Our ancestors have made decisions that have put our race into a certain path, one that leads to extinction for us an destruction of our world.
We do not have to go down this path.
There are other paths we can take into the future.
This book is about these other paths.
The Possible Societies Series
This Series was Written and
What it is About
We were born onto a wonderful, wonderful world.
But it is not perfect.
We were born at a time after people had already organized the structures around us in a highly destructive and violent way: They built structures that basically force people to contribute to horrible problems just to meet their basic needs. People around us are reacting to the forces these structures create. They are raping the planet of its wealth, using it as a garbage dump, and devoting phenomenal amounts of time and energy to the building of weapons for a giant military industrial complex with truly insane goals.
We did not create this situation.
It was already in place when you and I and all the other people now alive on earth were born.
We have been told, all our lives, that this is the way things work:
Some basic force that we can’t control causes our world to be divided into entities called ‘nations’ with imaginary lines. The people born inside of each configuration of imaginary lines are the sovereigns of the land inside their lines (they have ‘sovereignty’ over it). Everything the land produces and contains belongs to the people of the nations and they have no rights to anything outside of the lines unless the military of their nation is able to ‘conquer’ it. These nations are going to fight each other because they need resources and wealth that is beyond their borders to feed the war machines that defend them from their enemies, protect jobs for their working class and enrich the members of their upper class. Since they need wars, wars will take place and, since wars require massive amounts of resources for weapons, and nations that remove resources responsibly won’t be able to compete with others in wars, destruction is a necessary reality of existence.
This is the way human existence works. It is the only way human existence has ever worked, and the only way it can ever work. We can’t do anything about it and we are foolish to even think about trying. No group of humans has ever lived any other way, no group can live any other way, and even if the great majority of the members of the human race wanted something else—even if every single human on earth wanted something else—we couldn’t have it. We must live with this, accept it, and work within the limits of this system to make whatever tiny changes we can. The general structures are fixed and are totally beyond our control.
Are these things really true?
Is this the only way human existence has ever worked?
What about the highly intelligent and well organized pre-conquest ‘civilized tribes’ of North America? What about the advanced scientific culture of the Inca, the peaceful non-acquisitive Hawaiians, and the millions of other people who lived on the lands of the western hemisphere for thousands of years before the land they had been living on was ‘conquered’ and came under the control of some ‘nation?’
Didn’t they live entirely differently than the groups that conquered them, and the way we live now?
If humans have ever organized their existence any differently than we do now, if it would be possible for us to be living differently if different decisions had been made in the past, if human-like intelligent beings on some other earth-like world in some other part of the galaxy could ever live differently than we on earth, if the realities of existence could be made to work differently if we had ideal conditions to work with and could build anything we want, this means the realities of human existence are not cast in stone. It means other methods of organizing existence—other ‘societies’—are possible.
If other societies are possible, the stories we have been fed our entire lives that tell us there is nothing anyone can do are wrong.
We don’t have to go along with the horrors around us, accept them, reject any reforms that aren’t built on the principles of the societies we were born into, and wait for the end that we can all see is coming if we remain on the path our ancestors started down long enough. There are other paths. People in the past made the decisions that put us on the path we are on now. It is not the only path they could have chosen, but we are not in a position to change the past, so we have to accept that we are here. We are in a position to decide where to go from here. We can see an obvious path in front of us; it is the one that our ancestors chose, put us on, and told us we must follow. But the truth is that there are many paths in front of us.
We are not helpless.
The destiny of the human race was NOT already predetermined before we were born. We have skills and talents that people in the past could not even imagine; we have incredible technologies, amazing information storage and processing abilities, fantastic new sciences, and unprecedented abilities to communicate, cooperate, and work together. We can do things that people in the past couldn’t even dream about doing. We can use these advantages to answer questions that they couldn’t answer, to figure out other ways that we humans can organize our existence, to figure out the changes that would have to be made now to alter our path into the future, and to figure out if the majority of the members of the human race (we really are all in this together) want to make these changes or whether the majority wants to stay on the path we are now on, even knowing where it leads. If a majority wants to take our destiny into our own hands, and change our path, we can simply do it.
