A Futurist Vision
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There are two kinds of human activities.
The first kind is tool-like activities, which are standard and the other is free
creative activities that are unique. Humans were used as a tool whenever their
sense perceptions and locomotive abilities, language understanding, and special
skills were utilized as means of production (i.e. means to an end)
Intelligent Tools: The Conerstone of a New Civilization].
To the degree humans are clipped of their versatility and their freedom is limited in order to conform to the production process, the more tool-like they become. In contrast, humans remain an end in themselves and are not reduced to special tools to the degree versatility, knowledge, and wisdom prevail in their life activities.
The difference between these two kinds of human activities was exemplified in slave societies where, in practice, human beings were divided into two kinds. Slaves were assigned to tool-like activities and the free citizens mostly performed the free creative activities. A peasant spent more time as a tool-like instrument than a feudal baron.
In the later stages of human society, most cultures threw out the idea of two kinds of people and instead accepted the truth of one species, inherently "equal." Thus, the differentiation between the two kinds of human activities became implicit within the life of every individual and the proportion varied for different social groups, and in different historical periods.
The more civilized we became, the less could we endure outright inequalities such as slavery. Needless to say, the whole mental framework of a slave society was the perceiving of slaves as a different species reducible to mere tools, a perception which was certainly contrary to the truth and was bound to be challenged by some from both sides.
Nevertheless, as long as the human race lacked intelligent tools that could outperform humans as tools, the technological basis of slavery was present.
social and ethical restraints ended slavery of the Ancient civilizations; and whenever those restraints were
not present, slavery was revived (e.g. slavery in the U.S.). Moreover, the
hidden forms of tool-like human activities grew with the increase of production.
In the industrial society, the differentiation of the two kinds of human activities within every individual reached its peak. Thus "activity as a tool" versus "activity as a free individual"; hours of work versus hours of leisure, etc. were thus clearly marked.
What differentiates work and leisure is *not* the differentiation of physical and mental activity: For example, lifting weights for muscle building, if done for personal enjoyment, is not work, although it is extremely physical; whereas programming computers for the one writing subroutines for a corporation's accounting system, although very mental, is nonetheless work.
Thus, the tremendous increase of production in the industrial society was achieved by increasing the tool-like human activities, in all forms, to the historical record of all the hitherto civilizations. In short, the industrial society may well be named "the Age of Work," since work became the central human activity in this civilization, both in its capitalist and and in its socialist forms.
The wealth generated from industrial work gained more and more dominance over all other kinds of social wealth and the political struggle for the laws governing wages and ownership of this new wealth filled the pages of history of industrialized world for over two centuries [See Wealth and Justice in Future Iran].
The production of intelligent tools in the
post-industrial societies is decreasing the technological necessity of using
humans as tools. Nonetheless, the social, political, and economic barriers may
impede the actual decrease of tool-like human activities for a long time. The
social ethics that justifies the lack of work as the basis for the loss of
income and pride, which is an inheritance of industrial society, is no longer viable. Thus in our times:
1. On one hand the capitalist perspective of viewing the world from the angle of profit has been extended to the majority of population within the exchange relations of both the capitalist and socialist countries.
2. And on the other hand, a movement towards enlightened self-interest for individuals, businesses, and governments is beginning to manifest itself as an alternative to a three-hundred-year-old profit-centered mentality.
What we are witnessing is as important as the first making of tools by Homo Sapiens Sapiens. We are at the threshold of new civilizations that will be essentially different from the existing industrial societies. The fundamental difference being a shift in the central human activity from work and production-related activities to more creative and spiritual activities.
Thus, in these societies wealth generated, as a result of knowledge, creativity, and wisdom, gains precedence over wealth generated by industrial work. Therefore, social justice will not be confined to the industrial ownership and the fair compensation of tool-like activities.
The dilemma of social justice can no longer be confined to the just compensation of work. Sources of income such as property ownership in the forms of business, real estate, or stocks are increasingly yielding extraordinary returns that are reflections of the new wealth crystallized in the only existing forms of social wealth.
