Reforming Societies: A Practical Guide to Societal Change
Chapter One: The Game of Existence
We did not choose the conditions if our birth.
We did not choose what planet to be born on, what point in the evolution of this planet we would be born, the identities or wealth positions of our parents, or any of the details (like the ‘nation, state, and city’) where we would be born. We happened to have been born onto a world at a time after it had been organized in an extremely dangerous way:
People who were born onto this world before us had decided to cut it up with imaginary lines into the entities that we were raised to call ‘nations.’ They then decided they would consider the people born inside of each ‘nation’ and children born inside the imaginary lines to be the ‘sovereigns’ (ultimate owners) of everything within those imaginary lines. They would have the same rights as traditional sovereigns like kings: everything inside the imaginary lines would belong only to the people of the ‘nation;’ they would have absolute rights to take anything contained in their nation from the imaginary lines at the surface through a pie-shaped wedge to the center of the Earth, and take and control all decisions about anything that was produced or would ever be produced on the part of the world within the imaginary lines until the end of time.
They set up ‘reality’ on Earth like a game: This game splits the people of the Earth into ‘teams’ (each ‘nation’ is a team) who try to advance the interests of their teams at the expense of other teams and the human race as a whole.
In this game, no moves whatever are off limits.
If teams what to organize their economies to leave their people without essential services so that they can afford to build bombs capable of destroying the entire planet, and then if they want to threaten to destroy the entire planet if their team’s demands are not met, they have the right to do this. The game is set up to make this possible. Organized and intentional mass murder and destruction events called ‘wars’ are very common plays in this game: at any given time, many of the teams involved in this play are involved in these strategic moves.
This game has been in progress on Earth for about 6,000 years. (For information about how this situation came to exist, see Forensic History, available from this ) None of us have been around for any longer than about a century, so none of us created this game or set up its rules. All this was worked out by people who lived before us.
For all of history, people have seen that this particular method of organizing existence caused unnecessary hardship, misery and death. Now, we can see that this game is essentially a game of Russian Roulette: it puts human existence on the line and considers the destruction of human existence a legitimate move in a clearly suicidal game.
What if we don’t want to play?
What if we accept that this game can’t be won, and decide to change the rules of existence so they work some other way?
What if we decide to ‘re-form’ the realities of existence—or the ‘societies’—we were born into in a way that allows the human race to survive? Do we have the mental capabilities to understand other ways of organizing existence? Do we have the ability to look objectively at the different options to see which meets our needs? Once we have found one that meets our needs, do we have the tools cause the realities of our societies to begin to evolve in ways that will eventually cause them to change in ways that meet our needs?
The Tools of Change
Let’s consider the last question first: do we have the tools needed to reform societies to make them meet the needs of the human race?
Again, we did not choose the conditions of our own birth. We happened to have been born at a time after a great many important events had taken place on Earth. We have records of many of these events and amazing scientific tools that can help us understand events that took place before the recorded part of history began. If we understand the sequence of events and decisions that led to the realities of existence being as they are, we will understand how we got onto the particular path we are now on. (The book uses new scientific techniques and information technologies to put together a picture of our past that makes this understandable.) New technologies have allowed us to determine that human history is more than 3.4 million years old. If we accept this, we have to accept that the realities of existence currently threaten us have not always been in place. This particular method of organizing existence has only been in place for 6,000 years, less than 1% of the time humans have existed. This means that humans must be capable of organizing existence other ways, because we have organized our existence other ways. If we realize that humans have organized their existence other ways, we must accept that it is possible for humans to organize their existence different ways.
Once we know other methods of organizing existence are possible, it makes sense to put together the best information we can find about organizing societies to see if there are any options that work better than the one we were born into (the system that works like a game and considers nuclear war to be a legitimate play in this game). The book does this. It shows that there are ways that put together the best parts of all of the societies that have existed in the past and the best parts of the societies that now exist to make societies that can meet all of the needs of the human race. We are intelligent beings. If we are selecting the structures we want in our societies, it makes sense to choose to include the best structures of all kinds that are possible.
