DEEP 

Civilization to date has been built on free and cheap labor.

We can debate on its symptoms of racism, classism, inequality, war, prisons, poverty, politics, access to energy, water, food, healthcare, education and more, though the fact still remains that a few people benefit disproportionately from the work the rest of us do, and the risks the rest of us take while they don’t have to. So much so, that unfortunately, the idea that some lives are worth more than others, is integrated into our identities, whether we realize it or not.

To be fair, this masters and slaves premise has now rebranded slaves into servants, employees into entrepreneurs and sharecroppers into shareholders, though social justice alone has not crossed the chasm. Plantations just became platforms, converting our precious time and attention into addictions, so we shop for our salvation, while the sighs of our overworked and underpaid sad and lonely souls, pacify the pathology with plastics and porn.

Source: DEEP – Ray Podder – Medium

How Civilization Started 

The world has indeed got richer, but any such shift in morals and values is hard to detect. Money and the value system around its acquisition are fully intact. Greed is still good.

The study of hunter-gatherers, who live for the day and do not accumulate surpluses, shows that humanity can live more or less as Keynes suggests. It’s just that we’re choosing not to. A key to that lost or forsworn ability, Suzman suggests, lies in the ferocious egalitarianism of hunter-gatherers. For example, the most valuable thing a hunter can do is come back with meat. Unlike gathered plants, whose proceeds are “not subject to any strict conventions on sharing,” hunted meat is very carefully distributed according to protocol, and the people who eat the meat that is given to them go to great trouble to be rude about it. This ritual is called “insulting the meat,” and it is designed to make sure the hunter doesn’t get above himself and start thinking that he’s better than anyone else. “When a young man kills much meat,” a Bushman told the anthropologist Richard B. Lee, “he comes to think of himself as a chief or a big man, and he thinks of the rest of us as his servants or inferiors. . . . We can’t accept this.” The insults are designed to “cool his heart and make him gentle.” For these hunter-gatherers, Suzman writes, “the sum of individual self-interest and the jealousy that policed it was a fiercely egalitarian society where profitable exchange, hierarchy, and significant material inequality were not tolerated.

”This egalitarian impulse, Suzman suggests, is central to the hunter-gatherer’s ability to live a life that is, on its own terms, affluent, but without abundance, without excess, and without competitive acquisition. The secret ingredient seems to be the positive harnessing of the general human impulse to envy. As he says, “If this kind of egalitarianism is a precondition for us to embrace a post-labor world, then I suspect it may prove a very hard nut to crack.” There’s a lot that we could learn from the oldest extant branch of humanity, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to put the knowledge into effect. A socially positive use of envy—now, that would be a technology almost as useful as fire.

Source: How Civilization Started | The New Yorker

A Hyperintelligent Superfluid 

The child’s mind arises from these explorations, we shall renew them in adulthood in ways unseen in human history, to ends better than we have thus far been able or willing to dream together.

Source: A Hyperintelligent Superfluid – The Pivot – Medium

Future Fail 

We live in a period often called the Anthropocene—quite simply, an era when human impact on the environment has become acutely visible, a dominant force. “The Anthropocene represents a new phase in the history of the Earth,” McKenzie Wark writes in Molecular Red, “when natural forces and human forces became intertwined, so that the fate of one determines the fate of the other.” In this cosmology, God is dead, replaced by fallen humans who continue to pillage the Earth. Perhaps in smaller numbers, Wark suggests, the environment’s natural cycles and capacity for regeneration could have tolerated us. But now humans live in such numbers and amid such a flurry of over-industrialization that the planet can’t recover. “One molecule after another is extracted by labor and technique to make things for humans, but the waste products don’t return so that the cycle can renew itself. The soils deplete, the seas recede, the climate alters, the gyre widens: a world on fire.

”Wark’s outlook might again strike us as nihilistic and/or alarmist. But in our mundanely chthonic new world order, it’s actually the soul of descriptive realism. In the Anthropocene, apocalypse is titrated out with each molecule of carbon burned. It is a daily, slow-motion horror. For some to look at this tableau and, against all evidence to the contrary, still fantasize about a better era to come is a striking act of naiveté, bordering on delusion. The future, with all of its ideological baggage, and its smoldering graveyard of unfulfilled dreams, has failed us. We’d do well to abandon it, and start figuring out how we might survive the present.

Source: Future Fail | Jacob Silverman