A common critique of the Design is that it provides a template for how to arrange and structure the future economic system of humanity, without discussing the transition from Capitalism to Energy Accounting.
To some extent, the critique is often coming from various left-wing organisations, but more commonly they come from detractors, who may agree fundamentally with our critique of the current system, but for varying reasons do not believe it is desirable or realistic to completely overhaul the existing order.
Such questions are often not asked in entirely good faith either, but made in order to define the EOS as politically immature and therefore discard not only any eventual lack of transitionary planning but also the Design itself. After all, why the hassle of contemplating an alternative socio-economic system if we do not intend to institute it?
It should be noted that the above-mentioned rhetorical question, based on fallacious assumptions about the lack of a transitionary goal plan of the EOS, also assumes that the representatives of the EOS have the audacity to propose themselves as the leaders of the global future of mankind, and that the EOS fundamentally is striving to assume power. This is an abject absurdity, and based on the notion that human beings can only be motivated by greed or power.
The purpose of this article is to once again reiterate what the purpose of the EOS and the Design is, but also something more – to offer a tangible transition plan in the face of ecological collapse and a situation where the elites of humanity are unable and unwilling to look past Capitalism for answers on how to arrange the relationship of our civilization and the Earth on which it is dependent.
- Energy Accounting is an economic calculation model designed to the conditions humanity is facing during the 21st century, where 8 billion people must share what a planet with a rapidly deteriorating environment and dwindling resources could provide.
- The EOS is formed around the goal of testing aspects of Energy Accounting and identify how the system responds to real world challenges.
- Thus, the EOS itself does not intend to make this model of a future society come true, but to establish it as an alternative model for social and economic development (look at the article The Only thing we are asking for).
- There are basically two routes to institute Energy Accounting – top-down and bottom-up.
- A bottom-up approach would see a slow, incremental transition of non-state actors combining their productive resources to gradually decouple from the market economy.
- It is fundamentally not only possible but necessary to combine top-down and bottom-up approaches to the transition issue.
- We don’t have much time, but we have to do it.
Energy Accounting and the EOS
Our planet is on a rapid trajectory towards environmental collapse, not only in terms of the climate issue, but on a broad front of interconnected areas such as freshwater deposits, soil erosion, biodiversity, ocean acidification and the spreading of plastics and medicine into the food chain. During the second half of the 20th century, this process became increasingly evident. As a direct response, political, activist and scientific movements aiming to slow down, stop and/or reverse this trend were launched – collectively known as the green movement or the environmentalist movement.
Broadly speaking, this movement can be divided into two subdivisions:
- Those who believe that the environmental crisis primarily is caused by the employment of dirty or subpar technologies, and that capitalism and the current civilization are possible to keep operating under conditions identical or near identical to its current form.
- Those who believe the environmental crisis to be primarily caused by capitalism/consumerism and its imperative for endless growth, and that neither the current civilization nor its economic order is possible to salvage in any form resembling the current model.
The first form of green movement is the one which is prevalent within contemporary green parties, think tanks, green businesses, governments, supranational institutions and scientific institutes. While they believe that consumerism would have to be reduced, they believe primarily in voluntarism and in technological solutions such as renewable energy and electric cars. The most radical faction believe that we might need increased green taxes, and even a shift to more of a welfare state, which they usually call “new economic paradigms”.
The second form is actually consisting of all the other green movements, from eco-socialists and eco-anarchists to deep greens to anarcho-primitivists – movements with visions wildly varying from one another, and only basically agreeing that capitalism is a leading cause towards environmental degradation.
Our movement is the second kind of movement.
Most of the movements and trends which claim that a systemic change is necessary only goes so far as to say that capitalism is impossible to unify with any form of sustainable future for humanity.
A few movements have suggested reforming capitalism or replacing it with other models. Right now, the most popular form of suggestion is known as “Doughnut Economics”.
The model proposed by the EOS is known as Energy Accounting, and means the creation of a non-monetary currency which in its total quantity would correspond to the planetary carrying capacity. Unlike money, energy credits would cease to exist after being used and after a specific amount of time, as they represent production capacity allocated. The recipients of the energy credits would be citizens, cooperatives/holons and public utilities/holons. The cost of any product or service would be correspondent to its total energy cost in terms of extraction, refining, assembly, transport and ecological restoration/compensation, meaning that every externality would be internalized.
The human economy cannot and should not exist independent from the planet which provides the human race with all it needs to thrive. The Earth and its biosphere is an integral factor, and any type of developed economic system which does not take into account the way in which it affects the planet is dooming humanity to future hardships.
Unlike Doughnut Economics, Energy Accounting is approaching the issue of economic reform not from the perspective of what our current system is and how it can be amended, but from the needs of the planet itself. In short, we have made a conscious choice to disregard the financial and monetary models as they currently exist and as they historically have evolved, instead treating the Earth as we would have viewed a novel, alien planet, and humanity as we would have viewed ourselves were we to settle that planet.
This poses a challenge, since the description of Energy Accounting disregards any roles whatsoever for any currently existing financial and monetary institutions on the national and international levels (this does not mean they won’t have a role to play, only that the EOS hitherto have not mentioned them), as well as any type of reform which would be conducted through taxation and/or subsidies or the introduction of carbon sequestering markets.
Another challenge with a fully novel model is that we have not yet seen the economic and social effects of its implementation. Therefore, establishing a detailed transition plan would be counter-productive as we do not yet know what kind of timetable and form of implementation would be the most suitable for the establishment of Energy Accounting.
Therefore, the transition by necessity would be composed of three phases.
The Experimental Phase
Energy Accounting could be simulated or tested.
Simulations would be consisting of computer programmes and of games (virtual or analogue), but these would either rely on algorithms with a programmers array of behaviours, or on human participants who would be informed that they are acting within the context of a simulated environment. In either case, the resources managed would be hypothetical and set under conditions which would be determined by the game master.
The knowledge which can be derived from simulations could be important, but must be combined with data from real life field runs – in short testing.
A test of Energy Accounting would be conducted in the real world, and would be formed within the context of a semi-closed network, which would manage key resources in accordance with the principles of Energy Accounting.
