Answer to Henry Baum
Henry Baum writes:
"Until you offer some practical ideas about how the transition will work, much of this is an intellectual exercise. Invigorating, thought-provoking, but of limited utilitarian value to the 6 billion other people who don't have the time, resources, or inclination to consider these ideas. Beyond "time for change," it's also time to be pragmatic, or these ideas are only going to appeal to a New Age minority. These ideas are transformative and inspiring, but that's only half the equation."
Henry, I appreciate the comment, although I do feel I have offered many practical ideas about the transition in my past work. Here I will once again seek to encapsulate various aspects of my thesis into a practical program. For those who want to follow my line of reasoning, a number of books have been critical: Multitude by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, On Revolution by Hannah Arendt, Spontaneous Evolution by Steve Bhaerman and Bruce Lipton, Conscious Evolution by Barbara Marx Hubbard, Utopia or Oblivion and Operation Spaceship Earth by Buckminster Fuller, The Future of Money by Bernard Lietaer, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization by Tom Greco, Cradle to Cradle by William McDonogue, Mediated by Tom DeZengotita, The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abrams, etc. Not to mention works by Marx ("The Jewish Question"), Rousseau ("The Origins of Inequality"), Gandhi, Macchiavelli, and so on.
Essentially, the plan is to simultaneously work within and outside of the system as it exists, to bring about a rapid transmutation of this system so that it serves humanity as a whole and safeguards the planetary environment through long-term stewardship.
Think of corporations as nascent organs in the collective body of humanity. A media company is akin to the species' perceptual and cognitive capacities; an energy company is like its blood; a waste treatment company like its liver; etc. As Lipton and Bhaerman discuss in Spontaneous Evolution, immature eco-systems are characterized by competition and aggression, while mature eco-systems are symbiotic and cooperative. We find a great example of this in our own bodies, made up of hordes of micro-organisms that learned to work together for the greater good of the whole, many millions of years ago. You don't see our liver cells invading our pancreas, etc. SE proposes that humanity is on the verge of recognizing itself as collective organism, a planetized species consciousness: This is what our meshing together through communication technology points toward.
Corporations are the most powerful agents for transforming matter and energy, for taking concept and idea and realizing it in tangible form, that human beings have ever devised. The development of the corporate form in the 17th Century was a great evolutionary leap. However, we now need to reach a collective realization of the design flaw in how corporations currently function so we can redirect them from being agents of planetary destruction to cooperative entities that work for the good of the planet and safeguard the future for our descendants.
Essentially, corporations are "artificial life forms" that we have constructed out of legal code and financial data and let loose on the planet. However, we have constructed a set of game rules for them that are suicidal for the earth. We have given corporations one single prime directive: to maximize share-holder value, no matter what. If a corporation doesn't do this, it dies. Therefore, being artificial life forms, that is exactly what they seek to do. According to this program, if there is an expensive environmental restriction, they will seek to overturn it. If there is government regulation, they will do anything to corrupt it: This is built into their nature, according to the rules we constructed for them, to be profit-making machines.
Because of this intrinsic design error, no superficial reform of the current system is going to be truly effective. We have to consciously redesign the game rules so that all corporations function according to different prime directives: they need to have an ecological and cooperative ethos built into their operational logic from the start. This doesn't mean that current protests against hydro-fracking, genetically modified organisms, etc, should be interrupted: In fact, victories in these areas will help to move us to the next point in the struggle, where the need for this deeper transition becomes generally accepted, something that enough of us will fight for, unremittingly, until we bring it about. Also, the efforts from within corporations to make them more sustainable are also valuable -- but won't be truly effective until the game rules of the system are changed.
Concurrent with the growth of the awareness that the corporate system is a planetary suicide machine as currently designed, we also need to undertake a far-reaching transformation of the financial system, and consciously redesign "money" (the token of how value is exchanged) so that it functions to enhance local communities, protects resources, safeguards the commons, and so on. Evolver recently published two books on this subject: Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein and What Comes After Money?, an anthology of essays originally published in Reality Sandwich: I deeply recommend them!
