MaxBarry.com
nice idea, shame about the execution

Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Wed 27
Apr
2005

Get your brave new world right here

What Max Reckons Occasionally I wonder how social values will change over the next several decades. I’m pretty sure they will change, and our descendants will look back on the early years of the 21st century and find some of our ideals bizarre—as repugnant as we find slavery, sexism, and repression. But which ones? Here are some guesses.

  1. Speciesism. As a race, we’ve shown a pretty clear trend toward abolishing arbitrary divisions between people. We no longer consider some races to be sub-human, for example, or one gender to be undeserving of the vote. Ethical vegetarianism, practically unheard of a century ago, is increasingly common, and animal cruelty is now widely considered to be a terrible thing. To me this suggests we’re on the way to overthrowing the belief that animals have no feelings worth considering, and that we have the right to eat them. I don’t think we’ll ever consider animals to be our equals, but we won’t think their feelings are worthless, either.

    Prediction: First we’ll outlaw agricultural practices that cause animals pain, and eventually we’ll stop eating them.

  2. Patriotism. When you’re under threat, patriotism makes a lot of sense: your chances of survival go up if you band together with similar people. But as globalization brings people of all nations closer together, making international travel and communication astonishingly easy, national boundaries mean less. The more we learn about foreigners, the more we find we have in common with them; and not only that, as the world undergoes a slow, inevitable cultural homogenization, we do have more in common with them.

    At the same time, a consistent pattern shows up every time citizens of a large Western nation go to the ballot box: city-dwellers vote liberal and country people vote conservative. How long before residents from Manhattan, London, Sydney, Paris, and Berlin have more in common with each other than they do with rural residents of their own country? Do they already?

    Patriotism is a pretty crappy ideal in the first place. It’s clearly untrue that people who happen to have been born in your country are more special or worthy of your support than people who happen to have been born somewhere else. In fact, patriotism is even less defensible than racism, because at least there you have a biological basis on which to discriminate. When you’re patriotic, you’re using an imaginary line.

    Prediction: Eventually people won’t identify themselves primarily by their nationality, but rather by their belief system.

  3. Faith. Recent events in certain Western countries notwithstanding, the influence of religion on people’s lives has been falling for as long as recorded human history. So I don’t see why it should stop now.

    Prediction: Few people will believe in a literal God or identify themselves as followers of a religion.

  4. Privacy. There’s more concern about privacy in democratic countries today, but there is less actual privacy. It’s increasingly difficult to interact with government departments and corporations without supplying personal details, and, thanks to improving technology, it’s increasingly easy for those bodies to amass, analyze, and use that information. Governments have strong incentives to invade people’s privacy, since it increases their ability to control the populace, and they have very little incentive to protect privacy.

    As technology creates more powerful and more easily accessible weapons, a single rogue person will be capable of inflicting greater harm on other people. The best defense against this is probably surveillance. Since human beings are more interested in safety than privacy, I don’t think we’ll fight hard enough against loss of privacy to stop it happening.

    Prediction: People will no longer believe in a basic entitlement to privacy from government.

  5. Selflessness. Regulated capitalism harnesses the power of self-interest to make societies more productive. It generates enormous amounts of wealth that, more or less, benefits society as a whole. Thus, capitalism is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

    However, capitalism rewards selfishness. People who act only in their own best interests tend to accumulate more money than those who don’t. For evidence of this, you don’t need to look any further than the types of personalities who end up running major corporations—or corporations themselves, which are by definition the purest embodiment of selfishness, and society’s biggest wealth-generators.

    In capitalist societies, money means success: power, influence, and status. And since the wealthy are society’s winners, they are its role models. To succeed, others will emulate their behavior.

    Prediction: People will believe less strongly in the moral duty to help others, and more strongly in the morality of self-interest.

That’s my best guess (for now): a society that looks back on mass-farming with horror, shakes it head at our obsession with flags, pledges, and anthems, sees little difference between religion and superstition, finds bemusement in our worries about privacy, and sees altruism as naive, even childish. Utopia? Well, not exactly. But then, I’m not predicting what I’d like to happen.

Comments

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Machine Man subscriber Mapuche (#1184)

Location: Darwin, Australia
Quote: "Inconceivable!"
Posted: 5229 days ago

Ummm. Just because I beat the e-mail...

I wonder what God would have to say about number 3... (or is that a form of paradox?)

Aaron Doucet (#733)

Location: Canada (Sorry)
Quote: "He'd never seen so many expensive pairs of shoes in one place."
Posted: 5229 days ago

I dunno, Patriotism is more of an extension of being a unified country. For example, I consider myself Canadian and not simply "A man from Ontario." Usually the amount of Patriotism there is present in a country is an indication of how unified they are. For example, during the time of Napoleon, many people didn't consider themselves to be part of a country, and instead were more proud of the region they were from. However, as countries became more and more unified, they began seeing themselves as part of a country instead of as part of a province or territory.

Tom Hurst (#1186)

Location: Marketing
Quote: "Now with blue bits."
Posted: 5229 days ago

I am honestly not too sure if my disagreement is welcome but I will take it that you write this website to ellicit discussion.

