Dr. Andrew Alexander Wallace ~ 2007 – 2015

Andrew Alexander Wallace

Andrew Alexander Wallace

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

“Nice, just don’t mention our failed invasion of Poland.”

I asked Andrew if I had the permission to write this post, and he approved of it with the quote above – containing a characteristic joke from him. For eight years, Andrew was the director of the Earth Organisation for Sustainability, and also the most important theoretician of the movement. For a long while, I have aimed to write this post, but have not done it until I received explicit approval by Andrew.

Andrew’s style of leadership was partially due to his personality and background. A self-professed nerd with dry British humour, a keen interest not only in sustainability and robotics, but also in British war history (partially through the military traditions of the Wallace family) and theology, Andrew provided EOS not only with his theories and his thinking, but also with a warmness under a cynical and coarse surface.

This post will explain how Andrew has influenced EOS, and where we were when he was elected chairperson of the Board and where we are now, after his terms has been finished.

TL;DR Summary

  • Andrew was not originally elected in an annual general meeting, but elected by the board following the resignation of the previous director.
  • The background of Andrew’s thinking was in the application of distributed systems theory on society.
  • Andrew presented the holonic systems theory.
  • Andrew pioneered the proto-technate theory.
  • During Andrew’s term, The Design was completed.
  • Andrew is a visionary who has taken inspiration from Gene Roddenberry, Buckminster Fuller, and who strives towards a progressive and rational society.

The formative years, 2005-2007

therisingtide_1200

by Daniel Lovas

The small group of people which originally formed the EOS were originally meeting one another on the Technocracy forums around 2003-2005. What was the unifying factor was the realisation that the current socio-economic system is inhernetly unsustainable, and that there should be an evolution towards a more sustainable form of resource management. As the command economies of the old east bloc had failed, people investigated more obscure and forgotten alternatives – and what we encountered there was the model of Energy Accounting. Though most of what would later become the core of NET/EOS were intrigued by the ideas of Energy Accounting, soon there arose differences between the largely European newcomers and the North American forum administration on that board, since the North Americans stressed that their proposed system had no serious flaws, that it was only applicable to North America and soon restricted forum access for Non-North Americans. Thus, the NET (Network of European Technocrats) was formed and soon migrated to a small, obscure freeware forum. In this group, Andrew played a central role in developing the ideas of Energy Accounting and how resources could be managed through it, which transcended the original scope and purpose of the North American design. The NET had two directors before Andrew, neither of whom sat for a very long period and neither of whom were able to keep a consistent line, due to the geographic separation of members. Thus, following Mansel Ismay’s resignation as NET director, the Board decided to ask Andrew if he could become director, and Andrew replied something in the style of, “well, if no one better comes along”.

Holonic Distribution Theory

From a lecture with Andrew Wallace

From a lecture with Andrew Wallace

Andrew – as an engineer – saw the proposed model by Technocracy Incorporated as centralised, semi-authoritarian and anachronistic. During the 1930’s, he argued, technology had indeed made massive centralisation the most efficient way of managing production. Nowadays however, technological development was (and is) pushing society towards more and more of networking solutions and collaborative efforts through the intelligent usage of information technology.

Thus, Andrew originally proposed the holonic systems model to describe both how the socio-economic system proposed by NET would organise itself on all levels, and how we could reach that stage of development through an organic, participatory and libertarian transition.

The holonic model means that the functions of society are organised through autonomous project groups which organise in a holarchical manner, at a large extent through transparency and voluntaryism. This means a self-aware society that is able to correct its own mistakes much like cells in a human body knows how to repair the body if it has sustained injury.

Andrew saw these “holons” as being coordinated – but not ordered – by functional sequences which contained one or several representatives in every project group. These would be responsible for transmitting information between holons and be authorised with the power to interrupt projects if they go out of hand (for example if a project group turns corrupt or start violating basic human rights).

If larger projects need to be undertaken, several project groups join together, forming larger project groups. And (to paraphrase a well-known Slovenian philosopher) so on and so on.

This model was in many ways a polar opposite to what Technocracy Incorporated imagined the future should look like, as they saw the taylorist model for organising industrial production as optimal.citizens-in-participatory-democracy

Another difference, which was even more stark, was that NET was always clear with that it did not want to abolish democracy or independent courts, which Technocracy Inc. saw as inefficient systems prone to corruption, instead imagining that engineers could solve these problems far easier by design.

Andrew imagined the technate not as a new socio-economic system and as a new system of government at the same time. Instead, he saw the formation of a technate as the conscious part of a socio-economic system, while he wanted politics and justice being exerted by a mixture of democracy and constitutionalism. He envisioned a parallel system to the technate consisting of local and regional councils elected by direct democracy.

The Design (2011)

technate

It could be said that the years of 2005 – 2010 were transitionary. The movement transcended the original design of Technocracy Incorporated in so many ways that it became more and more evident that it was becoming something more, and to many extents something else. This process was not without considerable pain and friction within the movement and within the Board itself.

Nevertheless, in 2011, the EOS presented the first edition of the book known as The Design, which is freely available. It was a collaborative effort within the EOS board, and also serves to illustrate Andrew’s style of leadership. Andrew expected independence from the board members, and never stressed himself as a sort of guiding force. There were never any attempts to form a cult of personality.

This attitude also moved outward, towards detractors and trolls. Andrew generally took their presence with calm, and always stressed that “only testing our design will prove if we are on the right path”. This emphasis on the scientific method and on using a language of caution regarding our theories did not serve to increase our popularity, but instead strengthened us as an organisation reliant on science and an honest questioning of ourselves.

The later years

gizmodo.com

gizmodo.com

Andrew arranged several evening lectures at Umea University every term regarding the Design, and was always active in the formation of the theoretical tenets. During the later years, he aimed to form a collaborative effort with the RBE Foundation, the Atlas City project, the Future Project, World Era and the New Z-land Project, known as the Terran Technate Consortium. The goal of this ambitious project was to start building the technate by joining the EOS together with other associations, and beginning small by having a website with a common register. This project soon came to an end, due to the partial or complete collapses of the other associations involved in it. However, the EOS managed to collaborate locally with Green Free Will, and helped them gain a grant for their biodome project in 2012-2015, which greatly improved the situation for everyone involved. During that time, however, Andrew himself was not as much involved as previous, as he had other commitments and interests, amongst them to his engagement for protecting society. During all the years I have known him, Andrew has been engaged in support activities to for example help find people who have disappeared. He has been engaged in amateur radio, in programming, in outdoor-life and in robotics. With interests ranging over a wide field, he has often been an invaluable source of information and knowledge.

Summary

by the courtesy of Andrew Wallace

by the courtesy of Andrew Wallace

Dr. Andrew Alexander Wallace contributed much to the evolution of the EOS, and formed the core tenets of the holonic systems theory as applied on The Design. Much more a theoretician than a leader, his style of leadership allowed the other board members the freedom to pursue the areas where they contributed best towards the overall goal.

His passions were the Earth, Truth and Science, and through his engagement to forming the ideas of the EOS – but also his willingness to question them – he contributed in more ways than he himself probably could imagine.

As his successor, it will forever remain an honour for me to have worked in two boards during his chairpersonship, and to have learned to know him.

Human utility

prekariat.org

prekariat.org

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

There can be said to be two internal structural crises regarding the transformation of the labour market brought by new technologies and the rationalization of the market structure itself. These two crises can be said to be ideological/existential and social. Of these two crises, I will devote this entry to the first, and often overlooked version.

The transformation of labour has meant not only a different environment, but that people – most often from the younger generation – have been forced by the external circumstances to readjust their behaviour, while many of the expectations regarding rights, social obligations, the personal future and the social role of the individual remain the same – which creates a foundation for increased mental fragility and a heightened risk for psycho-social problems.

This problem is mostly prevalent in the developed nations in Europe, North America, Oceania and East Asia, though similar trends can be seen amongst the middle class in the Arab World and the less developed nations of East Asia.

TL;DR summary

  • During the latter half of the 20th century, most western states developed social welfare models that gave broader protection to the people.
  • This was coupled by a period of sustained growth until the 1970’s when the majority of the population attained higher living standards, guaranteed employment and expanded social safety nets.
  • This created room for individualization and for the expansion of lifestyles and subcultures. In a very literal sense, people became liberated from the constraints of survival values.
  • Three generations have grown up under these conditions, and been acclimatised to them.
  • This presents a challenge now when the system is rupturing, and expectations both amongst the political leaders and the various groups of society is not aligned with this rupture.
  • This increases the volatility of the system.
  • It is unlikely a new stable equilibrium within the current socio-economic system can be established, due to exponential and ecological factors.
  • This volatility brings risks but also opportunities.

The age of the Middle Class

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After the Second World War, something happened – which we have come to take for granted now in the western world, but which was unfathomable to the generations who had gone through the two world wars and the Great Depression, namely a period of sustained growth from the late 1940’s until the oil recession of 1973.

This sustained growth happened basically every western country, and transformed the structural composition of the population. Production of consumer goods exploded, farming industrialization led to a sweeping wave of urbanization and sub-urbanization. From economies were only every tenth person had a car, we moved towards economies were one in two adult individuals possessed one.1950s-300x210

Soon, basically everyone owned a car, refrigerator, TV, radio, lawn-mower, stereos, and could afford vacation trips to other parts of the country and even abroad. Of course, in many countries – like for example in large parts of southern Europe and in the United States – there were large swathes of poverty, and stagnating communities as well. For the majority however, things looked increasingly brighter.

And jobs were readily available to anyone willing to have one. Though it was not easy to study at university everywhere, there was no necessity of it, since regular jobs paid enough to sustain a household and generally allow money for other expenditures. Thus, due to the abundance, the culture in western countries was slowly transformed – away from the values of traditional societies.

The new lifestyle market emerged due to and with part-conscious support from the marketing industry, and soon fashion in terms of musical preferences, clothing, brands, experiences and even diets came to be readily applied by the industry, transforming both the economy and the behavioural patterns of the people in the process. While this process can be seen as both emergenet and intentional (to some degree), it is not the focus of our post. The focus rather lies on the fact that three generations of westerners have been individualized.

Individualization

Culture-Map_WVS5

As you can see on this map, the countries seen as building up the core of the western world are all in the upper right corner, and while some (like Ireland and the United States) are more traditional in terms of their values, they too value self-expression above survival. Cultural essentialists love to claim that these values to some extent always have separated the West from other civilizations (not entirely true, they generally sport the origin of western exceptionalism to the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution or the Enlightenment).

However, several distinct transformations happened relatively recent, during the middle to late part of last century.

  • The choice of a romantic partner is moved to a later part in life, and parents and relatives do not any longer generally expect to have a say in the matter. Property and income is less pronounced in the choosing of a partner, though it still indirectly plays a role.
  • Sex is now a recreationary habit, while it before primarily was seen as a way to form a family. Children are no longer seen as an economic investment, but primarily as a way to cement a bonding between two adult individuals (children are also largely seen as an economic burden).
  • The social role of the individual in society is primarily defined by the individual theirself, and that is seen as the legitimate manner in which people define their roles in society.
  • Youths are acclimatised into this thinking through education, where a large part is played (unintentionally perhaps) by the social mores and fashions, and the pecking order organically established on the schoolyard.

I would argue that most of these transformations have been positive, and have served as a liberating force for the individual, who by theirself can make life-decisions that were previously either decided directly or at least largely affected by the expectations of the community. It is however quite easy to see how the struggle for survival creates the foundation for collectivistic values and social mores, while the lack of a need to struggle for survival creates the opportunity for the individual to blossom.

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There are however expectations which individuals in western societies generally are expected to achieve, and are expecting themselves to achieve. In a pre-industrial agrarian society, you are successful if you manage to hold on to what your forebears managed to build. In an early industrial society, you are successful if you manage to build savings to let your children have a better life. In today’s society, however, young people have been accustomed to, are expected to and are expecting themselves to:

  • Earn more than their parents did and receive better-paying jobs.
  • Make good for themselves by having a job and contributing to the economy.
  • Experiencing life and travelling at an early age.
  • Expressing their individuality and attain a sense of “uniqueness”.

