Technocracy

QuasarX
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Technocracy

I'm wondering what people think of the idea of living in a technocracy.  Would it work?  Would it be desirable?  I've put some thought into the notion, and I'd like some feedback.  I won't set a restriction on what the "right kind" of technocracy should be like, but the specific implementations that I currently consider to have the most feasibility share these characteristics:

 

* No laws restricting citizens' behaviors, and no police force.  All problems with people's behaviors would be addressed by either changing the society so that the citizens no longer desire to perform the behavior, so that the citizens are no longer physically able to conduct the behavior, or so that the behavior is no longer considered a problem

* No citizen can own or acquire personal property.  All living spaces, tools, etc. are rented through the use of energy credits (technocratic currency).  Food and utilities are also purchased for immediate consumption through the use of energy credits

* All citizens receive a share of energy credits once they're old enough to go to school.  This share should be enough for them and a few children to live comfortably on, which only they have the ability to spend and which they can only spend for their own benefit or that of any children they have which are too young to go to school

* All citizens who either go to school and perform adequately or hold a job and perform adequately would instead receive a larger share of energy credits.  There is only 1 larger share to be received in this way regardless of the type of work or schooling... e.g. a janitor (if such a job existed) would receive the same number of energy credits as an astrophysics professor

* The total number of energy credits distributed among the population is determined by the productive resources of the society, and the costs of renting goods and services are determined by the current resources it requires to produce/maintain those goods/services.  Therefore, people's energy credit allowances and expenses would vary with the population size and productive capacity

* Anyone can critique social decisions and participate in social debate, but social decisions would not be made by vote, but instead must be arrived at by some strictly defined rules and engineering principals.  The design of this process is, of course, of paramount importance to the success of the technocracy

 

For the sake of this discussion, I suggest that we assume that technology can be more advanced than what we have today, but limited to what we think could be possible given our current understanding of science.  Similarly, I suggest that we assume that the core principles of human nature, e.g. survival instinct, greed, lust, etc. are unavoidable, but that any genetic tendencies toward specific behavior patterns or illnesses that we're currently aware of could (not necessarily should) be genetically engineered out of the population, and that the irrational thought processes that people exhibit today are an inherent consequence of human nature, but that they can be mitigated by improved education.

Your thoughts?


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Questions.

How is the population controlled? Is there any mandatory birth control or limit on number of children?

Can people who don't like living under these rules leave and live in a different society that rewards them better?

 

 

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


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Population growth was, for a

Population growth was, for a while, my biggest concern.  Mandatory birth control wouldn't work without a way to enforce it, and would go against the first characteristic I mentioned.  I think, though, that if voluntary birth control was made very easily accessible and inexpensive, that most sexually active citizens would choose to use it most of the time.  If they didn't, and became pregnant, they would have a child to feed and care for, with all of the headaches that that brings, and that child wouldn't even receive any energy credits until it was old enough to go to school.  So, having children would leave citizens with fewer energy credits to spend on entertainment, therefore people who just wanted to have a lot of sex would probably choose the birth control instead.

Assuming there were other societies to choose from, then yes, they would be free to leave to any society that would accept them.  But, I think the personal freedom and financial security would be strong incentives for people to want to stay.


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this all seems... familiar

this all seems... familiar >.>


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QuasarX wrote:Population

QuasarX wrote:

Population growth was, for a while, my biggest concern. 

I think your system then is close enough to the communist system that one can predict the results. Even with available birth control, some people will produce children at such high rates that the only thing that would limit their population would be extreme poverty and starvation. You have no incentives to work hard to get an education, start a business, invest. Everyone would end up equal in poverty, little technical advancement would occur. Corrupt cronies at the top would skim off all the wealth for themselves. The best, brightest and most educated people would emigrate to a society that doesn't suck.

If you don't have mandatory birth control, it's inevitable that there will at least be pockets of poverty in any society. A meritocracy works best. The rich and educated have incentives to achieve. The poor and middle class have a strong incentive to work hard. This wealth can trickle down to the poor who would at least have enough to survive by being servants to the rich.

 

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


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Yes, even with available

Yes, even with available birth control some people would have a lot of children.  But, I think many people would choose to have no children, or only 1.  The question of how many people would choose to have a lot of children, I think, could be significantly influenced by good education and peer pressure.  In a society where economic and political standing doesn't exist, I suspect the people who now strive for those things would instead strive for social standing... popularity and respect.  If the society's resources started to be spread too thinly, I think it would quickly become very unpopular to have a lot of children, and that would serve as a deterrent.