We are Darwin's children, discrimination is hardwired. You and your ancestors back to amoeba have been good at it, the simple proof being that you are here. Without discrimination your ideal world will stop spinning on its axis. We may as well crawl back to the primordial sludge and call it a day without the ability to differentially interpret the world and change it, by force if necessary, to improve it. (And don't say you disagree with force because I could propose numerous scenarios where you would condone violence even murder, but that will need to be discussed over a beer.)


To the Blog
1. Ethical Vegetarianism is ancient. Budhism.

2. Patriotism, yum. Like racism, patriotism (nationalism) will be with us until we find something more powerful to supplant it as a means of survival. Globalism will be great when we are invaded by martians.

3. Religion; I would suggest in the west we are experiencing a religious resurgence and the Third world is clearly not turning its back on God. What would you replace it with anyway? On what platform will you build the belief system that will replace patriotism? Who dictates the universal truths that I assume you define as morality? You? Certianly not science, that falsifies not validates it can't define a belief system. A belief system is faith and without a common subtext any belief can be justified. Religion is that common subtext.

4. I agree with your privacy point but the current level of privacy the West enjoys is not common either historically or globally. No one expects a Spanish Inquisitions.

5. Meh. Capitalism is altruism on a collective scale. There are margins we could throw around but that would deny that survival needs the margins to drive natrual selection. Maybe people won't believe that in the future but from the sound of things they won't be believing much so who cares anyway?

Helen (#362)

Location: UK
Posted: 5229 days ago

If the world really does get short on water, unpolluted farm land and things to make electricity with, maybe it will be the way we treat the environment that horrifies our descendants.

Jason (#1193)

Location: Indianapolis, IN
Quote: "The bulwark of the suggestion box has failed."
Posted: 5229 days ago

Max, re: veganism. Sorry Max, but to paraphrase Pulp Fiction "Yeah but bacon tastes good. Pork chops taste good." I agree more should be done to curb some of the outright cruelties of corporate mega farms (but largely onteh base that well treated, organically raised animals taste so much better).

Tom, re: religion: So religion is the only way to morals? I'm an athiest but I have morals. Specifically I base all of my morals on the ideal of "do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you." (a better phrasing than "do unto others..." because that leaves the door open for bad behavior if you are a bad person).

Religion is not necesary for morals. In fact, I beleive most major organized religion inhibits true good moral values. Look at the Christain Right in America. They say they beleive in Jesus, but they don't talk about any of the good moral teachings of the man named Jesus (love thy neighbor, the entire sermon on the mount, etc). To them religion is a weapon to be wielded and a product of fear - not a product of a moral base for their lives.

I think the world would be better off without organized religion of any sort. At the most things like Deism, Buddhism, etc where it's not about set stone rules but guidelines and free will.

Then again, I'm a hard core athiest without morals so I suppose I'm biased. ;)

Jason (#1193)

Location: Indianapolis, IN
Quote: "The bulwark of the suggestion box has failed."
Posted: 5229 days ago

A follow up - if you have not, read The Age Of Reason by Thomas Paine. While he is a deist and I am an atheist many of his critiques of organized religion are right up my alley and way of thinking. Where I split from Paine is his beleif even in a Deist God, but I don't find that as damaging as organized religions have been.

shabooty (#637)

Location: D.C./V.A/M.D.
Quote: "I will shake your foundation. I will shake the f**cking rafters. Nobody'll be the same -Danny Bonaduce ....& go visit my blog @: http://www.shabooty.com"
Posted: 5229 days ago

I think as long as we have our canine teeth we will eat meat.

and dear great oracle I have a question more far reaching:
who will replace nicole richie in simple life 4? :)

Yenzo (#829)

Location: Secret underwater pyramid base in the Pacific
Quote: "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe (Carl Sagan)"
Posted: 5229 days ago

I can't see selfishness going up while patriotism, racism (or conservatism, if you like) are going down; in my opinion they are fed by the same or similar psychological mechanisms. Since I agree with your thoughts in the first points, my consequence would be to disagree with your view on selfishness.

Liberalism spreads throughout the world, and rightfully so. And if you are not shy to put yourself in another's position (which is one basic feat of liberalism), you tend to become less selfish. And, to paraphrase Richard Dawkins, altruism is a very new concept on this planet and by now it has spread pretty impressingly. Why not let it spread just a little bit further?

I used to be rather negative about this world's future. But, paradoxically enough, most of it changed during me studying psychology. As you pointed out in the first paragraphs, some things tend to become better. All I'm saying is, I would include the selfishness/altruism point into this.

Queen Eve (#460)

Location: Dimensions at SanguinemDraconis.net
Quote: "Sanity is a gift; given at birth, lessened by maturity, and gone from us by the age of reason. --Kestral Lei"
Posted: 5229 days ago

I find myself highly amused that some of these responses seem geared towards arguing with the original author as if he has laid claim that these are his beliefs.
Now I will grant you that I have not read much of Max Barry. I have been receiving his emails from the things he muses on for a while now, and many times those emails are read once and thrown away. However; if I understand his reasoning for writing this piece was not to argue the validity of the practices, but rather to identify certain trends which are currently popular, the ideals that these practices hold, and a prediction as to whether the trend will continue.

