Wednesday 23 March 2016

Dan 2:44 Beasts, the stone, and the Trans Pacific Partnership

Last night God appeared to me in a dream.

Don't worry, I haven't gone mad. God is logic, and personification can make complex ideas easier to see, Anyway, this post is a stream of consciousness. About my current thinking about the book. This will probably only make sense in a year or two when the book is further developed. the I can look back and see, "ah yes, now I remember how it all started"

You have been warned :)

The TPP, as you may know, is a horrific piece of (effectively) secret legislation that further shifts power toward corporations and away from humans. I say horrific because, as a human, I naturally want humans to be in charge. Which just shows how stupid I am. Please let me explain.

Human evolution

Humans evolved to live in small groups on the African savannah. That worked OK for individual humans, because the groups could not get too big. We are hard wired to be unable to deal with more than, say, 100 other people. This limits the power of any individual. It means technology cannot develop (beyond simple tools and mud houses), so each individual is vulnerable: This creates equality. If any person gets too bad, two or three other people are enough to teach him humility.

So every individual was within reaching distance (literally) of being the most powerful human on the planet. Which wasn't saying much, as the ants and lions were pretty powerful too. But we each had our niche, and were able to live like that for hundreds of thousands of years. And our brains were wired to do this efficiently, so I have every reason to think we were generally happy.

Our brief six thousand years as top species

Around 4,000 BC we invented proto-writing, and that's when it all went wrong. It enabled us to work in far larger groups. We were able to expand our cities through specialisation, and create imaginary gods to represent large groups of people: as long as people did what their god said then a human's 100 person limit could be expanded to 100 tribes of unlimited size. Granted, we had gods before that date, but writing gave them unlimited power.

This ability to work in groups let us dominate the world. But it did not change the fact that we were individual humans who evolved for much smaller groups on the savannah. The new system was great for the group, but horrible for the individual. We made ourselves cogs in a much larger machine. As individuals our food became worse our choices became fewer (unless we were the top human, and even that position could be precarious: change brings chaos and kings were always in danger of being toppled).

Why humans are no longer top species

Evolution works at the level of the system. Any system that competes for resources, randomly changes, and can pass on successful changes, will evolve. Brains and consciousness are secondary issues and a matter of definition.(1) What concerns us here is power: the ability to out-maneuver other systems for resources. By creating cities and nations and (Iater) corporations and networks we humans created systems that are more powerful than ourselves. Evolution takes time of course, and so for a long time these systems had no brains of their own. They relied on networks of human brains, so humans had unique leverage. Humans still felt they were in charge, even though 99 percent of humans were effectively slaves.

But then along came electronics. Telegraphs allowed information to travel faster than a human could follow it. Hard drives allowed information to be storied in quantities greater than a human could ever read. The Internet allowed more and more processes to be separated form the human brain and handled much faster and more efficiently.

The evolution of systems into more complex forms is hardly new. Mathematics evolved into physical forces.(2) Physical forces evolved into atoms.(2) Atoms evolved into simple molecules. Simple molecules into complex ones. Complex molecules into cells Cells into tissues. Tissues into organisms. And now, organisms into corporations. Each system combines to create the thing that enslaves it.

These more complex forms have the potential to be smarter than us. If only because they are made up of large numbers of us. Our individual stupidity as humans is illustrated by the enthusiasm with which we create our masters, while thinking that they serve us! Well yes they do serve us in a sense. In the same sense that a human body serves its cells, by providing their needs. But make no mistake: the body comes first, and individual cells are expendable.

I made this simple video to illustrate the point:
As I said, evolution takes time. We are still in the early days of corporate dominance. There are many tasks that still require humans. But that is a false security. If a human is easy to replace, and fears being unemployed and hungry, then the human must obey out of fear. Successful company chairmen work the longest hours and have no time to think of anything except the company: they are the greatest slaves of all because they have given not just their bodies but their minds to the beast.

In short, humans are no longer top species. Perhaps we will be completely replaced, or perhaps we will become cells in this larger body. "Will become?" We already are.

When did human dominance end?

