The Real Economy

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By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

Right now, the air is buzzing with the rumours of the next financial crash. This is starting to become an autumn tradition in the more conspiracist camp. The Petrodollar is going down, it is time to invest in gold, weapons or canned food. This time, however, even mainstream newspapers are warning for an impeding financial meltdown – which everyone with the slightest understanding of the current system and of Fiat currencies know is inevitable.

At the same time, we must bear in mind that a Fiat system can theoretically be rebooted by the addition of credits which are pumped into the finance industry. When these credits are not corresponding to what increased growth rates are needed, another financial crash will happen, a recovery occurs and the economy stabilises for shorter and shorter intervals with higher and higher structural unemployment as a result.

As long as there is reason for faith in economic activities, the system can be rebooted again and again, despite its glaring similarities with a pyramid scheme. There is a relationship between the Fiat economy and the Real economy, though it is often vague and the two systems are standing on different foundations. While one rests on human estimations, gut feelings, optimism and wishful thinking, the other simply is.

This entry will be about what the Real Economy is, and what consequences it will have running it to the ground. Sadly, one of the aspects of the Fiat system is to incentivise economic behaviour that is serving to run the Real Economy into the ground.

TL;DR notes (because I like lists)

  • Since the Cambrian explosion, the Earth has formed complex multi-agent biospheres that are built around Earth’s natural cycles (sunlight, perspiration, rainfall, seasons), but which also are building themselves by slow but mostly continuous increases in complexity.
  • For all what matters, to have a human economy demands interaction with the Earth’s biosphere, and human activities will affect the biosphere.
  • Thus, the human economy cannot be seen as something separate from the biosphere in itself, but is essentially a part of what builds this planet.
  • This also means that the biosphere will affect human well-being, and that this well-being depends very much on how we treat the systems on the planet that are making the biosphere possible.
  • Ultimately, what we need now is to unlearn the cosmology of Individualistic Consumerism, and to approach the issue of what the economy is by looking at total resource flows and not just focus on the human activities.

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On the Real Economy

The Real Economy is not linear but a multi-agent system, meaning that each species and each individual is both on the receiving and returning end of the system, and the purpose – rather than growth – is for individuals and species to survive and improve their survival skills within this context of existence. The system is interdependent with the soils it has created, with the groundwater and rainfall and with the climate it is engineering.

The cycle of ice ages and warm periods are partially affected by the amounts of trees, binding greenhouse gasses. Colder periods lead to a drier climate which in turns lead to forest fires that are releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, increasing the average temperature. This leads to a moistlier climate that grows forests and bind carbon dioxide, slowing down the increase in temperatures.

A growth in the amount of vegetation increases the number of herbivore species, which creates a good opportunity for carnivores to increase their numbers as well, until the collapse of the herbivore population allows the flora to recuperate. As the carnivores are decreasing in number, herbivores can return to the fray.

This is the real economy. It has existed since time immemorial. As it gradually grew, it has transformed itself from a few one-celled organisms stewing in a primordial soup, into a vibrant dynamic equilibrium that can recuperate from mass extinction events such as the Cretaceous-Tertiary Meteorite that wiped away the dinosaurs. This economy is characterised by a slow, gradual increase of biomass and of complexity, off-set periodically by extinction events which could have destroyed complex life on Earth.

We can imagine a countless, countless number of Earths out there, tens of thousands of light years from us, where life has been wiped out by meteorite impacts, volcanoes, supernovae or climate change. There is perhaps an even greater number of worlds where life has never evolved beyond single-cell or even sub-cell organisms.

It is truly a miracle that our Earth has survived five mass extinction events and has built six biosphere regimes.

And this Earth is what allows you to live, to breathe and to aim for your objectives.

The economies of human civilizations, no matter how they look like, have all been dependent on the Real Economy, the Biosphere, and are thus – no matter if they want it or not – a part of it.

By Stella McCartney on Prezi

By Stella McCartney on Prezi

The Real Deficit

Often, we hear that many western economies are suffering under public and private debt, which can either be solved – within the framework of Fiat currencies – through either stimulus (to create growth that can allow us to grow the economy) or through austerity (cutting back the provision systems for the weakest members of society to save money). Often, these two policies are following one another, first a stimulus to the financial institutions taken from the tax payers, and then a punishment of the tax payers and the poor by tax increases and welfare cuts.

