Review: This Changes Everything

TCE

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

Yesterday, I frequented a climate event in Umea, and had the privilege to watch This Changes Everything, of course streamed from a computer to a cinema screen. All those watching the improvised movie theatre left with sense of optimism and feel-good hope in their bellies.

All except one.

Sometimes, there can be a refreshment in bluntness. So, I would put forth my points in a very rash and frisky manner. I think ‘This Changes Everything’ is basically just stating what documentaries on the subject of Global Warming have been stating for the last twenty or so years.

Technically speaking, it is probably one of the best documentaries on the subject as of yet, filmed with HD cameras and tying together the issues of global warming with the de-facto disenfranchisement of local communities.

Still, I do believe that documentaries like these can do more harm than good, especially as Naomi Klein, one of the two producers and the author of the same book, have failed in defining the real problem with contemporary Capitalism.

Therefore, this entry, rather than being a whole review of the film, will focus on the issue of Naomi Klein’s background and how it can have influenced the film.

No Logo

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Naomi Klein, a journalist and author from Canada, became well-known within the Alt-Globalization Movement of the 1990’s, as a critic of the type of economic globalization which went into a new phase during that decade.

In her breakthrough book, No Logo, she made an ardent work visualising how multinational corporations are exploiting the absence of worker’s rights in third world nations, and how logotypes have turned into mythical symbols within advertisement.

Naomi Klein is highly critical of the economic school of monetarism – most often referred to as “neo-liberalism” by its critics – and generally is positively inclined towards protest movements against austerity, natural resources exploitation and anti-war sentiments.

All this is highly evident in “This Changes Everything”, and if you have read Klein before watching the film, you can be able to predict everything in it. That is not where my critique against Klein lies.

Klein’s thesis and solution

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Klein’s thesis in ‘This Changes Everything‘ is that the Scientific Revolution of the 17th century created a culture where we view nature as a resource to be exploited and the Earth as a “machine” that we have the power over and can manipulate as we want. This is also the reason behind for example the addiction to growth.

According to Klein, growth addiction is an example of a political choice that is ideologically structured and follows the principles of Capitalism, which in itself flows from the Scientific Revolution. As a conflicting principle, Klein presents the aboriginal principle of ‘the Earth as a nurturing mother’ and the principles of democratic sovereignty (hailing back to the populistic practices of Gaius Gracchus).

While not directly mentioned, it is indicated that the Scientific Revolution and Capitalism are masculine principles, while Nature worship and Democracy are feminine principles. For example, most of the proponents for democratic activist movements interviewed in the film are female, while most proponents for the exploitative forces that are interviewed are males.

Klein’s solution to the current problem is that the free market has caused these problems, and the solution should be to increase government interventionism and regulate the market more. Since the governments (according to Klein) do not desire to follow such policies, activist movements would have to protest and stop mining projects and then move on towards advocating public investments in green technology – solar panels and windmills everywhere.

Essentially, the solution is that people should protest to roll back deregulation to the 1970’s, while deepening democracy.

Klein is essentially right, or rather moving in the right direction in her critique of the current system. But her solutions are essentially flawed and (I would claim) build on several misunderstandings and ignorance.

The flaws of Klein’s solutions

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Naomi Klein makes three basic misunderstandings about the reality of the system we are living in, either because she herself has not studied these issues or because she deliberately omits to tell certain things which are essential to know if we truly want to change the system.

The first misunderstanding lies in the nature of the environmental crisis.

Klein focuses very much on climate change, but climate change is only one of five serious environmental challenges that are causing the current mass extinction as I write these words. The oceanic crisis, the soil crisis, the freshwater crisis and the biodiversity crisis are as serious for the well-being of life on Earth. Green energy won’t solve these problems, and emphasising this issue will block out public understanding of the other issues. I believe it is essential to see antropogenic climate change as a part of a wider environmental crisis caused by the current system.

