined above is something which I've been thinking about recently. I imagine that I haven't invented it; I would welcome people enumerating the various people/theories that talk about this kind of thing. I am by no means tied to it; it has come from a desire to specify alternative dynamic systems of social organisation, given the communications/information technology infrastructure which is now unfolding around us. I really think that our current systems are anachronisms, and will look as undesirable to us in a short space of time as your average agrarian society's economic and political systems look to us today.
We've got really pervasive, big, wide, stupendously effective information/communication systems coming, right now. We all know this here, it is discussed all the time. The free market, parliamentary democracy, socialism, dictatorship, et al (???) are all political and/or economic systems born of a time of incomparably poor communications technology. It's time to walk away from them, and come up with something new.
Disclaimer - I've got a headache, and I need to blurt these ideas out quite quickly; because I need to get back to work. The details are not there, and it's a bit rambly; sorry. However, I really needed to write this, particularly in the face of the "I just want to play a bit with computers" remark. Many of us give a shit, our politics are just different. That, perhaps, is why transhumanism can't move into the political arena any time soon; there isn't (and shouldn't be) a unified political vision.
Oh, and please, if there's going to be any accusations of facism, I beg you to be creative; I'm sick of the nazis or Hitler, Stalin, or even Mussolini. Anyone from, lets say 19th century onwards, is banned. Other than that, go for it!
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:14:49 MDT