democracy01[1]

On Democracy

Introduction

Liberal Democracy as a system is – much like the entire western civilization – torn between two mutually opposing forces, namely between its Liberal and Democratic aspects. The founding principle of Democracy is that the people should be vested with political power over the political, economic and social reality of their communities. The principal self-contradiction, which we here imagine occurring in a vacuum (as often is the case with Liberalism), is that the people should have the power to direct the fate of their community, but not to the extent that they can deprive others of their human rights or make arbitrary decisions which would hurt the very community.

Read more: On Democracy

It is seldom spoken of, since it would reveal uncomfortable truths, but there is a mutual sense of distrust between the part of the people which we can call the “masses” and those which we can call the “elites”. This mistrust is not merely caused by the emergence of social and alternative media platforms, but by incompatible interests caused both by time preferences, class preferences and differing access to information nodes.

Even more seldom spoken of, but widely understood within elite circles, is that the populace at large is not and will never be ready to shoulder more power than being able to cast their vote twice a decade – a vote which will only decide who will represent them. Those representatives will also overwhelmingly be people filtered by parties, bureaucracies or lobbyists, often with an elite background themselves. Thus, the masses are expected to be represented by individuals who share the background and therefore the sentiments of the elites.

Moreover, the recruitment field of the elite in most western countries is wedged towards those segments which are predisposed towards the outlook of the corporate and financial sectors of society. If our political elites for example where composed of technical engineers, ecologists or programmers, the preferences – for better and worse – would be different.

The fractures between the elites and the masses of the West caused by the emphasis on political globalism is widening, largely because the masses are not willing to pay the short-term prices of the long-term dividends which the elites can see would benefit everyone with economic growth which will raise every boat. While the elites generally choose to scoff at the ignorance of the protectionism and nationalism espoused within the masses, the very same elites tend to believe in endless exponential growth on a finite world – which in itself is an example of wishful thinking.

One of the most democratic countries on Earth, Switzerland, where there are binding referendums on the local, regional and country-wide levels, is also characterised by a conservative cautiousness on the part of the voters. First at the end of the 1970’s the female citizens were given the right to vote for example, and most referendums end with a negative result, reflecting that most Swiss voters evidently are quite pleased with the status quo – which hardly is surprising in one of the arguably most affluent societies on our planet.

This does present a challenge for adherents of globalism worldwide, which can be seen in the resistance and distrust the public shows against Free Trade treaties and supranational institutions like the European Union. In many ways, this resistance, though often founded on a defence of the status quo, could be helpful in terms of slowing down or outright stopping policies which would hasten the progress of the Sixth Mass Extinction.

However, the resistance against unpopular liberalizations are not fundamentally directed by concerns for the civilization’s over-usage of the planetary carrying capacity, but rather driven by fears of having to adjust one’s own lifestyle, especially in Western countries where an entrenched middle class is struggling to not have to struggle and to be able to indefinitely continue live in the temporal Schlaraffenland we have created.

The stark truth is that the Transition – if we would introduce it to a regular Western citizen and they would be made to understand what it entails – would recoil in horror over the profound, deep and radical alterations of their lifestyle which the introduction of this process would bring over their heads. Air travel with passenger planes, to take an obvious example, is a highly popular pastime and has opened the world for most people.

This is not because they are inherently egotistical, but because the foundations which hundreds of millions of middle class people throughout the world have built their lives, hopes and dreams on are constructed on a fundament of unsustainability and therefore they will experience hardships during the Transition, with the fleeting promise of a better future on the other side of the Transition.

Here, we as a movement are facing a dilemma.

The EOS are ardent believers in social sustainability, and a part of social sustainability is based upon the right of authentic self-responsibility of the individual, and of the sovereignty of the community – where Democracy must be an integral, fundamental and consistent cornerstone in the application of power.

On the other hand, we can see that voters in first world countries in general prefer status quo before changes, by looking at the results in most European referendums and at the reactions against governments – whether left or right of centre – which try to initiate widespread reforms which affect large chunks of the population in a negative manner without directly benefitting other parts of the population.

Democracy is one essential aspect not only for channelling the will of the people, but also for building the legitimacy of policies. This means that reform programmes should be open for cancellation based on the desires of the people. Human beings are however not evolved to deal with a Sixth Mass Extinction event, but – like every other animal – subject to concerns about the local and the short-term benefits. It is possible that the hardships of the approaching Extinction Event would make the peoples of the developed countries on Earth more amendable to the Transition even if they may need to carry a heavy burden. But at that point, it may be too late.

It remains our belief that this conflict between the ideals and realities that we face regarding Democracy can only be solved not by elitism and epistocratic or technocratic forms of governance, but through measures which facilitate both the external and internal community-based power of Humanity as a whole, and filters that power through a networked holonic system of governance.

Though we are not a political party, we are undoubtedly a political movement – in the most essential aspect of them all, and that is to stimulate the masses to organise themselves to educate themselves and initiate the Transition towards a sustainable future.

That is what this article is about.

