Monday, March 30, 2009

Dammit, Lance Part 3: COMMIES!

Okay, I know I need to go on a Twisty Faster post diet before I get all bloated with self-satisfied strawman rage, but I gotta do the comments on that last one. The good news is that a lot of her commenters actually did point out practical issues with this goofy-ass utopia. The bad news is... well, read on.

Everyone would be an artist and everyone a musician. If something needs fixing, everyone would try and if one excelled, they’d deign to teach others who wished to know and they wouldn’t own that knowledge, they wouldn’t carry it around on their chest like a badge to market and to demand “respect” because respect would not be something to be demanded, everyone would have it, everyone would get it because they exist and that’s all there is; existence, the beauty of existence in all things as they are.
That's nice. But some things aren't worth doing if you're going to be equally beautiful and respected either way. People may continue to make music just for the joy of it, but you're going to run awful short of plumbers if you don't offer them something that non-plumbers don't have.

Of course with this kind of fluidity with reality, I’d imagine there wouldn’t be a lot of “progress” as we know it, but then who cares? What’s the rush? Does a dog or a cat rush to find the answer to why they can’t sit at a table and eat with fork and spoon? No, they accept what is and are happy.
Does the mother of a child with a disease rush to find a cure for it? Does a peasant living on a few cups of rice a day rush to produce and distribute food more effectively? Does a farmer with dying crops rush to fertilize and protect and irrigate them? YES THEY FUCKING DO, YOU SPOILED DUMBASS.

But post-revolution, advancement of the species would FINALLY be merit-based. You do what you want, and if you are good at it, other people build off of your work. Whether its organizing people, sequencing DNA, writing music, or playing with kids.
Awesome! Now who's going to fix the shitter?

There is no official parent or guardian. The idea being that the baby is cared for by the community, to which time when its not. The child, who of course, needs less and less care as they get older, would decide for themselves when to move on, who to get guidance from, what they need most. The child would have full rights of self-determination.
When I was fourteen, I would've loved to move out and self-determine my life to center around staying up all night eating pizza and watching anime porn. In retrospect I'm rather glad that I was oppressively dominated out of that.

Education, learning, skills, food, support, information, everything should be shared freely and easily and not maintained as a badge of superiority. If you know how to do something offer to teach others, whether people you know personally or advertising the sharing of these skills. If you have food, share it with the person next to you who might not have any and even if they do have some.
I don't "have" food. I bought it. (Or for illustration let's say I grew it.) I grew enough for me. You want me to grow more? Sure, I'm not stingy... wait, how much more? (Without a market or a government you won't even know.) I might double or triple my patch for warm fuzzies and free music lessons. But if you want to support a First World country's proportion of non-farmers, you need agriculture on a scale that warm fuzzies alone can't motivate. No one clears, tills, plants, tends, and harvests a 500-acre cornfield because their neighbor gave them a free sweater and they feel all obligated.

You might avoid this by having a huge proportion of farmers, but then farming's nearly all your society can do, and by setting potential doctors and engineers and plumbers behind the plow you're dooming a lot of people to unnecessary suffering. Civilization requires specialization, and specialization requires power differentials.

Hey, here's a conundrum: say Farmer Alex grew 100 tons of corn, and Farmer Bob worked dawn to dusk and invented a new way of planting and grew 300 tons. Do they get the same amount of free music lessons and socks and butter from the community? If so, Alex is dominating Bob by getting the same reward for less contribution. If not, if Bob gets more, then he's obviously dominating Alex. You can't eliminate dominance.

Perhaps technological advances will mean there are ways to get robots to the things we don’t want to be doing - cleaning up shit, finding ways to dispose of garbage - but even that strikes a wrong note with me. We are the ones producing the shit and the garbage and should be taking responsibility for it rather than yet again handing over to ‘garbage people’ or even robots to deal with it because we don’t want to.
I am taking responsibility for it; I pay the garbage people. Spending an hour a day maintaining my own personal landfill isn't more virtuous than giving an hour's pay to Rabanco once a month, it's just massively less efficient. (Also... am I supposed to feel bad about imposing upon a robot?)

as soon as someone mentions utopia/revolution/post patriarchy etc there is a gut reaction of people to immediately say ‘but that is impossible!’ and then come up with reasons why it isn’t rather than putting their energy into making it happen.
Because if you don't think critically you can pour all the energy in the world down a hole, doofus.

the thing is that even post-patriarchy is a cultural construct, and has arisen out of culture, in its broadest sense.