Slightly more than two centuries, Thomas Paine made similar comments about the idea of people who are living taking matters into their own hands and ignoring the rulings of the dead. He published this proposal in a pamphlet he called ‘The Rights of Man.’ (See menu to right for full text of Paine’s pamphlet.). This idea was considered seditious and Paine was ordered to stop distributing his message. When he refused, a warrant was issued for his arrest; he fled and could not be arrested and the British courts wanted to show others they couldn’t escape justice this way, so they tried him in absentia and sentenced him to death. Here is a quote from his pamphlet that explains its basic message:
There never did, there never will, and there never can, exist a Parliament, or any description of men, or any generation of men, in any country, possessed of the right or the power of binding and controlling posterity to the "end of time," or of commanding for ever how the world shall be governed, or who shall govern it; and therefore all such clauses, acts or declarations by which the makers of them attempt to do what they have neither the right nor the power to do, nor the power to execute, are in themselves null and void.
Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself in all cases as the age and generations which preceded it. The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies. Man has no property in man; neither has any generation a property in the generations which are to follow. The Parliament or the people of 1688, or of any other period, had no more right to dispose of the people of the present day, or to bind or to control them in any shape whatever, than the parliament or the people of the present day have to dispose of, bind or control those who are to live a hundred or a thousand years hence. Every generation is, and must be, competent to all the purposes which its occasions require. It is the living, and not the dead, that are to be accommodated. When man ceases to be, his power and his wants cease with him; and having no longer any participation in the concerns of this world, he has no longer any authority in directing who shall be its governors, or how its government shall be organised, or how administered. (You can access the full text of ‘Rights of Man’ by Thomas Paine, from the menu marked ‘Important Books About Society’ on the right of the page.)
Past generations did not have the skills, talents, sciences, technologies, or anything close to the information that we now have. They chose a path for themselves that was based on what they knew and their opinion of the wisdom of the people who came before them. Doesn’t Paine’s argument make a lot of sense? Doesn’t their authority to make decisions end with their own lives? If Paine is right, our destiny was not already written before we were born. The people who lived in the past didn’t have the authority to make rulings that would be binding on future generations until the end of time. We are here now and we have the right to apply the new information, skills, talents, and other tools that we have that they didn’t have to our situation. We can determine what paths into the future are open to us and which of these paths we want to take. Our lives matter, our intellects matter, and our decisions matter.
The Possible Societies Series
The PossibleSocieties.com website is a portal to a series of books that goes over the information needed to understand why the human race is on the path we are on, how we got here, how we could be living if our ancestors had made different decisions, the choices we have now for improving the realities of existence for ourselves and people who have yet to be born, and the exact steps that we could take to get alter our path if we should decide we want something else.
The series has a total of seven books which deal with different aspects of this issue.
Where to start?
If you want to get the full picture, and see the general framework that supports all of the analysis, you would probably want to start the book that that explains how things got to be as they are on earth. The book ‘Forensic History’ is designed to recreate the key events in history that put us onto the path we are now on using scientific and other first person information. It uses the same tools that forensic criminologists use to recreate crimes in courtrooms. The evidence that is acceptable in objective courts is called ‘forensic’ evidence; the book is called ‘Forensic History.’ Forensic History starts at the beginning (the oldest scientific evidence available at this writing) and goes over what the evidence tells us about how we came to exist on this world, how ‘nations’ and ‘governments’ and other key structures of our societies came to exist, and how these structures evolved into the forms they now take. If you want to understand exactly where you can go in the future, it helps to understand where you are coming from and how you got where you are. Forensic History provides this information.
If you want to get more into issues about where we might be going, what paths we may take into the future, and how other societies that we might form differ from the one that now dominates the earth, you may want to start with Possible Societies. Possible Societies shows that there are certain specific things that we can vary about our societies. If we understand all of the things that can vary, all the ways they can vary, and all of the ways these different variables can be put together to make finished societies, you can understand all of the possible societies we can form and all of the paths into the future that are open to us. It shows that we really do have a great many options. Some of the paths we can take into the future lead to systems where the desires of the people of the world for a clean safe world can actually lead to a clean safe world, where the people of the world cooperate in ways that lead to greater prosperity and wealth for everyone with each day that passes and where the human race is a true community of humankind, all moving toward a better future together.
The series has a total of 7 books. The first two books of the series, Forensic History and Possible Societies work together to provide a basic understanding of where we are, how we got here, and where we can go from here. Both of these starting books are designed to be independent of each other: you don’t need to read one to get the information needed to understand the other. You can read them in either order or, if you want, you can alternate back and forth; just as seeing and hearing in stereo gives you two different perspectives and helps you understand what you see and hear better, understanding the realities of human existence from two perspectives will help you see and understand them much more easily.
