Objections to Postcards from 2035

(also known as Frequently Asked Questions)

“Man will fight and resist what they do not understand, only the meek seeks to know by humility.” ― Oluseyi Akinbami. Photo by Tim Gouw.

Postcards from 2035 welcomes criticism, debate, questioning, disagreement, additions, deletions and other suggestions for improvement of the grand vision which is slowly unfolding. Every bit of feedback, whether positive or negative, helps refine our vision of a safe, happy, healthy future — and that is a worthwhile endeavour.

This is where I summarise the most often asked questions as well as my responses.

First Principles

These are the underlying core principles of Postcards from 2035, and the perspective from which every question is answered.

  • The world’s current challenges, as summarised by the UN’s 17 SDG’s, are merely symptoms of an underlying cause.
  • The cause of these symptoms is neoliberalism, a system of ideas and ideals that have served us well since it was introduced by Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek in 1938. However, humanity is evolving and structures and systems that used to serve society no longer do. It is therefore logical and acceptable to expect systemic failure and the emrgence of a new ideology.
  • We each have a choice to work on either symptoms or causes and there is no right or wrong choice. Choosing to focus on causes is vastly more difficult than choosing to work on symptoms (ask any medical professional). I have chosen to focus on, unpack and ideally find solutions to the cause of the planet’s challenges.
  • Any meaningful solution to a cause should be transcendent (in support of humanity’s evolution), or we will repeat past mistakes. Transcendent means above or beyond the range of normal human experience. By it’s very definition, this makes understanding and implementing a transcendent solution challenging: it’s beyond what we know now — it’s beyond what we’re comfortable with — and so at first the ideology appears impossible/utopian/ridiculous.

How do you see this change rolling out?

It’s been said that there are only two ways societies change: one is violent revolution, the other is gradual change. Neither are acceptable to me and I believe there is a third option. It’s one that was used for South Africa in 1994, Serbia in 2000, Georgia in 2003, Lebanon and Ukraine in 2004, Maldives in 2008 and Egypt in 2011. It’s currently playing out in Venezuela, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Belarus, Burma and Vietnam.

The third option to societal change is called Nonviolent Citizen-Led Action. You can read more about it at The Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS). The process has been used successfully and refined over more than 17 years. I believe the same process can be used globally, with the right mix of supporters, vision and game plan. It doesn’t have to happen at once all over the planet, but we should aim for this to become the way of living, globally.

We currently have a large group of citizens around the world frustrated with the status quo: Generations X and Y. They are hungry for change. They know what they don’t want (democracy, consumerism and capitalism) but in many cases they don’t know what they do want (because our education systems have indoctrinated them in neoliberalism). Once we connect this Vision of Tomorrow with the required number of agitators, we will achieve the transition we need. As to how specifically this will happen, I am not yet sure (although I do have a number of possible scenarios). Let’s get the Vision of Tomorrow crystal-clear first.

The transition will be driven by Generations X and Y because, generally speaking, earlier generations are too entrenched in the way we’ve done things ever since the Industrial Revolution.

How do you get buy-in from everyone?

With a transcendent ideology, you don’t ask everyone to vote. You allow both existing and transcendent (or disruptive) ideologies to co-exist, and then you dedicate a lifetime of really hard work to expand the transcendent ideology, until the existing systems naturally become obsolete. Want to know how? Just ask Henry Ford, Travis Kalanick, Elon Musk or any other tech founder with a “disruptive” solution. (Uber didn’t ask people to vote for taxis or Uber — they just rolled out their transcendent product).

The vision is impossible to achieve and far too Utopian — why even try?

I wholeheartedly believe the vision is entirely achievable because of three converging societal trends happening right now:

  • Rapid and accelerating progress in exponential technology (definition) — the technology already exists to build the society described in Postcards;
  • Large, inflexible systems and structures, which served humanity well for hundreds of years, have reached the limit of their usefulness, and people are starting to notice;
  • Two generations of individuals born after 1980 (Gen Y & Gen Z) are dissatisfied with the status quo and are actively seeking alternative ways of spending their time on this pale blue dot.

The convergence of these three trends — at this precise moment in history — means that we will see change happen far quicker than it ever has in the past. And we are lucky enough to be witnessing these changes as they unfold. You can follow technologies already available at Dev2Watch.

“Some breakpoints occur when a technological development enables individuals to engage in previously unimagined activities and collectivities to pursue previously inconceivable policy goals.” — James N. Rosenau, Turbulence in World Politics: A Theory of Change and Continuity.

Isn’t Universal Basic Income the answer to our global poverty challenge?