Hmm... the way I envision it, there would be no "top" for the cronies to put themselves in a position to skim from.  Also, if the system is designed correctly, it should be impossible for anyone to get a larger share of wealth than anyone else that made the same choice of whether or not to work and go to school.  The only ways to increase individual income beyond choosing to be a productive member of society would be to improve the society's productivity or decrease the society's population. There can't be pockets of poverty if everyone's provided with an equal share of the society's wealth.

Also, there would be no businesses or investments, as currency couldn't pass from one citizen to another.  There would be services available, and people might envision and request new services, which interested people would then go about planning and determining the resource cost for.  If people were interested enough, they could choose to donate their surplus energy credits to fund the construction, and if people were interested enough, there would be volunteers to operate the service.

As for the incentive to get an education and work... that's why I provide for 2 possible levels of income that people can choose from.  Those who want to be able to afford more of the more expensive forms of entertainment would only be able to do so by becoming more educated or by getting a job.  In a classical technocracy, though, even this is considered unnecessary.  In a classical technocracy, it's expected that people would choose to learn and work without any financial incentive, so long as they didn't have to worry about money, they had enough time to socialize and relax, and they enjoyed whatever it was they were learning or working on.  And, in a classical technocracy, it's expected that the jobs that no one would want to do would be mundane and repetitive enough to be automated.


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I consider myself a

I consider myself a Technocrat to some degree: I think we need to amend democracy with a scholarly, meritocratic and technocratic principle of government, much as democracy was once amended by the "judicious application of the Republican Principle" (Madison).

However I do not agree with "Classical Technocracy." See my post below.

 

“It is true that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. It is equally true that in the land of the blind, the two-eyed man is an enemy of the state, the people, and domestic tranquility… and necessarily so. Someone has to rearrange the furniture.”


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Now there are certainly some

Now there are certainly some things on the OP's list that I think "classical" technocracy could stand to lose, especially if it is to fashioned onto democratic principles. I don't think all personal property should be lost, and I see the potential for a technocracy to provide the resources necessary for citizens of differ political and philosophical persuasions to live in non-overlapping and mutually non-compromising communities: groups like the Amish could continue their lifestyle. Modern primitives and the Nation of Islam and anarcho-syndicalists and all the other contemporary "malcontents" could form their own communities, etc... All of these communities would be supported by the technocratic apparatus. The great thing about this is that it would contain the spread of scientology.

These communities would not be isolated from educational opportunity, though. Anyone born into such a community must be granted every freedom to leave, should they desire, and to join a different community or even to start their own.

In order for an actual technocracy to work, however, I think the society needs to retain some semblance of familiarity. The technocratic apparatus would be in the background and unobtrusive, but directly accessible by citizens through a participatory inlet.

Whatever form of social engineering is used would have to account for the need for individual drive and personal innovation. The society would adapt itself to human need, only acting to curb individual behaviors when said behaviors are destructive to oneself or others.

As a Technocrat, my goal is to keep civilization alive in whatever form it has to take in order to ensure that the human species survives to the point where the scenario I described just may be possible... and if that doesn't happen, at least I will have tried.

 

Note that "Classical" Technocracy is envisioned as a post-industrial economy made possible by an as-yet non-existent virtually unlimited energy supply.

“It is true that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. It is equally true that in the land of the blind, the two-eyed man is an enemy of the state, the people, and domestic tranquility… and necessarily so. Someone has to rearrange the furniture.”


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 For the record, I would

 For the record, I would suit up and go to war against your techno-fascism. Centralized decision-making has repeatedly proven to suck. Hard. I'd be in the resistance.

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fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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HisWillness wrote: For the

HisWillness wrote:

 For the record, I would suit up and go to war against your techno-fascism. Centralized decision-making has repeatedly proven to suck. Hard. I'd be in the resistance.

I appreciate your sentiment and am willing to agree to disagree with you (since I don't think your opinion is irrational like a religious conviction) but I'd appreciate it if you didn't call me a fascist. I like you, HisWillness. I find your posts very interesting. But I'm not responding to your post with loaded politicial terms... I save that one for the Christo-Fascists.

“It is true that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. It is equally true that in the land of the blind, the two-eyed man is an enemy of the state, the people, and domestic tranquility… and necessarily so. Someone has to rearrange the furniture.”


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FulltimeDefendent wrote:I

FulltimeDefendent wrote:
I appreciate your sentiment and am willing to agree to disagree with you (since I don't think your opinion is irrational like a religious conviction) but I'd appreciate it if you didn't call me a fascist.

I'm not really calling you a fascist. The original set of guidelines in this thread, however, describes what could easily be called a fascism. Nationalism over individualism, hard-line centralized economic controls, anti-liberalism, etc. That's pretty much clear-cut fascism. If you agree that those premises should be adopted, then you're a fascist. But I don't think you are.

