Solarpunk and Beyond

Image: Reuters / Flavio Lo Scalzo

Recently, I came across the term ‘Solarpunk’. When run through Google, the search engine yielded a plethora of those hand-painted images depicting futuristic cities either in the vein of the Babylonian Hanging Gardens intertwined with modern architecture, or otherworldly designs merged into a natural setting currently not present on Earth.

The fact that these pictures show either a more luxurious and pleasant status quo or an alien design that upon closer inspection reveals the same hierarchical worldview, clearly attests that the main ideas of interest in terms of future progress are not allocated into development of technological solutions that would make basic areas such as water supply and sewer systems, agriculture, clothing and personal accessory production, building construction, energy transformation (e.g. transforming anything to electricity, i.e. power plants), and the whole accompanying infrastructure of distribution (from energies, through goods, to people) and waste disposal more efficient.

You may feel compelled to argue that that is not the case, because the majority of technological development ends in one kind of industry or another, but when you look closer you will realize that a substantial portion of effort is squandered on ideas that deal with centralized storage, protection, advertisement, and selective distribution of respective resources or their derivatives, areas which are meant to create an exchange grid based on value (and money as its representation) and interest (but that’s just a cherry on top of the cake). Thus, it quite naturally shifts focus from more fundamental issues such as fully automated machines that completely elevate the need for manual labor, more sustainable soil, sea, and air management, waste reduction, recycling, and overall environmental friendliness of human activities in general. And that’s just a fraction of the more essential issues.

But of course this means that there is virtually no viable possibility to produce something which does not take into account the requirements of the exchange grid (storability, safety, desirability, and value tag). And that in turn inevitably affects also the very utility of the product. Thus, although this system of socioeconomic organization is rather young (merely 6000 years), it’s already obvious on multiple levels that it does not work, because otherwise we would not have debate about its serious flaws that literally threaten us with self-inflicted extinction as our technology becomes more and more powerful.

So much for the problem. Now, let’s tackle the solution…

…which is simple — give. Simply give all results of your actions without asking anything in return. If sufficient number of people was able to do it, everyone would have everything they ever need.

Now, as with everything, there is a catch. Or rather two. First, who will do the essential work like tending to fields, taking care of water supplies, keep sewers working, or taking out the trash? And second, what to do about people who would not be willing to give but would gladly take anything offered?

Well, the first question can be treated fairly only if either everyone participates in those activities or those activities become (fully) automated. As for the second question, as you can see the common approach is nowadays to not give freely, which is why there’s still not sufficient number of people to shift the social focus.

To facilitate the said shift at least certain level of trust and discipline if not direct knowledge of interconnectedness and unity (also known as ‘enlightenment’) are needed. Of course, the former is for the lazy folks who could not care less why trust or discipline are necessary and so they don’t bother to pursue the path of knowledge. Ideally, everyone, or at least overwhelming majority should undertake that path to verify for themselves the fundamental truths about this universe, axioms that constitute the most solid foundation upon which to build human society.

They are so simple and perfect that even coldblooded logic and rationalism flows with them with ease, not to mention that they definitely feel “right” and bring peace.

So, to explain the leap from enlightenment to giving —

Every human being is capable of realizing the underlying unity of the world. Each person, through the gate of their very existence, is able to know the unknowable consciousness, the source of all peace. That reveals not only unity of identity, which we call ‘I’ and are usually, but incorrectly, trained to associate with body-mind complex, but also the homogeneity of material world which is but a dance of (opposing) forces of the same essence.

Thus, a person is able to see that every human, even though totally unique, has the same validity. Taken to the extreme, one sees that there is no fundamental difference between speck of dust and the most magnificent of gods, even though they, at first sight, differ so substantially. But the most mind-boggling of the realizations is that consciousness is absolutely identical in all cases. Thus, if God is conscious, the nature of that consciousness is the same as everyone is able to recognize “within themselves”. And if there is no God, then it simply means that this whole universe has the capacity to be identically conscious, which amounts to the same, but becomes even more palpable and urgent.

With playing field leveled to such a degree, giving is the natural thing to do.

Now, with the act of giving established as outlined above, the need for the exchange grid evaporates. Thus, resources wasted there can be redirected into development of technologies that can make the fundamental areas of our lives more cultured en masse.

Sure, you may ask why bother — living in jungle where the most brutal ape rules the day is perfectly fine and natural. Well, simply because we are also able to harness that enormous power of apex predator (which is ironically tied more to intelligence than raw strength) to accomplish different ends. That is the difference between a thief and a gardener. If we are able to be gardeners, it’s a theft to be anything less. And since we cannot extricate ourselves from the natural world, the repercussions, due to the sheer amount of our applied force, remain pretty tangible.

Well, with great power comes great responsibility. If not, the nature will deal with it. After all, no matter how strong the push, we, our Earth, solar system, and even our Milky Way are inseparable parts of a system that is not going to collapse because of our failures to live up to our true potential. Thus, we may consider it a test — a strange one, because it pits death by fear, arrogance, hatred, and indifference and life under the condition of personal change against each other.

Thus, it may not be a free decision at all, but still, it leaves the choice in our hands.

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