Our most common model sees two essential resources being allocated according to the principles of Energy Accounting – electricity and food. A prerequisite is that the network conducting the field test itself produces these resources. Why electricity and food have been chosen is because they are essential for the operation of a human society.
Such a network is called a proto-technate.
An embryonic proto-technate with the intent of testing Energy Accounting would not – contrary to what both detractors and a few supporters instinctually believe – be an isolationist commune totally separated from the wider world, for reasons which are quite obvious but which I will describe in greater detail later in this article.
All resources which it cannot itself acquire would be acquired the normal way on the market, though the network could expand – either by the absorption of new holons, or by the already existing participants diversifying their productive capabilities.
The proto-technate would consist of four functionalities.
- The creation and distribution of energy credits to the holons.
- The holons which manage the production of the utilities.
- A separate company owned by the proto-technate responsible for the import of products and services, and the acquisition of land and productive ability/facilities.
- A system of management which is elected by the participants, and a constitutional charter delineating the rights and limits of the proto-technate in accordance with the Three Criteria, with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with local laws and prescriptions.
Nothing would prevent several experimental proto-technates to exist concurrently. In that case, the unification of several proto-technates must be considered only if it would improve the ecological, social and infrastructural impact of the technates in question. If two proto-technates are unified, they would be considered as one proto-technate, while the holons consisting the proto-technate will keep their autonomy.
Many proto-technates will encounter challenges, either at their initial phase or at any of the latter phases – and some will fall. The experiences – good and bad – will become the basis for further experimentation with post-monetary economic systems.
The evolutionary phase – defeating the “Life Puzzle”
During the experimental phase, participants would be highly motivated activists and researchers who would be motivated by the desire to test Energy Accounting, judge its implementation and decide whether it is able to survive and outperform the current system on social and environmental sustainability indicators.
The next phase, the evolutionary phase, would see a very different type of participant join in – namely those who join in order to improve their own subjective quality of life. This would not be a problem or something which is needed to be combatted, even if the understanding among these participants about Energy Accounting and its intricacies might initially be very flawed or even non-existent.
The question which we then arrive at would be – what would incentivize people to join a proto-technate?
The answer to this is tied to the paradigm of the experimental phase. Beyond the seeding of a proto-technate, which may indeed be marked by uncertainty of the future and hardships, the holons should not strive towards growth for the sake of growth. If it is possible for a proto-technate to expand its productive capabilities, it must be weighed against the labour time the participants have to put into this expansion, and whether it would consume more labour time in the long-term than prior to the expansion.
In short, the proto-technate should operate for the sake of its participants – and here we come to the term social sustainability.
The electricity and food of the proto-technate would be distributed according to the allocation of energy credits made by the holons and the participants. This means that a significant amount of electricity and food will come for free to the participants. Likewise, those living in buildings owned and operated by the proto-technate would not pay any monetary rent. This will make it possible for people to reduce the amount of time under which they have to work outside of the proto-technate, as their life costs would drop and they would be able to sustain themselves on a smaller income.
In contemporary Sweden, arguably one of the best developed societies on the planet and a progressive lighthouse, one of the most common terms is “the life puzzle”. An ordinary citizen is expected to both have a career and a family life, as well as a successful social life. As a full-time job is for eight hours, and both parents are expected to work, children are generally placed at full-time daycare (and occasionally nightcare) centres, where they are to be picked up by the parents. The hours of the day are usually neatly regimenting themselves, with little time for reflection, rest or pastimes. Due to this stress, especially during the crucial toddler years, relationships are falling apart, and many people are suffering from mental breakdowns over their perceived failure to fulfil the ideal of a successful Swedish citizen.
It should be noted that the workloads of hunter-gatherers or medieval farmers were lighter than for contemporary office workers in developed societies.
Almost everybody are loathing the jigsaw puzzle that is life, but the “life puzzle” is considered a fact of nature in Sweden – almost as natural as rain, air and sunshine.
But what if it wasn’t?
What if people could work less, for a comparable standard of living, and spend more time with their families in a communal setting where they could have more time to live and breathe, where electricity, food and housing would be cheap or virtually free? This would make life in the proto-technate far more agreeable than a comparative life in “normie society”.
Of course, most of the people in the proto-technate would still have regular jobs outside of it, providing taxes to the state. But they would be able to keep more of their income and establish savings as they would not have to pay for utilities – unlike part-time workers in crumbling rental apartments, who would have to put a lot of their monetary earnings into food, electricity and rent.
In short, a system which is intending to create a moneyless society could during its initiation actually make its participants monetarily wealthier. An individual working part-time and living under a proto-technate may theoretically have a larger disposable income in money than an individual who is working eight hours and lives in an ordinary home or apartment.
As the proto-technate expands, this type of discrepancy will grow. Car and machine pools, the ability to acquire clothes, household items, furniture and even homes without any monetary payment will further increase the safety net of those living within a proto-technate, while their actual need for money would decrease. This form of social sustainability would increase individual autonomy and dignity, reduce stress factors and alleviate physical and mental pain. Parents could have more time to spend with their children. Life could become idyllic, calm and rewarding, without fear of economic or social safety.
Of course, many things could go awry during the process.
- The community could collapse due to internal conflicts or other factors.
- The community could succumb to complacency and turn stagnant and inward-looking.
- The community could turn dogmatic and repressive against those who are ideologically objecting or indifferent.
That is why a charter is essential, as it would not only define how positions of responsibility are appointed, term limits and transparency criteria, but also broader ideological and ecological goals. Nevertheless, leeway must be provided that people who join a proto-technate should not need to change or conform to the ideals of the network – our goal is not to create a “new human”, but that humans should be able to be human (rather than hamsters).
The revolutionary phase – the long game
If successful, the proto-technates would gradually both diversify and unify into larger networks, which would work according to the path of least resistance. During this transition, the participants would find that the behaviour they are inclined to adopt given the circumstances would further the cause of Energy Accounting, at the expense of the capitalistic Price System.
