Monthly Archives: September 2013

Proposal: Extend Childhood to 25th Birthday

In more primitive societies, the age of consent was lower of necessity because people didn’t live very long and had to have lots of children within a short life-span in order to ensure society’s survival (given that most of them would die before reaching adulthood). Such societies accordingly defined adulthood by the age at which it became possible to procreate. Today’s America is not such a society. We live in a complex society that requires a high level of education and provides a lengthy lifespan for most. We accordingly opt to define adulthood by levels of brain development instead of by one’s ability to procreate. The old definitions of adulthood are comparatively barbaric and oppressive. Currently, 18 is considered the legal age of adulthood in this country. By that point, one is free to legally live on their own, to vote, to join the military, to drive, to smoke, and so on. But does this still make sense in view of recent studies revealing that brain development in reality isn’t concluded until around age 25.

The linked story indicates that neuroscience has discovered that 18-year-olds are actually only in the latter stages of puberty, and that, until their brains reach full maturity, they tend to be distinctly more impulsive than those of us on the other side of 25 because their brains haven’t yet fully developed the ability to control their responses to stimuli. In other words, 18-year-olds tend to be, of nature, less self-controlled and more subject to peer pressure than 25-year-olds. 25 is the age at which the the typical brain has fully developed these functions. This explains a lot of things, like why younger “adults” are statistically more likely than any other age group to wind up in car accidents or criminal activity for example: because they’re still in puberty, yet given the leeway of fully matured adults to to act on their own.

Child psychologists in the UK are indeed now already officially considering people children until age 25. They argue that adolescence comprises three stages rather than the previously understood two, including an early period of 12-14 years of age, a middle period of 15-17 years of age, and what they call late adolescence from 18 years of age to 25. The latter period was previously considered part of adulthood.

In view of this, my new thinking is actually that we should probably extend the legal definition of childhood to cover those under 25 or so. I believe this means it would be appropriate for us to move the legal age at which one may apply for a driver’s license, for example, to a higher age. It also means that we should probably standardize college education, making it free and compulsory for the entire population, as an extension of the growing-up experience. The latter part is important not only for the protection of the youth, but also is in the economic best interests of society as a whole today, I’m convinced. Let’s get real: increasingly, everyone needs a college education today. One can’t realistically get a decent career right out of high school anymore. One needs a degree more and more. That’s why today 85% of the youth go to college. It wasn’t anywhere near that overwhelming a majority just a decade or two ago. As far as leaving home and becoming independent goes, that too seems to be spontaneously on its way out for the college-age crowd. Today we see that the average American remains at home living with parents until age 23 and rising anyway…or, in other words, until they’re done with college or have dropped out. Those are some of the implications in my mind as to what we should do as a society going forward concerning the official definition of childhood, but there are also many other sweeping implications. If we recognize that one is still ultimately a child previous to age 25, then this implies that, for example, the overwhelming majority of pornography is child pornography because the sex industry is dependent on the exploitation of children for its existence and that militaries are intrinsically exploitative because they depend on the use of children as their cannon fodder given that actual adults rarely apply. It also explains why drug companies and drug dealers, statistically speaking, have to hook you before you graduate college or they never will. The implications are quite significant, in other words. Anyway, this is where things are already headed spontaneously. I think it’s time for our laws to better reflect both our developmental and economic realities.

 

Obama Admits American Imperialism!

Maybe you weren’t paying much attention to the contents of the president’s recent address to the United Nations, but you should’ve been! Check out his stated explanation of American policy toward the Middle East:

“The United States is prepared to use all elements of our power, and that includes military force, to secure our core interests in the region. …We will ensure the free-flow of energy from the region to the world.”

…Anyone care to comment on this rather audacious admission??

My Conversion to Futurist Communism

You’ve probably noticed that I describe myself as a Marxian democratic socialist. Why not specifically a communist? I’ve avoided describing myself as a communist for some time now because of the problem of global scarcity I discussed here. In the absence of sufficient abundance to provide for all, I’ve felt it impossible to argue for the complete abolition of production for exchange with any degree of rationality. Production for exchange cannot be abolished without an abundance sufficient to go around because it’s more productive…or at least it presently is.

