Friday, November 6, 2015

What is a Global City?

"These are not accidents. These are conditions that arise always at least partly from human agency. 

Where there is poverty, we did this. Where there is death, we did this. Where there is war, we did this. What we do not mitigate or reverse, we cause.
Ours is the fault for slain children not just now, in every nation, but throughout time, and from the beginning. We did all of this, for we are not slave to our impulses and the demands of survival. We are not puppets to the whim of nature. We are humankind. We are mighty beyond measure.
We can choose a different way."

We have proposed the foundation of a unique municipal corporation and enterprise on the Moon, calling this entity a "global" city.

A global entity is one that transcends national and state boundaries such that it is not a part nor does it arise out of any particular lesser political order. Rather, a global city is a city established under the notion that the Earth itself and her population constitute a political order and identity. Citizens of a global city are citizens of the Earth, for the Earth is a political entity called a world, and it is one among many. In time, this obvious truth will become increasingly glaring, until the light of it can no longer be ignored.

Until that time, we shall continue to insist that everyone look upward, and realize that we are on a planet in space, our environment is not restricted to this world alone, and it is our manifest destiny - if we would long endure and thrive as a species - to colonize the worlds of this system and develop their abundant resources.

We should start small, on the microscale. Let us begin by establishing a laboratory for socioeconomic and political development: a global city, incorporated on the Moon, and organized to take advantage of ample energy production and mining prospects available exclusively in that unique environment.

This is not the same as a multinational or international entity, and it is not the same as a colony or city established to have its own, unique, and independent political character. In the case of the proposed Lunar City, the citizens of that place will be recognized as Earth citizens, with an absolute right of return, but also as Lunar citizens, with rights and duties owing to the unique charter evolved for that place by its own denizens.

This charter would likely constitute a social contract that embraces the best of the most prominent or applicable Earth political cultures, while leaving behind the bad elements. While language is always subjective and may be quibbled over, logic is objective and will not hesitate to set aside dysfunction in favor of functionality. This must be borne in mind in judging what rules shall apply and what rights, privileges, and freedoms shall be protected.

For example, the rights of self-determination and free-expression should be enshrined in the Lunar City's charter, not because these are absolute or divine or because the Western understanding of these views is superior. These are all matters of relative opinion. Rather, a general right of each is desirable because it lessens the dangers inherent in dissent, and permits all interests and factions to emerge and seek engagement with the governing body. This actually limits the potential for revolt, riot, and discord - in the absence of acute economic disparities - because a fundamental polarization into two opposed camps composed of a myriad of unrecognized or unrepresented views is deftly avoided. By letting everyone - or nearly everyone - freely express and be heard, the likelihood of disorder is greatly reduced. Faction is neutralized through balance as demagoguery is restricted by prosperity.

A system that most people consider fair and at least somewhat beneficial is very difficult to overthrow.

In order for such a stabilizing scheme to be effective, a macrocultural template must be enshrined in the organizing and originating political documents which establish the city. Certain values and morals will need to be espoused, and these should be created with an eye toward various realities. Interests that have a noticeable profile cannot simply be ignored. In the same vein, the values of small populations cannot be permitted to dominate over the values of larger populations.

The majority should value order and public respect, but should tolerate minority behaviors and opinions where the public safety is not objectively reasonably threatened. If a question arises, on a case-by-case basis, individuals may bring a complaint before the bench. But appeal to wider "identities" should be strictly discouraged. An injustice is self-evident upon its face. Where no sense of justice is offended in the reasonable person, injustice cannot have occurred, for justice itself is a kind of general conception within a society. When individuals seek justice, and individuals are heard without recourse to imaginary and divisive identities, then justice can be had.

A person wronged or harmed is so wronged or harmed no matter who they are, or how they look.

The municipal laws should reflect the traditions of many societies and cultures currently represented on our world, for a global city will see these same groups represented wherever it may be placed, on the earth, or elsewhere in this solar system, or beyond. Hundreds of millions of people will want to work and live off-world if the opportunities for the same are offered with good faith and in the spirit of fair dealing.

