Iraq should be dissolved

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by Enrique Lescure

Introduction

We all have seen the news from Iraq and Syria from the last year. Beheadings, immolations, persecutions of ethnic and religious minorities. This dramaturgy has something as unusual in today’s world as a clear villain. The Islamic State. The Caliphate. Daesh.

That sinister group has killed tens of thousands of people in both Iraq and Syria, have plans of world conquest that makes Adolf Hitler’s Lebensraum look modest, and have even tried to acquire weapons of mass destruction to perpetuate Holocausts against Christians, Jews and Shi’ites.

Right now, a counter-offensive consisting of an unlikely alliance of the US airforce, the Iraqi Army and Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias are now engaged in an offensive against Tikrit, the childhood city of Saddam Hussein and an important Sunni town. The IS are not growing any more in Iraq and Syria, and are fighting on three or four fronts against their enemies – united by nothing but their common hatred of IS.

So, does this mean that it is likely there will be peace soon in the Middle East?

Will the Middle East know peace the day the Islamic State lies crushed?

No, if it only was so simple. Truth is, that the IS are not a cause of the current war. And the underlying causes for the current war will still persist even after the collapse of the IS.

The formation of Iraq and Syria

29-Sykes-Picot-Anlasmasi-1916

The area between the highlands of Turkey and Iran, and the deserts of Arabia is known as the Fertile Crescent, a largely flat plain (with the exception of the hills of Caanan and the mountains of Lebanon). This area is where agricultural civilization was born, 12.000 years ago, and where the first cities and states emerged. Syria, Israel, Palestine and Iraq are boasting some of the oldest archeological remains known to humankind.

Despite this, the modern states of Iraq and Syria are pretty recent inventions. While partially drawn from ancient geographic delineations (I am surprised the British did not christen Iraq into Mesopotamia), what decided the border between Iraq and Syria was primarily an old WW1 agreement between Britain and France, dividing the possessions of the decaying Ottoman Empire in the Middle East.

Following the war, Iraq and Syria became mandates for the League of Nations (the predecessor to the UN), administered by Britain and France respectively. One modern analogy would be the status of Kosovo between 1999 and 2008, when it was formally a Serb autonomous province administered by the UN with NATO as those responsible for order on the ground.

Britain and France did however not desire truly independent states, and instead favoured dependency and weak local administrations. Copying their methodologies in Africa, these colonial powers imposed systems were ethnic and sectarian minority groups were favoured as administrators and officer cadres. In Iraq, the Sunni minority were favoured, while in Syria and Lebanon the French favoured Christians and Alevites.

This strategy failed to ensure European hegemony over the Fertile Crescent, partially because of the Second World War, and partially because many educated Arabs were rejecting their sectarian identities during this era, instead striving towards Pan-Arabism.

Syria – which was a republic – saw the political power move into the hands of nationalists during the 1950’s, but political instability led first to a short-lived Union with Egypt, and in 1970 towards the Assad dictatorship, which came to draw its security staff and officer cadres from the Alevite minority.

In Iraq, the British had imposed a constitutional monarchy consisting of the Hedjazi Hashemite royal family (which still controls the throne in Jordan). In 1958, a violent revolution supported by Moscow led to the deaths of the Hashemite king and the Pro-western prime minister Nuri as-Said. The military regime was in its turn toppled in 1968 by the Ba’ath Party, then headed by Saddam Hussein. The Saddam regime saw challenges in the form of increasing Kurdish national sentiments and the rise of Shi’ite islamist ideology in the south. Instead of choosing to include these groups into the national project, Saddam instituted brutal repression, both through military means and through his security service, the Mukhabarat.

The preparations of the current drama

en.wikipedia.org

en.wikipedia.org

We should not herein describe the US reasons for the Iraqi intervention – it would take too much space. What we can say is that decision-makers in America decided to opt for a strategy inspired by the successful management of Post-war Germany, which meant a combination of “denazification” and introduction of democratic institutions. In Iraq’s case, this meant that the Ba’ath Party was banned and that all Ba’ath Party members were purged from positions of public responsibility.

This would maybe not have been so problematic if it wasn’t so that most public officials were members of the Ba’ath Party, not because of conviction but because it was a must in Saddam’s Iraq. Thus, large segments of Iraq’s managerial class were banned from their professions. This included the Iraqi army, which meant that the US had to sponsor and direct the build-up of a new army.

Introducing parliamentary democracy to Iraq (luckily, the US did not introduce a US-style presidential system, which would probably have caused the current situation to explode far earlier), the US unintentionally handed over power to Iraq’s Shi’ite majority. Since most active Shi’ite politicians previously either had led lives in exile in neighbouring Iran (an ideological adversary to America and Israel) or had been parts of underground anti-Saddam groups, professing their religious identity and being at least morally backed by Iran.

Leaving aside the rivalry between Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the immediate cause for the meteoric rise of the Islamic State in Iraq in 2013-2014 was – apart from the civil war in neighbouring Syria – the fact that many Sunni professionals, officers and ordinary citizens supported the IS when they moved into Fallujah, Mosul and Tikrit. This was not primarily because the IS was popular, but because the Shia-dominated Al-Maliki government was loathed amongst the Sunni minority, and also had began to repress the Sunnis, by purging Sunni politicians and bureaucrats within their own government.

Caspian Report goes into this with more detail, as does the War Nerd.

Iraq should be dissolved

Right now, Iraq’s Shia-dominated army is, together with the US airforce and Iranian-supported militias, striving to retake

theatlantic.com

theatlantic.com

Tikrit and Mosul from the Islamic State. This offensive has proven to be slow and grinding, and still the Islamic State are holding out in parts of Tikrit. More controversially, there are signs that the Shi’ite militias are committing violations against the Sunni civilian population, perpetuating the grievances that led to the support of the Islamic State in the first place.

There was a time when Iraq (and to a larger extent, Syria) was a potential nation-state, not only geographically but also socially. However, oppression, exclusion, multiple wars and institutional damage beyond repair have blasted such a progress beyond oblivion.

For example, one of the reasons that the Islamic State has not moved into Baghdad is that Baghdad is no longer a religiously mixed city, but rather has become overwhelmingly Shia-dominated, following the Iraqi civil war of 2005 – 2009 (which in itself is but an earlier phase of this war).

With the lack of stable institutions and a country divided in ethnic and sectarian lines, politics in Iraq becomes less about policies and ideologies, and more about what ethnic or sectarian group you are belonging to. The perpetuation of Iraq as a (under-theory) unified state will serve to perpetuate the very instability that it is meant to counter.

One proposal for a Post-Iraqi future is an Iraq divided along ethnic and sectarian lines, as seen as this map up to the right. This solution however is sub-optimal. It will solve the issue of who should control Iraq in a winner-takes-it-all-gamble, by ending the very game that allows for such a situation to fester. It would not however serve to protect minorities such as Christians, Yezidis, Druzes and Alevites from hostile majority populations. Such a situation, which aims for more but smaller nation-states, will not serve the aims of secularism, or protect the objective interests of the Middle East in the long term.

A confederational solution

A solution could be to establish a general armistice and then hold a joint peace conference for Syria and Iraq. This mashreqconference would establish two border changes. Firstly, an independent Kurdish nation-state should be formed, composed of Kurdish-majority regions in Iraq and Syria. This Kurdistan will be a “kleinkurdistan“, which won’t be politically adjoined to Kurdish-majority regions of Turkey and Iran. There should therefore be a necessity to include Turkey and Iran in the process and ensure a solution that can be acceptable to all parties.

As for Iraq and Syria, both states should be abolished and replaced not with a multum of nation-states (Most of Syria is impossible to divide into minor states), but with a Mashriqi Confederation stretching from Aleppo to Basrah. This confederation would out of necessity be very de-centralised, and consist of self-governing cantones which might be arranged after ethnic and sectarian lines. The Confederation would have a strong, pluralist constitution, affirming the equal rights of all citizens no matter their professed faith. The confederational government should – like in Lebanon – have legislated it so that representation is guaranteed for all groups (and yes, I know Lebanon had a bloody civil war in 1973-1990).

For the first decade or so, this confederation would probably need to be under a UN mandate, until a new generation of leaders could grow up and assume the reins of government.

Summary

Right now, the Middle East is moving towards its own version of the Thirty Years War, as Saudi Arabia and Iran are clashing over Yemen, and the Turkish-Saudi-Iranian rivalry is left unresolved by the collapse of the Islamic State. After the fall of the Islamic State, it would probably be a good idea to scrap the Sykes-Picot agreement and have a regional conference that delineates a new order.

Any new order that aspires to be stable and guarantee the human rights of all citizens – religious minorities included – must however also entail an institutional and cultural transformation. In a situation where defined collectives with a winner-takes-it-all-mentality are clashing over the control of the state and are the foundations for the political movements, it is impossible to establish a fair bureaucracy and good governance. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that the growing generations should learn lessons about communication and conflict resolution from this bloody war.

Or else, it will be truly meaningless.

On direct democracy

maremonti-istra.hr

maremonti-istra.hr

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

This is a continuation of my thoughts regarding the previous article, but this time focusing on democratic and political participation within political frameworks. My reasoning herein is based both on practical and normative frameworks. I am however well aware that I will move deep into normative territory for this post, and therefore – to not be accused for inconsistency later on – I will hereby state that structural organisation of the direction of the public political will is partially dependent on the concrete situation that we are/that we will face within a certain amount of time. Therefore, what applies under an ideal state of dynamic equilibrium may not apply during times of emergency (and I would argue that we are entering such a time of emergency).

