satanism today and tomorrow

Robinsonology, or Reproducing the Culture by Budding

Alex Rozoff


1. A comparative study of planaria and culture

A flatworm planaria is an ingenious invention of evolution. It appeared first about one billion years ago, and was perfectly equipped by the standards of that time: high speed, good combat skills, vision, and a central nervous system with learning abilities. In addition, planaria has a feature that even more advanced species lack: any cut-off part of the planaria body can grow all the missing rest body parts and become a new planaria.

Now, let's talk about human and human's culture. What will happen if we cut off a small fragment of human society, give them some equipment and information and leave them alone? Can several dozens of modern people reproduce their culture in isolation from the rest of the world? If yes, what resources can they need for this; if no, why? The modern society can rebuild itself after a serious disaster, i.e. grow a new tail, like lizards do, but can it grow a new body and head, like a planaria? In other words, the question is: can the modern culture reproduce itself by budding?


2. Culture budding in history

The cultures of Antiquity were doing it easily. Small groups of people traveled to uninhabited places and founded colonies, which grew into cities rapidly. The colonists did not lose their culture with time; quite the contrary: as Arnold Toynbee mentioned, sometimes their society developed faster than the one in their homeland.

Reproducing their culture by budding did not pose any problem for people up to the 17th century. However, we have no records from the later time. Religious sects that isolated themselves deep in the woods are not relevant for our topic, because they consisted of insane people and oriented for regress.

Our culture today differs from the one of the 17th century by lifestyle and, which is way more important, by the artificial environment that we have built for ourselves. With some training, a modern person can survive outside the modern urban landscape. The question is, whether modern people can rebuild this environment by themselves.

First, let's study what the writers of fiction books were thinking on this. At the end of the 19th century, the majority of authors were optimists on this issue. Jules Verne in 'The Mysterious Island' (1875) and Mark Twain in 'Yankee in King Arthur's Court' (1889) depicted active individuals able to rebuild the technologies of that time from scratch in several years. By the middle of the 20th century, novelists believed that thousands of people and a vast amount of equipment and resources are necessary for this, as John Wyndham in 'The Day of the Triffids' (1951) and Francis Carsac in 'The Robinsons of the Cosmos' (1955). The 1950s were actually the moment when the fracture happened. Robert Heinlein in 'Tunnel in the Sky' (1955) showed a group of colonists that did not even try to reproduce modern technologies and decided to live as hunters and gatherers. In 'Orphans of the Sky' (1963) he described a space expedition that degraded to the Middle-Ages level due to social and psychological issues. Peter Zsoldos in 'The Superproblem' (1970) represents the task of rebuilding the modern technologies as repeating the whole way of human evolution since the pithecanthropes. Ury Zabello in 'Planet for the Robinsons' (1991) shows space colonists intentionally building a slave-owning society on another planet.


3. Discussion on progress and regress

Internet discussions on the problem of reproducing the modern culture by a small isolated group of people show that people's view on it are exactly the same as science fiction writers are describing it today. Nobody even dreams on reproduction of the 21st century technologies. The greatest optimists just hope for long stable work of existing equipment, while most of the others believe that an isolated group of people is predestined to degrade to the stone age level.

Why do I consider this issue worth a serious discussion, and the aforementioned opinions of people to be a serious defect of the modern society? The problem is not space colonization (although this can also become actual quite soon), but the absolutely irrational psychological dependence of the 21st century people from the infrastructure they are living in.

Any degradation of an isolated colony to below the level of the late 19th century can have no reasonable excuse. This Vernian level of technology can be reproduced with simple tools and technical college textbooks. If we add some inventions of the 20th century that don't require any extensive industry (penicillin, for example) and suppose that the colonists are not limited in natural resources, we can conclude that their level of comfort is quite acceptable even for modern people. I don't say anything about the possible inventions of the near future, such as self-assembling robots, which could also greatly help in our case.

Therefore, the pessimism on the issue of reproducing the modern culture by a small group of people has nothing to do with any technical problems. The fact that an individual expects to become absolutely helpless without the existing social and economic mechanisms is a purely psychological issue.


4. Three defects of the modern culture

Today, even a person with engineering education hardly knows the production cycle of the things he is using in everyday life. Principally he could be able to make some things for himself and his family, but this idea looks so weird for him that he is psychologically not ready for this. Individuals who are producing things for themselves instead of buying them are viewed as freaks. It's become the social norm to be unable to do even simple technical work at home; and this is a problem.

Another, even more annoying, problem is the inability to build relationships with other people in the absence of any controlling state institutions. People are so much used to law and morality regulating everything that they cannot imagine life without this. They believe that without such regulation the world would collapse into chaos and violence. People don't even know that the ability to build mutually beneficial relationships with others is an instinct of human beings, i.e. every mentally healthy individual can do it without any control from the social institutions. Our upbringing and education suppresses our instincts of communication and makes us dependent from social regulations; this is probably the main problem.

A common person today suffers from two irrational dependences:
1) from mass production and economy;
2) from moral and other social regulations.
This leads also to the third one: dependence on education institutions in bringing up children.

Ancient peoples were able to reproduce their culture easily. Each of their colonies kept all the knowledge from its homeland and continued to develop it at the new place. Otherwise the human civilization would have died out at any serious climate change. If our pessimistic views on the problem of reproducing our culture in a small isolated group of people are right, this puts the future of our civilization in question. Sooner or later, something will happen on Earth and destroy the infrastructure we are living in, and we will be unable to rebuild it back.

However, an optimistic view on this issue exists too, although it gets rarely expressed directly. When discussing the possible staff of the colony that should reproduce our culture in isolation, everybody agreed that scientists, engineers and medics are an absolute must. Some people suggested to include also pedagogues, psychologists and artists. The most significant is that nobody at all wanted politicians, financiers or managers to be there. There were proposals to create a new religion that should worship science and technology. Some people even said that it would be better if everything else degraded except the science and technology. Also, people considered science fiction to be the most important genre of literature for the colonists, and that education in the colony needs to be oriented mostly toward developing curiosity and ingenuity in engineering spheres.


5. The basis and the superstructure. Cui prodest?

Karl Marx is out of fashion now, but one of his ideas can reveal the source of the problem; I mean the idea that any society consists of the basis – the technologies that it uses in production and in social life, and the superstructure – the institutes of social administration. As we can see in discussions on the task of reproducing our culture in a small isolated colony, people agree on the point that it's the basis that needs to be reproduced, while the superstructure is not necessary and can be even harmful. This is because cultural errors accumulate in the superstructure. In the Antiquity, it was a common situation that an isolated colony developed a more advanced culture than the one of its homeland, because they dropped their old superstructure and built a more effective new one. Unlike a planaria tail, a cut-off piece of society appears to be able to grow a better head than it had before.

In science fiction literature, we can see some hints on the necessity do drop the old superstructure. Isaac Asimov's trilogy on the Spacers – 'The Caves of Steel' (1954), 'The Naked Sun' (1957) and 'The Robots of Dawn' (1983) – is the most prominent in this regard. However, Asimov did not show us how those space colonies were founded; probably, the problem of reproducing culture by budding seemed unsolvable with the 20th century technologies for him, but he was sure that in the future it would become possible.

Now we can answer the last question: who made up this myth of inevitable degradation of an isolated colony without the social superstructure? The Ancient Romans were saying “Qui prodest?”, i.e. “Who benefits of it?” in such cases. It's obvious that this is just the superstructure of our society itself. The establishment: politicians, big business, etc. – want us to believe that we cannot survive without them. This is not a problem of future space colonies; this is a problem of our life today.

Translated from Russian by Milchar