Advancement Privilege

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The western world needs to come to terms with 3 truths. These truths relate to our relative technological ability and the history of colonialism and imperialism that lead the world to be in a state that we can not even all agree that human life and the inherent freedoms and rights thereof (to live without fear of oppression, to seek the right to be secure in property and safety, and the ability to provide for ourselves and our communities that which gives fulfillment to life) are something to be protected and cherished.

Truth 1: Technological Imperialism

As the western world has advanced technologically, it has engaged in imperialism of almost every corner of the globe. France had colonies as far east as Vietnam, the British went as far east as Beijing and Australia. The Spaniards and Portuguese changed the course of life of the entire central and southern American landmasses. We will not even get into the complete fuckening that western Europe, The United States, and later China, did to Africa and the Middle East.

Truth 2: Technological Imperialism

As these conquerors came in, with vastly superior technology and weaponry, they enforced their way of life on the native populations. Stripping them of tradition, stripping them of their lands and their rights, and turning them into secondary citizenry in their own homes. The technology was forced, often only partially or without complete capability, on these societies. This happens in two ways: first, technology is partially provided (read how the US provides military equipment and then limited support to foreign nations) and the receiving culture must deconstruct the equipment to attempt to repair, rebuild, or expand upon. Second, technology is provided, and not maintained or upgraded as upgrades occur in the primary place of origin (Industrialized factories in India placed there during British occupation were not kept up-to-par with either safety or efficiency regulations or capabilities in England). Together, these show a poor custodianship of technology and a dereliction of care to a culture after forcibly taking it over. At this point, read that not only did the west go in and claim ownership of different cultures and locales, they did not even keep to the duty of care and custodianship that comes with that claim.

Truth 3: Global technocitizenship

This leaves the western, and technologically advanced cultures outside of the western world engaged in modern imperialism for whom the west is only about 65% responsible, with a severe privilege. The privilege of advancement. We have a burden of care now to ensure that the rest of the world be offered the technologies we have, in sustainable, healthy, and ecologically sound ways. We have the technology and advancement to recycle plastic in the home to filaments and extrusions that can replace most commodity goods and many materials. We have methods of near infinite recycling of Aluminum and PET that can be done on small scale economically and ecologically in small towns to keep communities self sufficient. We have the efficiency of production now to take recycled electronics and turn them into functioning modern tools.

We can empower cultures to use these tools to expand upon, and work to modernize, their traditions and methods. We can give cultures the tools they need to bring themselves as far into the future as they want to be. We also need to be willing to work with, look to, and share the global stage with societies and cultures that do not want to use every minor piece of technology. Technology should be about empowering life and the community, not a supplanting thereof.

Moving Forward

The open source community produces technology and documentation allowing for the maintenance and use of these objects to improve the lives of everyone throughout the world. We have a duty to show that the world can be a better place through ethical consumption. We can use the tools of capitalism to move forward and achieve our goals. We can recycle the trash into commodity goods; we can use the mindset to empower those who seize the means of their production and buy from small artisans who weave their own cloth, and make the clothes they sell; we can ensure that our food comes from cast-offs and small farms. We live in an era where everyone could have the means to bake their own bread, brew their own wine, catch their own fish and have their own feast.

It is a shame that we have not taken these opportunities yet, but this is the world we live in. We have exactly one. It is never to late to start now. A wise man once told me "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now." Now is the time to plant our tree.