On Anarcho-Primitivism; or “why we need a civilization”

Wizards, 1977

Wizards, 1977

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

“why can’t we fight and win, Mommy?”
“Because they have
weapons and technology.
we just have love.
” ~ Quote from Wizards, 1977.

Sometimes, it feels like I shouldn’t need to write some posts. Yet, evidently, some posts have to be written, since there apparently are ideas floating around that can be picturesque and charming when applied to arts, morality tales, philosophy and spirituality, but would undoubtly sow confusion the moment someone starts to seriously advocate these ideas as a correct way of thinking, not only for oneself but for all of society, we will start to get into trouble.

I am of course referring to an ideology known as “anarcho-primitivism”, which from a shallow glance can appear deeply sympathetic, but which intellectually and ideologically is a dead end.

Culturally however, anarcho-primitivism has had influence both within academia and within popular culture. My personal take on the issue is that anarcho-primitivism is interesting as an intellectual experiment, but an actual programme to change the world based from anarcho-primitivism would resemble a trainweck without a wheel on the swamps – which I suspect is one of the deeper meanings.

Reason and passion

Caspar David Friedrich, 19th century

Caspar David Friedrich, 19th century

Culturally speaking, European civilization (which later would evolve into the western civilization) stood at a crossroads in the early 19th century, with one boot in the feudal past and one in the industrial future. It is probably well-known by everyone that the 19th century saw two political conflicts erupt – one regarding ancient privileges contra increased political representation (semi-egalitarian), and another regarding the economic rights of workers and poor people, leading to the evolution of parliamentarism and trade unions respectively.

One struggle which however also was highly visible (though decidely less bloody) than the other two was fought in the realm of culture, and formed around whether the world should be conceptualised through reason or emotion. During the 18th century, following the collapse of medieval Christendom during the wars of religion of the preceding two centuries, the Age of Reason blossomed. This trend in science, literature and aesthetics was partially a result of the end of the Reformation in 1648 and the mechanical/scientific revolution spearheaded by the likes of Galileo and Newton.

The Age of Reason cultivated several literary and cultural concepts still in use today. The foundation of the enlightenment was the idea that the methodologies of the mechanical revolution could be applied on social and political issues of the day. Instead of viewing states as mystical entities ruled by God-ordained sovereigns, the 18th century philosophers increasingly came to see the state as a social contract and as a machine devised to achieve certain aims, much like a clockwork.

This was a culmination of a trend which began with the likes of Descartes, Newton and Locke, who transformed the view of the world from the work of an inscrutable Creator who worked through miracles into a clockwork, de-mystifying reality, replacing mysteries with science and reducing the world from a living embodiment of God’s creation into matter which reacted and worked according to predictable mathematical and chemical patterns.

When the de-mystification had destroyed the ideology of Divine Right which governed Europe’s absolutist

A modern example of the

A modern example of the “noble savage genre”, James Cameron’s Avatar, 2010

monarchies, it was just a matter of time before France flared up. During the late 18th century, a trend towards embracing passion and the storms of the heart had flared up within enlightenment thought, embodied both by the philosophy of Rousseau and by the growing “noble savage” genre which celebrated triumphs on both sides of the English channel.

During the Revolutionary Era of 1776 to 1815 and beyond (towards the Greek Revolution of 1823 and the French July Revolution), the ideology of Liberalism (a product of Age of Reason-thought) was fuelled by a deep-seated passion. Leaders like Robespierre and poets like Byron were all burning with indignant passion and defiance, and struggled for largely the same ideals, namely the overthrowing of tyrants and the expression of the will of the people. As late as during the latter half of the 19th century, revolutionary leaders like Garibaldi were still drawing air from the same tendencies.

During the period immediately following the Bourbon restoration in France (1815), reactionary and conservative authors, composers and painters started to create a discourse where reason and enlightenment was seen as depriving the world from its true meaning – a spiritual and mystical meaning which could not be understood with intellect, only with emotions. The Middle Ages, previously seen as “the dark ages”, were glorified and seen as an age when magic, honour and spirituality prevailed. This trend affected most of Europe deeply, and resonated deepest of all in Germany.

It should be noted here already that it is not to me intrinsically a matter of reason versus passion, as for example this anti-nazi cartoon tried to convey, but rather that there have been historical periods when people due to technological and social trends have come to view reason and passion as being in conflict with one another. This today holds true for example for the New Atheists, of whom some tend to view passion in itself as a negative thing, and for some sci-fi authors who tend to hold predominantly the same worldview (one example is Robert Sawyer’s Quintaglio and Hominids trilogies).

