On Energy Accounting: Public and Personal

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By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

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

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

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

Simple, right?

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

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

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

Why Energy Accounting is a form of market economics

theeducatorscloud-public.sharepoint.com

theeducatorscloud-public.sharepoint.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Public space in a technate

Energy Accounting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Public vs personal, how to determine?

Eco-homes in Rockwood

Eco-homes in Rockwood

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

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

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

by Enrique Lescure

by Enrique Lescure

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

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

Food: Public or personal?

biodome_preview

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

That is the great challenge of our era.

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Our historical roots – on EOS and Technocracy Incorporated (similarities and differences)

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By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

The Earth Organisation for Sustainability was formally born in 2006, though the movement clustered out from a web community associated with Technocracy Incorporated. The first generation of EOS activists were closely interacting with younger members of Technocracy Incorporated (“Tech.Inc”). This association was largely broken in 2006, due to the fact that the EOS members were increasingly skeptical to the “katascopic model of administration”. Most of the forums were barred for people not coming from North America, and the EOS subsequently galvanised in our own forums, of which these are the current incarnation.

EOS has received two forms of criticisms for our previous relationship with Technocracy Incorporated. The first type of criticism is that it is naïve to establish our roots in an organisation with a controversial name (“Technocracy” usually has negative connotations), and the second was that we would have some kind of secret agenda, aiming to install a dictatorship of scientists and engineers.

This post will aim to define what Technocracy Incorporated wants, what EOS wants, similarities and differences and how these correspond to the respective zeitgeists of the era.

Why does this post exist?

interrelationships

By Enrique Lescure

The Venus Project – another organisation very much inspired by Technocracy Incorporated – vehemently denies any connection with Tech.Inc. While The Venus Project mostly establishes that they exist due to the “inspired genius” of Jacque Fresco, they do affirm that they have connections with Buckminster Fuller’s ideas. There are assertions that Tech.Inc inspired Fuller as well, which if that would be the case would mean that TVP (The Venus Project) indirectly claims to be descended from Tech.Inc anyway.

The EOS could theoretically have done the same thing, and stressed our roots in the more well-known environmental movements. We could have claimed that the theory of Energy Accounting originated with us, and we could have changed the name of the technate concept.

That would however be dishonest, and give the impression that we have something to be ashamed of – something which is more than ridiculous.

While we are not a new version of Technocracy Incorporated, we owe much of our theories to the groundwork they built during the 1930’s, which we have expanded on. At the same time, we have rejected a few aspects of their design, and we are based around partially different value systems.

So this post exist to define how we are using terms in a different manner, and partially explore in which ways we use the same words but mean different things by using them.

What Technocracy Incorporated is (and was)

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Howard Scott, founder and leader of Technocracy

Tech.Inc nowadays seems to largely have ceased with any research and seems to be an organisation which mostly is centred around the US Washington State and the Canadian province of British Columbia – which as areas are very close to one another.

The organisation is centred around the Technocracy Study Course (1934), and the Technocratic Technical Continental Design (1972), which are still upheld as the foundational goals of the Tech.Inc design. During the later half of the last decade (2001-2010), a conflict emerged within Tech.Inc regarding the status of the 1972 document, which the critics claimed was a flawed text since it 1) was compiled briefly after the death of Howard Scott and 2) allowed for the formation of civil society associations, which the critics asserted would open up a venue for “propaganda” and “mind control”. Some individuals within Tech.Inc were also attacked for being too friendly to what would later become the EOS.

Howard Scott played an important role for Technocracy Incorporated. He developed Thorstein Veblen’s theories and assembled the scientists who made the original calculations for the Energy Accounting system, amongst them M. King Hubbert. He was the chief engineer of Tech.Inc between 1932 and his death in 1970. It can be argued that his leadership style very much could be seen as reminiscent of Jacque Fresco and Peter Joseph Merola, and that he often could alienate partners and allies. The movement very much declined after the Second World War.

What does Tech.Inc advocate?

The short summary is that Tech.Inc advocates a centralised hierarchical (katascopic) continental-wide resource administration of the North American continent, handled by technicians, scientists and engineers, with the goal of distributing an even access of all resources to all of the citizens.

Three concepts frame in this design.