If we didn’t have to worry about survival, we’d end up communist. The fundamental problem with communism that we’ve discovered in the 20th century is that it’s not as productive as capitalism. So if you could eliminate that productivity issue, it would become not only viable, but pretty much inevitable. Look at what happens to media now that it can be reproduced an unlimited number of times in cyberspace with next to no effort. It’s all free (more or less). The same thing would happen to everything if the physical world worked like cyberspace. Everything would become freely available. We just need to invent comparable replicators. And there’s some evidence that this is starting to happen, slowly but surely. Consider the recent advent of 3D printers, for example.


Now let me also highlight one other aspect of this slow-motion transition to communism we may be undergoing: the transition to free media was totally unorganized and more or less non-political. It was in no way led by the organized communist movement. It wasn’t the product of a revolution, an election, or a particular policy reform. It just happened. If the world is to undergo a communist reorganization, I think the aforementioned evidence suggests that that’s how it’s going to come about: we’re just going to evolve into it on the heels of key technological developments that eliminate the problem of scarcity. There are few people who will pay for things they can get for free. This also suggests, I might add, that the process of evolving from capitalism to communism will probably be initiated in the most technologically advanced countries, not the less developed nations of the world, although each stage of the process will spread rapidly across our increasingly interconnected globe.

It’s to that end that I have recently decided to amend my self-description from democratic socialist to futurist communist. I have an increasing amount of faith that this evolutionary path is the future: that it will happen.

Does this mean that the present political battles of socialists and communists are irrelevant? Hardly! We’re certainly not yet at the overall technological level necessary for the aforementioned transition to take place beyond the realm of a handful of different types of products. In the meanwhile, I continue to maintain that an egalitarian redistribution of the global product is the most moral, even if it means universal poverty (and it presently does) because it would benefit the immense majority of the world’s population. These political battles, as per Marxist theory, are indeed led by the international proletariat: the impoverished masses of the world, which are mainly concentrated in Third World countries. So in terms of political battles, it remains very important for socialists and communists to line up with the global poor and their nations in opposition to their exploiters (including the nations of their exploiters). But what I’m saying is that doing so will only, at best, get the world from capitalism to socialism ultimately. These political battles based on class struggles will not themselves replace production for exchange with production for use. The most advanced 21st century socialists should approach the world with that nuance.

I’m not the first person ever to embrace futurist communism. I am one of few, however, to embrace it from a Marxian perspective. Just thought it worth explaining this update on my overall worldview.

Polly’s Film Collection Edition Three: WEED

If you haven’t seen Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s recent documentary on marijuana, you should! As someone who, save for a handful of alcoholic beverages over the years, has never used drugs, I found it pretty informative. Smoking pot is now more popular than smoking cigarettes in this country, so I think it particularly important for us to learn the full facts about what the consequences are; what the health benefits and costs are. And yes it’s worth putting it that way because it can be both good for you and bad for you depending on what your condition is.

From watching this documentary, I learned a lot about the difference between the two main components of marijuana (THC and CBD), that marijuana isn’t always harmless and can be addictive and that growers, like tobacco companies, areĀ  taking measures to systematically increase the addictiveness of the drug over time, but also that there are perfectly legitimate medicinal uses for pot, including for the treatment of severe epilepsy, hand tremors, and potentially more. All in all, nothing here actually changed my opinion on this or any other drug. I continue to believe that marijuana should be legal for medicinal purposes with a prescription, but its sale for recreational purposes should remain illegal (and preferably criminal). I don’t believe in jailing or fining anyone for mere possession of any drug. Users are the victims, not the villains. Still, even you agree with all that, there’s a lot to learn here that’ll put it all in better perspective.