One such issue, is the issue of being able to make decisions quickly. While quick decisions may not be anchored in the civil community, they can be necessary under conditions such as hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and volcanoes. It could be argued that the crises of climate change and the destruction of eco-systems, soil and freshwater represents a very slow but persistent on-going disaster, and that – politically speaking – we may even be in need of temporal arrangements that are more centralized and organises larger groups of communities than before. This can in itself be problematic however, since the scars of emergency measures are difficult to heal and near-impossible to remove.

This post is intended to be far happier than that, and discuss how I think constitutional and political systems ought to be organised.

The issue of scale

tech.co

tech.co

When asked upon what my ideal country is, being an active member of EOS and so, I usually half-jokingly state that it is San Marino. The reasoning of course is not based on ideology, economic or social policies or even the kind of democratic system the Sanmarinese people are using, but on size.

I believe that the size of polities have both quantitative and qualitative aspects that can probably be measured.

The reason why is that your vote is mattering more in a smaller political context, in terms of what influence you have as a voter and as a member of the citizenry. Mathematically speaking, you have far more influence over the political future as a member of the Swedish electorate than as a member of the electorate to the European Parliament, or as an American citizen voting in US federal elections.

Size can also be understood in terms of space, in this case geographic space. For example, if your government is located in a capitol far away from you, it is likely that it would focus more on the regions adjacent to the capitol region, rather than peripheral regions. It is also more likely that elites are drawn from urban regions where the government is located, due to proximity to the power-brokers themselves and to the institutions that create a new elite generation.

A third factor is that communitarianism is completely impossible within political contexts that consist of hundreds of millions of people. When I travelled to Russia in 2003, there was an insurgent attack against civilians in the North Caucasus region. Our Russian hosts did not mind it very much, and reacted much like how Swedes react to earthquakes in Turkey and Greece. This does not imply that Russians are defective, but rather that humans in general are predisposed towards emotional investment with those that they view as closer to themselves.

That also holds true of items and projects that people engage in. One example is how well the Israeli Kibbutzim system worked in the early phase of its history, contra the atrocious results of the Soviet Kolchoz system. In the Kibbutzim, volunteers driven by an ideological conviction and unified by a common identity struggled together to form cooperatives, whereas the Kolchoz system was the result of farmers being forced to give away what they’ve worked for themselves to the state, and then being forcefully relocated into collective farms which had no freedom in determining their own identity, and no freedom of movement.

A smaller example is for example youth halls in vulnerable neighbourhoods, that constantly get vandalised. However, when the youths partake in the construction or renovation of the youth hall, it is more unlikely that it will face vandalism (at least for that generation of youths).

What we can see for a pattern here is that the commitment of people is growing when they are allowed a greater opportunity to participate in processes that shape their lives.

How to disinherit enfranchisement

Parliamentary and Republican democracy as concepts did not emerge overnight, but gradually evolved during the 19th century, with landed, religious, political and moneyed elites gradually releasing more and more power to parts of the public to determine policy. Despite that, elites have still a key to keeping power and be able to project their interests before the interests of the majority, by forming electoral systems that serve to cement their rule and to channel in potential or real opposition into the mainstream of power rejuvenation.

I could write a lengthy segment about that, but I prefer to instead share an excellent youtube video which describes some of these processes.

On another note, indirect democracy and party structures in themselves are problematic from a democratic perspective. The reason why is, like it has been pointed out before by Tiberius Gracchus, that an elected representative can vote against their own promises in an election when they are in power. One recent example from Sweden was when Fredrik Federley, a popular and intelligent young Centre politician, made statements and speeches which indicated that he would protect integrity on the Internet and prevent legislation that would increase surveillance.

In 2008, two years after being elected to the Riksdag, the elective body voted on a highly unpopular law which would subject cellphone conversations and mail exchanges to

frihetsveckan.se

frihetsveckan.se

storage by the Radio Interception Unit of the military security (FRA). Federley intended to vote against the law, but rescinded at the last moment (if that was not a political theatre), and then voted for the law, despite having ran a successful personal campaign two years before intending to protect the personal integrity of his voters.

The same can be applied for Obama and his promise of an executive decision to close Guantanamo Bay (which still is running, six years into his presidency).

Some actions, such as a vote or an executive order, which at first glance seem easy to pass through, are shown to be difficult – while other decisions, such as carrying through unpopular international agreements, seem to be near inevitable. Right now for example, the US and the EU are negotiating a massive free trade agreement (TTIP), of which we are none the wiser about the details. A few charming tidbits indicate that this agreement will contain a clause that will give corporations the right to sue governments if governments install regulations that will hurt the profitability of the corporations – in short placing corporate profit interests above popular will.

Some things, such as human rights, ecological concerns and core values have to be placed over popular will at all times. However, corporate profits can hardly apply to that club. Rather, the issue of corporate profits reminds of the idea that the state should subsidise prostitution so everyone can have sex. Profits are not a right, for the sake of Gaia!

Anyway, this rant aside, we can see that electoral cycles and parliamentarism are hardly a guarantee to popular sovereignty. Governments and politicians are more often than not left unscathed by the breaks in their electoral promises, especially not since major issues like the FRA law or TTIP often enjoy bipartisan support both from the centre-right and from the centre-left. Such agreements can almost only be delayed by mass protests, but soon reappear under other names.

TTIP is essential, you understand. Economists estimate that it can increase the GDP of the European Union with 0,5%.

What do we suggest then? Revolutionary councils?

Direct Democracy, City-States and Cantons

Catalan Independence Rally In Barcelona

To reconnect to the first segment of this article, I would strongly recommend that we move forward as suggested in The Design with a confederational approach. While we do not suggest the break-up of nation-states, a good idea to strengthen the sovereignty of the citizenry would be to perhaps focus more on regions and cities, and less on huge political entities, divesting more power locally or regionally.

This can also cause problems of course. For example, education and healthcare are today so complex and resource-intense endeavours that small entities may be unable to deliver good quality. The solution would then be for local units to move these aspects up to the regional or sub-confederational level (to not speak of that how EOS sees it, healthcare would be managed through the technate, and education at least partially through the technate, which of course would be based on similar de-centralised principles).

What we can see before us is a world consisting of various type of political entities. Republics, city-states, communes, cantons, condominiums, collectives, regions,

inhabitat.com

inhabitat.com

confederations, sea nomads, virtual nations, micro-nations and even constitutional monarchies. A diverse, colourful world where a multitude of differing social models are tested out simultaneously.

We imagine that many of these entities would employ forms of direct democracy, where all the citizens have a direct seat and a vote in the legislative council. Of course, there would be politically elected officials presiding the legislative council, but their role would mostly be to enact the decisions of the legislature (as a side note, in my home city of Umea, northern Sweden, the municipality has recently decided to abolish the opportunity of citizens to write sign lists for citizen proposals).

Some would claim that direct democracy would create a wild, uncontrollable situation. People can vote in all kinds of insane things, such as free ice-cream or to establish Europe’s largest homeopathic hospital. People, they argue, cannot be trusted with political power, since they would only vote short-sighted and for their immediate needs.

If we look at Switzerland, however, where referendums are generously employed, we can see that most of the referendums become clear victories of the Nay-side. I believe there might be several reasons behind that. Firstly, public opinion is generally more cautious and less active than the activists writing platforms for political parties. Secondly, politicians are often driven by personal ambition, and aim to change laws not only because they believe it would be good for society, but also because of their personal legacy. Ordinary citizens generally do not think about their personal legacy when voting in a referendum.

Constitutionalism

Another problem can be when a political legislature wants to repress a segment of their population, or members of another legislature, or wants to prohibit free speech, imagemovement or violate personal rights. After all, almost 40% of the Germans voted for Hitler in 1932 (the first election, not the second). Sadly, religious bigotry, sexism, racism, psychopathy and exploitation have existed in human societies for millennia, and EOS (unlike TVP for example) do not ascribe to the ideas of Descartes and Skinner that human behaviour can be engineered into anything by the environment. The human condition is one of being able to hold on to ideals and failing to adhere to them, of both love and war.

Therefore, to have a wildly divergent confederational structure demands that all the differing groups adhere to one constitution. This constitution would not be based on forms of legislatures, but on common principles and core values. Groups that don’t want to follow it have the choice of not opting in, and those who violate it can very well be kicked out of the Confederation (there are a few problems with that which I would probably address in a future post).

A flawed beta-version exists in the form of the old NET charter.

Pan-terranism

Our main idea is not to see a world of warring city-states, but an umbrella of thousands of local and regional authorities joined together by sub-confederations that in their turn

evolo.us

evolo.us

form the basis for a world conderation – a United Earth. Why would this be necessary? The answer lies in the Constitution. There needs to be a body that oversees that all the members adhere to the principles of the Constitution. The World Confederation would not necessarily have any other tasks at hand.

The Confederation would probably never consist of all of the planet either, since it is built on voluntary agreements. But if the technate works and expands throughout communities, the confederation would naturally expand too. Of course, a community can choose to not be a part of the confederation while being a part of the technate, and the other way around as well.

Communities should be able to link up however, wherever they happen to be, and then form their own sub-confederations.

Pan-terranism is not the same as a global federation or a New World Order, which as concepts generally are built on the idea of a unipolar centre, governed through a power pyramid of military, corporate and financial power, which is imposing an iron grip over humanity. Rather, Pan-terranism as an ideal is a vision of a horizontal alignment between autonomous entities which each contribute valuable parts of the collective experience that is humanity. Within the Terran Technate and the Terran Confederation, there could be room for a diverse variety of cultures, sub-cultures, ethnicities, collectives and experiments.