"Money" is a not a neutral tool -- or something natural and inevitable -- it is an instrument that has been designed according to certain values and beliefs, to support particular ends. The ruse of the fractional reserve banking system and the "Federal Reserve" (which is neither federal or a reserve) has been exposed. Our financial system creates artificial scarcity and enforces cutthroat competition (as the joke has it, how do people in Hollywood say, "Fuck you?" "Trust me."). The entire financial system is a debt pyramid, a Ponzi Scheme, with a currency that has been delinked from all tangible resources and functions entirely virtually. In fact, the global financial system died on the operating table in 2008, and since then, the ruling banking elite has been seeking to artificially resuscitate it by creating trillions of imaginary credits and pumping them into it. Bankers are now running European countries -- with former members of Goldman Sachs installed as rulers in Greece and Spain -- in an increasingly desperate effort to keep this system of tyranny and debt-peonage afloat.
There is no reason that consortiums of local businesses cannot get together to create their own credit system based on tangible goods and issue zero-interest loans, as Greco proposes. Lietaer proposes a global trading currency, the Terra, indexed to a basket of real-world goods and resources that decline in value over time. Therefore such a currency would lose value the longer it is held -- it would have what is called a "demarrage" charge, as many currencies did in the past. If you found yourself with an abundance of this resource, instead of seeking to horde it you would be best off sharing it generously with your community, as people would then remember you did them a good turn, and would do the same for you when they attained temporary abundance.
Once again, to look at the biological metaphor, our cells use energy in the form of ATP: No cell can store a huge surplus of this energy, the energy transmits through the whole system and is available for all cells to use as needed for the tasks they are required to fulfill for the good of the whole.
Eisenstein, in his remarkable book, proposes a currency that has its value linked to the health of the commons: To that which should belong to all of us, which we should seek to protect -- such as clean air, clean water, wildlife, wetlands, etc. In the same way having a currency linked to gold leads people to tear gold out of mountains and rocks, a currency indexed to what we hold in common could lead people to value that most of all.
In the near term, we can participate actively in creating and working with local currencies: Even creating a time-share among a group of friends who are willing to help look after each other's kids, or a community currency that supports sharing and cooperation. At the same time, agitating for financial reform is good -- as long as we realize it is not good enough, since what is required is systemic change. Since banking is essentially a virtual system, there is no reason a better virtual system can't be created that functions according to the alternative principles proposed here: At some point, an instant switch-over can be made -- perhaps when the current financial system finally tanks.
The point in all of these areas is not to reject the current system and thus cut ourselves off from being effective. It is to utilize the tools and techniques of the current system to bring about its transmutation into a new social form.
There was a time, not long ago, when few people believed that humans would ever be able to create a flying machine. Today, we tend to believe that industry has to create toxic waste and pollution that degrades the biosphere and our own bodies, to bring us the products we crave. However, as Cradle to Cradle explores, it is quite possible that all of our industrial systems could be redesigned to create no toxic effluents -- so that everything we create feeds back into the eco-system and even supports its flourishing.
Do we see any examples of such a perfected technology? Of course we do! It is called nature. Nature creates no waste. As Buckminster Fuller realized, humans need a "design revolution" so that all of our design and industry is reinvented to follow nature's no-waste, less-is-more, hyper-efficient principles. I propose that the destiny of humanity -- if we choose to survive as a species -- is to reintegrate with nature -- to become "supra-nature," in a sense -- at a higher order of being and knowing. In doing this, we redesign all of our industrial technologies so they do no harm to the biosphere. Perhaps this will take many decades to accomplish fully, but it first has to become an ideal that we recognize as possible and then collectively seek to realize.
