Human Ecology

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Book: Human Ecology
Author Thomas Robertson
Publisher Run For Cover Books, which in 2001, acquired Gordon Press, an imprint of Revisionist Press.
Buy from Amazon (collectors edition)
ISBN 0879683406
Keywords economy,finance,organisation,sustainability

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Seven Abstraction Layers of Society

  • Religion
  • Education
  • Politics
  • Administration
  • Sanctions (rules, agreements, constraints etc)
  • Industry
  • Finance

First Summary (p81)

  • Money for most purposes means bank deposits.
  • This money is a bank-created substitute for metallic money.
  • Bank deposit money chiefly comes into existence by the actions of the banks themselves, which create it initially as a debt at interest, or any other equivalent process.
  • The variation in the quantity of bank deposits (and for paper money generally) is controlled by the actions of the central bank.
  • In theory, the basis of control is the gold reserve of the central bank.
  • This gold is purchased by the central bank without cost.
  • The rough ratio of total national bank deposits to total currency is 4 to 1.
This ratio is for 1948. The ratio for 2007 is roughly 19 to 1. --Johnwhyte 01:19, 8 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Banker's profits are made out of whatever "money" they can create and issue in excess of their liquid reserve assets.
  • Banks do not lend their customers' money when making loans or granting overdrafts. They create or invent the money for that purpose (that is, by "fiat").
  • Governments obtain money in three ways:
    • by taxation;
    • by borrowing genuine savings;
    • by the central bank inventing or creating the necessary amount, thereby increasing its obligations to the joint stock banks, which then create new deposits for the purpose.
  • The repayment of "national debt" is impossible because it would cancel out an equivalent sum of money and thus leave the community without enough money to carry on commerce.
  • The Bank of England is an organisation whose policy and shareholders are undisclosed. It has the power to assess itself for income tax purposes.
  • The banking system is tripartite. The First Part is that of central banking through which money is created; the Second Part is that of commercial banking through which money is distributed; the Third Part is that of the consuming public through which money is utilised. These three functions are, of course, closely interlocked, but an understanding of the three parts is vital to what follows.

Second Summary (p184)

  • Money is almost entirely, and, for purposes of industry and government entirely, financial credit.
  • Financial credit is bank created.
  • It is created as a debt at interest due by the community to the banking system.
  • This debt is automatically self-cumulative and irredeemable.
  • The total quantity of money thus created in any credit area varies only with the action of the central bank.
  • The limitation in the total quantity of money is thus fixed by an organisation whose policy is self-determined.
  • This limitation is fixed without respect to the consuming capacity of the public or the producing capacity of industry.
  • The quantity of money available and the policy of the banking system are both determined in the last resort by the canon of international finance.
  • The canon of international finance is determined by the use of gold as the basis of currency, and by the mechanism of usury.
  • The mechanism of usury automatically generates an uncontrollable cycle of financial and hence economic expansion and contraction.
  • The mainspring of all European history is the usurious money system.
  • The persistence and inviolability of this system is due to the acceptance of false conceptions regarding it.

Third Summary (p367)

  • The source of power lies in the financial mechanism that occupies the apex of the present order of society and dominates all beneath.
  • The source of illusion lies in false religion and education, which are the basis society rests upon.
  • Both power and illusion originate in nescience, which obscures "reality".
  • No person or association of persons has consciously constructed or directed the mechanisms of society to their present ends.


Unlimited money becomes mysteriously available for war, a phenomenon which has been repeated twice within one generation.

-page 17

When once the usurer has obtained complete control of monetary creation, the interest mechanism has achieved its purpose, and could then be given up. When the usurer lent the original gold coinage, he created a debt claim and appropriated the interest. When, however, he began to create and lend money, he appropriated both interest and capital. Thus the usurer's (i.e. banker's) wealth and power finally derive from this credit creation, wherein, as Major Douglas puts it, "power comes not from charging interest but in creating new claims and appropriating them."

- page 127

Robertson on the Seven Mechanisms

Before we elaborate on a possible panarchy structure and scales, we will summarise Robertson's work to serve as a framework for developing structures for organisations at different scales, as well as elaborating the relationship of the scales in practical terms.

