Archive for the ‘Manila Home Page Archive’ Category

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Monday, January 19th, 2009

“Today there is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence. I feel that we’ve got to look at this total thing anew and recognize that we must live together. That the whole world now it is one–not only geographically but it has to become one in terms of brotherly concern. Whether we live in America or Asia or Africa we are all tied in a single garment of destiny and whatever effects one directly, effects one in-directly.

“I’m concerned about living with my conscience and searching for that which is right and that which is true, and I cannot live with the idea of being just a conformist following a path that everybody else follows. And this has happened to us. As I’ve said in one of my books, so often we live by the philosophy ‘Everybody’s doing it, it must be alright.’  We tend to determine what is right and wrong by taking a sort of Gallup poll of the majority opinion, and I don’t think this is the way to get at what is right.

“Arnold Toynbee talks about the creative minority and I think more and more we must have in our world that creative minority that will take a stand for that which conscience tells them is right, even though it brings about criticism and misunderstanding and even abuse.”

Martin Luther King (1967)

Nonviolence: A Way of Life

Marcel M. Baumann

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philosophy and methods of nonviolence are some of the most powerful tools we have for creating social change in America and around the world.  But nonviolence is not only a method for social change, but a positive way of life that becomes a part of all of our personal relationships and everything we do in our homes, communities and political and business life. It is a permanent attitude that is reflected even in the choice and tone of words, in body language and way of thinking.

Dr. King defined six principles of nonviolence which were the heart of his philosophy of nonviolence. A commitment to these six principles is the key to making nonviolence a way of life in our personal relationships and in resolving conflicts, reconciling adversaries and creating social change at the community, national and international levels. He also identified the six steps of nonviolence as a methodology for applying the six principles in solving problems and resolving conflicts peacefully.

Dr. King said, just a few weeks before he was assassinated, “I plan to stand by nonviolence because I have found it to be a philosophy of life that regulates not only my dealings in the struggle for racial justice, but also my dealings with people, with my own self.”

Dr. King taught us that nonviolence first transforms the person who embraces it. Nonviolence is radical in the deepest sense of the word because it changes the spirit behind attitudes. Once the spirit of nonviolence is internalized, goals like domination, conquest or retaliation no longer  drive behavior. When this happens the stage is set for a dramatic transformation of the relationship.

We are challenged to experiment with applying his principles in our daily lives, especially in resolving the conflicts that we encounter. Dr. King taught that nonviolence is a powerful tool for revolutionary personal transformation. As we begin to internalize these teachings, we develop a greater sense of wholeness and meaning in our lives. We cultivate virtues like love, truth, commitment, respect and courtesy, courage, self-discipline, hard work, honesty and social responsibility. These are the some of the core values involved in making nonviolence a way of life.

Nonviolence as a way of life challenges us to rise above the debilitating emotions of hatred and to purge our contempt and animosity toward adversaries. Instead of returning anger with anger, we set an example of emotional maturity. We educate the public and we win the respect and support of the community. We acquire a moral and spiritual power that can not be denied. To internalize the spirit of nonviolence, we refuse to be bated into petty arguments. We challenge negative energy and violence with a loving, positive attitude. This is how nonviolence disarms adversaries. As Dr. King said, “Along the way of life, someone must have enough sense and morality to cut off the chain of hate by projecting  the ethics of love into the center of our lives.”

A commitment to study and practice nonviolence in our personal lives gives us an edge in resolving conflicts and in achieving your goals without making enemies. These teachings can help improve our family relationships and our dealings with friends and our peers. Nonviolence can help us more effectively communicate with our adversaries and resolve disputes in a way that benefits everyone.

The way most people deal with a conflict is by first asking themselves the question, “How can I get my way?” This is the normal way of dealing with a problem. When we think this way, as we all do so often, we let our egos manage the conflict.

But there is a better way. When we make nonviolence a way of life, the first question we ask at a time of conflict is, “What is the most loving thing to do?” When we think this way, we tap the power of the soul. We overcome the narrow, selfish concerns of the ego.

We don’t want to destroy our opponent. We want to win their friendship and understanding. We try to find a “win-win” solution, which benefits everyone. This is how we create lasting peace. We resolve the conflict, not with the attitude of a conqueror, but with the motivation of a peace-maker.

In practicing Kingian nonviolence, we make a commitment to unconditional love for all people without exceptions. We reject all forms of hatred, even for our opponents. We respect the humanity of everyone, especially our enemies. In fact, we don’t even like the word
“enemies.” We prefer the word “adversaries” because it has less animosity and makes us think about the conflict on a higher level.

Nonviolence as a way of life requires that we learn self-discipline and confidence, which is the key to self-esteem. We also learn how to control anger and channel it into constructive and creative action to achieve our goals. We practice the art of nonviolent communication, so we can persuade adversaries instead of fighting with them.

The key to making nonviolence a way of life is to accept love as the guiding principle of all our relationships. Pain and suffering comes into all of our lives; but only love can heal the wounds of the past. Only love can lift us up and make us whole and free. If you let love rule your heart, there is no obstacle, no barrier, no problem you can’t overcome. This is God’s promise to every human being and it is the key to liberation for us all. Love is the most powerful force in the universe and it is also the most available force, because everyone can tap into it.

For more about Martin Luther King, Jr. visit The King Center

Jump into synergic science by reading We Can All Win!, If you are creating a new organization, or desire to synergize an old one, read Ortegrity. If you’re interested in how to make decisions in a win-win world read Sociocracy.

Looking for a guide to synergic decision, read a  Synergic Version of Robert’s Rules of Order.

Read the Synergic Future Series:
1) Beyond Property 2) Redefining Wealth 3) Synergic Wealth 4) Synergic Wealth II: Deepening Our Understanding 5) Trustegrities — Protecting the Future and 6) Synergic Guardians — Protecting the Future.

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Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

As we enter the CRISIS of 2009, we best learn how to live in a sustainable manner. This will require that we work together. The following prescription for sustainable living was written in 2001. 

Co-Operative Solutions

Timothy Wilken, MD

Today, most humans solve their problems as individuals or at best as nuclear families. They meet their individual needs with  individual actions. At best they may meet the needs of their nuclear family through family actions, but this is rarely more than a husband and wife both working. The extended family is an organizational pattern rarely seen in modern society.

This focus on individuality results in a massive loss of opportunity to co-Operative strategies that could result in greater efficiency and economy.

Individual Actions

Even though we humans are an interdependent class of life, we choose our actions based not on what we are, but on what we think we are. Today, modern humans are convinced they are an independent form of life. This deep belief in human independence means that most modern humans seek to meet their needs as individuals and make their choices independently of their fellow humans.

In our present culture humans meet their needs by purchasing products and services as independent individuals. In today’s fair market there are providers of products and services and there are consumers. Both the providers and the consumers for the most part think of themselves as independent and make their choices without great awareness of what others are doing.

In today’s marketplace, the providers and consumers meet only in the retail space. They have little or no direct relationship with each other. In this ignorance, both are, for all extent and purposes, blind and ignorant. The provider doesn’t know his consumers, let alone what they might need or when they might need it. And often the consumer don’t know the providers.

Bird’s Eye View

Let us imagine an aerial view of our community on an average evening at 10:00pm. Looking down we notice that within one square mile there are several small convenience stores open from seven to eleven. These small stores are all competing with each other as well as with larger supermarkets now staying open 24 hours in order to compete with them. At this hour of night there are only a few available customers to be divided up among all these providers.

Each store is paying one or more clerks to staff the store, plus the costs for lighting and heating each store. From our view above our community, it is obvious that most of the clerks could be sent home and most of the stores closed and still allow every customer seeking products and services at that hour to get what they needed. This would also produce enormous savings for this group of providers. To all stay open, the providers must pass the costs of doing business on to their customers, so this means that the prices in all of these stores is higher to subsidize this inefficiency.

Why is this happening? In today’s world we mostly ignore each other. After all, we are all independent. Each individual is supposed to look out for himself. So there is little communication between provider and consumer. The providers are keeping the stores open in hopes that someone will need something. If they were communicating with their customers, they would know when to be open and when they could close. They could then operate much more efficiently.

Now imagine that this same inefficient process is going on with many different kinds of products in every community in our nation and you start to sense the enormous amount of wasted time and energy.

Let’s return for a moment to our bird’s eye view of our community. Only this time let us imagine a time lapse video camera above our neighborhood. Imagine a family of four, two adults and two older teenagers in local college, having four automobiles. If we focus the video camera on the garage and parking area next to their home we would discover that there are times when there are no cars at home. This means that the family has four cars in use. Sometimes there is one car parked, so three cars are in use. Sometimes there are two cars parked, so two cars are in use. Sometimes there are three cars parked so only one car is in use. And sometimes we will find all four cars parked, so on these occasions this family has no cars in use.

Now careful analysis of our time lapse photography will reveal that this family is, on average, making use of only only 1.8 cars. This means that on average 2.2 cars are parked and not in use. Yet this family is making payments on four cars, paying insurance and taxes on four cars, and experiencing depreciation on the value of four cars whether the cars are in use or not. And, this is without considering the expense of operating the cars. Since most modern humans solve all their problems as individuals, they have chosen the most expensive solution possible.

