Re: The Extropian Principles

Oliver Seiler (
Mon, 29 Jul 1996 18:21:35 -0700 (PDT)

On Sat, 27 Jul 1996, Geoff Busker wrote:

> By "Extended families" do you mean the local community or do you
> simply mean blood-relatives that aren't as closely related as those
> in a nuclear family? If it's the latter, how do you "plan" for an
> economy which encourages blood-relatives to be more willing to share
> food and shelter than they are now.

I should have explained this point more -- I don't expect most people
to start living with their parents, aunts, uncles, siblings,
etc. Communes came close to the idea of a modern extended
family. Their informalness made them fairly unworkable (I'm referring
to my stereotypical image of a '60s hippie commune -- many of today's
squatter "communities" have similar organizational problems).

This brings me back to the idea of communities, which at one time (I
believe) tended to be more supportive of individuals within those
communities. This is in contrast to many suburban neighbourhoods where
people may never meet their next-door neighbours. With the ever
expanding communications technology available to us, the number of
"real" communities a person is involved with, communities which can
provide aid in times of need, increases from the one or two physical
communities available to most people. I would call these (to continue
overusing a word) "virtual" communities.

> > * community-level money systems which augment a more socialist (in the
> > true sense of the word) system. The exchange of goods for services,
> > services for services, and goods for goods (i.e., barter) is very
> > efficient
> Barter? It may be efficient in the sense that the handling of money is
> avoided, but this means that I would have to produce something which is
> wanted or needed by everyone which I want or need anything from. In many
> fields, specialization is becoming more and more important because of
> the complexity involved in many tasks. It would difficult to imagine
> how a brain surgeon would be able to trade his/her skills in order to
> buy toothbrushes, lawn mowers, and kitchen appliences. Would this brain
> surgeon have to operate on the CEO of Sony in order to get a CD player?

Well, beyond the fact that I wouldn't feel comfortable with a brain
surgeon performing their art so they can buy a CD player, I never
really suggested using barter to replace money, merely that money
should play a less important role in people's lives than it does
now. This relates directly towards the changing nature of work, and
that we are moving into an economy where most work is dull and
wasteful. Most products and services in the marketplace are an
artifact of this.

Money is a very useful abstraction. But that's all it is. Our society
has made money it's centre, and this I see is the main problem. Most
of my thinking on the subject is redesigning (or subverting) aspects
of the economy in order to make play (instead of work) the centre. The
most important thing I see is a need for a change of attitude.

> It's true that there are many people (including me) who consider
> their career (or future career) to be a reward in and of itself.
> It's also true that many organizations are able to foster a feeling
> of pride for the things that the organization produces and/or does.
> However, there's a rather large number of people out there who
> perform their work simply for the "individual goal" of getting money
> so that they can enhance other areas of their lives. It seems that
> these people wouldn't be working for a common goal.

And as we move further into an economy where these people's jobs
become automated or just disappear, where employment requirements are
declining, where the buying power of the average person is declining,
I have to wonder how long it is before they start realizing that life
is for living. I'm also lucky in that the work I'm good at is one
which I enjoy, and it gives me a decent standard of living. I'm also
in one of the few sectors of the changing economy which is likely to
stay around for awhile. But then I have other interests for which no
one would pay me, that I can't spend as much time on as I'd like. This
saddens me...

> It's important that everyone be able to provide goods and services
> which can be traded for ANY other good or service. Money is the
> intermediary which currently allows us to do this.

I agree.

> If I have misinterpreted your plan for a socialist economy please
> correct me. I just don't see how the flexibility of money can be
> achieved without some form of intermediary which has no intrinsic
> value.

I dislike the term "socialist economy", mostly because years of indoctrination have a pretty good stranglehold on some part of my brain. The flexibility of money is a good thing. I have a problem with the direction we (as a society) have let money take us
. Finding alternatives is only possible if we have a clear picture of where we want to get to. It's those alternatives and discussion of them which interest me the most...


/ Oliver Seiler \/ Need a problem solved? Erisian has the answers! \
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