And so I offer my own musings towards these items, not from the standpoint that Mr Barry himself may agree or disagree with them, but from the standpoint that he perceives their existence in society.

1. Speciesism-- I hold a certain hope that humankind will eventually see that animals are not immediately the lesser of humans, but I do doubt that we will completely stop eating meat and practicing animal cruelty all together. For one, I know as a strict carnivore I would starve should we decide to eradicate all instances of eating meat. Granted, my health will likely fail long before that becomes an actual legal instance. But I hold to the tenet that you can have my hamburger when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

2. Patriotism-- There are few things that irk me more than people who hold the belief that coming from a specific country makes them special or different. Now having said that, I admit to my own origins as an American and brace for the tomatoes that will surely come flying my direction.

I have never held that my country makes me better than the rest of mankind. Whether or not I am a better person lies solely on my own actions and beliefs. I do believe that as an American, I was born in a nation that allows for a unique perspective of some old practices held by other nations. There are some things done, for the sake of tradition by other nations (viewing them as a social whole, and not on an individual level), which I find offensive, some archaic, and others that are just plain ignorant. But as much as I may disagree with a social practice of another nation, I try not to allow for discremenation because of it. In that same manner, I am disheartened that some view me cynically just because I am an American.

3. Faith-- I whole-heartedly disagree that the faith in a higher being is falling to the wayside. I do see that the absolutism of religion has weakened in support and that more people are accepting of 'sin' because they are coming to the understanding that 'God' is not as hard-nosed as was the belief held by Christians a few generations ago. There is also the trends of politcal correctness that has caused some strong believers to keep quiet about their faith. These two things have spawned a few trends which can be mistaken for a reduction in faith. One, as already mentioned, is that less people are inclined to openly share their beliefs. Another is that faith has become more spiritual in its terms and less about dogmatic practices.

4. Privacy-- Unfortunately, I am one of those westerners who has grown up in a nation where privacy was afforded for many years. Now with globalization of the community, I am rather upset that my private issues are so readily available. Add to this the teachings to others in my generation and the one after it where we were to safeguard our personal information with fervor and you get a large lot of westerners who are outraged at the trends towards less privacy.

But I also understand that privacy in general is more of an American-based standard and that others have not always been privy to the same protections which I am now fighting to keep. I would hate to see those protections fly to the wind. We (being Americans in general, especially those who have spent a few generations here) were also warned that such intrusions of government should be considered a sign of democratic (not the party) trends. These trends are supposed to make us wary of our government, because if we dont remain vigilant we will lose our democracy to a more despotic form of government. So pardon me if I appear confused as to which is truly a better road to take. I think I may just sit in the crosswalk a bit and hold up traffic.

5. Selflessness-- Moral duty to others should ideally never fall away. If it truly does, then I believe this experiment in freedom will finally fail completely and my government will fall far away from anything I know it to be.

Thats a bit scary from a personal perspective.

I think I will go crawling back into my false reality now.

thewylddream (#1191)

Location: Montana USA
Quote: ""Always forgive your enemies -- Nothing annoys them so much." ~Oscar Wilde~"
Posted: 5229 days ago

[url]http://oak.psych.gatech.edu/~epic/[/url]


this cute little student film is 8 minutes long and very... interesting. I disagree with much of it, but it is shiney and makes you think. Please check it out.

Pat (#393)

Location: Northern Virginia
Quote: ""Linux wasn't started as any kind of rebellion against the 'evil Microsoft empire.' I'm not out to destroy Microsoft. That will just be a completely unintentional side effect." --Linus Torvalds (to the New York Times)"
Posted: 5229 days ago

Well this is a rather dissapointing email as I seem to clash with all aspects of this "Brave New World"

I am also a die hard carnivore, that will never give up my meat. I have a tendency to refer to people who put leaves in their foods as rabbits (not to discriminate, but leaves belong on trees, not in our stomachs).

I am American and while I do not think that since I was born in America I am inherently better than anyone else, I do believe that because I was born in America, my chances of becoming successful and leading an easy life are greatly increased over others. This and studies of history of my nation and of others (I chose to study European History over American History in college as I had had enough American History in one lifetime) make me proud to be an American.

On Faith: I am a Roman Catholic and I would die for my faith, yes I said die. The roots of my faith are deep and the history of my ancestors is yet another thing I am proud of. The past of the Catholic Church is not perfect, but what would anyone expect from humans? I could go on for hours on this topic, but I will spare those reading this post and leave it at the first sentence.

Well, nothing much for privacy, I feel perfectly secure in my privacy in America and everyone here can hold me personally responsible for our President, as I voted for him over that other thing that stood up and had the nerve to proclaim himself Catholic. If he was Catholic then he surely must be following Jason's model of Christianity (Look up).

I am not here to proclaim perfect and selfless, I feel the urge to have the world's wealth just as any other person, but I do hold morals taken from my faith that instruct me in the way I should I act and when I see someone in need I do not hesitate to help out.

Well now that I have taken the time to vent, I hope that your prediction does not come true, Max, for the sake of humanity.

