Economics

Thoughts about Technocracy

Let me be clear from the start: I am NOT anti-science or anti-intellectual. As you may well surmise, I think alot, I read alot, and I spend a great deal of time trying to ‘get to the bottom of things.’ I applaud science for many of the wonderful modern day technologies such as ovens, cars, computers which I love so much for there ability to bring me information that would else be very far out of reach and other such inventions without which life would be a hell of a lot harder.

But I also point my finger at science for such ‘abominations’ as nuclear weapons and waste, advancements in weaponry, Bioweapons, Chemical warfare, as well as processed foods, refined grains devoid of any nutritional value, the excess sugars pumped into dull and drab foods to make them sweet. And though this is not the place to go into it, I’ve got a thing against furniture that you wouldn’t believe. These are all scientific advances; their triggers and causes may have been economic, that could be true, but science is what brought them about.

My point is that some science, some technological advancement is good, but only if that tech is used in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration (A philosophy) which we as a human race have not, as yet been able to establish.  And if science was a bit more ‘philosophical,’ that is to say, if scientific baseball had on its team a few players who asked, “Should we?” Instead of always asking, “How can we?” then technology might evolve in a more hospitable spirit (ideology, mentality whatever literary symbol soothes your nerves.)
Technology would change, improve, and evolve at a much slower pace, that’s true (thank goodness), but its evolution would be conscious, focused, purposeful instead of what we have today which is, “Hey, let’s invent all this shit and wait to see its unintended consequences…. OHHHH! Nuclear technology… man that really came back to bite us in the ass hasn’t it?” Instead of waiting for yet another ‘miracle drug’ to be recalled from the market cause, ‘Hey its design was faulty after all… who knew?’ (that guy knew, and he tried to tell them) we could have a little ‘wisdom and compassion’ with our science.

(A side note, those three words feel weird together for me as though they don’t usually go together. Anyone else have that feeling?)

Philosophy is important. Its more important than anything else we’ve got going for us as humans (I would say that wouldn’t I), though the modern day academic attitude has all, but destroyed the art and science of philosophy. Hell, with what passes as philosophy these days, Universities might as well shut down there philosophy departments and move them all into Law or Mathematics.

All science, ALL OF IT comes from philosophy, the First Science, way back in the day (which was a Wednesday), before man had microscope and beaker; back when a rational man (gasp they existed back in those HEATHEN times) had naught but one tool at his disposal with which to explore his external (or so called external) world: His Mind.

And every technological tool invented since that is for acquiring information serves man as an ‘extension’ of one of his senses; it does not replace it. The microscope ‘amplifies’ his sight, it does not supersede it, mathematics ‘assists’ his logical mind to new heights. Mathematics IS logical philosophy. I think the philosophy that most people (and much of the empirical sciences) seem to disdain is the realm of metaphysics, and I won’t even go into the cognitive judo that explains that the rejection of metaphysics is itself a metaphysic. 🙂

All the problems that we have are philosophical. The proposed solution for our worldy ills, ‘Technocracy,’ is itself a philosophy. It is the ‘idea’ that experts should be running the show. That only those with skill should make decisions regarding areas of life (which are apparently all technical though they know fuck all about any spiritual crisis of which man has many) with which they have experience. This is the set up for what is in philosophy called dualistic thinking and consequently, dualistic living, since human society is philosophy in action. We’ve been doing it for almost all of recorded human history and its how we got ourselves in this mess to begin with.

Right now, one of our most basic and self-destructive form of dualistic thinking is deeply embedded in our monetary system: Those that are Wealthy as opposed from those that are Not Wealthy. Those that are wealthy have all the power and make decisions (are the causers) and those that are not wealthy are the followers (the eventers, the ones who more strongly and directly experience the results of ‘their’ decisions and causes).

In this hypothetical ‘Technocracy’ the stage is set for a similar dualism: Those that have Skill and those that do Not have Skill (I wonder what will happen to ‘useless’ and ‘non-practical’ skills like music, poetry, art, drama) . Those that have skill will make all the rules and decisions, while those that have no skills (or don’t have enough skill to have a voice) will just have to trust they ‘they’ know what they’re doing. This set up is a disaster, because its what we’re doing right now (only not so thoroughly and completely as full blown Technocracy would have us do), and it ain’t working.

We’re already outsourcing our decisions to ‘experts.’ When someone gets a tummy ache, the first place they go is the doctor (who charges you an arm and a leg) instead of looking at diet and nutrition, amount and quality of sleep… etc. When your toilet leaks; call a plumber. No, no, no, don’t investigate it first to see if you might be able to fix it on your own (which is notoriously easy to do), call in ‘the experts,’ cause they know what should be done. Car trouble? Screw figuring it out for myself, I’ll call a mechanic.

We’re already doing something a lot like that on a daily basis, such that no one even cooks anymore, they all figure that cooking’s too hard and it’s better to pick up fast food, or get something microwaveable from the store.