The need to invent new forms of institutions to represent the newly created wealth and the fair apportionment of this wealth among the citizens are the most challenging issues of social justice in the coming new civilizations. A public mutual fund as suggested by some futurists like Albus is one possible form of the ownership of this new wealth.
As far as the compensation of human activity is concerned, the main problem of justice is no longer the fair compensation of tool-like activities (work). The question is how to achieve a just compensation of creative activities?
When the artist of a hit record makes millions of dollars, and an average artist (whether actually average or recognized as average!) can hardly make a living; the dilemma of social justice is clearly pronounced--especially because an unprecedented number of individuals are now involved in such life activities, incomparable to all the hitherto civilizations [See Knowledge Economy & Social Justice].
A taxation and welfare system vertically adjusted within each trade is one possible solution to render justice for "hungry artists" and other creative professions.
I need to emphasize that welfare does not mean charity to the needy. Welfare is a non-economic force to compensate the injustices that unavoidably result from the nature of market economy. It is a social right to balance the economic force and to compensate the worthwhile endeavors of individual citizens. Viewing welfare as a tranquilizer for poverty is the worst connotation of this system popularized by its opponents especially in the U.S.
The recognition of the highest possible minimum of basic needs, health, education, and especially professional tools is the first step towards a comprehensive welfare program. Welfare projects are being attacked in the U.S. and Europe because of their shortcomings.
The main problem of welfare projects was that they were always half-hearted and the needs of the advanced layers of society were never addressed. Welfare became synonymous with charity, whereas the portion of population that is ahead of economic reality needs welfare assistance the most.
This part of population also may return many-fold to the society. Our welfare system would never assist individuals like Steve Jobs, who needed assistance to create wealth. What venture capitalists found profitable was what welfare was meant to be from inception, that is, to be ahead of the economic reality, which could have stimulated the economy and not cause stagnation!
Also, the post-industrial production is creating the wealth that is needed to base the economic foundation of a comprehensive welfare sector of the economy. For example, the social wealth resulting from automatic factories is the kind of wealth that can be invested in a public mutual fund to make an independent foundation for the welfare system, i.e. independent from the government pressure [See National Mutual Fund of Albus].
Such sector needs to be created in a global scale, because otherwise the disparity of different nations will give rise to unhealthy immigrations solely for the purpose of taking advantage of welfare assistance in countries where such programs are offered.
The various aspects of the contemporary
epochal change are sometimes lumped under the term "new age", with a host of
many connotations. Sometimes "new age" is understood as anything opposed to
industrial society, without discriminating between pre-industrial and
post-industrial productions. I am definitely partial to the post- industrial
production, and do not wish to go back to the pre-industrial society.
Oftentimes, "futurists" are known as the defenders of the scientific paradigm of the last three centuries, indifferent to political and ideological issues, and avoiding the dilemma of social justice of our times. I definitely acknowledge the inadequacy of the scientific paradigm and emphasize the need to go beyond it [See Modernism and Meaning of Life].
Also I directly confront the problems of social justice. Nonetheless, I agree with all the thinkers who are referred to as "new age" that the creative and spiritual dimensions of life are increasingly becoming the focus of human life. I also agree with all the futurist thinkers that industrial societies, whether capitalist or socialist, are obsolete and that with the development of post- industrial production, humanity needs to go forward and form new social institutions to correspond to the new human needs, which are more in tune with the economies with the post-anthropocentric production [See Post-Anthropocentric Production].
I do not limit myself to the economic and political realms of life. The futuristic thinking issues range from human values and interpersonal relations of individuals to the economics of new technologies and the spiritual dimensions of life. That is, progress and justice are not just evaluated on a one-dimensional sliding scale of economic efficiency anymore.
A host of other factors ranging from environmental and biological imperatives to aesthetic and spiritual values also affect and define our concepts of progress and justice. For example, social issues such as worldwide war and peace are no longer viewed a` la Clausewitz as "continuation of politics by other means."
From a futurist perspective, peace is as much related to the programming of the unconscious part of human mind over millennia, as it is related to the economic and political realities of our times. In other words, lasting peace cannot be accomplished by more political treaties and protocols, and the human flight or fight programming needs to be transformed [See Is Socialism More Just].
