[p2p-research] Building Alliances

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Fri Nov 6 23:20:03 CET 2009

Ryan Lanham wrote:
> Hi Phoebe:
> I personally like the idea of guaranteed income as a transition plan.  I see
> little difference between the categories you list for justification of such
> a system, but I'm sure the authors mentioned go into it at length.  The
> Speenhamland System was the basis for a joke on my last name when I was in
> grad school.  I never thought I'd encounter it again.  It was
> innovative--some would say the first true welfare system.  I'm told by
> Nordic folks that they had earlier systems of that sort long predating
> English poor laws.  The US didn't really move in this direction as a state
> until the Progressive Era.  Typically, the abatement of poverty was more P2P
> in the sense that churches handled it.
> In general, a true Speenhamland type system (though its implementation was
> far from perfect and was typically corrupt) would be a great way to
> introduce the sort of robotic utopia that people like Paul F. here envision
> occurring over the next 30 years or so.  Personally, I am always interested
> in transition systems.  People can see an end point and can agree where we
> are, the tough part in my policy discussions is envisioning A-->B.  That is
> the major area where I am interested in P2P. I wonder about how systems move
> from here to there.  Most here, I think it is fair to say, see a path
> through a sort of socialism/communism.  I do not.  Kevin, as I understand
> it, sees the evolution of a stateless society--which of course would be
> radically different than a communist/socialist system.  People like Paul and
> I suppose myself see the evolution of a technocracy/utopia where
> institutions dissolve (like Kevin's view) but are replaced by large-scale
> thinking networks.

Well, I think we will see a diversity of approaches, especially as people 
set up seastead networks and space habitat networks. :-) With many 
experiments, and many failures, always considering the meshwork/hierarchy 
balance issue of Manuel de Landa.

And my definition of utopia is that parents can spend a lot of time raising 
their kids without too many disasters. :-) But, that said, I like Iain 
Banks' Culture Novels and I like Hogan's "Voyage from Yesteryear" and "The 
Two Faces of Tomorrow" and many of his other writings. I don't really know 
what will happen. I still think there is a significant chance we will blow 
ourselves up (or substitute plagues or military robots or whatever might 
happen) in order to make our circumstances fit our ideology.  Kind of like 
what happened to the book version of "what dreams may come", where people 
make their own hells by their beliefs.

I think our elite seems to be getting more out of touch with reality in this 
Great Recession, not less, as decisions get made even more and more out of 
fear, leading to hording, defensiveness, shutting down considering new ideas 
or playfulness, and so on. We need good art to move past that IMHO. A lot 
more of it. Everywhere. And immediately. We need a new economic mythology. 
And fast. :-)

But, I see more stuff is happening, like the link you posted to this:
   "The End of Human Labor"
and related to that at youtube, this:
   "The Great Scam of Human Labor"

And stuff like that was said back to 1964 and earlier.

But that's all dry. Most people won't get that. We need art, music, poetry, 
videos, songs, mime, theater, novels, and so on on that issue, showing the 
irony of using post-scarcity ideas to create artificial scarcity. Then some 
of it may sink through into the elite, and they may take action (or at 
least, take inaction) in order to help their own children. Of course, at the 
same time everyone else needs to build alternatives. But the elite can 
really mess us up if they start bringing out the weapons to back up their 
ideology. Imagine what would have happened if the USSR had decided to use 
nukes when the Berlin wall fell. But they didn't. They accepted it. We need 
to seed the ground so the elites concede gracefully, seeing their own 
children's self interest.

As Sting sang, "I hope Russians love their children, too". Well, "I hope 
elite people love their children, too". Unfortunately, if you look at the 
related research, that assumption is questionable: :-(
   "Children of the Affluent: Challenges to Well-Being"
"Growing up in the culture of affluence can connote various psychosocial 
risks. Studies have shown that upper-class children can manifest elevated 
disturbance in several areas—such as substance use, anxiety, and 
depression—and that two sets of factors seem to be implicated, that is, 
excessive pressures to achieve and isolation from parents (both literal and 
emotional). Whereas stereotypically, affluent youth and poor youth are 
respectively thought of as being at “low risk” and “high risk,” comparative 
studies have revealed more similarities than differences in their adjustment 
patterns and socialization processes."

So, "I hope at least a few elite people love their children, too", to be 
realistic. And those keep the others somewhat in check and let everyone else 
get on with the activity of building a John Lennon "Imagine" world.

--Paul Fernhout

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