On Saturday the 21st of April we had our monthly Board meeting, this time with four segments. These segments are differing talking points relating to the central aspects of our activities and what we are doing right now. Five out of seven Board members attended. Three were present in Real Life, two through Skype.
The first talking point, and the most boring one was about the Annual General Meeting, which we preliminary has opted to happen during Sunday the 22nd of July. All EOS members will be able to attend that meeting and to write motions which should be able to go to voting.
Then we discussed the Biodome project in Alidhem Umea. The construction will be resumed during the third week of May, and we discussed the cost for polycarbonates and the storage issue. We will document our process and our successes and setbacks during the summer.
We also discussed the website and how to improve our social media content and develop our presence further.
Finally we had a very good time and very good support from our secretary Thea.
We want to thank all participants, and send our thoughts to those who could not attend, and we look forward to writing another report in May.
The first of the Three Criteria is that humanity may not use more resources than the Earth can renew each year, and it is no coincidence it’s the first. After all, if we use more than our planet can renew each year we will be creeping towards a Mass Extinction Event (MXE) no matter how many sustainable technologies we are implementing and how little CO2 we are releasing.
One question does however arise; At what point do we use more than what the Earth can renew?
There are several studies conducted both by national, international and non-governmental bodies which outline our usage rate of different resources, based on available data. Sadly, it can be said that these surveys generally fail to receive access to the resources which they need, and also do not gain the wide public attention they so richly deserve. Nevertheless, they represent an important step in the right direction.
Before we can install an ecological budget ceiling we need to know approximately how much resources which are available on a global level. If there is one aspect of the EOS design which is absolutely, critically essential for the future of Humanity, that would be the one.
In today’s world, it is absolutely paramount that we install a surveillance system capable of continuously surveying our Civilization’s resource usage and its environmental impact on our planet. We need to give up the illusion there is something called “a free lunch” and realise that whatever we are doing, ecosystems will be affected.
That is but one of the reasons why we desperately need to consciously minimise our impact.
The current crisis in the world is primarily a resource usage crisis.
This crisis is manifesting in an ecological budget deficit.
This deficit will lead to a MXE if not reversed.
If we want to live sustainably, we will need to establish an ecological budget ceiling.
This budget ceiling must be based on the planetary carrying capacity and determine how much resources and – in the long term – surface that we may utilise for the purpose of Humanity.
We need to determine this budget ceiling using the scientific method, with basis in criteria which can be objectively verified.
There are several methods to determine the resource usage on the planet.
The principle we have chosen to look at closer is derived from the concept of the energy survey.
This concept is a continuous process, which is meant to be an on-going investigation and tracking of resource capacity and resource flows.
This process is meant to gather data which defines the constraints within which our civilization on Earth may operate.
This process must be continuously fine-tuned within the perimeters established by scientific consensus.
How the crisis manifests
The current crisis has two aspects – pollution and surface over-usage.
When most people think about environmental problems, they usually think of the first phenomenon. Particle emissions have a negative local and regional impact, and the release of fossilised greenhouse gasses perils human civilization as we know it. Other examples of damaging by-products are for example chemicals leaking out where they should not be, hormones from medicines polluting freshwater reservoirs and tire rubber infecting trees. In general, people tend to have an instinctual understanding of why this is having a negative impact.
The understanding of our surface impact is sadly more difficult to convey to the masses, partially because pollution often leaves visible tracks, while the aberrations caused by the surface usage are invisible to a large extent. Everyone could see and smell if a once clear and blue lake now is covered by slimy green algae, but the gradual disappearance of pollinating insects, the continuous retreat of natural ecosystems, the destructions of soils and freshwater reservoirs go unnoticed and are more difficult to comprehend. To some extent this is also true for CO2 emissions, whereas one big chemical plant may poison a river, the on-going release of fossilised carbon into the climate cycle remains a de-centralised distributed process, where each little car provides a minuscule amount but the billions of cars are having a profound impact.
Ultimately, around between 33% and 40% of the Earth’s land surface is utilised for the purpose of industrial monocultures, which has an incredibly degrading effect on soils and freshwater reservoirs. Coupled with the reliance of fossil-based fertilisers and pesticides this does not bode well for sustainability in the future. Even if renewable technologies are available, the unsustainable methodologies still grow faster and wider in scope, and quite often even if new and more efficient technologies are introduced, they actually worsen the environmental impact by making exploitation more available (Jevons’ Paradox).
Similar data exists for all ecosystems affected by our linear resource usage system. Trawling has damaged oceanic ecosystems. Urban sprawl has created light pollution which affects nocturnal ecosystems badly. Vast areas of forests are being cleared each year, leading to a deficit of trillions of trees. Our civilization seems to be a super-organism, hell-bent on slowly covering the planet’s surface in its web.
An ecological budget ceiling?
Often, you hear different numbers – that we are reaching Earth Overshoot Day earlier and earlier each year, that to be sustainable our planet would have to be 1,4 times larger than it is. This data is derived from the Global Footprint Network, a Euro-American think tank which produces global biocapacity studies derived from tens of thousands of control points each year. An ecological footprint here is defined as the quantity of nature it takes to sustain populations and economies. The carbon footprint is determining the cost by converting the data according to the Earth’s ability to absorb carbon, which is a narrower methodology, while other institutes are measuring the impact with other methodologies. According to Post Carbon Institute, the average human being is using “2,7 global hectares of bioproductive land and water”, while only 2,1 should be sustainably available, thus overshooting by circa 30%.
The Earth Organisation for Sustainability is calling for a global, ecological budget ceiling which would constrain the amount of surface which can be utilised for purposes related to the human civilization, to the point where we can secure the long-term resilience and feasibility of human activity on the planet. This means that measurements of Earth’s carrying capacity should become the central core tenet of any future world economy and establish the constraints within which we may act. This is so essential that we define it as the first criterion for achieving sustainability; and that should be a no-brainer!
When we talk about an ecological budget ceiling, we are not talking about morality – about urging the consumers to choose right. We are talking of a global limit of what might be extracted by producers, over the entire planet.
Yes, that is currently a Utopian concept, but sadly for our era everything which would put our civilization on a truly sustainable path would be considered politically unfeasible – thence Utopian. The concept of an ecological budget ceiling must, as long as we are having a technologically advanced industrial civilization on the planet, be the foundation of our resource extraction parameters.
The Energy Survey methodology
The foundation of the Energy Survey will be that each continent, region, locality and community should be equipped with the tools to conduct a continuous, automated survey of all the vital ecological systems in their geographic areas, as well as the energy and resource usage of all available machinery. In short, both the biosphere and the technosphere should be put under thorough, continuous and vigilant surveillance.
This data acquisition would either be conducted by individuals in each community tasked with monitoring the relevant information fractals, by automated computerised systems, by academic institutions, by departments or by a combination of some or all of the aforementioned. It will be poured into a global information hub which will be available through the Internet or equivalent information technology platforms which may hypothetically supplant it. Within the framework of this hub, all economic operations conducted by humanity on the planet Earth would be analysed from various different perspectives – but most notably from an energy perspective, and then specifically regarding the exergy and emergy aspects of resource flows. This conversion of information would provide the public and the technate with a frame of reference from which decisions can be derived. The information provided would contain all types of operations, industrial and agricultural, ecological and non-ecological – all being measured with the same parameters, their impact on the ecosystems analysed from a long-term energy perspective.
Who will control this extensive databank?
Ultimately, both for the purpose of data acquisition and transparency, the control must be distributed and intermediate.
Conducting and controlling the Survey
There are three reasons for distributing the control over the Energy Survey.
Assembling and registering millions of data points every month cannot be maintained efficiently by one centralised structure, which would need to exist parallel to all economic operations.
It will reduce the risk of errors if all information is available for peer reviews and for verifiable correction of flawed information by the communities involved.
It will significantly reduce the risk of any political or technological faction exerting totalitarian control, as well as the perception of that being the case.
Which actors would then be able to take part of the data as well as contributing to it? By necessity there would need to be at least six groupings which influence the Survey in different or similar manners.
The Public: Each citizen would be able to introduce input which will be subject to peer review and which would be approved or discarded judged by evidence (for example if an individual is noticing that someone is storing liquid fuel in the forest or shooting beavers and omitting to report it). So much information as possible about resource flows should also be available for the public. The Survey would also – more importantly (see the article on Energy Accounting) be the foundation for the market economy, affecting the cost of all products and services which the individual citizen would like to allocate energy units to. The Public would also use the data of the Survey to be able to make political decisions about resource allocation.
Production Facilities: Or Holons. Each Holon would be responsible for reporting all vital data on its own resource usage to the Survey, and would of course also have available special data sheets seeing its own resource usage over time.
Communities: Local communities would both be responsible to report vital data of the resource usage of their utilities and public buildings, as well as to report future projects and conservation efforts. The Survey would also be available to provide a basis for planning and allocating collective resources. Communities would also potentially have their own teams responsible for developing, improving and fine-tuning the Energy Survey locally in order to make it better reflect the economic reality.
Academic Institutions: Ecologists, geophysicists, geologists and other scientists would form teams which would serve in boards which establish reference points and conduct peer reviews, and would also – in case things are unclear – send out field excursions to analyse anomalies which may appear within the Survey. Amongst the coordinators, there must be a certain amount of scientists to validate the findings of the Survey in a transparent and open manner.
Technical Institutions: Or rather, nodes. Software technicians, computer programmes, continuous scans and probably thousands of servers will store and manage the assembled data, and provide the graphic interfaces which will allow the public to gain access to easily understood statistical information pertaining to the Survey. The role of these institutions is to ensure that the software of the Survey works efficiently, to protect the data from viruses and to support the platform.
The Technate: In reality, both the Facilities/Holons and the Technical Institutions are considered to be parts of the Technate, but the Technate does also – in this model – provide one crucial service, and that is that it uses the results of the Survey to issue Energy Units and distribute them to the Holons, to the Communities and to the Public, for in short the Survey is determining the size of the economy.
We should not discuss any details on the complex networks which are required to make this process work, as they would be dictated by the size of the global resource flows and by our technical capabilities to conduct this Survey at any given point. What can be said, however, is that it probably will be increasingly possible to automate a larger and larger share of this work for every year – which will arise other questions which rather pertain to the autonomy of the community and the individual. I will not delve into that discussion much herein, but instead say that putting all the monitoring of the Earth’s resource flows into the cybernetic chips of an AI God seems like a move towards a massive centralization and subsequent loss of autonomy, as well as running counter to the resiliency and sustainability we want to strive towards.
By EmilisB, DeviantArt
A critique often heard against the Energy Survey is that it would be very encompassing and difficult to conduct, yes it will even contribute somewhat to our resource usage on Earth! To that critique, I can say without doubt that it is correct, but that we mean that the Energy Survey is a necessary instrument – and that for several reasons. We can list two of the most important reasons.
If you want to have an ecological budget ceiling – which you must want to have if you are in support of sustainability – we need to determine how much resources we can use.
The Energy Survey would eliminate much of the need for tiresome political bickering and compromises, and do away with the tradition of random, arbitrary patch-work policies (punish some products, rewarding others based on political preferences). Our goal is to replace perceptions of reality with reality.
You know well the main challenges of instituting a global energy survey which would run for the continued duration of human civilization, right? The fact that we have 190+ more or less independent nation-states, multinational corporations, alliances and a myriad of short-term interests working to maintain an untenable status quo…
Technically, it would be extremely cumbersome to process and analyse such an ocean of data every month of every year, and provide – in as close as real-time as possible – an interactive flowchart and map of the planet’s resources and their usage.
Yes, but who has said that the Survey should be installed in one swoop and emerge in its crystal-clear, final form as Phoenix from the flames? In fact, much like the other aspects of our work, the Survey will most likely emerge gradually if we install it – first with a focus on certain regions and certain raw materials, before the scope incrementally widens. In the beginning it will not necessarily be directly connected to the concept of Energy Accounting either.
This means that the fact that the software algorithms and programmes necessary for the Survey are not developed yet shouldn’t be an insurmountable problem. Rather, there might even be interest amongst agents in today’s civilization to contribute to the development of an Earth Resource Monitor Software, and incentives to innovate the technologies necessary to eventually shift towards the Energy Survey. These innovations will also make the measurements conducted by the Survey gradually more and more accurate, even if the accomplishment of full accuracy is extremely unlikely.
This, the accuracy issue, is another issue of contentment. Since perfection is impossible to achieve, we should not even try, and instead make use of the information patches we currently have to get political compromises where possible and continue down the current trail. That argument, however, should not even be dignified with a response, since it could well be used as an argument for not minimising traffic deaths or aeroplane accidents, and to not sanitize the water supplies since a hundred percent elimination of parasites is impossible.
What stands clear is that we need an ecological budget ceiling – something akin to an Energy Survey is necessary.
Credit: Dylan Cole
Energy, Exergy and Emergy
Usually, an energy survey studies the energy efficiency of a building and how to save energy when constructing or maintaining infrastructure. Our Energy Survey will treat the entire human civilization’s infrastructure as one integrated super-system. In our opinion, energy is the most useful denominator since it can be labelled the Currency of the Cosmos, which means that the available energy reserves determine what we can utilise.
A rough draft of how we would proceed would look like this:
We would measure the total energy capacity currently available on the Earth (exergy), and then subtract the part which is necessary to keep the biosphere ecologically sustainable (that part would constitute the limit for the budget ceiling, and it would be verboten to exceed).
We would measure the total energy needed to maintain our technosphere (emergy).
We would measure the total amount of energy it will take to extract resources and to compensate for adversarial environmental effects within the scope of our current technological ability (emergy).
This model would provide a few challenges on its own. On a macro level, there can come times when we are forced to exceed the ecological budget ceiling, for example during natural disasters, which is why there ideally should be a buffer (that can also help compensate for inaccuracies in the Survey itself).
One usual critique against Energy Accounting is that different types of energy are using different amounts of labour, and therefore “the value of the energy units would differ between different types of energy”. I have a distinct suspicion that these critics have misinterpreted aspects of the Design, as that argument was aimed at poking holes against the claim (or rather observation) that values in terms of energy are not subjectively defined with that different types of energy have different energy values (while the basic energy units remain the same)! I must admit that argument is quite incomprehensible, and probably arises from a misunderstanding.
However, one aspect of the critique is correct, and that is that sometimes energy efficient ways of managing for example forest reforestation or mining operations would not be available, forcing the people on the ground to rely on less energy efficient methodologies. Moreover, outdoor temperatures, moisture levels, equipment age and similar can affect the amount of energy which is used and on an aggregated level have huge effects. This can be partially alleviated by installing energy measurements into machinery and buildings, which is a necessary aspect of the Energy Survey anyway.
A smart civilization?
The concepts of “smart cities” and “the Internet of Things” are well-known ideas which are gradually being implemented as these words are written. These are, within their own at the moment limited scopes, vastly improving information gathering and to some extent energy usage.
What we want to do ultimately is to scale these concepts to a civilisationary level – because while a smart city would manage the energy within its limits more sustainably, cities today are using land surface from throughout the globe, and the usage of these resources are only measured in terms of the city’s energy cost in managing said flows.
What we need is to interconnect all cities, all the machinery and all the facilities which make up our technosphere, so we can see the extraction of the raw materials, the production of machines and goods, their usage and their effect on the environment in a full scope. While smart cities are a beginning, we must not delude ourselves that is an end point of our discussion.
Smart cities could however serve as a starting point towards the Energy Survey, and regional energy surveys which run continuously and involve relevant institutions, factories, the government and the people would serve as experimental fields which can be studied with the purpose of identifying inherent weaknesses in our current methodologies and systematically eliminate or minimise them as the time passes on.
Time is not on our side however.
Credit: Sam Clayton/Vincent Callebaut
Where we must go
The EOS Design has one area where no compromises are possible, and that area is the Three Criteria. These must be fulfilled so Humanity should be able to thrive sustainably on Earth, and most important of these is the First Criterion – that we do not use more resources than the Earth can renew.
It is very likely that the situation is far more complicated and serious than we even can imagine. Our civilization is currently built on a house of cards of fiat money and debt, and the establishment is currently caught between the Scylla of economic collapse (in case economic growth stalls) and the Charybdis of ecological collapse (in case exponential growth continues unabated).
In order to live within Earth’s carrying capacity, we need to have an ecological budget ceiling.
To have an ecological budget ceiling we must, as objectively and scientifically as possible, determine the planetary carrying capacity.
To do that, we need some form of Survey, and therefore while there might be alternatives to conducting Energy Surveys, we cannot escape the fact that if we are going to have a technological civilization on Earth to sustain billions of human beings while at the same time avert a Sixth Mass Extinction Event, we need to monitor our resource usage, which will require a coordinated global effort to track flows. Energy is simply one methodology which encompasses all systems, especially if we integrate the budget ceiling and make ecological compensation a hallmark of every resource transfer.
The alternative, which we currently are pursuing, is sometimes based on close-to-exact data within limited areas, but equally often on political expediency, which creates random and arbitrary results and lulls the public into believing that whatever it is we have today can survive with the bare minimum of reforms.
