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View Diary: Biggest Blunders in Technology History (76 comments)

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  •  You lost me at slavery - and won me on spirit. (4+ / 0-)

    Slavery and caste systems in all their flavors arose to support the good life for a few, everywhere, because of ecological circumstances of low resource concentration, low knowledge concentration and net zero growth in both population and overall wealth.

    They existed so long as such situations persisted and guess what?

    They're coming back. They're coming back due to overpopulation and overconsumption AND the willful policies of reaction, worldwide.

    Because we had a nice ride of high population growth and wealth accumulation. A nice upward drive lasting several centuries for some at the expense of the entire rest of the planet. So long as we had yet to hit the carrying capacity of the Earth, even as our industrialization and monetization of the planet dropped that carry capacity faster and faster, all seemed good and we churned out technological wonders.

    But we're hitting that limit now. Because we are hitting that limit, we're hitting resistance to share the good things with more people, even more of our own people, or even the same fraction of our own people, who ever 'our own people' are.

    It doesn't have to be this way, no. We can get past this, avoid the temptation of the fallback to primitive modes of life.

    We can keep growing, if not in numbers (we way over the mark) then in wisdom and in skills, in how deeply and positively we connect with one another.

    But the rapid pace of tech we've seen over the past few centuries is past. We will have to accept a more focused, more modest progression.

    The good news being, the 20th century left us a LOT of untapped ideas on the shelf.

    And we could be clearing that shelf for the next thousand years, all the way to the stars.

    For more (and to music) here you go

    •  Not necessarily the case. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Alhambra, koNko

      Slavery in the Roman Empire did not arise from overpopulation or lack of resources - it was an ancestral tradition common to ancient conquest, and it just so happened that they were incredibly successful at conquering people so they ended up with a lot more slaves than anyone had ever had before.  By Byzantine times, they were actually swimming in material riches - prosperous on a level that their republican ancestors couldn't have imagined - but people's lives were cruelly and pettily oppressed, and technology never had a chance to do anything but build more magnificent temples and palaces.

      Then there was the antebellum South: Hardly a place one could claim was suffering from overpopulation or lack of material wealth.  Slavery occurred simply as a matter of convenience - there was a lot of hard farming to do, not enough poor white people to do it, and Africans were being sold by the hundreds, so that's how it happened.

      When you change the subject to low-wage labor, overpopulation doesn't explain that either: The cities of medieval Germany were teeming with people, but they had formed trade guilds and civic organizations that protected their interests.  So it's very much a matter of social choice rather than inherent limits.  

      Democracy is a habit, not a circumstance.

      by Troubadour on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 08:52:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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