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Hey dude, where's our future? (citizen428.net)
41 points by bauchidgw on Dec 5, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 26 comments

Hey dude, here's my past:

First grade, 1961-1962:

We had to learn "duck and cover", in case of surprise nuclear attack by the Soviets.

For field trips, we toured our neighbors' underground bomb shelters, which were about as common as home theaters are now.

We had to say the Lord's Prayer, whether we wanted to or not.

Some of my classmates wore braces, because the polio vaccine didn't quite make it in time for them.

We played with the African American kids in our neighborhood, but they wen't to a different school. Even though Brown vs. Board of Education had been decided by the Supreme Court in 1954, integration was still years away.

We didn't realize it at the time (no one did), but the Cuban Missile Crisis brought us perilously close to WWIII.

We only saw my dad on weekends because he got home from work after our bedtime.

No one I knew had ever flown on an airplane; it would be 20 years before I would.

I had never been to a restaurant or a movie.

We had no computers, internet, cell phones, cable TV, or air conditioning.

Our hopes and dreams were simple: to be happy (we were), go to college (we did), get jobs as good as our father's (we didn't), and to have wonderful families of our own (some of us did, some of us didn't).

We made a lot of progress since then but not nearly enough. We never imagined the opportunites we now have, not the threats. OP is sure right about one thing; our work is never done.

"get jobs as good as our father's (we didn't)"

In which way have the jobs of your fathers been better?

I'm guessing "good" is relative for many people, but one measure might be the ability for just one person's job (typically a father's) to be able to sustain the family. Many of the people of that person's generation grew up to be two-income families just to keep a similar standard-of-living as their parents, because jobs paid less relative to cost-of-living and offered fewer benefits.

My grandfather worked for the same company for forty years. He looked out for the company and it looked out for him. That is missing in today's workplace.

As far as I can tell, the 'problem' is the huge gap between reality and what is generally accepted as 'true.'

I feel very much like the author of the post, as I imagine a lot of others do. I sometimes try and hold it all in my head; the government censorship, the people hating the censorship, the ever rising power of the hacker, the large sums of money spent on designer clothing, etc.

The only way I have been able to resolve this apparent paradox (how can everyone I know be so good when the world is so bad), is to recognize explicit, intentional, and calculated 'misinformation campaigns' are fully integrated into US society.

A strong, self-reinforcing (if everyone believes, it must be true) network of truth and lies is pushed as a zeitgeist; and some probably-genetic tribal mechanism gets the dissidents ostracized from the community when they are like, "no seriously.. just look at WTC7"

Having been "off" the boob-tube and most forms of "popular entertainment" for almost a third of my life now; I have noticed my world view splitting farther and farther from that of the average uninformed, top-model watching citizen.

I would expect a very strong correlation between consumption of popular media and totally-naive world views, including any world view that gives our regime the benefit-of-the-doubt.

I agree that our consumer culture is probably not a sign of enlightenment. But it is hardly true that most of the evil in the world stems from lies told by a conspiring and all-powerful elite. A lot of good has been done by cynical governments because the way reality works is that unintended consequences are so important. The world today is probably better for most than it has ever been.

Any call to 'educate yourself' accompanied by inspirational Che Guevara quotes can't be taken seriously. Look behind the hagiography and there's nothing but a butcher with soundbites and a pretty face.

Being the OP I have to say I hesitated a bit before adding the quote, which wasn't in the original version of the post. I've done a fair amount of reading on the Cuban revolution, and mostly agree with your assessment of Che. The actual quote reflected my mood at the time of writing though, so I still chose to include it. Disagreeing with someone on a majority of things, does not mean that I can't quote them on the ones where we do, does it?

Maybe not - but it reduces the clarity of your position. People will associate Che with what they associate him with - not the iota of character you try to embody with one of his quotes.

To expound on that a little bit - what kind of confusion would there be if I wrote a blog post about efficient systems and quoted Adolf Hitler?

Generally I used to jump around to whatever seemed suitable for the message - but generally getting people to follow you from one thought to another is the hardest part - don't make it harder on them.