Now if we move our time lapse camera higher, we discovery that this same phenomenon is occurring at every home in the neighborhood. If we examine all the homes within just a few blocks we discover that there are always cars in the neighborhood that are not in use.

Now, as we continue to watch from above, we see that often times the members of this neighborhood are going to the same place. They all go to the same supermarket. They all rent from the same video store. They use the same post office and drug store. As we watch we discover that often one individual will make the same trip to the same place maybe only a few minutes earlier or later than a neighbor. Again, we see that solving our problems individually means that we have chosen the most expensive option. We are doing this because in our neutral culture we don’t even know our neighbors let alone what their transportation needs are.

Now, if we move our aerial time lapse camera high enough to see the entire community, we can now see the parking lots at stores, supermarkets, shopping centers, places of work and schools. And again at any one time most of the cars are parked.

We also discover that one individual living at the north edge of the community is driving to the south edge of the community to his work in a retail store, while another individual is passes him going in the opposite direction, this individual lives on the south edge of the community and is driving to work on the north edge of the community to a similar job. Of course neither individual knows the other, or even how similar and paradoxical their situation is.

We could also analyze these same neighborhoods and discover that each garage contains a lawn mower and numerous tools that are only being used once every two weeks and all of these tools are expensive and require maintenance. I would imagine that in the neighborhood I live in, that on any given moment, ninety five percent of the tools in our garages are not in use.

Individual Actions are Expensive

Our current reality requires that we meet our needs as individuals. This guarantees that we will pay the highest prices for the products and services we need, and with the greatest waste of time and energy.

In any average week, if we total the time and expense involved in making multiple trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, hardware store, nursery, dry cleaners, video shop, post office, etc. etc. etc…, remembering to include the cost of individual transportation with each of us acquiring, maintaining, insuring, and operating our own cars, it would be hard to imagine a system that could be more expensive and inconvenient than our present reality.


While limited forms of cooperation are and have been used in the production of both products and services. Co-Operation is almost non-existent in product and service consumption. Almost all of us consume as individuals.

This has several effects. It insures that the prices we pay for products and services are much higher than they have to be. It further insures that the hidden costs we pay in time and expense related to simply acquiring needed products and services is also much higher.

Synergic relationship is the win-win relationship. We first discover synergic relationship in the microscopic universe. It is the basis of human cellular organization. Each of us has approximately 40 trillion cells organized within our bodies. These cells are related synergically, each acting in a highly co-Operative way.

Synergic relationship becomes available to human individuals because of our human intelligence. Our ability to invent and to understand new ways of doing things creates a new possibility for co-Operation which does not exist in the world of the plants and animals.

Co-OPERATION  -def-> Operating together to insure that both parties win and that neither party loses. The negotiation to insure that both parties are helped and that neither party is hurt.

Here are some examples of how co-Operative actions might be used in the future to reduce costs and increase efficiency.

Co-Operative Videotape Rentals

The provider of videotape rentals operates much as do all small stores in our communities. The provider must select those available tapes which he feels will be popular and then make them available for rental. He keeps his store open long hours for the convenience of his customers, which travel on a regular basis to pick-up and drop-off tapes. This of course, results in lots of travel time and expense for the consumer, and when the consumer fails to find time to view the tape before the rental period expires, they are charged significant late fees.

Now imagine this alternative scenario: Instead of going to the video store you connect to the store via a web page on the internet. The available video tapes are listed with images from the movies, a list of actors, and even reviews.  You select the tapes you want to rent. And they are delivered to your home.

You have a locked delivery box outside your home in which you can retrieve new tapes when you order, and return for pick up when you are finished.

Co-Operative Consumption means that in addition to this scale of convenience, the provider and consumer now have a synergic and intelligent relationship. Using the same internet web page technology, the provider would query their customers as to which of the new releases of tapes they would be interested in renting. These choices could again be provided to the customer along with images from the videos, lists of actors, and reviews.

You could select one of three choices: Yes, Maybe or No.

This information would allow the provider to order an appropriate number of new tapes to fill the expected needs of their customers. Also, if your choices were popular and these tapes would be viewed many times, you could realize a rental at much lower cost. But, if your selection was unpopular, i.e. you were the only one wanting to see a particular tape, then the cost of rental would rise to could equal the full cost of purchasing the tape itself.

This is what is meant by an intelligent relationship with the provider.

The implications of this alternative are great in reducing the cost of rentals, increasing the likelihood that those tapes you are interested in are available, and with all the loss in time and inconvenience, let alone cost of picking up and dropping off tapes eliminated.

If this becomes the primary mechanism of videotape rental, the provider can close the retail Video Store in the high rent district and operate out of a low cost warehouse with delivery vans reducing the costs even more. Now imagine, how this same process could be be applied to many other products or groups of products.  

Co-Operative Neighborhood Garages

Imagine purchasing a membership in a modern community garage within easy walking distance of your home. This garage could have a variety of automobiles that would be available for your use anytime day or night. The garage would be clean, well lighted, and safe. It would be staffed 24 hours a day, the automobiles would always be clean, serviced and full of gas.

Using either computer or telephone you could reserve a car for your own personal use. The garage could easily have many different types of vehicles available to serve your particular needs. You could reserve a station wagon, sports car, utility vehicle, or limousine. The garage could also run shuttle services to those destinations that were commonly and frequently requested.

The number of automobiles needed to meet the needs of the members co-Operatively would be much fewer than the number needed for the same members individually. Total costs would be much reduced and the secondary advantages would be tremendous.

On those occasions when all the cars happened to be in use, transportation needs could be supplemented by taxies or rental cars arranged by the garage.

What would the cost of such a service be. Well first, realize that “attached garage” now a part of almost every home could be eliminated or turned into additional living space. Your cost of membership would be reflective of you use of automobiles. I would expect most families would experience major savings. Those very heavy needs for an automobile would find the costs to approach the same costs as owning their own automobile.

Now there is no reason the Co-Operative Garage should just offer automobiles. It could also provide garden tractors, lawn mowers, and tools of all kinds. The extent and value of co-Operative action is limited only by your imagination.

Co-Operative grocery shopping

Recently a new company has created a prototype for what I am recommending.

Peapod is an online virtual grocery store now available on the internet. You connect to a web page on the internet where you select and purchase items you would like delivered to your home. Peapod uses professional shoppers to go out to major supermarkets and drug stores in your community, and then delivers those items right to your door. Their supermarket partners include Jewel/Osco in Chicago, Kroger in Columbus, Randalls in Houston and Austin, Stop & Shop in Boston, Safeway in San Francisco, and Tom Thumb in Dallas. In Peapod’s own words:

You place the order …
And soon you’ll be cruising the aisles of our virtual store. Selecting from the most popular products and brands you would find if you shopped in the store yourself. You will have thousands of products to choose from, including meat, produce, drug store and specialty items.

We shop for you …
Your grocery order receives personal attention from Peapod’s professional shoppers. They make sure everything you ordered is exactly as you would expect—fresh, healthy, and temperature-controlled. At Peapod we pride ourselves on picking only the highest quality meat and produce available. In fact, we have trained Produce Specialists whose only job is to pick the highest quality produce available in the store.

We deliver your groceries when it’s convenient for you…
Peapod delivers groceries to your door any day of the week — you choose the delivery time that’s convenient for you. Peapod guarantees that your groceries will be there, and that you’ll receive friendly service every step of the way.

The same high quality groceries you would select yourself
  ïChoose from thousands of name brands — the same ones you buy at your
   local grocer and drugstore
  ïCertified professional shoppers shop for your order, including Produce
   Specialists who hand-pick only the best fruits and vegetables using Produce
   Marketing Association standards
  ïItems stay fresh (or frozen) with temperature controlled delivery containers

Convenient shopping, we guarantee it
  ïNo bad weather, no traffic, no parking, no lugging, no rushing, no stress
  ïOrder 24 hours a day, 365 days a year from anywhere
  ïPeapod promises to provide friendly and superior service to every one of its
   customers, and we guarantee every order we deliver

Never create a shopping list from scratch again
  ïYou can always review your last three grocery orders — we keep them for you
  ïCreate individual shopping lists to fit your unique household needs

You’ll never need to go to the grocery store again
  ïPeapod can take care of all your shopping needs so you never have to go to the grocery or drugstore
  ïOur professional shoppers and delivery people work together to ensure that
   your order is just what you want, when you want it

Shop for a week’s worth of groceries in about 20 minutes
  ïBrowse virtual aisles, just as you would in a conventional grocery store
  ïLocate a specific item or brand in seconds by using innovative features like
   “Find Item”

FDA nutritional information at your fingertips
  ïReview the FDA nutritional labels for thousands of items while you shop
  ïClick to sort lists of foods by criteria such as fat, cholesterol, sodium, Kosher, etc.

