Sunday, April 26, 2009

What Are Your Rules?

John, over at Zeray Gazette has posted a snippet about a stone structure that was built in Elbert County, Georgia in 1979. It's sort of a modern day Stonehenge made of stones that are "more than twenty feet tall and arranged to serve as a calendar and a clock."

On the slabs are instructions written in eight languages for reconstructing society after the collapse of civilization. They are as follows:


Not a bad set of instructions, seems to me. John went on to ask folk to offer what instructions they'd leave behind and that seems like a good question. Short and simple: How do you tell people how to start anew in a post apocalyptic world?

I rather like the festival guidelines in the photo above (Leave all worries behind, Talk to strangers, Join in, Listen to trees, Sing along, Be free, Mind the children), but what are your ideas?


Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I tend to be focused on how to AVOID apocalypse.

I would let the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights stand for me, however. Plus some ecological guidelines.

Feodor said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Feodor said...

do unto others how you would have them treat you -- with no exceptions.

do with nature what is sustainable -- or what can achieve sustainability within one generation.

John said...

The concepts of zero, pi, and the Pythagorean Theorem.

If there was still room afterwards, then basic properties of formal logic.

Alternatively, I might skip all of that and write "The first person who declares himself a king should be strangled with the entrails of the first person who declares himself a priest."

Although Feodor's first suggestion is also very good.

Alan said...

Unfortunately there seems to be no command that is so simple that some twit can't misinterpret it.

Thou shalt not kill, for example.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

"You aren't as important as everyone else."

revhipchick said...

ok, i know it might be strange but i sorta like John's alternative idea. i guess you now know how just sick and twisty i can be. ;)

i'd probably start with what Jesus and other Jewish folks suggested--love God, love others, and love oneself. if that didn't work, I'd vote for john's alternative.

Dan Trabue said...

John DOES have the catchiest sounding rules (the entrails one).

I wonder about giving a bunch of rules that don't work, you know, just to give the post apocalyptic crew a hard way to go...

"When in need of clean water, walk in circles and chant WAAAATTTTEERRR, pounding the ground with a magic stick, and wait six days for the water to show up in a fresh and clean pool...

If you're having trouble getting along with a neighbor, pick his nose with love and tenderness. He'll appreciate that..."

You know, like that.

rockync said...

The first rule should be, "Do not create a monetary system!" Money breeds greed and corruption and the quest for power.
Barter and working for your keep.
We would go a long way toward a humane society just by removing money from the equation.

John said...


How could one cease to have a monetary economy and ever achieve a standard of living that Americans have today? Low infant mortality, long lifespan -- could these be duplicated in an economy that functioned on the barter level?

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

John - our infant mortality rate is the highest in the industrialized world. Try again.

Our longer life span is shorter than other industrialized countries, and is due far more to better nutrition than money.

Again, try again.

Leaving aside that no one, especially not Feodor, Dan, or me, has mentioned what are commonly called "The Great Commandments" - Love God with all one's heart, etc., and your neighbor as yourself (although the latter is, I think), I do like the nonsensical ones.

John said...

Geoffrey, we may have a higher infant mortality rate and shorter lifespan than other industrialized nations, but I suspect that they're lower and longer than any pre-industrialized nation -- by a lot.

And I think that getting rid of a monetary system in favor of a barter system would throw us back to, at best, the Iron Age. This is because a barter system would vastly reduce economic specialization.

Feodor said...

If we think we have to prescribe love, it says something about how we understand human nature, doesn't it?

But if we take love as a constitutionally self-developing feature of human nature, a naturally occurring element, then the concern is rather with law that keeps natural love as expansive as it can be without being self-destructive.

Thus, my concern for a basic law to guide moral behavior and make natural love conscious and expansive without self-harm: treat others as you would have them treat you - no exceptions.

The other law also both expands the notion of love and shapes the danger of self-love: don't kill the thing you live in and from which you are made.

rockync said...

John - Dan's post asked:

"How do you tell people how to start anew in a post apocalyptic world?"

In such a world, money would be of little value.

John said...

rocknyc, yes, a post-apocalyptic world would probably start out in a barter system (in which your proposed advice would be unnecessary), but surely we wouldn't want it to stay that way.

rockync said...

Why not? If all we have known was gone and we were truly starting over why not eliminate a monetary system? Even if it was the end of the world as we know it, we would still have our knowledge and our skills. Communal living is not about communists but commune-ists. We live in communes now, but we usually call them communities. Money destroys the sense community by creating haves and have nots.
Money, power and corruption go hand in hand - if we all had what we needed to survive and enjoy life, why would you need money? does it so define you that you think you couldn't live without it? Do you really believe the current mess we've made on Mother Earth is so valuable we should save it? People killing each other, keeping others in poverty and hopelessness - Darfur, the Middle East,India.
While there might be problems that would need to be worked out with a barter or communal system, I'd want to try an develop it.

John said...

rocknyc, the problems that you are describing are the result of poverty, not wealth. That's why it's important to have a monetary system -- to raise the standard of living for the most number of people as possible. A pre-industrial society is one without modern sewage and water purification, medicine, and abundant food. Dafur will be the norm, not the exception, in a money-less society. Surely a society in which some people are poor is better than a society in which everyone is poor.

rockync said...

John - without money, how will you define poor and rich? Without money there will be no despot dictators to keep people suppressed. What if there was a world wide co-op? The current poor could trade things they make or harvest for seeds and other things they need.
And this system would be operating in the 21st century - where we do have the ability to purify water, etc.
In my society - no one would be poor.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Human nature, Feodor?

Actually, my first rule always is - there are no rules, not even this one.

John said...

John - without money, how will you define poor and rich?For starters, infant mortality and lifespan. An imprecise instrument, but in general, the society in which half of children die at birth is poorer than the society in which one hundredth of children die at birth, etc.

Without money there will be no despot dictators to keep people suppressed.Are you actually suggesting that despotism does not predate the invention of money? For the West, that's about 500 B.C. in Lydia.

What if there was a world wide co-op? The current poor could trade things they make or harvest for seeds and other things they need.
And this system would be operating in the 21st century - where we do have the ability to purify water, etc.
In my society - no one would be poor.
A nice idea, but unsustainable in the long run. Eventually, one fellow will figure out that he can have more by clubbing his neighbor over the head instead of paying for his goods. And as long as we're clubbing each other over the head, we might as well have as clean water as possible for as many people as possible. Among other nice things that wealth delivers us from.

Wealth can be pretty bad (greed, heart disease that results from lack of exercise, etc) but poverty is even worse.

But I take it that we have fundamentally different presuppositions on human nature, economics, and technology.

rockync said...

John - "clubbing over the head"!?! We will still be in the 21st century.
I was around for the great social experiment of the 60s and early 70s of living in communes. There were quite a few of them in those days. And it is sustainable; just go visit The Farm in TN. It's been in continuous operation since the early 70s. And there are others around the world - we are still here...

Feodor said...

Sorry, GKS, I was coming from a theological standpoint, not the empiricist "white paper" you prefer.