A Child Has to Grow Up.

Children start life by being supported by their family, and generally at some point certain elements of their family life will frustrate them. They either learn to cope with the elements of life that they don’t enjoy, or they decide to build a different life, leave home, get a job, make their own experiences and the cycle repeats.

Families are just the micro version of nations, a very similar series of stages effects every group of people at almost all scales. Countries each have their own idiosyncrasies, built on the complex interaction between all the forces needed to create and maintain a society. Over time most societies accept that the common good is actually the best outcome for each individual as well as the group as a whole. But the road this this realization is never simple. Every countries history and every empires history are a mix of power plays, strident goals, mistakes and compromises.

It is still unclear to many what forms of government works best. The concept of democracy seems to create the best outcomes over the longest timescales, but there are no pure democracies anywhere in the world, and even those that prescribe that freedom is the most important aspect of a society, and enshrine it in the language of democracy, don’t deliver a full democratic system. The oldest democracies (Europe and the US) all offer different weighted variants of democracy, and none of them offer systems where the most votes elect their politicians, as they use all warped models that mean some peoples votes count more than others, and complex systems are created to make it very difficult for specific groups to vote, and these systems are then used to ensure that “the other” is stopped from voting.

I’ve lived in several countries and have seen these processes at work. There is only so much “power” to go around, and everyone is looking to get as much as they can for themselves. Those who already have a lot are always reluctant to give it up, instead wanting even more, and those who have less are always eager to get more. Money doesn’t really exist, it’s just a proxy for power. Money is a promise, “if you do what I want/need, then I’ll give you pieces of paper or lumps of metal that you can use to negotiate with others for what you want/need”.

Through the idea of money, you can make people do many things that are against their personal needs, you can make them do dangerous work, make them hurt others in any number of ways, make them enforce rules that if looked at dispassionately they would never agree to. The complexity of society is immense, to feed, clothe, protect, teach, care for and run society, takes everyone. There was a time when each village would run independently, then later a time when each kingdom or country would run independently, but we have now moved to a time where the level of interconnectedness is so great, that every person on earth is working within the same system. Food, clothes, technology don’t happen at the village or country level, they happen at the global level. We rely on poorly paid people doing high risk work with little social support in countries we can’t even name to make our food, our clothes and our technology, for us to have what we have. We are rich because others are poor, if they were less poor then we would be less rich.

We know this, but we really don’t want to change it, we like being rich, and actually we all desire to be richer, and we intrinsically know that that requires others to continue to be poor.

Even within our own countries, we have to have some who are poor to allow some to be rich, it’s the differential that creates the desire to work for money, for power.

The problem is when you explain to someone the reason, they are poor is to allow others to be rich, they generally are not happy to find this out. And when they realize that they are in a defined underclass they tend to get angry. Educating poor people can be risky, so rich people often place limits on the education of the poor to limit this risk. Caste systems, hereditary and bestowed titles, elite school’s vs non-elite schools and religious hierarchies have all been used to provide the powerful with mechanisms to maintain this relationship.  Some countries have actively stated that they don’t have these hierarchies, but slowly and surely, they create their own variants, because they are needed to maintain a desire to achieve more.  

The world is on a path to try and prove this simple statement is wrong “Life isn’t fair, and it takes a lot of poor to maintain a small number of rich.”

I don’t know the answer, but maybe, just maybe it involves colonizing other planets, changing behavior to counter climate change, automating the most dangerous of jobs and spending more time in virtual reality. It’s going to be interesting to find out.

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