Choose a delivery time that is convenient for you
  ïNext-day delivery, in most cases
  ïArrange for delivery to your home, 7 days a week
  ïIf Peapod ever makes a mistake, we’ll make it right

Save money and time
  ïInstantly sort groups of items by unit price to get the best value
  ïRedeem paper, store circular, and electronic coupons
  ï Stay within budget — Peapod displays a running total of your order as you shop

Were here to help
  ïTrained Technical Support Specialists are there when you need them
  ïCustomer Care Specialists handle all customer service inquiries
  ïOne call does it all! 1-800-5-PEAPOD (1-800-573-2763), or e-mail us

You can experience Peapod for yourself. While the service is only available in few cities at this time, they have a demo store which allows you to see what it would be like. Now Peapod is an step in the right direction, but they are only going part of the way. They are just a typical business seeking to make money, but they have stumbled in the right direction. As their customer base stabilizes, they should soon be able to know exactly what their customers need and begin realizing more significant savings by purchasing scale. They could even dispense with the retail stores altogether and begin purchasing only wholesale. Most of these savings could be passed onto the consumers with the elimination of retail stores and expensive parking lots in high rent areas etc. etc. etc..

What is the size of your Biosphere?

Science defines the term biosphere as that environmental zone wherein a living organism can meet its needs and act to survive.

How large is your current biosphere?

How far do you have to travel to meet your needs. If you get out a map and place your home in the center and draw a circle with a radius large enough to enclose all of the stores and businesses you visit to meet your needs. This is your biosphere. The larger your biosphere the greater your expences in time and energy will be to meet your needs. 

If you are seeking to save time and energy, then reduce the size of your biosphere.

Co-Operative actions are powerful methods to reduce the size of your biosphere. The savings individually and collectively are enormous. This will quickly translate into a major increase in the quality of one’s life and with an enormous savings in time and energy.

Time is the most valuable commodity that any human being can have.

By this I mean time spend doing what you want do do. This does not include time spent working to accomplish the goals of others, nor time spent transporting yourself or your family, nor the time spent physically acquiring the products and services you need to survive and enjoy life.

Integrated Communities

Another prototype for future living that takes advantage of co-Operative actions is the emergence of integrated communities. Integrated communities defined as those unitary environments structured so that the residents there can live, work, and recreate in one safe and pleasant place with all activities within easy walking distance. Integrated communites will offer their residents the greatest savings of time and expense. As integrated communities becomes available, I predict they will be so attractive that humans will move almost anywhere to live in them.

Jump into synergic science by reading We Can All Win!, If you are creating a new organization, or desire to synergize an old one, read Ortegrity. If you’re interested in how to make decisions in a win-win world read Sociocracy.

Looking for a guide to synergic decision, read a  Synergic Version of Robert’s Rules of Order.

Read the Synergic Future Series:
1) Beyond Property 2) Redefining Wealth 3) Synergic Wealth 4) Synergic Wealth II: Deepening Our Understanding 5) Trustegrities — Protecting the Future and 6) Synergic Guardians — Protecting the Future.

Front Page

Friday, January 9th, 2009

The truth is especially hard to believe if it requires that we take action — if it requires that we change. If humanity is to have a future, we must take action — we must change. If humanity is to have a future, we must believe the truth. The following article was first posted in 1999.

SOCIETY OF SLOTH: A Thought Experiment

Jay Hanson

“In order then that the social compact may not be an empty formula, it tacitly includes the undertaking, which alone can give force to the rest, that whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body. This means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free; for this is the condition which, by giving each citizen to his country, secures him against all personal dependence. In this lies the key to the working of the political machine; this alone legitimises civil undertakings, which, without it, would be absurd, tyrannical, and liable to the most frightful abuses.”

– Jean Jacques Rousseau


Global Problematic: (after The Club of Rome, 1972): Global tragedy of the commons because people are genetically programmed to more-than-reproduce themselves and make the best use of their environments.

Commons: A commons is any resource treated as though it belongs to all. When anyone can claim a resource simply on the grounds that he wants or needs to use it, one has a commons.

Needs: Human “needs” have a scientific basis which is defined by human biology. 35,000 years ago, three million hunter-gatherers “needed” community, shelter, health care, clean water, clean air, and about 3,000 calories a day of nutritious food. Today, people still “need” the same things that hunter-gatherers “needed” then (except fewer calories).

eMergy: eMergy (with an “M”) is the solar energy used directly and indirectly to make a service or product. In other words, eMergy is the “cost” of a service or a product in units of solar energy.

Why eMergy? In reality, the economy is nothing but a monstrous, energy-gulping Rube Goldberg machine to deliver “needs” to people. But each of those three million hunter-gatherers was the energy-using counterpart of a common dolphin, whereas each of today’s 280 million Americans matches the energy use of a sperm whale. Obviously, the “economy” is incredibly inefficient at delivering “needs” to people.

No doubt my statement will stick in the economist’s craw, because after all, isn’t “efficiency” what economics is all about? The problem with “economic efficiency” is that “money” is not a measure of anything in the real world (like, say, BTUs). Money is power because money “empowers” people to buy and do the things they want – including buying and doing other people (politics). Thus, “economic efficiency” is properly seen as a “political” concept that was designed to preserve political power for those who have it – to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

For over a century, theorists have sought ways of integrating economics and environmental accounting, often using energy as a common measure. But these efforts met with limited success because different kinds of available energy are not equivalent. The measure of “eMergy” allows us to compare commodities, services and environmental work of different types. “Transformity” – the eMergy per unit energy – allows us to compare different kinds of available of energy.

So we need to totally junk the present economic system and replace it with a new one that minimizes eMergy costs (not money costs ) and delivers basic needs (not Cadillacs) to everyone in a sustainable way.

Sustainable Development: Sustainable development both improves quality of life and retains continuity with physical conditions; it requires that social systems be equitable and physical systems circular (industrial outputs become industrial inputs).

Authority: Goals (or ideals) are not produced by a consensus of the governed, rather a qualified authority determines goals. For example, physical goals for sustainable development must come from “scientific” authority – because no one else knows what they must be. All contemporary political systems are “authoritarian” with the moneyed class ruling the pseudo democracies.

Coercion (politics): To “coerce” is to compel one to act in a certain way – either by promise of reward or threat of punishment. Two obvious examples of coercion are our system of laws and paychecks.

THE ONE-AND-ONLY HUMANE SOLUTION: Mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon; a global system of coercion – laws, police, punishments and rewards. In principle, the global commons can only be managed at the global level by people who understand the physical systems involved: scientists. Global coercion can be seen in the worldwide reactions to ozone depletion and global warming. Besides laws and paychecks, coercion can take many forms:

“It is not necessary to construct a theory of intentional cultural control. In truth, the strength of the control process rests in its apparent absence. The desired systemic result is achieved ordinarily by a loose though effective institutional process. It utilizes the education of journalists and other media professionals, built-in penalties and rewards for doing what is expected, norms presented as objective rules, and the occasional but telling direct intrusion from above. The main lever is the internalization of values.” (1)

Step one would be to establish a global government of some sort with the authority to protect the global commons – our life-support system – as well as protecting universal human rights. This government would also oversee the “clean” manufacturing of “repairable” and “reusable” energy-efficient appliances and transportation systems. It would also insure the sustainable production of staples like wheat, rice, oats, and fish.

Does this new global government sound repressive or restrictive? Not at all! A great deal of freedom is possible – in fact, far more than we have now.

eMergy Certificates

Step two would be to replace the organizing principle of “avarice” with the principle of “sloth”; break out of the money-market-advertising-consumption death trap. The Society of Sloth would not be based on money because that would be inherently unsustainable. Instead, it would be based on “eMergy Certificates”. (2)

Global government would determine the “needs” of the public, set industrial production accordingly, and calculate the amount of eMergy used to meet these needs. Government would then distribute purchasing power in the form of eMergy certificates, the amount issued to each person being equivalent to his pro rata share of the eMergy cost of the consumer goods and services.

eMergy certificates bear the identification of the person to whom issued and are non-negotiable. They resemble a bank check in that they bear no face denomination, this being entered at the time of spending. They are surrendered upon the purchase of goods or services at any center of distribution and are permanently canceled, becoming entries in a uniform accounting system. Being non-negotiable they cannot be lost, stolen, gambled, or given away because they are invalid in the hands of any person other than the one to whom issued.

Lost eMergy certificates would be easily replaced. Certificates can not be saved because they become void at the termination of the two-year period for which they are issued. They can only be spent.

Insecurity of old age is abolished and both saving and insurance become unnecessary and impossible. eMergy Certificates would put absolute limits on consumption and provide people with a guaranteed stream of “needs” for life.

With modern technology, probably less than 5% of the population could produce all the goods we really “need”. A certain number of “producers” could be drafted and trained by society to produce for two years. The rest can stay home and sleep, sing, dance, paint, read, write, pray, play, do minor repairs, work in the garden, and practice birth control.


Any number of cultural, ethnic or religious communities could be established by popular vote. Religious communities could have public prayer in their schools, prohibit booze, allow no television to corrupt their kids, wear uniforms, whatever. Communities of writers or painters could be established in which bad taste would be against the law. Ethnic communities could be established to preserve language and customs. If someone didn’t like the rules in a particular community, they could move to another religious, cultural, or ethnic community of their choosing.

