Who’s going to rescue the global economy, the people or the politicians – corporate puppets controlling the vest…vested interests of the wealth consuming class, leaving the black hole price tag in their wake and endless party to the public lemmings of the dawning revolution.
Who’s going to rescue the 1% from themselves?
This is a very interesting question at so many different levels.
What is meant by economy?
What is meant by rescue?
What invalid assumptions are embedded in the frameworks of interpretation being used?
The term economy originally referred to “the art or science of managing a household”. That term has evolved in many different ways in many different contexts, and now for many people refers almost exclusively to the management of money in a market based system.
For most people, the reality of modern market based systems has lead to a complete disconnect between production, distribution and consumption of goods and services, with everything being measured in terms of money (an accepted proxy for goods and services – really just an agreed belief). Thus for most people, the issues are framed almost exclusively in a context of money.
If one takes a wider view, of what are we managing the system for, then the issues can be very different.
We must all begin life with simple distinctions, the simplest of which are binaries – heavy/light, big/small, light/dark, sweet/sour, good/bad, right/wrong. Such simple distinctions give us a starting point, from which to build ever more complex distinctions, that become ever better approximations to the reality in which we find ourselves (which appears to be vast enough in many aspects to be a good approximation of infinite and actually infinite in some aspects).
In such a vast reality, there are usually a very large collection of possible ways of achieving just about anything, that often vary very little in terms of time or energy involved – so in an operational sense, any one is as good as any other at achieving the agreed objective. Such a plurality of possibilities does not sit easily in a model that is based in good/bad, or right/wrong.
One of the major issues we have in society today is the vast array of models of understanding and impulses to action that are present in our very diverse society. If people are operating from very simple binary distinctions (like right/wrong, good/bad), it is very easy to classify anything that is novel or different as being bad or wrong. Tolerance of diversity is very difficult from simple models based in hard righteousness (be it religious, legal, scientific or other).
It seems that there are many important concepts that are critical to understand who and what we are, and how we manage our global household that are very poorly understood.
Evolution is one such idea.
Most people can get the very simple idea that evolution works by selection based on differential survival of variants. What that means, is that small variations between individuals, for whatever reason, give some individuals a greater chance of survival in some situations than in others. Variations in conditions from place to place lead to growing divergence between isolated populations over time.
What fewer people understand is that this process is recursive. That is it can fold back upon itself, so that once a new process emerges that can influence the rate of change of some aspect of the replication process, that process too becomes simultaneously subject to selection pressures.
It seems that as human beings we have something between 12 and twenty layers of such systems operating simultaneously.
What fewer people still understand is that evolution is not simply about competition at the level of the individuals. Cooperation is possible and is in fact seen at many different levels. For cooperative strategies to be stable, they must have attendant strategies which prevent the system being invaded and destroyed by cheating strategies. There are many classes and levels of such strategies, and Robert Axelrod did some great work identifying the simplest class of such strategies – the retaliator class – which can be seen at many levels within human beings, in emotions like jealousy and rage, to concepts like retributive justice etc.
However, there appears to be an infinite set of other classes of stabilising strategies that have different advantages and disadvantages in different situations.
Humans appear to work much more cooperatively with a combination of carrot and stick – stick without carrot does not work very well at all.
Humans also have very highly developed senses of social injustice. We often intuitively know when something is not working in our best interests, even if we cannot specify in detail exactly what is going on and why.
When one looks at markets and money, it is clear that markets are a very useful mechanism for promoting innovation in situations of genuine scarcity.
It is also very clear that markets fail when faced with universal abundance. Markets cannot value universal abundance of anything at anything other than zero – if you doubt this, consider oxygen in the air – arguably the single most important substance to any of us, yet of no market value because any of us can meet our demand simply by breathing. Universal abundance in this sense does not mean an infinite supply, it simply means a supply sufficient to meet all demand with a substantial margin of safety.
In times past, when most production was done by people, then markets were a great tool, they helped to link producer and consumer, with mutual benefit.
It is almost two hundred years since the industrial revolution started to seriously mechanise production, and put many craftsmen out of a job.
Now, with modern computers and robotics technology, we have the ability to automate any and all aspects of production.
Our current economic system is based on the idea of people working to make money to buy goods and services.
We can now automate any and all processes to the level of the best craftspeople on the planet and beyond (computers have now beaten grand master chess players, and the computer system “Watson” has beaten the best human players at the word game Jeopardy). Computers can now drive cars and fly aeroplanes better than most human beings.
The system of markets that worked very well for us when people were genuinely needed to perform useful roles in social systems no longer works well in a situation where any and all roles can be automated.
At this point in our social and spiritual evolution we really must start looking much deeper.
In terms of our management, what is it that our systems need to respect most, what is our optimisation function?
Is it money and the free movement of capital?
Is it people, and the freedom of individuals to do whatever they responsibly choose?
Responsibility in this sense means not unreasonably interfering with the lives or liberties of others. And everything we do must have an effect on others, and there must be a test of reasonableness, between individuals, between groups, between levels of awareness, between paradigms of understanding.
For me, the idea of economy, in the normally accepted sense of management and measurement in terms of money, is beyond rescue, it is in fact the biggest single problem we have.
To me it is clear that it is the use of markets to determine value, rather than the valuing of life and liberty above all else, that is the single largest threat to the long term liberty and security of us all.
And I get that such and idea is not yet widely understood or accepted.
So for me, it is clear, that the global economy, in the sense of the system of money and markets, doesn’t need to be rescued, it is beyond rescue, it is past it’s “use by” date, it needs to be replaced.
What would work, is a system of massively distributed and fully automated production systems, where every individual was allocated an amount of energy to use on earth as they saw fit. If anyone wanted to play with serious engineering projects that required a lot of energy, then they would need to do so off planet – that is simply a matter of physics, and balancing the needs of living and non-living systems (heat budgets etc).
All quite easily doable in the technical sense, but just not even conceivable within a system constrained by money and markets.
There seem to be several levels at which we need to approach the transition.
At one level, it requires a political shift, of people generally choosing to value life and liberty over market values.
When that political shift is achieved, then we can use the incentives of the market system to achieve the outcome of producing a level of automation that provides sufficient clean environmentally friendly energy that we can do the transition in terms of productivity and distribution of goods and services.
At another level there will need to be a well mediated set of processes whereby everyone can reach a consensus about what is reasonable in respect of the interactions of different paradigms of thought and levels of awareness.
As an intermediate step, an implementation of an international “Universal Basic Income” could be a useful step in transition.
And at all levels, an increasing awareness of and respect for individual life and individual liberty.
A move away from privacy (other than within one’s own home).
An open system, where anyone can see who is where, and anyone can see who has seen who has looked them up, could be a major step towards security. Anonymity is often used by those who are up to no good to hide their tracks. Total openness gives far greater protection both ways, to all concerned.
Introduce software to empower sharing of information between distributed trust networks.
There is a great deal that could be done.
Actually, for the last 9 years, each 3 year election, I have stood for parliament on precisely these issues.
So saying no politician would do it isn’t quite true.
Certainly, I did not get enough votes to become a member of parliament, and I was still a candidate, and I did speak at all the public meetings. So I do fit the definition of a politician 😉
So it is a both ways thing. Top down and bottom up – both are required.
And I love the Lao Tzu quote “When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.'”