In the long-term however, only one deficit matters.

That deficit is marked by the Earth overshoot day, the day when our resource usage exceeds the ability of the planet to provide for our demands without the global biomass and biodiversity shrinking. This means that we have a global ecological deficit, which has grown above the limit since the 1970’s.

Five of nine vital life-supporting systems underpinning the biosphere are today being ravaged by the need for infinite exponential growth caused by the credit-based fiat system. The climate is being disturbed, the soils and the freshwater reserves depleted of nutrients, the land-based eco-systems are being outcrowded by artificial, linear production areas, and the oceans are being outright sexually molested.

All of this means that we are heading for a sixth mass extinction event, caused by our current civilization, within the next 100 years.

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The root cause

The root cause for this is actually what we think of as our “economic system”. The creation of “money” is – through fractional reserve banking – preceding the actual creation of capital. That means that our current system is reliant on credits, meaning that for the system to survive, money must be used to increase economic production, by creating demand for products and satiating said demand.

A reduction in growth rates is not enough, since the growth must at least follow the increase of the amount of debt in the system, otherwise interest rates will go up and the social stability of the system will be threatened. Thus, the system in itself incentivizes economic activities that are destroying the Biosphere, and is rewarding behaviour that strives to minimise costs in terms of investment and maximises outcome.

Environmental Economics of the type where the needs of the Biosphere (i.e the needs of Life on Earth) is placed below the needs of maximising economic growth, are a consequence of the perverse idea that an economic system which has developed for around 200 years is more essential that an economic system that has existed for 65 million years.

Economic growth has one good effect, and that is an increase in living standards. The only good argument left by growth proponents is that within the next 50 years, a person earning €1,25 today would earn €5 instead (and afford a car). That is however offset by the fact that economists generally have little knowledge of how much damage our environmental destruction would do on our eco-systems in the long run, and that the system will invariably collapse.

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Energy Accounting as an alternative

Energy Accounting is described in more detail in the article linked herein. We do not know how it will work out in real conditions yet, which is why we must test it. There are potential drawbacks and bottlenecks as well. The goal with Energy Accounting is however not just to install itself, but to fulfill three criteria which we need to fulfill to have a sustainable civilization.

Thus, Energy Accounting is designed as a tracking system, to keep an overview of the resource flows of the planet. It is designed as a post-monetary currency which aims to create a better balance between demand and supply – through creating a system where things do not have to be produced before there are willing users. It is also designed as a system which factors in the demand and supply curves of the Biosphere itself, thus incentivizing economic actions that are either neutral or beneficial to the well-being of the planet, while penalizing actions that are damaging to it.

Within the Earth Organisation for Sustainability, we are aiming for the testing of Energy Accounting, to see how aspects of it can work and how we can improve our Design.

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Summary: A strategy to claim the problem formulation initiative

We must – as a movement – always strive towards focusing on the Real Economy. While we must accept the existence of the crumbling Fiat system for now, we must work towards a transition away from it, by transitioning away from looking at the world through the lenses of the City of London and Wall Street.

The Fiat System ultimately relies on faith in its regulations. It will crumble, probably faster than the Biosphere itself. The challenge is to transcend the worldview where the greatest potential disaster is a stock market crash and a massive hike in unemployment.

How we do that is not primarily by questioning or accusing or being obsessed by the injustice of the current system, but by instead laying our focus on the Real Economy, and how we as a species are embedded in it and how most of us for the foreseeable future will be dependent on it.

That does not mean that we should not focus on social issues, but that we must find a way to integrate social issues into the narrative of the Real Economy.

The Earth Organisation of Sustainability does not deal with the binary world-view of eco-systems contra humanity. Instead, we view Life in itself as the most valued and cherished concept. Thus, what is good for the Biosphere is good for you, as an individual, and for us collectively as a species.

We must as a civilization make a conscious choice to accept the truth – that we are a part of the Biosphere and that we need to model our civilization in a manner that integrates it into the Biosphere and integrates the Biosphere into the infrastructure. This also means a life-positive outlook, where we have an obligation to design our societies so they allow individuals the freedom to express themselves, create, form their lives and achieve safety, meaning and liberty.

