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Superfluous people

General discussions of the systemic, societal and civilisational effects of depletion.

Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby onlooker » Thu 22 Feb 2018, 17:05:55

https://thefrailestthing.com/2018/01/03 ... tarianism/

Totalitarianism strives not toward despotic rule over men,” Arendt furthermore claims, “but toward a system in which men are superfluous.” She immediately adds, “Total power can be achieved and safeguarded only in a world of conditioned reflexes, of marionettes without the slightest trace of spontaneity.”

Superfluity, as Arendt uses the term, suggests some combination of thoughtless automatism, interchangeability, and expendability. A person is superfluous when they operate within a system in a completely predictable way and can, as a consequence, be easily replaced. Individuality is worse than meaningless in this context; it is a threat to the system and must be eradicated.

So just as the “ideal subject” of a totalitarian state is someone who has been overwhelmed by epistemic nihilism, Arendt describes the “model ‘citizen'” as the human person bereft of spontaneity: “Pavlov’s dog, the human specimen reduced to the most elementary reactions, the bundle of reactions that can always be liquidated and replaced by other bundles of reactions that behave in exactly the same way, is the model ‘citizen’ of a totalitarian state

It strikes me that in what would seem a very free country being the US, we have a culture conformed to hedonism, juvenile distractions and, addictive compulsory behavior.. And a certain anti-intellectualism borne of overwork and mindless distractions like TV watching. So are we not automatons evincing lack of genuine spontaneity and being conditioned as ideal workers and consumers and content as such
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby roccman » Thu 22 Feb 2018, 17:23:58

onlooker wrote:https://thefrailestthing.com/2018/01/03/superfluous-people-the-ideology-of-silicon-valley-and-the-origins-of-totalitarianism/



The author falls short. It is not the replacement of a human but rather doing the impossible - that is to have all humans believe the same thing. To wit: believe in one god. the "fractalization" of "that which animates life" or the "spark" is a progressive dumbing down of the human while at the same time this spark allows the human to believe it is "free". so the "choice" of even the dumbest human still holds sway when combine with 8, 12, 15 billion other dumb humans - or more accurately - not wise humans.

I call it egregore building.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby ralfy » Thu 22 Feb 2018, 22:10:09

diemos wrote:Not a catch, a feature.

In a world of decreasing natural resources, decreasing the number of people consuming resources makes more available for the elite. That's why the push to automate everything.


It's not a feature because there's no other way to pay for investments made in automation.

The last thing the elite needs is decreasing numbers of people. That's because the bulk of their wealth consists of credit, and the value of that credit rises only if there is increasing production and consumption of goods and services. And those require growing populations.

Thus, the push to automate does not require decreasing numbers of consumers but the opposite.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby onlooker » Fri 23 Feb 2018, 06:53:35

See it always comes down to classes and cumulative wealth and ownership with Capitalism. Automation is but one manifestation of this. You cannot restructure the very basis of Capitalism. It is a pay for play system anyway you look at it. And so some will inevitably be left out of the equation because they have no or little money. It is that way within countries and among countries.

Already as one prominent example modern industrial agricuture with its mechanization and streamlined fertilizers and pesticides and patented seeds is reducing inexorably the need for farmers and the ability of farmers to afford being farmers. So, you have the tragic examples of Indian farmers committing suicide because they are losing their entire livelihood. And you have Chinese farmers displaced from their lands, not needed and rushing to the cities hoping for work there. That is why China is sacrificing its Environment for the sake of economic vitality because they have to. In farmers you are talking about huge masses of people who already were at the bottom of the wage scale totem pole who no longer are being needed even for that. It does not get more superfluous than that.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Fri 23 Feb 2018, 08:09:57

Yes, that is what is happening. However, what you are talking about has nothing whatsoever to do with Capitalism.

Ever increasing numbers of superfluous people exist because somewhere deep down in our DNA is the urge to procreate. It is the reason that 7.7 billlion humans exist on this already overcrowded planet, and the reason that the population still grows. It's not an easy concept to understand, and the complexity of the system is truly amazing. Quoted from Wikipedia:

DNA is made up of molecules called nucleotides. Each nucleotide contains a phosphate group, a sugar group and a nitrogen base. The four types of nitrogen bases are adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G) and cytosine (C). The order of these bases is what determines DNA's instructions, or genetic code.