What about practical realities? Do we have tools needed to make practical changes in the realities of our existence and turn existence here on Earth around so it moves the human race toward a better future with each day that passes? Let’s consider this next:
Do We Have The Tools Needed To Create Utopia?
We did not choose the conditions of our birth. We had the good fortune to be born at a time after some amazing discoveries had been made and inventions perfected. Consider this example:
By the time any of us were born, people had already figured out that sunlight that comes to us in unlimited quantities can be turned directly into the most efficient and versatile energy source known, electricity. They had invented devices that use the most abundant mineral on Earth—silicon dioxide—to make devices that can easily turn this sunlight into electricity. (Here is a to a post that explains how this works.) Roughly 87% of the lithosphere of the Earth—the part we can get to—is silicon dioxide, the material needed to make photoelectric panels. Technologies have already been discovered that allow us to process this super-abundant material in ways that turn ordinary things like roads and roofs into photoelectric generators. These devices are practical and, if they were made in quantity, would be extremely cheap. (Currently, lobbies and other arms of corporations that profit extracting fuels and selling them have been able to prevent such technologies from being used enough to drive down their costs. Here is a to a post that explains the technologies and how corporations and governments are working together to prevent wide-scale use that would eliminate the need for any extraction of fuels whatever.)
When we came to exist on this world, amazing discoveries had already been made about ways to use this energy. We could turn it back to light with very efficient devices, we could make this light show us pictures and videos on television, computer, and phone screens made of the same silicon material needed to make the photoelectric devices, we could use it to run refrigerators, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and other devices that keep us comfortable all the time, we could use it to run trains that allow us to travel across vast continents in style at a speed far faster than any animals are capable of traveling, we can use it to power electric cars that can take us wherever we want to go whenever we want to go there.
We could be using the electricity and other technologies that already exist to totally eliminate the need for labor and hardship in production and creation of value: with machines making everything we need and want, we could all have enough for everyone and no one would ever be in need.
All of the raw materials to create a utopia here on Earth already exist and existed before any of us were born. We did not choose which planet to be born onto. But we should count ourselves incredibly fortunate to have been born onto this one, at least if we want to live in a utopia.
The most important material needed to create utopia, silicon dioxide (usable both for generating electricity and utilizing that electricity) is by far the most abundant material on Earth. The second most abundant mineral on Earth is aluminum, which happens to be the most useful and versatile metal known: lighter, more malleable, and stronger pound for pound than steel, it is the best known conductor of electricity and the key material needed to make jet planes, bullet trains, appliances, and all manner of machinery that can make life better for human beings. An amazing 8.2% of the part of the planet we can get to is aluminum: we can have all we ever need and, since it is infinitely recyclable, if it is taken from the Earth without destruction (using already-understood electrolytic processes powered by solar energy) we never need to harm anything to have all we want: if we ever want to put it back, we can put it back and make the Earth exactly as it was before. The third most abundant material on our world is iron, used to make steel, an incredibly versatile metal that can be used to reinforce concrete (made of calcium, our forth most abundant material) to build luxury skyscrapers that allow us all to live in what artists of old depicted as heaven, high in the sky with all manner of luxuries at our disposal.
We have all of the raw materials needed to make utopia here on Earth. We didn’t create any of these things. We happened to have been born on a planet that happens to be made of the exact materials we need to create a world with everything the people of the world need. We already have massive infrastructures needed to remove these materials and get them to factories that can turn them into things that make life better for humans. We already have the skills and talents to make machines that will do all of the physical work for us, making it unnecessary for us to have to suffer through drudgery to have the good things that we can now make in such immense quantities so easily. When we were born, the great bulk of the advantages needed to make utopia were already in place. We didn’t create them. They already existed. We inherited them.
If we want, we can decide that our ancestors put us on a certain path and we have an obligation to remain on this path. Our ancestors created nations separated by imaginary lines and armies with weapons to fight over the locations of these imaginary lines. If we want, we can decide we have an obligation to do as they did, and work to make the part of the world that we have been raised to call our ‘nations’ more capable in war.