After all, as a system, the Biosphere strives towards more and more diversity and abundance. We should definetly try to mimic the beauty and splendour of nature.

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On Counterjihadism – a regressive, dangerous ideology

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by Enrique Lescure

Introduction

As the Schengen Treaty crumbles, thousands of refugees are entering Europe every week in an uncontrolled, unmanaged way. Most who are entering are desperate people looking for a better life, but also people who are not really desperate and some who even harbour a desire to act as a subversive force in the communities they end up in.

Many of these immigrants end up in areas in the periphery of major European cities, where they are living amongst people from the same cultural region. Today, major western European cities are multi-cultural to a large extent, and most of it has been working quite well. There have however been dormant tensions between neighbourhoods dominated by people descended from islamic countries, and the nearby communities.

In France, the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, there have been numerous allegations from both representatives of other communities as well as representatives of the muslim community. While the former claim that the muslims demand special exclusive treatment and want Islam to be pre-dominant in suburbs characterised by large muslim minorities, the latter are feeling targeted by media and by the surrounding communities, which they accuse for Islamophobia and discrimination.

There is also a growing tendency from both sides to generalise and simplify. A problem is however that there’s a tendency from the formal authorities in many European countries to simplify as well.

Ultimately, CounterJihad is arising from a lot of factors both connected to wider socio-economic trends and to policy decisions in regards to Integration and the War on Terror (and non-decisions as well). Given that, when growing, CounterJihad starts to affect the development in a regressive manner, and even if contra-jihadists may see it in another way, their strategy will serve to worsen the problem.

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A dark vision

Somewhere in Western Europe, 2030’s:

The government tried to regain control over the situation, but the spiral of violence crippled the supply lines of the capital city. The military, a shell of its former self, crumbled due to the stress of both trying to keep pacified areas peaceful and to retake lost areas. There had been three factions, the government which had tried to separate the fighting militias, the jihadists who originally had been a small force but now had thousands of fighters, drawn from sub-urban youth feeling a need to defend their communities, and finally the counter-jihadists, who ranged from people having been forced by circumstances to join them to full-out Neo-Nazis.

The government would still exist formally after the capitol fell. It fled to a minor provincial city. The capitol, however, was in the hands of the warring factions. Now they were two, but soon they became hundreds, as alliances broke and shifted. Some of the larger groups tried to reach an accommodation to end the fighting, but the cease-fire was continuously broken by minor groups, either because the trade of weapons, drugs and shortage goods had become lucrative, or because they followed their apocalyptic, utopian visions to the letter.

Or because they consisted of lots of bored young men. 

As the violence faded, ethnic and sectarian cleansings had been committed by both sides. Distrust ran deep, and what emerged was a fragmented, disillusioned society struggling with keeping its own peace. Intra-European refugees fled across the EU, as well as militia groups, destabilising more and more areas.

Large parts of Europe were rapidly being balkanized.

TL;DR notes

  • The growth of muslim minorities in Europe is a relatively recent phenomenon, and driven by different factors depending on which country we are looking at at which time in history.
  • Following 9/11 and the initiation of the War on Terror, the western countries agreed on a media strategy aiming to separate militant jihadis from moderate islamists and the main muslim community.
  • This also meant a strategy where Islam was to be portrayed in a neutral or positive light in western countries, to reduce the risk of race riots which could fuel jihadism.
  • CounterJihad originally can be said to be an off-shot of Neo-conservatism which seeked to portray the world in Manichean terms as a struggle between the West and Islam, probably mostly out of boredom since the fall of the Soviet Union.
  • When CounterJihad started to emerge in Europe, around 2006, it started to gradually morph into what could be described as a fascist movement.
  • The problems with the CounterJihad ideology is that it builds on the collectivization of all muslims into a sort of Hive Mind hell-bent on destroying European culture and traditions. This means de-humanization of tens of millions of European citizens, and the logic of CounterJihad doesn’t stop with a ban of Halal or no Minarets, but would – if taken to its logical conclusion – necessarily imply the deportation or the genocide of Europe’s muslim minorities.
  • Jihadists like the Islamic State are searching for opportunities to increase their support base amongst the muslims of Europe. That is why one of their aims is to conduct attacks on European soil in order to strengthen CounterJihad and other similar movements.
  • The best long-term strategy would be if European governments primarily sought to realise that muslims are individuals too, and that it is not necessarily so that muslim organisations are representing all muslims in neighbourhoods.

