Software for a New World
April 2006 (sketch article)
Imagine an accumulative database of knowlege, a bit like Wikipedia, available for download and that covers every aspect of ecologically-sound, life-promoting and democratic communities.
NOT SURE HOW PRACTICAL this one is because it implies that there is one best way of doing things in a given environment, but it is worth looking at.
This proposal is for a project to lift human civilization out of its current crisis point to a new functional level of stability. It is a proposal of form rather than content, structure rather than information, because it recognizes that although we actually have almost all the pieces and expertise we need to practically change human society on a global level, we do not as yet have a viable mechanism for putting these pieces together and implementing the necessary changes.
So this proposal is one of the application of information rather than the information itself. In this way it is similar to a computer program. It is a method of applying information that is already out in the public domain, just not being efficiently utilized.
Most of those reading this proposal will be aware of the impending crises that are facing humanity on all fronts: Gaia's life support system will soon be trashed beyond recovery and our societies, both locally and globally, are pursuing agendas that do not serve the interests of humanity or any other species sharing this fragile little planet. We seem to be pursuing policies of death and destruction on all fronts, and we are ruthlessly pursuing these with systems (such as the capitalist & free-market systems) that are becoming less and less accountable to the people.
At the same time, many of us would agree that there is not only a global explosion of new consciousness and spirituality going on, but new technologies such as alloy solar panels, water purification systems, ethical money systems, and efficient and non-ecologically damaging food production methods have been developed. Together, this new consciousness and new technologies give humanity all the pieces it needs to extricate itself from this universal crisis that humanity is facing. So why isn't this happening?
- Everyone is working separately on their own projects.
- Different groups and individuals have different parts of the solution. However, none seem to have the entire solution in a form that is practical. (Most solutions are presented as "add-ons" to normal life.
- Everyone is trying to save the world themselves — ego is involved. Each is trying to make his or her organization THE organization, and does not want to accept leadership from anybody else.
- Most seem to be waiting to get permission or support from their governments — governments that are so entrenched in old systems that this is ultimately not going to happen for most countries around the world.
- Few seem to have a true vision of a whole new social structure of humanity, and are applying solutions with old consciousness to outdated systems. This offers only a partial solution at very best.
The result of all these is the frustrating situation of us continuing down the path of destruction with the know-how to change tact any time, but without the collective will, the collective imagination, and the collective willingness to let go of the security of what we are used to.
It follows from the above that any solution to this dilemma of available solutions but little global practical application is as follows:
- It must bring together many different solutions from around the world and integrate them together into a cohesive whole.
- It must be entirely democratic and involve everyone according to their skills and strengths.
- This structure must be networked rather than hierarchical. (Leadership/power must be dispersed.)
- The structure must be able to grow organically and grow easily. It must self-perpetuate and network out strongly.
- It must not have too much of a "corporate" or "individual" identity, only recognizable as a means to an end. (Paradoxically, this will give it the ultimate identity.) For this reason it should not promote one particular belief system (such as a religion or spiritual outlook, too completely or exclusively).
- It must bypass the agendas of government -- local, national and international -- as much as possible. (Granted, governments may choose to get involved, but they must not be allowed to set any agendas or control any aspects of this new system.)
- The solution must be built from the ground up on an entirely new paradigm. (There is little point adding aspects of it to old paradigms as this will spell failure.)
Here is one possible solution that matches these criteria:
Set up the structure in a similar manner to open-source software manufacturing or the online websites Wikipedia or DMOZ. This type of setup allows many different experts in different areas to contribute to an overall project, one whose scope and ultimate design is set by its structure. So Wikipedia, for example, is an information collection and refining resources that, given a little time and networking, now rivals the Encyclopedia Britannica.
This proposal is for a structure or template which collects and integrates the know-how to set up flexible communities, both large and small, concentrated and dispersed, that are life-promoting to their members, to those outside these communities and for the Earth's ecosystem. The emphasis here has to be on flexibility, because different people who will join will live in entirely different circumstances. Some will be city dwellers who might not yet be able to live in self-sustaining communities and only want to dabble in them "from afar", whereas others might want to take the plunge and practically live in these sorts of communities. Both need to be welcome.
So the "software" that we are all focused on creating is a flexible community template that brings together the best in alternative/eco technologies, spiritual/consciousness teachings and alternative money/financial systems. This "software" is upgraded continually around the world by experts in their field. And any time someone wants to join or set up a community, they just download the latest version, choosing from a whole array of options to set up the best solution for their own particular situation.
There are three aspects to this "software's" foundation:
- a whole new alternative money system
- green/eco power supply
- ecological food/water production/procurement
These three (especially the first one) form a strong foundation that truly allows this system to bypass governments.
Briefly, lets look at each in turn.
Imagine something on the scale of ebay or wikipedia that is a central banking system, networked out so that no particular government or official body has any control over it. Perhaps it could be backed up off-shore in international waters via satellite. This money system (and there are many that already exist) would form the foundation of any community template, for the glue that keeps communities together and acting as a unit is the exchange of goods and services. This money system would have to be set up in such a way as to encourage eco-friendly products and activities. Unlike current alternative money systems, this one would have several levels of entry, depending upon how much the individual could realistically contribute to community production. Some communities will be able to sustain themselves entirely on this money system, whereas others will only use it to supplement theirs. Individuals would be constantly encouraged to put more of their labour towards their community, and this would cut their earnings and tax bills for conventional money. Again, alternative money systems have existed for a long time, so the trick here is to integrate them into a format that is easy for the average person to dabble in to whet their appetite for more involvement. (Many alternative money systems are currently an all or nothing sort of set up which discourages ordinary people into joining them.)
