Brexodus: A Story of Self Harm

I don’t know if you may have figured this out already, but in case it wasn’t obvious, I am an ardent Remainer and resolutely pro-EU. When it was announced Leave won the referendum in 2016, I just couldn’t fathom it. I was in a state of complete confusion as to how we as a nation could inflict so much damage onto our future prosperity, but not only that we also turned our back on our European brothers and sisters.

I was angry, and I was hurt, I lashed out at those which had taken my freedom to work and travel in Europe and I was angry that the UK had taken a massively regressive step away from unity, a step based on nationalistic ideals and fed by the nostalgia of ‘Empire’.

This referendum should have never been put to the public in the first place. Not one single person had really any idea what it meant to leave the EU, let alone how complex the process would be. We’re still here two years later negotiating the deal that was meant to be ‘the easiest deal to negotiate’.

Yeah, cheers for the shit show mate.

It was all bollocks from the start, you go back 5 years or so and the public didn’t have a problem with the EU except the small minority which made up UKIP. Then  David Cameron started losing Eurosceptic Tory MP’s to UKIP, and in a bid to save his own arse, he promised the UK a referendum on EU membership (which no one really cared about in the UK till it became a thing) if they voted him back in in the next General Election. So now we’re in this shit show because of a self-serving bastard, and the country has never been so divided.

So, then we have the referendum, Leave won, to everyone’s shock…what happens as soon as it is announced…the realisation that the Brexiteers had to keep to their campaign promises. Everyone remembers the big red bus with “£350 million for the NHS a week” …what does our favourite Brexiteer, Nigel Farage, back track on the next day after victory….

Nigel Farage: Chief Liar

So much of what Brexiteers claim is demonstrable nonsense. EU bans bendy bananas? Nope. Quitting the EU would be good for UK public finances? False. 80% of our laws are imposed on us by un-elected foreign bureaucracy? Lies. I could go on but its all out there to see for yourself. Brexiteers claim Remain was running Project Fear, but it was Leave who built itself on the politics of fear and as always, the favourite scapegoat of history was used; foreigners and immigrants, predictably. What is also painfully predictable is that people still fall for this in the 21st century. It’s just sad.

I could go on all day, and probably will bang on about this in future blog posts, but I want to share with you my most fundamental concern with Brexit and why I think we’re shooting ourselves in the foot by leaving the EU. The simple fact is the UK can’t compete with the likes the USA, China, and Russia, and going into the future India and Brazil. Neither can France or Germany really, not outside of the EU anyway. It’s just not logistically feasible. In the EU the UK has access to a market of 500 million individuals, outside we’re shy of 70 million individuals. We can’t afford to think we can go this alone and risk becoming irrelevant on the world stage.

The old idea that 19th century European nation-states can rule, influence and compete in the 21st century is laughable at best. These nationalistic ideas need to die, and we need to ground ourselves in a new European identity which incorporates individual national identity (after all we are all European). The EU has its flaws don’t get me wrong, but we’re not going to be stronger out of it, we will be weaker. We should fight to stay in the EU, reform it, and create a more perfect union, more intimately connected to our European family so we can unwaveringly move forward into the 21st century, championing European ideals and culture.

Stephen Fry made this short video about the EU which I think everyone should watch.

Stephen Fry has spoken, listen to the man.

Art: The Creator and Saviour of Us All

A stencil of an early human’s hand in an Indonesian cave is estimated to be about 39,000 years old.

Oh Art, how under appreciated you have been as a mechanism for human proliferation and prosperity. You have been there since day one, allowing us to symbolically represent the world around us, but you have done so much more…

Psychologist Richard Coss recently published a new study in the journal of Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture that suggests that the development of Art was essential to the survival of homo sapiens. Coss suggests that there is a “causal relationship between the evolved ability of anatomically modern humans to throw spears accurately and their ability to draw representational images.”

Neanderthals, which were endemic to Europe and hunting tamer prey used thrusting spears and killed their prey in close quarters. Meanwhile, homo sapiens spent there years hunting the Savannah’s of Africa, where their prey was far more vigilant and dangerous, making it harder and riskier to get in close for the kill. To adapt to the situation in Africa, homo sapiens developed throwing spears and hunted from range. This increased level of skill led to the to the evolution of larger rounder craniums and bigger parietal cortex’s; the region of the brain that consolidates visual imagery and motor coordination.

