Ah, a New Year, new things to see, new things to do. Of course, no year is separate from another. The ideals of one year pass into the next, the dreams, hopes, fears, and plans pass from one year to the next like the spinning of the sacred wheel.
We’re going to start the year here as we finished the last one, looking at ideas and seeing if they’re workable, good, fun enough to laugh at/with, or just crazy. Today we’re going to look at a potential world as presented by hecatedemeter from a blog by the same name. At least, I believe it’s the same name, I couldn’t find any different one. I’m going to look at their article If I Were Queen of the Forest, Not King, Not Duchess, Not Princess.
Now, I’m going into this with an attitude of respect, not maliciousness, I just wanna look at the issues of this world view. I understand this view is probably influenced heavily by a Deity’s perspective, but there are many Gods and I’m going to be looking at this one from my Dieties’ views as they’ve taught me. So, hope there’s no hard feelings, this is all in good fun. As the title should hopefully indicate.
If I were, as my friend Atrios does not say, “your benevolent empress,” I’d structure education and the lives of most people this way:
When did we get an empress? I wasn’t aware of this. Dang it, did I get land and titles while no one was looking? I hope I’m a Duke. It’s always good to be the duke.
First, society would pay everyone a living stipend. This would be enough to live on, in a rather basic manner. You could rent a room in a rooming house, take public transportation, eat self-prepared healthy food, get needed medical care, buy a winter coat every few years, have a basic phone and computer, buy seeds and a trowel. You could do nothing: sleep all day, watch tv, wander the byways, stare at mushrooms, read every book in your local public library. You could work at turning base materials into gold, spend decades translating ancient Sumerian into binary code, or give yourself over to raising the perfect La Cuisse de Nymphe Emu rose.
Oh Gods, it’s a Communist Utopia!
Why is it that whenever anyone starts talking about their dream world it’s a communist utopia? Well, except Rand, she kinda had the opposite of a communist utopia. But everyone seems to hate Rand’s utopia and love Marx’s utopia.
I would beseech the, dear empress, from where will this living stipend come from? I know, right off the bat I’m being a dick, but seriously, nothing comes from nothing. Well, okay, maybe nothing does come from nothing, as it is nothing, but you can’t create things out of nothing.
So this stipend has to come from somewhere. As do the trowels, seeds, and someone has to make the coats and such. You know, maybe it’s all the games and books and stuff I’ve read, but resource management and creation is a thing I tend to think about.
I mention this because right off the bat one of the options here is “you can do nothing” but there is no required labor for this “living stipend.” So, pedantic Svartwulf is being pedantic, but…clearly no one is having to do anything.
Now, at the same time, you can do “anything you want to” as well. However, again, we get to logistics. For instance, let’s say that someone, off hand, decides they want to make the trowels for everyone in the world (at which point I’m going to guess you’re going to get sick of trowel making fast). And there is more to making a trowel than just making a trowel. You have to have metal for the trowel (so we’ll need a miner, generally not a profession people “want” to get into for fun), we will need coal to heat the metal (so we need a coal miner, an even less fun profession most people don’t want to take), we’ll need wood (so we need a lumberjack and someone skilled at wood working). We to make the trowels we need at least five professionals, of which only two (blacksmithing and woodcarver) are professions people generally want to do.
Great start so far. But hey, maybe there’s some sort of Deus ex Machina happening here were some divine force is making all the stuff people need just magically appear. Of course, that has it’s issues as well, you’ve basically turned your Deus into a factory worker for your pleasure, but hey. Dues Proletaria!
If you want more money than that, you could start your own business, hire out your services, or get credit for volunteering at a wide variety of public benefit places. You could quit when you want, try new things, live in dignity while you write your magnum opus, pray unceasingly, study the influence of Indo-European Goddesses on man-in-the-moon marigolds, begin working again in your old age to ensure your grandchildren a quality college education.
Okay, so in our utopia we can still make money. This is good, I suppose. I mean, apparently we’re still going to need money. So our utopia isn’t looking as much like a utopia as it is governmental subsistence living with potential for income inequality still happening (which is a rare thing in such utopii). And apparently you still have to pay for your kids or grandkids to go to college. Which…okay, apparently you can spend your days translating Sumerian texts to Binary…but you got to pay to learn these things still.