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fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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HisWillness

HisWillness wrote:

FulltimeDefendent wrote:
I appreciate your sentiment and am willing to agree to disagree with you (since I don't think your opinion is irrational like a religious conviction) but I'd appreciate it if you didn't call me a fascist.

I'm not really calling you a fascist. The original set of guidelines in this thread, however, describes what could easily be called a fascism. Nationalism over individualism, hard-line centralized economic controls, anti-liberalism, etc. That's pretty much clear-cut fascism. If you agree that those premises should be adopted, then you're a fascist. But I don't think you are.

 

Thanks. No I don't agree with the OP's description of "Classical" technocracy. I'm interested in something that's more of a social evolution toward a capacity for centralized planning and foresight on the part of a civilization that hypothetically survives long enough to be able to maximize pleasure, productivity and education. Given current trends I have only very little doubt that irrational thinking will eventually just be discarded by the species as a part of this social evolution, but I think we have to act now to combat irrational thought now so that it doesn't destroy us before we get to that point.

“It is true that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. It is equally true that in the land of the blind, the two-eyed man is an enemy of the state, the people, and domestic tranquility… and necessarily so. Someone has to rearrange the furniture.”


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FulltimeDefendent wrote:I'm

FulltimeDefendent wrote:
I'm interested in something that's more of a social evolution toward a capacity for centralized planning and foresight on the part of a civilization that hypothetically survives long enough to be able to maximize pleasure, productivity and education.

Your optimism is admirable. I don't mean that as a pat-on-the-head, either. It's a rare person who cares enough to want to make a change. My bias against centralized planning comes from working for the government. I saw money handled in ways that would make even the most numerically illiterate taxpayer cry. The centralized planning of even a moderate socialism is bungled on a daily basis, and has been so many times that whenever I come across the concept, I practically get hives.

But where would this unlimited source of energy come from, the sun?

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fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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HisWillness

HisWillness wrote:

FulltimeDefendent wrote:
I'm interested in something that's more of a social evolution toward a capacity for centralized planning and foresight on the part of a civilization that hypothetically survives long enough to be able to maximize pleasure, productivity and education.

Your optimism is admirable. I don't mean that as a pat-on-the-head, either. It's a rare person who cares enough to want to make a change. My bias against centralized planning comes from working for the government. I saw money handled in ways that would make even the most numerically illiterate taxpayer cry. The centralized planning of even a moderate socialism is bungled on a daily basis, and has been so many times that whenever I come across the concept, I practically get hives.

But where would this unlimited source of energy come from, the sun?

Possibly. Frankly I'd like to be the guy to develop M-Theory into a workable technology and use it to steal resources form alternate Earths where human life never evolved. After all, a fraction of infinity is still infinity.

“It is true that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. It is equally true that in the land of the blind, the two-eyed man is an enemy of the state, the people, and domestic tranquility… and necessarily so. Someone has to rearrange the furniture.”


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Basically in the system I'm

Basically in the system I'm proposing, society's dissenters would be the people best able to help that society adapt to human need. There would be no need for violent revolution because the would-be revolutionaries would actually be the people with the most sought-after qualities of leadership.

I think if there's one hope for global unity, it comes from the Academic Establishment. Academia is meritocratic, as opposed to democratic, for good reason: this is how good scholarship is produced. I would propose an Academic Analog to the UN, give it teeth, and set to work establishing a global education policy. That would be an early step, the establishment of a global standard of education.

I think when it comes to things like science education and medicine, scientists and medical professionals should make policy. I'm not saying this is desirable for everything, but certainly the quality and integrity of what constitutes "good" education and "good" medicine cannot be left up to the clout-wielding politicians elected by popular vote, or their appointees. The academic and medical establishments should be in control of academic and medical policy.

“It is true that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. It is equally true that in the land of the blind, the two-eyed man is an enemy of the state, the people, and domestic tranquility… and necessarily so. Someone has to rearrange the furniture.”


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QuasarX wrote:I'm wondering

QuasarX wrote:

I'm wondering what people think of the idea of living in a technocracy.  Would it work?  Would it be desirable?  I've put some thought into the notion, and I'd like some feedback.  I won't set a restriction on what the "right kind" of technocracy should be like, but the specific implementations that I currently consider to have the most feasibility share these characteristics:

That's funny. I just finished reading "The Dispossessed," by Ursula LeGuin. Her anarchic society was almost exactly as you describe. She even gets into the flaws of such a system (which she seemed to think could be mitigated by social pressure).