Coss tells us that “Neanderthals could mentally visualise previously seen animals from working memory, but they were unable to translate those mental images effectively into the coordinated hand-movement patters required for drawing.” So due to having easier prey, Neanderthals didn’t develop the part of the brain required to create Art. These drawings could then be used to instruct and teach future generations of homo sapiens. Coss “Since the act of drawing enhances observational skills, perhaps these drawings were useful for conceptualising hunts, evaluating game attentiveness, selecting vulnerable body areas as targets, and fostering group cohesiveness via spiritual ceremonies.”

Going forward, I think one of the most important elements mentioned here is “fostering group cohesiveness”. When homo sapiens wondered their way out of Africa and made they’re way to Europe, they came across Neanderthals. They inhabited the same land and endured the same climate, so why do homo sapiens survive to this day in a climate we did not evolve in when Neanderthals went extinct, in an area they had evolved to survive in?

If you guessed Art, you guessed correct. Treat yourself. Give this clip a watch,it’s from the BBC program The Incredible Human Journey (if you find the time, watch the whole series, really interesting).

So, there you have it, it wasn’t superior technology or anything so tangible. It was Art and the common shared identity it fostered amongst early humans. Maybe if Art was what made us, us, and got us to share, identify, empathise, and cooperate with each other, then maybe we need a global movement of Art with its foundations in global unity, to give us a global identity. To drag us into a future where globalisations benefits all and not just a few. To get people to see past superficial difference such as nationality or race. To again, take us to the next stage of human evolution.

“Truth Resists Simplicity”

I first heard this little nugget of wisdom from the author John Green in his Crash Course: History series on YouTube (it’s fun and simple, give it a watch). It really stuck with me and it dawned on me how it seems to be pretty much a universal constant when dealing with human affairs. I wanted to introduce this early in my blog as it is one of the maxims that is always at the back of my mind when I discuss things. It keeps me open to other people’s perspective on things, perspectives which I may not have considered before. It allows me to absorb new information or evidence which I may have not previously known about, which can alter my opinions or my stance on things. It allows me to do this because the idea that “truth resists simplicity”, is pretty much true by definition. Most truths are inherently complex (we’re talking about in human affairs rather than in things such as maths where 2+2 = 4…but you could even argue once you get to theoretical maths and dealing with things such a infinity truth is complex there too), you can take any situation and break it down into its premises and constituent parts and you will find a convoluted array contradictions, axioms, beliefs, presumptions, assertions, and so on and so forth.

The only truth going forward is that to create a united global people is going to be a very complicated matter as we decide what paradigms to follow, and what truths those paradigms are built upon. We have powerful tools such as reason, objectiveness, and observation in our kit though. With these we can plan and proceed pragmatically, clearing any veils of deception and obscurity to build a prosperous earth for all.

Dialectics and The Socratic Methods

The Death of Socrates, Jacques-Louis David, 1787

These are types of dialogue which I think are important to a healthy functioning society. Not so much in day-to-day chat, but in politics, decision-making, and debate. It is the kind of discourse I want to foster on TWP between people, so conversation is productive and not regressive.

I speak, of course, of Dialectics and the Socratic methods.

Dialectics

This is a mode of conversation where two or more people that hold opposing views on a particular subject and both want to discover truth through reasoned argument. This sounds much like a debate and it is similar in many ways. However, dialectics lack subjective elements such as appeals to emotion, anecdotes and personal opinion.

Socratic Method

The Socratic method can be broadly defined as:

“A form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions. It is a dialectical method involving a discussion in which the defence of one point of view is questioned; one participant may lead another to contradict themselves in some way, thus weakening the defender’s point.”

Named after Greek philosopher, Socrates, it’s the systematic breakdown down of an argument into basic assumptions and eliminating them. A method for discovering the truth through a series of questions and answers. For example:

  1. Person A asserts that “money is evil”. Which Person B believes to be false.
  2. Person B get person A to agree to the underlying premises that “money can buy hospitals, schools and feed the poor” and that “these acts are good, not evil”.
  3. Person B then argues that these underlying premises of are contrary to the original argument that “money is evil”.
  4. Person B has now shown that Person A’s original argument was false.

