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.

Confederate States Flag Alabama Belt Buckle2

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.

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The Real Economy

modern_environment_by_mozzila_111-d5cgv3z

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

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

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

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

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

TL;DR notes (because I like lists)

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

biosphere-as-life-support

On the Real Economy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Stella McCartney on Prezi

By Stella McCartney on Prezi

The Real Deficit

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

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

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

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

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

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The root cause

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

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

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

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

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Energy Accounting as an alternative

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

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

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

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Summary: A strategy to claim the problem formulation initiative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dr. Andrew Alexander Wallace ~ 2007 – 2015

Andrew Alexander Wallace

Andrew Alexander Wallace

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

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

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

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

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

TL;DR Summary

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

The formative years, 2005-2007

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by Daniel Lovas

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

Holonic Distribution Theory

From a lecture with Andrew Wallace

From a lecture with Andrew Wallace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Design (2011)

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

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

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

The later years

gizmodo.com

gizmodo.com

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

Summary

by the courtesy of Andrew Wallace

by the courtesy of Andrew Wallace

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

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

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

On direct democracy

maremonti-istra.hr

maremonti-istra.hr

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

This is a continuation of my thoughts regarding the previous article, but this time focusing on democratic and political participation within political frameworks. My reasoning herein is based both on practical and normative frameworks. I am however well aware that I will move deep into normative territory for this post, and therefore – to not be accused for inconsistency later on – I will hereby state that structural organisation of the direction of the public political will is partially dependent on the concrete situation that we are/that we will face within a certain amount of time. Therefore, what applies under an ideal state of dynamic equilibrium may not apply during times of emergency (and I would argue that we are entering such a time of emergency).

One such issue, is the issue of being able to make decisions quickly. While quick decisions may not be anchored in the civil community, they can be necessary under conditions such as hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and volcanoes. It could be argued that the crises of climate change and the destruction of eco-systems, soil and freshwater represents a very slow but persistent on-going disaster, and that – politically speaking – we may even be in need of temporal arrangements that are more centralized and organises larger groups of communities than before. This can in itself be problematic however, since the scars of emergency measures are difficult to heal and near-impossible to remove.

This post is intended to be far happier than that, and discuss how I think constitutional and political systems ought to be organised.

The issue of scale

tech.co

tech.co

When asked upon what my ideal country is, being an active member of EOS and so, I usually half-jokingly state that it is San Marino. The reasoning of course is not based on ideology, economic or social policies or even the kind of democratic system the Sanmarinese people are using, but on size.

I believe that the size of polities have both quantitative and qualitative aspects that can probably be measured.

The reason why is that your vote is mattering more in a smaller political context, in terms of what influence you have as a voter and as a member of the citizenry. Mathematically speaking, you have far more influence over the political future as a member of the Swedish electorate than as a member of the electorate to the European Parliament, or as an American citizen voting in US federal elections.

Size can also be understood in terms of space, in this case geographic space. For example, if your government is located in a capitol far away from you, it is likely that it would focus more on the regions adjacent to the capitol region, rather than peripheral regions. It is also more likely that elites are drawn from urban regions where the government is located, due to proximity to the power-brokers themselves and to the institutions that create a new elite generation.

A third factor is that communitarianism is completely impossible within political contexts that consist of hundreds of millions of people. When I travelled to Russia in 2003, there was an insurgent attack against civilians in the North Caucasus region. Our Russian hosts did not mind it very much, and reacted much like how Swedes react to earthquakes in Turkey and Greece. This does not imply that Russians are defective, but rather that humans in general are predisposed towards emotional investment with those that they view as closer to themselves.

That also holds true of items and projects that people engage in. One example is how well the Israeli Kibbutzim system worked in the early phase of its history, contra the atrocious results of the Soviet Kolchoz system. In the Kibbutzim, volunteers driven by an ideological conviction and unified by a common identity struggled together to form cooperatives, whereas the Kolchoz system was the result of farmers being forced to give away what they’ve worked for themselves to the state, and then being forcefully relocated into collective farms which had no freedom in determining their own identity, and no freedom of movement.

