Author Topic: Push the button already  (Read 10458 times)

tyrannosaurus vex

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Push the button already
« on: June 14, 2020, 10:52:12 pm »
One of the most insidious and dangerous assumptions we have is the silly idea that human history has a direction. That in some meaningful way, life in the 21st century is fundamentally different (even "better") than life in, say, the 14th century, or the 21st century BCE for that matter. That human events follow a more or less predictable (at least in hindsight) trajectory from "primitive" to "advanced", and that it does this because of some sort of natural law that governs all kinds of progress.

This idea is pure bunk, and should be stamped out with extreme prejudice wherever you see it. It is the kernel at the center of the centrist's inaction in the face of injustice, the unfounded presupposition behind violent wars of "regime change" and "nation building", and the morally vacant justification for colonialist thinking. It is the reason we are taught that the evils of slavery and genocide are "in the past" while the forces that drive them simmer in communities around the world.

History has no arc. It is not a story about a protagonist species who learn and grow. It has never been guaranteed that tomorrow will be more just for you than today, or that the next century will bring more opportunity for your descendants than the last one had for your ancestors. This should be plain to see as we watch the entire allegedly "free" world slip farther every day into the same patterns of mistakes and collapse that have recurred time and again since anyone bothered to remember anything.

Even when disaster is averted, for all our apparent progress we have never actually made a difference in what it means to be human. Sure, we have the power to blow up the planet, the power to fling ourselves uselessly into orbit, the power to talk to each other across insurmountable distances. But so what if we can do all this, but give up the ability to feed our children, or the time to appreciate a sunset once in a while, or the courage to speak to our own neighbors? What have we gained, exactly, and why do we imagine that to be "progress"?
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Re: Push the button already
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2020, 11:17:49 pm »
Why did you post this here instead of scrawling it on tree bark with a pointy stone dipped in beetroot juice?
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tyrannosaurus vex

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Re: Push the button already
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2020, 11:22:19 pm »
Why did you post this here instead of scrawling it on tree bark with a pointy stone dipped in beetroot juice?
This forum is the current incarnation of that.
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Re: Push the button already
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2020, 11:56:56 pm »
If you don’t think life today is fundamentally different than 14th century life, you’re an idiot, Vex.

I hate saying that, but it’s fucking true.

The technology we have today has given us tools that have fundamentally changed the reality we live in. The current state of the world would be impossible in the 1970s, let alone in the 1300s. Hell, a massive part of what is fueling unrest right now is the fact that every LEO crime is documented in real time by hundreds of people, and instantly visible around the world. It’s why the BLM protests are global now: people are seeing it at home and seeing it wasn’t isolated instances either. That this is happening in towns with under 3k residents.

That possibility didn’t even exist until the smartphone with camera was the default, which wasn’t even the case until 2009, if not later.

The fact you can instantly, without even having TIME to think if you might be a dipshit, put something this stupid in front of a GLOBAL public extremely rapidly without a massive investment of money and a massive workforce at your beck and call would be impossible before at least 1996-ish. Call it the age of Geocities. Rephrased: Mortal Kombat is older than the ability for you to make an instant global fool of yourself without being rich.

The fact that someone can be identified in under an hour from only three random photos taken years apart by a random stranger in another country without anyone spending a dime would be impossible before about 2004-ish, whenever it was MySpace was big — and even then it would have been a stretch due to the lack of readily available, public, searchable, candid photographs of most people.

The fact is, you said something really fucking stupid here. What the FUCK happened to you, dude?
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tyrannosaurus vex

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Re: Push the button already
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2020, 12:19:12 am »
Yeah, we have made lots of progress technologically, but what effect has that progress had on the average life? We can do things that our ancestors would see as magical, but is the average person in modern America more or less likely to see themselves as happy and fulfilled as the average pre-Columbian Native American? Or the average member of uncontacted tribe in the Amazon? My point isn't that we haven't made advances or that we don't have powers that we didn't always have, but that what we call "progress" is neither inevitable nor particularly helpful.
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tyrannosaurus vex

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Re: Push the button already
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2020, 12:25:06 am »
I mean, the basis of your rebuttal only has meaning within the context of a society that values our brand of technological progress and views that as the goal. Not all societies see it that way, and in fact the ones that don't tend to be more stable and much longer lasting. In the overall course of humans' existence on Earth, the trajectory of Western Civilization is more likely to be a statistical curiosity than an inevitable march toward galactic colonization or something.
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Re: Push the button already
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2020, 12:29:45 am »
Going to be fucking brutally honest with you here.

Happiness isn’t everything.

It’s a lot. It should be the goal. But there are a lot of things that come before, or separate from, happiness, like mental health and a caring community.

If you think people struggling for those in particular haven’t benefitted from the Internet, get the fuck off of this forum forever. (Said because that’s an easy way to point out that you’re benefitting right the fuck now from the Internet.)

Also, simple statement: I wouldn’t be alive to be happy or unhappy if it weren’t for the Internet. Several fucking times over I would be stone cold fucking dead.

