Baseball, philosophy, video games, snarky anti-Bush rants, and all other various and sundry topics. Not necessarily in that order.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Utilitarian Technocrats Unite!

I joined Facebook the other day. Yeah, yeah. It's all the rage with the kids these days. I am pretty appalled by how many photos and videos high school kids seem to post, and how often they seem to be on the site. But for old fogeys like me, it might actually be a useful way to find and keep in contact with people I don't see every day.

Well, when you create your profile, they ask you for your political views. Frankly, I was unsatisfied with the pre-fixed choices. So I typed in "Utilitarian Technocrat." Which, in a neat thing, you can click, and get a list of profiles with matching terms. Which, upon clicking mine, revealed none.

So it seems I am the founder of a new political party. Woo hoo! Which begs the question, of course, what is my platform?

Well, first, on the meaning of politics: while it's been said that politics is the "art of the possible," or, from a more Machiavellian angle, the "art of convincing others to do that which they wouldn't have otherwise," I prefer a more classical interpretation of the term. The Polis is the city, in which human beings have massed to their mutual benefit. Politics, then, is the art of maximizing the health and well-being of the polis.

Utilitarian has been taken broadly to mean "the greatest happiness for the greatest number." This is a very Benthamite or Epicurean reading, I prefer the more robust utilitarianism of a John Stuart Mill, in which the well-being of humans is taken into account, not simply a swinish happiness or pleasure. Humans should live as humans ought - exercising their best capacities, fluorishing and growing in an unfettered quest for self improvement and improvement of their Polis.

Technocracy has been termed the "rule by technicians." Techne is the Greek term meaning the art or craft of a thing. Well, it certainly seems reasonable to me to have decisions made by people who know the art or craft of a thing. Brain surgeons should perform brain surgery, and plumbers should install a bathtub. So while I agree with this, I would also like to expand its meaning to include the idea that technology, or the application of crafts, should be utilitzed to its fullest to maximize the ends stated above in the definition of utilitarianism.

What does this mean in terms of issue positions? Well, I am pro-choice, because currently living people's lives and happiness take precedence over not yet living ones, and forcing unwanted pregnancies upon people could very likely result in unhappy future citizens anyway. Correspondingly, I am pro contraception, for very similar reasons - plus, it's a technology, and technology=yay! I am for the genetic modification of foods. We've been doing it for 10,000 years, now we might be able to do it faster and better. Agriculture and cultivation have played possibly the greatest role in extending the human lifespan, and they are the key crafts necessary to continuing our run as the dominant, expanding species we are. Famine and strife are the inevitable results if we try to strip ourselves of the tools we have developed as a species to maximize our resources. This article on the coming banana crisis offers a good example. I am pro-nuclear power. I think that the burning of fossil fuels has developed into one of the biggest risks to continued human well-being both currently and over the next millenium. Nuclear power represents a zero-emission power source which has quite manageable waste products compared to fossil fuels. If and when solar or wind power becomes economically viable as a real option, I'll switch to that as my go-to power source. But currently, nuclear is our best option - it's only ignorance and fear that are holding us back, paradoxically enough, it is fear mongering by environmentalists which is preventing us from undoing the greatest environmental holocaust in human history.

So there is a good start on figuring out where my party stands on any given issue. Take the issue, examine what its consequences are for human well-being and development, and pick the best of the options. That's what Utilitarian Technocrats do. We're not bound by ideology, tribal god images, or any other silliness.

Basically, I want Star Trek. And I want it now!


Blogger ktp said...

Does Star Trek not stand on its own, without a Wikipedia link?

8:55 AM

Blogger matthewweflen said...

I included it just in case some sort of rock-dwelling creature read this entry and was confused as to what "Star Trek" signifies.

9:59 AM

Blogger acb said...

Utilitarian Technocracy:
The More You Know...

8:31 AM

Blogger matthewweflen said...

The more things stay the same? No, that's not right...

10:04 AM


Post a Comment

<< Home