Liberal Democracy, the Third Way, & Social Futurism

Liberal Democracy, the Third Way, & Social Futurism

 

1.0 The Flaws of Liberal Democracy

 

The developed nations of the Western world are currently characterised by a political-economic system typically referred to as Liberal Democracy“*. Up until very recently, there has been a tendency for all major political parties to converge on an ostensibly moderate, centrist, Liberal Democratic position. This position is characterised by Representative Democracy on the one hand, and commitment to Liberalism (both social and economic, but with emphasis on Market Liberalism) on the other. This worldview is frequently depicted by its proponents as the polar opposite of and only ethical or viable alternative to Authoritarian forms of social organization.

 

1.1 Liberal Democracy and Authoritarianism

 

Of course, for decades there have been those who questioned that narrative. While things were apparently going well for Liberal Democracy these critics were never going to be paid much attention by the general public, and it was trivially easy for the establishment to marginalize them on the basis of their frequent association with discredited ideologies such as Marxism. Things have shifted since the Great Recession, however. To put it simply, things are no longer going so well for Liberal Democracy, and it is not quite so easy to dismiss alternatives out of hand. We will discuss the matter of alternatives in parts 2 & 3 of this article, but first we should take this opportunity to examine the claim that Liberal Democracy and Authoritarianism are diametrically opposed.

I would argue that Liberal Democracy is in fact not only inherently Authoritarian (or at least not nearly as liberal or democratic as it claims to be), but that it fosters more direct forms of Authoritarianism – even Totalitarianism – in developing nations and relies upon them to justify its own agenda. Here I will briefly consider three aspects of this complex relationship; The track record of Liberal Democratic governments (both domestically and abroad), the symbiotic relationship between Liberal Democracies and directly Authoritarian governments, and clear tendencies amid the most ideologically extreme proponents of Liberal Democracy.

 

1.2 The moral failure of Liberal Democracy

 

Liberal Democracy is regularly argued to be the most ethical of political-economic systems, thanks to its apparent emphasis on giving the people a voice, and ensuring their freedom to act as they see fit within society. I believe that not only are these false claims in a number of important ways on a domestic level, but that the implicit and explicit foreign policy of Liberal Democracies denies the people of other nations those same freedoms.

On the domestic level, I believe that Representative Democracy is not true democracy at all. It is a system which allows governments to give the impression of democracy, while they and their favoured private-sector partners more or less do as they please. Centrist Liberal Democratic parties control parliaments in a kind of “revolving door” arrangement, which coupled with their increasingly similar policies means that there is no true choice to be found in elections at all. It is true that there is a strong argument to be made for decision making by meritocracy where expert knowledge is critical, but many currently centralised societal decisions could be made by referendum and decentralised direct democracy (i.e. according to the principle of Subsidiarity).

Additionally, the Liberal Democratic claim to “freedom” tends not to mean any such thing for the average citizen who is not economically self-sufficient, but is instead a friendly sounding name for the policy of giving corporations Carte Blanche in matters of broad societal interest. On that point, I would assert that Liberal Democracy is an ideology organised around defense of the most dysfunctional aspects of Capitalism, and it is nigh impossible to assess one facet of this belief system without considering the other. In other words, “Liberal Democracy” is not really the ideology of true liberty or democracy, but of Capitalism.

It can be hard to convince people living in developed nations that Liberal Democracy isn’t actually very liberal or democratic, especially in the midst of good times. When Capitalism is bringing home the bacon, people are usually not inclined to be bothered that they don’t have half the freedoms or democracy that they imagine. Internationally, however, it is easier to see that Liberal Democratic deeds speak much louder than words. Aside from Western support for Authoritarian regimes (more on that below), we can note an almost non-stop string of military interventions dating back to World War II. These wars began by benefitting certain Capitalists indirectly (i.e. mostly Military-Industrial Complex contractors), but in recent decades it has become clear that war itself is an exercise in profit-making, and that most of that profit comes from oil. Despite plenty of moderate and humanitarian rhetoric, the West never engages in serious work to rebuild devastated nations, unless it is to install an Authoritarian “client” regime.

 

1.3 Symbiosis between Liberal Democracy and Authoritarianism

 

The West – exemplified primarily by the United States – has an appalling track record when it comes to installing and supporting Authoritarian regimes in nations which have some value as a client state, but which are not contenders to be developed into full-blown Liberal Democracies in the near term. I only hesitate in laying the blame for this trend solely at the American door because other major powers have indulged in this game in the past, and would do again in the future given the chance. For now, all of the other major nations seem to fall into the categories of “US client state” or “emerging competitor”.

I am sure that many defenders of Liberal Democracy would cite Realpolitik, and claim that even the most benevolent superpower would have to operate strategically in a wider context of less-than-ideal partners. Perhaps so. But there is another, equally valid way to characterise this relationship between the Liberal Democratic West and its Authoritarian partners in the East and South. This is to say that they are two sides of a single coin, or two partners in a single symbiotic relationship. Authoritarian client states clearly benefit from Western support, usually in the form of military and/or covert logistical aid (e.g. in the case of Augusto Pinochet’s regime in Chile). The same is true for non-state clients such as the Afghan Mujahideen.

Liberal Democratic states primarily benefit from these relationships by opening up new markets, although there are sometimes additional strategic benefits to maintaining such clients. Advocates for Liberal Democracy invariably spin the creation of new markets in terms of spreading “Freedom” and “Democracy”, when in reality what is being exported is Capitalism. The lack of true freedom and democracy we see in Liberal Democratic states is even more acute in these client states, where the Authoritarian regimes typically allow foreign corporations to act as they see fit, exempt from any reasonable level of regulation. This of course represents a bonanza for the companies, the most powerful of whom effectively control the deep policies of Western governments through lobbying and control of core institutions.

In short, we are told that Liberal Democracy stands in lone opposition to Authoritarianism, but in fact it is not truly liberal (in the sense of offering deep freedom) or democratic (in the sense of the people having any real voice), and it deliberately fuels Authoritarianism in order to expand the Capitalist sphere of influence. Not all Authoritarianism is the product of Capitalism run amok – far from it, and contrary to the Marxist just-so story on these matters – but I do feel that we must address this false claim of opposition between two phenomena that are in fact very closely related.

