Transcending Resistance: Transformation
Assumption: The reader is dissatisfied with the way the world/this country is being run and is disillusioned by our current political and economic system and would like to explore alternatives that are more sustainable and satisfying.
But where to begin? This is where we are at today. So I have put together a paper with a few starting points and suggestions as to where we could go from here. You are invited to expand, correct or comment on these ideas either via email or the upcoming "Transformation Platform" web site. Your ideas for projects or starting points could be part of what will make it all happen.
When looking for a way forward politically, those who disagree with the way this planet is being run tend to argue back and forth about whether it is enough to reform "the system" or whether only a full-scale revolution will do to establish a new way of doing things.
The "progressive" people seem entangled in endless, frustrating discussions about the way forward. Visions of what a good future might look like are sketchy at best. It is time to create those visions together.
The Good Future
Where the path leads once we try a new way of doing things seems impossible to tell from here. In my heart I feel that the good future can and must include peace on earth and in space as well as the chance for every human on the planet to realise their full potential. Important would be that we continually evolve and adjust our way of doing things, integrating new knowledge and wisdom as necessary. The way to get from a civilisation that is grid locked in conflict and an unbearable status quo to a flourishing, evolving civilisation could be, on a purely political/economical plane, through gradual transformation of the old way into the new.
Transformation could be achieved through the focussed efforts of "progressive" individuals and organisations, working together on a global scale and learning to pool and share resources like one giant corporation. More advanced ways of solving organisational and technological problems would be shared and evolved through new software tailored to the way the mind works and connected through the world wide Internet.
Introducing Dao (now Peer)
Aran: "Two years ago I started working on an implementation of a peer-to-peer open source system, and after a year and four re-writes I realised that all the powerful concepts I wanted to include in it (P2P, Open-Source, Document-Evolution, Fractal-Compression, Associative-Memory etc) were actually all made of the same "atoms" of programming, but applied to different kinds of resources and at different levels of abstraction (programs running within programs and so on) I probably started thinking about the project like this because I have been studying the philosophy of information and knowledge for a long time. So I put the implementation on the back-burner and started thinking about the whole thing again from a more philosophical perspective.
Now another year later, a new implementation is in progress built on the Taoist (Tao) principles. When IT is made to work in accordance with Taoism it presents us with a single "e-seed" out of which all the most powerful, efficient and democratic IT concepts emerge such as those mentioned above and many more.
All applications (groups) are accessing, defining and managing various resources (eg. Information, objects, money, credit, space, processing time etc etc) ie. Everything we need or want to do can be expressed in terms of objects and their relationships.
Objects are passive (acted upon by relationships)
Relationships are active, acting upon Objects
The Object:Relationship dichotomy (Yin:Yang) is the basic "Atom" of knowledge, it splits wholes into their active and passive elements, and when used recursively (splitting elements of elements of elements etc) creates a "space" of many fragments of meaning, out of which large ordered structures emerge in the form of concepts, ideas and applications.
- Dao.doc - March 2002
A New Consensus
Being able to co-ordinate themselves much more effectively because they are now sharing information and resources directly, not mediated through markets and middlemen, people will be able to drop out of the structure of consumer society at their own pace, creating new support structures and empowering themselves to direct all their energy into building the good future.
New decision-making tools can make the dream of a direct, consensus-based electronic democracy a reality. Citizens can bypass governments with such tools, interacting with each other directly to resolve problems.
Kieran’s polling software can help people share and develop opinions, make political and economic decisions and share information effectively. It provides the basis for a truly democratic forum where everyone is empowered to craft polls and help form the debate or contribute a new perspective.
The beauty of the above-described technologies and others like them is that they enable a participation in the transformation process that is very graduated, from someone choosing to live within "the system" and contributing some form of goodwill regularly to someone who is fully engaged in the process, and everything in between. Someone might choose to share just their car in exchange for something else or they might share most of their things in order to maximise the utilisation of the goods they own and increase the wealth of everyone who is hooked into the network without extra expenditure.
Maximising utilisation will be an important outcome of the transformation. Currently we are not using the goods we own efficiently. Collectively, we are a lot poorer than we should be, because the capitalist system is always striving to maximise profits and is therefore geared toward massive duplication of ownership, i.e. most people own a lawnmower while utilising it only, say 1% of the time. Using resources more efficiently, e.g. through car-pooling, can occur through resource management and sharing, something that the Dao software will facilitate.
Stress-free zones (now Sanctuary)
The economic pressures of our time often stifle creative efforts necessary to transform the way we do things. Many people with sound and sincere ideas that go against the grain are forced to play by the market rules (i. e. pay rent), which they do not accept and which often entail a "creeping buy-in". To set free these creative resources we can create zones that will enable people to pursue their interests and often positive but anti-corporate-profit concepts that would empower people directly. One such thing might be some new, cheap, ecologically balanced way to generate large amounts of electricity. That would be an example of…
In these stress-free zones people could, for example spend time researching, developing and manufacturing “freedom technology�? which aids the transformation process. Freedom technology could be described as anything that makes groups or individuals more autonomous, like a "universal settlement starter kit" for example, a container full of all the basic things that are needed to make a group of 20 people relatively autonomous. Something that helps people co-operate, like the Dao software, could be termed freedom technology. Of course the design process in the network will be open and intellectual property will be shared, speeding up the pace of development and eventually giving the Transformation Network a technological edge over the old system as well as being, in some respects, two or more orders of magnitude more efficient.
- Transparency and Accountability
Part of the new way of doing things will be to acknowledge certain aspects of human nature and having systems that keep people honest, i. e. using feedback loops in software that encourage good citizenship. The current system offers too many "queue jumping" opportunities and is vulnerable to manipulation.
- New currency system
A new currency system could emerge from the network of cooperating people as a locally dynamic medium of exchange but lacking certain negative properties that money currently has, i.e. interest and debt.
Autonomous Settlement (now Sanctuary)
A lot of the above described concepts and ideas would be easier to implement for the people wishing to pioneer them if a loose network of co-operating intentional communities could be established. Those of us who are ready can start discussing how this could happen and begin a process with which communities can easily be established.
There are other reasons for wanting community that are to do with lifestyle. Having a whole bunch of friends around, backed up by an (eventually massive) support network will help us regain a sense of belonging and being grounded. Those of us worried by the toll on our (mental) health by noise, stress and pollution in the cities can look forward to living in a clean environment in healthy houses. Another important aspect is the promise of living close to work because it would easily be possible to set up something with people who are working on what we are interested in.
A sense of independence and empowerment would arise from being able to take part in decision-making processes easily as well as being "off the grid" and economically autonomous while connected to a huge human network of resources. It would be possible to travel within the transformation network and live in different places as desired because no one and everyone would own the resources of the network. A global, nameless, borderless country could slowly emerge from the old nation-states, millions of humans cooperating directly, leaving the frustrations and inefficiencies of the old way behind.