TL;DR Summary

  • Democracy should primarily be viewed not as instrumental or fundamental, but as an aspect of popular sovereignty.
  • There is an inherent contradiction between majority power and individual autonomy, Democracy must straddle this contradiction.
  • A second contradiction is to be found between the local and the central level, between autonomy and efficiency. To not speak of the fact that Democracy tend to be national, whereas the world is global.
  • Yet another, third, contradiction could be found between the need for complex knowledge to make decisions, and the will of the people.
  • Globalization has brought all these conflicts to the forefront of the stage of human history.
  • It will be a mere breeze in comparison to the tempest of the Transition.
  • Popular Sovereignty is an integral part of social sustainability, and Democracy is an inherent aspect of Sovereignty.
  • Representative Democracy is ultimately a flawed system which was formed due to technological inadequacy and the vested interests of oligarchic vestiges within the modern industrial nation-state.
  • It is technologically feasible to establish Direct Democracy in developed countries now, and within a few decades it will be possible to establish a Global Direct Democracy through technological means.
  • It is questionable whether it is desirable to install a Global Direct Democracy. Democracy is not only a matter of quality but of quantity, and there is a point where your vote turns meaningless, when it’s a mere fraction of a great trickle.
  • Meaningful Sovereignty must complete Popular Sovereignty, otherwise Popular Sovereignty will self-destruct.
  • Three principles of democratic governance for the Third Millennium – Enlightened Electorates, Localised Power and Direct Democracy.
  • The EOS could help pave the road to a better Democracy with less traits of Oligarchy by Social Activism.

Popular Sovereignty and Democracy

Usually, when most people think of Democracy, they think of institutional procedures which allows for representative government through the process of voting. The question, fundamentally, is about power. A human society characterised by specialisation will have control nodes, which would usually not be distributed equally. In a hypothetical society with such characteristics – equal distribution of control nodes – there would be less need for democracy, for in the absence of real or artificial scarcity of resources and access to information, there wouldn’t be much need for government at all, and thence power. When we have specialisation, scarcity and control nodes, for example irrigation systems, military forces, power stations, wells, and food silos, the need for legislation and therefore government arises.

These nodes of control can be utilised for the good of the community, but often they can also be abused to ensure the control of parasitic and kleptocratic elites, which utilise their power over nodes of control to exert dominance over the means of production or over the armed segment of the population in order to perpetuate their own supremacy. In fact, having no laws, regulation or popular control over these nodes – or “keys” if you want to use these words – would virtually guarantee the emergence of some kind of feudal system, at least under conditions where society has grown beyond the size suitable for clannish structures.

Because complex societies rely on specialisation, it has hitherto been impossible to avoid the risk of authoritarianism by eliminating the need of a government, for the simple reason that governance would always emerge within the context of informal balances. Even in a Libertarian or Anarchist society, competition will spawn conflicts, which will birth political factions. The competition might be peaceful, semi-violent or outright violent, but it will eventually lead to the creation of a de-facto government (or several regional governments, if the country in question is breaking apart).

The Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle correctly identified three types of government, Despotic, Oligarchic and Democratic/Popular. Or shortly, should a country be governed by one clan, by an alliance of several dominant clans, or by the whole population, either through a clan system or through an informed citizenry.

Aristotle was also keen enough to differentiate between what he called “virtuous” forms of the abovementioned systems of governance, and “bad” forms. What he termed as “virtuous” was a mixture between altruistic leadership and institutions which supported such forms of leadership and limited the execution of political power in a society.

Armed with this information, we are ready to delineate what we mean by popular sovereignty, namely a state of governance where the control over the vital nodes of a community rest in the hands of the people, namely that the management of security, food, water and energy lies under the direct or indirect control of the human beings residing in the area, and that they are adequately organised in a self-aware citizenry capable of understanding their interests and expressing their own sovereignty.

The problem, already noted by thinkers like Plato and aforementioned Aristotle, of course is that a Democracy unconstrained by any legal and institutional limits can degenerate into anarchy or tyranny. That is a very genuine risk, especially in situations where poverty and social stratification are high, and education is low. In countries where such situations prevail, the elites can point towards the poverty and ignorance of the general population and use it as an argument for the status quo, whether the status quo is a military dictatorship, an oligarchical arrangement between land-owners or an electorally democratic republic where the people may choose between two parties representing the interests of the landed gentry.

The framers of the US Constitution, notably a cluster dominated by wealthy slave-owners, desired the institution of a Republic with limited representative democracy, sub-divided between a legislative, executive and judiciary branch. This construction was meant both as a protection against would-be despots from above, as from populist uprisings from below.

One could imagine another extreme form of democracy, one where “the majority decides everything”, without any respect for traditions, property, privacy or established laws. Such a society, unrestrained by culture, customs, laws or common decency, would quickly deteriorate into something terrifying, and soon move towards authoritarianism or totalitarianism.

Popular sovereignty, in the context of this article, delineates a state or other form of arrangement regarding the use of utilities and resources which everyone within a given geographic area are dependent on. Democracy should – in relation to popular sovereignty – be understood as a contextual toolbox for the expression of Popular sovereignty.

There can arise situations, however, under which a Liberal Democracy institutionally speaking may deliver an acceptable modicum of stability, predictability, legal justice and civil rights, and yet be completely and utterly unable to deliver on Popular sovereignty.