Speaking of nazis, the second time when movements started to emerge that questioned reason and progress was during the 1910’s, 1920’s and 1930’s. The second half of the 19th century was not only a golden age for technological innovations, economic growth and urbanisation (and also for colonialism, racism, growing social inequality and genocides not to forget), but also for a conviction that the world was definetly moving towards a better, more advanced and more progressive society. Sci-fi authors like Jules Verne and H.G Wells were highly popular.

The First World War shattered this reality, and fragmented the ordered world indefinetly moving towards greater prosperity. In its stead came a world which was highly contested between various groups, ranging from ultra-progressives to ultra-reactionaries. Fascism and National Socialism had different roots, but came to be expressed through similar rhetoric, namely a sense of abandoning “bourgeois individualism” and becoming as one with the Nation, to be able to be released from alienation.

Alienation as a concept started to become popular in the 19th century, but its usage exploded in the early 20th century. A sense of being lost dominated many societies, and entire cultures searched for new identities to be re-baptised and reborn in. These tendencies are however not excluded to the industrial era, and has been prevalent in all high cultures (otherwise religions like Buddhism and Christianity would not have emerged).

The United States liberated Western Europe from Fascism, and in many ways came to inherit the Western World. A society more culturally cohesive than Europe, which had sustained far less damage by the world wars, had managed to preserve the optimism of the late 19th century, and even build on it.

The breakthrough of mass media, the successful social revolts of the 1960’s and the inability of the US army to win 937613_f520the Vietnam War did however lead towards questioning of the ideology of constant progress. In Europe, this questioning had led to the birth of totalitarian, far-right and far-left movements. In the US, the response was a loose libertarian-leftist subculture more directed by fashion and by memes than any political leaders or even political movements.

The green wave, which came to influence Europe during the 1970’s and 1980’s, began in the US during the 1960’s. The green wave, like any other wave, was of course influenced from many roots, and its seeds were taken up by many movements and individuals. Awareness grew that industrialism and emissions had many negative effects on the environment. Two books worth mentioning from this era are Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael, which both have been hugely influential.

The roots of anarcho-primitivism can be found in the US.

The anarcho-primitivist case

anarcho-primitive

Anarcho-primitivists argue that the main problem in the world is human civilization itself. With that, they mean that civilization is intrinsically opposed to life on Earth and is only capable of destroying and wrecking eco-systems. Human development is a hubris that will end with civilization exhausting Earth and then collapsing, hopefully leading to a humans yet again embracing nature and establishing egalitarian societies.

According to anarcho-primitivism, pre-civilisationary societies are generally egalitarian, have little violence and healthy social environments characterised by inclusion and no sense of alienation. Like in some forms of marxism, alienation is a tremendously important concept within anarcho-primitivism, and denotes the human sense of being alienated from the genuine natural existence.

Anarcho-primitivists are divided into two factions. While being a small movement (or rather trend, since anarcho-primitivists tend to be organised in mainstream green organisations or in leftist organisations), most anarcho-primitivists are peaceful and claim that civilization will collapse by its own right. A small minority are doing violent direct action, either individually or through groups, though it is significantly rarer today than in the 90’s, which were a sort of heyday for violent direct activism.

The case against anarcho-primitivism  ~ Why we need a civilization

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Anarcho-primitivists are correct in the matter that our current civilization is unsustainable. However, there is a broad generalisation on their part that civilization in itself will automatically develop along a linear course towards collapse, and that there is nothing we can do apart from abandoning civilization as a concept that can salvage us. I will address this point later, but now I will move towards anarcho-primitivists who argue for violent resistance in order to overthrow civilization and establish an egalitarian gatherer society.

Firstly, there will soon be nine billion human beings on this planet. When agriculture and civilization was first born in the Middle East 12.000 years ago, there were around 10 million human beings on the planet. For all what it was worth, that was probably the upper limit during that time. If we are generous, we can say that the planet is warmer today and therefore (if we disregard environmental destruction) we can perhaps feed 25 million people today would we all live as hunter-gatherers.

This would mean that most of humanity today would starve, and while a few humans always will be suicidal, humans in general want to maximise their own chances at survival. Therefore, even if we disregard the ignorant (or worse; callous) assumption that the abolishment of civilization will usher in a golden era of tribal egalitarianism, we can safely presume that humans in general will try to survive.

Therefore, no matter if civilization is overthrown by anarcho-primitivist revolutionaries or “collapses” as predicted by anarcho-primitivist philosophers and ideologists, billions of humans will die, and humans will actively struggle against the abolishment of their infrastructure (which provides non-lethal water, warmth, cooling, healthcare, vaccinations, food and – to paraphrase Zizèk, and so on and so on).