As much as we do not want to gloss over complex truths, it is often helpful to draw attention to important ideas through the use of a simple image, or shorthand. We can encapsulate this idea of a complex symbiotic relationship between the Liberal Democratic West and various forms of Authoritarianism in the East and South by thinking in terms of a puppet show. We may watch such a show and see apparent conflict between two characters, but behind the scenes there is only one motivator, one puppeteer. We should not take this image literally, and indulge in unhelpful conspiracy theories of people orchestrating worldly events from “behind the scenes”. All I am saying is that where we are told that there are two different entities with different values and motivations – First World Liberal Democracies and Second/Third World Authoritarian regimes – there is in fact only one.

The picture I have painted above hinges on close cooperation between Western governments and corporations. I and others have characterised that as a “Corporatist” relationship in the past, and the various possible meanings of that term lead to complications that we don’t have time for here. Most broadly, we can characterise a Corporatist system of governance as one in which government and business are deeply and deliberately integrated. Corporatism is at essence about gathering influence, and using every tool available to achieve that end. Government is used to further the Corporatists’ business concerns, and private businesses are conversely used as tools of government. Furthermore, just as the division between public and private is dismantled, the Corporatist quite happily uses the Authoritarian apparatus of other states to achieve their goals where necessary. There are no boundaries to the Corporatist, no sense of loyalty or identity which stops them playing the game from all sides.

 

​1.4 Ideological paradoxes inherent to Liberal Democracy

 

Given that Liberal Democracy is the ideological mask of choice for our current Corporatist system, it is an interesting irony that the Right or Economic wing of the Libertarian movement opposes Corporatism as a corruption of “true” Capitalism, while at the same time we might reasonably argue Libertarianism to be the ideological vanguard of Liberal Democracy. On the outermost edge of Economic Libertarianism we find the Anarcho-Capitalists, who take the basic tenets of Economic Libertarianism to their logical conclusion, and so are instructive in making the core beliefs and trends in that movement clear. Where the Libertarians tend to argue for a bare-minimum (“Night Watchman”) state apparatus, the Anarcho-Capitalists would have no state whatsoever. Where the Libertarians claim to prioritise personal and social freedoms but tend to emphasise economic freedoms, Anarcho-Capitalists invariably claim that economic freedom is the root of all other freedoms.

 

The problems with Liberal Democracy I have outlined are particularly vivid in their Libertarian incarnation. In defense of Libertarianism I would say that the core impulse of what we might call “Good Faith” Libertarians is to defend personal freedoms of all sorts, which is perfectly laudable. The problem is that of Liberal Democracy writ large; that all too often when Economic Libertarians talk of “freedom”, they at least implicitly mean the freedom of large organizations to do what they want while ordinary human citizens might be free in principle but are in fact enslaved by circumstance. The ‘circumstance’ I refer to is commonly known as Structural Violence. In other words, the freedom of companies comes at the expense of the true freedom of regular people when it is taken too far.

 

Libertarianism makes the inherent paradox of Liberal Democracy clear. Liberal Democracy is in truth the ideology of late Capitalism, in which progressive ideals like freedom and democracy are perverted in service of the needs of a Corporatist Establishment. (Right-wing, Economic) Libertarian heroes such as Ayn Rand tell fables in which Übermensch-like innovators are oppressed by evil collectives, and these childish stories reflect an innate Libertarian fear and hatred of true democracy.

 

Reality is never as simple as an Ayn Rand story. As I have discussed at length elsewhere, Capitalism has been a powerful force for good on a number of levels, and there are Authoritarian forces opposed to Capitalism which are even greater threats to civilization. Similarly, while it is good to recognise the problem of Corporatism and strive for true liberty, it is a particularly tragic irony when someone imagines that problem can be solved by becoming a cheerleader for the Liberal Democratic system.

 

The next two installments in this series will consider alternatives to Liberal Democracy. Just as a desirable alternative would in fact be more truly democratic, it would also be more truly liberal, and worthy of those activists who seek a better paradigm rather than to be just another puppet on the strings of the current one.

 

*It is important to note that where I refer to “Liberal Democracy” and particularly “Liberal Democrats” above, I am referring to the wider political system and not political parties who share that name (e.g. the UK Liberal Democrats). Such parties are, however, very much an enthusiastic part of the system I am criticising here.

 

2.0 The Social Futurist Alternative

 

Most broadly, Social Futurism stands for positive social change through technology; i.e. to address social justice issues in radically new ways which are only just now becoming possible thanks to technological innovation. If you would like some introduction to Social Futurist ideas, you can read the introduction page at http://socialfuturist.party. In this post I will discuss the Social Futurist alternative to Liberal Democratic and Authoritarian states, how that model fits with our views on decentralization and subsidiarity, and its relevance to the political concept of a “Third Way“.

 

Part 1 of this article offered some strong but necessarily brief criticisms of Liberal Democracy, essentially saying that not only does it not deliver the promised freedom and democracy but that it and non-Western Authoritarian regimes are united in a kind of Corporatist symbiosis. The aim of this second post is to discuss a few aspects of the Social Futurist alternative that I advocate.

 

2.1 The Virtual, Distributed, Parallel (VDP) State

 

One of the ideas proposed in the “Social Futurist policy toolkit” is known as the VDP State. The idea is described as follows in the article linked above:

 

We advocate the establishment of communities with powers of self-governance known as VDP States, where VDP stands for “Virtual, Distributed, Parallel”. ‘Virtual’ refers to online community, orthogonal to traditional geographic territories. ‘Distributed’ refers to geographic States, but ones where different parts of the community exist in different locations, as a network of enclaves. ‘Parallel’ refers to communities that exist on the established territory of a traditional State, acting as a kind of organizational counterpoint to that State’s governing bodies. Two or three of these characteristics may be found in a single VDP State, but it is expected that most such communities would emphasise one characteristic over the others. Alternatively, a VDP State may emphasise different characteristics at different stages in its development.

 

Given Social Futurist emphasis on voluntarism, VDP State citizenship must be entirely voluntary. Indeed, the entire point of the VDP State is to broaden the range of governance models which people may voluntarily choose to engage with, where they are currently told that they simply have to accept a single model of governance.

 

For the purposes of this article, there are three aspects of the VDP State (VDPS) idea to think about. One is the question of how a VDPS can avoid the problematic trappings of Authoritarianism, Corporatism, and Liberal Democracy. Another is the relationship between the VDPS and its citizens. Finally, we must also consider the matter of feasibility; How can such a thing seriously be established and maintained?