Democracy and globalism

Our planetary human meta-civilization has by historical circumstances come to be organised into territorial states, namely that every country is establishing its own state, with its own civil service (or excuse for it). Every country has its own government, which in the case of democratic countries is supposed to be answerable before an elected legislature which represents the people.

Meanwhile, technology and organisation has since long surpassed the limits of the “nation-state” within which democracies have been developed, and as a result an increasingly globalised economy has emerged from the 1970’s and onward, surpassing and eclipsing the “window of national economic planning” which emerged and dominated following the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.

Globalization has brought what may be considered many benefits, one of which has been increased economic growth – which is perceived to be the most effective way of allowing populations to move themselves up from poverty. And it is true that poverty overall – despite continued population growth – has been reduced since the 1980’s. This development has been especially clear in China, India and South East Asia, which still taken together contain a majority of the planetary population.

You readers are well aware of the troublesome ecological factors for the global footprint to build human prosperity on a system dependent on exponential growth and on consumerism. That is not the focus of this article, but rather on discussing the implications of policies intended to maximise growth, policies which may be imposed by a purportedly democratic mandate, but which serve to reduce Popular sovereignty.

The needs of globalization and the pressing imperative of squeezing out a few fractions of percentage points of economic growth more has driven country after country to reduce the window where they are capable of exerting economic policies.

The three areas where governance has the power to be utilised for good – or bad – are security, civil rights and resource management. When governments, through the establishment of independent or supranational central banks and through international treaties regulating and constricting the economic policies they may implement, are abdicating the power to exert popular will or interests of the public.

A democratic government which abdicates the control of monetary policy to the banks, and reduces the potential tools it can impose through financial policies will, in regards to economic policies, eventually no longer represent the interests of the people in relation to multinational corporations, but rather the multinational corporations in relation to the people, at least in regard of economic policy. While much of the content in the Bible is up for debate, I think that most readers – religious or secular – would agree that a government cannot serve two masters at once.

Given that, the duck at the heart of the swan pudding is not whether or not these policies in the short or medium term will improve or worsen the situation for the people. Certainly in many countries, especially more impoverished ones, investments have certainly improved the lot of most people. In other countries, the imposition of Neoliberal policies have had disastrous effects on regions and entire social classes. The same can however be said of more etatist regimes. Two of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent time, Zimbabwe and Venezuela, have been caused by the respectively malevolent and incompetent policies of authoritarian governments with centralised state power over the economy. Rather, the issue is whether the control of national economies should be managed from a base of popular sovereignty, or from one which primarily is adjusted to the appeasement of international investors, cosmopolitan financial institutes or multinational corporations.

To illustrate our point, we can put the focus on some concrete examples of policies.

  • The establishment of independent central banks which are tasked with primarily managing inflation and keeping it at a level where private investors are not threatened.
  • The establishment of supranational central banks which impose interest rates that render national governments ineffective in terms of conducting their mandate.
  • International trade treaties which limit the ability of national governments to introduce new legislation (ISDS mechanisms, where corporations are given the right of suing states if state legislation is threatening profitability).
  • International treaties which introduce binding legislative amendments in regards to intellectual copyright claims.
  • When states are compelled to privatise natural resources and utilities like fresh water and either willingly or unwillingly abdicate the control of said resources to multi-national corporations.
  • When states, in order to attract investments to their countries, institute lopsided deals which heavily benefits investors, at the expense of the well-being of the labour force, safety and the environment. One example could be ridiculously low mining taxes, on a fraction of a fraction of one percent annually.
  • This can be an inopportune thing to write, but the drive by certain factions to have a freer flow of migration waves could have more to do with depreciating the wage market and creating a reserve pool of unemployed which would put stressors on organised labour.
  • In general terms: policies which are intended to streamline economic and social policies in a manner which would benefit economic growth, damn all other concerns.

Our point is that these policies have two effects. The first effect is that they veer Democracy away from popular sovereignty and strive to limit the ability of the state to manage and regulate the economy, instead opting to put power over the economy and the infrastructure in the hands of organs or treaties which would manage these policy areas in a manner which produces market predictability and supports economic growth.

The second effect is that they produce winners and losers, and most Western countries have seen class differences increase since these forms of policies became implemented, first by governments and then by supranational trade organisations or bilateral treaties. While these policies were pursued by elected governments, they were a matter of debate, but when they are turned haram by not being a part of the democratic sphere anymore, it produces a situation where losers are increasingly unable to address their grievances through democratic means.

This has been written before, but we can see a relationship between de-industrialisation (in the forms of off-shoring, automatisation and rust belts), and the increase in support of tribalist parties (also known as “right-wing populist parties”).

Globalism has thereby suffered as a project by reducing the economic sovereignty and sense of autonomy and control over their communities, and removing the tools to exert economic control, thence removing from the population the means with which to affect their lot in life. Hardly surprising, such policies would inevitably foster tribalist politics.

Democracy and population quantity

Of course, there are several factors where Democracy as a concept can be duly criticised. One of the most overlooked is the factor of the size of the electorate, and its relation to the voice of the ordinary elector – i.e the voter. Proportionally speaking, a town hall participant in a hall with seventy persons is more influential in their ability to project political power, than a voter in an electorate of 7 million voters. Yet again, this voter would – everything else equal – be far more influential in their vote than a voter in an electorate of 70 million. And, to paraphrase Zizek, “and so on and so on”.