Frozen to death in Montana. Frozen to death in Boston. Starved to death a hundred times over. Forced to stay in a town where my family told me they’d kill me if they saw me around. Abandoned in the woods: in Florida, in Michigan. I’m leaving SO MANY INSTANCES OUT that I don’t even know where to begin. Several, more than several, so many instances where the members of THIS FORUM or the IRC channel are the reason I’m even fucking here today.

I would have made it as far as the first time I joined and then flounced from the forum. No one would have ever seen me again after that, except maybe as a misgendering, deadnaming obit and some fucked up bones.

So fuck you.
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“Ever watch that famous war movie? That’s how it’ll be.”
“Which one?”
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— Blood Standard, Laird Barron

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Re: Push the button already
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2020, 12:31:25 am »
And for the record, no fucking one was disagreeing with the Lo5ing required to believe there’s a universal narrative. Of course the fuck there isn’t. BUT REALITY HAS FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGED. Denying this is IDIOCY.
“I am that worst of all type of criminal...I cannot bring myself to do what you tell me, because you told me.”

“Ever watch that famous war movie? That’s how it’ll be.”
“Which one?”
“The one where everybody dies.”
— Blood Standard, Laird Barron

Remember the fall of Yin Tu.

tyrannosaurus vex

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Re: Push the button already
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2020, 12:44:04 am »
Yeah of course good things come from our advances. We solve tons of problems for tons of people  and I'm super happy you've been one of them. I'm not saying anything about that. I'm saying the problems we solve are problems we created for ourselves in the first place, and in solving them we generate more problems to solve later. It isn't about whether there is or isn't a grand design, it's about whether by virtue of being Homo Sapiens, we are predestined to build societies that advance socially and technologically toward some future where we finally solve all the problems (or even all the ones we are currently aware of).

Mental health and loving communities are absolutely necessities for human life. And no, happiness isn't all there is to it, though I think you're defining that word differently than I am. But you don't need the Internet to solve those problems until you've damaged billions of people with economic and religious and industrial exploitation to begin with. Now that we HAVE created those problems, then OF COURSE we are morally obligated to solve them. But that isn't to say that we are destined to continue solving them, or that our progress will continue just because it is progress.

My original point, if you read it, isn't even that we should abandon our progress - only that we shouldn't take it for granted, shouldn't assume that (for example) racial injustice will inevitably be rectified just because it seems for now that history is aimed in that direction.
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Re: Push the button already
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2020, 01:46:51 am »
Sure, we have the power to blow up the planet, the power to fling ourselves uselessly into orbit, the power to talk to each other across insurmountable distances. But so what if we can do all this, but give up the ability to feed our children, or the time to appreciate a sunset once in a while, or the courage to speak to our own neighbors?
That's a false dilemma.

I'm saying the problems we solve are problems we created for ourselves in the first place,
Plumbing--access to clean water, and sanitation--is a technological solution to problems that humans haven't created for themselves (unless you consider human existence itself to be the problem).  It's an issue for a human community of any size.

You might have some interesting points to make, but as long as you mix them with claims that are trivially false, it's difficult to engage with them.
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Re: Push the button already
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2020, 02:03:38 am »
Why did you post this here instead of scrawling it on tree bark with a pointy stone dipped in beetroot juice?

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Re: Push the button already
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2020, 02:05:09 am »
I mean, the basis of your rebuttal only has meaning within the context of a society that values our brand of technological progress and views that as the goal.

Technology is the only reason to keep humans around.
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Re: Push the button already
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2020, 02:08:19 am »
Honest to fuck, I don't why it is somehow morally correct to die of an abcessed tooth or because the rains didn't come this year.

Fuck that Luddite shit.
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tyrannosaurus vex

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Re: Push the button already
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2020, 02:15:05 am »
CNO, yeah I'm easily distracted and love my rabbit trails, this will probably never change

To boil my basic point down to the bones, it's only that too many people take progress (social, specifically) for granted and use that as an excuse to avoid engaging directly to make the world better. Society evolves, but there's no guarantee that it will evolve to something *better* just because it evolves. And the idea that modern Western culture is objectively superior to what we think of as "primitive" societies, just because it is the sort of thing that it is.

As for your specific example, clean water and sanitation are better if we take it for granted that longer lifespans and higher population density are better. That's one of the kinds of assumption I'm talking about in the other thread of my argument. Not all societies have decided those are necessarily superior goals, and yet the people in those societies are on average no worse off *by their own subjective standards* than we are (otherwise they too would have developed that technology).

To be clear - I'm not saying we should all join some anarcho-primitivist commune, only that we should be conscious of the standards we use to measure cultural achievement because the default one we are handed that says "people in modern America are automatically more civilized than people in the deep Amazon" can be used to justify horrors.
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Re: Push the button already
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2020, 02:36:29 am »

As for your specific example, clean water and sanitation are better if we take it for granted that longer lifespans and higher population density are better.

They are.  Cities exist as a means to gather resources.  You have an objectively higher chance of living to be old if you live in a modern city.
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