Technocracy – expert rule, meaning that experts within the various sequences (departments) make all the decisions new org chartregarding their aspects of the production system, and are appointed by being elected by their peers.

The North American Technate – a centralised resource administration which would “abolish” political bodies, courts and corporations, and administer the North American continent as one single economic and technical area, using massive rationalisations to reduce labour hours.

Energy Accounting (Tech.Inc Variety) – All citizens receive for every two years an energy quota, which they could use to gather the consumer items they demand. In the original design (TSC 1934), production was centralised in a Fordist manner and was probably meant as a planned command economy, where experts made decisions based on surveys on how people’s consumer patterns would look like for the nearest period.

The Ideology of Technocracy Incorporated

Technocracy Incorporated has claimed that ideologies are “monetary-based-systems” related to “the Price System”, and that Tech.Inc is non-ideological and merely wants a “rational administration” of the North American continent. I would argue that the individuals representing Tech.Inc are probably honest when they believe that they don’t have an ideology, but I would argue that there is an ideology underpinning Tech.Inc, albeit not unique for Tech.Inc (which I do not mean as an insult, EOS’ ideology is for example probably not unique for EOS).

In the broadest possible sense, Tech.Inc’s ideology can be summarised through their statements “The Highest Possible Standard of Living for the Greatest Possible Number of People” and “a technical, administrative area“. In short, it is a worldview built on the idea that the purpose of society (or in the case of Tech.Inc, the technical nodes of control) should be to provide the members of society with a high standard of living. This should be achieved by the benevolent technical expertise and leadership of experts, who are supposedly neutral and who do not suffer from biases and interests (unlike politicians and capitalists).

This form of ideology can be called technical managerialism, and is built around the ideals of a consumer society. During theUrbanates 1930’s and the 1940’s, when socialist governments started to be elected into power into some European countries, they de-facto moved away from the worker’s struggle as a principle (since you cannot be reelected if you trash your country’s economy through class warfare) and instead moved in to embrace managerial experts who came to engineer the welfare systems of Europe and (to a lesser degree) North America, Australia and New Zealand. A similar process happened in the USSR, which after the Second World War tried to move towards centralised administration of “soft” issues, such as housing, consumption and recreation.

In Sweden for example, a type example of this ideal was the rise of cheap housing units, mass-constructed during the 1960’s, with their own communal gardens, gymnastics halls, saunas, club houses and communal kitchens. Similar projects existed both in continental Europe, North America, the Soviet Union and the developing world – with the probable epithome of this architectural tendency being the capitol of Brazil, which was entirely planned after the prevalent ideals of that era of late high industrialism/early consumerism.

Thus, the thinking of Technocracy Incorporated did not represent a small group of isolated and marginalised figures, but was rather a part of the mainstream of the early and middle 20th century. It was very much the definition of Late Modernity.

Flaws of that type of thinking

There are several flaws with this type of thinking.

The first flaw that I can see with the traditional technocratic type of thinking is the assumption that technicians and engineers – at least when unimpeded by the price system – will act objectively and for the objective good of all members of society. This thinking is very much based on the ideas of Positivism – that scientists are neutral observers of the world who are disconnected from prejudices of class, gender, race and cultural background. Also, the argument follows from the idea that human behaviour is governed very much by the prevailing economic system, and that when we have a post-scarcity society, humans will naturally become less territorial and domineering.

While it is partially true that humans to a large extent are affected by environmental factors, it is 1) also true that humans are affected by biological factors and by cultural factors, as well as by their own free choices, and 2) predicting human behaviour changes is possible, but never accurate. For example, the communal housing types erected from the 1950’s on to the 1970’s, have to a large degree been subjected to vandalism and mishandling by inhabitants – and often the vandalism has actually made the buildings look more interesting. These types of housing, devoid of culture, meaning and identity, turns into areas where people feel alienated from themselves and one another due to the compartmentalised design.

Graffiti-Street-Art-DAZE-LEPERThis follows another problem which both behaviorism and the kind of functional managerialism that flourished during the same time suffered from, namely a view of humans as consumer units. The idea is that humans basically are governed by their level of material comfortability, and that humans who are given a comfortable environment will become happy automatically.

As in everything, there lies a grain of truth in that. But if humans are not challenged and if their imagination is not stimulated, this materialism can soon turn into an existential psychological crisis, which will serve to stimulate consumeristic individualism and an inner sense of emptiness.