Often, the size of an electorate is also having a relationship to the territory which is governed, meaning that a larger population often coincides with a larger territory with more distances to be covered. Usually, the elites of a country would find themselves concentrated in one to three cities, while the population tend to be more dispersed. Notwithstanding Democracy, states and markets tend to work to extract resources from the countryside and reinvest them in infrastructure largely focusing on capital cities.

Even if democratic states often are better at representing smaller constituencies than dictatorships would, we should not forget that when political representatives are sent to parliament often they come to identify themselves more with their fellow parliamentarians than with the constituents originally empowering them with a mandate.

Even with a democracy of immaculate quality, zero corruption and few if any class differences, the size of the electorate will serve to disempower citizens and communities, especially when the interests or prejudices of a majority conflicts with a minority. It is self-evident that the larger the population of a country, the more insignificant smaller groups would be, and the more distant from far-off capitals.

The human mind itself seems to favour smallness, as the most organic and natural of groupings – hunter-gatherer bands – often consist of less than a hundred individuals. From an emotional point of view, Democracy could be seen as an attempt to bridge the gap between meaningful participation and the alienation born out of us forming larger communities than our brains are wired for.

Of course, these problems are well-known and is one of the primary reasons why federalism has arisen as a solution. Nevertheless, even within the framework of federalism – as exemplified by the historical experiences of federations, prior and modern – the centre tend to either collapse or to gradually subvert and overtake the authorities vested into the local and regional entities, always it should be added for perfectly logical and understandable reasons.

Quantifiable factors increase complexity, all other things equal, and thus makes it more difficult for communities to express their sovereignty in the context of larger entities. This would spell badly for the idea of a global federation. One of the risks with such an undertaking is that every single voice will be drowned out completely by the chorus, and that the federation will curb-stomp every single community on the planet.

This discussion is not anymore theoretical, because we would need a global government to weather out the current crisis. And, as you well know, the global population would hardly be ready for such an endeavour, for more reasons than its gargantuan size…

Qualitative indicators

The biggest institutional hurdle which prevents us from moving towards a deeper and more authentic democracy is not the vested interests naturally arising in a representative democratic state, and that is the ability of the electorate itself to meaningfully partake in the process.

There are many institutional ways to improve the autonomy of communities, a few which are widely used, others which are more seldom used. Federalisation, confederalisation, the ability to initiate re-calls of officials, binding referenda, direct democracy, liquid democracy, but these measures arguably would not solve the fundamental challenges without an enlightened electorate.

Of course, there is no switch between black and white – no magic border where we could say that an electorate is fully enlightened, and one where it isn’t. What there is, is a gradual spectrum.

It can be argued that living in a state of existence where there is no common identity for a geographic area, but there are several competing communities based on tribal, ethnic, sectarian, cultural or ideological grounds, would put Democracy in peril as a system. It is questionable whether it would be a good idea to try introducing democratic voting procedures in every place, and I do not write that lightly. South Sudan, the newest member country of the UN, was designed as a democratic republic, yet immediately dissolved into warlordism and ethnic cleansing upon its independence.

For a democratic conduct to be possible, even in the most formulaic sense, it seems that two preconditions have to be fulfilled:

  • That each individual citizen is respected by society as being in possession of innate rights as a citizen and a human being, and included in a greater whole, to an extent which makes it psychologically very difficult for the idea of exclusion of different groups to be excluded or targeted for elimination on the merits of their differing background or ideology.
  • That there, to a minimum extent, exists a common identity within the citizenry which makes a civilised discourse possible within the country, and therefore makes democratic politics possible.

Democracy cannot work under a situation where polarisation has hit such levels that supporters of different parties will not even speak to one another, and are seeing the other party as enemies of the people. Neither can Democracy function under a situation where a large segment of the populace is questioning the human rights of elements of the population. For a Democracy to properly work as a system of governance, there must be a basic respect of human rights, and enough inclusion that one can be able to reach compromises. Without that, such a Democracy would quickly deteriorate into Anarchy or Totalitarianism.

Those are well-known facts.

It is also well-known that one of the processes we today witness occurring in the wider Western world is a slow dissolution of the common space, or rather the public understanding of common space. This, coupled with the rise of new and more complex ecological challenges, threatens to create a situation where people are not capable of wielding the democratic tools constitutionally endowed to them.

In a world seemingly descending into the Twilight Zone, where not only alternative facts but alternative cosmologies are on the rise, where the ascent of Nibiru and the Rapture are increasingly seen as explanations equally valid to increasing CO2 emissions, and where a video like There are no trees on Flat Earth can garner a quarter of a million views, it comes into question whether there could be room for democratic discourse.

One of the key assumptions of Western Democracy, which is based on Liberalism (which is highly related to Economics) is that the electorate is composed of rational individuals able to identify and vote in accordance with their interests. This presupposes not only that individuals do not primarily identify as agents of tribal constellations, but also more fundamentally that they are interpreting society in accordance with reality.