Green Anarchists, Amish and Deep-greens may prefer to live in rural, non-technological pristine societies, while transhumanists might want to live in floating city-states or orbital stations. Both needs can be fulfilled simultaneously within the same political framework.

Some people might prefer to live in sexually liberated zones where they walk around naked, while others might want to adhere to stricter norms.

Some would like calm communities, while others would want to live on eternal night clubs.

Some would be nomads, others would be dwelling in virtual worlds constantly.

And some would of course live in towns, villages and cities which look virtually identical to today, but which are ecologically sustainable.

If you don’t like your community, there would always exist a community where you would fit in. And if you don’t want to be a part of the Terran Technate and the Terran Confederation, you would not have to.

Of course, we would not be able to realise this vision within our life-time, but we are convinced that the world is moving in our direction, technologically and politically.

But sadly not fast enough at the moment.

On de-centralization and distribution: The arguments for a holonic system

taken from inhabitat.com

taken from inhabitat.com

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

One of the major differences between EOS and the so-called RBE organisations, is that EOS aims very strongly for de-centralisation of power. During the time we studied the texts from Technocracy Incorporated, we often had feisty debates where the issues were anascopic vs katascopic systems. The people we debated it claimed that the future must be based on katascopic systems for a post-scarcity society to work.

EOS, or NET as we were named back then, argumented that distributed systems held a larger degree of resilience, and also allowed for people to better be able to contribute in accordance with their talents, creativity and limitations. We were told that was an anascopic way of doing things. We are also arguing that is applicable to democratic and political participation (chapter 5, pg 14, The Design).

So what is this debate about, and what does the terms mean? That is what this article is about.

Anascopic & Katascopic – distribution vs centralisation

permanentcrisis.blogspot.com

permanentcrisis.blogspot.com

During the early 20th century, it was generally assumed that the world was moving towards more and more centralisation and mass production, which was correct at that time. That was also seen as highly desirable, since it allowed for more production and more efficiency. This process culminated in the establishment of the world’s first (industrial) command economy, in the USSR in 1927.

The main principle for this type of economy, no matter if it is a mega-corporation or a stalinist state, is that there is a hierarchical pyramid consisting of echelons of decision-making, that distribute requests to subdivisions which then carry out the production orders. You are familiar with it from most classical corporations.

According to the proponents, this model allows for the effective coordination of large resources, that can be pooled into massive projects that in scope can dwarf that what smaller organisations are undertaking. Also, it would allow resources to be effectively distributed to the subdivisions so they can undertake their aims.

This same principle applied for the old hydraulic empires (chiefly Egypt) during the Bronze Age.

Does this claim hold?

Arguably, like everything else, the answer is both yes and no. Large, centralised organisations are effective at mobilizing resources and achieving grand quantitative results. It takes shorter time for a country that is utilising a centrally planned economy have become industrialized somewhat quicker than countries that have been employing a more market-oriented approach (it is only when countries have achieved an industrialized state that planned economies start to lag behind). Mega-corporations are also today the largest holders of resources on the planet aside from the financial institutions and banks (though some mega-corps, namely within the tech business are experimenting with less centralised models).

On the other hand, the centralized model holds many flaws as well. You all are well-aware of the short-comings of the command economies of the old Socialist Bloc, which do not need to be reiterated here. The same problems, to a smaller extent, are existing within large, centralised mega-corporations. For example, a classical problem for the management of subdivisions is that funding is often reduced if the subdivision is not using up its entire share of money from one year’s budget, which can incentivize the acquisition of new chairs or computers for the department, despite that it would not represent any tangible upgrade. Since corporations – unlike countries – tend to run at a net profit, that is not one of the major problems (the major problem has not so much to do with centralisation as with externalities and effects on the economy on the macro-scale).

Ultimately, it is a case of what effects we desire.

Distributed systems – increased resilience

perfectbluemoon.blogspot.com

perfectbluemoon.blogspot.com

One of the most centralised systems in the history of the Earth was the Incan Empire, basically a command economy (a hydraulic empire minus the hydraulic part), where all decisions were left to the divine figurehead – the Sapa Inca, or God Emperor. The Empire commanded armies of tens of thousands, maintained a road network through the Andine mountains that stretched for thousands of kilometres, rivalling the Roman road network, and had a highly developed and centralised bureaucracy.

The Empire fell when 150 Spaniards under Francisco Pizarro captured the Sapa Inca in Cajamarca in 1532.

A few decades before that, the Florentine philosopher and political scientist Niccólo Machiavelli wrote in The Prince that large, centralised structures, like the ancient Achaemenid Empire or the Ottoman Empire, were more prone to collapse if the central authority crumbles, since these structures often force local institutions to submit. Just a few decades ago, an empire which dwarfed both the Incan, Achaemenid and Ottoman empires collapsed – not because of a foreign invasion (it was virtually unconquerable by its possession of enough nuclear arms to turn the Earth into ashes), nor because of a group of conquistadors. It fell because its ruling elite had lost their beliefs in the ideology that glued the Empire together, and were fighting for their own wealth and interests.

I am of course referring to the USSR.

The lesson of this is that centralised structures might be excellent at power projection, but power projection requires much energy and capacity, and is suitable for short-term projects. Such a project could be defined as building one billion units of a specific thing (housing, transport units, kilometres of highway), winning a war or maximising profits for the nearest three months. However, for long-term sustainable projects, or projects that drag out into increased degrees of complexity over time, centralised institutions are badly equipped to respond to the challenge.

Centralised institutions collapse if the centre is incompetently led, is destroyed by external pressure or is isolated from the main body, either by institutional limitations, by external factors or by corruption.

An alternative is to have an entirely distributed system, consisting of multiple autonomous structures that are contained within a network. However, as the history of Feudalism proves, such structures are generally unstable and prone to infighting over where resources should be utilised. What is the strength of de-centralised institutions, is their resilience. If one unit is turning corrupt, inefficient or is outright destroyed by external pressure, other units can quickly distribute the burdens of their fallen co-structure amongst themselves, and the system can thus survive more blows than a centralised, authoritarian system can endure.

The EOS compromise – a holonic system

renewableplus.blogspot.com

renewableplus.blogspot.com

There are two ways to address the issue of centralization contra de-centralization, normative and pragmatic.

The normative approach is intended to ensure that certain key values are enshrined in human interactions. Ultimately, it gives the basis for an ideological view on the world, where matters are settled in relationship to how they correspond to the values of the community, of the elites and how these values can be ensured to manifest themselves in the real world and affect the actions of individuals and groups.

The pragmatic approach is more focused on tangible results. Then these intended results can in themselves be derived from normative values, or partially or wholly affected by concerns that have little to do with normative values.

I would argue that there is seldom a totally and complete division between the normative and pragmatic approaches when constructing and forming systems, but one could differentiate between more normative approaches and more pragmatic approaches.

A normative approach in its own right is entirely or mostly devoid of pragmatic ramifications. The approach exists to exist and be unchangeable and unchallengeable. It should not take into any considerations the reality of the particular spatial or social environments it is operating within.

A pragmatic approach without any normative values embedded within it, would be completely directed towards maximising its chances for survival, unlimited by moral or constitutional limitations.

Thus, we can conclude that if we seek to initiate a constructive process, what we do must be characterised by both normative foundations and a pragmatic, sober outlook on our opportunities to make a significant impact on reality.

Dr Andrew Wallace chose to direct the EOS towards employing the Holonic model as a way to manage systems.

Pragmatic foundation

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The holonic model is adapted as a methodology for what the programming of the new generation of intelligent machines should form in terms of behaviour and processes. In many ways, it is derived from the third or fourth waves of industrialization in the same way as Fordism, Taylorism and Stalinism were derived from the first and second waves. The principle is that there is a network of autonomous nodes which are interconnected within a network and follow the same authoritative programming (as opposed to authoritarian). These nodes are autonomous and can form larger units when and if needs are arising, but can also split off new nodes when there is a need for it.

Within EOS, we believe that this model could be employed within networks consisting of individuals that aim for overarching similar goals.

Ultimately, this system would not work primarily because of sticks and carrots, but would work because it would be insulated by institutional/cultural factors which will need to form organically (as opposed to being constructed) by the limited implementation of holonic systems, where the approaches most in accordance with the stated goals, and with the experiences from implementation, will be developed on, while those forms of processes that doesn’t benefit the goals or values will be abandoned.

The holonic system envisioned by EOS is also based a lot of the cultural and socio-technological environment created by the Internet, where the goal is that all holons within the network should be interconnected by a system called “the Technate”, which in our vision basically is a common registar or mindmap of the network, the available resources and the resource flows between the nodes. Each node must also be communicating with at least another node within the network, and must be transparent.

Nodes that are going corrupt and don’t want to cooperate will be excluded from the system, but through a process where it should be entirely obvious to everyone involved why they are being excluded. Of course, the early implementations of this will fail, for reasons that we cannot foresee now. But for every failure, the system will be able to auto-correct and move ahead, which is the very point of resilience as a concept.

Normative basics

We believe that all human beings should be able to feel that they are participating in society and in a social context. Of course, that does not imply that people should be forced to partake, but most human beings naturally want to feel included. One of the damning social effects of the precariat and youth unemployment is that young people Brookwood stovea whole generation of human beings are growing up under conditions were they feel alienated from their social environment, causing resentment.

We can theoretically, if we focus all our attention on automatization, create a society where only 10-20% of the current labour power is needed. However, under conditions of maximum efficiency, this could have devastating psychological and emotional effects of the very fabric of society.

