Why Dropping Technology On The Third World May Be A Bad Idea

In nature, ecosystems tend to reach a balance with their surroundings. Human populations are no different. We may look at the third world and from our first world view find it odd, but those populations have found a way to live with what they have. If we introduce anything new, we can upset that balance and precipitate disaster.

Such was the case with the Musket Wars. When Europeans reached New Zealand, they brought with them early rifles known as muskets. This was not a problem except that this new technology landed in the laps of Maori tribes waging war on one another.

The new technology took these wars from somewhat ritualized hand-to-hand combat to a new level, such that whichever tribe got the muskets would dominate all others. The end result may have killed up to a fifth of the Maori in New Zealand, and upset the power balance such that the tribes were no longer able to coexist.

First world people live in a bubble. We consider all problems within the context of our civilization, which makes us take it for granted and fail to realize that it requires upkeep, not just in terms of physical infrastructure but moral, cultural and political infrastructure.

We also assume that everyone else is like us, and therefore should live like us, which is made easier by the appearance of them wanting to live like us. However, what we are actually doing is dropping imbalance into the human ecosystem from which they come, which will result (eventually) in doom for them.

Migration to Europe, for example, creates a safety valve for countries which are reproducing outside their capacity. So does foreign aid, including non-governmental food and medicine donations. The result is a runaway growth spiral where the population breeds more because the aid interrupts the feedback loop of survival, and because it needs to replace the migrants.

In the same way, our factory jobs we drop on these countries destroy the local economies. Where people might have been happy earning a few dollars a week before, and could live well on that in context, as soon as someone earns a few dollars a day, people abandon the methods which kept them in balance with nature and try to adopt the new way.

The problem with this new way is that it is inherently flawed. It has not worked in the first world, where people are so existentially depressed that they are not reproducing at replacement rates or above. It fails in the third world, in that it raises expectations and then dashes them as the manufacturing jobs go away when wages become too expensive, as happens over time.

A better solution is economic isolationism: the first world should trade among itself alone. This would not be as efficient, but would enable us to maintain higher quality standards than the plastic junk we are cranking out now. It would also allow us to get off of the growth death spiral.

Stable economies, like agrarian ones, do not grow rapidly because they are not centralized. They are in the opposite of centralization: a mesh of families, owning land and businesses, which are worked by people who live nearby and are separated from the owners by caste. This gives everyone a role, limits competition to the “sweet spot” between entropy and self-consumption, and stabilizes the area.

Growth economies do the opposite. They centralize production in cities and move everyone there to be equal fodder for the machines, which then translates into a faceless mass dependent on their jobs, manipulated by politicians because people in groups act like herds, i.e. cowering or stampeding (the neoliberal Left and neoconservative Right are thereby described).

The problem with a growth economy is that it is like a jet engine: it has to keep moving forward or it runs out of momentum, stalls and collapses. Agricultural economies are more resistant to collapse, although nothing is fully resistant to collapse. Growth economies however can be destroyed by something as simple as a panic, leading to a far-ranging collapse because of their centralized nature.

In this sense, we could see our circular Ponzi scheme economy as being much like the Musket Wars, but waged on ourselves: we gave power to those who wanted to dominate, and they then fought it out, leaving a wasteland with no social order and essentially destroying the civilization from within.

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