Alternative power is the next foundation ingredient (this includes a program to minimize conventional power resource usage). There would be incentives to do this which could be credits of alternative money. (Credits would be offset by the individual's overall carbon balance.) Alternative power would include solar generators (especially the new alloy ones just developed), storage heaters, insulation etc. The object would be to minimize oil, coal, gas and nuclear power usage, all of which are harmful to the environment. Communities would be penalized less if they have a program for phasing out these "old-world" power sources.
The third aspect of foundation to this new program is ecological and efficient food/water production. Obviously individuals living in cities would not be able to contribute in this aspect, although they would be given information on how to minimize the ecological impact of their diets and how to maximize their health using diet and other means. Food choices are responsible for a huge amount of global destruction.
These foundational aspects of the new community template start to give participants real security (much more so than, for example, investing in pensions etc.) and it is this that will bring the masses into the program. However, it must grow organically… one idea might be similar to the way that Gmail first started whereby it was on an introduction basis. In this way, the system starts out with network already in place before individuals make deeper ties and connections within the organization.
Upon this foundation are many many other modules for community living. Religious modules can be chosen, as well as different modules for different environments (desert communities would be more focused, for example, on water accumulation than a mountain community, so they would download the extended water module or desert module). Spirituality must come after survival needs are taken care of. This gives the communities real stability.
Is it a difficult solution to implement?
No: those setting up Wikipedia did not have to be experts in anything other than setting up a system that could collectively be used to produce an end goal, a "people's encyclopedia". It is the same with this project: we don't have to be experts at anything other than setting up systems that process information. There are, after all, LOADS of experts in all aspects of alternative community out there. The trick is to make a structure that brings that expertise together in one place. We don't have to know the information ourselves. We also have to set it up in a way that encourages others to participate in that information accumulation process.
What must not be overlooked is that the project must be seen as collective, and not owned or run by a small group of people. If it is, then a "them and us" energetic is created and rival groups start up. Only if it is inclusive and an entirely collective enterprise, like Wikipedia does it have a chance to work. For this reason, how it is branded is very very important.
Local versus global:
The type of communities proposed here are locally sovereign. However, different communities can then form super-communities that can then form international communities. There might be different systems for each echelon. This proposal must differentiate between these different levels of community. It is important that there are steps in place to prevent concentrations of influence and power. This is central to these types of community.
This proposal is for an information structuring system to be used for compiling a comprehensive and continually updated community program that bypasses governments to create a viable future for humanity. The expertise is out there in pieces; all we have to do is find a system that can put them together in a practical way. Such a system would effectively be an information processing system, allowing a solution to grow organically.
Our business is will be information structuring, not so much information content.
Addendum to The Proposal
At the centre of the proposal is an alternative money system. Different communities can choose the name and flavour of their monetary unit for the software, so that the money is tailored for their kind of community.
It is important that we don't come across New Agey at all because we are going for MASS appeal, otherwise it really doesn't work. We want the person down the road who knows nothing about spirituality or consciousness to want to join because it makes good sense and makes for a better future for his or her children. Once in the organisation, individuals are exposed to new ideas, but at their own pace. Remember, everything a person does has an effect on them so this new project is never going to be completely neutral. Everything is propaganda for something, even anti-propaganda material. Therefore, we can slant everything in a life-giving direction without using any New Age terminology.
Perhaps we could have the community template software not only with different language modules (this will happen) but with different vernacular. So, those who are new agey can download the New Age module and give their own community a distinct new age feel, even in the foundation aspects.
So lets see what we need:
A small group of computer techies that really know their stuff and can set up project management software (and donate it if they have it). We want something that is transparent and works online so that individuals from all over the world can help us build new community templates.
We need a money expert for putting together a flexible alternative money system that can work at many different levels. Interest will be negative, to stop people hording, and everyone will receive a basic salary.
Problems to overcome: many people don't actually produce anything useful or essential for survival, so how will this system work for communities that are not "land-communities"? The way I see this working is that everyone, with money they make by conventional means, helps buy land for food production etc. This gives them a ticket for free food from that land. Those who can't afford it will go for working holidays to work the land (permaculture etc.). Working the land this way will many in touch with nature and ecological systems. Others with skills that are useful to the community contribute in the best way that they can, such as health practitioners etc.
It is important to remember that this project does not have to be entirely self-sufficient. It can be symbiotically used along side conventional systems, although everyone is encouraged to put more and more of their resources and commitment into the alternative communities. (And they will want to!) You could see it as the ultimate pension investment: what is the point of putting money in the bank when all the banks will eventually collapse? By putting your money into land and tangible assets for the community, you are assured support even if all the banks etc collapsed. This makes it a VERY attractive investment.
We could even have a system whereby community members tithe their conventional salaries to the community, and in return the community meets more and more of their essential needs, including security. Anyone moving to a new community can sell their stake in the old one (in alternative money of course) and integrate into the new community. There has to be a way of doing this.
Food would have to be grown by permaculture and be largely vegetarian out of ecological necessity. We could have hydroponic food growing places etc. We could grow food in the desert, on floating farms… all the technology is there.
Energy would be more of a challenge. We would be using solar technology and wind generators. But also, we need to look into zero-point energy systems that do exist. The energy restrictions mean that local and self-sufficient communities will be more attractive at first, although I believe that there are technologies out there (not necessarily earth based) that will come to the fore in the near future. Solve the energy crisis and any food shortage problems are solved as well.