General Question

Hobbes's avatar

I can't stop thinking about this. Can you imagine with me one more time?

Asked by Hobbes (7240 points ) November 4th, 2011

Imagine. Humans are interconnected groups of cells, which are themselves interconnected groups of molecules. Humans form interconnected social groups, and are part of the web of life, the interconnected ecosystem. The Earth itself is like a cell within the superstructure of the galaxy, which is part of a galactic supercluster within the observable universe.

Imagine we treated individual homes like cells within a larger interconnected organism. Imagine each home regulated its own temperature, produced its own food, collected its own water and power, and cleansed or reused its own waste. Each human or group of humans would be responsible for helping to build their home, and for looking after it, and the plants and animals and systems within it. The technologies have been pioneered by Earthships, but I imagine that the designs could be taken even further and implemented globally.

Imagine homes were grouped in communities who agreed to support one another in the event of one home having a shortage or emergency, with the internet allowing the organization of all the individual homes into local and global networks. If somebody wanted to join a community, the whole community would help them build their home, bonding them to the group both socially and spatially. The wider network could support communities if there was a wider or more serious problem. However, there should be no shortages if the systems are working correctly, and being maintained by their inhabitants. This global network could also use computers to track the world’s resources and their use, as well as the environmental and human impacts of our actions. The computer network would also need to be a completely free and open information sharing platform, available to all.

If we lived like this, I imagine we could end poverty, the need for money itself, and even the need for laws.

In the event that someone causes harm to someone else, imagine communities protected and helped the victims, instead of harming the harmer. It is almost never clear at first who has been harmed and how and by whom, and those who cause harm have almost always been harmed themselves. Imagine we repaired damage instead of causing more harm. Sometimes it is necessary to act to prevent harm from occurring, but we must always try not to cause it.

Imagine all seven billion of us knew that we all had enough good air and water and food and shelter, and understood the systems that gave us these things. Imagine we all knew that we and our community would receive immediate help and protection from harm and agreed to help others suffering harm. Imagine no need for laws, and a completely open information sharing network. Imagine what we could do. Imagine what we could learn. Imagine how deeply we could love one another. Imagine.

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32 Answers

whitetigress's avatar

Well the Earth is like a cell within the supergalaxy except that it’s exclusive to this thing called life. Of course I admire your astonishment of your new found amazement of Biology and Astronomy. :D

Hobbes's avatar

Our brains are the most complexly interconnected things we know of, but they are also a part of the unimaginably larger complex system we call the Universe.

Hobbes's avatar

Guys, the thing about this idea is It can be done with local resources including recycled waste, it costs nothing once you have it set up, it doesn’t require nonexistent technology, and not everybody has to do it at once because homes are modular.

Nullo's avatar

Not much point until you can figure out how to keep people from being jerks. Because no matter how much food and water you have, no matter how green the roof over your head is, no matter how well-cared for all seven billion of us might be, we will still have power to covet and pride to indulge in, and these are two things that the human soul is loath to part with.

lillycoyote's avatar

Imagine. Yes, @Hobbes, you’re a dreamer but you’re not the only one. Keep hoping and dreaming, friend.

dannyc's avatar

Noble thoughts and a good goal. Probably in a distant future, this may be how we untangle the petty differences of nationalism, country thumping of chests, bias and prejudice. It will take a catastrophe, I fear, to enable something like what you have outlined. keep thinking and putting forward idealistic solutions. I like your spirit.

poopnest's avatar

If scientists were running the government then anything would be possible.

Coloma's avatar

@Hobbes

You have a fine mind young man, now, put down the bong and get some rest. Your brain cells need to recharge in the sleep pod. lol ;-D

Hobbes's avatar

@dannyc

Thank you. It seems the catastrophe is coming.

@Coloma

Yeah, I really need to do that. Off to slumberland. ;-)

LostInParadise's avatar

@Hobbes , You have a noble spirit. I am inclined to agree with you, but there is something that gnaws away at me. I am no fan of Nietzsche, yet he is difficult to refute. What do you think of his vision of the last man? End of History

Hobbes's avatar

He thinks our lives would be bland and overly orderly, that we could not give birth to a star. I think that if all of us had secure supplies of our biological needs, we could finally birth ourselves. We could create such magnificent lives. It also seems much less certain to me than it does to him. We could easily destroy ourselves first.

