What if the doomsayers are right and we are facing catastrophic climate related devastation which will bring suffering to billions? Some point to evidence of this already happening now. What if centralized coordination can help reduce this suffering, even if that coordination has to be forced via threats of violence? The concept of a medical passport required and enforced by law (“ceremoniously written down threats of lethal force”) seems to me to be a precursor to accepting significant restrictions on our freedom and lifestyle “for the greater good.” From the top level social and societal view, this may seem reasonable. Who wants to be responsible for taking action (inaction is also an action) which harms billions of people? At what point do we have to, like a parent with a stubborn child who doesn’t understand and doesn’t have a fully-developed reasoning center to understand, simply say, “Because I said so.”? When do we collectively decide the authorities know best, and we go along with them with the intention of reducing inevitable suffering in the world?
I think this fairly steal man’s the argument for why many, even those with a libertarian mindset, are okay with enforcing certain actions while also restricting certain freedoms. This is trolly problem philosophy stuff and there are no easy answers where someone doesn’t get run over.
Herein lies the problem: the rich don’t get run over. At least, not right away. They can delay the inevitable in their bunkers, on their yachts, using their private jets, and so on and so forth. Not only that, the rich have resources to imagine and possibly build something better. They know of Thomas Malthus and how the Malthusian scare of global starvation was ultimately false due to the technological invention of mass production fertilizer (which, ironically enough, was created by the “father of chemical warfare” Fritz Haber). Many of them, like me, believe the human species is incredibly resilient and will find a solution in the nick of time, just like in our favorite movies where the hero saves the day and gets the girl.
But this isn’t a movie. And there may not be any solutions which can make a significant difference in time. Mass extinctions are taking place and the only response we have is, “Well maybe we can clone them back like in Jurassic Park.”
How do we coordinate planet-wide scale action to quickly bring about real change?
Some think we need to use the tools we’ve always used: a monopoly on the initiation of force (and currency creation) in a geographic region (otherwise known as a government). Force people to do what you “know” is best for them. There’s a similarity between this thinking and those who believe you have to physically cause pain in your children to gain their obedience. Child abuse sounds so much nicer when religions describe it or when using words like spanking and corporal punishment. Much less acceptable to say things like “I hit my kid until he does what I want.” And yet, that’s essentially the model of governance which governments use. Obedience (especially to those who use violence to get what they want) is not a moral virtue and if you’re confused about this, study more history.
And some may argue (in spite of many studies done which suggest the opposite see bombinthebrain.com ) that spanking is still necessary. Pain is the great teacher. Until people feel the pain of jail or violence or fines or restrictions on their freedom, they won’t alter their (often selfish) actions in order to benefit the greater good of others and society.
Here’s where I always get lost and have to go off script. Learn about the 260 million deaths caused by government known as democide. That’s a huge number. That’s not a result of some natural, unavoidable “act of God.” It’s a systemic choice to believe in and follow central, violent authority. This story plays out the same way, again and again throughout history. The unintended consequences of training generations to believe in the myth of authority are severe. When these systems of control are in place, nothing prevents totalitarians and dictators from using them for devastating results. When violence is built into the system as legitimate, violent men will rise up to use it.
But what about the billions and their suffering? What about the tough choices where no one wins entirely? Some say to tax (or eat) the rich so that we all share the burden equally. I’ve never seen this work as those with means will simply retreat to their own Galt’s Gulch or lavishly stocked bunker. What if we could create global, non-violent consensus about what is and use non-violent governance models to positively incentivize socially beneficial behavior? This, to me, is exactly what a blockchain is. Some are better than others, sure, and some may be making things worse with their energy use and the increasing inequality created by the coin or cryptocurrency which secures them. This whole space is not even a teenager, and it has accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. I’m optimistic it will play an important role, like fertilizer, in saving humanity and, hopefully, this little blue dot spaceship we call earth.
We face tough times and tough decisions. There are no easy answers. My hope is we can act like human adults, but not parents. What I mean by that is not talking down to others as if they are children and not using “justified” violence to get what we want. As adults, we have to communicate, reason, argue, persuade, and come together to understand. We have to do it quickly. We also have to expose and hold accountable the bad actors who wish to subvert this process with lies, censorship, and violent threats. Keep sharing information that is well supported by unbiased evidence. Keep engaging with smart people you disagree with. Keep an open heart and mind and don’t attach yourself to an identity which would be harmed if you change your mind based on new evidence and perspective.
In short, love.
Love yourself and those around you and those on the other side of the world you will never meet. Love them enough to care about their suffering and your actions which cause it. Become more aware. Don’t be tempted by quick solutions which result in more long-term suffering, but move quickly towards improvements which are sustainable and keep the human spirit of freedom alive. If we survive and lose our humanity we aren’t truly living anyway.