But we have another choice:
If we want, we can decide to take a broad look at the realities of our existence. We can look at how we got where we are now, exactly what options we have going forward, and which options will best meet the needs of our race. We can then choose an option that we may eventually want to have, perhaps in a general election over electronic media that all people within a few miles of someone with a cell phone can access (which means everyone). We can decide that ‘this is where we want to end up.’ We can then work out the exact steps needed to get us from where we are to where we want to end up. We can hold another election to determine whether the majority of the members of the human race want to head down that path and, if they do, we can start down the new path.
Why haven’t we done this already?
To understand this, we have to have some historical perspective. The book goes over the events that led to the current realities of human existence in great detail, with extensive references and scientific data to support the findings, for those who need this information. Here, I just want to summarize some of the more important events, so you can see why the realities of existence are as they are:
How We Got Here
Before about 6,000 years ago on the Afro-Eurasian supercontinent, and about 500 years ago everywhere else in the world, people lived in very simple ways:
They were thankful that they had the wonderful good fortune to be born onto this beautiful and productive planet, but they did not believe that this fact made them in any way the owners of this planet. They thought we were residents of this world, like the other residents, including the birds, fish, deer, bear, trees, and other beings on this world, but not in any way its owners. They believed that nature, mountains, rivers, lakes, oceans, islands, continents, and other permanent things are above us all, the givers of good things, not mere property that people can claim to own and somehow, by making the claims the right way, become owners. They believed that this is a natural reality of existence and not something that people can change by going through formal ‘claiming’ ceremonies (like those explained in Columbus logs, available from this ), or by sewing up different colored and shaped cloths together and calling the finished items ‘national flags,’ or by drawing up fancy documents that ‘declares independence’ for the group that draws up the documents, or through any combination of songs, ceremonies, squiggles on paper, and other things that humans can create.
They believed that the world we live on is our home and we are very fortunate that whoever or whatever owned this world allowed us to stay here, but the fact we are here does not make us the owners of this world. They organized the realities of their existence around this belief system and it led to entirely different types of societies than the type we have now. ( explains the realities of such societies in great detail.)
About 6,000 years ago, a group of people who lived in the central part of the Afro-Eurasian supercontinent made a certain decision: They decided that there were circumstances under which parts of planets could really belong to human beings. They decided that they had the right to split off a part of the planet and call it their very own. It existed only for the benefit of that particular group and its descendents (plus, perhaps, a few outsiders who, from time to time, were granted ‘citizenship’ after fancy ceremonies). They decided that if anyone not in the group tried to benefit in any way from the existence of the land that belonged to them, these people were infringing on the natural rights of the group and they had the right to use any measures necessary—including organized murder, terrorism, and destruction of lives and things people have spent their lives building—to prevent this. They owned that part of the world. It belonged to them and existed for their own benefit.
When groups of people believe they own a part of the world, they can organize the realities of property control in ways that create incentives that encourage people to make significant investments in property to improve its ability to create value. To put it simply, they can set up a system of property rights that allow people to get rich if they can improve the part of the world they control. People want to get rich. If they can get rights of ownership, they will look for efficient ways to make these improvements. They will discover new and better ways to do things. Technology will improve.
The group that had set up the new system began to have progress in technology and growth in production. With more food and other wealth, their population could grow. Some of the people would rights of ownership and others would not. Those with no rights of ownership would not have any way to get food and other necessities unless they got jobs. They would become a ‘class’ of humans we now call ‘the working class.’ If some of these people in the ‘working class’ could somehow become owners themselves, they could have the same benefits other owners had.
Other groups all around them lived in the earlier systems, the ones that did not accept any land could be owned at all. Their system did not have the progress and growth of the other system. If the more technologically advanced people wanted, they could use their technology to drive these people off the land and then ‘claim’ this land for their nation. If the nation they lived in didn’t work in ways that benefited the conquerors, they could form their own ‘nations’ and ‘claim’ the land for their new nation. If two of the ‘nations’ wanted the same land, they could compete for it by fighting a war between themselves over the new land. This kind of behavior seems crazy, but it is totally consistent with the belief system that supports these systems. The various ‘nations’ could continue to compete for available land until there was no more land to take.
