Sunday, February 11, 2018

Pavlov, skepticism, and labor

We can all do better. Sometimes our regrettable shortcomings can distract us from the shortcomings of the systems by which our societies are organized, and vice versa. It’s only sensible to keep trying to improve on both micro and macro levels. Once we’re confident enough in ourselves, confident enough that we’ll behave well and cooperate, we’ll deactivate the legacy systems that presuppose that we’re disinclined to cooperate without mechanisms administering Pavlovian incentives and disincentives to us for good and bad behavior. We’ll arrive at a new level of self-control and mutual aid. It’s not that we’ll deny or harshly suppress our mammalian instincts and values; it’s that we’ll employ our apparently-more-unique self-reflective cognition to put our inherited instincts and values into the service of all beings. The ambiance and dynamics of mammalian dominance hierarchies can be sublimated and transformed and absorbed into new ambiances and dynamics. If we’ve been consciously designed, this collective blossoming seems to be a major challenge that our designers have set before us.

(If the situation is uncomfortable, or if it seems wrong somehow, pause and reflect. It’s okay if familiar patterns fall away. We’re always navigating between the familiar and the new; we always remain grounded in our connection to, our identification with, the infinite network. Maintain a high level of calm awareness; return to first principles. Carry on. Words may be very unnecessary.)

By promulgating these ideas, we make them more feasible. The perception spreads. We perceive the goal, and then we achieve the goal. There’s long been anticipation of a revolutionary shift in mass consciousness toward a more authentic and loving mode - so much anticipation, with so little apparent progress, that many of us have become very skeptical that this long-prophesied event will take place any time soon. Two points seem important in response to this skepticism. First, we have medicines that can facilitate this shift - not exactly panaceas, not necessarily instant cures, but medicines which can act, for many, many people, as empathogens, entheogens, catalysts of cognitive breakthroughs. Recognizing, respecting, and intelligently and carefully utilizing these medicines on large scales, instead of suppressing them, can go a long way toward getting us where we want to be. Second, we emphasize the combination of consciousness change and systems change. The prospect of discontinuing the political/economic systems of Pavlovian conditioning, systems that currently require so much of our energy and attention, can go a long way toward fleshing out the vision of the world we’re creating.

The performance of physical labor -- using hands, tools, etc. to help people and to operate and improve our world -- nourishes the performer’s body, mind, and soul. Optimally we should give everyone the privilege of partaking in a wide variety of such tasks. Intellectual development and intellectual tasks are also important parts of life; it’s vital for each of us to engage in these also. In freeing people to decide how to participate in society, we’ll be giving everyone the opportunity to volunteer for a healthy, interesting range of valuable physical and intellectual activities. That’s how we can experience these activities -- as opportunities, rather than burdens. People will of course still specialize to some extent -- this will be an appropriate choice in some situations, not an imperative imposed through political/economic control structures.

Attempts to seriously critique such scenarios tend to concede that “it would be great” -- if people could handle it. So if we can agree that it would be great, let’s promulgate the vision and the methods that will help get us ready to handle it beautifully.