I do in fact part agree with the anarcho-primitivists that civilization can collapse. It has evidently happened before that many high cultures have experienced a collapse, or what scientists call a loss of complexity. This is the key however, a collapse of a civilization does not mean that all technology and infrastructure disappears. Most of us who are alive now have experienced the collapse of a civilization during our lifetime, namely the fall of the Soviet Union (which thankfully was a relatively bloodless collapse). While infrastructure, industry and buildings indeed started to suffer decay in a few regions, what happened was instead a transition towards new economic and political modes.

Maybe the anarcho-primitivists rather have a situation where the infrastructure suffers collapse as a vision or model? I would argue that experiences from that type of collapse, which we also have modern examples of, rather resembles Mel Gibson’s The Road Warrior than Kevin Costner’s Dances with the wolves.

Nowadays, there is a growing club of failed states, where infrastructure is helplessly decaying, where hospitals are Somaliaturned into fortresses and where the market for AK47’s are growing. Somalia. Yemen. Congo. Libya. Syria. All countries where society has fractured and where a massive loss of complexity is experienced.

Anarcho-primitivists perhaps would argue that this kind of collapse is symptomatic of “Civilization”. However, according to anarcho-primitivists, the fall of “Civilization” is in itself symptomatic for “Civilization”.

There are indeed examples of societies where economic collapses and crises led to a greater deal of solidarity between the citizens, like for example in Argentina when workers during the 2002-2003 currency crisis occupied factories and continued to produce goods. The type of collapse envisioned by anarcho-primitivists however is in itself a far more reaching variation of the type of collapse experienced in countries in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.

A summary of the practical arguments against the feasibility of anarcho-primitivism could be that anarcho-primitivism ignores the population issue (a population in the billions are dependent on a high-tech civilization to provide for them) and also that the collapse of civilization won’t mean that people suddenly lose knowledge of technology – especially not martial technology. This all means that a collapse will rather mean that the current civilization will be replaced by a less complex culture characterized by more brutish social relations.

However, this answer – while it repudiates anarcho-primitivism as a practical answer – does little to deprive the primitivists of the moral high ground. After all, are not anarcho-primitivists defining “Civilization” in terms of how it distorts human nature rather than the buildings and infrastructure?

The allure of Eden

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The human being lived in blissfull ignorance, sheltered in a bountiful garden where everything was flowing with abundance. Alas, she ate the forbidden fruit and was cast out of Eden, judged to toil and suffer within the shackles of human society.

Eden. The lost world, and the lost innocence.

The moral claim of anarcho-primitivism is alike that of the myth of that fabled garden. The lost unity with God’s presence is replaced with the lost unity with one another and with Nature. The moral imperative is that we are impure because we are believed to have rejected our animalistic roots and embraced enlightenment.

Very much alike fire-and-brimstone preachers, anarcho-primitivists are condemning humanity, that we need to suffer so a few elect shall be able to turn to their natural sense of unity and wholeness with nature. This longing is as much an internal psychological need as an ideological conviction. The problem with primitivism is that the primitivist does not only believe that they themselves would be happier living in a cottage collective without electricity and running water, but that everyone would be happier with that, and that all humans deep inside want that.

This idea is not unique for anarcho-primitivism. The longing for lost innocence and childhood follows throughout human history and have formed the basis for many teachings.

Apotheosis – the answer of EOS

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The anarcho-primitivists do not really believe that we can stop destroying our planet, nor do many of them really want to try. The reason why is that if we humans prove capable of doing so, the hated concept of civilization will also survive, and thus negate the core tenets of anarcho-primitivism (that we must repent).

Thus, anarcho-primitivism offers no answer on how we should move forward from the crisis that we have allowed our current socio-economic system to place us all in.Cheering_crowd_in_a_concert

We, The Earth Organisation of Sustainability, on the other hand, believes in the human race. We believe that we have the power to take control over the situation and transition towards a sustainable future. We believe that humanity can and will ascend towards a Type-1 civilization, and that we will accept that what we do today will affect the evolution of Life on Earth for millions of years. We believe that we will transcend towards a civilization where we have grown to realize that what truly matters in the Universe is Life, and Life-bearing Earths.

There is nothing which we cannot do.

We can and we will solve the social problems on the planet. We can and we will end the wars. We can and we will create a world where all human beings and all communities can live in dignity, liberty and diversity within what the Earth can provide. In this world, anarcho-primitivists can and will have the freedom to live in their communities according to their ideals, and also have the freedom to choose to leave their communities.

