There Is No Alternative

I use capitalism as an example, because I find it easiest to deal with as an anti-capitalist. However, it could apply to anything.

"There is no alternative."

Being young and ignorant, I thought this phrase lay languishing in the Thatcher era where it belonged...Apparently not. Or are people who write for the Torygraph just stuck in the Eighties?

Quite a lot of people will claim that there's no alternative to capitalism/money/"representative" "democracy"/whatever, usually citing the USSR or something, or talking about how, essentially, capitalism gives us shiny stuff and of course that totally outweighs the exploitation and oppression of billions of people across the globe, including us. Now, I have a rather sensitive bullshit-detector, and I call bullshit on this one. Not because the USSR was a paradise. Not because we've found a perfect solution. Not because my bullshit-detector's malfunctioning.

It's because denying the existence of an alternative denies the mental capacity of humans to come up with an alternative.

So why is this a bad thing? some would ask. Surely humans are too stupid to think up something new? Surely the mental effort is too great? Surely we've come up with all the ideas we could come up with?

That last rhetorical question is why I call bullshit. I don't like to say that there are ideas "out there" just waiting for us to come up with them - I think we come up with the ideas and then they exist, which makes far more sense but isn't as easy to put into language - but I think that humanity is capable of coming up with, in theory, an infinite number of different ideas just due to how smart we can be if we so choose. To argue that there is no alternative is to argue that no alternative can possibly be conceived of, which is to argue that the infinity of possible future ideas cannot or will not exist, and in turn that implies arguing that humans are incapable of coming up with new ideas...which is, guess what, bullshit, as you'd know if you spent any time around intelligent people.

I have something which is more than a hobby, not quite a job, and less than a duty. I don't get paid for it. I don't belong to any organisation. That something is me considering it my obligation, if that's not too strong a word, to try and dream up ideas to make the world a better place. That something is my obligation to go and find a bunch of smart people and argue with them about the best way to save the world. Why? Because together we might just come up with ideas that can get things done. I'm sick of deriving present ideas from past ones - we need things that are totally new.

I'm not going to say that we'll come up with a magical solution of magic and sparkles. Quite a lot of the ideas gathered from people arguing will be terrible. What I'm saying is that amongst the terrible and mediocre ideas, someone, somewhere, will chance upon an elegant solution to the problem. And that'll at least be a start.

There is an alternative if you think hard enough about it.