By Madeleine Kando
I remember this science fiction story as if I had read it yesterday. Theodore Sturgeon's novel is about a next generation human being that is made up of different individuals to make one 'super human'. A retarded boy with telepathic powers becomes the brain, two mute telekinetic twins become the body, and a retired army captain with amnesia becomes the conscience of this new being.This is the kind of leap that we, as a Western society need to make if we want to survive: joining forces with others to create a next generation consciousness which will solve a lot of our current problems. Think about it: our current financial, social and ideological problems stem from an overabundance of 'self'. I would even call it 'selfishness'. The economic crisis is a result of a financial system that puts the self and profit for the individual (or company or shareholder) above all else.
I see the man in shabby clothes driving to the supermarket, where he buys shabby food to feed his shabby family. His shabbiness is the price he pays for living in a society where rules are few, the sky is supposedly the limit and individual freedom is cherished above all. Nobody told this shabby man that the sky is the limit for the lucky few who have strong wings. For this shabby man, as for the majority of the flock, grazing the surface of the land is all that they will ever accomplish. The sky will always be a far-away unattainable goal. But others will not feel sorry for him. They will say: 'if you are shabby, it's your own doing. Get with the program or get out. It's not our fault that your wings are small and weak. You should have been more selfish and looked out for your own interests better.'
The irony is that with all its focus on private wealth, unfettered Capitalism has dug its own grave. The world is no longer capable of sustaining the selfish model. Too many people with too few resources. A 'More than Human' entity with the ability to pool its resources is the only option.
Social Democrats seem to be standing on a higher rung of the ladder towards the evolution of this 'more than human' super-being. They have accepted the fact that living your life to pursue things that are only good for the 'self' are ultimately going to bite you in the ass.
Some will argue that a more socialized economy would become "stagnant." That because of too many regulations the workforce would lack flexibility and adaptability. That the welfare state is "unsustainable" in a global economy. And that as our population ages we will become underproductive. But you only have to look at more ‘socialized’ societies to see that they are not stagnant, and that they often provide their citizens with a better quality of life. They work less hours so they can spend more time with family and friends. Societies based on the ‘self’ are doomed to fail. We can no longer afford to look out for just the individual and disregard the group.
As the protagonists of 'More Than Human' struggle to find out whether they are meant to help humanity or destroy it: will our society be able to give up its tradition of individualism and replace it with a mentality of belonging? Is Capitalism meant to survive or is it meant to destroy itself? Time will tell...
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009
By Madeleine Kando