Human beings need not only to have their material needs satisfied, but should also feel that they are needed. The holonic model will allow for humans to join or exit dynamic project teams, that move together and cooperate on various issues.

Humans also have a need to express their creative potential, and small, autonomous groups give a better opportunity for human beings to express that quality, through cooperation. After all, for millions of years, the ancestors of humanity lived and co-existed in small, autonomous groups.

Summary

The Holonic system envisioned by EOS cannot be described in vivid detail, simply because systems are not formed primarily on the drawing desk, but through real-world interactions between individuals, and between the groups and the environment. There also need to be formed institutions around the structures, which ca imbue them with meaning (and from what I’ve seen, it usually takes two to four generations to form a culture). Nevertheless, with the new technology and with our need to form a sustainable world, we have the opportunity to create a culture that is truly egalitarian and libertarian.

Source: http://www.eoslife.eu/files/Design.pdf

Why the US Economy is in serious trouble

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By Mark Ciotola

How we arrived here

As EOS and Technocracy have long pointed out, our lassez-faire economic system is inherently unstable. Profits tend to accumulate out of the hands of consumers and concentrate into the hands of a few wealthy people. When the people who spend run out of money, then the people who save can’t get any more profits, and the whole system collapses. Ironically, during economic downfalls, many of the savers lose a lot of money, too, and even go bankrupt.

Upon the advent of earlier economic crises such the Great Depression, means were taken to prevent excessive concentration and control of wealth by the few. The founding fathers of the USA invoked an aggressive estate tax to prevent the emergence of an aristocracy and power that was was obtained by mere luck of birth. Antitrust laws were created to prevent monopolies. Labor unions were finally allowed to protect wages and the consumer spending so vital to the endurance of an economy. Banking legislation prevented the formation of banks that were too large to fail, and Glass-Steagall prevented banks from problematic conflicts of interest. Progressive tax rates diluted money out of the hands of the wealthy and some of it back in the hands of consumers, reducing dangerous build-ups and improving economic activity.

However, once the shock of the Great Depression ended, and memory of the social debt owed to the veterans of World War II receded, big business interests began to dismantle these economic protections. Progressive tax rates were significantly rolled back. Manufacturing was transferred on a near emergency basis to Japan and elsewhere to bypass North American unions. China was given most favored nation status by the USA that greatly accelerated this process. Banking “games” lead to the destruction and theft of the previously consumer-owned savings and loan associations. Glass-Steagall was revoked, allowing consumer banks to engage in especially risky investment banking operations. Such banks could now issue fraudulent consumer mortgages and package them into instruments for unsuspecting investors.

As consumers ran out of money, we increasingly became a “debt” economy. With domestic wages falling or frozen due to often subsidized foreign competition, consumers turned to home equity loans, student loans and credit cards to maintain their former standard of living. U.S. Federal Reserve chair Allan Greenspan called lenders heroes of the economy. As consumers could not afford to take on more debt, banks whipped up profits by doubling, tripling, etc. consumer loan interest rates. Rates exceeding 50% were common.

Finally, the wealthy couldn’t make enough money by actually producing anything or even lending to consumers at what were once legally usurious rates. They began buying and selling exotic financial instruments known by cryptic names such as butterfly options, derivatives, puts and calls. A particularly devastating was the “naked short”. It allowed a party to make large amount of money by selling millions of shares of nonexistent stock, flooding the market with this bogus stock until the market price of that stock collapsed and drove the underlying company out of business. The naked short sellers made fortunes, the newly unemployed executives received their $10 million golden parachutes, the laid-off employees received a few months of unemployment aid, and the pension funds/mom-and-pop investors received shallowly apologetic letters (if even that).

The only thing that saved the global economy from total melt-down was unprecedented government financial injections into banks, companies and certain national budgets (e.g. USA, China), and other stimulus measures.

An Economy on Life-Support

Supposedly, we learned our lessons after the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 nearly melted down the entire global economy. A few consumer protections were enacted. Banks were slightly more regulated, and given FDIC protection for their high-risk investment banking operations (this latter should really terrify you). Lending was tightened up for consumers. Pensions were cut. European economies adopted severe austerity measures. Numerous automobile manufacturers were sold off to China. Indeed, the global economy has regained some semblance of order.

Yet, DO NOT be deceived! This is clearly an economy on life support. The Global Financial Crisis has resulted in tremendously-increased concentration of wealth and consequentially has produced long-term damage to consumer spending. Once the stimulus ends, the economy will return to chaos. It may even do so with continued stimulus.

The following graph shows how ill the economy has become since 2008. This Sizzle Index is an indicator of US economic “heat”. (It was developed by a member of Technocracy). Notice the peak at the year 2000 due to the dot com bubble. A second peak during 2005-2006 represents the housing bubble. Then in 2008 and 2009, the US economy literally fell off a cliff during the Global Financial Crisis. The Sizzle Index decline was about triple the magnitude of the dot com/9-11 crash of 2001. This was an unprecedented drop in recent times. This you already know.

What you may not know is what happened next. Despite some improvement of the US economy, the Sizzle Index is not only highly negative, but it is still declining despite massive quantitative easing (a more polite term for stimulus). The life energy is literally draining out of the economy despite massive. The deflationary pressures on Japan and Europe show similar declines globally.

By Mark Ciotola

Figure by Mark Ciotola

Nowhere to go

Interest rates earned by large investors are at historic lows, due to ongoing stimulus. Meanwhile, these near-zero interest rates are devastating to retirees, and pension funds are in serious trouble. The Federal Reserve has been hoping to bring interest rates back up slightly, but the markets have been extremely resistant.

Federal Reserve must be terrified about recently increased volatility in stock markets. If the economy tanks again, there is nothing left of interest rates to cut!

Technocracy predicted this!

One may ask why we are trapped in such a doomed economic system? Technocracy pointed out these problems, but people have tended to turn to illusory Libertarian-sounding gimmicks. When wealth becomes too concentrated, lobbyist- driven legislatures cut taxes to allow money to “trickle down” to consumers. When wages fall, they open up more foreign competition to reduce living expenses. When consumers can’t borrow enough to make up for those lost wages, banks get deregulated and numerous consumer bankruptcy protections end. Do you see the pattern?

Endgame

The world probably won’t end due to this economic dead end we are racing towards. However, the situation may get so bad that many of us will wish we were dead: children we can’t support, the slavery of endless debt, and the environmental destruction of unrestrained economics. We either have to change our way to doing things or face a future conceivable only from the worst science fiction films.

Mark Ciotola is an academic researcher on the San Francisco State University. His interests are spanning a wide area, from Fast Entrope and the e th Law to Physical history and economics, Intellectual property issues, Carbon Labeling, Energy Accounting and Brown Dwarf and Exoplanet Atmospheres.

Our historical roots – on EOS and Technocracy Incorporated (similarities and differences)

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By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

The Earth Organisation for Sustainability was formally born in 2006, though the movement clustered out from a web community associated with Technocracy Incorporated. The first generation of EOS activists were closely interacting with younger members of Technocracy Incorporated (“Tech.Inc”). This association was largely broken in 2006, due to the fact that the EOS members were increasingly skeptical to the “katascopic model of administration”. Most of the forums were barred for people not coming from North America, and the EOS subsequently galvanised in our own forums, of which these are the current incarnation.

EOS has received two forms of criticisms for our previous relationship with Technocracy Incorporated. The first type of criticism is that it is naïve to establish our roots in an organisation with a controversial name (“Technocracy” usually has negative connotations), and the second was that we would have some kind of secret agenda, aiming to install a dictatorship of scientists and engineers.

This post will aim to define what Technocracy Incorporated wants, what EOS wants, similarities and differences and how these correspond to the respective zeitgeists of the era.

Why does this post exist?

interrelationships

By Enrique Lescure

The Venus Project – another organisation very much inspired by Technocracy Incorporated – vehemently denies any connection with Tech.Inc. While The Venus Project mostly establishes that they exist due to the “inspired genius” of Jacque Fresco, they do affirm that they have connections with Buckminster Fuller’s ideas. There are assertions that Tech.Inc inspired Fuller as well, which if that would be the case would mean that TVP (The Venus Project) indirectly claims to be descended from Tech.Inc anyway.

The EOS could theoretically have done the same thing, and stressed our roots in the more well-known environmental movements. We could have claimed that the theory of Energy Accounting originated with us, and we could have changed the name of the technate concept.

That would however be dishonest, and give the impression that we have something to be ashamed of – something which is more than ridiculous.

While we are not a new version of Technocracy Incorporated, we owe much of our theories to the groundwork they built during the 1930’s, which we have expanded on. At the same time, we have rejected a few aspects of their design, and we are based around partially different value systems.

So this post exist to define how we are using terms in a different manner, and partially explore in which ways we use the same words but mean different things by using them.

What Technocracy Incorporated is (and was)

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Howard Scott, founder and leader of Technocracy

Tech.Inc nowadays seems to largely have ceased with any research and seems to be an organisation which mostly is centred around the US Washington State and the Canadian province of British Columbia – which as areas are very close to one another.

The organisation is centred around the Technocracy Study Course (1934), and the Technocratic Technical Continental Design (1972), which are still upheld as the foundational goals of the Tech.Inc design. During the later half of the last decade (2001-2010), a conflict emerged within Tech.Inc regarding the status of the 1972 document, which the critics claimed was a flawed text since it 1) was compiled briefly after the death of Howard Scott and 2) allowed for the formation of civil society associations, which the critics asserted would open up a venue for “propaganda” and “mind control”. Some individuals within Tech.Inc were also attacked for being too friendly to what would later become the EOS.

