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Old 04-25-2008, 09:20 PM   #1
Peter Knutsen
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Default The effect of longevity on politics

Yesterday, it struck me that the way present day politics functions, political parties have a limited ability to blame each other for past errors and mistakes.

For instance, the current Danish government often talks about the previous one (now in opposition) having been irresponsible when it comes to fiscal policy and immigration policy, but it doesn't really hurt the opposition parties all that much, because those party members who were directly responsible for the muckups are now old, either retired or close to retirement, and the current leaders of the opposition parties are the next generation, so it sort of doesn't stick to them.

And that's probably how it has been ever since the system got started.

Some people get the power of government, and then they do things, including some (few or many) that later turn out to be wrong. Then they lose power and the opposition takes over and do stuff for some years, while trying to call attention to the errors committed by the previous government, but without much success because those actual people who committed the errors are no longer the leaders (officially or unofficially) of the previous government party. Instead they're retired, and the new generation can sort if ignore such accusations.


Now, the interesting thing is that serious life extension might change this. I mean, as a factor apart from the risk of gerontocracy rising higher and higher the more the human lifespan can be extended.

It could end up, in some parts of the TransHuman Solar System, with the same two groups of people (not parties, but actual people) taking turns being in power. Then the "blaming for past mistakes" tactic will suddenly start working, much more efficiently than it does today. It won't be "your party did" but rather "you did".

Just something I thought I'd share...


edit: Fixed typo in Post Title, changing the first "on" to "of".

Last edited by Peter Knutsen; 04-25-2008 at 09:56 PM.
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Old 04-25-2008, 10:54 PM   #2
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Default Re: The effect on longevity on politics

You'll probably still get churn in party leadership, with political careers ended by bad decisions, scandals, and electoral defeats rather than senescence and death. Which seems to be what I see in parliamentary systems. Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, and John Howard aren't actually dead. Just politically. Their parties have shed responsibility along with leaders.
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Old 04-26-2008, 07:47 AM   #3
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Default Re: The effect on longevity on politics

Longevity can have some serious impact on everything; imagine that the family business being run by grandfather for ages or how it might affect any organization that have any kind of promotion system, like the military.

No fun being forced to stay in rank due to the old codgers refusing to retire or die :)

On the other hand people might consider decisions that takes decades to implement or give any profit, instead of today's rush to maximize profit.
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Old 04-26-2008, 08:42 AM   #4
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Default Re: The effect on longevity on politics

Quote:
Originally Posted by Urban
On the other hand people might consider decisions that takes decades to implement or give any profit, instead of today's rush to maximize profit.
That only seems likely to happen for certain types of decisions and only then when you are already comfortably off and in control. In other words to those who are smart and either rich or powerful and who therefore can put a level of abstraction/insulation between themselves and the poorer and rapidly changing world. This also applies to the fifth wave nations over the fourth and third wave nations.

That is part of what makes up the message of Broken Dreams "Moving faster and still falling behind".

Overall this does seem to apply to career politicians. So the question seems to be will politicians be able to take a step back from short term vested interest politics for the long view. Will they be able to make a decision now that will make them more likely to be re-elected in 20 years time rather than in 1-4 years time?

I don't see a mechanism in the worlds democratic political systems that will support that. Maybe we need to elect people for longer terms of office to keep in step with longer life-spans and longer decision payback times? Whatever, the feedback mechanism needs to be in sync with the behaviors we want to encourage.
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Old 05-06-2008, 05:06 PM   #5
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Default Re: The effect on longevity on politics

Democracies might feel greater pressure for term limits in the face of immortal politicians.

Many forms of government already have "President for Life", and these governments would likely develop stronger measures for keeping their leader safe. Well, the leader would do that himself. Everyone who's looking for a change is likely thinking more about assassination than waiting out the guy.

The consequences of immortals are difficult to predict, but it's likely a successful immortal would continue to acrue wealth and power on a much longer term, resulting in a consolodation of resources that is somewhat at odds with the egalitarian THS setting.

The biggest difference would be that while there's an expectation today that "you'll get your turn", once there are immortals, you may never "get your turn".
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Old 05-07-2008, 03:07 AM   #6
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Default Re: The effect on longevity on politics

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gedrin
The biggest difference would be that while there's an expectation today that "you'll get your turn", once there are immortals, you may never "get your turn".
And what would those younger do about this? Revolution, start an alternative career or travel to the stars?
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Old 05-07-2008, 03:35 AM   #7
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Default Re: The effect on longevity on politics

Quote:
Originally Posted by Urban
And what would those younger do about this? Revolution, start an alternative career or travel to the stars?
Isn't cyberdemocracy one of the things introduced to try and mitigate this?

Those in power probably "encourage" the young and politically ambitious by channeling them into off-world and risky projects.
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Old 05-07-2008, 07:28 AM   #8
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Default Re: The effect on longevity on politics

By the way - for an amusing alternate view of one possible interaction of longevity and politics, see http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=259084 - scroll down to Kohno Riei and the Dead President's Club.
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Old 05-07-2008, 10:15 AM   #9
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Default Re: The effect on longevity on politics

I'm not sure that immortality is a problem in the THS setting, as more than a memetic challenge. Even in THS, they're relatively new at this sort of thing. People are living a long time, but you don't have 200 years of Cyber-Stalin, yet. Immortals are a problem that people looking down the road are seeing, and given the pace of change in a 4th, much less 5th wave, society, I'm not sure how much people think long term. There's likely an expectation that a magical fix will show up for problems.
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Old 05-10-2008, 05:48 AM   #10
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Default Re: The effect on longevity on politics

I was thinking about this while looking at the wikipedia article on the legal convention of the 99-year lease.

And what would it do to copyright? In the non-TSA states, I mean. :)
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