In government and politics more of this kind of conversation would increase transparency in policy-makers potential bias, but wouldn’t it be great to see politicians discussing issues like this, less of a conflict about being right or wrong, more about mutually discovering what would be the best course of action given the issue at hand. It doesn’t have to be as formal as presented here, just needs to apply the underlying principles.

Moreover, if people could talk to each other like this on public forums such as Facebook, maybe we could get through to each other, we would listen more, and we’d all be better off for it. Certainly better than what we have now which is just apes throwing shit at each other; seeing who can make the loudest noise.

This kind of dialogue between people I think plays a fundamental important part of building a united people. It allows people to express their opinion and for it to be listened too without fear of just being lambasted and dehumanised. In return, you agree to listen to people’s critiques and open to the idea that you could be wrong and you’re willing to grow from the discussion you have with people.

Left vs Right, Socialism vs Capitalism: Dualistic Thinking is Flawed and Regressive

Add a healthy dash of Socialism for best results

The great con of our time, and what is holding us back as a civilization the most is the notion that socialism and capitalism are mutually exclusive when they’re not. It has led to this situation where people or political parties extol themselves as socialist or capitalist and denounce anyone who doesn’t abide by their ideology as not worth listening to/wrong/dangerous/etc. It fosters an atmosphere of us vs them, people start treating their political parties like sports team; “I’m Labour till I die”, “I would never vote Tory” and this is a very regressive and unproductive mode of dealing with politics. In many cases when a socialist hears someone is a capitalist or someone proposing capitalist ideas (and vice versa) they either just don’t listen to the merit of their proposition or they just straight up “well you would say that, you’re a…”

Now I would say this is more of a problem with the general public than with actual politicians, but public voice can massively influence policymakers and if we are to makes policies in the best interest of the nation or human civilization then we need to do away with the dirtiness underlying words such as capitalism and socialism and recognise that policies from both the Left and Right of the economic political spectrum have value and that there is a sweet spot in the middle that we lead to the best of all possible outcomes.

I look to Aristotle’s moral philosophy and the idea of what it is to be a ‘virtuous person’ (blog post about this at a later date) and apply it to a nation/government/civilization, I feel it is especially useful when discussing the Socialism vs Capitalism as they are two ends of the same economic spectrum. Aristotle suggests that to be morally virtuous you must hit a sweet spot on a spectrum between two things, for example to be confident without being arrogant, brave but not reckless, socialist but not communist, capitalism but not unadulterated pillaging of the Earth. You get my drift, it’s about achieving the sweet spot.

You can see how this would apply to economic ideology of Socialism vs Capitalism. On the Far left we have pure Communism, no privately owned businesses or enterprise everything is owned by the state and people. On the far right, we have Free Market Capitalism, which comes with no regulations and it becomes essentially every man for himself, power is in the corporations. Both these extremes are undesirable, in my opinion, for a strong and prosperous human civilization. Communism restricts individual rights and the competition which drives innovation and creativity is drastically reduced. On the other hand Free Market Capitalism lends itself to predatory business practices and the exploitation of the ‘have nots’ and with no regulation corporations are free to do what they want i.e. the unrestricted raping of Earth’s resources.

In traditional sense and for the sake of transparency I would consider myself a lefty socialist. The reason I consider myself that way is that I think, at least in the West, we are leaning too far in favour of the right side of the economic spectrum. Business have too much power and they can hoard too much wealth and money, whilst people working on the ground for these business are living on the breadline and in some cases, abject poverty. A great modern example of this is Amazon and Jeff Bezos. At the time of writing Bezos is worth $136,000,000,000. ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY SIX BILLION DOLLARS (does anyone else find that absolutely disgusting?), Amazon itself is worth over a trillion USD and is the most profitable company of all time. Meanwhile, Amazon warehouse workers earn a pittance and are reliant on handouts to survive…and at the end of the fucking day, Mr Bezos would be no-where without those people doing the hard labour on the ground. Additionally, Amazon has been found to be avoiding paying its fair share of taxes in the UK and Japan. Now for a company and man who have more money and wealth than some countries, not only is this state of affairs absolutely grotesque, but shows a total lack of morals and empathy at the top of this company. We allow this to happen because we have been taught that Capitalism = good and Socialism = bad (Communism and socialism tend to be used interchangeably to muddy the issue despite being different things).