Of course, the challenges which the electorates of the world are tasked with responding to are far more daunting than a mere fifty or hundred years ago. Whether an old lady believes the Earth is a disc resting on the back of an elephant doesn’t have bearing on her opinions about the retirement system, as it would her thoughts on global warming or soil depletion. Today, when the population of the Earth must increasingly be engaged in the greatest transition in its entire history, issues about the cosmology of the Universe becomes increasingly important.

If the population finds itself splintered in the face of amounting environmental challenges, the ability to respond adequately to said challenges falters, risking that future generations should suffer because of our inadequacy in terms of information management.

How not to solve a conundrum

The frustration with the rise of alternative cosmologies is understandable, and so is – from the point of view of those managing the affairs of the human civilization – the rise of the populist or far right. The most far reaching proposal to amend the current state of matter has been proposed by the Georgetown academic Jason Brennan, who suggests awarding a greater deal of political power in terms of electoral votes to those who can pass tests showing they possess adequate political knowledge. This proposal is called Epistocracy, and even its creator have with emphasis stated he doesn’t believe current governments have the capability to introduce such a test which would be unbiased and not prone to discrimination. Moreover, Epistocracy would favour voters with university education and therefore higher income percentiles of the population. Certainly, said citizens are more knowledgeable, but the question is whether they could be trusted to vote in the best interests of their less educated counterparts. Arguably, a lot of the development of the last three decades has stimulated the growth of populism not because the ignorance of the uneducated voters, but because globalisation has benefitted white collar labour to a certain extent, while disadvantaging traditional blue collar – at least in the context of the Western World.

Removing the voting rights from these people would remove the last area where they legally can affect their standard of living, and also send the message that their lot in life and the hardships they endure can be cooked down to them having different priorities (one facet of Neoliberal culture is that not being competitive, assertive, or being focused on rearing children and building a family instead of fighting for internships at companies which largely are facilitating the ravaging of the planet is somehow a sign of deficiency of character).

While Epistocracy currently and thankfully is out of the picture as anything else than a theoretical construct, other policies are currently being overtly and covertly instituted to curtail the worst excesses of the current fake news media landscape. When printing presses became widespread during the Late Renaissance, so became widespread censorship and government control over the dissemination of information.

Today, we are seeing attempts by governments and think tanks in the West to make social media regulate their content, targeting especially the manufacturers of conspiracy-related content. This is hardly surprising, given that what ten years ago merely was an irritant and mostly manifesting itself within fringe circles in 2016 dramatically threatened to break itself into the mainstream. Infowars is but the latest media empire to have been clipped from its platforms on Youtube and Facebook.

This process of de-platforming is understandable, but will at the same time lend credence to the claims that the actors targeted for manufacturing fake news and moral panics politically repressed dissidents. Also, it is genuinely dangerous when institutions collude to suppress the free flow of information on the Internet, just like when institutions collude to restrict the freedom of speech in public spaces. Laws instituted to protect the democratic society against the rise of Totalitarians or Far Right Tribalists have proven to not be able on their own to prevent the rise of Totalitarian or Far Right Tribalist regimes. Such laws have actually often ended up the tools of factions they originally were intended to suppress.

Granted, social media actors such as Andrew Anglin and Alex Jones have adamantly attempted to disqualify themselves from being a part of civilised society, especially in terms of bullying, pointing out and attacking private individuals whose privacy have been compromised by their irresponsible activities. Ultimately, these actors may have been so destructively disruptive for society that the cost of clipping them was outweighed by the positive effects of constraining their platforms.

Men like Andrew and Alex are not the problem, and censorship or de-platforming is ultimately a blunt tool, a superficial solution to more deep-seated problems, namely that large segments of the population in today’s abundance of information have managed to make themselves so ignorant that they can be turned into cannon-fodder for opportunistic demagogues and victims of the purveyors of snake oil.

We need to search for deeper, more radical solutions to create a better Global Democracy of tomorrow.

Reforming education

Education as it fundamentally has been designed in the Western World, was originally focused on teaching obedience. The primary purpose of the public school system was to condition the working classes to the thought pattern that 1) there are authorities to which they 2) owe half their waking hours. Of course, there were also progressive thoughts ingrained into this structure, to eliminate illiteracy and give everyone access to reading the classics and comprehending maths. In these regards, schooling has been a success.

Despite the numerous changes in knowledge and content which the Western educational systems have gone through since the 1800’s, the fundamental structure of a classroom, a teacher and subjects is still in play, and has also spread to Television through the format in which documentaries are put forth.

The classroom is not and may not in its fundamental manner of teaching be anything else than a place for reception and for the appeal to authority. The students, who often are not cognitively mature or experienced enough to be able to understand the scientific method, are being taught the subjects by a teacher, who tells the students how to measure 6×6, what a preposition is and during what century Gustavus Adolphus ruled Sweden. This type of teaching ingrains – and inadvertently must ingrain – into the minds of students to take as face value what the teacher is disseminating. The reason for this constitution of learning is that students must memorise the words stated by their teacher and course books because these words in themselves are the keys to successfully manage the regular course tests! The important matter is not whether the words are true or gibberish, or whether they are understood at a rational or even intuitive level, but that they are memorised for purging the day the test’s over.