 

Encoding Social Futurist Values into the VDPS

 

Clearly, any Social Futurist state worthy of the name would have to be designed to systematically avoid the problems associated with Authoritarianism, Corporatism, and Liberal Democracy. The widely acknowledged answer to the problem of Authoritarianism is Decentralization; i.e. to design the state as a network of communities and services operating according to the principle of subsidiarity. As long as a common set of shared principles and goal states are recognised by all elements of the state, then a single authority tasked with making all executive decisions for the entire network is unnecessary, not to mention fragile, dangerous, and inefficient.

 

The question of decentralization and subsidiarity is considered in more detail in the second section of this article, so now we must ask ourselves what problems Corporatism and Liberal Democracy pose which are distinct from and additional to the threat of Authoritarianism. It would appear that if the essence of Corporatism is to deliberately violate boundaries in order to accrue centralised influence, then decentralization is the answer to it, also. Beyond these forms of creeping control, the remaining problem I’ve identified with Liberal Democracy is its inability to live up to its defining claim to exemplify freedom and democracy. Direct democracy fits naturally with the idea of a decentralised network of federated communities. Cross-community referenda and citizens’ rights can be guaranteed by a single set of principles shared by all parts of the state network (formal agreement with the principles being a minimum requirement for a community to join the network). Finally, the problem of structural violence can be solved with automation in combination with Universal Basic Income, being a transition phase into full technological Post-Scarcity.

 

I have tried to not only keep these proposals as simple as possible, but also to explain them in terms of traditional political ideas and themes. A key element of Social Futurism, however, is acknowledgement that we live in an era of accelerating technological development. All of the proposals offered above could in principle be encoded in the function of decentralised software and hardware tools, potentially making the “Social Contract” of a VDPS an explicit, tangible thing. The Zero State community has begun work toward implementing these ideas through the creation of a cryptographic Distributed Autonomous Community (AKA Decentralized Autonomous Community, Cooperative, or Corporation; DAC).

 

The Social Futurist Citizen and their relationship to the VDPS

 

It is my belief that we cannot simply focus on the nature of the VDPS and ignore any consideration of its citizens. I have established in earlier articles that the voluntary nature of VDPS citizenship and a right to “free exit” must be enshrined in the core principles of any such state if it is to comply with Social Futurist ideals. This is the foundation stone of a growing list of Social Futurist state obligations to treat citizens fairly, and of course all citizens must abide by the core principles of the state if they wish to retain that citizenship. Beyond that basic obligation, however, what qualities might we expect such people to have?

 

Because Social Futurism seeks to avoid onerous restrictions upon people of the sort found (explicitly) in Authoritarianism and (implicitly in) Liberal Democracy, there can be no requirements of citizens beyond behaviour compatible with principle (and of course to comply with the law, which must itself be principle-compatible). Beyond the matter of official requirements, however, we might reasonably discuss ideals that citizens may wish to aspire to. Indeed, the very concept of the Social Futurist Citizen might be held up as just such an ideal. The Social Futurist Citizen would be a person who not only complies with principle and derived laws as a matter of course, but who also seeks to fulfill the spirit rather than simply the letter of those principles. Such a person would not only avoid crossing the bounds of unacceptable behaviour, but their example would demonstrate the true spirit of the principles to others.

 

Just as we would expect a fully realised Social Futurist VDP State to employ the most effective technologies available – to integrate them into its deepest infrastructure – we should expect the same kind of commitment from the Social Futurist Citizen. Most generally we could characterise this expectation in terms of the Transhumanist idea; that we can and should improve the human condition. Given our emphasis on voluntarism and evidence, I don’t think we can say much about ways in which people may choose to become “better than well”. For now, we can leave this matter with an acknowledgement that in Social Futurism both the State and its most committed Citizens would seek to evolve into a greater fulfillment of the same principles and ideals.

 

Establishing and Maintaining the VDPS

 

Ideals and hypothetical evolutionary processes aside, the single most pressing question about VDP States is how to realistically establish and maintain them. Previously I have noted that this is a serious issue, and that the answer would largely depend upon the nature of any given VDP State. For example, a primarily virtual state would be the easiest to build and maintain, including questions of defense which would mostly boil down to matters of information security. A primarily virtual state would, however, be the least satisfying when it came to meeting the needs of physical communities. There are certain things that a decentralised software environment can do to empower a distributed group of people – the internet has made that quite clear – but ensuring shelter, food, hygiene, and defence are not among them.

 

A primarily distributed state (i.e. a network of physically separate communities) has a different set of strengths and weaknesses, more or less the inverse of the virtual state. It can meet the physical needs of its citizens as long as supply lines and territorial integrity can be maintained, but defense is no longer merely a matter of information security, and requires serious resources. This is particularly true where such communities exist on territory claimed by another state, or where organised piracy is a serious threat.

 

The strengths and weaknesses of a parallel state are a more complicated matter, depending on the nature of both the new state and its host. Both may be considered to be more or less permeable, which is to say flexible about the integrity of their borders and what they allow within them. A relationship between a parallel and traditional state may be viable as long as at least one of the two is highly permeable (or both are moderately so). For example, a strongly enforced traditional state may allow an informal intentional community to call itself a “state” on its territory, and a weak state may even be obliged to tolerate a powerful microstate within its borders. But two low-permeability states cannot peacefully coexist in the same space; a strongly enforced traditional state simply will not tolerate a powerful microstate on its territory without some special mutual agreement (such as that between Italy and the Vatican).

 

Taking these factors into account, it seems clear that the most effective approach to establishing a VDP State would be to see it as a network, with different nodes within that network emphasising different characteristics. So there would ideally be a mixture of (1) highly permeable parallel state nodes in low-permeability countries, and (2) low-permeability nodes in high-permeability countries, together constituting (3) a distributed state of physical enclaves, plus (4) a network of virtual nodes providing communications support. Such a network would be resilient to local failures of supply lines or territorial integrity, and would of course be a natural fit for implementing the Social Futurist ideal of Subsidiarity.

 

On the theoretic level, decentralization is required in order to pass the moral test which Authoritarianism and Liberal Democracy both fail so badly.

 

2.2 Decentralization and Subsidiarity

 

We can see that the Social Futurist idea is strongly interrelated with the idea of decentralization, on both theoretic and pragmatic levels. On the theoretic level, decentralization is required in order to pass the moral test which Authoritarianism and Liberal Democracy both fail so badly. On the pragmatic level, Social Futurist practice can only be implemented by establishing alternative, distributed, voluntary networks which operate outside the bounds of traditional institutions. This section will briefly explore how that could work and would affect modern society.

