Biodome Project Update

Biodome

The collaborative project between Green Free Will and EOS has finished the first stage of the Umea Biodome Project, which is also a EU-funded LEADER project (thankies EU)! The foundation and the “skeleton” of the dome are ready. Now we only need panels there.

The second stage of the project will see the insulation system established, the aquaponics installed, and the third and most challenging part will be the computer systems that will regulate the climate and atmosphere of the interior of the dome, amongst other things.

EOS and Green Free Will is aiming for a meeting to discuss – amongst other things – the future of this cooperation.

The main challenge will be to acquire funding for stage 2 and stage 3.

Enrique Lescure, Director of the Sequence of Relations, EOS

For more on this, check this.

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The issue of identity (III) – Civilization as a meta-identity, Consumeristic Individualism

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by Enrique Lescure

Introduction

In part I of this series of articles, I briefly mentioned Consumeristic Individualism, as I defined the dominant ethos of our era. To be able to define it, we must start to talk about a part of our collective identities that we all know about, yet few of us recognise – namely civilization. So, the issue at hand is: What is a civilization, and what is a civilizationary ethos? And how can these forms of definitions aid our undertaking?

What is a civilization?

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A civilization is arguably the largest form of meta-identity that forms around collectives of people. Such an identity is generally not awarely pursued by its participants, like for example religion (or to a lesser extent: culture). To a large extent however, civilization tends to go be affected by culture, ethnicity, religion and linguistics.

The shortest possible definition of a civilization would be that it is a cluster of identities that have formed and are influenced by the same world-view. Fully fledged, the civilization provides the framework under which people are assembling reference points for positioning;

  • Their roles in society.
  • The meaning of life.
  • Sources of authority, legitimacy and morality.
  • Family relationships.
  • Human interrelationships.
  • Relationships between social classes and hierarchies.
  • Social Justice.
  • Expected rights and duties.
  • Expectations on life and the future.

It can be argued that this web of position points superimposes a reality on society which determines how many options and alternatives people have to express themselves. There have existed many civilizations during recorded history, and we have seen a large diversity of cultures and worldviews transpire before our eyes. Here below is a small graph I’ve made on the evolution process of civilizations until today.

World Civ Tree

The cosmology of traditional civilizations

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You all already know this, but it is worth reiterating. Traditional civilizations – no matter whether they were Western, Eastern, Amerindian, Middle Eastern or South Asian – were built primarily on a worldview stressing collectivist survival values. These civilizations were bio-physically characterised by a dependence on producing food, of which over 95% was needed to sustain the producers of food – the farmers. The remaining twentieth of resources was utilised – either by trade or coercion – to support a small middle class and an even smaller aristocracy.

The values espoused by these civilizations tended to fall in the following patterns;

  • Humans were naturally unequal and of different value, depending on their status at birth.
  • Your meaning of life was to fulfill the expected ideal role of a member of your social position in life.
  • Idealisation of old age and experience.
  • Patriarchalism and paternalism, both in family life and in social relations.
  • Values excluding, repressing or rejecting groups who broke against societal norms.
  • High culture for the elites, folk culture for the rest.

If you think: “But hey, I recognise that“, that is probably correct, since many people are still living under conditions which are similar to these throughout the world (just like millions of people are still living as hunter-gatherers). A large segment of this planet’s population are subsistence farmers. Many are living in clan societies still ruled by iron-grip patriarchal traditions. Even in the most modern and cosmopolitan communities, remnants of these traditional values are still existing under the surface.

The foundations of the global civilization

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What we call “the global civilization” has grown with industrialisation, economic growth and capitalism. Originally, it was growing from the enlightenment values of the western civilization, built on the trinity of capitalism, science and representative democracy. However, these three are merely positioning points (though important pillars). I would argue that while these three institutions started to form during the 18th century, they originally formed within the context of a traditional society, characterised by an agricultural base for production.

The 19th century was characterised by a massive wave of urbanisation and industrialisation, which created both new social tensions and a sense of alienation and restlessness in society. Coupled with colonialism, imperialism and competition for power amongst the great powers of the era, this led to the period of the world wars.

While the 19th century had been characterised by a conflict between a nascent liberalism – the culmination of enlightenment era values – and reactionary forces wanting to preserve various forms of traditional (formal and non-capitalistic) hierarchies, the fast advance of society led to the prevailing social orders becoming increasingly anachronistic.

