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Heroes Community > Other Side of the Monitor > Thread: Utopia and the End of History
Thread: Utopia and the End of History This thread is 5 pages long: 1 2 3 4 5 · NEXT»
mvassilev
mvassilev


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posted February 23, 2009 12:24 AM
Edited by mvassilev at 04:16, 23 Feb 2009.

Utopia and the End of History

The dust settles, and man builds his world. How?

What is your vision of utopia? How possible is it? (Assuming that humanity doesn't destroy itself in a nuclear Armageddon.) And how can it be achieved?

---

The Historical Process

The fundamental nature of living things is to not be dominated, and dominate others. Through evolution, though, this was somewhat modified into a more social structure, as in ants, bees, and wolves. There is a rigid social structure, and the individual being lives to serve it. Humanity, many of its instincts banished by basic reason, cannot rely on either of these two impulses completely. Humans need a code of morals because nothing else can motivate them to act in any certain way. (Note that a code of morals need not be complex; it can be as simple as "do whatever it takes to survive" - but humans, possessing reason, would have to reach this goal differently than an animal would.)

Thus, humanity has compromised somewhat between these two impulses - it has a social contract. (The following in italics is quoted from me in the Moral Philosophy thread.) Initially, society (which is comprised of many individuals) agrees among itself that none of them would like to be murdered or stolen from, so they say, "OK, murder is harmful. But that is too nuanced, and someone might say, 'Who gives a **** about what society thinks? I'm a nonconformist!' Therefore, we must teach our children that murder is not merely harmful but 'wrong'." (Of course, this didn't happen all at once, and they didn't sit and conspire about it.) So it became ingrained into the vast majority of societies that murder is wrong. Thus arose what I will call the First Round of Morals, or the non-aggression principle: thou shalt not harm thy fellow man. But the First Round was also largely innate.

Then people realized that this is working quite well, so it might be good to expand it. "Hey, I wish people helped me when I need help. But what benefit would they get from it? I know, let's teach our children that it's 'good' to help others." So they did, and there became an emotional benefit to helping others. Thus came the Second Round of Morals, or the mutual aid principle: help thy fellow man. This too was largely innate. The First and Second Round of Morals could be combined as the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

So far, there is no real reason for morals not to be absolute (as in applying to the vast majority of societies). But then came the Twisting of the Morals. Partly this came from religion. Tribal shamans came to power, and said, "The gods will strike you down if you disobey my commandments!" And so as religions developed, different morals were added and some morals were changed. For example, "thou shalt not harm thy fellow man" sometimes became "thou shalt not harm thy fellow man, unless he followeth a different God, in which case strike him down." Some morals, though, got reinforced. Instead of "thou shalt not harm thy fellow man because then he shall harm thee", it became "thou shalt not harm thy fellow man or Zeus will throw a lightning bolt on thy head." Later came nationalism, which sometimes said, "Thou shalt not harm thy fellow Russian/Serb/German/Israeli, but shalt strike down or run off all of the foreign barbarians that live on thy lands." Since in different cultures all of this developed differently, morals often became somewhat different.
This explains why society is confused so often - it has all these forces pushing at it - instincts, the Golden Rule, and the Twisted Morals.

Nevertheless, the non-aggression principle has especially embedded itself into society - even though it's not always followed. It is for this reason that all oppressive power structures eventually fall - though it may take a long time. Communism fell. The Latin American dictatorships fell. The hegemony of the Catholic Church fell. And all the dictatorships of today will also someday fall.

However, there is another side - the side that causes all of the problems. Reason is not always easy for everyone to use all the time, especially in times of want or tribulation. It is by exploiting this side that oppressive forces can come to power. Thus it was in Russia and in Germany. It is ironic to note that FDR, who made much use of this principle, publicly noted that "People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made" - even though these dictatorships make then even more hungry and unemployed, but then it's too late.

This is why humanity has to be watchful in times of prosperity, and doubly so in times of want. It shouldn't give up its reason to the wolves. Moreover, people should try to spread the structures of freedom to where they are lacking - but they cannot do this through military force. Oppression in the cause of freedom is still oppression - the neoconservatives learned it in Iraq. Instead, people should be a shining beacon that inspires others to do the same.