Coloma's avatar

@Hobbes

Ever read Maslows heirarchy of needs?

Humans must have their basic survival needs met before they can evolve into a desire for self actualization/enlightenment.

Being all consumed in a constant state of meeting survival needs leaves no energy for self realization.

Hobbes's avatar

@Coloma

Exactly my point. The idea is that nobody would have to spend much time meeting their needs. The homes would do most of it, the people would just need to understand and maintain them.

Hobbes's avatar

Also, is death not suffering enough? We are here for such a short time, and the ones we love always leave us in the end. Is the pain of grief not enough for Nietzsche? Even if we did not have to struggle and suffer for water and food and shelter, I am sure we would not stop struggling and suffering. But why fill our lives with it when it comes of its own accord?

Coloma's avatar

@Hobbes

Right, I got what you’re saying, just thought I’d toss in the Maslow bit.

I agree that some people seem to thrive of their own self created suffering. While meeting basic survival needs would certainly free up many to pursue a higher cause/calling, there will always be neurotic predisposistion to ” borrowing trouble” real or imagined.

Some people just can’t handle things when they get too good. lol

Hobbes's avatar

@Coloma

You may be right, though if our only problem is people not being able to deal with how awesome everything is, I think we’re on the right track.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Hobbes I sure like the you think. “What a wonderful world this would be…”
However… you need someone to be devil’s advocate so I’ll throw out some thoughts as I see it.

Answer this: Would Paris Hilton participate in the world you described? She would want more than 10,000 of us (sorry, I mean 100,000 of us) while doing very little (or no) positive work beyond consuming.
Think of every celebrity on TV. Same thing. think of every politician or big time sports figure. Do you think they’ll want to forgo what they have to help others. I don’t.

Here’s an alternative. No one gets something for nothing. If you cannot afford food for your kids, they starve. If you don’t have enough for proper housing, you freeze. If you have a mental or physical problem and cannot get your family or friends to help you, you die.
Getting a social security check? You must either work or volunteer 15 hours per week to continue receiving payments. The 15 hours can be as simple as baby sitting the grandchildren. Everyone does something.

I’m not saying I want to live in a place like that. But, as the world population keeps increasing at ridiculous rates in places that cannot feed or house the inhabitants, at some point people need to realize they might be the problem. Want to help fight starvation in Bangladesh? Stop sending food.

Hobbes's avatar

Nobody would be forced to join the network. It would grow on a purely voluntary basis.

I think you’re misunderstanding the nature of the arrangement. Helping to build your own house, being responsible for understanding and maintaining the systems that gave you air and water and food and stable temperature, I would not this call getting something for nothing. I think people would form symbiotic relationships with their homes and hopefully with each other.

The only thing you might describe that way is the assurance of medical care. What you are describing is utterly heartless.

I believe that scarcity is an illusion perpetuated by the market economy. We have more here on Earth than we could possibly want. We can produce more than enough food for everyone, and everyone can have access to the wonders of human creativity. The answers are here, now. But we are stuck in our boxes, in our individual realities programmed by culture. It’s hard to escape, but I’m doing my best.

LostInParadise's avatar

Given a hierarchy of needs, what do people require after the basic needs for food and shelter are satisfied? Nietzsche says that we desire status and recognition. If this is so, are we not talking about a zero sum game, where some will necessarily gain at the expense of others?In the end, would people be any happier?

Hobbes's avatar

Fluther’s lurve system gives people status and recognition, and it is not a zero some game. Since when did praising one person detract from the value of anybody else? In any case, I’m not trying to regulate that. I’m proposing a way everybody’s physical needs could be met in the long term without fucking up the planet.

LostInParadise's avatar

Firstly, Fluther’s lurve system creates a hierarchy based on number of points. Secondly, what would you say is preventing the world’s poorest nations from providing sufficient food and shelter to their citizens?

rooeytoo's avatar

@Hobbes – you always seem to be looking for a way to have your physical needs met without actually working for a living. The planet has been around for a long time, gone through lots of changes and still managed to survive. It probably still has a few decades left in it. I think if you devoted as much time to reality as you do to your get out of work schemes, you might be the next Steve Jobs and would live to work and have all your needs met that way!

Hobbes's avatar

@rooeytoo

No. Look, you have misunderstood what I’m proposing. I think that helping to build a house and being responsible for understanding and maintaining its systems, which provide you with your basic needs…that’s work. Good work, because you’re responsible for your own life.

