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What's the point?

As is my wont, I've been thinking about politics recently, and wondering, "What's the point?" Not in some pithy, disenfranchised way. In a long-term perspective type way. Politics, both here and in the old country, seems to be more based on knee-jerk reactions, overcoming short term crises, protection of the status quo, the race to the centre and, most significantly, maintenance of power for those with the power.

This is another of those posts where, not only do I welcome comment, but I plead for it. I know I have readers far to the left and far to the right of me, and I'd love to know what you think about what I'm going to write. I will even accept public anonymity (email address required though - I want to be able to confirm stuff if necessary) if that will encourage anyone to contribute on this one. I will fence sit in advance, and say that while the points may be presented as absolutes, the choice of where we should go will probably be a combination of these. I will also pre-fudge and say that I will miss some alternatives - possibly intentionally, possibly not. The exercise for the reader is to fill in the blanks and to think for themselves.

So anyway, what's the point? If we were to describe where we want humanity to be, say, 500 or 1000 years down the track, where would it be? Admittedly comparing the world now to where it was 100 years ago presents significant change, and how much moreso 500 or 1000?

I suppose the first question is one of who we mean by "us". Given that every one of my real-time readers will be long devoured by worms by then (I don't discount the possibility that people are reading my archived posts that far into the future - a Gaussian probability curve is non-zero for all possible values, no matter how small), defining "us" is non-trivial. For any given individual, does it mean:

  • "just my direct seed" - what happens if they die out? Do I no longer care what happens to humanity? Same question if we draw a slightly larger ball, say, to including my grandparents' lines.
  • "my race" - how do we deal with intermixing, dilution and homogenisation? How do we even genuinely define the boundaries of "my race"?
  • "people following a descended line of political/religious/ideological/national/etc thought/life" (e.g. what Judaism becomes in 500 years - bearing in mind that, in many aspects, Judaism now is significantly different to Judaism 500 years ago, partly through evolution and partly through external factors) - but then, how different is close enough? If, say, Australia neglects Aussie Rules and adopts soccer to the near exclusion of all other sports, is it still Australia? If a group of Jews decide to worship me as the messiah, convert the Romans to that belief and start eating pork and shellfish, do they still class as my people? If settlers from the UK colonise a new continent on the other side of the globe and this country breaks away from the UK and becomes dominant, which of the two, if either, classes as "we" from a pre-split UK perspective?
  • "all of humanity" - even then, what happens if we get a Wellsian bifurcation? Either by species differentiation or by political differentiation? Do we identify as Eloi? As Morlocks? What about as Orwell's Proles or Party? What happens in the case of human evolution? What about a robot-type human intelligence? Do we sympathise with Skynet? What about if there are extra-terrestrial aliens - do we include or oppose?
  • For any possible grouping which has an excluded group, are the important considerations for "us": survival? co-existence? dominance and subjugation over the other? extinction of the other? a pragmatic "what's best for us" - i.e. co-existence where the other is of use and dominance/subjugation/extinction if/when possible if the other is either not useful or dangerous?

    Now, within "us", what is important?

  • Is anything important? Do we not care for the future at all and all that matters is the present? Do we wander in the direction our noses lead at any given time and nothing else matters?
  • Do we want an unrestricted, perfect, free market? Where everyone lives and grows by their usefulness to others (as judged by others' preparedness to pay for them)
  • Do we want a completely unregulated market? Where everyone lives and grows by what they can obtain from others (differing from the perfect market in that bullying, collusion and other anti-competitive actions are permissible)
  • Do we want a fully regulated system where everyone has access to a set of resources? Should this be the same for everyone? Or should it be based on people's needs? Should this be a maximum? A minimum?
  • Do we leave people to their own devices once they have enough to eat and to live?
  • Do we limit how much people may work? Again, as a maximum or minimum?
  • Do we enforce sustainability?
  • Do we promote growth? Generally or targetted? Focussing on the individual (e.g. medical) or on the world (e.g. environmental)
  • Do we divert resources to promote a super-productive elite?
  • Do we use resources to try to broaden the productive base
  • Do we promote art and entertainment and leisure?
  • Do we promote work or science?
  • Do we give individuals freedoms?
  • Do we give individuals security?
  • Do we force poor Big Brother to have the responsibility for keeping the Proles happy and productive?
  • Do we force (let) the Proles to fend for themselves?
  • What other considerations do we have?
  • Without answering these questions, how can we know whether cutting, altering or raising taxes is a good thing? How can we know whether the economy is good (the economy is a tool, not an end)? How can we know whether the Government is doing a good job? How can we know whether they should be forced out by vote? How can we know whether they should be forced out by violence?

    How do we know we are going the right way if we don't actually know where we want to be?

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