You know, there was a reason that post was tagged "rant". It wasn't meant as a position on anything, just a little rambling on my private blog. I didn't expect it to be read by anyone except my few regular readers and am frankly quite surprised it showed up here. I do appreciate the input however.

As citizen428 pointed out, anyone can be right at some point in time (as unlikely as it may be in Che's case). Even a broken watch will tell you the time accurately twice a day.

Counting wars and conflicts seems like a pretty naive way to go about this. You only thought that world peace was inches away when the cold war ended because you weren't actually paying attention to what the cold war was suppressing/controlling. With hindsight, it was fairly obvious that we encounter the apparent 'uptick' in wars. Which really wasn't an uptick in total conflicts, but rather ones which the United States were directly involved in.

If you go to the wiki article on anything related to the cold war and look at the cold war section at the bottom where events are broken down by decade, just count the number of 'invasions' and 'civil wars' are listed.

It's possible things are getting worse. But this line -really- bugs me: "I’d rather have the cold war back, because in retrospect people who fight over ideology seem a lot less likely to blow the whole place to smithereens than the ones who fight over religion. "

That -might- be true if you happen to live in the developed world. But just look at all the shit both sides instigated in the developing world during the cold war. A necessary part of the cold war was constantly keeping a hand in the runnings of nearly every developing country to attempt to maintain a status quo.

All those toppling of government by the united states since the 50s? Nearly every single of them were motivated at least partly by the containment policy.

I'm not trying to argue that those actions were wrong. That's besides the point. The point is that many people (including the author) has the wrong view of the cold war period. Honestly, since I wasn't around then, I can't claim to have 'the correct' view. But I believe the facts speak for themselves. The Cold War period wasn't exactly a happy time for -world-.

Born in 1985, my reference point for the world got calibrated at around 1992 and only started moving along sometime in late high school/early college - the 2000s.

Increasingly I'm noticing the differences just in that period from the mid-80s. I do feel like "the future is now" applies to our time.

I look at all the occupations of our society and think to myself... "Within in my lifetime, technology is probably going to change this." Retail districts seem unbelievably shiny and glossy these days, with a tendency to put flatscreens and bright LEDs and reflective surfaces everywhere. I haven't gotten a driver's license yet and wonder whether it will ever be necessary; the Internet is already a huge enabler for setting up carpools, and automated driving is quickly coming up on the horizon.

I'd like to think I'm on the ball and know where things are going, but unexpected things seem to keep happening all the time. Some months ago I decided that I might as well just give up on the futurism game and just focus on what's relevant to what I'm doing(games), cause everything else is moving so fast I'd never keep up anyway. Yet even within THAT, it's still hard.

The future as fallen prey of the hand-wavy notion that things will be taken care of somehow by someone. Problem is, taking action can involve hard work, spending time in jail or other unpleasant activities so when there's abuses people just let it slide.

Maybe it's cynicism, maybe cowardice or just plain laziness. Anyway, gotta get back to watch Seinfeld reruns and stuff my face.

I think as history progresses, the world becomes a more richly complex place; and more opportunities are made available to its inhabitants as a result.

I don't think that people are less worthy, or less 'good', than they were in the past. I do think that our attention has to fight more distractions than ever before.

Maybe it's not surprising that we sometimes lose track of what's truly important.

World peace is a pretty unrealistic goal at this point. The population of the world has grown too large, concentrated and different (ie, between cultures) for fair apportionment of the resources available to it. Therefor, there will always be competition and strife. The Internet isn't going to change that...

I am not convinced. There is a rising trend of altruism and people just generally identifying beyond their families or countries.

Not to say it's bound to happen, but I think our chance of having a reasonably fair and acceptably peaceful world in which some/many of us alive now will experience is far from zero.

Barring a catastrophic event (nuclear or otherwise), with information spreading at the rate it is, I would put our chances about 80% of having unprecedented peace and fairness in this century.

That may be true in some portions of the developed world (where I assume you are probably located), but I assure you that areas where resources are tight and there's a high degree of stratification in society, that's just not the case. Look at Africa. Furthermore, the altruism of the first world is not always beneficial for goals of peace. Intruding into other people's wars in the name of peace may in fact worsen them. Again, look at Africa.

