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If a truly sustainable society was created...would you be happy there?:

Lately I've been reading a lot about the challenges humanity will face in the next few decades (in an environmental, economical and social level) and what will be necessary to surpass them. Now, I once expressed the fear of society descending into anarchy, so I counterbalance that with what could happen if things go right. And it brought me to "transition" communities which are apparently the best blueprint for the "new paradigm":

http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2011-05-11/transition-and-collapse-scenario

Now, I do acknowledge that said societies could be a great thing for the planet and mankind in general if they were successful, but they still frighten me for a reason:

I don't think I could live in one. In fact, they go against every thing I wanted out of life.

  • I always wanted to work on great projects and make contributions to technology that affect the lives of millions. In this society you can only affect a few dozen.
  • I was always weary of small communities because of first hand accounts of people who lived in small villages: while people do have great concern for others, that often translates into persistent gossip and butting in other people's business. If a rumor goes out for example that someone is having an affair, even if the only evidence for that is a woman holding hands with a man, it spreads like wildfire and irreparable damage is made to the woman's life before it's all cleared. And god help you if you've done something REALLY frowned upon like being gay.
  • There is talk of heavy reliance on growing your own food. Isn't this an incredibly labor intensive process? Don't you have to spend 15 hour days in the fields to do this?
  • All this will be done without long distance transport and possibly even worse the Internet. If the Internet is indeed going to have to end, doesn't that mean that a great deal of knowledge will be lost? Will information once again have gatekeepers and if you wish to know about a certain topic you will just have to be lucky enough to have someone to teach you?
  • Could you REALLY stand to be talking to the same group of people for the rest of your life? I have a small social circle and I have to recharge quite often simply because I'm sick of getting the same opinions and reactions over and over.
  • And worst of all, this entire lifestyle reeks of something I NEVER understood: living just to SURVIVE. I never understood why people would want to retire to the country and spend the rest of their lives being self sufficient. I never understood people who want to live outside of society living by their wits. I REALLY don't understand people who WANT there to be a zombie apocalypse. I want my life to MEAN something, even if it's a meaning I MYSELF give it. If consuming a bunch of resources until you die is what life is all about, then I might as well cut out the middle man and kill myself right away so people who apparently enjoy living for its own sake (which I sure don't) can do so. It's certainly the logical thing to do.

SO what do you think? Could you live in such a world? Would you WANT to?
 
Three-Puppet Saluter
I'm unambitious enough, and some models allow for extensive information access, which I would pretty much die without. But yeah, I know that most people would hate to have that imposed on them.
Hail Martin Septim!
 3 Inverurie Jones, Sun, 25th Dec '11 4:02:47 PM from Station 78 Relationship Status: And they all lived happily ever after <3
'80s TV Action Hero
Yep. I wouldn't mind that.
Be professional. Be polite. Have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
Prince of Dorne
It would be horrible. But then, if things ever get to that point it would not exactly by choice anyway.
Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken.

Unrelated ME1 Fanfic
Well, I could tolerate it, but why is that type of society the only sustainable one? Wouldn't, say, a Utopia be sustainable and, by definition, good to live in?

Edit: Also, merry Christmas everyone!

edited 25th Dec '11 4:17:53 PM by stripesthezebra

 6 Inverurie Jones, Sun, 25th Dec '11 4:23:28 PM from Station 78 Relationship Status: And they all lived happily ever after <3
'80s TV Action Hero
[up] Define 'Utopia'.
Be professional. Be polite. Have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
[up]

A society where a lack of wellbeing is not a problem, because there is no lack of wellbeing.

For the record, I consider a massive lack of information to be a lack of wellbeing, since information and learning are key to enjoying life for very many people, myself included.

[down]

I disagree. We've made such massive strides in recent years, utopia seems very much in reach.

edited 25th Dec '11 4:37:44 PM by stripesthezebra

^^Well, originally, the word meant "nowhere."

