Re: true abundance?

Date: Sat Feb 10 2001 - 09:24:39 MST

In a message dated 1/29/01 4:48:43 PM Central Standard Time,

> > But our present system isn't working very well either. Not for the vast
> > majority of people living within it. Most people spend the majority of
> > their time doing things they don't want to be doing. For most people,
> > cannot be said to be joyful.
> This may be true, but the problem is this. Almost half of all people
> live in China or India. I've never been there and I know little about
> their culture. Any analysis of what "most people" do must be based on
> lifestyles in these countries and other countries where the bulk of the
> people in the world live.
> Most people are, by Western standards, very poor. It may well be that
> most people do not experience much joy in life. I don't know; I've never
> spoken with a poor Chinese peasant. But if we hope to improve the lives
> of most people, we should not analyze their situation in the context of
> a Western middle class lifestyle.

If the experience of China over the last 20 years is any guide, it seems that
some of the basic material elements of what people call "Western" life are
wanted by the 1.5 billion people living there. Rural peasants in China tend
to want to move to cities and get some fairly specific material goods and
acquire a particular lifestyle: They want private living space (and as much
as they can get), they want to be able to buy (instead of grow their own)
food and have personal transportation and they want electronic media. The
Chinese population is consuming these goods and services as fast as they can
be produced.
> It's one thing to talk about the future of the West, about the new
> technologies and what opportunities they will bring to those of us wealthy
> and fortunate enough to be participating on this mailing list. But let
> us not forget that "most people" are unlike us. It's going to be a much
> longer road for them to share in the bountiful future we hope to see.

That, of course, is the issue. What if that road can be considerably
shortened by advances in technology? What happens if billions of people can,
in just a brief part of a single lifetime, make the transition from
subsistence agriculture to having all the "basics" of a technological, urban

       Greg Burch <>----<>
      Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
                                           ICQ # 61112550
        "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know
        enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another
       question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
                                          -- Desmond Morris

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