At a certain point, people will increasingly stop working inside the regular capitalistic economy, as the proto-technate would be capable of providing their needs – especially with the large-scale adoption of 3D printing and with the increased accessibility to renewables. If this trickle turns into an exodus, it could spark exponential growth for the technate, and also put increasing stress both on states and on private for-profit corporations. On one hand, this trend could incentivize even corporations to collaborate with the proto-technate, acquiring energy and other products in return for their services – while it also could spark a backlash against the proto-technate, and repression from state authorities.
In this sense, the by then tens of thousands of holons comprising the proto-technate would reconfigure and find new methodologies to further their collaboration. In short, it is a long game, a struggle where the holons fight not only for the planet and the Ideology of the Third Millennium, but also for their participants and the wider communities into which they are embedded.
That is also why it is essential that those intent on forming holons try to avoid markers which would be stigmatizing and isolate them from the wider community. Apart from not consciously isolating themselves in communes, they should avoid sporting behaviours or aesthetics which would mark them out as asocial, for example condemning the lifestyle choices of other people, or holier-than-thou social markers. Such choices could initially strengthen the cohesion of the holons, but would defeat the purpose of the struggle. Proselytizing should be avoided, and the learning of Energy Accounting and the Ideology should happen within the holons in the framework of voluntary study circles.
If the holons are viewed positively by the local non-technate communities, and their participants seen as respectable individuals with names, passions and dreams, then attempts of state or group repression against them would either fail or backfire, and help to delegitimize the causes of the detractors of the proto-technate – since what would be seen by the public would be attempts to repress people who desire to live autonomously and to provide for their families.
Another thing which should not be discouraged is for participants in the proto-technate to also take part in civic life in their wider communities. Active participation would not only endear the movement to the public and help in expanding the scope, but also gradually transform the local institutions in a manner conductive for the wider objectives. Nevertheless, political and institutional engagement at the local level must not as its aim have to establish political hegemony, since that would produce hostility and tear apart local society. Rather, the most long-term feasible relationship is one where there is difficult to ascertain where the proto-technate ends and ordinary market society begins. It would reduce the risk for tensions and for resistance to emerge.
Eventually, the proto-technate would not only co-opt institutions, but forming its own academies, universities and think tanks, and start training cadres of professionals who are imbued with the experiences of the Design. This is a long march and a multi-generational project.
Afterword - “But we don’t have time!”
A new 2022 UN report shows that half of the corals of the oceans have died. The world is in a state of an acute crisis. One argument which is often flung against eco-progressive critiques of capitalism is the lack of time. We are following the trajectory of the 1972 Limits to Growth report which would put the collapse of the planetary ecosystems around 2070. Most analysts agree that the tipping point for carbon dioxide reduction to have an impact is this decade, and that the 1,5 degree goal probably already is overdue.
Today, a conflict within the power ranks of the developed world has fully emerged and is polarizing our societies. On the eco-progressive side, there is an alliance consisting of financial-political elites and activist organizations which sees climate change as an existential threat, and which intends to curb it using means within the current system. In general, the activists are not proposing the solutions but rather prefer to leave that to institutions and think tanks such as The Bill & Melinda Gates Founation, or The Stockholm Institute, which nevertheless have more resources to fund studies.
Recently, the Youtube channel Kurzgesagt published a video sponsored by the Gates foundation, describing the foundation’s preferred strategy for the transition. While this topic may be deconstructed in another article, I would be amiss if I would not mention that this statement was not only present in the video but also directly attribute to Bill Gates himself – to the effect that “since the crisis is immediate in scope, we do not have the time to invent a new socio-economic system and replace capitalism, so we have to work within the system.”
It should be noted that climate change currently is a hot topic (often quite literally), but that it is dominating the public perception of what environmental problems the planet currently face. And truth be told, it is an existential threat and one that needs to be addressed. But in the same time, it is a part of a wider problem, which also encompasses soil deterioration, freshwater depletion, biodiversity loss, trawling, the addition of artificial fertilizers to the soil and numerous other environmental crises, local, regional and global. In truth, one could either take the position that these problems are disparate in their point of origin and dependent upon divergent factors, be they technological, social or due to individual error, or that they are systemic. If they are systemic, they may be founded upon two points of origin – the population size of humanity and/or the socio-economic system (these two are not mutually exclusive, but the EOS tends to put a greater emphasis on the socio-economic system, given for example that small developed countries have a greater environmental impact than larger countries on the opposite side of the developmental spectrum, and that the world economy has grown with a factor of over forty times since the early 20th century, whereas the population has only grown eight times, meaning that the economic growth has been five times the population growth).
Granted, Bill Gates is not wrong. The time we have to curb climate change is probably too short a time to rely only on the orderly introduction of a post-capitalist system. This does not, however, mean that we should not concurrently work for such a transition.
Right now, there is a concerted effort by elites in the developed countries to introduce a “Great Reset” of capitalism, which will combine aspects of the 1930’s New Deal, 1990’s style Globalization and new forms of supranational ecological and epidemiological monitoring and “multi-level governance” (which is when policies are shaped on differing institutional levels following more dynamic, almost ad hoc-like procedures with unclear delineations of responsibilities and execution). A lot of this process will contain aspects which are progressive, such as basic income, but a lot of it will also help entrench and strengthen the kind of supranational elites which have been formed during the “Davos era of global capitalism”.
No matter whether the visions presented by the Gates Foundation and those of the World Economic Forum are similar or whether the think tanks have had any communication, we can see that the visions for change presented by the WEF contains a trend towards a greater degree of supranational institutional power, more surveillance of the population and a greater amount of centralized control. Their vision is one of a post-growth capitalism which will guarantee some basic income, while at the same time entrench those very elites which are valuing long-term investments before short-sighted gains, and would want to see the planet continue, while at they – for quite obvious reasons – are emotionally attached to capitalism and largely unable to imagine any other alternate system.
The kind of system presented by these think tanks could at best be described as “transitionary”, but there is no clarity to where the transition is heading – if anywhere. There are several reasons why established academia and institutions would not look into the exploration of post-capitalist ideas and models. The challenge comes when we are pulled deeper and deeper into an existential ecological crisis, and the experts assigned to deal with the problem are only capable of thinking within the framework of capitalism, and all their tools which they are equipped with presuppose the continued existence of a growth-based system with a fiat currency.