In short, the one big freedom that individuals would have to give up would be the freedom to destroy the commons (in its broadest sense) – the freedom to kill. And in return, they would be given a guaranteed income for life and the freedom to live almost any way they choose.

(1) p. 8, Herbert I. Schiller, CULTURE INC; Oxford, 1989;

(2) Energy Certificates:

Permission to reprint expressly granted by Jay Hanson, Spring, 1999 –

Jay Hanson is starting a new study group. It is open to additional members until January 14, 2009. If interested get the details at:  Peak Capitalism.

Front Page

Monday, January 5th, 2009

As we enter the CRISIS of 2009, we best learn how to live in a sustainable manner. The following prescription for survival was left for humanity to use or ignore. 

Prescription for Survival

Robert L. Hickerson

The late Dr. M. King Hubbert, a geophysicist, is well known as a world authority on the estimation of energy resources and on the prediction of their patterns of discovery and depletion.

  1. He was probably the best known geophysicist in the world to the general public because of his startling prediction, first made publicly in 1949, that the fossil fuel era would be of very short duration.
  2. His prediction in 1956 that U.S. oil production would peak in about 1970 and decline thereafter was scoffed at then but his analysis has since proved to be remarkably accurate.

Less well known were Hubbert’s studies since 1926 on the rate of industrial growth and of mineral and energy resources and their significance in the evolution of the world’s present technological civilization.[3]

Clark writing in Geophysics in February 1983 states:

“In recent years, he (Hubbert) has assaulted a target — which he labels the culture of money –that is gigantic even by Hubbert standards. His thesis is that society is seriously handicapped because its two most important intellectual underpinnings, the science of matter-energy and the historic system of finance, are incompatible. A reasonable co-existence is possible when both are growing at approximately the same rate. That, Hubbert says, has been happening since the start of the industrial revolution but it is soon going to end because the amount the matter-energy system can grow is limited while money’s growth is not.

“I was in New York in the 30’s. I had a box seat at the depression,” Hubbert says. “I can assure you it was a very educational experience. We shut the country down because of monetary reasons. We had manpower and abundant raw materials. Yet we shut the country down. We’re doing the same kind of thing now but with a different material outlook. We are not in the position we were in 1929-30 with regard to the future. Then the physical system was ready to roll. This time it’s not. We are in a crisis in the evolution of human society. It’s unique to both human and geologic history. It has never happened before and it can’t possibly happen again. You can only use oil once. You can only use metals once. Soon all the oil is going to be burned and all the metals mined and scattered.” That is obviously a scenario of catastrophe, a possibility Hubbert concedes. But it is not one he forecast. The man known to many as a pessimist is, in this case, quite hopeful. In fact, he could be the ultimate utopian. We have, he says, the necessary technology. All we have to do is completely overhaul our culture and find an alternative to money.

“We are not starting from zero,” he emphasizes. “We have an enormous amount of existing technical knowledge. It’s just a matter of putting it all together. We still have great flexibility but our maneuverability will diminish with time.”[2]

A non-catastrophic solution is impossible, Hubbert feels, unless society is made stable. This means abandoning two axioms of our culture . . . the work ethic and the idea that growth is the normal state of affairs. Hubbert challenges the latter mathematically and concludes the exponential growth of the last two centuries is the opposite of the normal situation.

“It is an aberration. For most of human history the population doubled only once every 32,000 years. Now it’s down to 35 years. That is dangerous. No biologic population can double more that a few times without getting seriously out of bounds. I think the world is seriously overpopulated right now. There can be no possible solutions to the world’s problems that do not involve stabilization of the world’s population.”

Hubbert’s ideas about work are even more heretical. Work is becoming, he says, increasingly unimportant. He thinks it is conceivable that the future work week might be on the order of 10 hours. Indeed, because production will have to be limited by increasingly limited mineral resources, that might be inevitable. And that, Hubbert stresses, could be the foundation of an earthly paradise.

“Most employment now is merely pushing paper around,” he says.
“The actual work needed to keep a stable society running is a very small fraction of available manpower.”

The key to making this cultural alteration is to come up with a limitless supply of cheap energy. Hubbert feels the answer is obvious–solar power–and he does not feel more technological breakthroughs are needed before it can be made universally available. His faith is not that of a knee-jerk trendy but that of a doubter who did much studying before his conversion.

“Fifteen years ago I thought solar power was impractical because I thought nuclear power was the answer. But I spent some time on an advisory committee on waste disposal to the Atomic Energy Commission. After that, I began to be very, very skeptical because of the hazards. That’s when I began to study solar power. I’m convinced we have the technology to handle it right now. We could make the transition in a matter of decades if we begin now.”

On June 4th, 1974, Hubbert testified before Representative Morris K. Udall’s Subcommittee on the Environment.3 In his 21 page written statement he presented his familiar lecture on various growth curves, their equations, curves of world and U.S. production of fossil fuels as well as projections for the future. He next discussed the cultural aspects of the growth problem. He states, “during the last two centuries of unbroken industrial growth we have evolved what amounts to an exponential-growth culture. Our institutions, our legal system, our financial system, and our most cherished folkways and beliefs are all based upon the premise of continuing growth, Since physical and biological constraints make it impossible to continue such rates of growth indefinitely, it is inevitable that with the slowing down in the rates of physical growth cultural adjustments must be made.

One example of such cultural difficulty is afforded by the fundamental difference between the properties of money and those of matter and energy upon which the operation of the physical world depends. Money, being a system of accounting, is, in effect, paper and so is not constrained by the laws within which material and energy systems must operate. In fact money grows exponentially by the rule of compound interest.” He next derives the equations for the growth of the stock of money, the rate of industrial growth and the generalized price level. The expression for the generalized price level states that this level “should increase exponentially at a rate equal to the difference between the rate of growth of money and that of industrial production. In particular, if the industrial growth rate a and the average interest rate i have the same values, then the ratio of money to what money will buy will remain constant and a stable price level should prevail. Suppose, however, that for physical reasons the industrial growth rate a declines but the interest rate i holds steady. We should then have a situation where i is greater than a with the corresponding price inflation at the rate (i-a). Finally consider a physical growth rate a=0, with the interest rate i greater than zero. In this case, the rate of price inflation should be the same as the average interest rate. Conversely, if prices are to remain stable at reduced rates of industrial growth this would require that the average interest rate should be reduced by the same amount. Finally, the maintenance of a constant price level in a non-growing industrial system implies either an interest rate of zero or continuous inflation.

Next the author, Mr. Robert L. Hickerson, mentions a number of illustrations, however I do not have an address for them. Sorry.  —TKW

As a check on the validity of these deductions, consider the curves of U.S. energy and pig-iron production (which he shows in Figures 17 and 18.) Because energy is a common factor in all industrial operation and pig-iron production one of the basic components of heavy industry, the growth in the production of energy and pig iron is a very good indicator of the total industrial production.

Figure 17 is a graph plotted on a semilogarithmic scale of the production of energy from coal, oil, gas, and water power — from 1850 to 1969. From 1850 to 1907 the production of energy increased exponentially at a rate of 6.91 percent per year, with a doubling period of 10.0 years. Then during the three-year period from 1907 to 1910, the growth rate dropped abruptly to a mean rate of 1.77 percent per year and the doubling period increased to 39 years.

Figure 18 is a corresponding plot of U.S. pig-iron production. The pig-iron curve resembles that of energy so closely that the two curves can hardly be told from one another. Pig-iron production also grew exponentially at a rate close to 7 percent per year until about 1910, when it too broke abruptly to a lower rate of less that 2 percent per year. This abrupt break at about 1910 represents a major event in the industrial history of the United States, yet we have barely been aware that it happened.

In parallel with this industrial growth during most of the 19th century and continuing until 1929, the mean monetary interest rate was also about 7 percent per year. Therefore until 1910 the price level, except for temporary disturbances, should have remained comparatively stable. Following 1910, when the physical growth rate dropped to about 2 percent per year, whereas the interest rate remained at about 7 percent, a price inflation at a rate of about 5 percent per year should have begun. Despite fluctuations, the interest rate has remained consistently higher than the physical growth rate from 1910 to the present, which implies that we should have had an almost continuous price inflation for the last 64 years.

A graphical illustration of the relations between the monetary growth, physical growth and price inflation is shown in Figure 19. The upper straight line represents the exponential growth of money at the interest rate i; the lower curve the physical growth at the lower rate a. The ratio of M (money growth) to Q (industrial growth) at any given time is proportional to the distance between those curves. If the curves are parallel, the spacing is constant and a stable price level will prevail. If the curves are divergent to the right, the price level will increase at the rate (i-a)”

These curves depict the approximate relation between the monetary growth rate and the physical growth rate that has prevailed in the United States since 1910.

Finally, as confirmatory evidence, there is shown in Figure 30 a graph of the consumer price index as computed for each year from 1800 to 1971 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The three principal distortions coincide with the War of 1812, the Civil War, and World War 1. Disregarding these, and drawing a smooth curve under the bases of each gives a very informative result. For the period from 1800 to 1910 the consumer price level remained remarkably stable. Beginning about 1910, at the time of the abrupt drop in the rate of industrial growth, prices began to inflate and they have continued to do so to the present time.