Nation states are becoming more and more obsolete as the watchdogs of nations. Their economic viability has ended with the dominance of multi-national corporations. As economic units, their significance is declining like that of the family. If families lost their economic and political functions centuries ago, it is in our lifetime that nation-states are losing their power roles. This claim does not mean that the national sentiments will vanish or that independence for small nations is of no value [See Kurdistan, Federalism and Iranian National Sentiments]
Nations similar to families, may remain as social forms of human community for centuries to come. However, their function will become essentially ethnic rather than legislative, judicial, or executive (similar to the Spanish nation in the U.S.). My call is for the abolition of national armies and national bureaucracies. Citizenship of any nation should resemble the membership of a family: A voluntary flexible and easily changeable relationship.
It should not mean to kill or be killed for a nation, and should not promote a rigidity and resistance towards intermingling with other nations. National parties that move towards isolation, rigidity, and militarization of nation-states are historically reactionary, especially such parties of the powerful nations are hazardous to the well-being and openness of the world community.
It is time to form new global institutions in the areas of judiciary and legislature, language and education, combined with strong local presence. The above does not mean that I invite imperialist aggression in the name of internationalism. Formation of global society is a voluntary conscious act rather than a coercive exploitation and aggression of leaders against laggers.
If some nations similar to rigid families choose to enter this epochal change later than others, I can only regret for their mistake rather than to impose the change on them.
Moreover, my proposal is in contradistinction to United Nations. U.N. is founded on the assumption of accepting the legitimacy of nation-states in their current role of watchdogs of certain people and territories. My proposal is based on the belief that such right and historical legitimacy is ended in our times.
United Nations is similar to the confederacy of tribes (or families) with the recognition of their separate sovereignty over their subjects and territories. In contrast, my proposal dissolves that legitimacy and power, and replaces it with a legislative, judicial, and executive body beyond the "tribe" (i.e. the nation-states).
The parliamentary system of
government with its division of power and checks and balances is no longer
adequate to guarantee human freedom. Parliamentary system was probably the best
form of power sharing with the citizens in the industrial society. In the
last fifty years, the citizens of the more developed nations no longer view the
ideal of democracy as equivalent to representative democracy and direct
participatory law making is gaining momentum [See
Democracy has become more and more synonymous with the American ideal of individual's right to the pursuit of happiness. Moreover, the division of polity into parties has gained precedence over the three branches of government. A Republican representative is closer to a Republican member of cabinet than to a Democratic representative of the parliament. This truth of the party system needs to be recognized and new forms of checks and balances, between parties, has to develop. The basis being the pursuit of happiness.
If in the industrial society, the internationalist parties, such as communist parties, turned into nationalist parties, the reverse is true in our times. The relationship of different national parties with global bodies will map the fate of human freedom, and justice, in the post-industrial societies.
The move towards a united
All human institutions such as family, schools, nations, religious institutions, professional associations, corporations, media, special interest groups, etc. have been created to respond to some particular human needs. Some of these institutions will evolve, some will vanish, some will transform, and some will block the new upheaval.
I will not oppose all institutions or support all of them,. One needs to vigilantly understand the function, viability, and value of each one, individually, before deciding on whether an institution is a barrier to progress or can be reformed and help progress. The pursuit of happiness for individuals will not be achieved by negating all institutions as evil, and self-growth does not automatically "make things to fall in the right place!"
On the contrary, the correct understanding of human institutions and proper functioning of them can enhance the individual happiness more than any kind of anarchy. After the French Revolution, the destruction of traditional social institutions left the individuals powerless in the face of a swiftly-formed tyranny.
Similar cases are abundant in history. Anarchy does not solve the problem of evolving institutions, it simply ignores the reality and leaves us at the mercy of the worst kinds of institutions, without creating a viable alternative in practice.
The success of the new civilizations is not guaranteed. A worldwide economic disaster, environmental deterioration, nuclear war, or reversals such as reactionary revolutions, can put an end to humanity. Tyranny, poverty, menace of war and disease, injustice of all kinds, are surrounding us at this historic time.
