It is the convergence between commons and co-ops that will create a new economy and a new society. — Michel Bauwens
A story, a group of stories, people telling stories, stories of the future, stories from the future.
In eGaia, three interlocking economies described
- local co-operative
Within the local economy, everything is on a sharing basis, no money, people are expected to keep in balance, and contribute their fair share. It goes one stage further than granting a Basic Income.
For what the local economy cannot supply, will source from either regional or global economy, for which a financial exchange takes place, using a digital currency, there being a regional and global currency.
If one of the businesses operating within the local economy requires money, it goes to the regional bank. Free money is created (ie interest free), when paid back, the money self-destroys. The economy is not built on debt.
Additional accounts are kept of ecological footprint of every transaction.
Businesses innovate to offer a better service, not to gain a competitive advantage as not in competition, and will share their innovation.
All carried out by means of smart phone apps.
As Rob Bell explains in Love Wins, it is not that money is the root of all evil, it is what we do with money.
We can look around, see things that need to be done, but we lack the money, we can look around, see things that need to be done, but we lack the time, we have to work to earn a living.
Money is a means of exchange. I have something you want, we agree a price, an exchange takes place, money changes hands.
Usury places a levy called interest on what would otherwise be free money. The economy has to grow to service the debt. Companies sell us things we do not want to increase their market share. We cannot have linear growth on a finite planet.
Man has always had an impact on the environment. Civilisations have risen, then collapsed, when they exceeded the carrying capacity of the land. Once it was local, then regional, now the entire planet. Mass species extinction, habitat destruction, global warming, Those at the front line of extraction, are in conflict zones. We need several planets to sustain our extraction, we do not have several planets, we have one.
The problem is not Peak Oil. Innovation opens up more resources. The problem is that innovation is opening up more hazardous sources of oil, tar sands, fracking, deepwater, Arctic. The problem is, we cannot burm even known resrves, if we are to keep global temperature rose below 2C, and even 2C will lead to more extreme weather events. If we go beyond 2C, all bets are off, the models begin to break down.
We are naive, arrogant even, if we think we can save the planet. Recent extreme weather events has shown, Gaia always has the last laugh. We cannot. Nor do we need to create Gaian feedback loops, these already exist. The role of Man, is to learn from Gaia, and to act as custodian of Gaian feedback mechanisms
Early lifeforms emitted oxygen as a waste product. Oxygen is toxic. Later life forms learnt how to deal with oxygen.
Oxygen is kept within very narrow limits. Too high and there would be spontaneous combustion, too low and most life on earth could not exist.
One of many Gaian feedback mechanisms.
We know that to keep global temperature rise to below 2C, 80% of known carbon reserves have to be kept in the ground, and even 2C will lead to more extreme weather events.
This raises two points:
- oil companies worthless
- why are we still exploring for new reserves
The value of oil companies is the value of their reserves. If they cannot extract, the value of the oil companies becomes worthless overnight.
New extraction is increasingly hazardous: tar sands, deepwater, fracking, Arctic.
A different way of looking at the stored carbon is to go back millions of years. Carbon cycle was not perfect. Trees (strictly speaking not trees) formed coal, simple lifeforms formed oil. If we release this carbon that was extracted from the atmosphere, it means we return to the prevailing climate at that time, if we release within a few hundred years, we trigger thermal runway.
Insanity: UK government is granting fracking generous tax concessions, paying to drill. An Infrastructure Bill passing through Parliament will make it a legal obligation to maximise oil exaction.
Rapid growth is not the norm in the natural world.
We see it when we introduce an alien species to an island, with no natural predators, Rapid growth usually followed by catastrophic collapse.
We see it with cancer.
We see it on bare land, for example following a forest fire, or rapidly retreating ice at an interglacial, rapid growth by pioneer species, secondary species follow, and eventually steady state of a mature ecosystem, The interaction between the species creates the environment, the environment creates the conditions for the species.
In a rainforest, the rain is created by the rainforest.
Important is trophic cascade and keystone species. Remove the keystone species, rapid collapse. It is the keystone species that maintains the diversity.
Cod, wolves and whales are keystone species.
Traditionally, it was thought ecosystems developed from the bottom up: the soil determines the vegetation, the vegetation the herbivores, the herbivores the carnivores. We now know this not to be true, it is the top predators, the keystone species, those whose influence extends far beyond their numbers, that determine an ecosystem.
