Review: This Changes Everything

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By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

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

All except one.

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

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

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

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

No Logo

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

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

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

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

Klein’s thesis and solution

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

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

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

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

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

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

The flaws of Klein’s solutions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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For a more comprehensive description, see this entry.

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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

Why we are failing (Proposed article)

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Okay. Here is another proposed article for the updated EOS website. It is pretty much longer, and I know the articles should be short. But I have comprimed 500 years of human history in less than five pages. It was pretty difficult I must admit.

Introduction

 

We want to apologise for the length of this article beforehand.

Energy accounting is originally a concept from the US technocratic movement of the 1930’s, which EOS has developed as a conceptual template. To understand what Energy Accounting is and why we want to carefully examine it as a potential replacement to the current monetary system, we need to understand how the current monetary system is working.

 

Firstly, what is money? Money is a medium of exchange, in order to simplify transactions between various parties. Originating in the mists of the Bronze Age, monetary economies connected regions and allowed trade to perpetuate itself.

 

Yet, we must understand that early monetary regimes were often tenuous at best, most often local and requiring the protection of patrons with access to mines – most often the dukes, kings, sultans and emperors of the various states of the medieval world.

 

This could also help to explain our points, as to why our current system is failing in regards to our collective environmental obligations as a species.

 

Early Monetary Systems

 

The first monetary systems that arose either arose spontaneously from small communities, which used either a “key good” or a form of “semi-available rarity” as currency. When the first coins were made, in Asia Minor around 2700 years ago, they were made both to stimulate and facilitate trade between villages and towns, and to strengthen the legitimacy and strength of the early state (especially as money often trickled down into market places from the payment of soldiers and other public employees).

 

The rise of money is a thoroughly complex process, but the rise of the monetarised global system is a relatively recent occurrence. For much of the ancient and medieval world, money was inherently deflationary as its value rested on the control of copper, silver and gold. Thus, the system encouraged savings and hoarding, and retarded the development towards a full-scale monetary price system. In medieval markets, every licensed merchant often had with him his own scale, to judge the value of the money in terms of its weight.

 

Even in the advanced Roman Empire, only a small fraction of the taxes were collected in the form of money! Most taxes were collected in the shape of grain, minerals and other resources.

 

Most people in the pre-industrial world were self-sustaining farmers and rural labourers, who for most of the time directly worked to feed themselves from what they could produce out of nature.

 

The rise of Banking

 

Trade could be a perilous business during the middle ages. Highwaymen, barons, wars, storms, the Black Death and other occurrences could easily separate a merchant from his gold during the many dangerous voyages through lands and seas.

 

The wealthiest and most prosperous region of Europe was northern Italy, where the cities never had vanished during the dark centuries following the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

 

During the Renaissance, cities like Venice, Genoa, Milan, Pisa and Florence sent out merchants far and wide throughout the Mediterranean world, Europe and the Middle East, often exchanging gold for valuable luxury products from the Far East.

 

To facilitate this exchange, several of the great trading families began to engage in the insurance business. Gold chests were heavy, clumsy and hard to transport, not to speak of being magnets to thieves and pirates. Families like de Medici could specialise in offering securities by depositing the gold (for a fee) to other merchants, giving them a receipt which allowed them to gather the same amount of gold in for example Alexandria, Constantinople or Kaffa.

 

These firms soon started to lend money to various cities and kingdoms for interest fees. Thus, “banking” in the conventional sense was born.  

 

The rise of Fractional Reserve Banking (FRB)

 

Given that both the depositing and the lending were made with receipts, the gold would not under normal circumstances leave the confinements of the bank vault. It would be impractical for the client to withdraw it physically, and people who deposited gold in such a bank where often years away travelling. At the same time, borrowing money became increasingly popular, especially as the European monarchies and republics of that era became increasingly dependent on hiring mercenaries to fight their many destructive wars. Banking houses were offered lucrative contracts, without having the necessary deposits to be able to lend money to the states in question.

 

We don’t know exactly when banks started to lend money without having access to the necessary balance to do so, but it stands evidently clear that the temptation and the low risks associated with the scheme would soon or later have coalesced into the practice today known as Fractional Reserve Banking.