Anarcho-primitivism rejects human culture, human curiousity, human questioning and human personality, instead opting for us abandoning our humanity and returning to nature. But is not our humanity ultimately derived from nature itself, and a testament to nature’s ingenuity and diversity?

What we want is for humanity to make a choice.

A choice to form a sustainable civilization on Earth, that can provide all humans with a good quality of life, autonomy, diversity, human rights and freedom to realise themselves. And we believe that humanity is ultimately capable of transcending, and that we will continue to transcend, beyond the stars.

And our light will reach the farthest star.

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Happy 46th Earth Day

nature-balances-herself

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

For 46 consecutive years, we have celebrated Earth Day, and yet the status of this planet is worsening. On the sixth Earth Day, in April 1975, we were in the process of the first overshoot of our global footprints. Since then, we have used up a larger and larger share of the Earth’s diminishing reserves, crowding out eco-systems to replace them with linear activities.

We have all the opportunities in the world to change the course, and a lot of things are undoubtly done. What is happening now however is that improvements are local and implemented within either regions (by political demand) or within companies (due to genuine convictions and green marketing), but in the same time, things like fracking and tar sands are exploding on the market, the cattle industry and meat production beats all-time records, and the main concern for decision-makers within both the western sphere and the BRICS sphere is how to maximise economic growth.

What forces are genuinely interested in saving this must plead, beg, work hard for little to no economic gain and almost apologise for struggling to save the lives of all of us, while those who are more responsible for the current state of our world would never have to worry about being homeless, about having to move around or whether they would have to buy food or medicines.

This post is devoted to those heroes of our time.

The tale of Alexander and Ann-Sofie

Alexander Bascom and Ann-Sofie Svensson. Alex and Ann-SofieA young couple in Umea, Sweden, who are passionate about innovation and aquaponics, they founded Green Free Will back in 2012, and sought resources to realize their dream of constructing automated biodomes which would transform our entire relationship with food. Their tale is one of love, struggle, many setbacks and triumphes.

Entering a collaboration with the Earth Organisation for Sustainability, Green Free Will was awarded an agricultural development grant from the European Union, which however took a long while before it arrived due to the bureaucratic structure of the application. When it finally arrived, we were all overjoyed, and so the construction could commence during the late summer of 2014.

Today, I feel privileged to announce that the last part of the grant was recently transferred to EOS, and is now transferred to Green Free Will, so they can do the last work on the dome before the next phase of the project begins. It fills me with happiness that Green Free Will’s project will receive a much needed morale booster.

Alexander’s and Ann-Sofie’s story is awesome, though not unique. Everywhere throughout the world, there are idealists struggling both to make their household economics hold together, and to initiate revolutionary innovative projects that will change the way we look at the world. This vanguard of the garages is a bright hope for humanity during Earth’s darkest hour in 65 million years.

One of the purposes of the EOS is to cooperate with and help people who burn for projects to realize them. As a small organisation, we sadly do not have unlimited resources. By helping us, you will help people like Alex and Ann-Sofie and organisations like Green Free Will to network and expand.

Ultimately, what we all are struggling for is the very foundation for our existence. In this matter, you are either for life or for death.

So thank you Alex and Ann-sofie, Richard, Jonathan, Stefan, Maria and the others! You are making the world a better place!

On Energy Accounting: Public and Personal

MonolithArcologies_RyanGrobins

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

Unlike Karl Marx, we very much advise that we should need to at least make rudimentary socio-economic recipes for the future. During Marx’s time, there was little in terms of knowledge regarding the effects that industrialism had on environment, to not say the least that the world at the period of 1848-1888 still was “sustainable” (in the sense that we used less than the world could renew).

As you may be aware of, the Earth Organisation for Sustainability has designed a basic blueprint for a new global socio-economic system, which is called Energy Accounting or simply “the Design”. This Design is developed partially from Distributed Systems Theory and partially from the proposals of Technocracy Incorporated in the US during the 1930’s. We do also aspire to test our system on limited scales in a series of tests.

As you all probably know already, Energy Accounting is a design that relies on  assembling data on the Earth’s capability to renew its resources on a constant basis, use that data to establish a specific amount of energy credits, and then share out these energy credits to the people – or rather to each and every individual who contains their energy credits in a personal account. The individual then allocates their energy credits to things which they desire, and the things they desire are produced for them.

Simple, right?