For those with enough luck or fortitude to continue studying at the University, an arduous journey begins – to unlearn the information management methods conditioned to them by Primary School. Instead of reflectionless passive information storage, students painstakingly have to learn and master the Scientific Method, and not all of them will succeed to ever be able to shake of the authoritarian forced memorisation habits of Primary School.

The question is whether these memorisation habits which are forced upon every student of every generation in every Primary School would have detrimental effects in relation to the individual student’s ability to question, to reason, to think and to read. When the brain is forced to learn to store huge amounts of information while taking that information at face value, one can think of how political propaganda and marketing could find that conditioning useful for partisan and commercial purposes.

Now I am not arguing that people who have not undergone Public School in some ways are better equipped to withstand propaganda. Experience shows that conspiracy theories, rumours and mob violence flourishes where the light of education haven’t reached, in even higher regard. What I am questioning is whether the system of education consisting of conditioning for tests is really the optimal way of teaching students to become source critical citizens who apply scientific and rational reasoning.

Granted, large segments of the population in the United States are today believers in various conspiracy theories, while the federal country still has a system of universal education. The same for most Western countries, where conspiracy-based thinking is spreading, mostly with the rise of social media.

No matter if the current education system has a positive or detrimental effect in terms of developing the critical thinking skills of the citizenry, the need to adapt it to the realities of this century becomes ever more stark. During the 19th century, owning books was a novelty for wealthy urbanites, and museums were built to bring high culture to the uncouth masses.

Today, the problem is largely the opposite, at least in developed countries. What once was an information bottleneck today is an information overload. The ascent of the Internet and especially platforms like Youtube has allowed anyone with a modest budget, know-how and time at their disposal to reach out towards the wider marketplace of ideas and spread their information. This development should actually be applauded, since it has democratised the spreading of knowledge and helped making the spread of information less dependent on government-approval or commercial funding. On the other hand, it has also – as this article previously has covered – led to an information landscape where people choose their sources of information to suit the identity they want to explore, and often after what that titillate their interests, tastes and more than anything fears.

This information is often presented in the style which viewers have gotten used to from newscasts or documentaries, thus confusing the viewers regarding the veracity of the information which they often take at face value.

Regarding how the education system could be improved to match the challenges of our bloated information jungle, these changes would probably need to be installed together with other wide-ranging transformational reforms of the wider way students would be trained to better adapt to the conditions of the future.

  • Understanding the Scientific Method(ologies): Empiricism, rationalism, falsification and Occam’s Razor are tools which not only make scientific research possible, but which would help the individual categorise information and help to identify unsupported claims and wild assertions.
  • Understanding causality and the structure of arguments: If the understanding of causality was more widespread within society it would serve to improve political discourse (although probably making it more boring). If the average person was able to identify examples of equivocation, false causalities, ad hominem, strawmen and appeals to authority, not only would the debate be more constrained and thus better for Democracy, but time would be saved.
  • Understanding biases and one’s own interests and emotions: If each individual was given the cognitive tools to understand the role of their own interests and emotions in relation to their political choices, and to identify where their preferences are based on sentimental or fear-based grounds rather than rational measurements, many of the fundaments for people choosing toxic or non-constructive political alternatives will vanish.

I could list more adjustments, but all other adjustments to the way information is disseminated are hinging on these three, which in our opinion are desperately needed to improve the current situation. With a more dispassionate electorate, equipped with the tools to properly understand the thermodynamic, ecological and economic ramifications not only of their own interests, but the historical context in which our entire civilization has arisen, would be not only necessary to establish a better Democracy, but also to begin the Transition towards a sustainable future.

Building a more perfect Democracy

Some see Democracy as an ends to itself, while others see it as an aspect of the realisation of Liberalism (understood in its 19th century format), namely that Democracy is a pillar of the trinity which also consists of an independent judiciary and the protection of civil liberties (especially amongst them individual property rights). Just as the Ideology of the Third Millennium differs from Liberalism’s, so does our perspectives on Democracy.

We see, like Liberals, Democracy as a means to an end. This goal is dictated by our ideology, which as you well known is defined by Life in itself as the highest value. Life may not have a meaning, but Life creates the opportunities for meaningfulness to emerge. Our goal is for Civilization to be so constituted that each human being can be able to define herself in accordance with her will to live, within the constraints of not harming other human beings or the biosphere which makes Life possible. The human being is a fractal of consciousness anchored in a biological body with the need of nutrition, sleep and meaningful social participation in a context of self-realisation.

This does also tie in with our understanding of Rights as a relational construct which appears whenever human beings or human institutions are interacting with one another or with other organisms. For us, rights are derived from the freedom to pursue Life, rather than property rights (which today equally can be wielded by persons by flesh as by legal persons, i.e corporations).

For these reasons, Rights cannot merely exist as concepts on paper for them to be valid – their long-term sustainability must be upheld by distributed power. This means that meaningful, authentic Rights must be understood as horizontal relationships between the local and the federal levels.

