2352. Who will do what and when will they do it.

Most discussions of climate future talk about declining in economic activity and how to counter that by creating jobs.

What is missing is a reporter’s style awareness of how the story is moving. For example, if it becomes clear that a business will be forced into decline, people who stat jumping ship before the new policy actually has an impact.

2351. the tight logic of the current predicament.

The logic is clear
we must stop some economics activity to drop co2 production now

no one will accept cuts in their industry.

Hence we have to live with rising temperatures. This means effects nowocean problemstop soilmigrationsclimate turbulence coming faster than temperature rise.

The tech solutions cannot happen fast enough but the consensus will be to support them at all costs, moving us toward big data, algorithmic monopoly solutions. I read the Carney book. Everyone is holding out for a win win future but the reality is win lose or worse lose lose. The world has the resources to do much better but no institutional base capable of reconfiguring so that lose lose could mean simpler living and higher quality of life for everyone.

2350. Philosophy and reality.

I have been vexed by conversations that talk about the future as if it were 1960 and the future is more wealth health and a larger house.  So I have turned back to  reading the Greek plays. The Greeks are known for facing life directly. If we turned from appreciation of the Greek achievement to asking how would the Greeks see things now, we can return to philosophy and the profound Greek questions. Who am I,  how should I live?

Human life ends in either of two ways.  Natural  catastrophe – asteroid or volcanic winter or plague. Or that we kill each other with large and small weapons in dwindling food and habitat.

We like to think we can ignore the “long distant future” but the realty of these futures are already and  increasingly pressing in  on us and it is important to help ourselves and our children and other future generations live in this looming  shadow.  Some starting positions: “Love it while it lasts”, ” or “work to keep humanity going  full speed”  engaged in partnership  with technology, understanding that the long term future is known but the intermediate futures are not.

How then should we live?

2349. How to start a more strategic conversation.

4 questions.

Where are we (the historical present)?

How did we get here?

What can happen?

what then should we do?

Examples of each:

Where are we. Large population, complex civilization, shift from business to financialization, dominance of money over relationships.  See Joseph Tainter’s Collapse of Complex Societies

How did we get here? We are  in a long period that is the incomplete  French Revolution and an aborted romantic reaction to industrialization.  The Treaty of Westphalia which set up the nation state as a way of preventing wars but sowed the conditions for new wars.  Rome sanctioned the  god emperor . Christianity took that god into the beyond and that god sanctioned a moral society, but science eviscerated that god and we have a society of morally inclined individuals without a rationale for why be moral.

What can happen? Merger of big data, algorithms, Google and government

What should we do?  Start conversations.

2348. Comment on Eric Voegelin

His powerful studies run strong current in the background of serious political thinking but is worth a larger public. But it is hard reading. This note provides some pointers.

Voegelin was interested in how early humans experience the world consciously . In that consciousness  they  found parallels between the cosmos (such as the constellations) and the social structure which in turn gave rise to the beginnings of early politics and the sculpting of the governance of the community  in fidelity to the perceived cosmos . If the stars were coherent (moving together around the north star is a stable pattern ), perhaps social life was also. The fact that the planets do not move with the stars made the heavens dynamic and lead to the gods. Early humans had time to contemplate these in the log night sky where such correspondences could be slowly felt.

The cosmic civilizations that emerged with increasing population  were  based on the microcosm macrocosm  parallel  insight of Paleolithic hunter gatherers.   It was conservative “Hey don’t try to change society, you will mess up the cosmos”.   The word cosmos, from  pre classical   Greek  was the word used naming the pattern of silver studs on a horse collar. That pattern idea, (the mind works this way), projected upwards seeing the patterns in the constellations, – the metaphone in quite direct – gave us “cosmos”. Since the silver studs  also made a kind of  necklace, we get “cosmetics”.  This gives lots of insight on how early humans thought and he origin of the idea of political order in the cosmos.  That cosmos and  cosmetics share a common origin is (fill in your favorite word)

What is important here is that the people are conscious and in that consciousness discover correspondences.  Archeology also finds  that patterns of  that early cave users took the constellations as superstructure (most of us now how to dind at least Orion in the night sky) for some animal cave paintings, again making a connection between the cosmos and pragmatic lives of hunting.

Voegelin goes on to describe, as in the lecture, that early humans found similarities in their perceptions between the cosmos and society,  but  as empire becomes  oppressive rebellion meant   taking steps out of  the cosmos symbolism of the repressive order into more social. Moses led the people out of cosmic empire  into a new ordering principle,  for Israel, history and for the Greeks,   philosophy  Note it is people trying to understand how to live – political order – that led them to find correspondence between part of reality and social structure. Voegelin is looking for the emergence of political order in their consciousness in the world they inhabited – including the night sky and the seasons.

As Voegelin makes clear in the last volume  of Order  and History, things get murky because society is more differentiated and accumulates mistakes  in articulating Order.  

BTW order  for V order requires five  structures in thought:  self, society, history, cosmos and the usually problematic “divine”  I would venture that what V means by divine or god is really the unnamable beyond what can be seen  to what cannot be seen but we all  we all experience. That there is a beyond we can feel but can’t articulate..  