No, the truth is that it is a highly complex process, but given the global impact we as a species are weighing on our poor planet, I believe that most people can agree that our proposals (taken separately) have merits. It is still a bit early for people in general to accept that these proposals make a lot of sense taken together as well, but we’re heading in that direction technologically, which I guess is good.

Anyway, there are some things regarding Energy Accounting which I believe that I have not emphasised enough, and that is subsequently why this post exists. This post will not be a complete exposé, but rather will focus on one issue, namely how energy units are distributed out and what the difference is between public and personal use of energy credits.

It is highly suggested that readers are reading through the other articles regarding the topic of Energy Accounting, before or after having read this, whether you need to fresh up your knowledge or if this is an entirely novel topic for you.

Why Energy Accounting is a form of market economics

theeducatorscloud-public.sharepoint.com

theeducatorscloud-public.sharepoint.com

When we move away the basic income and the circular economy bits of EA, what we are getting is a form of self-regulated market economy where the externalities are internalised.

Conventional market economics can only approach environmental problems either by the Laissez-Faire approach (meaning that we need to wait until air and water are so scarce that there can be market for them where some people will be left out because their demand curves are too low) or by legal regulations (taxes).

Energy Accounting solves the problem of externalities by constant data gathering of crucial information regarding the planet’s state. This data gathering would be carried out by de-facto thousands of stations and project groups, who each and every one will add data to the overall energy survey.

These resources are later on distributed to the entire population of the survey area, where each individual is given both a basic minimum income and additional energy units according to their labour (there is also a debate on where the minimum level should be based and whether we should go for full egalitarianism, but that is a subject for another topic). As everyone have received their share of energy units, they can allocate these units to determine how the production of the entire survey area would be distributed and what industries would be subsidised. This would create a market where demand to some extent is determining supply (within the capabilities of nature of course).

Therefore, basic Energy Accounting as defined by EOS is a form of market economy. It is not a capitalistic market economy, but it is a market economy.

However, while markets are good to determine individual needs (if all people have decent demand curves), they are not so optimal when determining public needs. For example, people may not demand railway systems, but railway systems can improve the transport of other things that people need. Large-scale energy production, infrastructure, basic education and hospitals, to just a mention a few things, would need to have a basic infrastructure.

Infrastructure on some level demands public expenditure (no matter if the revenue is raised through taxes, raised through voluntary donations or is income from government owned natural resources).

Given that Energy Accounting is not designed to work with taxes, how should public utilities be dealt with? And is there a single recipe for dealing with public utilities?

The Public space in a technate

Energy Accounting

One thing which we assume is that all energy units will be distributed out to the people. There is however a slight problem with that, and that is that a modern society is incredibly complex. What gift economists and other anarchists are ignoring is that modern production often demands a lot of steps to extract or produce materials, assemble them and then transport them to consumers (and then recycle or upcycle them). By smart green innovations and holistic systems, we can reduce this complexity (to the price of another form of complexity, namely superior data algorithms), but if we are aiming for the production of energy, food and resources enough to feed large human communities, there would still need to be infrastructure.

We can reduce our needs for it, but even if most things are produced locally by the communities themselves, some back-up systems in the case of a disaster would be needed.

Another issue is the issue of fairness. Is it fair that an individual with heritable diseases should spend more of their energy units on things like medicines, medical care, wheelchair, eye augmentations (or glasses)? Should children (or the parents) devote more of their energy units for education services?

Therefore, as evidenced in the image above, when the Energy Survey for the period is made, a share of the energy credits will go to the infrastructure, so the infrastructure can provide the users with both basic services and maintenance, and provide the holons with the resource networks they need to produce the stuff that people are requesting.

Thus, it wouldn’t be like that people would first receive their share and be obliged to pay a part of it back in the form of taxes. Rather, the distribution between public and personal will happen when the total capacity has been measured by the Energy Survey.

Those who have looked at the figure above can see a third area, a green one. The question that follows is: What is it?

As previously written, the total share of energy units correspond (ideally) to the survey area’s capability to regenerate its biomass (for clarifying, the survey area might be the Earth). If all of those units are distributed out, either to the users or infrastructure, there is nothing that says that everything won’t be used up. Of course, most users will not be using up all their energy units during one period. Yet, by relying on such unreliable and fluctuating methodologies of regaining nature, we will basically make nature subservient to consumption – which is one of the foundational problems in today’s world.

Therefore, it is essential that a fraction of the energy units are left idle (that we are using for example 97,5% of what is within nature’s limits to provide instead of 100%, the percentile in itself is not as important as that is below 100%). This would ensure a slow but steady adaption from nature’s side, and that ecological diversity will eventually start to grow again.