How Much Does it Cost to Read this Series?
At this time (August of 2017) we are trying to build awareness of these ideas so we are offering free access to everyone to all of the books. There is no charge for the content at this time. There is no advertising, no mining for information, no attempts to get any information from you. It is open, like a letter on a bulletin board. If you feel the books provide valuable information and you want to give something back, please do this:
Tell people about it.
Almost certainly, you know many people who believe that the path the human race is now on is not the best possible path for us and want to know about other options. Please let them know about this website and please, keep reading, keep learning, and never stop hoping for something better. If you find errors in this site, have suggestions about improvements, or want to contribute in some other way, follow the link on the top menu of the site (under the logo) marked ‘email the authors.’ Emails sent through this system go through a secure server to our inbox and we care about what people think.
The site address is:
Please send a text or email to yourself with this address before you go on so you won’t forget it.
The information in this series will take some time and thought to understand and appreciate.
This should make sense: if we could figure out how to build perfect societies without any need to stretch our minds or use any mental effort, we would have had them long ago. Please do this:
Wait until you have some time. Get to a comfortable place and get ready to get a mental picture of an entirely different way of looking at human reality.
The key book in this series is the same as the series name, Possible Societies. The first chapter of Possible Societies follows. If, at any time, you want to find your way back to this starting page, press home (upper left menu, just below the logo), and that will take you back.
A New Perspective on the Human Condition
Imagine that a group of intelligent beings on another world is monitoring us through media feeds from our satellites. They use this information to reconstruct the realities of existence on earth and put together a picture of the way we live.
They would see that the type of society we have on earth rests on a very specific foundation:
For some reason, the people who lived on this world in the past decided to divide the planet with sets of imaginary lines, creating entities that the people on earth were raised to call ‘sovereign nations.’ They then organized the network of ‘nations’ as though they were teams in a giant game. The rules of the game work like this: If any team can ‘conquer’ any other part of the world, everything inside the conquered territory, everything it can produce, and all rights to benefit from its existence, belong entirely to the conquering nation. Their rights start as soon as they have gained military control of the land and extend until the end of time, or until some other ‘nation’ is able to conquer the land from them.
Each team/nation can gain enormous advantages in this game if it devotes a large part of its income and wealth to weapons and war. The leaders of these teams (on earth, we call them the ‘governments’ of ‘nations’) take this game very seriously: They have reacted to the incentive system this game creates to create killing machines that are so vast and effective that they defy any kind of practical description. (How can one describe a system with the ability to destroy the planet and kill everything on it thousands of times over? How can we compare this to anything that makes sense?) The inherent incentives of these systems are at odds with and conflict with the greater good of every person on earth and the human race as a whole.
These ‘nations’ can gain immense advantages in this game if they enact policies that specifically allow people to rape the planet and spew toxic materials into the air and water and onto the land. They react to these incentives: The leaders of the teams have created networks of laws to protect the destroyers. These laws are backed by the authority of armed police. In case the police should not have the practical ability to protect the destroyers from the mass of people trying to stop the destruction, the leaders of the teams have shown that they were willing and able to bring in their massive militaries to make sure the destruction continues.
If a group of scientists from another world were watching us, we might expect them to think of the arrangement here on earth as insane.
If they had examined a large number of worlds with intelligent life before they came to examine us, they would probably have a category like ‘not fully evolved’ or ‘not totally able to use their intellectual abilities’ to refer to groups that organize the realities of their existence as we do here on earth.
They would almost certainly understand that there are other ways that thinking beings can organize the realities of their existence. (Even we, here on earth, with nowhere near the technology to monitor the satellite feeds of worlds in other solar systems, know other modes of existence are possible: humans have lived on this planet for millions of years; the societies that are deeply engrossed in this horrible game have only existed for a few thousands of years.) If they understand the full range of options (and the full range is explained in this book) they know there are options that could allow us to meet our needs without the horrors they witness every day on their satellite feeds.
Perhaps they feel sorry for us.
Perhaps they wish they could help us.
But if the laws of physics work as Einstein explained them, this is a practical impossibility: it would take centuries for messages from them to get to us at the speed of light and, almost certainly, this would make them too late. All they can really do is wait and hope.
If they have casinos, they may lay odds on us:
Will we figure out the options in time?
If they had monitored many other planets with intelligent life, they would have seen some that are able to overcome these obstacles, while others failed. They would be able to analyze the odds of us making it, based on past experience. The odds makers at their casinos may have an option for ‘planets at risk of destroying themselves.’
