339. The Future: Vision and Invitation - Transcripts
Hi, everybody. On January 27th, I announced on Joe Rogan's show that I had been working with a group of people in the UK and Europe and Australia and New Zealand and Canada and the US to organize a series of questions about how we might want to conduct ourselves and what we might want to happen individually and collectively as we move forward into the future from the level of the individual all the way up to the level of, say, the universal collective. What kind of planet do we want to inhabit? I'm going to tell you why that all came about insofar as that's possible. So last year I had the opportunity to tour extensively throughout North America and Europe and the idea to do what I'm going to tell you about today really started to make itself manifest to me when I was in Europe. First of all in Scandinavia, surprisingly enough, and then in Eastern Europe, I was very fortunate when I was touring to have the support of many people who I've been privileged to meet as I've toured around the world who were very well-connected internationally. What happened when I was touring with Tammy, my wife, in each of these countries in Europe was that we'd arrive in a city and the day of or the day before a talk and we'd have the opportunity to meet for lunch or for dinner or for breakfast with 30 people from that city, from that country, who were active and competent and influential in cultural or political or faith-based or communication domains. And so it gave us an opportunity to get a snapshot of the local environment and you can't become an expert about something as complex as a city or country in one day, obviously. But if you have 30 people with you for a couple of hours, you can certainly at least hear about what is of concern to them and to everyone that they're in communication with. And so one of the things we encountered continually was the puzzled questioning from especially the Eastern Europeans, although this was also the case in Scandinavia, about just what the hell was going on in the West. So that was probably most acute in countries like Albania. And so Albania, just so you know, a small country, was probably the worst of the Soviet era countries in terms of tyranny and oppression.
And that was a damn hard contest to win. And Albania was ruled by brutally punitive dictatorial structures for, well, the entire post-war period up until 1989. And to say it was bad is to say almost nothing. Almost everyone was informing on everyone in Albania. And the countries riddled with tunnels that were dug by mad paranoid politicians who insisted that Albania was the center of the world and that they were the inevitable target of all the jealous poor people who were clamoring violently in potential to do nothing but to move to Albania beyond belief, really. But nonetheless happened. All these Eastern Europeans, you know, they suffered under the brutal rule of the radical left ethos from 1945, sometimes earlier, until 1989. And then of course underwent quite the period of catastrophic collapse after that. And they're looking over at the West thinking, what in the world are you people doing, toying with these ideas when the evidence is crystal clear that they devastated the lives of 100 million people, took the lives of 100 million people, devastated the lives of far more, and laid our countries to waste? Don't you understand? And so I'd certainly thought the same thing being in the West. And it was very interesting to see that echoed by the people whose lives had included sojourns under those systems of oppression.
Now you might say if you're cynical, well, you only met conservative people and they were just echoing back to what you wanted to hear. And that's actually not true because lots of the people I met were disenchanted liberals or leftists who were not left enough to be enamored of the communist regimes, let me say, or who had also been cancelled and mobbed by the new woke tyrants. And so I don't think I was seeing a non-representative sample, although admittedly only the people who would talk to me did. And the other thing people told us, Tammy and I, continually was that they felt like voices crying in the wilderness. But after we'd been in about six countries, we thought, well, every place we go, people say the same thing. They're appalled by what's happening on the culture war front, especially with regard to the radical left. They can't believe these ideas are making the incursions that they're making. And they feel absolutely isolated in their attempts to do anything about it. But you know, when you go to eight countries and 30 people in each country tell you that, do you think, well, why aren't people coming together, let's say, those who occupy the moderate center, whether they happen to be conservative or classically liberal, why aren't they coming together in some international manner to discuss exactly this problem? Is there no overarching structure of communication that would make that possible? So then I started thinking about, well, maybe we should organize such a thing and bring people together for a conference somewhere in Europe, maybe in North America, bring people who are centrally inclined, and that would be the vast majority of people, together so that they could share best policies and share their ideas about what they've done in their own country that might be extremely useful if other countries duplicated it. And to develop a vision that would be an alternative to the globalist, woke utopian nightmare that threatens to engulf us all.
And so I started talking about that, preposterous idea. And I've talked to people about preposterous ideas before, let's say on the business front or on the academic front, ideas that were of sufficient radicalness that they would require a fair bit of movement on people's part in order to instantiate, and normally what you experience is that people, especially if they are inclined to be gracious, evince interest and even enthusiasm in the moment, but they're already busy with their lives, especially if they're competent people, and so nothing really gets going. But that isn't what happened when I started talking about this. What happened instead was that everywhere we went, virtually everyone, virtually without exception from across the political spectrum said, we really need something like that. We'd be happy to help. What could we do to help? And we'll drop everything to make this a priority. And I was getting serious offers of exactly that help right away. And then that happened in the remaining Eastern European countries that we visited, Tammy and I, so probably 10, something like that. And then I went to the UK and discussed it with my connection network there, which is actually quite extensive, and exactly the same thing happened. And then I went to Washington and I spoke not least to the Republican Study Committee, which is the federal committee that is responsible for the formulation of Republican policy. It has been for decades.