There is no historical inevitability of the triumph of reason and freedom. Humanity may bomb itself out of existence, or it may simply continue in its freedom-slavery cycle for the rest of its existence. This was one of Marx's many mistakes, as all of the Communist countries showed. Mao Zedong was, interestingly, closer to the mark. He said that class struggle has to continue under socialism or those in power would simply revert the system back to capitalism. Though of course he was advocating an oppressive structure, a similar principle should be applied here - humanity has to be watchful in times of freedom or there will be those who exploit the unwatchful to destroy liberty.

---

Utopia

However, if humanity becomes watchful, the ways of freedom will ingrain themselves into society more and more. Thus, the following society should ensue:

Man lives in peace and harmony with each other. There is no discrimination on the basis of race, gender, or sexual orientation. There is no distrust of scientific advancements and no anti-intellectualism. Humanity uses the environment wisely, and takes as little as necessary from it. People associate and exchange voluntarily and help each other while helping themselves. The costs of environmental degradation are built into the system, so there is no danger of making the Earth uninhabitable. Everyone is well-educated and does not have to do manual labor - that is done by machines. Instead, most people devote themselves to philosophy, science, technological development, or art/literature.

My utopia is thus.
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Minion
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posted February 23, 2009 01:19 AM

I really like the way it sounds, your utopia. On the surface. What about under the surface, what about the ones that don't fit there? I remember once you said that handicapped people are a burden for society..or something like that, I don't remember anymore. So how would you see them in your utopia?

Also, I bet that all animals would be genetically altered to feed as many people as possibly. As their only function in your opinion is to benefit the human society.
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Binabik
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posted February 23, 2009 01:29 AM
Edited by Binabik at 01:32, 23 Feb 2009.

This is basically the same as the "Where is the world going" thread. "Where is the world going?" could be rephrased as "is the world getting closer or further from utopia?"

It also suffers from some of the same problems. What is the definition? What criteria do you use? How do you measure it?

In threads like these, the topic is more or less all encompassing. Therefore all topics are on topic since it's part of the whole. As such it's extremely easy to get off topic talking about all the stuff that's on topic.

How long before this degenerates into another socialism vs capitalism argument? Some people will insist that a utopian society must be a socialist society. Others will believe  just the opposite. As I stated above, how do you define utopia? No two people would ever agree except maybe on some broad generalities.

This is the reason why a utopia doesn't exist. It's the reason it CAN'T exist. For example my utopia would be VERY different than the one you described. I would probably agree with maybe a little over half of your utopia. And some of the things I VERY STRONGLY disagree with, maybe even to the point of being willing to kill or die to prevent it (the last sentence for example). That's the problem, that's the reason it can't exist.

I suppose my utopia would be the world I'm living in now. It's a very beautiful place with a lot of good people. It's FAR from perfect, but in all my millennia of time on this earth I've never come up with something better. It's called a compromise. This is why the social and political pendulum continues to swing. I don't think we can find a good static compromise because a major part of the population will always be disenchanted. But the swing of the pendulum gives us some semblance of that center.

The fastest route that I know of toward utopia is to turn off the TV and especially quit watching the news. The best source of news is your own eyes and ears. And I kind of hate to say this, but I am really starting to believe more and more that the world is better off without the internet. (I'll spare the rant about that one for now)

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mvassilev
mvassilev


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posted February 23, 2009 02:18 AM

Minion:
Severely handicapped people are certainly a burden on society - they can't work, but must be fed. Nevertheless, it is wrong to kill them.

As for animals - we wouldn't even need to eat them. We'd have tiny pills that fulfill all of our dietary needs. And, for those who like it, we could have taste "stuff", or something like that.

Binabik:
Actually, this thread is supposed to be pretty different from the Where is the World Going, because while that thread focuses on the relatively short-term events that shape the world, this one looks more at the big picture, and is also more optimistic.