The second misunderstanding lies in Klein’s understanding of free markets contra government intervention.

It seems that Klein has a very binary view on the system, which can be understood as ‘government intervention good’, ‘markets bad’. What that fails to account for is that both governments and private businesses operate as economic actors with the goal of creating economic growth. Keynesian economics have nearly exactly the same goals as monetarist economics, namely the stabilization of the growth curve to ensure stability for investors and economic growth. Keynesians want to focus on low unemployment, while monetarists see inflation as the main threat to the well-being of an economy. To a large extent, deregulation has been caused as much by technological development as by political choices – in an evolutionary process within Capitalism itself.

The third, and most serious misunderstanding, is the idea that economic growth primarily is an ideological choice, and that by consuming smarter and changing the ruling ideology from Liberalism to Green Social Democracy, we will have started to save the Earth.

The core of this lies in that Klein omits to put focus on the nature of money within the framework of modern Capitalism. Ultimately, money today is Debt. Within the banking system, banks only need to keep a part of the money of their clients as deposits, and can loan out the rest – as illustrated by the image above. This means that from an  original deposit of $1000, the bank can create an additional amount of money several times larger than the original $1000.

These loans from the bank have to be repaid with interest. Since both the loans and the interest is created from capital that doesn’t currently exist, this demands that the capital is created. And most of that capital is created from turning parts of the Earth into utilities for the market. This means that the current system both demands a constant growth rate and the continued transformation of the biosphere into linear production units to satisfy the demand for exponential growth as seen in these oil palm plantations in Sumatra.

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For a more comprehensive description, see this entry.

Summary

I hold no doubt that Naomi Klein truly believes that the current situation represents a mortal threat, but I suspect that she also is emotionally invested for other reasons in moving away from monetarism towards neo-keynesianism.

The problem is of course that neither of these two systems are able to solve the current ecological crisis.

Now it is possible to claim that different documentaries should focus on different issues, and that nobody can focus on everything, but by many small groups focusing on different issues, we will together solve the problem and making the world a better place.

The problem is of course that ‘This Changes Everything‘ is claiming to present the path-way to solve the entire problem of climate change, by connecting it to economic growth and questioning its ideological foundations. The thing is, economic growth is not an ideological choice, but a survival imperative for the current system.

Therefore, no matter if it is monetaristic neo-liberalism or green social democracy, the system demands the repayment of debt, and in order to repay the debt more resources would have to be transformed to utilities. If the shark doesn’t swim, it drowns.

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Omitting the ‘shark in the bath-tub’ is a disservice, since it doesn’t correctly informs activists about the true nature of the socio-economic system and keeps them preoccupied with trails of thought that only move around in circles.

I am truly impressed by the engagement of First Nations activists who protest against the tar sands in Canada. I also share Naomi Klein’s sentiments that the reason for our destruction does not lie in human nature. Yet, I think that any failure to mention the problems with fractional reserve banking is going to hurt all those people ultimately, since even if they achieve their political objectives, they won’t be able to change the system if they don’t understand it.

 

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The beauty of the holonic understanding of reality

DropOfWater

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

The Universe can be defined in many ways. What is clear is that there are different levels of realities, which are interacting with one another. Matter is arranged in atoms, which taken together turns into molecules. These molecules arrange themselves in larger objects, such as grains of sand, rock, driplets of liquid, single-cell organisms or cells belonging to larger organisms. This diverse symphony of matter forms eco-systems which form a biosphere that constantly develops through evolution – a neverending symphony of beauty and colours.

This way of arranging reality can be described as Holonic. Each layer of reality can be studied as a whole in its own right, but at the same time is but a part of successively larger and larger wholes, eventually binding even the tiniest hydrogen atom together with the Cosmos that creates these physical laws.

Within the Earth Organisation for Sustainability, we believe that human society is profoundly holonic in its characteristics as well, and must be understood from several different perspectives. That shapes our outlook on what principles should be followed when we consciously evolve the human societies of the future.