And people were very enthusiastic there, too. And they said, well, if you do have this conference, make sure you have it at a time when we're not sitting and could attend, which is the kind of response you'd really hope for. And many people clambered on board enthusiastically. And these are people who had other things to do, like I said. And then I went to Australia and New Zealand, and exactly the same thing happened. And so that was pretty interesting. And so I started to formalize this with some of the people that I knew in the UK. I was interested in doing it in the UK, partly because the UK has already decided that they're not exactly part and parcel of the globalist utopian scheme, even at the European Union level. And there's a pretty strong free speech and individuality ethos in the UK, rivaled only by the US, I would say, on the world stage. And England is also halfway between Europe and the US, and so not such a bad meeting place. And London is an attractive city. And I had been working with people on the free speech front in the UK, so that seemed promising.
And I sat together with a number of people, all of whom are going to announce their participation in this project very soon, on their own time and in their own voice. And we started to talk. We spent three different times in person, between five and 20 people. And well, what did we think about? Well, we thought about what we would like to have happen on the international front if we could have what would be best. And not what we think is best, but what would be best, even how to construe what would be best. And we decided that we would actually approach this by asking a sequence of questions rather than by delivering a sequence of answers. And I've been working on the announcement document, one of our announcement documents, which I'm going to read today and comment on. And we decided that we wanted to take a decentralized approach which meant trying to get as much input from the public as possible. And we're trying to build that into the architecture of the project and that we wanted to put forward a series of questions rather than a series of propositions about how the world would have to be. And that we were also going to avoid entirely any apocalyptic notions, refusing to accept in principle the notion that everything is such an emergency that all the power should be ceded to a centralized committee to save the planet, let's say. It's like, we don't buy that.
It's not like there's any shortage of emergencies confronting us because there are certainly plenty of them. Whether that means that we should run around in a panicked delusional state and centralized power in the control, in the hands of a small, hypothetically omniscient elite, which is a completely different matter. We'd rather rank order the problems and address them like wise and calm people. And wise people remain calm even in a crisis. And they certainly don't use the crisis to leverage their own grip on power. Never let a crisis go to waste. It's like, yeah, that's especially true if you're trying to clamber up the power hierarchy and take all the control for yourself. We're not interested in that. You know, probably we're interested in that to the degree that we're all still unrepentant narcissists. And everybody's got a little bit of that in them, but I tried to gather people around the table who were sensible enough not to want that, partly because they already had pretty productive lives, and partly because they were wise enough to know that that was a disaster in the making. And so, you know, first of all, we thought we would put forward something approximating a vision. And we tried to talk about the dimensions along which this vision might elaborate itself, but then we, after thinking about a lot, we realized it would be better to put forward the, an invitation to participate in a discussion that centered on a number of questions.
The questioning approach is a better one, because it's an invitation rather than a top-down imposition of the principles that must be. We also decided that one of our guiding principles would be that we're not going to formulate policies that would require compulsion or the imposition of state power to implement. So like, here's an example. We should be exhaustively searching through the universe of possible sources of energy so that we can provide a diversity of possibilities on the energy front. But we do not believe that anyone has the right to compel people into absolute poverty by increasing energy prices to hypothetically achieve some environmental goal. It's like, you want to put forward renewables, you're concerned about industrial pollution, no problem. But you don't get to do that as a matter of compulsion on the backs of the world's poor. Not only because that will be very, very, very hard on poor people, and will, even according to the World Bank's own projections, put a hundred million or more at risk of starvation, but will also be counterproductive on the environmental front, because if you stress people too badly, they're going to start acting impulsively, maximize the short-term return, and you're gonna produce environmental devastation. That's exactly what happened, by the way, in Sri Lanka. It certainly happened to Germany to some degree as they pursued idiot green policies. Now they have energy prices that are four to five times as much as they were, where the power supply is much more unreliable. They're beholden to the Russians, which turned out to not be very wise, and they're polluting more rather than less.
So even by their own standards, it's been an abject failure. We're not walking down that route. No compulsion involved in this enterprise. And we'd like to have the voluntary ascent of the people governed, you know, like you might in a democracy. Now that's hard to do on the international scale because we don't have the processes put in place to do widespread public consultation, but we can at least move in that direction to the degree that that's possible. We're gonna throw this enterprise open to public participation as we can manage. And we're gonna try to make everything we do as transparent and decentralized as possible. So in any case, we met a number of times, in person and online, and we decided that we were gonna put forward a series of questions, and we agreed on the main areas that we would derive the questions from. And we know, and this is part of being transparent, we know perfectly well that if you're having a discussion, what the discussion is about is the key issue. And so if you control the questions, you haven't abandoned all governance or principles, you've established the playing ground, but you can't just have everyone talk about everything. That isn't gonna work. And so what we're striving to do is to get a balance between the imposition of structure, a game-like structure, let's say, that everyone would like to play, and the acquisition of information.