So what's your vision of utopia? And why don't you like people devoting themselves to pursuits of the mind?
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TheDeath
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posted February 23, 2009 03:36 AM
Edited by TheDeath at 03:39, 23 Feb 2009.

Quote:
The fundamental nature of living things is to not be dominated, and dominate others. Through evolution, though, this was somewhat modified into a more social structure, as in ants, bees, and wolves.
I disagree. Evolution does indeed make some species more dominant than others, but evolution gives reason as well and empathy. It could be seen that the actual evolution process would be to NOT be dominant, but being ABLE to (just not doing it -- being able to kill doesn't mean you SHOULD kill if you want to be 'evolved'; same for domination). Evolution alters the methods not just by their efficiency but by shaping the goal as well. Many enlightened people are not concerned only with plain survival anymore, for example. Likewise we shouldn't be concerned with the traits we inherited but are 'lower' in evolution -- such as the greed for tyranny or domination.

Also, you either have conflicting terms, or terms without any limits or boundaries whatsoever. For example here:
Quote:
Humanity uses the environment wisely, and takes as little as necessary from it.
What's necessity? One could argue, computers are not a necessity. Scientific advancements aren't either. Necessity to do what? Live? Oh boy we can survive without TVs or other stuff like that.

But I do know you actually mean what we CONSIDER necessity, which simply places it in the second category (still completely uncontrollable): without limits. Is TV a necessity? Why not a tank in the garage? Why not a nuke owned per person? Where's the limit? (notice I did not say anything about using them; and remember the TV uses energy and materials as well).

I conclude that your definition is fatally flawed because it either allows too much subjectivism and bias into it (different people consider different things 'necessity'), or not really fitting with the previous things you said (such as scientific advancements --> those aren't necessary).

Quote:
There is no discrimination on the basis of race, gender, or sexual orientation. There is no distrust of scientific advancements and no anti-intellectualism.
Discrimination will always be there, as long as we are selfish. And no it's not just fear of change but even envy. What if females are needed, in let's say, singing? What happens with the guys that would have wanted to sing, but were rejected by the composers so to speak (maybe they have preference for female voices (higher pitch), possibly)? This is one stupid example to illustrate it.

'Distrust' of scientific advancements? What is that? I think rather this would stop being a problem is 'political' science would just step out of the politics, ethics or other factors which dictate our lives. (i.e articles beginning with "the research has shown that..." to make people DECIDE ethics or politics or other crap!). When people use it as a tool, as it should be used, there is no 'trust' component. It's only when science degenerates to what we have today and applies to so many areas it isn't even compatible (by original definition) that it becomes that problem. And no, 'distrust' in that is perfectly understandable.

What about using your computer to perform computations? As much as 'computers don't make mistakes' fanboys may scream, saying that you do not trust them is perfectly reasonable. Computers CAN make errors (usually not by design though).

Quote:
As for animals - we wouldn't even need to eat them. We'd have tiny pills that fulfill all of our dietary needs. And, for those who like it, we could have taste "stuff", or something like that.
I kinda like how this sounds. Me being with the "efficiency" and all (regarding sexuality) so applying it here is good as well.

Quote:
And why don't you like people devoting themselves to pursuits of the mind?
I actually kinda support you on that, but not just the left-brain as you do, but also the right-brain (hemisphere), which deals with art and possibly love as well (more so than the left). Because i noticed when you speak of 'mind' you're only referring to the left.
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mvassilev
mvassilev


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posted February 23, 2009 04:22 AM

Quote:
Evolution does indeed make some species more dominant than others, but evolution gives reason as well and empathy.
I meant, except in the case of humans.

Quote:
What's necessity?
Okay, I didn't put that very well. What I meant was that people would have a higher standard of living than they do now and take much less from the environment.

Quote:
Discrimination will always be there, as long as we are selfish.
Discrimination is irrational, especially if you're selfish. If you hire a less productive white guy over a more productive black guy, you'd be shooting yourself in the foot. Obviously, whenever the situation requires a certain gender or race, that's different. But when you're hiring a programmer or a doctor, it doesn't matter, so that discrimination would be counter-productive.

