On Energy Accounting: Public and Personal

MonolithArcologies_RyanGrobins

By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

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

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

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

Simple, right?

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

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

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

Why Energy Accounting is a form of market economics

theeducatorscloud-public.sharepoint.com

theeducatorscloud-public.sharepoint.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Public space in a technate

Energy Accounting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Public vs personal, how to determine?

Eco-homes in Rockwood

Eco-homes in Rockwood

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

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

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

by Enrique Lescure

by Enrique Lescure

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

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

Food: Public or personal?

biodome_preview

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

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

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

Summary

fcc90e3dfc3263e3b342dfd8dd85d8951

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.

Anti-capitalism vs Post-capitalism

"Caging Humanity" by Don Davis

“Caging Humanity” by Don Davis

Enrique Lescure

Introduction

I would like to use this article as a continuation of my previous article, Reality? What Reality?

The subject however would be what differentiates an organisation that is moving towards a post-capitalist discourse, such as EOS, with organisations based around anti-capitalist views, to which we can count everything from Marxism-Leninism to the Alt-Globalization Movement and #Occupy.

Or put more eloquent: What is the difference between an outlook based on science and one rooted in emotional resentment.

What do we mean by Capitalism?

Capitalism, like all words that evoke emotions, has as many definitions as there are proponents or discontents. These definitions are not singular ideas framed around the concept, but are drawn from competing cosmologies which often are mutually hostile.

To take two extremes, we can look at the Market Libertarian position vs the Marxist definition.

The Market Libertarian definition, to which we can also count the Objectivist definition, is that capitalism is productive human action, free individuals that agree on whether they want to buy or sell products and services on a free market. Ideally, all markets should be free and unregulated, and this would produce – per the theories of Adam Smith and David Ricardo – the highest possible level of human well-being. Capitalism in short is individuals making free decisions. All cases of repression and poverty do not stem from inherent flaws in the market, but either from individual weakness (something which proponents of this worldview tend to be quiet about since that position would alienate potential followers), or (more usually) from regulations of the market.

The Marxist definition is that capitalism is a specific system of production, based around a hierarchical concentration of wealth and power. This system has succeeded similar systems in the past, such as Slavery and Feudalism. What separates Capitalism from Feudalism is that while Feudalism is centered around Land, Capitalism is centered around Capital – the concentration of possessions. The Capitalists are providing capital to start up companies, and strive to pay as little money as possible to the Labourers, who are those who are producing the actual value (see the Labour Theory of Value). Thus, the profit of the owner(s) represent (according to Marx) a theft of the productive potential of the labour force.

Capitalism will eventually, according to Marx and Engels, have so many contradictions that it will lead to an inevitable worker’s revolution and a system based on the dictatorship of the proletariat, which will develop into a classless society where all the means of production are owned collectively by the people.

It says itself that two so wildly divergent cosmologies would appear as monstrous before one another.

The Cosmology of the EOS

What is Capitalism, according to the EOS?

It is a form of socio-economic system built on the intrinsic need for exponential growth.

The goal is to maximise profits for capital owners, and is made possible by fractional reserve banking (sorry Austrians), which allows credit for investments and production that can grow the size of the economy. This leads to increased standards of living for most people, even though those who already have the most access to capital are those who benefit the most.

The problems with this system is that it relies on maximising exponential growth in a mostly closed economy, the planet Earth. This will eventually exhaust the planet’s ecology, unless the system invents ways to create abundance (which ironically also would make Capitalism obsolete). However, given how stark the situation currently looks, with the energy crisis, climate change, soil depletion, freshwater depletion and a mass extinction looming on the horizon, our best hope is to actively pursue ways to move away from exponential growth.

Why Post-capitalism is inevitable

pfkav43ituuk7llfxb7a

Everything is transitionary, and even if society today does not develop much in a year, you can safely be sure that society has changed dramatically during your life-time in comparison to how it looked when you were born, no matter what decade on the 20th or 21st centuries you were born in.

Moreover, humanity has existed as a species for 200.000 years. Agriculture was invented 12.000 years ago, and industrialism and modern capitalism co-evolved a little bit over 200 years ago, which is 0,1% of the course of the entire human history on Earth. To claim that Capitalism is a universal truth much like gravity and never will be replaced by another system is rather an emotional than a fact-based statement.