And we are offering these questions genuinely to see what we can all come up with as answers to the questions. And we're hoping that the vision that would emerge as a consequence of answering these questions would be compelling enough to people so that they would voluntarily get on board, no compulsion. And so I'm gonna read you the document. I've been writing this document, banding it back and forth with the people who are the core conspirators or contributors, depending on how you look at it, to this enterprise. It isn't a committee effort, precisely. I wrote it in my voice, but I passed it by a large number of the people involved who are willing to devote some time and resources to it. And I think that the consequence of that joint editing process was the production of a shorter, tighter, and hopefully more compelling story. So I'm gonna read this to you, and I'm gonna comment on it as I go. The name of this organization, which was probably the issue that caused us the most trouble, actually, was, we're calling it, it's called the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship, the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship. We like that name because, well, if you're a citizen, then you're an autonomous individual. And if you're a responsible citizen, then you're the kind of autonomous individual that can take care of yourself and maybe some other people, and that would be a good thing. And if it's an alliance, then, well, the implication there is that citizens who are responsible can aggregate in something approximating responsible groups that also take responsibility for developing responsible citizens, ARC, Alliance for Responsible Citizenship.
and the acronym is ARC, and ARC is a good acronym. It has echoes of the ARC, the biblical ARC, which is a container that allows people to withstand the trials and tribulations of life to navigate through the flood and to preserve. And ARC is also, there's a lifetime ARC, which is the trajectory moving forward. And so ARC's a good name. So we had to scrap about that a fair bit, but the consequence of that was, well, a name that made everybody happier than all the other names that we had put forward. So welcome aboard the ARC, if you're interested. And this is the statement of vision and invitation that starts with, I'll tell you the structure of the proclamation or the vision statement, first of all. So when I wrote my book, Maps of Meaning, I analyzed the structure of redemptive stories and your life is a redemptive story if you're fortunate because you have a lot of trouble in your life and yet you plow through and take care of that trouble and that's a story of redemption. And the typical redemption story is something like there's a stable state, a stable city, a stable family, a stable plan and then that's disrupted by some cataclysmic event, the arrival of the barbarians, the entry of an interloper into a marriage. For example, some fracture occurs. There is a descent into an intermediary period of chaos. And then there's the re-establishment of order that's of a higher order as a consequence.
So you sort of go through life like this and hopefully, you know, order, chaos, order, chaos, order, chaos, and hopefully as you do that, the order gets deeper and more profound and you get to be better at mediating between order and chaos. And this is an order chaos story and it opens up with a description of the current state of order. And we called that the good news. So I'm gonna read this, as I said, and comment on it. Life has improved dramatically over the past few centuries for almost everyone everywhere. At an ever accelerating rate, far more people are thriving on our planet than we could have imagined even mere decades ago. We live longer, are increasingly and globally literate, educated and connected, and enjoy unparalleled access to fresh water, food, energy, and resources. Now that's quite the miracle because back in the 1960s, when we started to become aware of our increasing industrial power and ability to operate at a planetary level, let's say we started to get worried about such things as whether, well, we were gonna overpopulate the planet and we were gonna run out of food and we were gonna pollute everything into devastation and the whole civilizational endeavor was gonna collapse into a degenerate chaos. And there was plenty of doomsaying at that time, plenty of people, Paul Ehrlich, for example, at Stanford who wrote the population bomb, and the Club of Rome, who were the original apocalyptic doomsayers on the environmentalist front, claiming that by the year 2000, there'd be mass starvation, we'd be running out of basic commodities, and that life was going to get a hell of a lot worse quickly. And so we better put the brakes to the population growth and de-industrialize rapidly or look the hell out. And, you know, none of that turned out to be true. And the people who put that vision forward might say, well, you know, it's all a matter of timeframe, eventually it's going to come true.
And it's like, well, if your prediction is, eventually I'm right, that's not a very good prediction, is it? You have to specify timeframe. And Ehrlich, by the way, Paul Ehrlich did specify timeframe in a very famous bet he had with Julian Simon, the economist, and Ehrlich lost famously. And what's happened actually is that we have way more people now than we thought we would in the year 2000. We have way more people now than people in 1965 thought would be on the planet in the year 2000, when all the starvation was supposed to hit. And by and large, people are way better off than they've ever been in the history of mankind. About seven out of eight billion people now have a reasonable standard of living. It's not luxurious, say by North American standards, but they have enough to eat. They have a certain degree of security, and their children have a certain amount of opportunity. And there's still hundreds of millions of people who have trouble, but we have over, especially over the last 20 years, maybe since the Berlin Wall fell and the communists kept quit wrecking everything and they got their hands on, we've moved away from absolute poverty at a pretty decent rate. So, and there's other good news as well. We exist in comparative peace.