 

Shortly speaking, Fractional Reserve Banking is a mechanism that allows banks to lend more credits than are covered by their deposits. This is possible because of multiple clients depositing their fortunes at the same time, and that it is unlikely that all these clients would remove their deposits at the same time.

 

Moreover, the clients were thereby obliged to pay back gold which had never existed in the first place, plus interest.

 

In the terms of laypersons, Fractional Reserve Banking means that you lend out money that you don’t have, while those borrowing the non-existent money are forced to pay back in the form of real money, with a little bit more.

 

Where the alchemists of the dark crypts and poisonous laboratories failed, the perfumed bankers living in the luxurious Venetian and Florentine palaces succeeded.

 

Sustained capital accumulation and western supremacy

 

Even though Northern Italy was eventually destroyed, through the violence of the mercenary armies funded by the Italian bankers, Fractional Reserve Banking is a part of the explanation why the western world from the late 15th century and onward managed to create sustained economic, technological and colonial expansion.

 

The banks of Italy, and later of the Netherlands and Britain, were funding colonial ventures, the development of new weapons and technologies, scientific breakthroughs, commercial enterprises, the booming slave trade and the establishment of the first factories.

 

The reason why is simple. With a full deposit cover, the bankers who lend money would lend out gold that actually is entrusted them by clients, and thus would be unwilling to support projects that hold high risks for failure, or which are new and untested. Thus, the employment of FRB systems can accumulate and utilise capital more aggressively than the crude agricultural economies previously were able of.

 

During the 19th century, the gradual gains of trade, colonialism, technical and scientific innovations and capital expansion culminated in a sustained industrial boom that transformed the entire civilization. The modern world was born.

 

As innovations and growth rushed, however, so did the many bankruptcies and failures. The world grew faster, and with the telegraph and railways, information spread quickly throughout the now very much smaller world. Rumours, true or false, stock rushes, companies and ventures falling apart and the increased competition for more and more scarce resources fuelled an increasing number of bank runs – events when the deposits were retrieved by the clients as a result of a loss in trust. Such events usually led to liquidation of the bank itself, and the destruction of capital – both real and imaginary. It says itself that unregulated capitalism from the 1870s and onward experienced more and more shocks following the collapse of one commercial bank after another.

 

To counter this development and to restore stability, most developed nations turned towards establishing central banks in order to guarantee the deposits of the commercial banks and their clients – if necessary by sacrificing the interests of the weakest citizens. In the USA for example, the US Congress of 1913, at the behest of the big commercial banks and the US mega-corporations, established the Federal Reserve during the first Wilson administration.

 

Usually, central banks are a pillar stone in regards to the regulation of interest. This practice is referred to as interventionist monetary policy. After the Second World War, it has usually been coordinated with interventionist financial policies, which are carried out by governments. These policies exist in order to smoothen the business cycles and prevent either overheating or sudden crashes.

 

Nowadays, the signs are everywhere that the system is crumbling. The dominant power in this system, the United States, is suffering massive de-industrialization and an enormous debt on both the federal and state level. The European economy is stagnating. China is experiencing declining growth rates and increasing environmental pollution and class conflicts.

 

The system has accumulated a mountain of debt, and we are on the verge of what can spiral out of control and become World War Three.

 

So, why are we failing?

 

The addiction to growth

 

The global monetary system is not dependent on growth because it has the wrong priorities, or because it is in the knees of multi-national corporations and consumerism. It is not dependent on growth because of “human nature” or because of greed, even if greed plays well into the mechanisms it is built on.

 

It is dependent on growth because it must grow, otherwise it will start to crumble and eventually collapse.

 

Think of it for a moment.

 

Only 10-15% of the loans of modern commercial banks have to be covered by the deposits of the customers. Thus, the banks are really lending money from the future. This means that FRB has not only realised alchemy, but also for all purpose invented time-travelling!

 

Some critics claim that FRB is a system which is creating money from thin air. That is however not entirely true. The money is created in the figurative world by the banks, but then created a second time – this time in the real world – through investments, labour and the production of goods and services. In short, the economic activities of all the corporations and individuals who have been compelled by need or by their dreams and ambitions to ever accept a loan from a bank.