 

I have previously considered how Socialists and Libertarians (or any traditionally incompatible pair of ideologies) could co-exist within a decentralised network of enclaves and affiliations, to the extent that they could all agree to respect a common set of principles. I believe that we can and should extend those ideas to explore the Zero State idea of cooperative networks, how they might apply to networks of physical enclaves, and also how these ideas map on to models of responsible business and innovation.

 

I have previously argued that cooperative networks can accommodate disparate points of view, even apparently incompatible ideologies, by allowing different groups to govern their own affairs while remaining embedded in a wider confederation defined by a single set of unifying principles. Such principles act as the basis for cooperation across the entire network, and make a number of decentralised cooperative modes possible.

 

For example, clear principles can make it instantly apparent if the behaviour of one part of the network is no longer compatible with the whole. In other words, if a group “goes rogue” and starts acting in ways that clearly contravene the wider network’s principles, then the network’s response should be dictated by those same principles. In an extreme case, clear principles make it possible for the network to develop a kind of decentralised “immune response” to deal with both external and internal threats.

 

Where there isn’t good reason to do things differently, freedom of action should apply at all levels of the network where the principles are not being contravened. In other words the principles should apply to groups and organisations as much as to individuals, starting with the principle of free exit. This means that as long as any group satisfies the demands of principle then it should be able to manage its own internal affairs as its members feel is appropriate, and in turn the principle of subsidiarity is satisfied. That said, it is probably a good idea that the principles insist upon any networked group or organisation having a single self-chosen coordinator or point of contact. This is not necessarily a leader or democratic representative of any sort (Social Futurism would favour direct democracy within networked groups), but simply someone who can act as a spokesperson for the group within the wider network, and vice versa. The Social Future Institute operates exactly this kind of system, enabling various direct-democratic project groups to coordinate their efforts in line with a single set of principles, with no central controller telling everyone what to do.

 

It is useful to distinguish between organizational affiliates and geographic enclaves. Both are potential nodes in a cooperative network, but like the different forms of VDP State they have different strengths and weaknesses. Networked organisations (e.g. companies, activist groups, charities) can often operate internationally, and can sometimes establish significant physical presences, but those presences will usually be subject to the authority of a State of some sort. Geographic enclaves (e.g. colonies, intentional communities) are necessarily limited to acting in one location, but their activity can encompass the entire life-experience of participants. In order to achieve a degree of resilience, networks should try to spread their bets by including nodes of various types. Beyond a certain common interest these different types of node should be expected to have different concerns and priorities, underscoring the need to devolve decision making authority to the most local level practicable in any given matter.

 

2.3 The Third Way and Radical Centrism

 

Given this emphasis on diversity and subsidiarity across a resilient network, it is worth considering how such a network might encourage a balance of social justice concerns, trade, and innovation. If we think of businesses or trading entities as nodes in the network, then we can easily see that their right to connect with other nodes (i.e. other companies and communities of potential clients and customers) will be predicated on compliance with the basic network principles. Companies which do not comply with the principles will not be allowed to act as part of the network, which means no engagement with any of its nodes. If any part of the network tries to circumvent the ban and trade with a company that contravenes principle, then it too would be ejected from the network. This creates incentive both to comply with the principles and to only engage with compliant nodes, as long as network membership is valuable (e.g. for allowing trade access).

 

Of course, international companies have a tendency to play host countries off against each other for tax breaks and so on, and any company which wanted to trade within the network but not do so in accord with principle may well try to exert pressure on the network by taking its business elsewhere. In order to minimize this kind of risk, cooperative networks should (1) develop principles which reward responsible business and innovation, and (2) enlarge the network through growth and cooperative agreements with similar networks. The point of enlargement through cooperation or growth is to give hostile companies (or indeed any hostile entity) a smaller space of alternatives to work with. If refusing to trade with one network will come at too great an opportunity cost, then traders will think twice about doing so in an effort to avoid regulation.

 

Neither Left nor Right, nor “Liberal Democratic” Centrist

 

Our core concern is with balancing the engines of societal innovation (whether we’re talking about technology or businesses that develop it) with social justice. Of course, that is a concern shared with every political activist who isn’t so extreme as to believe that one thing should be pursued wholly at the expense of the other. We must understand that committed Left- and Right-Wingers invariably believe that their point of view is the best way to achieve such balance, while the “other side” has views that are inherently extremist and dangerously unbalanced. Sometimes such people will even have a point, as both the Left and Right have at least some good ideas which society ignores at its peril.

 

In other words, it is sometimes the case that the Left or the Right is objectively correct on some matter, but this is simply because they’ll be advocating an idea which happens to be correct. That does not mean that every other idea advocated by the same broad coalition of people and ideologies will also be correct (or indeed appropriate for any given society). Added to this, we mustn’t forget that ideas have a way of migrating, or being advocated by different factions at different times. For example the Right has for some time been associated with prioritising economic growth over social issues, but now that so-called “Austerity” is a touchstone of the Right, the Left has moved to promote the idea of economic stimulation as an essential societal goal. Taken together, these things show that it is a mistake to focus on whether “the Left” or “the Right” is best, and better to focus on the best ideas.

 

There is already a movement to advocate the best and most progressive ideas, whether they are currently “owned” by the Left or Right in any given country. That movement is as nebulous and multi-faceted as either the Left or Right, and is most commonly known as the “Third Way” or “Radical Centrism“. Personally I prefer Radical Centre over Third Way, simply because it is slightly more informative. Both labels speak to a balance between ideas from the Socialist Left and Capitalist Right, but the word “Radical” should in principle distinguish a true third alternative from the situation we have in Western governments these days, where all of the major parties blur into an indistinguishable mass of so-called Liberal Democratic centrism. As the Third Way Wikipedia page demonstrates, the mainstream paradigm of centrism is that of Tony Blair, David Cameron, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, even George Bush Jr. It isn’t a dynamic exploration of the best ideas for society so much as stagnation and entrenchment of a dysfunctional Capitalism and professional political class.

 

Part 1 of this article flatly rejects the current global political-economic system, which is said by definition to be better than any other possible system, despite the evidence in front of our very eyes. I would prefer to see a system that more truly promotes social freedoms and citizen engagement in decision-making processes. I believe that a true Radical Centrism would indeed be Radical, and make a break with the historical dysfunctions of Liberal Democracy. In their place, a true Radical Centrism would attempt to build a better system from the ground up, drawing on the best ideas of both the Left and Right, and transcending the flaws of both.