And I think that's an appropriate root for the term. Perfection isn't a thing that exists, it's more of a concept to strive for.

edited 25th Dec '11 4:32:27 PM by INUH

 9 Inverurie Jones, Sun, 25th Dec '11 4:35:57 PM from Station 78 Relationship Status: And they all lived happily ever after <3
'80s TV Action Hero
[up][up] I know what 'Utopia' means, but I was curious as to how you'd apply the term here. It is too vague to have real meaning here. What kind of utopia?

edited 25th Dec '11 4:36:18 PM by InverurieJones

Be professional. Be polite. Have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
 10 Barkey, Sun, 25th Dec '11 4:45:37 PM from Bunker 051 Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
War Profiteer
•And worst of all, this entire lifestyle reeks of something I NEVER understood: living just to SURVIVE. I never understood why people would want to retire to the country and spend the rest of their lives being self sufficient. I never understood people who want to live outside of society living by their wits. I REALLY don't understand people who WANT there to be a zombie apocalypse. I want my life to MEAN something, even if it's a meaning I MYSELF give it. If consuming a bunch of resources until you die is what life is all about, then I might as well cut out the middle man and kill myself right away so people who apparently enjoy living for its own sake (which I sure don't) can do so. It's certainly the logical thing to do.

To each their own, for me, surviving in such a climate where others have difficulty does mean something. Survival against adversity is the meaning that I give my life, and all the foppish assholes who take what they have for granted can suffer if the decline and collapse truly does come, I'll be camped out with a close group of like-minded friends, raiding their homes for supplies or starting our own township.

So I suppose to put it bluntly, yes, I wouldn't mind living in a post-collapse sustainable society, every society needs its protectors, and while life is much more risky in such a place, at least it's some good honest living.
The AR-15 is responsible for 95% of all deaths each year. The rest of the deaths are from obesity and drone strikes.
[up][up]

Well, I'm a socialist, so my vision is a society where a successful socialist (and eventually, communist) system has been installed, consequently leading to the end of institutionalized suffering.

An objectivist utopia would probably be very different from a socialist utopia.

[up]

There's nothing good and honest about attacking other people in the manner you described.

edited 25th Dec '11 4:48:21 PM by stripesthezebra

 12 Inverurie Jones, Sun, 25th Dec '11 4:57:13 PM from Station 78 Relationship Status: And they all lived happily ever after <3
'80s TV Action Hero
But in what way will your communist utopia be 'sustainable', rather than the industrialised, polluted hells that communist countries have thus far tended to become?

Don't get me wrong; I detest capitalism, but I'm certain that our current methods of production cannot be sustained, regardless of the economic system they support.

edited 25th Dec '11 4:58:37 PM by InverurieJones

Be professional. Be polite. Have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
[up]

Well, I thought it was obvious, but if it's actually a utopia, it's going to be a far more successful society than the USSR or the PRC, on every level, including sustainability. I wouldn't just look at the Soviet Union, with all it's flaws, and go "mission accomplished, this is utopia".

Edit: sorry I just read your post in full, I also think it's possible to have a successful socialist society that doesn't pollute to the point where we destroy the planet. With green technology available now, this looks very possible.

edited 25th Dec '11 5:02:51 PM by stripesthezebra

 14 Inverurie Jones, Sun, 25th Dec '11 5:02:09 PM from Station 78 Relationship Status: And they all lived happily ever after <3
'80s TV Action Hero
Not at all obvious. What would make it 'sustainable'? How would you solve the problems of resource depletion, power generation and waste disposal?
Be professional. Be polite. Have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
[up] We need to end the current process of destroying the environment because it profits corporatists. If we consumed what we needed for a good life, instead of consumming what we need to create bloated paychecks for the rich, I think we could preserve the planet. On top of that, green technology needs to be used to it's maximum potential, not just to the level that's convenient for fossil fuel companies.

 16 Inverurie Jones, Sun, 25th Dec '11 5:11:37 PM from Station 78 Relationship Status: And they all lived happily ever after <3
'80s TV Action Hero
Indeed, though I don't really believe that our current lifestyle would survive such a change. We simply don't have any means available of generating enough power by 'green' means to keep running all our crappy gadgets.

edited 25th Dec '11 5:12:31 PM by InverurieJones

Be professional. Be polite. Have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
 17 Journeyman, Sun, 25th Dec '11 5:12:29 PM from Here and there.
It's the Over Lord!
I could live with it. I'd have to learn whole new skills, but I'd manage. I wouldn't be happy at first, but I could grow into whatever role they needed from me, given time. Without the distraction of my computer, I'd need something new to do anyway.

I really can't contribute much more to this convo, but that addresses the title at least.
When the hammer falls and your world shatters, I'll be there to cut the handle and pick up your pieces.
@Invurie Jones

There will have to be some change, of course, but I don't think that anything more than the real excesses will have to end. Our lives won't be bad at all, and for most people, they'll get better. Also, I think you underestimate green energy.

