[ 18/8/20 ]
It is cooperate or perish.
We either wake up to the mathematical and logical reality that all new levels of complexity require new levels of cooperation to sustain the necessary structural limits for the existence of that level of structure, or we perish.
It is that simple in a very real sense.
The super rich need to appreciate that as much as the super poor do.
We need to accept that in an age of automated systems, money and markets deliver very poor value metrics.
We need systems that deliver degrees of security and freedom to all that all consider reasonable; and that actually demands levels of responsibility from everyone – and it all gets extremely complex and fundamentally unpredictable in detail, even as it gets extremely stable in aggregate.
With exponential technology “us and them” dynamics self terminate.
When one looks at the long term probabilities, we are either all in this together, or none of us get much chance to survive. If you try an over constrain the system to deliver the certainty of simplicity, then the entire structure becomes fragile to the inevitable unexpected; and when that happens failure is total.
Diversity and resilience are essential, and that demands fundamental uncertainty (which is actually always present, but can be masked by classes of cognitive processes).
[followed by Dave questioned the role of cooperation]
Whether we like it or not has no relationship to the truth value of the statement.
To me, it is beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt – writing as an autistic spectrum geek with 50 years interest in the topic of complex systems and evolution and long term survival.
Human nature is a very complex thing, very context dependent. What any particular individual does in any particular context, and what sort of contexts are survivable long term, are very different questions.
With complex systems, responses are always dispositional, and always contain some degree of fundamental uncertainty, and in aggregate can be reasonably predictable. I currently know of nothing more complex than a human being.
I understand that places like you describe exist. I have had a few “interesting” experiences in my life, including walking out of a Greyhound bus station in Chicago (among many others). Not something this country boy from New Zealand was entirely prepared for, and I survived it (I have felt safer in gang headquarters).
Nothing simple in what I assert, and it does appear to be possible.
Yes – sure, we tend to protect those we love and those things that seem to us necessary for us and our loved ones to survive.
And three years ago we have a 7.8 earthquake here in Kaikoura, and what happened was very instructive.
I was probably the only person in town fully prepared for it. My instructions to the engineer when we did work on the house were “make it stand up to an 8.5”. I had 4 months supply of food, water, and energy reserves (solar on the roof, and two generator systems). The quake hit at midnight. First off we checked on neighbours and others nearby, and everyone was safe, but worried – big aftershocks were frequent. At about 1:30 we went back home and went back to sleep.
I got up at 6am and did a wider survey of the community, and left word at the local council emergency management centre that I was available if needed, then went back home, dug a long-drop toilet, and put a tent over it that I had for that purpose; got the big genset out of the garage and hooked it into the house, so by 7:30 my wife and I were having our espresso coffee with breakfast.
Within 2 days it became clear that no-one else was as prepared as I was.
All roads in and out of our community were cut by landslide – It took 3 weeks to get one way traffic of all wheel drive trucks to get emergency supplies in. Until then everything was by helicopter.
I got in a way that nothing else would have made clear to me that my survival was linked to that of everyone else. In a battle of armed gangs looking for food, my survival probabilities might have been better than most, but still were not great.
The best chance of me and mine surviving, is to ensure that everyone has enough to do what they consider reasonable and most consider responsible. And reasonable and responsible are always going to be matters that are open and complex and uncertain and context dependent judgement.
So understanding that, in both theory and practice, I am convinced beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that we have to develop systems that give everyone on the planet reasonable degrees of both security and freedom, and that the only way to do that successfully has to be fundamentally based in cooperation and respect for diversity, however many competitive systems we may use in particular contexts on that cooperative base.
All out competition between humans is not survivable.
We have too much technology, particularly in the realms of bio-technology and artificial intelligence and robotics/remotely operated systems.
The idea of nation states competing is not survivable with the technology available today.
We can certainly have diversity at all levels, including nation state level, and such diversity needs to be fundamentally cooperative, and fundamentally respectful of life and liberty, and of the social and ecological systems that are necessary for survival (and that is deeply complex in ways that very few people have much appreciation of as yet).
So ideas like respect for culture, respect for nature, as well as respect for individual diversity and individual liberty must all exist simultaneously.
For the most part, the ideas we have about what constitutes “human nature” are vastly too simplistic and heavily biased by the cultures of our up-bringing.
I had a very unusual up-bringing that has me being a close approximation to acultural as I am a mix of very many cultures and practices.