We need a deep and radical transition, if Humanity should be able to successfully thrive on Earth for this millennium. If we base our estimates on real data and adapt as the information improves, we stand a real chance to create an equitable future for everyone.
The discourse surrounding globalization has often been shrill, repetitive and emotional – on all sides of the aisle. The proponents point out how trade and growth have increased GDP and living standards, while the critics point out that inequality has grown and the poignant fact that the global biosphere has seen better days, upon which the proponents may claim that the detractors want to deny the developing world the opportunity for raised living standards. There might be acknowledgements that there have been bad effects, but the foundation for the current development is seldom questioned.
Both sides definitely have points, but where our focus must be centered is on the fact that our current way is inherently unsustainable, and grows more unsustainable with every passing year due to our glaring inability to come to terms with quantitative environmental problems. While many of those in power are worrying for ageing, unemployment, integration or lagging growth numbers within the next two years, the reality we are facing on a global scale is that of an approaching Sixth Mass Extinction Event. In comparison, all other problems appear as minor nuisances.
This article is intended to discuss globalization in terms of different aspects, which can be termed the Good, the Bad and the Ugly – but also try to explore the issue connected to the wider issue of global resource flows. Ultimately, what we all need to do is to let go of our presupposed positions, untangle the web of preferences, aesthetics and politics and look at our world – the only one we have – from a physical perspective. Then, the ways where we can go will reveal themselves.
In short, we need to acquire ourselves a sober, technocratic view on the subject. What we also need is to iterate our line as an organisation on globalisation from our perspective and from the point of view of our ideology and our knowledge about the reality we all are inhabiting.
Globalization is not a new concept, but is a process which has begun from the moment civilization emerged.
The current phase of globalization began during the 1970’s with the ascent of new information technologies.
Like the industrial revolution of the 19th century, it has vastly improved the lives of billions of people.
Like the industrial revolution of the 19th century, it has also led to increased inequalities across the spectrum within countries – but a convergence between the first world and the developing world.
Another aspect of globalization is the establishment of multinational corporations with political clout sometimes exceeding that of states.
Is it likely that this process can continue for the remainder of the 21st century?
Globalization – one process, many aspects
One could say that globalization, roughly speaking, has several aspects. For the purpose of this article we are going to focus on three of its aspects – the technological, economic and political. All of these different developments in their turn have sub-aspects which can affect the world in conserving or disruptive ways. It is also paramount that we understand that globalization is a partially intentional and partially emergent process, much alike most policies enacted by human polities – but on a much grander scale. Therefore, for the sake of clarity, I am going to investigate the three aspects on their own.
The technological aspect
The technologies which are cultivating globalization are generally emerging as innovations within the fields of communication and transport. The first major disruptive technologies within this area were engineered during the early part of the 19th century, with the appearance of the telegraph and railways. These technologies allow the faster transmission of information, people and resources, and are hugely disruptive as they often overhaul local economies and allow for rapid urbanisation and industrialisation. Secluded local economies are connected to the outside world, fostering a process of creative destruction. Meanwhile, it fosters innovation and an opportunity for trading, thus fostering innovation and increased prosperity and opportunities for a larger share of the population, providing – for the first time – choice to people previously relegated to being farmers to build their own lives and change their paths.
Today, the major disruptive technologies are within the sphere of Information and Robotics technologies, which on one hand is de-centralising information spreading and turning every content consumer into a potential content creator (imagine for example the impossibility of such a phenomenon as “Ugandan Knuckles” arising during the 1960’s, when content could only get through more centralised hands).
It must be stated that the technological development of the last two centuries have had many undoubtedly positive effects for human well-being, for health, longevity, child survival rates, maternal care, nourishment, education and living standards, at least for a significant part of the planetary population. That is a proven fact, and our organisation – which strives that human beings should have dignified lives – is viewing the benefits of industrialisation, technological progress and growth in largely positive terms.
The economic aspect
It can be argued that prosperity is a combination of technology, in terms of our ability to harness external energy sources (whether renewable or non-renewable) and the dynamics of an economy. To a large extent, it cannot be denied than the access to cheap credit made possible by the fractional reserve banking system has been a determining factor in creating an environment where investments into innovation have been feasible. This, coupled with public policies of investments into infrastructure, education and healthcare, has during the last 200 years led to an unprecedented increase in the world’s gross product per capita, despite the population growing more than seven-fold since the beginning of the 19th century, and with the exception of a few Sub-Saharan African countries nearly every country on Earth is wealthier today than it was in the year 1818.
This is of course, to a large degree, one of the main reasons why all the health indicators in generally are higher today than in the early 19th century, though it should be stated that even in medium-income countries like Russia, Mexico and Turkey, the average worker today is living a life with better health indicators than most aristocrats did as late as the 18th century, due to better medical technology. That is undeniable.
What, sadly however, also is undeniable, is that economic growth nearly always is following the Pareto principle – that 80% of the new growth is generally tilted towards the one fifth of the population which already is the most economically privileged. This rule is not only prevalent in countries with significant problems of corruption, but in nearly all countries, including most of the large, developed countries. There might be multiple reasons for this, but in general people who have more capital will be more well-connected and have greater options to invest and greater time to judge their options. Wealthier people also in general suffer less stressors which might decrease their performance rate in the economy.
Usually, the political conflict which has dominated the discourse in most democratic states for the last century, has been one between market-oriented liberals and conservatives, who want to grow the economy by free trade and low taxes, and socialists and social liberals on the other side, who want to redistribute wealth from the economically more privileged to the low-income segments of society.
However, the main problem with our current situation from our perspective is more focusing on some key ecological ramifications, which mostly are attributable to how 4100% in global economic growth during only the last century has affected some key ecological ramifications. We will however revisit that.
Lastly, it should be mentioned that according to economic orthodoxy, human needs are perceived as seen through consumption power, which is dependent on a person’s income and savings. All needs are also seen as subjective – so from a purely orthodox viewpoint a Malian woman needing water and rice to survive a month and the “need” of a European male to own a farting clock or a mechanic fish that sings are seen as equal.
The political aspect
Politically, there has since the 1980’s largely been a consensus centred around the market liberal position, that states should ensure that countries open their borders as much as possible for trade, that tariffs must be scrapped and that public companies are inherently less profitable and efficient than private companies exposed to fierce competition. Underlying this has been the presupposition that states must attract and compete for investments, and thus should make their markets as attractive as possible for investors, either through good infrastructure, a well-educated work force or laxer regulations than other countries. The goal is to maximise growth and prevent stagnation, which is a necessity when the monetary systems are built on fiat, and thus are debt based.
The basis for these policies were laid already during the 19th century, with the discovery of Ricardian comparative advantages, and proponents often state that these policies will serve to maximise economic growth and also create a convergence in prosperity between countries.
A lot of the contemporary free trades treaties are doing more than removing trade barriers and deregulating. To a large degree, they are actually restricting the national sovereignty of states by introducing new regulations which often are intended to benefit multinational corporations, with for example increased severity on real and perceived copyright infringements, the so-called ISDS mechanisms (recently declared violating the foundations for European law by the European Court), which means that companies could sue governments for legislation which can harm the profitability of said companies, as well as supranational arbitration courts often very heavily biased towards multinational companies.
Often, this free trade regime incentivises environmental destruction at local and regional levels, and human rights abuses such as sweatshops, child labour, debt slavery amongst rural workers and that natural resources – even vital ones such as fresh water – are owned by foreign companies.
On the other hand, countries like China, India and Brazil have become economic powerhouses thanks to increased investments and mobilization of their resources thanks to foreign capital and the utilisation of their comparative advantages.
While Shanghai, Mumbai and Lagos have benefitted from increased trade, traditional industrial centres in the western world, such as Ruhr, the Rust Belt, Detroit and Liverpool have declined. These free trade policies have accentuated the effects of creative destruction, which have led to increasing inequality within every country involved, giving rise to reactions in the form of left- and right-wing populism. The awareness of this political challenge has prompted the World Economic Forum to recently focus more on social issues, but that focus should be seen as an icing on a cake, or more appropriately said a balm to protect the status quo.
Normatively, these policies are founded both on ideology and on necessity. The necessity is of course the fact that debt is growing faster than the global economy and that the structural imbalances revealed by the 2007-2009 economic crisis still are existing in the economy – coupled with the deeper, inherent self-contradictions of a fiat-based system.
The inherent problem with growth, investments and debt
Most western economies have on general seen their growth rates decrease when the gross domestic product per capita increases. Some countries, such as Japan, seem to already have plateaued, while others are still growing at a modest rate, especially countries with strong markets in real estate and finance. This is not the entire image however, for while a country like Germany may experience a year with 0,5% growth and a country like Ethiopia might experience 5% growth, the 0,5% growth represents – in absolute numbers – far more new economic activity on the side of the developed country. Yet, investments in high-risk high-growth markets yield a higher return for investors, which – together with the comparative benefits of a higher labour pool and often, sadly, less environmental and social regulations, a market attractive for investments.
The reason why larger, developed economies have a lower growth is because investments represent a much smaller share of the entire pie, and also because people stop increasing their consumption exponentially when they reach a certain level of per capita income (which may differ between countries due to differences in cultural preferences).
While the growth in the developed world remains at a modest rate and is slowing down in developing countries such as China, the amount of debt have grown far more during the 2010’s than during the preceding decade. This also accentuates the need for continued growth, because the economies have a desperate need to generate the wealth to pay the interest rates – the inherent problem of a fiat-based global economy (also increasingly challenged by crypto-currencies, though that is a different subject).
In short, even if there were no ecological limitations on our usage of the planet which could impede growth in the future, it is unlikely that growth could go on indefinitely on an infinite planet, except for driven by population growth (which will plateau as well when a country reaches a certain level of development). As infinite planets do not exist (at least not in our Universe) that is just a thought game to entertain.
The Sixth Mass Extinction Event
It is impossible to deny that species are disappearing at an alarming rate, that increased urbanisation is a driver for industrial monocultures which today cover more than a third of the Earth’s land surface, that trawling is devastating to oceanic eco-systems, that the climate is affected by our continued reliance on fossil fuels and fossil-based fertilisers, that insect populations are collapsing and that the amount of forests on the planet are shrinking.
A lot of environmental problems are based on the reliance of certain chemicals and substances which can relatively easily be banned. For example the addition of hormones from medicines and contraceptives into water, the utilisation of neonicotinids (if they are proven without a doubt to be dangerous) and dangerous mine sludge poisoning water reserves can be seen as qualitative problems which can be attributed to practices which can (and often have) been changed by simple political interventions through specific regulations which can be implemented without rocking the foundations of the current system.
You can however not regulate everything and expect to keep the current pro-growth consensus within international bodies. A study by the United Nations show that if we introduced fully compensatory regulations globally, the hundred most profitable industries of today would go bankrupt, and this would run counter to all the ideological values and political judgements by the entire establishment.
The EOS is arguing that the need to transform vibrant ecosystems into high-yield linear mono-cultural production systems is driven by the economic orthodoxy in general and by the foundation of fractional reserve banking in particular, which is based on credit, debt and interest and expects new value to be created. It is also largely a myth that information technology and miniaturization has decreased our resource usage, rather it is still increasing (albeit at a slower rate, but that can equally well be attributable to the fact that growth tends to plateau). Our usage of the world’s surface and resources have also in general increased with growth.
The EOS is also arguing that the destruction of the world’s forests, oceanic habitats, food soils and freshwater reservoirs is increasingly putting humanity before a “global Easter Island scenario”, one where the biosphere is increasingly devastated, creating a convergence of crises and a domino effect where vulnerable regions are turned into collapsed states, and neighbouring countries are increasingly destabilised until billions of human beings are affected. This could, if not amended by Transitionary policies, lead to a new dark age for humanity, with an uncontrolled reduction of living standards, health, democracy and all the values we have learnt to cherish.
According to studies by renowned ecological institutes and universities, we are currently using far more resources than the Earth can renew every year, creating an overshoot and an ecological deficit. Orthodox economists of the neoliberal and libertarian varieties tend to appreciate the ideas of financial budget ceilings. Maybe a global ecological budget ceiling wouldn’t be a bad idea at this point?
The mainstream debate
Though the debate has generally improved and somewhat sobered up following the increasing awareness of how serious our current situation is, the issue of exponential growth and the global biosphere of Earth are still largely treated as mutually independent factors in discourse – politicians can still learn that if we don’t change our relationship with the planet and try to become more sustainable, we will create a collapse, and yet the same evening learn that if we deregulate and globalise further everyone and their mother will be a millionaire by the 2050’s.
These two worldviews are – from any reality-based perspective – incompatible. You have to believe either that growth is decoupled from conversion of environmental areas into linear production areas, that our usage rate of the planet’s surface and of its soil and water has no adverse effects, or that a global environmental collapse would have little impact on our standards of living.
Another popular argument championed by the proponents of the status quo is usually – as my predecessor used to say – “the technology fairy”. The idea in its most inane form is that new technologies will emerge which will solve all the problems, usually by utilising energy more effectively. Jevons’ Paradox, discovered already during the 19th century, shows that the introduction of more energy effective practices often rather can exacerbate resource usage by making it more effective and thus make new and vaster areas accessible for exploitation and assimilation (just look at fracking for example).
Another appeal, in its most crude form is that critics “hate the poor” and do not wish to see increased living standards in the developing world. In its more eloquent, refined form, this critique states that countries need to reach a certain level before the population can start to care about the environment by developing a satisfied and content middle class which cares about conservation. This argument also claims that by focusing on growth, we will have a cheaper and less intrusive transition twenty or thirty years ahead, when new technologies which can clean the air and provide us with virtually free fusion energy can transform the Earth into a green paradise.
Thing is, these claims were made already twenty to thirty years ago, often by the very same proponents of the status quo.
The main problem with that argument is however that the environment is not some kind of staple in a computer game which you can increase and decrease at whim, as if the biosphere was an aspect of human society. It is not just a policy area, such as healthcare, education and infrastructure, where you can cram it into our economy. Rather, our economy is embedded into a roughly speaking 65 million year old natural ecological economy, and is both dependent on it and destroying it.
You cannot near-completely ravage complex, million-year old systems, and then expect to restore everything when you feel sufficiently wealthy to do so. Not unless you live in a world where all environmental systems are just dependent on chemicals, hormones, gasses and pollution – which in reality are not the main problem (excluding our addition of fossil-based carbon).
The socialist alternative
The Alt-globalization movement of the 1990’s had a higher degree of awareness of many of these environmental problems, often coupled with critique regarding the injustices inherent in rising inequality, unemployment and sweatshops. It gathered broad and diverse elements from the entire world who felt threatened by the disruptive effects on both the environment and on the social safety nets.
This movement has lost a lot of its cohesion and steam for the last decades, partially due to what can be labelled “glaring self-contradictions” and the lack of a coherent vision.
The interests of first world labour laid off from various rust belts are generally not compatible with third world labour which wants to either migrate to the first world to compete for work or export their goods and services to the more capital-rich first world. The Alt-globalization movement tried to unite these disparate interests, but eventually large segments of the unemployed first world proletariat instead moved to the nationalist camp because these were perceived as more exclusively beneficial to their interests.
While aware of the ecological implications, the Alt-globalization movement selectively chose to ignore these facts when it came to envisioning policies. For example the statement “the current food production of the world can feed x times more billion people than are living on the world today, yet one billion is starving” may be true, but ignores the fact that a significant amount of our current food production is unsustainable.
Equally, when it came to industry, the Alt-globalization movement simultaneously protested the closure of old factories in the western countries, while condemning pollution caused by factories. They condemned consumerism while vocally defending the right of labour to have professions which were dependent on consumerism for their sustenance.
These self-contradictions were based upon two facts, namely that 1) this “movement” was really an umbrella structure of numerous movements and groups which different and sometimes even conflicting group-egoistical competing interests and 2) that many within the “intelligentsia” of said movement tried to use every conceivable argument they could in the service of ideological (and sometimes emotional) anti-capitalism, ignoring whether the arguments taken together were compatible or even sensible, and maximising the support both amongst workers and environmentalists. This (largely failed) populist strategy could mobilise hundreds of thousands of protesters, but was unable to formulate a coherent alternative.
The EOS critique on globalization
We should, as a movement always strive for the truth.
And the truth is, globalization has brought benefits to billions of human beings worldwide, creating innovation, increasing income, making available the resources for education, healthcare, infrastructure and safety. Neither is globalization a new concept, it began even before the industrial revolution, arguably already during the Ancient era with the establishment of the Silk Road.
As a movement, our Ideology is based on helping Life thrive – and human life and dignity is the central aspect of that. We want every human being to be able to reach their highest potential on a sustainable Earth. We desire for every person on this planet to live their lives knowing they will not become homeless, that they should always be able to go to bed without an empty belly, that their health should be cared for, that they should live without the fear of being oppressed, beaten or exploited and that they should have access to the knowledge and tools they need to realise themselves.
In this regard, we are opposed to inequality when inequality is so stark that it creates a sub-class of excluded or exploited people whose conditions are so damnable that they are threatening to their physical and mental health. In this regard, we should be opposed to all conditions where human beings are deprived of access to what they need to sustain their very lives. Sweatshops and child labour, as well as situations where workers are exposed to dangerous substances, should not exist in the future.