What do you think the odds would be for a bet on the planet earth still being habitable and inhabited in 2100, when children now being born will be in their twilight years?
Belief Based Societies
This book examines a great many different types of societies. It shows that it is possible to build societies around a logical analysis of the long-term needs of the people of earth and an objective assessment of the structures that can help us meet these needs. We will see that societies that are intentionally designed to meet the needs of the human race can do so very, very well.
We will also see that the societies that we were born into were NOT built on science, reason, logic, or an objective analysis of the needs of the people who live on this world. We see this because the basic realities of these societies are driving us to destroy the essentials for our own existence. If we want to understand why we are in this mess, we have to understand that these societies are based on something entirely different than logic, reason, or an objective analysis of the needs of our race. They were built on beliefs:
Beliefs are guesses about matters you can’t prove with objective evidence. (Mental concepts that have been proven with objective evidence are called ‘facts’ not ‘beliefs.’) It is possible for people to make guesses about things that they can’t verify with objective evidence. They can decide that they ‘believe’ certain things that may or may not be correct. Once they have decided they believe certain things are true, they can build structures around these beliefs.
Here is an example: It is possible for people to believe that the first group of people who come to a part of the world that has not yet been ‘claimed’ may go through certain rituals to ‘claim’ it for themselves and the people who paid for their trip.
They can truly believe this: If they perform the rituals correctly, create the required icons and documents, call the land they control the right name (a ‘nation’ for example), and use the right words for the blessing and approval of whatever deities or gods they believe have power and control over such variables, the part of the planet they have claimed for themselves will belong to them from then until the end of time.
They can believe that ownership of the land is essentially the same as ownership of an apple: if you own it, its existence depends on your whims. If you want to destroy it, say by eating it, you have the absolute right to do so. If you want to crush it so no one benefits from its existence, you have this right: it is your apple. It is possible for people to believe that ownership is ownership and the term means the same thing when refering to land as when refering to apples. The part of the world claimed exists only for the benefit of the group of people who own it (the ‘nation’): If they decide they want to destroy it to gain personal benefits for themselves, they have the right to do this (just as the owner of an apple can destroy it to gain the benefits of its nutrition). If they just want to destroy it on a whim, without themselves or anyone else ever benefiting from that part of the world until the end of time, it is possible for them to believe they have this right: it is theirs.
For the moment, let’s not worry about whether this particular belief system makes sense or is sound and reasonabler. I am not trying to compare belief systems here, I am only trying to show that the societies we were born into are built on something other than an objective analysis of facts: They start with beliefs and build on these beliefs. The people who formed these societies believed that the first group of explorers to a land that has not yet been claimed could claim it. If they went through the right ceremonies and procedures, it would be their land forever.
I claim here that it is possible for people to hold such beliefs.
If a large enough group of people hold this belief, they can organize the realities of their societies around this belief:
They can form schools that teach children that each part of the world belongs to a certain group of people. They can create stories that depict people who happened to have been born inside of certain configurations of imaginary lines (other ‘nations’) as evil monsters who hate everything decent people care about and love; they can teach children that these horrible monsters need to be destroyed to make the world a better place. They can teach children that they have a solemn obligation to protect their sovereignty over the part of the world their forefathers have claimed and passed down to them: if they must kill, maim, risk death, die, or even use weapons that are capable of destroying the world to protect their absolute rights to the land, they have a solemn obligation to do all of these things.
The people with these beliefs can organize economic systems that only allow people to get food if they have special documents the nation has printed called ‘money;’ the people who believe that nations are real things can arrange the economy so that people only get these documents if they participate in the complex of industries that support the war machines in some way.
It is possible to start with a certain belief and then build societies around this belief.
I claim the societies you and I were born into were NOT built on logical analysis of the long-term needs of the human race and an objective assessment of the structures that can help us meet these needs. We were born into societies built by primitive people who started with guesses about things that they did not understand. They guessed that parts of planets were ownable by groups of people who went through certain acts and rituals to become the owners. (You can find these rituals described in ‘The Logs of Christopher Columbus,’ available from this link; he explains what he did to ‘claim’ the land that later turned out to be the two continents of America for his employers, the sovereigns of Spain.) They decided which land they wanted to own, went through the appropriate ceremonies to become its owners, extracted the wealth it produced and contained to raise armies to conquer additional land, and conquered the additional land.