Public vs personal, how to determine?

Eco-homes in Rockwood

Eco-homes in Rockwood

There are two ways to determine how much of the total sum of energy units should be distributed to any of the three areas mentioned above.

The first methodology is the technocratic methodology, which would mean that experts would determine the minimum and maximum needs for the infrastructure to operate and then extrapolate the needs from that. The second methodology is the democratic methodology, which would mean that the public themselves would determine how much would go to themselves as individuals, and how much would go to the infrastructure (including public institutions).

I would say that both methodologies are valid, but only if they are used in tandem with one another and a third factor. This third factor is of course the normative and ethical foundations of the Constitution, which outlines how resources may not be used (for example not be used in a way that destroys the environment or in a way that violates human rights). The figure below illustrates this interdependence.

by Enrique Lescure

by Enrique Lescure

However, that it is decided that a specific share of the common resource base would be used for infrastructure will not mean that this percentage will always be used for infrastructure. It also does not mean that the specific share in every region will be the same.

In regions with smaller infrastructural requirements (due to population size or other factors) or where the culture and sentiments are favouring self-sufficiency contra massive public infrastructure, there would be less distribution of energy units to infrastructural or public needs. Conversely in some other regions, the infrastructure might receive over 50% of the energy units.

Food: Public or personal?

biodome_preview

One last issue before I wrap up this particular post. Food.

Why would it be a good idea to view at least some basic food as a public utility? The reason is that while a user generally can wait for a new garage module, a new bike or a new computer, all human beings require food. We can imagine that there would be holons that produce for example food on a daily basis, but for staple food (for example wheat or rice) there would be need for large-scale production in order to provide for a billion population of humans.

Therefore, it can be advisable to at least measure a part of the public energy credit usage as being directed towards food production. That would however not negate holons producing food autonomously.

Summary

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The main issue to remember is that we soon will be nearly 10 billion human beings on this world. We would need to utilize our common resource base very wisely, and we must take into account that it would probably not be feasible to have all humans self-sufficient (though a higher degree of self-sufficiency and survivalism is probably necessary if we want to have a strong civilization).

Therefore, there needs to be an opportunity for a public sector administering basic infrastructure existing alongside the voluntary holonic initiatives which would form the basis of the Technate’s economy. The size of this public sector should be determined by the needs of the infrastructure, but also by the desires of the public, and be checked by the Constitution.

It should also be stated that the Technate in itself is perceived (even the blueprint) as a transitionary model towards yet a better and more sustainable civilization. This would mean that when you read texts by us, you should not imagine that we aspire to create a perfect society or some form of socialist or anarchist utopia. Rather, we are trying to create an alternative that can balance human needs with the needs of the environment and of future generations.

That is the great challenge of our era.

On Space

nasa.gov

nasa.gov

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

I’ll admit it. I love space.

Partially, I guess my mother is to blame. When I was a child, she used to tell me Star Wars, Terminator, A Space Odyssey and Alien as stories. Soon, I had been hooked on Star Wars (though my greatest love before age nine was dinosaurs). I still do love space, and as soon as there is a live sending of the landing on a planetary body or any other celestial object, I must see the press conference, and will follow the research data as it pops in.

When I need to relax, I use to put on ambient music and explore a brilliant programme called Space Engine. I love to slowly traverse the stars, watching how they swirl around majestically like magic snowflakes in romantic renderings of blizzards.

The thought of all the billions of worlds out there, worlds with awe-inspiring landscapes, exotic environments, life and creatures that exist, breathe, see and sense their world. Civilizations beyond the stars, gazing up to their skies and wondering from where they came… it’s a thought that is deeply humbling.

Yet, I would use this post here to criticise the notion that the immediate short-term solution to our problems on Earth is to be found out there.

It is not.

The allure of Mars

MarsTransitionV

“Fuck Earth” ~ Elon Musk.

At the dawn of the 21st century, actors in both the west and the east take a great interest in the Red Planet, which for a long time has pre-occupied the minds of astronomers, xeno-biologists, sci-fi authors and conspiracy theorists alike. Mars One sought to establish a human colony on Mars by the 2020’s, but the project has all but fallen apart. Despite this, interest remains very high, and Elon Musk has built his goals around helping to establish a Mars colony.

According to Musk, we need to spread humanity through the solar system and the Milky Way, to guarantee our long-term survival. According to him, our top priority should be to place one million humans on Mars.