Of course, it was pretty much apperant that the only reason her system worked (in her fictional universe) was because the planet on which they lived was extremely poor in resources. Basically, everyone lived in equal poverty.

If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it, simply for the  fact that it echoes what you describe.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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Thanks for showing interest

Thanks for showing interest in the thread guys.

nigelTheBold wrote:

That's funny. I just finished reading "The Dispossessed," by Ursula LeGuin. Her anarchic society was almost exactly as you describe. She even gets into the flaws of such a system (which she seemed to think could be mitigated by social pressure).

Of course, it was pretty much apperant that the only reason her system worked (in her fictional universe) was because the planet on which they lived was extremely poor in resources. Basically, everyone lived in equal poverty.

If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it, simply for the  fact that it echoes what you describe.

Thanks for the tip.  I'll see if I can find a copy.

HisWillness wrote:

Centralized decision-making has repeatedly proven to suck.

HisWillness wrote:

The original set of guidelines in this thread, however, describes what could easily be called a fascism. Nationalism over individualism, hard-line centralized economic controls, anti-liberalism, etc. That's pretty much clear-cut fascism.

I'm confused.  Did I write anything to suggest centralized decision making, nationalism over individualism, or anti-liberalism?

 


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QuasarX wrote:I'm

QuasarX wrote:

I'm confused.  Did I write anything to suggest centralized decision making, nationalism over individualism, or anti-liberalism?

Yes, in your original post.

QuasarX wrote:
No citizen can own or acquire personal property.  All living spaces, tools, etc. are rented through the use of energy credits (technocratic currency).  Food and utilities are also purchased for immediate consumption through the use of energy credits

 

The energy credits are supplied by the state. Centralized economy.

QuasarX wrote:
* All citizens receive a share of energy credits once they're old enough to go to school.  This share should be enough for them and a few children to live comfortably on, which only they have the ability to spend and which they can only spend for their own benefit or that of any children they have which are too young to go to school

* All citizens who either go to school and perform adequately or hold a job and perform adequately would instead receive a larger share of energy credits.  There is only 1 larger share to be received in this way regardless of the type of work or schooling... e.g. a janitor (if such a job existed) would receive the same number of energy credits as an astrophysics professor

* The total number of energy credits distributed among the population is determined by the productive resources of the society, and the costs of renting goods and services are determined by the current resources it requires to produce/maintain those goods/services.  Therefore, people's energy credit allowances and expenses would vary with the population size and productive capacity

All principles of a centralized economy and centralized state control.

QuasarX wrote:
* Anyone can critique social decisions and participate in social debate, but social decisions would not be made by vote, but instead must be arrived at by some strictly defined rules and engineering principals.  The design of this process is, of course, of paramount importance to the success of the technocracy

"Engineering principles" makes this society run entirely by centralized planning. The citizen gives up individuality completely, having only a voice in social debate, thus "nationalism over individualism". Anti-liberalism follows easily, since your first point in the original post was that the society had to change to adapt to dissention. If you were governing robots, I'd say you were on to something. Human beings tend to create noise in the data, though. Dissention can be legitimate and illegitimate, and telling the difference has always been difficult.

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How ironic.  The original

How ironic.  The original attraction the idea had for me was its emphasis on personal freedom and economic unencumbrance.  I don't think citizens would have to give up individuality at all.  People would have complete freedom over what to do with their time... a luxury few of us today can claim.  I know I would be spending my time very differently if I didn't have to be at work 40 hours a week doing engineering work that benefits only my company when it could just as easily benefit an entire society.  If a neighborhood wants an Italian restaurant, and they don't already have one, they could log onto whatever web page was involved in municipal planning for their area and place a request.  If there was enough interest, and someone willing to work as a cook (if that were required to be done by hand), they would get an Italian restaurant.  If there wasn't enough interest, there would surely be some community kitchens available for people to cook whatever they wanted for themselves... or perhaps professional cooks that enjoyed learning to cook all sorts of different foods that people might request.  Why not?  If it's not tied to a common business model or other existing meme, there's plenty of room for flexibility and improved efficiency.  All it takes is an idea and some people willing to contribute the time and resources to make it happen.

Everyone would have an equal opportunity to directly participate in any political or social agenda they chose, limited only by a set of rules to prevent abuse of the system.  I see that form of decision making as being as de-centralized as possible.  There are plenty of irrational laws I'd like to call into question if I had the time and political access to do so, and having to obey those laws (which benefit no one except the select corporations or interest groups they were written for, e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dallas_Love_Field, the section labeled 1970s) or have my personal and financial freedoms forcefully taken is rather annoying, to say the least.  Imagine if you could just log onto wiki.technocracy.gov, review the discussion of some pork-barrel law, realize that it violated some principle of personal freedom, flag it as unconstitutional, and prevent someone from being screwed out of their livelihood.