Top predators, in what is known as trophic cascade, can have an effect all the way down the food chain.
Reintroduction of wolves to the Yellowstone National Park, affected the landscape.
With no predators, the deer populations soared, destroying the vegetation and trees, denuding the landscape.
Though wolves were small in number, did not kill many deer, they changed the pattern of behaviour of the deer, the deer avoid the places most likely to be ambushed by wolves. In those areas, the trees recover, birds return, bears return. Beavers return, beavers damn the rivers, providing more habitats for mores species. The river changes. The trees stop soil erosion, the landscape changes.
The wolves may kill a few deer, but they also create life, they create the conditions for life to exist in more varied variety than existed before their introduction.
The Japanese would argue killing of whales, in fact the Japanese will find any excuse to kill whales, more krill, more fish.
Killing whales leads to fewer krill.
Whales stir up the waters, bring nutrients to the surface.
Phytoplankton feed on the nutrients, zoo plankton feed on the phytoplankton, fish feed on the plankton.
Phytoplankton capture carbon which is then carried down to the ocean sediments. Millions of tonnes of carbon capture.
The presence of whales, leads to more life, not less.
Top predators are not only affecting life all the way along the food chain, they are impacting on geophysical processes.
Instead of loony schemes to seed the oceans, imaginary machines to suck CO2 out of the air (and then pump into oil wells to extract more oil), protect whales.
Gaia does her job, if we let her.
Millions of years of co-evolution, networks within networks, mutual coexistence, should tell us how to organise our affairs in a manner that works.
Hierarchical system do not work, for one simple reason, it requires perfect knowledge of what is happening at the next level.
Self-organising networks, are adaptable, have feedback.
Exponential growth within finite resources, leads to catastrophic collapse.
We cannot propose a future, project it on the past, then use that as justification for the future we wish to see.
We cannot say, hunter-gatherers may have engaged in war with surrounding tribes but it led to little blood letting. Where is the evidence?
We can speculate on a sharing society, we can look at indigenous cultures today.
What we see is hunters sharing the kill. Very good reason for this. Spoils of the hunt do not keep beyond a few days, therefore better to share, and hope those we share with, will invite us to share when they have good fortune.
As Carla Stang describes in her description of Mechinaku in her essay Rampant Rainbows and the Blacked Sun in Dark Mountain 6, they have a deep and intimate relationship with the world around them, treat it with reverence and respect. But she also makes the point, we cannot apply our external views, we have to take what we see within its own context.
Nor is sharing, reciprocity, restricted to indigenous cultures.
In Istanbul, not knowing how to pay for the tram, an attractive local female kindly paid for me. I commented that it would be easy to hop on the tram, hop off, without paying. This was treated with horror, that I could even have the thought let alone carry out the act. It was something you simply did not do.
There is not a clear division between hunter-gatherers and agriculture. Hunter-gatherers will often plant trees, tend gardens.
Speech possibly evolved from music, music from the rhythmic sounds we hear around us.
Nonsense to claim ‘language functions to deny reciprocity with nature’.
Of course not. The disconnect is with the myths we tell, that got ever greater traction during the Industrial Revolution, that Man has Dominion over Nature.
The earth I tread on is not a dead, inert mass. It is a body, has a spirit, is organic, and fluid to the existence of its spirit, and to whatever particle of that spirit is in me.
Many eyes go through the meadow, but few see the flowers in it.
enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants and animals
the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts
changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain members and citizens of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.
We now need a new narrative, Man in cooperation with nature. A new narrative the Dark Mountain Project has tried to foster.
The limit to the size of cities was not the carrying capacity of the land. It was the ability to transport food and goods in, and waste out. This changed with the arrival of trains.
The Industrial Revolution did not start in England because of nearby colonies to exploit. It started because James Watt invented a reliable steam engine in 1776 and the availability of coal.
Steam did not have an immediate advantage. Water mills were more powerful than early steam engines. Wind and water were free. What led to change were several factors, no longer reliant on the whims of nature, can work night and day, steam is transportable. Watermills, windmills, located where supply of water and wind, usually in the countryside, not a ready supply of labour if a strike, not so easy to replace workers. In cities ready supply of labour, close to market.
Propagation of the myth we destroyed our woods. It was lack of use that destroyed our woods, they were used sustainably. A myth Oliver Rackham has long demolished.