The question of energy is, of course, an important one. We are already seeing cars and vehicles able to function on electricity created from solar power, from hydrogen or water hydrolysis. In my film, we converted a scooter to run on water hydrolysis with energy from a solar panel providing the electrical charge. The interesting point is that the entire fleet of 600 million currently existing internal combustion vehicles could be repurposed to function on water hydrolysis by adding tanks to them. This could be an amazing opportunity for Detroit to reinvigorate its factory system to provide these conversions for all vehicles currently existing in the US.
Beyond even that, there is the legitimate potential for energy that is unlimited in supply, produced from drawing upon the quantum fluctuations in the vacuum, as the new movie Thrive explores. Personally, I also believe that galactic civilizations frequently visit the earth in different kinds of ships that exist at different levels of materiality, and these ships are not coming here powered by coal or plutonium. They are using some kind of anti-gravity or Zero Point energy system, which means that such a form of energy does exist and is potentially available to us. It may also be that humans have accessed and used this form of energy in past times, in Egyptian and Atlantean epochs, as Nassim Haramein and Graham Hancock, among many others, have proposed. It may also be that development and public distribution of this kind of energy awareness has been actively suppressed by elements within the control system, but this is no longer the case, as the information is now coming out in so many ways and from so many sources, that it is uncontrollable.
In the near term, then, we should continue the push for alternative energy solutions, while also furthering public discussion on transformative energy possibilities that could be used to rapidly elevate the living conditions of humanity as a whole. Some people might develop prototypes for companies that retrofit current vehicles for hydrolysis, etc.
As we give up the system of artificial scarcity that forces people to labor incessantly in order to support themselves, like gerbils on a wheel or rats in a maze, we will transition out of our current construct of work, into a different realization of life's purpose and meaning. As Buckminster Fuller realized, most of the work that people currently do has a negative value and actually subtracts from the real economy -- the natural economy -- of the earth. For someone to drive to an office, sit indoors all day thus becoming sickly, use Styrofoam cups and toner cartridges and wear out computers built out of "conflict minerals," is just a negative from the mother planet's accounting. If people were, instead, subsidized to live in home communities where they were encouraged to grow their own organic food, have deeper multi-generational ties, and create festive spectacles and ceremonies (what tribal people did, and do, with their time), this would be of much greater benefit to the earth, as well as creating a happier and more fulfilled humanity.
Deep down, nobody wants a "job" to occupy their time: People want a mission to inspire them and bring out their deepest soul capacities. I have yet to meet a child who wasn't a magician, artist, seer, and shaman, all wrapped into one. The current system is idiotic, as it snuffs out our vital and creative impulses in order to turn us into zombies staring vacantly into screens and even believing we prefer these virtual spectacles to true human and spiritual communion with each other and the earth.
So, in the future, following Fuller's brilliant insights, I believe that everyone will receive a living subsidy -- enough food to eat, a decent place to live -- in order to pursue their inclinations and creative drives to the Nth degree. That in fact would be the proper and sensible use of our technical genius, rather than what we do now, which is use most of our intelligence to thwart our deepest potential from becoming manifest. At the same time, some will feel called upon to excel, produce and create, more than others -- and this will also be natural and right, with a greater reward for the achievement in terms of social prestige and access to resources for making new things, but greater talent won't be rewarded as excessively and inequitably as it is today. In a world of cooperation and abundance, that will seem foolish and unnecessary. Ultimately, creativity is its own reward.
It has been well-demonstrated that organic and permaculture based approaches to agriculture produce a higher yield of edible crops and are much less destructive to land and soil than industrial or "mono-cultural" systems of food-production. They are also more labor intensive and require a deeper level of forethought, care, and skill. We should transition quickly back to a global system of organic and permaculture based agriculture, using heirloom and traditional seed stock. The interactive technology of the Internet can be utilized to do global training sessions in these techniques, with local experts going from place to place to educate different cultures on the best practices that have been discovered.