Howard Scott played an important role for Technocracy Incorporated. He developed Thorstein Veblen’s theories and assembled the scientists who made the original calculations for the Energy Accounting system, amongst them M. King Hubbert. He was the chief engineer of Tech.Inc between 1932 and his death in 1970. It can be argued that his leadership style very much could be seen as reminiscent of Jacque Fresco and Peter Joseph Merola, and that he often could alienate partners and allies. The movement very much declined after the Second World War.

What does Tech.Inc advocate?

The short summary is that Tech.Inc advocates a centralised hierarchical (katascopic) continental-wide resource administration of the North American continent, handled by technicians, scientists and engineers, with the goal of distributing an even access of all resources to all of the citizens.

Three concepts frame in this design.

Technocracy – expert rule, meaning that experts within the various sequences (departments) make all the decisions new org chartregarding their aspects of the production system, and are appointed by being elected by their peers.

The North American Technate – a centralised resource administration which would “abolish” political bodies, courts and corporations, and administer the North American continent as one single economic and technical area, using massive rationalisations to reduce labour hours.

Energy Accounting (Tech.Inc Variety) – All citizens receive for every two years an energy quota, which they could use to gather the consumer items they demand. In the original design (TSC 1934), production was centralised in a Fordist manner and was probably meant as a planned command economy, where experts made decisions based on surveys on how people’s consumer patterns would look like for the nearest period.

The Ideology of Technocracy Incorporated

Technocracy Incorporated has claimed that ideologies are “monetary-based-systems” related to “the Price System”, and that Tech.Inc is non-ideological and merely wants a “rational administration” of the North American continent. I would argue that the individuals representing Tech.Inc are probably honest when they believe that they don’t have an ideology, but I would argue that there is an ideology underpinning Tech.Inc, albeit not unique for Tech.Inc (which I do not mean as an insult, EOS’ ideology is for example probably not unique for EOS).

In the broadest possible sense, Tech.Inc’s ideology can be summarised through their statements “The Highest Possible Standard of Living for the Greatest Possible Number of People” and “a technical, administrative area“. In short, it is a worldview built on the idea that the purpose of society (or in the case of Tech.Inc, the technical nodes of control) should be to provide the members of society with a high standard of living. This should be achieved by the benevolent technical expertise and leadership of experts, who are supposedly neutral and who do not suffer from biases and interests (unlike politicians and capitalists).

This form of ideology can be called technical managerialism, and is built around the ideals of a consumer society. During theUrbanates 1930’s and the 1940’s, when socialist governments started to be elected into power into some European countries, they de-facto moved away from the worker’s struggle as a principle (since you cannot be reelected if you trash your country’s economy through class warfare) and instead moved in to embrace managerial experts who came to engineer the welfare systems of Europe and (to a lesser degree) North America, Australia and New Zealand. A similar process happened in the USSR, which after the Second World War tried to move towards centralised administration of “soft” issues, such as housing, consumption and recreation.

In Sweden for example, a type example of this ideal was the rise of cheap housing units, mass-constructed during the 1960’s, with their own communal gardens, gymnastics halls, saunas, club houses and communal kitchens. Similar projects existed both in continental Europe, North America, the Soviet Union and the developing world – with the probable epithome of this architectural tendency being the capitol of Brazil, which was entirely planned after the prevalent ideals of that era of late high industrialism/early consumerism.

Thus, the thinking of Technocracy Incorporated did not represent a small group of isolated and marginalised figures, but was rather a part of the mainstream of the early and middle 20th century. It was very much the definition of Late Modernity.

Flaws of that type of thinking

There are several flaws with this type of thinking.

The first flaw that I can see with the traditional technocratic type of thinking is the assumption that technicians and engineers – at least when unimpeded by the price system – will act objectively and for the objective good of all members of society. This thinking is very much based on the ideas of Positivism – that scientists are neutral observers of the world who are disconnected from prejudices of class, gender, race and cultural background. Also, the argument follows from the idea that human behaviour is governed very much by the prevailing economic system, and that when we have a post-scarcity society, humans will naturally become less territorial and domineering.

While it is partially true that humans to a large extent are affected by environmental factors, it is 1) also true that humans are affected by biological factors and by cultural factors, as well as by their own free choices, and 2) predicting human behaviour changes is possible, but never accurate. For example, the communal housing types erected from the 1950’s on to the 1970’s, have to a large degree been subjected to vandalism and mishandling by inhabitants – and often the vandalism has actually made the buildings look more interesting. These types of housing, devoid of culture, meaning and identity, turns into areas where people feel alienated from themselves and one another due to the compartmentalised design.

Graffiti-Street-Art-DAZE-LEPERThis follows another problem which both behaviorism and the kind of functional managerialism that flourished during the same time suffered from, namely a view of humans as consumer units. The idea is that humans basically are governed by their level of material comfortability, and that humans who are given a comfortable environment will become happy automatically.

As in everything, there lies a grain of truth in that. But if humans are not challenged and if their imagination is not stimulated, this materialism can soon turn into an existential psychological crisis, which will serve to stimulate consumeristic individualism and an inner sense of emptiness.

While driven by noble ideals, technical managerialism suffers from the following three problems:

Over-reliance on the impartiality of experts.

Over-reliance on behaviorist psychological models to evaluate mass behavior.

A lack of geist.

Similarities between EOS and Technocracy Incorporated

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EOS and Tech.Inc are both aspiring to the establishment of a Post-Scarcity Society, which would utilise energy certifikates to allow the tracing of product cycles throughout the system.

EOS and Tech.Inc both aim to create common resource areas which would be scientifically managed to create a desired outcome in terms of resource usage patterns.

EOS and Tech.Inc both ascribe to the foundation of physical thermodynamic flows as the foundation for socio-economic systems.

Differences between EOS and Technocracy Incorporated

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Technocracy – the main difference here is that EOS sees technocratic management more as a matter of methodologies than of managers. This means that our goal, rather than to have a hierarchical structure of engineers and managers, aim to instill throughout human civilization an appreciation, understanding and application of science – a new renaissance of learning and enlightenment. We want to give every citizen the opportunity to lead a project holon, to explore the stars, to dive with marine mammals, to study genes, nano-tech and ecology.

Tech.Inc puts an emphasis on management, while we put our emphasis on experiencing.

Energy Accounting – While actually defining the actual concrete system of Energy Accounting very loosely, it can be interpreted from TSC (1934) that it will mainly use surveys conducted by scientists to plan how the production plans should be formed. This is reminiscent of how The Venus Project has thought out their “Resource Based Economy”.

EOS on the other hand, imagines that the production of… well stuff… will largely be happen after people have allocated their energy credits. In this system, people use their allocation as a way to signal what holons they want to be responsible for the production of their items.

Another difference is that Tech.Inc did not originally envision for example using the Earth’s carrying capacity as a limit, and did not have any plans to use Energy Accounting as a mean to track the environmental effects from extraction to consumption to recycling. However, Tech.Inc suggested this later on as a proposal to solve the environmental crisis.

The Technate: The differences between the North American Technate and the Terran Technate Consortium is that the first structure is envisioned as a centralised industrial structure very much organised as a mega-corp, with sequences (departments) doing production orders from above and using centralised statistical analytics to reach decisions. It is a Fordian, Taylorist, Modernistic Structure.

The Terran Technate Consortium is envisioned more organically, as an integrated information market and a holonic system where holons cooperate and build up the system in a distributed manner. There will exist sequences as well, but these would not manage the production, rather they will oversee the process and give statistical input to holons to maximise the effects of their decisions.

This discrepancy is largely inspired by Distributed Systems Theory, and of course The Internet.

Internationalism – Tech.Inc wanted to limit the NAT to North America and a quarter of South America. The EOS believes that associations, groups and territories should be able to join and exit the TTC voluntarily, and our aim is a global resource administration area – or at least one as global as possible. The concerns are mostly of environmental nature. We live on one planet.

Environmentalism – EOS’ main aim is to reduce the usage of resources down below 100% of the Earth’s renewal capacity (right now we are using around 140% of the renewal capacity of the planet). We also want to devote a programme for reterraformation, moving away from mono-cultures to functioning eco-systems.

Democracy and associations – EOS wants to see a wide diversity of associations, clubs and cultures emerge and co-exist peacefully. The technate would not have anything to do with social issues, and there will be a parallel confederational system of autonomous communes, all adhering to a Constitution based around the principles that life is the most valuable thing in the universe. Tech.inc seems to besplit on the issue, with some members taking a libertarian approach while others are more restrictive. There will however be no democratic voting within the structure, and Tech.Inc has a position that criminal courts should be a part of the technate.

Ideology – EOS is developing an ideology centred on three ground principles, stressing the value of life, the value of empathy and the value of enlightenment. Tech.Inc claims to not be an ideology but to be “science applied to society” (very much like The Venus Project).

Science – Tech.Inc wants to have a referendum to install a technate and give the technical managers power to make the necessary changes. EOS wants to test their ideas first in simulated environments, as well as in communities, locally and regionally, before proposing that anything is implemented.

Final words

From the University of Toledo, US

From the University of Toledo, US

The EOS has many roots, but the four main branches are the physical thermodynamical economic analysis done by (amongst others) Technocracy Incorporated, distributed systems, environmentalism and social liberalism.

Our goal is to help creating a socially and ecologically sustainable world, where biological diversity and the diversity of human societies is upheld, where people have the autonomous control over their energy, food distribution systems, their communities and their right for self-expression and self-determination.