 

This process allows the capital to multiply itself, and make credits accessible for the future development of the economy.

 

The hidden danger in this pyramid scheme lies in the fact that it requires permanent economic growth, or at least the belief in permanent economic growth. A growth which can turn the debts in the balance sheets into actual financial assets.

 

For this to be permeated however, it requires one thing:

 

The continued destruction of the Earth’s biosphere.

 

What really matters

 

For hundreds of millions of years, the Earth has had a complex system for the acquisition and renewal of resources. This system has been characterised by complex relationships unified within an emergent dynamic equilibrium. This system is called “the biosphere”.

 

It can more simply be referred to as Life.

 

The human civilization is ultimately resting on the fact that we are based on a planet characterised by a wide variety of ecosystems of living beings. The current way in which we are heading is the equivalent to raising a palace while removing the ground and foundation of to gather more materials. It is foolish, and not the least sustainable.

 

It stands clear to every aware individual that our civilization at the present point is on the route towards causing a new mass extinction amongst the species, bringing the entire Eocene Biosphere to an end.

 

Climate change is but the most well-known of the challenges ahead. The swift increase of the global average temperature is upsetting weather and drought patterns, affecting the natural cycles of storms, contributing to an accelerating rise of the sea levels, and affecting multiple species of animal and plant life negatively.

 

There have been several major conferences on this issue, and all of them have either produced semi-failures or complete breakdowns. While the leaders and decision makers have been aware of this issue for the better part of 20 years, they have been unable to turn the development around or even slow down the increasing usage of energy that produces CO2 emissions.

 

There are many reasons for this monumental human failure. You can blame the oil lobby, the United States, China, the consumers, the politicians, yourself or human nature in general for this failure.

 

The fact, however, is that it is extremely difficult to enact any kind of meaningful change in the energy sector as long as we have  a monetary system that automatically seeks to expand as much as possible, since a contraction will mean that it will be crushed underneath a mountain of debts piling up before it.

 

At the same time, we are silently allowing a real deficit to constantly grow, by using more resources for every year than the Earth can possibly renew. The continuation of that practice will eventually produce an ecological disaster of hitherto unseen proportions, at least for the last 65 million years.

The EOS alternative (Proposed article)

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The human civilization is a very complex series of emergent systems, connected by the multi-level activities of all participants in the process of shaping the future of things to come. Many attempts have been made to devise schemes to describe, envision and realise societies which – only if implemented, and if human beings behaved exactly as expected by the philosopher kings – would certainly solve all of humanity’s woes.

 

Of course, such an outlook would be rubbish. Forget “human nature” as an argument. It is enough to think there are 7 billion people on the planet, as well as thousands of cultures, religions, communities and conditions which adjust their choices according to differing social environments.

 

Hardly surprising, the realisation that it is very difficult to change the entire way the human civilization is organised makes it a seemingly far more attractive route to change aspects of our current society with the aim of strengthening it so it would better be able to face the challenges of tomorrow. Moreover, swearing in church would create enmity and perhaps even fear by groups who can expect that they must make sacrifices for the common good of the planet and of humanity.

 

Isn’t that, for example, what the term “green growth” has come to mean?

 

EOS is arguing that a few core tenets of this current dominant socio-economic system are the main culprits behind the global degradation of the biosphere. We will explore these core tenets and how they relate to the system later more thoroughly, but this article is a brief outline over our alternative.

 

Firstly, we do believe that the current socio-economic system employed on a global scale by the human race is short-sighted, self-destructive, destructive, growth-dependent and virtually forced by its own constraints to consume the biosphere in a frenzy. While reforms can bring us closer to a more harmonious relationship with the planet, no reform which doesn’t aim to shift out this system in return for something else will accomplish any sustainable objectives.

 

This current socio-economic system will die during this century. The only question is if it will collapse to a more primitive form, or if it will be replaced by a more enlightened system. EOS aims to actively contribute towards a shift to a higher evolutionary stage.

 

As we see it, the system of the future must ultimately serve the progress of Life, without trying to control it.