Genetic information is carried in the linear sequence of nucleotides in DNA. Each molecule of DNA is a double helix formed from two complementary strands of nucleotides held together by hydrogen bonds between G-C and A-T base pairs. The haploid human genome (23 chromosomes) is estimated to be about 3.2 billion bases long and to contain 20,000–25,000 distinct protein-coding genes.


Our appearance, our body chemistry, and our minds we owe to the process we call "evolution". Evolution is the net result of millions of years of cumulative mutations to the 3.2 billion or so base pairs that comprise the human genome. Every once in a while, a stray cosmic ray, a highly energetic particle, or a gamma ray from deep in the Earth's core essentially breaks one of the hydrogen bonds in a base pair, introducing a new ordering, a slightly different sequence of nucleotides. Almost all such changes are harmful and make the human less able to survive. A very few are beneficial and get passed to the next generation of humans. At this level, the most general definition of "Life" is a system of replicating the nucleotide chains in cellular mitosis - each cell has a complete copy of the DNA base pairs following fission/replication.

Pretty much all animals reproduce without bounds until they fill the ecological niche they are in. In the case of human beings, our intelligence has enabled us to enlarge that niche from a few hundred thousand cave dwelling primates to 7.7 billion individuals, each feeling the necessity to respond to that reproductive urge. We use our intelligence (another product of evolution) and we exploited fossil fuel energy to expand our ecological niche to include every continent, virtually every inhabitable island, the ocean floors, and even outer space.

I'm not saying that this reproductive urge cannot be repressed - it obviously can, by an extremely strong-willed individual. Millions of people take vows of chastity and most never reproduce after taking such a vow. Then there are technological means of preventing conception, created by our science of medicine. Most people still reproduce, even with these resources - the knowledge that human reproduction is killing the planet, the will power to voluntarily not reproduce, and contraceptives that allow sex while preventing reproduction.

Note however, that we don't possess the means to both educate and provide the means of contraception to 7.7 billion humans. Most of these people are just getting by as-is, they think only of their next meal and a warm place to sleep.

You can scapegoat Capitalism all you want, and you'll always be wrong. We are talking about a reproductive urge that probably got created when the highest form of life on Earth was a multi-celled plankton in a primordial sea, not even worthy of the term "animal".

Capitalism has nothing whatsoever to do with this basic reproductive urge. It is merely the most efficient economic system we use, the one that fits millions of years of evolution the best, and it is the optimal way to fill all the available space on the planet with humans plus the animal and plant food species we crave to consume, using cheap fossil energy.

The nature of human beings is the root of all our problems. The "overshoot predator" was what Ibon dubbed it. With apologies to James Cameron:

Listen, and understand. That overshoot predator is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.


...and all of your scapegoating of Capitalsm is just wasted words as we enter our death spiral, as we are flushed down the tubes from the planet we despoiled.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby onlooker » Fri 23 Feb 2018, 08:37:10

Sorry, but I cannot give a pass to Capitalism. Yes, we humans are animals and yes we have a compelling biological imperative to have sex and procreate. But we as humans should be willing to examine how we arrived at this juncture in the hope that it will serve as a lesson for whatever future awaits us. We have cultures that did not have an economic system predicated on growth and conquest and greed. It is via Empires that Capitalism and its values spread. Our desire for acquisition is NOT a biological imperative.

It is no coincidence that via Capitalism, Empires arose and Modern Industrial Civilization came to be. The thirst for material gain and growth that Capitalism inspires drove mankind to seek to harness ever more potent energy sources. Yes, I will concede that underlying all this is the needs and wants of an ever expanding population. But, we should also recognize that we did live for a time in relative harmony and balance with Nature. And that our restless thirst for conquering and riches and material gain are implicated in attaining the means to sustain ever more humans. So at its essence what we are reading in this thread is that our present was inevitable because of our reproductive tendencies. And I am saying that Capitalism facilitated and encouraged growth that facilitated human growth, That the root of our problem is NOT reproduction but the restless soul that yearns for ever more and cannot be appeased. Our numbers did reach 1 Billion until 1800, thousands of years after the first ascent into civilization and millions of years after our species came to be. So, reproduction is NOT our principal problem, it is our insatiable need to dominate and possess which then spawned Capitalism. And it is also sadly, our own intellectual cumulative success. Victims of our own intelligence.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Fri 23 Feb 2018, 09:52:15

It's not like we haven't been there before. You have a classical liberal education, I've got you pegged as a second generation academic, and you were fed this "Capitalism is Evil" BS practically from birth.

