Monday, March 28, 2011

Guest Post: Socialocracy and StarTrek

There is a great duality which man has been forced to wear, I feel it is this generations purpose to remove said mask. The problem is as simple as this: People will naturally think and act and express choice, when his ability to do so are removed via institutions, the social fabric begins to crumble. Even simpler still would be the parable of the fish: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. As man's natural abilities are subtly removed, and the fabric crumbles slowly, and the corrupt elements can begin to control the ignorant and polarized populace. Technology is the bridge to a brighter future, but the end goal is still shrouded, and without a know final destination, the path will lead nowhere.

So where is the final destination? What tools are at our disposal to use? Who can help us? How do you spread the message? When do you spread the message?

The most important piece of this puzzle is where is the destination. When thinking about the future, what resources can we draw upon which have been assimilated into the collective unconscious? Have there ever been a widely accepted author/philosopher who has written of harmony within a technological society, without the depression of a dystopia? Some widely read men who gave visions of the future which can be crossed off of the list as the endings are typically of Hobbes- nasty, brutish and short: Orwell, Bradbury, Huxley, Hebert, Vonnegut. Who then is left? Roddenberry. This might seem like an odd choice, and he cannot lay claim to having authored the entire universe of Star Trek, but I doubt someone as prolific, positive or prescient has ever impacted culture as he has. This will not be an argument for worshiping at the altar of Star Trek, only a guide as to what might be, as Roddenberry and Star Trek left many questions remain unanswered on about how to get there.

So why am I claiming that humanity should look to Star Trek and the Federation as answers? If you have watched any of the shows or movies, there are several things which lay claim to the source of harmony on the planet. Perhaps the most obvious piece of evidence, in light of our current global financial crisis is that "There is no money in the 23rd century" James T. Kirk. - Star Trek IV. While this is an admirable goal, how do you get there, when there exist $240 Trillion in financial instruments? Will the problems be solved by the supply siders (J.M. Keynes) or the Austrian school on the demand side? This is a false choice, and does not represent a complete picture of economic thought. Participatory economics is a young, and yet to mature branch of economic thought which has positives and negatives. Using computing power it surmised to match aggregate demand with aggregate supply on a near-time basis. The system lacks the needed and necessary for of governance, but there have been short lived examplesof governments attempting planning at this level. There has been some minor musings into how it would fit into the world of Star Trek, which we might add as a guide point in the unknown space between here and the future. As with math, with any two points one can draw a straight line, and the vehicles we need to travel that line exist! Time Banking is an exceptional way to guard against the devaluation of an hours labor, foster community, but does not solve the issues of consumption or production of goods on any level.

The issue surrounding production and consumption of goods and materials lie in the at the very core of arguments for capitalism, socialism and every other method of allocating resources. In the end the balance of micro and macroeconomic equilibriums should satisfy needs, but does it make people happy. As humans we are very bad at determining what makes us happy, but my wife will tell you that buying clothes makes her happy. So if on a Microeconomic level consumption equates to happiness, and most Advertising firms know this, why is not the US the happiest place on earth? Why are there no parallels to be found in a Macroeconomic environment? Consider Amazon's wish list. Is this information useful in forecasting demand? Is it even utilized? Would a studying a democratic workplace such as SEMCO and building upon its principals help solve some of these problems? How fast can technology be disseminated to solve issues of resource use, renewal, depletion, efficiency? Can the Metropolis quandary ever be solved?

by Ben M.

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