There is no reason for people to be starving on this earth. I interviewed the director of Pro Natura, a non-profit. They have developed an alfalfa leaf extract that can provide a human being's basic nutritional needs for a few dollars a year. In my film, we spoke to aquaponics experts who noted that 80% of New York City's nutritional needs could be fulfilled from within the city's boundaries through rooftop aquaponic gardens. We saw in Cuba what happened when subsidies from the USSR were withdrawn: Instead of starving, they undertook a massive urban farming initiative, and are in better environmental shape than most countries on earth today, with a more secure food supply. In the US, the average morsel of food comes from 2,000 miles away, which is absurdly wasteful.
I think we are only beginning to reckon with the effect of nutrition on human consciousness: I know this is a process I am exploring in my own life. The revolution in practices related to food and nutrition and the evolution of consciousness are the same process, in material and immaterial form.
Therefore, we should be fighting against Monsanto, ADM, the subsidization of chemically polluting industrial agriculture, while many of us learn to grow our own food, create gardens, or at least buy from local organic farms or join CSAs, etc. More community permaculture projects would be great!
One the biggest logjams we currently face is the horrific condition of contemporary mass media, which is a consciousness control system that keeps the mass of people, the multitude, in a stupefied state of cynicism and passivity, hooked on alienated spectacles like sports and Hollywood films that have no relationship to their real lives or future potential. The mass media -- from Fox to The New York Times to Conde Nast -- is a part of the corporate military industrial complex. It is designed to suppress and limit awareness.
In Multitude, Negri and Hardt discuss how we have shifted from Marx's time when "material production" (of goods) was most important or "hegemonic," to a time when immaterial production (of images, memes, ideas, ways that affective relationships are constructed and defined, etc) have become hegemonic (Facebook and Twitter being great examples). Now, in a system where immaterial production has become hegemonic, what, ultimately, is being produced? For Negri and Hardt, the answer is "subjectivity." The mass media machine is a factory for producing a particular form of human subjectivity -- passive, consumerist, at the same time, through the cunning distortion of the concepts of individuality and the construct of the "hipster rebel," believing itself to be superior, knowing, to have chosen its apolitical alienation as the most individual gesture and statement it could make -- and making other options or ways of being invisible. Consider the the media for sale and on view at an airport, and you will get what I mean.
In other words, the mass media produces and reproduces a certain level or form or frequency of human consciousness, and standardizes and homogenizes us through its continual beaming of this frequency. Now, this is not all bad: In fact, this standardization and homogenization of consciousness is part of what we needed to attain our next level of species being. Try to imagine a bunch of noble Masai warriors lining up for airport security screening, to get a sense of what I mean. The effect of transnational postmodern capitalism in standardizing the planetary consciousness is a necessary phase that provides the ground for another stage in our realization of human being-ness. Lewis Mumford noted that we needed to integrate the lessons of the machine realm -- its impersonality, standardization, and functionality, etc -- so that we could become more deeply human, more truly humane. Because we are all meshed together now in this way, we can potentially all hold hands and take the next jump together, when unavoidable and necessary.
In my own work, I have been particularly working in this arena of media to help bring about the necessary transition through an opening and liberation of awareness in many fields. When I found the traditional mass media organs were barred to me, I worked with a team to create an alternative media and educational system, Evolver.net, which is still growing and developing. We now offer interactive webinars, Evolver Intensives (www.evolverintensives.com ), and books (www.evolvereditions.com), and a web magazine (www.realitysandwich.com ), and have a social network that is intended to facilitate building a planetary community of people who share an understanding of the process of change now underway (www.evolver.net -- Evolver Social Movement on Facebook).
Once again, the approach is not an "either or" but a "both and": Work within the traditional media structures if possible, while seeking to construct an alternative media infrastructure that uses all of the techniques of marketing and advertising if possible to disseminate an alternative vision and a set of tangible practices that people can access from wherever they are. DIY media; alternative media going viral through Youtube, Facebook, or Vimeo: all of this is part of the process now underway, which is breaking down old hierarchies and has the potential to create a new open-source media democracy.
