Society 2.0 — Thoughts on a New Society
What I’m writing here could probably be better classified as Science Fiction than contemporary sociology.
That is because there is an important context that is intrinsic to all of these ideas. I think it’s important to share this context first because without it, these ideas will just look like idealistic ramblings.
The assumption I’m making is that creating rapid and radical change is impractical from within an existing society. Nearly all violent revolutions (from within a country) end up replacing one dictator with another.
The far more effective method is to establish these changes externally and then allow their success (assuming they are successful) to filter into the broader society.
This is modeled after the historical example of the founding of the United States.
I’m not attempting to hold up the founding fathers, the constitution, or the government they established as the perfect system. I’m merely citing them as a well documented example of rapid and radical societal change.
The American colonists cut their political allegiance to England and with the knowledge they had at the time (mostly the principles of the Greek and Roman states) developed their own government and societal structure.
I don’t think such a rapid development could have been possible from within England. Too much of the power structure relied on the status quo for its wealth.
So, most of my ideas come from the premise of: With the knowledge we now have (which contains an even greater insight into past governments and cultures, as well as the successes and follies of our current governments and economic principles, plus almost 300 years of social and technological progress)…
How could we design a better government, and maybe even, a better society.
What I DON’T Mean
Whenever you talk about building a better society a lot of weird associations are likely to come up. Immediately people assume you are talking about a totally controlled society like 1984.
To make sure I am clear, that is not what I mean.
The key assumption I am starting with is self-determinism is vital to a healthy society.
History has taught us that oppression will always end in revolt and eventual overthrow.
Regardless of what Society 2.0 looks like, it will only last if the people in it have self-determinism and the ability to pursue happiness and fulfillment.
Science and Social Design
A book I highly recommend is ‘Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States’ by James C. Scott
Our history books tell us an idyllic tale of early humans inventing agriculture and building the first cities in the newfound abundance of grains and cattle.
As Scott points out archeological evidence paints quite a different picture. Participation in early civilization was not voluntary, and was not healthy.
Throughout our very early history, society was developed through force and coercion.
Then in more recent centuries we began applying thought and reason to our government and economy. While this was an improvement it still had a basic flaw. As soon as we had an idea of how things should be run we skipped straight to implementation without rigorous testing.
Never in our history have we applied rigorous scientific methodology to designing our society, government or economy. Applying iteration and actually testing social and economic systems allows you to see where a society is likely to go without having to blindly try it with your fingers crossed.
I posit that the principles of testing, scalability, iteration, and scientific methodology are the key to developing a better society; and the articles in this series will discuss how one could go about doing that.