Sunday, 10 April 2011

An analogy for our body politic

More great stuff as I read my way through The Multitude has inspired this seed of an analogy I'd like to share. I'll make it short and sweet because I have lots to do...

We, society, are one system. Some now regard its borders as having disappeared, but most of us are still partitioned politically according largely to centuries old borders. Either way, the analogy can work at any level due to the self-similar nature of complex systems.

Imagine our system, the political body, as a literal body. Society is broken-down into parts according to people's skills and specialisations, forming the bodies organs and tissue and limbs (armies for its, well, armies). I think it would be fairly bi-partisan of me to say that money is now the lifeblood of society, hence blood for me represents its place in the body.

Unfortunately, in this particular body, the blood seems to be ganging up on the rest, subjugating the brain (politicians) into creating ever more blood that then stubbornly refuses to go anywhere except around and around the main arteries and to two highly-pumped arms whose job it is to beat up on its own legs (the exploited masses). Meanwhile, the rest of the body is suffering, unable to do anything against a brain gone rogue and poisonous blood.

If you are rich, tell me, is this rational? You are part of this body. If we get sick, trust me, you'll get sick too.

So what would be rational? Well, it wouldn't be too radical to suggest that the blood needs to circulate to all parts of the body, in sufficient amounts, to ensure that the whole body can work in unity. The brain needs to attend to those areas that require it, and not to just one organ or function. The arms need to be told to stop beating itself up, and perhaps reach for some painkillers, or else try a bit of massage to ease the pain its been causing. This is a minimum standard, sufficiently rational to be understood by everyone; an idea whose time has come now.

But we can do better than that.

Our collective endeavour in accumulating knowledge is delivering to us an escape, a hand up from the gutter of having to be a rectal muscle your entire life. Every one of us has a brain of our own. We are all qualified to be part of the brain, indeed, a brain only works because of the sheer number of neurons in the system.  Soon, if we can just stop the blood from killing us through our currently tiny brain, we will have the chance to all be part of the brain, infinitely malleable, pure subjectivity giving rise to optimised emergent properties, a global consciousness that does not seek to destroy what has become itself.  The body can be mechanized, automated, intimately controlled by the multitude of the brain for the rational end of optimised sustainability and quality of life. This is what the Venus Project envisions.  People take the piss, but philosophically, historically, sociologically, cognitively, physically... I can see no reason why it cannot come to pass... indeed the opposite: I see it as an inevitability that only the rulers of the top-down identities stand in the way of.

Better that than dying in a puddle of blood, no?