The Bikecast Episode #26: From Here to There, The Unimaginable Future
All manner of blueprints exist for future societies in which human interactions are governed by a principal other than might-makes-right. While these are brilliant in their own right and demonstrate the human capacity for problem solving, they are the tip of the iceberg of ideas and models of human social and economic relations. As alternatives to violence are explored, the number of people who have experienced a life free from domination will increase. At the same time, the ways in which people can communicate are growing ever richer. We can’t even imagine the scope and nature of the solutions that groups of increasingly healthier humans will generate to approach social and economic problems.
The transitional model that seems to be the most developed with the greatest number of practicing adherents is agorism. To oversimplify, agorists aim to replace the current economic system piecemeal by developing alternative relationships. As the state recedes, these alternative economic arrangements become the foundation for the future society. Obviously, “alternative economic arrangements” covers alot of territory: communes, cooperatives, worker-owned businesses, as well as more traditional business/property models insofar as they don’t require violence to conduct their affairs.
The Free State Project was an effort to overwhelm a political region (New Hampshire was eventually chosen) with sufficient “liberty minded” people to take over the government. While that effort has largely failed, a secondary effect has been the attracting of a large number of anarchists to the region. These non-political activists have had a much larger effect and are constantly spinning off new projects and media outlets. They openly commit crimes against the state (victimless crimes) and then refuse to participate in the legal process–this would be difficult or impossible except that they have sufficient numbers to fully support jailed activists.
Other, slightly more fantastic scenarios include the foundation of “free cities” which are exempt from the legal system of the larger political structure. Free cities could also result from secession or other decentralizing processes. The advantage of numerous social structures in a small geographical area is evidenced by the free cities of the renaissance, the Hanseatic league, and the modern city-states of Singapore, Hong Kong, and Monaco.
Finally, along the same lines, Sea-steading promises to, essentially, create additional geographical areas where governance structures can be crafted from scratch.
As brilliant as these ideas and experiments may be, I doubt we would even recognize the proposed forms that will exist at the end of our lifetimes. We are currently trapped in an iron age paradigm of social organization, and are unable to see the kinds of solutions that will seem obvious to future generations freed from arbitrary hierarchy. The fundamental inequality of human beings is an axiom of governance. It has been for 5,000 years. In every conceivable way, we have blown past the primitive tools and technologies of antiquity, except with regard to social organization.
The primary value of the current ideas, in my opinion, is not that they will provide us with the long term patterns that human society will trend towards. They may get us started, but more importantly, they will seed the next generation of models and experiments for social and economic interaction. These in turn, along with the current blueprints, will seed the next generation, and all of these ideas will collectively seed the next.
Each subsequent human generation will be raised in a world that is increasingly aware of alternative means of social organization and increasingly intolerant of the violent, historical forms of human interaction.
The result will be a Cambrian explosion of ideas, models and experiments for social organization and an explosion in the number of humans who’ve lived lives free (or nearly so) of institutional violence. This rapid proliferation of ideas is the analog to the rapid spread of understanding of the natural world and increase in technological innovation during the recession of religion during the enlightenment.
With the creativity of billions of minds working independently and collaboratively, locally and globally, on addressing–really addressing–the problems of human society, the greatest problems will fall beneath thousands of competing and cooperating solutions.
We can’t even begin to imagine how fantastic that world would seem to us.