And that’s not such a horrible thing, either. I was inspired to write this by Claire Wolfe’s recent blog post, titled “Something there is that doesn’t love a government.” It started with poetry, and ended the same way…in my view, anyway.
I wrote something with a similar thrust a few years ago on my software blog, titled “Subtext, and Saving the World.” So I was kinda on that page already.
Thing is, I really do think governments are outdated notions we cling to out of…well, familiarity and a desire for security on one side, and rampaging ego and entitlement on the other. In support of this radical notion:
- I don’t think the intertoobz have shown us all they can do. They’re reaching farther and farther into our lives, and it’s becoming more difficult to live a life disconnected. This is both good and bad, but either way it seems inescapable.
- Along with that, our online identities are getting less and less anonymous–or at least some of them are. Which means we reveal an awful lot about ourselves, which (along with the many downsides to this phenomenon) makes scams based on misrepresentation & fraud less credible over time.
- At some point 3D printers will further distribute the means of production. This will probably be huge, and I wish I could see the future well enough to begin to understand how it will affect us. Maybe I’ll write a book and let my fingers speculate on it, just for fun.
- My experience living “off the grid” in Alaska has convinced me that central management of utilities, too, is outdated. It didn’t cost much to generate my own power and pull my own water from the ground…if we’d been able to form a neighborhood co-op for that stuff without running afoul of the law, it would have cost us all far less than city dwellers pay. And, of course, distributed power/utility management creates a far more robust system anyway. The idea of large numbers of people doing completely without power is absurdly easy to design into oblivion once you let go of the notion of central control (not to mention that a lot of those people could manage their basic needs by buying a cheap inverter and plugging into their own cars for power even now). Any advances in power generation or storage will have huge, far-reaching social effects–which I can’t really see from here, but I hope to experience them someday.
- eBay and Wikipedia (to pick two examples of many) have started to show that we don’t really need central regulation to manage interpersonal (or business) relations. With eBay, you can cheat anyone you like. With Wikipedia, you can trash any article you like. (Don’t believe me? Go try it. I’ll wait.) Either way? In the long run it won’t do you much good. Similar reputation-scoring systems are proliferating all over the place. Which, it struck me the other day, enables the techie world’s version of “shunning.”
Put all that together, add a few more years to let these things simmer, and it becomes fairly clear why the two Anointed Political Parties here in the United States are converging on tighter & tighter control of citizens. They’re scared, basically, because the world is moving beyond them. It’s interesting to watch these aggregate entities behave as if they have a firmer grasp of the world they live in than their constituent humans do…maybe there’s another book in that. I don’t know enough about their lifecycle to speculate on how the current critters will perish–but they do seem to be drowning in their own poisons, and their demands of obedience do seem a mite more shrill just lately.
So, cast stones and storm my castle with torches if you like. Regardless, the future? It’s coming.