What's Wrong with Society?

Original post date: October 2014, Update: December 2015

It's simple really. Nothing is wrong with it. Society, like anything else created by our social behavior, is following human evolution ever since we started living together within small and functionally organized communities. In the beginning there was a simple need for this - it was impossible for just one man to hunt down one, for example, mammoth or to defend a family from the herd of prehistoric saber-tooth tigers and the only solution was to get together and organize a little for the mutual benefit. Not to mention everlasting need for prolonging the species which also required, sort of, well, socializing with a member of opposite gender.

Mammoth hunt and prehistoric society*

We can only wish that things are as simple as it was millenniums before. If we disregard the fact that socializing in order to save the species didn't change much from the times where humans shared the habitat with mammoths, all other aspects of one human society, due to the thousands of years of human evolution, changed a lot. We multiplied to enormous numbers, spread to the farthest corner of the Earth, used many different languages, started worshiping the divine and prominent members among us, created money based system of rewarding, kept original differences between us and created new ones, built villages, cities and countries to live inside and ultimately developed a society as it is today with all it's flaws and bright sides.

The question is "Did we do it wrong?".

Could we do it better or this was the best we could do? Did we make wrong foundations in the first place and what we have now is just a consequence of our ancestor's decisions and their poor vision of humanity as it is today. Or whatever they did, we would eventually evolve into this by it's nature?

Let's not buzz our brains with "what-if" questions too much. We can't change the past and explore different paths in human social evolution. Instead what I want to write a little in this post is just to "examine" some of the foundations we live in or use on daily basis and take them for granted as they were always there. But before I just want to state something obvious - in this little mind experiment I am not trying to change something that needed thousands of years to emerge. That would be mission impossible. For example, we can try to advocate that living in big cities or divide ourselves with borders and countries are not wise for many reasons, but in reality efficient "canceling" of this way of life over night is not possible. If we use the political metaphor, that would be similar to the revolution of some kind in order to change, for instance, already established political system. We know in our history that all the revolutions didn't end without violent conflicts with lots of casualties and spilled blood. The less "bloody" disappointment, this time in realm of information technologies, felt the mighty Google, couple of years ago, when they tried to speed up evolution of E-Mail and tried to replace it with "Google Wave", ambitious project with a power to bury email service forever with its sophisticated layers and new technology. I remember they advertised "The Wave" service as "of how the E-Mail would look like if it was invented yesterday instead of twenty years ago". Like in politics arena, in a way, Wave was trying to revolutionize already recognized system and expectedly failed big time.

Money, Money, Money**

No, social evolution is a very slow process and just like evolution of species it is based on many tries and errors. Very few revolutionary methods succeeded to affect it on a big scale and I can't recall anything in the past that did it without turbulence.

But, that doesn't stop us to use our imagination and to try and see one hypothetical future if we change some ground foundations a little. Just for fun.

So, for a very first ground property of our lives, let's think how to improve the system behind the "Money". Probably rudimentary trade in form of simple barter is born with very first societies long ago but over time when amount of goods and services have arisen to the numbers that simple exchange couldn't work anymore it was natural that using a medium of exchange is something that was inevitably invented very soon. History of the "medium of exchange" is very interesting, from the very beginning where people in early civilized societies used barley grains to exchange things throughout the times where different commodities are uses as money like shells, alcohol, cigarettes and even cannabis. Today, after long period of using gold, silver and copper coins we successfully created system of banknotes that by the beginning of 20th century all modern and industrialized countries accepted as the only means of use for all kind of trades. However, even though inter-medium in form of money was inevitable it added other dimensions to the people daily life. I am sure greed existed long before money was invented in its rudimentary form, but in modern societies it received its pure meaning or simple desire to acquire or possess more than one needs. Perhaps the only way to fix the basic problem with money in which many people started to adore shiny banknotes more than the goods you can buy with, is to remove one of its properties out of equation. Cash. We need to ultimately stop using cash and replace it with full electronic system. This way "home money collectors" will be eliminated and the system of individual wealth would become more transparent in many ways. I am sure "individual greed for money" would be significantly reduced even though as an psychological concept hidden deeply into our emotional brains, greed is simply impossible to remove.

Politics and Power***

On the other side, hypothetically speaking, removing worldwide banknotes and replace them all with several or just one planetary electronic monetary value (let's call it credit or bitcoin?) could be possible and that would efficiently remove so called "corporate greed for money" and force worldwide stock markets to deal more with goods and services instead of dealing with money alone and their exchange rates. Not to mention medical benefits of not using papers and coins that travel from one hand to another all the time. Payments in the future must be done completely without touching of any kind, preferably by wirelessly reading of, fingerprint protected ID cards. Of course, there will still be people who will start worshiping 'credits' now, instead of green banknotes, but hopefully their number will be significantly reduced due to lack of physical connection in hypothetical new system.