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Islamic communities in Europe

Even though Islam as a religion has a long history on the European continent, it has mostly existed continuous muslim communities (and even nations) in the south-eastern corner of Europe. Scholars often bring up the existence of an Islamic civilization on the Iberian peninsula for over 700 years (711 – 1492), but most traces of that culture were wiped out (or infused into Spanish culture) by the middle 17th century.

The Balkans under Ottoman domination were largely isolated from the rest of Europe, even after the partial collapse of the Empire in 1912-1913. While there have always been individual muslims in European societies, they have most often been diplomatic envoys, traders, travellers or convertites (often associated to University communities and choosing intellectual and mystical Islamic teachings like Sufiism).

On the British isles, the first islamic communities started to emerge during the 1930’s from then British India. In most of the rest of Europe, migration started during the 1960’s and 1970’s, first of labour and then of refugees from Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Algeria, former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Somalia and now most recently Syria.

It can be argued that Modernist architecture partially is to blame for the segregation between people descended from the Islamic world, and the native Europeans. By building cities in a rational manner with different housing for different income percentiles, and concentrating cheap housing in areas adjacent to the capitol or to industrial cities, it created a mental and often geographical separation between income groups. When immigrants, and then especially refugees, are settled inside societies where they should acclimatise, they generally end up in the cheapest and most remote housing units.

Since the 1990’s, Europe is entering the fourth phase of the industrial revolution, meaning a reduction of labour, off-shoring labour to poor countries and the ascent of Robotics. This means that low-skilled jobs are becoming increasingly scarce and fewer labour hours are available. While during the late 1940’s if you had two hands, you’ve only got yourself to blame if you were unemployed, today the situation becomes far more complex.

It is not a surprise that refugees, especially in countries like France and Sweden, which lack an established muslim middle class (like it exists in the United Kingdom and to a lesser extent Germany) end up in poverty, dependency and unemployment. Since employment has been a (if not the) traditional way of being introduced to western culture, it has left large, increasingly concentrated communities in a state of Limbo where the two ways they have to assert their identities is to look inward and backward, towards the regions they fled from originally.

Thus, many of these neighbourhoods have gradually and in an emergent manner taken on many of the cultural traits and customs of the original countries of the immigrants. It cannot be denied that a large part of this is consisting of what can be termed honour culture. While honour culture still exists within western cultures (it should be seen as a spectrum, not as an on-off switch), there is a difference between considering someone a “slut” and of it being perceived as an imperative for the family to punish the individual who has engaged in sexual and other behaviour that is unwanted by the community.

Even though honour killings are very rare in relationship to the size of the muslim population in Europe, the behaviour is seen as so alien and weird to most North-west Europeans that they cannot grasp it intellectually. Controlling the sexual development of adolescents (and especially females) is seen as important within traditional islamic communities heralding from the Arab World, South Asia and East Africa. From their point of view, North-west European culture is seen as monstrous, and they wonder whether European parents really love or care about their children, who are gradually left to figure out that with sex and relationships themselves.

It can be said to be a case of Blue and Orange morality.

11 Sep 2001 --- President George W. Bush addresses the nation from the Oval Office of the White House after three planes commandeered by unknown hijackers slammed into the Pentagon and New York's World Trade Center September 11, 2001.  Bush returned to the White House early this evening to address this crisis.  REUTERS/Larry Downing --- Image by © Reuters/CORBIS

11 Sep 2001 — President George W. Bush addresses the nation from the Oval Office of the White House after three planes commandeered by unknown hijackers slammed into the Pentagon and New York’s World Trade Center September 11, 2001. Bush returned to the White House early this evening to address this crisis. REUTERS/Larry Downing — Image by © Reuters/CORBIS

The War on Terror and what it meant

During the 1990’s, especially the late part of the 90’s, there was a medial search for a bogeyman against the west, since Russia was down, China was not yet the world’s second largest economy and the Cold war was over. In the absence of a universal threat, media (at least here in Sweden) turned towards sensationalism. I remember personally that at least thrice a week, the Expressen newspaper – a large mainstream newspaper in Sweden – ran stories focusing on girls in the islamic world who were going to be executed for adultery or had their faces mutilated, or who had to flee.