Violence of every form from murder to insurrection is increasingly rare and universally condemned, and fewer people than ever before confront the ravages of war. So we become less violent and more peaceful at every level of social organization. To note that all this is a miracle is still to understate the enormity of the accomplishment. And so, you know, we can take stock now in 2023 and think, well, we've got a fair number of problems and we're certainly not perfect, but things are a lot better than they might have been. And there's a lot of good news on the local, national and international front. And so many problems, of course, remain. Hundreds of millions still labor under conditions of extreme privation. They're absolutely poor. We still organize ourselves less effectively than we might, if we were truly wise. And we are still determining how to maintain our economic security and prosperity in an efficient, cost-effective, and nature-conserving manner. All right, so you don't have to be a Pollyanna to take optimistic stock of the current situation. You can note that 95% of the world was living in conditions of absolute privation by the UN definition of poverty in 1860, including in the West.
And most people simply aren't burdened by that kind of inadequate provision in the modern world. And so that's a pretty good deal. Now, is it sustainable? Well, that's not a good question. The better question is, under what conditions is it optimally sustainable or expanding? That's a better question. Questions are important. So you can say, perhaps you can argue, the foundations are secure and good. We've learned how to act and to conduct ourselves both individually and socially so that true human flourishing is possible on a scale heretofore undreamed of and practically impossible. We put in place systems of governance that are, by historical standards, quite effective. There's been a sequence of absolute technological miracles that have enabled us to feed ourselves. We've been able to provide people with access to inexpensive energy and energy is work and work is the amelioration of absolute privation.
And so that's all pretty damn good. So that's the upside, the realistic, non-naive upside, the challenge. So we might think that's the impending crisis. Despite all this good news, this undeniable progress, a shadow has emerged, an adversarial challenge to this state and process of expanding abundance, an emergent crisis of meaning and purpose. God is dead, or so the story goes, and the future is uncertain. Five centuries of ascendant reductionist enlightenment rationality have revealed that this starkly objective world lacks all intrinsic meaning. A century and a half or more of corrosive cultural criticism has undermined our understanding of and faith in the traditions necessary to unite and guide us. Well, we underwent the scientific revolution, started 500 years ago, say, and it concentrated on delineation of the nature of the objective world. We found out that the heavens were other than what we had presupposed, and that the God we had imagined inhabiting those heavens did not appear in the starkly empty and barren, the immense, vast landscape of the cosmos. And we believe that if you were sensible and abandoned your superstitions, that you'd see the world as the cold, dead, mechanistic, inert object of process that it most truly is. Well, we've got a long way with that viewpoint. You know, that reductionist materialism has made us unbelievably powerful technologically, but the downside of that is that it stripped the world of meaning, and that's produced a crisis of faith.
And you might object while the world's necessarily been stripped of meaning, but it's not always that obvious just exactly what constitutes what's necessary. So in the middle of this existential chaos, the false idol of apocalyptic ideology inevitably beckons. So what's that proposition? Well, you lose your traditional faith, your traditional religious faith. You still need an interpretive structure to guide you. And so what you might say is that, well, as the classic god of the monotheistic Western tradition collapses, then his polytheistic adversaries rise up to replace him. You are bound to act out your belief in something. And maybe it's your own hedonistic will, a fragmented, impulsive hedonistic will. And you might think that's you, but that's just a sequence of lower gods that are possessing you. So we find ourselves in consequence. Inundated by a continual onslaught of ominous demoralizing messages, most particularly in the form of environmental catastrophism, the insistence that we all confront a severe and immediately pending emergency of biological destruction, causally associated with our degenerate social structures, the patriarchy, the oppressive patriarchy, and their excess and destructive industrial production. From my perspective, and I've thought about this deeply and talked about it with many wise people, this is a quasi-religious worldview replacement for our original traditional religious viewpoint.
And it's predicated on a narrative, a story. We see the world through a story, inevitably. A description of the structures through which we see the world is a story. The apocalyptic environmentalist ethos is a story and it has characters, and here's the story. The narrative generating these messages, quasi-religious in its structure and intensity, paints a dismal existential picture. The individual is a rapacious, predatory, parasitical consumer, too many mouths to feed. Society, even the little society of the family, is an oppressive, tyrannical despoiler. Marriage is a patriarchal institution, an exploitative patriarchal institution. All our economic interactions are nothing but the manifestation of a corrupt will to power, and that's the proper reading of history and the current moment. And nature herself is a hapless, fragile, virginal victim in need of continual sympathy and protection. For our sins, so the story goes, the horsemen of the apocalypse are to be loosed upon us, and justly so, the ultimate Malthusian nightmare is about to be realized. The planet is unsustainably and unforgivably overpopulated.
