Saturday, August 11, 2007

Okay, a little evolution on the previous idea, thanks to Jym's and Will's prodding. Will and Jym both say pretty much the same thing: sure, you're basically right, but still. There are people who use their entrenched power to keep things the way they are - to keep the poor down, and keep exploiting them.

Well, yes, that's true. And I tend to think that implicit in that statement is the notion that we have to stop them in order to bring about a happier world. But that's a mistake.

Consider the average fat, rich westerner. Take a dozen of us and drop us on a desert island with a plentiful supply of fish, coconuts and roots, and no poisonous plants or predators capable of harming us. But now we pretty much have to kill and gut fish to eat, or figure out how to crack coconuts. Life is manageable. We will survive. But we change, don't we? My guess is I'd lose a lot of weight. If you ran into me a year later, my life would be radically different. What I did on a day to day basis would be completely changed.

What's happened? I've been transplanted into a different ecosystem. It's an ecosystem where my survival is not in question, but what I have to do to survive is completely different.

My argument is this: the institutions you are talking about are like the fat westerners in my story. They are doing bad things to people who don't deserve it, because that's what they think they have to do to survive. And because they live in the same ecosystem we do, this is a problem for us, and we try to solve it by trying to make them stop doing what they are doing. And they resist. They fight tooth and nail. They kill if they have to. Because they see this as a fight for survival.

My point, and I do have one, is that if you want the fat westerners to change, the way to get them to change is to change their ecosystem. You can't bring them to a desert island, but you can bring the desert island to them. You can't stop being in the ecosystem they're in, but if you want to change them, the most effective way to do it is to stop passively accepting the ecosystem as it is, and start changing it.

And by this I don't mean to convince the masses that they have to change. What I mean is, be a more successful organism than the ones whose behavior you hate. Show people how it's done. If you can do that, then maybe there's a chance of changing the world.


Blogger Will Shetterly said...

To show people who value wealth that you're successful, you have to be rich. And becoming the enemy to defeat them does not work.

Also, hard to get your views out there if you're not rich.

But as for the ecosystem, I completely agree. That's why communists want to change it.

Still thinking about all this!

Sunday, August 12, 2007 4:17:00 AM  
Blogger Ted Lemon said...

The point isn't to get the people who are the problem to stop being the problem, Will. It's to change the environment they're in so that they stop being a problem by virtue of the fact that what they have to do to survive is different.

Look: there are how many billion people in the world? And you want to spend your energy impressing the tiny minority who are rich enough to matter? It's hopeless - they won't ever listen to you, no matter what you say.

And getting your views out there is not hard. You have a blog, I have a blog. You write books. Even though your most recent book was pretty hard on the upper class, it still got published.

Communists don't want to change the ecosystem. Communists accept the paradigm of production and control, which is the capitalist paradigm. Communists just want to change who's in charge of the ecosystem - rather than let it run free (capitalism), they want to control it (communism).

But nobody's in charge of the ecosystem. Nobody can be in charge of the ecosystem. The bacteria can't direct the ecosystem. This is why communism failed. This is why capitalism has succeeded in one sense (creating more wealth) and failed in another (making sure everyone participates in the benefits of the wealth).

Where things have been bad and gotten better, it's not been because some ideology took over. It's been because the ecosystem *changed*. And the way the ecosystem changes is for as many people as possible to stop being bacteria!

Sunday, August 12, 2007 4:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

". . . for as many people as possible to stop being bacteria!"

I'll second that!

Sunday, August 12, 2007 6:37:00 PM  

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