Right; I am in the developed world and I do recognize to some degree what is going on in Africa and rural parts of Asia and South America.

I think most of the first world's 'intruding into other peoples wars in the name of peace' are generally flat-out lies. We are invading their countries for resources, political gain, or strategically place military bases. So I am with you on that one, I think.

However, the rise of information sharing in the lower rungs of society, of which we are going to see all but the opt-outs being a part of by the end of this century, is going to breed (in my estimation) a feeling of camaraderie trans boarder.

It's really a matter of class consciousness. As people come to realize the similarity of their situation with others, those people will naturally ally with each other; and the shrinking middle class will see the direction it's heading and ally with the lower class as well.

The fact is, 98%~ of people on earth would greatly benefit from an fair world, its only the very very top that stand to lose something; and as people come to realize this (which they will as cheap information sharing gets to every corner of the globe in the next 15-20 years) the power will inevitably move away from those who keep their power by misinforming their constituency.

But there are many problems that information sharing just can't solve. Let's take African village X, imbue the population with a shared desire to break free of their government bondage, and give them a very poor infrastructure. Once they stop celebrating their defeat of the government, they're going to have to face issues such as who gets how much water. These things can't be solved by the Internet, and this is basically my original point about competing for resources.

I'd also take issue with the idea of the middle class being allied to the poor. Doesn't seem to work that way in the U.S., at least.

Don't get me wrong - I wish you were right. A more fair and equal world would undoubtedly be a better place, but I think the probability of that occurring anytime soon is pretty slim. Even if you solve issues like famine, medicine and economic development (which is a pretty gigantic if), something new will take their place as a focal point for competition.

EDIT: We could argue this til the cows come home. I think it just comes down to your optimistic view versus my pessimistic view. Only time will tell who's right.

Well let me try and convince you anyway that optimism is the rational view in this case.

    I'd also take issue with the idea of the middle class being allied to the poor. Doesn't seem to work that way in the U.S., at least.
You're actually just wrong here; liberalism is inherently an ally with the poor; and you will find more liberals in the middle class than any other alignment.

Beyond that, the reason I am optimistic is because I perceive a clear trend between sharing of information and 'fairness'. In virtually all cases of inequality, a small percentage of people control, have power over, or exploit a majority of people. The only reason they are able to maintain their regime is that when isolated instances of rebellion start to quell, they are quickly extinguished through force or other manipulation.

Historically, it's organization of these exploited-majorities, including efficient means of internal communication which has led to successful revolutions; and without the internal communication they are bound to remain fragmented, and thus easily extinguished.

The internet has completely changed the game in that regard; the total ramifications have not been seen yet; as the first people to mass adopt the internet were middle class and upwards and used it for what those people do with all their lives, entertainment and work.

However, that's not what poor people do. Not having ever been poorer than an avg broke 20-something; I can't speak directly; but at least in South America I know there is intense power struggles happening between the rich and the poor.

The rich can 'stay on top' the poor due to their power-advantage. They have control of the social structure, and beyond that just generally have capital, more freedom and ability to move and communicate, etc.

However, as the information age progresses, more and more things that used to require capital, or large amounts capital can now be infinitely distributed for free (or nearly free) as software; thus raising the power of the poor.

As the power of the poor, or the lowest classes of society raises, they will be more and more successful.

Beyond that, having an attitude of brotherly love and compassion for all humans is the best 'meta-game' strategy. That is, if life is a game and being altruistic or selfish is a strategy, altruism is going to win in the long run. Players tend to trend toward successful strategies as a game gets played more and more (and results of others success get more and more eyeballs), and thus I have to assume that overtime altruism will become more and more common as a life-strat.

Historically, optimism has won.

> World peace is a pretty unrealistic goal at this point

Aren't all the worthy ones? We can try or we can give up our ideals and be happy within our homes, with our gadgets and cable channels, driving our cars, going to our restaurants, pretty much doing whatever the world tells us will make us happy.

Would this alone make you happy?

I wonder what Francis Fukuyama is up to these days:


I think part of this is following a time line as he grew up. Just look at the abuses 1970s, and the 1980s was a recession time for many.

It's an emotional plea that I can related to, but flag it I must, not HN material.

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