[FoRK] The Paradox of Power in the Network Age

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Mon Oct 12 09:23:49 PDT 2015

On 10/12/15 9:04 AM, J. Andrew Rogers wrote:
>> On Oct 12, 2015, at 8:47 AM, Gregory Alan Bolcer <greg at bolcer.org> wrote:
>> Bullshit.  An effective program is called Capitalism.
> There are many pathological influences in society that do not disappear and may even thrive in a capitalist environment. Capitalism does not solve the problem of 10% of the population persistently engaging in and acting on some brand of wrong think, however the powers that be choose to define “wrong think”.
> A free society makes you free to think and do stupid things, almost by definition. Capitalism is merely a system of economic incentives that works as well for pathological cultures as it does for more benign ones. There is a lot of money to be made serving idiots on a mission.
Depends on what precisely is meant by Capitalism.  If you assume raw, unbridled capitalism without a proper supporting culture, then 
yes, those statements can be true.  If you mean to use it as an umbrella term for a key optimizing component of a full enlightened 
society, then it's a fair goal to name.  Perhaps we should always qualify, or periodically clarify, that we mean Western Capitalism 
and/or American Capitalism.  Or, better even if it seems problematic, Western / American culture.  Perhaps we need a term that 
splits the "how to live" parts of culture from "cultural identity, history, traditions".  We don't really want to impose the latter, 
but we should be effectively teaching the former.  I think of the former as "science" used in a broad way, but this is likely to be 
misunderstood by most.  What word or phrase is more precise and less problematic?

What I meant by: "I think most of us assume that rationality and a strongly positive direction will prevail" was that the knowledge 
of a fully enlightened society, even with various flaws and not-quite-theres, is self-correctingly positively biased and should be 
shared more effectively.  Creating more cargo cults and other narrow, distorted interactions with struggling societies will, 
usually, eventually lead to their evolution.  But typically, this seems far more slow, costly, and difficult than it needs to be.  
Hard to pick a best path, but easy to imagine possibilities.

We're about to be beaming Internet everywhere from LEOs or powerful GEOs, get dirt cheap smart phones to everyone, and solve 
language issues through relatively painless auto translation for most languages.  At some point, it's going to be feasible for each 
of us to mentor 5 other people at a time in other parts of the world. What would we talk about?  What is a likely best progression?


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