Machine Man subscriber Geoffrey Atkins (#858)

Location: Omaha, NE
Quote: "these nights are already long. and if i last through the winter. i swear to you now i won't call. --Circa Survive"
Posted: 5229 days ago

I have to agree with Kestral, first off. I don't think Max is in fact, stating his beliefs, moreso describing trends. If you read the last line of what he wrote, he clearly states that these are thing that he would "[i]like[/i] to happen." I do however see patriotism as being viewed as something completely different from person to person. Sure, there are the common conceptions, but I believe those still vary. As someone who grew up surrounded by the US military, I'd like to say I've always considered myself to be patriotic. "The Star Spangled Banner" has always moved me, and I was taught -- and to this day still believe it is the appropriate thing to do -- to stand at attention whenever and wherever I hear it. For someone in my position (and there are a lot of us) Patriotism is pride; patriotism is a pride in your country and your heritage. For those of us born and bred in a certain country, they even end up being one in the same. I don't think it has anything to do with saying "my country could beat up your country." Sure, when was younger I didn't mind saying "your dad may be bigger than my dad, but my dad could fly an F-16 straight up your dad's ass." However, I've never looked at a country and thought,"what a joke." Patriotism to me is universal. No matter where you're from you can always be patriotic. For someone who's a first generation nationality, there is still the ability to have pride in your country. At this point heritage and Patriotism become two seperate ideals. You can be a patriot of country A and still be proud of your heritage of country B. For example...look at all the first generation Americans serving in the US military. If I'm not mistaken -- and if so, I'm erring on the lower end -- its about 10-15%. When you consider how many people actually serve, that's quite a bit. I do however agree that Patriotism is a fad for some people. Five years ago John Doe next door was just your average American. Four years ago, John suddenly had American flags flying everywhere (thank you 9/11). I've always had a flag in my front yard and I've always had a flag stuck somewhere on a bookbag or car. It's the popular Patriotism that's the negative one. The Patriotism that's pride in your country will always be positive, and sure, as Tom Hurst said before me. "Globalism will be great when we get invaded by aliens." Yet, we'll still have the popular globalists and the proud globalists. :-\

Jonathan (#1209)

Location: Niskayuna, NY (USA)
Quote: "Quamquam Max Barry fuit molestus, servi eum non verbererunt."
Posted: 5229 days ago

First of all, I completely agree with Geoffrey.

But what was Max thinking when he wrote:

"Patriotism is a pretty crappy ideal in the first place. It’s clearly untrue that people who happen to have been born in your country are more special or worthy of your support than people who happen to have been born somewhere else."

To me, that's a crappy thought in the first place. It's clearly untrue that "people who are born in your country are more special or worthy of your support than people who happen to have been born somewhere else" in the idea of a Patriotism. Patriotism is all about supporting your country. It has nothing to do with discriminating foreigners. It is just one belief to support your country's growth. I have never heard of a patriot who disliked ALL foreigners, but if there is one, that's just a case of xenophobia. The vast majority believe that helping others is fine.

Queen Eve (#460)

Location: Dimensions at SanguinemDraconis.net
Quote: "Sanity is a gift; given at birth, lessened by maturity, and gone from us by the age of reason. --Kestral Lei"
Posted: 5229 days ago

I believe that Max was making a comment based on some Americans' tendency to intermingle ethnic discremination and patriotism. We can not overlook the fact that since 9/11, many Americans are wary and even hostile towards anyone resembling a middle-easterner complexion.

In that same respect, many Americans and even people of other largely developed nations, have some tendency to feel that because of where they were born, they are better than others who perhaps come from 'under-developed' or 'third-world' nations. This concept, while not the ideal of patriotism itself, is often intermingled with patriotism. Someone may view themselves patriotic and feel they are justified in their ethnic hatred. I do not agree that the two concepts are one and the same, but they are often viewed as such.

I dont know if Max actually feel that patriotism is a 'crappy idea', or if he was attempting to step into the shoes of others when he wrote that. I can only hope it was the latter of the two.

Machine Man subscriber Thomas Rice (#952)

Posted: 5229 days ago

Imagine this scenario.

Michael goes to Harvard. Upon graduation, a Harvard alumni gets him a job. Many years later Michael is in a hiring situation, and while reviewing candidates he is choosing between five - one is from Harvard, the other four from other top tier educational institutions.

Wanting to support people from Harvard, he hires that candidate.

In this scenario, Michael has nothing particular against the other four candidates - he'd just rather support someone from his old university.

In doing so, I would argue Michael has implicitly discriminated against the other four.

This is how I view patriotism - a "no thinking" support for your country that implicitly means you support all other countries less, driven by where you were born or who your parents are.

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 5229 days ago

If you feel differently about somebody depending on which country they come from, you're discriminating. That's what "discrimination" means: drawing a distinction between people. It's impossible to support some people over others *without* discriminating.

This is not to say discrimination is always a bad thing--we discriminate between people all the time in life, and often for good reasons. But I think nationality is a crappy basis on which to discriminate.

Now of course all of us are patriotic to some degree or other. I love my country and feel proud when, say, Ian Thorpe wins a gold medal at the Olympics. But why should I? The sum of my connection to Thorpe is that I happened to be born in the same country as him.