UBI may be a good interim step, but it’s not a transcendent solution for four reasons:

  • It proposes a solution just above poverty, instead of embracing abundance;
  • UBI relies on middlemen to dole it out (see Life Without Middlemen for why this is important);
  • UBI assumes that capitalism and constant growth is and will continue to serve the planet as well as it has (it won’t);
  • UBI doesn’t remove the gap between the wealthy and the poor.

UBI solves one of the symptoms of societies’ ills (poverty) but doesn’t fundamentally reimagine a new way of life. It gives hope to millions who desperately need a lifeline (which is good), but it doesn’t address the root cause of poverty (which is bad). While the analogy may be a little harsh, I compare UBI to chemotherapy: it works quickly and eliminates the symptom almost entirely, but both have longterm side effects that aren’t adequately explained prior to being administered.

Basic Income is nothing new — it has been around in various forms since the 16th Century. Supporters of UBI often don’t know this, and if they do, they think it will be different this time. UBI has never worked at the scale our planet needs.

That said, UBI is a useful and necessary interim step towards achieving a decentralised, collaborative society. Some refer to UBI as the fourth gear on a 5-gear car. So, UBI is important but should never be viewed as the solution. We have to transcend fiat-based capitalism itself to the point where we can discuss Universal Abundance Income.

Would socialism work as an effective replacement for democracy?

The only reason socialism is so appealing is because we have no other reference point — any newly proposed models have been pretty much incoherent. So we’re looking back through history asking “which model worked best?” If we had zero possible alternatives, and we were backed against the wall, I would reluctantly admit that socialism might work. However, our methods of production, distribution and social engagement have rapidly changed since the first experiments with socialism. As Paul Mason says in PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future:

“Why fight for a big change if it’s only a regression — towards state control and economic nationalism, to economies that work only if everyone behaves the same way or submits to a brutal hierarchy?” — Paul Mason

Our next societal experiment should remove entirely all middlemen, which technology allows us to do. Socialism doesn’t allow for this and we would still end up with central government (which is precisely where we are now).

You talk about removing middlemen but you appear to want to centralise everything technologically — why is that?

The easiest way to answer this question is to point to the phrase “Think globally, act locally.” I am all for small communities who collaboratively agree how their society will function, and this should be different to the “template” of global best practice. This is so that each community can take advantage of local customs and environment. However, since we are all connected and the planet is a living, whole entity, we need a global feedback mechanism. Members of a community enjoy joint decision making and mutual accountability for their lives and their local resources, but how they live their daily life is fed back into the global feedback system.

The process will be entirely open source and the resulting social contract will be scalable from small groups of 4 to local communities to cities to countries and to the planet. Meaning the steering committee will provide advice and guidance but not dictate policy.

How do you handle dissent, criticism and public ridicule?

I’m seeking progress, not approval. If 95% of readers have an issue with Postcards, but 5% see value and 1% are inspired to take action by creating a transcendent solution — that to me is progress.

One of my core beliefs is that the solutions our planet needs will, by their very nature, make existing structures and systems obsolete. Naturally, that upsets those invested in the status quo. If the solutions I write about don’t upset the majority, I’d say I’ve failed in my task.

Who is going to do all the work?

There will be a steering committee made up of experts in the fields of economy, game design, blockchain smart contracts, environment, education, health, spirituality and Eastern philosophy, organisational psychology, social and cultural anthropology, ethnology, neuroscience, business management, change management and others as the need is identified.

The majority of the development work will be done by recipients of UBI who are looking for something meaningful to do with their time.

What’s your view on Trump/Brexit/Muslims/Travel Ban/some other crisis of the day?

I’ve made the decision to focus on what could be rather than what is, so I have no opinion on current events. I can tell you it’s a refreshing way to live, and I highly recommend you try it!

Questions about specifics

You may have questions or challenges about how specific aspects of this new social contract might work. What I’ve tried to do is build the framework. The next phase will be to assemble experts to fill in the many gaps I’m unable to fill. So, you are right to question specifics, and in most cases my answer will be, I don’t know. My question to you is, “Does the framework make sense?” If it does, we can move forward. If the framework is flawed, we have a problem.

Postcards from 2035 is a series of profoundly simple interlinking ideas describing life in a highly desirable society, where everything and everyone is advanced, happy, intelligent and problem-free. It’s a blueprint of the world we need to create. The best thing you can do to help us get there is to share with your friends and get the conversation started.

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Michael Haupt

Michael Haupt

I cut through (and expose) ESG & sustainability greenwashing. Speaker | Writer | Social Artist | Architect of Transformation