Utopia isn’t…as utopic as it first sounded. Also, we apparently in a world of people who don’t have to do anything they don’t want, still seem to have a whole host of professionals who take people places, run public benefit places (which why would we need if everyone is getting the basics, that’s generally the reason for charity organizations?) so…something is missing here. Or I’m missing something.
You could acquire as much extra as you want, but half of that money above a set amount (in today’s dollars, let’s say $1 million) gets paid to society in taxes. You can leave as much of your extra money as you like to your spouse or spouses, but they can’t leave it to anyone; what’s left over (in money or property) will revert to the state upon their death. Ditto for your children, nieces, nephews, etc. Trust me, we have accountants who can do this.
So in reality, you can acquire half as much as you want or you have to work for twice as much as you want in order to get that amount, because half of it is literally being taken away past an arbitrary point. I suppose this is how we answer the “Where does the money come from question.”
Except if you knew that half of your labor’s reward was going to be jacked out of your hands…why would you do it. I mean, in this world it’s supposed to be a “do what you want without cares” thing so at that point…the only real reason to seek wealth would be because you “want it” or think it might be useful (like sending your kids to college, apparently. I guess “teaching” is one of those professions you’re gonna have to be paid to do rather than just “want” to do).
Also, I can leave my money to my relatives, but they can’t leave it to anyone? It’s their money, why can’t they spend it how they want? This money is just going to yanked away by the state upon their deaths? I’m starting to like this utopian state less and less. I mean, it’s bad enough that I can’t leave money, but this is including any property/land I get as well. I’m assuming that this land is harder to get than it is now, and we’re just taking it away and each generation starts at square one, which really hinders human progress.
Second, everyone gets 18 chits at birth. Each chit is a year of formal/technical education. So your parents can use, let’s say, 6 of your chits for Montessori preschool and 12 of your chits for first through twelfth grade in a public (or a non-religious private) school. If the private school cost exceeds the value of the chit, your parents can pay that. Or they can use twelve of your chits for first through twelfth grade and then you can use the last six for a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. Or they can send you to Montessori school on their dime, and to public school through twelfth grade for a fee, and then you can use your chits for bachelors, masters, and doctors degrees, followed by a JD. Or, . . . . well, you get the idea. If you’re the kind of kid who hates formal education and wants to drop out at 13, we won’t do stupid stuff (I used to teach high school, believe me. . . .) just to keep you in school and make our numbers look good. And, why would we? “Preventing drop outs” only matters if people can’t later drop back in.
Okay, first off this whole idea is…yeah. Secondly, we’re looking at world building problems here. If everyone can just do what they want, even assuming some people want to be teachers, how are we going to have enough teachers for everyone in public, Montessori, and other types of schools? Also, apparently you can “Do what you want” but if you “want” your kids to have “Better” schooling you then have to go out and work for it, to make money for it, etc, to get all this stuff to find the money to send your kid to one of these schools in a world where…no one really has to “want” for anything they need. I mean, I’ve got food, I’ve got shelter, I’ve got a computer, phone, etc, so really, what more do I need? We’re really running into issues here.
Also, if we don’t have enough teachers (the reasonable point at why you would have to pay them, to “entice” them to come teach) then are all these teachers going to essentially be NPCs or artificial constructs? In which case, why do you need to pay something for its function? Or will there be different levels of “educational constructed units” and you have to pay for a better “teacher” than the baseline model? That…doesn’t seem as nice as our “needs provided” society presents itself.
And what do you need education for? After all, everything is provided that you “need” and after a very short period you get punished for working and earning money. Most kids would drop out by 3rd grade. Sure they could “come back” but at that point there’s still not much of a reason to. We learn things so we can go out and function in society and work in society to make money to live…but we don’t need to work in order to live anymore.
Pointless system becomes pointless.
If you hate school, you can go work in the world for a while and then, if and whenever you realize that you’d like to have technical training so that you can be a nurse practitioner, or a mechanic, or a sous chef; or you realize that you want a liberal education so you can read, write, and think about ideas; or you realize that you want to apprentice to a glass blower, or granite fabricator, or garden writer, then, well, you’ve still got ten whole chits left to cash in.
Right…because in this world where no one has to work, the basics are provided, and any property you get is taken away at the end, we’re going to have all these professions (and the need for these professions).