Robertson's 7 layers comparison table

We have taken the table from p. 418 and inverted the order of the mechanisms to reflect what Robertson calls the "natural order". It seems like some of the objectives need to be updated or reworded, we also still need to extrapolate the "middle layer" (organisation?) that ties together (bridges?) the personal and government scales. Nevertheless a very good starting point with respect to the aspects that need to be covered.

The Mechanism Its present "objective" Its correct "objective"
(1) Religion To create and foster "myth" and inculcate obedience to external authority To mediate "reality" at the supra-mental levels  
(2) Education To create and foster "myth" and inculcate obedience to external authority To mediate "reality" through mind, emotions and body
(3) Politics To obscure the operations of the financial mechanisms by means of political abstractions and the "myth of action" To determine policy by free discussion between freely elected representatives, having access to the necessary facts
(4) Administration To centralise power in the financial mechanism, using the law to implement decrees To administer policy as determined by the mechanism of politics
(5) Sanctions To implement by force the operations of the financial mechanism To uphold by force the authority of government
(6) Industry To provide a basis for the monetisation of real wealth according to the technique of "Usury" To provide with efficiency the goods and services required
(7) Finance To create debt or "negative money" To monetise the community's wealth to whatever amount and for whatever purpose is desirable and physically possible

Thomas Robertson on the purpose of the mechanisms

This quote is from p. 393-4 on how the structure of "Integral Society" relates to the needs of "Integral Man" via the "Natural Order". Emphasis added for clarity.

"Since a mechanism is designed towards a specific 'objective' in the 'Natural Order' these 'objectives' would be formulated in conformity with the nature and needs of 'Integral Man'.[1] That which comes first and which directs and conditions all is religion and the religious mechanism. it takes precedence because man is more than his body, feelings and thoughts, and his end is perfection through 'reality', towards which all activities are the means. When this is not known, ends and means are confused and life loses direction. Religion is therefore required to give dynamic and direction and to provide reliable criteria for all other activities. Its 'objective' is to mediate 'reality' at the 'supra-mental' levels.

The mechanism next in order of importance is the educational. True education must be governed by the requirements of every need of man's personal nature. Its 'objective' is to mediate 'reality' at the mental and lower levels, and this it must do not by set curricula but by adjustment to the unique needs of each individual. It utilises mental, aesthetic, physical and vocational training to enable man to deal with nature objectively and subjectively at the respective levels of consciousness.

Next comes politics, whereby the people, directed and quickened by religion, educated to the fullest extent of their natures, and free to expand the individuality, are able to determine by consent and free discussion the desired policies of co-operation. They determine the 'objective' for which they are in association, but they do not and cannot determine the correct way to attain this. Politics is the science of government and is the means of adjustment as between man and the environment through the correct use of the four remaining mechanisms of Administration, Sanctions, Industry and Finance. Following Major C. H. Douglas' use of the word, it will be convenient to define 'policy' as what is desired as distinct from 'technique' which is the method of its attainment. The 'objective' of politics, therefore, is the determination of 'policy' in the sphere of government.

Administration is the mechanism next in order. It exists to carry out 'policy' by technical methods to be decided upon by experts, with individual responsibility for their actions. Administration is the executive to apply or carry out the law as made by the political mechanism. For this purpose it is assisted by Sanctions chiefly in the form of a police force. It would also include such armed forces as were required for the preservation of order and other necessary functions. The 'objective' of Sanctions is the upholding of the status and authority of the people-in-combination, via the legislature.

Industry then makes what goods are required according to agreed 'policy'. The technique for ordering goods is by means of money, which would no longer impose arbitrary limits of production of consumption. Industry's 'objective' would be to provide, with the minimum trouble, all goods required.

The last mechanism of all, under all and serving all, and in one sense greatest as being the servant, and the source and very life's blood of every social activity, is finance. Its 'objective' is to monetise the community's real wealth to whatever amount and for whatever purpose is desirable and physically possible."

