Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How
- 1 Chapters
- 2 The Development of a Society Can Never Be Subject to Rational Human Control
- 3 Why the Technological System Will Destroy Itself
- 4 How to Transform a Society: Errors to Avoid
- 5 Strategic Guidelines for an Anti-Tech Movement
- 6 References
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
- The Development of a Society Can Never Be Subject to Rational Human Control
- Why the Technological System Will Destroy Itself
- How to Transform a Society: Errors to Avoid
- Strategic Guidelines for an Anti-Tech Movement
The Development of a Society Can Never Be Subject to Rational Human Control
Society is a complex system that can never be subject to rational human control.
Even granting that the behavior of a society is unpredictable in the long term, it may nevertheless be possible to steer a society rationally by means of continual short-term interventions.
However, every complex, large-scale society is subject to internal developments generated by "natural selection" operating on systems that exist within the society.
Why the Technological System Will Destroy Itself
- A self-propagating system (or self-prop system for short) is a system that tends to promote its own survival and propagation. A system may propagate itself in either or both of two ways: The system may indefinitely increase its own size and/or power, or it may give rise to new systems that possess some of its own attributes.
- The world-system is used to mean all things that exist on Earth, together with the functional relations among them.
- Proposition 1. In any environment that is sufficiently rich, self-propagating systems will arise, and natural selection will lead to the evolution of self-propagating systems having increasingly complex, subtle, and sophisticated means of surviving and propagating themselves.
- Proposition 2. In the short term, natural selection favors self-propagating systems that pursue their own short-term advantage with little or no regard for long-term consequences.
A corollary to Proposition 2 is:
- Proposition 3. Self-propagating subsystems of a given supersystem tend to become dependent on the supersystem and on the specific conditions that prevail within the supersystem.
- Proposition 4. Problems of transportation and communication impose a limit on the size of the geographical region over which a self-prop system can extend its operations.
Human experience suggests:
- Proposition 5. The most important and the only consistent limit on the size of the geographical regions over which self-propagating human groups extend their operations is the limit imposed by the available means of transportation and communication. In other words, while not all self-propagating human groups tend to extend their operations over a region of maximum size, natural selection tends to produce some self-propagating human groups that operate over regions approaching the maximum size allowed by the available means of transportation and communication.
- Proposition 6. In modern times, natural selection tends to produce some self-propagating human groups whose operations span the entire globe. Moreover, even if human beings are some day replaced by machines or other entities, natural selection will still tend to produce some self-propagating systems whose operations span the entire globe.
- Proposition 7. Where (as today) problems of transportation and communication do not constitute effective limitations on the size of the geographical regions over which self-propagating systems operate, natural selection tends to create a world in which power is mostly concentrated in the possession of a relatively small number of global self-propagating systems.
Why "world peace" will be unstable
Three reasons why "world peace" will be unstable:
- First, the world-system will still be highly complex and tightly coupled.
- Second, prior to the arrival of "world peace" and for the sake of their own survival and propagation, the self-prop subsystems of a given global self-prop system (their supersystem) will have put aside, or at least moderated, their mutual conflicts in order to present a united front against any immediate external threats or challenges to the supersystem (which are also threats or challenges to themselves).
- Third, let's nevertheless assume that the most powerful self-prop subsystems of the global self-prop systems will not begin to compete destructively when the external challenges to their supersystems have been removed.
Sixth mass extinction
The world is also currently undergoing a "sixth mass extinction."
"Techies" also dream of immortality, using the following technological utopia goals in mind.
- The indefinite preservation of the living human body as it exists today
- The merging of humans with machines and the indefinite survival of the resulting man-machine hybrids
- The "uploading" of minds from human brains into robots or computers, after which the uploaded minds are to live forever within the machines
The first goal is highly improbable, and the final two will cause humans to "be transformed into something totally alien to human beings as we know them today."
How to Transform a Society: Errors to Avoid
- Postulate 1. You can't change a society by pursuing goals that are vague or abstract. You have to have a clear and concrete goal. As an experienced activist put it: "Vague, over-generalized objectives are seldom met. The trick is to conceive of some specific development which will inevitably propel your community in the direction you want it to go."
- Postulate 2. Preaching alone-the mere advocacy of ideas-cannot bring about important, long-lasting changes in the behavior of human beings, unless in a very small minority.
- Postulate 3. Any radical movement tends to attract many people who may be sincere, but whose goals are only loosely related to the goals of the movement. The result is that the movement's original goals may become blurred, if not completely perverted.
- Postulate 4. Every radical movement that acquires great power becomes corrupt, at the latest, when its original leaders (meaning those who joined the movement while it was still relatively weak) are all dead or politically inactive. In saying that a movement becomes corrupt, we mean that its members, and especially its leaders, primarily seek personal advantages (such as money, security, social status, powerful offices, or a career) rather than dedicating themselves sincerely to the ideals of the movement.
From these postulates we can infer certain rules to which every radical movement should pay close attention.
- Rule 1. In order to change a society in a specified way, a movement should select a single, clear, simple, and concrete objective the achievement of which will produce the desired change.
- Rule 2. If a movement aims to transform a society, then the objective selected by the movement must be of such a nature that, once the objective has been achieved, its consequences will be irreversible. This means that, once society has been transformed through the achievement of the objective, society will remain in its transformed condition without any further effort on the part of the movement or anyone else.
- Rule 3. Once an objective has been selected, it is necessary to persuade some small minority to commit itself to the achievement of the objective by means more potent than mere preaching or advocacy of ideas. In other words, the minority will have to organize itself for practical action.
- Rule 4. In order to keep itself faithful to its objective, a radical movement should devise means of excluding from its ranks all unsuitable persons who may seek to join it.
- Rule 5. Once a revolutionary movement has become powerful enough to achieve its objective, it must achieve its objective as soon as possible, and in any case before the original revolutionaries (meaning those who joined the movement while it was still relatively weak) die or become politically inactive.
Strategic Guidelines for an Anti-Tech Movement
- First, the movement must build its own internal sources of power.
- Second, the movement must build power in relation to its social environment.
- Third, to help pave the way for this loss of respect and confidence, the movement should do what it can to undermine people's faith in the technological system.
To summarize, the expected pattern for a revolution against the technological system will be something like the following:
- A small movement, a cohesive cadre of committed, hard-core revolutionaries, will build its internal strength by developing its own organization and discipline.
- A large minority of the general population will recognize that the revolutionaries' ideas have some merit. But this minority will reject the revolutionaries' solutions, if only through reluctance to change familiar ways of living or as a result of cowardice or apathy.
- Eventually there will arrive a crisis, or a failure of the system serious enough to enable the revolutionaries to create a crisis.
- Even so, the revolutionary movement will probably be able to gain the active support only of some fairly small minority of the population.
- The established authorities meanwhile will be disoriented, frightened, or discouraged, and therefore incapable of organizing an effective defense. Consequently, power will be in the hands of the revolutionaries.
- By the time revolutionaries have taken power in one nation-for example, the United States-globalization will have proceeded even farther than it has today, and nations will be even more interdependent than they are now. Consequently, when revolutionaries have brought the technological system to an abrupt halt in the United States, the economy of the entire world will be severely disrupted and the acute crisis that results will give the anti-tech revolutionaries of all nations the opportunity that they need.
- The revolutionaries must recognize the moment when decisive action arrives, and then must press forward without any hesitation, vacillation, doubts, or scruples to the achievement of their ultimate goal. Hesitation or vacillation would throw the movement into disarray and would confuse and discourage its members.
- Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How, second edition (2020) from Fitch & Madison Publishers.