This is a resource-rich environment filled with discoveries and wonders. Given our capacity for adaptation, human potential becomes exponentially greater the moment that we become a multiworld species. The intensity and grandeur of this basic purpose - survival, and thriving through shared labor and triumph - cannot be undervalued. Having a sense of absolute and unwavering purpose is an attractive prospect for many people, and it has been a motivating force behind religions, political orders, and cultural revolutions.

It is not truly for us to say what form this Lunar City's government shall take, or what terms and conditions will be applicable in its social contract given the context in which it will be applied. Only when people are standing in the sublunar caverns in which the Lunar City will keep its precincts can human beings truly understand their obligations to one another under those conditions. We can make suggestions and explore options. We can consider what might work best; we still must recognize that we are advisers only to those who must live with what they choose, and make real what we only idealize and guess at.

Another example of a global view of political or social order is this: the citizens of the Lunar City will likely best be served by viewing the governing body not as a power structure, but rather as a management system, and therefore the leadership and representative roles are not best conceived of as dominant or superior, but rather as employees. The integration of computer intelligence - as it emerges - into the governing body and the management and organizational administration should be gradually implemented. This should be done with great care and redundancy, but an effective system will make some use of branches, departments, and accountability. Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances are good basic theoretical doctrines to work from.

The charter establishing the colony should recognize that power flows from the citizenry. The reason for this is so simple as to transcend any contrary arguments from any opposed political theory or doctrine: the city is nothing without its people. The people are the political order.

While it is certainly true that people may be tightly bound and ruled, it is also true that the greatest vibrancy of economic and political expression, and also the greatest technical and economic innovations, are fostered by a greater personal liberty rather than by a lesser. But the macrocultural needs cannot be ignored, and must always weigh in the balance. Thus, while the government officials are employees of the city under the city charter, and the employers under the same are the people, it would not follow that each individual citizen should possess a sovereign right to dispose of these officials, or to ignore their dictates, or to disregard their legislative and executive pronouncements.

Rather, via digital and interconnected communication relays and networks, the people should retain a right to real-time information regarding policy, and to express a vote via a digital presence. If a majority of the citizens demonstrate disapproval, then a measure cannot stand. But where a majority does not exist, it cannot be said that the people disapprove.

Powerful minority interests and factions can and will emerge under such conditions. It is proverbial among us as humans that the primary cause for discord and violence on this planet has been due to a disparity of wealth, and limitations upon access to resources. Because nature's meritocracy cannot be entirely done away with, a total equalization of means, opportunities, and outcomes will forever remain out of reach, at least until the emergence of matter-energy translation technologies, or consciousness uploads that allow equal access to all levels of the collective artificial awareness. And even then, costs will exist, resources will be consumed, and not every distribution network will be perfect, equal, or equitable. Such developments are far off, although not so far in time as to be totally irrelevant in our own time.

The present solution to the dilemma of inequality of means, opportunities, and outcomes, is actually quite simple: The Lunar City may well demonstrate a mechanism for resolving these disparities by creating a support baseline, founded in a socialist economy, and constituting the foundation of the society, in which all members have an innate right of participation and support, without regard for employment, training, or education.

This means that even an able-bodied person who refuses to productively work for no other reason than a desire to be slothful and contrarian will nevertheless be entitled to a certain percentage of available resources. Under the socialist model, this will be of necessity a subsistence percentage, because the individual in question in this example effectively produces nothing, and instead only consumes. The old phrase, "from each according to his produce, to each according to his needs," must carry some value in the human future, because it proposes a fundamental sense of right and justice that cannot be ignored. Those with very little will very often deserve at least a little more.

But a concept of absolute personal equality cannot be taken into the economic sector as readily as it may be applied in the theoretical confines of a judicial, legislative, or electoral system. Thus, the Lunar City may recognize a right of every citizen to eat and have a place to lay her head, but it cannot simultaneously ignore the fact that most people will want to pursue particular ambitions, and in return, receive elevated benefits from the public weal.

