Comment author: redslider 17 January 2015 08:17:03PM *  0 points [-]

I suppose I could be counted among those "outside critics" the topic mentioned. What surprised me, however, was that I expected to find an article eschewing the role of criticism and suggesting ways of removing critics, inside and outside the ranks of its members. This is what one often encounters in organizations that feel threatened by anything but the most complementary remarks on what they are doing. In addition, I stopped by this site for one, and only one, purpose. To briefly describe my thoughts about a world where "altruism" would be a superfluous term, not to criticize anything about what people are, perhaps must, do in the world we have now, as it is given. In that, I always regard any tasks which even temporarily mitigate the amount of suffering or damage caused on this planet as essential if we are even to tread water for awhile.

Actually, however, I don't regard myself as a critic at all. I don't really know enough about your group to even begin to presume I could judge it in any general or particular way. I also did not regard my one, and only, post (a comment on the topic "What is effective altruism") as a "critique" in any real sense of that term. But I did think it might be useful to offer a view of a world beyond charity and altruism. I've always regarded such portraits as useful, if for no other reason than the opportunity permitting one to check what they are doing to be sure they are not closing important doors to the future even as they open doors in the present. So, that was my reason for coming and making that post.

My own job however, as I define it, is not related to the here and now, except as I and the newspaper I steward suggest things that might be done in the here and now that would substantially alter the underlying reality we have all come to accept as the normative script for the future. That I think is a mistake that is made all too often. We refer to the reality of the present as if it were the only possible reality, and often refer to it in invariant terms such as "human nature". I don't agree with that position at all, and regard it as one of the most persistent and pernicious obstacles to changing our reality and the obvious future it offers us. I happen to think reality is an alterable feature of the human project, and subject to rewrite if we wish to do that. The old scripts, the ones that have been written for us and handed to us, are only 'real' as long as we accept them as reality and tacitly consent to them. In any case, that's how I view the matter.

On a personal level, I might actually offer a critique on the concept of "altruism" but I won't. I'll only briefly mention that for me, altruism (our habits and practices of it) implies a dependency on unaccountable individuals and institutions to set the priorities and provide for the essentials of survival to the people of the world. My view is that, when it comes to essentials, that is a job societies and civilizations as a whole should be doing. Whether they do it or not is beside the point. The fact remains, they should be. I regard it as a core function of having a society in the first place. And so, you will understand that I view charity and altruism as an obstacle to understanding that and rewriting the scripts of reality that would make it so. All, without for one minute disregarding how essential charity and altruism are at the moment and that they need to at least be supported even in the midst of demanding that we transfer large swatches of what they do to the public responsibility form managing and delivering such basic services.

But that's just my personal view on these matters, and I've really no intention of posting anything to that effect or arguing the case further. But I did think the piece on omoiyari and a world without need for welfare or altruism or anything like those might be useful in some way. I hope it is, and wish you all the best. omoiyari, Red Slider

Comment author: redslider 17 January 2015 12:53:30AM *  2 points [-]

just a small thought on the term "altruism" -- in an omoiyari* world there is really no need for altruism or charity. They are not required and hardly, if ever, occur. In an omoiyari world every success is reciprocal, every personal creative act is a shared success. By the same token, every wound one causes to another is a self-inflicted wound. In such a world, the terms 'altruism', 'charity' and the like simply drop away. Nor is there any conflict between the states of individuality and collective. Indeed, where the personal is shared and reciprocal, personal creativity, imagination and exploration are routinely encouraged and fostered.

Omoiyari society (or civilization, if you prefer) is a "we" society. But there is no implication of "we" being at the expense of "you" or "me". It is a society which maximizes and distributes the surplus of our creativity and energy, rather than conscripting it. It does so with the minimum of distortion or dislocation of each person's self-directed initiatives. And there is plenty for an omoiyari society to recycle and share, because there is little need to accumulate, hoard or own for its own sake, nor out of fear-driven insecurity.

There is no "either/or" or "them/us" about an omoiyari society. Those are scripts for reality that have been written and handed to us by others to serve their own narrow, self-interested ambitions. There is simply no use for our current competitive, acquisition-driven, 'charity-fixated' societies or the compensations we try to make for them. We presently receive such reality scripts as if they were an unalterable part of "human nature". They are not. An omoiyarii society has no use for them. Why? Because, in an omoiyari-world, we all own and write the scripts of our own reality and we distribute them as a shared reality. We write them creatively and imaginatively and we share them reciprocally.

So, is that possible? Is there an "effective" way to bring about an omoiyari world? Yes, actually. It's quite simple and the tools to do it are already possessed by everybody. It is really nothing more than the realization that our reality is not something that can actually be owned by anyone, least of all those who presently claim a proprietary right to it (the ones who exclaim, "Reality is what we say it is" and by 'we' mean only themselves), the ones who can make reality seem unalterable only through the coercive use of power.

The effective end to that fiction is to simply begin rewriting that script. And that is not as difficult as it may seem. To begin with, we actually know what the real script for reality ought to be. We all know it -- even if our ways of expressing it may be different. It comes with our DNA, there's nothing extraordinarily complicated about it. It is a script which no longer has us settle arguments with ourselves by means of violence or war. It is a script in which hunger or homelessness or exclusion or other forms of neglect and deprivation are not possible simply because those wounds are self-inflicted wounds and no one (it's in our DNA) leaves their own wounds untended to fester.

It is a script in which there is really no distinction between work and play because the very act of using our energy and our bodies to do useful and creative things is a natural expression of ourselves, a yoga of living and a joy, even if the particular task may be difficult or routine. Our script would not turn people into interchangeable, expendable units of fuel for the engines of an economy or anything else. The human project would not be here to serve the economies it created, those economies would be here to serve the people. I could go on and on, but you see, you already know that don't you. It comes with our manual of operating a sane, healthy flourishing world. The one given to each of us when we were born. We just tend forget that at times.

So that's all I really came to say. A little food for thought, that's all. It may not happen in our lifetimes, maybe not for many generations (provided we survive the messes we've created for ourselves). When it does, those who rewrite our primitive reality will probably wonder at those first proto-humans who hadn't yet crossed the evolutionary rubicon from OMG to omoiyari, just as we wonder about the first hominids who stood at the edge of the Serengeti, but hadn't quite crossed the evolutionary bridge from thinking to minding.

But we can start now, preparing the way for those who will follow us. We can begin to reclaim small pieces of our reality and renew it as it should be. That we can do, and that will likely help make the Dark Ages to come a little bit shorter. That is all I have to say.


*omoiyari is a Japanese word that really has no equivalent in English. Roughly, it means "putting others first." It was first introduced to me by Charles Pellegrino in his book "Last Train from Hiroshima" (definitely an omoiyari, if tragic, book about events that should never have happened). Omoiyari was introduced to Charles through the writings and talks by Masahiro Sasaki, brother of Sadiko Sasaki, whom many of you will know as the girl who set about folding a thousand paper cranes in the interest of world peace and omoiyari. The girl who died of wounds received in the bombing of Hiroshima. -- omoiyari, Red Slider