There is simply too much fundamentally pathological human activity. Plague, political anarchy, and starvation await us all. Malthus, Malthus was a biologist who made the observation that under natural circumstances, populations of living organisms tended to expand through reproduction to the point where they consumed all available resources and then precipitously collapsed. Now, in a dynamic natural environment, the deer don't multiply to the point where they eat everything that they could forage for because they're held in check by predators. So you see, in principle, a balancing of some sort emerge in complex, dynamic natural environments. But left to their own devices unchecked, the Malthusian nightmare emerges. The yeast will, in the Petri dish, will consume all the agar and then all of it will die. And that's a biological model, and it's a model that's valid under some conditions. But we're not yeast human beings, and we're not yeast because we can let our ideas die instead of us. And what that means is that if we do stupid destructive things, we can learn to stop doing them, and we can get more efficient, and we can get wiser, and we can make more with less. And we've done that consistently throughout our entire biological, throughout the entire duration of our existence as a species. And there's no evidence whatsoever that we have got less good at that.
In fact, quite the contrary. And so the economists rejoinder to the Malthusian biologists is, resources are not defined by their finitude in the manner you presume, because there is no upper limit to the scope of human ingenuity, especially if it's conjoined with the appropriate governance that makes cooperative ingenuity both possible and more likely. So for those of you who are thinking that we should be following the science and that the science is necessarily Malthusian, then I would say, you don't know as much about science as you might need to know to make such a claim. In any case, from this Malthusian perspective, the unultimate nightmare is about to be realized. The planet is unsustainably and unforgivably overpopulated. There's too much pathological human activity, plague, political anarchy and starvation await us all. It is in consequence, high time to repent and change our errant ways, to admit in defeated shame that our current social and industrial enterprises are corrupt and unsustainable to radically revolutionize all traditional forms of conduct and governance, to question even the propriety of bringing new devouring mouse into this world and to accept without resistance the limits to growth and opportunity made increasingly mandatory by a coterie of concerned and hypothetically expert elites. Well, what's the problem? Well, part of the problem is a panicked response to a hypothetical emergency can be far worse than the hypothetical emergency itself. And given what we all just did when the COVID, when the hypothetical COVID pandemic hypothetically emerged, we should give a real serious second thought to panicking and running off a cliff in the same manner as a consequence of the chicken little sky is falling doomsayers who are proclaiming that the emergency justifies their acquisition of all the power. From the Malthusian perspective, a deep worldwide social, economic and revolution is therefore allegedly at hand and necessarily so. Those who dare suggest otherwise are blind, if not malevolent and must be silenced.
What are the results of such theories or the consequences of such proclamations? Well, we can see it unfolding. The increasingly and increasingly, the increasing and increasingly compelled imposition of severe involuntary limits to material abundance and growth, more expensive energy, for example, the resultant artificially inflated prices, particularly for the aforementioned energy that most truly punish the poor, the fraying of our social fabric into a chaos of alienated polarization, simultaneously and in predictable lockstep, the extension of reach and control over even the most private details of our lives by increasingly gigantic and centralized organizations, governmental and corporate alike, and the spread, particularly among the young, of a demoralizing and socially divisive doubt and hopelessness. Well, why does doubt and hopelessness? Well, look, if you're a young person in the world today, well, if you're female, the first question that confronts you giving the looming environmental apocalypse is, well, who are you to bring a child into this world? And so that pretty much makes the whole enterprise of motherhood, which is a fundamental part of life, as you may have noticed, all of you who have mothers, that makes that, what, morally untenable? And then, of course, if motherhood itself is morally untenable with a whole utility of having a relationship, let's say with a man, that becomes entirely questionable. I mean, then it's, what, sex and companionship, and that's not nothing, but that might not be enough to unite people in a manner that allows them to maintain the intense social bonds that are necessary to keep us free of terror and anxiety and hopeful into the future. And then for men, for young men in particular, it's like, well, all their ambition is nothing but a manifestation of patriarchal oppression and the very oppression that's destroying the planet. And so if they get up and attempt to move forward, all they're doing is contributing to the catastrophic mess that human beings, that cancer on the planet have already, and always made of the planet. And so what do you expect on the behalf of young people? And you should expect exactly what you get, which is a radical increase in depression and anxiety, a radical elimination of their sense of agency, growing sense of hopelessness and despair, all of which is being forced upon them, and even the abandonment of the entire sexual enterprise.