What we must understand is that we live in a diverse world, and the future human civilization must reflect and build on the positive aspects of that diversity.

TL;DR

  • Ultimately, our understanding of reality is shaped by generalisations which subconsciously are derived from the contemporary society.
  • The holonic philosophy states that reality can be understood as autonomous interacting units on various levels.
  • It has been applied very much within programming, robotics and engineering since the 1990’s.
  • The EOS Director Andrew Wallace suggested that it should be understood as both a way to understand human society and a way to design it.

Understanding reality

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Human brains are very complex organs, but the human mind is not evolved to understand all the details of the world, but to secure the survival and well-being of the human individual. Therefore, humans tend to almost unconsciously generalise their understanding of reality around them, trying to find patterns (this is not characteristic of all humans, many people on the autistic spectrum for example can only understand the world in terms of all individual details, without assigning any meaning or order to the details).

This form of continuous generalisation interlocks our observations of nature and society with our personal experiences, our interactions with others and the culture within which these interactions occur. That means that during every era and in every culture, a unified cosmology tend to be shaped both from the observations of nature and of the social, technological and cultural progress of said society.

During the 17th century, the medieval moralistic views of nature as a mirror of the interior psyche of human individuals was gradually replaced with a mechanistic understanding of reality. The body was just another machine, the cosmos was a giant clockwork and God was – instead of a King-like figure, a universal clock-maker and scientist who had attuned the Universe and shaped natural laws. This view also influenced other aspects of society, some for better, some for worse. The penal code, child-rearing, mental care and education were transformed after this mechanistic interpretation of reality.

It can also be argued that the ascent of Darwin’s theory on natural selection – albeit fundamentally correct – was influenced by the economic orthodoxy of Liberalism in 19th century Victorian Britain. Large-scale collectivist ideologies flourished during the mass-production era of the early 20th century, probably because society as a whole was increasingly understood as a centralised industrial process.

So, ultimately, there will always be many different ways to view reality, and the dominant manner of understanding it is always interlinked with the social, technological, political, economic and ecological realities of the contemporary era.

The case for a holonic understanding

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Like all other understandings, the holonic understanding of reality is popular because it lies in tune with the contemporary era – that is undeniable. While the philosophy itself began to emerge during the middle of the 20th century, it gained popularity as software technology and robotics started to develop into more and more autonomous systems during the 1990’s, moving away from the centralised model and emphasising self-organisations and organic evolution of structural systems.

Moreover, the holonic understanding of reality means the affirmation that central control should not be needed, and that de-centralised and holarchic systems in fact often are more resilient, since you can remove individual units and even entire super-structures, but the smaller entities will regroup and recreate working systems relatively fast, in comparison to systems of government which are so centralised that they strangle more basic units and thus creates atomized and very fragile civil societies.

Holarchic systems are characterised by emergence, in that the interactions of many independent agents serve to build and create eco-systems. In that aspect, holarchic systems are reminiscent of markets. One vital difference however is that markets tend to be characterised by a gradual centralisation of capital and ackumulation into the hands of a few very large and centralised agents, which from then on will dominate the market in question in perpetual competition. Moreover, the current global market system tend to transform nature itself into centralised, linear and vertical structures of mono-cultures which exist to perpetuate exponential growth.

Therefore, when we are engaging the environment in terms of our interrelationships with it, we need to conceptualise it as consisting of multiple agents all striving to survive and thereby creating a dynamic equilibrium which is defined by beauty and diversity. While this creates resilience, it also means that changing one aspect of the system will invariably transform the system itself through a domino effect.

Often, the thinking of our current civilization is structured around quantifiable measurements and a graduation of different agents in relation to their performance and utility from a human perspective. We must realise that this thinking has destructive qualities which are threatening the diversity and well-being of both eco-systems and human socio-systems.

What is a holarchic society?