This is why every movement which is making serious research about post-capitalist models is doing an invaluable work, and why those movements should be supported – because the institutions through which power flows are not interested in widening the options we have accessible to the point that those solutions threaten the existence of these institutions in their contemporary form.
The only thing the EOS is asking for, is your help in developing and testing Energy Accounting, or other alternatives to capitalism designed to create an ecologically sustainable future.
The model which we have envisioned is decentralized, built on putting the control of the future institutions directly into the hands of the people, and on finding ways to compensate the potential inconveniences of a more ecologically sustainable future with a higher degree of social sustainability.
In short, the urgency of the current situation and the unsustainability of the current model is an insufficient excuse to not explore alternatives to said model, and since there already are movements pursuing this course, these movements should be supported as well in conducting their experiments and research.
Excluding them from the public view is tantamount to rather see humanity collapse into a new dark age than potentially entering a post-capitalist future.
“Build Back Better”.
The term has recently been in vogue, and used by governments in the English-speaking world and Continental Europe to define a progressive reform approach following the Pandemic. What the term vaguely means is that the recovery offers opportunities to create a new and superior type of system.
That a disparate cluster of Western governments have chosen the same term is associated with the term “the Great Reset” which is being championed by the World Economic Forum (WEF), which holds an annual summit in Davos, Switzerland, and is sponsoring a “Young Global Leader programme” which includes political leaders at different levels from various countries – from heads of state like Sanna Marin, to legislators like Ida Auken – the latter infamous for an article she wrote for the WEF website, which was called “Welcome To 2030: I Own Nothing, Have No Privacy And Life Has Never been better”.
For the Anti-Globalization/Nationalist Right, this new trend of Post-Covid material produced by the WEF was declared as evidence for a sinister “globalist plot” of sorts, which either would utilize the pandemic for its own end, or outright had manufactured the virus and the pandemic/pandemic responses in order to transition Western society away from capitalism and towards some form of totalitarianism.
As a representative of an organisation which actually envisions a post-monetary/post-capitalistic future, I took a passing interest in these claims – though the only sources about the Great Reset and the term “Build Back Better” either were short articles were the terms were mentioned in passing (i.e – “The temporary pandemic subsidies could be utilized as a template for our governments Build Back Better programme”, or “The Vaccine Passports together with Digitalization can become a model for how identification of citizens is conducted in the future.”), articles about WEF itself which were of medium-length and descriptive of the trends of the future, or – in the majority of the cases – more or less hysterical texts which drew maximalist conclusions about tech-dystopias run by “psychopathic communist mega-corporations”.
Comparing the writings of the proponents of “the Great Reset” with those of their detractors, a casual reader becomes none the wiser – since the descriptions vary so much in scope. While the proponents talk in optimistic terms about turning the page and installing new and more robust healthcare systems, the detractors talk about RFID chips and mass sterilizations.
The question is where one could find serious and balanced critique. In the old days, back in the early days of this century, proponents and detractors of various concepts would vehemently disagree about the desirability of political and economic goals, but their view on what those goals were would usually converge. During the heydays of ATTAC, the World Social Forum of Sao Paolo and the leftist Alt-Globalization movement, progressive critics’ generally offered critiques of the WEF programmes based upon their textual content, while the current generation of critics (who mostly are rightists of the nationalist variety) focus on single statements or articles, like that of the aforementioned one by Auken.
This is not conductive for a debate, and it is not inviting for the public to partake in these discussions.
Therefore, because I simply wanted to know better, I purchased and read Mr. Schwab’s book – Covid 19: The Great Reset.
Now I have read it, and this article is an attempt not primarily at critiquing the book, but to describe its contents, and hopefully be of some help to those who wish to better know what it is about.
Summary by points
- The book is divided into two segments, focusing on a macro reset for the international community, supranational institutions and nation-states, and a micro reset for corporations and individuals. For this article, I opted to focus on the macro reset.
- Rather than offering prescriptions for a brave new world of tomorrow, the book offers broad descriptions of the society that the author(s) believe is emerging and of which the onset of the pandemic has spread.
- The political preferences of the authors could be vaguely discerned from the focus of the analyses, as well as the probably unintentional usage of hyperboles – especially at the beginning of the text. Also, in one particular case, the lack of a counter-narrative could discern a certain – guilty or reluctant – advocacy of a political position that deserves more critique and illumination.
- However, the descriptive nature of the text makes it difficult to ascertain what descriptive analyses are in reality prescriptive recommendations.
- The book cannot be seen as a definite statement about the political preferences of the WEF – for a deeper understanding it would probably necessitate further studies of WEF materials, for example choices of lecturers, themes and workshops during their broadcasted seminars (of which they generously have provided a plentitude of on Youtube).
- While the claim that the WEF controls the Western World cannot conceivably be called a serious analysis, there is a serious critique to be made against a society which allows well-connected think tanks to have an outsized influence over the democratic processes.
Covid-19: The Great Reset
The book starts with a hyperbole – namely that the recent Pandemic has “plunged the world into a challenge we have not experienced in generations”, that it means an unprecedented challenge for governments, businesses and individuals to adapt – that many will fall but “a few will thrive”.
A quick remark about this postulate is that even the West – which arguably has had the best conditions for the Post-1945 era – has undergone many crises during the preceding decades (the 1973 and 1979 oil embargos, stagflation, the 2008-2010 financial crisis). What made the Covid Pandemic unique was the actions undertaken to combat it – namely lockdowns, vaccine passports and measures of control which in some countries made the economy contract by 20-30%.
It should also be noted that Sweden, which went against the current and instituted were minimal restrictions, during the course of the pandemic did neither do worse or better than the general mortality projection of countries.
The outline of the argument proposed by the book is “to never let a good crisis go to waste” and that governments and other decision-making entities should take the opportunity to for example institute badly needed ecological, financial and political reforms. These are of course well overdue, though it can be argued that the current configuration of global resource usage cannot be solved within the current incarnation of the market system.
However, the book then outlines as its mission to describe trends which we can see emerge.
The Green New Deal
The book outlines that the Pandemic has strengthened trends towards the automation of the service industry, and is mentioning basic income and strengthened focus on healthcare and a comprehensive welfare system at the expense of a focus on economic growth. It does also state that Japan’s model – often derided as stagnant and inefficient – has seen a growth in wealth if we account for the population decline.
