Re: Traditional China as a counterexample to "spikism"

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Thu May 10 2001 - 07:35:38 MDT

torsdagen den 10 maj 2001 14:59 wrote:
> You're right that the Mongol conquest was likely the catalytic event that
> sent China into an introspective and deep conservatism. However, the seeds
> of Confucian orthodoxy were already there. It only took the humbling
> experience of conquest by the western barbarians to cause the phase-change
> of ossification that locked China into almost a thousand years of stasis.
> Interestingly, a similar phenomenon happened with Islamic culture. The
> conquest of the Islamic heartland by Ghengis and his progeny also caused a
> premature closure of the Islamic world to new ideas from outside and
> innovation within their own cultural realm.

So in the interests of continuing the ongoing western
renaissance/enlightenment (or whatever we want to call it) we better keep an
eye out for anything that might cause such a closure. While Mongolian
invaders appear unlikely, we might need to look for some culture or group
achieving hegemony to such an extent that the dynamism of the enlightenment
(which is still driving us, thankfully, despite postmodern confusion) is

One such possibility would be a resurgence of the romantic idea complex, now
empowered by connections with strong stasist groups. A green corporate
technocracy might be very dangerous (sounds a lot like something that might
appear in the Alpha Centauri computer game :-) if it could develop. The core
of such a complex would be the idea of scarcity, the world as a zero-sum-game
and risk aversiveness, perhaps coupled with various essentialist ideas about
the natural (and possibly traditional or national) as the good. Another, less
likely possibility would be a confucian capitalist China rising to dominance,
perhaps subduing the current culture simply by showing an apparently working
strong non-enlightenment based system.

Our historical mission as extropians (sorry, I just wanted to test how it
would feel to write that :-) is to make sure such closure scenarios doesn't
happen. It can be done in several ways: first, we need to understand this
kind of closure better. We might develop technologies making it harder to
suppress dissenting or free opinions and ideas. But we should remember that
even if you can think freely, if your entire culture (including your own
upbringing) regards it is a worthless pursuit, then it will be hard to get
any debate or change going. Most likely the best cultural defense is a
cultural offense (thanks Natasha :-) both demonstrating the practical and
moral value of change, freedom and new directions, as well as hitting the
stasist views hard with both subversive alternatives and criticism of their
core assumptions.

The nature of Monkey was... irrepressible! :-)

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