The dominant institutions of Europe were swept away by the First World War. The world economy was shattered by the destruction of the Gold Standard and the Great Depression of 1929-1939. Out of the ashes of this turbulent Time of Troubles arose two competing worldviews – marxism-leninism and fascism, and the Second World War was  fought over many issues, but on the civilizational level it was fought over what worldview should dominate the future industrial civilization.

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Consumeristic Individualism – what is it?

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While the ideological foundations of the modern western civilization (which has morphed into the current global civilization) were laid by scientists, entrepreneurs, economists and philosophers during the late 18th century, the core of our current civilization has far shallower roots than so, namely the inter-war period.

The Capitalism of the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as the Liberalism of that era, operated within the context of a traditional agrarian society characterised by protestant work ethics (popularised by Max Weber). These values stressed group cohesion, hard work, frugality and accumulation of wealth.

It can be argued that the rise of mass media technologies, as well as group psychology techniques, gave rise to the new ethos of the western world – which today is increasingly becoming the ethos of the entire world.

I have decided to call this new ethos consumeristic individualism.

What characterises consumeristic individualism?

Formally, all humans are equal in rights. However, our worth is determined economically by our performance (or today increasingly, attractiveness) on the labour market, and socially by our popularity. This popularity is determined in increasingly large intensity by our social status, which is determined not only by financial wealth, but also by appearance, education, experiences and possession of trendy status items.

Unique-Designs-Painted-on-Nike-Shoes-by-Daniel-Reese-4These items are characterised not only by their appearance, but by what they tell about their owner’s supposed character, status and popularity.

Thus, humans are not consuming out of greed primarily, but out of their search for the expression of their individuality. This process, that the individuality can be commodified and acquired through the possession of objects, is a form of psychological magic thinking reinforced since childhood by mass media.

Mass media is under consumeristic individualism largely focused on reaching both the largest possible audience and finding target audiences. Due to commercial funding of the regular programmes, there is not only a large degree of marketing in most media avenues, but also a lot of hidden marketing inside the programmes themselves. This constant exposure to subliminal messaging instills a desire to belong, especially as the mass culture of the modern age, enjoyed in solitude before bright screens, also has created an age of mass loneliness.

Most human beings still crave togetherness and belonging, and most are acquiring it, but many human relationships are formed around the context of a culture of consumeristic individualism, and these relationships are reinforced by the frameworks established by fictional worlds and lifestyles designed to express a certain form of character or social position (no matter if you are a hiphopper or a hipster, you are actively participating in subcultures created to market certain values).

It can be said that most lifestyles are beginning as counter-cultures to revolt against the dominant culture, but that they eventually are appropriated by the market and turned into commodified lifestyles reproduced through media.

The problems with consumeristic individualism

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It can be said that worldviews help us find a purpose, but they can also limit our ability to view the world.

When it comes to consumeristic individualism and its attachment to western civilization, it is connected partially to the great mythos of our culture, namely the idea that we live in an era where history has ended. The apocalypse has been. The new world has been born after RagnarökDemocracy triumphed in World War Two and at the end of the Cold War.

Now, all there is for us is to realise ourselves by acquiring our identities and playing the increasingly diverse repertoire of roles available and mass produced for us.

Of course, we do know that what I above wrote is not true, but we are expected to act within that framework of thoughts. Thus, we are encouraged to resisting the injustices we see (to not speak of ecological issues like climate change) by changing our individual consumer patterns, and then refer to that as responsibility.

The really big problem with consumeristic individualism – however – is that as long as we act within that paradigm, we will perpetuate a system of thought based on the idea that the meaning of life is the acquisition of an identity by material means, the idea that a person is a certain thing by wearing specific clothes, associating with certain friends, listening to a specific type of music, eating specific kinds of food or having specific sets of sexual preferences, that this is-ness determines that person’s entire identity. The danger is not so much when people are forced into specific stereotypes, as when they start to voluntarily reduce themselves to one characteristic, thus limiting themselves. With this, I am not condoning any repression of subcultures, alternative lifestyles or other minorities.

Also, consumeristic individualism is driving the destruction of the planet’s biosphere.

Yes, they say, but you can change the system through consumeristic individualism too, by choosing to consume less, second hand, bicycle and recycle your garbage, can’t you not?