These statements are outlined as a description of the trends we will see in the future, and they represent trends which are desirable – at least if you have a low to medium income, is disabled, have small children or other issues which may increase the stress levels on your life.
Schwab and Malleret do not see or describe any trends in the opposite direction. For example, it could be postulated that the rise of crypto-currencies would sap the state coffers from needed tax revenue, and it can also be drawn from experience of the stagflation of the 1970’s and the financial crisis of 2008 that economic hardships which threaten the viability of the monetary stability and financial systems are often counter-measured with infusions of capital into banks and other financial institutions. These measures would often lead to the growth of deficits – and traditionally these have been paid by cuts to the welfare systems – so called austerity policies.
While the EOS agrees with the WEF that there needs to be greater focus on accessibility to resources for all human beings (see the third criterion), there is yet to be seen whether the current monetary and financial system is capable of reintroducing the social democratic model. Canada, which has a government with many Young Leaders, have recently made strides in that direction.
The question is what intent can be derived from the book. The description of what policies states may indulge in seems to line up well with what the WEF prescribes. However, this could well cause confusion when the WEF describes other trends – which are far more controversial. It remains unclear whether or not the book is endorsing or describing these policies – and if the answer is the latter it is unclear why the book has not described trends in the opposite direction.
One of the chief characteristics of international development since the 1980’s has been the gradual increase in the number of supranational institutions, as well as their growing clout and power at the expense of national governments. To a large degree, this transition has coincided with the advent of Neoliberalism and the growth of Information technology, which to a large degree has affected the policies of these structures.
The EU is the most far-reaching example – to a large but unclear degree, it has deprived the states which are members of the Eurozone of their ability to conduct monetary policies, and also of a large amount of their ability to conduct financial policy. While this can provide scope benefits for trade and growth within the current system, it also deprives the citizenry of a large degree of economic and social political power. In an article written back in 2016, I theorised that this deprivation of political power towards treaties like NAFTA or institutions like the EU is one of the main reasons for the growth of right-wing populism.
The WEF has since its increasing visibility been associated with this trend of moving political authority from democratically mandated nation-states to goal-mandated supranational bodies.
Therefore, it is not surprising that Covid-19: The Great Reset is focusing a lot on health, and especially how the WHO and other international bodies and private institutions have helped countries dealing with the supply crisis at the beginning of the Pandemic, and that the authors state that a lot could be learned from this in terms of health coordination and the introduction of health as a focus point for international travel.
There are undoubtedly a few benefits of that kind of standardization, but it is a precarious trend to transfer health policies from the state – not because the state necessarily is a superior provider (which isn’t the case with a lot of developing nations), but because the state, despite everything, has a mandate which can be affected by the decision of its constituents, whereas international institutions only have responsibilities towards their mission statements (which may be affected by numerous nation-states, where the conflicting wills of numerous peoples are diluted down to compromises which will leave most citizens with a feeling of alienation and may not even be ideal to the varying situations on the ground).
Yet again, it is unclear whether the book endorses this development or merely describes it. It should also be noted (and it is actually mentioned by the text in passing) that the crisis caused by the Pandemic also saw countries becoming more protectionist in terms of guaranteeing access to medical equipment and vaccines, at the expense of poorer countries. While the WEF are correct in their assessment that pathogens do not care for international travel, their emphasis on supranational solutions risk causing more deprivations in democratic accountability.
New avenues for surveillance
On page 166, Covid-19 (the book) describes that the pandemic will most likely lead to a demand for more surveillance and monitoring for health reasons, and that new technologies are already in the making which will make it possible for institutions such as governments and corporations to for example measure the blood pressure and heart-rate of every citizen in real-time, which together with geo-location can help authorities map an image of the feelings, thoughts and aspiration of the individual citizen. The book itself states that it could become the basis for a totalitarian society, explains the mechanisms for its arising and the technologies needed for it to occur, but does not describe any type of resistance or counter-trends (like for example more advanced VPN or cloaking technologies, or the advent of parallel economies, based on Crypto or RBE principles). Rather, the type of resistance described is formatted in passive terms, with “individuals feeling that the system is oppressive, but choosing to try to keep their personal dignity.”
While the authors seem to lament the loss of personal or communitarian freedom replaced by a techno-managerial system, they seem unable or unwilling to imagine any type of conceivable, realistic alternative to this dystopia.
Critics of Schwab, the WEF and the book seem often to believe that the main purpose of the WEF is to institute a techno-totalitarian future – which often is envisioned as an extreme version of the type of cancel culture and banning waves which often affected right-centrists and right-wingers during the waning years of the Trump Presidency and the Pandemic, and that this is the hidden, nefarious purpose of their every action. To a large extent, Schwab seems to increasingly replace George Soros as a Blofeld-esque bogeyman in this mythology.
Supporters of the WEF views the book as a well-intentioned call for a more compassionate, fair and equitable system.
Most people (who aren’t a part of the Young Global Leaders or those 0,0001% of the global population which is ostensibly following the WEF, which as of this moment has 717 subscribers on its main Youtube channel) seem to not know so very much about it and some would even believe that the terms have been created by conspiracy theorists.
What then, is the Great Reset?
The book is not that very helpful in that regard, though it briefly touches upon multiple subjects, all from Green Energy to social policies and international cooperation. If we look at the introduction video with the same title for the Davos Agenda of 2021, it is described in this manner:
“The pandemic has radically changed the world as we know it, and the actions we take today, as we work to recover, will define our generation. It’s why the World Economic Forum is calling for a new form of capitalism, one that puts people and planet first, as we come together to rebuild the world after COVID-19.”
The only thing that stands clear is that a change is needed, and that this type of change will be a “new form of capitalism” (which is described as “stakeholder capitalism”, which would “put planet and people rather than profit, first”), and that “we must come together to rebuild the world after Covid-19”.
Who are that “we”?
Among those featured in the video, with short quotations combined with a type of music that indicates that something great is going to happen, is a high-ranking official of the International Monetary Fund, the UN Secretary-General, the CEO of Mastercard, the CEO of Salesforce, and a high-ranking operative of the WEF itself.”