Social Networks and the Political System
When we review our history, we find that whenever a profound new media technology is born, there is a paradigm shift in political and social organization. For instance, you couldn't have had far-flung Empire until you had writing and a standardized code of law; you couldn't have had the modern democratic nation state until you had the printing press, which was necessary to distribute enough information about current events that people could vote. We now have a new form of media technology that is fully interactive, and this points toward creating a new political and social organization, which I tend to think of as "direct democracy," or what the anthropologist Pierre Claustres called "Society without a State."
Our current system of government was designed in the 18th Century to run on 18th Century technology: it is designed for horse and buggy speeds in an era of super-computers. There is no reason that "we the people" couldn't participate continuously in the democratic process, through constant referendums, votes, educational campaigns, and public debate. There is also no reason that the government is not entirely transparent to us: There is no reason we shouldn't know everything about who supports our elected officials, where their money comes from, to whom they owe fealty based on their past track records, and so on. Most people don't know that congress people are actually permitted insider trading that is forbidden to traders on Wall Street, for instance.
We see the evolution of social networks leading to civil insurrections and overturning across the world, most famously in the recent "Arab Spring," and the emergence of the global Occupy movement. Unfortunately, as we have seen in Egypt and elsewhere, while Twitter and Facebook are fantastic tools for getting people to join forces for a cause, they are not built to facilitate the next level of necessary reinvention and reconstruction of our currently semi-moribund democratic system. We therefore require a new social network that is built to be an instrument for democratic decision-making. This would require a track-back system for discussion forums where evidence could be organized in tree-like structures on any important subject so we don't always have to return to "ground zero" or get thrown off course by corporate disinformation or the subterfuge of private interests. For instance, take a subject like genetically modified organisms, all the evidence for and against could be organized in a transparent system that reveals the source of all statements, the ideological position of the speaker, etc. In this way, it should be possible to always track back to the set point of what is established and necessary for anyone to understand, outside of any bias. For instance, in the case of GMOs, the problem of a lack of a precautionary principle, as we don't truly know what the effect of a mutation will be generations down the line, or whether a mutation in a plant -- such as forced sterility -- can jump to other species. Also, we need to be able to explore the full efficacy of an industrial or technocratic approach compared to other solution-based approaches, with evidence provided from various research initiatives. This type of "reason tree" should be instantly available to us in all areas, so we can make naturally informed decisions.
The Occupy movement is currently foundering on the issue of consensus-based decision-making, and needs to shift into a framework that recognizes the exercise of "rational" -- as opposed to "irrational" -- authority: Rational authority is limited to an area of specialization and achievement that an individual has reached through a training process. Very interesting efforts to in a sense "automate" the bestowal of authority in group collaborative processes are being made: one of them is Shareef Beshay's Better Means system, which provides an infrastructure for working teams to rate their own and each other's performance, based on achieving tangible results.
As with the logjam in the financial system, we can address the current political impasse through the construction of new social networks that create a direct democratic infrastructure, that can be utilized first be early adaptors, and eventually by everyone, on a planetary scale, when we require it and when the time is right.
Through interactive media and social networks, a global retraining and re-imprinting can be undertaken, to rapidly bring about a new awareness of our interrelatedness with the biosphere as a totality, and to provide intensive and rapid education in ways of being and doing that support this realization.
My model does not propose a violent overturning of the present political system, but a plan to rapidly supercede it by building, iterating, and releasing the virtual infrastructure for the "civilization2.0" we all know in our hearts is possible, and that we need for the sake of our own lives and our children's children's children.
Another urgent need is the demilitarization and decolonization of the human mind, and a collective movement toward pacification. We have the models of Gandhi and Martin Luther King to consider: How the desire for peace can move from a passive wish to an unstinting demand, backed up by nonviolent action. We have begun to see a resurgence of this form of activism in the Occupy movement: It seems to be something that is welling up from the collective consciousness of humanity, part of our collective immune system response to the parasitic predation of the dominator complex that is now underway.