Firstly, this assumes that all human beings economically are offered the same choices. Besides, human opinions are heterogenous, and for each and every vegetarian recycler, there is someone who instead appropriates a lifestyle of big macs, big bikes and the lavious consumption of new items.

Secondly, everything within the context of consumeristic individualism is fleeting and temporary, and subjected to the laws of fashion. And the only law of fashion is that nothing should last more than ten years.

Thirdly, consumeristic individualism encourages flimsiness, forgetfulness, and a view of the world where we have no past and no future, only now forever.

Lastly and most damning, as I’ve already stated in my article Anti-capitalism vs Post-capitalism, this current system is not going to last (it can survive, but it requires fusion power, the advent of the Singularity, asteroid mining and planetary colonisation, and that too will kill it due to abundance, besides that it most likely won’t happen within enough fast a time-frame).

We cannot base whatever we’re going to build after the collapse on values dependent upon the kind of linear, exponential-growth-based system we have experienced for the last 200 years, and not on the consumeristic values that has fed this system for the last 60 years.

We need a new set of values, which give us the right to pursue ourselves fully as human beings and not as compartmentalised fragments, as well as stress that we all – collectively and individually – have a duty to our beautiful homeworld.

Read The Ideology of the Third Millennium to see a beginning of that discussion.

The issue of identity (II), Nationalism & Separatism

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Introduction

This article will discuss the concrete and practical issues regarding identities. In the last article, as you may remember, we searched for a definition of identities, and how we can define identities as institutional projects which people keep alive by active and passive participation. In this article, we will delve into a controversial subject, namely nationalism and separatism, and how such sentiments can be addressed in a Type-1 society.

Confederalism & the Technate

EOS envisions a world where the economy is integrated, within the form of something which we call a technate. A technate is a technical administrative area, and we are envisioning it as a confederate structure in itself, which is a transparent network of information nodes about the status of the planet. The technate would not handle democratic or political issues.

Parallel to the technate, we imagine a confederate system consisting of a world confederation of voluntarily accessed democratic municipalities. These municipalities would form subject confederations which would handle their own issues but cooperate on issues they have in common. These confederacies are responsible for legislation, but a founding principle of such a system is subsidiarity (which at least formally is an ideal of the European Union).

Here is an old article which I wrote several years ago on the subject. It might contain spelling errors, so bear with it. It delves deeper into the subject.

Nation States and Ethnicities

Usually, ethnicities are defined by linguistics (though there are exceptions, like former Yugoslavia where several ethnicities share languages so similar they can be considered dialects of the same language, Italy where the Italian ethnicity is semi-divided in a north and south, and languages in the north are varying even between villages close to one another, and lastly Switzerland, where four languages are spoken but co-existing with a strong Swiss sense of common identity). Linguistics are not the only thing which defines an ethnicity. An ethnicity can be defined by common origin, religion, historical experiences and/or cultural traditions.

The shortest definition of an ethnicity is that it is an identity connected to a particular cosmology, which creates itself because people belonging to that particular ethnicity are believing that it exists and are feeling that they have a shared cultural space. To a certain extent, that is true, since ethnicities are the kind of meta-identities that can survive through generations and which often share particular cultures and habits.

I would focus on European Nation-states, since they are generally seen as the strongest and oldest nation-states on the planet, where the dominant ethnicities are often directly identifying with the state itself and some states even can be defined as largely mono-cultural (the inversion of Europe would be Africa, where the nation-states are new and weak and consisting of several ethnicities which often share nothing but a second language like English and French, and possibly a religion which a plurality of the population is embracing).

It should be noted that the nation-states preceded modern nationalism in Europe with 100-200 years, and that most European nationalisms have been formed either by partial design from nation state governments, or through opposition against said nation-state due to the oppression of national minorities.

The nation-state is ultimately working as most other states have historically done, no matter whether we talk about a democratic context, or an authoritarian. The state is a hierarchical structure administered by a management, which usually exists under the conditions of wealth and power disparity between centre and regions, and between the upper percentiles and the lower percentiles of the socio-economic distribution.

Even in democratic states, such as Sweden, there is an inherent conflict of interests between the capitol and the provinces, and even during the 20th century, northern Sweden has been treated in an almost colonial manner by Stockholm. It has not been seen as a region with unique cultures (apart from the Sámi minority) and unique conditions, but as a natural resource extraction zone which gives state-owned companies revenues which are invested mostly in the south. Since only 10% of the population of Sweden lives in the north, this can be approved by southern voters while the north slowly is depopulating due to the lack of employment opportunities and the increasing difficulty to make a living in this remote region.