In 1998, the Sunday Magazine of the Expressen even ran an article series on Nostradamus (which would have made History channel green with envy), claiming that Nostradamus’ prophecies may have been true. At the end, they postulated that Saddam Hussein(!) would lead the Islamic World(!!) in an invasion of the West(!!!).

This kind of sensationalism and shock value was possible in a society which was profoundly bored and hedonistic, where nothing was really serious and where xenophobic parties were minuscule (as they were in Sweden during the 90’s).

9/11 changed all that, and not necessarily in the manner that both spokesmen for islamic organisations or CounterJihadis believe.

One of the earliest aspects of the War on Terror was that it would not be a war against Islam. For all what the Anti-War left were saying during the first decade of the third millennium, there were serious attempts in western countries facing off against Salafi Jihadism to try to isolate the extremists by creating dialogues with representatives of mainstream islamic organisations and by seeking to portray Islam in a positive manner and include muslims in a positive manner.

This strategy was tactically and strategically sound. In order to reduce the threat of al-Qaeda and similar organisations, there was a need to fight the ideology behind the organisation. Moreover, it implied cooperation with allies such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States.

The problem was that the United States failed to hold a concise line in those policies.

While an argument could be made for a war against Afghanistan, the War against Saddam Hussein (and conversely, the Republic of Iraq), in retrospect lacked concise objectives and was based on a flawed analysis of reality. Those decision-makers and decision-influencers who stood close to the White House seemed to believe that the Iraqi people and the wider muslim Arab population would cheer the overthrow of the Iraqi Regime (which was completely abhorrent) and the replacement of which with a foreign occupation.

On the contrary, rather than infatuating the Arab street with love for the US, the war in Iraq developed into a bloody quagmire, an insurrection and a bloody Shia-Sunni civil war. The inclusion in the War on Terror of Iraq also created a spectre in the mind of many muslims – even those not particularly religious – that the US was at war with the entire Islamic Civilization. This was of course benefitting to the kind of militant Jihadists which the War was meant to defeat, entirely in accordance with the logic of Terrorism.

Meanwhile in the West, many conservative activists and citizens were wondering why their leaders engaged in friendly talks with leaders for islamist organisations, why they made sure to pay positive mention of Islam and established that Islam primarily was a “religion of peace”, while they could see the on-going violence in the Middle East. These citizens believed that the War on Terror was really not against Qaidist Jihadism, but actually an Islamic war against the West, and started to suspect that the western governments – especially European ones – were really duped or in cahoots with “wardrobe jihadists” (like western-based islamic movements loosely or closely aligned with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood).

Some of these thinkers had actually been close to the mainstream of US conservatism, especially within conservative media, but were envisioning the War on Terror in a more confrontational and adrenaline-pumping manner. One prime example was Ann Coulter.

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The Rise of Counterjihad

While there had been Counterjihadi thinkers since several decades back, the ideology started to make itself noticed during the second half of the last decade. Originally largely a phenomenon within US conservatism, it spread to Europe where it had the potential for mass appeal – especially due to the existence of large, isolated and relatively impoverished muslim communities near and inside West European large cities.

Originally, CounterJihad was very much focused on Israel’s allegedly exposed situation, being a small Jewish state surrounded by muslim-majority Arab states. Israel was seen as a bulwark for western values, and for Judaism and Christianity against Islam, which was encroaching. This view had been prevalent within US Christian fundamentalism since the 1980’s, when Christian Zionism started to influence US policy makers and opinion – often with apocalyptic ideas pertaining the end of the world and the Antichrist.

During the 00’s, aspects of this eschatological and Manichean world-view started to creep into secular discussion, by expanding the good-vs-evil theme on the Middle East situation to Europe. This was easy, since the Iraq War and the War on Terror had created a situation where muslims felt increasingly marginalized and insecure, while many Westerners felt that terror attacks as those in Madrid in 2004 and in London in 2005 really meant that the governments should clamp down harder than they did.

Under this situation, right-wing populist and semi-fascist parties throughout western Europe started to focus more on Islam (it had started at earliest in The Netherlands), and on the problems of integrating muslim communities into West European culture.

What CounterJihad offered was an explanation why the War on Terror was fought so “half-heartedly” and why Islamic organisations in the West gained access to share their discourses with the governments. The explanation however was nightmarish.