Thus my optimism is not without reservation. Even peaceful transition or revolutionary radical changes may be the different routes of transition in different parts of the world. The organization of change may also take different forms and any progressive organization will be one of the many international endeavors to help building a post-industrial global world.
Hopefully the new progressive organizations are created in a way, to function vertically and horizontally, to incorporate the reality of our future vision in ourselves, and to share it with other like-minded groups. To elaborate on my own philosophical vision, I need to take a closer look at the futuristic thinking.
The futuristic thinking encompasses all aspects of society and is not confined to politics, religion, science, or psychology. I define a futurist vision as a singular conceptual category to mean the disenchantment with the philosophical paradigms of the industrial society in different realms of life and the search to go beyond them [See Dancing in the Air].
In this search one often finds people going "below" the industrial paradigm and thinking of all non-industrial paradigms as advancement, whereas many of the revived pre-industrial, pre-scientific modes of thought put us in a worse situation than our current industrial societies.
One needs to be careful that in negating the existing industrial society not to fall prey to pre-industrial medievalism, which certainly could not be called an achievement. The example of the retrogressive 1979 Revolution of Iran and formation of Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), being in front of our eyes. Moreover, revolutions or alternative lifestyles are not necessarily progressive [See Futurism and Iran's 1979 Revolution].
As we have witnessed in a number of revolutions in recent history, any illusion as to the simultaneity of revolution and progress has been put to rest - a simultaneity which had become a major ideological heritage of industrial society ever since the American and French revolutions [See Futurist Iran Book].
The social programs of the best and worst of futurist groups exist only in thought and on the paper at the present just as the programs of socialists were only on paper before they ascend to power But once a movement succeeds, its program becomes a social reality and no longer remains an interesting intellectual chat in a cafeteria.
The above is why in my opinion the new perspective needs more critical examinations. For example, issues such as the practices of many spiritual groups need to be critically evaluated. They promote a strong role for their teachers (gurus), that oftentimes, even surpasses the role of the priests in the Middle Ages. A similar phenomena can be observed among psychotherapy groups with respect to the authority bestowed to the psychologists. Whether we would be better off to have psychotherapists acting as priests is an open question!
Let me emphasize that authoritative views are usually backed with research and objective studies, whereas authoritarian views are backed by the functional position bestowed to individuals by their function in the cult's organizational structure which justifies such privileges.
But the issue of gurus and semi-priests is not all that the new thought has to deal with. New areas of research into topics that were simply dropped in modern science as superstition have resurfaced. New studies of ESP, yoga, karma, meditation, psychometry, dreams, aura, crystals as well as the value of mysticism, meditation and the power of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) are the host of other problematic issues.
It is true that attention to the spiritual side of life in contrast to most philosophical paradigms of the industrial society (liberalism, socialism, humanism, etc.) is a great achievement for futuristic thinking. But the revival of numerology, tarot, alchemy, out-of-body experiences, astrology, channeling, etc., is problematic.
Of course, I do not think that this revival is just a simple repetition of hermetic classics. The present practitioners are like the Renaissance intellectuals who put on the Greek cloaks to offer their own inventions underneath.
The structure of global economy and politics, issues of social justice, progress, individual freedom, transition, war, tyranny, poverty, are the host of on-going problems of humanity that should be studied with a focus on the new global conditions.
Philosophically the futuristic thinking as a whole is developing a central theme which is challenging the main philosophical "super paradigm" of the more advanced human civilizations [See Dancing in the Air].
In all the advanced civilizations the process of tool-making to change the world was accompanied by a philosophical notion of predictability and control. This is how humans "tamed" nature and control became the main purpose when facing nature.
It was not enough to look at nature and to listen to its sounds, feel its warmth and chill, taste and smell its delicacies. Humans needed to search its causes (finally in four senses this term, causality, was formulated by Aristotle).
Control as a purpose expanded our eyesight from the immediate to subsequent far causes. In fact, humans can see as far as distant stars with their ordinary eyesight and this is not their immediate biological need.