This leaves room for an interesting, critical perspective which has unfortunately not been aired more.
The Great Reset in actuality is a quite apt term, even if it is quite vague.
It is envisioned as a reset of capitalism itself, which is (rightfully) seen as unsustainable, and that by moving towards a type of capitalism which “takes into account” the interests of stakeholders (“working class people, indigenous peoples, environmentalists, eco-systems”) the “bad parts of capitalism” could be replaced with “good parts”, and a “good capitalism” where the inner contradictions of the systems would be negated could arise.
This is not a new idea. Already in the 1840’s and 1850’s, the early Victorians believed that charity and Christian compassion could birth such a type of society. To some effect, the 20th century Labour movement realized that in bits, though if we take a global outlook, what in reality happened was that the exploitation of the human body in debt slavery, child labour and sweatshops transferred towards the developing world (which during the 19th century merely had been the place where resources and raw materials were extracted).
From a purely ecological perspective, the ideology underpinning the Great Reset is a techno-optimistic type of green market-based social liberalism. It is an ideology that deals a great deal with hope and sentimentality as its basis, and with the perceived unity of interests between the ruling elite and the people – or rather those parts of the people who are platformed by the ruling elites for five second snippets of Sandfordian statements like “it is important that we all come together for the greater good” and “humanity has never been at such a crossroad as today”. Within the EOS, we call that type of ideology “Cornucopianism”.
The vision offered is one of a capitalism without inner contradictions, where the important actors are the leaders of major supranational institutions, powerful governments, multi-national corporations and think tanks such as the WEF. Human rights activists, indigenous leaders and other types of grass-root representatives are sometimes invited to hold speeches for the leaders of “the international community”, but are seldom parts of steering committees and workshops.
And we agree with Schwab &/co.
Humanity needs a restructuring of its socio-economic system. Currently we are living on the annual equivalent of what 1,7 Earths could renew each year, we are rapidly destroying the oceans, the soils, the fresh-water reservoirs and the bio-diversity of key life-supporting biomes.
It is highly unlikely that we can achieve a kind of sustainability within anything resembling the current system without new wonder technologies which currently do not exist (proponents of the current system mean that greed is the only driver for innovation which “will” make these technologies a reality).
Cornucopians generally present a binary choice between “Old Capitalism” and “Stakeholder Capitalism”, and claim that the only alternative to the latter is a collapse of the world.
We (as in the EOS) claim that there are more alternatives, and that one must dare think outside the box.
One of the tenets which we need to question is the term “we”. Is “humanity” responsible for the degradation of the planet? Is humanity responsible for the destruction of the ecosystems? Is humanity responsible for the advent of an ecological collapse by 2075?
Or is the culprit a socio-economic system based on a model of growth which automatically transfers 80% of any revenue to the 20% at the top of the income ladder, and where the growth in profits correspond with the growth of resource usage?
This is a system which is both emergent, as in being a consequence of the laws of supply and demand of the market, and designed, in terms of being directed, streamlined and affected by sophisticated institutions and corporations which – when put into place – would want to protect their own continued existence.
And is not the WEF to a large degree consisting of the very same people who are a part of this super-structure which has helped to move the Earth this close towards a sixth mass extinction event?
When we look at the convergence of crises which we already are suffering from, and which will be exacerbated in the future due to the type of socio-economic system that has been imposed on humanity, those who are suffering the most and who will suffer the most are the majority of the Earth’s population, consisting of farmers and workers in the developing world.
The Great Reset may be several things, on a spectrum.
In its most benign but inefficient form, it is a marketing ploy and a way for the corporate and financial elites of the planet to legitimize their continued dominance for themselves internally, by showing how much they care for the planet by producing flashy films and summits in an Alps country famous for clocks, cheese, tax evasion, money-laundering and summer holiday homes for ultra-wealthy dictators. In that regard it would be dishonest, but nothing spectacular – already l’ancien regime of France sponsored portraits of Marie-Antoinette distributing bread to the starving peasant children of France.
In its most malign form, the Great Reset might be a stakeholder capitalism in the sense that it would transform capitalism into an integrated system of corporate, financial, institutional and social leadership, where the elites in a maternalistic fashion would take a keen interest in the life of ordinary people, to the extent that their physical health, their diets, their daily routines and interests, and their values and opinions should be an issue not for the individual and not for their local communities, but for “the Davos boys”.
The WEF may mean well.
The problem is that any real solution to the current crisis would not be a “reset”, but the establishment of an entirely new system – one which would need to do away with the kind of wealth and inequality that makes possible such institutions as the WEF.
Another problem is also that a stakeholder capitalism may become a more authoritarian, dystopian, corrupt and elitist society than what we have today, and therefore far more volatile. The same neoliberal elites which brought us the Great Recession and the rise of right-wing populism are now supposed to lead the revolution towards a utopia based on green energy, progressive politics and a responsible stewardship of the planet, under the guise of a new, “green liberalism”.
This is and remains the real conundrum.
The 2020’s, perhaps more than any prior decade, is characterized by self-contradictions – and with that I mean a mixture between an extreme sense of dread and paranoia on one hand, and an equally extreme naivety on the other hand.
The fear of the unknown – of climate change, pandemics, geostrategic adversaries, terrorists and political extremism – is perforating the very air we breathe. Meanwhile, we are actively pursuing choices which are exacerbating our dependency and vulnerability.
In the economic and political sense, we are moving towards both a greater concentration of wealth and of the de-facto political power in the hands of wealthy and centralized supra-national institutions.
In the technological sense, we are pursuing the further integration of our infrastructure with the world wide web, while cracking mechanisms become ever more sophisticated and accessible.
The increased vulnerability is already a fact, and numerous debilitating attacks have already been conducted.
Prevailing as a narrative is however the notion that the current development is determined and fixed, that the short-term demand for greater dividends must trump reason and collective and individual safety concerns. A sort of technological determinism rules the day, and this technological determinism could risk us sacrificing our freedom and democratic sovereignty, without becoming safer.
- The Internet of Things should be understood as the digitalization of infrastructure and the further interconnection of data within a wider cloud.
- The benefits would entail further automation, specialization, the elimination of bottlenecks and increased economic growth.