Quote:
'Distrust' of scientific advancements? What is that? I think rather this would stop being a problem is 'political' science would just step out of the politics, ethics or other factors which dictate our lives.
I mean stuff as varied as global warming denial, human reproductive cloning, human organ farming (without growing them inside an animal or human), and other stuff that is usually bundled together by its opponents as "playing God".

Quote:
I actually kinda support you on that, but not just the left-brain as you do, but also the right-brain (hemisphere), which deals with art and possibly love as well (more so than the left).
Actually, I didn't include that simply because I forgot about it. I included it now. Thanks for reminding me.
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JollyJoker
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posted February 23, 2009 08:23 AM

I disagree with a lot of points in the opening post, and as long as humans are imperfect mortals there will be no Utopia except the striving to reach one, no matter how that hypothetical Utopia may look like.
No Utopia should involve people starving to death, so we are a long way from it, obviously.

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Doomforge
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posted February 23, 2009 08:53 AM

I agree with JJ.

We're as far from it as we were 1000 years ago. Just because villagers don't get slain by marauders every night doesn't mean we're any better.

There will be no utopia, not now, not ever. Capitalism enforces a certain "more for MEEEEEEE" style of living, which obviously makes wealth and gathering goods the prime point of many people's lives.

See a common person. What are his dreams? To get lots of money so he can buy a house. A big car. A 40'' plasma TV. To get more and more possessions. But not just to have them. It's no longer fun when EVERYBODY has them. Your average Joe needs MORE than his neighbors, to feel better.

There was a poll once, about whether people would choose a bigger house in a great place, but surrounded by equally big houses, or a smaller house in a mediocre place, but biggest of all the houses on the street. Most chose the second option. People need to feel better so much that they will choose a worse option if only it means they are superior to the average person next door.

Pathetic, if you ask me. Shows a lot about "civilized" people. We live to boost our ego. We live to brag how cool of life we live.

This leads me to conclusion that - aside from more obvious things like famine, drought and so on - we can't live in a utopia. Not with attitude like that. There's nothing bad in living a good, comfortable life, but doing it just to feel superior.. meh. It happens on all levels, beggars to millionaires.

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Mytical
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posted February 23, 2009 09:07 AM

Although Utopia will never exsist as long as man(and woman)kind let others and other things own them my idea of Utopia is what some may consider the 'traditional' Utopia.

Where people do not have to work, unless they want to, and everybody has everything they could possibly NEED.  The only WANT that still exsists is the want to do something to aid society as a whole.  People are not concerned about such petty things as age, sex, religion, etc.  Each person is free to live however they want, as long as it doesn't harm others.  (Ie no human sacrifices, etc).  Everybody accepts people for who they are.  Nutrition is perfected and each person only needs (and/or wants if you prefer) 1 'pill' a day.  That pill not only is personalized to perfection nutrition wise, but keeps a person from being hungry for the rest of the day.

Sickness/illness is a thing of the past.  Every disease, etc has been cured totally.  Hunger is unknown (thanks to the 'super pill'), and people have all the leisure time they can want.  Time is pretty much forgotten.  People know it exsists, but are not bound by a clock. There is no need for government or police, as everybody is more concerned about helping others then what they can get for themselves.  Species once extinct are brought back through science, and the population of humans naturally adapts to be in balance with nature.  There is no need for population control, however, it just naturally occurs.

Large cities are no longer desired or needed.  Transportation to places are instant, so people can live anywhere and still have a 'community'.  Goods can arrive somewhere instantly, so no need for such things as shopping malls.  Interestingly, however resorts are even more popular.  Activity areas (such as rafting, skydiving, etc) are plenty and popular.  After all, they have to do something with all that free time with 'perfect' bodies (for them that is ).  Enough for now, I may finish this later
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Doomforge
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posted February 23, 2009 09:08 AM

The pill idea? No way. What about the pleasure of eating
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Mytical
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posted February 23, 2009 09:09 AM

Lol.  Well that is why it is MY idea of utopia and not yours. .  But I do agree with your post above my first post.  Sadly people are too worried about themselves to worry about anybody else.
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Doomforge
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posted February 23, 2009 09:24 AM

But what about the sweets, cakes and all of that? The pill destroys so many good things
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Binabik
Binabik


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posted February 23, 2009 10:10 AM

Quote:
everybody is more concerned about helping others

That can't be a perfect world. Helping others implies that they need help which is less than perfect.