These are all laudable life objectives, but the problem is that they are increasingly untenable for young people to achieve, especially in a situation where class differences are becoming more marked, the middle class is stagnating, low-skill jobs are less available due to automatization and the increasing competition of the developing world, high-skill jobs are not increasing in the numbers needed to absorb the increased number of youths with hundreds of thousands in student debt and degrees that lend them jobs on McDonalds.

Not surprisingly, this will cause protracted anger, especially as the system is crumbling more and more under its own self-contradictions.

The existential crisis of the Western Civilization

jeslacasse.com

jeslacasse.com

The social contracts of modern western societies generally entail that people have a right to housing, to food, to water, to electricity (apart from the rights from being exposed to conditions imposed by other humans which are less than desirable). However, these rights have de-facto not needed to be guarded that much since the truth has been that the vast majority of the people in western industrialized societies have been able to guarantee them for themselves due to employment – and those not able to gain access to these life-necessities have most often been caught up by social safety nets that have provided them with what is considered the minimum that an individual could expect from society.

I am not denying the fact that there are those who are destitute and truly homeless, but these are still – luckily – a comparably small group.

In general, the social welfare systems have been dependent on – no matter what country we are talking about – a full employment state, where the revenues are collected through income taxes, and a part of those revenues are redistributed to the part of the adult population that is unable to find work, either permanently or through structural or temporary unemployment. When revenues are not increasing in the same amount as expenditures, then the government must either raise taxes or shrink its obligations. Raising taxes generally reduces the availability for consumption. The prevailing orthodoxy since the 1970’s has generally been tax reductions, since these are presupposed to stimulate the economy by increasing consumption, thereby increasing the amount of readily available jobs.

viewsoftheworld.net

viewsoftheworld.net

Since the population pyramid in most western societies is skewed to the middle, with the largest population share being the bulk of middle-aged citizens and a flattening peak of old people, it is difficult for youths to affect the division of resources with this dwindling resource base, since it is likely that older and more well-connected population segments can negotiate to keep a larger share of the pie, while inexperienced youths find themselves with less and elss opportunities for jobs, housing and education as time passes on.

This has also largely happened, starting already during the 1980’s, and resuming during the 2010’s. Youths are gradually, but at an accelerating pace, thrown into a world that is more ruthless and predatory than that of their parents – of whom many have little understanding or patience for the sense of uncertainty today, instead meaning that youths have become soft like jelly and less prone to work hard and shut up – not realising that it is difficult to even gain a job interview when jobs are scarce and every job has several hundred applicants.

What is problematic is not that youths cannot fulfil their own ambitions, or the ambitions of their parents. It is doubtful if it can be said to be a human right to be successful within the paradigms of consumeristic individualism, and even if it was a right, it is evidently very much on a lower priority than the things that billions of people in the developing world are going through. What is problematic however is when people are living in lives of uncertainty and never know how the next month is going to look like. if they would have to move to another side of the country or if they are getting as many work hours as the previous month.

This is however problematic on a deeper level. If society cannot guarantee housing, income, safety and electricity to all its members, things which are pre-assumed by human rights definitions and national laws, it is putting the democratic concepts of the inclusionary nation-state in conflict with the values of capitalism.

In short, are human beings having an inherent value because of their humanity, or is their worth determined by their economic performance (and them being allowed to performed economically) inside society? Is it human rights that determine human value, or is it human utility, or some combination thereof – and how can we adjust internally in regards to this self-contradiction?

Short-term solutions

basicincome2013.eu

basicincome2013.eu

There are several ways to adjust to this crisis, and at least be able to prolong the social fabric of our societies some more decades than otherwise possible.

  • The shifting of the tax burden to other productive factors, such as capital, land, technology, or to consumption and production, which would mean that the expenses won’t increase (through social welfare) the same way when unemployment rises and revenues are decreasing.
  • The transformation of the social safety net into a simpler model that means that all human beings get money for necessities, without as many control systems to check if they are eligible.

Culturally, there must be changes as well. The awareness that we live in a different society than 1970 has not dawned upon decision-makers in politics, industry and media, especially as the majority of them have not experienced this transformation and what it entails for new-comers on the labour market.

Youths must also adjust their expectations and try to develop their survival skills and understanding of the current system. That does not entail acceptance, and youths must be better to understand the system in order to be able to properly channel their anxiety into the anger necessary to form a movement with political demands. These demands must however not be attached to just changes in how the redistribution patterns are working, but into systemic changes related to the establishment of the post-industrial service economy in the Western world.

However, while the biosphere is slowly collapsed by the joined efforts of humanity, technological development is

A protester carries a petrol bomb during a protest at the northern port city of Thessaloniki, Greece, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011. Protesting high school students hurled rocks and bottles during a rally to mark the third anniversary of the fatal police shooting of a teenager in central Athens. (AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis)

accelerating, leading to less and less labour hours needed to sustain the same production, meaning that new jobs are not created in the same pace as old jobs are vanishing. Those economies worst affected are those that entered the “High Industrial Age” (1946 – 1973) phase later than the early adopters.

One example is being Greece, which today is in a state of perpetual crisis, that only will deepen as the adherence to the flawed Euro currency system is basically leading to the country relenting what independence it has left in economic matters, and accepting probably this century’s largest redistribution of wealth from the people into the hands of financial capital. This also shows that the current political establishment and the current political paradigm is directed towards protecting the interests of the system before the interests of the people.

Summary

In the western world, technology – which was a liberating force during the previous eras of the Industrial Age – has turned into a factor that greatly upsets the social order and is forcing a change of the expectations that we have been accustomed to have. This does not mean that technological development should be stopped, in fact, technological development must necessarily be consciously utilised in the process of creating an integrated civilization that can monitor the environmental factors of the Earth and allow us to reduce our impact in as intelligent a manner as possible.

However, technology is a destructive force in regards to how it affects both the ways in which social safety nets operate and how the labour market is shrinking of available hours, leading to more competition horizontally and more strained relations both vertically and between generations.

The first thing that youths must realise is this relationship between technological development and the difficulty to land one-self a full-time employment today. Internalization of emotions of guilt, worthlessness and a sense of being meaningless is leading to the collapse of the self and is a certain path to becoming depressed and losing all the will to struggle. However, that it isn’t your guilt does not mean that you do not need to adapt to changed circumstances.

Finally, the Earth Organisation of Sustainability must talk about these issues and try to establish why our alternative is plausible and why it is essential to struggle, not only for the future of individuals, or or humanity, but of the future of our very planet.

A 48 hours recipe for suicide

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By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

Recently, I had the opportunity to read this article published on the Qetema website. I found it both interesting and unnerving, as it clearly defines one of the persisting problems with “the RBE spectrum”. I struggled with myself regarding whether or not I should reply to the article in question – but have decided positively so after voicing my concerns with the young people I have talked with inside the Qetema group. They asked me to write this article, and since I’ve already criticised the notion that Greece could become “the world’s first RBE nation”, I thought it would be fair to provide a more elaborate and formal criticism of the idea.

The Short notes (TL;DR)

On Resource Based Economics

~ We do not know whether a RBE would work or not.

~ Many RBE followers seem to believe that their proposed system is a sort of console cheat mode for economics.

~ RBE;ism ultimately bears an uncanny resemblance to pre-marxian forms of communism.

On Greece

~ For many reasons, Greece is ill-suited to become a Resource Based Economy.

~ For many reasons, turning a country into a RBE in 48 hours is insane.

~ Examples of autarkies

On Resource Based Economics

the-planet-is-sick-but-we-have-the-cure-a-resource-based-economy

The Earth Organisation for Sustainability does not and have never identified itself as an organisation promoting what Jacque Fresco coined as a “Resource Based Economy” (RBE). What our goal is, is to investigate the opportunities for how to establish sustainable management of the Earth’s resources, and we are curious on the long-term prospects for the application of a transition to post-monetary socio-economic systems. You can read about our research and transitioning proposals here.

The main difference between us and the majority of the organisations promoting what they call “RBE”, is that we remain very skeptical of any claims and want everything to be measured, verified, applied, tested and criticised. Many of the organisations promoting the RBE concept are however claiming that the world can be switched to a RBE almost instantaneously and with little to none negative effects.

Also, a RBE would not only solve all sustainability problems and social problems, but would prevent most accidents from happen, eliminate most diseases, make most people happy and create an abundance for everyone, so high that resources almost wouldn’t have to be measured.

Much of this heralds from Mr. Fresco himself, who generally promotes his concept through focusing on the many claimed positive effects of a post-transition society. It should be noted that Fresco – before he promoted the Resource Based Economy concept – pioneered a concept called Sociocyberneering, and there he used more technical and narrow terms (which I personally find more agreeable since it makes it easier to understand what his organisation wanted to achieve, but which I understand do not serve to attract as many followers).

What then is a RBE?

If you ask a dozen or so RBE followers, you will know less of what a RBE is than before you asked. You will probably hear

The Venus Project

The Venus Project

about it being “the right thing since the Earth belongs to everyone, not a select few”, and be presented Gimp-rendered image files with quotes by old Native American chieftains. You will hear about Tesla and free energy from vacuum. You may hear of spirituality and Yoga. You may hear of living in communes and veganism, and of banking conspiracies. You may even hear that Jesus did not exist and that RBE is a return to the faith in the pagan mother goddess. You may hear of the flower of life, of promoting arts and poetry and culture.

However, one thing which soon comes clear when it comes to RBE followers (who mostly are young people with idealistically glowing eyes), is that they truly view the RBE concept as a manifestation of everything that is good, righteous and expresses their identity. RBE can be three different things to three different indivduals, but needless to say it will solve all the problems of the Earth, all injustices and do away with them within a few months (Jacque Fresco said something akin to a decade in his Stockholm lecture).

So the main issue is, what does Jacque Fresco claim that a RBE is?

The answer can be shortly summarised as: A computer-administered planned economy.

The system would work in a manner that there is a global computerised system that monitors the total amount of resources on Earth. From that, Fresco assumes that there would be more than enough resources for everyone to live like a millionaire today (surveys by organisations such as the Club of Rome, the Footprint Network and other environmental organisations beg to differ), and that all that is lacking is sufficient planning. The Venus Project has to my knowledge never conducted a planetary survey, which makes me curious on how they have established that the level of resources is sufficient to establish a RBE.

Needless to say, the EOS agrees with TVP that a global planetary survey of resources is necessary, but we believe the way in which TVP messages their concept has created several unintended problems. By focusing on attractive 1950’s style retrofuturism and on inventions rather than the surveys and the physical information, TVP has ensured that they will not for the foreseeable future be accepted in academia. On the other hand, they (and TZM, which in many ways are making themselves even more problematic) gain followers within the precariat – young people from developed nations or from middle class background who have a trouble entering the more and more perilous and uncertain environment of the labour market. The RBE concept provides escapism and a vision of an alternative world.

In many ways, the RBE movement cluster is a cybernetic-age equivalent of the Utopian Socialist movement of the first half of the 19th century. The similarities are too many for it to be a co-incidence, and can be listed below here:

* An emphasis on the vision of a society where all problems are solved.

* A belief in philosopher kings (Tesla posthumously, a cult of personality around leading RBE figures).

* A mixture between pseudo-scientism (a fetischisation of science) and beliefs in alternative science (while Fresco has never claimed to support free energy, PJ Merola of The Zeitgeist Movement has purged high-ranking TZM members who’ve contested alternative cancer treatments).

* A willingness to move away from established society and form communes.

* An unwillingness to organise stable movements or commit full-heartedly to the projects, inside emphasising liquid organisation and positive emotions.