A smaller example is for example youth halls in vulnerable neighbourhoods, that constantly get vandalised. However, when the youths partake in the construction or renovation of the youth hall, it is more unlikely that it will face vandalism (at least for that generation of youths).

What we can see for a pattern here is that the commitment of people is growing when they are allowed a greater opportunity to participate in processes that shape their lives.

How to disinherit enfranchisement

Parliamentary and Republican democracy as concepts did not emerge overnight, but gradually evolved during the 19th century, with landed, religious, political and moneyed elites gradually releasing more and more power to parts of the public to determine policy. Despite that, elites have still a key to keeping power and be able to project their interests before the interests of the majority, by forming electoral systems that serve to cement their rule and to channel in potential or real opposition into the mainstream of power rejuvenation.

I could write a lengthy segment about that, but I prefer to instead share an excellent youtube video which describes some of these processes.

On another note, indirect democracy and party structures in themselves are problematic from a democratic perspective. The reason why is, like it has been pointed out before by Tiberius Gracchus, that an elected representative can vote against their own promises in an election when they are in power. One recent example from Sweden was when Fredrik Federley, a popular and intelligent young Centre politician, made statements and speeches which indicated that he would protect integrity on the Internet and prevent legislation that would increase surveillance.

In 2008, two years after being elected to the Riksdag, the elective body voted on a highly unpopular law which would subject cellphone conversations and mail exchanges to

frihetsveckan.se

frihetsveckan.se

storage by the Radio Interception Unit of the military security (FRA). Federley intended to vote against the law, but rescinded at the last moment (if that was not a political theatre), and then voted for the law, despite having ran a successful personal campaign two years before intending to protect the personal integrity of his voters.

The same can be applied for Obama and his promise of an executive decision to close Guantanamo Bay (which still is running, six years into his presidency).

Some actions, such as a vote or an executive order, which at first glance seem easy to pass through, are shown to be difficult – while other decisions, such as carrying through unpopular international agreements, seem to be near inevitable. Right now for example, the US and the EU are negotiating a massive free trade agreement (TTIP), of which we are none the wiser about the details. A few charming tidbits indicate that this agreement will contain a clause that will give corporations the right to sue governments if governments install regulations that will hurt the profitability of the corporations – in short placing corporate profit interests above popular will.

Some things, such as human rights, ecological concerns and core values have to be placed over popular will at all times. However, corporate profits can hardly apply to that club. Rather, the issue of corporate profits reminds of the idea that the state should subsidise prostitution so everyone can have sex. Profits are not a right, for the sake of Gaia!

Anyway, this rant aside, we can see that electoral cycles and parliamentarism are hardly a guarantee to popular sovereignty. Governments and politicians are more often than not left unscathed by the breaks in their electoral promises, especially not since major issues like the FRA law or TTIP often enjoy bipartisan support both from the centre-right and from the centre-left. Such agreements can almost only be delayed by mass protests, but soon reappear under other names.

TTIP is essential, you understand. Economists estimate that it can increase the GDP of the European Union with 0,5%.

What do we suggest then? Revolutionary councils?

Direct Democracy, City-States and Cantons

Catalan Independence Rally In Barcelona

To reconnect to the first segment of this article, I would strongly recommend that we move forward as suggested in The Design with a confederational approach. While we do not suggest the break-up of nation-states, a good idea to strengthen the sovereignty of the citizenry would be to perhaps focus more on regions and cities, and less on huge political entities, divesting more power locally or regionally.

This can also cause problems of course. For example, education and healthcare are today so complex and resource-intense endeavours that small entities may be unable to deliver good quality. The solution would then be for local units to move these aspects up to the regional or sub-confederational level (to not speak of that how EOS sees it, healthcare would be managed through the technate, and education at least partially through the technate, which of course would be based on similar de-centralised principles).

What we can see before us is a world consisting of various type of political entities. Republics, city-states, communes, cantons, condominiums, collectives, regions,

inhabitat.com

inhabitat.com

confederations, sea nomads, virtual nations, micro-nations and even constitutional monarchies. A diverse, colourful world where a multitude of differing social models are tested out simultaneously.