The truth, in today’s world, however, is that the choice for a Chinese factory worker is not between a 12 hour day’s work at Gloxconn and an eight-hour with double the wage and full health benefits, but between Gloxconn and starving unemployment and foreclosure on the countryside.
Before industrialisation, poverty was near universal. And despite the fact that roughly speaking 80% of the growth has gone to the 20% who already have the most decent lives, one cannot deny that life in the beginning of the 19th century was brutish and short, and ridden with toothlessness and early aging for most human beings. That most were illiterate and oppressed farmers who were taught that their only solace lied in death – if they obeyed the spiritual and feudal powers of the elites.
However, the fact that industrialization and globalization clearly have had positive effects, do not mean that we are morally obliged to continue these policies, or that these policies can continue uninterruptedly in the same pace as for the last two centuries.
In fact, our organisation argues that:
We are transforming the surface of the Earth so much that we are threatening to cause a Sixth Mass Extinction and living beyond our means.
The reason for that is because we have a fiat-based economic system dependent on debt-on-credit, which forces us to try to increase exponential growth at no matter what cost.
That exponential growth will always lead to an increase in areas converted into monocultures and linear systems for primarily human usage.
That the SXE will lead to a global loss of complexity for human societies, driving us down into a new dark age, a Pandora’s box of unforeseeable consequences.
We argue that this is a reality-based assessment of our current situation, and is the single most important issue Humanity has ever faced. The greatest political challenge is to try to establish a balance between our species and the rest of the biosphere it must be a part of if it wants to inhabit this Earth and have a socially, economically and ecologically sound future.
We argue that this can only be accomplished through three criteria.
A global ecological budget ceiling.
A global circular blue economy.
A global covenant of Humanity, that each human being has a right to life and to access for the necessities of life – freedom, housing, food, water, education and healthcare.
In short, the EOS argues that the only way to preserve and create a sustainable basis for our long-term prosperity and happiness as human beings is to make these three criteria the basis of our future civilization.
In my opinion, what logically follows from this outlook is the following positions regarding the three aspects of globalization we talked about in this article.
Technological progress – we are definitely sympathetic towards technological progress.
Economic growth – we are not against economic growth, we are against the continued conversion of the Earth’s surface into areas intended to support linear production flows.
Political globalization – this aspect is problematic, because policies intended to maximise growth and investments are bringing us further away from a genuine Transition. In order to have a necessary Transition, we need a different set of policies with other aims. Our primarily goal should be that the cost of all products should be determined according to their environmental footprint. Policies to increase economic growth in western countries today make little sense, as the populations are stagnating (meaning in the long run that costs on infrastructure maintenance will diminish) and increased incomes have little effect on a population’s happiness when prosperity is growing beyond a certain income level – especially as further increases most likely will mean a heavier weight on the planet and therefore a steeper and much more radical Transition in the long run. There is one aspect of political globalization we should embrace, and that is when we strive towards deeper political integration of regions, and theoretically we should be willing to support the political unification of the entire Northern Hemisphere within maybe a generation.
In short, we are sympathetic to the emergent and organic aspects of globalization, we are critical to our overshoot above the planetary carrying capacity and therefore policies which will increase that impact, albeit unintended. Instead we need a conscious Transition shaped around the fulfilment of the Three Criteria.
Having written that, we should avoid the sloppy broadside critique represented by for example elements of the old Alt-Globalization movement, where globalization is defined wholly by its most repugnant characteristics, the criticism is both progressive and conservative simultaneously and thus irreconcilable with itself and the main ethos seems to be anti-capitalism beyond everything.
Our movement should be defined by love for Life and Humanity, expressed by the aforementioned Three Criteria. As long as we are sustainably capable of reaching the Three Criteria, the exact forms of governance should be determined by their ability to reach the goals, rather than any emotional or aesthetic-optical considerations.
The EOS is collaborating with several other associations in constructing a biodome for the Umea urban gardeners. Due to the sub-arctic climate of Västerbotten county, Umea is not ideally predisposed for agriculture, and the establishment of a greenhouse – eventually containing heating systems and perhaps an aquaponics system of good measure – that’s up to the people of Alidhem! We have raised a foundation, but decided to wait for the arrival of spring before we raise the dome itself, especially as we still need to acquire the panels. So, during the dark months of 2018, we plan several workshops
and the first one was held on Sunday the 21st of January 2018, at the Winter Garden, a large and comfortable neighborhood hall, almost a greenhouse in its own right. We had advertised the event on Facebook. Fifteen brave participants defied the crisp winter’s weather and joined us.
What then was a minidome?
Triangle shapes can lend themselves to many forms, in this case we decided that the participants should test to make their own 1V domes, based on half-icosahedrons, arguably the easiest shape to master for newcomers.
Here is a link to a video on how to make a 1V dome.
The main structure of the event was very simple, the EOS provided construction materials and “fika” (the Swedish term for cookies, fruits, coffee, tea and lemonade). The construction materials consisted of flower sticks, sucker straws and glue, the tools of glue pistols, saws, knives and pencil sharpeners.
After a short introduction by me, about the goals of the EOS and its social activism in Alidhem, the participants began making minidomes and made considerable success. All participant teams apart from one managed to produce a minidome each, which they of course took with them to their respective homes.
The event lasted between 2 to 5 PM, but as late as 7 PM people were still active with the project. The mood was very good, as evidenced by our live-streams.
Alidhem, with ten thousand inhabitants, is a community dominated by tenement blocks, and is dominated by working class people, immigrants and students. When we arrange events such as these, we are marketing to people on Alidhem.
It is in many ways a vibrant community with much energy, but architecturally speaking it is consisting of macro-brick housing inspired by socialist realism, and its structure is in many ways endemic for the social design typical of the 1960’s and 1970’s – where the idea is to segregate city blocks into different income zones and to focus on specialisation and organisation in order to maximise economic growth.
Thus, our endeavour aims to instead creating a new Alidhem – an Alidhem where the people organise themselves for an ecological, economic and social transition, which is necessitated by the deteriorating global biosphere. Our presence there might be a small seed, but all mighty oaks begin as small seeds.
Yes, I know that many who usually appreciate my writings will recoil at the sight of this headline, but this article is since long overdue.
The unfolding of the Brexit event chain has mostly been a debate about how the United Kingdom is affected, but the departure of the United Kingdom has re-galvanised the federalists within the European Union, and during 2017 increasing calls have been heard to increase the amount of federalisation within the European project. Notable examples are commission president Juncker and German opposition leader Schulz.
I would argue that the EOS must speak in favour of the European integration project, and that we should argue that other eco-progressive and green forces ought to support the project of increased integration, not only in Europe but in other regions of the world.
Why? Because there was nothing good on TV on Sunday?
No. Because countries like Austria, Sweden and even Poland have an abysmal effect in terms of the important ecological issues. Certainly, they are capable of acting as role models, but in terms of substantial impact, they play an insignificant role. Sweden for example could try to switch to a fully sustainable society within ten years, and can theoretically even succeed with that. However, if the rest of the world does not follow, the end result will anyway become a sixth mass extinction event causing a loss of complexity which will affect all societies, Sweden included.
Countries like the United States, the Russian Federation, China, India and Brazil, which encompass hundreds of millions of people and entire bio-regions within their borders, have a greater ability to have a positive impact on the Earth. Should the European Union unite, and also include countries such as Turkey and Russia eventually, we would be in a much better situation if we chose to move towards a total transition.
This does not mean that we should strive towards hyper-centralism, for several reasons, notably the issues of authentic democracy, transparency, subsidiarity and information bottlenecks. We must always strive to approximate the right balance between centralisation and localism, and to ensure that the centralism is the minimum required to achieve substantial goals within limited areas.
Nevertheless, the current trail of globalisation remains directed towards benefitting multinational corporations and economic growth, without questioning whether how long-term sustainable said economic growth will be. Meanwhile, politically, we are moving towards increasing fragmentation and nationalism, which under a regime of global free trade only can mean a race for the absolute lowest standards in terms not only of ecological but also of social sustainability.
Ideally, we would need to move towards a Terran Confederation – a super-state composed of either all or most of our planet’s human civilisation. But since that is not politically viable at the moment, we need to argument for greater regional integration so we can get geographic tools to foment change, while ensuring the autonomy and a future for democratic governance on the local level.
It is well-known today that many of the greatest ecological, social and civilizational challenges of our age are global.
The convergence of crises which is currently emerging will – if not properly addressed – result in a Sixth Mass Extinction Event and a Civilizational Collapse.
We need to utilise the political dimension to shift the world towards a total transition, which is necessary.
The power to exert political power is mostly centred into the political institutions of nation-states, which primarily are engaged in benefitting their national interests, their elites and their citizenries.
There are currently 196 nation-states on the planet, most of which are swimming right above the threshold of being capable of sustaining their own infrastructures.
Only twelve of these nation-states have a population above a hundred million humans, while there are 7,5 billion humans on the planet’s land surface.
By creating fewer political entities with the mandate to exact transition policies, we can simplify the process towards transition.
Unifying huge areas under the same governance will create democratic and cultural problems, so there is a trade-off.
This trade-off can be alleviated by federalism or confederalism.
Ultimately, what institutional forms humanity decides to constitute itself in matters little unless all forces which strive towards a total transition can unite and win a critical mass for a programme of a total transition.
Global challenges; National interests
The concept of nation-states evolved in Europe from the predominantly kingdom-like Eurasian political entities, during the 17th and 18th centuries. One of the predominant ideas of the Age of Enlightenment was that governments were primarily answerable before their citizenries – the people – and thus the predominant view was shaped that the state should act accordingly to its “national interests”.
Imperialism spread European ideals to the rest of the world, and decolonization led to every piece of land in the world (apart from Antarctica and small patches of disputed lands here and there) being constituted into the nation-state form, no matter whether the inhabitants living on those lands view themselves as belonging to the same nation or not.
In our world of today, even the most despotic of tyrannies are formally basing themselves on constitutions which serve as fig leaves to provide a framework for the territory to be accepted as a nation-state, and their local warlords and torturers as presidents and prime ministers. In many other failing states, local gangsters and tribes are in reality holding the real power. Some states are really nothing more than occupying armies of mercenaries hell-bent on defending small elites which both exploit the territories they control, and invite foreign companies to exploit them. To a large extent, these companies are based in wealthier nation-states with vast middle class clusters centred in glitzy inner cities and suburban villascapes.
Nevertheless, the order of our world is based upon that each recognised nation-state should possess one vote at the UN General Assembly, no matter whether they represent more than one billion or less than one million citizens, and no matter whether they can claim to be genuine nation-states or even fully exert control over their territory. Most nation-states’ elites are also divided on what constitutes public welfare and national interests.
This is making the process of initiating the Transition excruciatingly painful, but even if all nation-states were homogenous entities with clearly defined national interests, it would still be a daunting task to move towards the steps necessary to take if we want to safeguard human civilization during the 21st century.
The dilemma at the heart of it
In today’s world, the prestige, popularity and stability of a government is generally determined after the annual economic growth within the nation-state. The challenge of instating environmental regulations is a well-known hazard within Economics, meaning that nation-states which install regulations meant to curb some of the excesses of exponential growth will subsidize nation-states which decide to install laxer or non-existent regulations. Since shareholders generally strive after the highest profit margins, they tend flocking to countries which either do not have environmental protection laws, or which are cheating on laws against polluting the environment and releasing excess greenhouse gasses (as well as abusing their labour, terrorising unions, allowing child labour and slavery-like conditions, etc…).
Since most nation-states have influential business communities and corporations, there is also an internal pressure for governments to give as few concessions as possible when it comes to necessary (but all too often insufficient) international treaties aimed at curbing man-made climate change, the deprivation of biodiversity and other types of regulations which will be expensive for businesses.
According to the orthodoxy ascribed to by most governments today, what is good for business is good for economic growth, and what is good for economic growth is good for all the people, from the tycoons in their palaces to even the homeless (since people afford to give more donations to shelters). And yes, that is – from a certain perspective – true. The problem, as many of you already know, is that this order is built on unsustainable foundations and is encouraging us – through fiat money and debt – to destroy our planet’s biosphere. In short, by stimulating exponential economic growth with today’s system, we are digging a deeper pit for ourselves to crawl up from.
This competition between nation-states about who will be most attractive for investments and best at generating economic growth is shortly speaking fuelling the destruction of the planet’s land surface for future generations.
While speaking out against destructive free trade treaties and policies intended to maximise economic growth figures within the rules set up by the current game may be popular amongst certain segments of the native working class and farmers in many developed countries, we (who desire a more sustainable world) must realise that we cannot achieve that world by pandering to Protectionism and Nationalism or other populist notions.
Human beings are by their nature creatures of habit, and most citizens of developed nations currently enjoy a middle class life standard, which they generally have positive feelings towards and are willing to protect (thence the support of protectionism). Also, many of them cling to these ideals, even if they currently are struggling against poverty, debt or marginalisation because they are enmeshed in the values of their surrounding society, both in terms of ideology and commercial brainwashing.
What we must realise is that while the citizenry may largely oppose agreements such as TTIP and TTP and the ISDS mechanisms if they learn about them, this opposition is not rooted in the long-term effects for ecological, economic and social sustainability, but rather are largely conservative responses against disruptive reforms which may inflict harm on entrenched parts of the working and middle classes.
In short, in order to foment the Transition – the greatest project of the history of Humanity and the most important struggle of the 21st century – we need to morally and mentally prepare the citizenry for a period when the changes on the macro-level will affect everything on the micro, when we all must question and ascend above what we have taken for granted. The Transition would see immense economic and social changes, and may for decades mean a lifestyle vastly different from what the general population of developed nations have become used to for several generations now.
What we also – however – must take into account is that if the Transition takes hold on a small nation-state, and institutes sweeping changes, it would, if the rest of the world is still marching on to the tune of Davos, lead to one national population bearing a very heavy burden for largely symbolical reasons, since what a nation of 10-20 million is doing with its national economy and infrastructure will not do much to alter the course the planet is heading towards. Moreover, the sacrifices during the initial stages of the Transition, especially if it is for no gain, would certainly erode public support for the Transition until the political leaders having vested their political capital into such a project would be removed, either by democratic means or by other.
Some may claim that the important issue is the moral cupping, namely that we as a collective choose to commit ourselves to a national course which the rest of the world will frown at, that the Sixth Mass Extinction Event will happen anyway but that we can choose to at least take a symbolic stand by committing to a Transition on the national level.
One can have many thoughts about such a position, but the Earth does not have any opinions whether or not your intentions were good. The biosphere needs to be saved, period, and the biosphere cannot ever be saved by national politics alone, which even the current Establishment understands. That is why the world leaders attempt to curb the excesses of the current system – while of course preserving the system itself – through binding and non-binding international treaties.
And now we are back to the starting point, for these treaties will always not only be defined by the incompatible goals of pressing gas and break at the same time, but also by the competing interests of nation states, and the “national interests” – give as little as possible while gaining as much benefits as possible.
The Prisoners’ dilemma in short.
A case for European Federalism
The Earth Organisation for Sustainability is an avowedly and openly globalist movement – because our goal is not that one nation-state or bio-region should successfully engage into the Transition. A Sixth Mass Extinction Event will affect everyone, no matter whether they live in Switzerland or Somaliland, so therefore only a concerted response by a majority of the human race can successfully and thoroughly commit ourselves to a total transition. Our Globalism is not one which exists to solidify or maximise the destructive potential of the current system, but on the contrary one which seeks to transcend political divisions and form cross-national platforms for carrying out the Transition.
Thus, a united Europe – even if initially not formed for the explicit purpose of carrying out the Transition – would be an immensely powerful bloc in the world, comprising around a tenth of the world’s population and some of the largest economic and industrial areas of the world. In fact, it would be one of the three largest economic regions of the world.
If such a power was to embark on a route of Transition, it would indeed have a tremendous impact which would be felt throughout the entirety of Earth’s surface, both in terms of Ecological, Economical and Social sustainability. It would be a seismic shift, able to provide leadership and a focal point for local transition movements throughout the world.
Even reactionary reforms would have a huge impact – reforms such as for example banning weapons’ or surveillance exports to countries at war or dictatorships, removing remaining post-colonial arrangements between former colonial powers and states nominally independent since the 1960’s and for example ceasing to illegally conduct fishing outside the coasts of West Sahara or the Horn of Africa.
Of course, establishing this super state is no guarantee that the situation will improve in itself – rather those who desire a sustainable future for Humanity must work tirelessly and steadfastly to shift the Zeitgeist towards what is the only course that allows for humans to thrive in the long term.
And yes, it is hardly surprising not a popular foundation to support European Federalism, because of quite obvious reasons, some of which are legitimate – such as the fear of eroded democracy and autonomy – and some which are more rooted in chauvinism and reaction. This scepticism is prevalent amongst many of us.
Given the severity of today’s situation, we have few options. We must work for a trans-national, global Transition which brings us towards a sustainable future, but working for that would be easier, at least here in Europe, with a European federal state which could take a stronger position in relationship to powerful non-state entities.
For that reason, wherever we live, we must support international cooperation and unification, while striving to ensure that the movement for the Transition should grow strong within the context of those regions.