* A belief in that RBE:ism is a recipe to create a society where all ills are immediately cured, and that we under a RBE could both live in an earthly paradise but also provide everyone with basically everything they want.

With this, I am not saying that RBE:ism as a concept is doomed, but that these six features inside the RBE movement are the main things that hampers it and virtually ensures that it continues to see much noise but little actual activity. An emphasis on positive emotions, arrogance and the deification of individuals serves to limit the scope of followers and make them ineffectual.

Greece

grexit-comic

If you have read the article published on Qetema detailing Greece, they claim that Greece has a third choice apart from the knife and the gun seen in the picture above, and that is to switch towards a post-monetary system immediately, claiming that any adverse effects will be smaller than the false choice exemplified. This would mean that Greece totally would forego money and instead move towards a RBE where all resources are administered directly and managed in a rational scientific manner. The author of said article claims that this would create a better life for the Greek people and also showcase exactly how well a RBE would work.

I would counter these claims by pointing out the main problems here below, starting with a historical argument, moving towards a structural one and finishing with providing examples of economies with roughly the same level of natural resources as modern-day Greece, which either by ideological reasons or by economic reality have undergone a transition towards an autarchic, self-sustainable management of their resources.

Greek History for the last 3000 years

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The earliest civilizations emerged around the Eastern Mediterranean. During the Bronze Age, Crete was a centre of trade and commerce in the Mediterranean, providing a hub where resources could be traded. In many ways, civilizations such as Crete, Egypt and the Sumerian states where resource-based economies, in that food and raw material management was centrally planned by theocratic governments. However, due to human overexploitation of fragile East Mediterranean eco-systems and probably natural disasters as well, a collapse occurred during the end of the Bronze Age, leading to depopulation and a massive loss of complexity.

The Greeks did eventually recover enough to create the civilization of Classical Greece. This recovery did not occur because that Greece as a region recovered economically. It was largely deforested, with eroding soils and unable to feed its own population (which for obvious reasons was smaller than today’s Greek population). Thence, from the 8th century BCE and onward to Alexander the Great, the Greeks colonised the shores of the Mediterranean sea, competing with the Phoenician trade networks and acted as middlemen between the various cultures populating the coastlines. If the Greeks had been land-bound and utilised their own resources, their population would have shrunk, and we would today not have known of Athenian philosophy and culture.

During the 15th century, Greece was overrun by the Ottoman Empire, and was ruthlessly exploited. The Greek cities turned into villages, the peninsula was plagued both by tax collectors and highwaymen (who were considered, and often were to an extent, Greek patriots fighting for the liberty of the Greek farmers, reduced to serfs under Turkish rule).

When Greece emerged as an independent nation in 1830, it found itself with a very poor economy and little in terms of infrastructure. The country almost immediately went bankcrupt, and has suffered several more defaults during the relatively short history since the Battle of Navarino guaranteed Greek independence. Left on its own and without any externa support, modern-day Greece would have resembled neighbouring Albania in wealth. What guaranteed that Greece would develop into the 40th largest or so economy of the world was largely the interests first of Great Britain and France, which saw the geostrategically important position of Greece visavi Turkey and Russia, and then of the United States, which largely subsidised Greece during the Cold War.

While Greece undoubtly has resources, it does not have enough resources to supply its current population within its borders. The article claims that the oceans, in this case the Aegean, contains “abundant resources”. The truth is that the eco-systems of the sea are on their way to collapse faster than the eco-systems on land, and most of them are in a state of terminal decay. Now the article writers can claim that Greece can supply itself in terms of aquaponics, kelp farms and solar energy, but to create such facilities require technology and knowledge which would make Greece dependent upon trade, and thus exporting the food they have to obtain technology. Otherwise, they would have to produce the technology internally, but that would reduce their ability to produce food which is needed to sustain the population (I advise the RBE:rs to play the excellent text-based game Stalin’s Dilemma).

RBE if applied on a national level.

If a RBE would be applied on a national level, it would mean that all food production, industrial production and infrastructure would have to be centrally managed, at least during the transitional time. Since Greece lacks the computational power to move towards a cybernated system, that would mean that the current Greek bureaucracy (and the Greek political leaders) will be tasked with managing the economy and making decisions on guesstimates. This would create bottlenecks of inefficiency and also mean that a lot of people will lose the control and/or ownership of resources – leading either to emigration or to political resistance.

Also, Greece is very much a service-based economy (tourism), which is not accounted for (or as much needed) in a RBE. Therefore, a large part of the Greek economy will cease to exist.

Current examples.

cuba cultural tours

There are currently several economies of the world which to a lesser or larger degree are managing their national economies according to principles where they measure resources and needs, and where the state rather than taxing off the population are making their revenue by exporting resources.

The two best examples of the current day world are North Korea and Cuba. I will focus on Cuba, since North Korea is largely directed towards using their resources to feed a bloated conventional military force, thus neglecting food production (in a country already ill-suited to produce food) and thus causing repeated famines.

It could be said that Cuba, on the other hand, is not aiming to embargo itself, but have partially been victimised by a recently lifted embargo by the United States. On the other hand, many aspects of the Cuban economy are not functioning overtly well, and the country lacks access to spare parts and modern technology. On the other hand, however, Cuba is today self-sustaining when it comes to food production, though ordinary Cubans do not experience an abundance of food.

If a Greek transition towards an autarchic economy with focus on self-sustaining food production is established, and we say that it is “successful” in regards with providing people with food, housing, power, medicine and other necessities, it would most likely resemble Cuba – which has a living standard that is considerably lower than modern Greece (even post-crisis), but on the other hand offers people more social security (on a considerably lower level).

Summary

The problem with RBE:ism

The problem with RBE:ism

It is theoretically possible to create a cybernated society managing its own resources within a limited geograhic territory on the planet. However, claiming that a “RBE” can violate the laws of physics and be applied with the same results in Greece as in the United States is populism at best and delusions at worst. Countries are of different size, have different environmental and geographic characteristics. It can be claimed that the larger a country is, the more educated its population is, and the smaller it is, the more resources would be available for every citizen.

That of course ignores the fundamental truth that we – as humans – cannot separate our countries from the planet. We are all into this together, and we all must transition together.

However, the EOS strongly discourages any at all attempt to convert a state into a cybernated economy tomorrow.

Firstly, we have not tested cybernated economics on any grand scale yet, or be able to attest to the positive and adverse effects of the implementation.

Secondly, we believe that the best road towards transition is an organic one, characterised by the emergence of holonic networks that share their successes and failures according to Open Source-principles and with a broad variety of different methodologies that allow us to access why experiments succeed and fail.

The RBE:ists currently are generally delving into a state where they choose to ignore relevant studies regarding history, the world’s resource base and problems encountered in transitions and with human reactions, instead preferring to draw a blank slate over all our experiences and listen to the encouraging words of gurus and visionaries.

It is my conviction as one of the founders of EOS and the organisation’s current director that our road must be one where the burden of proof lies on our shoulders that our transition models work, that we must meticulously test our alternatives on local settings and with computer simulations, that we must seek and find compromises and that the best road forward is one that is inclusive but also transparent and firmly rooted in empirical science.

Currently, RBE:ism is sorely lacking in all these regards, and that is but one of the reasons why we do not call ourselves a RBE:ist movement.

Aqua

watercluster.org

watercluster.org

By Enrique Lescure             

Introduction

karencarr.com

karencarr.com

The craddle of life on Earth can be said to be found in the blue. For many hundreds of millions of years, the ascending continents of the young planet were as dead and barren as the wastelands of Mars, while the oceans and lakes were teeming with life. Water was the solvent in which the first life-bearing cells emerged during the chaotic epochs after the birth of the Moon.

From a world fraught with volcanic eruptions, a poisonous atmosphere and constant meteor storms, Earth has evolved into a planet able to create complex and beautiful life-forms, forming an ever-changing and ever-evolving biosphere.

Much of the freshwater reservoirs have accumulated during millennia and are ensuring that the plants have enough nourishment to produce and renew soil and to establish the foundations for complex ecosystems to exist within.

Today however, we have destroyed or are on the verge of destroying a third of the world’s freshwater reservoirs. Many regions of the world, such as the Middle East and South America, are already experiencing social upheaval in relation to water depletion. China and India, the two most populous nations on Earth, are also experiencing water depletion on a massive scale.

This presents two kinds of challenges, one which is really long-term and the other which is relatively short-term. The first challenge relates to the fact that in the long-term, depleted freshwater reservoirs create a drier climate, meaning that fewer trees can grow, which leads to soil erosion. 5000 years ago, the Middle East and the Southern Balkans were largely forested regions, which gradually became more and more arid due to massive irrigation projects by city-states and hydraulic empires (aided by climate change).

The same process is repeating today in Brazil, the United States, India, China and Central Europe.

The second challenge is how billions of people in the future should be provided with water for drinking, for hygiene, for cooking and for other activities, while eco-systems should be taken cared of to ensure long-term survivability. This will be one of the most important issues for the Earth Organisation for Sustainability in the future.

Our challenge, as always, is how to be able to weigh the needs of today with what the environment needs in order to stabilise, and how to ensure that communities can participate in this process.

Short Notes (TL;DR)

There is not one singular solution to the challenge of freshwater depletion – rather there must be a transition process which is on-going and is coordinated between five distinct areas. The areas in this regard are all equally important, though emphasis has to be put on different areas depending on the local and regional pecularities of distinct regions of our planet.

~ Short-term solutions, policy-based and social. Rationing, water salvaging, public education regarding water treatment and stimulation of local projects.

~ Medium-term solutions, infrastructure projects, construction of artificial aquifiers, aqueducts and water salvaging plants. Migrations and redistribution of population.

~ Long-term solutions, the creation and re-terraformation of depleted regions by the (re)construction of destroyed eco-systems or new eco-systems. Monitoring of the process.

~ Research, time investments into technologies that can make desalinization more cost-effective, new technologies for recycling and upcycling water quality, reducing the need for water in home appliances and in infrastructure overall.

~ Ensuring the dignity of communities and a fair distribution, namely that the affected populations themselves are having democratic influence in the process of how their transition process should be managed and how much they want to participate in that management.

The future – short-term solutions

Mars base by Douglas Shrock 1

humanmars.net

We have largely been treating water as if it was air – as if we could use as much as possible of the groundwater and then… well, not having to think about the management. Sure, in most developed nations, there is water management, which works more or less well (the Nordic countries are generally very high up on that scale, with drinkable tap water and very large and unspoiled reserves of ground water, with hundreds of thousands of lakes).

In the future, there is a profound risk that we – at least in some regions – would have to treat water in a way similar to how we would endure on a Mars base, namely by careful management and a circular hydraulic economy, where water is moved from household appliances and infrastructure to large aquaponics facilities, where rainwater is gathered, filtered and cleaned and utilised within the habitat, with zero to little usage of aquifiers. In fact, we should move towards minimising our usage of groundwater, instead focusing on water recycling, rainwater usage, water from rivers (though we should be careful with river water as well and have systems that can replenish the water to the rivers from the base). 20131003142909-NEW.Aquaponics-IconUrine may have to be filtered and turned into drinkable water again.

In terms of personal usage, this would probably entail local water regulations where people are given either a water quota for a community tank, or their own individual tanks where they could use water. A lot of the functions that today are individually allocated might have to become communal, like washing clothes, bathrooms, kitchens and so on. When two or more distinct communities are sharing the same source for their water, there needs to be a form of common management or at least transparency and concord between these two communities, thence holons should be formed for these tasks.

Ensuring human survival – Medium-term solutions

Brazil_Variability_11_04_14

In particular cases, there might be needs to transport water from either deep aquifiers (like the Sahara aquifier) or from regions with abundant water reserves to regions where water shortage threatens the survival of hundreds of millions, and can cause the collapse of over-stressed communities. This can be achieved through the construction of closed aqueducts or water pipelines, and must be managed both by a convent of representatives of the affected communities, and a technical authority managing the infrastructure of such projects. In some cases, the Earth itself may have to be transformed to construct fresh-water lakes with adjacent forest eco-systems to form the basis of medium-term water sustainability in the social term.