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All societies are holonic in their character, since they consist of multiple agents – individuals and small inter-linked groups – which are trying to pursue their various interests. In order to ensure the functionality of the system, most larger human societies tend to form states and associations – institutions – which can be said to be both structures and institutions. The structures are the bureaucratic and corporate entities in themselves, and the institutions are the behaviours and norms which create respect for the structures. There are competing institutions in most societies, especially the hundreds of pseudo-nation-states in what was previously colonially exploited territories. These states contend with trying to replace, crush or co-opt existing tribal, spiritual and cultural institutions which prevent the establishment of strong states.

States and similar entities tend to be hierarchic in their structure, and aim to monopolise the use of physical force as well as the right to punish individuals. This supports and creates a by-effect where states strenghten and form elites which are simultaneously isolated from the general population as well as securing exclusive access to the major part of the resources.

The advent of new technologies that have connected the Earth have created a transnational global corporate and financier elite, which is more and more liberated from civic and social responsibilities connected to their various places of origin. This has left a minority of the Earth’s population in command of the majority of the production potential of the human civilization.

This is fundamentally a very destructive process, since the destruction of five life-support systems of the planet are affecting the majority of the Earth’s poor, while the elite that is ultimately in control of the means of production have the resources to shield themselves from the effects of the system which they support.

Also, it is underpinned by the practice of centralisation. Centralisation creates bottlenecks where a small minority gain access to large quantities of resources, which they eventually will use to further their own aims, no matter what kind of economic or social system we are talking about. This practice will also serve to reduce responsibility, since the suffering caused by the effects of failed decisions will not affect the individuals making these decisions. If we want, we can summarize the history of governance throughout the world with that.

A holarchic system, on the other hand, is forming and shaping itself continuously in relationship to the emergent and social structure of the human society itself. That means that holarchic societies generally are small, and consist of close-knit groups of people sharing values and common interests. In general, this tends to foster cohesion, low inequality and a sense of community and civic responsibility amongst the participants.

On the other hand, holarchic societies can be fraught with nepotism, tribalism, vindictive and revenge-based honour justice, xenophobia and social stagnation.

The question is, are such characteristics inherent in small-scale de-centralised communities, or are they a consequence of third factors, such as culture, patriarchy, feudalism, ethnic and sectarian inequalities, poverty, illiteracy and inbreeding? I would argue that there exists a substantial risk that a local culture can develop traits which are destructive and which singles out individuals who are deemed eccentric or morally reprehensible for social exclusion and in some cases physical punishment or even death.

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Given that, there are a multitude of benefits to localism contra the type of globalism we are seeing manifesting today. Societies with a high degree of self-sufficiency and a sense of community are better equipped to handle crises, and are more resilient. It also means that solutions and reforms will be adapted after local economic and social structures. The most positive trait from my point of view, however, is that localism distributes power and civic responsibility across society and give more people influence than in more centralised government- and corporate systems.

The EOS Vision for a holonic future

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The globalists are right in one regard – namely that in order to manage the challenges of the future, we would need a one-world system with the ability and the authority vested in it to answer the challenges of climate change, soil deterioration, freshwater depletion and the destruction of ocean and continental eco-systems. The planet’s biosphere is in peril, and we are risking a mass extinction where three quarters of all species can go extinct (which will eclipse the last great mass extinction 65 million years ago).

The question is, what kind of global system will it be?

The Earth Organisation for Sustainability believes that human beings are incredibly resourceful, innovative and able, if they are given the opportunity to flourish and the knowledge of how their actions affect the surrounding reality. While some issues indeed demand concerted global efforts to curb, decisions ought to be made not only as close to the affected parties as possible, but preferrably by as many representatives of the affected parties as possible.

