Thursday, September 07, 2017

Moderation and the failure of the future

I'm not a moderate. Probably on anything, but certainly not on much. It's not in my constitution.

This is not to say I am, on the whole, against the idea of moderation. I am, after all, a mature adult, and see the benefits of taking time to consider things. I understand the need to hear out everyone involved to make sure you fully understand an issue. I understand looking for a variety of solutions before committing to one. I suppose these things would really be moderate.

The problem is when people take that idea to define their political philosophy.

The idea that political thought is a binary in which some people are on one side and others are on another, and people on either side have similar journeys to get their and belong among each other for larger reasons than the happenstance of agreeing on certain specific issues, is fucking ludicrous. We all agree to it, or fall into it, out of habit and convenience, because we haven't taken or demanded a better, more accurate, metaphor.

The metaphor works well for the Democrats and the Republicans, especially when it's fundraising time. It is not, however, productive in understanding the real complex divides or the actual commonalities we have in order to deal with the real things we need to in order not only to thrive, but, also simply to survive.

We live in the end result of this. You can see it everywhere. Inside and outside of the echo chambers we build around ourselves.

We also see that for so many moderation has becomes people's philosophy, rather than their process. They believe there's a spot between the "left", which is a real direction, and the "right", which is a real direction. And they believe the right thing to do is the thing that's in-between those two poles, because that place is "moderate" and moderate is reasonable.

Obviously, this is meaningless if you come to reject the two poles as being an accurate metaphor.

It also causes most to reject radical ideas regardless of their superiority or even necessity.

As the arbitrarily placed "right" is the opposite of the arbitrarily placed "left", so is "moderate" opposed to radical.

I've considered carefully. I've read and looked at a lot of things, based on what has been available to me, and I'm interested in more.

Right now, however, it seems to me that we have two major issues coming up in our world, of greater and greater importance that I not only haven't imagined a moderate solution for, I haven't heard any. Moderates are largely set to ignore them or knee-jerk to a position of whatever the "right" or the "left" suggests, but less of it.

The issues I'm looking at are Climate Change and Automation and the future of work.

As far as I can tell, any long term change that will solve these, and ensure there is a world in which my son can both survive and thrive will, by necessity, be a radical change from where we are today.

I might be at a place on the political spectrum more likely to understand and endorse ideas that are closer to what we in the clumsy preferred metaphor call the "left" rather than those on the "right", so much as our supposed "right" presents anything above denial for either issue.

Climate Change is much discussed, of course, and is becoming increasingly difficult to deny plausibly with current events, but certainly there are many who are determined to try.

The future of work, which has to be nearly as important, is hardly discussed at all.

In The Robot War Is Coming – And It’s Not With Robots, Max Brooks writes, "The engine of China is manufacturing, and the fuel of that engine is abundant, cheap, submissive labor. Its laborers work so hard and make so little trouble that you could even compare them to robots. But what happens when the real robots start replacing them?

"What happens to hundreds of millions of people who suddenly find themselves laid off by automated factories, driverless cars, 3d printers and AI services? Even worse, what happens to a system of government that has never had to deal with this kind of upheaval?"

Right now, the least reasonable thing we could be doing is ignoring both of these enormous, and inevitable, threats. However, at this time, I'm not aware of any "moderate" solutions even presented.

If we get a chance to look back on this time to examine how we got this far on these kinds of crises, it will certainly be the radical poles divided against one another in a winner-take-all battle that will be the narrative, but I think there's a fair case that the supposedly moderate "middle" bears a surprisingly heave load in its lack of any vision to contrast to the "poles", or perhaps any vision at all on the issues that will be the most important in days to come.

I am indeed radical my nature, but having lived long enough, I also realize there is a time to be pragmatic. Pragmatically, however, I see that sometimes the solution for extreme problems need to be extreme themselves. To ignore that is not only unrealistic, it's irresponsible.

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