30% of people in Japan, it's the same in South Korea, and we're moving in that direction pretty damn fast in the rest of the West. 30% of people under 30 in Japan are virgins. We've demoralized young people so badly that they're not even having sex, even with themselves. And so, I don't know, man, if your solution to, if your solution to saving the planet is to demoralize young people, your vision of the acceptable future is diametrically opposed to, let's say, my vision of the desirable future. So, all right, we've talked about the current situation optimistically, we talked a little bit about the crisis that we're facing existentially and practically, and the dangers that might emerge because of overreaction to that hypothetical crisis. We'll talk about the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship a bit and what we're tentatively offering and what we have as an invitation to the table. The catastrophizing must stop. It is existentially perilous to insist upon the impending end of the world in this doomsaying manner, lest the ensuing panicked tyranny produce exactly the result that is in principle most feared. The use of increasingly powerful and invasive technology to monitor and control everything in combination with the willingness and ability to use compulsion and force, and that can be taxation and increased energy prices because that's compulsion and force too, can lead only to tyranny and despair. Regardless of the hypothetical nobility of the end goal, we have improved almost everything, and we appear to be rapidly getting better at doing precisely that as the great British historian, Macaulay, long ago inquired. On what principle is it that when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration in front of us. We have therefore initiated the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship, the ARC, a new movement of hopeful vision, local, national, and international in its aim and scope, aimed at the collective voluntary establishment of a maximally attractive route forward.
Well, why local, national, and international? Well, there's a historically, there's a historical precedent for the conception of the good governance that's neither tyranny nor degeneration into chaos, and that's something like distributed responsibility. So imagine that a well-governed state doesn't have good leaders from the top shepherding the chaotic and ignorant masses. What it has instead is responsibility distributed across the social hierarchy of citizenship. So you want individuals who are taking responsibility for their own lives who are educated and attentive and productive and generous enough to take care of themselves. And then you hope that if they get good enough at that, they can extend their hand and start taking care of someone else. So maybe you get married and you take care of your wife and she takes care of you, and that's a pretty good deal for both of you. And then the two of you are productive and generous enough with each other so that you can now take care of some kids and then you put your family together. And so your family's solid and well-constituted and you have a little bit of leftover resource so that you could be of aid to your local community. And so the local community thrives with its level of responsibility. And then well, the town made of communities thrives and the province made of cities thrives. and then the nation made of provinces thrive, and then whatever left at the international level can make itself minimally manifest.
And that's a vision of distributed responsibility. And it's a vision that allows everyone to have their proper place and encourages them precisely to take that, predicated as it is on the idea that just because you're in the uppermost echelons of an abstracted organization does not mean that what you're doing is more important and vital than the people who occupy something at a lower level, a more local level. So that means the housewife's job is as important, all things considered and as valuable as the prime minister's job. And you might think, well, that's preposterous. And then I would say, well, then you're not taking the job of housewife seriously enough. It's like not that easy to make a home. And it's not that easy to make a home where things are set up to maximize the possibilities of your children. And God only knows how you can bring goodness into the world by optimizing your relationship with your children. So everything in its proper place and everyone deeded their appropriate level of responsibility. And that's the antidote to tyranny and slavery. And that's the invitation here too. It's like, we don't wanna do this top down.
We wanna help figure out how to facilitate the development of responsible citizens in well-functioning families, in well-constituted communities, in properly put together cities and to leave responsibility, requisite responsibility at every level of that hierarchical structure. And that is the antidote, the subsidiary antidote to tyranny and the desert. We have therefore initiated the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship, AHRQ, a new movement of hopeful vision. While they say the people perish without vision. What is hopeful vision? Well, hopeful vision is what you're working toward. No, you think, well, if I could have things this way in my family, in my life, in my community, that would be worthwhile. I could get on board with that. Well, your vision of the future that attracts you and also provides you with security and direction orientation that unites you with others, that's your hopeful vision. And you perish without that. And hopefully through discussion and negotiation, we can develop something approximating a collective hopeful vision that we can all be on board with. Like part of that for me is, well, how about if we work as hard as we can as quickly as possible to ameliorate absolute poverty, provide inexpensive energy as widely as possible everywhere in the world and lift people out of the poverty that what would you say compels them to adopt a cataclysmically short-term vision of the world?
Now, you know, you might say, well, that's not priority number one. It's like, fair enough, we could have a discussion about what priority number one might be. But that's, for me, at least an element of what might constitute a hopeful vision. And I think it's a realistic one too, given that rich people care more about the planet they can afford to. So aimed at the collective voluntary establishment of a maximally attractive route forward. Well, why maximally attractive? So that people will be on board without compulsion. Because one of our principles is, all policy that requires compulsion is suboptimal. Now, you have to use compulsion on criminals now and then, psychopaths, people who just will not abide by any set of principles whatsoever, except the advancement of their extraordinarily narrowly defined self-interest. But other than that, if you set up an organization and people aren't willingly on board, you haven't developed your vision properly. And so we wanna do that collectively in response to the questions that admittedly we are putting forth. Voluntary establishment?
Well, you get the best out of people if they're voluntarily on board. You don't wanna play a game with someone who's been forced to play with you. And that's the definition of fatal social catastrophe, even when you're a kid. Your neighbor's mother has to tell his son. Your neighbor's mother, you have a kid next door you'd like to be friends with, and he won't play with you unless his mother tells you to. Well, that's tells him to. That's not gonna be very fun for you or for him. You can't have an optimally structured social organization that relies on involuntary participation. So voluntary establishment. The ARC will open itself up to widespread public membership as rapidly and extensively as is practically manageable, at as low a cost as is possible and desirable because nothing's free. So that everyone interested in Canadian voluntarily formulating this story and strategy and to discuss how its implementation might be encouraged. Now I set up a mailing list already, which will be a precursor, let's say, to a broad membership list, and I'll put the link to the mailing list in this video so that you can sign up.