This ends the references to illustrations not available here.

The foregoing example has been discussed in detail because it serves as a case history of the type of cultural difficulties which may be anticipated during the transition period from a phase of exponential growth to a stable state. Since the tenets of our exponential-growth culture (such as a non zero interest rate) are incompatible with a state of non growth, it is understandable that extraordinary efforts will be made to avoid a cessation of growth. Inexorably, however, physical and biological constraints must eventually prevail and appropriate cultural adjustments will have to be made.”

During the question period after Dr. Hubbert’s testimony Mr. Udall asked,–“this inflation that we are all so concerned about now may not necessarily be mismanagement of the economy or some temporary problems necessarily, but may be built into this whole problem of exponential growth in terms of the population and use of resources, and so on. Is that what you are saying?” Dr. Hubbert’s reply was, “It has been going on, the record is unequivocal, since 1910, disregarding the disturbance of World War I.”

Does Dr. Hubbert have a recommendation for the overhaul of our culture and an alternative to money? When I spoke to him by telephone in about 1970 he confirmed that he did. His suggestion was that income in units of energy could be used. In a 30 page research paper which he published while at Columbia in August 1936 titled “MAN-HOURS–A DECLINING QUANTITY”[4] he wrote, “the American public has watched both government and business indulge in the curtailment of food production and its wholesale destruction at a time of the greatest human need in American history. They have seen their factories closed at a time when a large fraction of the population has been in want of the products of industry and when millions have been willing and anxious to work.– What is there so difficult about the problem? What is it that has to be done in order to solve it? Simply and solely that our Continental totality shall be operated at a maximum of efficiency with a maximum conservation of resources for the maximum production and distribution of physical wealth–with a resultant standard of living greater than has ever been obtained on the North American Continent. To do this requires a distributive mechanism that will deliver the products of industry to the consuming public at whatever rate is required.

Getting something for nothing

In the distribution to the public of the products of industry, the failure of the present system is the direct result of the faulty premise upon which it is based. This is: that somehow a man is able by his personal services to render to society the equivalent of what he receives, from which it follows that the distribution to each shall be in accordance with the services rendered and that those who do not work must not eat. This is what our propagandists call ‘the impossibility of getting something for nothing.’ Aside from the fact that only by means of the sophistries of lawyers and economists can it be explained how, on this basis, those who do nothing at all frequently receive the largest shares of the national income, the simple fact is that it is impossible for any man to contribute to the social system the physical equivalent of what it costs the system to maintain him form birth till death–and the higher the physical standard of living the greater is this discrepancy. This is because man is an engine operating under the limitations of the same physical laws as any other engine. The energy that it takes to operate him is several times as much as any amount of work he can possibly perform. If, in addition to his food, he receives also the products of modern industry, this is due to the fact that material and energy resources happen to be available and, as compared with any contribution he can make, constitute a free gift from heaven. Stated more specifically, it costs the social system on the North American Continent the energy equivalent to nearly 10 tons of coal per year to maintain one man at the average present standard of living, and no contribution he can possibly make in terms of the energy conversion of his individual effort will ever repay the social system the cost of his social maintenance. Is it not to be wondered at, therefore, that a distributive mechanism based upon so rank a fallacy should fail to distribute; the marvel is that it has worked as well as it has. Since any human being, regardless of his personal contribution, is a social dependent with respect to the energy resources upon which society operates, and since every operation within a given society is effected at the cost of a degradation of an available supply of energy, this energy degradation, measured in appropriate physical units such as kilowatt-hours, constitutes the common physical cost of all social operations. Since also the energy-cost of maintaining a human being exceeds by a large amount his ability to repay, we can abandon the fiction that what one is to receive is in payment for what one has done, and recognize that what we are really doing is utilizing the bounty that nature has provided us. Under these circumstances we recognize that we all are getting something for nothing, and the simplest way of effecting distribution is on a basis of equality, especially so when it is considered that production can be set equal to the limit of our capacity to consume, commensurate with adequate conservation of our physical resources.

Income in Units of Energy

On this basis our distribution then becomes foolproof and incredibly simple. We keep our records of the physical costs of production in terms of the amount of extraneous energy degraded. We set industrial production arbitrarily at a rate equal to the saturation of the physical capacity of our public to consume. We distribute purchasing power in the form of energy certificates to the public, the amount issued to each being equivalent to his pro rata share of the energy-cost of the consumer goods and services to be produced during the balanced-load period for which the certificates are issued. These certificates bear the identification of the person to whom issued and are non negotiable. They resemble a bank check in that they bear no face denomination, this being entered at the time of spending. They are surrendered upon the purchase of goods or services at any center of distribution and are permanently canceled, becoming entries in a uniform accounting system. Being nonnegotiable they cannot be lost, stolen, gambled, or given away because they are invalid in the hands of any person other than the one to whom issued. If lost, like a bank checkbook, new ones may be had for the asking. Neither can they be saved because they become void at the termination of the two-year period for which they are issued. They can only be spent. Contrary to the Price System rules, the purchasing power of an individual is no longer based upon the fallacious premise that a man is being paid in proportion to the so-called ‘value’ of his work (since it is a physical fact that what he receives is greatly in excess of his individual effort) but upon the equal pro rata division of the net energy degraded in the production of consumer goods and services. In this manner the income of an individual is in nowise dependent upon the nature of his work, and we are then left free to reduce the working hours of our population to as low a level as technological advancement will allow, without in any manner jeopardizing the national or individual income, and without the slightest unemployment problem or poverty. “

Hubbert goes on to state that following a transition the work required of each individual, need be no longer than about 4 hours per day, 164 days per year, from the ages of 25 to 45. Income will continue until death.
“Insecurity of old age is abolished and both saving and insurance become unnecessary and impossible.

The author Robert L. Hickerson finishes this essay with his own personal conclusions and recommendations. This recommendation seems an attempt to speak for Hubbert who is deseased at the time of this writing in 1995. My personal conclusions and recommendations are:

1. We will never again be able to get sufficient growth of the economy to eliminate or even markedly reduced unemployment. NAFTA, GATT, and Clinton’s hope of growing the economy to solve unemployment is doomed to failure.

2. The promise of competing in the global economy is a hoax perpetrated upon the working and unemployed people of this country because over time a nation needs to buy and sell overseas in roughly equivalent amounts.

3. All attempts to reduce the deficit, balance the budget or pay off the national debt are futile. The deficit and the national debt represent the subsidy the government has paid in its attempt to keep growth and unemployment at the level of social tolerance.

4. The steady state economy into which we are being inexorably forced implies an interest rate of zero.

5. An interest rate of zero (as Hubbert explains) means the end of the money system. We are being forced to completely rethink our cultural ideas about how to organize our economy and distribute purchasing power.

6. Increasingly desperate means will be used by those who think we can continue to have business as usual.

7. The proposals of Negative Population Growth should be implemented immediately.


  1. 1 Albert A. Bartlett, “Forgotten fundamentals of the energy crisis,” Am. J. Phys., Vol. 46. No. 9, September 1978
  2. 2. Clark, Robert Dean, Assistant Editor, Geophysics: The Leading Edge of Exploration, “King Hubbert”, February 1983. pp.16-24
  3. 3 Hubbert, Dr. M. King, research geophysicist, Washington, D.C. June 4, 1974 Testimony before Subcommittee on the Environment of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, House of Representatives, Ninety-Third Congress , Serial no. 93-55 U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington: 1974
  4. 4 Hubbert, M. King, “Man Hours-A Declining Quantity,” as Published in Technocracy Series A. No. 8 August 1936

    Additional recommended reading material:

  5. Daly, Herman E. “Toward a Steady-State Economy”, 1973 W. H. Freeman & Co.
  6. Daly, Herman E. and Cobb, John B. Jr. “For the Common Good, Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, the Environment and a Sustainable Future”, 1989 Beacon Press
  7. Daly, Herman E., & Townsend, Kenneth N. editors, “Valuing the Earth, Economics, Ecology, Ethics”
  8. Theobald, Robert, “The Challenge of Abundance”, 1962 Mentor Books
  9. Theobald. Robert, “The Guaranteed Income, Next Step in Socioeconomic Evolution?, 1967 Anchor Books
  10. Theobald, Robert, editor, “Committed Spending, A Route to Economic Security” 1969 Anchor Books
  11. Theobald, Robert, “The Economics of Abundance, A Non-Inflationary Future”, 1970 Pitman Publishing Corp.
  12. Theobald, Robert, “The Rapids of Change, Social Entrepreneurship in Turbulent Times” 1986 Knowledge Systems, Inc.
  13. Theobald, Robert, “Turning the Century” Personal and Organizational Strategies for Your Changed World” 1992 Knowledge Systems, Inc.
  14. Watt, Kenneth E. F., “The Titanic Effect , Planning for the Unthinkable”1974 Sinauer Associates, Inc.

 More about M. King Hubbert

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Thursday, January 1st, 2009

We have entered the Century of the Environment, in which the immediate future is usefully conceived as a bottleneck: science and technology, combined with foresight and moral courage, must see us through it and out. … The following essay originally appeared in the February 2002 issue of Scientific American.