In the worst cases of nation-state formation, nation states have been expanding the territory of one particular ethnicity by the forced expulsion and forced assimilation of other ethnic groups, and have even engaged in systematic murders and massacres to acquire the land and property of minorities (for example, the father of the Swedish state, Gustav I, massacred the people of Smaland for their insistence on trading directly with Europe). In at least one particular occasion, two nascent nation-states (Greece and Turkey) agreed to exchange tens of thousands of Greeks and Turks between one another, to create more ethnic homogenity.

Due to colonialism and the 1960’s de-colonisation, the European model for nation-states have become universal, and been applied to regions with different circumstances. This has created volatile, partially or wholly artificial states which the population often do no identify with. This has most recently caused the partial implosion of Syria and Iraq, which were created as League of Nations Mandates following WW1 and which do not correspond to any historical nation-states.

The rise and fall of globalization

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As globalization is turning the planet into a linear resource extraction system, the economic need for nation-states have vanished since there is a growing trans-national elite that stands above and partially beside the nation-state system. Treaties such as TTIP, MAI and ACTA is removing economic sovereignty from the nation-states and placing it in the hands of supranational actors or even megacorporations.

Thus, the nation-state in the early 21st century, as the elite sees it, is increasingly working as a tool to further the aims of economic globalization. The state should make laws that protects the rights of trans-national corporations, prevent theft of intellectual copyrights and patents, and should also provide police forces and protection of the property of trans-national corporations. Economic democracy, in the form of welfare states, should be transformed in a direction which brings more responsibility and control to the trans-nationals and to the international financial system.

This process is partially aided by technological and economic progress, which strives to maximise outcomes and streamline and effectivise production factors. However, it is also a conscious process driven by actors who envision that this kind of system will bring about world peace and possibly end in a world government. It is a general belief that since exponential growth took speed in the 19th century, that it will continue indefinetly, making us all more prosperous and enlightened and bring about a bright future for humanity.

This conscious globalization project is decaying now, with the Euro-zone being ripped apart with southern Europe in a state of depression, and with a China that is slowing down. The financial crisis of 2008 was solved by stimulus, that has failed to yield the expected growth forecasts and have merely slowed down the decaying of  a system which cannot sustain its growth.

If a relatively minor failure in the system (the collapse of an American bank due to subprime mortgages) produces the partial collapse of a currency union and several years of financial chaos, then imagine what effects the inevitable and worsening ecological collapse will cause?

Less than a decade ago, it was assumed that there would be eternal growth and that globalization would continue unabated, and that we would see a vibrant world dominated by mega-cities. That image of the future is turning less and less obvious for every passing year.

Collapse

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It can be said that the risk of collapse is ever-existing within any form of advanced social system. Vandalism, violence, crime, corruption and inequality are all serving to reduce faith in society and to make its cogs work less effectively. That is why most societies are trying to reduce these aspects of human existence in order to make life predictable so we can plan our lives for both medium- and long-term periods.

Ecological crises, induced by changing climate or over-exploitation, leads to a subsequent series of losses of complexity, meaning that advanced societies generate less resources to keep the population compliant and thus need to devote a larger share of the output to security (which means raising the taxes to increase the weight of the defensive capabilities of the elite).

What we can expect if our ecological system starts to deteriorate is an increase in support and activity amongst extremist groups, who could then rally mass support for revolution. These groups will be formed around religious, ethnic and social groups, and be fuelled both by a desire for basic human safety, as well as a chain of real and imagined injustices endured from other groups. There will also be a risk of refugee crises which would make the current displacement crises appear as mere drips. For example, one of the most sensitive countries to climate change – Bangladesh – hosts above 150 million people.

There is thus a profound risk that the primary challenge of the system will not be the ecological collapse itself, but the reaction of billions of disinherited, who – striving to survive – will threaten to overwhelm the system. This will cause a fragmentisation of humanity into smaller and smaller units which will be in a struggle for the remaining resources.

The globalized system envisioned by the elite clubs is not sustainable, and some of them know it. Yet they are so trapped within their own system that they cannot imagine an alternative.