We developed our senses far beyond what our biological development would bring and then language, writing, and technologies which reached a great peak in the industrial civilization. But what are the drawbacks?
Through controlling nature, we lost our respect for it and in many ways began exploiting it, we now can witness various forms of pollution as "part" of nature. Along with nature, we started to control each other and in the domain of family, tribe, city, nation, and even world-wide, control became the issue at stake in the forms of economic force, political power, or otherwise. Even within the smallest social units, the control of women by men was evident.
The historical challenges to any kind of control were the substitution of one form of control for another. Thus, the control itself was not challenged and different social classes such as workers, or different races such as blacks or different genres such as female sex were competing for mastery and control.
This is why the activists of these movements would find themselves practicing the same traits as the ones they challenged whenever they succeeded. Then testimonies of "disillusionment" would follow accompanied by regrets over the sacrifices!
It seems like the strife for control of nature and the control by different social groups reached its peak in the industrial society and it gained international dimensions in this society within its short span of existence. Maybe this is why we are beginning to see the futility of strife for control and are beginning to search beyond this "super-paradigm" of all human civilizations.
I differentiate my vision from the anarchist position in this manner that my proposal of going beyond control is relative to the growth of each individual. In other words, proper management is definitely preferred to chaos, when one is going up the steps of development and evolution.
My negation of the control paradigm is what I view as my ideal for humanity as a whole. I describe the alternative paradigm as an autonomous synchronicity or a mutual whirl. How can we be whirling together with nature, with each other, different families, races, nations without giving up our identity?
How can we be dancing en masse without any partner controlling any of the others? I think if we can answer these questions in theory and practice, we will probably take a giant step in the history of humankind.
I would like to scrutinize my dance metaphor. I asked how can we be dancing without either partner controlling the other. But isn't it true that this is exactly what the best dancers do? They resonate together.
In other words, the expert dancers have their own centers, yet they relate. Because they have their own center, they do not follow their partner but they resonate with her/him. This is how they can whirl around each other without either side controlling or being threatened by control by the other. You cannot expect a novice to achieve this state of dance in a few lessons, but if two advanced dancers try to approach each other by a control paradigm, they are doomed to fail.
Perhaps the most advanced human societies have reached such a stage, in which any form of control is not only unpleasant but is not feasible anymore and backfires.
Especially for the more advanced strata of these societies who are involved in contemplative and creative undertakings rather than action-oriented jobs, control-oriented paradigms are doomed to fail in organizing any kind of relations at work, at home, or at play.
In the post-industrial societies where the creative side of human undertakings is gaining precedence over tool-like work, where contemplation is finding more value than quick action, even the most Lockean/democratic form of control of the governed, i.e. even control by one's own "consent", can hardly work.
It is noteworthy that in fields such as pure science and art any form of control, even the most democratic kinds, have mostly been counter-productive in the past too. Only in economic and political institutions, different forms of control have shown various degrees of efficiency from time to time in the Modern Times.
Democracy being the best form of control in those realms may be superseded by non-control socio-political mechanism which can result from the changes at the more basic level of human nature.
If the more active or practical side of human life has been in prominence ever since tool-making, and if the more "passive" or contemplative side of life is gaining prominence, it is not hard to imagine the whole basis of our social institutions, which were based on the former, to transform in accordance with the "needs" of the latter.
In sum, practical knowledge to be superseded by reflective wisdom, and the spiritual side of life rather than the mechanical side, to take the major portion of living hours, which has its own implications as regards to the issues of economic compensation and social justice which I discussed earlier.
The above paradigm shift is the reason that I think the differentiation of changing ourselves and changing the world (the emphasis being on the latter), which made sense in the industrial civilization, should now be superseded. I think using the new paradigm in our relationships with our children, spouse, or friends, is as important as finding alternative organizational plans at work and in politics.
In fact, at the present this paradigm, in contrast to the industrial paradigm, is being more defined at the micro/individual level than at the grand/social scale. I think the reason is that this view is challenging the whole history of humanity as a whole and not just one particular civilization in contrast to, e.g., the industrial civilization that was challenging only another civilization, i.e., the mediaeval society.
