1. Change the goal: from GDP growth to the Doughnut.
2. See the big picture: from self-contained market to embedded economy.
3. Nurture human nature: from rational economic man to social adaptable humans.
4. Get savvy with systems: from mechanical equilibrium to dynamic complexity.
5. Design to distribute: from ‘growth will even it up again’ to distributive by design.
6. Create to regenerate: from ‘growth will clean it up again’ to regenerative by design.
7. Be Agnostic about Growth: from growth-addicted to growth-agnostic.
Kind of, sort of, goes part way, and misses much more than it gets.
Yes we need a new story.
Yes we need a different characterisation of human nature.
Yes we need to think in terms of complex adaptive systems, and also in terms of all the other sorts of systems that also exist.
David Snowden’s Cynefin framework is a great simple introduction to complexity, bringing an infinite spectrum down to just 4 classes of complexity, simple, complicated, complex and chaotic. Simple is the realm of engineering and best practice, complicated the realm of good practice, complex the realm of adaptive systems, iterative probe and evaluate approaches, and chaos is best avoided if possible as by definition it is not predictable. Humans are very poor at identifying chaos, we are primed to find pattern, even where it does not exist.
And it is much more complex than just that story.
Our current economic system is built on a fundamental mischaracterisation of the process of evolution.
Evolution is a process of change through differential survival.
In the strategic sense, there seem to be two major modalities that tend to dominate.
If the dominant source of risk to individual survival comes from other members of the same species, then competitive modalities tend to dominate.
If the dominant source of risk comes from factors outside of the population, then cooperative modalities (with attendant strategies to prevent invasion by cheating strategies) can dominate.
Humans contain incentives to both sets of modalities, and what dominates tends to be a result of the sort of context we create.
Until quite recent times one could make a reasonable case that competitive markets had a net positive value for most human beings.
Now that we have the exponentially expanding ability to automate processes that case can no longer be reasonably made.
Market measures of value contain a scarcity element.
Anything universally abundant in a market has zero value by definition (like the air we breath).
This arguably makes a certain sense in terms of distribution.
In terms of planning, when faced with automated ability to deliver universal abundance, a market based measure of value would always deliver zero utility to delivering such abundance, even though it is in the real interests of the vast bulk of humanity.
Thus the whole notion of profit and capital, which are abstract measures of value delivered by agreement, are losing the sort of general utility which they once arguably had, and are now delivering far greater risk in many domains than they deliver benefit.
How we transition is an interesting question.
Given that we as a species do not have a great history of transitioning away from religious dogma that clear generates conflict, one starts to get a feel for the magnitude of the dimensionality of the issues facing us.
So it is much more complex that this article hints at, and it does seem to this individual to be achievable.
And the way it seems to be achievable is by adopting two core values – individual life, and individual liberty, and applying skepticism to everything else.
Don’t necessarily believe me or anyone else.
Do the work yourself to test things for yourself.
Read what others have written about the tests they have done, and to sorts of errors that commonly occur (Eliezer Yudkowskyi’s Rationality from AI to Zombies is a reasonable catalog of many of the common and not so common errors).
Thousands of great books out there.
And reading other people’s stuff isn’t enough by itself.
We each have to do enough testing for ourselves to gain confidence.
Anything less than that is vulnerable to invasion.
All I am saying is don’t believe anyone necessarily, and don’t entirely discount them either.
Be willing to trust yourself to a reasonably high degree.
And being open to alternatives actually requires a willingness to try out alternative formulations, and to assess them for yourself.
The only thing I would strongly advise, is to always reject anything that demands belief without evidence, as that is a logical trap from which there is no escape.
Nothing is beyond question.
And one does tend to build up sets of useful heuristics that have been so operationally reliable that one doesn’t normally waste a lot of time retesting them – which is not at all the same thing as accepting a truth, and it can be difficult to distinguish between the two in an observational sense.
I’m working on lots of stuff simultaneously.
My blog site – http://www.tedhowardnz.wordpress.com has a reasonable record of most of it. I chair 4 groups, treasurer for 1, minutes secretary for two others, involved in about a dozen others. Testing meme-sets in the local environment mostly, and sometimes in international fora such as this.
I am trying to build a mix of theoretical and practical experience across as many domains as I can, and it aint easy. My ability to communicate lags so far behind the possibilities that I can “see”.
Don’t have the time to bridge most of those gaps as yet. Soonish I think.
Been putting some time into writing a book over the last week.