We can only achieve this goal by finding new ways of managing the Earth’s resources, that allows us to see the ecological development of our beautiful planet.

Technocracy Incorporated deserves gratitude since they provided us with the understanding that we can use thermodynamics as a method of tracking ecological and economic processes. There are many ideological and structural differences between our organisations, and between the societies we envision. However, understanding these differences and the different ways we apply the same words can be helpful to understand who we (EOS) are, and what we aim to achieve.

Q/A regarding Energy Accounting

By Enrique Lescure

Intro

I recently had a person send me several questions regarding EA to my FB profile. I could not answer immediately, as I was compiling the accessment of the project report to the County Board. Four days later, I was done, so I finally made a reply. I have decided to share it publically. The questions are in italics.

Q/A

I’m not sure I understood energy accounting properly. Each citizen is given the same amount of energy per period of time and it expires. What does the energy provide? Do you use it for purchasing food?

Energy credits are not actual energy, but rather is a method to track the resource flows from extraction to recycling. The energy credits represent the part of the production capacity which you own. The cost of a product is determined by the exergy cost of the entire production line, meaning that the “price” that is accounted for is based on extraction, the industrial processes, transports, as well as environmental effects of emissions and local disturbances at the site of production.

What if you have an energy intensive experiment to do, how do you get approval for that?

Write a project plan, the local sector board will look it through, and then either grant you the right to do so, reject it or come with recommendations.

If you need/want a rare/scarce resource, can the credits be used to acquire it?

Rare and scarce resources are usually energy expensive in generation. You can order such items, but the price will be dependent on the cost.

If it expires, doesn’t that create the incentive to spend it?

Yes probably. That is why the total amount of EC’s must be less than the planet’s carrying capacity. We need however need to test out long-term simulations in local and regional environments to see how users would behave. If groups of people to not use their share of production, then there is a potential inefficiency and even possible waste of energy. It is actually good for the Earth if people choose to consume less. I don’t see so much of a problem. Some holons will probably wither, but the system will adapt.

Others are blocked from production who may be able to create high energy goods, but it is in excess of their share, while others energy goes unused. This creates a black-market for collaboration or worse.

This question would actually require an article to require, since you take up three subjects in it. I will try to summarise:

1) There will be an income floor and an income ceiling, meaning that everyone will get EC’s and own a share of the planet, though the size of that share can vary during the course of an individual’s life-time. It is true that you cannot save EC’s, but that is because they represent production capacity.

2) People are not primarily producing as individuals, but as members of project teams, or holons, which are the equivalent of coops, companies and departments today. Most holons are small project teams, while some are very large and can consist of possibly hundreds of holons if necessary.

3) If people locally want to have for example local currencies, farmer’s markets, barter and similar, it is up to them to form their own rules (for example, if a community wants to illegalise alcohol, they are allowed to do so). The technate is not a government, but a communication service system. People are free to determine their relationship with the technate, but the relationship must be one of mutual benefits – I.E if a community wants to join the technate, it must be ready to connects it services to the technate.

Finally, how was the 25-50% real income increase calculated?

Zero taxation. However, it will vary between individuals, and also it is partially revised. You see, a part of the total shares of EC’s need to be distributed to special key holons which are providing fundamental infrastructural services, like electricity grids, road networks, railway networks, heating and so on and so on.

Thank you for your questions! :)

The debate on human nature II; Human Nature in Politics

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By Ben Wilson

Causality and human understanding

Imagine twenty thousand years ago, leading a hunting party.

Where regular hunting spots are deserted, because the animals have moved on. A spirit has put a curse on the tribe. Desperately the shaman decides to consult the ancestors by throwing an animal bone into the camp fire. Interpreting the cracks, it leads the hunting party to a previously unexplored location. The hunting is good there and the bone reading technique is used to point to new hunting locations and it consistently works, building a relationship between man and spirits.

Fast forward twenty thousand years, we could cynically point at the narrative that our ancestors created and laugh. However a technique was devised to point them into a new direction, breaking routine behaviours. Having this technique green lit and supported by part of their cultural narrative gave the hunting party a reason and the confidence to use the technique.

If you debated against your incredibly great ancestor, you would be hard pressed if you used methodological or scientific debates. The bone technique does actually work, however the reason why is why you would disagree. You would argue about the random pattern of the bone pointing humans into areas they had not hunted. Whilst your ancestor and scoff saying it was the doing of the ancestors.

Neither fish or bird…

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Now let’s brings this to the modern era. Human nature is a common catch all term and the definition I would understand it as is common traits, thoughts and behaviours that all humans have regardless of culture.

It’s an interesting term and should indicate a level of fraternity between all people. There is some evidence for universal traits, such as universal body language and facial expressions demonstrated by the work of Paul Ekman. Linguistic structures are found to all follow similar structures, and a child learns language just as well being placed in any culture, demonstrated by Noam Chomsky and his less famous colleagues. However these things aren’t what the term human nature is used for.

Anecdotally “human nature” is more used as a nihilistic term to refer to an undesirable behaviour conducted by (surprise) another human being. It can also be attached to greed, betrayal, lust and general pursuit of hedonistic things. People supporting the current system of global capitalism and corporatism, use “human nature” as a rhetoric to explain the flaws of the system.

People against the current status quo will explain these flaws are behaviours created by the system. So now the nature vs nurture debate has now become a structure for a political debate.

However like a lot of contradicting narratives, the answers lies in between. For the Nature argument, environmental factors can change or suppress genes. Genetics is an ever changing field with the wealth of information coded in our DNA being shown to be more and more complex than one simple gene. So we are born with some individual differences but they are not as distinguished and noticeable as many people think about genetics. In terms of the nurture debate, animals, humans of varying intelligences and culture all respond to behavioural conditioning. All animals needing to maximise behaviours that give them the most rewards. However Jaques Fresco and some others have reduced the nature debate by removing any kind of emotional or mental rewards for behaviour. Behaviourism as a discipline has been mature enough that Humans (and some great apes) have needs than the purely material.

So both nature and nurture as a political narrative could reduce us into two different variations of meat robot. A collection of chemicals that acts only to reproduce, or an animal with no cognition pushing a lever for a reward. We must transcend these arguments, acknowledge that the human condition is mostly positive, rewarding and an experience we appreciate to live with. But it is not a black and white experience, which can be scary and existential. Once we stare this in the face, we can consider a new type of society and governance. Since “human nature” should scare us into accepting a status quo. Flaws will always appear in system, however identifying a situation and adapting it, is just as human as adapting to a situation.

Buntstifte

Ben Wilson is a young support worker from Britain who has studied Psychology, is interested in Zen Buddhism, fairness, anthropology and finding ways to make people happy.

The debate on human nature I, the RBE movements, science and ideology

By Enrique Lescure

The discussion on human nature

Fresco

Jacque Fresco (whom I presuppose you all know about) is basing his arguments for the design for The Venus Project, on his claim that it is scientifically proven that human beings are blank slates that are adapting to their environments, and that heritage and genetics play no role.

His main argument is that human beings behave “capitalistically” in a capitalist society, and will automatically adjust to what he terms a “Resource Based Economy” (RBE) on the basis of this purported scientific truth.

This claim is often the first one that representatives or supporters of various RBE movements are using against people who question whether or not a transition to an entirely untested system is a wise idea.

Sadly, the scientific foundations for this argument are very shaky, and in its pure form, the argument is simply flawed. I will devote this article not on what human nature is, but on the debate on human nature and its relations to science, ideology and human behaviour, in order to try to explain why Jacque Fresco and other RBE followers are using this argument to sell The Venus Project.

What science is, and is not

Science

Often, when laypersons meet at pubs, private places or parks to discuss, and the topic is on some subject they’ve perhaps heard on the radio or seen on Youtube, they often talk about that “the scientists have said that…”, or “that is not true, because the scientists…”

Other people, often belonging to the minority of people susceptible to conspiracy thinking, believe that the scientists are out to destroy society, or “fabricate global warming”, that there is a nefarious Agenda 21 (which is almost unrecognisable from the real Agenda 21) which aims to depopulate Earth in order to save it.

No matter if you view “the scientists” as some sort of revered final authority which stands above the understanding of “ordinary commoners”, or see them as a nefarious cabal intending to upheaval and mischief, you see yourself as separate from them, and them as having access to knowledge and information which you could never hope to attain.

That is not what science is.

Science is from the beginning two different methodologies combined with documentation and archiving. The two methodologies (there are more, but these two are the main ones that are utilised), empiricism and rationalism.

Empiricism is basically experience-based learning, where scientists tests their hypotheses by for example mixing two or more elements or conducting testing under controlled conditions. Rationalism is a process whereby the possible reasons for the outcomes of the experiments should be weighed against one another until those proven less likely are scrapped.

In our modern age, the ideal is that this entire process should be monitored, by those involved writing their hypotheses, methodologies, results and conclusions and subject it to peer review. The ideal is that the experiments should be repeatable and that even a scientist with opposing views would find the same results as the first scientist.

Of course, pride, research grants, professor positions and politics inside faculties are playing a role, and there have been cases of fraud and academic corruption. Yet that is not primarily the fault of the process, but rather a testament to the kind of system that the process is occurring within. It is also a testament to the human tendency to factionalise, especially amongst dominant males.

This however can be corrected, as science – unlike many religions and ideologies – is self-correcting. Ambitious scientists are welcome to challenge established wisdom and question old beliefs, and in this way our understanding of the world is improved.