A cautious, conditional approach
To support federal unification should not entail a support for any kind of policies supported by federalists, especially not if said policies would move economic sovereignty to institutions intended to foment the continuation of the current status quo. We must always ensure that there is a healthy dose of:
Democratic influence within the legislative bodies.
A high degree of subsidiarity (that decisions are made as close to those affected by them as possible) and autonomy.
We must also avoid the Siren song of identifying too much with our regional power constellations and their conflicts with other power constellations. Instead, we must ardently stand for the peaceful resolution of armed conflicts in order to focus on the Transition, which should be the first, second and third priority for all of Humanity during our lifetime.
What we should do
EOS members throughout the world should work to facilitate sustainability in all its forms on the local, regional and global levels, and must within the constraints of laws, conscience and the EOS by-laws struggle to make the Transition blossom. EOS members active in the United States should focus on adapting their local communities for the Transition and also forming the foundations of a Proto-technate, to test variations of our concepts and ideas of a sustainable future civilization, just like EOS members in India, China and Africa… and Europe for that matter.
What EOS members, in my opinion, should not do, is to invest themselves – in their capacity as members – in political activism or bickering which may contribute to polarisation and conflict. Instead, we must strive to always where we can, bridge conflicts through diplomacy, non-violent communication and peaceful social activism, contributing to or initiating Transition efforts on the ground.
As an organisation, however, we should be able to state at least what institutional and social trends we find agreeable and would like to voice our support for, and what trends we take as offensive and disagreeable in relationship with our goals.
It is my belief, that if our increasing relevance should be sustained, that we should judge the current trends in the world in relation to our three criteria. It is also my belief that a world with more unification would be a world where the Transition would be easier, if we can manage to form a strong movement and explain to the public why everything must change.
Thus, the efforts of European federalists such as Martin Schulz are laudable, even though they may not (yet) share our sense of urgency.
The advent and rapid acceleration of information technologies have opened up increased opportunities for inclusion and participation, as well as making possible more de-centralised and autonomous methodologies of administration, project leadership and resource management.
The principles envisioned by the organisation named Technocracy Incorporated were based on the regimented industrial and managerial processes dominant during the first half of the 20th century, when the most powerful information technologies were television and radio, and when the most advanced and rational form of management was the tayloristic factory floor.
While the EOS have always found Energy Accounting a fascinating model to develop on in terms of a future system of resource management, we initially found the forms of management organisation envisioned by the US-based organisation to be outdated, and to a certain degree authoritarian or with the risk for falling into authoritarianism. Instead, the EOS has, through the Design document and its articles, proposed a system of autonomous Holons consisting of highly specialised and competent volunteer members and professionals.
A large part of this is not only a matter of a difference in managerial and ideological traditions between the eras, but also in terms of emerging technologies. Within EOS, within the scope of our means, we are utilising these new technologies and managerial systems to maximise our current resource base.
What this article will discuss is not the internal structural management of our organisation, but rather how the introduction and implementation of technocratic thinking as an integral cultural aspect of collaboration within a future sustainable global civilisation. The rise of the Internet, and its continued growth towards its full potential, can aid in the creation of a diamond age of humanity, but currently – in the United States and many parts of Europe – we are experiencing the ascent of mutually hostile echo chambers, digital tribes building on their own narratives and feeding on a sense of acute threat from rival tribes. This coupled with an increased acceptance of mob justice and trial by popular opinion can, if we are not careful, tumble some of the most technologically advanced societies on Earth down into chaos. That is an unacceptable situation, not only in itself but especially in relation to the convergence of crises we are finding ourselves in today.
No matter what level of governance we are talking of, local, regional, national or global, and no matter what communication system we utilises, it stands clear that the technocratic virtues must be a part of the future discourse, if we want to have a future that is, and must balance the creative democratic tendencies.
In order to preserve and build on the framework that underpins the principles of liberal democracy, these virtues are crucially needed today when every person with a cell-phone is not only a consumer of information, but also a potential producer.This is going to be the first in a series which will elaborate on the role of technocratic principles both inside our movement and in society at large
The existence of the Internet and its communities has empowered the average person to become a creator of content.
Traditionally, information has been produced by central nodes and divulged in a linear and vertical manner.
Today, information is more and more produced locally, and is interactive in the sense that articles, videos and sound content can be commented on, reused and reproduced by the audience, which also can interact with the creator.
We view this development as mostly positive, since these platforms allow for people to create and organise.
Sadly, the Internet has always been abundant with disinformation, grand conspiracy thinking, medical and pseudoscientific quackery, rumour-spreading, incitement to violence and especially ethnically based conflict paradigms.
Since the Internet allows the user to utilise time as they want, increasingly people are drawn, both by their own volition and by search engine algorithms which adapt to the search pattern of the user to find their preferences, and thus invariably echo chambers are created.
These environments existed at their infancy already during the 1980’s, but with billions of users today, billions are exposed for disinformation or information with an alternative slant.
Censorship and pre-approval by panels would in the short term diminish the challenge, but create slower and more cumbersome, bureaucratic platforms, and are also potentially a threat against dissenting voices and whistle-blowers who might possess information of which there is a genuine public interest.
The risk for a breakdown of civic order and an acceleration of destructive behaviours due to abuse of the Internet should not be ruled out – previous technologies such as Radio and the Printing Press have both been utilised as platforms for instigating genocide.
We argue that many of the infant diseases we are seeing within the user base of the Internet is rather attributable to the dumbing down effects of Television and Marketing.
It stands clear that we need a culture of authoritative knowledge and fine-tuned critical thinking skills, an increased awareness of biases and preferences and – apart from an improved general knowledge of scientific topics – that the knowledge and application of the scientific method should be ingrained into the human civilisation.
The technocratic virtues are not only useful in this regard – they are essential.
Ultimately, we need a Technocratic Cultural Revolution.
Different types of information technologies
All types of technologies can be subdivided into several categories. Within engineering for example, we can see a clear difference between construction materials and engines as disciplines. Within information technology, we can see a stark difference between a film camera and a microphone, where one is focused on the visual realm and the other on the audial.
There are other types of categories as well, more subtle than the obvious ones. There is a difference between an old cell phone and a new one in terms of functionalities. There are also varying brands of cell phones.
The type of categorisation system we will be focused on for this segment within the realm of information tech would be distributed contra centralised information systems.
A centralised information system is characterised by one or several central nodes that is transmitting information through sub-nodes vertically and linearly, which the end-users receive as consumers of information, with a limited to non-existent capacity to interact with in any substantial manners apart of that as receiver. Examples could be bureaucracies, churches, traditional corporations, early radio, Television.
A distributed information system, on the other hand, is characterised by an environment where all receivers have the capability to be nodes in their own right to a certain extent. Examples: writing, postal systems, amateur radio, the telephone network and the Internet.
Of course, most distributed systems are not truly distributed in the technical sense. Postal systems, telephone networks and the Internet are all dependent on nodes which may be fully regimented or centralised, or simply limited in regards to their number in relation to the number of users. To take the Internet as an example, there are a limited number of ISP’s – eliminate them and the Internet is taken down. But Internet is truly de-centralised in its characteristic that every consumer potentially is a producer.
This presents opportunities which are well-known, and challenges which are less investigated.
One analogy would be a previous information revolution, namely the invention and application of the printing press during the 15th century in Western Europe. Prior, books had been rare and pamphlets a de-facto monopoly for the Catholic Church and the worldly rulers – because only they could afford the scribes, and every manuscript had to be copied for hand, which meant that it was comparatively easy to control the production and distribution of texts, while it subsequently was quite difficult to administrate a region due to the time consumption and inefficiency in reproducing the same document.
While the advent of the early printing presses did not de-centralise the production of information that much, they did much to de-centralise the reception. Previously, priests and heralds had divulged the information to the public, but with mass production of books and pamphlets the market grew and the power could eventually become less centralised, especially in regard to spiritual matters. The Catholic Church had for centuries been the wealthiest institution in Western Christendom, and apart from utilising legal and physical means of silencing dissent against the Trinitarian doctrine or against Church policies, the Church had a huge benefit in comparison to lone dissenters or heretics who before the application of the printing press had to painstakingly copy all of their texts physically, often with a clear danger to their lives.
With press houses, dissenters like Martin Luther and Jean Calvin could mass produce their texts faster than Rome could react, and thus avoid prison or the stake. The Printing Press amplified the voices of those with a message, and equalised their impact in relationship to the resources of the Papacy. This can be compared to today, in regards to whistle-blowers like Wikileaks, and their effect upon the policies of superpowers.
By removing or at least downplaying the role of priests in acting as interpreters of spiritually themed messages, Martin Luther set the stage for the German Peasants’ War and one and a half century of instability culminating in the Thirty Years’ War, the until then bloodiest conflict Europe had ever seen. Regarding the Peasants’ War, it could partially be said to have been a result of the Bible becoming accessible to laymen preachers who reinterpreted the scripture to justify a rebellion against the feudal order and for the destruction of the prevailing class hierarchy in early 16th-century Europe.
With fewer Bibles and no printing presses, it is doubtful whether these rebellions would have had such a destructive impact (it should however be stated that the foundations for these rebellions were not new technologies but rather injustices and famine years taken together, and peasant rebellions had happened throughout the Middle Ages when printing technology had not even been in its infancy, such as Wat Tyler’s famous rebellion during the early reign of Richard II).
Stating that, the printing press made it easier for dissidents or malcontents to organise, and for seditious writing to spread, as well as distributing rather than concentrating power. Therefore it also contributed to the chaos in the then Holy Roman Empire for more than a century.
The rise of the trolls
One of my acquaintances once said, that if our civilization would be wiped out tomorrow, and aliens would receive transmissions from the early 21st century worldwide web, they would find that most of the content consisted of pornography and cats, so they would think that we as a culture probably were very interested in the act of procreation and that we worshipped feline deities.
The Internet, due to its distributed nature, provides every user with an abundance of platforms from which the user can spread information and interact with others. This has created many useful academic tools and platforms, such as search engines, torrent sites, platforms such as Wikipedia, Khan Academy and video hosting communities such as Youtube, Vimeo and Dailymotion.
Another facet of the Internet since its release has been that it easily could provide anonymity, and the opportunity for users to create fake identities. While this has had some positive effects in individual lives, for example for abuse victims, it has also led to a thriving environment for disinformation and the dissemination of false rumours intended to be used for self-serving or purely malevolent ends.
Yet another type of disinformation all too readily received by millions of people have taken fertile ground on the Internet, namely the spreading of different types of woo and the various snake oils spread by self-declared medical experts who at the same time – for purely selfish ends – are trying to discredit mainstream remedies (who by themselves might not be perfect or underdeveloped or overpriced, but which are produced within processes which at least aim to control their effects on the human body and the environment).
Add to it the conspiracy and alternative reality communities, which increasingly are forming their own self-referencing loops, with connections to climate change denial and largely (for this particular moment in time) right-wing politics on the fringe, and their quite impressive growth rate.
Now, these three tendencies of disinformation are increasingly being merged together into a toxic brew. For example, conspiracy communities like Infowars are increasingly peddling snake oil supplements, while those who traditionally mostly have sold woo increasingly have begun peddling conspiracies, and while the trolls of the 90’s and the 00’s were mostly engaged in their activities out of boredom, trolling today have become increasingly professionalised in order to stir up emotions for economic and political gain, and are starting to have both short-term and long-term effects on politics.
Even the most ludicrous ideas are being spread like wildfire – for example the Flat Earth community has seen an enormous resurgence. Today there are actually people who are gaining considerable earnings on selling Flat Earth beliefs to willing acolytes.
Having said that, just like the Anabaptists of the 16th century and the advent of the printing presses, the concerns which are feeding support for the more polarising segments of the political spectrum are real, even if the proposed solutions may be both reactionary and ludicrous. For a reference, see the article Globalism contra Nationalism previously published here.
Given that, imagine an alternate world where the Internet never was released to the public, and the effects of populism and polarisation would probably take a slower hold (at least in Europe, in the United States right-wing talk radio expanded rapidly already during the 1990’s). It would be a world where information would travel slower, but also one where the conspiracy theories have not gained the enormous traction of today.
One must see this as a trend, and the bucket does evidently still roll down the slope. The ferocity of the polarisation and the creation of echo chambers, both on the left and the right, driven – ironically – by hyperdemocratic impulses of self-replication and the organic spreading of memes, is today leading to a rapid fracturing of communities throughout the developed world.
Unimpeded, this process could end with situation reminiscent of the civil wars suffered by Colombia, beginning with La Violencia during mostly the 1950’s. When political opponents start to view one another as enemies who cannot be understood, the room for civic discourse shrinks and an increased readiness to take to force establishes. It can seem far-fetched today, but there is a possibility that we could see large-scale democides take place inside western nations within ten years, if society continues to fracture between political, ethnic and sectarian groupings.
The powers that be are obviously in a state of growing fear of losing control of the narrative, possibly both for genuinely altruistic reasons (preventing a collapse of order and future genocides), and also for pragmatic reasons. After all, there are agendas which obviously will impact parts of the population negatively in the short run (neoliberal reforms, free trade agreements which reduce the capability of states to conduct economic policies, trying to avoid characterising certain forms of crime in shapes which may stir up tensions between groups) but which the establishment largely is convinced will create a better future for everyone in the long run. These sentiments are understandable. Ultimately, any kind of establishment must primarily ensure to keep a certain type of equilibrium, and any loss of stability does not only threaten the establishment but also the entire population, often most those dissatisfied groups who most loudly call for reform.
A number of policies have been enacted, both by states and by private entities, in trying to curb the growth of this polarisation. Other policies have been proposed, but not enacted. Here are a few examples:
Many online newspapers have removed their comment fields, after the comments became dominated by a minority or majority of voices filled with vitriol and negativity, often related to subjects such as foreign policy, immigration, trade, security and integration.
Facebook has been pressured by European governments to remove certain pages which may violate anti-extremism laws in European countries.
Youtube are increasingly demonetizing popular videos with politically controversial content or which are selling conspiracy beliefs.
There has been detailed proposals such as CleanIT which aims to control the Internet.
Cryptocurrencies are increasingly seen as a threat.
While these initiatives could be seen as laudable in combating certain tendencies, they often fall short of curbing the excesses. In Sweden, most newspaper comment fields were closed already during the last decade, yet that reaction has not changed the trend – instead the frontline has moved towards communities like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.
With the ascent of Darknet and of Cryptocurrencies, and when non-western regimes are increasingly supporting fringe political movements and the conspiracy world in the west, it stands clear that polarisation will intensify. It has done so during the much illusory recovery of the 2010’s, and it will probably increase even more after the next Great Recession. There is an ever increasing risk that civil strife can move from the web communities and out on the streets due to this polarisation.
It should be noted that the legislators often are one to several steps behind the technology. The CleanIT proposal for example states that forum moderators should play a vital role in reporting and combating extremism on Internet, but during the 2010’s the importance of discussion forums have continuously diminished. Equally, the plans drawn up today to diminish and marginalise these tendencies will undoubtedly be of limited success simply because the Internet of 2018 can become an entirely different concept than the Internet of 2017.
One underreported process is the move towards mesh technology, which would make the Internet more independent from both broadband providers and ISP’s, eventually leading to it being virtually impossible to strangle or regulate, unless you would want to strangle electricity itself.
Besides, repressing a dissenting voice, no matter if it calls for humanity to run underground to protect themselves from Nibiru, would inadvertently lend credence to said voice. Note for example how Holocaust deniers are using the fact that Holocaust denial is illegal in France, Germany and Austria as “proof” that they are oppressed truth-tellers.
Moreover, while the temptation to regulate what people would be exposed to on the Internet is providing a certain allure, it is at this point in time probably one of the most destructive and authoritarian tendencies. If the system is granted the legitimacy to legally or socially block and destroy dissenting voices belonging to one or two disliked political opposition groups (yes, even insane malcontents are a form of political opposition), then it is granted the power to repress movements which aim to help the world moving towards the necessary Transition.
We must not forget that parts of the current supranational establishment, consisting of financial institutions, multinational corporations, think tanks and governments, are vehemently opposed to the recalibration of human civilization towards a sustainable future, because they can only think forward for the next six months of continued exponential economic expansion, not being able to comprehend the long-term damage of the current system on our planet.
It is very possible to imagine if voices which call for the transition towards a more sane and sustainable world order would gain traction, that these will be exposed for the most blatant, criminal, violent and immoral suppression from the forces invested in the prolongation of the current, unsustainable, status quo.
That is why it is essential to defend the Internet.
Given that, while defending the Internet as a platform for the transparent dissemination of useful information, knowledge and expertise, we must be ready to wage a two-front war against disinformation too. We would claim that the frontline should not be secluded to the Internet itself, but rather span through the entire community.
In short, in order to safeguard the mechanisms of Democracy, we will need to employ the traits and ideals of a Technocracy when finding ways of discussing the solution of real problems.
Most of the problems associated with fake news, conspiracy theories and echo chambers have actually predated the Internet, and been an intrinsic characteristic of western culture which has blossomed since the 1920’s, especially within the world of advertisement and mass media – I am of course referring to the type of advertisement, pioneered by Eduard Bernays, which strives to manipulate people’s subconscious by subtly making them associate eating fried potato with family life, or owning a Porsche with possessing a woman in a red bikini.
