Re: NEWS: Genoa riots

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Mon Jul 23 2001 - 13:04:06 MDT

On Mon, Jul 23, 2001 at 11:38:03AM -0700, Adrian Tymes wrote:
> Anders Sandberg wrote:
> > Imagine that you believe economics is not a science or field or research
> > but just a rationalization for the rich to get richer. Imagine that you
> > do not know how to interpret or get statistics to check your opinions
> > and frankly don't care. Imagine that you have this self-consistent
> > belief system that tells you things are in general run by small selfish
> > elites oppressing you and everybody else, that the market is the tool
> > for these elites and that trade and globalization, being apparently what
> > these selfish elites like, makes you worse off. If you held this belief
> > system you would of course see evidence for it in all news - if people
> > buy coffee at Starbucks, then they have been suckered by advertisment
> > manipulations, if the Argentinian economy is not doing well then it must
> > be the will of the Powers That Be showing how cruel they are, and so on.
> >
> > Then add in a number of groups with strong self-interest: farmers that
> > do not wish to see any outside competition or decrease in agricultural
> > support, unions that do not wish to encounter restructuring of their own
> > industries and foreign competition, xenophobes that do not like the idea
> > of open borders and intellectuals (of whatever stated party color) that
> > have again found a forum where they can be taken seriously. These groups
> > will of course argue for the above belief system - sometimes knowing the
> > flaws of the model, more often even making themselves believe it. They
> > also employ whatever channels will produce results, both lobbying
> > politicians and supporting friendly demagogues.
> >
> > There is no need to assume secret cabals of ex-stasi or KGB agents
> > behind the scenes. It is more a matter of a lot of well-meaning people
> > who have a faulty model of how world economy works being partially
> > influenced by some self-serving groups with compelling arguments.
> This definitely agrees with my personal experiences with such. Now, if
> this diagnosis is correct, what is the best cure? Education (but how
> to get it into unwilling heads)? Publically discrediting this belief
> system (but how to do so powerfully enough to pry it loose)? Or is
> there a more effective way?

I don't think there is a single way. But some remedies might be:

* Discredit the self-interested groups. Since their positions are actually
based to a large extent on their own gain rather than (say) a concern for
others, demonstrating this and the hollowness of their arguments can do a
lot of good. But this becomes much easier if the counter-arguments are

* For arguments to work, they must be understandable. Expressing the
benefits of free trade, free movement of people, open societies and so on
in a way that *anyone* can understand is a huge challenge that should be
met. Well crafted arguments may of course cut through a lot of rigid belief
systems, but they are hard to create. It is better to aim at "the middle
ground", the large population of people not strongly polarized but not very
knowledgeable and get them to learn about these ideas. That can help create
a culture that can absorb more advanced arguments.

* Aim at the intellectuals. As Hayek pointed out (I know Waldemar and I are
starting to sound like a broken record about this) in _The Intellectuals
and Socialism_, if you can get the memes into the intellectual strata of
society, they they will spread much more efficiently and affect other parts
of society. This requires a lot of dedicated work, but eventually it will
be worth it (as socialism demonstrated).

* Network, the others are doing it. Transhumanists are currently rather
weakly networked, mainly with other geek networks. Not bad, but we can do
far better. Our ideas, expressed in the right way, can interest some quite
powerful groups that are on our side. We can provide some unique or at
least unusual perspectives on problems. As Greg put it, we can help fortify
the institutions of the enlightenment.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Oct 12 2001 - 14:39:55 MDT