Politics is a black hole, it really is. Politicians have no powers other than those of destruction, harassment and hinderance - and like classic thugs they use their power to suck everyone into circus events and the fight over spoils. If all the dollars put into the destructive work of centralizing power and then fighting over it were instead put into serious anti-aging research or educating people about healthy life extension, how far could we go? A long way, I think.
Brian Doherty of Reason Online has written an excellent piece to remind us of the power of walking away from politics:
Nothing like this week of all-Kerry-all-the-time Democratic convention coverage to turn one's mind to the other side of life - you know, the side not directly connected to the system of coordinated violence and threats designed to force other people to do what you want them to, and people's attempts to game that system in a usually futile attempt to "make a difference."
The experience of researching and writing the book exposed me to many vivid, inspiring examples of the wonderful and unprecedented things that can, and do, happen when people work, not on national politics, but on their own lives, with their own friends, within their own self-created communities - things that enrich their lives as well as, often, the lives of many, many others.
Little comes out of throwing your support behind candidates except further support for a system of petty controls and evil tyranny. Believers in progressive politics who are interested in the arts and experiments-in-living, as they so often are, have much more to offer the world - and, if I may be so bold, their own lives - by producing art and experiments in living rather than indulging in electoral politics.
Progress, creation, good lives and better medicine don't come from politicians. They do not create or build - all they do is shout, threaten, tear down, abuse the power we give them and lay down roadblocks on the way to the future.
The people who try to forge something new - whether an object, or a technology, or a way of life - will change and benefit the world far more directly than any conventioneer or politician is likely to, and probably have more fun doing so. As Alexander Cockburn recently and correctly noted, the quality of life of his (mostly lefty) readership in terms of coffee, bread, and vegetables has improved enormously in the past 30 years. And it was not thanks to any government initiative. And what we eat and drink everyday, in a healthy life, ought to mean much more to us than the machinations of those in Washington.
Where do we live? We live with ourselves and with other people, both in person and virtually; we live with our work; we live with the objects of cultural production that help us make sense of our lives and our work, or merely, in ways often indefinable even to ourselves, delight and divert us. We ought not, to the extent we can help it, live in George Bush's America, or John Kerry's.
We should shun politics and the parasites who live in that world. We should turn our backs on politicians and rent seeking. We should instead focus on our own lives - building the future we wish to see through our work and ingenuity. It is better that our dollars and time go to our own individual visions than to bolster one or other of the competing gangs in government.
My vision is for a future in which aging and age-related conditions are defeated and cured. I work with groups like the Methuselah Foundation and the Immortality Institute to help lay a small part of the groundwork for that future. I talk to the media to help raise the profile of serious anti-aging and healthy life extension research. I provide resources for people who want to learn more about the healthy life extension community and broader topics like cryonics or calorie restriction.
While I do comment on politics - and encourage those who do want to be involved in the political arena to speak out against restrictive legislation - I am far more involved in and pleased with my constructive nonprofit work. The Methuselah Mouse Prize has passed $400,000 in cash and pledges. The Immortality Institute is publishing a book this year and a documentary film project is underway. Extending the healthy human life span is taken much more seriously in the press and given far more attention than even just a few years ago. Of course, I am fortunate to be doing this work at an auspicious time and in the company of many other advocates - but I'm doing my part in the fight to cure aging and all age-related disease.
How about you?