I will add, as an aside, however, that I am not too keen on the rhetoric of a humanity that needs saving when all is said and done, since what I think humanity needs most of all is to be free. I do not mean to belittle in the least the discourse of existential risk (and I am an advocate, for example, of a proportionate version of the precautionary principle as a democratizing peer-to-peer deliberative framework for technodevelopment, one that is more likely to encourage public works and r & d than to discourage them) and so on. But I do worry that the commonplace move of thinking about "the" future through repeated recourse to survival over self-creation, security over democracy, threats over promises, and more particularly elite knowledge of threats over rash and biased popular ignorance about these threats skews too much "futurist" discourse into profoundly (bio)conservative forms, usually forms that drift all-too-comfortably into ready-made neoliberal economic terms and forms of security-speak that rationalize endless military spending (that is to say, in affirmative action for elites). Again, I don't deny the dangers, but I insist that democratization yields more a robust, flexible, reliable, responsive knowledge base with which to deal with danger, and hence democracy is a priority even if one worries about danger. Again, I don't deny the instrumental force of concrete technodevelopmental outcomes, but I insist that it is not this force but the fairer distribution of the costs, risks, and benefits of concrete technodevelopmental outcomes that renders them emancipatory or not.
Sunday, February 4, 2007
To exist, or to be free?
We've talked a lot recently about "saving the world" and "saving humanity". Dale Carrico (one of my own favorite writers) has a different perspective: the championing of freedom and democracy above all else. The following is from a recent email from Dr Carrico. One of the great qualities of Carrico's writing is that it is dense with things to talk about. I'd like to hear Dr Brint's response to this in terms of conflicts between freedom and liberty (as he described in his book, Tragedy and Denial).