We will see later that it is possible to build societies on many different foundations. Societies built these particular guesses (the ones that formed the foundations for the societies into which you and I were born) evolve in very predictable ways:
Once people claim they own a part of the world as their ‘nation,’ they will have to use force to defend their claims: a minority of the world’s people are claiming they have the authority to deny rights to a much larger majority. (No nation includes a majority of the world’s people; each nation claims rights for a minority and excludes rights to the majority of the world’s people.) People won’t accept they have no rights just to be nice. The land produces the food and other essentials they need to survive; if they renounce all rights they die. No matter how nice people are, they won’t accept death for themselves and their loved ones just to be considerate to others. Since these people won’t accept otherwise, they must be forced to accept.
The people being denied rights may gather and use force to prevent their rights from being taken away. The nations must use superior force to prevent them from succeeding. The people being denied rights may create weapons to prevent them from losing their rights. The nations must have superior weapons to enforce their claims against the majority. The people being denied rights may use extreme measures and commit atrocities in an attempt to avoid losing their rights. The nations must be willing to do far worse to make sure they can enforce their claims.
The land produces food and other wealth and contains raw materials; the more land the nations have, the more wealth the people who control the nations have, the more power they have, and the more tools they have to control the people of their own nations and to subjugate, exterminate, or conquer people outside of their nations, so they can take the land these people live on. At some point, the growing nations will grow together, having taken all land held by people who don’t accept accept the belief that conquering and claiming land makes it belong to a nation.
After all land is controlled by one or another nation, nations can only get additional land by taking it away from other nations. The other nations have tools of forcce too. (All nations must enforce their claims, since they exclude the majority of the people of the world from rights. The majority will not accept they have no rights to benefit from the existence of a part of the world without some kind of pressure that must be ultimatley backed by force.) Other nations will have to have weapons capable of defending their claims to keep their land. Later, we will look at belief-based societies in detail. We will see that there are many belief systems that can support societies. We will see that ALL societies based on this particular belief system must evolve in a very specific way. Eventually, they different ‘nations’ will have to wind up acting like teams in a horrific game: they will act as if the world is a playing field and the team that can create enough misery and agony to get another team to concede can have everything that other team once owned.
The people who run the different teams will want their people to fight hard and fanatically, so they can have a chance at defeating their enemies. They need the people on their team to truly believe they are killing, destroying, risking death, and dying for something other than the success of an arbitrary team defined by people born within certain sets of imaginary lines. If they can’t create this state of mind, they won’t be able to defeat the other teams. They have to make their people think that nations are real things, that there are good nations and evil nations, that their nation is one of the good ones and other nations are evil, and they are fighting to defeat evil or for some other purpose than gaining more wealth for the arbitrary team they were born into. The people who run the teams must work very hard to get people on their team behind them. Often, this means the team leaders (again, the governments of nations) have to lie to people, starting when they are young children. They will have to take advantage of all weaknesses of their people, including their desire to believe in a higher power to make them believe that the higher power is behind them and they are fighting, killing, destroying, and inflicting terror under the direction and to perform the will of the higher power. Sometimes, they have to even create special camps and remove non-believers or those who don’t accept the brainwashing to these areas for orderly disposal, to prevent them from contaminating the minds of the rest.
The team leaders may not want to do these things. But they have no choice: if they want to avoid a devastating loss in this game, and have any chance of giving their team victories in various rounds of the game, they have to do these things.
Team leaders know this also: Teams with better and more destructive weapons will have great advantages over other teams. They will work on more and more destructive weapons for the benefit of their team. They can gain advantages over more environmentally conscious teams by ignoring destruction; they can drive down the costs of weapons for their team, creating greater advantages, by actually encouraging destruction. They have incentives to do these things.
The evolution of societies built on this particular belief system is predictable: At some point, the team leaders on these societies will develop weapons that are capable of destroying the world. They will realize that these weapons have no military value if other teams don’t believe they will be used, so they will deploy these weapons and create battle plans that specify they must be used in certain circumstances.
Eventually, these weapons will be used and the world will end.
It is all very predictable.
We all know how it will turn out.
Other Possible Societies
Neither you, nor I, nor anyone now alive were behind the decisions that led to this arrangement of existence. The decisions that led to nations were made long ago by people who have been dead now for thousands of years. We can’t go back in time and get them to make different decisions.