While driven by noble ideals, technical managerialism suffers from the following three problems:

Over-reliance on the impartiality of experts.

Over-reliance on behaviorist psychological models to evaluate mass behavior.

A lack of geist.

Similarities between EOS and Technocracy Incorporated

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EOS and Tech.Inc are both aspiring to the establishment of a Post-Scarcity Society, which would utilise energy certifikates to allow the tracing of product cycles throughout the system.

EOS and Tech.Inc both aim to create common resource areas which would be scientifically managed to create a desired outcome in terms of resource usage patterns.

EOS and Tech.Inc both ascribe to the foundation of physical thermodynamic flows as the foundation for socio-economic systems.

Differences between EOS and Technocracy Incorporated

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Technocracy – the main difference here is that EOS sees technocratic management more as a matter of methodologies than of managers. This means that our goal, rather than to have a hierarchical structure of engineers and managers, aim to instill throughout human civilization an appreciation, understanding and application of science – a new renaissance of learning and enlightenment. We want to give every citizen the opportunity to lead a project holon, to explore the stars, to dive with marine mammals, to study genes, nano-tech and ecology.

Tech.Inc puts an emphasis on management, while we put our emphasis on experiencing.

Energy Accounting – While actually defining the actual concrete system of Energy Accounting very loosely, it can be interpreted from TSC (1934) that it will mainly use surveys conducted by scientists to plan how the production plans should be formed. This is reminiscent of how The Venus Project has thought out their “Resource Based Economy”.

EOS on the other hand, imagines that the production of… well stuff… will largely be happen after people have allocated their energy credits. In this system, people use their allocation as a way to signal what holons they want to be responsible for the production of their items.

Another difference is that Tech.Inc did not originally envision for example using the Earth’s carrying capacity as a limit, and did not have any plans to use Energy Accounting as a mean to track the environmental effects from extraction to consumption to recycling. However, Tech.Inc suggested this later on as a proposal to solve the environmental crisis.

The Technate: The differences between the North American Technate and the Terran Technate Consortium is that the first structure is envisioned as a centralised industrial structure very much organised as a mega-corp, with sequences (departments) doing production orders from above and using centralised statistical analytics to reach decisions. It is a Fordian, Taylorist, Modernistic Structure.

The Terran Technate Consortium is envisioned more organically, as an integrated information market and a holonic system where holons cooperate and build up the system in a distributed manner. There will exist sequences as well, but these would not manage the production, rather they will oversee the process and give statistical input to holons to maximise the effects of their decisions.

This discrepancy is largely inspired by Distributed Systems Theory, and of course The Internet.

Internationalism – Tech.Inc wanted to limit the NAT to North America and a quarter of South America. The EOS believes that associations, groups and territories should be able to join and exit the TTC voluntarily, and our aim is a global resource administration area – or at least one as global as possible. The concerns are mostly of environmental nature. We live on one planet.

Environmentalism – EOS’ main aim is to reduce the usage of resources down below 100% of the Earth’s renewal capacity (right now we are using around 140% of the renewal capacity of the planet). We also want to devote a programme for reterraformation, moving away from mono-cultures to functioning eco-systems.

Democracy and associations – EOS wants to see a wide diversity of associations, clubs and cultures emerge and co-exist peacefully. The technate would not have anything to do with social issues, and there will be a parallel confederational system of autonomous communes, all adhering to a Constitution based around the principles that life is the most valuable thing in the universe. Tech.inc seems to besplit on the issue, with some members taking a libertarian approach while others are more restrictive. There will however be no democratic voting within the structure, and Tech.Inc has a position that criminal courts should be a part of the technate.

Ideology – EOS is developing an ideology centred on three ground principles, stressing the value of life, the value of empathy and the value of enlightenment. Tech.Inc claims to not be an ideology but to be “science applied to society” (very much like The Venus Project).

Science – Tech.Inc wants to have a referendum to install a technate and give the technical managers power to make the necessary changes. EOS wants to test their ideas first in simulated environments, as well as in communities, locally and regionally, before proposing that anything is implemented.

Final words

From the University of Toledo, US

From the University of Toledo, US

The EOS has many roots, but the four main branches are the physical thermodynamical economic analysis done by (amongst others) Technocracy Incorporated, distributed systems, environmentalism and social liberalism.