- During the 2010’s, an increased amount of hacker attacks and “compromizations” of software have been an evident trend.
- The narrative is that “Democracy is under attack” – the answer is an increased amount of centralization, self-censorship and surveillance.
- The technology of vulnerabilities is by itself never questioned, and it is taken as self-evident that we must continue on the current trajectory.
- The effect would be an increased risk for slipping into techno-totalitarianism of a Chinese or similar variety.
- An alternative would be a de-centralized, sustainable holonic structure characterized by inclusion, autonomy and self-reliance.
The Internet of Things and its benefits
A part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is the increased digitalization of production, maintenance and infrastructure. We are already seeing how education, transport, retail and appliances become ever-more interconnected on the web. The features of this trend most visible are those which resemble the cyberpunk future envisioned in many works of science fiction – for example self-driving vehicles, stores without human employees, package-carrying drones.
Yet, most people experience far more prosaic changes to their life – most common less usage of cash in their daily transactions. One example could be bus tickets. In not a few cities and towns in cities, tickets could no longer be purchased by the driver. Rather, the weary traveller would have to download an app through their smartphone, use their cellphone camera to record a QR code and pay through apps like Swish which they download through their mobile Bank-ID app. Following this, the amount of freeloading in public transit has had a certain increase among the “above 80’s”, to speak bluntly.
The benefits are obvious. The existence of cash is exposing drivers for both robbers and germs. Counters and credit card readers cost money to install, and produce receipts which the customers do not desire. The overview of the amount of customers is immediately centralized and can be accessible and broken down in studies when for example the redrawing of public transit is made.
The same is true for the wider Internet of Things. Apps can benefit both travellers and businesses when they visit new towns and are recommended stores and establishments corresponding to the conscious, unconscious and subconscious choices indicated by the algorithms surveilling the individual user. This has also created new markets – for example has the recent rise of involuntary celibacy among males a certain correlation with the rise of dating apps, which has commoditized and streamlined the previously so messy and haphazard process of courtship. The next step would likely be a marketization of friendships, which further would serve to alienate the human being but also create a new avenue for growth and a new generation of tech billionaires.
In terms of the infrastructural benefits, they are mostly related to logistics, maintenance and informatics. Instead of having their own server halls, corporations can store their data on the cloud, saving the need for staff and rent. Elevators can be operated and managed from afar. In the future, with self-driving trucks, the challenge imposed by pesky “freedom convoys” can be a thing of the past. In fact, self-driving trucks can unload their cargo in storage halls, offering driver-less carrier trucks the opportunity to move the goods direct to the store.
Already, refrigerators can notify both their owners, their makers and the retailers what the owners are consuming and when the date of expediency will come. Smart jackets and sneakers will be able to tell doctors and producers of sport gear how many calories their owners are burning on a daily basis. Though Neuralink, for all purposes, currently in its most wild form best is described as something between a science fiction-dream and an (in)advertent scam, there is research aiming to connect the human mind to the Internet, in new and revolutionary forms.
All of this development will open up new markets for growth, especially in the so-called Metaverse. Investors, tech companies, a vast army of consumers and western governments are all embracing this new the latest of golden calves. This will be a driver for creative destruction, multiply monetary wealth and serve to shift wealth ever-more from nations and communities into the hands of multinational corporations and conversely into tax havens – all while at best creating a few new jobs down the line. But politico-economic orthodoxy dictates that what market-driven development craves is also the best future for the entire economy.
The question, however, is what the risks are.
Caveats, dangers, hazards
Since the Internet began to emerge in the 1980’s, malware and hacking have followed suit. The DDOS attacks of the 1990’s gradually came to give way to more sophisticated types of criminal activities. Nowadays, as all of society is rapidly being digitalized, all of society is likewise affected by hacking.
Billions of people are affected by identity theft. Refrigerators in Moscow, credit card readers and harbours in Sweden and Tesla cars and university printers in the United States have all for varying purposes been overtaken, controlled and/or held ransom by various groups. The smart cities of the Internet of Things are also extremely fragile and vulnerable, especially as the centralization and internationalization of information creates nodes accessible for anyone with a minimum of resources and talent – in a world with billions of desperate, poor and smart minds.
With quantum decryption follows cracking software which can run billions of passwords simultaneously, and soon retinae and fingerprints won’t be hacker-proof either. The attacks are already happening, yet what is criticised is never the manner in which the technology is implemented.
Rather, the problem is deemed to be the people.
The emergence of techno-totalitarianism
It is evident that we today are living in a society characterized by fear. During the 1990’s, mainstream popular music and comedy flirted with anti-establishmentarian, revolutionary sentiments and dangerous symbols. The attitude towards government power, authorities and media – even from parts of the establishment itself – was characterized by scepticism and cynicism. It was seen as healthy to question the intentions of governments and mega-corporations.
Of course, the prevalent tendency of the then dominant strand of neoliberalism was that history was at an end following the end of the Cold War, and that all expressions of youthful resistance rather than implicit threats were promises of rejuvenation of the system, following the appropriation and defanging of the revolutionary symbols.
Nowadays, the public narrative – especially within the framework of the wider English-speaking world – is rather characterized by a sense of dread and chilled anticipation. Public discourse is gradually replaced by echo chambers, and the struggle between ideas have been replaced by a fight between tribes. The purpose of public discourse is no longer about civic ideals and winning at the marketplace of ideas, but about delegitimizing opponents as extremists, by associating their positions with odious ideologies and tendencies. This trend began with the War on Terror and was initially experienced by ethnic communities of certain backgrounds, but gradually the groups suspected of harbouring extremist sympathies have been expanded.
I would argue that a surveillance state is not per definition an unhappy accident made possible by the emergence of the unsavoury application of new technologies – but a feature of what Zbigniew Brzezinski defined as “the Technetronic Era”.
The very vulnerability – the sheer nakedness, of the cloud, of the grid and of the networked infrastructure – will necessitate an increased amount of surveillance and policing, and therefore a new narrative. The vast openness of enormous quantities of data in the most open society ever realized has paradoxically birthed a siege mentality, where our systems suddenly are very fragile.