So let’s say for the sake of it we have a “Granite Fabricator” who I guess makes granite counter tops you can use to upgrade your pre-presented house. Now, I presume for ascetic reasons people would still want granite counter tops, even if they were to be confiscated by the state (who apparently is keeping track of every upgrade to me prefab house, which is kinda creepy, so they can downgrade it for the next person to get this house). Now, apparently, our school drop out (let’s say they left around grade 4, so at age 10ish) who can barely read, write, or do basic maths wants to work for this granite fabricator. Now, stone masonry is a very complex profession. Stone masons were among the most educated people in society for the longest times. So why would a stone mason take on a 10 year old kid with no education? To train him? The boy can leave at anytime (so a foolish investment on his part). After all, the child quit school, you think they’re going to stick through hard labor of stone working? And…geez, I keep running into problem after problem here.
Third, regardless of how you and your parents use your chits, one of the major goals of education between the ages of about 11 and about 14 is for everyone to acquire a skill that can be used in different geographical regions. Think short-order cook, medical technician, basic programmer, bus driver, carpenter, farm worker, photographer’s assistant, videographer, tailor, massage therapist.
Wait, wait, wait!
So, assuming the kid stays in school to ages 11-14 (I would have dropped out much sooner, as would most kids, hence why education tends to be mandatory), they get to learn such skills as short order cook, bus driver, and the other listed professions.
They don’t need these jobs. These jobs are not going to exists for the most part (who wants to be a short order cook?). Also, since when were basic programmer, carpenter, photographer, and short order cook all the same level? Programming takes serious math. Carpenters make orders of magnitude above short order cooks. People become short order cooks generally because they don’t have the option to be programmers, carpenters, or photographers!
And they still don’t need these jobs!
After twelfth grade, no one could go directly to college. Everyone would have to spend at least three, and preferably five, years taking their trade and living in different parts of the country/world. So, for example, you could get out of high school capable of being a teacher’s aide and you would then figure out where you’d like to live. You could spend a year in Tokyo, a year in the Appalachian Mountains, a year in Cleveland, a year in Wales, and a year in Miami. You could get out of high school capable of programming computers and spend six months in Palo Alto, six months in McLean Virginia, six months in Boston, six months in Bora Bora, six months in Bismarck, and six months in Madrid. You could get out of high school capable of working in a greenhouse and you could spend a year on a boat on the Amazon, a year on a satellite above Earth, and a year in Copenhagen. The goal of this would be for everyone to identify at least one place to which they could become attached, a place with which they could envision a life-long relationship, a spot that called to them above and beyond the work available.
WHY? WHY WOULD THEY HAVE TO DO THIS?
I mean, you have to wait 3-5 years to go to college. Not you “get to” you “have to.” What If I want to go straight to college? What if I managed to force myself through these 12 years of schooling I could leave at any time, for the joys of a life without stress or problems, so that I could say, learn how to translate Sumerian to Binary. I now have to wait 5 years before I can learn how to do this so that I can go ply a trade I do not need in another land not my own? I’m going to have to defer my dream for five years to be a short order cook in India, England, Africa, etc? Oh yes, clearly this is what I want to do in order to discover where I can build a “life long relationship” on my way to learn Sumerian to Binary translation where anything I make monetarily shall be halved past a certain point and stripped from my family upon my death! (While I supposedly can leave this job at any time to do any other job I want).
I’m getting the impression our Empress perhaps decided not to stick with the schooling. Frankly, this wonderful world is starting to sound like something that wouldn’t make it past Alpha. It would literally fall apart. Gods, I can’t even hold it together in my head. Look, I’m not wanting to be a dick about hectatedemeter’s dream here but…function is missing form, and vice versa.
THEN, at, say 22 or 25, those who wished to do so could begin a college education, either using their remaining chits, paying cash, or by agreeing that, for every year spent in college, they’d use the skills acquired in various volunteer capacities. Remember that, during this time, they’d be receiving their living stipend, so that the basic requirements of life would be covered. If loans were needed, society would provide them, in return for a commitment, over a thirty or forty year period, to return skilled work to the society. So physicians could do a few hours in a free clinic every week for the rest of their lives to “pay off” their medical degrees and violinists could show up and play at hospitals, schools, and nursing homes to pay for their advanced musical training. Herbalists could volunteer a few days a month at restaurants, day-care centers, toxic waste sites, or temples.