The Bottleneck

E. O. Wilson

The 20th century was a time of exponential scientific and technical advance, the freeing of the arts by an exuberant modernism, and the spread of democracy and human rights throughout the world. It was also a dark and savage age of world wars, genocide, and totalitarian ideologies that came dangerously close to global domination. While preoccupied with all this tumult, humanity managed collaterally to decimate the natural environment and draw down the nonrenewable resources of the planet with cheerful abandon. We thereby accelerated the erasure of entire ecosystems and the extinction of thousands of million-year-old species. If Earth’s ability to support our growth is finite–and it is–we were mostly too busy to notice.

As a new century begins, we have begun to awaken from this delirium. Now, increasingly postideological in temper, we may be ready to settle down before we wreck the planet. It is time to sort out Earth and calculate what it will take to provide a satisfying and sustainable life for everyone into the indefinite future. The question of the century is: How best can we shift to a culture of permanence, both for ourselves and for the biosphere that sustains us?

The bottom line is different from that generally assumed by our leading economists and public philosophers. They have mostly ignored the numbers that count. Consider that with the global population past six billion and on its way to eight billion or more by midcentury, per capita freshwater and arable land are descending to levels resource experts agree are risky. The ecological footprint–the average amount of productive land and shallow sea appropriated by each person in bits and pieces from around the world for food, water, housing, energy, transportation, commerce, and waste absorption–is about one hectare (2.5 acres) in developing nations but about 9.6 hectares (24 acres) in the U.S. The footprint for the total human population is 2.1 hectares (5.2 acres). For every person in the world to reach present U.S. levels of consumption with existing technology would require four more planet Earths. The five billion people of the developing countries may never wish to attain this level of profligacy. But in trying to achieve at least a decent standard of living, they have joined the industrial world in erasing the last of the natural environments. At the same time, Homo sapiens has become a geophysical force, the first species in the history of the planet to attain that dubious distinction. We have driven atmospheric carbon dioxide to the highest levels in at least 200,000 years, unbalanced the nitrogen cycle, and contributed to a global warming that will ultimately be bad news everywhere.

In short, we have entered the Century of the Environment, in which the immediate future is usefully conceived as a bottleneck. Science and technology, combined with a lack of self-understanding and a Paleolithic obstinacy, brought us to where we are today. Now science and technology, combined with foresight and moral courage, must see us through the bottleneck and out.

“Wait! Hold on there just one minute!”

That is the voice of the cornucopian economist. Let us listen to him carefully. He is focused on production and consumption. These are what the world wants and needs, he says. He is right, of course. Every species lives on production and consumption. The tree finds and consumes nutrients and sunlight; the leopard finds and consumes the deer. And the farmer clears both away to find space and raise corn–for consumption. The economist’s thinking is based on precise models of rational choice and near-horizon timelines. His parameters are the gross domestic product, trade balance, and competitive index. He sits on corporate boards, travels to Washington, occasionally appears on television talk shows. The planet, he insists, is perpetually fruitful and still underutilized.

The ecologist has a different worldview. He is focused on unsustainable crop yields, overdrawn aquifers, and threatened ecosystems. His voice is also heard, albeit faintly, in high government and corporate circles. He sits on nonprofit foundation boards, writes for Scientific American, and is sometimes called to Washington. The planet, he insists, is exhausted and in trouble.

The Economist

“EASE UP. In spite of two centuries of doomsaying, humanity is enjoying unprecedented prosperity. There are environmental problems, certainly, but they can be solved. Think of them as the detritus of progress, to be cleared away. The global economic picture is favorable. The gross national products of the industrial countries continue to rise. Despite their recessions, the Asian tigers are catching up with North America and Europe. Around the world, manufacture and the service economy are growing geometrically. Since 1950 per capita income and meat production have risen continuously. Even though the world population has increased at an explosive 1.8 percent each year during the same period, cereal production, the source of more than half the food calories of the poorer nations and the traditional proxy of worldwide crop yield, has more than kept pace, rising from 275 kilograms per head in the early 1950s to 370 kilograms by the 1980s. The forests of the developed countries are now regenerating as fast as they are being cleared, or nearly so. And while fibers are also declining steeply in most of the rest of the world–a serious problem, I grant–no global scarcities are expected in the foreseeable future. Agriforestry has been summoned to the rescue: more than 20 percent of industrial wood fiber now comes from tree plantations.

“Social progress is running parallel to economic growth. Literacy rates are climbing, and with them the liberation and empowerment of women. Democracy, the gold standard of governance, is spreading country by country. The communication revolution powered by the computer and the Internet has accelerated the globalization of trade and the evolution of a more irenic international culture.

“For two centuries the specter of Malthus troubled the dreams of futurists. By rising exponentially, the doomsayers claimed, population must outstrip the limited resources of the world and bring about famine, chaos, and war. On occasion this scenario did unfold locally. But that has been more the result of political mismanagement than Malthusian mathematics. Human ingenuity has always found a way to accommodate rising populations and allow most to prosper.

“Genius and effort have transformed the environment to the benefit of human life. We have turned a wild and inhospitable world into a garden. Human dominance is Earth’s destiny. The harmful perturbations we have caused can be moderated and reversed as we go along.”

The Environmentalist

“YES, IT’S TRUE that the human condition has improved dramatically in many ways. But you’ve painted only half the picture, and with all due respect the logic it uses is just plain dangerous. As your worldview implies, humanity has learned how to create an economy-driven paradise. Yes again–but only on an infinitely large and malleable planet. It should be obvious to you that Earth is finite and its environment increasingly brittle. No one should look to gross national products and corporate annual reports for a competent projection of the world’s long-term economic future. To the information there, if we are to understand the real world, must be added the research reports of natural-resource specialists and ecological economists. They are the experts who seek an accurate balance sheet, one that includes a full accounting of the costs to the planet incurred by economic growth.

“This new breed of analysts argues that we can no longer afford to ignore the dependency of the economy and social progress on the environmental resource base. It is the content of economic growth, with natural resources factored in, that counts in the long term, not just the yield in products and currency. A country that levels its forests, drains its aquifers, and washes its topsoil downriver without measuring the cost is a country traveling blind.

“Suppose that the conventionally measured global economic output, now at about $31 trillion, were to expand at a healthy 3 percent annually. By 2050 it would in theory reach $138 trillion. With only a small leveling adjustment of this income, the entire world population would be prosperous by current standards. Utopia at last, it would seem! What is the flaw in the argument? It is the environment crumbling beneath us. If natural resources, particularly freshwater and arable land, continue to diminish at their present per capita rate, the economic boom will lose steam, in the course of which–and this worries me even if it doesn’t worry you–the effort to enlarge productive land will wipe out a large part of the world’s fauna and flora.

“The appropriation of productive land–the ecological footprint–is already too large for the planet to sustain, and it’s growing larger. A recent study building on this concept estimated that the human population exceeded Earth’s sustainable capacity around the year 1978. By 2000 it had overshot by 1.4 times that capacity. If 12 percent of land were now to be set aside in order to protect the natural environment, as recommended in the 1987 Brundtland Report, Earth’s sustainable capacity will have been exceeded still earlier, around 1972. In short, Earth has lost its ability to regenerate–unless global consumption is reduced or global production is increased, or both.”

By dramatizing these two polar views of the economic future, I don’t wish to imply the existence of two cultures with distinct ethos. All who care about both the economy and environment, and that includes the vast majority, are members of the same culture. The gaze of our two debaters is fixed on different points in the space-time scale in which we all dwell. They differ in the factors they take into account in forecasting the state of the world, how far they look into the future, and how much they care about nonhuman life. Most economists today, and all but the most politically conservative of their public interpreters, recognize very well that the world has limits and that the human population cannot afford to grow much larger. They know that humanity is destroying biodiversity. They just don’t like to spend a lot of time thinking about it.

The environmentalist view is fortunately spreading. Perhaps the time has come to cease calling it the “environmentalist” view, as though it were a lobbying effort outside the mainstream of human activity, and to start calling it the real-world view. In a realistically reported and managed economy, balanced accounting will be routine. The conventional gross national product (GNP) will be replaced by the more comprehensive genuine progress indicator (GPI), which includes estimates of environmental costs of economic activity. Already a growing number of economists, scientists, political leaders, and others have endorsed precisely this change.

What, then, are essential facts about population and environment? From existing databases we can answer that question and visualize more clearly the bottleneck through which humanity and the rest of life are now passing.

On or about October 12, 1999, the world population reached six billion. It has continued to climb at an annual rate of 1.4 percent, adding 200,000 people each day or the equivalent of the population of a large city each week. The rate, though beginning to slow, is still basically exponential: the more people, the faster the growth, thence still more people sooner and an even faster growth, and so on upward toward astronomical numbers unless the trend is reversed and growth rate is reduced to zero or less. This exponentiation means that people born in 1950 were the first to see the human population double in their lifetime, from 2.5 billion to over six billion now. During the 20th century more people were added to the world than in all of previous human history. In 1800 there had been about one billion and in 1900, still only 1.6 billion.