In my perfect world there would be no thieves.

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Minion
Minion


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posted February 23, 2009 01:29 PM

Quote:
Minion:
Severely handicapped people are certainly a burden on society - they can't work, but must be fed. Nevertheless, it is wrong to kill them.

As for animals - we wouldn't even need to eat them. We'd have tiny pills that fulfill all of our dietary needs. And, for those who like it, we could have taste "stuff", or something like that.




I like that

But I just want to remind you that the best way to have a balanced nature, I mean that it corrects itself when damaged, is to keep the flora and fauna as diverse as possible. Why? Because then it is more able to adopt to given situations. I just brought these up because you mentioned the importance of keeping earth habitable, but the animals were left unmentioned and you have made it quite clear what you see as their place in the society. But yes, a society that doesn't need to exploit them, that is good utopia.
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mvassilev
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posted February 23, 2009 03:05 PM

Doomforge:
What you're describing is typical consumerism, and I'm against that. Too often, people let their stuff use them, instead of the other way around. People buy a big-screen TV and a huge home theater system, and it uses them, instead of them using it. And they're never happy. That's because they haven't grasped the paradox of hedonism. People who actively pursue pleasure will never have much of it.

Mytical:
Doesn't sound very different from my utopia. I like it.

Minion:
Indeed, there is some value in biodiversity.
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DeadMan
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posted February 23, 2009 03:28 PM

Your vision and descriptions are realistic, but ignore the fact that in times of want, some people will always succumb to demagoguery and will give up their freedoms. That is why while there is material lack, freedom can't last forever.

And your utopia could still succumb to the same problem, because it would simply introduce new forms of scarcity. Let me tell you that peasants revolts' weren't motivated by power outages.
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Darkshadow
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posted February 23, 2009 03:33 PM

Quote:
Humanity uses the environment wisely, and takes as little as necessary from it.


Unless they find a way to artifically create materials cheaply, that will never happen.

Quote:
People associate and exchange voluntarily and help each other while helping themselves.


So long as there is people, that won't happen either...
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TheDeath
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posted February 23, 2009 08:54 PM
Edited by TheDeath at 21:04, 23 Feb 2009.

Quote:
Okay, I didn't put that very well. What I meant was that people would have a higher standard of living than they do now and take much less from the environment.
With that I agree. However measuring that is also subjective; for example, I certainly bet that an emo has a better standard of living by our standards than a starving child in Africa who barely survives (but still does). Nevertheless he still feels depressed and probably suicides later on...

Quote:
I mean stuff as varied as global warming denial, human reproductive cloning, human organ farming (without growing them inside an animal or human), and other stuff that is usually bundled together by its opponents as "playing God".
Uh, I agree with half of it and disagree with the other half. For example, I agree that growing them "inside of animals" is just worse, than growing them artificially -- animals suffer regardless. But who said that growing them artificially is flawless? The 'ideal' solution would be to not do it at ALL -- i.e find alternative ways or not requiring it. However since this thread is about idealism then I can state that there will always be alternatives or simply lower our demand...

Quote:
Actually, I didn't include that simply because I forgot about it. I included it now. Thanks for reminding me.
You know I agree a lot with your Utopia
but of course disagree at some levels (for example, if you ask me what system to use, I would say socialism, but if people are 100% angels as in an Utopia, I would say pure communism (not the crap we had), which has no government whatsoever in the real sense)


@JJ: this isn't about whether what we have NOW is an Utopia or not. It's about what you think it should look, even if it is impossible. You can even add Angels in the equation if you want

@Doomforge:
Quote:
There will be no utopia, not now, not ever. Capitalism enforces a certain "more for MEEEEEEE" style of living, which obviously makes wealth and gathering goods the prime point of many people's lives.
Here's where I agree and disagre with mvass. Capitalism will always be about staying ahead and getting more. This is a problem, because it has no limits. And the problem is outlined in the emo example above -- when you get more, you are satisfied also with more -- i.e you NEED more to get the end satisfaction. A starving child in Africa is satisfied with some food -- a big ass CEO is only satisfied with millions of dollars and 5 different Ferraris...