Human dominance ended when as individuals we became unable to defeat our masters. Sure, our masters were always more powerful, but their total dependence on individual humans meant a Caesar or a Napoleon could be their master. But, starting with the rise of the Internet, corporations have become far more complex and faster moving than any human (or even small group of humans) can understand. Humans can now only stand and watch.

Which brings us to Daniel.

I referred to corporations as beasts. This is a good metaphor. Daniel refers to empires as horned beasts: alive, apparently stupid, yet likely to win in any fight with a human.

Large, apparently stupid systems have always been described as beasts, right back to Leviathan, the chaos of the ocean. The ocean was the source of long distance transport, and provided its own food, so our distant ancestors saw it as the great beast to defeat when founding the first empires. The Enuma Elish and its abridgment in Genesis both refer to civilisation arising out of its chaotic watery jaws. When Thomas Hobbes studied the power of the state he chose the same metaphor. The most famous beast is of course the Roman Empire (then embodied by Nero) in the book of Revelation.

Apocalyptic literature such as Daniel, Revelation, and especially Enoch, tries to put a time frame to the growth of these beasts. Daniel was dealing with a new upstart, Greece, so expected it to fall quite quickly (and it did). But as for the dominance of beasts in general, Enoch and Revelation estimate a seven thousand year continuance for life as we now it: six thousand years of life as it is now, then a thousand years when God defeats the beasts, then a new heaven and new earth. That turned out to be a pretty good guess. Six thousand years from the creation of writing to the industrial and IT revolutions, and probably another thousand years before it all settles down.

God of course is logic, the stone that is not cut with hands, but exists independently of our efforts, and smashes everything. The overall message is positive. The beasts will be defeated by logic in the end. Which brings me the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Why I now embrace the TPP

Until last night I hated the TPP and all it represented: the enslavement of humankind, probably the continued poisoning of the planet, and a few wars along the way. But as I said, God appeared to me in a  dream and I now see more clearly.

You could say that God appeared in the form of the TPP, and of Tesco, and of every other monolithic corporate system, and said "Love me".

Because the fact is that the age of humans is over. It was really over when they created writing, but being humans we were too stupid to see it.

Until last night I was incredibly frustrated and depressed by humanity and the future in general. Fixing the world would be so simple - just one easy change would make everything perfect - but we won't do it. Why? Because we are not wired for logic. Our brains are wired for small tribes. And if faced with anything bigger we either force the concept into our tribal structure (hence gods, and stories of good guys versus bad guys) or we panic and fight.

Take the Brussels terrorist attack for example. It was so predictable (not this particular attack but attacks in general). It was so easily avoidable (like all our problems). But how do we react? Do we say "let's make sure this cannot happen again?" No, we either wring our hands in sympathy, or we look for somebody to hate. Actually understanding and solving problems is not in our nature. Our brains are just too small.

I am acutely aware of the smallness of my own brain. I just spent thirty years focusing on one very narrow problem - how to fix everything at source. I am autistic, so focusing and abstracting like that comes naturally to me. But after finding the answer it just reinforced how stupid I am:

  1. First, because the answer was staring me in the face all the time: every careful thinker has come to the same conclusion. (See Adam Smith, Winston Churchill, etc.) Heck, it's the whole point of the Bible. But I could not see it, because thinking rationally is so hard. Like everyone else I wanted to see the Bible as supernatural.
  2. Second, because having answers is pointless unless you can share them. And ideas are extremely difficult to share. We delude ourselves that we are logical but we are not, we are tribal. We come to our ideas primarily because those in our tribe share them. We only make the tiniest of changes. An idea like "fix everything by replacing tax with rent" relies on so many underlying ideas that sharing it with even one person is a herculean task. Sharing it with enough people to create a critical mass? Far more sociable people than me have failed at sharing far simpler ideas.

Luckily, corporations do not have our limits. They can network and subdivide to handle ideas of any size. They are the only hope of doing it right. But will they?

The ultimate triumph of logic

Logic wins because it is how the universe is. Any idea that fights it will fail by definition. Bad ideas only appear to succeed because the alternative ideas are even worse, but we are too stupid dot see it. For example, Nazi Germany briefly succeeded because the rest of us had created a world in which such a horror could be born. And it failed precisely because it was a horror: it was inefficient. We cannot blame our creation, we collectively created those circumstances. But being stupid we refuse to admit it, or, if we do, we just wring our hands in self-hating guilt rather than simply fixing the problem.