A summarization of CounterJihadism can be laid out like this.

  • Islam is really a totalitarian ideology aiming at world conquest.
  • Muslims in Europe are actively seeking to out-grow the native population in numbers.
  • When they become the majority, they will take over and install Islamic Republics.
  • Muslims are waging a low-intense race war against Native Europeans.
  • Muslims are always committing Taqiyya (here defined as lying about their intent).

Note the absence of any form of theory regarding how society should be structured, what positive values we should move towards as a society, how to include muslims in society or how to reduce the power of religion. CounterJihadism as an ideological umbrella (most often encompassing individuals and groups of semi-authoritarian right-wing varieties) is purely a reactive force, and doesn’t have any positive or self-defining features (Breivik’s 2083 manifesto was the closest attempt at making one, but the future society it envisioned was one where European states tried to control female reproductive power in order to restore birth rates to compete with Islamic countries).

If we would assume that this ideological view on the world is correct (entertain the thought for a moment), then it would mean that every muslim is not only a fifth columnist, but also a part of a hostile organism aiming to take over Europe and destroy its heritage. No matter what a muslim is saying or doing, they may be lying and really harbour an agenda to destroy Europe.

The CounterJihad proposals (no dialogue, no minarets, no mosques, increased repression of the muslim minorities) would necessarily provoke the kind of reactions that the CounterJihadists claim are innate within Islam. In short, the support for the Islamic State and al Qaeda would increase a hundred-fold would CounterJihadists have it their way. This would in turn lead to more militant counter-reactions from CounterJihadist political leaders, furthering separating the muslim minorities from the host societies and eventually leading either to expulsion, genocide or civil war.

Thus, CounterJihad proponents may unwittingly contribute to the creation of the reality that they claim to fear.

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What future do we want?

Jihadism is one of the world’s most dangerous ideologies, derived from the most regressive features and aspects of current Islamic Civilization. Hopefully, the ascent of the Islamic State and its inevitable downfall will make the current generation of the Islamic world to question their own values and look inward. At least, it can disillusion them maybe enough so they find ways to create a future derived from the experiences of the previous mistakes.

There are obvious social and ideological problems in the Islamic world, and especially in the Middle East and northern Africa parts of it. Problems which makes adaptions to a post-feudal society difficult, and which leads to the logic that fuelled the Lebanese, Iraqi and Syrian civil wars.

These problems can be said to be:

  • Family relationships largely based around dominance and patriarchy-based hierarchy.
  • Male insecurity and a need to confront rather than to talk.
  • A view on dialogue and negotiations as a sign of weakness.
  • A lack of trust.

It is not up to the Western (global) civilization to define what the future Islamic civilization should be like, especially not as the Western civilization itself has (other) problems with its identity and structure and would need to transcend itself as well. However, this does definetly not mean that the Islamic civilization doesn’t need to transcend (and to be frank, the Islamic State – how disgusting it now is – is an attempt to deal with the self-contradictions of the Islamic world and its fears, so there is a soul-searching happening).

All this does not mean that CounterJihad is not a dangerous ideology. In fact, just like Marxism-Leninism of the Stalinist variety and National Socialism depended on one another, we are seeing a situation emerge where CounterJihadism and Salafi Jihadism have come to strengthen and confirm one another. They are believing that they are looking at another, but are truly just looking themselves in a mirror.

Moreover, CounterJihadism will add fuel to the fervour that creates abominations such as The Islamic State. A genocide or expulsion of muslims from Western Europe will most likely definitely lead to the preservation of the traits of Islamic culture that the CounterJihadists loathe and fear, and there will be a cold war between Europe and the Islamic world for generations to come.

CounterJihad is finally a complete waste of time and energy.

Time and energy which should be used to create a Life-positive civilization, a new culture which would transcend both the current Western and Islamic civilizations, and focusing on creating conscious and secure individuals who can be able to both reach for the stars and safeguard life on Earth.

Not all human beings have the same potential, but all human beings have a highest potential, and what we must seek to do if we see cultures or tendencies that are destructive or regressive emerge, is to seek a dialogue and try to give them a positive push.

