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Pondering the universe


Why are we here?

Are we really here just to be exploited by those who don't care for us at all but use us for their own aggrandisement?

The question has been perennially asked, but usually put on the back burner when we have to get back to making sure we can survive. However, without some sense of higher perspective, it is easy to acquiesce to the societal pressures to be productive, usually as part of an exaltation to get ahead of the rest, but in actuality means continually struggling to maintain our heads above water at the mercy of those exploiting us while feeding us fake promises of being able to make it into their world.

Through a long part of human history, most learning has been prompted by having to come up with solutions to the existential problems facing us as individuals and small collectives. The growth of civilisation brought larger problems, but also opportunities for some to seek dominion over others who were then put to finding ways to keep those people in power along with building monuments to that power. That is unsustainable and unscalable as more people seek resource-hungry self-indulgence at the expense of humanity and the planet.

So, we obviously need a different imperative that is not based on exploitation, but that can allow billions of people to safely explore their burgeoning intellectual capacity. We now have the means to put a lot of technology, formerly so expensive that it could only be bought by rich patrons of scientists and artists, into everyone's hands. Similarly, knowledge used to only be available to the few, but now we have the internet that makes knowledge accessible to everyone. We have the tools to now allow all people to research and understand the world we live in.

There are few planets that can support life as we know it on earth. There is so much to know and explore, but we can't spend our time doing that physically, as that just wouldn't scale in our time nor in society's capacity to indulge us. However, we can do a lot of exploration remotely, which only requires a few to actually go to remote places or do experiments, as long as we can all view the record of what they have done.

While such vicarious experiences are not truly a full substitute for actually being there or doing those things, we can learn and understand enough to expand our consciousnesses through observations. This is shared learning that is a lot more equitable while consuming a lot less of the earth's resources, and also being less disturbing to other peoples' lives due to less of the pandering to self-indulgent tourists.

We so often compartmentalise our lives because work would otherwise take over our whole lives, even though it overtly directs how we schedule the rest of our lives. The more recent perniciousness of technology has shown how easily we can be persuaded to subvert our non-work time to the stress of work. Some countries have even legislated to prevent such spillover into citizens' private lives.

If we can free ourselves of the work-exploitation imperative, perhaps we can find out what we are really capable of. Certainly, we need to extend democracy more into the workplace so that we are less constrained by the autocratic model of work, but that is only a step in society's liberation from requiring exploitation. We are now at a point where we can really begin to find out what sort of society we can have.

Most political systems have relied upon some measure of exploitation, mostly by a privileged few. Some have experimented with centralised government ownership and control. All have devolved into a few being able to manipulate the systems into supporting their narcissism to an extreme extent. That is because they have all been focused on power, rather than freedom. Unfortunately, even the idea of freedom has been subverted into a resistance to allowing true freedom for people, thus furthering inequality and exploitation.

True freedom is being able to explore the full extent of our consciousness. We need to rebuild society into one that allows each of us to find our place by allowing us to explore the possibilities of our world. Government needs to be refocussed to supporting that and actively resisting attempts at exploitation. This must start with open assessments of what parts of our systems work towards this goal and what impedes it, and then work out what changes need to be made to legal systems to make them based on freedom rather than just economic imperatives.

  • β€’Degrowth – the only alternative
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