I would also argue that my admiration for and pride in my own country has nothing to do with denigrating foreigners--but the very act of pledging support for everybody inside a particular boundary means excluding everybody outside it. (And this is much more noticeable when you're on the outside. Seeing a bunch of people waving your national flag feels a lot different to seeing people wave some other country's flag.)

The more people I meet from other countries, the odder it feels to classify them by nationality. That's why I think globalization will trump patriotism.

Queen Eve (#460)

Location: Dimensions at SanguinemDraconis.net
Quote: "Sanity is a gift; given at birth, lessened by maturity, and gone from us by the age of reason. --Kestral Lei"
Posted: 5229 days ago

Then, while we are on the subject of defining what we mean, let's review the real meaning of patriotism, shall we?

<a href="http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=patriotism" target="_blank">From Merriam-Webster Online</a>: Patriotism
Main Entry: pa·tri·ot·ism
Pronunciation: 'pA-trE-&-"ti-z&m, chiefly British 'pa-
Function: noun
: love for or devotion to one's country

Patriotism and discrimination are not definitely connected. Not everyone who is patriotic is automatically negatively discriminatory.

But eliminating classification of man from man by nationality will only cause humans to find something else to classify and sub-classify each other. We are not capable (humans in general) of conceptualizing all 6 billion people on the earth without sorting and grouping them. It is a way for the mind to put order to the chaos of the numbers.

Unfortunately, there are a number of people who use these classifications to negatively discern between people. It is this ideal that you seem truly opposed to, Max, and not patriotism in itself. At least not patriotism as it is defined.

Machine Man subscriber Thomas Rice (#952)

Posted: 5229 days ago

Patriotism isn't merely a classification mechanism to sort and group people.

The definition quoted above says "love for or devotion to one's country".

This implies that you have some preference for it over others, just like if you love your children you have a preference for them over others.

I can call myself American (and classify myself like that) without being patriotic. :)

Queen Eve (#460)

Location: Dimensions at SanguinemDraconis.net
Quote: "Sanity is a gift; given at birth, lessened by maturity, and gone from us by the age of reason. --Kestral Lei"
Posted: 5229 days ago

I never said patriotism was a classification mechanism. I was saying that globalization will not end nationality classification, or if it does, humans will find some other arbitrary means to classify others.

There is nothing implied about the definition. I can love my country (patriotism) and still not like my country. Then again, I believe in the ideal of my country. And it is to this ideal that I am devoted. I am one of those strange people who can fathom the ideals as separate entities to the reality. Therefore I can be patriotic, without being preferential. To get truly semantical, we would need to apply a definition to country. And individuals conceptualize 'country' in many ways.

But based on Max's post... he was not inherently against patriotism. He was against the other ideas that seem to get swept under an umbrella justified by patriotism. There is no arbitrary negative discrimination that is good when it comes to the classification of people.

Tom Hurst (#1186)

Location: Marketing
Quote: "Now with blue bits."
Posted: 5229 days ago

Jason, religion (any form of religion) may not be the best way to perpetuate a belief system but I believe it to be the best we know of. Individually defined morality is simply opinion.

To the others who deny these are Max's beliefs that's ridiculous. I will grant you at the very least they are his beliefs of wider trend but nothing more. Factually I think most of what Max observes is unsubstantiated, west centric and generally false. Sorry Max, I guess you won't want to have a beer with me after all.

I feel very sorry for the left in the way they conduct these kinds of arguments. Lefties are too language focussed taking the pure strict definition of a word and imparting a marginal interpretation over the majority. Patriotism is ok so long as it isn't rampant as with nearly any other 'ism.

Queen Eve (#460)

Location: Dimensions at SanguinemDraconis.net
Quote: "Sanity is a gift; given at birth, lessened by maturity, and gone from us by the age of reason. --Kestral Lei"
Posted: 5229 days ago

Ahh. It seems my semantical arguments are now considered leftist? And here I is me, not even knowing what left and right is in context to political discussions.

I am language focused in my arguments for good reason. Far too many people use too limited a range of the English language to describe what they believe, feel, or observe. Words begin to have definitions that are nothing like what they were ever intended to mean, because the average proliferantly-English speaker doesnt know how to use the language he/she spends a lifetime using. I want to make sure that when I say something, people know precisely what I intend and arent having to make suppositions to what I may mean.

Part of that also goes back to my personal religious beliefs, but I wont bore you with those details.

Now I am off to discover precisely what was meant by me being a 'lefty'.

Tom Hurst (#1186)

Location: Marketing
Quote: "Now with blue bits."
Posted: 5229 days ago

I actually wasn't meaning you specificall, simply making an observation.

But Kes, the it is not the speakers who are inadequate it is the language if you want to get down to it.

Tom Hurst (#1186)

Location: Marketing
Quote: "Now with blue bits."
Posted: 5229 days ago

And clearly I have not quite come to grips with it.

