On Sunday morning, when many people are making their view of the universe more solid, by going to church, I began to take mine apart. It wasn't a complete overhaul, but sometimes you have to take apart the pieces to fit in something new. I'm not certain where this altered worldview will take me, but its pull is undeniable.
James Burke's The Day the Universe Changed comes to a conclusion that left my soul stirred up like a bowl of scrambled eggs. Part of me believes this conclusion shouldn't be shared out of context, as it is the culmination of so many beautiful and fascinating arguments made throughout the series.
Perhaps, a new viewer would be drawn into the ideas Burke presents so eloquently if they knew what lies in store for them.
In any case, here is the beautiful argument for Balanced Anarchy. And it is the reality that is coalescing, like a great accretion disk of ideas. It's the Type 1 society, the Star Trek world that enjoys peace in many voices arguing.
James Burke, The Day the Universe Changed, Worlds Without End:
As for the permanent values that are supposed to remain unchanged in spite of our changing knowledge — well they change too. Once it was good to burn women. Wrong to claim the Earth went around the sun. Logical to argue about angels on the head of a pin.
Values change every time the universe changes — and that's every time we redefine a big enough bit of it. Which we do all the time, through the process of discovery (that isn't discovery, just the invention of another version of how things are).
And yet, in spite of that, we still go on believing that today's version of things is the only right one. Because as you've learned from this series, we can only handle one way of seeing things at a time. We've never had systems that would let us do more than that.
So we've always had to have conformity with the current view. Disagree with the church, and you were punished as a heretic; with the political system, as a revolutionary; with the scientific establishment, as a charlatan; with the educational system, as a failure. If you didn't fit the mold, you were rejected.
But, ironically, the latest product of that way of doing things is a new instrument — a new system — that while it could make conformity more rigid, more totalitarian, than ever before in history, could also blow everything wide open. Because with it, we could operate on the basis that values and standards — and ethics and facts and truth — all depend on what your view of the world is — and that there may be as many views of that, as there are people.
And with this [microchip] capable of keeping a tally on those millions of opinions voiced electronically, we might be able to lift the limitations of conforming to any centralized representational form of government — originally invented, because there was no way for everybody's voice to be heard.
You might be able to give everybody unhindered, untested access to knowledge. Because the computer would do the day-to-day work — for which we once qualified the select few — in an educational system originally designed for a world where only the few could be taught.
You might end the regimentation of people, living and working in vast unmanageable cities. Uniting them instead in an electronic community, where the Himalayas and Manhattan were only a split second apart.
You might — with that and much more — break the mold that has held us back since the beginning. In a future world that we would describe as "balanced anarchy" — and they will describe as an "open society" — tolerant of every view.
Aware that there is no single privileged way of doing things.
Above all, able to do away with the greatest tragedy of our era: the centuries old waste of human talent that we couldn't or wouldn't use.
Utopia? Why? If, as I've said all along, the universe is — at any time — what you say it is ... then say!