Towards a Type-1

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If we want to move forward, we must dare to imagine a unified Earth, but not the kind of “new world order” envisioned by George H.W Bush. Instead, we must think of our species as an organism which has a profound impact on the biosphere. We must co-exist with the biosphere globally, and we can only do that through a form of global governance.

However, no kind of centralised or authoritarian system can unify the Earth, and neither can a system that accumulates all the wealth and productive forces in the hands of a super-oligarchy.

The future constitutional framework of a Terra United must be confederalistic and allow for regional variations. There should be no colonies, mandates or occupied territories.

The basis for confederalism – Voluntaryism

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I – Constitutionalism. The constitution is not established to regulate forms, but to tell what basic human rights and duties there are within the Confederation. Municipalities who want to join the Confederation must follow the tenets of the Constitution. As EOS envisions such a constitution, it would consist of individual human rights (values) and the general broad aims of society (to support and strengthen the conditions for life to flourish on Earth). One of these conditions can not be used to legally motivate the violation of the other.

II – Subsidiarity. The Confederation would only be responsible for the Constitution, as well for social issues that require global coordination, in cooperation with the Technate. Issues which are regional or local will be handled on their respective levels, which the goal being that decisions should be made as close to those affected by them as possible.

III – Voluntaryism. Municipalities must voluntarily accede to the Confederation for the association to be legitime. Those who do not want to be a part of the Confederation would not be forced to partake, and are free to form relationships with confederate municipalities. The only exception to that are entities which are violating the Constitution. If a municipality inside the Confederation is violating the Constitution, and is not heeding calls to stop with it, its status as a part of the Confederation will become null and it will be excluded.

IV – Sub-confederacies formed on voluntary basis. Instead of forming sub-confederacies primarily on an ethnic, geographic or historical basis, they will be formed and dissolved on a continuous voluntary basis. The current nation-state system is based around the Westphalian idea that borders should not be changed. As we have seen numerous examples of groups not being happy with their political units (for example Catalonia, Flanders or parts of northern Italy) and wanting to join other political units or form new ones, we have seen that this often leads to conflicts with the central government – which for the most part is concerned with self-preservation.

Our proposal means a liquid form of political border delineation, where borders are changed peacefully when the people of a region sees it that they want change. This would mean that if parts of Northern Sweden wants to change affiliation to Finland, it should be able to be arranged relatively quickly. The same for infected border issues such as Crimea, but also of nations like Chechnya and Tatarstan.

It also means that groups that strictly speaking are not ethnicities, like for example retirees, students, members of subcultures or supporters of ideologies can have their own municipalities and even break free and form their own confederations. Ethnicity is just one of the meta-identities that people generally adhere to, and we must allow for new cultures to emerge peacefully and strive for their own fulfillment.

V – Non-geographical political entities. Not all entities within the Confederation would have territory. Some of them would simply be associations of people who make political decisions for themselves while they physically are living in a geographic entity to which they do not belong politically. This would allow fourth world peoples, and small minorities to have representation and be heard.

Potential downsides

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One thing that can be interpreted as a downside of this change in how political entities are structured is that people would likely opt more often for border changes and forming confederations, which can be confederations that stand on a loose ground institutionally and have a low sense of legitimacy, especially since we have several generations of disconnected, rootless humans that might form confederations dedicated to beverages, comic book figures or funny hats.

Another potential problem is that this can actually increase conflicts, especially in border territories or in multi-cultural entities where the people have been used to live under states with a low sense of legitimacy but with enough firepower to keep emotions sober. This would especially be a risk if the system utilised is direct or participatory democracy.

Therefore, it is advisable that a change towards such a confederate system envisioned in this article is gradual and happens during a long time. Human civilization wouldn’t collapse if this proposed system – or something akin to it – is not introduced immediately. Unluckily, the same cannot be said of the ecological situation.

Enrique Lescure, Sequence Director of Relations, the Earth Organisation for Sustainability

The issue of identity (I)

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By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

Individual human beings are ill-suited for survival in nature. It takes a long time for a human being to grow up, the pregnancy period for human females is stretching for three quarters of a year. We lack fur, claws and venom. Old natural philosophers claimed that we compensated for that with reason. However, while reason has seldom prevailed (inquisitions, witch hunts and sacrifices of hearts by obsidian daggers are marking most of recorded human history), humans have always gathered together in communities. The community can more easily defend the young and the elderly from predators, and effectivise the gathering of resources to prepare for the hard seasons.