In fact, what we can say for certain is that Capitalism will be replaced within the next two centuries, and that there are three possible scenarios for how it can evolve into something else.

What is Post-capitalism?

big plastic pollution

Post-capitalism is not a vague concept like Communism. In fact, it is even simpler.

Post-capitalism is whatever system of production and distribution that succeeds Capitalism. It is not intrinsically better than Capitalism, nor intrinsically worse. It is simply put a society which do not longer fulfill the criterion for Capitalism, namely exponential growth, either because it has found other ways to generate wealth and well-being, or because it has exhausted itself to the point that only survivalism is an option.

Since we – as a planetary organism – have followed the general trajectory of Limits to Growth, we can be sure that a lot of us would experience Post-capitalism firsthand during our lifetimes, which may – if we fail to take action – be an experience we would like to avoid.

There are three alternatives for the future, I would line them up with the least likely first, and then proceeding down to two feasible alternatives.

transhuman

I. Fusion power, asteroid mining and space colonisation solves all our problems, thanks to American and Chinese governments and mega-corporations. This leads to such an abundance that Capitalism is gradually replaced with Post-capitalism, either through institution of basic income and cooperation from progressive elites, or through a struggle from the masses to achieve that future. Eventually, this will lead to a post-monetary society.

Unlikely, not because we lack the capability to initiate those changes, but because the inherent unsustainability of the current system is so large, and these new techs are so underdeveloped that we would probably reach a collapse before they are profitable. When that happens, resources will be moved towards security rather than innovation, and we would end up in…

qz55cw

II. A global ecological collapse, that will lead to a global socio-economic collapse and a collapse of living standards across the planet. This will lead to such a collapse that there will be a massive loss of complexity in society, as more people will have to focus on survival rather than producing economic, cultural, institutional or scientific value. In short, there will be a new dark age.

1vert-e1396238615830

III. A conscious transition towards a post-growth society. This would mean that we on all levels, as human beings, strive to establish sustainable relationships with our surroundings. On the micro-level, it could mean urban farming, recycling, seasteding and rewilding. These acts would however not be enough to counter the second scenario if we do not reverse monocultures, the dependency on fossil fuels and the institutions which exist today which are built upon the idea of limitless exponential growth. Eventually and if successful, these grassroot networks of conscious individuals and groups can form a global civilization of human creativity, which can achieve the first scenario.

So… when we in the Earth Organisation for Sustainability are evaluating the future, we can see three different types of Post-capitalism take hold. What is important for us is not the labels of a socio-economic system, but that the system in question fulfills the criteria of being able to create and distribute wealth while not destroying the foundations of that wealth, our beautiful planet.

Post-capitalism vs Anti-capitalism

occupy_wall_street-colour

While protests and direct action oftentimes are necessary in order to create the foundations for political change, we cannot let primitive emotional responses take over our approach. Anti-capitalism is per definition such a primitive emotional response, and oftentimes built not only on noble emotions such as compassion and solidarity with disenfranchised groups in society, but also on ressentiment and puritan moralism.

Ressentiment and puritan moralism are gateways to absolutism and totalitarianism, and are unacceptable deviations for a movement such as the EOS.

Of course, it is true as anti-capitalists claim that Capitalism in itself bears a responsibility for the situation we are in, as the current ecological crisis wouldn’t exist if not for the exponential growth system. But it is also true, as pro-capitalists say, that without Capitalism and Industrialism, we would live in feudal societies with very low standard of life and probably worse social conditions.

However, we don’t owe Capitalism to let it continue to exist only because it allowed an unprecedented standard of life in the western world during the 20th century.

Anti-capitalist attitudes are unproductive for a movement like the EOS, since we cannot preoccupy ourselves with real or perceived injustices. Instead we must move on to discussing how the transition to the unavoidable post-capitalistic society should work out, and how we all humans would want that society to provide for, and what it can provide for.

Ultimately, a large role will have to be played by progressive-minded capitalists who have realised that we are moving towards an abyss. These brave individuals, who have realised that we are moving towards an ecological collapse, are a huge asset for the future, because their influence can be used to a great extent to assist with the transition.

Summary

Post-capitalism is inevitable, but it is up to us all to steer the process in such a manner that we don’t end up in a situation that no one in their right mind would want.