 

As we have previously stated, the existence of life is what we must treat as the most valuable thing in the universe. Without life, there would not be experiences, emotions, thoughts, dreams or aspirations, or the opportunity of them. The preservation and elevation of life is a prime imperative.

 

Thus follows that both the survival of the biosphere and the dreams and aspirations of an individual human being are intimately connected to what EOS aims to achieve. The biosphere should be able to thrive, and all humans should be able to aspire to their highest possible potential within their interests, dreams and skills.

 

Therefore, we are proposing two conditions with which to decide what goals the new socio-economic system should strive to fulfil.

 

One: The new socio-economic system should keep the usage of the Earth’s resources below 100% of the Earth’s annual renewal capacity.

 

Two: The new socio-economic system should see that no human being goes without access to basic income, housing, education, water, food and a social network.

 

That means that the new system must have both ecological and social aspects.

The Digital World

Right now, one of the major national discussions (in Sweden) is about hate speech on the Internet. It seems like Swedish mainstream media is interested in turning this into a “gun control debate”. Yesterday, there was a documentary on Uppdrag Granskning which pointed out the vile hatred and slander directed against young women on the Internet who are expressing opinions related to feminism or immigration. The hatred is directed from the usual suspects – far right trolodytes. It is not directly expressed in the documentary, but implicitly understood, that Uppdrag Granskning (and major liberal and socialist media outlets like Aftonbladet, Expressen and so on) would want to see increased monitoring of the Internet.

flashback
To a large extent, the Internet has become a haven for anti-establishment misfits – of whom a large amount are “angry white males”. In Sweden, the largest discussion forum is Flashback, and it has come to be defined by a politically reactionary discourse marked by resistance against immigration, anti-feminism, racism, pro-prostitution and pro-drug legalisation opinions, largely reflecting a demographic which is overwhelmingly male, young and angry. Internationally, one of the largest political forums is /pol/ on 4chan, and it is too pock-marked by racism, sexism and anti-egalitarian views.

While I would say that more politeness and less political cheerleading (as opposed to political discussion) is needed in society overall, I do believe this focus on the Internet as something negative is expressing something else. In the 1990s, the Internet was overally viewed as a positive thing for Mainstream Media, because it was a part of the “end-of-the-cold-war”-discourse and because it created growth opportunities on a new market. Now, when alternative media is starting to outcompete traditional media outlets, Mainstream Media feels the old traditional urge to restrict and control the competition in order to keep their privileges. Because legally, the sites are responsible for the content according to Swedish law, not the individual posters.

The Internet knows no borders either. Flashback has been banned in Sweden since the 1990s, but is hosted on foreign servers. Thus, any new regulations would probably lead to counter-reactions.

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Ultimately, the political left should not ally with governments and major corporations in curbing the Internet. Firstly because the left too is (?) opposed to the establishment that is and is imagining an alternative world. Secondly, to give the government the authority to control the Internet will create even more resistance, and probably a merger between the xenophobic troglodytes and the Internet anarchists (Wikileaks, Anonymous), which can only retard the development of a progressive social discourse (but that would be beneficial to the powers that be).

The nation-state cannot any more hope to control the currents of information. Of course, hate speech, rabble-rousing, child pornography and other vile and damaging content needs to be removed from the Internet – because real human beings are hurt. That creates the need for a compromise. I believe that instead of fighting the hacker community, civil society would need to approach the hackers and arm them with the authority to act as a cleaning brigade on the Internet, targeting illegal content.

At the same time, I also believe that there has been too much web politics based around the idea that everything that people don’t like should be abolished. At the end, that would lead to a conflict where we try to remove things instead of debating them, and no one would be better off because of such censorship.

Apart from the governments and mega-corporations.

Enrique Lescure

/Sequence Director of Relations, the Earth Organisation for Sustainability

The 6th of January Conference

For being a small movement, EOS is characterised by a determination to move where most other organisations don’t, and to engage in a very broad variety of projects that aim to shape the future. On behalf of EOS, I want to express gratitude towards everyone who have decided to partake in the struggle to build a sustainable future for coming generations. The Biodome Project in Umea represents but the beginning of many projects which would be undertaken on the local, regional and global level to help to shift humanity towards a more sustainable future. eos_2013_1

To achieve this, we are dependent on the public. We are dependent on you.