  • A principle of subsidiarity must underpin power, namely that decisions must be so close to those affected by them as efficiently possible.
  • The local community should have the sovereign power over local resources, such as mines and other natural resource deposits. This power can be distributed to other actors through contract, but sovereignty should always belong to those primarily affected by the usage of said resources.
  • Defence should ideally mostly consist of local militias, tied to and administered by local communities (for this to work there must exist a common over-arching identity).
  • Local communities should not be able to prevent people from moving away from them.
  • Countries should strive for smallness and de-centralisation to empower the population and prevent the concentration of power into capitols.
  • During the 21st century, the question is whether we even need the concept of sub-national entities.
  • Binding referenda is – even when producing results which may not be optimal – a positive feature of popular sovereignty.

In terms of global governance, we seemingly face a dilemma. During this century, humanity would need to unite in order to face the Mass Ecological Collapse Event we’ve created during the previous century. This calls for political and infrastructural globalization and eventually the formation of a world confederation. Such a structure poses huge political risks for humanity. Yet, constructed right, such a confederation could not only help achieving the objectives of creating a sustainable future, but also stabilise the underlying structure.

  • The foundation for the Global Confederation would be a Constitution, centred around establishing a system of norms and ethics possibly derived from the Three Criteria and from Human Rights, and mostly focusing on limiting the very powers of the confederation.
  • The Confederation would be focused on coordinating legal aspects of those parts of the Transition which are global in scope, such as for example climate and oceanic issues.
  • The Technate would, under the model proposed by the EOS, manage the execution of these factors on the ground.
  • The Global Confederation would have the power to exclude confederated subjects which violate the Constitution.
  • In case of necessity, such as an asteroid impact or a super-volcano eruption, the Confederation must have the power to remove the authority from confederated subject entities, for a limited duration of time until the emergency is over.

In terms of the structure of government, single term officials which are indirectly elected may avoid the trappings of ambitious individuals and the gridlock and corruption which is marked by Presidentialism. Experience shows that parliamentarian systems are slightly more democratically robust than presidential ones.

This future of governance can probably not be realised during this century in the form vaguely outlined in this article, but we can like everything else try to approximate a system which approaches the concept of popular sovereignty.

Our Ideology calls for a system which is more authentically democratic than most societies approach today, while reality calls for policies which would demand humanity to make stark choices in the face of an impending ecological collapse. The loss of Democracy would spell a risk for humans to exert sovereignty over their own lives, while the diminishment of our biosphere would endanger the lives of billions of people and probably spell the end of most freedoms enjoyed by at least a substantial part of the planet’s population today.

Ultimately, what we can see is that we need to increase our strategy to connect communities and to educate the public about the realities of our current situation. Abolishing Democracy or constricting it by for example appointing a “climate dictator” would be an absolutely last resort-measure, and would have a huge risk at failure as policies not understood, appreciated or made by the masses leap the risk of fomenting a violent reaction.

We need a Transition, but this Transition must be legitimate. It is not a matter of the Earth vs Humanity, it is a matter of making Humanity realise and understand how basic thermodynamic relationships interconnect us with our home planet and our Sun, and how important this is for our survival.

Screenshot_20180724-140556_Docs[1]

Report: The Annual General Meeting of 2018

This year’s annual meeting saw the entire board present, as well as four regular members. The meeting was held in the apartment of our Board member Markus Modin. The meeting featured a rather austere set of “fika”, namely plums, bananas, singoalla biscuits and tea.

Enrique Lescure was affirmed as Meeting Chair, whereas Thea Larsson was affirmed as Meeting Secretary and did an excellent job during our meeting. Beneath are listed the topic and the decisions which the Board made:

The Biodome Project

The Board received the report on how the on-going Alidhem Biodome Project is going, learning that 99,9% of the exterior now is completed and that the Holon undertaking construction, led by Rickard Strandberg, is moving on towards the isolation.

The ERCS Project

The ERCS project, under the leadership of Lilium Carlson, is forming its own holon and investigating the possibilities under which this project could be manifested. The Board agrees that this project, which is about improving the ability of our civilization to track and monitor raw materials, food, factories and energy usage, in order to provide a foundation for the Energy Survey, should be of the highest priority. A part of that discussion was whether satellite imaging have a few drawbacks and how to address it.

Holons

We also discussed the situation of the new holons forming around us, and how to better help them reach their goals. A part of our discussion was about providing new holons with a roadmap composed of Quests which especially younger people would enjoy.

Funding, Commitment and Social Media

A significant portion of our meeting was devoted to a different form of sustainability, namely our internal sustainability as an organisation, how we should ensure the funding necessary to operate in the future, how to ensure that we continue to engage and activate our community. We agreed to form a podcast within the nearest six months, and also to further integrate our website with our vibrant Facebook and Instagram communities.

A Summary

At the end, the meeting was much about practicalities, but at the core of it all lies our relentless idealism. The EOS is founded on relentless, uncompromising idealism, the idea that we will beat all and every odds and help bring Humanity together for the not only the greatest Transition during our history, but the most conscious one, one where the Human Race will be able to pull itself up from the brink. At the core of everything we do lies our ideology, based on our conviction that Life is itself a meaning and therefore the highest purpose of our civilization should be to protect Life.

may[1]

May Report – Bohlani and Biodomes

Spring is here, and it’s glorious.

