Western Civilization, Seen from 2150 AD, Part 1

A small roll of pages showed up in my mailbox last week, printed on an odd size and type of paper. They appeared to have been ripped from a history book entitled 2000–2150 AD: The Emergence of Modernity. I’m repeating the text here verbatim, sans the header, which mentions only the title of the book. (Or perhaps it’s the title of a chapter.)

Make of this what you will.

In the late 20th century it began dawning on the heirs of Western civilization that the archaic forms of rulership they lived under (and which they had held as the ultimate form of human organization) were actually enormous parasites. The first people to grasp this tended to be socially ostracized and were punished in a variety of ways, mostly informal. But they persevered and found comfort in the writings of like-minded men and women of the past, who had the good fortune to live beneath milder incarnations of parasitic hierarchy.

Soon books were being written on the subject and circulated among a small but devoted readership. Slowly, something of an intellectual movement began to form. The first great expansion came with the rise of the internet in the 1990s. The new ideas began spreading beyond small intellectual circles and into the minds of productive people worldwide.

The ideas advanced slowly. People of the era were, after all, forcibly schooled by those same parasitic regimes, and breaking away from a nearly universal system of thought was difficult, no matter how obvious the system’s barbarity.

Still, humans have always been clever and self-referential creatures, as well as being gifted with effective memories. Little by little the new ideas, like so many seeds, began to grow. One person here spread the concepts to one or two elsewhere, who – a few years later when the seeds in them had matured a bit – spread them to still others. With a geometric certainty, the seeds began filling mankind.

But while this appears as an inevitable process from our perspective, it seemed desperately slow and uncertain to the people involved. Many of the earliest adopters died before they saw the fruit of their labors, which didn’t appear in any significant concentrations until 2015 or so.

Restraints and Releases

The great restraint to these ideas, during the era of their first emergence, was the Internet’s corporate parasitism, running from roughly 2002 through 2025. The primary transaction under this model was for people to accept “free” services in return for granting the corporation complete access to their most private lives. No such service was truly free of course, and people did understand this at some basic level, but Westerners of that era were well schooled in the fear of scarcity (even though very few lived in conditions of actual privation), and all were bombarded with fear day and night by “news stations.”

In that condition, the offer of “free” service was all but irresistible to them, and so they closed their eyes to the ongoing sale of their intimate lives.

This of course was before people learned to treat fear as mind pollution. At that time, embracing every new fear was considered a show of vitality.

And so people flocked to “free” services, allowing those services and their spy agency partners to conduct deeper and more pervasive surveillance than could have been imagined in any previous era. This, as we know, resulted in the greatest systems of manipulation in world history. The monstrosities we see as Descartes’s Demon were possible only because of scarcity fears among people who faced little or no actual scarcity.

The first great release from parasitic systems was the decentralized digital economy, beginning with Bitcoin in 2009. By the time cryptocurrencies accounted for 10% of world currency volume, decentralization was firmly rooted in the realms of money and economic infrastructure, and it was clear that it would not be stopped. The Crypto Massacres in India and Turkey claimed several thousand lives, but they also turned most Indians and Turks against their murderous “leaders,” leading to the end of both regimes within a few years.

Nonparasitic Cooperation

What decentralized economics slowly taught the world was that their parasitic structures had been unnecessary. People had, from what seemed time immemorial, believed that violence-based hierarchies were necessary for cooperation… that without them, human life would become, as was famously proclaimed, “nasty, solitary, poor, brutish, and short.”

The historical record didn’t support that statement of course, but nearly all history books after 1900 AD were written for and purchased by parasitic systems, and so contrary portions were left out.

Nonetheless, once decentralized systems were part of everyday life for the bulk of the populace (by 2050 or so), it became clearer and clearer that parasitic systems weren’t actually necessary.

Finding ways to organize in nonparasitic ways took time, however. A first problem was that many Westerners still thought systems of organization had to be monopolistic, that a single system incorporating everyone was necessary. But by 2060 this idea was fading, primarily because no system could maintain sufficient violence to force everyone into it. Millions of people were honestly surprised to learn that multiple systems could operate simultaneously and successfully.

I’ll stop here this week and complete my transcription next week.


Paul Rosenberg