re – West Coast tour: re/ Thrive & ‘the commons’
Elisabet Sahtouris wrote:
…Being an old fan of yours, Richard, I find myself again in agreement with all you say. Earth has become our Commons, despite the decree of powerful humans in the past that it could be owned in pieces, violating the ways in which indigenous societies did hold it as a sacred commons. If cells and organs in our bodies did not hold bodies as their commons, we would quickly sicken and die. In our body economies money is a free currency regulated by mitochondrial banks to make sure there is just the right flow without inflation or deflation. There is no debt; no call therefore to repayment, no money problems at all unless we stop the economy by ceasing to breathe, drink water and eat food or otherwise kill ourselves.
Will a society based simply on voluntary cooperation–wonderful as that sounds– know enough NOT to turn money into a profitable commodity? Will cooperating people figure out how to manage themselves to do no harm in all the ways you indicate we must? I do not see Libertarianism as having solved any of this…
Very nice to hear from you, Elisabet. I really like how you always articulate the value of biological analogs to social scenarios. Nature’s had a long time to perfect her ways… why shouldn’t we learn from a master?
In a society based on voluntary collaboration, I would assume that all of our voices will be heard. I don’t see it as a mob scenario, but more as a ‘best ideas to the front’ kind of scenario. I cannot imagine a voluntary-collaborate society operating without an evolved degree of inclusive conversation being part of the culture. Libertarianism focuses too narrowly on the isolated individual and his or her presumed economic motivators.
Bob Ocegueda wrote:
Good discernment on the Thrive organization. I also like much of what they are trying to bring about. If I may suggest, there is a very good example of people managing the commons in an efficient and just way, and that is from the culture that inspired the founders of the USA. The Iroquois Confederacy, as described in The Forgotten Founders and other anthropologists and historians:
Perhaps Foster has not come across this information.
Thanks Bob, for referring to the lessons we can learn from earlier societies. When we think of ‘human nature’, we need to keep in mind that every culture beginning from pre-history has been a coherent expression of that nature. We think of some older cultures as being wiser than our own, but that was not because people were wiser then. It was because wisdom was an encouraged virtue in the culture. There is no limit to what we can become if cultural evolution is enabled to proceed creatively.
As regards Foster: when one is deeply invested in a worldview, contrary information gets dismissed in one way or another. The right brain holds the overall pattern of ones world view, and the left brain functions to rationalize that view. Humans are very adapt at rationalization. As Heinlein put it in Assignment in Eternity: “Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal.”
Howard Switzer wrote:
…A college textbook, based largely on Ostrom’s work, is being made available for free online as a pdf. The download link is in the right column of the page at
Speaking of the commons there is an excellent conversation between economist James Quilligan and Charles Eisenstein about it:
In it Charles gets to the need for demurrage currencies which, as I’ve mentioned before, change the dynamics of net present value to encourage long term thinking. I am pushing for understanding this important tool…
Thanks for the commons links. I downloaded the PDF of the book.
A demurrage currency, for those who don’t know the term, is a currency which gets marked down in value, the longer you hold on to it. With a complementary currency, struggling to generate usage, the demurrage approach seems to help, encouraging people to spend and keep the currency in circulation. Savings is systematically discouraged with such a currency.
It’s a whole different scenario if we’re considering what kind of official currency we’d want in a ‘better world’. With an official currency there’s no need to encourage people to spend, and it would be counter-productive to discourage thrift and savings. What would be important is that the currency have a stable value, and that sufficient money be spent into existence to support the optimal level of economic activity.
Proponents of the demurrage approach also claim it encourages long-term investment. In any kind of ‘better world’, I suggest we’d be making long-term investments in society based on sensible considerations; we won’t need artificial incentives to spur us along.
re – West Coast tour: re/ consciousness & social transformation
Elisabet Sahtouris wrote:
I, too, subscribe to the conscious universe, always NOW and yet evolving. Have convened two international symposia on the foundations of science (the conceptual story any science needs in order to make theories and test them). Western science is only one science; we need a global consortium of sciences. Foundational axioms can be diametrically opposed, as in living universe vs non-living universe, or consciousness as a late emergent property of material evolution vs. consciousness as the source of all material evolution.
Sending you a DropBox link to one of my slide shows (this one in London, 20ll). Also attaching a book chapter on Celebrating Crisis. Also strongly recommend the book Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future, by Senge, Scharmer, Jaworski & Flowers, who have long been training leadership in business using consciousness for deep connection/understanding…
Hope all this is of some use to you…
Thanks for all the fascinating material, and I can make that available to others on request.
Your science symposia are very impressive initiatives. The timing is right, as so many fields are in a crisis of contradictions, in their ‘epicycle phase’, with promising new models struggling against academic inertia. Science needs a cultural shift, from specialization to cross-pollenization, and from protecting assumptions to being open about reexamining them. Your initiatives are a big step in the right direction.
The science I’m most intrigued by these days is cosmology, and the rapidly emerging electric model of the universe, which cleanly does away with the standard model’s epicycles (dark matter, black holes, and the big bang). This new model, the evidence for which is overwhelming, resonates very well with the notion of a conscious universe.
The model reveals that stars and galaxies are connected by powerful electric currents and magnetic fields, that the universe is a web of electrically interacting nodes. It is easy to imagine galaxies being synapses in the brain of the universe.
Peter Koenig wrote:
Welcome back to the mortals.
Excellent your piece.
I like particularly..
