Tag Archives | Civilization

What Is Coming After Capitalism?

futureNothing developed by humans can withstand the test of time forever, and that includes capitalism. Via Jacobin Magazine, Pete Frase spins four possible scenarios, including the utopian, the distopian and the in-between, based on whether we run out of natural resources and whether machines take over all labor:

One thing we can be certain of is that capitalism will end. Maybe not soon, but probably before too long; humanity has never before managed to craft an eternal social system, after all, and capitalism is a notably more precarious and volatile order than most of those that preceded it.

The very existence of Occupy Wall Street suggests that the end of capitalism has become a bit easier to imagine of late. At first, this imagining took a mostly grim and dystopian form: at the height of the financial crisis, with the global economy seemingly in full collapse, the end of capitalism looked like it might be the beginning of a period of anarchic violence and misery.

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Open-Sourced Blueprints for Civilization (Video)

Via TED:

Using wikis and digital fabrication tools, TED Fellow Marcin Jakubowski is open-sourcing the blueprints for 50 farm machines, allowing anyone to build their own tractor or harvester from scratch. And that’s only the first step in a project to write an instruction set for an entire self-sustaining village (starting cost: $10,000).

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The Last Free People On Earth

Joanna Eede writes for National Geographic:

Deep in one of the remotest parts of the Brazilian Amazon, in a clearing at the headwaters of the Envira River, an Indian man looks up at an aeroplane.

He is surrounded by kapok trees and banana plants, and by the necessities of his life: a thatched hut, its roof made from palm fronds; a plant-fiber basket brimming with ripe pawpaw; a pile of peeled manioc, lying bright-white against the rain forest earth.


The man’s body is painted red from crushed seeds of the annatto shrub, and in his hand…

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Disgust Has Helped Formed Our Morality

Pig-PenIt’s a controversial opinion but sure is interesting. Keep this in mind next time you encounter someone “hygienically challenged” … Jessica Marshall writes in Discovery News:

More controversially, some argue that effects of disgust are even more far-reaching, influencing how societies operate and possibly forming the evolutionary foundations of morality.

“If I go around leaving poo in your front lawn or spitting in your cups or making nasty smells in public transport or if I go to church in my pajamas, I’m threatening you with my bodily fluids,” Curtis said. “These are manners, but they’re also the precursor of moral behavior. That’s at least one of the ways that morality could have evolved in society: simple rules about not getting other people sick with your emanations.”

Studies have even shown a connection between physical disgust and moral disgust, Curtis said. “If you sit people in a room with bad smells, they punish more severely,” she said.

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Did Societies Evolve To Be Corrupt?

Riot PoliceGood question. Alasdair Wilkins asks on io9.com:

Corruption is as old as human history. For as long as people have organized themselves into groups with powerful leaders, those leaders have sometimes abused their power. But evolutionary biologists say corruption might actually be holding societies together.

That’s the theory put forward by evolutionary biologists Francisco Ubeda and Edgar Duenez. The pair used game theory to figure out why people cooperate to form a society even though the ones in charge are corrupt. The model they developed assumes that government officials and law enforcers — in other words, the individuals responsible for punishing noncooperators — can get away with a certain amount of noncooperation themselves in the form of corruption, and that they can sidestep most punishments when caught being corrupt.

Their findings make a lot of intuitive sense — most people will continue to cooperate to keep their society together, in part because they don’t want to be punished by law enforcers.

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The Possibility of Hope

A great extra from the fantastic movie Children of Men. Modern philosophers, political scientists, and climate scientists weigh-in on the state of the Earth, global politics, militarism, mass-migration, global warming, and the future of humanity.

(For the disinfo regular, I’d recommend the watching the movie The Constant Gardener and the documentary Darwin’s Nightmare, but perhaps you already have…)

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