Quote:
The pill idea? No way. What about the pleasure of eating
You wouldn't have it. Or wouldn't need it. (like I said in the Sex and Drugs thread, which I left alone cause it wasted too much time and was going in circles; at least without anything new to the table).

In short, you wouldn't even need this pleasure because probably you would either not have that specific need or it was satisfied some other way.

A virtual reality like in the Matrix for example, doesn't deprive you of needs, but it does satisfy them virtually. Personally I prefer the former as it wastes less energy and time and makes you more aware of other things. But even the latter is okish.

Quote:
Unless they find a way to artifically create materials cheaply, that will never happen.
That would violate the theory. What we need is to change humanity's mentality to achieve that. Both in respect/love/friendship AND demand/necessity. (like "I need 5 ferraris!!!")




For my Utopia I think, if we can handle responsibility (as per Utopia ofc), we need to take more the roles as protectors or parents of some sort. We might have good lives but we should ensure things aren't disturbed otherwise. (might even let nature run its course in many places).

It's the only humanity that I will be fond of getting out in space and protecting stuff out there instead of harvesting it till it's dead (yes this includes inanimate things like Stars and Planets, which I consider "dead" once used, like e.g: sucking away all the energy of a star for example). Kinda makes us more noble and even above Protoss that way
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Doomforge
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posted February 23, 2009 09:09 PM

Death, let's not go to the "pleasure" thread again (looks around for JJ )

Anyway, indeed, for a starving child a bread is worth more than a new ferrari to your random rich fatbutt. And by the rules of capitalism, the kid should satiate the hunger, then, get some new clothes, new bike, then aim for a car, a house, a plasma TV... Capitalism is something that people cling to desperately, almost everyone wants those damn cars and TVs, because EVERYONE does it. And instead of saying "hello lemmings" and enjoying his own business, he follows. Why does it suck? Well, just look at the number of unhappy people with plasma TVs and big cars. It's big. The problem is, capitalism teaches people to allocate all their effort into getting education, good job, and more and more stuff into their oversized house, and other things, like, family relations (parents -> kids) suffer. Instead of a new toy, the kid would most likely prefer to spend some time with his dad or mum, but they can't give it to him.

They are too busy working for another car and a bigger TV
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TheDeath
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posted February 23, 2009 09:18 PM
Edited by TheDeath at 21:20, 23 Feb 2009.

Well I just said, lowering our needs for stuff (including pleasure) that doesn't affect our health and/or other mental activities is a step towards a better Utopia, if an Utopia already has them.

But with the capitalism I agree. It's not just a "food or TV?" but rather, the increasing NEEDs so to speak (not really needs as per requirements but more like being spoiled). i.e: you get food, you're happy if you were starving. You get a new car, you're happy if you didn't have one. You get a new car when you are a multi-billionaire and already own 10 expensive cars, you will NOT be satisfied.

Problem is, even above with the big TV example of yours, once you have that TV, you will enjoy it some time. But after that you'll want MORE -- a bigger TV or more TVs if it's already too big, or more exotic stuff, or whatever. After you get that you'll want even more. It never ends, that's the problem, and it will ALWAYS be this "happy--unhappy--go and work for new stuff--buy the new stuff" cycle which repeats CONTINUOUSLY in pure capitalism (yes 'pure' because obviously it's extreme).

My version of socialism (not Deadman's for example ) involves knowing when to put an end to it, a limit, and appreciating the stuff you have instead of wanting more -- and possibly instead of taking the role of the "consumer of the Universe", maybe be responsible enough to take the role of parent or caretaker or whatever (consumer because you act like a consumer who buys more and more from the universe since his needs grow and never satisfied permanently)
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