I don't agree with your assertion that dissent can be illegitimate, though.  If people are unhappy about something, that is a real problem, regardless of whether or not the majority of the population agrees with the complaint.  The challenge is how to resolve those complaints without making new problems for other people... that's the kind of adaptation I'm talking about, and I don't see how it can be a bad thing to try for.  If you say that dissent can be illegitimate, then that opens the door for governments to ignore the problems of their citizens.

I'll give you that the economy is centralized in terms of the distribution of energy credits, but no one is supposed to be in control of that... it's supposed to be an entirely mathematical/scientific process, fully subject to peer review and new research.  And, since education would be free (or rewarded), as it would be considered to benefit the entire society indirectly, anyone mentally capable of learning the material would have the opportunity to monitor and contribute to the discipline.


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QuasarX wrote:How ironic. 

QuasarX wrote:
How ironic.  The original attraction the idea had for me was its emphasis on personal freedom and economic unencumbrance.

What I've noticed about people who suggest centrally controlled governments is that they're usually extremely intelligent, deeply thoughtful, compassionate, and optimistic. The company they keep is just as exceptional. It's not surprising then, that these same people (yourselves included) would believe that if it works for you guys, certainly it could work on a grand scale.

Unfortunately, most of the world is fucking morons. I don't mean they're not smart, I mean they have so many shades of not knowing what the hell's going on that they can be tricked into substituting consumerism and invisible friends for real meaning in their lives. These morons are the ones who get the government jobs. These morons would be the ones responsible for creating policy. Not to say that all government workers are stupid and lazy, it's just that the people who really care are in the minority.

QuasarX wrote:
I don't agree with your assertion that dissent can be illegitimate, though.  If people are unhappy about something, that is a real problem, regardless of whether or not the majority of the population agrees with the complaint.

"Gas isn't cheap enough" is illegitimate. It's a problem that can't be solved by a government, even though it's a real problem. People have these all the time, and they're baseless attempts at gaining power and money for themselves. These same political games have been going on for millennia, regardless of the type of government.

QuasarX wrote:
The challenge is how to resolve those complaints without making new problems for other people... that's the kind of adaptation I'm talking about, and I don't see how it can be a bad thing to try for.

This is already what happens in local governments everywhere. Councillors of every township and city are constantly hustled by their constituents. Making that process official probably won't change it.

QuasarX wrote:
If you say that dissent can be illegitimate, then that opens the door for governments to ignore the problems of their citizens.

Part of governing is determining which complaints to ignore.

QuasarX wrote:
I'll give you that the economy is centralized in terms of the distribution of energy credits, but no one is supposed to be in control of that... it's supposed to be an entirely mathematical/scientific process, fully subject to peer review and new research.

But all those peer reviewers and researchers would now be involved in a political process that would subject them to the same hustling that councillors get. Trust me when I say this. I worked on a very mathematical formula for distributing money for my provincial government. I made an incredibly simple way to deal with one section of the calculation, and it was "too simple". Higher up on the political chain, there was a difficulty with it, and so the calculation had to be changed to fit a different number. I left soon thereafter. Keep in mind that I was dealing with the best people I had ever worked with at the time. My boss was highly intelligent, concerned with doing the best possible job, and very sympathetic. That would have been the best place to try a purely mathematical approach in the entire world. Bar none.

I understand that you want an optimal system, but you're dealing with people. Our behaviour hasn't changed in 5,000 years, and there are no signs that we're changing it any time soon. That's why I stress the importance of individual freedoms as the optimal. It won't solve everybody's problem for them, giving them so much freedom, but at least it allows those with the capacity to use that freedom to enjoy it. Naturally a government can't grant freedom, it can only get out of the way and allow for the possibility. But if it doesn't do so, then it opens the door for people to attempt to control the lives of others, which they will do enthusiastically.

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HisWillness wrote:What I've

HisWillness wrote:

What I've noticed about people who suggest centrally controlled governments is that they're usually extremely intelligent, deeply thoughtful, compassionate, and optimistic. The company they keep is just as exceptional. It's not surprising then, that these same people (yourselves included) would believe that if it works for you guys, certainly it could work on a grand scale.

Unfortunately, most of the world is fucking morons. I don't mean they're not smart, I mean they have so many shades of not knowing what the hell's going on that they can be tricked into substituting consumerism and invisible friends for real meaning in their lives. These morons are the ones who get the government jobs. These morons would be the ones responsible for creating policy. Not to say that all government workers are stupid and lazy, it's just that the people who really care are in the minority.

