Searchers after the Shining Way of Sirius


The Searchers are a politico-mystical group rooted deep in the communist philosophy of the Sirian Socialist Republic. The theory goes as follows: in pre-industrial society, most of mankind was engaged in primary processing industries - agriculture, mining and fishing. In industrial society, improvements to machinery meant that far fewer people were required for this, so most worked instead in manufacturing. In post-industrial society, machine technology improved to the point where very few people were required to work in factories and most instead performed service activities. After this was supposed to come a leisure society, where service industries were also automated and those required to work at all did so voluntarily, while 90% of society were free to live a life of relaxation, contemplation, art, study and leisure, supported by the others. The leisure society however failed to take hold because capitalism instead invented new goals for society in order to continue propagating itself, i.e. to continuously desire more goods and services.
This 'consumer society', the Searchers claim, was achieved by mass media propaganda (advertising), and the invented concepts of 'planned obsolescence' and 'fashion'. The extension of fashion into all areas of life allows society to continuously destroy perfectly serviceable items that are only a couple of years or even months old and purchase new ones. Thus the surplus production that could have supported a leisure society is instead deliberately destroyed in order to keep people in employment, since they could otherwise not afford to purchase the 'fashionable' items that capitalism produces. The money thus goes to the capitalists instead of society as a whole. The still-birth of the leisure society, say the Searchers, has also been achieved by the commoditisation of leisure itself through the concept of 'lifestyle', so that it has merely became another service which can be provided by capitalist industry, and its provision of 'fashionable' films, computer programs, running shoes, music etc.
The Searchers argue that this constant consumption has brought a continual need for new resources, and has driven humanity's seemingly endless colonial exploitation of other worlds. It also drives conflict over these resources. In this way the consumer society has turned mankind into little more than a virus, constantly infecting new worlds and stripping them of their resources only for them to be destroyed by the ever-empty maw of the consumer society.
Against this rather depressing analysis of modern society, the Searchers concede that the 'relatively enlightened' government of the SSR has placed limits on the development of consumerism within Sirian space. However, the Searchers believe that Sirius has not gone far enough, and that in many respects it has merely substituted unproductive and/or supervisory work for productive work. The Shining Way of Sirius, as it has come to be known outside Sirian space (within the SSR it is still known as the Shining Way of Maria Tegui, the Sirian economist and essayist whose book 'The Shining Way' originally presented this thesis) is therefore a programme for building a true leisure society free from the artificial dictates of consumerism. It relies heavily on automation, although it is generally not pro-AI since it believes that sentient machines would be entitled to be leisured themselves and so would not help build the leisured utopia that has long been promised. It also preaches a strategy of 'managed wants' to re-educate people as to the difference between what they need and what they have been told to believe they want. Although it is a popular movement in Sirian space, it has on occasion been associated with strikes, absenteeism and deliberate sabotage of productive activities, and so it is not officially condoned, and adherence to Shining Way views can be grounds for re-education (such was the fate of Maria Tegui herself, the movement's first martyr).
Outside the SSR it is mostly espoused by refusenik groups who occupy their own communes run on Shining Way lines (or kibbutzim in UoX space). It has also inspired many start-up colonies, although these have usually failed to develop and often been abandoned or else been forced to embrace the consumer society they once despised. Searchers are undaunted by this, claiming that it proves their point that concerted and probably international government action is necessary for the Shining Way to succeed, for the betterment of all humanity.



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