The commonwealth may well be unable to answer for the variegation and variances created by individual industry and development. This is one of the primary complaints made by pure capitalists against pure socialists. The most self-evident answer then, is this: for every citizen, a baseline, foundational support structure offering a subsistence income and public housing, education, and health care; open to every citizen: a capital market into which one may venture, seeking employment or creating employment opportunities for others. In turn, the capital market may provide services and goods in excess of the public welfare system.

For incomes lying within moderate boundaries, citizens may engage in receiving a mix of socialist and capitalist benefits. For individuals who are able to earn beyond this cut off point, the elevated capacity to earn within the social context means an elevated duty to lend support to that social organism, for it has provided the people, markets, and opportunities through which the superior earner has gained her or his wealth.

No citizen should be forced out of the socialist system, nor out of the capitalist system that overlays and envelopes it. Rather, the natural social and cultural pressures of competition, desire for acquisition, and seeking after status, will drive some substantial portion of the populace into the capital marketplace for at least a portion of their incomes.

The restrictions and fears implicit and inherent in living in a bubble of human civilization in the midst of an absolutely hostile environment are likely to mitigate the condition in which any person or population of persons chooses raw indolence and nothing more. Under circumstances such as those likely to be present in a Lunar City, the useless may not be benefited at all. Potential injustice and disenfranchisement are always factors to be considered in the establishment of a society.

The Lunar City can be no different: there must be some work output or social value identified in each individual in order for the social organism to recognize a right to continued existence. No less, under a graduated and mixed system such as this, poverty is clearly a choice by the individual, and as such, should not be relieved by the social organism for that individual, for it is always open to that person to choose to engage the capitalist economy overlying the socialist foundation.

Abuses of such a system may seem likely, but the abundant, life-supporting environment of Earth is not available to colonists in a Lunar City. Instead, they must face the reality that the limitations established in the construction of the colony will dictate social relationships and may to some extent limit the access of any particular person or cadre to the acquisition of power and/or a controlling share of the wealth and resources of the colony.

It might be best to assign each individual citizen a number of shares in the public corporation (the municipal charter) either upon naturalization or birth, and these shares be made severable from individual identities only upon natural or accidental death, and transferable only by a prior contract executed between the decedent and another individual.

This would prevent the formation of competing corporate interests within the Lunar municipal order, not least because such a scheme would of necessity embrace a deliberate limitation on the number of original shares any one person could have. Some allowance might be made for shareholders to borrow against a share, in order to capitalize the colony and permit the commoditization of risk, but this scheme would have to be developed with an eye toward preventing a fatal imbalance of the economic and social factors established for and by the people of the colony.

The limitations upon personal rights are best enumerated, whereas the rights of persons are best left undefined, so that a right may be presumed long before it is ever challenged, limited, or otherwise infringed and restricted. What rights each colonist shall have will depend heavily upon the nature of the colony and the individual rights will naturally bow to the needs of the collective with respect to safety, security, and general survival.

While speech and free expression are innate goods that lend themselves to stability in the presence of reasonable mitigation regarding safety and polite conduct, the right to bear arms as enshrined under the American system may not be as broadly recognized or secured. Arms in a series of pressurized caverns excavated from the Lunar soil might be a threat to life far beyond that of any intended victim.

Similarly, we might find draconian laws in regard to resource waste or ruination, and a particularly unforgiving attitude toward accident and negligence, designed to encourage the highest degrees of care, focus, and attention to detail, in the public interest of all citizens, in order to ensure safety and security against not only other colonists, but also the even more dangerous elements. The basic off-world environment is hostile, and the challenge Space offers us is not only profoundly uplifting - it is also profoundly deadly.

Such considerations as privacy, due process of law, and the application of justice to the individual and to groups should remain undefined, under the presumption that all human beings have an innate right to manage their own affairs and maintain their own thoughts, persons, homes, and possessions, free from interference by powerful organizations, institutions, and  individuals. Such limitations as are necessary should be clear to the populace, whose own experiences will shape the political and social order.

