28 May 2007

Paging Robert Heinlein...

Tyler Cowen at MR wants to know, would immortals be libertarian? More precisely, would human 'post-mortals' who had eliminated aging and could only die from unnatural causes, become libertarian? Tyler thinks they would, especially around social issues: "Immortals are going to want to try everything, and why not?"

I think this is true for social issues, less true for safety and security issues -- if you don't have to die, you're motivated to try pretty hard to eliminate dangers that could cause your unnatural demise. (MR commenters make this point clear.)

Another aspect to think about: once people quit dying of old age, we're talking about a major lebensraum problem, solvable only by space colonization (more efficient use of urban space can only get us so far). In other words, a post-mortal society has to become a pioneer society. And pioneer societies tend to be libertarian, bordering on anarchist, partly because they attract independent types, partly because law enforcement gets trickier when the population is dispersed, and partly because there's plenty of space between you and your neighbors. Plus, a diasporized human race has the opportunity to experiment with lots of different legal and cultural arrangements -- so even if post-mortal humans aren't more libertarian on average, this would still be a more libertarian-friendly world.

2 comments:

Adam said...

Thanks for the link! Would love to connect. Shoot me an email arubenstein[at]rnaventures[dot]com

Barry said...

"And pioneer societies tend to be libertarian, bordering on anarchist, partly because they attract independent types, partly because law enforcement gets trickier when the population is dispersed, and partly because there's plenty of space between you and your neighbors."

Like the Puritans? It's a mix, from my casual knowledge of US history. People were frequently eager to set up 'civilization', including courts, schools and churches. Also, pioneer societies can make one very dependent on the neighbors, because there are few alternatives.

And this all is in the context of a terrestrial envrionment, where most survival needs (from a space society's viewpoint) are automatically met by the biosphere.

If there's a population which is expanding both in numbers and space, that suggests lots of competition for resources.

Finally, a society in which most people are several centuries old, and expect to live many, many more centurys, might not be classifiable from our viewpoint. For example, anybody under a century (or a millenium) in age might be considered a child, to be under control/supervision/guardianship.