We also believe that power should be distributed between human beings. Large political entities, like the United States, the European Union, India, China and Russia, cannot possibly achieve the same level of democratic freedoms and accountability as smaller political entities could. Even though the city of San Marino had elected itself a fascist dictatorship in 1923 which was in power until 1944, its amount of repression was minuscule – partially because the captains were neighbours with most of their subjects, and partially because the state did not have the capability to repress people in the same manner as the Third Reich, Mussolini’s Italy or the Soviet Union.

Proximity creates influence. Even in democratic societies like Sweden, inhabitants of the capitol enjoys a closeness with the political and economic decision-makers which other inhabitants do not, thus creating an inequality of access and opportunities. If we instead imagined that every county in Sweden functioned as a state, there would probably be less of a drive for people to migrate to Stockholm, and the decisions would also not favour Stockholm at the expense of the rest of the country.

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Having written that, the EOS envisions the future way of governing the Earth as consisting of an Earth Confederation consisting of thousands of free communes, city-states, arcologies, nomadic seasteding societies and voluntary associations based around principles of direct and distributed democracy. These would join up in confederacies which would administer various aspects of political power on the level that the individual political entities deem the appropriate. For example, thirty states can join up and agree on administering their education system jointly, or agree on mutual regulation of river systems together.

This means that there will be numerous levels of intermediary decision-making entities, local, regional and continental, between the individual statelets and the world confederation – meaning lots of minor confederacies.

For this system to work, it is required that all participatory political entities in the world confederation project agrees on certain conditions, namely a charter (possibly based around the core tenets of the Ideology of the Third Millennium and the Three Criteria) which would stipulate that no community may stop citizens from emigrating and rules that forbids such things that are in violation of basic human rights. This constitution will be centred around ethical principles which all participants must uphold (though principles should not be conflated with active policies).

Of course, we cannot simply think away the current system of nation-states, but what is realistic to strive towards is a process characterised by more localism, direct democracy and distributed power. If we want to build a sustainable future, we must create the conditions where human beings can take control of the transition process and direct it. Information is power, and if humans are given the means to understand and manage their surroundings in relation to the ecological crisis, the responses will also more and more come to represent what the situation demands.

No human being is all-knowing, so the more who are empowered to partake in the transition towards a sustainable society, the more likely it is that we are moving in a more correct direction.

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.

A 48 hours recipe for suicide

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By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

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

The Short notes (TL;DR)

On Resource Based Economics

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

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

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

On Greece

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

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

~ Examples of autarkies

On Resource Based Economics

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

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

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

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

What then is a RBE?

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

The Venus Project

The Venus Project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greece

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

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

Greek History for the last 3000 years

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

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

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

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

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

RBE if applied on a national level.

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

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

Current examples.

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

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

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

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

Summary

The problem with RBE:ism

The problem with RBE:ism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRICS vs the West

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By Enrique Lescure                 

Introduction

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

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

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

Some hard, basic facts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What the BRICS are and how to understand them

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the ideology of the BRICS?

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

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

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

The future is dark and full of errors

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

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

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

The EOS position

projourno.org

projourno.org

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

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

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

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

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On the meaning of Life

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By Enrique Lescure                

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

The basis of existence

epicroad.com

epicroad.com

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

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

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

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

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

Spiritual Pessimism; The Traditionalist outlook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Optimism; The Modern Vision (1648 – 1945)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nihilism; The Post-Modern Nightmare

Guernica, by Pablo Picasso

Guernica, by Pablo Picasso

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

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

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

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

Our message; Life is meaningful

Nathan Spotts

Nathan Spotts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Push and Pull

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Photo by Sporkist

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

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

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Moralism & Practical repercussions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Food-Supply-Chain

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

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

A holistic approach

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

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

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

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

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

Push and pull policies

graphicdesign.stackexchange.com

graphicdesign.stackexchange.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ultimately

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

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

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The Three Criteria

17 MAIN VIEW

imgkid.com

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

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

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

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

Our mission

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

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

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

1: Understanding the Earth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2: A circular economy

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

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

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

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

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

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

3: A socially sustainable civilization

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

nasa.gov

nasa.gov

The three criteria can basically be summarized as:

1: A continuous survey of the Earth

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

3: A universal basic income

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

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

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

On the urgent need of a new reality consensus

Multiple-Universe

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

No human being has a complete oversight of what objective reality is, but instead understand the world from the collective input of information that all members of that human’s local community share amongst themselves, as well as from the output provided by society, and what organised society has deemed worth to put their focus on in their presentation of reality.