Basic premise of eGia, is that Gaia needs Man as its nervous system, hence eGaia.
What does it mean for the Earth to function with the coherence of an organism with humanity analogous to its nervous system?
At best this is arrogance.
Gaia functioned without Man, Gaia will continue to function without Man. The best Man can do is act as Custodian of Gaian feedback loops, to claim more is arrogance, the same arrogance that led Man to believe he was Master of Nature.
Hurricane Katrina, Sandy, typhoon in the Philippines, showed Man is Master of nothing.
Man evolved as part of the natural world, was part of Nature, the downfall of Man was when he became apart from Nature. We need to rewild our natural world, but we also need to rewild ourselves, even if it a walk barefoot along the seashore, paddling in and out of the waves.
You cannot take societies, close knit, good community relations, and transfer their dispute mechanism to other societies that lack those close community links. People agree, because they do not want loss of face.
But it can work both ways, close communities can lead to abuse. Pakistani girls being brutally gang raped, not able to speak out, and if they do threats of violence, forced marriage. Or girls in Nepalese communities, forced into marriage. They feel twice violated, as they lack the human rights of the wider society as wider society turns a blind eye.
Unbelievable ignorance on Israel-Palestine and Middle East. It is not caused by fear of the other, that is the symptom. It is caused by seizure of land, brutal occupation, Palestinians kicked out of their homes where they have lived for generations, villages that have been there for centuries, denied water, electricity, because they lack planning permission, destruction of olive groves, Gaza kept as a prison camp, massive destruction of Gaza.
Jews and Arabs had lived in pace together for generations, until Zionist terrorists established the State of Israel.
It is easy, as Canon Andrew White says, to talk to your friends, you have to be prepared to talk to your enemies. He has earned the trust of Sunni and Shia leaders in Iraq, got them to sit down and talk to each other.
Truth and Reconciliation worked in South Africa, because of the culture in which it was embedded.
In close knit communities, slight on one family, a slight that has to be avenged, goes on for generations.
Sustainability, a much abused word that has has become meaningless. Everything has the in word sustainable attached. A greedy developer trashes a town centre, it is called sustainable. And what is it we are wishing to sustain, the present inequitable, exploitative greed-driven system that is trashing the planet?
What we should be looking to achieve is steady-state, emulate Gaia.
So it looks at what is desirable sustainability in physical and biological terms while ignoring constraints due to entrenched beliefs, our current economic system …
Really! No one ignores economics factors, and economic factors do not apply constraints, far from from it, it is the economic system of exponential growth that is causing the problem. Fundamental to any discussion.
It is nonsense statements like this, and sadly not an isolated example, why eGaia lacks any credibility.
What would it mean if humanity were organised so that looking after the health of the whole of the living Earth were one of its living values?
Gaia is more than capable of looking after Earth. What we require of Man is stop damaging her control mechanisms.
For our material needs, we need closed loops, where the output of one process feeds into another. Emulate the natural world, where there is not an accumulation of waste in either time or space. Use naturally occurring materials, and where we use man made for example plastic and steel, we copy the natural world, form closed loops. And any toxic materials we eliminate from our cycles. We have to move away from a linear systems, of extraction, sweatshop production, six months in the home, then onwards to landfill or incineration. A linear system producing stuff we neither need nor want, that does nothing to enhance our quality of life.
We need rewilding of our natural habitats. Reintroduction of keystone species like wolves, reintroduction of the European beaver. Beavers improve watercourses, enhance diversity, clean the water, stop downstream flooding. Rewilding also benefits Man, when we visit wild places.
We need agro-forestry. Greater output, supplying local markets. We should not forget the towns, which can be productive.
In Brazil, every municipality is funding perma-culture courses.
We need locally owned and controlled energy grids, into which feed local sources of renewable energy, only the surplus fed into the National Grid.
We need as Michel Bauwens has outlined, something more than co-ops, we need co-ops that contribute to the commons.
We need as Russell Brand has outlined in Revolution, autonomous, self-organising networks, that cooperate with other networks, the only restraint, no harm to others, either internally or externally, and no harm to the planet.
Kyoto was not a failure per se. It was a failure because it lacked teeth, no enforcement mechanism, contrast with various trade treaties, contrast with WTO.
We need polluter shall pay, reflecting the real costs of externalised costs, which we all pay, but indirectly. Not complex financial instruments for speculators.