Our goal is to help creating a socially and ecologically sustainable world, where biological diversity and the diversity of human societies is upheld, where people have the autonomous control over their energy, food distribution systems, their communities and their right for self-expression and self-determination.

We can only achieve this goal by finding new ways of managing the Earth’s resources, that allows us to see the ecological development of our beautiful planet.

Technocracy Incorporated deserves gratitude since they provided us with the understanding that we can use thermodynamics as a method of tracking ecological and economic processes. There are many ideological and structural differences between our organisations, and between the societies we envision. However, understanding these differences and the different ways we apply the same words can be helpful to understand who we (EOS) are, and what we aim to achieve.

What does post-monetaryism mean?

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

Since 2008, the terms “post-monetary future” and “resource-based economy” have been floating around the web, appearing on comments to articles, youtube videos and blog entries. I am writing this entry partially to – as we say on Swedish – “bone out” what should be meant with post-monetaryism. I do not write this to define Energy Accounting as the only or ultimate formed of proposed post-monetaryism, but rather to create some broad basic definitions of what a post-monetary system, as opposed to a pre-monetary or monetary system could be defined, so a flexible agreement on the definitions can finally be reached.

I have meant to write this article for a long time, and the reason why is that I have observed on Facebook and on other places of the Internet a lot of individuals who are either putting forward new age and conspiracy-related proposals on how a post-monetary system would look like, or people who in the 00’s would have defined themselves as “anarcho-primitivists”/”green anarchists” and claim that we can establish a post-monetary system through gift economics, passive technology or “upgrading” to a hunter-gatherer society.

This post is not meant as a critique of anyone else than those individuals.

Pre-monetary systems

Pre-monetary systems have been the dominant systems for most of the existence of sedentary human civilization, and also dominated during the pre-civilizational era. Even until the 19th century, most of the economy of advanced civilizations such as Europe, China and the Middle East existed on a pre-monetary level – the farm, the village, the local town. Most people consumed what they produced, and could not trade their surplus because there was no surplus. Prior to industrialization, most people simply had to use most of their energy (in terms of their physical energy) to endure.

The local village economies were most often built on gifts, sharing or barter. We should note that most goods produced – tools, clothes, herbs, food – was goods that could easily be entirely assembled in their raw components and produced by one individual or a small group of individuals. The materials were most often collected from the immediate surroundings, and there was not much trade with the wider world.

Monetary systems

With arising cities, division of labour came into being. For comparative benefits, different trades started to arise 5000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent and the Nile Valley. This led to a gradual increase in the amount and number of goods, and thus to an increasing complexity in the systems. Since humans are adaptable, gradually one good, no matter if it was beer, salt or any form of metal (whatever there was more of than needed in the system) arose to become a sort of interim good for individuals to obtain what they desired. In 13th century Sweden for example, inter-county trade was conducted with salt as the dominant currency. Thus, even without money, currency regimes arose naturally.

Money as legal tender is a method of institutionalising a currency and centralising the control of the issuing, minting and/or printing, to secure the pre-dominance of institutions. Such institutions have often arisen a long time after the currency system in itself has been established.

The two characteristics of monetary systems, which can be summed up here, is that money allows for increased trade and for market economies to establish themselves, and that money allows the accumulation of wealth. This later aspect has led to a massive divergence in wealth between different social groups in most developed and developing nations. However, the establishment of national and international trade and national currency regimes can also be said to have contributed in a greatly positive manner in the matter of technological development and increasing access to water, housing, food and medication (though the increasing inequality also contributes vastly to destroying the conditions of life for perhaps a majority of the human population).

Eventually, monetary systems reaches a point in economic growth where human labour is increasingly replaced with automated labour, and where the exponential growth moves over a tipping point where the planetary eco-systems are starting to become exhausted. We are living at precisely this juncture in time at this point in 2014 CE.

Post-monetary theories

The truth is, there are probably countless theories floating around since at least the 19th century on how post-monetary systems could or should be arranged. Most of these proposals are stemming from convictions, opinions and aesthetic tastes amongst philosophers and pseudo-philosophers alike.