But we are also keen to listen to your concerns and interests, and therefore invite you to partake in our forums, our facebook group, or our various meetings. If you have ideas which you want to realise in terms of sustainability and a transformation of the way in which we humans on a grand scale are dealing with our planet and our society, you are welcome to join EOS. We are not the kind of organisation where everyone is obliged to do the same thing, or where talented young people are wasted away to carry litter boxes, standing outside windy days and gather petitions or similar. We want to gather the brightest minds and most active hearts to make a qualitative change which would resonate through society.

You are very welcome to join in on our Teamviewer conference on the 6th of January 2013!

With kind regards

/Enrique

The Third Millennium Ideology – Life, Love and Light

The ancient Mayans did believe that the 13th Baktun would end today, when the Earth, the Moon and the Sun would stand in conjunction with the Milky Way Galaxy, forming a cross on the night sky. According to the ancient Meso-American civilization, we would enter a new era today.

Sadly, we will probably not see any change be imposed on us from above. The dominant ideological, social, economic-financial and political systems will still stand entrenched, despite more and more evidence for every passing day that the current system is leading us towards an ecological and social planetary meltdown. There is a profound need for humanity to answer this challenge. The fundamental flaw is to believe that we can keep the current values unevolved, keep the current growth-based system but take away all the “bad sides” without fundamentally altering our values and our global systems.

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The dominant ideology of our age, which has largely emerged victorious against its various rivals, is Liberalism. As the name is implying, Liberalism is about stressing personal liberty. That is achieved through the rule of law, constitutionalism, human rights, electoral democracy, personal integrity and property rights and freedom of speech and conscience. The fundamental idea of Liberalism is that the individual is completely free to make her own decisions affecting her own life. To a large extent, political science and economics are largely influenced by the outlook and values of liberalism.

I would argue that most aspects of Liberalism are positive and have brought very much to the progressive development of humanity. The secularization and separation between church and state, the end of feudal power relations, legalistic equality (in theory largely), electoral democracy, independent courts, a postive attitude to science, the civil rights movement, the sexual revolution and the foundation for the greatest increase of material wealth and prosperity in the history of humanity.

Yet, Liberalism today is inherently unable to answer the new challenge, largely caused by the success of that world-view. Instead of feudal monarchies, we have seen the gradual establishment of a global corporate system with an increasingly unaccountable elite. We are still, despite that we produce more than enough food to sustain the entire world population, seeing poverty and famines spread across the planet. At the same time, the waste of food is staggering. Planned obsolence, an association of consumption with status, the spread of urban sprawls, overusage of water and arable soil, dependency on fossil fuels and an inability to stop the very behaviour we have entrenched ourselves in.

To a very large extent, an apathetic and lost citizenry is turning towards a leadership unable to address the current crisis, because they have an ideological and economic blind spot making them unable to connect the various problems we are experiencing.

What I very strongly have come to believe, is that we – the human race – is in need for a new ideology to address the global social and ecological issues of the 3d Millennium. It needs to protect the gains that Liberalism have made since the 18th century and to move farther than Liberalism in the issues of human rights, human dignity and human liberty. Yet, it also has to address the responsibility we human beings have – as a species – towards ourselves and our surroundings. Liberalism, which is mostly an individualistic ideology, is ill-suited to take a look at the wholity of the human existence.

In short, we need a holistic ideology.

Liberalism is an ideology largely connected to the idea of separation, of compartmentalising reality into various different areas. Nobody denies that everything is interconnected, but everything is divided. The labour market is treated as something independent from the financial system, which is treated as something independent from politics which is treated as something independent from ecology. What we would get from such a world-view is ultimately a situation where we can treat two mutually exclusive things as theoretically achievable (the chief example being exponential growth and ecological sustainability).

A holistic ideology would see everything as a part of a greater whole.

That does not imply that the specific, the local and the regional would be subservient to the global goal. Rather, it implies that everything is embedded in a greater context.