I am in agreement with Musk. In order to optimize our future survival as a species, we need to spread to other bodies in the solar system, and perhaps also build new space habitats in orbit around the sun, especially as the human population will continue to increase in numbers (albeit at a slower rate).

But I am also in disagreement with Musk. I do not consider it our top priority right now.

Mars terraformation is alluring as a prospect, but the fact is that we (as a species) currently unintentionally are leading a venusformation of Earth, by upsetting the planet’s climate, and a marsformation by creating artificial linearly arranged environments – environments which on their own cannot support life.

This goes not only for Musk, but for large parts of the space industry. I do not believe that the motivation in this case is primarily greed or power, but rather imagination and curiousity – and tragically passion. The very same passion for “the final frontier” that I myself holds dear.

This passion can under the wrong circumstances contribute to the destruction of the Biosphere of the planet. But I move ahead of myself.

Rocky_Mars_Surface

This, ladies and gentlemen, is Mars.

A frozen radioactive wasteland with extreme temperature variations, a very irregular orbit around the sun, a weak atmosphere with little protection from dangerous UV rays, the north being a plain with raging dust storms (and radioactive dust at that), and the south a barren rocky landscape.

The only place vaguely reminiscent of this on Earth is located in the far south…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

wattsupwiththat.com

Humans have part-settled Antarctica since the late 19th century (whaling stations) and today mostly have presence through research stations. These stations are dependent on supplies by shipments from the US, Brazil, Russia and other countries that have bases on Antarctica. Of course, people are growing food there as well, in expensive greenhouse stations, and to some extent are producing their own supplies.

Elon Musk hopes to replicate this on Mars, but with far more people and in a far more hostile environment. Leading such a project would cost billions, to not speak of the terraformation of Mars which would be necessary to create a long-term flourishing colony.

The colony would be dependent on supplies shipments from Earth, on fuels for transporting colonists, and would mean that thousands of scientists would commit themselves to this project, while the Earth is burning.

breartonbooks.com

breartonbooks.com

The first priority

Elon Musk and other visionaries are the kind of people that our planet is needing at this moment. And with “this planet”, I’m not referring to the Red Planet, with its many alluring mysteries. Rather, I am referring to Earth, our cradle and cosmic ship, with which we are undertaking a journey throughout the galaxy, dancing with the stars.

earth-with-shimmer

How can you think of saying “fuck Earth“, mr Musk? This world has brought to you your life. The complex biosphere in which you have been born and raised, have given humanity the opportunity to rise to gaze at the stars. No matter how fascinating Mars is, it is essentially a dead world – a radioactive desert on which you hope to plant the seeds of human civilization.

At this very moment, in basements and laboratories throughout the world, geeks are dreaming of terraforming Mars – while Earth burns in pain.

If we have the power to terraform Mars, how come we cannot save Earth?

nature.com

nature.com

On Earth and on life

What kind of values would you like us to spread throughout the stars? Should we spread the values of McDonalds? Of acquisition? Of real estate? Or should we try to aspire to greater things as a civilization?

I would argue, that the greatest thing there is in the Universe, is Life.

Intelligent civilizations, wherever they are located, should all be humbled by the fact that they arose from the humble origin of primitive organisms on their home planets, and that they have been nurtured by the biospheres of their home planets. Life creates diversity, opportunities, experience, and from what I can observe, all living things want to live.

Dolphins2

It makes no sense for a species that can create culture, arts and music, to devastate and murder their own planet for nothing else than to maximise the outcome on a curve for the fastest possible rate. I would argue that humanity as a whole owes a thing to itself, namely to prove itself worthy by turning our way around and saving this “fucking” Earth (as Musk would say).

If we can terraform the Moon, Mars and Venus, it would be an easy task saving the Earth.

Summary

palaeos.com

palaeos.com

The kind of habitats we imagine on other worlds, with biodomes, green energy and recycling/upcycling/downcycling facilities, must be realised on Earth on a massive scale tomorrow. We can build self-sufficient arcologies, housing thousands of people, in habitats spread out over artificial islands in the Pacific. We can create irrigated sustainable cities in the Saharan Desert and on the Arab Peninsula. We can satisfy the world’s energy needs by solar alone.

With the resources and creativity of humanity, we can achieve wonders, but we need to focus.

Like Elon Musk, I dream of humanity crossing the Great Void of Ginnungagap, to journey beyond this Middle Earth, towards Vega and Alpha Centauri, towards Tau Ceti and the Pleyades.

But first, we have to sort out the mess we have created on Earth. If we retreat from that responsibility, we would have lost an opportunity to show ourselves from our best side.