What I would like to offer is a definition of a post-monetary system which can – in a broad way – set it apart from a monetary system. The first marker is that a post-monetary system does not exclude accounting. On the contrary, it must rely on accounting.

Even the RBE concepts of Jacque Fresco must (theoretically) rely on a type of accounting. The main difference is not the non-existence of accounting or calculations, but the idea that these functions should be relegated to AI’s, which work within a cybernated planned economy. While some RBE followers will disagree on this, it shows more that they should read more about the theories which they are proselytizing.

As for myself, what I would like to offer to this discourse is a simple definition which can be read like this: A post-monetary system is an advanced system of economic calculation where the unit of exchange has transformed into a unit that cannot be accumulated over longer periods of time, and/or where other functions of the thing which we used to define as “money” has transformed beyond recognition. It is not moving back to barter or pre-monetary/pre-civilizational models. It exists within the context of a society that advances towards automation, and is based on the needs of such a society.

This definition is in my opinion more beautiful, broad and inclusive than either the both vague and sectarian RBE definitions, as it is including concepts from time-banking, ParEcon, RBE, to Energy Accounting and Labour Accounting. It also purposely excludes the New Age and Anarcho-primitivist definitions.

Post-Monetary

The Way Ahead

Galaxy

“If fear should win our hearts
Our light will have long diminished
Before it reaches the farthest star” ~ Ronan Harris, VNV Nation

My name is Enrique Lescure, and I am a board member of the Earth Organisation for Sustainability – EOS, and has been active within the network since 2007.Energy Accounting, Earth Organisation for Sustainability, EOS

Maybe it could be seen as pretentious to say that we – we who are alive today – perhaps are the most important generation that has lived during the era of humanity on Earth. That the decisions that we make – or not – during our lifetime, will affect life on Earth during hundreds of thousands, or perhaps millions of years?

Our planet has gone through five mass extinctions during its life, the last one caused by a meteor hitting the sea at the Yucátan Peninsula 65 million years ago. It ended the age of the Dinosaurs and led to the rise of the mammals as the dominant terrestrial forms of life.

While I am writing this, almost all eco-systems on our beautiful planet are put under an unfathomable stress. Complex ecosystems are replaced by mono-cultures. Heavy metals, chemicals and particles are poisoning air, water, earth and organisms alike. The rise of CO2 has been caused by emissions of fossil fuels into the atmosphere. The seas are dying. The quality of the soil is being destroyed. If this development continue, it will spiral into a sixth mass extinction event.

I am sure that you who are reading this know about this.

You also probably do know that this is caused by the current civilization that we have created.

The question is: How should we solve this?
Answers are varying. Politicians are speaking of bans, taxes and subsidies. Businesses and scientists are speaking of technical measures. Grassroot organisations are speaking of solving local problem. The complexity of the issues can seem overwhelming.

Though all these issues are really symptoms of a main cause.

What is then that main cause?

The main cause is that we have created an ecologically and socially unsustainable civilization, founded on a debt-based monetary system dependent on exponential growth. Today we are using around 135% of the renewal capacity of the Earth.

We must solve all issues with climate change, sea destruction, heavy metals and mass deaths amongst animal and plant life, and each of these problems present an enormous challenge for all of us.

The main challenge however is to reduce our usage of resources from 135% to below 100%, which means a level where the biosphere can start to recover after decades of exploitation.

I was aware of many of these problems already when I studied at high school.

Thus I started to explore ideas aimed at solving the environmental deficit we are experiencing today. I started to see that the green movement relied too heavily on changing the behavior of the individual, as well as changing details of how the systems are working today. The alternative green forces, anarcho-primitivists, deep-greens and eco-fascists, were on the other hand focusing on misanthropy and on unrealistic visions of a pre-industrial world.

At the end, my search led me to establish contact with students, engineers and researchers from many countries, who shared similar ideas on how we should proceed. Our goal was aimed at creating a realistic, tangible model on how to combine a high-tech civilization with social and ecological sustainability.

Thus we created EOS – the Earth Organization for Sustainability.

EOS was founded as a research- and grassroot network, producing a blueprint for a hypothetical sustainable civilization. This is a (well… relatively) short text called “The Design”, which is describing our ideas.