A single cell in your body can be studied as an entity in its own right. Yet, it is connected to your organs, which together are making up your body. You are ultimately a member of a society, which is a part of a civilization which is existing on this blue oasis in the Arm of Orion in the Milky Way Galaxy. You and everyone you love and care for are dependent – no matter what you strive for in your own lives – of the health of the larger system you are a part of.

holistic worldview

That brings the context.

It is time to discuss the values.

All values are ultimately subjective. Science is not an example of a value system, because it does not imply what is desirable. What is desirable for society to achieve is ultimately dependent on the culture and values of said society. And those values are a creation of the human mind and culture. I am not a relativist and I would claim that having for example an independent judiciary is superior to building a civilization based on human sacrifice to the Angry Volcano God. Nevertheless, values are something which we have to approach with an open discussion.

What has made Liberalism into an ideology which has survived is that it has universal values, which can be applied independent from variations in culture, religion and local/regional norms, thus transcending cultural, ethnic and religious borders. To some extent, it fails, for example in relation to tribal collectivist social systems. Yet, it has been successful because rather than discussing the long-term specific goals for the culture, it provides frames that the culture might not transcend.

The new ideology must also be broad enough to be able to transcend cultural and regional variations.

Thus, I would argue that the values of the new ideology – the Ideology of the Third Millennium – should be based around our role as the dominant species of this planet, and the responsibilities entailed in that role.

In short, the foundational value of what we should be doing should be Life.

Life is not a negation of liberty. Not a repudiation of equality. Not an attack on order.

Life is both a condition and a continuous flow of experiences.

What our future civilization should aim to achieve, is to protect, honour and uphold life on planet Earth. That should be the primary objective. From that follows two goals – to prevent the destruction of the Biosphere and to give all human beings such a high quality of life as possible. These two goals need to be balanced. As many of the liberal freedoms as possible need to be preserved within the new value system. Both positive and negative rights need to be upheld. No human being should go hungry to bed, be homeless, without access to education, healthcare or recreation. No human being should be the subject of political or religious persecution. All human beings should be given access to the means where they can thrive.

What would need to change would be our relationship to possessions, our patterns of production and our acquisition of resources. We need a new system to moderate these relationships, and that system would need to work in a circular rather than linear way, giving back what we take gradually, thus upholding a dynamic equilibrium.

The next value foundational for the new ideology, should be regulating our civilization’s way of dealing with Life, from the individual human life to the Biosphere. Ultimately, we should view life as the most valuable existence in the Universe. Life allows us to create meanings, to experience a variety of emotions and to learn and discover. Everything that is alive wants to live, that’s the foundation of life. Our civilization should love life, and treat it with reverence, respect, care and creativity. Even when we have to make hard decisions, we need to reflect the fact that we are a product of 1,5 billion years of evolution, that life is rare and that life can flourish where the conditions are the right.

Thus, Love should be our next foundational value.

The third and last value should regulate the way we access knowledge and base our decisions regarding our future civilization. It would entail the manner in which we pursue knowledge and solutions. That manner is by the scientific method, which provides information through peer review verificiation, experimentation and a non-dogmatic, open and transparent process to find available policies. New discoveries should be encouraged and science and research should flourish, but be directed towards the upholding of the values. Enlightenment.

Light.life

A short summary of the Ideology of the Third Millennium:

Everything is a part of a whole

Life is a gift

We should form our civilization

So life can thrive

Discover new paths

In diversity

In liberty

In equality

We are all

A part of the web of life

Whatever you believe

We are all co-dependent

We are all interconnected

We are all fractals

Life

Love

Light

All are one

Happy new era!

Enrique Lescure

Director of the Sequence of Relations

/The Earth Organisation for Sustainability

The rise of nationalism

All over Europe, East Asia and North America, Nationalism is growing. In Sweden, the third largest party amongst the youth are the xenophobic and formerly fascist Sweden Democrats. The Green Party and the Sweden Democrats are fighting on the national scale on who should be the third largest of Sweden’s 8 parties. While the Green Party commands a lead for the third place amongst those born in the 70’s, the Sweden Democrats are comfortably winning amongst those born in the 80’s and 90’s.