Then, they could only get additional land by taking it away from other nations.
On Earth, we reached this point about a century ago. By the early 1900s, virtually land on this planet was under the effective control of one or another of the Earth’s ‘nations.’ Once this point is reached, all of the ‘easy’ wars are over. It is no longer possible to take additional land for a nation by simply rounding up and eliminating technology primitive people. At this point, the nations of the world have to get serious about their weapons development or they will not be able to conquer more land. They must take aggressive steps to improve weapons technology, both for offensive and defensive purposes.
We were born into societies that were at this point. The rules of such societies were already in place when we were born.
If we understand that this is how we got here, we have a pretty good idea why we do not live in a utopia that takes full advantage of all the wonderful capabilities of our race: we have not tried to create one. People in the past have organized the realities of existence like a game. To succeed in this game, the various teams (nations) must organize their economies so that enormous amounts of wealth go into areas that do not make the world a better place for the human race as a whole. (War, for example, is organized and intentional mass murder and destruction of lives and value. More destruction and murder do not make the world better for the human race as a whole.)
The Game of Existence
These societies are not built on an objective and logical analysis of the needs of the dominant species on this world—the human race—and a scientific evaluation of the structures that will best meet the needs of the human race. They are built on beliefs. A group of people decided that it is possible for humans to go through certain procedures and then ‘claim’ a part of the planet for that group. Once they had done everything properly, they would be a ‘nation’ and that ‘nation’ would belong to them. The world is the ultimate source of all food and other wealth; the more land the ‘nations’ control, the more of this wealth they can extract and use for the benefits of their members.
This kind of system turns reality into a kind of game. Here are a few of the more important rules of the game:
Teams are called ‘nations.’ Teams can get control of all the wealth a part of the world contains to the center of the Earth and everything it produces now and will ever produce through a game play called ‘conquering’ the land.
Since the teams can get real wealth through this game play, the team leaders (the ‘governments’) have incentives to organize the realities of life in land they control in ways that will encourage team members to do things that make it easier for the team to conquer land.
They can do this by printing up pieces of paper with numbers on them and setting up a kind of point system. People who do things that benefit the nation—say build weapons or extract resources—can be given points, in the form of these little pieces of paper. We are very used to using these government-printed pieces of paper because they are needed everywhere on Earth to get the necessities of life.
We call them ‘money.’
They can give large numbers of points (large amounts of money) to people who can give them very effective tools of war like jet airplanes, guided rockets, and bombs that can destroy cities. The people who have figured out how to make these things can use part of the money they get to pay people to extract the needed resources and convert them into the required weapons. If they can sell the weapons for more than they have to pay to extract the resources and turn them into weapons, they can keep the extra money, which they can call their ‘profit.’
Not everyone approves of organized mass murder and destruction. Some believe it is immoral. The leaders of the teams know that, if their nation has a lot of people like this, these people may get in the way of activities that the team needs to succeed in game play. To prevent this, the leaders of the teams go to great lengths to make sure the people who live inside the imaginary lines that define their team’s territory conform to standards, accept the game realities as the realities of life, and don’t do anything to interfere in the progress of the game.
We all know about this. We have all seen it. We all know that such training is very effective and actually convinces a great majority of the people of the world that nations are real things and that the wars between nations are fought for noble and righteous purposes: if this were not true, our world would not work as it does.
Changing the Game
The people who set up this game lived a very long time ago and did not know many of the things that we know now. They didn’t have the history we have to tell them how their decisions would play out over time and what would happen to future generations if they kept playing this game. They didn’t have the perspective to tell them what happens once this game play is started and how future generations might get sucked into it and take it even more seriously than the ones who started it.
They didn’t have the tools we have now to analyze organizational structures and gain consensus among the people of the world for institutions that benefit us all. They didn’t have access to the incredibly convincing scientific arguments that we now have, arguments that allow us to show that many of the claims used to rationalize devoting our existence to playing this game were nonsense that can’t be justified logically.
We are—at least hopefully—at little more evolved and mentally capable than they were.