In fact, the blame for the uncritical attitude many netizens display towards whatever video they happen to click up on Youtube can be partially blamed to the Internet’s predecessor – Television – which has created and encouraged a culture of passivity and reception, where the brain’s inherent reaction is to shut down and just allow information to seep in. Television also greatly amplified a culture of “irresponsible market democracy”, where channels struggle to find the lowest common denominators amongst the targeted market groups. This created a loop where culture was inadvertently moulded, by legitimising and even lionising stupidity, idealising simplified reasoning and a short attention span. While schools have generally struggled to produce engaged and responsible citizens, Television has – unintentionally – worked to create an army of drooling zombies, readily and passively manipulated by programmes which rather than encouraging critical thinking are encouraging a weirdly alluring mixture of enticement and cynicism. One has only to look how History Channel and Discovery moved from interesting but possibly somewhat dry and professionalised topics to shows about Nostradamus, Aliens and Mermaids.
Open the Pandora’s box of the Internet for generations that have been intellectually passivized by the telly, and the result would have been the one we are seeing today.
In order to successfully fight the hydra of confirmation biases, fake news feedback loops and increasingly enclosed and aggressive online environments characterised by conspiracy thinking, we need to challenge the existing western culture where entertainment – no matter of what objective quality – is sanctified in relationship to its popularity rather than its content.
Television has taught us that Geordie Shore, Bachelorette and Big Brother are equally valid choices as Nova, Planet Earth and Cosmos, because they are equally if not more available, and also that consumers have a right to be entertained and not challenged. If a programme is boring, a consumer may just zap towards another channel which is entertaining.
It is not surprising then, that consumers who go on the Internet find that Alex Jones is more entertaining than CNN, that Naturalnews.com is more entertaining than Phys.org, and that when provided with a “market of self-declared truths”, people will choose the truth which they feel most positive towards and which challenges them the least.
Of course, people have been manipulated before by unscrupulous political agents, but it is hard to deny that four to five generations have had their critical faculties and even their logical thinking skills systematically eroded by being exposed to Television.
If it only was for Television…
Those unlucky enough to dwell in cities would always when they travel down to the city centre or to the supermalls be exposed to billboards, neon signs and advertisements designed to hack into their subconscious, transform their values and make them more pliable to impulsive behaviour in terms of their consumption. Consumerism as a way of life is dependent on tearing down people’s critical faculties.
For a person who is conditioned to be swayed by depictions of beautiful people, of bombastic music and a false sense of meaning and narrative provided both by blockbusters and by mundane Coca Cola advertisements, a film like this could have an impact.
If there is a connection between consumerism and the rise of the “alternative facts”-community, then we must confront the fact that the culture that have emerged for much of the latter half of the 20th century is melting down because of its own inner inconsistencies, and that we would need a cultural revolution to move away from consumerism and the deification of ignorance.
Humanity today possesses a power tremendous and terrible. We have the power to destroy the biosphere, to alter the climate, even to instigate nuclear winters. Yet, for the last generations, we have almost consciously created a culture striving to tear down inhibitions and self-control, to make people more impulsive, more promiscuous, more easily swayed by emotional messaging and – most crucially – without filters to critically access information.
Currently, parts of the establishment seem to strive towards a “middle ground” position, where people should be able to critical analyse RT, Press-TV or NaturalNews.com, but be more or less open and uncritical towards CNN, Coca Cola or McDonalds, in short – install selective locks to prevent people from accessing information from market operatives with agendas seen as destructive. That position can be construed as hypocritical, for why should it be seen as more immoral to advertise for Infowars-approved “Caveman” pills than for Coca Cola? At least the detrimental health effects of Coca Cola are well known by everyone. Advertisement is simply “fake news” that are somehow acceptable and seen as a cornerstone for society, even if the stated purpose is to make people buy things which often are destructive for their health and minds.
Apart from the blatant hypocrisy, any attempts to infuse “selective rejection” in a population conditioned to react primarily by emotions may slow down the breakdown of the concept of objective reality, but will fail short of achieving the goal. Despite the best efforts of public education, the concerted efforts of dumbing down the population has evidently been succeeded beyond the wildest dreams – if anyone would have wild dreams about an Idiocracy.
A Technocratic Cultural Revolution
Technocracy can be construed as “rule by the skilled” or “rule by skill”. I would state that most systems to a certain degree have carried the first characteristic, including our own. After all, most states in the world today have a civil service which politicians are obliged to listen to, and most power plants, hospitals, railways and airports for example are (quite luckily!) administered by professionals. In some countries, notably Germany and Austria, the department ministers are expected to be experts within their notable fields, for example a minister of infrastructure should be an engineer of some form.
The second aspect, however – Rule by Skill – is notably absent from the discourse and is seldom employed. There is a difference between skilledand skill after all, namely that while the first is describing an individual with certain characteristics who is given formal position because of these characteristics, the second is describing that these set of characteristics should define the entire system of management and the entire culture.
This is a central and essential distinction.
Because even if a person has the right education and has achieved the professional level acquired for managing certain sectors of a community, what if said individual decides to make a decision based on flawed, simplified or non-complete information. Also, too much emphasis on the qualifications of a decision maker can be used to shut down relevant critique against said professional.
What I would argue is that there are a few Technocratic Virtues which would need to be embedded in the culture, and the more democratic a system is, the more horizontal and de-centralised it is, the more it would need these virtues.
These virtues are:
Authentication (as defined by the EOS Board Member Lilium Carlson)
Self-reflection and awareness of one’s own biases, as well as one’s own emotions and reactions when confronted by material that challenges one’s instincts
Public knowledge of the Scientific Method
That the public is armed with the knowledge to identify and disarm attempts at manipulating public opinion.
The System of Public Education
It is absolutely crucial that children, probably from the age of ten, are challenged with epistemology, learn to identify fallacies of reasoning (such as strawmen), and learn to understand and utilise the Scientific Method, including Occam’s Razor. It is also essential that teachers themselves are acquainted with these methodologies and taught to properly being able to distribute tools necessary to acquire critical thinking skills.
Two examples: In fifth grade, we were exposed to a teaching methodology in “democracy and critical thinking”, where the entire class was to form a circle of chairs. The teacher then would ask the students what they thought about controversial subjects, such as bullying, steroids, drugs, racism, dictatorships and war and reason about it. Needless to say, the level of analysis was usually on the level that “war is bad because it hurts people”. While true, such a class I would claim fail to achieve the stated goals since it doesn’t provide any tools for the student to employ their critical thinking skills.
Later, in high school, a ruckus developed on school because some students were reading far right websites on the school library. The responsible teacher for our class decided – contrary to the recommendations of the school – that the students in the class should focus on two news and how four different newspapers created a narrative around these news, and also to speculate why the newspaper presented the news with that narrative. The newspapers in question were Aftonbladet (Social Democratic), VK (local newspaper, ind. Liberal), Proletären (the newspaper of the Communist Party) and Info-14 (ind. National Socialist). That teacher repeatedly taught us to critically examine all sources and ponder about the agenda of those responsible for publishing the news.
Of course, we were high school students, not ten year olds, but I still find it heartening that our teacher dared to ask us examine controversial material and discuss it from an analytic rather than moral perspective.
Overall, the education system must also more emphasise for students how advertisement often is a form of mind warfare employed in the service of hacking the brains of those exposed for the material. The students should of course as well be enlightened about the important role played by Edward Bernays and Walter Lippmann in forming the current western civilization, which in reality is not much older than the second half of the 20th century.
If we should have a chance to re-establish a discourse of sanity in the public space, media must become a tool primarily for information and less for entertainment. There must exist public service, but the role of public service should primarily be to act as a facilitator of useful knowledge and of the current political, social and ecological situation of the Earth.
Regarding independent media outlets and actors, each agent wishing to market their ideas and opinions must state what their agenda is, what outcome they wish to see for the future, and what beliefs they hold regarding why their narrative is superior – rather than to try to sneak in a preferred narrative without the users being notified what they are exposed to.
Moreover, platforms such as Wikipedia and Reddit must be strengthened, and connected with video hosting websites and traditional media platforms in order to provide a foundational global reference system which should work as a baseline and a foundation for the dispersion of News, especially in regards to eyewitness accounts.
Ideally, as many lectures as possible should be published on video hosting platforms and be made freely and transparently available in MP3 and MP4 format, and ideally even subtitled in the most widely understood languages.
An online index of academic papers could be established, to provide an improved peer review system where not only those who subscribe to narrow academic journals or are students or researchers may get hold of crucial new information.
Bottlenecks which constrict access to information may – for the moment – be perceived as monetarily necessary, but actually both serves to move against the effective execution of the scientific method and the rapidness with which new technologies and discoveries could be accessed.
It would probably be an advisable policy to ban commercial advertisement in public spaces as a first step. There is a profound difference between advertisement on billboards in a city centre and TV- or Internet advertisement. Generally, people are not compelled out of necessity to watch TV or surf the Internet (even if the latter is discussable people can still choose to avoid websites with advertisement). Most people who live inside or in the vicinity of cities must however – often on a daily basis – travel to places where they are bombarded with commercial advertising without their active or passive consent.
Moreover, all products should be compelled by legislation not only to honestly display their impact upon the environment, but on the human body as well.
Possibly, rather than asserting a website’s notability from its popularity, search engines should rather focus on a form of peer assessment, from established institutions. For example, if a website – take for example NaturalNews.com – is interested in marketing alternative medicine, then medical websites and universities should be available to recommend that website or write statements which decides its notability. Also, notable websites which frequently spreads false or misleading information should be able to be given warning labels judged by the reactions of the other communities. This would create self-regulating algorithms.
Notice that this model of affirmation and authentication is what the EOS advocates should be used as a self-regulatory mechanism within the Technate as a whole as it is being established.
While still in its infancy, the Pro-Truth pledge which this website has ascribed to could be a beginning of this process.
The role of the Individual
We must foster a spirit of self-reflection, introspection and awareness within individuals, regarding – without self-judgement or self-hatred – biases, preferences and what thinking might be rationalising rather than rational, in short to what regard we are limited by wishful thinking and how we can move above ourselves to try to see our own preferences and our own agenda, and how the world lines up from that point of view. This is something which must be ingrained in the entire community.
The Scientific Method and its role in culture
One of the foundational principles of our Ideology is that the Scientific Method is the least worst methodology if one wants to assess facts about the real world. We should strive towards a popular culture which emphasises that empiricism, rationalism, peer review and authentication are crucial tools for solving problems. Often, popular culture relies on narratives which glorify brawn, emotions and violence as problem-solving tools, which could have a detrimental effect upon public understanding of reality.
While religion is an essential factor in the mental well-being of billions of people, provides them with a sense of meaning and fulfilment, and also often inspires people to take care and make a positive impact in the lives of their fellow human beings, it becomes a problem when religious leaders choose to interpret scripture to assert that it may provide facts about the material world. It must be more emphasised that religious scripture primarily should be seen as allegorical, which was how people during the pre-modern day generally viewed those writings. Fundamentalism must be combated, because it is dangerous for individual, public and global ecological health.
Science and the scientific method cannot define morality or ideological values, they can merely point towards a method of attaining evidence and employing it in the service of the individual and the community. A technocratic cultural revolution must not strive towards fetishisation of science – i.e scientism, which merely replaces one dogma with another. Moreover, within the rational and atheist communities of the two latest decades, there has been a tendency to denigrate and mock opponents, instead of understanding that they merely are victims of a dumbed down culture.
We cannot ignore the inherent unsustainability of the current system, both in terms of culture and in terms of its resource management in relation to the Earth’s biosphere. Why we should fight against woo, alternative facts, climate denial, grand conspiracy thinking, Flat Earth and Young Earth creationism is not because they are a threat towards the current status quo.
On the contrary, these beliefs are in fact supporting our current status quo, some of them quite literally so (climate denial), while others are merely doing it by virtue of their distractive abilities – because they provide the public with readily made false consciousness’s which serve to passivize and divide the public.
We must neither forget that even those who speak facts, sometimes speak of carefully selected facts in order to mislead and provide people with a false sense of security. One example are the cornucopians, proponents of divulging the facts that absolute poverty is diminishing, that literacy is going up, that population growth is decreasing and that some environmental problems are diminishing. While these are all facts, they are presented in a manner which seems to be intended to make the public have faith in the current system, in the current form of globalisation and in that current global agendas, like the Paris Agreement and the UN goals – if implemented – would serve to adequately bring sustainability to our planet, and that exponential growth and sustainability are possible to combine.
Thus, the cornucopians are to a great degree far more dangerous for the well-being for the planet than climate denialists or proponents of the Lizardmen theory. For while the latter are generally gaining traction amongst those disenfranchised and without education or influence, the cornucopians are mostly attracting members of the managerial classes.
The goal: Establishing a consensus
We must establish a consensus that the scientific method should be the guiding principle in attaining solutions, that everyone should be capable of utilizing the scientific method, that all policies should be evidence-based, and that the major fact of our age and era is that a Sixth Mass Extinction Event is coming unless we move towards a sustainable future, which we only can achieve if we fulfill at least the first of the Three Criteria.
Conclusion: Transparency instead of Censorship
If we are going to summarise this article, we should state that the growth of the alternative facts community is attributable to the culture of entertainment created by Individualistic Consumerism. If people define their identity after their consumption patterns, it was only a matter of time before they would start to choose their sources of news and education to fit their own personal beliefs – thus nullifying the very purpose of education itself.
Instead of trying to delegitimise and de-platform the purveyors of nonsense and disinformation, we must rather delegitimise the notion within ourselves that we can choose our own reality.
We must systematically uproot and destroy that idea, by ruthlessly bringing it to light and attacking it. This is not because we hate the individual’s freedom to choose, but because everyone is needed – and everyone are needed to be sane in our day and age, with the Mass Extinction approaching. Disinformation and distractions serve to weaken humanity’s resolve in the face of this existential crisis.
Instead of viewing information primarily as entertainment, we must view it as an integral part of a system existing to safeguard the survival of Humanity and of Human Civilization. Therefore, it is of essential importance that each citizen should be empowered with the tools to critically access information and understand the scientific method.
The 21st century must – if the human civilization wants to endure and thrive – be characterized by the greatest conscious project our species ever has engaged in, namely the Transition. This process must engage all of humanity, on both the local, regional and global levels. It must involve a total transformation of financial systems, agriculture, industry, fuel sources, energy usage, urban design, transit systems and consumption patterns.
Humanity, following the transition, will live in a civilization radically different from the one which gradually evolved during the eras of industrialism and consumerism. Our descendants will not live under a society characterised by exponential growth, industrial monocultures, consumerism, advertising, technological underemployment, freeways and supermarkets.
These very necessary adjustments to collective and individual facets of human life on our Earth today should have been undertaken already when it stood clear that we were using more resources than the Earth could renew, back in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Our usage of the planet’s resources have only increased since that time, showing that while we have been able to curb particle emissions and prevent an ozone crisis, as well as made great progress in terms of renewable energy sources. Yet, in terms of resource usage, especially regarding soil erosion, deforestation, groundwater depletion and surface exploitation, all the trends show an increased grade of deterioration.
The Transition is not about creating a Utopia, it is about creating a sustainable future for humanity. Some aspects of it will be painful and protracted, but the alternative to the Transition is not our current way of managing resources and the lifestyle and values it entails, but something which a majority of humanity would very much like to avoid.
A Sixth Mass Extinction event, resulting in a loss of complexity for the human civilization, resulting in a domino effect of crises which very well could destabilise even the most developed regions of Earth. Reality itself is urging us to adjust, to undergo a Transition, and the longer time we wait, the higher the price will be.
This article will describe what the Transition must be in order to be efficient, and also identify the key areas which will be affected.
Large-scale cases of environmental challenges can be defined into two categories – qualitative and quantitative.
Qualitative challenges can be partially solved by ceasing certain practices, quantitative challenges require a much deeper transition.
The five big challenges, anthropogenic climate change, soil erosion, freshwater depletion, and the destruction of oceanic and continental eco-systems, are all caused by a dependency on exponential economic growth.
The first step towards solving that problem is the abolishment of fractional reserve banking and possibly the elimination of interest.
Anthropogenic climate change will be tackled by phasing out fossil sources of energy and the meat industry, and by the creation of carbon banks by global reforestation efforts.
Industrial monocultures would need to be gradually but quickly replaced by a combination of several different types of farming – urban gardening, agroforestry, kelp farming, underground farming and aquaculture.
We need a circular economy with strong aspects of a blue economy – i.e an economy where we minimise and optimise production.
Energy Accounting or a system equivalent to its goals will most likely incentivise the necessary behavioural shifts, and can be useful as an alternative market mechanism.
Another way of shifting is through setting up centrally managed transition plans, employing AI and superior computing systems to better access information.
A part of such centralised measures would be to mass-mobilise the labour surplus in certain key areas, for example building sea walls to shield vulnerable lowlands.
It is also essential to support and organise de-centralised grassroots initiatives on the local and regional levels in their attempts to foment the Transition.
