Second Cold War

Continuing the discussion from another topic:

I think we have many reasons to include a second cold war in the Fractal Future Universe:

  • It would boost technology and space exploration/colonization, allowing us to explore many interesting ideas;
  • It would provide conflict and make our universe more interesting;
  • It could be the main theme for many good stories;
  • It would provide us with an interesting way off exploring issues such ideology, nationality and ethics.

We need to think a little about how geopolitics may evolve:

  • Which countries will the superpowers of the future and what will they stand for?
  • How will the power blocs be like?
  • Which countries will be the first to apply radical ideas such as reputation economies or direct democracies?

Those are very important and very difficult questions! Perhaps let’s start with the past cold war. There we had a conflict between the nations around the USA and the nations clustering around the USSR. A relatively old idea (capitalism) seemed to fight against an uprising competitor (socialism which should lead to communism). It ended with the competitor not winning, but breaking apart, because it relied too much on central planning instead of trying to work with a system that is appropriate to human needs and interests. These same errors will also be the death sentence for the conventional capitalism that we are living in right now. It relies too much on central (company internal) planning and is inappropriate to human needs and interests.

So, conventional capitalism will be challenged again, but by whom? If it can reform or even transform itself, it wouldn’t need to break apart catastrophically. But even in reform mode there would be some countries who go the reform course and some who stay conservative (and thus lose out eventually, if not after the first fights).

What is the challenger called? Socialism? No, we already had that as label that didn’t win out. Socialism 2.0? Not much better. Anyway, the name may still be open, so let’s call the competitor simply X. How will X operate?

  • X will implement at least one basic income to satisfy basic human needs.
  • X will use markets, because markets are good at satisfying some, but not all, human interests.
  • X will use a reputation economy, because a reputation economy makes sense where markets are inappropriate
  • X will eschew central planning in favour of decentralized structures, stigmergy, advice processes, self-management, and networks of collaborators. All of which allow humans to fulfil their needs better and thus to flourish and work much more effectively.
  • The form of government of X is less clear than its mode of economic operation. It could operate with a kind of direct democracy, or anarchism, or even some despotism for emergency modes (like the early Roman Empire), or something radically new. It probably will have less bureaucratic structures, because these are inefficient.

The struggle between conventional capitalism and X will last for decades, but X will prevail in some regions at first and eventually the countries supporting conventional capitalism will degenerate so much that won’t be able to sustain their usual mode of operations. They either adapt or become the equivalent of third world nations.

Who will be the first to adopt X?

  • Switzerland
  • The Nordic countries
  • Virtual nations
  • Some micronations perhaps
  • Perhaps some parts of Asia
  • Maybe Canada and then the USA
  • Rather unlikely but perhaps Russia and China when their population is really really fed up with how these countries govern themselves
  • Possibly even some African countries
  • Some super forward looking individuals and organizations – the fault lines don’t have to cleanly go through nation borders

I like that, but I don’t think we should go for a simply bipolar Cold War.

As we are attempting to create a universe that should become increasingly diverse as things progress, I think we should put 3 or 4 different factions competing against each other.

One of them should be the capitalists, while the others should be several different X-factions that would operate with different government types and slightly different versions of the X economic model.

As for who will adopt X first, I heard that the Pirate Party of Iceland is now the country’s most popular political party, which mean they can seriously win an election in the very near future. That could be as interesting place for us to start speculating.
If they win, Iceland will become the first country to adopt electronic direct democracy and radical copyrights reforms (which may push them towards a reputation based economy in a decade or two).

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You are right. I have painted a rather simplified view of what X is. In reality, it’s more likely that different groups will take different aspects of X and give it their own name. So, there will probably be several X-like factions which tend to collaborate or compete with each other to various degrees.

And yeah, Iceland is in some sense the most progressive nation on Earth at the moment. With the Pirate Party becoming really influential it could kickstart some really serious X action :smiley:

But there’s still the possibility that different X-like factions converge to a big X bloc that becomes a serious player in world politics. The X bloc would then compete with those who oppose it and this conflict could escalate into the Second Cold War. This may indeed be a relatively realistic scenario for the future.


