the assumption of responsibility for the welfare of the world













If ― this is a big ‘if’ ― the modern, bourgeois first world can dodge the tragic bullet, if it manages in spite of itself to survive at all, it will take on a more or less final shape which can be seen clearly today. I must remind you here that I am not an optimist. I have little faith in humans, so it is coincidental that I approve of most of the developments I predict. I am just extrapolating. Silly conservatism slows progress to a rate almost undetectable, and I certainly don’t think that because human society is making progress it is excused from doing what is right immediately. Things are better than they were a millennium ago, but we can go so much further right now. The ideas and the technology belong to us already. The state I will describe is inevitable, but only because, as always with fate, people will ultimately do what is necessary to bring it about.

The culture which we call “western”, the hegemony whose spiritual and numerical centers of gravity have been shifting west slowly since the days of Sumer, whose leadership we can now see transferring west from Yankeeland to Japan (piece by piece), will encompass the world. Its common dialect, for better or worse, will be an extension of the greater English dialect, which will continue evolving from its synthetic roots to its analytic telos. But under the common dialect there will be a stratum of vernacular dialects, and in many instances a middle dialect developed from a modern regional lingua franca. As usual, the common dialect will eventually supplant all others, regardless of use. Widely accessible, instantly updated news and entertainment will ensure that the world is culturally unified, and that the common dialect changes only on a global basis. We already see mutually intelligible dialects collapsing into a broadcast standard, so that shortly there will be no differences within “English”, “Spanish”, and the rest.

Religion and nationality will belong to the vernacular cultures; the common culture will be secular and (of course) cosmopolitan. And the vernacular cultures will die out just as the vernacular dialects. Preserved alongside the deistic materialism of science (which I do not approve of) will be an inconsistent belief in a benevolent, omnipotent, omniscient being (which I also do not approve of). “God” will disappear from the common culture eventually, but science will rule, predictably: few gods have been so lavish with their largesse.

Personal power through technology will see steps forward and backward. Mass transit will be the rule, but mass communication will be the exception. Networks of modern technology will weave across the planet. The transit network of maglev trains, bullet and shuttle, will carry travellers where they cannot walk. Cars will disappear and planes will be reserved for crossing oceans and urgent errands. The communication network of fiber optics will interconnect databank libraries and user terminals. A single integrated location will handle auditory, visual, and tactile input and output, allowing users access to the libraries and each other. Broadcast will become obsolete; users will call up records at their leisure. The terminals will have small (by future standards) processors and limited ability to make hard copies.

One social change which has nearly taken place is an end to obscenity taboos. Libertine attitudes towards language and nudity may be trademarks of the cultural elite, but mass exposure has proven power to end tiresome superstitions, and boycotts cannot stop the march of freedom; casual prudes just don’t get worked up about television shows.

That there will be a single world government is obvious. Current trends would point to a system with a body representing arbitrary geographical constituencies and a powerful tribune called ‘president’, but there is a better idea. Once a year or so, most of the world, including persons too young now, will have a chance to vote on various referenda and cast a single ballot for the world government. Before the elections, all interested parties will register a manifesto and a slate of candidates which will then be available to the electorate. They will be listed on the ballot in order first of votes from the last election, second of voters supporting petitions, third of registration order. Seats in a fairly large parliament will be assigned in blocs according to votes won and filled within each bloc according to the registered slate. The parliament will then establish statutory law, draft referenda, and commission an administration. There will be a general commissioner, a special commission for government operations and oversight, and a commissioner each for the government’s strictly limited responsibilities: violence prevention and resource management.

Each person will be sovereign over its own body; government will unfortunately be required to fill the vacuum between individuals. Its mandate will be to provide all vital resources to preserve the health of all persons: food, medicine, and a safe environment. What it cannot accomplish with automation it will accomplish with incentives. A fully-negotiable and non-taxable currency will form the backbone of the incentive economy. Luxury products and use of resources will be sold by the government; services required to maintain the economy will be paid for. And this system will not come about by reform. It is slowly becoming a fact today, through taxes, regulation, and social services. Blind opposition to socialism will not derail it. A single society with many billions of members cannot function otherwise.

It really is a matter of justice, you see. The driving factor behind the political unification of the world and its economy will be the end-product of its cultural unification: a single standard of justice for all persons, in all places. In practical terms, all persons are entitled to vital resources; those who commit no violence against other persons, directly against their bodies, or indirectly against their vital resources, are entitled to be free from violence. Starving people cannot be expected to heed arcane nonsense about private property; they will simply find food. And the world’s cops have no business enforcing a hegemony of beliefs and customs; people will eventually demand the freedom to pursue nonviolent behavior. International human rights accords have demonstrated that, though tyrants may loathe granting rights, they are loath to admit it. So will it go until the world finds a solution that all persons can live with.


Original version


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