I admit I was initially excited about The Venus Project and The Zeitgeist Movement and Technocracy, but upon delving deeper, I think these ideas stem from the same philosophies of perpetual frustration from which we already operate. In fact, at first glance I can see glaring and quite frightening similarities (from the point of view of one who studies ideas and where they come from) to Christian thought inlayed in the design of Technocracy.

I’m not sure how deeply you’ve thought about Christianity, but I’ve gone pretty far down the rabbit hole and the first and most important realization in rationally thinking about Christianity (as it is generally understood), is to understand how, in that mental construct one relates to Ultimate Reality. It’s an important question and in Christian baseball, man relates to Ultimate Reality as a subject to a King; and the King is the maker and shaper of the world; he’s a Cosmic Technician. In Christianity, God is an Autocratic Technocrat. That is to say, that God makes the world according to his own ideals and according to some kind of natural law; some kind of ‘higher order’ that he imposes upon a dumb and stupid world which He makes. And all his creations (subjects) are compelled by threat of punishment to comply with His law, which they may or not understand, but if they have concerns there is the Clergy and they know what should be done.

Now, I see the same gleam in the eye of Technocracy. Those who have Skill are going to be the movers and shakers of society. We hope that they’re unbiased in their ‘scientific’ (and not at all emotional) findings and therefore in the guidance in which they provide, but let’s be honest, humans are (after all) human. Who’s to say that the technological ‘experts’ calling the shots don’t have ulterior motives they’d like to push?

Even if you take money out of the equation and install a Resource Based Economy, getting rid of money, does not get rid of human desire or the whole host of problems that come with it, such as ambition, fuss over ones reputation, the attainment of and the desire to attain rewards and commendations… etc (Ha, ha, ha! Technological entendre… Install! As though society was a mere mechanistic ‘thing’ in which one could just swap certain parts, sigh, why does no one get that Life is organic and doesn’t work like machinery?)

Furthermore, who gets to decide which experts get to make which decisions? What ‘expert’ chooses other experts to inform society? And if the experts are informing society, then who is it that informs the informers? If these experts are to be the guardians of civilization, then who guards the guards?

Also, meditate on this: What about non-joiners? What if you have a selection of the population who decided that they don’t very much like the idea of Technocracy and that they’d like to do things their way and live in their backwater ancient ways and would really just like to be left alone? If it’s a small percentage I imagine Technocracy would be fine with it and could still function.

But supposing that the opposition is much larger say China, or a combination of Far Eastern cultures; what then? From what I understand RBE is an ‘all or nothing thing,’ the whole world has got to be on board or it won’t work. After all, resources must be allocated for the benefit of ALL people or else you get another dualism: those that have the benefit of RBE and those who do not. And those who do not have; have always wanted the treasure of those who have; thus we see the beginning of war.

Now, I should make it clear that my role, my Act in this Grand Drama we call Life, as a philosopher is just to put out ideas and get people thinking. I am not a Technocrat, nor am I a technician, nor am I really a huge fan of the empirical sciences as they exist today (mostly because they are based on the 19th century philosophies of Freud, Newton, Darwin… men who I would gladly strangle were they alive today, for convincing us that the Universe is dead, dumb and driven by blind brute force.)

I just want people to think about Technocracy before they cream their pants over it. If you think about it and it sounds like a worthwhile idea to you, then I wish you well in your endeavors; I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone what they should or should not do. I have my opinions of course, and when I write, I write with a voice of authority, but in the end I am never to be taken seriously; I’m not nearly that stuffy and full of myself. I also realize that my thoughts are taken sometimes to the extreme. I do that on purpose, I want to take my thoughts are far as seems to me reasonably ‘possible,’ though not necessarily probable. Again, the point is just to generate other thoughts and to stimulate contemplation.

So in closing, I am curious to know your thoughts? Those of you who really go to bat for Technocracy; let’s hear from you. I myself am curious as to how it would all work. I’m open to the idea that maybe its not as I imagine it to be.

Categories: Ancient Classics, Building, Character Development, Economics, Government, Leadership, philosophy, Politics, Self-improvement, Society, Spirituality, Technocracy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Counterfeit FiveFingers and Business Practices

I think it is interesting that people often get angry with counterfeiters. The only reason to counterfeit anything is if there’s profit to be gained from doing it. In the case of FiveFingers, I think Vibram is really ‘shooting itself in the foot,’ pun INTENDED. Vibram’s are so expensive. So they’re worth counterfeiting. And people who can’t afford to buy the ‘real deal’ are the ones who are more than willing to buy knock offs, based on the idea, that ‘maybe they’re kinda the same?’

I myself am at a crossroads. I want Vibrams, I really do, BUT I can’t afford to drop 85 bucks for a pair o shoes, especially when they’re supposed to ‘mimic’ being barefoot. (why not just be barefoot?) I walk barefoot all the time, and I’ve read the literature on how unnatural shoes are and how they cause most of our ankle, knee, and spinal pains and issues. The only issue that I have is that in our insane culture we have to obey certain social conventions and wearing shoes is irritatingly one of these rules.