Because there is so much need for Sumerian/Binary translators.
So somehow, I’m going to have enough chits (of my 12 for primary education) to pay for college, I have to get my parents to work in order to pay for my schooling, or I have the option of becoming a slave for however many years it takes me to learn. Wait what?
“for every year spent in college, they’d use the skills acquired in various volunteer capacities”
Yeah, you would do do forced “volunteering” with your new “skills.”
“If loans were needed, society would provide them, in return for a commitment, over a thirty or forty year period, to return skilled work to the society.”
I…think I’m starting to see how society is working here.
So, you have to spend 30-40 years of your life as slave to the state (in a world where you don’t have have to work) in order to pay for higher education (so when am I supposed to be making all this extra money). I’m also presuming this state is world wide, given the free mandatory travel of every single person on this planet post graduation from high school, (and dear gods how the hell is that supposed to work). AND WHY AM I SUPPOSED TO WANT TO DO ANY OF THIS STUFF?!
I mean literally, in order to advance, I become a slave. If I wish to become rich, my wealth is taken. In order to live, I must leave my home. Or I can do nothing, and all my basics are provided, my labor is not violated, and my body is not forced from it’s home (if I do not graduate high school, I don’t have to travel the world working for the state). (Ha! Loopholes).
Under my benevolent system, by around their late 20s or 30s , a lot of people would get out of college and they’d know exactly where they wanted to live and practice their real profession and/or where they wanted to practice their earlier skill while applying, say, an arts degree, or their liberal arts learning, or a religious training. They’d move back to, say, Tokyo, or Palo Alto, or Bismarck, or the wheat fields of Sweden, and they’d begin to support the next couple of generations. Meanwhile, they’d be in relationship with their landbase. (Would some people always want to roam? Would some people fall in love with a tourist from another area and decide that they loved that person more than the land base and that they wanted to follow that person? Would some old people decide to follow their child and grandchild to a different place? Sure. But no one would enter real adulthood without having had the opportunity to try out various places and develop a real relationship with at least one of them.)
Benevolent system?! What benevolent system? If you want a college education, you basically become a slave. You are forcibly relocated around the world as an unskilled laborer. And everything you manage to put together lasts at best one generation an then is forcibly removed from the family…assuming the family is anywhere near each other rather than forcibly moved all over the planet as slave labor because they decided they wanted a college education.
Why? so everyone has their “basic needs” and “knows what they want to do by the time their 30? But they will be sla- sorry, volunteers to the state sent to where they were needed for the next 30-40 years. so by the time you get out of school at 30ish, you’re enslaved for 40 years, and thus 70ish by the time you get to stop and…then you can move back to where every you wanted to, assuming you leave behind your family who is either still there, or being shipped off elsewhere, but hey, you can work for yourself! Just don’t earn over a million dollars, because then we take half of everything after that!!!!
I certainly hope you weren’t wanting to wander about or leave any of those jobs. Honestly, the best way to live in this world really sounds like doing nothing at all. You get a house, you get everything you need, and you never have to pay anything back. I’m sure the authoress is going to say something horrible about me being a lazy fucker who contributes nothing to society, at which point I will point out she said everyone was welcome to do absolutely nothing if they wished, and this way I retain as much personal freedom as is possible under this all controlling state the “benevolent” empress runs.
Fourth, let’s talk about reproduction. For the foreseeable future, Gaia will be overpopulated: too many people, not enough planet. So every man (straight or gay) who agrees to a vasectomy gets a very large payment, as does every woman (straight or gay) who agrees to a tubal ligation. If you agree to it before you’ve reproduced, your payment is larger than if you agree to it after you’ve reproduced. For every child after the first one, there will be a very large tax, in terms of cash and/or volunteer hours (and you have to perform them; you can’t pay someone else to do them for you.), and, well, I know this will make people scream, but I am, after all, your benevolent empresss, and after any third child, you and your partner get a free and nonnegotiable sterilization, a week at a spa, a gigantic screen tv, and an oak tree planted in your name.
I’m just getting started.
Okay, we’re not going to let evolution take it’s course. We’re going to tell kids all this shit about their future, how they will be “volunteered” for work for the state if they want a higher education for all their adult life, or…they can get their junk snipped before they have any children and that will hopefully be enough to cover their expensive is they go for a simple degree, at which they can make money in order to pay for their children to…oh wait.