While some market libertarians and objectivists primarily are seeing the human beings as atomised individuals who choose to buy and sell property on a market, property originated as a concept gradually over time. In early communities, of which there are still examples of in the Amazon and in Indonesia, as well as in the Arctic parts of Russia and Canada, there is often not a developed concept of property, and even those who are skilled at for example making tools, are not trying to sell their tools, or making it a precondition for barter. Instead, the entire community is operating like the kind of society proponents of gift economics would want to see.

During most of human existence, human beings organised in sedentary hunter and gatherer societies (it has irked me for years that everyone seems to assume that people were building villages first with agriculture, and that everyone were nomads before that).

It stands clear that humans do not only group together in order to survive, and that only if there were the means, all humans would become staunch individualists who would either make war against one another (as Hobbes said) or become firm believers in the powers of the market and to each’s individual responsibility for their brothers and sisters. Humans group together not only because we had to, but because we like to (generally speaking).

What I want to write about in this article is how we do to connect to one another, and how this force which has allowed us to form civilizations, also have served to destroy civilization and create massive human suffering, and how we can move forward with our identities in the context of a future Type-1.

Connections

Most humans instinctively assume that other humans think and feel what they do, and can empathise with the suffering and joy of others. However, our ability to empathise is generally limited, and we feel more strongly for people who we either have grown up around, or who are reminding of us (share our experiences). While human communities in the natural state rarely exceed 200 people, the transition from hunter-gatherer societies to agricultural societies amassed a surplus that allowed humans to organise in larger groups.

Nevertheless, while you might live in a city with over 20 million inhabitants, the likelihood is that you live within a personal bubble consisting of 100-200 people (or fewer) who you know and have most of your interactions with. Likelihood is also that most of those people are either family or friends, and that most of them are sharing your social position in life and have a similar class background as yourself. The freedom to choose your acquaintances is larger in a big city than in a small community, but this might actually serve to increase segregation and create micro-environments where most participants share the same values and norms. The same process can be seen on social communities like Facebook where people generally are adding friends and acquaintances that share their onlook and their cosmology.

Generally, social groups can cover an entire spectrum from egalitarian (a group of friends hanging out on a coffeshop), authoritarian (patriarchal family structures) to totalitarian (religious and political sects). Often, an individual can be a part of 2-3 or more social groups at the same time, with differing levels of devotion.

Institutions

Luciafirande i Adolf Fredriks kyrka under ledning av Karin Bäckström/ Lucia celebration in the church of Adolf Fredrik under the supervision of Karin Bäckström

Institutions do not live their own lives – they exist because humans by their actions and beliefs perpetuate their existence and value what they can gain from them. When the institution ceases to motivate people to act to perpetuate their existence, the days of the institution are numbered. This can explain everything from the inevitable death of the childhood streetcabin club to world-changing events like the collapse of the USSR.

All formal human arrangements, states, churches, social etiquette, marriage customs and family relationships within the context of a specific culture, can be explained as institutions.

I would say there are three types of institutions.

Unwritten institutions, which are agreed upon a priori without definition, and which often determine how humans are supposed to act under social conditions (for example the Law of Jante in Nordic countries, or the American Dream in the US). These institutions work to ease tension in society and establish rules for social encounters between human beings, and often arise organically.

Administrative institutions, such as companies, bureaucracies, states, associations, churches and clubs. These institutions exist to legislate, organise rules and execute collective human action. These institutions are most often hierarchical and are existing to manage aspects of human existence.

…and…

Value institutions. These institutions are traditions perpetuated through repetition over generational boundaries, and are connected to a cosmology that ties a group together. In this category, we will find everything from clans and sects and followers of The Yankees, to ethnicities, religious groupings and entire nations. These institutions serve to establish myths and anchor these myths through rituals, in order to strengthen and rejuvenerate group identities. Often, such identities are formed around groups who share similar physical or linguistical characteristics.

What is an identity?

Identity is connected to Cosmology (the issue of meaning of life). The identity serves as a way for the human being to identify herself in relationship to her peers and to Cosmos itself, and to create a sense of meaningfulness that connects together a group of people, both horizontally and over the generations. It is arguably the strongest force in the life of a human being. It has motivated people to sacrifice themselves, not for their close blood relatives, but for abstract ideals and people they have never met or would never have met.