There's about 30,000 people that have signed up to that mailing list already. Now we're gonna put up a website where the questions I'm posing today, or we're posing today, can be answered and where people can vote on the answers. And so, you know, that's not a perfect voting structure, but it's not nothing, and we can probably improve it as we move forward. We're also announcing our first conference slated for Greenwich, London, England, October 30th and 31st and November 1st, concentrating on issues, metaphysical, cultural and practical. So we would like this to be a beautiful conference. We'd like it to focus on elements beyond the political, cultural elements, philosophical elements, psychological elements, issues pertaining to the meaning of life, the significance of existence, and then also to become practical with regard to the realization of policy and to start that discussion. Some of this conference will be necessarily limited in its scale to 2,000 or so initial attendees. Some of it will be made open to as wide a swath of the public as possible. The happenings on both fronts will be made available online insofar as that is pragmatically possible, either live or recorded for later reading, viewing or listening. We'll have 2,000 people there. I hope to do a public talk in the midst of that. And at the O2, if we can get that arranged, we'll get something approximating 15,000 people to that and do a series of discussions in one evening about the fundamental issues that the conference is going to discuss.
And as I said, we'll record the conference proceedings so that people who are interested can see what's going on. We'll do it live online as much as that's possible, but we're also not gonna sacrifice the utility of the in-person meeting to that end. And then we'll try to expand that as we move forward. You know, you gotta start on not too large a scale if you wanna figure out how to make something work. We plan as well to render the operations of the ARC public and transparent to operate under the assumption that each citizen has the inalienable right and is well-equipped when engaged, informed, and consulted to choose and adhere to the desirable, sustainable, productive, and generous future path. So I'm hoping that everybody involved is wise enough not to think that they're the only person in the room or on the planet who's wise. You know, my sense of the world is that there are extraordinarily competent people operating at every domain, ranging from the sheerly practical wisdom of plumbers and carpenters and highway workmen who do their job diligently and properly, complex though it is, to people who are operating in the realm of abstraction, and that for things to work out properly, everybody at every level has to value their productive capacity, be valued for their productive capacity, and be seen to operate as contributing members to the broader social endeavor and to be regarded as valid contributing members. And that's not some utopian dream, that's hard-headed reality. So the more people that participate and the more people we can consult, insofar as it's possible to aggregate a diverse range of voices, the better, as far as we're striving to be concerned. No, and so the sheer complexity of the world and the genuine diversity of individual ability and preference means that distributed decision-making is a necessity, not a luxury. No elite technocracy is capable of knowing best and then determining how we should all move forward as individuals and communities. It follows from this that policy requiring compulsion, let alone force, rather than the voluntary ascent of the participants, is bad policy.
We, therefore, offer for the contemplation of those potentially interested in our invitation six fundamental questions, the answers to which might form the basis for a vision that is voluntarily compelling, motivating, that moves you forward into the future, stabilizing, provides a certain amount of structure so that you're not overwhelmed by complexity, and uniting, uniting in that if we all share the vision or to the degree that we do, we're gonna be moving forward in a manner that's mutually comprehensible, productive, stabilizing, and hopeful. Well, that'd be good. Domain one, vision and story. What destiny might we envision and pursue such that we are maximally fortified against anxiety and despair, motivated by faith and hope, and voluntarily united in our pursuit of a flourishing and abundant world? Responsible citizenship. How might we encourage individuals to reflect and to act so that they adopt full voluntary responsibility for themselves present and future? That's the difference between impulsive self-interest and wise self-interest, right? If you're wise, you act in the present so that the future you will benefit from your actions in the present. You don't do that if you're impulsive or hedonistic. How might we encourage individuals to reflect and to act so that they adopt full voluntary responsibility for themselves, present and future, as well as their families and communities? So that's that extension of individual responsibility from the bottom up, from the local upward, and how to encourage that, recognize it, fortify it, develop it, distribute it. Family and social fabric, sort of moving up the hierarchy of society.
How might we effectively conceptualize, value and reward the sacrificial, long-term, peaceful, child-centered intimate relationships upon which psychological integrity and social stability most fundamentally depend? Well, the minimal model for that is something approximating the nuclear family, right? Long-term committed, stable heterosexual marriages, sanctified by the community and by the tradition, providing the basis for the mutual, for a mutually satisfying and engaging relationship for the adults involved and offering the necessary minimal foundation for the security, for the creation and security of children. And so, well, we have to discuss exactly what that means at the minimal level. I'm particularly impressed, this is me, not Ark, by the way, with the Hungarian family policy provisions that have been put forward most recently. I think they're well worth considering. If you're a mother in Hungary, you have one child, you're exempt from income tax, 25% of income tax for the rest of your life. And that scales up to four children, 100% reduction. And I like that because, well, it helps redress the imbalance in relationship to reproductive responsibility that's part and parcel of the human existential landscape. And, you know, maybe that's not a perfect solution, but it seems to me a variant of the solution that the feminists to give the devil, his or in this case, her do, have been clamoring for forever, but certainly for the last 300 years. People aren't isolated and atomistic individuals, they need a family context. What that family context minimally constitutes, particularly in the ideal, can be subject to intense discussion.