But we are here now. We are able to think for ourselves. We don’t have to think like people in the past thought if we don’t want to. A great many people—including teachers in school and religious leaders—tell us that we are supposed to think the way people thought in the past. But we have control over our minds and can think any way we want to think.
If we want, we can accept that it is possible that the people who built the societies we were born into didn’t think everything through totally. We can accept that they didn’t have all of the information we have now, or the science, or the history and other background.
We can accept that we are capable of more. We have more tools, more skills, more talent, more knowledge than any group of people have ever had in the past. We have the ability to put together scenarios in our minds. For example, what if a group of people were in a situation where they could form any kind of society they wanted? What if they had all of the advantages that we have now, including our science, technology, and skills, but found themselves without the limits that we now face that make change difficult?
What if these people set out intentionally to create a society that could meet the long term needs of the human race?
Could they do this?
If they could, then this means it is possible for humans to build societies that can meet the long-term needs of the human race. If we can accept that such societies are possible, we have made a huge first step in creating them. In fact, once we accept in our minds that it is possible, all of the rest is inevitable and will happen if we simply start working on it. It is like deciding to send men to the moon. If we don’t accept it can be done in our minds, we won’t waste resources trying to figure out how to do it. But once we understand it is possible, all that is left to do is solve the technical problems. We can work through them and get them out of the way, one after the other, until there are no more problems, then we can do it. The same is true for building societies that can meet our needs. The hard part is accepting that such societies can exist under any circumstances whatever. Once we know they can exist, everything else amounts to basically solving technical problems. We have some truly incredible tools to help us solve technical problems. If we are willing to tackle them, eventually we will get them all out of the way.
The book explains societies as a kind of science fiction story: a group of people go back 4 million years in time. You the reader and myself the author are in this group. When we arrive in the distant past, there are no countries, no borders, no militaries, no international disputes, no owners, no corporations with protected rights to rape the planet, no ‘traditional enemies,’ and no organized religions in place. None of these things exist for the simple reason that there are no humans when we arrive. We are the first.
We are in a wonderful position: we have all of the tools, knowledge, and technology of the 21st century at our disposal, but we don’t have any constraints or limits that impose certain societies on us. We can form any kind of societies we want.
What if we—you and I and a group of other intelligent people from the 21st century—were in this position?
What might we decide?
One option would be to reconstruct the societies that existed in the 21st century before we left. We can divide the people in our group into different groups based on their places of birth before traveling through time, their skin color, their nose size, or some other marker that we decide indicates their ‘race,’ their religion, or some other factor. We can then divide the land with imaginary lines to form ‘nations,’ and assign each group one of these ‘nations’ to belong to the group and all of its descendents forever.
If we want to do this, we can.
But we don’t have to do this if we don’t want to.
We can organize our societies any way we want.
I will explain the different societies we could possibly form with a story, showing what happens to us if we make different decisions.
At first, we will decide that the majority of the members of the human race (our group is the entire human race in this story) don’t really benefit by dividing the land into ‘nations’ and dividing the human race into different groups to own each nation. We gain more benefits if we don’t even think of the land we live on as belonging to anyone, including a ‘nation.’ At first, we decide that we are better off if we simply consider the land to be the source of the food and other good things we need to survive and want to make our lives better. We can set up some system to have people collect the food and other good things the land produces and put it into storage facilities. We can then have meetings and make decisions about how to divide these things among our members.
This kind of society has existed in the past. We will see that a great many groups in the part of the planet now called the ‘Western Hemisphere’ organized the realities of their existence this way before people from the Eastern hemisphere arrived and began imposing new realities of existence on them. We will see that societies organized this way operate entirely differently than societies that divide the land into parcels called ‘nations’ and assign sovereignty (total ownership) of each parcel to one group of people and its descendents.
Our group in the remote past will start with a very simple type of society, the same type of society that most groups of people in the Western Hemisphere had before contact with people from the Eastern Hemisphere. However, we will have many tools that were not a part of these societies when they existed in the past, including money, electricity, refrigeration and air conditioning, computers, cell phones, and even a basic internet built around the Wig If system that was in our cruise ship. These discussions are designed to give you a frame of reference so you can understand various different societies we may consider forming.
Although our group in the remote past starts with the same kind of society that most Western Hemisphere people had before contact with Eastern Hemisphere societies, we don’t have to keep it if we don’t want it. We can consider the idea of creating nations and accepting that mountains, rivers, lakes, and parts of continents can belong to groups of people who meet the requirements needed to consider themselves ‘nations.’ We all know how these societies worked because we are all from a time when they existed.