This is what I've noticed about the world: these political and economic "ideals" (communism, anarchy, capitalism, socialism, democracy) are inevitably corrupted by those seeking power and wealth. Always. Exploitation of the ignorant and/or apathetic by those with greater power is part of the system itself. As far as I can tell, it's inextricably a part of society, not matter what society you have. (I'm going to call this, "Nigel's rule," after the Spinal Tap guitarist.)

In my mind, the government has essentially two reasons for existence: protection of the citizens, and minimizing the corruption of the political and economic system. But, since people are part of the process, and the government is the political system, it is subject to Nigel's rule, and the system is ultimately doomed to become corrupt.

It's my thought that the simpler the government or economic system, the more likely it is to become corrupt, as it is easier to control. That's why the Freedom Trio of the American federal government (executive, judicial, legislative branches) makes an nice balance of corruption and stability -- it's complex to manage to get actual, long-term corruption through. (This discounts pork-barrel spending, of course.)

Unfortunately, this political balance has been affected by US corporate-controlled economic corruption. Corporations are far more likely to be able to get laws passed in their favor than most citizens' groups. As corporations are able to distort the economy (and therefore the workings of capitalism), they have far greater influence than anyone else.

This interaction of economy and politics allows cross-corruption between them. This effect wouldn't be mitigated by a simpler government. It could only be mitigated by political transparency, and a politically-active citizenry. Which ain't gonna happen, as HisWillness points out.

Anyway, that's my rant. I guess all I'm saying is, as bad as it is in the US, it isn't as bad as it could be. If we could only reign in corporate corruption, and decrease corporate influence on politics, I think we'd be able to restore the government to a more-or-less working state.

And of course, my analysis may be completely off base. I wouldn't know. I'm still on my first cup of coffee, so I don't even know if I haven't written complete gibberish.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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I agree with you guys that

I agree with you guys that bad people make for bad governments.  But, I think the intelligence issue that you bring up Will could be mitigated or solved by a good education system and a little bit of genetic engineering.

HisWillness wrote:
"Gas isn't cheap enough" is illegitimate. It's a problem that can't be solved by a government, even though it's a real problem. People have these all the time, and they're baseless attempts at gaining power and money for themselves. These same political games have been going on for millennia, regardless of the type of government.

I don't agree that "gas isn't cheap enough" is not a legitimate complaint... but I do think that simply lowering the price of gas through legislation is not a legitimate solution.  A few solutions I would consider legitimate include improving the efficiency of gas harvesting, improving the efficiency of machines which use gas as fuel, developing alternatives for said machines (e.g. public transit instead of cars), and developing alternative energy technologies.

HisWillness wrote:
This is already what happens in local governments everywhere. Councillors of every township and city are constantly hustled by their constituents. Making that process official probably won't change it.

Sure, they hassle, but what do they offer as a solution?  If the constituents aren't willing to offer their own resources to implement a solution, they have no right to get the solution implemented.  One of my objections with the current system of government in the U.S. is that it takes money from everyone and spends it on those who make the most noise politically.  If people had to offer their own resources to get a changes made instead of just expecting taxes to cover the expenses, I think there would be far fewer frivolous requests.

HisWillness wrote:
But all those peer reviewers and researchers would now be involved in a political process that would subject them to the same hustling that councillors get.

Sure, they would be involved in the political process... the way I imagine it, every citizen would... and they would spend exactly as much time and energy on it as they wanted to, no more, no less.  Nobody would be forcing them to pay attention to any part of the process or any request they weren't interested in.  If 1 guy wants a space elevator, and no one else does, he has exactly 3 choices: save enough energy credits over the course of his life to make an attempt at building a space elevator, try to convince others that it's a good enough idea for them to also invest some of their own energy credits, or confine the idea to his imagination.

HisWillness wrote:
Trust me when I say this. I worked on a very mathematical formula for distributing money for my provincial government. I made an incredibly simple way to deal with one section of the calculation, and it was "too simple". Higher up on the political chain, there was a difficulty with it, and so the calculation had to be changed to fit a different number. I left soon thereafter. Keep in mind that I was dealing with the best people I had ever worked with at the time. My boss was highly intelligent, concerned with doing the best possible job, and very sympathetic. That would have been the best place to try a purely mathematical approach in the entire world. Bar none.

I'm very sorry to hear that.  Certainly, if people don't support a political or economic idea, it won't happen.  Right now, though, I'm more interested in whether or not these kinds of ideas would work well if they were implemented than in trying to convince people that they should be implemented.