But in the end, commenter "Jael" nails it right on the head.
so basically, if we woke up tomorrow and everything was perfect, then everything would be perfect?


  1. Even through the Holly filter Twisty Faster makes my head hurt. How can you read it raw without your head exploding?

  2. That takedown was so good, I feel like I should smoke a cigarette at the end of it. And I don't even smoke!

    They work by handwaving all the logistical problems. As a lawyer, I'm naturally biased to think about this particular problem: How exactly would a code of laws work and be enforced in this utopia? Presumably, there's no crime (somehow), so we don't need criminal lawyers. But unless there's no negligence, no bankruptcy, no corporations, no copyrights, no patents, no negligent infliction of emotional distress, etc., etc., this utopia is going to need some lawyers. Suppose Al and Bob want to farm on the same parcel of land. Who decides who gets it, and how? It is just another form of hand-waving to say, "They'll work it out and/or share," because a lot of people are going to want to live in certain areas no matter what...

  3. Lance - Some people will specialize in conflict resolution if they feel that it's their natural calling, of course! And their decisions will be enforced by... um... hugging.

  4. Reminds me of the Dilbert cartoon when Dogbert wishes for a pacifist world. Which, if everyone else were non-violent, he could take over with a butter knife.

  5. I want to tie these people to a chair and make them read Biting the Sun. The whole point of the book, more or less, is that utopia is actually kind of miserable and crazy-making if you're not doing anything productive with your life.

    I have a feeling it would go right over their heads, though.

  6. Oh, and also:

    Talk about rolling in privilege. The only people who think that farming and/or gathering enough food to feed even one family is an easy, fun, or non-time consuming activity are people who get their ideas about farm work out of Disney movies.

  7. Or, for that matter, sequencing DNA. Having the database to look at at the end is awesome, but actually sequencing and annotating it is a boring, frustrating grind that one only does because one is being paid. There's not a thing inherently fulfilling about it.

  8. I don't know whether to thank you or damn you to hell for introducing me to Twisty. Holy shit! How do you manage to read an entire post?

  9. William the Coroner - You're dealing with the people who cry because they read a story about a story about a doggie getting hurt. (Literally; it's in the OP of the linked post.) (And dammit, aren't women supposed to be strong? Going around acting like a weeping cowering delicate flower is a hell of a way to advocate for your gender.) I'm pretty sure you'd never have to use anything so drastic as a butterknife. Butter spoon, maybe.

    Aebhel - The piece of happy-fluffy ignorance that grabbed me was "if you have food, share it." What is this, manna from heaven? I just picked it up off the ground?

    LabRat - But what about the sheer joy of helping society?

    The funny thing is, I look at my job, and I think I actually would do it if I weren't paid by the hour. I know it's a valuable service and I get some enjoyment out of it.

    But would I show up every day, even when it's snowing, even when I feel sorta borderline sick, would I put in overtime, would I take care not to screw around or slack off, would I be excellent at my job if it were an optional little volunteer project? Hell no.

    The love of Making A Difference got me into this job, but it's the knowledge that my life would suck if I were fired that gets me out the door in the morning.

  10. I get it! It's a joke! Twisty is just lampooning radical feminists!

    Man, that is some seriously awesome parody right there.

  11. Angie, the trick is pretty simple. Read a paragraph or two, and just as you're about to claw out your eyes from the stupidity go shoot some pool, watch a favorite movie, or grab some food. Rinse and repeat. Eventually, you'll have read the entire piece. Alternatively you can get really blasted with mood-altering drug of your choice and the read through it. Of course, that doesn't work if you don't do mood-altering drugs, but still.

  12. What Twisty is really saying is
    "If everyone was as truly wonderful as I am there would be no problems in the world."

    Liberal narcissist bullshit.

  13. "(Also... am I supposed to feel bad about imposing upon a robot?)"

    YES, YES YOU ARE. I'm not joking, Data's a person.