As a conservative in this matter, I tilt towards the minimal traditional nuclear family unit. And having said that, though, I would also say that I know perfectly well that we all fall short of the ideal and that many people are divorced, many people are unable to find a partner, people, people's spouses die, we're unfaithful to each other. Homosexuality is an eternal reality. And even within the confines of a traditional marriage, there isn't a person alive who makes that ideal manifest in all possible ways at every possible moment. And so we need an ideal on the family front that we all hold as an ideal. And that's probably something like the heterosexual nuclear family, at least in my estimation, with a very wide swath of genuine tolerance for human variation surrounding it. But the fact that that tolerance exists and that there is recognition of the fringe and it's right to exist doesn't mean that we should sacrifice the ideal. I think when we do that, we destroy the center and we destroy the fringe. So going up a level, free exchange and good governance. How can we continue to gain from the genius of unbridled human innovation and the productive reciprocity of voluntary production and free exchange while protecting ourselves against the tendency of successful organizations to degenerate into a state of willfully blind and narrowly self-serving authoritarianism? Well, there's a free market element to that. The idea there is that we're all best served when people are left the hell alone to do what they need to do to produce what they can produce and to trade.
But we also have to, as the reasonable left-wingers insist, note when any enterprise of any magnitude gets so large that it starts to co-opt the very rules by which the game is played. And so we have to sort that out and that's complicated. How do we forestall regulatory capture and the proclivity of government, corporation and communication enterprise alike to collude at the highest levels of abstraction and become authoritarian and self-serving? Energy and resources. How do we ensure provision of the energy and other resources crucial to our shared security and opportunity in a manner that is inexpensive, reliable, safe, efficient, and widely and universally accessible? We, energy is work. Work is the amelioration of absolute poverty. We want to provide energy as widely as possible at as low a price is properly sustainable within the confines of a market economy, and we want to do that as rapidly as we can. There's no excuse for putting forward energy policies that punish those who are absolutely poor. It will not help them, it will hurt them. We have no right to do that. We have no right to deny the developing world here in the West, those of us who have that Western privilege.
We have no right to deny the developing world the opportunity to pursue the opportunities that we've been blessed to pursue. And furthermore, if we do deny them that opportunity, we will not produce a beneficial environmental outcome. You play a net zero, you play a zero-sum game, you're going to get a conflict-ridden catastrophic outcome. It's not a good model for governance. So, and then environmental stewardship. Stewardship, right? That's not, that word itself implies that human beings are not a cancer on the face of the planet and that we do not exist in pure opposition to some hypothetically pristine natural order. We're part and parcel of the cosmos, just like all the other creatures. And we're conscious and self-conscious to a degree that makes us unique. And we have opportunity, power, and responsibility that's commensurate with that differentiated ability. How might we properly pursue the environmental stewardship that most truly serves the needs and wants of all individuals today, tomorrow, and into the foreseeable future? And that's a lot different than how do we sacrifice human interest to save the virginal planet, concluding words.
We at the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship, we at AHRQ do not believe that humanity is necessarily and inevitably teetering on the brink of apocalyptic disaster. We do not believe that we are beings, primarily motivated by lust for power and the desire to dominate. We do not regard ourselves or our fellow citizens as destructive forces living in an alien relationship to the pristine and pure natural world. We posit instead that men and women of faith and decisiveness made in the image of God can arrange their affairs with care and attention so that abundance and opportunity could be available for all those who present a vision of inevitable catastrophe in the absence of severely enforced material privation or not wise seers of the inevitable future, but forlorn prisoners of their own limited, faithless imaginations and those who scheme to lead using terror as a motivator and force as a cudgel reveal themselves by definition as unfit for the job. We hope, and I think we truly hope, and in our wiser moments truly pray, we hope to encourage the development of an alternative pathway uphill out of both tyranny and the desert, stabilizing, unifying, and compelling to men and women of sound judgment and free will. Welcome aboard the Ark. All right, that's that. And so I'm working diligently with the people who've agreed to shoulder the initial responsibility for this project to try with all our might to do exactly what I just described, right? To produce a decentralized vision that's as attractive to people as we can make it in the hopes that we can unite our vision and move towards the future that we all would need and want if we wisely chose what we need and want. And if you would like to participate, then we'll do everything we possibly can within the bounds of ability and will to make that possible. And so welcome to the table.