That is why it is probably a flawed strategy by western authorities to coronate representatives of moderate islamist organisations as representatives of “the muslim community”. The muslim community, like all communities, consist of individuals with different aspirations, opinions and fears. Organisations with connections to the Muslim Brotherhood do however have an interest in strengthening aspects of muslim identity which can make the process of integration and transcendence slower and more painful.

On Property

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by Enrique Lescure

Introduction

Within the Anglo-American, and then specifically American political discourse, the dominant paradigm for around two generations right now is that the main guarantor of liberty (defined as the absence of physical force) is the institution of private property, and the main threat against private property and thence liberty is the state. While the purest expression of these sentiments reside amongst Market Libertarian elements, these thoughts have come to dominate a lot of the thinking within political economics in the west, and thence in the world.

This article will try to challenge that view, while not going in-depth on what property is, we will address the issues of property and security, property and its relationship to the state, and how property may be arranged in a hypothetical future post-monetary society.

TL;DR Summary

  • There are many definitions on the concept of property.
  • According to law, property is an exclusive and primary proprietorship to items and particular production factors.
  • The historical evidence point towards the ascendancy of the state as a consequence of property conflicts.
  • Therefore, the state as understood in the context of Eurasian political traditions have been primarily established to keep stability between property-owners and between the property-owners and the have-nots.
  • Property has a few characteristics in today’s context which serves to undermine the liberty and autonomy of majorities.
  • Property arrangements have to be fitted into local, regional, social, historical and before everything environmental contexts in order to help strengthen and protect individual liberties.

On Property definitions

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In most hunter-gatherer societies, the idea of private property is seen as ludicruous, mostly because people living on that level have no need for it. When agriculture started to replace gathering, it took centuries if not millennia for the concept of private property to emerge. To a large extent, it can be said to be population growth that was the driver of the movement towards property.

Early agriculture was only possible in very limited and concentrated geographical locations, leading to a concentration of people of diverse backgrounds into comparatively small areas. The surplus of agricultural production probably also attracted outsiders who either weren’t welcome to grow food (because all available space had been taken), or who weren’t simply interesting, instead settling nearby in the wildernesses and carrying out raids against the farmers.

Thus, the farmers probably formed militias to protect their surplus, which subsequently created the first state embryos. In some cases, bands of marauders overran the defences of the village communities, took their surplus and then formed predatory warrior aristocracies.

Regarding of which, already the earliest Law codes were centered on property, inheritance and the buying and selling of land, goods and services. In most cases, this property regulation was combined with cultural and spiritual institutions claiming some sort of divine foundation of exclusive ownership regulated by Law codes.

To a large extent, the State as an invention was a solution to the need of the codification of property rights, especially as society was segmenting into land-owning oligarchies and toiling farm labourers. To some extent, the state was both established to give those without property a sense of a place to turn to, to announce their grievances, but also to defend the interests of economic elites and keep peace between the wealthy minority and the impoverished majority.

These basic functions of the State are still innately connected to the legal structures and institutional norms of most modern states today, namely to protect property relationships and (informally) the elites that are supporting and in many cases constituting the state itself.

According to schools heralding from Classical Liberal Thought, property should be seen as a basis for “natural rights” which each human being is endowed with, and presupposes the existence of states or laws. This ideological construction is created to help support cultural barriers to prevent the state to confiscate and redistribute property.

There is however a self-contradiction resting herein, that property is both considered “secular-sacrosanct” (at least in the Anglo-Saxon and North-West European tradition) and as a concept formed by law – i.e by the state (with more or less direct representation of the people). Moreover, for a state to function, it needs to have authority over property and be able to tax labour, capital or land.

Private vs Public, Centralization versus De-centralization

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The until 2008 prevailing economistic paradigm in the West, called “Neo-Liberal” first by the proponents and later by the detractors held to its core that more private property, no matter in what form, was good for the economy as a whole, and thence public utilities as well as other commodities would work better in private hands.

In this regard, the Neo-Liberals saw mega-corporations and the neighbourly Ice Cream Kiosk as the same type of economic actor.

Socialists of the more hardcore variety have tested the implementation of “anti-capitalist” economic systems, based around state ownership of resources, infrastructure and businesses to varying degrees. The most all-encompassing of these experiments occurred in the so-called “People’s Democracies” during the Cold War. Command economies tended to cause mass destruction of social eco-systems and deaths of thousands to millions due to the collectivization of agriculture, ensure a rapid industrial growth but fail to move on to a consumer society (while still devastating the environment).