 

I have already written an article which identifies some of those ideas (“Social Futurist revolution & toolkit”), and so will not dwell on them here. Instead, I will simply note that I believe Social Futurism to be a Radical Centrist position in the true sense. It is not the only possible true Radical Centrism of course, but it is the one I advocate, because it represents a mix of ideas that I personally support. I will discuss Social Futurism at some greater length in the next part of this series, but for now I would like to close by looking at an example of how a true Radical Centrism could integrate ideas from across the political spectrum and develop them into something truly innovative rather than the insipid balancing act which typically plays out in Western governments.

 

Growth and the Marius Principle

 

A core belief of Market Liberalism which has all but become a defining feature of Western civilization is the idea that the economy must constantly grow. Aside from the degree to which this is a matter of ideology for some, there would certainly be serious consequences if our economies stopped growing for too long while our central institutions are utterly dependent on credit. In addition to this problem, we have become addicted to a kind of false growth, largely based on financial speculation and debt. The financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent Great Recession made it abundantly clear that when a major institution is found to be insolvent, the consequences have the potential to wipe out large swathes of the banking system upon which society has become utterly dependent. In short, debt pushes us into a need for growth, and false growth based on debt breeds cumulative risk.

 

We cannot simply abandon the idea of growth unless we wish to court disaster, but we can try to seek healthier forms of growth, and to reduce the fragilities in our society that make any temporary lack of growth so dangerous. As to the question of reducing fiscal fragility, we could accept the Right’s call for fiscally responsible government, but at the same time we would need to reign in companies which create systemic financial risk – and certainly not bail them out when they fall into difficulties of their own creation. So far, this is a classic centrist position, if leaning a little toward Economic Liberalism and Libertarianism, but it is not particularly radical. The Social Futurist policy toolkit includes advocacy of Full Reserve Banking and other more radical ideas, but another truly radical thing would be to attempt solving the other half of the equation: To address the question of acceptable growth.

 

The idea of putting constraints of what kinds of growth are acceptable (i.e. prioritising social concerns over free trade) certainly looks like Left Wing policy, while the idea of prioritising economic growth at all costs comes from the Right. The issue gets considerably muddier when we introduce what we might call the Marius Principle. This is the idea that true growth, or healthy growth, can only be based upon resources that are either being created or made accessible to the system for the first time. Simply rearranging resources that are already available and not adding any significant functionality is not true growth, but merely speculation. In this model “fiat” money is not a true resource, as nothing is actually being created beyond an agreement to transfer potential control over extant resources. Invention is one way of driving true growth, as increased value correlates with an actual increase in the ability to do things which previously could not be done. In the old days communities would “make new resources available to the system” by invading their neighbours and stealing resources, or exploring new lands. I do not advocate the former, but the latter is an option in the form of space-based industries such as solar power production and off-world mining. Yes, it is easier in the short term to simply speculate and trade in debt than it is to open up new frontiers, but we as a civilization will pay dearly if we cannot grow out of this infantile phase and learn to look outward.

 

​I call this the Marius Principle after the Roman general and statesman Gaius Marius, who reformed the Roman army by introducing the recruitment of landless citizens. These new soldiers were invariably poor, and they had to be paid in some fashion, so Marius promised them a share of land from any territory conquered under his command. In essence there was a need for resources to meet an obligation (to the soldiers), and Marius determined that the soldiers should therefore be directly motivated to secure those resources. In a single move this vastly increased the size of the Roman army, increased soldiers’ motivation and loyalty, and increased the reach of Rome. If we look past the military context of Marius’ situation to see his deeper strategy, we see that it can be applied to today’s economy: Give private enterprise serious incentive to innovate and explore (while disincentivizing speculative and parasitic behaviours), and you will get more innovators and explorers, with greatly enhanced motivation, and true growth for the entirety of society will be made possible. Of course, such a program is truly radical, and would require us to step outside the limited thinking that characterises current parliamentary centrism.

 

In summary, part 1 of this article criticised the current centrist paradigm of Liberal Democracy. In part two I began by discussing the idea of VDP (Virtual, Distributed, Parallel) States offering a Social Futurist alternative to Liberal Democracy. Such States would essentially stand outside the current system and be characterised by a direct democratic network structure. I discussed the role of principles, citizenship, and pragmatic concerns in creating such an alternative societal model. From there I addressed the importance of decentralization and subsidiarity, before moving on to consider how ideas from across the political spectrum might be balanced and incorporated in such a system. Finally I argued that Social Futurism is a truly Radical Centrist or Third Way ideology, and gave an example of the kind of policy we might expect from that ideology. In part 3 I will examine ways in which we might expect Social Futurism to relate to Techno-Progressivism, Natural Law, Resource Economies, The Zeitgeist Movement, and Socialism.

 

3.0 Social Futurism & Related Concepts

 

The first two articles in this series criticised the dominant political paradigm of the Western world (Liberal Democracy) and briefly outlined the beginnings of an alternative called Social Futurism (SF). The aim of this final article is to begin exploring relationships between the core SF idea and a few relevant concepts.

 

3.1 Social Futurism, Techno-Progressivism, & Socialism

 

As things currently stand, Social Futurism is essentially a synonym for Techno-Progressivism, but that may change as both positions develop over time. The picture is further complicated by the fact that different theorists will inevitably favour different interpretations of these schools of thought, and some combinations of those interpretations will be more compatible than others. For now, it is perhaps most helpful to identify their core commonalities. I have claimed that Social Futurism is essentially an integration of social justice and technological concerns. Similarly, Techno-Progressivism stands broadly for progressive social change (the Wikipedia page mentions “the achievement of better democracy, greater fairness, less violence, and a wider rights culture”) but also insists that progressivism must complement and be applied to technological developments. Again, we may refer to the summary on the Techno-Progressivism Wikipedia page:

 

Strong techno-progressive positions include support for the civil right of a person to either maintain or modify his or her own mind and body, on his or her own terms, through informed, consensual recourse to, or refusal of, available therapeutic or enabling biomedical technology.

Of course, any view which sees questions of personal rights and techno-social change as being interrelated is going to be relevant to Futurist schools of thought such as Transhumanism and Singularitarianism. There are some minor complications there (with certain Transhumanists disliking Techno-Progressivism, and vice versa), but for the most part these are broadly like-minded streams of thought. In addition to emphasis on social justice and technology, Social Futurism and Techno-Progressivism share an opposition to Bio-Conservatism. In fact they are arguably defined by opposition to that viewpoint, which holds that society should be particularly hesitant to adopt new technologies, especially when those technologies may alter the traditional human condition or social order. In other words, Bio-Conservatives oppose new technologies because they upset the status quo. Finally, Social Futurism and Techno-Progressivism both champion ethical technological developments, but simultaneously oppose unethical and dangerous applications of technology. That willingness to assess the relative risk and benefit of any given technology could in principle lead to agreement between Techno-Progressives and Bio-Conservatives on specific issues.

