Playing Devil's Advocate I suppose, by mentioning this, but the one thing I have noticed over and over as an historian and an observer is that if power changes hands too often, nothing ever gets done because no one is ever in power long enough to learn the job and get anything accomplished.
I think there's probably an optimum length of time for a person to remain in power. Long enough for them to get their feet under the table but not so long that they become totally paranoid and out of touch. You guys have limited your presidents to eight years in office and I think that's extremely sensible.
Here's a thing: I heard on NPR about a recent study in which monkeys (apes? not sure) were shown alphas in their social structure and were given the choice of looking at the pictures of the alphas or of having cherry juice, their favorite drink.
They chose to look at the pictures.
Then, when offered a choice of looking at Betas, they all went for the cherry juice instead, and would not look at the Betas until bribed by double cherry juice!
And so we are wired to love movie stars and to want to look at them, concluded the study.
And, I suppose, to find a leader to adore if possible.
Assuming--well, assuming lots of things.
I very much like your image of sitting in the lounge of the Sirius Hilton, but I wonder if it will be some other form of sentient beings up there? Someone sturdier than we are--Two clever cockroaches, sipping whatever bugs sip.
No, I like yours better.
Someday we'll be as much a curiosity as the Neanderthals are to us.
(I wonder, as others do, if those big-eyed aliens that keep popping up in people's bedrooms are time travelers from our own future, coming back through their time warps to look at the funny people from their past.)
My preferred fantasy is that we'll trade in these carbon-based bodies for something more durable. Chitin perhaps.
Yes, I agree about our "alien" visitors. Their elusiveness could be explained by their unwillingness to interfere with history. They behave pretty much as time travellers do in the movies. For example the new Dr Who has just saved the world again, then scooted off, leaving behind a computer virus that will wipe all mention of him off the Internet.
That monkey experiment is fascinating. Monkeys give me the creeps. They're just too much like us for me to feel comfortable around them.
As long as there are optimistic dreamers - like you - there is hope for humankind. Cynicism is like the hives - once you have a case, it spreads.
I just wish we could hurry through this stage of our evolution. It seems to be taking forever....
Is that really being an anarchist, or simply in favor of term limits?
I guess my position boils down to regarding rulers as necessary evils. One day I'm hoping we'll be sufficiently mature and self-regulating not to need them.
We have a name for people like you in the States: Libertarian.
And given the prominent choices in a bipartisan system, it's a damn good thing to be.
2005-04-24 12:20 pm (UTC)
Yes but doesn't libertarianism preclude socialism?
It may very well...but I would suspect that the utopian vision of libertarians would heel so closely to Tony's dream of a sufficently mature and self-regulating populace that we'd have need of neither rulers nor socialism. ;)
Ah, if only...
2005-04-24 12:37 pm (UTC)
No I said socialism! Tony is not a socialist in my book!
Sorry, I didn't mean to imply he was.
No, I'm an anarchist.
But I don't think humanity is ready for anarchy yet.
In the meantime socialism will do very nicely. A British-post-war-Attlee-type socialism, with a bit of Morris thrown in for colour.
2005-04-25 03:30 am (UTC)
Nordic socialism would be best, after all it's lasted for all this time...
Libertarian- yes, I'm happy with that- though it's not a term that has much resonance over here.
2005-04-24 12:24 pm (UTC)
It is quite interesting looking at anthropology, even in stateless societies there is some limited hierarchy, even if it is merely based on personal charisma, the difference is that usually there are levelling mechanisms. I like the Kalahari San because they have unlimited licence to mock people who are getting too big for their boots.
But an anarchical society would not be free either I think. State or no state you will have societal norms, which I think are probably stringer in a stateless society and if you do not have a benign system then you'd be in trouble.
Right now it's not so much the system that needs changing as human nature. I guess my optimism consists in believing that this is possible.
And yet look how far we've come so fast. The earliest written records our species has created are a mere 200 generations old. Many species can go through 200 generations in a petri dish in a matter of months. We're still infants ... it will be interesting to see what we become as adults.
Yes, if you step back and take the long view, our progress has been amazingly fast.
I need to take the long view more often.