Or, we might even need to consider large-scale migrations, for example from the United States into Canada, from China into Siberia and from the Mediterranean countries into north-eastern Europe, in order to alleviate the resource stress on China and the US by distributing the population more evenly, as the polar regions become more habitable due to climate change while the temperate regions become less able to provide for their population. This would also reduce the need to transport water from the north to the south, by instead making it possible for people to migrate from the south to the north.

Another project worth considering is to create closed-loop rivers in Sahara and then form communities around them, where people from Africa and parts of the Middle East (and even from flooded Islands like the Maldives) can settle, in oasis city states built alongst a string of pearls in the vast Saharan desert.

Lastly, the final two areas for human resettlement are Antarctica and the Oceans, and both represent technological challenges in terms of how to attain enough water to supply significant populations.

Ensuring the well-being of the Biosphere – Long-term solutions

encuentura.wordpress.com

encuentura.wordpress.com

When we in the EOS are talking about long-term solutions, we mean long-term, in terms of 10.000-50.000 years. This means partially that humans would have to live in different forms of communities. Mega-cities housing tens of millions of people should not be subsidized as an ideal form of life, which they are in today’s exponential growth-oriented model. Neither would a massive, evened-out distribution of the population be a good solution, since it would wipe out forests and eco-systems. The ideal would be concentrated inter-linked communities ranging in the thousands, though there would be no forced population redistribution.

The first thing that needs to be done is to ensure that our biological waste is used to renew soil cultures, or to build new soil cultures where old ones have been depleted. This means that we should not put our waste in the oceans or in lakes, but instead use human manure as a valuable resource to be utilized as a part of recreating and strengthening soil quality. What we term as waste from mines can also be valuable, since rock often contains important resources that increases the nutrition levels.

We need to ensure to reduce soil erosion, both by the construction of terraces and especially by the growing of plants, allowing eco-systems to take hold. We need to move away from mono-cultures and grow food more vertically and within the confinements of urban centres. Of course, it is not possible to remove all mono-cultures, but we need to reduce the amount significantly over a long span of time.

If we cannot reestablish eco-systems that have been lost, we must see whether we can build new eco-systems to compensate for the lost ones, and if these new eco-systems would have a positive impact on the Earth’s biosphere.

And – a lot of this means that we have to create more preserves where human-oriented activities are minimised, and that we let these preserves be untouched for hundreds of generations, that said – until a new equilibrium is established.

Applying and multiplying knowledge – Research

panacea-bocaf.org

panacea-bocaf.org

There is much valuable research done today within the space industry, regarding the effective usage of water in order to create self-containing artificial eco-systems and provide food on space stations or on Mars bases. This technology can also be applied on the Earth in order to salvage resources and increase our resilience. However, the technology needs to become more energy efficient and as ecological as possible without compromising the values behind. The things envisioned to be used one day on Mars should also be utilised in villages in Morocco, Honduras or Kerala, and thus the knowledge must spread horizontally in an exponential manner (there can EOS be of immeasurable help, by providing educational programmes aimed towards local communities).

Desalinization should also be investigated, and an emphasis should be put on making the process cleaner, more effective and cheaper in terms of resources and construction. Especially within small-scale appliances, a focus should be made, so that every home in a community can contribute to the process of turning saline water into freshwater.

A third area is in terms of the development of household machines that use less water, either by design features or by the usage of more advanced technology, for example smaller treatment plants and the integration of treatment plant infrastructure into the modular features of future homes. To this we can also add technologies that can treat infected water and clean it.

Lastly, we should not omit to mention the integrated features of intelligent cities, which can be used to predict the usage of water over long-term and come with proposals over how water management should be carried out.

Including the communities – the social aspect

socialearth.org

socialearth.org

An integral part of what we in EOS are striving to create, is that people locally and regionally should be able to exert influence over their own destinies. This does not only mean to guarantee the protection of individual rights – both through a Constitution and through giving individuals the means to defend their autonomy – but also the protection of the rights of communities. An important aspect of this is that communities should bear the responsibility of the natural resources within their area – including water.

This can be problematic though, because the irresponsible usage of natural resources is a great part of what is wrecking our biosphere right now and causing the Sixth Mass Extinction. Therefore, there is a balance between the democratic autonomy of a community and their right to exert the main part of the influence on how natural resources should be used locally, and the rights of the Biosphere to exist and prosper.

There is no fixed answer on how to resolve this potential conflict, but every local area is unique. What is important however is to identify needs, to establish a dialogue with the local community, to create management plans together with representatives of the local community, both political leaders, traditional leaders, economic actors, representatives of the civil society and the general public, and to include them in the process where holons are established to oversee aspects and manage aspects of the hydraulic infrastructure. The grade and depth of the management and the collaboration will vary between regions and areas.

This also includes the right for the local area or region to withdraw from the cooperation or renegotiate. However, what we need to establish is a consensus and an awareness of how water usage affects the environment and how a changed environment will affect the future of local communities. Thus, EOS needs to act primarily as an educational organisation, while we need to incorporate the knowledge and wisdom of local communities and understand that situations need to be addressed with a sensitivity to the values and norms – in order to be able to canalise the force of the community towards the gathering of new knowledge that can be utilised to improve water management.

Summary

scientificamerican1109-80-I1

Some new age spiritualists are claiming that we will soon enter the age of Aquarius, or that we have already. Aquarius as a symbolic figure is a human being that pours water – enlightenment – over humanity. It can be seen as an appropriate metaphor in one way, because if the knowledge of how much we have damaged our water reservoirs was better known, there would be a greater movement towards solving these problems.

Some aspects of the article you have read may seem rather radical. The problem however is that the more we are stressing and depleting the reservoirs of water and soil needed to sustain a complex land-based supra-civilization as present-day humanity, the more radical the solutions would eventually have to be.

The important thing to remember is that interventions must happen with the permission and active participation of local communities, and that they should interfere as much as necessary but not more into the livelihood of the people. Interventions can be intrusive, so therefore the most essential part of any transition is that the population is made aware of the nature of the situation, that the population is prepared for when interventions would happen and how far they will go, and that the public can affect the process and partake in it.

Water must be managed in an ecological manner, but it must ultimately also be managed by the people.

BRICS vs the West

BRICS_heads_of_state_and_government_hold_hands_ahead_of_the_2014_G-20_summit_in_Brisbane,_Australia_(Agencia_Brasil)

By Enrique Lescure                 

Introduction

Francis Fukuyama coined the term “end of history” in 1992, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The bipolar world, divided between the Capitalistic and Socialistic blocs, was no more, and was replaced with a world characterised by unipolar hegemony by the United States, and the strengthening of supranational institutions aiming to create a world with harmonised systems pertaining the operations of markets – in order to consolidate and expand a system of globalised financial capitalism and the norms and values it was based upon. The latest incarnation of this strivance towards capital convergence are the free trade agreements of the TPP and the TTIP.

However, this narrative of greater global harmony and a harmonisation towards a world order characterised by the universal adoption of modern western values are challenged by the (re)emergence of major non-western powers, that arrange themselves with a web of cooperation agreements that circumvent the Western sphere.

Ultimately, the issue is about whether we should have a world governed by trans-national institutions that are built to support the current paradigm of a world under the increasing control of multi-national corporations, or if we should move (back) towards a world characterised by great powers with exclusive rights to “spheres of interest”. Neither of these two options seem to be very attractive, but understanding the innate conflict between the BRICS and the West would help us to understand what kind of world we are living in today and towards where we are moving.

Some hard, basic facts

D_GeR

Human beings throughout the world are largely organised in de-facto hierarchical structures which ultimately are built on brute force. There have been human societies which from the beginning have been egalitarian and peaceful, but those societies have generally been absorbed by aforementioned hierarchical societies. A hierarchical society is generally built on the foundations of an elite which exerts control – either directly or indirectly – over a state, which in its turn exerts direct control over armed civilian and military forces.

The purpose of most states is to uphold law and order and to maintain stability. A seldom openly expressed part of the “keep stability”-aspect of the state’s goals is to protect the interests of the elite and maintaining the status quo. Meanwhile, the general population would accept this as long as their own security and their ability to pursue their own livelihood is not infringed on.

This “power ideology” of preserving the elite and the state underlies basically all other ideologies – no matter what social and socio-economic system we are talking about. It is not pretty – in fact it is often very disgusting and horrendous. However, experiences have shown that abolishing the state through force often leads either to the breakdown of civilised society or the turn towards an even more violent state (consolidated states are often less repressive than newly established ones, mainly because newly established states have not yet attained legitimacy in the eyes of the population).

With this I would not claim that all states are equally tyrannical. For example, the Nordic states are less repressive in many regards than for example the United States, when it comes to the usage of force against their own population if needs would arise. The United States in its turn, is a far more accountable social arrangement than for example the Russian Federation, where officials and oligarchs can prey on ordinary citizens with impunity – and finally Russia is probably a far more safe society than North Korea, Haiti and the Islamic State.

However, the hierarchical power relationship exists in different degrees in all these societies, though it varies through times.

Ultimately, what has characterised the history of the world’s civilizations has been a struggle between the elites of different societies in establishing sovereign spheres of interest, or in case of small peripheral states like Sweden, Cuba and Qatar, establishing their own national sovereignty and ensuring the safety of their elite and citizens.

The United States found itself as the world’s hegemon during the 90’s, and moved towards strengthening international institutions and easening trade regulations during the Clinton Presidency, with the implicit goal of securing status quo by creating a supranational elite not tied to any particular nation-state, and to secure economic growth and thereby security by keeping the oceans open.

While the states of the world would renounce their economic sovereignty to multi-national corporations and supranational military_by_country_spending-by-countryinstitutions, the political borders and recognised states of the world would be protected by the international system headed by American leadership. There are two reasons for this, firstly to reduce the threats towards trade and stability, and secondly to attain tools to prevent aspiring regional great powers from carving out interest spheres.

This order rests on three legs, namely international treaties (a legalistic framework), continued economic growth (an insurance against political instability) and American military power (since the Gulf War a viable threat to aspiring regional powers).

What the BRICS are and how to understand them

index

The BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The BRICS can be understood as an economic acronym denoting five emerging large economies in the non-western world. It can also be understood as a collaboration between five regional great powers regarding economic issues. What BRICS ultimately is, however, can be understood in terms of the Eurasian landmass, where three of the four BRICS powers are not only located, but also are directly bordering one another. Two of the five BRICS powers contain almost ten times the population of the other three powers together.

However, if we want to understand the BRICS, we need to understand it as a part of the reapproachment between China and Russia, two regional powers that complete one another in many regards (Russia has ICBM’s and vast natural resources, China has capital and an oversupply of labour) and who also both desire to increase their influence in two regions – at the expense of the American-led world order.

This does not say that there are regions where both powers compete and where they potentially could clash in the future, but neither power is interested in a confrontation, mostly because both powers feel that their primary geopolitical problem is related to security and a sense of curtailment by the West – Russia in eastern Europe and China in the sea region outside of their Pacific Coast.

While India is economically important, the main reason for the inclusion of India in the cooperation is that India and China have been adversaries since China’s annexation of Tibet in 1950 and the Sino-Indian border conflicts of the 1960’s. While India has always had good relations with the Soviet Union and its successor state the Russian Federation, China has been an ally of India’s adversary Pakistan and has been perceived as a great threat to the north.

India – sheltered as it is by the Himalayas, the Hindukush and the Arakans – is more concerned with keeping economic growth and preventing ethnic and religious separatism than with expanding their influence beyond their borders (though they have engaged themselves in neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, the United States has generally not opposed the Indian sphere of interest very much).