How political and religious movements are (mis)using science

spencer

During the late 19th century, the European colonial powers divided the continent of Africa between themselves, subjecting the indigenous nations of brutal exploitation and oppression. However, to admit that for the home audience (and possibly for oneself, as an exploiter) would create a psychological scar. Thus, the imperialists devised for themselves and for the public arguments for why they “ought” to “civilize” Africa.

One of the obvious arguments was that the inhabitants had not received Christ yet, and therefore it was pivotal to send missionaires to Africa to bring “the ignorant savages” into the fold of “Christian Civilization”.

A perhaps quite unexpected argument, which however reminds a bit of the arguments for NATO-led military interventions usually made at our contemporary era, was to “protect” the peoples of Subsaharan Africa from Arab slavers, selling slaves to the markets of the Ottoman Empire.

The nastiest – and in a dark way the most “honest” – answer why, was provided by ideologists and by scientists of that era who acted like ideologists. They were basing their theories on Charles Darwin’s theories, written in his two books The Origin of Species and Descent of Man, and chose to interpret the books in such a manner that they believed there was some kind of evolutionary struggle between the “inferior” and “superior” races of mankind.

According to this view, the Europeans had “the right” to impose colonial control upon Africa, because the European states were stronger than the African kingdoms and had superior weapons. This kind of motivation had little that differed it from the motivations found on steles in Mesopotamia, raised by the kings of the cruel Assyrian Empire. But the darwinian explanation became popular amongst intellectual circles in Europe and the Americas because it was “scientifically based” and had support from large parts of the scientific establishment.

Herbert Spencer took this cruel ideology masked as science, and applied it on the class issues in Europe at the time. Arguing against social reforms and social justice, he claimed that those who were poor were sentenced to poverty not by an unjust political system but by their “evolutionary inferiority” (genetics were not known at that time). Thus, that some people died very young because of lethal working conditions and were subjected to starving and homelessness was none other’s fault than themselves, for having been born with such “inferior bodies and minds”.

This argument has – by the way – made a reappearance in the Anglo-Saxon world, as has the argument that some races are intellectually inferior. This has been contested however.

On the progressive side, similar sweeping scientific claims have been made about for example gender relations issues and LGBT issues. While those who seek to preserve existing hierarchies delve into science in order to justify social injustices, progressives delve into science to fight social injustices.

The first example of this kind of use of science is the theory – supported by a lot of feminist researchers – that all the differences between the sexes can be attributable to patriarchy and to the traditional cultural gender norms that women and men have been forced to live under, and that nothing – nothing – is affected by human biology. From this follows that society should actively intervene in order to subvert these norms, abolish the genders as social constructs and allow all human beings to liberate themselves and define their own identity independent from the norms and expectations from society, an ideological goal which I find as noble as a RBE.

The second theory that is usually presented by progressives is that humans are born with sexual preferences, and therefore people have the right to express their sexual orientation by entering relationships with other grown-up adults. It is understandable that LGBT activists are using this defence in order to try to make a homophobic society tolerate the presence of people with non-hetero orientations.

What is wrong with using science like this?

IntrospectionWhen science is used to motivate political agendas, it can increasingly fall under the risk of being reduced to a dogma, especially if the political agenda happens to be dominant within an institution. Scientists who have dissenting theories or who’s academic honesty has led them into other conclusions can then be subjected to peer pressure and be marginalised within academia. A science which can hardly be questioned from within leaps the risk of turning into ideology – an ideology which motivates itself not by the merits and consistency of its values but by claiming the reverence of being scientific, while demanding to not be questioned out of ideological concerns.

If we take our progressive examples, feminism would not fall to pieces if it is proven that what we within human societies have seen as gender-specific behaviours are partially based on biological mechanisms such as hormones affecting the amygdala, since it does not follow that it then would mean that women must conform to patriarchal norms or that we should not question such norms any more.

And does it follow that we would have the right to oppress LGBT people if it was shown that sexual orientations can develop by a mixture of genetic conditions, choice and environmental factors? I don’t believe that, and I believe that the argument that “we have to accept LGBT people because they are born that way” deprives human beings from the power of their own destinies, and also indirectly implies that society would be perfectly within that right if they weren’t “born that way”.

Summa summarum…

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Rightist activists tend to argue that humans are entirely driven by genes and biology, and are therefore inherently unequal, and that “capitalism is in human nature”. All gender behaviour differences are genetic, but homosexuality is a free choice and “gays should straighten up”. All other economic systems than free market capitalism are bound to fail due to “the laws of nature”, and races are unequal…

Leftist activists on the other hand, tend to argue that humans are more driven by environment than genes, that the first human societies were egalitarian, and that humans have the freedom to choose how to form their communities. Gender behaviour differences are instituted through Patriarchy, sexual orientations are something that humans are born with, and socialism lies much more in human nature than capitalism. Races do not exist…

Yes I admit it, these two descriptions of two activists are stereotypical, and probably neither one is existing in pure form as an ideological activist in the real world. But these kinds of supposedly “scientific” arguments used with the faint hope of ending debates that doesn’t change the mind of anyone partaking (especially not between two people) have cropped up in discussions numerous times, until people almost repeat them automatically.

The point is, when you use science primarily as a mean to support your political agenda, you are not in fact advancing your political agenda (you are giving it crutches which it probably doesn’t need), and you are turning science into a dogma. The academic world is probably fraught with bias already, but fighting bias with bias is never a good idea, and will inevitably create such monstrosities as Biblical Archeology and Intelligent Design, “sciences” entirely devoted to spreading agendas.

Science is not about believing what you want to believe, but to boldly follow evidence, wherever it might lead you. And yes, established scientists since long ago has often been bad on that, and allowed their bias and political opinions to affect their work. They are only human after all.

How to correctly use science

Milky wayYou have values and sentiments, right? You want the society to progress in a specific direction, and are highly motivated. Perhaps you are even ascribing to a consistent ideology. Society is not working so well as it could, and you are ready to struggle to move it into a direction that you’ll view as more beneficial for humanity and/or the environment.

What you should do is that you should educate yourself, and use information available and judge it critically, no matter if you agree with it or not. If you get into a position of responsibility, science is of great aid since it tells which routes are more possible and which routes are less. You do not need to change your values if established science would find out something less flattering about your species, the environment or social structures, instead you should use that new knowledge as a way to better be able to realise your values in reality. That is not possible if you decide to use the scientific texts you agree with as dogma.

The Soviet Union collapsed not because of war, but largely because its academia and research was heavily restricted by Marxist-Leninist dogma, which together with the police state created an unwillingness to question the collective farms, the static prices or the command economy. The Islamic world stagnated largely because the Ash’ari theological school (which stressed the absolute predetermination by God’s will of everything that happens) triumphed over the Mu’tazilites and their more open interpretations of scripture. If the Mu’tazilites had won that struggle, it wouldn’t be inconceivable that the Islamic world could have pioneered the scientific revolution. Greek science stagnated during the Roman Era, largely because Plato and Aristotle were treated as authorities which could not be questioned by the literate classes.

So use science as a map, but not as a guiding light for your heart. Use it as a tool to achieve a goal. But do not for all what matters in your mind mix up the tool itself with the goal in your heart.

What is social entropy?

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By Enrique Lescure

What is it?

I’ve been asked multiple times today what social entropy is. I admit that I have coined the term, and now I will try to briefly explain what I mean with it.

Entropy is traditionally defined as a term designating that physical systems tend to fall back into their constituent parts as time passes on.

Societies, much like eco-systems or individual organisms, are consisting of interacting networks of individuals, clans, regions, interests, institutions and norms. These tend to form cultures which create in society an overall sense of predictability. This predictability is supported – in complex societies – by force and by laws, dictating what people may not do and what consequences they will experience if they breach these rules. Often, these rules are directly or indirectly for the gain of a ruling elite.

Social entropy however, is a centripetal force that strives to dissolve the “higher” or “medium” institutions of any society, reducing it to its component forms. Being left unchecked, this destructive force will cause lawlessness, riots, and unpredictability. Our societies are dependent on that people are following the norms in terms of getting up, getting to work, paying for goods at the local cornershop (even if they most likely could get away with theft), not stealing or vandalising property nor hurting other people.

I would argue that most societies are characterised by social entropy. It is not like it is a force that only appears when the law ceases to work. Rather, it is humans violating the social norms of predictability in terms of how society functions and affecting in some way the economic predictability of society (causing damage which costs resources and time to repair).

Even such a predictable and well-arranged society as the Swedish welfare state is continuously experiencing social entropy, in the forms of crime, vandalised bus stops and graffiti on unwanted walls. I would not herein state whether or not social entropy is desirable. Some societies are genuinely repressive, some are benevolent (though fundamentally unsustainable) and some are genuinely repressive, but their removal has led into worse states, either of repression or of social entropy.

Where social entropy is allowed to roam free, the society is experiencing a loss of complexity (which usually is termed civilizational collapse and the end of the world by those experiencing it). Examples range from the Roman Empire to the Easter Island, from Medieval Iceland to modern-day Somalia, and from Detroit to Syria.

Revolutionaries usually secretly or openly desire such a calamity, believing it will usher in (their imagined) paradise.

However, experiences show that it takes long time for old civilizations to rebound, and even longer time for newer civilizations to emerge. Experiences also show that revolutions are uncontrollable and unmanageable events that are causing tremendous suffering for the participants.

The Earth Organisation for Sustainability is certainly advocating social change, but that not because we desire chaos, but that we seek to prevent that the inherent unsustainability of the current system would usher in the greatest loss of complexity in human history, to not speak of the greatest loss of ecological diversity since the Dinosaur apocalypse.

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What will 2015 bring forth?