Qualitative vs Quantitative Challenges
There could be said to be two kinds of environmental problems, those which are derived from the emission of certain substances into nature. Fossil-bound carbon dioxide, ozone and particle emissions into the atmosphere, heavy metal, synthetic chemicals, medicines and radioactive materials leaking into water reservoirs, seas and soils are example of qualitative challenges, which (mostly) can be solved by better regulations, by banning and by clean-up efforts. These problems (apart from climate change) can be addressed without challenging the foundations of our current civilization.
Quantitative challenges, on the other hand, are not possible to be addressed with these same tools, since the issue is not what substances we use, what emissions we leak or how we pollute, but rather how large volumes we are exploiting, how much surface we are occupying and in what manner we are occupying it. Often, these quantitative challenges are massively increasing the scope of the qualitative challenge. For example, one gasoline car would not affect the CO2 levels very much, but billions of cars can have a profound impact.
Three examples of environmental devastation of a quantitative nature are the huge industrial monocultures, where between a third and half of the world’s land usable land surface is utilised in the production of singular crops, the logging industry where forest plantations are crowding out natural woods and preventing the forest floor from recuperating and finally the trawling industry, which has devastated oceanic eco-systems.
While qualitative problems could be partially addressed by technological development, efficiency increases due to advances in tech generally tend to have an opposite effect on quantitative problems, since such introductions generally 1) decreases the cost of the exploitation process and therefore 2) decreases prices which leads to an increased consumption which massively increases the devastation of the environment. This tendency is known as “Jevon’s Paradox”.
In order to address this inadequacy, we must change the way the socio-economic system operates. This is the first aspect of the Transition.
The Impetus of Death must be broken
Money today is created through the process of Fractional Reserve Banking, where the same reserves are lent several times to different debtors, who then are expected to pay back the same money with interest. This interest must be created by the economy, thence there is a need for exponential economic growth. Economic growth means that the total amount of consumption constantly must be increased, and that the economy should conform to the demand of the consumers (if people for example want hamburgers, they should have hamburgers by the grace of the invisible hand).
During the 1920’s and 1930’s, this system was cannibalising itself, mostly because productivity grew faster than consumption, leading to deflation and mass unemployment. Following the Second World War, which partially was a reaction to the Great Depression, a new system was devised. Bretton Woods was a minor adjustment (and lasted only for a quarter of a century) in comparison to the cultural and institutional changes. The introduction of comprehensive welfare states, easy credit and consumerism as the foundation for human identity were facets gradually introduced to ensure that the Great Depression did not repeat.
This move from “Protestant Ethics” to “Hedonistic/Consumerist Individualism” has atomised the western individual and turned the meaning of life from meaningful participation in a society into the fulfilling of certain archetypes designed by media, for example through TV shows such as “Friends”. Advertising in our civilization is designed to appeal to sexual and sensual subconscious desires, thus aiming to manipulate people to demand things which they would not otherwise demand.
Every year, the leaders of the world are meeting at several summits to discuss how to keep the wheel of global consumerism rolling, while the Earth is grinded underneath its relentless onslaught. Often, at the same summits, they also aim to solve the planet’s environmental problems, so “economic growth would not be compromised”. The “bad environmental effects” must be isolated from the “good economic system”. From our point of view, the current system is designed to incentivise people to destroy the foundations for a future human civilization, in short to do like the Titan Chronos and consume their own children – an Impetus of Death.
In our view, it is absolutely necessary for a serious Transition to address the very unsustainability inherent in our monetary and financial systems. In short, we cannot seriously claim to aspire for sustainability unless we seriously consider shutting down the engine which is driving forward both climate change and biodiversity loss.
There has been quite a buzz about the emergence of the Sharing Economy, which indeed is spreading like wildfire. However, given that car sales and traditional means of conducting travel have not decreased, one has to come to the conclusion that the Sharing Economy mostly is growing amongst the ranks of the growing “Precariat”.
These are the necessary changes which we must voluntarily and enthusiastically undergo if the Transition even should become possible.
Fractional Reserve Banking must be abolished, possibly replaced by Positive Money before transitioning towards Energy Accounting or another system designed to fulfil the same goals as Energy Accounting.
It is advisable that advertisement in public spaces should be restricted, since it actively tries to manipulate people’s preferences against their explicit consent (people often have little choice but to go to urban centres).
The externalities must be included into the price mechanism, because currently the market mechanism where only supply and demand are taken into account is de-facto subsidising environmentally hazardous and destructive products and practices. Possibly, this could be realised through the introduction of a new system, like Energy Accounting which is designed to measure the cost not only of extraction but also of restoration/compensation of areas affected by environmental degradation.
There must be made a comprehensive study of how much resources we may harvest from the Earth each year, which would become the basis for a global ecological budget ceiling.
The important thing is not that these suggested reforms are introduced, but that reforms are introduced which are curbing the excesses which these suggestions are intended to address. If we desire a sustainable civilization for the future, we must also desire to stop the need for continuous exponential growth. Not to say that growth will be banned, but growth in the future must rather be incidental in relation to technological development, rather than – as we argue it is today – a compulsion.
Where we are going in the right direction
In terms of renewable energy, we are currently moving in the right direction, though the efficiency of certain types of renewable energy can be rightfully criticised. One aspect which we find very positive with renewable sources, is that they can be utilised to democratise the production and distribution of electricity and heating, namely that communities themselves can take control over their own means of generating energy, which really provides a foundational basis for a deeper and more tangible democracy.
The problem is that while renewable sources of energy are definitely growing in usage as a share of the world’s energy production, there is no sign in terms of absolute numbers that non-renewable sources of energy are being phased out, rather they do not grow at the same rate as before. The recent drop in oil prices can be seen as a combination of the increased profitability of renewables, but also that the previous higher prices stimulated the development of alternative forms of generating crude oil, such as utilising oil from the tar sands (and devastating ecosystems on the North American continent).
Thus, moving in the right direction does not mean moving away from the wrong direction. Much like the issue with the Sharing Economy, the effect of renewable energy on the fossil industries are at the moment not very much hurting the profitability of the traditional Petro-based energy and transport system.
What must be done is to gradually make it more expensive for businesses and industry to operate under a regime where fossil-based fuels could be utilised, as well as incentivise a shift towards the utilisation of more renewable sources. Undoubtedly, it is so that the penalisation of fossil fuels would adversely affect low-income people who own (and often are dependent on) cars. The problem with these push’n’pull policies is not that they are too comprehensive and radical, but that they often are isolated in relation to the wider infrastructure and growth-related policies of countries.
Case in point, cities are still incorporating former farm- and forestlands in the outskirts to raise supermalls displaying a wide variety of shops, businesses and fast food restaurants. Around these supermalls, flat, grey deserts of parking lots are established – these places are intended for people to move by car.
In most western nations, owning a car is almost a prerequisite of being a part of the labour market, and thus even have access to the regular consumer economy. Thus, while half-hearted policies are introduced to shift the transport sector towards a non-fossil-based state, mass transit through privately owned or operated cars is still the model which urban planners aim for.
One area where we are not doing enough in relationship to climate change is in terms of reforestation, where most trends point in the wrong direction. Though the amount of woodlands in first world nations have grown during the 20th century, the loss of forests in the global south, in Africa, South America and South East Asia, has far exceeded what has been regained. Forests are crucial in stabilizing the planetary climate since trees live for centuries and store carbon dioxide which later can be deposited and returned to the soil. There needs to exist a conscious strategy to dramatically reverse the trend and increase the amount of forests on Earth…
The Big One: Agriculture
In our world today, monocultures have altered a considerable chunk of the land surface area, replacing vibrant, dynamic, naturally emerging ecosystems. Around 40% that is. The largest share of these farmlands are sustaining the needs for the cattle and dairy industry in terms of fodder, meaning that the meat industry is playing a significant role in the deterioration of the planetary land surface.
Highly competitive and efficient industrial monocultures are first of all very intense, the demands of the market rather than the rhythm of nature decides their yield, amplified by technology they deplete the soils and groundwater, and must rely on fossil-based fertilisers in order to function. They do still expand, especially in South America. Monocultures are also excessively vulnerable, because ecosystems supporting one crop are not ecosystems but rather linear, artificially created and maintained systems in constant dependency of constant human intervention. This massive replacement of ecosystems with linear systems is a major instigator in the current massive losses in biodiversity endured by the biosphere.
That would in itself be enough of a motivation to reverse the trend, but there is also the aforementioned situation where we would need to engineer a global reforestation, which would mean a reduction of other types of lands. The most natural choice is to reduce the area covered by monocultures.
If we embark on that course, we must be fully aware that this part of the Transition is undoubtedly the most large-scale, the most perilous and one likely to take decades of arduous labours. Though it is well-known that half of the world’s food yield is discarded, and that a significant share of the agricultural production is directed towards sustaining the meat industry, shifting the food production must be done in a meticulous, systematic and gradual manner.
The reason why is of course that the highest priority must be to ensure food accessibility for human beings. If we for example decide to shift 75 000 sqkm of grain fields for a restored forest, we must ensure that we in the same replace it with other, less ecologically damaging forms of agriculture to the point that the same level of nutrition will be yielded. The main challenge is thus that the Transition in terms of phasing out industrial monocultures would also need to involve other territories than those directly affected by the shift, in order to not cause a scarcity of food during the Transition.
When we make this shift away from monocultures, towards more sustainable types of agriculture, we must remember that no matter what economic activities we choose to do, we will damage the environment. That is inevitable. What we within the EOS always have desired is for us to try to harm the ecosystems as little as possible, while still being capable to provide decent lives for the 7-9 billion people living on the planet. So the transformation of agriculture will be a process which would probably take two to three decades, and which probably will never be completed, at least not for the continuation of this century, especially as a considerable chunk of the monocultures would still need to be operational. Neither are all monocultures in themselves problematic, for example grandmother’s potato field is not an environmental problem on the same scale as a sea of corn, soybeans, oil palms and wheat.
One positive aspect of replacing industrial monocultures with other forms of agriculture is by diversifying our sources of food, we increase our resilience and become less vulnerable to parasite infestations or crises sparked by climate change.
Before describing in turns some of the possible types of agriculture which we can introduce at a large scale, we must not omit mentioning one of the foundational characteristics of the agricultural systems of the Post-Transition Era, especially in contrast to the linear, Ricardian logic of the current system. The agriculture of the future will be more dispersed, de-centralised and often small-scale than today, and a significant share of the population – maybe up to two thirds – will put a part of their time into growing their own food.
A much larger share of the adult population, close to 100%, will have the knowledge about how to do it. Each settlement and city will have the capability to feed itself, even if food will still be transported between regions and continents (though that will be slightly less frequent under a system where all environmental costs are factored in). One can imagine that this kind of bonus farming would be organised by neighbourhoods or house groups, but there would most likely be as much individual farming units.
Here are some of the forms of farming which will become more widespread at the expense of industrial monocultures.
Agroforestry will most likely be a widely used adaption, because it is a compromise between a forest region and a farming region, mixing trees, fruit plantations, crop rotation and a variety of different species within flourishing neo-forests, aiming to construct self-sustaining ecosystems.
Kelp farming does indeed have a potential, both in near-coastal shelves, lakes (natural and artificial) and on land, in specific facilities, and will most likely become a form of staple food in several regions.
Vertical farming can be utilised as a more effective way of growing crops in terms of sunlight, in northern and southern regions of the sphere. Vertical farms will most likely both pop up in urban areas and in the countryside, providing enormous greenhouses which can feed thousands, often employing aquaponics, hydroponics, aeroponics and other methods of farming considered alternative today.
Underground farming can become a popular option in terms of growing mushrooms, which to a certain extent can replace meat as staple food.
Platform cities supporting seasteading could also be utilised to create new land surface, interlinked hexagonal platforms supporting industrial monocultures, which would definitely not affect the existing land surface of the planet.
Lab meat should definitely be explored as an alternative to regular meat, but our strategy should not rely on its introduction to the market.
Absolutely necessary are also millions of small family farms, voluntary farming collectives, portable mini-greenhouses and all the multitude of potential grassroots initiatives, including even guerrilla gardening.
The two main necessities for having a civilised human society are security and food accessibility. During the Transition, changing the way we deal with food will be the absolutely most important determining factor.
The future of human habitation
Another trend which must be broken and reversed, is the tendency to gather humans into larger and larger metropolises, which necessitate global trade routes and the transformation of entire regions into harvest zones for the needs of particular urban sprawls.
With the Transition, we will most likely see a reversion of this trend, mostly because 1) exponential economic growth must be curbed and directed towards the needs of the human species, i.e the Transition itself which will lead to 2) the reduction of a significant amount of the consumerist-oriented economical activities associated with late 20th century urban life and 3), the advent of a new structure of employment could see a migration away from cities, which could have both positive and negative effects.
Moreover, buildings erected since the dawn of the 20th century would need expensive maintenance or demolition. This includes famous landmarks like the Empire State Building, which will need to be thoroughly renovated or demolished. Residential urban zones also have a date of expiration, and then we need to discuss what kind of structures should be raised. This process would most likely be a slow and gradual one, new buildings will be raised when old ones are demolished.
Of course, one of the aspects of the Transition is the expected rise in sea levels, which could reduce habitability in low- and wetlands, where most large cities on Earth currently are located. Thus, it is not impossible to envision that a lot of cities will be moved or abandoned and mined for resources in the future.
What must be avoided at all costs, is to construct space-ineffective dwellings, case-in-point being the Suburbia model, developed in the United States during the late 1940’s and then exported to the world. This model, reliant on asphalted roads, huge parking lots and a massive usage of surface area, must be severely discouraged.
Rather, though we do not know how the future looks, we can imagine it would consist of colony-housing, where several dwellings share common showers, living rooms, kitchens and gardens. One could also imagine modular living units which can easily be 3D-printed and assembled by communities, in case a village must be expanded.
Another alternative is arcologies, huge self-containing structures housing thousands of people, as well as semi-urban centres, educational, healthcare-related and neo-industrial facilities. Such structures gathered next to one another could become the closest equivalent to mega-cities today, and would become hubs for smaller settlements.
This vision of the future can be panic-inducing, but even if it comes to be so, there would probably be fewer large cities in the Post-Transition Era. The reason why most people cannot live in villages, or why less advanced technology would not be an option (though voluntary low-tech communities will undoubtedly exist on the Earth as well) is simply because the Transition as we are envisioning it is for the sake of humanity – all the billions of individual human beings who compose our species that is. Returning to a less advanced state will not only doom billions to deprivation, but also potentially kill hundreds of millions. Such a transition is not deemed as acceptable by us.
Of course, the urban, infrastructural transformation is going to be a slow process, which would be locally and regionally directed and consist of thousands of compromises which would seek to preserve cultural heritages and treat local populations and cultures with respect.
An era of Mass Employment
The Transition will be a period of great sacrifices and collective effort, but there will also be positive side-effects.
One of the prevalent visions of the future is one where mass unemployment and underemployment are spreading due to automatisation and the ascent of AI and robotics. We can see this trend already today, where the new work opportunities for many segments of the adult population consist of uncertain part-time jobs and the total amount of work hours have decreased. Many of these new professions have a dubious or overtly negative impact on the health of the community.
The Transition will likely, despite spelling the end of several industries, usher in an era of mass mobilisation and full employment, simply because every capable adult will be needed. Of course, a substantial of the practical field work will be taken care of by machines, but by their side hundreds of millions of human beings will be tasked with building up the foundation for soil and freshwater recovery, surveying local ecological situations, recycling material from outdated housing and non-renewable power plants as well as creating new and ecologically neutral or at least less damaging industrial facilities.
As a part of the Transition, social sustainability is crucial. Many areas of the world currently experience collapse-like situations, and suffer from ethnic and tribal conflicts. In terms of social sustainability, the armed combat must be ended, either by peace negotiations or by – in the worst case – intervention. It is absolutely crucial that war should be minimised during the Transition, if for nothing else then simply because Humanity does not afford wasting its time, even winners in a war will become losers if the Sixth Mass Extinction Event moves to fruition.
It is a testament to the priorities and culture of our age that arms dealing, pornography and drugs are some of the largest economic activities.
During the Transition, instead of preying upon the weak, the productive and intellectual capabilities of Humanity will be directed towards raising up impoverished regions, combat drought and floods, provide the darkest parts of the world with electricity, filters and sewage systems, clinics and schools. Millions of teachers, caretakers and nurses are needed to transferred to distant continents.
It is not a matter of the White Man’s Burden, it is not a matter of the First World and the Third World any more, but a matter of Humanity helping itself. Thus, those tasked with the leadership of instituting social sustainability will primarily be people living in the affected regions themselves, people with integrity who have experience coupled with knowledge of how to adapt ecologically sustainable technologies to local conditions.
The Transition will demand Humanity to shoulder a responsibility, but this responsibility is the most meaningful thing we will ever endure, and we will endure it together. Ultimately, the Transition will – if successful – result in a world more unified and peaceful than ever before.
Summary – a new dawn will arise, if you want it
No matter whether you love or dread the thought of the Transition, the truth is the same no matter where you are, what you say or how you live – our current civilization has been designed on an unsustainable foundation, and we need to dismantle that foundation while raising a new, sustainable one, while not only preserving democracy and human rights, but to expand them, build upon them and spread them.