Meanwhile, in the grassroots, we are responding to impending change not with any kind of coherent consciousness, but more like a disturbed hill of ants, scurrying in every activist direction – while most of the ants (the non-active majority) cling for security to business as usual.
… as it reminds me of what’s happening in Spain. Lots of demonstrations against or for this or that – but no coherence, while the state of society is rapidly deteriorating.
My question then is – as in other similar occasions – are we still too well off for seeing the force of coalescing our spirits and energy into one coherent consciousness?
I don’t think ‘how well off we are’ is relevant. It was relevant in the 50s and 60s, in the USA, but not any longer. All over the world there are uprisings of various kinds, and these can be seen as the tip of the iceberg, indicating widespread public discontent. And economic conditions are continuing to worsen, as they must in a debt-burdened, austerity-mandated economy.
It is not lack of motivation that prevents coherence, rather it is the failure to imagine coherent consciousness as a possibility. In order to imagine coherence, you need to imagine reaching mutual understanding with your ‘other’ – those groups in society whom you see as ‘being the problem’. As long as you are struggling against others among the 99%, you are preserving incoherence.
Howard Switzer wrote:
There sure is a lot of material out there on this. Interesting discussion. Have you seen the Biology of Belief (2007) by Bruce Lipton?
Also as we talk about sustainability and resilience I am reminded of the work that Bernhard Lietaer pointed out regarding complex flow networks. While the research was on biomass in an ecology it applies to any flow network be it electricity, information, transportation or money.
Thanks for the Lipton reference. I googled, and found this brilliant video:
Biology of Belief – by Bruce Lipton (full documentary)
Lipton gives us a really clear explanation of how cells work, how DNA expression is controlled, how adaptive mutations happen, and how environmental factors and beliefs have a powerful impact on our biology. Shifts in our belief system can make us more or less adaptive to our environmental circumstances. Very scientific, and very relevant to the topic of conscious evolution.
Watching this video reminded me of Elisabet’s Foundations of Science symposia, and the need for a more open & assumption-questi0ning culture of scientific pursuit . I suggest that such a culture is alive and thriving on the Internet, and is particularly empowered by Youtube.
Iconoclast researchers are able to share their work widely and promptly, without the delays and filtering of establishment-science publishing processes. In order to achieve any kind of credibility, such researchers must devote considerable energy to explaining their assumptions, and explaining their critique of mainstream assumptions. Like-minded researchers are able to find one another, enabling networked collaborations, arrangement of conferences, etc.
Not only is the Internet supporting the emergence of a more productive science culture, it is also supporting the emergence of a more effective learning paradigm for students. Curiosity-generated learning is the most effective, and the net makes it very easy to explore different perspectives on whatever it is you are curious about. Critical thinking is also nurtured by this kind of learning, because one must use ones judgment in evaluating the different perspectives. There is no ‘one true curriculum’ that the student is asked to digest on faith.
re – Lessons from the tour: a shift in consciousness
Chris Gruener wrote:
Great article Richard. So glad to hear The Force is with you! – Peace, Chris
Again, the role of beliefs comes up. If you believe there are higher forces, morphogenic fields or whatever, then it is possible to begin opening your doors of perception to them.
We need a meme (which will effectively circumvent the planet) that people can latch on to because it is a real answer to the mega corporate power now running the planet. As my oldest friend who escaped Stalin’s gulag once said, “those protesters have no realistic shovel-ready system to effectively replace what they are rebelling against” which always allows the power/money mongers to triumph as those people don’t believe in compromise.
Not easily done.
There are some memes that offer answers of a kind, and which people are earnestly seeking to make viral. Sustainability and localization are two examples. Those are pieces of a real answer, however, not comprehensive answers. A more comprehensive answer would be something like socialism, something that offers a broad program of how society might be run. Unfortunately, perhaps, there are no off-the-shelf comprehensive answers in the air these days. Both socialism and capitalism have been soundly discredited.
And we need to recognize that when people think about answers, they mostly think in terms of economics, the environment, desirable programs, etc. Very little attention is given to the question of systems of governance, of the very decision process that determines whether a society will be in or out of tune with nature, and whether or not it will pursue desirable programs.
Just as socialism and capitalism have been discredited in the realm of economics, we need to recognize that electoral politics has been equally discredited as a system of governance. If we want to visualize a better society, we need also to visualize a better way of governing that society, a way that involves people directly in making the decisions that affect their lives.
There is no blueprint for such a governance process. However, in order for such a process to work, it would clearly need to involve some means of people reaching agreement on what needs to be done, in facing any particular situation. If we can evolve ways of reaching agreement, on an all-views-included basis, we would be developing the kind of culture that could support a self-governing process. The ‘real answer’ meme we need is a meme that we need to create together.
In fact we need a ‘trigger meme’, something that brings us together in conversation in our communities, before we can begin working on the ‘real answer’ meme.
Molly Morgan wrote:
This is so delicious. I look forward to where you go next with this!
Certified Integral Coach™
Thanks Molly, and I’m looking forward as well to seeing where this will lead. I’m just beginning to explore a whole new world of possibilities.
Madeline Bruce wrote:
I think we need to connect with each other. How will we know whom to trust otherwise? We are all getting farther and farther away from that. It is pretty much taboo now. Anything but that, in our culture.
You’ve stated the problem very well, Madeline. Not only is there ideological divisiveness, but there is the increasing isolationism of our societies. How many of us even know our next-door neighbors? As far as I’m concerned, this the Big Strategic Question of the day: what is it that can bring people into inclusive conversation in their communities?