The planet’s fine. It’s not going anywhere. It’s been through way worse than us. We’re the ones who are in trouble.

Steve Jobs helped to create the computer I’m typing on, but he was an asshole, apparently.

Hobbes's avatar

@LostInParadise

I’m just saying that status doesn’t have to be a zero sum game. Some people have more lurve than others, but giving someone lurve doesn’t take it from someone else.

Most of the people making most of the important decisions about the fates of those countries care much more about profit than they do about the people living there. Between that and often ancient sectarian hatred, often exacerbated by colonial governments playing groups off one another to control them more easily. Plus, what is happening now is that factories will move somewhere, make people dependent on them for food so that they can squeeze more labor in worse conditions out of them, and then they leave when the quality of life starts to improve to go find more desperate people, leaving them utterly destitute.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Hobbes – someone always ends up telling you that there are communes around where people live the way you think you want to.

I am responsible for my own life. It always sounds as if you want everyone else to be responsible for yours so you don’t have to work in the real world. You always seem to be looking for a way to avoid the 9 to 5. Maybe you should try my grandfather’s way. He built his own house on his own land, dug his own well, raised his own food and food for his livestock, paid his own doctor bills. He worked about 14 hours a day 7 days a week. Did it with mules first and then towards the end of his life a tractor. He was a little guy and ate like a horse but was skinny as a rail. Is that the sort of autonomy you desire? He was pretty much self sufficient. Do you want to work your butt off 14/7???

I would love any kid of mine to grow up to be an asshole such as Steve Jobs, a dreamer and a realist at the same time.

Hobbes's avatar

@rooeytoo

I’m trying to figure out a way for us all to avoid the 9 to 5. Not only is it generally awful, but all those 9 to 5 jobs are working together to literally undermine the planet’s life support system.

What I’m saying is that it’s possible to become mostly self-sufficient without working quite as hard as your grandfather did. I’m not saying it can be done without work, just without constant backbreaking labor.

Steve Jobs created some beautiful things, but read his biography. The picture that emerges is of a deeply flawed human being. I’m not saying he was any worse than anybody else, but he’s certainly not my role model.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Hobbes – what you are failing to take into consideration is that a lot of us like the 9–5. I love the feeling of satisfaction after a good day of work and I love the pay check at the end of the week. And I don’t see how “all” the 9–5 jobs are working to undermine the planet’s life support system. What does that mean???

And you know what, I think my grandfather loved his life. He was always smiling and I never heard him complain. Not everyone thinks the life you want is the ultimate.

And as I said, flawed or not, I would love my kid to grow up to be an asshole like Steve, your words not mine!

Hobbes's avatar

@rooeytoo

I don’t mean to make anybody abandon work they enjoy doing. I’m trying to free us all to do the work we want to do. I don’t think humans are intrinsically lazy. I think we want to do work we feel is satisfying and valued, and to do that we have to also be able to take care of our selves and those we love. I think what you’re failing to take into consideration is that many, many people who are working jobs today are not doing what they want to be doing, but doing what they have to do in order to survive. And while an office job can be mind-numbingly boring, it’s luxury compared to the absolutely horrific conditions many work in throughout the world just to barely scrape by.

I’m sure your grandfather loved living, and I don’t want to force my ideas about life on anyone. All I’m saying is that it is possible to be self-sufficient while still having time and energy for other pursuits.

Jobs was a visionary, but just read this:

http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/stories/032411jobsa

rooeytoo's avatar

omg, the man is evil!!!! definitely let’s vilify him for these transgressions!

Hobbes, you do live in a rarefied dream world if you think those things add up to a bad man.

Hobbes's avatar

I’m not sure how you got that from what I said.

I’m not trying to vilify him or say he’s evil. He was a human being, imperfect as are we all, as am I. I’m just saying it’s not my dream to grow up to be like him.

rooeytoo's avatar

I know Hobbsie, you don’t want to work 9–5 or 5–9 as he is reputed to have done.

Hobbes's avatar

A person with a strong work ethic is not necessarily an ethical person. I don’t want to get out of working. I want to work at something I love, and I want to be an ethical person. I respect Jobs, and I respect people who work as hard or harder than he did. That doesn’t mean he sets the standard for how I want to live my life.

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