Re: SciFi&Eco: Back to the Future?

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Mon Jan 15 2001 - 15:18:38 MST

Charlie Stross wrote:
> On Mon, Jan 15, 2001 at 10:45:22AM -0500, Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> >
> > The authors were writing about specifically different problems. Orwell
> > was certainly warning about the problems of socialist tyranny,
> > propaganda, and mind control, while Huxley was warning about the tyranny
> > imposed by the stratification of a consumerist society along the lines
> > of Classist Britain, totally ignoring the potential for automation
> > eliminating the need for there to be Beta, Delta, Gamma or Epsiolon
> > classes.
> On the contrary: he was acutely aware of it. Why do you think they kept
> the gammas and epsilons?
> If automation eliminates the need for 90% of workers[*], then a utilitarian
> critic of society will ask "what use are the unemployed 90%?"
> And from that question, it's a short step to advocating eugenic solutions
> like, er, sterilization or [insert fave policies of the guy with the
> moustache].
> -- Charlie
> [*] Note that this isn't the same as eliminating the need for 90% of the
> work -- workers can be redeployed and retrained, most of the time. The
> question is, what do you do when 90% of your population _can't_ be
> retrained to do something useful?

However, under the pretext of the novel, all non-Alphas were as they
were *by design*. Since automation eliminates the need for lower classes
to be made, then there is no need to intentionally produce lower class
individuals within the context of the society of the novel. This
presupposes that the society of the novel, because all people are the
way they are by design, that all people could theoretically be born
Alphas if left untampered. This theoretical concept of a fully alpha'd
society supported completely by an automated society of robots was
posited in the end but untested (what had been tested was the idea of
Alphas filling every position in society, including drudgework
positions). Huxley could not extrapolate this accurately because such a
society has never occured before.

While your 'short step' is something a luddite would accuse an extropian
of, we'd rather advocate that everyone receive genetic therapy in the
womb to maximize all potentials (as well as mandate that those that
choose to use their bodies as person manufacturing facilities behave in
compliance with OSHA regulations: i.e. no smoking, exposure to smoke or
other toxic substances like alchohol, drugs, etc.) I'm for maximizing
liberty, including that of the occupant of that person manufacturing
facility. Optimally its rights should not be any less important than the

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:56:19 MDT