Without further adieu, here it is:

Why the Russians Won’t Let Us Adopt Their Kids

One of the cruelest penalties that comes with poverty is that you lose the right to have children. If you’re too poor to support your child then the government can take your child away, ostensibly for their benefit. The same basic principle applies on a global scale under our current system: poor countries don’t get to keep their kids. Often this redistribution of children from the poor to the more affluent takes place through the regular adoption system. In poor countries like Russia there are large numbers of parents who simply cannot provide for their children and thus must put them up for adoption. As a result of precisely that same problem, there also naturally exists a shortage of parents interested in adopting kids in such countries. The result is that a large proportion of these children wind up getting adopted by people in wealthier countries because that, mathematically speaking, is where you’ll find the larger number of people who can afford to support children. It’s one more humiliation that the global poor must endure.

As you may know, Russia has recently opted to reject this humiliation by banning Americans from adopting Russian children, yielding a hysterical outcry in our media. One of the various reasons Russian President Vladimir Putin put forward for supporting this ban was that the children Americans adopt often wind up in abusive homes or abandoned: a notion our news media smugly scoffed at at the time. The adoptive parents are benign and just want to provide disadvantaged children with a better life they couldn’t get in Russia, they insisted. Well we now have documented proof that Putin was, in fact, correct. A new investigative report has revealed the existence of a large, underground, Internet-based “re-homing” sub-culture where adoptive parents go to abandon their children to total strangers, often hawking them like products. You’ll want to check out this video on the investigation’s findings because they truly are stunning! 70% of the adopted children who went through the “re-homing” process this investigation uncovered were foreign-born and mostly from poorer countries. They frequently endure abuse from the strangers they’re abandoned to because this is the kind of means by which exploiters (like pedophiles) can get their hands on children. Here’s a sample that was provided of how these kids are advertized to strangers: “Born in October of 2000 – this handsome boy, ‘Rick’ was placed from India a year ago and is obedient and eager to please.” Sickening, isn’t it? It’s one more consequence of poverty; one that Russia has decided to opt out of. How horrible.

Defining Political Terms

Sometimes people not versed in the specialized jargon of politics, or overly versed specifically in one nation’s semi-official definitions, get confused on what political terms mean. Here are the term definitions that make the most sense of the world to me:

Left Wing – Egalitarian. The more egalitarian you are, the more left wing you are. This applies to both one’s economic and cultural values. Corresponds to proletarian (i.e. poor) status, especially when it comes to economics.

Right Wing – Anti-Egalitarian. The more pro-privilege or pro-stratification you are, the more right wing you are. This applies to both one’s economic and cultural values. Corresponds to bourgeois (i.e. propertied) status, especially when it comes to economics.

The terms “left wing” and “right wing” were established by the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789: the most hardcore monarchists were seated all the way to the right and the most radical democrats were seated all the way to the left. Many have noted that the functional definitions of the terms seem to have changed over time, given that today’s left is no longer of a particularly capitalistic orientation like the French revolutionaries of 1789 and that today’s right, globally speaking, is mostly capitalistic, rather than feudalistic, in its orientation. The consistency in the respective terms’ meanings over the course of their history can be found in the pro-equality vs. anti-equality dynamic. The left always advocates for a more equal distribution of economic power and/or political power and for cultural values that correspond to those things, while the right advocates for the maintenance of privilege or stratification as applicable and for a corresponding cultural attitude. This is the dialectical interplay between the two basic sides.

Progressive – Common alternate term for left wing.

Liberal – Permissive or individualist. Corresponds to youth and the intellectual community.

Conservative – Traditionalist. Corresponds to religious institutions.

Libertarianism – Liberalism taken to its logical extreme.

Fascism – Conservatism taken to its logical extreme.

Communitarianism – Communism lite. Mild collectivism. Corresponds to community groups.

Communism – A state of affairs in which all property is owned in common rather than privately. The purposes of such a system are to eliminate the class system and to replace production for exchange with production for use.

Socialism – A state of affairs in which the principal means of production and distribution (or most of an economy) are/is owned socially, rather than exclusively, in some fashion. All communists are socialists but not all socialists are communists.

Capital – Property

Capitalism – An economic system in which most property is owned privately.

Feudalism – A situation in which the state owns most property and is owned privately.

Slavery – A situation in which people are considered private property.