Lastly, the inclusion of South Africa and Brazil is mutually beneficial both for the great Asian powers and for the non-Asian powers involved, since it will give the Asian powers access to resources from Latin America and Africa, and the ability to project their power there, while South Africa and especially Brazil are recognised as great powers and can gain increased investments from Asia, so to diversify the capital invested within their economies.

In terms of agenda, however, India, Brazil and South Africa are not aiming primarily to expand their spheres of interest, but rather to maintain themselves and secure their economic growth, whereas Russia and China are the two main powers with an agency inside the context of the BRICS.

What is the ideology of the BRICS?

Ultimately, the ideology of the BRICS is one which asserts the perceived right for non-western elites to replicate western neo-imperialism within their own spheres, to exert control of their context of economic growth, while still adhering to the values and norms of the growth-oriented model of globalization. Therefore, the BRICS cannot be seen as a progressive force in relation to the power structures of the world, since the aim is not to transform the power structures but to attain them and shape them after the needs of Asian and Third World elites.

At the same time, it is dubious whether the view that the United States is facing Russia alone in Europe and China alone in Asia is correct. While China is undoubtly taking advantage of the Saudi-created fiscal crisis in Russia, China would not strive towards the collapse of the Putinist regime in Russia – because that would weaken the Chinese position in a short time-frame.

What has brought China and Russia together has been the increased western security entanglements in the border regions perceived as vital by both powers. Nixon managed to coax China into an informal alliance with the US against the Soviet Union, through giving China what they desired (recognition and weapons), but nowadays, giving either China or Russia what they desire would lead to the jeopardization of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of key western allies (The Republic of China, the Baltic States, etc).

The future is dark and full of errors

Iraq-soldier-001

This decade began with the Arab Spring, which saw many dictatorships in the Middle East and Northern Africa collapse, with four states having turned into failed states. While economic growth and urbanization have brought hundreds of millions out of abject poverty, unsatisfied demands for political influence amongst the population as well as stress factors caused by the depletion of natural resources have driven and will drive societies towards the verge of political collapse.

This will increase the number of areas in the world where crises can emerge. Moreover, China and India are two societies which consist of entire civilizations, which have constantly increasing needs for securing their energy and food supplies – while both societies have political institutions badly adapted towards handling sudden stress factors. This could prompt more and more interventions in the future, and therefore increasing flashpoints between the West and the non-western world.

This is very bad, since what we need for the world in the future is not a race between great powers to deplete what natural resources are left, but a concerted effort by human beings, states, organisations and businesses to move towards a sustainable future for the human race. This can only be done through cooperation, sacrifices and a realisation that either we all will become winners together, or we will lose separately.

The EOS position

projourno.org

projourno.org

We denounce the idea of taking sides in a struggle which is happening within a narrative that is thoroughly based on the sham-work that is today’s growth-oriented paradigm. Yes, it is true that the Anglo-American and European powers have engaged in ruthless exploitation of Asia, Africa and Latin America for 500 years. And yes, it is true that within the BRICS powers, corruption and human rights violations are running rampant.

Ultimately, little of that will matter when we are down to our last fresh-water reservoirs, when the soils of the Earth are depleted of their nourishment, when climate change forces migrations of hundreds of millions, and when eco-system after eco-system collapses.

What is important is to increase our presence in social media and to convey a positive message of a realistic, attainable and better future for humanity, and to engage people to take part in the transition from our current paradigm into a new one that is based on the physical reality of our planet. This means that we must work to strengthen the legitimacy of international institutions, protect human rights and try to stay clear from cheering on one or the other side.

Our primary loyalty must under all circumstances be towards Terra, our common home.

stock-footage-people-dancing-together-around-shining-earth-earth-map-courtesy-of-nasa

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On Survivalism

govolontourism.com

govolontourism.com

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

During this century, there will be three major challenges that will undoubtly mean that whatever happens, we will live in a different civilization in a hundred years. These challenges can be summed up as ecology, society and technology, and each of them will serve to shift but also tear our species into differing directions – as well as forcing each and everyone of us to adapt to transformative circumstances.

If you are content with the current society and with its shape, that is bad news. Everything you have prepared for the future of yourself and maybe your family is put into jeopardy, and there is no way to know where we will be in ten years.

On the other hand, if you want to challenge yourself and improve on your skills, it does not need to be bad news, and may in fact be the catalyst that makes you take control over your right to choose your own destiny.

This post will try to connect what many people are finding hard to grasp, namely that what we cause in terms of degradation eventually will have not only indirect but direct and immediate effects on their ability to uphold their daily lives. It will describe what most political scientists today would see as an impossibility in well-developed western societies, but which I argue not only is possible, but also likely – namely a significant loss of complexity.

Or in other words, a social collapse.

The majority of the western world consists of an urban population used to having food, electricity, clean water, warmth and social institutions at least accessible, and for most people provided for what they expect to be their life. Sure, people are expected to commit their work in order to afford a livelihood, but most people are living within safety nets, where the main worries are either how they should maintain their income or if they can manage to become promoted to higher incomes. Yet, people are fundamentally dependent in a western society, on energy, global food transport networks, flowing water and functioning authorities.

If a social collapse occurs, the state will not be able to provide for infrastructure or guarantee safety of transport, and that would leave it to communities to manage themselves and their own affairs. This could create a significant and particular vulnerability in western societies, since westerners generally are not accustomed to be self-sufficient.

Therefore, it is of pivotal importance, especially if the amount of stressors multiply during the course of this century, that subsequent generations of westerners learn how to grow food, produce electricity, build and repair machines and also how to defend themselves.

Even if society does not suffer a loss of complexity, such knowledge and experiences can serve to increase self-confidence and skills which may be utilized both to improve personal well-being as well as preparing the soil towards the transition to resilient and sustainable communities.

Vulnerability

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

You are all familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?

Good. What I will argue is that this hierarchy can also be applied onto human societies. Most human societies during history have been constructed as pyramids, where the majority of people were born to give up their surplus in order for security, and in order for elites to experience the three uppermost levels of the pyramid. The rest of the population were left on the bottom two or three levels.

The same can be applied for human beings today, and worse. In most of the world, the state is a corrupt and distant entity which exist to protect the well-being of small elites, while most people are scraping on the barrels from the bottom of society. You all know of the favelas of Brazil, the slums of Monrovia, the destitution on the Indian countryside and the carnage of Syria. For most human beings on Earth, life is brutal.

Western societies during the 20th century reaped the fruits sown by 19th century industrialism and imperialism, and came to invent ways for the state to redistribute wealth from production and economic growth into general safety nets for all citizens, while the economic activities enriched a large middle class. While you who read this blog know that we have built our prosperity on unsustainable foundations and on a socio-economoc system which will destroy itself and the current biosphere, that is not the focus of this post.

Thing is, if security and physiological needs are taken as given, human beings will not learn how to survive, or how to cope when stressors multiply on those fronts. The risk emerges for anarchy to take hold, especially in an increasingly disparate, diverse and unequal context.

During the agricultural era, it was usual that agricultural societies experienced sustained periods of growth, followed by kpw0-i-6f49periods of decline and loss of complexity. Some civilizations, such as the Rapanui and the Mayans, never really recovered from their decline phases, while others – for example on the Eurasian landmass – experienced multiple growth and decline phases. Usually on this blog, we are searching for ecological factors on how to explain decline.

Ibn Khaldun (a North African scholar and political scientist who lived during the 14th century), searched for sociological explanations behind the rise and decline of kingdoms. Since climate measurements and statistics (apart from censuses) were largely unknown, Khaldun looked at the quality of the ruling families of the feudal and despotic monarchies of the Islamic world, and he discovered a pattern.

Usually [according to Khaldun], dynasties emerged from the harsh desert regions of the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa and conquered civilized cities, setting up their patriarch as Sultan. As the generations pass by, the barbarian rulers are slowly integrated into the “decadence” of the cities, and become soft, until they are overthrown by another barbarian army/tribal confederation from the deserts.

The lesson from this is that exposure to hardships can ultimately make people superior at survival and adaption, while luxuries and opulence can turn people ill-equipped to deal with challenges. Even if people are alert and skilled, civilized urban life can reduce the ambitions of the individual and of the family into adaption in relations to the expectations of the dominant culture – which in our contemporary case eschews manual labour and views it as inferior to being an office clerk, an architect or a designer (conversely, I remember when I was a young lad and we had relatives who were diplomats visiting us – the diplomat in question could not figure how to equip or start a water hose).

Given that, political scientists – much alike economists – generally assume that advanced industrial or post-industrial societies cannot possibly collapse. They can get worse in terms of their economic performance, or their political liberties. But the thought of the Kingdom of Sweden (for example) turning into a dictatorship, or outright collapsing of the state institutions, is unthinkable. Only swivel-eyed extremists would assume that would be a possibility. The idea seems to be that if our society has reached a particular stage of development, it would most likely continue to improve, democratically and economically, because it has improved since the 1940’s, and if it is suffering a loss of complexity, that loss would be limited.

Of course, there are also political reasons why for example political scientists cannot make a statement indicating that our society can collapse – because that would empower those extremists who seek to overthrow the established order and replace it with their own ideology, and because it will lower the confidence of people in the system. Every system throughout history has been reliant on the myth of its own stability and the notion of an impossibility that it could collapse. It should however be noted that there are different and more sober – or maybe somewhat more paranoid – accessments within the security establishment and amongst military analysts.

Given that, the desire to have largely dependent and docile citizens who live in urban centres to maximise economic activities in the post-industrial service economy can contribute to making us more vulnerable, as well as our reliance on the Ricardian drive to increase the efficiency and growth rate of the economy by replacing local and diversified production with increased large-scale specialisation and dependency on imports. This would for example mean that if trade is disturbed in Europe, many smaller countries would not be able to feed themselves.

Therefore, wise survivalism may serve to increase the resilience and therefore the stability of society, and make people more adjusted and prepared for a transition towards a sustainable society.

The wrong way

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Mostly in the South of the United States, there is a large, predominantly white a semi-rural subculture of “preppers” and survivalists, either alone or organised in militias. This subculture is largely conservative and some off-shoots are even far right or outright national socialist in their outlook. The culture is characterised by:

1) A high degree of individualism; bunkers, escape tunnels and weapon stashes hidden under suburban and rural villas.

2) An emphasis on weapons, with a preference for terrain vehicles and semi-automatic rifles.

3) An emphasis on masculinity and target practice at conventions.

It is needless to say that this kind of culture views other groups with hostile suspicion at best, and as outright malicious at worst. This particular culture is also hostile to the government, to the United Nations and is very much existing in an information reality where environmentalism – even in its least radical form – is really a socialist ploy in order to expand government control.

Even if it wasn’t for it, an emphasis on weapons and martialism will attract the kind of followers that not only are willing to use weapons, but are hoping to use them, as well as increasing the likelihood for conflict. Thus, this form of Militarist Survivalism which is existing in the US is not something which should be held up as a good example or replicated. In fact, it will probably mostly serve to make collapse conditions worse in the long run.

The right way

theurbanfarmer.ca

theurbanfarmer.ca

There cannot be said to exist one right way to organise local communities for resilience, but there exist ways in which to improve situations. Local conditions can vary very much between different places, so different approaches must be taken by local groups in order to increase resilience.

Firstly, the community needs to communicate within itself and with its neighbours, and aim to establish friendly relationships, or if not possible, respectful and equal relationships with its neighbours. It must communicate with local political and bureaucratic authorities and try to establish as much common ground as possible with them. One important emphasis is conflict management and how to reduce the risk that conflicts between social and ethnic groups emerge. I believe that the EOS can play a significant role in such processes locally.

Thus, survivalism is not primarily a matter for the individual, but a matter for the individual within the context of a community. People must learn how to produce their own food and energy, and must form sharing networks and common information pools.

There needs to be an emphasis on knowledge and on what risks and opportunities can emerge when conditions are rapidly changing in the surrounding society, for example if trade is breaking down due to wars or ecological disasters. Routines can then be established and become the basis of exercises that intend to prepare the local community for disturbances.