What if we don’t want to play anymore?
What if we want to take advantage of the incredible new tools that we have, the great base of knowledge, the fantastic technologies, and the amazing capabilities we now have to organize outside of the imaginary lines that mark what we are told is ‘our nation’ and build a system that works some other way? What if we want to change the way the organized realities of existence or ‘societies’ in place at this time work?
What if we wanted to look at this question logically to determine what practical tools the human race has at its disposal to alter the conditions of its existence, and how we may use these tools?
This book takes a non-standard approach to societal reform. It does not deal with any of the details of anything that people traditionally call ‘problems.’ It doesn’t try to get people to protest any particular war, or even the concept of war in general.
Specific wars between specific nations are not separate diseases that have separate causes. They are all symptoms of a greater underlying problem. Each war is like an individual cough of someone dying of tuberculosis. The cough is a painful and agonizing side effect of the workings of a bacterial infection. It is easy to get emotional and believe that something has to be done to deal with the cough, and do everything possible to prevent even a single additional bloody cough.
That’s ok. We all have empathy. We don’t want people to suffer.
But if you focus on the symptoms of the disease and leave the underlying cause in effect, the patient will get worse and eventually die. Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterial infection. If you want to cure the patient, you have to concentrate some resources on non-obvious realities of the problem. Rather than spending more to have more people there to make more and better cough suppressants, you need to spend more to have people doing research on how to eliminate bacterial infections. Once the infection is gone, the cough will disappear on its own. If you have limited resources and really want to cure the disease, you may realize it is better to let the patient cough for a while, so you can focus more resources on eliminating the infection. This may make you appear to be cold and insensitive to the needs of the patient. But it really isn’t. If you devote all your effort to useless work on symptoms, and leave the disease in place, the patient will suffer with the maximum amount of misery and then die anyway.
War between nations is not a disease of humankind; it is a symptom of a deeper disease. The real problem is not that the captain of one team disagrees with the captain of another team of which of the two teams has the right to exploit and benefit from the existence of a certain oil-rich piece of land. The real problem is that structural realities of the societies we were born into work in ways that cause the human race to cut itself up into teams in the first place.
The real problem is that people mistake the game we are playing for reality.
If we accept that the societies that rest on the idea of ‘nations’ work exactly like a game, we can see there is a way to reform societies that has not yet been tried:
Treat it as a game.
Figure out all of the different ways this game can be played. Then figure out if there are other ways of playing the game that don’t have the same problems as the way it is played now, and which may actually benefit all of the players, rather than benefiting some teams at the expense of the others. After figuring out all of these things, we can work out the exact differences between game rules that benefit everyone and game rules that benefit one team at the expense of the human race as a whole. We can study the tools that we have at our disposal to alter the rules of this game in a way that would be acceptable to the people of the world who are forced to play the game in order to get the little pieces of paper with numbers on them that are used to keep score and must be acquired for us to survive. We can consider the fact that other people have experiences that can help us changing the game, because other parts of existence work like games and people have figured out how to change them. We can take all this and put it together. We can figure out the tools that we have, we can put all of the lessons of history into the mix, and use all of the advantages of new technology and information that have recently come into our possession.
We can work out strategies and figure out the best way to put together all of the advantages that we have at our disposal to change the realties of existence for the better. I am trying to make this sound as easy as possible, because I want as many people as possible to believe it is possible so that they can make it happen. But I don’t expect you to believe it will be easy.
I only want you to believe it is possible.
If people believe it is not possible (without even considering the details) they will not even bother to try. If no one tries, it really isn’t possible. But, if enough people believe it is possible with enough conviction to believe it is worth working on, it is quite possible to create a plan that will have an extremely high mathematical probability of working. The more people believe it is possible for the human race to survive, the greater the probably to success.
I claim this: Human beings created the societies we were born into. Human beings can understand them, and human beings can change their form, or ‘reform’ them. I claim that this is within the capabilities of the strange and wonderful beings we call ‘humans.’ This book is an attempt to provide a practical explanation of the exact steps required for people who want to contribute.