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By Enrique Lescure

2014 in hindsight, what now?

2014 was a year dominated by social entropy.

The Syrian civil war spread into Iraq, making the Islamic State a new unrecognised government in the heart of the Middle East, spreading atrocities from Aleppo in the west to Baghdad in the east, and contributing even more to the tragedy that the destruction of Syria represents.

In eastern Ukraine, a similar type of conflict has emerged, this time with indirect and direct involvement from both the West and the Russian Federation. This war is centered around nationalism and competing geo-political interests, and those suffering the most are the civilians.

In Africa, the Central African Republic and South Sudan were both fraught with sudden outbursts of civil wars, in the case of the former temporarily turning the CAR into a failed state, leading to ethnic clashes between groups professing to Islam and Christianity. Boko Haram, the despicable terror group of northern Nigeria, have intensified their campaign against the Nigerian state.

The year was however – also – characterised by a continued green revolution in energy generation, a continued automatisation process and a growth in 3D printing, the nano-revolution and engineering pursuits, which can prove interesting in shaping the outlook of the world until the 2020’s and beyond.

So what interesting things can happen in 2015?

The Greek Elections; or “the collapse of the European Union intensifies”

grexit_477701130Greece is holding their elections on Sunday the 25th of January 2015, ahead of schedule, caused by the failure of the Greek parliament to elect a (ceremonial) president.

Meanwhile, Switzerland has disconnected it’s currency from the Euro.

Are those two events connected?

Yes, there is a very serious reason why Switzerland has moved towards a floating Franc. In 2010, following the world financial crisis, Greece was forced to borrow money to pay debt to the banks to which they owed money, de-facto entering a state bankcruptcy.

State bankcruptcies are nothing new for Greece. During the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, Greece has suffered debt defaults five times. This would have been the sixth. The reason why I write would is that the Greeks have not been allowed to default on their debt, because that would damage the credibility of the entire Eurozone, and result in a chain reaction where speculators would move against the Euro.

In 2010, Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel de-facto became the EU president, as she moved towards sanitizing the debts of the southern European states (amongst which Greece was the worst), in return for massive austerity packages from these countries, which unsurprisingly led to increasing unemployment and dissatisfaction. In the last Greek election, in 2012, the left-leaning party SYRIZA (an amalgamation of many parties to the left of the Greek social democratic party PASOK) became the second largest party of the Greek Parliament.

This time, on the 25th, SYRIZA can very well win the elections and form a government. The party has threatened that if Greece is not allowed to move away from the austerity package and have the debt renegotiated, they will move away from the Eurozone.

How would cash-strapped Greece leaving the Eurozone and declaring default hurt Europe?

Firstly, those affected will be the banks that Greece owes money to, and the governments will probably make up for their losses by even more austerity, since banks are considered “too big to fail”. This will most likely add fuel to the sentiments that the established parties and governments in Europe are more identifying themselves with financial institutions and the wealthy elite, than with ordinary middle and working class people – which could create more room for dissatisfaction, dissent and even violent reaction…

Secondly, the Eurozone is not primarily an economic project, but a part of a political process. The European Union is formed according to a functionalist principle, where the founding fathers of Europe realised that there was little popular support amongst the masses for European federalism.

David Mitrany

David Mitrany

Functionalism as a model, envisioned and described by amongst other people the Romanian-born social scientist David Mitrany, establishes that European integration should take the easiest possible route, much like how water is moving around rocks to flow down to the sea.

The European Union began as the Coal & Steel Community of 1946 – 1957, upgraded itself to the European Economic Community of 1957 – 1993, and became the European Union by the Maastricht Treaty of 1993. Each of these changes brought a deeper economic integration. The European Monetary Union is a complement to the European Union, which is aiming at harmonising monetary policies. The next logical step would be integrated financial and taxation policies, but this has failed to materialise, mostly because the political capital of the European Union was exhausted after the introduction of the EURO and the expansion from 15 to 27 member states in 2004-2007.

The European electorate was not that keen on the increased political influence of the European Union, illustrated by the failed referendums in France, the Netherlands and Eire during the 00’s. When the crisis of 2008 hit, there was no identification with the European Union amongst the masses, and when the economy failed, the European leaders quickly moved to access the interests of their own economies. So the European integration project is rapidly losing momentum, and will continue to stay weak so long a new stable equilibrium is not reached.

It is very possible that Tsipras (SYRIZA’s leader) is going to be far more moderate than the worst doomsday sayers predict, but his electorate wants results, and if the current malaise trods on in Greece, people will become increasingly radicalised and maybe either move to the far left or to the far right Golden Dawn.

Alexis TSIPRAS

In the case of “the worst scenario”, a Greek expulsion/resignation from the Eurozone, Greece’s economy will probably default, leading to an intensification of the crisis. However, such a deep dip will probably on the medium term be good for the Greek economy, as it will rationalise and prices will lower to the level that the tourism industry starts to generate growth for the overall economy.

Maybe the Greeks would prefer a very painful fall and impact to rock bottom before decades of stagnation.

For the Eurozone, it will mean a definite break from the idea that the Euro as a currency regime is stable, and can lead to a new crisis. Therefore, I expect Merkel to actually try to listen to Mr Tsipras’ demands and try to reach some kind of compromise with a SYRIZA-led government. The question is what the German and Greek peoples would think of such a renegotiation?

Given that, the Tory-led government in the United Kingdom has woved to hold a referendum on continued membership in the EU if they are not reaching a deal regarding free mobility with the European Union. The reasons for this referendum are domestic and populist, and it is not unlikely – if the situation permits – that Cameron would draw back the referendum a few years before it (if he wins the elections in May). However, it signals that the consercatives are now trying to gain (back) the support of the plurality (perhaps majority) of Britons that see the European Union as a problem

The Russian Crisis, the Donbass War and Saudi Arabia

While there are still open hostilities in the East of Ukraine, the Russian actions since the autumn indicates that Russia isnovorussia_map_by_grdgryphonranger-d7ks806 aiming for a d’etente with the West, with a situation where Russia has “lost” the Ukraine as a Pro-Russian state, but the West won’t see Ukraine as a member of the EU or NATO. Meanwhile, the West has sought to punish Russia for their violations of the international order by the means of sanctions. Many European leaders, including the French president and German industrial leaders, are increasingly skeptical to the sanctions as they serve to hurt European growth forecasts as well, while the Americans are more hardline.

The Russian economy on the other hand is quickly draining its capital reserves and is seeing cuts in the civilian sector. The reason behind this is not only tied to the western sanctions, but also to the Saudi oil production figures. Saudi Arabia is involved in an own proxy war versus Iran and Russia inside Syria, and given the current volatile situation, they are ready to use their oil weapon to lowering the price of oil and thereby hurting Russia and Iran (and also the growing shale oil industry in the United States).

It will take eighteen months to deplete the Russian currency reserves, and by then Russia will be reliant on debt, with an 20141018_gdc875awful credit rating at their disposal. This can lead to political destabilisation inside of Russia and create the foundations for regime change there. However, the regime change may not be the desired from the western perspective. If Putin for example would withdraw from Crimea and Donbass and leave the separatists to their fate, he could very well face an uprising from the nationalist right.

More likely, I expect that Russia and Iran could see this as a hostile action by Saudi Arabia, and could use whatever tools they have within their disposal (short of outright military actions) to try to hurt Saudi Arabia in return.

The fall of the Islamic State?

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It won’t end the crisis in Iraq and Syria, but it will mark the introduction of a number of regional powers into the fray. It is likely that Turkey, Iran and perhaps even Saudi Arabia and Jordan can to some degree intervene militarily with ground forces into the theatre. Such an intervention will quickly overwhelm the IS and push them back into armed insurrection and guerilla and terrorist activities, much like how the Vietnamese pushed the Khmer Rogue back into the jungles.

The intervention of Turkey or another major Sunni power would almost certainly force an Iranian counterreaction, perhaps in the form of more regular Iranian troops and revolutionary guards being sent into Syria (and perhaps Iraq). In the worst case scenario, this could mean a regular war between Iran and one or two Sunni Powers, but more likely new armed groups will emerge under the wings of Turkish, Iranian and Saudi base territories and engage in continued fighting in the region. Nevertheless, Syria and large parts of Iraq will continue to turn into failed states for 2015, with an immeasureable humanitarian cost.

Social Entropy

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The truth in evolution is that the more complex an organism is, the more vulnerable it becomes to disturbances in the eco-systems it is dependent on. The human civilization today, with its largely integrated world economy, is an increasingly complex web of structures, arrangements, institutions and interlinked human communities. What is happening in the Middle East and in Europe are not only the results of long-term social and socio-economic trends, but also parts of the very same trends.

These parts of the world are experiencing socio-economic and social realignments which has been working for a long time, and exploded in the Debt Crisis of 2010 and the 2011 Arab Spring. During 2015, there is a high risk that the escalation of these trends will continue on and drive through the realignment. Since many key players are trying to use this alignment to come up on top, they will serve to intensify the crises in matters that they believe could benefit them.

At least in the Middle East, we are seeing a massive loss of social complexity, throughout a large part of the Fertile Crescent, and it is possible that Syria can turn into a new Somalia, situated into the heartlands of the Middle East. This will ultimately work against Saudi Arabia, which now also faces the prospects of a collapsing Yemen on its southern border.

Ultimately, this realignment is part of a wider realignment, where the issue is whether the Unipolar “New World Order” (the American-led world) can come to terms with the BRICS about how power should be distributed internationally, and whether or not the BRICS can survive the oil crisis and China’s dampening growth forecasts.

Enrique

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