What is a Meta-Cause?

Individuals have a variety of causes they care about.  One person may care deeply about the welfare of stray animals and seek funds to provide animal shelters.  Another may feel the fate of the animals unimportant when contrasted with the sufferings of dying children in poor countries troubled by internal conflict.    A third person may worry about the environment in which we all have to live, human and animal alike.

Individual people have a right to support their own causes, donating money, time and effort to what they care about.  All three of the people mentioned above may agree on one thing, however.  They may agree that governments should divert money to support these worthy purposes.

Without taking much from the military budget, for example, the government could afford to double the amount of money spent on all three causes, care for animals, children and the environment.  This would be a meta-cause: get governments to spend their money on worthy causes.

An example of a more specific meta-cause is the United Way, a coalition of charitable organizations.  Unfortunately, its creation was difficult, its expansion to other causes has been limited, and its impact not great.

It has always been difficult to organize anything which could be called a meta-cause.  Rather than doing so as it has been in the past, there may now be entirely new approaches based on a careful application of social technology.

This should not be a cause of its own, though people will devote time and money to it.  Instead, social technology to help concerned individuals should and will be made available to all.

An excellent book about physical technology is Lewis Dartnell’s The Knowledge, How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch.  Social technology is everything he leaves out of this book: the organization of society, including law and government.  Of the things he does mention, the one he acknowledges to have the greatest effect on society as a whole is the printing press.  It is the one piece of physical technology which comes closest to being a social one.  Without it our organizations would have little chance of publicizing their causes and little hope of changing the world.  Now we have the Internet, which seems to be doing the same.

Social technology in itself is made of of individual social inventions, which may be aided with the use of printed books and global communications media, but are older and will remain important.  One example is public education.  Long long ago, in ancient times, rich and powerful people paid tutors to teach their sons.  A few centuries ago, schools with classrooms where many students could be taught together developed.  Later they became a part of everyone’s lives.

Together we invented and learned to use public education, perhaps the first true meta-cause.  We now have the ability to far beyond it.  One purpose of this website is to explore those possibilities.

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