I do not fault you for those things, only because you will not rise above your early upbringing and learn about the true nature of man. The essential difference is the size of the brain in Homo Sapiens Sapiens. This too is due to evolution.

The missing part of your education is Physical Anthropology. If you studied the science of Anthropology at all, my guess is you studied Cultural Anthropology, a different topic. But then my expertise is Engineering and History, and I gained all knowledge of Anthropology when I was researching the Human Genome project, within the last three years, after retirement and when I had time to read such heavy non-fiction tomes.

Try it, you'll like it.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby onlooker » Fri 23 Feb 2018, 10:14:35

You are right , I have not received an extensive education in physical Anthropology or Brain function or anatomy. So perhaps Kaiser we could not be anything more than what we have been and our economic system is just a reflection of that. But I think you are also aware that our assault on the Environment is not just from our numbers but our ways of living, our disregard for the Environment and the different substances and processes that we employ. I think at its core our arguments showcase a deeper rift in that you are seeing the mechanical human prone to act in ways predicated on biological and chemical cues and processes. I am seeing the Human Being as more a being illuminated or not by one's thoughts and intentions. At some point thoughts depart from the purely biological system and inform a human on what course they can and should take. This is well represented in history by the different cultures and modes of behavior found in those differing cultures. The biggest contrast I think being seen among Imperial cultures and more local less audacious cultures.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Fri 23 Feb 2018, 11:26:06

OK...but I have to say, those remarks seem rooted in the "Divinely Inspired" version of mankind, the incorrect and erroneous creation myth that unfortunately underlies all 19th Century and earlier Western thoughts and writings.

Because you see, if somebody with at least a mid 20th century knowledge of Physical Anthropology did not write something, then the base assumptions are wrong and the conclusions and reasonings are probably entirely faulty. This same problem renders incorrect such diverse writings as the Bible (and all other classical religious writings), the silly economic ramblings of Marx and Engels, even up to the doctoral dissertations of 21st Century grad students, as long as they are publishing in an LAS field that has not had all the basic texts revised extensively since the understanding of the nature of man the primate. The observations of primitive ape behaviors in other primates that are recognizably the roots of Capitalism all occurred in the late 20th century, and anything you learned prior to that - and any text in your library prior to that - are obsolete, incorrect, and only of historical interest.

The Age of Reason really did start when Darwin published. The steady increase in the understanding of man and animal grew from that root until the great 20th century Human Genome project, and the writings of the great 20th Century Anthropologists. Here's a good start:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_anthropology
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby Darian S » Wed 28 Feb 2018, 11:36:40

baha wrote:Capitalism is coloring your thoughts.

You say automation eliminates consumers, but their still there. They just don't have a job or any money. You think they can't consume without money. It's the way we have been taught to think.

Think about this...As a group we build the infrastructure and automation needed to support the group. We all work together and when we're done we can all sit back and enjoy the resulting automated process. It's like installing solar. You do the work (or pay the money) and then you sit back and enjoy free power for 20 years. I will consume the power with no money involved...job or no job.

This has always been the promise made by automation. It is supposed to relieve us of the everyday grind so we can be artists, musicians, and designers. The end result has always been people sitting around with nothing to do. Other than be inspired :)

But since we are boxed in by capitalism, money flows, people get paid along the way, and someone ends up 'owning' the resulting automaton. Then he charges everyone else to use it so it only benefits him.

If you want automation to work for the masses, we have to rethink the way the economy works. There are things now that are considered 'public infrastructure'. You don't have to pay to use the highways. Except in gas tax.

You think this would require more government...I say automate their dumb asses too. It wouldn't be hard :)



Oh I've heard of some dystopian places where some of the roads have been made private, rebranded as highways without being highways, and camera based automated hidden toll booths without any signs have been placed along the way. If you don't have the governments automatic sticker with balance, the hidden toll booth takes a picture of your car's license plate and the government can charge you 50$ in penalty fee for skipping toll you didn't know about. Some people have racked bills of thousands of dollars within days as a result of not knowing of such hidden toll booths.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby onlooker » Wed 28 Feb 2018, 19:15:10

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/02 ... -time.html
Shippen differentiates between ‘meaningful leisure’ and the ‘free time’ of today, which really implies ‘unfree time’—just as MasterCard’s ‘priceless’ reward is presented in relation to moments that are ‘priced.’ In order to live a good life as opposed to simply live, one must first reduce the time spent on necessities. However, in the current system where arduous, repetitive, un-stimulating and/or excessive work is created and placed at the centre of society, the idea of ‘free time’ has been rendered virtually meaningless.