What we need to do, if we want to summarise the Transition is, yet again:
Replace a financial-monetary system built on debt and interest with one built on the basis of physical reality, internalising the externalities.
Recycle and reuse as much matter as we are able to sustain our needs.
Phase out fossil fuels, replace them with renewable sources.
Plant trillions of trees.
Replace a significant part of our industrial monocultures with other forms of agriculture.
Phase out most of the meat industry.
Create an integrated, intelligent and sustainable infrastructure system.
Mobilise all resources in order to achieve aforementioned goals.
When does it begin? Where does it begin?
You can start it tomorrow! Focus on spreading information about the necessity of the Transition, out towards the world, or towards your specific community, your friends and relatives. Organise yourselves to find ways to manifest the Transition in your area, by growing food, producing your own electricity, or in other ways having a positive impact. Communicate with other groups, learn, spread, repeat.
This is the most important struggle of the 21st century.
The Earth Organisation for Sustainability is willing to cooperate with and support all groups aiming for a sustainable future, aiming for the Transition. Humanity has all the potential to achieve all its aspirations, but we must get our act together and save the biosphere, to save our civilisation, to save ourselves.
The last eight to ten generations of our species have created a mess, not out of malice but of ignorance and short-sightedness. If we are going to succeed, we need to mobilise all our positive energies into the Transition, to create a new future for Humanity.
The EOS has established a virtual infrastructure on Facebook to facilitate this organisation. It is still in its infancy, but it is going on through this group.
On Tuesday the 21st of November 2017, the EOS was represented by board members Rickard Strandberg and Enrique Lescure at Miljötorget (the environmental forum) at Umea Town Hall. We brought a happy mood, a number of fliers and the book “Technocracy, Building a New Sustainable Society for a Post-carbon World”, by Dr Andrew Wallace (2006). We also brought the experimental plastic dome “collapso” and two bowls of sweets (why have one when one could have two)?
We were invited by the Theatre Association of Umea and by Studiefrämjandet, as one of several sustainability-oriented associations, and were given the opportunity to interact with the guests. We were also given tickets to the engaging theatre show “Vi som bor här”, featuring the nature photographer Martin Emtenäs and the musician Stefan Sundström.
Interacting with the public, communicating about sustainability and sharing sweets and fliers, we managed to increase the interest for both the EOS in general, as well as our local biodome project, which on the 21st of January will launch a new phase, the Mini-dome phase.
Our mission is the most paramount endeavour ever hurled over the shoulders of our species – namely to steer of a monster of our own making.
The Sixth Mass Extinction Event. A fever raging over our Earth’s biosphere, a convergence of crises approaching. There are causes hidden within causes. Humanity has allowed a financial system built on debt to govern our way of managing our planet’s surface and resources, leading to man-made climate change, the world-wide disappearance of insect populations, eroded soils, dying oceans, depleted freshwater reservoirs and massive deforestation in the tropical regions.
There is a rising awareness, but this awareness is segmented, incomplete and muddled by the interference of other issues into the equation. Our compartmentalised understanding of reality allows our elected leaders to indulge in the comfortable illusion that the bad environmental effects can be separated from the “good socio-economic system”. Yet, humanity will have to prevail on this one, or face a crisis unprecedented in the history of our species. In the most developed nations, celebrity gossip and twitter crises dominate headlines – yet mother nature does not care much for celebrities or for moral panics.
The Earth Organisation for Sustainability (the EOS) is formed with the mission of designing and testing alternative resource management systems, primarily of a socio-economic nature, in order to provide alternatives to the current order and facilitate a route towards a sustainable future civilization able to shelter and offer an equitable standard of living for 8-9 billion human beings (which is what the population around 2050 will gravitate around).
Our mission objective thus will inevitably form our methodologies of reaching out. That is not all, however, for during long courses of our existence we have been forced to operate with little resources at our disposal, which has taught us an ability to economise and to value creative utilisation of resources and time.
The purpose of this article is to describe how we are working and how it relates to our goals. It will also tell you what you can do to facilitate change in your environment.
The EOS activities can be summarised into three types – Research, Education and Social Activism.
Research can be divided into theory, innovation, application and data gathering.
Education consists of lectures, book tables and other forms of activities.
Social Activism, finally, is the process of activating neighbourhoods in taking active control of their own fate and strive towards a sustainable transition.
Our activities are facilitated through Holons, semi-autonomous units through which our members are organising.
Everyone who is an EOS member can start a Holon!
The foundation of the EOS is the scientific principle. This expresses itself through the employment of the scientific method, of the application of empiricism coupled with information generously provided by the scientific community, and of conservative interpretations of research data. It means that whatever we base our analysis on must be on the most recent estimates by respected institutions in the environmental fields, but that we must be open for the fact that these data may be altered with new information. Our own research must be open for peer review and falsifiable – meaning that others should be able to conduct the same experiments as us under the same conditions and achieve similar results.
Our main hypothesis is that a society based around the principles outlined in The Design would be able to better fulfil the three criteria of sustainability which we have defined. Our main goal is to put this hypothesis to test, both to identify general flaws within it and to find areas where it can be continuously improved – since we hold the belief that reality will always be too complex and contain too many parameters to be able to be perfectly digitally simulated.
The outlines of the civilization described in the book are also based on physical factors which are scientifically defined – since the physical reality itself on a macro scale is only definable through metrics provided by science. Thus, our vision for the future resource management system is based on physics, not metaphysics. We desire to improve on the tools of data acquisition and constantly strive towards a more perfect understanding of the physical outline of our Earth.
Science is however only our master insofar it serves us in better providing a viable path. We must avoid the trappings of scientism and of a fetishisation of science in itself. Science is simply the least flawed methodology to attain knowledge about the physical reality, but we do not believe it in itself can define morality, values or ideology – especially as utilitarianism taken to the extreme can become very destructive for the sanctity of life and of the human being.
We have several different types of educational activities. This website is one of them, though admittedly it’s a work in progress. The website has a potential reach to millions of people throughout the world, and exists to spur interest in our activities and to inspire the masses, as well as attracting future members and partners.
On the ground, we have educational activities too – Lectures for example.
Our lectures are usually open for the public, and disseminates the Design or the Ideology of the EOS in a comprised manner, usually for fifty minutes every time. If possible, we aim to strike cooperation with organisations that can provide space for the information sharing. After the lecture, the audience should be able to talk with the lecturer, ask questions about the topic and – if interested – receive information on how to join the EOS.
Another option for dissemination is to hold a book table, where you inform about EOS and showcase its projects for the world. The table should contain brochures, comprised texts about the EOS, possibly images or models of the project intended, and a banner or roll-up displaying our logotype and the website address.
Lastly, we have a page on Facebook to a linked group which currently has around 4000 members (https://www.facebook.com/eosprojects/). The page and the group displays information from multiple sources, and allows us to engage with the public in discussions and information-spreading. It also allows us a platform to spread our message, allow people an opportunity to join us and to network.
For 2018, we are planning to further strengthening our social media profile, amongst other things with podcasts.
Social activism for us is a matter about having a positive impact on local communities, regarding the issue of transition towards an ecologically, economically and socially sustainable future for that community. It could equally well be labelled “practivism” since what we aim to do is to organise people and contribute something tangible to their community.
One example is the biodome we are raising in the area of Alidhem, Umea, and plan to donate to the urban gardeners. While we are in the process of constructing it, we are engaging the urban gardeners and the public, inviting them to take interest and thus enlightening them about our existence and – more importantly – about the situation of our planet. It is important to engage people on their level, and connect what we are aiming to do with the needs and concerns of their communities. An organisation is abstract, a global crisis is possibly even more abstract – what we need to do is to bring these issues to the streets, parks and community meeting spots, to engage people.
Our primary goal should not be to recruit more members – even though we welcome anyone who wants to contribute to our goals and who shares our values. Rather, we want to change the public discourse, and transmit the severity of the approaching mass extinction event while pointing at solutions that can give people the courage and conviction to organise. Green consumerism is a good step, but not sufficient to transition the world towards sustainability – for that we need people to organise to transition their own communities. We want to be a spark which facilitates this mobilisation, and a conduit which allows groups already engaged to network horizontally and vertically.
This will also give us access to geographic, economic areas where we can field test The Design and expose it for stress in a dynamic environment where there are unknown factors which we could not have predicted.
Building a Proto-technate
A proto-technate, as envisioned by our former chairperson Dr Andrew Wallace, is an integrated vertical network which internally works according to the principles outlined in the Design. Each node – or holon – of the network is a semi-autonomous unit which provides some of its yield to the wider network.
One example would be if we establish a 3D-printing workshop in Alidhem, and we sustain the dome with upgrades and with maintenance, as well as repairing garden tools for the urban gardeners. In turn, they donate a part of their harvest to the workshop. This form of resource exchange can later on be replaced with a primitive form of energy accounting. Imagine then that we get a powerplant operating, maybe in Umea, or maybe in southern Sweden, and that it supplants some of its income to our other operations as well as those of the organisations we cooperate with. Gradually, we create a network which will become more and more self-sufficient, while yet being embedded in the regular capitalist economy.
In some regards, this is why our three aspects are so neatly tied together, because the proto-technate as an ideal embodies all of these three goals.
What you can do
Imagine that a stranger on the bus strikes up a conversation with you, and that the subject moves from pleasantries into serious issues, such as terrorism, religion, immigration, the housing crisis, the upcoming political election or trivialities such as a celebrity being caught uttering something socially unacceptable.
You, as an EOS activist or a sympathiser of our cause, changes the subject by the following words: “Excuse me, but the most important issue of our time is the fact that we are using the equivalent of what 1,4 Earths can provide for us every year, and that we need to find a way to reduce our global footprints.”
By those words, and those words alone, you have brought the transition towards a sustainable world a little bit closer to fruition. Maybe a few seconds, maybe a few breaths. But today, in our age, every moment is invaluable.
Don’t believe me?
It is said that gravity always works both ways. You are bound to the Earth because its mass is so great in comparison to yours it might well be infinite. But it is finite, and your mass does actually affect the Earth a little bit as well, just a tiny, minuscule amount. And even the Earth itself was once just a grain of dust which happened to be slightly larger than its most immediate neighbour. Remember that.
The same could be said of our civilization on Earth, and its cultures. Most of the major cultures of history were originally formed by tiny groups devoted to a cause – not all of them worthy. The world’s largest religion today was once just a handful of schismatic Hebrews. The world’s second largest religion was in its infancy just a hundred followers camped out in an oasis near nowhere.
Language is the most powerful hacking tool there is, and can be used for destructive and creative processes alike.
So, let’s say that you are an EOS member isolated from the hub of the organisation, maybe alone in your country. Do not despair and do not become demotivated. Instead, your first task should be to expand so you are two people with regular contact. Your goal from then on could take the route of research, education or social activism, but any of these three routes should facilitate the transition we all want to see realised in the world.
Throughout the European and wider western world, tribalism is once again emerging, through the lens of mainstream xenophobic parties, CounterJihad activism, the emergent Alt-Right and outright militant neo-Nazis. This phenomenon is however not only confined to the western world – and I am not thinking primarily about the Nazis in Mongolia or Mexico.
Groups such as the Islamic State, the Buddhist supremacists in Burma and Sri Lanka, the Hindu supremacists in India, ethnic supremacists in Africa and even – in its least dangerous and virulent form – in the form of regional separatism based on ethnic identity, such as the current Catalan movement for independence. All these various movements and ideologies are characterized by one notion, namely that of the separation of our particular grouping from the others, and competition about (usually physical) space and resources.
Adolf Hitler, the most well-known ideological leader of National Socialism, espoused Ethnic-Darwinian ideals. His was a dog-eat-dog Earth, where better adapted groups preyed on the habitats of smaller groups characterised by blood feuds. In Mein Kampf, in the Table Talks, and in his conversations with Eckhart it stands clear that he believed that the animalistic struggle for survival is the true, genuine aspect of human nature, and that Culture to a certain extent was neutering and domesticating these survival instincts.
To some extent, his analysis had a point. The process of human civilization and of culture can be seen as a multi-layered move away from our animalistic origin – not primarily driven by the desire to attain higher spiritual values, but by the need to not kill ourselves. Most philosophers, prophets, ideologists and state founders have aspired to (unlike Hitler) move humanity farther away from tribal collectivism – which is understandable.
Sadly, though most of the world has made significant progress, we have not yet made enough, as proven by the continued existence of tribalist identities to the extent that people are willing to make huge personal sacrifices for them. Yes, this is – for what we know – probably hardwired into human genetics. But human civilization could be understood as a process to curb the excesses of human nature.
As mentioned before, we have not yet succeeded in that endeavour…
This article will not so much explore the nascent rise of tribalism, but rather explain why human beings become tribalists, why tribalism represents a threat against human survival on Earth, and what strategies we can utilise to move away from tribalism and establish a democratic and legitimate global confederation.
Humanity evolved as pack-living animals on the African savannah.
This species had a tendency for striving towards homogeneity within the group and competition against outsiders.
With agriculture civilization was born, and thus humans were forced to organise in larger groupings.
With a larger population, conflicts between tribes and clans became bloodier and more frequent.
Humans developed aware coping strategies to defuse human aggression and channel it towards goals which elites saw as beneficial.
The need of collective belonging seems to be biologically ingrained in human beings, and this need seems to have the potentially most destructive characteristics within the male population between certain age groups.
This belonging is expressed not only through genetically close-knit groups but also through groups formed around other types of identities and commonalities.
We need to discuss what humanity should evolve into in the future to better adapt to the circumstances of tomorrow, which is what the third leg of our proposal is about – the Culture.
Ultimately, tribalism has absolutely no answer to how we should tackle the global environmental issues of our age and steer humanity away from the worst crisis in 65 million years. That is the real danger of tribalism.
Human nature and our rise from the Savannah
All life on Earth today is originating from single-cell organisms arising billions of years ago, and all vertebrates currently living on land share a common ancestor – a fish which evolved lungs and became the forebear of all of us. This event unfolded hundreds of millions of years ago. Humanity, or rather the beginning of it, arose less than ten million years ago in Africa, forming tightly knit family groups of omnivorous, scavenging hunter-gatherers, who eventually developed stone tools and learnt how to use fire (certainly after thousands of tragic accidents with making bushfires when trying to make flint knives).
Through language, a door opened for us towards abstract thinking and reasoning, making the human being the only animal to have discovered both the past and the future. Through this, we were able to better cooperate and become the world’s alpha predator, eventually forming civilization. Yet, for all our humanity, we have not negated (and should in no way negate or try to repress) our animalistic instincts. And despite that we know language, millions of human beings every year express frustration or try to exert control through flight-fight responses, violence and dominance behaviour still used by other animals.
One aspect which unites most human beings is that they desire to belong to a community, and abhor isolation. That is hardly surprising. Our particular human species is 300 000 years old according to recent fossil finds, and according to both archaeological findings and anthropological studies of hunter-gatherer communities, Homo Sapiens tend to prefer tribes of up to between a hundred and two individuals who are closely related, mostly egalitarian, with different semi-elected leaders who take care of the different practical and spiritual functions of the tribe. Individuals who are ostracised by such communities, under the conditions prevalent during a hunter-gatherer state, generally succumb for the privations of nature. Thus, the fear of ostracism – often irrational in modern western civilization – usually meant the difference between life and death for the early human being.
We cannot speculate much about human beings and violence – like most other animals, humans tend to avoid violence when possible. During the Palaeolithic era, differing tribes did not tend to compete over scarce resources, and generally avoided bloodshed (though it was not unknown, judged by recent finds). During stressful times, human tribes could wage tribal warfare, either to drive another tribe away from its territory, or even to eat members of that other tribe. This was however quite uncommon.
Twelve thousand years ago, humans began to cultivate crops – and their number grew as they became sedentary. Before the age of writing, towns like Jericho sprung up both in the Middle East and in parts of south-eastern Europe (the Trypillian civilization comes to mind). Since this was an age before writing, we can only judge by scant archaeological findings. Previous generations had lived in small groups with relatively large territories at their disposal – but as agriculture and early irrigation emerged, humans of different tribes began living closer together.
Most of the world has undergone a process where organic tribal groupings are broken and assimilated into larger cultures. Not so the island of Papua, which sports over 800 different languages and several hundred tribes. Though the inhabitants of Papua New Guinea for thousands of years have cultivated crops, the island’s particular geographical features have prevented the emergence of a unified government until the arrival of European imperialism.
Thus, Papua New Guinea may be a state, but a nation it isn’t. Fractured by tribal violence, its democratic but weak government is unable to effectively govern. One can imagine that much of Eurasia around 7000 years ago effectively resembled contemporary Papua New Guinea, with a huge diversity of clans and tribes all competing for scarce resources at the river valleys, while being pressured from the outside by nomadic tribes. One should know that was the situation of the more peripheral regions of the ancient world even during historical time, which the myths and limited historical knowledge of for example the Balkans of the Bronze Age can attest to.
What is Tribalism?