The evils of identity

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The human propensity to form identities have (I would argue) defined what it is meaning to be human. Our art, our literature and our music has been created both within the context of specific identities, and partially influenced these identities (just look at the huge influence that Shakespeare had on the emergence of British culture). On the other hand, identities have often been used as tools and motivation to separate the in-group from out-groups, and then annihilate the out-group (often by physically killing its members).

While the human tendency to form collectives which are the size of a large extended family (200 people), and these have engaged in competitive fights to the death with neighbouring collectives, the tendency to form group identities based on religion, political opinions, ethnicity or even sport club affiliations have generally worsened conflicts. Moreover, they have motivated generations of ordinary people to die for rulers and despots for no gain for themselves or for human civilization (on the contrary, wars have generally only helped the elites of the warring societies, while the ordinary folks have suffered).

Another very bad effect of the formation of group identities have been the persecution of outsiders, no matter if the outsiders are people who don’t share the prevailing political consensus of the day, or if the outsiders are of a religious minority or simply are born with traits seen as bad by the dominant consensus. Women, LGBT people, ethnic minorities, the poors and various groups of untouchables can witness of the effects of social exclusion, which are crippling not only to their own lives but to the general progress of society. Even schoolyard bullying is a sort of infancy state of this kind of we-vs-them exclusion.

A third very bad effect is the kind of accepted social coercion that makes people accept and contribute to the continuance of traditions such as genital mutilation of children, animal cruelty, cruelty or disregard for poor people, racism, forced marriages, marriages with close relatives, abuse of children, clan conflicts and machismo, and also jingoism and nationalism. These identity-related prejudices can hamper and even threaten the long-perspective survival of a society, and work to limit and oppress the participants in that identity.

A world without identities

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Some people on the left side of the spectrum in this country (Sweden) have claimed that abolishing identities and value judgements (“being rich is better than being poor” for example) is the right way to go to create an inclusive and egalitarian society. Of course, they do not envision that people would not have any traditions or culture, especially not as they are very active within and in cooperation with certain groups of identities, in order to form and shape rainbow coalitions for groups in society that traditionally have been excluded in one or another way.

In terms of working to abolish identities, we can claim that the undisputed master of this is the cultural entity we can refer to as “McWorld”, the homogenizing forces of globalization, free trade and financial integration, which is replacing – on a rapid pace – local cultures.

On one hand, this process has led to a cultural renaissance as cultures encounter, merge and mix together.

On the other hand, however, this has led to the continuous destruction of society’s fabric – the identities. While identities in themselves always appear, modern society has a general cosmology which can be described as consumeristic individualism.

While in traditional societies, the meaning of life was seen as perpetuating the traditions and values of your ancestors, and to play the role in society that God (or the natural order) had made you born in, in modern society this has been replaced with a new cosmology. This new cosmology is based on your attainment of identity through the consumption of experiences. This means that humans are supposed to strive after possessing trendy products, travelling to foreign countries, partying and ascribing to identities through their choice of clothes and music.

Society is oriented towards youth and towards performance and possession. This intrinsic materialism of the modern cosmology has probably contributed to mental illness and depression amongst many people.

However, the greatest problem with consumeristic individualism is that it fits like hand in glove with the paradigm of the debt-based financial system. For if people are brought up within a cosmology where they (feel that they) must ascribe to the possession of lifestyle through the possession of products and fashion, they will invest a large part of their income into status products which can showcase who they are to the world – thus driving the continued growth of the system, until it inevitably crashes.

A challenge for the future – towards a Type-1

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Eventually, if we (as in humanity) do not destroy ourselves through nuclear war, human-created pathogens or initiating a sixth great mass extinction, we will form a planetary civilization, a Type-1 on the Kardashev Scale. There are two great challenges for such a civilization, the first being the practical on how to ensure that all human beings can live within the identities they feel affinity for, while having their human rights respected and protected. The second is how we can find a common cosmology which can bring this future civilization a sense of purpose, while also serving to protect the planet’s environment and value the rights of all human beings to strive for fulfillment.

This is the challenge for the future, and in subsequent articles I will try to define how EOS have proposed a framework for the tools we can use to answer this challenge. This is what EOS Umea hopes to help develop with a study circle we will launch in the spring of 2015.

Enrique Lescure, Relations director of the Earth Organisation for Sustainability