As much as possible, survival should also be about inclusion, not exclusion. There must be broad values, a focus on solutions, and a high degree of transparency and trust. This also includes an immunity to exaggerations and rumours and a willingness and ability to try to verify information before decisions have been made. There must also be an emphasis on combatting grand conspiracy thinking, but not through control or stigmatisation of opinion. Rather, we must equip both the current and future generations with the means to identify and call out bad generalisations and flawed chains of argumentation.

Summary

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We in the developed world are now standing before a storm, and we are eating ice-cream. The EOS has a deep paedagogic challenge before itself, and we must not only improve our social media presence, but also emphasise how individual human beings and families can be affected by the stress factors caused by the collapse of our socio-economic system and of our environment. However, we must always be sober and eschew alarmism and defaitism – instead providing the people with the tools and with the confidence for them to be able to take control over their situation and establish local and regional resilience and sustainability.

Positive Survivalism is a powerful tool in this regard, but we must at the same time be cautious so we do not preach negative survivalism or contribute to the emergence of groups spreading ripples of destructive memes or messages. We must look to convey ourselves in a manner that can unify communities, individuals and organisations in trust towards the achievement of common goals.

This ability would be essential during the years ahead, when the common trust and strength of our societies can become strained beyond their limits by sudden calamities. The EOS must sow the seeds of cooperation and hospitality and act as a bridge between disparate groups, to unify them in the struggle to save human civilization.

Intelligent cities as a step towards a technate

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by Enrique Lescure

Introduction

One integral part of the design we in the Earth Organisation for Sustainability envision is that humanity needs to utilize information technology in order to establish a better overview of the resource flows that we use on the planet, as well as the planet’s own capacity. More of this can be read in the article “The Three Criteria” on this blog. Ideally, it will mean the formation of a self-aware infrastructure that allows the public to have a full picture over our local, regional and global usage of resources. Such a system that monitors resource flows and includes the public to participate in the monitoring processes and the decision-making can be designed in various differing forms – but if the form is adhering to the definition laid forth previously in this sentence, the system can be called a technate.

This article will argue that the technological development in the spheres of information technology, and how it integrates with infrastructure and resource monitoring in terms of so-called intelligent cities – is an engine that drives society towards adopting the technate model as a standard for the future.

This is fundamentally a positive development, since it creates a model for data gathering that allows decisions to be made with better access to data and less flawed information, as well as creating a unified data pool which can alleviate some of the problems with multiple reality consensuses at the same time.

However, the transition towards a technate model also poses a few risks. For example, it might be used to control the citizens rather than to monitor the resource flows. Therefore, there needs to be a holonic model with checks and balances instituted both by design and through legalistic and institutional/cultural means.

What is a technate

gizmodo.com

gizmodo.com

What is a technate?

The shortest possible definition is a technical operational geographic area in terms of resources, infrastructure and technology. It is not a government, nor a socio-economic system (a technate can exist and support any kind of economic system adapted to modern-era and cybernetic-era technology), but basically infrastructure managing itself consciously. It can range anywhere from total centralization within the context of a singleton or The Venus Project, into anarchic de-centralization or holonic self-governance. So there is no single clear definition, and even if a technate is established and consolidated, that technate would undoubtly not be the same after a century has passed.

Within the EOS, we hold that forms should be adapted after functions, not the other way around, and the two limiting factors should be our values and the Earth. With this in regard, we do not believe that there will be a single date in history when the technate will be “declared”, just like the Industrial Revolution was not declared by a political statement or celebration.

Rather, what increasingly appears as the most realistic way for a technate to emerge is through an organic evolutionary approach, where information technology is integrated into infrastructure, appliances, vehicles, industrial resource flows, products and recycling centres, which means that what was previously an “unintelligent” economy driven by insufficient information gradually will become more and more self-aware, and the bottlenecks will be reduced to conscious attempts by industries to separate themselves from the grid or to conscious political decisions to protect traditional forms of industrial management with legislations and use of force. Another threat is of course viruses, which can serve to offset the transition.

What is an Intelligent City?

beinformed.com

beinformed.com

It is really difficult to really spot a difference between a technate and an intelligent city. In many ways an intelligent city as defined by most actors striving to establish such cities is what the EOS defines as a proto-technate, namely an incomplete technate or a hybrid between today’s industrial system and a technate.

Intelligent cities are cities which utilize the emergent “Internet of Things” to monitor the status of various functions in society, such as utilities, waste management, energy and collective transit. This allows for more information to be shared and decisions to be made faster and with better information at the disposal of the decision-makers. Here is a comparison between intelligent cities in China and the European Union.

What is needed in order to transition from an Intelligent city to a Technate?

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The only thing that is needed is that the current trends continue to their logical conclusion, in terms of depth and scope. In terms of depth, it would mean that we would strive to be able to monitor all resource flows and include better and better monitoring systems to improve performance. This information will not be used only to manage the current system as efficiently as possible, but also to transcend towards a more circular system by finding and eliminating bottlenecks and identifying areas where different actors can converge to create symbiotic interrelationships between for example food-, energy- and waste management, increase the level of participation in local communities and localise production to increase the resilience and autonomy of the citizens, as well as increasing the self-confidence of communities in managing their own destiny.

In terms of scope, we can not stay happy with only looking at the resource management of a city. No matter if a city is a local town or a super-metropolis, most interconnected cities in the the developed world are today consuming resources from the entire planet. We need to extend the monitoring of the flows to the original source of the resources, both to allow citizens to make informed and ethical consumer choices, and in order to extend sustainability beyond the city’s borders. Thus, we would get an emergent living data bank that would serve to increase our collective intelligence, empathy and wisdom and can help decision-makers from politicians to managers to citizens to make better and more informed decisions, and encourage them to take initiatives to improve the flow where they can see it is lacking.

Risks and challenges

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One of the main issues regarding this transition from industrial cities to intelligent cities to emergent proto-technates is the risk that it could serve to centralize power into the hands of unaccountable elites and that information rather than being open and transparent regarding the flows and regarding administrative accountability will be inaccessible for ordinary citizens through technological centralization into the hands of organised financial capital, and that the powers that be will use legal frameworks to shield themselves from public inquiries while utilizing the technology to install surveillance policies over the general population in the names of terrorism and intellectual property rights.

Another problem which shall not be omitted is when corporations assume the ownership of utilities and local natural resources, leading to the people being excluded from vital parts of their own lives. This would serve to threaten the social autonomy of communities and put the control into the hands of interested parties whose lives are not affected by worsening local living conditions.

What the EOS can do in this regard is to connect groups and initialize projects aimed towards utilizing these new emerging ways of using information technology into supporting local communities. We need to act as a transmitter of knowledge and technology to local communities in order to strengthen their confidence and their autonomy, and to ensure that technology is utilized in accordance with responsible, sustainable and transparent methodologies and goals. The people needs to be included in the transformation towards an intelligent civilization, otherwise there is a great risk that the new technologies would be utilized to cement the narrative of power we increasingly have seen emerge since the 1970’s.

Conclusion

thevenusproject.com

thevenusproject.com

Today we are moving towards an integrated society, where Information Technology soon will connect the infrastructure in an information flow. The Earth Organisation for Sustainability must actively and consciously emerge in this process in order to shift the emphasis towards inclusive technology that is utilized to increase the knowledge, participation and autonomy of local communities, in a manner which empowers individual citizens and give them power over their own lives.

The development towards intelligent cities is ultimately a positive force, but it is a force which must be introduced in a manner where all of society participates and shapes the future, rather than small elite groups. Therefore, our main goal at the moment must be to engage communities in projects that utilize technology, and form networks with said communities where they can interact and transform themselves to better adapt to the conditions of the future.

Our goal must be to play a substantial positive part in this transformation.

If you are interested, do not forget to like our facebook page and join our facebook group.

On the meaning of Life

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By Enrique Lescure                

Introduction

Our current civilization does not any more even try to answer what the meaning of life is, though there are three implicit answers. The first answer is “success”, the second answer is “happiness”, and the third answer (which dominates within academia and culture) is that life is “meaningless”. The two first answers are entirely focused on the individual’s role in life, and the third answer is more related to our lack of a common civilizational project.

Do we even continue to try to answer the question of the Meaning of Life? Or is there nothing less left but to focus on one’s own life to avoid staring into the Void of meaningless?

I would argue that the emphasis on individuality and nihlism that underpins much of (post-)modern western culture is slowly degrading our concept of past, present and future, and relieves us of a core that can fill our identities with meaning. On the other hand, spiritual and attempts at holistic explanations of existence have most often resulted in oppression and exclusion of individuals from the common ground of existence.

I believe that we need to transform ourselves into a new culture (like many others within academia and within the culture sector). But this process I believe needs to be profoundly based on construction of a new base for human identity – what it means to be a human being on this our Earth, rather than deconstruction.

I would argue that instead of trying to understand the term “meaning of life” in a rational manner, we should try to reach it through experiencing life, and that rather than Life standing on the fundament of a Meaning with a big M, any meanings in the Cosmos – no matter what they are and how you choose to pursue them – is but a part of the greater kaleidoscope of Life with a big L.

The basis of existence

epicroad.com

epicroad.com

From the dawn of our ancestors when they first stood up and looked towards the stars, humans have been more than just economic creatures. Early tribal societies (of which many still are existing on the planet) imagined the world as imbued with spiritual meaning, and consisting of more than just the world that our five senses could monitor. Shamans could access the other-dimensional realm through chanting and hallucinogenic drugs like Ayahuasca (banisteriopsis caapi). This allowed them to gaze into their own minds in an altered state, but also opened up the opportunity for human imagination and therefore the opportunity for culture to develop.

Today, science have revealed real and hypothetical dimensions which we could not have imagined half a million years ago, like the sub-atomic Quantum world which forms our existence but yet does not adhere to the Einsteinian theories of General Relativity, and like the hypothetical string dimensions. We have also realised just how small we are in comparison to the Universe.

Early human beings had no sophisticated tools or scientific teachings to guide them. All they had to judge their reality was their minds and what they could see around them. Since most human beings work on the basis of a Theory of Mind, where they ascribe to other individuals the same emotions and thoughts as themselves. Some researchers mean that Theory of Mind explains the origin of the first religions. When the tiger ate children for example, it was not interpreted as the tiger being hungry, but that the tribe had wronged the tiger in some way, by for example either over-hunting in the area, or by not making the correct rituals.

The same for natural phenomena like lightning, volcano eruptions, fire and earthquakes. These events were seen as a sign of displeasure, and soon the early humans came to imagine that there existed spiritual beings which interacted with them and held tremendous powers. These beings became angry or pleased with how humans acted. In many ways, the morality and Super-ego (Freudian term) of the collective consciousness of the tribe came to be associated with these spirits – which eventually turned into more or less antropomorphised deities.

The meaning of life in primordial societies (which we can study because there still are existing stone-age cultures on Earth), was largely centered around the idea that there was a spiritual world, inhabited by animal spirits, nature spirits and ancestors, and that the delineations between these groups were fluid. These realms could be accessed by shamans and those initiated in the mysteries, and could also make contact with people through dreams. Therefore, it followed that the meaning for the individual was to live in balance with his or her local environment, and to act for the survival of the group.

Spiritual Pessimism; The Traditionalist outlook

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Civilization has existed on Earth for 12,000 years, but only for the last third of this period do we have any written records, which makes it difficult to access what cultural and mental processes that happened during the 8.000 year transition between hunter-gatherer societies and city-states with strong central governments, cadres of bureaucrats and developed state religions, which we arguably can find both in the early Egyptian, Sumerian and Harappa civilizations. The author Robert Graves has hypothesized that during this period, matriarchal and patriarchal cultures were in a state of conflict, and that the mythologies we learn about in Latin classes are derived from this conflict, though his views have been criticised due to conflicting archaeological records.