Why?viking_fan_medium

I would argue that the comparative failure for the Green Party to get on the drum in terms of youth politics is due to a failure to correspond how their policies could matter to the issues that are important to youths. In Sweden, unemployment lies around 7-8% persistently, and almost 25% of the youths are unemployed. If you are unemployed and low-educated, you will have a problem entering the labour market. Imagine that you and four-hundred other people are hunting the few low-qualified jobs that pop up then and then. It also affects your ability to get housing, especially as the population has increased with over one million since the 1990s (and most new building projects are middle class rather than working class-focused, meaning that youths moving out could stand in lines for years waiting for an affordable place to live in.

With a lack of pro-active initiatives to give people access to a working labour and housing environment, there is no surprise that those affected by the lack of policies or solutions in these areas would look for ways to reduce the population growth, even if it means tougher immigration laws.

Combine that with the stupid, self-defeating, alienating and bizarre policies undertaken by various local public officials regarding Swedish or western cultural heritage, and people become offended. This obsession with symbol issues which pervades through parts of the bureaucratic establishment for unclear reasons is slowly producing a backlash, a generation for which the most rebellious thing is to watch Astrid Lindgren films, eat Kalles Kaviar, hoisting the Swedish flag and listen to Sabaton and Raubtier. In the 1990s and early 2000s, that kind of patriotism was associated with the most backward countryside holdouts – but nowadays it seems to be mainstream, and pervade deeper into society.

The Greens do still have an edge in one area. The youths who are voting on the Greens tend to be more socially conscientous, have a higher degree of knowledge about poverty and sustainability issues and have a higher likelihood to engage in the Green Youth and later the actual Green Party. But Democracy is ultimately an exercise in numbers, not in the quality of the engagement. The recent scandals with the Sweden Democrats could actually even endear them more to the youths working for them.

I would say that the main problem why the Green Party fails to attract support is that they have been “too rational”. Triangulation is the most rational vote maximising strategy, and since 2002, the Greens have successfully employed that to move from the fringe to the mainstream. The mainstream, however, is not static, and future voters tend to identify themselves in opposition to the preceding generation. For example, the Baby Boomers identified themselves in opposition to the Greatest Generation, and brought the Civil Rights Era and Sexual Revolution. The yuppies of the 1980’s defined themselves in opposition to the hippies of the 1960’s, and the young adults of the 1990’s and 2000’s (gen x-ers) were generally more focused on social justice once again. In Sweden at least, it seems like the rebellious thing today is a form of “revolutionary conservative trolling”, marked by such communities as Flashback and news like Avpixlat. The Green Party is not considered hip, it is considered mainstream, and therefore not as “cool” for youths to identify themselves with it.

The Swedish cultural and political establishment is largely composed of Baby Boomers. Therefore, there have been a focus of rebellion against gender roles, patriarchy, christianity, hetero-normativity and traditional bourgeois national symbols such as the monarchy. What they have forgotten is that they are the establishment today, and the reaction is a weird situation where the rebellious thing is to become a christian conservative monarchist. I am certainly not saying that is any form of progressive development. I am just saying that it is the reality of the counter-identity that is formulated more and more. One of the reasons for being anti-establishment is to become something that “the adults” cannot approve of. If you draw a dick on the head of a photo of the Swedish Prime Minister, you can get an expo at a museum or arts gallery. If you draw a traditional national-romanticist painting, you evoke an uproar and become “the black sheep“. And one of the points with evoking controverse is to become the black sheep with the establishment.

To win support amongst the youths, the Green Party has to:

– Become more edgy and more hip. Youths generally mistrust establishment politicians.

And more importantly…

Access the issues of housing and employment in a believable manner.

– Communicate all of that in a “good” way.