Narain (#824)

Location: Los Angeles, right between civilization and a desert
Quote: "NI!"
Posted: 5228 days ago

Racial discrimination will be almost entirely gone by some point in the not to distant future, period. Know why? Because it doesn't work, it doesn't generate profits or increase efficency. More globalization through companies is a definite world trend, and when an American company goes to some foreign country, it can't tell the difference between the "outcasts" and the "ethically superior" beings, they're all the same consumers. Humans have always discriminated, and there will be some at all times, but it probably won't be by race, and whatever it is won't matter as much as results.

This ties to patriotism also. If you want the simplest example, when America was founded, people most often thought of themselves as belonging to a town. It was local, it was where the power was, it was what mattered. As time went on, the idea of states came along, and people then saw themselves as members of a state. Eventually, states rights became a thing of the past, and people saw themselves as American. If governments lose control to coroporate conglomerates (as jennifer government predicts) then I won't be American anymore, or I will be, but that will matter as much to my identity as living in California does. People will identify with wherever the power comes from, and that seems to mean less nationalism, and more attachment to particular beliefs and ideals.

Yenzo (#829)

Location: Secret underwater pyramid base in the Pacific
Quote: "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe (Carl Sagan)"
Posted: 5228 days ago

Narain wrote: "Racial discrimination will be almost entirely gone by some point in the not to distant future, period. Know why? Because it doesn't work, it doesn't generate profits or increase efficency."

Weeell... I'm afraid it's not just as easy as this. Not everything that doesn't have a purpose automatically vanishes, as any evolutionary biologist will tell you. Unfortunately, the human brain works in ways that make it inevitable to use at least some sort of categorization and therefore generalization. Whereas stereotypes can be diminished (and will be, as a result of the mentioned globalization), generalizations will not change after you met members of the other group or sold them enough of your products.

If you take a group of kids in a camp and split them up by some arbitrary rule (even randomness), the two groups will show the usual group effects like generalization, discrimination and patriotism. And if the split is not arbitrary, but the result of thousands of years of history... well, you get the picture.

I like what you wrote about identifying with the source of power, but every power needs a balancing power of some kind (which is one reason why certain world leaders tend to search for enemies instead of being happy without any). If all mankind is one single group and there's nobody to discriminate against, this will lead to a certain kind of identity crisis (aliens might be the solution here), pretty similar to what is happening now to people in small towns that see their identity vanishing - only stronger than that.

Machine Man subscriber Mapuche (#1184)

Location: Darwin, Australia
Quote: "Inconceivable!"
Posted: 5227 days ago

Having re-read your original article and pondered the responses, I can't help feeling that the original points seem to demonstrate a very narrow focus western experience.

There are billions of people in third world countries who would love to eat more meat and have no particular view on animal cruelty, but see animals almost as commodities. The view of 'animal cruelty' comes from those with the luxury of forming such views, not those struggling to put food on the floor (can't afford a table).

Patriotism and national pride take many forms, but much of what we see and feel of patriotism is becoming increasingly generated by marketing aimed at selling products. A good example is a series of TV ads I recently saw whilst living in Thailand, which strongly promote Thai patriotism (success in sport, courage, creativity, a whole range of personal ideals) linked to the sale of a particular range of drink. This inspires a false form of patriotism, but is increasingly what we see and experience as the media becomes steadily more and more pervasive.

There are large sections of the world who still hold fundamental views on inequality between genders, let alone races. Many of these groups are religiously based (eg Muslim Fundamentalism) but many other cultures maintain strong divides between the roles of Men and Women in society.

More people in the world have some view of a 'God' figure or religious practice than are athiest. (Muslim/Buddhist/Christian/Hindu etc) This by a very large margin.

Racism exists in some form in most coutries of the world, and in most cases it is practiced by those persons who previously suffered racism at the hands of white westerners. Racism is alive and well in Australia, with the most virulent form being practiced by Aborigines against whites.

Privacy is not even an issue to be considered by a large proportion of the world's population. It is a pressing issue in Western countries, (America, Australia, Britain, Europe etc) but I doubt you will find too many people in many of the African or Asian Countries who are deeply concerned with privacy legislation. They are generally more concerned with living as best they can.

I think there is a significant difference between xenophobia and patriotism, and racism blurs the boundaries between them as well.

However, my main point is that in my experience, the shifts in paradigm you allude to, whilst happening observably more in Western societies like Australia, are not by any stretch global trends, and in reality are not even national trends, given that much of the media in Australia is centred in Sydney and Melbourne and tends to largely ignore large swathes of the rest of the country. And it is this media, particularly TV news and current affairs shows, that most clearly demonstrates some of the shifts in thinking under discussion. I doubt very much that those sources are in any measure truly representational of the society in which we find ourselves.

Time to step of my soapbox now. Daresay I will re-read this in horror in a week or two... <grin>

Kalle (#1278)

Quote: "Sex is herital. If your parents never had it, chanses are you'll never have it either."
Posted: 5226 days ago

My little thought:
If you're living in a country where healthcare and education gets worse and worse, were the politicans all seem stupid and lying, and were it rains two-thirds of the year, can you really be patriotic? I'm finding it very difficult. (Where do I live? Feel free to guess)

Yenzo (#829)

Location: Secret underwater pyramid base in the Pacific
Quote: "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe (Carl Sagan)"
Posted: 5226 days ago

No doubt at all: Germany

Sophie (#891)

Location: Devon
Posted: 5226 days ago

Kalle, I'm guessing you live in ... England. It must be England! Or possibly Scotland.
But probably England.