The pattern of human population growth in the 20th century was more bacterial than primate. When Homo sapiens passed the six-billion mark we had already exceeded by perhaps as much as 100 times the biomass of any large animal species that ever existed on the land. We and the rest of life cannot afford another 100 years like that.

By the end of the century some relief was in sight. In most parts of the world–North and South America, Europe, Australia, and most of Asia–people had begun gingerly to tap the brake pedal. The worldwide average number of children per woman fell from 4.3 in 1960 to 2.6 in 2000. The number required to attain zero population growth–that is, the number that balances the birth and death rates and holds the standing population size constant–is 2.1 (the extra one tenth compensates for infant and child mortality). When the number of children per woman stays above 2.1 even slightly, the population still expands exponentially. This means that although the population climbs less and less steeply as the number approaches 2.1, humanity will still, in theory, eventually come to weigh as much as Earth and, if given enough time, will exceed the mass of the visible universe. This fantasy is a mathematician’s way of saying that anything above zero population growth cannot be sustained. If, on the other hand, the average number of children drops below 2.1, the population enters negative exponential growth and starts to decline. To speak of 2.1 in exact terms as the breakpoint is of course an oversimplification. Advances in medicine and public health can lower the breakpoint toward the minimal, perfect number of 2.0 (no infant or childhood deaths), while famine, epidemics, and war, by boosting mortality, can raise it well above 2.1. But worldwide, over an extended period of time, local differences and statistical fluctuations wash one another out and the iron demographic laws grind on. They transmit to us always the same essential message, that to breed in excess is to overload the planet.

By 2000 the replacement rate in all of the countries of western Europe had dropped below 2.1. The lead was taken by Italy, at 1.2 children per woman (so much for the power of natalist religious doctrine). Thailand also passed the magic number, as well as the nonimmigrant population of the U.S.

When a country descends to its zero-population birth rates or even well below, it does not cease absolute population growth immediately, because the positive growth experienced just before the breakpoint has generated a disproportionate number of young people with most of their fertile years and life ahead of them. As this cohort ages, the proportion of child-bearing people diminishes, the age distribution stabilizes at the zero-population level, the slack is taken up, and population growth ceases. Similarly, when a country dips below the breakpoint, a lag period intervenes before the absolute growth rate goes negative and the population actually declines. Italy and Germany, for example, have entered a period of such true, absolute negative population growth.

The decline in global population growth is attributable to three interlocking social forces: the globalization of an economy driven by science and technology, the consequent implosion of rural populations into cities, and, as a result of globalization and urban implosion, the empowerment of women. The freeing of women socially and economically results in fewer children. Reduced reproduction by female choice can be thought a fortunate, indeed almost miraculous, gift of human nature to future generations. It could have gone the other way: women, more prosperous and less shackled, could have chosen the satisfactions of a larger brood. They did the opposite. They opted for a smaller number of quality children, who can be raised with better health and education, over a larger family. They simultaneously chose better, more secure lives for themselves. The tendency appears to be very widespread, if not universal. Its importance cannot be overstated. Social commentators often remark that humanity is endangered by its own instincts, such as tribalism, aggression, and personal greed. Demographers of the future will, I believe, point out that on the other hand humanity was saved by this one quirk in the maternal instinct.

The global trend toward smaller families, if it continues, will eventually halt population growth and afterward reverse it. What will be the peak, and when will it occur? And how will the environment fare as humanity climbs to the peak? The Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs released a spread of projections to the year 2050 that ranged from 7.3 billion to 14.4 billion, with the most likely scenario falling somewhere between nine billion and 10 billion.

Enough slack still exists in the system to justify guarded optimism. Women given a choice and affordable contraceptive methods generally practice birth control. By 1996 about 130 countries subsidized family-planning services. More than half of all developing countries in particular also had official population policies to accompany their economic and military policies, and more than 90 percent of the rest stated their intention to follow suit. The U.S., where the idea is still virtually taboo, remained a stunning exception.

The encouragement of population control by developing countries comes not a moment too soon. The environmental fate of the world lies ultimately in their hands. They now account for virtually all global population growth, and their drive toward higher per capita consumption will be relentless.

The consequences of their reproductive prowess are multiple and deep. The people of the developing countries are already far younger than those in the industrial countries and destined to become more so. The streets of Lagos, Manaus, Karachi, and other cities in the developing world are a sea of children. To an observer fresh from Europe or North America, the crowds give the feel of a gigantic school just let out. In at least 68 of the countries, more than 40 percent of the population is under 15 years of age.

A country poor to start with and composed largely of young children and adolescents is strained to provide even minimal health services and education for its people. Its superabundance of cheap, unskilled labor can be turned to some economic advantage but unfortunately also provides cannon fodder for ethnic strife and war. As the populations continue to explode and water and arable land grow scarcer, the industrial countries will feel their pressure in the form of many more desperate immigrants and the risk of spreading international terrorism. I have come to understand the advice given me many years ago when I argued the case for the natural environment to the president’s scientific adviser:
your patron is foreign policy.

Stretched to the limit of its capacity, how many people can the planet support? A rough answer is possible, but it is a sliding one contingent on three conditions:
how far into the future the planetary support is expected to last, how evenly the resources are to be distributed, and the quality of life most of humanity expects to achieve. Consider food, which economists commonly use as a proxy of carrying capacity. The current world production of grains, which provide most of humanity’s calories, is about two billion tons annually. That is enough, in theory, to feed 10 billion East Indians, who eat primarily grains and very little meat by Western standards. But the same amount can support only about 2.5 billion Americans, who convert a large part of their grains into livestock and poultry. There are two ways to stop short of the wall. Either the industrialized populations move down the food chain to a more vegetarian diet, or the agricultural yield of productive land worldwide is increased by more than 50 percent.

The constraints of the biosphere are fixed. The bottleneck through which we are passing is real. It should be obvious to anyone not in a euphoric delirium that whatever humanity does or does not do, Earth’s capacity to support our species is approaching the limit. We already appropriate by some means or other 40 percent of the planet’s organic matter produced by green plants. If everyone agreed to become vegetarian, leaving little or nothing for livestock, the present 1.4 billion hectares of arable land (3.5 billion acres) would support about 10 billion people. If humans utilized as food all of the energy captured by plant photosynthesis on land and sea, some 40 trillion watts, the planet could support about 16 billion people. But long before that ultimate limit was approached, the planet would surely have become a hellish place to exist. There may, of course, be escape hatches. Petroleum reserves might be converted into food, until they are exhausted. Fusion energy could conceivably be used to create light, whose energy would power photosynthesis, ramp up plant growth beyond that dependent on solar energy, and hence create more food. Humanity might even consider becoming someday what the astrobiologists call a type II civilization and harness all the power of the sun to support human life on Earth and on colonies on and around the other solar planets. Surely these are not frontiers we will wish to explore in order simply to continue our reproductive folly.

The epicenter of environmental change, the paradigm of population stress, is the People’s Republic of China. By 2000 its population was 1.2 billion, one fifth of the world total. It is thought likely by demographers to creep up to 1.6 billion by 2030. During 1950-2000 China’s people grew by 700 million, more than existed in the entire world at the start of the industrial revolution. The great bulk of this increase is crammed into the basins of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, covering an area about equal to that of the eastern U.S. Hemmed in to the west by deserts and mountains, limited to the south by resistance from other civilizations, their agricultural populations simply grew denser on the land their ancestors had farmed for millennia. China became in effect a great overcrowded island, a Jamaica or Haiti writ large.

Highly intelligent and innovative, its people have made the most of it. Today China and the U.S. are the two leading grain producers of the world. But China’s huge population is on the verge of consuming more than it can produce. In 1997 a team of scientists, reporting to the U.S. National Intelligence Council (NIC), predicted that China will need to import 175 million tons of grain annually by 2025. Extrapolated to 2030, the annual level is 200 million tons–the entire amount of grain exported annually in the world at the present time. A tick in the parameters of the model could move these figures up or down, but optimism would be a dangerous attitude in planning strategy when the stakes are so high. After 1997 the Chinese in fact instituted a province-level crash program to boost grain level to export capacity. The effort was successful but may be short-lived, a fact the government itself recognizes. It requires cultivation of marginal land, higher per acre environmental damage, and a more rapid depletion of the country’s precious groundwater.

According to the NIC report, any slack in China’s production may be picked up by the Big Five grain exporters: the U.S., Canada, Argentina, Australia, and the European Union. But the exports of these dominant producers, after climbing steeply in the 1960s and 1970s, tapered off to near their present level in 1980. With existing agricultural capacity and technology, this output does not seem likely to increase to any significant degree. The U.S. and the European Union have already returned to production all of the cropland idled under earlier farm commodity programs. Australia and Canada, largely dependent on dryland farming, are constrained by low rainfall. Argentina has the potential to expand, but due to its small size, the surplus it produces is unlikely to exceed 10 million tons of grain production per year.