What I propose is something in-between, something that already exists; State Capitalism. Now I’m going to say something that will freak some people but put your pitch forks down and here me out.

China.

China essentially works with a State Capitalist model. I know some of you out there are going to be “rabble rabble rabble China human rights communism arrrrgh LOUD NOISES that’s undemocratic rabble rabble rabble”, but just wait 2 seconds.

State Capitalism, essentially is a capitalist market economy dominated by state-owned corporations, where the state-owned corporations are organised as commercial, profit seeking business. Now this doesn’t mean we can’t have privately owned enterprises, we can, people are free to do that, but in a more limited controlled way.

Let me paint a picture for you one second. The state-owned enterprise would have ownership over the utility companies (power, water), internet service, construction, mining, housing, agriculture, forestry’s, etc. The kind of things which are essential and fundamental to a civilization. They would be owned by the state on the behalf of the people, with profits being returned to investment to further improve services, lower prices and expand infrastructure. Not going into bank accounts to be horded and unused. Private enterprise can still exist to sell commodities such as Apple who make iPhones, Sony who create entertainment systems and Nikon selling cameras. This would still be allowed. Basically, the state owns the fundamental things most important to stability and civilization, private enterprise own the things that aren’t so important and fundamental but make life more pleasant and unique.

It’s proven to work, just look at China. It is currently the second largest economy in the world and set to become the largest over the next couple of decades. They are throwing money and construction at rebuilding the silk road of ancient times and heavily investing in improving infrastructure around the world, building ports, roads, and airports. Laying thousands of miles of optic fibres to support the growth of the internet. No national government except China is able to expand and grow their influence like this.

Just imagine what the West could do under state capitalism without all the human rights violations that China has. State Capitalism is the perfect balance between Socialism and Capitalism and it is what we should be moving towards.

Personally, I think this is the way forward, I see this system of state capitalism being the most pragmatic socially and economically, if we’re ever going to get ourselves unified on global scale. Like the image suggests, lets all enjoy capitalism.

 

Michio Kaku: The Optimistic Vanguard We All Need

Michio Kaku….a Scientist and a Gentleman

Michio Kaku, what a lad. He is a Hero of Science, Commander of Optimism, General of Pragmatism and Vanguard of the Human Spirit. Give the video above a little watch to see what I’m getting at…if not read on.

 

In case you missed it, Michio Kaku is an American theoretical physicist, author and science communicator. He has appeared on countless television programs and documentaries and written several bestselling books including Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century and Beyond & Future of Humanity. Professionally as a theoretical physicist, he works on String Field Theory, sometimes called the ‘Theory of Everything’ as it tries to unite Einstein’s Theory of Relativity (gravity and the macro world) and Quantum Theory (the world of the particles and sub-atomic particles). Long story short, dealing with the nature of reality.

But I’m not here to talk about String Field Theory, that’s way beyond my comprehension. I’m here to talk a little bit about the man behind it. Michio (among others) has been one of the key inspirations behind me creating this blog. He extols ‘bigger-picture-long-term-thinking’ as a paradigm for policy making, something which I very much believe in; far too often politicians have knee-jerk reactions to events and circumstance, making short-sighted ill-informed policies in response. More often than not they do not solve the root cause of the problem and just further exacerbate the situation down-stream.

He is fantastic at making intimidating subjects accessible and understandable to the average person and what I love about him most is his “we can have our cake and eat it” attitude. I think some people may see him as overly idealistic, and I can understand why, but I very much endorse and agree with his attitude because there is only one thing standing in our way of a bright and prosperous future and that is the Political Will to do it. We have the scientific know-how and technical knowledge to make it happen, but it won’t happen unless we tell our politicians en masse, with conviction in our voice, that we want policies to be based on empirical evidence & reason rather than ideology. That we want to be a society that has the foresight to take control of our own fate (after all, we are the first species able to control our own fate) and use our mastery over the environment for the prosperity of all human-kind, and by extension of that all life on earth. We need the Political Will to do this or we risk exposing ourselves to cataclysmic events which could wipe us out or at least put a severe dent in our history. We can have our cake and eat it, if we want to.

Some people will want to call this wishy-washy bullshit, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. We are living on the cusp of what science fiction writers have been writing about for the past 100 years.