Abuse and exploitation of human labor and capital must be of paramount concern under any such system, particularly because in the early part of the 21st Century we have seen the emergence or near-emergence of artificial means of emulating both. AI and robotics technology each present the potential for unspeakable genocidal crimes, either out of necessity or through sheer accident. The two factors together give rise to a causal nexus in which we must question the utility of our own existence. If we give birth to some uncanny thing which we instinctively understand to be "alive," then in the face of its possible superiority to us, what use are we?

These were once questions for artists, entertainers, and authors. They are now serious considerations to all but a few ignorant and backward individuals who do not understand the severity or importance of such matters. While ad hominem rarely serves to elevate the debate, it is not always necessary that every debate rise above the most direct and fundamental levels. Disagreements may be best resolved through negotiation, but they are quickest resolved through extermination of the opposing party. Arguments are meaningless when the people who would make them no longer exist. What is no longer thought may one day be thought again, but there is no telling when that may occur, or even if it must.

It is this that must concern us: if capitalist interests acquire the technology to tap off-world technology in the absence of human labor and widespread demographic engagement, what use is the majority of the human species to its own ruling class? If the elite no longer have need of your labor or your willingness to fight and die, then what reason do they have to continue to permit you to eat? And when your interests are diametrically opposed, what reason do the powerful have for showing restraint in "persuasion?"

Much of the world is so economically disadvantaged that it cannot truly participate in consumerist culture at anything like optimal levels, but it is still that portion of the world's population where the greatest tensions are given expression through chaos.

The haves do not have to tolerate the outbursts of the have-nots. History does not naturally march away from aristocratic, oligarchic, and totalitarian regimes. These things arise under particular conditions and are characterized by certain behaviors and excesses.

Saddam Hussein was a dictator. So too, Ghadafi. These men are not substantially dissimilar from despots of earlier societies in times gone-by. Human behavior and culture are analogous and exist as metaphors in time. The behavior of one time or people will have a discernable and patterned similarity to the behavior of another time or people. In the past, as now, despots rise to protect the propertied classes from the violent behavior of the disadvantaged masses. The masses have a powerful and direct means of recovering their perceived share from the elite, but it is absolutely the case that this response is always evoked and guided by demagogic leadership. Injustice begets tyrants. Tyrants sew injustice.

This cycle can be broken by intelligent application of our collective reason as a species-wide social organism. We certainly can continue to go on killing one another and engaging in narcissistic and autistically introspective self-defeating competition over dwindling resources. Meanwhile, our populations continue to explode, especially in the developing and impoverished parts of the world. It is a fact of nature that animals under stress will often have multiple offspring to offset the risks to each offspring. The desperate and the rightly rebellious will continue to proliferate, because economic injustice - arising from a mixture of natural and human agency - permits this.

These are not accidents. These are conditions that arise always at least partly from human agency. Where there is poverty, we did this. Where there is death, we did this. Where there is war, we did this. What we do not mitigate or reverse, we cause. Ours is the fault for slain children not just now, in every nation, but throughout time, and from the beginning. We did all of this, for we are not slave to our impulses and the demands of survival. We are not puppets to the whim of nature. We are humankind. We are mighty beyond measure.

We can choose a different way.

Awaken, and take account for what you have done and for what you do. Stand on your feet, shoulder to shoulder with your brothers and your sisters, and recognize what it is within your power to do: you can change this world forever, and make one out of many. We may be as one, a single agent, working for our own best interests.

This is done by understanding first that it is possible, and second, that change takes time. Each person who comes to understand this truth is connected to other persons, who may also in time understand the same truth. It is an absolute, and undeniable: we must expand or we will die. Our world teaches us these lessons, and our great thinkers discover the truths. The pieces of the puzzle, when properly assembled, show us that to dally here is to die.

But if we survive together, we thrive together. A Lunar City, a Global City, needs a credo and an ethos like this. There must be an animating spirit that insists that in the end, humanity will survive and endure.

Together as one people, the people of Earth, we can discover that to thrive, we must go forth, and become a multiworld species.

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