 19 Inverurie Jones, Sun, 25th Dec '11 5:22:26 PM from Station 78 Relationship Status: And they all lived happily ever after <3
'80s TV Action Hero
I think most people greatly overestimate the 'green' energy technologies currently available.

We'd have to cut back very severely. I don't disagree that life would be better, I just think that the majority of westerners- particularly the predominant demographic on this site- would have a hard time seeing it that way.

Personally, I have little time for most of the things that the majority seem to find indispensable, so I'd probably be far happier.

edited 25th Dec '11 5:23:38 PM by InverurieJones

Be professional. Be polite. Have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
@Invurie

"We'd have to cut back very severely. I don't disagree that life would be better, I just think that the majority of westerners- particularly the predominant demographic on this site- would have a hard time seeing it that way.

Personally, I have little time for most of the things that the majority seem to find indispensable, so I'd probably be far happier. "

Well, in that case we're probably on the same page, depending on what you consider indispensable. I would be perfectly fine without my own car, if that's the kind of thing you're talking about.

 21 johnnyfog, Sun, 25th Dec '11 5:32:19 PM from NYC Relationship Status: They can't hide forever. We've got satellites.
Mornin'.
This is what you call a First World Problem. People with cushy lives but no real influence over the world trying to acclimate themselves to the idea of surviving in Rwanda-like conditions.
What I lacks in brains I make for in…um…I make up for in…in…um…gummy bears. Yeah, that's the ticket.
[up]

Once again, it should be obvious that when discussing a utopian, sustainable society, we are not discussing Rwanda. Rwanda is an example of a society that underwent abject failure, not success or sustainability.

 23 Nohbody, Sun, 25th Dec '11 5:45:15 PM from Somewhere in Dixie Relationship Status: Mu
Just zis guy
Admittedly I only skimmed the linked article, but setting aside my skepticism of the hypothetical collapse portrayed I find myself wondering what would keep things at "sustainable" even if such a situation occurred.

I don't see anything short of a new serfdom that would make people content with slogging away for 10 or more hours a day in the field (probably "more", but I'm being generous here tongue ) and not leave them wanting more, or at least give their children the opportunity to have more when they grow up. Medieval Stasis is fine as a fictional concept, but not so much when you have to actually live under it... especially when the "unsustainable" advanced society is only a few generations in the past, easily within the memories of the older people in the village.

One part in particular makes me wonder what reality the author is living in, under the "Scenario part four" section:

wars diminish as people in each remaining nation and area struggle to deal with (04) the huge number of displaced and homeless people all around them.

(emphasis mine)

In a word: lolwut

The scope of wars may diminish without a national infrastructure to support current armies, but the notion that there won't be people out there who are willing to take "might makes right" to its natural conclusion (or that if they exist, they'll all be General Failures who couldn't war their way out of a wet paper bag) is dubious at best, given even a casual reading of just the last ten thousand or so years of history.

[edit]

In regards to the thread topic question, I doubt I would. I like not having to kill and skin my own meat just for a burger, or not having to tend a field for much of the day just to make sure I have wheat for that burger's bun. I'm also too fond (as some would see it) of the idea that if I bust ass sufficiently I can do better than just plugging along as things are, without change.

edited 25th Dec '11 5:54:10 PM by Nohbody

 24 Barkey, Sun, 25th Dec '11 6:22:36 PM from Bunker 051 Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
War Profiteer
There's nothing good and honest about attacking other people in the manner you described.

Meh, I'd much rather start a township and protect a population, but one does what one has to in order to survive.

In a choice between raiding or dying, I'm going with raiding. I'd rather form a group of other military folks and go with the Brotherhood of Steel option though.(The Fallout Tactics incarnation)
The AR-15 is responsible for 95% of all deaths each year. The rest of the deaths are from obesity and drone strikes.
 25 Radical Taoist, Sun, 25th Dec '11 6:27:17 PM from the #GUniverse
scratching at .8, just hopin'
Depends on the implementation.

We can make electricity cheap enough to maintain the Internet, and if we do high-density urban agriculture right then four hours/day from everyone means free food. I could live in a society like that comfortably. Shit, I make my living working online, but I don't fear a little honest manual labour.

My biggest concern would be the maintenance medical services. That's the dangerous shit. A pandemic at a critical point in time just before we can't afford global travel could really fuck us up.
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