Again, it does.
If you want to go and get plugged into a bunch of other people and live as a collective consciousness then you can, it's actually explicitly an option. Just one that doesn't hold much interest for most people because it's essentially just one of the several death-alternatives available to those who have become bored of being alive. It's such a radical change of state that you're not really the same person.
But here's a question. Why would a benevolent society require an ultimate end state? Again, maybe there's something wrong with us. Maybe there's something wrong with our compulsive need to identify with power that we literally can't imagine the possibility of an equal society without necessitating the complete erasure of distinct levels of ability (and indeed, all distinction) along with it.
Do you really need to be as good as a machine to be adequate? Because I would say, if you need to be in a position of power or advantage (like being the strongest, or the most intelligent) in order to trust that the society you live in is benevolent, it's not benevolent.
It's not really a question of power, more so the gulf between people. Wars happen because most of the time it never touches upon one's home. Heinlein argued that a world replete and managed by soldiers was more peaceful because only soldiers know of war's desolation. I don't agree, but there is a kernel of truth that distance breeds apathy and allows problems to be manufactured.
Arms sales to tyrants, global trade dynamics, the mobilization of organized religion over science, there's far too many vested interests of humanity that the late-stage capitalist world we live in is the only answer to many societies deprived on any freedom to re-orietate the gears of commerce to elevate themselves. And it's an answer that will destroy the world we live on, regardless.
Revolutions are now pointless beyond superficialities as the mechanics of trade themselves will impoverish and self-perpetuate itself.
So what's left?
Removing the gulf between humans where feelings of idividual injustice, entrenched poverty and warfare is the only solution to bringing the war into every home. What it feels like getting shot, or being caught in the overpressure event that can physically lift you-gear and all-and slam you into the ground. Like being kicked by a horse only every square inch of your body. The feeling of going 5 days without decent food. The feeling of knowing you're possibly drinking contaminated water, but have no other recourse. The feeling of being a child lost in a refugee camp.
Imagine being able to confront people with the weight of their own evils not simply as a list of horrors reported on a television screen, but the capacity to actually see from one's eyes, feel the heart racing in another's chest, the desperation tearing at their thoughts.
It's the gulf between people that allow one to comfortably retreat from one's actions. So take steps to remove the gulf. Build bridges where once there were none.
It's not so much the idea of an endstate, rather the rise of what I might coin the 'omnipolitical' ... where all else fades in the face of the crushing dialectical materialsm irrespective of spin. Maybe 'endstate' is a bit hyperbolic, how about 'pursuit of the material'? Basically the heightened other-regarding stance of hedonism with that focus of being other-regarding like a hot knife through butter that cuts through the 'noise' and allows no more retreat.
So, you've taken my one line summary of a scene which is the emotional and thematic payoff to an entire sequence of scenes developing the relationship between these two characters in a very extreme and negative way, so I'm just going to quote a whole passage:
It's not a discouragement, it's a serious question which deserves a serious answer, and the mind's response isn't a flippant dismissal, it's an affirmation of the inherent value of being who you are and doing what you do.. and if you do something which someone else finds easy, then there can be value in the effort it took, assuming you want there to be value in it. Never struggling will not make you happy (mild spoiler: the mind in this case is not happy), at best it will make you more successful in a society that measures your worth as a person by your productivity. But again, maybe there is something wrong with that society.
Ahh, sorry. I misinterpreted. I was thinking it was more; "You know, I could do that for you. Just leave it with me."
Right, but the problem is Horza (our shapeshifting assassin protagonist) is a tool. He's a being designed for a purpose, who has accepted being used for that purpose because he can maintain the paper-thin fabrication that he chose to do so.
The instrumental-rational view of life doesn't stop at inanimate tools. It never has.
You could say that with any pre-industrial society, however. Right down to the dawn of modern humanity. You forage fruits, Martha kills game, Greg sets up the campsite and skins animals, etc.
You could definitely say it about a society that genetically alters people altogether. After all, I think we've had a debate before o the ethics of genetic manipulation of the yet unborn. The idea that genetically altering people to be good at something, I argued, ultimately creates a caste-based society. My argument was that people shouldn't genetically alter humans to be good with long-term space habitation, rather society should aim to build better space habitats.
To flip it around I wouldn't agree genetically altering people into the best super-spies, but rather agree with the rhetoric he proposes. Tools exist to be used. Human labour exists to be consumed. No one really owns it if you achieve that other-regarding state of hedonism, if people recognize already that everybody should be able to access certain pleasure... and given that we live in a society that for the most part is oly post-scarcity in some places due to the manipulation and poverty of others, it's wrong to fixate on the purposeless when there are so many causes requiring championing.
After all, this society genetically alters itself to feel greater pleasure, and so it has created a society that favours mindless consumption. Which is problematic if you as a person might feel adrift feeling as if you weren't given options to live any other way. You might feel adrift if you feel society could do more with itself, or not be so wasteful. Sure it's an interstellar society, but kind of problematic if, like us, we live on a single planet with limited resources and the wealth concentration to feel nothig but a life with pleasure is already causing such excruciating problems for much of the world.
I don't always gel with the philosophy either. For me, there's a bunch of stuff which could be read as a kind of apologia for liberal neocolonialism which I'm not totally comfortable with, but it's clearly unintentional and becomes a bit more conscious later on. I think it affected me very deeply because I always liked the idea of Star Trek but felt it never really lived up to the potential of its concept. Plus, it's funny to me to see Elon Musk and a bunch of libetarian ex-communalists wanking off over a series which repeats the line "money implies poverty" and whose author openly hated everything they stood for. Funny and a bit sad.
I have deep problems with Star Trek world, as well. Shadowy Star Fleet councils debating whether they should help the Klingons in the face of their total genocide. The idea that one president of the Federation could truly reflect the desires and representation of thousands of sapient species. To the simple fact that the highest organization in the universe still defaults to militarized hierarchies and singularly acts as law enforcement, trade officials, lawmakers, diplomacy, military force, exploration, industrial planning, civil engineering...
I get centralized planning is a big thing of the particular brand of socialism that Gene Roddenberry experienced during the Cold War, but it's kind of out of date thinking. I've done a stint of peacekeeping as a soldier, but it's no adequate substitution for native people being able to manage their own societies and ensure their own civil authorities.
Centralized planning should be a means to an end, not an end in itself. Also is it really surprisig mega-capitalists would, in an Adorno-style, occupy and colonize even the message of revolution through the global culture industry?
It's part of that 'gulf' of reasonable connection to material reality I was talking about before. We're all guilty of it to an extent. The internet was meant to connect us, and yet we spend hours binge watching shows on Netflix rather than using it to locate problems in the world to fix, or at least to connect with another human in a way that is infinitely better than Twitter or Facebook and the autistic people of the world taking photos of whatever overpriced lunch they had while millions starve.
We need to bring the war into people's homes. Give them no place to hide in plain sight...