Voegelin  did an earlier seven volumes on the history of political thought, not published until long after the Five Vols of Order and History which is a  bit easier and helpful. Very detailed, showing among other things the dependence of much of our political thinking on the middle ages. Consciousness was not considered in this earlier history.

Our dilemma in the West is we have gone from the emperor god (Rome) to Christianity with its god in the sky in an  ethical and caring world that in turn was broken apart by science, leaving us individuals with a moral sense but no longer subordinated to a moral universe. Hence modern fragmentation. We have the serious question: can a society survive without an agreed upon frame?

2347. Human intelligence

I think it was a mistake that is costing us  -homo economicus –  to see humans as different and obviously superior from animals because of intelligence, and then making intelligence more important than other animal qualities such as caring and playfulness. 

Second, so many commentators treat human intelligence as the upper limit of animal intelligence. This is clearly wrong as animals are in many ways  relative to their environments much more accomplished than we are.

2346. Collapse of Complex societies.

Joseph Tainter, in his powerful 1990 book The Collapse of Complex Societies shows that those who have power misuse the technologies available to them, seeking more power and profit, seek ever more complex and expensive solutions to the next challenge facing their civilization. Civilizations collapse because the increasing costs of complexity overtake increases in productivity. The elites are the elites because they own the infrastructure of the state (as in GE, Shell, and the Carlyle Group, ConAgra and Citicorp) and, when things start looking bad, instead of trying to fix the system, they ramp up their exploitation of it, to get the cash to survive, by cutting costs, which further degrades the systems performance and capacity to innovate. 

2345. Change and stasis as politics

Changes in  the environment – temperature, humidity, and predators or prey –  gve rise to opportunities.  Humans adopting clothes gave new opportunity for head lice who took he opportunity to thrive there and along with that adaptation gave up the ability to live outside of clothes. For more than a couple of hours  These forces of choice and evolution  act on humans, but we came along and tried to project existing variations or move aggressive to new ones. Already conservative and progressive vectors.The basis for this initiative  by r humans is what we call culture. So human beings live in the space between the existing varieties and new possibilities.

The result is we are always thinking of leaving the our fellow humans behind and becoming a new species, what Eric Ericson called pseudo-speciation as s in highshool football teams or wars between nations.

This can be seen in many ways. One simple one is that we are drawn to two ethical systems: innovation and equality. The tension is real and there is no solution, We just have to live the dilemma.

2344. Stories from the deep past.

Cattle, law, grain, capitalism, equal distribution, resistance to settlement.

Society has never taken up the challenge of managing the whole, though I just learned that the Chinese , jing li, for economics came from the Japanese and meant — long ago — managing for the benefit of all. This amazingly parallels the greek economy where the nomos, meant, in early Greek, “equal distribution”. This seemingly trivial detail is important because, as the church lands gave way to state or private ownership, it kept the idea of an intact eco, home, and its management, nomo. The idea of economy as a realm within but not equivalent to, society, has its roots here.

The history of the nomos part of “economy” is amazing in its implications and very important for Gardenworld. The key implication is that there are different ways society can be organized. Gardenworld needs this opening so we don’t fall into just trying to repeat the kind of society we have with its exploitation and misuse of land and people.

Plato’s book  The Laws as man made, is actually preceded by  a more powerful idea. Start with the idea that Cattle was the first kind of wealth. The new calf  (head of cattle, hence cap, “head” as in new head of cattle and on to capitalism, arising from the dynamics of cattle raising) increases the size of the herd, at first community responsibility. As the herd grew, conflicts arose about grazing rights and the focus of wealth shifted to land and how to measure it. But the culture, coming out of shared hunter gathering, wanted to maintain the culture of sharing and so looked to divide the land equally among families. But of course there is no equal land, swamp, dry rocky hillsides. The word used, nomia meant equal distribution. This tension exists in modern and probably all law. No need for a law if there isn’t a problem to be corrected, and the early use of nomia was thus an intent to maintain equality while underlying forces were leading to inequality.

This and other histories are important to understand because they encourage us to consider alternatives to a capital/labor divide which has been quite destructive. We need choices if we are to put together a regenerative start.

This requires some deep rethinking as we move toward a different future. 

James C. Scott’s Against the Grain: a deep history of early states tells the history of the resistance for 100,000 years or more that early humans avoided settlement. Settlement meant an elite and slave labor. The wall wasn’t to keep intruders out – a rare event – but to keep slaves in. Diet was reduced, health deteriorated, the easy work of hunter gatherers meandering four hours a day gave way to dawn to night labor. 

Jeremy McInerney’a The Cattle of the Sun_ Cows and Culture in the World of the Ancient Greeks shows that the ancient empires were really cattle ranches. Recall your reading of The Odyssey and the dependence of Odysseues’s crew on beef. on cattle.

2343. Civil rights

The real civil rights (freedom supported by community) are having meaningful roles that obviously make a contribution, lack of exploitation in land or income, and fairness and appreciation.

That the billionaire phenomena could happen required scale, educated consumers and workers. All, as well as intellectual property,l provided by others. That we couldn’t stop it shows a real weakness in the conception of the modern state. The outcome will be neofeudalism.