Gradually, this process will lead to the ban of anonymous usage of the Internet, to the increased division of the world wide web between vast tech baronies, by increased amounts of subjects not allowed of speaking of. What previously was considered legitimate critique of the practices of pharmaceutical and technological companies is increasingly viewed as subversive and proto-fascist.
And the more the Internet of Things will emerge in all its glory, the deeper surveillance will burrow in the social body, and the narrower the scope of what is deemed acceptable discourse will be.
No matter what political ideology will triumph in the ideological battle for ideas in the current western world, the characteristics of the emergent society will be techno-totalitarian in its characteristics – and the citizen will experience a loss of autonomy, agency and dignity, reduced to a consumer and component, while the arena of politics will continue to shift towards legalistic and clandestine conflicts between tech baronies and financial institutions.
Such a system will moreover be incapable of addressing the environmental crisis and its array of phenomena – climate change merely its most recognizable and well-published expression. A stupefied, brutalized, silenced and distracted citizenry is no longer a citizenry, and cannot be expected to take charge in terms of transitioning the human civilization towards a sustainable future.
Determinism is dangerous
The manner in which the Internet of Things is implemented today can only be described as criminally negligent and hazardous for public health and safety. The solutions to the sensitivity caused by the single-minded pro-business implementation are kryptonite for the fabric of what is worth preserving of soon to be three centuries of Enlightenment thought.
If one would ascribe to the ideas of technological determinism – that we only have one tech tree and that markets should dictate the progress of civilization, and that we are unable to steer development in another direction – then certainly a techno-totalitarian surveillance state would be a reality impossible to escape, and maybe the least worst conclusion of many bad options.
If we instead ascribe to an alternative view, one wherein we all are in power, we will begin to take back the power over our own future and determine our own fate. But that requires not only a critical analysis over the way in which technology today is implemented, but also the courage to imagine an alternate technological society.
When we are empowered
The vision outlined by the Earth Organisation for Sustainability – a vision where you can play an important part – is akin back to the early days of the Internet, back to the future which Linux and early Wikipedia pointed towards.
A vision where the users are in charge, and are building the infrastructure not only of the virtual world but of real life itself.
Foundational for this new world will be a constitutional document to which millions of autonomous groups of people are ascribing – containing the Three Criteria and the Universal charter of human rights. These groups can vary in their functionality, their geographic dispersion and their ideologies and cultures, but they will all be active part in the formation of a new society, where power is distributed and egalitarian.
Communities will have the control over their own ability to sustain themselves on food, energy, heating and communications. Instead of techno barons fearful of the uprising of gaslighted and repressed subjects, we will have a world of people who respect and love one another, because nobody is under total dependency of anyone else, while all will still of course be interdependent.
Under this world, software will still be prone to breakdowns, malware attacks and sophisticated sabotage, but the damage will be limited by the vast distribution and the dispersion and availability of data. Compromised holons can be aided or isolated by their peers, and overall vulnerability will be reduced by a greater general knowledge of technological systems.
It will be a world of distributed power, where factories and software systems will be open source and available for all people, rather than closely and jealously guarded domains of distant rulers.
It is a world that you can be a part in creating, but it demands that you dare take a stand, and organize where you can have the greatest impact. The sustainable future of tomorrow shall not be a virtual palace economy under the ruler-ship of Tech Pharaohs and Cybernetic Satrapies, but a teeming garden of a billion autonomous groups comprising all of humanity.
And yes, that is probably impossible to achieve. But the more we tend to that garden, the more of that dream we can realize.
Usually, when we talk about Energy Accounting as a hypothetical alternative to capitalism, we are discussing it from an ecological, structural and technical perspective. This is not surprising, by our very roots our movement is concerned with sustainability, and sustainability as a subject is connected to the objective physical reality of the world – a reality which as you know unfortunately doesn’t concern itself with morality or compassion or any human values for that matter.
The Annual General Meeting (AGM) is the most important organizational event for the EOS, and this year’s meeting – which will be held at 5.00 PM CET on the Sunday the 23d of August 2020 will even be more important, as it will represent our deepest institutional change since the incorporation of EOS in Sweden.
The emergence of a global pandemic – in this case manifested as an extremely contagious lung virus, a mutation of SARS – was but a matter of time. Since humanity started to utilize other creatures in agriculture and husbandry, viral mutation rates have seen numerous plagues emerge from the gens animalia to make the leap over to human hosts, from an animal to another. While the excess deaths caused by the sudden overstretch of hospital capacity throughout the world has been tragic, especially as said deaths were preventable, we still should consider ourselves lucky.
Capital is power, and the nature of this power is access to resources. In today’s world, the main differentiation between a wealthy and a poor individual lies in time. Wealthier persons not only have a wider variety of choices at their table, but also the choice to wait with their choice until better opportunities offer themselves. “Beggars can’t be choosers” it is said, and poorer individuals often must make sub-optimal choices in order to reach their objectives – which often are concerned with their survival, dignity and safety. Wealthy individuals could wait for months, yes sometimes even years, before they have to make economic choices which would affect their lives in the same manner. Some individuals are so wealthy that they never in a thousand life-times would have to worry about becoming homeless .
The EOS Board has had its first meeting of 2020, and it marks the beginning of a transition process which shall be finished at August of 2020 and will mark the transformation of the EOS into a truly holonic movement, consisting of multiple autonomous local groups. This development will also the abolishment of the global Board and the division of its responsibilities. It should be noted that this does not represent a novelty but rather is adapting form after functionality in a manner which is consistent.
On the 8th of June 2019, the EOS Biodome in the neighbourhood of Alidhem in Umea, Sweden, was opened in a grand ceremony, where a representative of the urban gardeners received the key from Enrique Lescure. Inside the dome, a green rainforest consisting of squash gradually took shape during late summer, and the structure has now become an important cornerstone of the urban gardener community.
Almedalen is a park in the historical town of Visby located on the island of Gotland, Sweden. Since 1968, it has become an annual recurring event that Swedish political and community leaders are converging in Almedalen, where they can interact with media and the public. This was the first year when the EOS would host an event at Almedalen, namely an exhibition area where the public could interact with us and construct their own biodomes. The date: Thursday the 5th of July 2019.