We could start there. Imagine this:

  • 2017: The Pirate Party of Iceland wins the elections, forming a coalation government with the Bright Future party (I’ve been reserching Icelandic politics and that party seems to be the most locical coalation partner). Citizinship is granted to Edward Snowden and the parliament starts seriously discussing radical copyrights reform. A few months later, the majority parties promote an initiative in which the deputies decide their vote on a certain policy according to the results a a referendum organized through electronic means.
  • 2018-2020: Patents are abolished and copyrights reform advances. Experiments with reputation economies begin.
  • 2020s: Iceland formally transions into a direct democracy and a repuatation economy. Other countries start following there example.

Now, the big question is which countries will be the first ones to follow Iceland. The rest of the Nordic countries may be very progressive but they all have a stable two-party political system, which makes profound political change a lot harder to implement.
In my opinion,X will be implemented first in countries that have recently suffered from serious economic recession. Adversity has allways been good for radical ideas, that’s why Russia was the first country to implesment comunism even though Marx had predicted it would be implemented on the west first.

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I like your post and how you imagine things will progress, but I think you may be a bit too optimistic about patents being abolished and reputation economy being tried out by 2018. It would be more logical to first start with reputation economy in the early 2020s and patents still persisting, but slowly becoming less popular as the route over the reputation economy becomes more and more attractive.

And the thing about direct democracy in Iceland: Yeah, maybe by 2025 I think.

Indeed. We might want to think about the possibility of a second global Great Depression happening sometime in the 2020s (or even earlier?) which would trigger a lot of innovative X-related activity. Think about what’s happening in Greece, but now amplify that and extend it on a global scale. Now you have some serious revolutionary potential!

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Yeah, you’re probably right, we should take it a little more slowly.

And yes, a second great depression would be great (I mean, for the project, not for the world). Unfortunately, I don’t know much about economics, so, I don’t think I can do very accurate predictions on that aspect.

But we should definitely make some research. What could be the causes of a global depression? Which countries would be more affected?

There have been many theorists who proclaimed that a new great depression was imminent. At least for about 10 years or so. Well, we had a great recession, but many think “we have seen nothing yet” and the real economic catastrophe is still to come.

So what could cause a new global depression?

  • Economic bubbles
  • Increasing energy costs through scarcity of fossil resources (perhaps after the fracking boom will have subsided)
  • Too much austerity politics and associated with that extreme levels of unemployment
  • Increasing debt levels, possibly leading to defaults of important nations (imagine if many EU states and the USA defaulted on their debt at the same time, that would cause extreme economic mayhem).
  • Crappy politics in general. There’s lots of that going on.
  • Large scale disasters. Volcano eruptions, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, droughts, solar flares, etc. shutting down key industrial areas.
  • The finance industry going totally bonkers (well, it already kinda is, and efforts to regulate it haven’t had much success)
  • Something else which we don’t know yet

Which countries would be most affected? Given how much the world is connected economically at the moment: All of them!

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That’s a very good start.

Global warming could lead to the flooding of some very important areas.

The Soviet Union escaped the first great depression because it had a different economic system. Maybe the countries who already applied X would be the ones to escape the second one.

Yes, but we still have a few decades until this becomes a really massive problem, I think.

Good point. But a global scale economic depression would affect pretty much everyone right now, because there are few countries which don’t trade eagerly with effectively the whole world. A second Great Depression might be worse than the first one, because our economic interdependency today is much larger than it has been in the early 20th century.

Also, it’s a good question whether X comes first, meaning before a second Great Depression or afterwards as reaction to it. Perhaps it happens in two steps: First there are some X precursors before the second Great Depression (Iceland :)), and the Depression motivates the emergence of a full fledged X system.

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Yeah, that sounds good.