Land rent will win because it is more efficient than taxation. Humans are incapable of grasping that in sufficient numbers, but corporations do not have those limitations. Of course, corporations will also do things wrong: they will probably poison the planet a lot more first, causing vast human misery and many new wars. But gradually the more powerful will defeat the less powerful. I think a thousand years was a good estimate.

Part of human stupidity is thinking that corporations are evil because they do such bad things. News flash: humans do all those things too. Corporations are just bigger. Yes, they have given us nuclear bombs and global warming, but they have also given us the lowest poverty rates since records began. We are cells in their body, and they work best if their cells are healthy.

The end of humanity

But what if, over the next thousand years of transition, corporations find away to not need us at all? Or to need so few that most of humanity dies? That is us thinking like humans again. In the early centuries humans will still be able to cause damage to corporations. Therefore they will want to keep us happy. They have not been feeding us out of the goodness of their hearts, but because it suits them.

But what about later centuries? What about the year 2500 or 2800, when humans are completely irrelevant to the brave new world? Corporations have that covered as well. What is a human, except a set of ideas within a mechanical frame? Those ideas are evolving quickly to suit our masters. We are replacing more and more of our bodies: cars replace legs, phones replace memory, etc. Even our consciousness is evolving to fit in. Most people are far more interested in X-Factor (the Great Distraction) rather than politics. We are too stupid for politics, so our masters keep us distracted. By the year 2500 or 2800 humans will be so completely absorbed into the machine that we will be indistinguishable from any "artificial" parts of the system. Our transformation into efficient cells will be complete. Our minds will have become perfectly aligned to our role and so we will be happy.

The triumph of Paul

Throughout this Bible blog I tend to be scathing about the self appointed apostle Paul. He was the antichrist, the great fraud who taught nonsense and destroyed Jesus' movement. And yet... the more I learn about other thinking people, the more I learn that they are no more evil than I am, and no more stupid than I am. One thing is certain, Paul was smart. I wonder if, in the long dark nights (and these were the days before electronic distractions), Paul saw things more clearly than I did. I wonder if he knew that humans are weal and foolish. After all, isn't that his message? And he knew that the best we can do is accept whatever supernatural idea makes us happy, while not worrying. Jesus may have attempted (with some success) to make people good, but Paul could see it was ultimately a lost cause. What will happen will happen, so he created a religion that let people cope and be happy.

I planned to blog yesterday about how I needed to write two books, not one, and what I really wanted was the third book, about beasts. I now wonder if what I should really write is an apocalyptic work like Enoch or Daniel. But updated for the Google age.

In that book I would put only the best stuff. Just enough that anybody with an interest could Google the rest and put two and two together on their own. Most people would of course ignore it. But those who thought deeply about life would find it eventually, and discover it to be a good friend.

The book of Enkidu

It is traditional to write apocalyptic works under the name of an ancient patriarch, such as Enoch. It is also accurate: our identity is in our ideas, because if somebody shares the ideas attributed to Enoch then they are an Enoch. But the name Enoch is already overused. Besides, the book I have in mind probably has more in common with Enkidu (the Adam figure and co-star of Gilgamesh). I just noticed that "the book of Enkidu" has zero results in Google. So that will probably be the title. I just registered the domain.

You saw it here first.

(1) It can be argued that humans are not conscious and do not feel pain. I call on the analogy with lobsters. They lack the neural pathways that we consider essential, therefore they cannot possibly feel pain, right? Now look at humans from the point of view of the corporation. We do not appear on the stock exchange, so cannot possibly feel financial pain, We do not have PR departments who monitor news from our perspective 24/7, and we lack high speed trading software to react quickly, so we can barely be considered conscious of what goes on around us either. Concepts like consciousness and pain are entirely dependent on the system and its needs.

(2) Yes, mathematics evolves. All states exist randomly. The scarce resource is more complex mathematical systems. Patterns emerge from chaos. Larger patterns encompass smaller ones.

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