The 'Natural Order'

Robertson, describes (p. 394-5) the natural order as follows (emphasis added, reference to criteria):

"Such a conception of society[2] follows the 'natural order'. In it the dominating power of finance is destroyed; and since money would be 'free' and not 'negative', debt would cease to exist. And with the disappearance of the debt would cease the centralisation of power which at present deprives men of their sovereignty. In it also consumption would determine production, and a united social policy would prevail without arbitrary pressure from any quarter. The confusion of ends and means would cease since the end of man would be truly served. Leisure would become the test of efficiency in industry, the fewness of laws the test in politics, and the smaller the Administration and Sanctions the greater the excellence of government. The criterion of all would be the security with freedom, i.e. 'Basic security'.

The seven mechanisms constitute the organism of society serving 'integral man' by fullest and freest provision for all his needs, and thereby the prevailing pressure would be towards co-operation and unity rather than competition and disunity."


"The expansion of the individuality through the 'Natural Order' would be achieved by organic growth from within and not by planning imposed from without. It would provide the one and only basis for stability in society. And just as unity is not uniformity, neither is stability stagnation. A stable society is not static but one steadily progressing towards its 'objective'."


"The aim of society is to provide a field for the perfecting of individual existence, which it does by the provision of the 'Basic Needs' through co-operative effort and differentiation of function, and by creating a suitable field for the exercise of the higher human faculties."

Panarchy structure

The diagram shows one way we may visualise the nested hierarchies of panarchy:

Sierpinski tetrahedron as visualisation of holons within a holographic fractal structure. It is self-similar from micro to macro scale.

Panarchy scale comparison table

We are lining up the three scales we have chosen to elaborate upon to see how well various mechanisms map to different scales and what kind of names they should have when used at smaller scales than government. Following on from here we will go into more detail regarding the objectives of organisational mechanisms at different scales. It must be reiterated that there may be more or less than 7 layers at any of the scales in practical application and the software used will allow anyone to add or remove aspects based on personal preference.

Personal Organisation Global
Spirituality Values Religion
Self-improvement Training Education
Goals Shared Vision Governance
Administration Administration Administration
Discipline Compliances Sanctions
Work Production Industry
Budgeting and scheduling Accounting Finance

Personal Organisation objectives (top-down)

What is the purpose of the layers at this scale and what does this mean in practical systems terms? This is derived from the top-down approach applied to the scales.

  • Spirituality
  • Self-improvement
  • Goals
  • Administration
  • Discipline
  • Work
  • Budgeting and scheduling

Personal Organisation objectives (bottom-up)

Which aspects does the organisation need to handle, that we currently deal with? This is a list of current aspects of personal organisation, irrespective of the layers derived top-down. Hopefully they will match, or maybe we will find layers that need to be added? This will help us get to grips with the practicalities that will need to be addressed, we should do this exercise at each scales too.

Organisation objectives

What is the purpose of the layers at this scale and what does this mean in practical systems terms? Since we're dividing our global organisational description into seven departments, these should map to an isomorphic concept at the community level (see also manifesto). We've changed the names of some of the items to be more appropriate to their level of operation. The following list represents a hierarchy, whereby the spiritual level provides leadership for the levels below, in the order suggested here:

  • Values
  • Training
  • Shared Vision
    • Policy development
    • Feedback and discussion
  • Administration (Organisational System - The structure of which is defined by the ontology of the organisation)
  • Compliances (Constraints in place due to the fact that limitations exist. Constraints and compliance with constraints)
    • Is the organisation moving toward vision in alignment with values?
    • Criteria and testing
    • Corrective measures
  • Production (What the organisation produces, and how, is determined by the levels above)
    • Products and services
    • Projects
    • Jobs
    • Sales and marketing
  • Accounting (Time, Stock, Currency ---> Energy Accounting, see currency)

Whereby we find that each level determines the work done in the succeeding ones, moving from global and general aspects (e.g. vision) to specific and local (e.g. Accounting). This needs to be done in such a way that all lower levels can be seen to relate clearly to the top (vision). So for example while vision is the level at which stakeholders decide what their goals are, administration is the level of deciding upon the specific structure to achieve these goals with, and security determines the adherence to the constraints decided upon.

Government objectives

What is the purpose of the layers at this scale and what does this mean in practical systems terms?

Notes and References

See also

  • Robertson wrote his books around the second world war and therefore in his language he uses 'man' when he is referring to people, this would not be acceptable nowadays but has been left that way to leave the source in its authentic form
  • As described above