Today, much more time is spent in relation to work: traveling to work, recovering from work, attempting to disconnect from work, searching for work or engaging in unpaid domestic work. This increase in work-related time pressures is connected to the rise of zero-hours contracts and the erosion of employment rights, developments that have especially damaging repercussions for people on lower-wages. Research by the Social Mobility Commission reveals that the UK’s low pay culture traps people in poorly-paid jobs.

Here's to AUTOMATION saving us from the drudgery of modern jobs :-D
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby ralfy » Thu 01 Mar 2018, 22:48:05

Businesses invest in automation because they expect to pay for that through higher sales, but that means more consumption.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Fri 02 Mar 2018, 07:17:29

I don't agree with Shippen, or anybody else who blames an economic system for excess human labor. The reason that excess humans exist is that afore-said reproductive urge.

If we didn't have 7 billion excess humans we would not have a faltering ecosystem, an onrushing oil peak, and oncoming resource shortages of all types. We have these things because the entirely natural process of evolution equipped humans with intelligence while leaving intact a whole series of animal urges - the reproductive urge, gluttony, greed, the territorial imperative, etc. These were all grand successes when they occurred in the animal kingdom, making one strain of animal more likely to survive than an identical strain of animals without such instinctive urges.

Now I'm going to go out on a limb, figuratively speaking, and speculate about the nature of a very real but entirely useless and even countra-survival trait in Humanity. This is entirely from me, an original thought on my part, at least, I don't remember reading it anywhere else. To wit, that tendancy among certain humans to become obsessed with Capitalism (or an other of the labels we have applied to the economy), and to blame a whole colllection of ills, both real and percieved, upon that "<blank>ism".

I believe that this is but another mutation in the human genome, a desire to sieze upon a (meaningless in itself) yet usefull label that describes human behaviors, and to blame that label for the net results of a complex set of animal behaviors arising from evolution over the millenia.

This particular mutation performs no usefull purpose, results in lots of wasted mentation that is better devoted to consciously feathering the nest and otherwise making the survival of those humans who do not share this human weakness more likely.

Having recognized this after many years, I will now simply chuckle every time this topic appears in conversation, and simply observe the process of evolution in action.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby Newfie » Fri 02 Mar 2018, 08:17:39

KJ,

Probably not quite that simple, but basically, yeah.

It seems impossible for us to view certain subjects from a useful perspective.

Probably same for the gun issue in the USA.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby onlooker » Fri 02 Mar 2018, 08:20:18

Well, since I am the one who has shown on this site the zeal to immerse myself with you Kaiser in this argument about our evolution and the economic byproducts, then I feel I should answer you. Also, frankly just to keep interest up on this site as I think it can use it.

Okay, I am going to start by saying I agree with you about the natural processes that have conspired to bring us to this juncture. And I agree that at this point the problem is too many people on this planet. Now, let us forget about the isms. Let us focus on our innate flaws which were once virtues as you aptly mentioned. Greed, Gluttony and of course our desire to fornicate. By recognizing these as flaws now, we can try at least to make headway to ameliorating these flaws or channeling them into more productive positive overall results. But we cannot do that if we do not recognize that our Economic system in its broad definition ie. Capitalism is instrumental in encouraging and exercising these aforementioned flaws. So, it is not about saying I am right and your wrong and vice versa.

What it is about is attaining a species wide higher consciousness about our role, our flaws and our desired destiny/reason to be. Can this be done? Probably not. But I do not see it as impossible given our ability to mold culture and configure it to our desires and then incorporating everyone within it. It can come from something as counterintuitivly simple as all of us uniting weary under the banner of Love, fraternity, sharing and caring. From those feelings we can then build a world more just, more sustainable and more equitable for all. The technocrats and scientists like you Kaiser have already contributed greately in fields like computers and genetics etc. Now, everyone regardless of intelligence can join in to this raising of consciousness. Why? Because you do not need great intelligence or understandings. You just need to open your heart and truly wish this world for yourself and everyone else.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby Newfie » Fri 02 Mar 2018, 08:54:19

Onlooker,

I doubt your idea is possible even in the most self enlightened Western countries. I pretty darn sure it is not possible in poorer countries where folks are just living day to day. Kinda hard to care about big issues when you are hungry.