I can’t go to that consult barefoot. Resturaunts will not seat me without the proper attire, I.E. shoes. So my main concern in buuying a pair of Vibrams would really be more for cosmetic reasons than anything else. And this is what brings me to my dilemma. Why should I spend 85-150 bucks on a pair of shoes that claims to be ‘minimalist?’ Theres nothing minimalist about those prices. These ‘counterfeiters,’ these ‘bastards’ that make ‘fake’ Vibrams seem to be providing me with a public service.

What they do is only illegal according to the very confusing rules of our paticular social games. The fact is ‘these assholes’ are bringing fire to the people. They’re making these great products affordable for the common man. I can get knock off FiveFingers for about 20-30 bucks. That’s a 75% discount. That brings glove like, heelless foot wear into my financial realm of possibility, complete with all the podiatric health boons that come with it.

Now, why should I be against this? If I drop 30 bucks for a pair of knock offs and they’re half as good as the ‘real thing’ (as though these weren’t essentially the same damn thing) and they last me 6 months, I might spend $60 a year in FiverFinger(ish) footwear. If I compare that to the $100 pair of ‘authentic’ Vibrams that might last a year or even a year and a half at most, then it is far better for my wallet to buy the knock offs.

And as for the business practices of these ‘evil counterfeiters,’ it looks to me like they’ve just found another way to win the game. It is a very thin and very blurry line between ‘skill’ and ‘cheating,’ and the inferior intelligence will always accuse the superior intelligence of cheating the moment they use their brains. Vibram’s assault on these counterfeiters is essentially a philosophical pissing and whining. Vibram is saying, “We were having a business contest to see who could build the best shoe (and make the most money from it) and then you made shoes that are alot like ‘mine’ and sold them for less money (attracting more customers), and you’re not playing fair!”

Playing fair? What did you think Vibram? That you were the only one that could possibly concieve of a glove-like shoe for the feet? Did you really expect to have a monopoly on the intelligence and the tools that make ‘toe shoes’ possible? Of course you did. You did think you would have a monopoly, thats why you patented them; so that you could have that monopoly.

Using one of the very absurd (and progressively obstructive) maneuvers possible (patenting) in our complicated social game (litigation) you basically announced to the world that you have this great idea that could help everbody. You told us you had an amazing product that was going to be more natural, strengthen the human body, put us back in touch with the Earth and make use of the 200,000 nerve endings in the soles of our feet; a product that would ease and prevent joint pain and make us healthier and happier.

You told us all this and then what did you do? What did you do Vibram? Rather than share the idea that it may be collaboratively improved upon and bring about good health and a podiatric revolution, you instead decided to exclude the idea itelf from the common good and sell the product for an exorbitant price; forbidding and condemning anybody from attempting to make their own glove-like footwear and vilifying anyone who dares to sell a cheaper version of your product.

You have cheated the people.

Instead of bringing happiness to all (or even most) people, you like all the other greedy businesses of your ilk, have created a financial barrier to something good. You have engineered a social situation in which the only people who can have the kind of health benefits your footwear might bring are the kind of people who have enough money (or who want the product so bad that they manage to gather enough money) to drop 150 bucks on footwear.

So I say, good on the counterfeiters. Hooray, cheating counterfeiters, making a product that is very close to the original for a mere fraction of the price, thus begining to destroy the financial barrier to this type of product.

Vibram, the only way to stop the counterfeiters is to make your products affordable so that most people won’t have to seek out your competiton. Be content with lower profit margins, change your prices to match this acceptance of lower profit per unit, and watch your competition be snuffed out over night. As a consequence you’ll make more money than ever before as new customers flock to your doors choosing to buy ‘the real thing’ because it won’t break their wallet in half.

Your competition won’t be able to hold out, because at your new lower prices ‘the best deal they can offer’ will be about 10-20 bucks lower than your price, and people WILL pay slightly more money for the original, authentic design. But what they will most definitely NOT pay, is a price that is 60%, 70%, 80% higher than what they can get somewhere else, even if they’re not, ‘the real deal.’

So, you think about this Vibram and any company that operates under a similar methodology. Your greed is going to choke out your own business. Yes, you may be successful for a time, but it will not last, especially if this global economy continues to take a nose dive. People are going to start saving their pennies.

…It suddenly occurs to me that the failure of the business may actually be taken into account already. Perhaps thats the point, to start a business, sell a product with the intention to profiteer at the expense of the customer and even at the expen and eventual demise of the business itself (including all the employees counting on the business to stay open). Maybe the goal is to push product based on greed and when the profit dries up and the business’s failure is inevitable, the owners simply let the business die, take their money and move on; setting up a different business, selling a different product, but using the same formula.

And yet I wonder… Reader, your thoughts?

Categories: Blogging, Business, Character Development, Economics, Fitness, Government, Health, Leadership, Medicine, philosophy, Politics, Self-improvement, Society | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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