Now if neither nature controls humankind nor the human race controls nature, how can human life be possible. Does that mean that we will be overwhelmed by nature and live like animals? Not at all. In fact, the animals are not controlled by nature but are overwhelmed by it. They are hardly distinguished from nature for the term control even to make sense.
Humans, thanks to language, knowledge, and technologies have achieved an irreversible "separateness" from nature that will preclude any kind of submergence. Maybe our efforts to control nature, and also the attempts of different social classes, races & sexes to control their origins were necessary steps to achieve a separateness.
The reduction and final elimination of work (as defined at the beginning), means the final freedom of humankind from the "dictums" of nature for survival, and humans can begin to have a total symbiotic relationship with nature without the fear of being conquered. The same can be true for human relationships.
In other words, for an individual who does not have to work the essential portion of his/her life for survival, it is possible to practice autonomous synchronicity. Envisioning how we all can whirl together, with nature and each other, is the first step to find ways to reach this symbiosis in different realms of life.
This is not the same as anarchism, where control is replaced
with 'anti-control'. The difference is that here a certain level of maturity,
at social and individual level, ensures
the stepping beyond the paradigm of control; and self-management, rather than
dropping management in favor of anarchy and bewilderment This is something like
This will help change the whole programming of our human nature of the last hundred millennia, which has been centered on control. This is a giant and difficult step for humankind, but once knowing that replacing one form of control for another has been fruitless, at least in the last two centuries, then we may start accepting this difficult path as our only alternative for survival on this planet.
If the philosophy of control is superseded, how do we know if we do not practically fall under the control of nature or under the control of the mischief-makers. I think the achievements of the advanced civilizations in technologies and also in the recognition of basic human rights are irreversible unless a catastrophe like a nuclear war or a world-wide reversal occurs.
But I think such catastrophes are more probable to happen if we do not wake up soon enough to change this paradigm of control, a one-time necessary, yet outmoded characteristic of the human race. Even starting to visualize the new paradigm in the different realms of life will show the futility of a paradise in which one is controlled yet "well-treated!" This way we may begin to see nature and each other differently, different from what we used to see when we had utility in mind!!
CONCLUSION [See Beyond War]
1-To oppose the popular money and profit-centered view of people and the world; and to support the manifestation of a movement towards enlightened self-interest; for individuals, businesses, and governments.
2-To nurture social justice in every corner of the world, by introducing a comprehensive welfare sector in the world economy to encourage the unfolding of the most far-reaching creative activities that are ahead of economic feasibility. The foundation of this sector to be formed as an international public mutual fund investing in very advanced production. To aim at changing the work-centered mass culture of industrial society and to encourage free creative activities.
3-To promote globalization and confront nationalism. To help the formation of a global political system based on post-industrial production. To advocate formation of new a legislative, judicial, and executive bodies worldwide, to work for individual freedom, social justice, progress, disarmament and peace. To propose a comprehensive global constitution with the goal of eliminating the political authority of nation-states, starting with biggest nation-states.
4-To urge the democratization of all human institutions for the pursuit of individual happiness. To outreach for autonomous synchronicity, as the ideal of interpersonal relationships of the individuals, and the institutions. Also to oppose any form of tyranny, war, injustice, and aggression; and to assist the overcoming of the human unconscious flight or fight programming, as the only guarantee for a lasting peace.
5-To support the progress of new technologies such as space technologies, biotechnologies, robotics, telecommunications, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, etc. And to champion research programs on the perplexity of social justice, the future of various human institutions, and the political and spiritual issues.
6-To oppose all the so-called "new age" propaganda that promote retrogression to Dark Ages. To encourage new understanding of the universe and to favor the boldness to challenge popular philosophical and religious beliefs about the origins and fate of humanity and the universe.
7-To promote different organizations and publications that discuss these global topics.
Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist republic in Iran,
April 18, 2005
* This paper was originally written in April 1989. My late friend Jack Li also was in full agreement with the above text and signed it in April 1989. Jack Li passed away on April 8, 1994. I first posted this text on SCI (soc.culture.iranian) Usenet newsgroup on Nov 20, 1995.
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