It seemed like May and June, which in North Sweden usually are quite “meh” in terms of warmth, went for a holiday and leaving July in command, with temperatures well above the twenties and a sunny month all the year. In fact, during May 2018, Umea has experienced more concentrated heat than during July of the previous year. The weather has been curious, shifting rapidly. The winds from the north and the east are cold, while those from the opposite directions are warm.

Read more: May Report – Bohlani and Biodomes

This beautiful, wonderful month has brought several successes for our movement. Firstly, the Biodome structure is now complete and erected on Odontologstraket in Alidhem, Umea. Those passing by have expressed astonishment how the circle of dirt-filled tires transformed into something beautiful while they blinked! The construction itself took a total of three days in consideration. The first load of panels are expected the next week, and then the next phase of construction can be initiated. Both the movement and the people of Alidhem are excited to witness the continued progress.

This project is not only going to help the urban gardeners, it will expand the size and seriousness of their activities, invite more people to participate and become a foundation for the Transition in Alidhem. It will also, no matter what, become a physical manifestation of our movement in the area – a piece of space where the EOS has manifested in physical form.

On the second of June, we are going to celebrate the advent of the summer and the Biodome with a barbeque event where we include the neighbourhood. The link to the event can be found here.

The meeting on the 26th of May was held in the light of our successful conclusion of Phase 2 of the Biodome Project. Our Board Member Rickard Strandberg also had his birthday, so we began the meeting in earnest by congratulating him, he received a birthday gift and thusly became quite happy.

On a practical note, of course we discussed the latest progress on the Biodome project, as well as other issues of importance to our organisation. The Board also made a decision to accept a new Holon in our midst.

We are of course talking about the very talented Chefs of Baham Bohlani, a social company aimed at providing young immigrants from Afghanistan with work experience and a venue to showcase their skills. Their services will also contribute positively to the local ecological Sharing Circle being developed in Umea. Our goal will be to help them with administrative tasks so they can focus on what they’re best at.

We very much welcome our latest members and will work together for a more ecologically and socially sustainable future for peoples everywhere.

The EOS is moving forward on all fronts now, and even greater progress is made outside of Sweden.  

earth1[1]

The EOS Earth Day Event!

For us, Earth Day – instituted in the year 1970 – is one of the most important days on the year. In fact, for us as a movement it is tantamount to the traditional spring festivity, and this year we had chosen to invite representatives from the Djurens Rätt, the largest Swedish Animal Welfare organisation. One person came from them and we had a good opportunity to network.

Read more: The EOS Earth Day Event!

The event started at 4 PM the 22nd of April with a lecture I had the privilege of holding, and I must say that it was one of my most enjoyable lectures ever. I introduced to the public the foundations of our theories and how to implement them, as well as describing why we hold these positions, stating the obvious factor that the interest-based Fiat System is ultimately and fundamentally unsustainable, and that any critique with the purpose of creating a more sustainable future must touch the issue of how capital presently is generated.

The event also saw my colleague Rickard Strandberg playing two songs on the guitar, which were very well received by the audience. My lecture too was very engaging and the audience often interjected and asked questions, which can be disruptive but is also a sign of engagement.

And what an engagement it was!

Following the lecture and the arrival of three late-comers, we prepared the dinner. Sadly, our chefs had all become ill, but we were capable of retrieving the food and two of the guests had volunteered to stand in for the chefs. Our chef is a young very talented man named Tistou Blomberg, and he had chosen to make Afghan Bolani for the event. It was absolutely delicious, all the guests agreed.

Even hours after the dinner, the guests were involved in passionate discussions about sustainability, intentional communities, positive thinking and other topics, and first at half past ten the last of the guests left the event, all surprised it already was dark outside. 

The event happened at Kulturklossen, Alidhem, and was co-arranged with Studiefrämjandet.

We already look forward to the next social event, a barbeque evening in May preliminarily.

See you again! J

reportApril1[1]

Report on the April 2018 Board Meeting

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.

Read more: Report on the April 2018 Board Meeting

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.

er[1]

The First Criterion for Sustainability – the Energy Survey

Introduction

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.

TL;DR

  • 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.
Credit: Global Footprint Network

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.

Credit: renewablechoice.com

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

Challenges

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.

glob[1]

Growth, Globalization and the Future

Introduction

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.

TL;DR

  • 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?
Image courtesy by Audiotech

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.

Courtesy to Nexvu capital

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.

Courtesy, Pinterest

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.

For Life, Love and Light! 

minidome[1]

The Minidome Event

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

Read more: The Minidome Event

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.

See you at the gardens!

eu[1]

On the European Union – a case for Confederalism

Introduction

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.

Read more: On the European Union – a case for Confederalism

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.

TL;DR

  • 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.

technocra[1]

A Technocratic Cultural Revolution

Introduction

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.

Read more: A Technocratic Cultural Revolution

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

TL;DR summary

  • 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 Response

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.

Combating Idiocracy

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 skilled and 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
  • Evidence-based policies
  • Scientific transparency
  • 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.

Media

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.

Academia

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.

Advertisement

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.

The Internet

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.

Religion

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.

Limitations

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.

Positive Radicalism

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.