HisWillness wrote:
I understand that you want an optimal system, but you're dealing with people. Our behaviour hasn't changed in 5,000 years, and there are no signs that we're changing it any time soon. That's why I stress the importance of individual freedoms as the optimal. It won't solve everybody's problem for them, giving them so much freedom, but at least it allows those with the capacity to use that freedom to enjoy it. Naturally a government can't grant freedom, it can only get out of the way and allow for the possibility. But if it doesn't do so, then it opens the door for people to attempt to control the lives of others, which they will do enthusiastically.

Oh, I'm not so naive as to think that an optimal system is attainable in anything but the most trivial philosophic sense (that being, that there is only 1 possible future, therefore whatever happens is optimal).  And, I think we agree in spirit... I'm assuming that human nature is, at its core, fundamentally immutable.  But, even today, people perform volunteer work, learn about different scholastic disciplines, and perform research because they want to feel useful or because they find enjoyment in the work.  Imagine how much more of that would happen if people had a full week to spend without losing 200 hours of it just to be able to afford food and shelter.  Sure, some people would choose not to go to school... and they would probably be made fun of for the lack of basic skills such as literacy and mathematics.  Sure, some people would choose not to do any work... but they would eventually get bored and want to seek out new experiences, or they would want something to get done that no one else was willing to work on.

Also, I agree with you that individual freedom is of great importance.  That's why there needs to be some protections in place on any system of government.  Those which I've seen suggested by the idea of a technocracy are no police force or laws to regulate behavior, and an economy strictly tied to the productive capacity of the society to prevent manipulation of the society's money supply.  I personally also think that it's important to prevent exchange of money/credits between citizens in order to prevent corruption in economics the way corporations and banks now seem to exert a fair amount of control the U.S. government.  My biggest concern with these propositions is the potential for organized crime... if certain people tried to coerce others through the use of threats and violence, the responsibility would be on the rest of the citizens to stop them directly (probably through the use of threats and violence) because there would be no police force to complain to.  Personally, though, I would rather take responsibility for the safety of myself and the people I care about than to trust a bunch of people I don't know for protection... especially when most of the time they wouldn't be in the right place and time to stop a crime in progress.

 


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nigelTheBold, I agree with

nigelTheBold, I agree with you on every point.  It seems inevitable that where there is government, there are people trying to corrupt the government for their own selfish goals.  It seems to me that the better the systematic protections a government has, the more free and prosperous its citizens can be.  The U.S. Constitution has some good protections in it, but unfortunately it lacks teeth.  Politicians can and do ignore it regularly, and the only consequence they suffer as a result is the possibility that whatever laws or executive orders they pass which violate it might eventually be overturned by the courts... generally with non-trivial expense to whomever chooses to put forth the objection.  That's why I think that in order for a society to have lasting freedom and prosperity, whatever protections are in place need to be as accurate and as strong as possible.  Strict economics based on sound mathematical principles, if they could done correctly and insulated from tampering, would prevent corporate corruption and racketeering.  Strict legal freedoms, if they could be insulated from being ignored or removed, would prevent legal corruption and legislative tyranny.  Of course, those wouldn't stop the school bully from beating people up to boost his ego, but it would stop them from stealing their lunch money.  And, if he beat up enough people, he might have to deal with a mob beatdown from other students who didn't approve... or from angry parents.


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FulltimeDefendent, I see

FulltimeDefendent, I see democracy as being part of the problem to be solved.  Whenever you have majority rule, there's the potential for the majority to oppress the minority.  I don't see any reason why different cultures couldn't be preserved, however.  If the Amish want to live traditionally and without electricity, why couldn't they?  They're self sufficient, from what I understand, and if their community wants to operate without electricity or energy credits, I wouldn't expect that to be a problem.  Well... at least so long as there's sufficient land available, but there's an awful lot of land on this planet, and the more efficiently that land is used by the majority, the less competition for that resource would be an issue.  I don't think that any society should be homogeneous... it would stifle creativity and experimentation, as well as make it harder for people to find locales where they best fit in.

I wouldn't be surprised if there are some examples of personal property that should be allowed, although I can't think of anything offhand aside from consumables like food and condoms.  The no personal property thing is more to prevent wasting of resources.  I have a vacuum cleaner that I don't use every day, much less all day every day.  I think most other people would say the same.  Why should those vacuum cleaners just sit around for most of their existence, when a smaller number of vacuum cleaners could have been produced and made available for rent?