Our thoughts are the following: We are aiming to create a model for handling the Earth’s resources in a more rational and ecologically sustainable manner. In short, this proposed model is based on a) a continuous survey of the global renewal capacity, b) that all human beings get to own a share of this renewal capacity, c) that they from their share can allocate their resources to what they want to be produced for themselves, d) and that the production is determined by where the consumers are allocating their shares.

In short:

• There is a ceiling that limits how much we can use – the renewal capacity of the Earth.
• All human beings are entitled to an income floor and an income ceiling.
• No products that people are not actively asking for should be produced. This also means a radically lowered amount of working hours.

We are not aiming for a command economy, but for a libertarian, de-centralised and federated system characterised by common communication networks. Neither do we want no growth, as growth in income and living standards under a system as it is proposed by us would be a result of environmentally friendly applications and more efficient ways to utilize resources.

How realistic is our model then?

As a research network, our approach is moving towards applying scientific methodologies on socio-economic systems. Therefore, our goal is to work together with local communities, associations and groups of individuals and test aspects of the design to see how well it works in the real world, to change or scrap what doesn’t work and evolve organically.

Ideally, we aim to also strengthen local communities to increase local resilience and together form a model that can bridge the ecological crisis awaiting us, and help humanity move towards a more evolved and mature civilization.

The most important foundation of our work is that we are striving towards a sustainable world, and that we during our journey are basing our work on ethical methods that strengthen human rights and diversity.

We can all together create a civilization based on sustainability and human creativity, a stable foundation for the values which our descendants one day hopefully will spread beyond the stars.

My question to you is: What should we – humanity – become, and how should we become?

Energy Accounting


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This is another one of the series of proposed articles for the updated EOS website. It delves into the subject of Energy Accounting, which can be pretty complex to explain. I have tried to be as concise and clear as possible, given that this subject is unfamiliar to the overwhelming majority of people.

Introduction

 

Now when we have established why we don’t appreciate the current monetary system, we would like to offer our alternative. Before we start this segment, we would however like to remind you that we do not aim to dogmatically enforce our views on the world.

 

EOS is aiming to utilise research, science and testing to allow alternative systems to emerge and evolve in harmony with the needs of the participants and of the environment. We feel that is necessary in order to provide a social environment that would treat it’s participants with respect and dignity. Nowhere do we claim that we know this would work, but we believe that it offers a potential way out of the gridlock which the human species have got stuck into.

 

We also want you to keep an open mind while reading this article, even if the conclusions can seem radical. We are building our conclusions on how the planet is working, as well as on our values, our views that all forms of life should be treated in such a dignified manner as possible, that we need to balance our needs with the needs of the biosphere, and that all human beings should have the rights to a minimum standard of living.

 

We mean to form a realistic model of how such a mutually beneficial relationship can be established between humanity and the Earth.

 

The Earth’s renewal capacity

 

For the last 65 million years, we all living beings who have had the privilege to enjoy the fresh water and fruits of the Earth have been living under what we could call “The Eocene Biosphere”. It is an ecosystem which is characterised by two features.

 

One: The dominant form of animal life on most of the continents of the Earth are mammals.

 

Two: The climate has been characterised by warm periods and ice ages following one another in a cyclical pattern, regulated by humidity and vegetation.

 

The biosphere is working in a circular system. In the natural world, there is no landfills. Instead, everyone’s waste is someone’s gain. The system is self-renewing and de-centralised, composed of multiple emergent agents that consist of plants, insects, birds, mammals, and the networks that emerge out of their interactions.

 

This system gradually establishes dynamic equilibriums, where an abundance of plants leads to an explosion of herbivores, which leads to a subsequent growth in the number of carnivores. Often, there are interlinked webs of thousands of different species, making up different ecosystems.

 

The biosphere is materially consisting of biomass, which consists of all accumulated organic matter on the planet. Under natural circumstances, given that the system is not enduring a geologically volatile period or a period of rapid climate change, the system is generally adding new biomass to itself, thus growing. This new biomass is generally generated in the world of plants, where sunlight, water and minerals together are an important part of the individual nutritional cycle of a plant.

 

However, for the last decades, this natural order has been upset by the linear growth-oriented economy of the current human civilization. In the year of 2013 for example, we had already consumed up the equivalent of all the biomass the Earth could generate during that year at the 22nd of August.