Personally, I did actually expect that Gustaf Fridolin would help to increase the support of the Green Party above 10% and possibly up to 15%. The reason why the success of the Greens was stalled is probably that it isn’t 2002 any more and Gustaf Fridolin, who was an edgy rebel in the early 2000’s, nowadays is like any young politician. At last, he has not become Captain Obvious, like Annie Lööf. Of course, very few people care for politicians that doesn’t have any ideas on how to improve the things that matter.Lowenzahn_in_Mauerfuge

The Green Party has become a very blueish type of Green Party, which is sad. But yet, they have an orientation (internationalist, pro-sustainable) which is agreeable and should be supported. Their ideas are not bad, but they are not the best at advocating them and connecting them to the issues people feel for in everyday life. In contrast, nationalists like the Sweden Democrats have no solutions on any of the major problems today. They don’t even see those problems. That is not due to them having a bad programme, but rather a bad ideology. Nationalism, an ideology which is centred around the reveration of the nation, is probably the worst ideology you can have if you want to address global problems. Therefore, the loss of the youth to the far right – which is not only a Swedish phenomenon – represents a large and growing challenge for progressives.

Enrique Lescure,

Sequence of Relations Director,

the Earth Organisation for Sustainability

How the European project could save itself

The current Nobel Peace Prize award in Oslo is an attempt to verify the European Union as a “peace project”, comparable with Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Bono. This decision has been met with criticism both due to the fact that the EU has not always contributed positively to global peace, and as an obvious attempt to try to redefine the EU brand from being associated with a limping economy, an Euro on the verge of collapse, austerity, national governments that are radar-controlled from the ECB in Frankfurt, political ineptitude, xenophobia and the rise of poverty and far right groups.

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The enlightened, managerial establishment of Europe (of which the Norwegian Nobel Committee is a part) is using this prize as a form of therapy bear, and hopes that it would make those “unwashed rabble” who are threatened by unemployment, homelessness, a plummeting quality of life and perpetual debt to forget about their plight and come miming together to Beethoven’s Ninth. Not gonna happen. The prize does not elevate its possessor, but the possessor can elevate or denigrate the prize. Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama are inspiring human beings who have paid for their convictions by tremendous personal sacrifices. They also are likeable people who are charismatic and photogenic.

For the echo chamber, for the liberal media (of which many newspapers became either irritated at the EU peace prize reward, or stayed indifferent to the whole debacle) and for those who are invested in the EU, they thought it would increase the status of the Union. Instead, it sunk the value of the prize – again, and comes of as a desperate, Soviet-esque attempt to award oneself medals. To a very great extent, the EU has been the darling project for the managerial-bureaucratic classes in the European countries, no matter if these countries are a part of the EU or not. Norway is not a member of the EU, and only 18% of the Norwegians want to join the EU.

It remains a mystery what concrete, tangible things the European Union has done for peace. KFOR? SFOR? Peace-keeping missions? On that ground, the peace prize could have been awarded to every country or organisation that holds peace-keeping troops in other countries. What we should discuss is not so much peace-keeping as peace-building. And what we should discuss in this post is whether the EU brand forever is soiled.

I don’t think its necessarily that way.

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But “building a Pan-European identity” is so quaint today. It was perhaps progressive back in the 1930’s, when most of the world consisted of European colonies. It is true that there are a lot of youths who attach their identity to  something larger than their nation – but these youths are not very fond of the European Union and they don’t want to be Europeans. They want to be Earthlings. Earth inhabitants. Tellusians.

Terrans.

They travel to Ghana to help with ecological farming projects, are travelling to the Arctic to canoe with Polar Bears, are going down to Palestine, to Sudan, to Chiapas, to Ecuador, to Uganda and to Nepal. They certainly don’t identify themselves with Barroso, Van Rompuy or Ashton. They don’t want to build a “glorious United States of Europe”, because that dream of the interwar era has since long been superceded by a vision of a planet which knows no borders, of a sustainable planet, of a planet where humanity is unified, in the pursuit of life, of human dignity and of ecological sustainability. They are struggling for fair trade, women’s rights and indigenous rights.

If the European Union should ever become a successful project, it must engage itself whole-heartedly in the process for global justice, human well-being and sustainability, instead of being a conduit for corporate and bureaucratic interests. Otherwise, it will continue to suffer from shrinking approval rates, until the only logical conclusion is reached.

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The European Union will never succeed if it cannot evoke love and passion. And passion can only be evoked by passion.

In the 21st century, it should be passion for the Earth.