FulltimeDefendent wrote:
Thanks. No I don't agree with the OP's description of "Classical" technocracy. I'm interested in something that's more of a social evolution toward a capacity for centralized planning and foresight on the part of a civilization that hypothetically survives long enough to be able to maximize pleasure, productivity and education. Given current trends I have only very little doubt that irrational thinking will eventually just be discarded by the species as a part of this social evolution, but I think we have to act now to combat irrational thought now so that it doesn't destroy us before we get to that point.

Well, there does seem to be a general, although very gradual trend in the "right" direction, but I'm not proposing that anything should happen overnight.  I'm more interested in what would be the best end result of the social evolution you mention, and then the details of how to gradually work toward said end result while avoiding a repeat of the dark ages is a somewhat separate issue.

FulltimeDefendent wrote:
Basically in the system I'm proposing, society's dissenters would be the people best able to help that society adapt to human need. There would be no need for violent revolution because the would-be revolutionaries would actually be the people with the most sought-after qualities of leadership.

I almost agree with this, but then I think of all the fundy Christian political advocates trying to drag us back into those Dark Ages where belief in a god is of paramount importance and science and social wellbeing are heresy punishable by torture and death.  [sarcasm]Yay for prayer instead of medicine!  Plagues are the result of not enough faith in God![/sarcasm]  Well... them and the greedy corporate and political types who just seem to want to leech and hoard as much wealth and productivity out of the economy as possible.

FulltimeDefendent wrote:
Whatever form of social engineering is used would have to account for the need for individual drive and personal innovation. The society would adapt itself to human need, only acting to curb individual behaviors when said behaviors are destructive to oneself or others.

Yes, exactly!  Individual drive and personal innovation are, as far as I can tell, the driving forces behind scientific and socioeconomic progress.  They should be encouraged to the maximum amount possible, and obstacles to such drive and innovation... like capitalism and bureaucracy... should be replaced when and if something better becomes feasible.


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But capitalism provides the

But capitalism provides the drive for many. It doesn't have to, but it might suit some people more than others. In the system I'm proposing there would be "lifestyle niches" which have the choice of integrating or segregating, (participating in a global community or withdrawing from it). The technocracy would support these "segregated" life-systems, much as the United States Federal Government supports the Amish lifestyle (not a great analogy, I know). If you wanted to live as a hunter gatherer, you could join a hunter gatherer niche, and the niches would be monitored to make sure that everyone is in the place they are best fit to be in. For example, suppose you live in a life-system of Hunting and Gathering and are born with a crippling condition. Or perhaps you are considered something of a black sheep in your religious community of a life-style niche (if religion persists). You would be identified and invited to explore other life-style options, or possibly, based on psychological and intellectual factors, invited to participate in the Technocracy itself. Young dissenters would be trained, older dissenters, identified later in life, could be consulted for insight on their particular communities- their life niches or life systems. That's kind of what I meant about the bit about society's dissenters being sought for leadership positions.

“It is true that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. It is equally true that in the land of the blind, the two-eyed man is an enemy of the state, the people, and domestic tranquility… and necessarily so. Someone has to rearrange the furniture.”


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I think I understand your

I think I understand your position now, FTD, and thanks for clarifying.  I'll have to think about it a bit more.  I do think I want to adopt your idea of a meritocracy, though... it seems reasonable to me that anyone should be able to make comments/suggestions, but the actual decisions should be made by those who have invested the time to learn the subject material thoroughly, yes?  And if everyone has access to education, that's not a discriminatory requirement by my way of thinking.


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QuasarX wrote:I think I

QuasarX wrote:

I think I understand your position now, FTD, and thanks for clarifying.  I'll have to think about it a bit more.  I do think I want to adopt your idea of a meritocracy, though... it seems reasonable to me that anyone should be able to make comments/suggestions, but the actual decisions should be made by those who have invested the time to learn the subject material thoroughly, yes?  And if everyone has access to education, that's not a discriminatory requirement by my way of thinking.

 

Right. Education would have to be standardized and be available to everyone regardless of lifestyle, religion, or background. There would be limitations on freedoms, but there are limitations on freedoms today. You wouldn't be able to start a cannibal life-niche, for example. Nothing that violates human rights. That's what the monitoring would be for: identify those who aren't happy where they are and give them other options, as many as possible.

 

I definitely agree that decision-making should be made by those who, like you said, have invested the time to become learned in the subjects relevant to particular policies. For the record, private education and home-schooling would have to go. I'm not going to say that freedom would be unlimited, but freedom's not unlimited today. Even religious freedom. The US Government doesn't let you take six year old girls from their families to be trained as vestal virgins, and it doesn't allow human sacrifice.

“It is true that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. It is equally true that in the land of the blind, the two-eyed man is an enemy of the state, the people, and domestic tranquility… and necessarily so. Someone has to rearrange the furniture.”