Cogitation (#836)

Location: New York City
Quote: "Think about it for a moment."
Posted: 5225 days ago

"Prediction: Eventually people won’t identify themselves primarily by their nationality, but rather by their belief system. " --Max's blog entry

I'm reminded of "Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri", a title that anyone who's a fan of Sid Meiers games will recognize pretty quickly. The backstory is that a colony ship is sent from Earth to Alpha Centarui (I don't remember the reason; I think it's the imminent destruction of Earth by an asteroid). The colonists consist of many different nationalities.

Near the end of the journey, there's an incident aboard ship (a hijcking or mutiny, I think). The captain is killed and the crew breaks up into factions based on political ideology, not old nationalities. The game starts off with you as the leader of one of these factions.

Ruth (#288)

Location: Bath, United Kingdom
Quote: "Only the insane have strength enough to prosper. Only those who prosper may truly judge what is sane."
Posted: 5224 days ago

Interestingly, I was immediately reminded of Alpha Centuri too ;)

Kalle (#1278)

Quote: "Sex is herital. If your parents never had it, chanses are you'll never have it either."
Posted: 5224 days ago

Ah, actually, you're both wrong. I'll give you a clue:
åäö

Kylee (#1283)

Location: Pisa, Italy
Quote: "I wanna be just like you. I figure all I need is a lobotomy and some tights"
Posted: 5224 days ago

Can I join in this conversation, Kalle?
Not Finnish because they don't have the a with the little round °... Does Nyköping mean anything to you?

Christopher Taylor (#1215)

Location: Melbourne
Quote: "Batshit insane."
Posted: 5223 days ago

Taoism, Jainism and Buddhism don't accept a God. Buddhism is the fastest growing religion in Australia.

Andrew (#899)

Location: England - 7th State of the EU
Quote: "History never repeats itself; at best it sometimes rhymes - Mark Twain"
Posted: 5222 days ago

Wait a minute, your saying that in the future social values will change and our descendents will look at us with repugnance, that they will all be left wing veggie's whilst city dwellers will all be outright liberals, and that they will abolish cruelty to animals and meat eating - doesnt that contradict the point that the selfishness of Capital is going to increase as MacDonalds is the "Unstopable Corporation" since meat industries are some of the most powerful on the planet - i disagree with the idea that Capitalism will go on forever, does your cynicism run that deep? All western states (apart from one) has national health care systems, social security and safety nets for people that fail, in true Marxian fashion we seem to have entered a socialist era and Conservatism is on the retreat, 100 years ago in Britain, people tried to implement socialism in a Capitalist World, now in Britain its implementing Capitalism in a Socialist world, with all the corporations moving their call centers and industry to China, people in Britain are being forced to work for the government and other jobs, thus it seems were becoming less capitalist, though i cant speak for the rest of the world.
And in regards to the idea on Patriotism, i agree with the idea that Nationalism is going going gone, but Patriotism will be around for the forseable future.

Yenzo (#829)

Location: Secret underwater pyramid base in the Pacific
Quote: "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe (Carl Sagan)"
Posted: 5222 days ago

Good point, Andrew

Andrew (#899)

Location: England - 7th State of the EU
Quote: "History never repeats itself; at best it sometimes rhymes - Mark Twain"
Posted: 5222 days ago

I hope Max is eventually right about the decline in religion, i know he is right from a European perspective, theres more practicing Catholics in Britain now than Anglicans. But in regards to America, I think that there are problems with resurgence of religion, such as the latest American craze "Evangelicanism" which resolutely denies the theory of evolution, now if people want to refuse that Mans origional form was a chimp (very insulting to God), then fine, but im absolutely horrified by these people cutting themselves of from the 21st Century and taking this into Politics, Religion has no necessity in good government.

Reggi (#774)

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "it's not the men in my life that counts -- it's the life in my men. - mae west"
Posted: 5221 days ago

I'm thinking it would be rather brilliant to have a Max Barry Forum.

We could all get together and debate things you say.

Ruth (#288)

Location: Bath, United Kingdom
Quote: "Only the insane have strength enough to prosper. Only those who prosper may truly judge what is sane."
Posted: 5221 days ago

ooo, fantastic suggestion...

There *is* a massive Nationstates one though already...but not everyone here plays that I expect...

Dinko Hristov (#1065)

Location: Darwin, Australia
Quote: """No one is fool enough to choose War over Peace. In Peace sons bury fathers, but in War fathers bury sons."- Herodotus"
Posted: 5216 days ago

Commenting on 2. Patriotism; 3. Faith; 4. Privacy....if you think that what i'm about to write is bullshit, good for you. It is, however, my not-so-humble opinion.