This presentation is most often formed in the context of a grand narrative, which most often is focusing on the preservation and continuation of the memetic transmissions that help to cement the cultural framework of the civilization and its values.

The issue is to identify the core of the current mainstream reality consensus in the Western Civilization, and to identify in which ways this reality consensus is helping to destroy the planet’s environment and ultimately it’s own civilisationary host as well.

After that, the issue is to discuss on what values and focus a new reality consensus should be formed.

The chatter in the tree

Fighting_Like_Cats_and_Dogs_2_by_wldjeepgrlCampuses, cafés, kitchens and reddits are all filled with discord and irritation. The others do not simply understand. If everyone just could agree, we would solve all the world’s problems. Yet, all the others are holding incomprehensible beliefs based on baseless scare-mongering and weird ideals. Especially if they have studied strange courses at the University.

There are of course many humans who hold no strong opinions and who, for various reasons, decide they want to follow the majority or simply disentangle themselves from having to care about worldly matters. This author could not put any blame on them. It seems that in today’s world, people are often leaving debate rooms more puzzled than when they entered, and in a state of mellow confusion, and no issue is ever really resolved. Hardly surprising, a lot of people react by actively and aggressively trying to make the proponents of new ideas shut ut, just so they do not need to think over new ideas and concepts.

Why do people attain and embrace wildly divergent ideals and norms, which build the foundation which they then base their political and social values on? No one is really sure, and most likely it does have a variety of sources, socio-economic, cultural, experiences and even genes can play a part. Nevertheless, people often hold divergent beliefs about the world, and this stems in a way from the information that people receive. Since people most often hang out with peers in terms of gender, ethnic origin, academic level, profession or neighbourhood, they often experience similar things in their nearby environment, which influence their worldview.

Twenty or so years ago, most people were still taking in the information about their world from Television, which offered a few sources of valuable news which often shared very much the same consensus. Nowadays, people are increasingly moving towards other sources which are readily available on the Internet. This is mostly a profoundly positive development, since it allows for information that has been suppressed or which the elites do honestly not know much about to be shared. The downside of course is that the amount of disinformation has also increased during this process.

One national example is the infested debate on migration in Sweden, where one side claims that Sweden is taking in too many refugees and that it has adverse effects on housing, crime and ghettoisation. Some proponents of that side claim that many immigrants who belong to a certain world religion are more loyal to said world religion and are attempting to mold Sweden into a form more reminiscent of that religion. Many proponents of this worldview are also claiming that those who are pro-immigration are hating Swedish culture and attempt to destroy Sweden.

The other worldview is based around a narrative where immigration is benefitting Swedish society, which is an aging society, and that the labour market in the future would need a powerful injection of young people to function. Those who are claiming that there are too many immigrants are – according to this worldview – really trying to hide a xenophobic and even outright racist agenda, and are striving towards a society where people have different worth depending on their ethnic origin.

If we assume that both sides try to meet in a room with furniture, we can suspect that not much furniture would stand when they have finished their attempt to reach a consensus.

Yet, we can see that the differences of their opinions really are forming from two factors, namely their view on the state and capacity of the Swedish economy, and possibly their view on whether more people are a burden or an asset. From this follows these divergent views.

The same could be said of the so-called culture wars in the United States. Where one side sees the advance of the rights of women, LGBT people, ethnic minorities and other socially disadvantaged groups, the other is seeing an assault on traditional society and the destruction of the fabric of community. When the divergence grows to the degree that the proponents start to demonize one another and believe that those of a different opinion are really evil and aim to destroy everything they love and cherish, violence is not far away.

