Re: What is the Extropian answer to war? (was: Raisin Bombers over Afghanistan)

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Wed Sep 26 2001 - 11:50:13 MDT

On Wed, Sep 26, 2001 at 04:31:52PM +0200, Hubert Mania wrote:
> By the way, what IS the extropian answer to war?

Great question!

The goal ought to be making war an undesirable option for any
government, organisation or individual. One proven way is trade: make
sure you can trade with the other side. Both will be better off, and
through specialisation they can reap greater rewards at the price of
becoming dependent on each other to some extent. This makes war bad for
business: in most situations you will be worse off if you attack the
other side than if you don't. Further, trade tends to promote cultural
exchange and creolization, limiting the us-vs-them tendency of humans
since they get to know the other side.

Combine this with open democratic societies, and the disincentive
becomes even stronger: voters and corporations will not want to lose
their investments in other nations by going to war against them, and in
democratic societies the government cannot easily act against the wishes
of the general population, at least not in this kind of situation.

Now, let's extend this to a proactive stance: decrease or remove tariffs
in general, but especially from marginally open societies so that they
get an incentive to open up (I think the recent decision to remove
tariffs from Indonesia to the US may be one of those events that at the
time look small and irrelevant, but in the long run will have enormous
consequences). The exception might be truly closed societies that sell
some basic products from regime-controlled businesses - in this case the
money simply supports the regime.

Encouraging openness can be done not just by governments but by
organisations and individuals, for example by distributing information
and tools useful for setting up an open society - be it tape recorders,
computers, providing microloans for cellular phones or cryptography. I
have always thought many relief and environmental organisations could
strengthen their stances on the open society - getting societies to be
more open and democratic is a great way of reducing the risk of famine
and environmental destruction. Intelligent technology helps here, since
it can empower individuals tremendously. We don't need to wait for
nanotech, online communication is a good start.

Convincing people on a purely intellectual or cultural level that war is
a bad thing but not providing the incentives to change behavior will not
work as well. Ideas matter, but the ideas need help to flourish.

This is of course just a part of the overall extropian answer to war,
the part that deals with war prevention. Handling pre-existing wars,
helping war-infested cultures mature and what to do when you get forced
into a war still remains to be analysed. But I would say the extropian
principes have a lot of interesting suggestions we can apply with a bit
of creative thinking.


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

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