This, proponents of market capitalism are arguing, means that the free market is always superior in all regards to all other conceivable systems (a binarization of potential economic systems into two, planned economies and market economies).

Of course, simplification is very much what the art of politics is about, but no one is served by a politization and a simplification of how reality is(n’t) working.

Ultimately, we need to move away from a legalistic to an organic understanding of the economy, since the economy can ultimately be described as a series of interlinks that transforms resources into utilities and products aimed to be sold on a market. The market is one aspect of this chain, but is not either a legalistic entity nor a moral constant, but an evolving economic super-organism.

No one is desiring to replace the market with a command economy (well, almost no one), as the market retains a higher degree of adaptability and (generally) co-participation from the partakers. What we need to discuss is however how we can establish a post-capitalistic system while retaining the good aspects of the market. Therefore, we need to discuss property from a utilitaristic perspective rather than as an imperative.

The privatizations of the 1980’s and 1990’s in large parts of the developing world have (generally) grown the GDP of the countries involved, but GDP is not a very good determinator of wealth, if the growth goes near-exclusively to the top 20% of a country. Moreover, the very nature of these privatizations have been aimed towards gaining foreign capital by selling out utilities, public companies and natural resources to multi-national corporations.

1792This means that things that are necessary for a community to develop well and organically are sold out to entities that do not have any local basis whatsoever, and which are driven by the sole purpose to gather profit for share-holders on the other side of the Earth. This process creates a situation where people are often seeing their real autonomy deteriorate to the point where they are indirectly forced to migrate to expanding urban sprawls, leading to the formation of favelas and shantytowns.

To some extent, this process of creative destruction makes more labour available for sweatshop owners in countries favoured for industrial production. If we look at it with a sober perspective however, there’s a clear co-relationship between exponential economic growth of the traditional variety today, and the over-exploitation of the eco-systems. In short, what we need to do today is to consciously move toward a transition towards a system that is not reliant on exponential growth, while guaranteeing all human beings a good life.

Thus, concluding this segment, what we can see is that the utilitarian growth-oriented aspects of propertization of resources is in many ways disturbing local communities and destroying their opportunity for livelihood, which must be seen as one of the things that property advocates claim that private property in itself would guarantee.

The conclusion

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The conclusion is that property as a concept can be useful, but that it should not be defined in a manner that makes it an imperative metaphysical object of reveration since reality is not arranged around metaphysical concepts, but rather as an aspect that regulates human behaviour. In that manner, we must move beyond pure legalism and instead shape our relationship with our surroundings after local social, individual and ecological needs.

This means for example that natural resources should always primarily be considered the property of the people who dwell around the place where the natural resouce is located (unless it is located in remote or uninhabited locations). They should have the last word whether the natural resource should be utilized, by whom and in what manner. Above it, there should be ecological and social concerns that would be devised through statutes to help people shape the relationship with their surroundings.

Overall, what we can see is that the more remote control over resources become, the less autonomy and liberty is exerted by the local population. Therefore, it follows that both control through centralised command economies and by multi-national corporations primarily tend to disturb local social eco-systems (and also eco-systems in general).

The control of resources must be established on local level, through arrangements that include so many of the participants as possible in the decisionmaking process. This would also be needed to be regulated by statutes regarding human rights and social obligations.

The technate and property

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The Earth Organisation for Sustainability views it as a necessary step for human civilization to move on to a post-monetary society in the long-term. We must know how much resources we have available, and have systems installed that allows us to manage these resources intelligently.

Ultimately, the dominant production factors will be land and technology. Capital will basically become land (energy units), and will be used primarily to track production capability. A concept which will become more important will be usership, namely that citizens are granted time-based access to production capabilities. However, there is no reason to not assume should not be able to own for example project groups and similar.

There must also be a localism inherent in the model that seeks to it that decisions regarding people’s livelihood and lives are made as close as those affected by it as possible (if the local people however do not desire that amount of control they should be given the opportunity to thank no).

We must have a thorough discussion on how we should ensure the autonomy and liberty of individuals in the future, while we must bear in mind that the relationships and behaviours that we create during the transition process will affect these aspects of the technate in the future. Therefore, it is important that we grow organically.