If a spiritual revolution were to occur in the United States, first and foremost, that involved a realization of love and divinity as a living presence on earth, then we could potentially convert our far-flung network of military bases into re-training centers for nonviolent communication, meditation, permaculture techniques, and other modalities that support rapid pacification. I think it is quite possible that this spiritual revolution is the destiny of our country: you could feel the first tone in this new octave of cooperative human being-ness sounding out in the Occupy zones. The pendulum swing of contracting consciousness had to go all of the way in the other direction so it could come back with sufficient force to break through the "mind-forgd manacles" that hold us in a certain set of limiting beliefs and ideological inertia. As I have written elsewhere, the advanced consciousness that emerged in the 1960s -- anthemized in the music of the Beatles, etc. -- was a presentiment of the new form of species being that will soon become the common property of humanity as a whole.
To bring about the pacification of human consciousness, meditation is a powerful tool. Experiments with Transcendental Meditation demonstrated that a sufficiently large number of meditators in a particular locale were able to significantly reduce the rates of violent crime in the Washington DC area and other places. Now, why was this experiment discontinued?! Why not make it a permanent, ongoing "experiment" taking place everywhere all at once. TM now absurdly costs thousands of dollars to learn "officially": I recommend making this and all other such modalities freely available and mass-distributable through Internet-based training programs that thousands or millions of people can access at once.
This was explored at length in my film, 2012: Time for Change, which streams on Netflix or can be bought at www.2012timeforchange.com. An extraordinary repository of beneficial projects can be found by going to bfi.org and looking through the proposals for the annual Challenge Grant: Bioremediation will be the growth economy of the future, once we transition to a new paradigm in which the exchange of value is redesigned to support the health of the environment and the strength of the commons. We should be using natural systems to heal nature -- as John Todd and Paul Stamets are doing.
We will also need to do massive collective work to reverse deforestation, desertification, mitigate climate change, and preserve biodiversity: I believe that this can be undertaken as a multigenerational initiative that will be recognized as a sacred trust, and a joyful, devotional act toward the Mother who gives us life, breath, body, and soul.
I look toward the end of the concept of private property and intellectual property in general: This may take a few generations to accomplish, but I believe it is our destiny, and could actually happen much faster, once realization is attained by those who make up the "tipping point". Aboriginal people and nomadic people don't have a traditional concept of private ownership: However they have a concept of something like "usufruct," meaning that while you are actually using something productively, you have the right to continue using it, and nobody can take it away from you.
I think intellectual property laws are anathema to human creativity, and patently absurd. Shakespeare was only capable of being so amazing because he could take other plays that were lying around and revise them as he saw fit.
We are currently seeing a movement in this direction with the "Creative Commons" licenses, etcetera, plus with the crumbling of the capacity of the media industries to stop people from copying and reproducing whatever they want: Information wants to be free: Let's make it free. Obviously, this process needs to run in parallel with the other aspects of the transition described earlier: toward subsidization, shift in the work culture and transformation of industry and the media. We don't want the artists to be shafted while the corporate system morphs into a new insidious form, which is a current tendency, at least superficially.
A Snake Shedding Its Skin
We could look at the whole process through biological metaphors: One is that of a snake shedding its skin. The texture of the old skin of our current civilization needs to hold together long enough, as this new skin -- of mythology, paradigm, social and technological praxis -- meshes together beneath it.
Another popular metaphor is "caterpillar to butterfly": the few imaginal cells that propagate the reconfiguring code that transmutes the biotic goop of the caterpillar into a gorgeous winged being: Changing from rapacious consumer to elegant pollinator, while gaining the added dimension of flight.
Henry, please let me know if this satisfies your request for tangible applications of my ideas and how we can make it happen in the short period of time now available to us.
If you would like me to drill down deeper in any area, please let me know and I will be happy to do it.
Image by SidPix, courtesy of Creative Commons license.Tweet