A large number of smaller organisations, can become niche players, cooperate with each other.
No mention of the marginal costs of stuff falling. This is important, as can produce locally, 3D printing, open source, open source workshops. If marginal costs near zero, viable to produce locally, as shipping costs and energy dominate.
In Barcelona, the city has given a pledge, by 2020 one FabLab in every neighbourhood. By 2050, half of all food production and manufacturing to be local, through distributed manufacturing
Most products, the embedded energy is higher than the energy costs in use. Becomes of vanishing importance the efficiency of the product. Therefore quality products, designed to last, easy to repair.
FairPhone is an excellent example of a phone designed to be repairable, recycled, non-use of materials from conflict zones.
TechStart an example of a community enterprise, take in old computers, refurbish, re-sell at low price, reuse components, training, net cafe.
Bandcamp encourages music sharing. If you like, pay for the music.
Bristol Skipchen surplus food cafe does what it says, recycles waste food into delicious meals.
A cooperative economy is not the same as a moneyless economy. A moneyless economy, is a sharing economy, a gift economy, collaborative commons.
Co-ops benefit members of the co-op. Collaborative commons are shared resources.
In Quito, housing co-ops have reclaimed ravines used to dump rubbish as public parks.
When we share, everyone is richer.
An Open Co-op exists to supply a need, not to make a profit. Everyone who is impacted by the Co-op has a say. It contributes to the commons. Open Coops co-produce commons. An Open Co-op innovates then shares the information. Open Co-ops linked globally, can outperform multinationals.
Innovation in the market is to seek a competitive advantage. If no profit, innovation is shelved. It is not for need.
Much of the internet is built upon Open Source Software, collaborative commons. People choose to contribute, they are not forced, are not paid.
There is a growth in co-ops during economic crisis.
Co-ops are not any more likely to make a more stable economy. In a downturn, yes, less likely to lay off workers, they would more readily agree to a wage cut, and we are seeing that in non-co-ops, as companies are recognising it is easier to recover if have not lost skilled workers. On the other hand Open Co-ops yes, due to the greater involvement of society and their contribution to the commons.
For an information based economy, existing social networks are not a good example to build upon, in a commons based economy it would be peer-2-peer networks.
Social networks did not trigger either Occupy or the Arab Spring, though have proved useful to coordinate activity.
An information network is not a necessary condition to safeguard the planet, though can be a useful tool.
The availability of cheap air travel has not led to understanding of other cultures, quite the opposite.
NGOs do not suggest a way forward. They are little more than businesses, supplying a need, touting for money. It is far better we organise to satisfy those needs ourselves.
Global events like Band Aid and Live Aid have not led to better understanding, these were music events, little else. They emphasised the victim culture, reliant upon the West to mount a rescue. The release of the Band Aid single Band Aid 30 for Ebola has been heavily criticised and rightly so especially when there was a superior West Africa release, Africa Stop Ebola, superior in every way, musically and in the informative message that it carried.
The kibbutz movement in Israel is a very poor example to give as to the way forward, not unless suggesting use terror to illegally occupy the land of others, destroy their olive trees, steal their water, carry out ethnic cleansing, in order to establish our idea of what a community should look like.
The future is already here.
In Quito, housing coo-ops are reclaiming the ravines and turning into public parks.
We do not need banks, when we can crowd source.
StartJoin is a platform to crowd source for community and cultural projects. It even has its own crypto-currency StartCoin.
Bandcamp facilitates sharing of music, and if you wish to pay, bandcamp facilitates that too.
Crisis stimulates innovation.
Sandy hit New York, the authorities were only interested in getting Wall Street up and running to show businesses as usual. The only help in poor districts, the worst hit, came from Occupy Wall Street, reformed as Occupy Sandy.
Greek economy has shrunk by over a quarter leaving many unemployed and destitute, no longer entitled to free health care, sell off of public assets. People are now organising their own affairs, with Syriza, with its roots in Occupy and opposed to austerity, on the brink of a historic election victory.
eGgaia is not a book I would recommend. Had it been limited to the fictional account of the future, it would have made an interesting pamphlet, but nothing more. It has been padded out with irrelevant material, even worse, much is inaccurate assertions.
It is available as free download, or as a print-on-demand book only the publisher fails to comprehend print-on-demand, and had to be chased for an ordered copy. Irony seems lost on the publisher, inappropriately called Fast-Print.