Howard Bloom is a disturbing man. In The Lucifer Principle, he demonstrated what Richard Dawkins simply stated in The Selfish Gene. The Lucifer Principle tells us why people can’t help doing stupid, evil things: Our genes invented you and me as mini-experiments in their drive to take over the known universe. Saddam Hussein is driven by the same imperative.
He also demonstrates that evil things are not necessarily stupid and stupid things are not necessarily evil. In fact, the term evil means nothing in a gene-driven world. His points are interesting at this moment because our republic is about to realize its imperial destiny by colonizing Iraq for oil and air bases. Most bloggers think that is a stupid, evil thing. Genetically, it’s just business as usual.
Here’s the truth we have to deal with:
- Nations, like companies, are intrinsically ruthless. You might sacrifice your life to pull your neighbor from a house fire, but nations and companies never do that for each other. Why expect anything different?
- Nations and cultures are superorganisms, like the collection of bees called a hive and the collection of surprisingly self-sufficient cells called a human.
- Like organisms, superorganisms always know where they are in the pecking order (remember grade school recess? That’s how life is in every pecking order).
- Individuals in a superorganism (you and I) depend on the superorganism’s status in its superorganistic pecking order. If your family or company or country or religion is rising in its pecking order, you’ll feel energetic and purposeful. If it’s falling, you’ll feel listless and confused. That’s the source of the energy fueling Islam and the ennui our culture is experiencing.
I Hate This Shit!
This stuff is contrary to everything I believe about how life should be lived: that strong people deal gently with each other, their strength affording them the luxury of equanimity, their reason energizing their actions.
But that kind of reasonableness also demands reason when confronted with the inquiries of Bloom, Dawkins, Blackmore and others. How can reasonable people reconcile the biological and anthropological record with our urge for a more humane existence? Denying the record would be like a fundamentalist denying natural selection because it’s not mentioned in the Bible.
Where’s MY Superorganism When I Need It?
I want a new superorganism – a culture – that reflects my values and beliefs, and I want that culture to take over the world as soon as possible. I want freedom from want through economics based on abundance, not scarcity. I want young people raised by adults confident enough to be gentle, reasonable and informed enough to mentor them skillfully. I guess I want to live in Jean-Luc Picard’s world. Above all, I want patriarchy and fundamentalism to be a distant bad dream. Is that too much to ask?
It certainly is if you’re doing well under the current system. Our best and our brightest are doing very well under the current system, so they’re not likely to be much help in this renaissance of reasonableness. We who would promote this dream (if there is a we) are probably not the best and the brightest, or we would have given up on these Victorian notions long ago. No matter how compelling our logic and our blogs, we’re not going to jawbone our culture into adopting reason and gentleness as its theme, so e-thepeople, moveon.org, and EFF need a different approach – writing our politicians is useless.
The Internet Really DOES Change Everything
But we the true belivers are not acting like we’re believers. Where are the web applications to achieve the things we say we’d like to change? How are we going to leverage the power of open source into a disciplined mechanism for attracting people who hunger for reasonableness and a virulent new Pax Internetae that sweeps undesired protocols before it and unreasonably imposes its intractable standards of reasonableness? Are we prepared to wage peace aggressively?
Doing What We Do Best – Develop a Language, Hack some Code
Who gave us bloggers and bloggees the right to be passive, scared and directionless in the face of cultures clashing over ageless hate and the illusion of scarce resources? Let’s get off our collective ass and try to do something, even if it doesn’t prove out. Why do we need permission and capital to do this stuff? Here are some design studies I’d like to see taken up:
That would be this Xpertweb Design Study. It’s based on a new Open Resource economic model, connecting peers around the globe. From the Xpertweb perspective, the greatest threat to world peace is the lack of a P2P linkage between faceless Islamic women who know how to make their own Burkas and prosperous western women who buy their Burkas for outrageous sums to demonstrate their solidarity with their Islamic sisters. And, of course, introduce a subversive new source of woman-controlled capital into the Arab World.
Anonymous, Reliable Internet Banking
We need a P2P system for people to store and control whatever bit of capital they can raise over the web, perhaps through Xpertweb. PayPal’s doing great but its FDIC banking partner didn’t pan out. But there must be an open source way to concentrate spendable cash in cyberspace for those Islamic women and others so their masters can’t extract it and buy guns or whiskey with it. This feels like a feminist project. Any takers?
An Electoral Collage
In the western world, politicians who need our votes are acting like they don’t. They’re behaving like the RIAA, pretending they can treat their customers like thieves. Why do we spend so much time worrying about the RIAA and so little time managing our elected toadies?
An online Electoral Collage would be based, of course, on our right to actually vote and to enforce full, fair and equal representation, but the Electoral Collage would see suffrage as a wireline protocol, with other, behavior-based protocols lying on top of voting, like the HTTP overlay on the IP open standard.
The Electoral Collage would be a massive distributed database of real people who have abdicated their secret ballot to advertise their real-time responses to current issues and current outrages. The database would use a kind of namespace to match issues and outrage with politicians and their current actions. Voters would link their next vote with their current values and beliefs so that a politician’s cynical work against choice would publicly guarantee my wife’s vote against him. Combined with other uppity women, some politicians would see that this particular form of cynicism is foolish, at least in his district. (Cynical beca
use most politicians don’t give a rat’s ass about abortion. They do care about voters who care about choice).
Sample Electoral Collage Report:
“The Fleemer amendment to HR 419 has caused a plurality of Mr. Fleemer’s voting constituents to commit to vote him out of office in November. Based on commitment data from 73% of registered voters, It appears that Rep. Fleemer will lose his seat by a 9% margin unless the amendment is withdrawn.
This data has been communicated to Mr. Fleemer’s staff and is summarized at http://www.electoralcollege.com/fleemer."
C’mon, e-thepeople, moveon, etc. How about helping us help ourselves?
Culture-wide Blog-based Knowledge-Logs
Let’s take all blogs’ RSS feeds and slice and dice them to aggregate our combined sensibilities.
1) Create a mechanism for people to identify and define the issues they care about, and the major positions that surround each issue.
2) Inspire and help bloggers to structure their RSS feeds to expose which issues they’re discussing and where they stand on each issue.
3) Let bloggees indicate where they stand on each issue as they view it. Compile all these data points and let a million flowers bloom.
Alan Kay famously said that “it’s easier to invent the future than to predict it.” And, one assumes, than fighting it. Every invention starts with a design. Why not design the web applications that might take us in the right direction?