We Are Not Worthy
Dmitry Orlov discusses the Ukraine conflict and the US empire in part one of a Collapse Cafe audio interview. I find Dmitry’s general bashing of the Ukrainian people disquieting because one of my humblest, hardest-working friends in high school was of Ukrainian extraction. Also, I don’t tend to think Putin is quite as masterful as all that, but I do agree that the US is floundering in international politics. The discussion also ranges into energy and financial policy.
In part two, Dmitry reminded me of a few things I had meant to blog about. After listening to Albert Bates’ A Short History of the Ecovillage and Dmitry’s Communities That Abide at the Age of Limits conference, I told Albert that I couldn’t imagine many modern Americans subsuming their personal freedoms to actually live in the sort of communities he and Dmitry were describing. Bates was long associated with The Farm, an ecovillage in Tennessee, and observed that KMO had lived at the Farm for years even though he was a libertarian. Later I looked at the Age of Limits brochure wherein KMO describes himself as, “a recovering libertarian and Singularitarian.”
I have no idea where KMO falls on the spectrum, but as I just posted, Pew Research tells us that many self-described libertarians don’t always support the official dogma of that political philosophy. Singularitarianism is a brand of Futurism inspired by creative people like Ray Kurzweil and Eliezer Yudkowsky. I knew about Kurzweil from his synthesizer and voice recognition work, and I know of Yudkowsky as ‘Less Wrong’ – the author of the only fanfiction I know that improves upon the original: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. Many of us pine away for the next chapter of hpmor, and one fan actually arranged for the author to take some time at the beach and write more chapters. Along with his Machine Intelligence Research Institute, Yudkowsky is busy leveraging his hpmor fanbase into creation of a Center for Applied Rationality.
So that’s a funny correlation to me.
In my After What Seemed Like an Age wrapup, I noted that most attendees didn’t seem to fit the mold of the Abiding groups that Dmitry was describing. In 2013, feminists challenged the patriarchal aspects of those communities. In 2014, some attendees challenged the sort of home-schooling practiced by Amish and Roma, and others plaintively inquired if there would be room for LGBT folk in these communities.
At about sixteen minutes into the second Collapse Cafe Q&A session, Dmitry says that he has come to the conclusion that Americans do not seem at all suited to the sorts of communities that he feels will abide:
“… people from this culture, from English-speaking North American culture … find it quite distasteful because it turns out that there isn’t much of an emphasis on individual rights, there isn’t much of an emphasis on individual property. There isn’t much of an idea that you ever become independent of your family. There isn’t the idea of individual initiative. And those are all basically non-negotiable parts of the living arrangements for people from this culture. That’s like asking them to become somebody else. Y’know the formative experiences of their youth prevent them from being sufficiently malleable to take on these completely new and different ways of existing. And so I don’t know how useful my lessons are because these people basically aren’t able to go through the painful personal transformation that will be required.”
I gather that Dmitry and Albert have adjusted to living in several different nations, including third world South America, but I frankly have a hard time seeing even them making such a transformation. Being prepared for changes, though, is worth pursuing.