Now, if we want a powerfull X Bloc to emerge after the Depression, we need at least one X Superpower. I propose Brazil and I sustain my proposal with the following points:

  • Brazil has a huge economy with lots of potential for growth. They could easily become a superpower if their government was competent enough.
  • They have a relatively progressive and hugely diverse society which could be a good incubator for the X system.
  • They have a growing well educated middle-class that could act as a vanguard for X.
  • They have poverty problems and along story of political corruption, which make people dissatisfied with the status quo.

That doesn’t sound too implausible. Brazil is a quite interesting country politically and could implement quite progressive policies under the right conditions. As to Brazil becoming a “superpower”: Well, not really, but it has some potential.

I’d also imagine that Switzerland will play an important role as one of the nations who start early with X-related policies. They already have a pretty interesting rather direct democracy. And they might be the first to introduce a rather generous universal basic income.

There’s also the question how much of a conflict between conventional capitalist nations and X nations is actually plausible. If anything, the capitalist countries would be the aggressor, because they see their influence on the world economy waning and might try to compensate that by playing dirty(er than before).

I think Brazil has about as many chances of becoming a superpower as the USSR had in the 1920s. All we need is a strong and competent X-inspired brazillian Stalin.

It’s possible, but I doubt it. Despite having a form of direct democracy, Switzerland is actually one of the most conservative countries in Europe, and I don’t think that is going to change anytime soon.

I know that there is going to be a referendum on the introduction of UBI, but I don’t think it’ll pass. Their political mentality is just too right-wing.

You think the development of an X-inspired Brazil would depend on a strong leadership rather than grassroot efforts that finally escalate into the government?

What is the relation of X to strong leadership anyway? Especially since X seems to be connected to decentralization.

Perhaps, perhaps not. We don’t have to be really pessimistic about the Fractal Future world. And UBI is an idea that can be accepted by all wings. It’s just an idea that makes sense from almost all perspectives.

No, but there needs to be a leader to inspire and coordinate those grassroot efforts.

No matter how decentralized a system is, it’ll allways need a leader, especially if that system is a radical and highly controversial one.
Yugoslavia practiced workers’ self-management, which is a form of decentralization, but they still relied on Tito’s strong leadership to keep the communist party in power and to coordinate the efforts of the self-managed state companies.

No, but we need to be realistic.

I sincerely doubt right-wing libertarians and conservatives could accept the possibility of a UBI, since it would involve taxing the rich an distributing their money for the rest of the population.

Not necessarily. The rich could still be exempt from tax increases. Instead, the lower and middle classes could be taxed higher. That would suffice for implementing a UBI. Granted, that would be a suboptimal solution in many respects, but it would be something at least right-wingers could support.

So, left-wing and right-wing countries might all have UBIs but their financing would probably differ with left-wing countries taxing the rich and right-wing countries taxing the lower and middle classes.

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Yes, that’s a very good point. You pretty answerred the question of how would righ-wing countries manage an UBI, but I still don’t see why would they adopt such a policy. I goes pretty much against everything they believe in:

  • It involves taxes, which they have been indoctrinated against;
  • It involves people paying for things that would be used by other people;
  • It involves giving money to immigrants and criminals, who, in their opinion, should be deported or killed;
  • Most of their arguments against social security would also apply to UBI. I’m sure that most swiss right-wingers are saying stuff like “if everyone had access to basic income people would stop working” right now.

I’m sure Switzerland, like every other country, will be forced to adopt UBI when automation really starts taking all jobs, but I don’t see why they would adopt such a policy right now.

Anyway, no matter if Switzerland becomes and X country or not, we still need an X superpower. Do you think Brazil is an option, assuming ultra-competent measures are taken to develop its economy? If not, you know of any other country that could a potential candidate?

I don’t see any potential superpower that would be more likely to adopt X-associated policies than Brazil soon, so let’s go with it :slight_smile:

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The name X really seems to be sticking, so, I think we should use it as the “official” name for the system. Maybe we can call “The X Movement” (Movimento X, in portuguese) to the brazillian political party that implements the system.

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