We just left the Dominican Republic. While the streets were cleaner than Philadelphia or NYC the fishermen and others on the water would just pitch their trash over the side. Trash everywhere in the water. They don’t see the problem with that. And by world standards the DR is not that poor and has a lot of tourism, money that wants to preserve a clean appearance.

It’s hard for me to see any path towards our enlightenment.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Fri 02 Mar 2018, 11:00:06

Who says that promoting the welfare of the entire species of humans is a good thing, or even a desireable thing?

There is no doubt that such lofty goals were both desireable and beneficial, right up until humans went into overshoot. Now anything which makes humans more numerous is simply killing all humans, in fact all species, faster than before.

I confess, I too share this same bias. I believe in human exceptionalism, I believe in the common good, I do everything that I can do to promote the welfare of all.

I also recognize that this behavior is killing the planet. The more hummans, the more damage and the faster it happens. When the correction to overshoot happens, it will be grim, a prolonged period of misery, and our values will be changed by it.

Whatever else happens, the nature of human culture will be drastically changed as we die back to sustainable numbers. In a sense, this too is an evolutionary process. We will boil down the myriad forms of human behaviors to a smaller set of behaviors suitable to a world overpopulated with humans.

I don't think any of us will enjoy it, or regard the new Earth bounded humans as an improvement over the present humans. My hoped for alternative for the last few decades is that we use our technology to escape the limitations of this single planet, and spread into the effectively unlimited environment of space beyond the Earth. However I also recognize that as we spread beyond the Earth, that too represents evolution in action, a process that will change us in many ways. Whether any of us will regard the result as better or worse than current humans is the question that haunts me.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby Ibon » Fri 02 Mar 2018, 11:35:06

KaiserJeep wrote:Who says that promoting the welfare of the entire species of humans is a good thing, or even a desireable thing?

There is no doubt that such lofty goals were both desireable and beneficial, right up until humans went into overshoot. Now anything which makes humans more numerous is simply killing all humans, in fact all species, faster than before.

I confess, I too share this same bias. I believe in human exceptionalism, I believe in the common good, I do everything that I can do to promote the welfare of all.


The overshoot conundrum. By default your only choice, our only choice out of this ultimate catch 22 is to worship the corrective forces that we ourselves are incapable of implementing.

Not just accept but worship, this term of reverence is nothing more than acknowledging the historical precedent that we surrender over to the gods that which we cannot ourselves resolve being the mortal sentient beings that we are.

Worshiping the Overshoot Predator, not just accepting the inevitable.

When we die in significant numbers we give thanks.
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Re: Superfluous people

Unread postby onlooker » Fri 02 Mar 2018, 12:00:43

I didn't say anything about keeping our numbers so high or promoting the survival of everyone. I am speaking about not just going through the bottleneck as an author William Catton referred to it but beyond and on the other side of it. I too have acknowledged that this is a catch 22, which has NO solution and that die off is coming. In a way, I have been more pessimistic seeing a shorter time line and also seeing Climate Change as possibly causing our extinction.

Nevertheless, it is pointless to wallow in total hopelessness. So, I am imagining as some within our species as sufficiently resilient to make it through. Besides, I think in our conversations we juxtapose past present and future so it is a bit confusing. When I say that we should endeavor to act in fraternity with consideratin and caring for each other, I speak of what I wish our evolution would have been like and what I still hold out hope , it will be like in the future. At the present yes our morality and tolerance with be stretched to the limits and grim and horrific patterns will emerge. But, also what will emerge is communities that will fashion themselves from empathy for our common struggles and recognize our to a large degree identifical human nature. Suffering and difficult ordeals can both engender brutality but also great compassion and love among each other. So, in summary the Overshoot Predator will stalk and prey on some of us but hopefully not all of us. So Ibon will your vision of a renewed Faith based on Nature and Spiritual positive bonding among each other be realized? Is that not a worthwhile goal? Nice to have your input again Ibon.
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