That is related to whether the mainstream consensus can hold or would break.

The Mainstream Consensus

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The mainstream consensus is the reality within which society as a whole is pre-supposed to operate. It provides the world-view and the context for within what spectrum it is socially acceptable to form opinions around. Things outside of the existing narrative are at best accepted within insulated islands of like-minded, or isolated at the fringes of society. This consensus can be achieved though both repression, but also through culture, architecture, popular media, sermons and general etiquette.

Summarizing this, we can state that the mainstream consensus is informed by memes and behavioural patterns and expectations on the micro-level, by stable and predictable institutions at the middle level and by a common myth and a grand narrative embedding this myth on the grand level.

What is our current grand narrative in the Western Civilization, which  – for better or worse – is the basis of thestatue-of-liberty-nyc current global civilization? One obvious thing is that the Western Civilization is subdivided into partially different cultural spheres with different values and divergent family structures, economic values and values on individualism contra collectivism.

The centre of the Western Civilization does however lie in the Anglo-American sphere, and especially in the United States. While it could be said that France was the cultural centre of the Western world during the 17th and 18th centuries, the cultural stimulus of the West since the beginning of the 20th century has largely come from the US.

Through Television, music and cinema theatres, three to four generations of the western population have been exposed to the cultural impulses of Sit-coms, Hollywood films and Hit Music, and have attained a large part of the values and conventions expressed in these products.

In the more conventional sense, mass media, institutions of power and parts of academia have expressed a more formalized view on what the current zeitgeist of our age is and should be. This view is centred around two things, namely that the current system of Globalising Liberalism, with its attached values of economic growth, consumerism, multinational corporations and constitutional parliamentary democracies with (increasingly) limited power over economic policies is the ultimate form of civilization, and that all development from now on should focus on secure the Earth for this kind of system for the foreseeable future, and that our history is the history of the establishment, adversities and eventual triumph for this kind of system.

The elites within major think tanks, strategic analysis groups and clubs associated with this formula are building their normative approach on that the continuation and deepening of globalization should be the end goal of our society, through economic treatises and increased military and political coordination, possibly leading to the beginning of the formation of a global federal structure within 100 to 200 years, with the United States as its core model.

While there are groups with other agendas, most notably intellectuals associated with the BRICS (who strive for a multipolar world reminiscent of the world prior to 1914) or the Islamic political movements, it stands clear that the dominant force right now are holding their hopes around an agenda aiming for a globalized market economy dominated by harmonized financial and monetary institutions, where multi-national corporations can continue to unite the world, and bring larger and larger groups of people into prosperity, until everyone who are willing and able to work can be elevated to a global middle class of continuously rising income.

The only problem with this vision is that it is impossible to achieve within the constraints of nature, at least in the core form that the proponents are envisioning.

When reality fails to meet expectations

Financial-Crisis

For myths and grand narratives to function, they need to correspond to at least parts of the values transmitted through earlier experiences, and to the reality that people can experience around themselves. When the myth tells people that everything is possible and that they can become the main character in the great narrative about their own life, and they cannot see any way to achieve that, as class mobility stagnates or collapses, they become demoralized and will gradually become increasingly alienated from their own grand narrative.

One example of a failed grand narrative that contributed to the collapse of a civilization was the narrative and myth of Soviet Socialism, which stressed that the population lived in a glorious socialist paradise, the most developed society the planet had seen. This was so obviously disconnected from reality that more than a majority of the population disregarded the propaganda machine, and subsequently the population was thoroughly demoralized and both unwilling and unable to defend what the elites tried to sell as the mainstream culture.