By this point in the book, you will understand the basic realities of two different types of societies: the societies that divide the world into nations and accept that nations can own parts of the planet, and the simple society based on the premise that nature is the giver of all good things and that we can’t own things nature made, including parts of the world. You will understand the basic forces that determine wage rates in both societies, as well as business opportunities, and prices. You will be there. You will be able to see how accepting the proposal to create nations will affect you personally. You will see that it really will cause great harm to your quality of life, reduce your opportunities, and make your life worse in many ways. As you will see, the great majority of the people would suffer significant harm and the human race would suddenly find that it had very serious problems that don’t have to exist if we accept this proposal. Our group votes on this measure and, because the great majority of the people would be harmed if it passed, we reject it and decide not to accept nations.
This book explains a great many different types of societies that humans can create. It is possible to build guesses on beliefs. We can guess about whether the world is ownable and, if it is, who owns it.
It is also possible to build societies on other premises. We may start with the premise that we are ‘the ones in charge,’ even though we may possibly not own. (See sidebar for more information.) As ‘the ones in charge,’ we are in a position to make rules about how the world is used. If we don’t know yet whether the world is ownable, we may set up these rule systems so that people will have the right to use land in ways that make it create wealth for the benefit of the human race, but that they won’t have the right to use land in ways that harm it. If we treat set up these rule systems, we will be able to meet our needs from the land and, if we should ever solve the puzzle of who actually owns the planet we live on, we will be able to turn it over to the rightful owners in good condition. If we should never solve this puzzle, we will be able to turn it over to future generations in good condition.
We will be starting in a unique position, with all imaginable advantages and none of the disadvantages: We will have all of history to work with, all of the technology of the 21st century, all of the records and information about things that were tried and the results in the past iteration of human history. But we will not be bound to accept national boundaries, national conflicts, treaties, debts, corporations who have been granted permanent rights, or any other limitations passed down to us from people in the past, because there were no people in our past. We will have the best imaginable conditions to build a perfect society.
You will see that people in our 21st century world have worked out a great many very powerful tools that can help us in this regard. We will look at these tools in detail and show that, if we use them, we can build societies that truly can meet the needs of the human race.
Why Does This Matter?
Is it possible to build societies that can meet the needs of the human race?
What if we had all of the advantages discussed above, combined with none of the vested interests and other obstacles that now work against us? Could we do this?
This book provides the proof that this could be done. You will see that these societies are possible. Once we know they are possible, we have a foundation to build on. We merely have to work out the details and solve the technical problems. Then we can move on to a better world.
Requests To Readers
Please take your time reading this book.
Although I have worked very hard to make it readable, it deals issues that don’t fit right with many of the things that people are raised to believe about the way the world works. We were taught that the world works as it works now because that is the way things are supposed to work. Those raised with religion are told that this is what God wants to happen; others are told that we live the way we live and do the horrible things we do because it is our ‘nature’ to do these things.
The specific type of society we were born into needs people to think this way. It needs this because societies that are built on certain belief systems need war in order to function and people will not make the sacrifices needed for war to take place unless they truly believe certain things that conflict with things they can see around them. To keep war going, to keep nations in place, and to keep the people vested with power in place requires truly incredible sacrifices by a very large proportion of the people of the world. People would not be willing to do these things if they didn’t believe that this situation existed because of forces that we really can’t control or alter. If they thought there was real hope a better world could exist, they would want to spend time building that better world, rather that making contributions to the industrial complex that supports the war machines. They need to lose hope that anything better is possible to keep them participating in the existing system.
In his book 1984, Orwell pointed out that societies of this type need to keep us ignorant in order to continue to function. (He called the philosophy behind the societies we live in ‘Ingsoc.’) We were taught to think a certain way and raised to believe that we must not use logic and reason in certain areas. To think any other way is both heretical and unpatriotic: We must not do it.
Orwell points out that it is hard to keep people thinking the right way. We need to actually be taught special techniques to help us or we wouldn’t be able to do it. We must be able to turn off our minds when faced with evidence that the things we were raised to believe are wrong, so we are unable to process this evidence and can continue accepting the things we were raised to believe. Here he discusses some of the tools that can help us do this:
The first and simplest stage in the discipline, which can be taught even to young children, is called, in Newspeak, crimestop. Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction.
Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.
