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  1. #1

    Default Without Electricity?

    What are the philosophical or social or even spiritual implications of electricity?

    I like to think about the things we all take for granted and try and consider them afresh, I saw an episode of The Incredible Hulk once in which Thor featured and Thor imagined he was staying in the residence of a "great wizard" because he could produce hot and cold rain from thin air, in reality it was a shower.

    Sometimes I think about how important something is by what life would be like without it, this brings me to electricity again, in Fight Club the protagonists alter ego Tylar Durdan wants to unleash a kind of primitivist revolution by bombing all the power stations believing that within three days if it where sustained then a power cut would result in atavistic behaviour and society going to seed.

    I also watched a science programme from the BBC recently in which a scientist described being in Tokyo during a power cut, how people in high rise flats which where something like fifty floors had to take the stairs and amount of effort involved in just a day without power, he suggested that without electricity we all live in a pre-industrial, pre-machine world.

    Do you think that's an over statement and what do you think about it?

  2. #2
    DoubleplusUngoodNonperson
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    i dunno about that statement, it misses the mark. The Amish think technology is the devil, that hits the mark better albeit in the verbiage of the priest.

    the psychological reality of behaviorism is such that any action we take to act upon our environment makes us feel powerful and strong, and the less action we take to act upon our environment makes us feel depressed and hopeless. Electricity and most forms of technology induce the latter in many cases because it takes away great challenges that need to be overcome. If you can withstand the irrational ramblings, read ted kazynski's manifesto sometime. in between paranoid blanket political statements, he makes some interesting points about where we are headed - mass depression and alienation due to technology. While i don't agree with his solution by any means, I do think that a feeling of loss of control over our environment is contributing to depression. We need to adapt to make ourselves useful in other ways each time a piece of technology makes a physical labor outmoded or even pointless.

  3. #3
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Electricity and other modern technologies allow us to live like kings.

    This is largely why technology advanced so slowly during the middle ages. The people in charge already lived like kings (because they literally were kings). They had no need for lightbulbs, because they had servants to light the lamps for them. They had no need for a hot water heater, because they had servants to heat the water for them. And so on....

    Technology is what brings us closer to a more egalitarian society. Because of electricity and other technologies we can live like kings. However there is still the issue of the amount of resources we are consuming. If the energy problem is not solved then only those wealthy enough will be able to maintain our current high electricity lifestyle. Socially, it will be like shifting backward toward the middle ages.
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  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Liquid_Laser View Post
    Technology is what brings us closer to a more egalitarian society. Because of electricity and other technologies we can live like kings. However there is still the issue of the amount of resources we are consuming. If the energy problem is not solved then only those wealthy enough will be able to maintain our current high electricity lifestyle. Socially, it will be like shifting backward toward the middle ages.
    This interests me because in a bizarre way Marx pointed up the relationship between the means of production but also technology generally and more or less suggested a causative link between them and the prevailing social attitudes, so for instance you have stone mills and you get kings, its one of the things which in a superficial way is easy to rubbish about Marx because the Amish communities that someone else mentioned dont fit the generalisation but I think there's something to it in the sense that you have mentioned here.

    The more diffuse and the greater potential for superabundance the more the significance of inequality, status or class, will receed into the background.

    Imagine if technology could make replicators a reality, the productive plant is then the home, perhaps if it where minaturised for individuals they would have complete material and productive freedom.

    The difficulties this would generate for a society whose cultural and political ideologies havent kept apace with development is plain, the intellectual property rights battles and piracy in music etc. show how production being socialised or diffuse is problematic within the frame work of monopoly capitalism.

    I cant treat as credible the primitivist agendas, I've examined them closely because some of what alienates them about modernism I believe would alienate anyone but their prescriptions are loony tunes. I wouldnt mind if they decided they where going to all go and live after their own fashion, like the Amish, but they want to stop everyone else living in the fashion they're accustomed to.

    I think that a superabundant society, and it'll only be possible if society overcomes its dependence on fossil fuels anyway, could still have inequality but the issue of material poverty would be even more of an irrelevance than it is now.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Tiltyred's Avatar
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    You believe the issue of poverty is an irrelevance?

  6. #6
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Electricity and other modern technological innovations are causing people to lose many basic life skills: things like sewing and woodworking (especially by hand), gardening, preserving food, making bread and yogurt, navigating using maps and reference points, even writing by hand on paper. It may be good that individuals don't need to do all of these things for themselves any more, but anomalies like power outages and food bacteria scares show how useful they can be, especially should a crisis situation become prolonged.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Tiltyred's Avatar
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    Very important points, yes, Coriolis!

    There are more of us living like kings due to technology, but there are huge segments of populations enslaved to produce it. I saw a movie called The End of Poverty last weekend and it was quite an eye-opener.

    Exploring the history of poverty in developing countries, filmmaker Philippe Diaz contends that today's economic inequities arose as a result of colonization, military conquest and slavery, with wealthier countries seizing the resources of the poor. Narrated by Martin Sheen, this absorbing documentary includes interviews with numerous historians, economists and sociologists who shed light on the ongoing conditions that contribute to poverty.

    It only took a couple of power outages to get me out of the high rise I used to live in and into a ground floor dwelling. I think cities will rapidly collapse without electricity, don't see how it could be otherwise.

  8. #8
    figsfiggyfigs
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    I spent 2 months in Iraq. In a city where they got only 2hr ON of electricity followed by 4-6 hours OFF.

    It's torture.

    You better have candles.

    you don't get access to water because the pumps aren't working. Water sanitization is a joke( you have to buy bottled water to drink). Even when you buy it, it's warm because fridges only work for 2 hours every 4-6hr.

    You have to plan what you buy so it doesn't rot from the heat.

    It's 46C* , no air conditioning.

    If some people have money, they join a community generator, where they only give them enough electricity to turn on a fan, fridge , and a tv. This generator goes for 2 hours, 3 max.

    if you're rich, you can afford your own generator, which only goes for 2 hours as well. it powers just a bit more than the community generators. and you have to constantly fill it up with gasoline, or change the oil; ANDDD you must constantly switch circuits between the 3.

    I honestly don't understand how they can live there.
    It really fuxed with my mind. I became so short tempered, mean, and CONSTANTLY stressed out to the lack of options available to me. I was carrying around a fan 24/7. I had to plan around a schedule to make sure everything gets done during "electricity hours"

    Imagine having to work in an office, in 46* C degree weather with no electricity, where it's full of people. No cold water to drink; hot everything.

    Without electricity at all? Good God, I don't even want to think about it

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiltyred View Post
    You believe the issue of poverty is an irrelevance?
    I dont believe poverty exists in most of the developed world, I pretty much believe when obescity is your killer rather than starvation then a tipping point has been reached.

  10. #10
    The Architect Alwar's Avatar
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    The Amish do use technology including electricity. I watched a short news clip awhile back about them adopting solar in large numbers in Indiana. They decide as a group which technologies they will and won't adopt based on how they feel it will effect their culture and independence. It varies by colony which ones are adopted or abandoned.

    I've been without electricity for a few days before from a tornado, I am happy with books though. You might loose a $1000 worth of groceries if you are the freezer stock up type, we had a generator. Wasn't there an icestorm in Tennessee a few years ago that killed several people because their building standards weren't made for that kind of weather?

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