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The Atavistic Impulse for Social Justice

This discussion thread on Kevin Kelly's blog is the gift that keeps on giving.


Here's my latest contribution to that thread.

I've noticed that techno-enthusiasts and apologists for global, corporate capitalism like to point out that people who complain about inequality are really complaining about the relative disparity between the uber-rich and the so-called poor, but that in absolute terms, even people at the bottom of Western society enjoy outlandish abundance relative to the lives of people living in medieval Europe or in places not yet fully incorporated into the envelope of corporate globalism.

This is where the explicit argument usually ends, but the implicit argument seems to be that relative inequality is not a legitimate concern and that people should be thankful for the wide assortment of edible food-like products that Wal*Mart offers at such low prices.

Enthusiasts for evolutionary psychology point out that as social primates our place in the social structure of our group is of paramount importance to us, and so we are 'hard-wired' to be sensitive to extreme disparity even when people at the bottom live longer and enjoy more comforts than kings of old.

Transhumanists offer a ray of sunshine in the promise that we can 're-write human nature' and eliminate the atavistic impulse to resent someone whose income is a hundred thousand times greater than one's own even though it doesn't seem as though their contribution to society could possibly be a hundred thousand times greater than that of someone who works hard, obeys the rules but has no aptitude for financial speculation. This concern over gross inequality is a cognitive defect that a biotech singularity will allow us to set right.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Simon K. Jeppesen
Apr. 24th, 2011 11:42 pm (UTC)
Yup.... And while they are doing their genetic magic they can throw in the acceptence to be terminated when you do not perform well at the job - lets say at 60 years of age... 60 years is still a lot more then the average lifespan in Somalia for instance and lots of other places...
Apr. 29th, 2011 05:33 pm (UTC)
Yes, people who hate capitalism suffer from an evolutionary glitch that fills them with irrational anger. Luckily capitalism can solve that problem.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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