 

The four core commonalities described above (emphasis on [1] social justice and [2] technology, opposition to [3] Bio-Conservatism and [4] dangerous or unethical practices) make it clear why it is reasonable to consider Social Futurism a synonym for Techno-Progressivism. Indeed, that would be a truism if we could not identify any meaningful differences between the two schools of thought. In looking for such a potential difference, we might reasonably start by examining the term “Social”. That label implies some connection between Social Futurism and Socialist thought, even if that connection is not prescriptive or even necessarily intended. We need to consider the historical relationship between Socialism and Progressivism, and any continuing influence it may have on the relationships between Socialism, Social Futurism, and Techno-Progressivism.

 

Socialism itself is a complex of ideas, methods, and attitudes. It is far from a monolithic ideology, despite what some people believe. Traditionally those who favoured open interpretations of Socialism’s goals and approaching them via the methods of parliamentary democracy have been called Social Democrats. Social Democracy has a lot in common with the Labour Movement and a number of threads within historical Progressivism. Marxists (by which I include Marxist-Leninists and other forms of Communist), on the other hand, take a narrower view of what counts as Socialism, saying that unless a society’s means of production are owned by the workers instead of a class of Capitalist investors then a system cannot be considered Socialist. Of course there are all sorts of shades and nuances of belief to be found here, but the key point is that Marxist beliefs hinge upon a concise core definition of Socialism, and Marxists reject all other interpretations as “Populist Socialism”. This is important to note, because Populist Socialism is often taken to imply or even be an outright synonym for Fascism, for both valid historical and less valid propagandistic reasons.

 

There is much to commend a concise, consistent definition of the core principle at the heart of a movement. If nothing else, it makes it clear what the movement stands for, and helps protect against “mission drift” or even outright hijacking by entryists. Social Futurism (henceforth SF) would benefit from having an easily identifiable core principle rather than a nebulous collection of values and commitments. Whatever candidates might emerge for that principle, however, it seems safe to say that it cannot be the Marxist principle of worker ownership which stands at the centre of Communism. The reason for this is that both Techno-Progressivism and Social Futurism as they currently stand are advocated by a broad range of pro-technology social activists, many of whom oppose the dysfunctions of Capitalism but only a small proportion of whom would actually support its total abolition. In short, SF is potentially compatible with Marxist ideas in the broadest sense, but there is no a priori reason to allow it to be limited by Marxist sensibilities and indeed alienate many SF advocates in the process. This logic applies to both Social Futurism and Techno-Progressivism as they currently exist, and so could be counted as another reason to consider the two terms synonymous.

 

Having established that position – that SF is concerned with techno-social progress and social justice but not limited by Marxist definitions – a certain situation seems to be inevitable. This is that, from a doctrinaire Marxist perspective, SF falls into the category of Populist Socialism. Marx himself would probably have categorised it as “Utopian Socialism” (a term he used to distinguish the views of earlier Socialists from his own perspective). Given the close connection between SF and other Futurist lines of thought, I believe that SF advocates should be encouraged to feel comfortable with their characterization as Utopian Socialists, despite the fact that the label is clearly intended as a slur. Similarly I would be dismissive of Marxist claims that SF is merely “Populism”, especially when those claims are delivered in an emotive fashion or without constructive thought on where points of agreement might be found.

 

Any unsubstantiated or implied association with Fascism is to my mind an example of authoritarian bullying to accept Marxist doctrine or else, and in my opinion opposition to such authoritarianism must be a critical component of a mature SF. To be constructive and conciliatory, however, I will once again stress that I think SF needs a core principle which will cement its commitment to meaningful change toward deep social justice, and if that principle is not Marxist then we must make it clear (1) why that principle is of greater net value than the Marxist one, and (2) how Marxists can approach their own beliefs and goals if they wish to cooperate with SF advocates. Discussion of candidate principles and the issues mentioned above is a huge topic, beyond the scope of the current article. Having marked that topic for future consideration, we can now turn our attention to a different, but related matter.

 

3.2 Internationalism, Nationalism, and the European Question

 

An ideological commitment common across different forms of Socialism is the idea of Internationalism. Internationalism asserts that common causes which unite people across borders (such as social issues) are more important than the concerns of any given nation, and/or that the deepest concerns of individual nations are in fact best served through international cooperation rather than isolation or competition. Radical forms of Internationalism propose that all people should be able to freely move across borders as they see fit, or indeed that nations should cease to exist.

 

There are good arguments to be made for these views, as long as they do not come bundled with authoritarianism, and therein lies the rub. There is of course a common right-wing conspiracy theory interpretation of Internationalism which depicts a drive for authoritarian “one-world government”, and it does reflect a true correlation between support for Socialism and Internationalism. We need to ask ourselves if there isn’t a valid question to ask here, buried somewhere under the distraction of conspiracy theory, and whether anything about the inherent logic of SF speaks to the issue of Internationalism. Firstly, given the connections between Socialist and Internationalist attitudes on the one hand and Socialism and SF on the other, it shouldn’t be surprising that a number of SF advocates are also ardent Internationalists. So the question that follows is not whether some current Social Futurists & Techno-Progressives are Internationalists, but whether they must be. Whether or not there is an inherent ideological connection between Internationalism and SF.

 

I believe that not only is there no such explicit ideological connection as things currently stand, but that there cannot be. The reason for this is that even though one or more schools of thought grouped under the SF labels could in theory declare a strict adherence to Internationalism, it would have to do so at the expense of certain personal freedoms which are already central tenets of Social Futurism. In other words, up until this point SF has gone to great lengths to emphasise a priority on personal freedoms insofar as those freedoms are not being used (whether deliberately or accidentally) to reduce the freedoms of others. Insofar as SF might be considered Socialist, that would have to be an anti-authoritarian or even Left-Libertarian form of Socialism. Internationalism is often cast in terms of personal freedom (e.g. to cross borders unhindered), but Leftists sometimes forget that true freedom worthy of the name also includes the freedom to maintain one’s own community of choice, as long as that community doesn’t harm others by its existence. This is the Left-Libertarian idea writ large, enacted on the scale of communities rather than individuals.