Another technique, which he calls ‘doublethink,’ helps us to reconcile differences between the things that people must be able to believe to make sacrifices and do other things needed to participate in war-driven societies. This mental tool allows us to compartmentalize our minds so we can accept reality in some cases (his example: developing new and better weapons) while rejecting reality in other cases (his example: when analyzing whether devoting time to building the new weapons makes sense). Using ‘doublethink,’ we can split our minds in a way that allows us to do the things that must be done to keep the war-driven societies working without having to accept the evidence that the underlying principles of these societies don’t make sense:
Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies—all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth. Ultimately it is by means of doublethink that the Party has been able—and may, for all we know, continue to be able for thousands of years—to arrest the course of history.
Modern behavioral psychologists have created techniques to teach doublethink and make people think this way in order to deal with a very serious mental problem called ‘cognitive dissonance’ due to something called ‘belief disconfirmation.’ When people see things with their own eyes that conflict entirely with their underlying world view (the set of beliefs that they use as a foundation for understanding reality) they feel confusion, anger, and fear. In some cases, they can’t control these feelings and act on them, committing atrocities. To deal with the problem of cognitive dissonance, psychologists have developed mental techniques that help people split their minds into two parts, one that holds their foundational worldview (the set of beliefs they hold about the way the world works) and the other analyzing reality objectively and logically. If they can put up a strong enough mental wall between these two parts of their brains, they can hold both perspectives simultaneously, the essence of the mental technique Orwell called ‘doublethink.’
Orwell claimed that these mental techniques were taught to us intentionally in order to trick our minds into accepting a system that wouldn’t otherwise be accepted. I have another explanation for this: I think that the techniques are mental defense mechanisms. We are raised to accept a certain worldview based on beliefs. We respected the people who taught us these things and want to believe they knew what they were talking about and provided accurate information. For example, we are raised to believe that the entities we call ‘nations’ are real things that exist for real reasons, not that they may possibly be made-up things that only really exist in the imaginations of people who believe in them. We are taught that nations are the source of all good things imaginable, from freedom, justice, liberty, and brotherhood, to the majesty of the purple mountains and beauty of the sun as it rises and sets over the sea. Then we see reality, with evidence that agents of the supposedly ‘good’ nations having been involved in genocide, torture, destruction, and terror.
How can we remain sane when reality conflicts with our worldview? I think that this is where the mental tools Orwell discusses come in: they help us pretend to not understand arguments when they are ‘inimical to’ the belief system. They help us build mental walls between the reality we see with our eyes and the worldview that we have come to accept because of our upbringing.
I have had many comments from readers. Often, I get conflicting complaints about the same passage. Some people tell me it is overly simplistic and insults the intelligence of readers by presenting information that everyone already knows and understand. Others say, about the exact same passages, that they are too complex for any but the most intelligent people to understand and, while they hope that there are people who are smart enough to understand this, they have great doubts about this. I think that these reactions are the result of our processing of information. If people normally use doublethink to help them deal with cogitative dissonance, they will SEE the points and understand them—they are even likely to think that their intelligence is being insulted because they are so obvious—but they won’t be able to make these points fit with the basic premise or see how they tell us that better societies are possible. If people normally use the technique Orwell called ‘crimestop,’ they will look for excuses not to understand the points and make themselves misunderstand them, even if they are basically self evident.
We all feel cognitive dissonance because the worldview behind the societies we inherited does not make sense and can’t be reconciled with reality. We must all, therefore, work to overcome this dissonance in order to function and remain sane. We use certain mental tricks to make this happen and these tricks are designed specifically to keep us from putting together information that naturally goes together.
I want to ask you to understand that this happens. I am claiming that there is hope for the human race. I am claiming that we can use our intelligence and intellect minds to overcome the belief that we will never have a society that can meet our needs and that we must keep this one until it destroys us. I am claiming that the main reason we have not done this so far is that we haven’t been able to stretch our minds enough to accept that it is possible.
In order to understand the points of this book, you have to be willing to think in ways that we are taught we aren’t supposed to think. You will have to be able to use logic, reason, and apply science to concepts that we were all taught that we are supposed to understand only through faith, introspection, beliefs, and feelings.
If you can do this, you will see that the human race might be on the verge of a new phase of existence, one that will take us to a far better world than people in the past ever thought was possible. You will realize that, even with our great advancements, the human race is, at this time, still at a very primitive level of existence, but that there is a door in front of us that reveals a much brighter future. All you have to do is be willing to reach out and open it.