We imagine that many of these entities would employ forms of direct democracy, where all the citizens have a direct seat and a vote in the legislative council. Of course, there would be politically elected officials presiding the legislative council, but their role would mostly be to enact the decisions of the legislature (as a side note, in my home city of Umea, northern Sweden, the municipality has recently decided to abolish the opportunity of citizens to write sign lists for citizen proposals).

Some would claim that direct democracy would create a wild, uncontrollable situation. People can vote in all kinds of insane things, such as free ice-cream or to establish Europe’s largest homeopathic hospital. People, they argue, cannot be trusted with political power, since they would only vote short-sighted and for their immediate needs.

If we look at Switzerland, however, where referendums are generously employed, we can see that most of the referendums become clear victories of the Nay-side. I believe there might be several reasons behind that. Firstly, public opinion is generally more cautious and less active than the activists writing platforms for political parties. Secondly, politicians are often driven by personal ambition, and aim to change laws not only because they believe it would be good for society, but also because of their personal legacy. Ordinary citizens generally do not think about their personal legacy when voting in a referendum.

Constitutionalism

Another problem can be when a political legislature wants to repress a segment of their population, or members of another legislature, or wants to prohibit free speech, imagemovement or violate personal rights. After all, almost 40% of the Germans voted for Hitler in 1932 (the first election, not the second). Sadly, religious bigotry, sexism, racism, psychopathy and exploitation have existed in human societies for millennia, and EOS (unlike TVP for example) do not ascribe to the ideas of Descartes and Skinner that human behaviour can be engineered into anything by the environment. The human condition is one of being able to hold on to ideals and failing to adhere to them, of both love and war.

Therefore, to have a wildly divergent confederational structure demands that all the differing groups adhere to one constitution. This constitution would not be based on forms of legislatures, but on common principles and core values. Groups that don’t want to follow it have the choice of not opting in, and those who violate it can very well be kicked out of the Confederation (there are a few problems with that which I would probably address in a future post).

A flawed beta-version exists in the form of the old NET charter.

Pan-terranism

Our main idea is not to see a world of warring city-states, but an umbrella of thousands of local and regional authorities joined together by sub-confederations that in their turn

evolo.us

evolo.us

form the basis for a world conderation – a United Earth. Why would this be necessary? The answer lies in the Constitution. There needs to be a body that oversees that all the members adhere to the principles of the Constitution. The World Confederation would not necessarily have any other tasks at hand.

The Confederation would probably never consist of all of the planet either, since it is built on voluntary agreements. But if the technate works and expands throughout communities, the confederation would naturally expand too. Of course, a community can choose to not be a part of the confederation while being a part of the technate, and the other way around as well.

Communities should be able to link up however, wherever they happen to be, and then form their own sub-confederations.

Pan-terranism is not the same as a global federation or a New World Order, which as concepts generally are built on the idea of a unipolar centre, governed through a power pyramid of military, corporate and financial power, which is imposing an iron grip over humanity. Rather, Pan-terranism as an ideal is a vision of a horizontal alignment between autonomous entities which each contribute valuable parts of the collective experience that is humanity. Within the Terran Technate and the Terran Confederation, there could be room for a diverse variety of cultures, sub-cultures, ethnicities, collectives and experiments.

Green Anarchists, Amish and Deep-greens may prefer to live in rural, non-technological pristine societies, while transhumanists might want to live in floating city-states or orbital stations. Both needs can be fulfilled simultaneously within the same political framework.

Some people might prefer to live in sexually liberated zones where they walk around naked, while others might want to adhere to stricter norms.

Some would like calm communities, while others would want to live on eternal night clubs.

Some would be nomads, others would be dwelling in virtual worlds constantly.

And some would of course live in towns, villages and cities which look virtually identical to today, but which are ecologically sustainable.

If you don’t like your community, there would always exist a community where you would fit in. And if you don’t want to be a part of the Terran Technate and the Terran Confederation, you would not have to.

Of course, we would not be able to realise this vision within our life-time, but we are convinced that the world is moving in our direction, technologically and politically.

But sadly not fast enough at the moment.