 

This is an awkward issue, because the very assertion that anyone should enjoy freedom to determine the form of their own community (including laws, traditions etc) is the hallmark of a modest form of Nationalism, which is invariably taken to be the antithesis of Internationalism. I say “modest” because extreme Nationalism which advocates expansion of one community’s influence at the expense of others’ is in fact Imperialism, and not defensible in terms of a freedom to determine one’s own community. Again, hardline Internationalist Marxists (e.g. Trotskyites) would often be quick to denounce freedom to determine one’s own community as the seed of Fascism. My own point of view is that although any given SF advocate may not feel any kind of Nationalist inclinations themselves, they must allow for freedom of community if SF is to have any plausible claim to being non- or even anti-authoritarian. Of course, any kind of community supported by SF advocates would have to avoid authoritarian and imperialist tendencies in itself, and there is no reason whatsoever why many small communities of choice cannot exist together in a wider cooperative network, enjoying mutual respect and support.

 

In this way, we can see that Nationalist and Internationalist ideas need not necessarily oppose so much as complement each other, if approached from a constructive point of view. SF cannot oppose the freedom to determine one’s own community and remain true to its own anti-authoritarianism, but it can insist that any Nationalist impulse be tempered and complemented by Internationalist cooperation between networked communities. We might illustrate this idea by making a comparison between a nation-state and a family’s home. No-one should have the right to simply invade that family’s home and take it for their own as long as the family are not harming anyone by insisting on their own private space. At the same time however, that family should enjoy the benefits of connection to and support from the wider community as long as they in turn do their part to support the wider community they are a part of.

 

In order to ground these considerations in the real world, to see what their implications are, I would like to very briefly consider the question of Europe. After all, Europe should be particularly sensitive to SF sensibilities (given its technological and political history), and it is a continent currently thinking hard about the relationships between its constituent nations. I believe that the argument above should lead Social Futurists and Techno-Progressives to advocate further evolution toward a Federal Europe which respects the continued existence of constituent nation-states but emphasises cooperative integration between those states. One might argue that we are already on track to such a thing existing, but that it is simultaneously anathema to both strident Nationalists and Internationalists for different reasons. From the perspective I’ve described it is most interesting to ignore such criticisms for the moment, and instead look closer at the details of how cooperation could work at the different scales of a thoroughly reformed EU.

 

Holarchy

 

I would like to briefly glance at how things might work on three scales; that of continent-sized federations, of nation-states within the EU, and of communities within any given European nation-state. The key theme here is the idea that the same principles apply across all scales, like a kind of Holarchic system.

 

Federal Unions

 

To start with, we already live in a world of major blocs which balance prioritization of their own goals with the demands of interdependence. It is quite clear that there are advantages available to states than can assemble into larger meta-states for the purpose of negotiating relationships with other large powers. No-one would expect an independent Oklahoma or Florida (or even California or New York) to have the same international leverage that those states enjoy as part of the larger United States of America, and the same is true for any state within the EU, Russian Federation, the People’s Republic of China (admittedly an authoritarian bloc, rather than a federation), or less traditional agglomerations such as NATO, OPEC, or BRIC. So we live in a world of cooperating entities at the largest scale and will continue to do so – that’s simply a fact of life – even if that cooperation is unfortunately not always as peaceful or constructive as we might hope for. The only real question is what kind of meta-state we would advocate; i.e. how it should operate internally, on the level of constituent states and the smaller communities they are composed of in turn.

 

States and Nations

 

That, of course, is the tricky question. The most ardent Internationalists do not believe that people should have to tolerate any national borders whatsoever, and I will consider that issue further in the context of The Zeitgeist Movement, in the next section. On the other hand, Nationalists across Europe are currently using the ongoing economic crisis to clamour for greater dis-integration of the European Union, and the reclamation of greater national independence. In my opinion the European Union has been characterised by an unfortunate degree of centralised political control from Brussels in combination with too little economic uniformity, but total dissolution of the Union would be a disaster for its constituent nation-states.

I do not believe that we face a simple, stark choice between no EU at all, and a centralised authoritarian one. After all, few would take the idea seriously that the USA is inevitably and inherently authoritarian and so must be entirely dismantled rather than working toward a sensible balance of rights and responsibilities! So, our question is what kind of European Union (or indeed USA, or Russian Federation, African or South American or Chinese Federal Republic) Social Futurists and Techno-Progressives should advocate. I feel that the EU should evolve toward a state of fully common economic and military policy, but with a written constitution guaranteeing strongly devolved political decision making in all other areas. No solution to the European question will satisfy everyone and the road to any solution will be rocky, but this approach would maximise stability and external influence while preserving as much freedom of self-determination as possible, in exactly the manner I argue should be the hallmark of a SF/TP approach to such questions.

 

Local Communities of Choice

 

This is the part where things get really interesting. Many people will develop their views on Nationalism and Internationalism with an eye on one particular scale within this scheme, but not apply the same view equally at all other scales. For example, Nationalists will frequently argue the right of self-determination for their nation but then not afford the same right by the same logic to smaller communities within that nation. SF/TP is a political philosophy in its infancy, and so it still has the opportunity to develop in a rational, consistent manner when confronting issues such as this. In order to be consistent, we clearly must approach the issue of sub-national communities in exactly the same fashion we consider states and federations.

In other words, small communities of choice must have the freedom to manage their own internal affairs to the extent that they do not harm others, but at the same time they should be encouraged to see themselves as part of the wider milieu and ready to support other communities in the network. In terms of my proposition for Europe, that would mean that the Federal government coordinates economic and military matters across the continent, while state governments develop all other policy as it applies to local communities, but then local communities have the right and responsibility to interpret and apply those policies – and develop new policies – as they see fit and in accord with the European Constitution. According to the principle of subsidiarity, in this scheme local communities would be able to manage their own affairs while embedded in a much larger network of mutually supportive communities with common macroeconomic and military policy.

 

3.3 Natural Law / Resource Economies, & The Zeitgeist Movement

 

The previous sections explored the relationships between Social Futurism and Techno-Progressivism, between both the SF/TP philosophies together and various forms of Socialism, and between a hypothetical Socialist-Internationalist interpretation of SF/TP and acceptable forms of Nationalism demanded by our commitment to personal rights and freedoms. Finally, I would like to turn to ideas promoted by The Zeitgeist Movement (TZM) which represent a continuation of the historical current that gave rise to Socialism and Internationalism, and which now have much in common with the views of SF/TP advocates and other Futurists. I hope that by applying Social Futurist views to TZM ideas we may learn more about both in the process.

 

TZM describes itself as:

“A global sustainability advocacy organization that conducts community based activism and awareness actions through a network of global and regional chapters, project teams, annual events, educational media and charity work.”