Well, that’s okay, I mean they can just not go to college and then they don’t have to worry about that. They can find a nice person, settle down, and have some kids and they’ll be heavily taxed for all those kids past the first one and they’ll pay with….oh wait.
So instead of trying to breed stronger, smarter people (Nieztche), or allowing evolution to do with humanity what it will (Darwin) we have Hecatedemeter who thinks “money for sterilization” is what is going to help humanity and the earth the most! You can advance at the price of giving birth, or you can somehow be punished for producing humanity’s advancement.
What are you going to do? Take away their lawfully minimum stipend? Oh no, you’re forcibly sterilized after your third child and then made a
slave volunteer to pay the tax on your children’s lives! But hey, what if your dream, what you wanted to do in life was be the parent of lot of children? Oh I’m sorry, it’s slavery, sterilization, and watching as just a few short decades later your children are marched off to different parts of the world for slavery volunteerism so “they’ll know what they want to do with their lives.”
Please, please tell me this is satire. Please tell me that this is a joke. Please tell me that this is not how someone would seriously run the world? Please tell me that (as of writing this) 9 likes and 6 comments affirming that this is how people want the world to be has not befallen my poor eyes. Great Jupiter, God of Heavens, please have pity upon this Deus of Ius and tell me mine eyes are deceived!!!!
I have the sinking suspicion that this is real.
In which case…I think I know what I’d want to do with my life.
I’d rebel. I would take every disenchanted, disenfranchised citizen of this empresses’s state and I would raise them up. In fire and iron I would raise them up to strike down a state that made slaves of us all. And don’t think it wouldn’t happen. Promised a life you can do what you please and then spending your entire life as a “volunteer” to the state’s will (and let’s face it, the state would send you where it needed people, not where they wanted to go). Where not even our bodies are our sacred property.
Look, I get it, our present world isn’t all that wonderful. But it works. It has evolved to be what it is because that is what works, for the survival of the species, for the survival of the planet, etc. Evolution has guided us as much as the Gods have and the Gods have designed the world in which we live and die.
And frankly, I like the present set up. And I’m not privileged person actually benefiting from it. I’m dirt poor, barely survive some times, but I love this world, and the way it works. I love it’s systems and it’s errors and its cruelties and its beauties. I love how people can have as many children as they want, and I love how war and plague and famine keep us in check. I love that I can move, I love that I can be stuck. I love that there are places for certain peoples, so they can become peoples. I love that people are more than their peoples, that we can rise above our pasts or embrace them. There are costs, but the prices has always been worth it. Ten Thousand years and more of Humanity’s history is this, Ages beyond counting in the Universe of Gods and Men and Spirits and everything rising up and beyond everything to make the world the way it is. The Gods gave us a world of struggle so that we could rise above, not a world of plenty so we could be slaves.
I’ll let you in on a secret. Helheim is a lot like this world. People work. They struggle. They thrive. Their children come to join them, and their children’s children. Families living together for generations in the same place. Building homes, growing those homes, making them beautiful. Even as they do not die, they pass things on, and each generation adds something more. We have farmers in log cabins and dynasties that live in palaces with wifi. People live, they create, and they build it all. There’s an economy and nothing is free, but everything is earned and everything means something. That is the Empire of Hela. And it may not be a “benevolent” Empire, but it is an empire of freedom, where the dead may know want, but they never know slavery. This is how Hela has built her realm, and this is how she has taught me it is to be run as her Husband.*
HD’s “world” doesn’t work in a sterile environment (at least, not without a lot of state violence and enforced
slavery volunteerism) This “benevolent empire” couldn’t exist without violating every human right there is. And it can’t even exist in a vacuum. It would rapidly, rapidly fall apart as soon as it hit the real world, in ways I would list except that would be at least three more articles. (Though if people want that I will try). It is not a world of living people, but of a dying race. No one would try to achieve because they would be punished. No one would want to have children because they would be punished. It is a world built on sterilization and slavery. There would be no life in her Empire.
There would only be souls to feed Mine.
*Not that I run much. Helheim is Hel’s home, and anyone who knows anything of Norse society knows that the home is the woman’s kingdom where she has absolute power. I’m mostly just there for defense, political meetings she doesn’t want to go to, and sexy fun time. Which I am perfectly happy with.