Sincerely, Enrique

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Priorities: What must be done?

earth___stop_climate_change___by_h_4rt-d6eu3x11Enrique Lescure

Introduction

Why does the Earth Organization for Sustainability exist?

It can be argued that our mission is to design and test alternative socio-economic systems, but that does rather answer the how than the why. The why is so future generations of living beings, humans and other species, will have the opportunity to live on an ecologically and socially sustainable Earth. I believe that our name might indicate this too. There is a slight difficulty in this, however, which we must take into account.

We are living under a mass extinction

riholtz.com

riholtz.com

This problem, is of course that we currently are causing what could very well be the Sixth Great Mass Extinction in Earth’s History. Especially three issues have to be solved as soon as possible. The first one of these you all already are familiar with – namely antropogenic climate change. The second and third issues are the destruction of bio-diversity in the oceans (which might be beyond saving) and on land. These encroachments are caused partially by over-fishing and direct destruction of habitats, but also by pollution, medicines, artificial estrogen and the gradual out-crowding of diverse eco-systems.

All of this ultimately derives from a socio-economic system (fuelled partially by the bizarre values of consumerism) which values the following three months of growth rates higher than the previous 65 million years of evolution. At the current rate, humanity is using up between 133-150% of the Earth’s annual regeneration capacity per year. If we continue to move on this trajectory, we would basically have made most eco-systems collapse by the early 22nd century.

What must be done?

world_economic_forum

The first thing that needs to be done, by all major institutions and actors, is to reduce our footprints with nearly a third, until we move slightly below the 100% treshold.

The achievement of this can be done independently from transitioning to the kind of socio-economic system that EOS envisions. But for the long-term well-being of the planet, it is necessary that we evolve towards a system where we can have a circular economy that sees all flows of resources being monitored to eliminate waste and bottlenecks and ensure the optimum usage of the resources.

As our house is burning, we need to implement some other policies as well, that in themselves would demand stark choices. It is about halting or outright stopping the devastation of the eco-systems. That would mean an inversion of the current priorities of the elite establishments, from Davos to Rio.

This places a dilemma upon us. Because the economy is built as it is now, where poor people’s complacency are bought not by promises of Heaven but with promises that their children would afford cars instead of bicycles or sandals, halting and reverting the expansion of most of the things we are doing right now will probably increase dissatisfaction temporarily, and can affect the lives of human beings adversedly.

Hard Greens can argue that we need not to be disheartened by any choices in order to save planet Earth. However, our movement is built not only on the values of bio-diversity, but also that we must create optimal conditions for human life to occur. Therefore, it is essential that while we advocate for a shift to a Earth-centred and rational approach to the current crisis of the Earth, that we also should protect and uphold the needs of individuals and communities, in terms of both their basic rights to live and to their civic rights.

Ultimately, the well-being of the biosphere is the basis of human well-being on Earth. At the moment, there are however very, very tough choices that have to be made, by everyone.

How EOS should approach this

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Or rather, how everyone should approach this…

There must be a broad consensus within the human civilization that this current path will lead to a new mass extinction, and that we must revert it, for the sake of the most important thing that the Universe holds – Life. It is unworthy of an intelligent species to destroy the conditions for this most valuable thing. Rather, an intelligent species should support life.

There should be honesty in that a transition towards a sustainable future will be painful, and will probably present the greatest challenge that our species ever faced. In fact, the first global challenge we’ve ever faced. The wrong way to approach this crisis is to claim that we can solve this within a few years time and that it would be completely painless. It can lead to more followers, but it would be unethical since it would partially be misinformation or disinformation.

We need to reach a concord with the various establishments populating the echelons of power. This one might be controversial, since the establishments (for obvious reasons) are the main benefactors of the current system. Thing is, even if you are wealthy and see this current system as a way for you to secure your future and the future of your children, your children’s future will be devastated too if we destroy the foundations for complex life on Earth.

We do not have the luxury for political upheavals or wars between nations any more. The more we procrastrinate and behave as if the problems can be solved by the next generation, the harder the problems will be to solve, and the more radical the means to solve the problems will be. Eventually, the problems will essentially be unsolvable and the issue will no longer be how to save the planet, but rather on how to save humanity.

EOS does not aspire to lead humanity. We are not a political party or revolutionary movement. We are not moralists, but pragmatics.

What we must do is to conduct our field tests of Energy Accounting and the Holonic model, and create a vast social network of like-minded individuals, while simultaneously advocating our issues and interacting with the public and with the various establishments in order to help contribute to the consensus regarding the issues that we all must face, since we all share this world.

We need one another ultimately.