Its core idea is that planetary resources are managed inefficiently and unethically by the Capitalist system, and that a Natural Law / Resource Based Economy (NL/RBE) could help to realise Post-Scarcity without introducing authoritarian, centralised control of any sort. Of course that’s a tall order, and to be fair TZM members seldom claim to have all the answers. Instead they seek widespread recognition that the current system simply isn’t working (hence the TZM motto “Realizing a New Train of Thought”), and emphasise that their solutions would not be doctrinaire but rather driven by the scientific method applied to humanitarian ideals.

Very broadly speaking, this is of course the raison d’être of Social Futurism, and I have said elsewhere that I believe TZM to be an intrinsically Social Futurist organization. Of course as I have mentioned different theorists will emphasise different aspects of their chosen ideologies so two representatives of even very similar philosophies may express themselves very differently, but the main thing is that at its heart TZM ideology is about a combination of social justice values and the promise of science. The potential value in this observation is that it doesn’t only apply to TZM. The same could be said of many different organizations and movements, which clearly opens the way to cooperation between them toward common goals. Often the primary barrier to cooperation is a simple lack of recognition that two groups want the same thing, and the idea that many different groups may for all their differences belong to one Social Futurist category could help bring that recognition about.

 

TZM activists have committed considerable time and energy to clarifying similarities and differences between their own views and those expressed by earlier movements such as Technocracy and Marxism. Inevitably, these distinctions have earned the movement partisan labelling as Populist Socialism and worse, but the movement’s consistent emphasis on broad core values has helped to retain the sympathies of many Socialists and Futurists. Given that I’ve already asserted the TZM worldview to be inherently Social Futurist, the following points should really just be taken as exploratory diversions which Social Futurists of different persuasions may find interesting. Although a self-identifying Social Futurist or Techno-Progressive may not agree with any given TZM view below or my brief analysis of it, I would ask that readers try to see past such superficial differences of opinion and recognise a common philosophy which unites a disparate community of activists.

 

Natural Law / Resource Based Economy?

 

Not the most elegant term in the world, I grant you. But it’s content that counts, and in this case the content is a vision (courtesy of the Venus Project and before them the Technocracy movement) of a world in which there is an accurate public map of all available resources, their efficient distribution and use is maximised through science and technology, the Open Source era idea of common access replaces the Communist notion of common ownership, artificial scarcity and money are abolished, and everything is decentralised as much as possible.

 

I haven’t actually been able to determine the origin of TZM’s use of the phrase “Natural Law Economy”, but assuming the traditional meaning of “natural law” I would take this to mean an economy which takes the laws of nature for its structure, moving to meet demand wherever it exists etc. I have serious reservations about that term and its implications, which I may detail at a later date, but they do not detract from the general soundness of the idea of managing resources intelligently. There are a lot of questions we could ask about how this is supposed to work, and we don’t have time for them here, but TZM activists have expressed various opinions with different degrees and types of merit. Most importantly in my opinion, we should note that the movement emphasises a change in train of thought or narrative; i.e. that the point is to get people asking the right questions rather than providing just so answers.

 

​Tell me how this isn’t Totalitarianism again, please?

 

I must admit that my primary initial reservation about TZM was that I couldn’t see how such a vision could be achieved without magic or centralised control. This turns out to be an area where TZM does not have all the answers, but it does have an appropriate response, in two parts. First and most importantly, we are told that the movement explicitly opposes the idea of centralised control of resources (as we saw under the Communists in the USSR and PRC). Secondly, we are reminded that TZM’s goal as an organization is to encourage a shift in perspective or values which sets these outcomes up as widely understood societal goals. What it doesn’t do is lay out an exhaustive set of steps for achieving those goals, which is the part where all safeguards against Totalitarianism have to be developed, along with all of the other tools required to get from here to there. If you want to help ensure that the outcome is as anti-authoritarian as TZM activists hope for, then it is more helpful to offer constructive suggestions and make it so than sling baseless claims of authoritarianism.

 

In short, the most articulate TZM advocates have been consistent in saying that they oppose authoritarianism, that reducing elite control over artificial scarcity goes some way toward reducing other forms of control, and that everyone is encouraged to work toward solutions to these problems. For my part, I have simply asserted that I will only ever involve myself with groups or movements that have anti-authoritarian principles like free exit at their heart – participation in such systems must be strictly voluntary – and would strongly encourage others to take the same stance.

 

If I had the space to elaborate here, I would also detail my belief that Totalitarianism would be required to stop all forms of emergent trade, and so markets in artificial scarcities would have to be tolerated in an ethical RBE society, within certain parameters. A successful RBE would be one which rendered all truly important goods, services, and resources non-scarce, and in that world it wouldn’t matter if there were fleeting markets in artificially scarce trivialities, especially if the alternative is authoritarian control. But that is a topic that will need to be fully discussed another day.

 

What about technological unemployment? Do robots have rights in a NL/RBE?

 

Technological unemployment is certainly a key issue in TZM circles, and feelings seem to be mixed since the human cost of unemployment is currently a serious problem, but TZM hopes to see technology used to circumvent mandatory employment in the long run so… it’s complicated. Which is more or less the opinion I’ve encountered amongst Futurists, too. I’ve been asked quite a few questions along these lines, because I move in Futurist circles where the ideas of AI and artificial sentience are taken seriously. The simple answer is that TZM has not worked the answers to such questions out any more than the Futurist community have, so the Futurist community and SF/TP advocates have the opportunity to steer TZM thinking as it develops to fully account for radical technological change.

 

A final note on events and some conclusions

 

Over the years I’ve been to a number of meetings involving Futurists, TZMers and like-minded others, and one recurring thought throughout these meetings was that many of these people are working their way toward a common vision, and that the common vision is of humanitarian ideals approached through the medium of radical technological solutions. I have come to characterise that vision as Social Futurism, and explained why I believe Social Futurism to currently be synonymous with Techno-Progressivism. Not only that, but I believe that Social Futurism is a simple set of values and principles which underlies the efforts and aspirations of many different groups, whether they know it or not. That’s a good thing, because it encourages cooperation between organizations and movements which might not have seen themselves as like-minded or sharing common goals before.

 

This article started out by casting a critical eye over Liberal Democracy; the ideology with a friendly-sounding name that has some far from friendly effects around the world. From there it went on to introduce the idea of Social Futurism, and now finally we have looked at some of the similarities and differences between Social Futurism and a few other points of view.

 

What happens next, I leave as a question for you.

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