Ok, now when we fixed the money problem ;-), what else we are enjoying every day for granted? What is that thing that average human being worships the same along with wealth and collecting treasures of any kind? Yes. The power. There is no society in nowadays planetary kingdoms, republics, states, provinces, even the smallest municipalities with no rulers recognized and worshiped by majority. No matter if they use simple dictatorship, communism, still live in African tribes or within highly evolved democracies, everything is organized within one or couple "alfa" leader(s) on power, followed by the people designated in lower ranks ("betas" and "omegas" if we use wolf herd analogy). These behavior also came from our emotional inner being we inherited from our animal origins. Fixing this problem is easy and within current societies (evolutionary speaking) I can't see better system than democracy. People are different in many aspects and it is necessary that majority select the rulers and the only thing we need to do is to improve democracy as it is in current stage. In simple words, instead of voting for political parties that if elected, govern the society for several years until next elections, it became necessary to find a way to involve people and voting system more frequently and for each and every agenda that requires important decision to be made. Instead of voting for politicians, elections should be organized for each chairman, so to speak. Electronic voting is now possible and counting the results can be done almost instantly so we need a way to vote for prime minister alone as well as for each member of the government. Also, voting should be selective and it should not allow all members of community to vote every time. For example, hypothetically speaking, why would I be involved into election of ministry of health when I committed and educated myself within food and agriculture industry. I don't even know anybody from the medical institutions, so how my vote would be relevant? The same would be for election of ministry of agriculture and only relevant people within this realm should participate in this election and there is no need for doctors and nurses to bother voting for something thay have so little in common. Anyway, real democracy system requires many changes and nowadays technologies allow the transformation. The only problem is that politicians would suffer the most and almost extinct in the process making this change as hard as the exchange of CRT television sets with flat screens. But it is inevitable and in one way or another it will happen. Like in case of "Cathode Ray Tube" TV sets, no matter how old technology spread its roots, it is destined to die eventually.

Five Myths About Education****

So far we encountered financial and political systems that actually create the rules responsible for one society health. But, what is even more important than these. Who are actually behind these systems? Yes. People. Individuals. But how they came to be in the fist place? Where did they learn all what they know? Yes. This is the final social link we need to improve. The Education. We all once were kids. No matter how talented we were, we needed to go through the educational system to became what we are today. This is where everything started and therefore the system that is the most responsible for the outcome of one society. What we have now in our societies, basically everything bad and good in our human existence, more or less, have to thank to the education. If one man or woman became successful scientist responsible for some kind of breakthrough discovery that would change the world, the big portion of gratitude was going to the education institutions where he/she spent early days learning and acquiring knowledge and skills. The same amount of credits goes to the education institutions who actually provided installation of a mass murderer, serial killer or lunatic war general or at least didn't do enough to prevent their misfortune. Bottom line here is that educational part of any society is something that must be the most important of them all. Sadly, there is no country in the world who prioritize this part over anything else. Not even the highly evolved democracies and technocracies recognized the full potential and danger of one educational system. We now have mediocre politicians and bank employees that enjoy wealthier life than highly educated teachers and university professors. Not to mention that military budgets in ALL countries are way bigger than their counterparts in educational and scientific systems directly or indirectly funded by tax money taken from people. When I think of nowadays societies all over the world in relation to education and science the title question "What's Wrong with Society?" might not be accurate. Maybe the better question would be "Why Society is Turned Upside Down?".

Yes, education in private schools and universities are way better by the quality of given knowledge comparing to, tax funding, state institutions but looking it from the global scale there are only few of them, not to mention that the price of scholarship is way above average income of the society they are located in, automatically excluding potentially extraordinary students from participating in the first place. The solution I have in mind is based on further fragmentation of class groups. Schools, especially elementary schools, are gathering kids away from their families every day and it would be only fair to provide family-like atmosphere inside class room. If we consider this, it seems reasonable that number of students should not be bigger than 5 per group. These small selected groups, would be enjoying classes in a more relaxing environment and over time get better results than a group of 15-30 pupils like today simply because each member of the smaller group would be more active on daily basis. Family-like atmosphere would allow active tutoring of poor or lazy students as well as better acceptance of those came from dysfunctional families. Furthermore, bright students and their interests would be spotted much earlier and therefore provided with more time in targeted education following their recognized talents and interests. The goal is also to get much better insight of the development of young people during their childhood and adolescent periods where they are the most vulnerable and easy targets to various influences.

I will stop now and probably leave some more foundations and brainstorming about their improvements for some future posts (for example dealing with social security in respect to medical and elderly insurance or demographic separations of different societies). Base line here is that nothing is written in stone and there is nothing wrong with thinking of how to change some social foundation even though it is in use for centuries. Times are passing fast and sometimes we might be unaware that some technology already developed can help us live much better if we only try and dare to use it.

Without revolutionizing anything of course.

Grisly find suggests humans inhabited Arctic 45,000 years ago*

Money, Money, Money**

Politics and Power***

Five Myths About Education****