 

In general, this rate of global ecological cannibalism is creeping 14 days closer to January every passing year. By that point, we will have surpassed the planet’s ability to regenerate itself with one year.

 

Thus, EOS has concluded that it might be wise to base the new socio-economic system on the Earth’s renewal capacity. By directly tying our accounting system to the Earth’s renewal capacity, we hope to be able to receive direct information on how to better manage our common resources.

 

The Energy Survey

 

We imagine that the society in the future, in order to feed the billions of people on the planet, would still need to be a society with a technological infrastructure, and that technological progress will continue. The reason for this is both realistic and humanitarian. We cannot feed more than one billion people if we would return to an agrarian economy on a global scale, and we can only feed ten million if we moved back to a global hunter-gatherer production system.

 

However, a technological system has a few benefits when it comes to the rational evaluation of the available resources. It allows us to gather data and information, analyse it and have a more transparent an open evaluation than ever before.

 

Therefore, we believe that the best way to move forward is to be aware of what we can do, and what effects that would bring to the environments. We must measure and compile data from all ecosystems on a constant basis, as the situation of the Earth is so dire now that we need to survey the status of local eco-systems.

 

But more than that, and central to this article, we hope to establish a global network that can gather data about the renewal capacity of the Earth on a yearly basis. This process will be called The Energy Survey, and will determine exactly how much we as a species could collect from the planet without depleting the natural foundations for life on Earth.

 

Energy Accounting

 

The new form of currency which we want to test as an option are called “Energy Credits”, and they will represent fractions of the total renewal capacity on Earth translated into the emergy cost – in short what energy it will take to extract resources, produce items, transport them and then recycle them.

 

That will represent the cost factor of the new socio-economic system, which will mean that all prices will represent the actual environmental costs, at all segments of the product cycle.

 

Moreover, since the total amount of energy credits should represent the total amount of renewal capacity on the planet for a certain period of time, it would be impossible to utilise the system to overexploit the resource base of the planet.

 

The line is that the share should be divided as such, that one part will go to maintaining infrastructure, another one (which will be the largest) will be distributed directly to the citizenry, and a third part will be “reinvested” into the biosphere, which will mean a biomass net gain.

 

This system is called “Energy Accounting”.

 

Basic Income

 

It is too early yet to discuss exactly what proportions should be allocated to the three different areas of distribution, and it is most likely that if the system is implemented, the proportions will wary in accordance with the interests of all engaged parties.

 

What stands clear however, is that a large part of the energy credits distributed to citizens will be consisting of universal basic income for all citizens. It is a core tenet of the values of EOS, that no human being should be homeless, starving, freezing, thirsting, or deprived of healthcare and education.

 

Human beings have differing backgrounds, talents, interests, personalities and levels of intelligence. Under this current system, people are punished because they are badly adjusted to the needs of the labour market, often through no fault of their own. Even in developed nations, there are many homeless and mentally ill people who are abandoned on the streets.

 

Nobody deserves to become ill or die due to their social incompetence or physical disability. All human beings deserve to have basic dignity.

 

Consumption, how?

 

People receive their income in accordance with the rules that the citizenry have agreed upon.

 

Then the question arises, is there any difference in how trade and exchange is supposed to work in comparison to the current world?

 

Yes, there is a difference.

 

Under our proposed model, the consumer allocates shares of her energy credits to various goods and services. Instead of each actor paying money to the prior actor in the product cycle, from consumer to raw materials extractor, the consumer allocates energy credits which represent the environmental cost of the entire product cycle for producing and transporting x numbers of a particular product.

 

This means that the demand – or the will of the citizens – will have a larger influence over the supply side. The consumers will decide, through their allocations, what will be produced, and from which producers they want to purchase their products.

 

On the other hand, there will be no advertisement in the manner there is today. It would make no sense at all to try to actively encourage consumers to increase their rate of consumption. Moreover, goods will be assembled only when requested by the consumers. We believe that such an organisation of production will serve to decrease the production of for example electronic products, cell phones, fashion clothes, magazines and other products, especially as many products in today’s world are never sold or used.

 

 

Reduced labour hours

 

With the vastly decreased production rate, and the production ceiling, there would be no more needs to try to increase demand and thus the production rate of the good. Moreover, with the system of Energy Accounting, employments would not anymore be founded on the principle of maximising profits, but rather on the principles of maximising social utility. This can be used to reduce unemployment significantly (we will return on that issue in the next article), especially within the sectors of education and healthcare.