By the time that written language had been established in the Middle East, in India and in China, there was already a shared mythos of loss and sadness (JRR Tolkien partially based his fantasy mythos around early mythologies), and all cultures – no matter whether Greek, Aramean, Mesopotamian, Iranian, Indian and Sinic – were centered around the idea that reality was a process of near-constant degeneration. Originally, humanity arose in a Golden Age, when we lived in harmony with nature and with the Gods, did not have to work, and all humans were morally upright.

Either through an act of Original Sin (Christian and Islamic interpretation) or through the unstoppable tide of time (Hinduism, Eastern Teachings), we started to degenerate and separate ourselves from the divine and spiritual reality. All traditional Eurasian cultures were built on the dichotomy of Spirituality vs Matter, where the first was seen as pure and the second seen as filthy. There was also a latent conflict between Civilization – which was seen as ordered, masculine and patriarchal – and Nature, defined as chaotic, feminine and matriarchal (an inversion of the hunter-gatherer’s reverance of Mother Nature and feminine spirits).

feudalThe agricultural civilizations of pre-industrial Eurasia were also strictly hierarchical, and not only in an economic sense. Human beings were being seen as being of different spiritual quality due to their heritage. Kings and Nobles were seen as spiritually superior beings to warriors, which were seen as spiritually superior to commoners. The lowest social status was either given to peasants (as in Europe) or merchants (as in many eastern cultures).

It can be seen as moving against the Christian and Islamic doctrines of equality before God/Allah, but many pre-monotheistic social beliefs survived the ascent of Monotheism. The touch and saliva of the French King was thought to cure Leprosy and Blindness for example, and this ritual during the coronation of Reims was held as late as the 18th century, when the world stood ready for the Industrial Revolution.

It can be said that the world-view of traditionalist societies of Eurasia was based on a dualism between spirit and matter, masculine and feminine, and that the meaning of life for the individual was to fulfill their assigned role in the community, and for the community as a whole to adhere to the moral and spiritual values of the Tradition. This was however seen as partially futile, since the world was headed towards more and more spiritual degeneration anyway. At the end however, the world would be burnt by a Destroyer (Jesus/Isa in Christian/Islamic eschatology, Kalki in Hindu myths), and reborn as a pure spiritual place where the minority of survivors would live in harmony with the Divine Principles.

Thus, the world is seen as imperfect, tainted and impure, and humanity is seen to be on a degrading journey towards lower and lower levels of spirituality.

Optimism; The Modern Vision (1648 – 1945)

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It could be said that modernism was born after the destruction of medieval Europe, and died after the Second World War, which were two events that have served to define what we today know as “the Western Civilization“. During the latter half of the 17th century, Religion had exhausted itself in Europe – both as the foundation for political ideologies and as the value system. This was partially due to the growth of the wealth of the urban burghers and traders at the expense of landed and ecclestial nobility – but would most likely not have happened if it wasn’t for the Wars of Religion which had been fought since Martin Luther’s Reformation.

These Wars transformed Europe, both ideologically and socially. They were extremely destructive, and saw to it that the population of Central Europe imploded. Out of the ruins emerged a new order with centralising nation-states, absolute monarchies and a reversal of the roles of Church and State. During this era, the mechanical and scientific revolutions began, as well as the beginning of Enlightenment Thought.

The world was increasingly seen as an automated clockwork, and not a process directed by an intelligent Creator. Animals and plants were seen as operating and self-replicating machines, and were deprived of any spiritual or moralistic meanings – and more and more areas became the subject of scientific inquiry. The world was fragmented into academic disciplines, which were increasingly separated from one another. As this process continued through the generations, it gradually transformed Western Civilization from the medieval Christian values towards the modern outlook, the trinity of Science, Liberal Democracy and Market Liberalism. 904f23b4cdf1ddd143fc3b42a96f82d9

Characteristic for the outlook of these values was a sense of Optimism, that we were going to use reason and our mental faculties to solve all social problems, and that this would inevitably turn into a united Earth ruled by progressive values, as outlined by amongst others H.G Wells and Karl Marx.

This world is basically the world envisioned by Buckminster Fuller and by TV Series like Jetsons and Star Trek, the world of flying cars, mega-skyscrapers and pristine modernist landscapes, where people are living homogenously in sleek habitats which are designed for a maximum of comfort. It was partially realised through public housing in the Western World and throughout the old Eastern Bloc.

The meaning of life according to Modernism was to transform the world into a Utopia, and to eliminate all social ills and achieve the highest possible standard of life for all human beings. Marxism-Leninism and Fascism were both modernist ideologies which revolted against the Liberalism which had been dominant during the 19th century.

Nihilism; The Post-Modern Nightmare

Guernica, by Pablo Picasso

Guernica, by Pablo Picasso

Already Friedrich Nietzsche warned that the focus on rationality and scientific enlightenment could lead to a loss of meaning of the human existence. Collectively, this process came into fruition during and following the World Wars, when human beings were slaughtered on an industrial level (in the US, Vietnam played a bit of the same role at a latter phase). Post-modernism rejected the idea of continuous progress, and even the very definition of progress. But while deconstructing the progress paradigm, Post-modernism offered no constructive alternative for human existence, or the human relationship with society and with existence.

While the existentialists have offered Liberty of Choice (in a “meaningless world”) as a credo, the main message of our rihannaCivilization is (of course) not that humans should rebel against the institutions, but that they should (implicitly) strive towards certain ideals, not for society as a whole to live by, but for themselves. These implicit ideals are bombarded into our minds through city billboards, neon signs, TV, Radio and the Internet, and are centered around the Cult of the Celebrity.

This “individualistic consumerism” is based around the life opportunities of human beings in societies with large middle classes, and is targeted towards the creation of life-styles which people adopt as their identity. This means that a person’s identity inside Western Civilization is defined not out of the person’s relationship with themselves, with their community or with reality, but rather from their relationship to commodities and brands.

In terms of a wider meaning, it is implicitly stated that the society we are living in today has largely reached its final form, and that the struggles which are left are emancipatory – to include oppressed minorities inside this middle class (which becomes evermore and more fictious as the debt bubbles are growing and growth is stagnating). In terms of revolutions in other countries, the implicit purpose of these revolutions according to the ideals professed by our civilization is that these countries and cultures should move towards Individualized Consumerism and become a part of what will one day become a one-world civilization.

Our message; Life is meaningful

Nathan Spotts

Nathan Spotts

Imagine for a moment a Universe with no life at all. Only a frozen void, stars strown around too far from one another, and lonely rocks whirling around slowly throughout space, existing for no one to ever see or experience. No emotions of love, passion, only an eternal lonely coldness.

Then, on one barren world, in a single driplet of water, something happens…

Life is meaningful, because it offers us the opportunity to create ourselves. It offers us the opportunity to grow, to learn, to spread our wings and fly. Without life, there would be no experiences, no emotions, no culture, no myths, no songs. Nothing. There would be no diversity of living beings. There would be no joy in sunrises, in strawberries, and in the stars strown above the sky – many of which also have beautiful worlds where friends we have not yet met are living.

The Universe is not barren. It is very likely that it is teeming with Life, an eternal symphony of a Billion worlds. Or, we might be alone in the Cosmos, but that only makes Life the more valuable if that was the case. Thenceforth, we must protect worlds with Life, and carry them like our children.galaxy_collision

Life is the most wonderful, most valuable thing in all of Cosmos, and it is its own meaning. The meaning is to branch out, to grow, to spread Life where there is none, and to turn barren worlds into beautiful Terras and Gardenworlds. It is valuable because it offers us the opportunity to exist, to feel, to think and to create. What turns life “ugly” and “meaningless” is not Life in itself, but the way in which we have created abstract cultural and social values to limit ourselves, while in truth we should create our values around Life.

We have – as an intelligent Civilization and as intelligent, empathic beings – one responsibility. And that responsibility is to create around us the best possible conditions for Life to flourish. It is unworthy of Humanity to destroy the planet, in the service of maximising economic growth. To deplete our fresh water reservoirs, destroy the eco-systems, erode our soils, murder the Oceans, spread mono-cultures and disturb the climate on Earth.

We are incredibly powerful beings today, and we have the capacity to create a sustainable civilization on Earth. But first we need to have a value system that puts Life in itself as the foundation of our existence. We can learn about and explore Cosmos, and in the future we might even meet other races from beyond the Stars. At the end, we might find ourselves as a part of a Milky Way Galaxy filled with advanced civilizations that all represent a wonderful diversity that goes further than what human imagination could fathom.

The meaning of being human should be to guard Life, to create the conditions to make Life flourish, and to enjoy Life, because Life is beautiful.

And there does not need to be an abstract meaning beyond that.

Push and Pull

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Photo by Sporkist

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

A surprising move by the French government has seen the ban of food waste in supermarkets. While this undoubtly are positive news, which are putting the focus on the practices of food management within the retail industries, there are also problematic aspects with this approach. I will take the opportunity to use this post to discuss some of the problems with punitive policies, and also to offer the contures of a more holistic approach.

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Moralism & Practical repercussions

The concept of morality has been an integral part of human social interactions for all of recorded history, and probably during the entire period of human sapience. Morality affects both laws, but also the institutions forming around our legal systems. It affects unwritten rules and etiquette, and provides a common cultural framework within which a culture is developing its values.

You may already have understood that there is a difference between morality and moralism as concepts. A moralist view of the world is defining the world from an antropocentric perspective in which actions generally are defined as good or evil, and where good actions should be rewarded and evil actions punished (moralists tend to weigh on punishments). Thus, the important thing is not the consequences for the greater good, but the intention of policies. For example, strict anti-drug policies may not work, but they send a signal that society does not accept “aberrant behaviour”.

Often, we imagine that moralism is the realm of political and cultural conservatives, who hold to social views where for example inner city neighbourhoods fraught with crime, poverty and violence are seen as entirely a result of bad upbringing, absent fathers and a lack of faith in scripture. I would not make any statements on where moralism is most usual, but it tends to varies between periods in time. For example, during the 1980’s and 1990’s, we have had “moral panics” regarding metal music, veganism and role-playing games (from evangelical fundamentalists), while during the first decade of the 2000’s and increasingly during the 2010’s, we’ve seen more moral panics regarding gender issues, racial issues and the issue of immigration.

When an issue has become a moralist issue, it is difficult to hold an adverse opinion on a matter, since the one opposing the “good” position is suspected of being tainted by evil.

That’s not saying that moralists cannot have good points, for in most cases, they strive towards a better society and they are putting the focus on for example social ills. But the discussion that is created around the subject tend to become increasingly shrill and symbols-focused, which reduces the ability to access the practical situation on the ground and build the foundation for an inclusionary discussion. This kind of dialogue – which really is a monologue from one party – can turn into a moral panic, especially if there is one “offending group” which is seen as representatives of evil. This can lead to a witch hunt, in which people’s personal lives and integrity are harmed. If the moral panic occurs from more than one direction, the results can be catastrophic.

However, to return to the retail policies of Valls’ cabinet, it seems to me at least as symbolic measures that are hitting on a seemingly random point in the linear resource chain. Firstly, a lot of food is thrown away or destroyed during the production phase, which is incredibly wasteful in its own right, especially as the food industry is more and more reliant on mono-cultures for every passing year. As you can see on the image below, every staple has an own linear chain like this, and at every stage, you can be sure that resources are wasted.

Food-Supply-Chain

If the French government has not anchored this new policy in the retail industry, the results will be that the retail industry maybe will buy in less food (as the best possible result), but that will affect other parts of the food production chain, and transport the waste there. Sadly, farmers are often in developed countries subsidized to discard food. The retail industry can also adapt by for example giving away excess food as aid to developing countries or to homeless people. But giving away the food as aid would probably hurt farmers in the Third World, outcompeting small family farms and inevitably replacing them with cattle ranches or mono-cultures (producing grain mostly used to feed cattle and sheep), contributing heavily to both freshwater waste, soil erosion, dependency on fertilizers and climate change.