Ancient civilizations could endure deprivation and poverty quite well, because their promises and foundation was often ethereal, celestial and spiritual (“if you obey the norms and uphold the institutions that allow the landed elites to be in power, you will go to a happy place after you leave your mortal shackles”). Civilizations which build on the idea that people should have material gains must be able to create the foundations to provide this.

The motivations for people in the current “global civilization” to be abiding citizens and accept events even when

A woman sells skinned pawpaw, papaya, as she walks in a market on World Food Day in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012. The U.N.'s Food and Agricultural Organization is marking World Food Day on Tuesday, a day dedicated to highlighting the importance of global food security. The FAO said hunger is declining in Asia and Latin America but is rising in Africa. One in eight people around the world goes to bed hungry every night. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

these events run counter to popular interests, is the expectation of future economic growth. If you believe that your situation will be better the next year, compared to this, you have an expectation invested in the system.

If this expectation is never provided for, the likelihood increases that investments are reduced and that people experience more and more privations, which can lead to riots and instability.

Due to the fact that economics is one of the few sciences which is based predominantly on expectations for the future, it is a concern for the well-being of the system that positive news (from a financial and growth perspective) are emphasised, for if there are too many negative expectations, they will be self-realised due to altered consumer patterns, creating increased volatility in the system.

Compartmentalization

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There are two competing views of the situation of the world in the future, where the first (proposed by many economists, some technologists and a few intellectuals) state that economic growth necessarily will improve most indicators of well-being both in society and in the environment, and that we will live in a better, richer and more secure world by 2050.

Ecologists and environmentalists on the other hand, are seeing resource deprivation and the destruction of the environment as event chains that can possibly lead to the collapse of the current civilization.

The world can not both turn into Paradise and Hell, neither can probably the trajectory be placed on a linear spectrum between the vision espoused by economists and the one proposed by ecologists for future trends. Most likely, both sides are either partially wrong, or one side is entirely wrong.

Given that, the economist argument for future economic growth is a statistical one, namely that what has happened for the last decade will continue to happen for the next decade, with some alterations regarding demographics (how many new births, how many people will leave the labour force and retire). A prognosis like this below does not take into account the “externalities” or how the biosphere is a self-regulating system which can collapse (and have collapsed before).

World Bank

World Bank

Ecologists on the other hand may ignore the positive effects of new technologies brought into the economy, as well as some of the mitigating effects of the Coase theorem. Given that, if China should consume as much as we see above, China alone would need a few Earths for itself in order to sustain such wealth.

Club of Rome

Club of Rome

The interesting thing of course is that the Club of Rome does not represent a marginal environmental group, but rather a few of the world’s most influential people, who have cooperated extensively with ecologists and biologists regarding how resource usage will affect the world in the future.

It is scary how little communication there is between the groups of people who have made these diverging predictions of the future, and how different the grand narratives that they base their predictions on are. When researchers move inside such different realities, communication between them will definetly be suffering by the different expectations they hold for the future – a pub meeting would certainly be entertaining but it would be difficult to draw any conclusions for a layman spectator.

Summary and recommendations

Footprint Network

Footprint Network

If there is such a wide divergence in studies on future trends, it can only be because researchers focus primarily on the factors they are accustomed to. Scientists are like all other people, and are suffering from bias and information defiency. The Dunning-Kruger effect, that states that when people are ignorant in a field they tend to believe themselves better than average on said field, can apply to scientists as well – especially within the areas which the scientist in question, no matter if they are an ecologist or an economist, have not studied.

This increasing specialization and narrowing of the information focus may improve the technical qualities of scientists within narrow fields, but may handicap the scientist’s ability to process information adequately and result in too much reliance on limited data.

A necessary first step towards a consensus that can help us address the challenges of the 21st century would perhaps be if scientists from different fields who have produced such divergent prognoses of the future could meet and establish a consensus on what information to process and how data gathering on the future should be organised.

Only this could provide decision-makers and the public with the data base to make informed decisions on how we are collectively going to shape tomorrow.

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