 

If more people are gainfully and meaningfully employed within a sector, the labour hours of all the participants can be reduced. They will be able to spend more quality time with their family and loved ones, and more time in pursuit of their interests and passions. In short, they would have more time to fulfil their human desires.

 

On the other hand, several sectors will shrink and disappear. This will of course serve to free more labour to be employed in gainfully productive jobs.

 

The ramifications of this should of course however be left to the local communities to determine, as our proposed alternative to this current system – as you will see in the next article – is characterised by a high degree of de-centralisation and organisational flexibility.

 

When it comes to barter between individuals, it is best left to the regulation of the local communities as well.

 

Wise growth

 

This new form of socio-economic system that emerges through Energy Accounting will probably have slower rates of growth in more than a few sectors. This does not however mean that there will be zero growth.

 

Rather, the amount of energy credits – or rather the purchasing power of said energy credits – will increase as new technological innovations are arriving, which are making production, transports or resource extraction more ecologically friendly.

 

Of course, the existence of such a system would stimulate inventions that would save energy and reduce the amount of materials used in production. In short, stimulating more sustainable ways of utilising energy.

 

Summary

 

Energy Accounting as a design offers several potential benefits, both to the well-being of the biosphere, the harmony of the communities, and the quality of life of human beings. These benefits are the following:

 

Ecological

 

·         Real-time awareness of the state of the planet.

 

·         A production ceiling marked by the renewal capacity of the planet, ensuring that the biomass is not degraded and that biological diversity – Life as we know it – would not be harmed.

 

 

·         The cost of the product in terms of purchasing cost will reflect the environmental stress exerted over the environment.

 

 

·         Cheaper relative costs for purchasing more environmentally friendly products.

 

 

·         Total balance between demand and supply, through a demand-driven economy.

 

 

·         A decreased production rate.

 

 

·         Stimulate innovations that reduce the energy usage and materials, and increase the sustainability of goods and services.

 

Social

 

·         A guaranteed basic income for all the participants in the system.

 

 

·         Guaranteed housing, healthcare and education.

 

 

·         Reduced labour hours, allowing for more time to be a human being.

 

 

·         No forced long-term unemployment and social alienation.

 

 

A scientific path forward

 

EOS is aware that this system is untested, and that there are many questions that remain unanswered. For example, we do not know how human incentives would respond to this new socio-economic environment. Will people for example – during the end of an Energy Survey period – consume frantically to not lose their remaining energy credits? Or will people try to avoid work?

 

We are not a political movement, and do not aim to try to introduce this system tomorrow on a global scale if we had the chance. That would be highly irresponsible and immature. It could lead to unprecedented disasters, and actually to consequences that would damage both the Earth and the human race even more, and bring us farther away from our goals.

 

Instead, we aim to test Energy Accounting on a limited scale, during different conditions, to be able to judge what parts of the idea that works and what parts should be adjusted or abandoned altogether. Any adverse effects would happen in a limited environment. Our goal is to allow Energy Accounting to evolve and develop itself through the interactions of networks of humans, collaborating with one another in a voluntary and rational manner.

 

We are also aware, that if Energy Accounting is ever implemented, it will look different – perhaps even alien – to the current design. That does not bother us. We embrace evolution and development.

 

Energy Accounting does neither, if ever implemented, represent the final step in the evolution of the human civilization. Rather, it would then just be a step towards another, hopefully superior way of managing resources. After all, we would one day stretch beyond the Earth, and throughout the stars.

 

Final words

 

 

The important thing is that the new system, during the time it is implemented, should fulfil the two core objectives.

 

First: That no more should be taken from the Earth than what the Earth can replenish.

 

Second: That all human beings are given access to basic standard of life.

 

Hopefully, the 21st century will be the century when we eliminate the triplet evils of poverty, illiteracy and famine. Despite that we are facing an environmental challenge, greater than any before, it remains the hope and conviction of EOS that humanity can unite and overcome Her adversities and help a better human civilization to emerge.

 

We can do better than we are doing.

 

And we can become better than we are.

 

Or else our light will vanish before it reaches the farthest star.”  – Ronan Harris, VNV Nation