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Robotics
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Nanotechnology
  • VR/AR
  • 3D Printing & Manufacturing
  • Invitro-Farming
  • Self-Driving Cars
  • Quantum Levitation
  • Brain-Machine Interfaces
  • Digital/Actual Immortality
  • Teleportation
  • Fusion Power
  • Geo-Engineering
  • Asteroid Mining
  • Off-World Colonization
  • And so on…

You get the picture…all these things aren’t in some far-flung future, these are things that are being worked on now and are at various stages development. If you need anymore convincing that we’re living in the future, NASA are even working on the feasibility of the Alcubierre Drive (A.K.A god-damn Warp Drive).

These things are going to be coming into our lives more and more over the next few decades to varying degrees and they’re going to fundamentally change global life. What Michio is trying to drive home, and what I back him 10,000% on is that we need to be talking about these disruptive (albeit amazing) technologies now and not when they have already disrupted life and it becomes much more expensive and effort to sort out.

I think the key thing we need to hold onto that Michio promotes (as well as many other scientist, engineers and futurists) is the need for us not to be a one planet species. 99% of all the species that have ever existed have become extinct. We are at the mercy of the universe, we are in a cosmic shooting gallery and when (not if) a global extinction asteroid comes floating our way again, we need insurance against it. Conversely, if nature doesn’t wipe us out through rogue asteroids or a viral pandemic, we need to insure ourselves against human stupidity, on the off chance mutually assured destruction ever becomes a thing. Fortunately, the best weapon against both these things is the human imagination and ingenuity. The only pragmatic thing to do is use science and technology to ensure a prosperous and safe future for all life on earth, and to protect us from ourselves.

Randall Munroe said:

“The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there’s no good reason to go into space – each discovered, studied and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision.”

I support Michio, and all others, who want to work towards the sci-fi vision of the future that has been prophesied to us through pop-culture because at the end of the day…Not only should we have our cake and eat, but we must.

Introduction of Myself & To What Purpose

Myself

I have always had an enthusiastic interest in the STEM subjects, history, philosophy, politics and current affairs. I must admit I’m not an expert in any of these fields, but I feel I have a core understanding of them and how they fit into the bigger picture and how they can influence and be part of a united people.

I created TWP with the primary long-term aim of creating a community of like minded-individuals who are also interested in the idea of a united human species; united for the benefit of all life on Earth. In the short term I want to use this space as a platform to curate and comment on knowledge and information, past and present, and discuss it within a framework of unity. Furthermore, I want to invite anyone and everyone no matter what your background to comment, critique, and develop upon what I share. I want this to be a learning experience for myself, so I can deepen and broaden my understanding of nature and human kind.

Over the coming year I wish to evolve this space further creating more original content, expanding the platform to explore new avenues in creating a sense of unity, and as the community grows, get more people directly involved with this project.

Torn Apart (Image credit to Reddit user /u/ govindap)

To What Purpose

In a time of Donald Trump, Brexit, an ever-increasing atmosphere of divisive politics, and rampant moral outrage on social media…unity has never seemed so far away. The Left and Right are at each other’s throats throwing insults, accusations, and dehumanising anyone who isn’t in their tribe. Trust in politicians and mainstream media is at an all-time low, fake news has exploded out of nowhere, and the public no longer have any idea who they can trust to inform them with integrity.

We lack unity, we lack a collective human consciousness, and we lack purpose. If human civilization is ever to evolve and progress beyond its current state, we need to get our collective shit together and start working as a united global species. The key to our evolution is knowledge, information and the ability for human society to adapt to new challenges. We need constructive discussion of knowledge and information based in reason and truth. Knowledge is not partisan to any political movement, or any group, or any individual, and no matter what ideology or belief system you stand by, knowledge and truth take precedence.

Humanity is at a crossroads and what we decide to do over the 21st century will have long lasting ramifications on what it means to be human and to be a member of Earth’s community. Will we stagnate, or will we prosper? Will we achieve true greatness or are we predestined to forever repeat history? Will we tear ourselves apart, or will we unite and evolve society to the next level?

TWP is an ongoing project to try and address these issues and to create and discover what a gestalt human identity should/could/would be through the sharing of knowledge and productive discourses of how we as a species should progress into the future.