So while this policy probably has both pragmatic and moralist foundations, it seems at the moment to be a random swing aimed at an industry which has immoral practices.

A holistic approach

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The Human Civilization can be defined both as an integrated network of eco-systems and as a super-organism. Our cities are visible as crimson and greyish spots from space, our monocultures have transformed Europe, China, North America and the Amazon Basin. To understand human activity on Earth and how profoundly it has transformed our planet, we must move away from an individualistic approach where we view the society as a fixed entity and the one with the choice how to act – the conscient agent – is always an individual.

We must understand that society is more than our consumer choices, more than our political or lifestyle choices, and even more than the culture we were born and raised in. Human civilization is – from a physical perspective – an intricate web of resource flows, and the infrastructure which both makes these flows possible and also is a result of their current. Civilization is an emergent meta-organism. Now, I am not saying that civilization is “evil”, nor that all civilizations (both real and imagined) are the same.

However, without a realization that food waste is a part of a civilization based on a destructive way of utilizing the environment, rather than an aberrant outlier in an otherwise “good” civilization, we would just continue to create new ecological crises until we’ve exhausted the ability of the planet to maintain an advanced human civilization. One central problem is of course that governments – as one of the commanding tops of what can be called the consciously organized part of Civilization – must base their existence and legitimacy around the idea that our current civilization is ultimately good and at least better than any conceivable alternatives. Cultural memes are also largely centered around reinforcement of norms and values that will support the existence of the civilization and its structures (given that, western civilization has undercurrents that allow for criticism in certain directions, this criticism can later be applied and included into the process through democratic and academic means, thus creating a greater degree of adaptability than in other cultures).

To return to the main point, policy-makers must realize that ecological issues (avoid the term environmental issues) are not just a policy area amongst others, but the base on which civilization rests. Therefore, a thorough set of ecological policies must be arranged in such a manner that they have a profound effect on all activities inside the Civilization, and with a good overview over not only resource flows, but also financial flows and population flows.

The goal of such an approach would be a long-term transition towards a sustainable circular economy which can exist within the limits of nature.

Push and pull policies

graphicdesign.stackexchange.com

graphicdesign.stackexchange.com

Governments can not alone form or lead the transition. It requires an integrated approach from political leaders, financial leaders, community leaders, civil society, non-governmental organisations, economic actors, grassroot groups and individuals and families. What governments can do is however to install the legal framework to affect behaviour amongst different segments of society.

Such frameworks can be designed  to punish bad habits or rewarding good habits. Punishing bad habits can for example be to increase taxes on fossil fuels, or on companies selling fossil fuels, or to outright ban certain practices (another example would be to reduce or take away all parking spaces in city centres). Rewards can be to install subsidies for green energy solutions, or to reward car owners for swapping into eco-friendly cars. It can also be to for example create free public transit.

Given this, we need to discuss how an effective transitional approach would work – and that is depending on two factors. Firstly, how grave is the ecological situation right now within the area you want to affect positively (I advice you to look into the article about the Three Criteria for an elaboration on information-gathering). Secondly, exactly what kind of transition do we want to foster?

The direction of for example subsidies or taxes, or more legalistic measures like outright bans would shape the outcome in some way, and the question is how large ripple effects one could get.

What is certain is that both push and pull methodologies are necessary within the framework of today’s financial system in order to make effective transformations possible. In general, bans are not advisable, especially not of processing aspects of industrial systems (of which the retail industry is an example). Rather, it would be more effective to tax unsustainable food management practices and make additional fines if the industry is not compliant.

Then it is of course a matter of how large taxes there should be. Ideally, for example the meat industry should be taxed with so high – even punitive – tax rates, that it ceases to be able to operate. That will sadly have adverse effects on everyone from butchers to Argentinian gauchos and Fast Food employees, but unemployment is ultimately an insignificant problem in comparison with the future of the Planet.

There does however also need to exist rewards, and investments into alternative ways of managing resource flows. Instead of just focusing on aspects of production, we must analyse the energy weight of entire production chains, and policies should be shaped after the realization that our civilization is an integrated physical system. Therefore, revenue taken from the processes that are damaging the planet could be invested into projects that facilitate processes that are either neutral towards or would improve the long-term well-being of the biosphere.

Ultimately

The Earth Organisation for Sustainability has come to the conclusion that to create a sustainable civilization on Earth, we need a way of managing resources that is profoundly different than today’s. We need to know how much resources we can take from the Earth, we need to arrange these resources within a circular economy, and we need to provide basic sustenance to all human beings.

But to reach that point, to go from here to there, we must employ the available tools of the current system, both to create new tools, to manage and reverse ecological decay, and to transition our socio-economic system. Only by employing a holistic approach can we reach constructive results for the future of our planet.

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The Three Criteria

17 MAIN VIEW

imgkid.com

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

The Earth Organisation for Sustainability is not built around a specific programme which we slavishly believe should be implemented. Rather, our Design is intended to be broken and transformed during its progress, so it would adapt and form around the experiences we learn during its growth. When the Design is implemented, we will likely see it evolve around differing needs and conditions, locally and regionally, and would thus likely see regional adaptions, and would likely forever evolve, though the pace of evolution might differ between periods.

Likewise, we who are going to implement the experiments in sustainable ways to measure resources, flows and consumption patterns would also grow and learn during this process. In this way, being a part of the EOS is very much alike being a gardener.

However, there need to be criteria that should be fulfilled. The important thing is not how a system is working, but that it achieves the minimum goals that it strives towards. What is at stake is our beautiful planet, and sustainability is not only about cutting back, but also to find a way within which future generations can thrive inside a flourishing biosphere.

Our mission

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Our mission is to find models within which we can create sustainable conditions for life on Earth. This means that we must ensure both ecological sustainability, and the future well-being of the human species on Earth. This all derives from a bio-centric view where Life is seen as the most valuable and dignified thing in the Cosmos. As a sapient species, with the ability to create culture, art and civilization, we have a duty, and that duty is to create conditions in which Life can blossom and reach its potential.

To be an EOS member should not only be to possess a card showing that you have paid a membership fee. It also signifies that you are an individual who by your will have taken up this mission – the mission to protect Life on Earth. There are no easy ways however, and even if everyone shared that sense of devotion to life on Earth, we would face stark challenges which would make us grow and learn as human beings.

But what we need as well are concrete, practical criteria which we could make our judgements from. I would not so much write about ideology and values in this post as about some minimum criteria for a sustainable civilization on Earth.

1: Understanding the Earth

Holding-Earth-580x580

In this era, we will soon be nine billion individuals on this Earth. We have transformed the larger part of the Earth’s land surface to suit our needs. Our current socio-economic system, built on maximising economic growth as fast as possible, has devastated the biosphere, and we are right now in the beginning phase of what can be termed a mass extinction.

What needs to be known is of course how much, where, and how.

There needs to be a much better oversight over how much resources we are using, how much resources we can use, how to optimize the use of the resources. We also need to monitor eco-systems in real-time, so we can respond to disturbances quicker than today and with more knowledge of the situation locally. We need to understand where resources are harvested, and where they are going, and where they could return to nature again.

If there is limited data gathering in a situation like today (and for the foreseeable future given how much we have wrecked), there is higher likelihood that we will do wrong and accidentally wreck the ecological progress we want to support.

This knowledge needs to be transparent and available for everyone, a living library of the Earth, accessible through every media, open to reevaluation. It would become the basis for a common, unified understanding of the Earth for ecologists, biologists, agronomists, economists and human beings from all over the planet.

We need a basis for a common worldview, and this worldview must be rooted in our physical reality.

Some may interject that we did not need this before the industrial age and that it is sufficient if everyone strives to be sustainable. The problem with this is that we have 9 billion people on this planet soon, and they all should be given the basis for being able to thrive on Earth. They need energy, utilities, housing, education, healthcare, recreation and community participation, as well as private space. That guarantees that we would need to use the resources of the Earth – and that implies that we need wise stewardship of the planet.

2: A circular economy

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It is not enough to monitor resource flows, but a constant process to reduce resource pressure. Also, infrastructure would need to be redesigned to be adapted to optimal usage, upcycling, recycling and downcycling. This would reflect itself in changed production patterns, transformative usage of utilities, more local and regional production  (thus less need for transportation) and lastly – and most controversially – a redirection of the priorities of the economy.

In terms of production patterns, we should look towards producing things that are durable, modular and upgradeable, which would lengthen the life-cycle of products and reduce their ecological impact per unit. We should also look towards using space more effectively in production, for example in that different groups could use the same factory installment to produce different things during different hours of the daily cycle. This would reduce the amount of bottlenecks. This would also imply more open source (which I will expand on in a future post).

In terms of food production, we must strive towards diversifying production and ensuring food sovereignty as far as possible to every region. We need to reduce land usage, by reducing our dependency on animalic foods. We need to opt for a wiser usage of fresh water, a resource becoming increasingly scarce. We also need to grow more in cities and in vertical farms, and to transition from highly destructive mono-cultures as soon as possible.

In terms of utilities, we need to reduce our reliance on roads, parking spots and using space, by increasing reliance on designing societies where people can walk or bicycle, and where public transit is available for everyone. We also need to improve the sewage systems and design them with the thought of making human waste a valuable addition to the production of food, rather than something which should be flushed down into the sea (contributing to the strangulation of marine lfe).

And lastly, we need to reduce consumerism, or altogether replace this culture with a culture which accentuates other values. This is a process that must grow from the inside of human beings, and which must blossom through communities in a voluntary and participatory manner. However, a movement towards this can be helped by removing or reducing the amount of commercialised information in public space – information intended to make people maximise their consumption.

EOS wants to move a step further, and would like for things to only be produced when people actively are asking for them.

3: A socially sustainable civilization

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For a depressing majority of the Earth’s population, life is about survival. Human beings are degraded, over-worked, outcrowded and forced out of their own lives into situations where their natural creativity and curiousity are unable to blossom. For billions of people, living on Earth is a horrible struggle against hunger and privations, and this condition is not only inflicted on those who suffer through it, but on their children as well.

By creating a world based around the needs of exponential growth, we have created a world where life – including human life – is primarily seen as an engine for this growth to continue.

While the moralistic imperative that everyone should be equal in terms of material wealth can be rightfully questioned from many angles, there are many people on this Earth which seem to have been deprived from their right to food, to fresh water, to education, to healthcare, to clothes on their body and roofs over their heads.

A sustainable civilization needs to provide an income floor, on which all human beings should be able to stand. That does not imply that everyone should be equal, but there should be a minimum standard under which no human being should sink. No one – especially not a child – deserves to be starving, homeless, illiterate or denied access to healthcare.

Ultimately, life should be an opportunity for every human being to grow and to reach their own highest potential, not something which they are forced to endure by artificial lack of resources.

Human beings deserve to live, and life should be more than mere existence.

This also means that all mature human beings have the right to form their own values and opinions, to organise peacefully and to be free from religious, sexual, racial or political persecution, and to be able to participate both in their communities and in the human civilization as a whole in a manner which gives them considerable influence over their communities and control over their own lives.

As we learn how to use resources more wisely, and as new technologies are implemented, all human beings should be able to partake in the progress, because civilization is our common heritage, not the property of an elite.

Summary

nasa.gov

nasa.gov

The three criteria can basically be summarized as:

1: A continuous survey of the Earth

2: A circular economy using resources within the Earth’s limits

3: A universal basic income

If we have achieved these criteria, we would have reached a form of sustainability. Of course, there is also a fourth criterion, and that is to achieve the above-mentioned three in a manner which reflects the values of the society we want to create. We must use ethically sustainable methodologies grounded in values that respect and uphold Life during the transition process towards a sustainable future.

We are living during the most awesome era in human history, and have been given the opportunity to prove that we are a truly intelligent and sapient species.

Now all we have to do is to organise and save the planet! So what are we waiting for?

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