2. Patriotism

I agree that Patriotism is belongingness to one's region or country. I may be an Aussie citizen, but i come from Bulgaria and will always count myself as Bulgarian. However, my Patriotism didn't stop me from coming to Australia and eventually taking Aussie citizenship. Gosh! Does that mean that when I call myself "Patriotic", which country should i show my "Patriotism" for? Bulgaria or Australia? Or both? WOW!!! Didn't know that it would be such a tough choice! If in Bulgaria to be "Patriotic" means to dedicate 2-3 years of your life in compulsory military service, then I would rather show my "Patriotism" for my adopted country of Australia.

Patriotism also breeds fanatics and extremists. That's patriotism taken to the extreme. Can you guess who? Let's see...the Taliban and terrorist organizations......Oh, wait! That's not really patriotism, is it? It's more to do with....

3. Faith/Religion

Religion has been the cause for much grief around the world for centuries (starting with the Crusades in the 11th century). The big one is between Christianity (which has more sects than I can count) and Islam. As far as i know, Christianity was the aggressor during the Crusades...now it seems that it's time for payback from the Islamic extremists like the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah, etc. Not good. Not at all.

As I said in the paragraph above, the Christian Church has more sects than I can count. All of them focusing on different moral issues. Geez! I'm getting confused here! Lutherans, Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Anglicans, etc., etc...It was supposed to be the one and only Christian Church...whatever happened??? If Christ ever existed, he would be turning over in his grave!!!

All religions started off as ideologies. They had (still have) the same basic idea- doing good deeds every day with no thought of material rewards. The human being has corrupted those ideals...for personal gains. I frown upon that. No wonder people are no longer going to Church. They have NO faith in religion.

I'm not religious. I follow the teachings of Confucius. "But that's religion!" you might say. N-O. No. Confucianism is NOT a religion. It's a philosophy. Confucianists do NOT try to convert people (like the 2 well-dressed Mormon guys I had knocking on my door 2 weeks ago. I let them speak their BS and then told them "Nah. Not interested." Boy! Did they look put off!!!). They keep their beliefs private.

4. Privacy.

What privacy?

Austin (#1432)

Location: Domion of Of The End Of Humanity
Quote: "If not that, then what?"
Posted: 5166 days ago

I like the general direction of these thoughts, so I wanted to give my my .02$ (worth 1/20 of .01$)

1. I do think that there will be a trend toward better care of animals, partly out of empathy and a distaste for cruel practices, and partly out of quality of product. Ironically, chickens have their beaks nearly removed to keep them from pecking each other to death, but this is because they are jammed within tine cages up against one another. Free range means less product and profit, so where does ethical treatmeant and applicable cruelty meet? Not that I endorse cruelty, however the politics on these things are tricky when money is involved.

2.Patriotism is like salt, a little is nice, but too much is certainly not palettable. When applicable perhaps more is needed, but to be patriotic just to be patriotic defies logical thought, and you might be patriotic to hitler or someone with screwy nonsensical ideals if you do not use critical thinking to try to understand what is going on.

3. Faith will always await in the shadows for some calamity, looking for those who are confused, without direction, and looking for reason. In a muddled state, and voice of reason has its' allure, even if it is perhaps illogical, or even doesn't have the best interests of those involved in mind.

4. Privacy will always have to opposing forces, and people will give one way or another depending on the situation. People will tolerate those dealing with highly dangerous materials to lose privacy, but probably wouldn't want to deal with it for simple issues, like (exaggerated example) buying a cup of coffee. Loss of privacy leads inevitibly to greater bueracracy, which likes to grow endlessly if it can. While such a thing is neccasary, too much is a both a burden financially, and in the end unproductive. There of course is more to it, but I'm just posting a thought on it so :)

5. Selfish/less behavior is something I think about often. In the old capitalist days of the early 1900s it was totally in style to be completely egocentric and selfish for you and your corporation. I think that while there has been a trend recently of companies participating in acts considered at best dubious in the public eye (find your own examples...well that's not fair, how about Enron, and savings and loans) I think there is a fine balance here. Partly there is a matter of resources and who controls them. If you have exclusive rights to a resource you are probably going to initially involved in capitalizing on it. Depending on how caustic the selfishness, pubic view and support for a company wanes, and unless they work on pr, they will lose profits, or even have the public demand an intervention by some greater entity (like the government, or some public interest group.) The underlying idea is that selfishness is on some level needed to get things off the ground, but it should be ethical, so you don't run into problems later on. I could probably write a lot more, rewrite it to correct spelling, and post it somewhere, but I'll just try to get to the opinion part. Selfishness will exist so long as individuals are selfish, but I don't believe in the grand scheme of things that it will be growing beyond a few trends here and there.

That was a great post you made, really makes people think. By the way, you are a F*CKING GENIUS! Creating the game based on Jen Gov was possibly one of the greatest ideas I've ran into. I wouldn't have heard of you, your book, or possibly even your deep thoughts if it weren't for that. I respect deep logical thinking, and hope you can have a positive effect on the world, while still attaining any more selfish (thought publicly harmless) goals. Keep it up man!!

Daniel Rose (#1367)

Location: Sydney, Australia
Posted: 4948 days ago

That's all good, but first, talk to Huxley (Brave New World) or Wells (The Time Machine) or Orwell (1984) or Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451). I study this stuff, and the world is sliding the other way.

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