Individual human beings operating in nature are vulnerable and easy prey. Cooperating within small groups yield certain benefits, but organically speaking there seems to be a limit of the amount of people an individual human being can operate together with – of roughly below two hundred people. Larger organisations demand constructed hierarchies and formal rules which are enshrined. Within the framework of the organic, tribal group, morality tends to arise in the form of unwritten rules and taboos regarding social status, human interrelationships and how the outside world is viewed.
Tribalism as morality is simple, and can be summarised by three rules.
Treat those within your own group with respect and be loyal with them.
What lies in the interests of your group is good, even if other groups are losing on it.
If other groups act in a manner which damages the status or survivability of your group, it is bad, and you need to defend your group.
In short, morality is situational and dependent on what group the individuals dealing out or being affected by an act are belonging to. Whatever your tribe does is right and morally justified, but if other tribes act that way against your tribe, they are perpetrating a huge moral crime.
Of course, this outlook on life lies in the interest of the tribe as a self-perpetuating super-organism. By behaving in a manner veering between indignant self-righteousness and sociopathic predation, the tribe is maximising its ability to gather resources and social status, and thus increase its ability to procreate at the expense of other tribes.
One may claim that most of the world, especially the most developed parts, have put tribalism behind and embraced other ideals. While it is true that tribal organisation has been supplanted by other types of organisation at the formal level of our society, tribalism does not need close genetic kinship to arise. It has arisen in the shape of sectarian strife, of political conflicts related to nation, class, religious or moral issues. Even out of trivial, for all extent non-political issues, tribalism has emerged. One needs only to think of football hooliganism and subcultural conflicts, or primary school bullies. Neither does it need to be violent – in fact, most of the tribalistic behaviours within the framework of modern societies take the form of cheerleading.
Active members of political parties often cheer for political victories of their parties, even though they may disagree with the political issues themselves, simply because their party won. At sports bars, supporters drunkenly cheer the victories of their teams without even watching the games on the flat screens, instead feeling a sense of kinship and camaraderie with other supporters of the same team. People worship celebrities and gain a sense of belonging by being a part of a mob of cheering fans.
The need for belonging to a social group – or tribe – is one which actually evokes very positive, energetic feelings in the hearts of human beings. Happiness, togetherness, safety – the more isolated we grow, the more we long for them. The regime of clicks and likes on Facebook, and the groups gathered to support or boo left-wing and right-wing political articles, is but the most recent manifestation of this very human desire.
Increasingly, the political discourse in the western world has become more and more virulent and polarised, drifting apart by the issues of globalisation, nationalism, multiculturalism and Islam. The diverging political acolytes are following different media sources, constructing different frames of reality, and constructing echo chambers which serve to confirm their worldviews. But as time progresses what really matters is not the worldviews anymore, but rather the need to keep the tribes united and to uphold a unified line against “the barbarians” on the other side.
Tribalism, at its core, is the triumph of instinct over rationality, of myth above truth. Even groups that are defending the ideas of the enlightenment and of rational discourse, such as New Atheists and Anti-Flat Earthers, have often turned into pseudo-tribalistic gatherings which primarily serve to cheerlead the victories of their great leaders against the forces of superstition.
Thus, tribalism seems to not only be emerging everywhere where human beings are organising – it also seems to be necessary to a certain extent if groups should be able to survive. Self-critique is a valiant and noble undertaking, but too much of it can demoralise a group and lead to its dissolution. Even human beings who ought to be aware of the psychological mechanisms which drive human beings towards tribe-forming seems strongly susceptible to its allure, and strong tribal groupings complete with their own echo chambers seem to be able to spontaneously arise even with the absence of strong, charismatic leaders.
In short, Nazi morality is truly not alien or inscrutable seen from how human behaviour has expressed itself for literally hundreds of thousands of years, and mammalian behaviour has been characterised by these kind of group-egoistic patterns for hundreds of millions of years. Of course, Nazis would be the first to affirm that, with the usual right-wing argument that “because it is a part of human nature, it is natural and therefore good”.
So, let us examine the alternatives to tribalism.
When people from distinct tribes first formed city-states, it probably increased the risks for confrontations between various blood-related kinships. One can imagine that, following inevitable crises, order broke down until order re-emerged under the guidance of alphas. Such an order would equally inevitably become brittle, because it in itself was little more than pure gangsterism. In order for the leader of one clan to have their rule seen as legitimate by the other clans, a militia capable of imposing physical violence is not enough. Rather, a dominant and capable alpha male (historically it has usually been an alpha male) has generally established patron-client relationships with other clans, to give them incentives to cooperate beyond the fear of violence.
There is a point where patron-client relationships fail to work effectively, and that is when the number of clients grow to the point where important clients must be bestowed power in order to protect the interests of the patron, while the clients themselves often have internal conflicts in which the patron is compelled to mediate. In short, the spider can be trapped in his own web of power.
The establishment of formal laws is a strategy aimed at solving three issues simultaneously.
The universal application of rules in relationship to trespasses, in accordance with formal standards rather than political expediency or arbitrary judgements.
Laws can serve as a layer of protection against the ruling clique and can limit the amount of power the clique can wield over an individual or a group, or at least provide a balance.
For the ruling clique, laws can actually be helpful too, especially when difficult decisions which can cause friction must be taken. A ruler can then delegate the decision to a court, which can liberate those with political power from having to enrage powerful rival clans within the same system.
Legalism as a moral system is (ideally) completely morally neutral apart from the fulfilment of the letter of the law and should ignore political, moral and emotional considerations in the way decisions are made.
There are however several problems with legalism which we should not elaborate on in this article. As systems of law often emerge to protect property rather than human lives, it can enshrine the kind of inequality which threatens human quality of life, and also stipulate cruel punishments which serve to protect the elites. Moreover, legalism can enshrine even formal inequality, such as the feudal systems in Europe did. Lastly, if the elites really wish to for example exterminate a group of people, the legal systems can compel bureaucrats and judges to partake in crimes against humanity.
Legalism at its core is moreover built on fear, because its underpinnings are those of the ability to inflicting pain. Nevertheless, legalism, as it emerged in Egypt, the Fertile Crescent, China and other places, can be seen as the first step away from tribalism.
The need to regulate, channel and repress the violent tendencies of human beings has only grown with the ascent of civilization and technology, and these methodologies have usually expressed themselves through the establishment of states and laws, through attempts to shape the culture through other values, or through universalist ideologies and worldviews. This roughly corresponds to the three systems of control which we have identified.
External control I (fear of retribution).
External control II (fear of ostracism)
Internal control (desire to better fulfil an ideal)
Universalism has mostly emerged out of the high cultures of Eurasia, roughly during the same period between 2500 and 1500 years ago and appeared in the form of religious and philosophical systems encompassing the individual as a subject and all of humanity as its scope. There is no coincidence that it emerged (in imperfect shape) during the same period in Greece, the Middle East, India and China. All four regions were amongst the most developed in the world, and had undergone crises which were caused by the old tribal order but also undermined it, destroying tribal identities and kingdoms supported by them, in exchange for oligarchic city states in Greece and parts of India, and Empire in the Middle East and China.
While tribalism asserts the particular identity and right for collective self-expression of a tribal grouping, universalism tries to assert the shared humanity of everyone, in spite of tribal affiliation, gender, class and other demarking factors, transcending them with a new identity rooted in some kind of metaphysical or existential value. The emergence of this kind of identity can be seen both as a response to the horrors of tribal violence, but also as an organic adaption to urban life in emerging (then the closest thing to) global metropolises such as Babylon, Seleucia, Alexandria, Athens and Rome. Such cities, fraught with disease and high child mortality, sprawled because immigration from the countryside, forming the foundation for a new human identity – that of a colony- rather than a pack-dwelling animal. In the city, the human being sacrificed security for a – during peace-time – greater standard of living, survival skills for specialisation. And yes, new pseudo-tribal identities emerged in cities, those related to class, neighbourhood or political and sectarian belonging.
Universalism is also an internalisation of the type of legalistic code which aims to treat the state’s subjects equally. It means that actions – instead of being judged through the context of who was wronged and who the perpetrator was – should be judged after universal moral standards encompassing all human beings, where the action is judged independent by which it entails rather than whom perpetrated it. Of course, similar acts of laws had existed before – but were either installed by decree like Hammurabi’s code, or just encompassed the tribal identity of the nation, like the Mosaic Laws. Universalism strove to install into the human being a concept of justice unrelated to blood and soil and instead emanating from the sanctity of the human being. This provides the legal structure with a guiding moral principle beyond and above the propertarian foundations of most legal codes.
The foundations of Nazi Ideology
National Socialism as envisioned by ideologists such as Gottfried Feder, Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler, was an amalgamation of several intellectual trends during the 19th century, a mixture of German idealistic philosophy, non-Marxist guild socialist currents, Romanticism, biological anti-Semitism, Vulgar Darwinism and traditional German militarism. Various scholars – both pro-Nazi and anti-Nazi – have differing viewpoints regarding this ideology, thus our summary will probably not satisfy everyone.
If one wants to summarize an ideology – any ideology – as well as its levels of moderation or radicalism, we can determine its structure through a simple graph. Let us say that the X-line represents a “problem” (it might be a genuinely objectively life-threatening problem, or one made up by brain phantasms), while the Y-line represents the devotion to an ideal – because what ideologies are constructed to convey is ultimately the meaning of human civilization.
The problem formulation of Nazism is as follows:
There exists a scarcity of food, resources and land in relationship to growing populations (Malthus).
Human beings bond in racial (genetic) groups which fight over resources (Hobbes, Dawkins, Pseudo-Darwin, Rhodes).
The weaker races must yield to the stronger races (Pseudo-Darwin).
Civilization and cities serve to dilute the blood and domesticate the human being, thus rendering it vulnerable to invaders not yet weakened by the trappings of humanism and universalism (Gibbon).
Races which “dilute” their blood with the intermixture with other races lose their “racial soul” and become polluted (Gobineau, H.S Chamberlain).
The core worldview of Nazism can be summarised as follows:
A race possesses a “folk-soul” which can be polluted and lost by racial mixture (Herder, Pseudo-Hegel).
The struggle for survival and supremacy between races is natural and healthy (Pseudo-Darwin, Pseudo-Marx, Pseudo-Hegel).
Those who are losing this struggle deserve to go extinct (Pseudo-Darwin, Pseudo-Marx).
An individual can only achieve immortality within and through the survival of their “folk” (Hitler, Pseudo-Hegel).
Nazism can only be understood and consciously accepted if one would subscribe to all or most of above statements. As the “problem” is formulated, we can see that the first two points are touching the realm of the real by virtue of considering resource economics and human behaviour. What Nazism advises, however, is that it is impossible and immoral either to manage resources in a manner which would prevent conflict between human beings, or to prevent conflict between human beings (Dawkins touched this dilemma in “The Naked Ape”).
Neither technology nor sound ecological management can in the end salvage us from a Malthusian resource war, and civilization only serves to weaken the resolve and primitive survival instincts of a “folk” against its less civilized enemies. In short, Nazism – much like anarcho-primitivism after it – represents a rejection of Humanity as a project.
Rather, Nazism imagines a world of racially homogenous nation-states which are fighting for habitats and resources (neo-Nazis generally consign the struggle to the interior of countries and imagine isolationistic homogeneous nation-states where the dominant ethnic group acts like a huge tribe). Thus, it is a reactionary ideology, not in the pejorative sense but in the sense that it wants to retard civilizational and cultural development and sweep away the collective super-ego of the western civilization.
According to Nazism, what is “natural” (to kill those who are genetically more distant from you to improve your offspring’s chance of survival) is automatically assumed as morally righteous because of its inherent genetic rationality. The “folk”, understood as a racial rather than a cultural, social or civic constituency, is under mortal threat of extinction by the mere existence of representatives of other races and ethnic groups in its habitat.
For a liberal-minded, educated and economically safe westerner, this ideology looks repugnant and kooky, but what Hitler consciously devised and mobilised a managerial, bureaucratic state to perform has for millennia been a facet of human tribal behaviour – as of recent revived in its ugly form in the decolonised world. Ethnic cleansing, by machetes rather than firing squads and gas chambers, has plagued large parts of the world. The weaponisation of rape to break the “folk-soul” of tribal adversaries is but one of the horrific tactics employed by ethnic militias throughout the world.
The Nazis, racist and white-supremacist, claim that they are the strongest defenders of Western Civilization, and that they abhor Africans (amongst others). Yet, Nazism – in its primal form – is a repudiation of western traditions since the 18th century and before, and aims for the nations of Western Europe and North America to assume a virulent, aggressive form of tribalism which would destroy the very idea of Humanity as a conscious project.
This is but one of the reasons why Nazism must be rejected. This rejection must, however, not take the form of moral panic, and must be based on a wider rejection of tribalism in all its forms. The reason for the danger that Nazism poses is not its inhumanity, but because its keen touch with certain animalistic instincts constituting a part of what we can call “human nature”.
Which is the most terrifying part of it.
Why Tribalism and Nazism are a problem for all human beings
Our country is Earth, our nation is Humanity.
That is the perspective of our movement. As you are well aware, our goal is to help our civilization avert the sixth mass extinction event. This is not only because the ecosystems and the biosphere have a value in themselves, but because humanity is dependent on the weather, the soils, fresh water and biodiversity to thrive.
In short, if you want to truly cherish humanity and the individual human being, you have to express ecocentrism. And if you want to prevent a sixth mass extinction and stabilise the biosphere, you have to have a global outlook. Humans from all parts of the world must need to pool their skills, willpower and resources together if we are going to make it.
Tribalism may be excusable amongst illiterates, hunter-gatherers and isolated farmers in the most remote parts of third world countries. It is definitely not excusable amongst urban dwellers with at least a primary school education – and either is a product of wilful ignorance or malevolence – malevolence, I should add, just not against the groups targeted against the ethnicities or tribes that are the object of derision and hatred, but against all humanity. Because splitting humankind in this century, under this situation – when the most serious crisis life on Earth has faced for the last 65 million years is approaching – is tantamount to an indirect, extended suicide.
Imagine for a moment that the Islamic State – in reality yet another tribalist group, unified around a sectarian, violent form of Salafism – conquered most of the Middle East and established a Caliphate, without much resistance from surrounding powers. Imagine that they succeeded with their goal of establishing Islamic Sharia Law and their form of government, rebuilt their cities and re-established what – from their point of view – would be an Islamic golden age?
Their Caliphate would nevertheless be destroyed when climate change turns much of the Middle East more uninhabitable for human beings when it already is, and a large part of the population are turned into refugees, in the period of 2050 to 2100.
The same if a Fourth Reich is established somewhere in Europe. If all the descendants of Non-European migrants are expelled, if all minorities are quenched and all Jewish influence removed, nevertheless rising sea levels will not only render coastal communities inhospitable, but will also damage sweet-water reservoirs. Melting glaciers in the Alps would disturb river systems, and changing climate will upset the ecological balance and thus expose the population for more hardships.
It is true that we – tribalism or not – are moving rapidly towards an ecological collapse, caused – which once again is true – largely by a civilization based on debt, trade and exponential growth rather than tribalism. But just because tribalism is not directly the cause of the approaching sixth mass extinction event, does not mean it would be a solution to the crisis – as for example those Nazis who are aware of the environmental crisis like to boast.
In order to transition towards sustainability, we need to address the issues of climate change, soil erosion and freshwater depletion from a global perspective. If a civilization or a culture is based around the concept of hostile particularism directed at other groups of human beings, that civilization or culture will have a difficult time cooperating with those it views as hostile or as subhuman. Moreover, its intricately constructed ethnic conflicts and theories of superiority or inferiority represents a distraction from the core problems.
Our rejection of virulent tribalism in all its forms must not be based on liberal-humanist sentimentality or an unwritten, unsaid endorsement of our current, unsustainable civilization, but must be based on an uncompromising faith that we – the human species – can endure this crisis and transition towards sustainability only if we unite around common objectives and view the Earth as our homeland, and Humanity as our nation.
The resurgence of nationalism in all its various forms, as well as of ethnically based conflicts, from Burma to the banlieus of Paris to the inner cities of the United States, is hardly surprising giving the current state of automation, economic development, globalisation and the mass extinction event we have caused and continue to cause as a meta-civilization.
Those reactions, however, would not do much to solve the crisis – in fact they serve to complicate the situation. Tribalists generally view the world as a static, zero-sum game where the tribe would need to attain dominance over a geographic area, be it a neighbourhood, a region, a country or a continent. What they are unable to comprehend is that even if they attain their goals, they will not be able to reach sustainability – which is what they believe they will achieve in their own lives if they succeed in defeating their designated rivals.
However, the EOS cannot fall into the trap of letting the rejection of tribalism become an endorsement of liberalism – because liberalism in its current form is ultimately in itself an endorsement of a civilization built on the illusion of exponential growth, the very system which in itself is causing the sixth mass extinction, and which encourages the masses into passivity and consumerism.
Our universalism must be one built on active inclusion, on introspection and on action simultaneously – a common project based on enlightened, heroic collectivism aimed on transitioning towards a sustainable future for all of humanity.
“We possess the power If this should start to fall apart To mend divides To change the world To reach the farthest star”