China relies heavily on irrigation, with water drawn from its aquifers and great rivers. The greatest impediment is again geographic: two thirds of China’s agriculture is in the north, but four fifths of the water supply is in the south–that is, principally in the Yangtze River Basin. Irrigation and withdrawals for domestic and industrial use have depleted the northern basins, from which flow the waters of the Yellow, Hai, Huai, and Liao rivers. Starting in 1972, the Yellow River Channel has gone bone dry almost yearly through part of its course in Shandong Province, as far inland as the capital, Jinan, thence down all the way to the sea. In 1997 the river stopped flowing for 130 days, then restarted and stopped again through the year for a record total of 226 dry days. Because Shandong Province normally produces a fifth of China’s wheat and a seventh of its corn, the failure of the Yellow River is of no little consequence. The crop losses in 1997 alone reached $1.7 billion.

Meanwhile the groundwater of the northern plains has dropped precipitously, reaching an average rate of 1.5 meters (five feet) per year by the mid-1990s. Between 1965 and 1995 the water table fell 37 meters (121 feet) beneath Beijing itself.

Faced with chronic water shortages in the Yellow River Basin, the Chinese government has undertaken the building of the Xiaolangdi Dam, which will be exceeded in size only by the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River. The Xiaolangdi is expected to solve the problems of both periodic flooding and drought. Plans are being laid in addition for the construction of canals to siphon water from the Yangtze, which never grows dry, to the Yellow River and Beijing, respectively.

These measures may or may not suffice to maintain Chinese agriculture and economic growth. But they are complicated by formidable side effects. Foremost is silting from the upriver loess plains, which makes the Yellow River the most turbid in the world and threatens to fill the Xiaolangdi Reservoir, according to one study, as soon as 30 years after its completion.

China has maneuvered itself into a position that forces it continually to design and redesign its lowland territories as one gigantic hydraulic system. But this is not the fundamental problem. The fundamental problem is that China has too many people. In addition, its people are admirably industrious and fiercely upwardly mobile. As a result, their water requirements, already oppressively high, are rising steeply. By 2030 residential demands alone are projected to increase more than fourfold, to 134 billion tons, and industrial demands fivefold, to 269 billion tons. The effects will be direct and powerful. Of China’s 617 cities, 300 already face water shortages.

The pressure on agriculture is intensified in China by a dilemma shared in varying degrees by every country. As industrialization proceeds, per capita income rises, and the populace consumes more food. They also migrate up the energy pyramid to meat and dairy products. Because fewer calories per kilogram of grain are obtained when first passed through poultry and livestock instead of being eaten directly, per capita grain consumption rises still more. All the while the available water supply remains static or nearly so. In an open market, the agricultural use of water is outcompeted by industrial use. A thousand tons of freshwater yields a ton of wheat, worth $200, but the same amount of water in industry yields $14,000. As China, already short on water and arable land, grows more prosperous through industrialization and trade, water becomes more expensive. The cost of agriculture rises correspondingly, and unless the collection of water is subsidized, the price of food also rises. This is in part the rationale for the great dams at Three Gorges and Xiaolangdi, built at enormous public expense.

In theory, an affluent industrialized country does not have to be agriculturally independent. In theory, China can make up its grain shortage by purchasing from the Big Five grain-surplus nations. Unfortunately, its population is too large and the world surplus too restrictive for it to solve its problem without altering the world market. All by itself, China seems destined to drive up the price of grain and make it harder for the poorer developing countries to meet their own needs. At the present time, grain prices are falling, but this seems certain to change as the world population soars to nine billion or beyond.

The problem, resource experts agree, cannot be solved entirely by hydrological engineering. It must include shifts from grain to fruit and vegetables, which are more labor-intensive, giving China a competitive edge. To this can be added strict water conservation measures in industrial and domestic use; the use of sprinkler and drip irrigation in cultivation, as opposed to the traditional and more wasteful methods of flood and furrow irrigation; and private land ownership, with subsidies and price liberalization, to increase conservation incentives for farmers.

Meanwhile the surtax levied on the environ-ment to support China’s growth, though rarely entered on the national balance sheets, is escalating to a ruin-ous level. Among the most telling indicators is the pollution of water. Here is a measure worth pondering. China has in all 50,000 kilometers of major rivers. Of these, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, 80 percent no longer support fish. The Yellow River is dead along much of its course, so fouled with chromium, cadmium, and other toxins from oil refineries, paper mills, and chemical plants as to be unfit for either human consumption or irrigation. Diseases from bacterial and toxic-waste pollution are epidemic.

China can probably feed itself to at least midcentury, but its own data show that it will be skirting the edge of disaster even as it accelerates its lifesaving shift to industrialization and megahydrological engineering. The extremity of China’s condition makes it vulnerable to the wild cards of history. A war, internal political turmoil, extended droughts, or crop disease can kick the economy into a downspin. Its enormous population makes rescue by other countries impracticable.

China deserves close attention, not just as the unsteady giant whose missteps can rock the world, but also because it is so far advanced along the path to which the rest of humanity seems inexorably headed. If China solves its problems, the lessons learned can be applied elsewhere. That includes the U.S., whose citizens are working at a furious pace to overpopulate and exhaust their own land and water from sea to shining sea.

Environmentalism is still widely viewed, especially in the U.S., as a special-interest lobby. Its proponents, in this blinkered view, flutter their hands over pollution and threatened species, exaggerate their case, and press for industrial restraint and the protection of wild places, even at the cost of economic development and jobs.

Environmentalism is something more central and vastly more important. Its essence has been defined by science in the following way. Earth, unlike the other solar planets, is not in physical equilibrium. It depends on its living shell to create the special conditions on which life is sustainable. The soil, water, and atmosphere of its surface have evolved over hundreds of millions of years to their present condition by the activity of the biosphere, a stupendously complex layer of living creatures whose activities are locked together in precise but tenuous global cycles of energy and transformed organic matter. The biosphere creates our special world anew every day, every minute, and holds it in a unique, shimmering physical disequilibrium. On that disequilibrium the human species is in total thrall. When we alter the biosphere in any direction, we move the environment away from the delicate dance of biology. When we destroy ecosystems and extinguish species, we degrade the greatest heritage this planet has to offer and thereby threaten our own existence.

Humanity did not descend as angelic beings into this world. Nor are we aliens who colonized Earth. We evolved here, one among many species, across millions of years, and exist as one organic miracle linked to others. The natural environment we treat with such unnecessary ignorance and recklessness was our cradle and nursery, our school, and remains our one and only home. To its special conditions we are intimately adapted in every one of the bodily fibers and biochemical transactions that gives us life.

That is the essence of environmentalism. It is the guiding principle of those devoted to the health of the planet. But it is not yet a general worldview, evidently not yet compelling enough to distract many people away from the primal diversions of sport, politics, religion, and private wealth.

The relative indifference to the environment springs, I believe, from deep within human nature. The human brain evidently evolved to commit itself emotionally only to a small piece of geography, a limited band of kinsmen, and two or three generations into the future. To look neither far ahead nor far afield is elemental in a Darwinian sense. We are innately inclined to ignore any distant possibility not yet requiring examination. It is, people say, just good common sense. Why do they think in this shortsighted way? The reason is simple: it is a hardwired part of our Paleolithic heritage. For hundreds of millennia, those who worked for short-term gain within a small circle of relatives and friends lived longer and left more offspring–even when their collective striving caused their chiefdoms and empires to crumble around them. The long view that might have saved their distant descendants required a vision and extended altruism instinctively difficult to marshal.

The great dilemma of environmental reasoning stems from this conflict between short-term and long-term values. To select values for the near future of one’s own tribe or country is relatively easy. To select values for the distant future of the whole planet also is relatively easy–in theory, at least. To combine the two visions to create a universal environmental ethic is, on the other hand, very difficult. But combine them we must, because a universal environmental ethic is the only guide by which humanity and the rest of life can be safely conducted through the bottleneck into which our species has foolishly blundered.

Edward O. Wilson has made major contributions to a number of fields, including the behavior and evolution of social insects, chemical communication, and the evolution of social behavior. His interest in living organisms, especially ants, stems back to his childhood and to his undergraduate studies in evolutionary biology at the University of Alabama. He received his Ph.D. in biology from Harvard University, where he is now Pellegrino University Research Professor and Honorary Curator in Entomology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology. Among his many honors are the National Medal of Science, two Pulitzer Prizes (for On Human Nature, 1978, and The Ants, 1990, with Bert Hˆlldobler), and the Tyler Prize for environmental achievement. Other groundbreaking books include Consilience and Sociobiology.

Read More on Ortegrity
and on Sociocracy  Read a  Synergic Version of Robert’s Rules of Order

Read the Synergic Future Series: 1) Beyond Property 2) Redefining Wealth 3) Synergic Wealth 4) Synergic Wealth II: Deepening Our Understanding 5) Trustegrities — Protecting the Future and 6) Synergic Guardians — Protecting the Future.

Front Page

Monday, December 29th, 2008

From the SynEARTH Archives. I have argued it is time to move beyond democracy. But, how will we make decisions in a synergic future? Remember synergy means working together. We are seeking the win-win-win-win solution. This is where I win, you win, Life wins, and the Earth wins.

Consensus & Consent

Timothy Wilken, MD

Unanimous Rule Democracy or Synocracy is a much more powerful mechanism of decision making than the majority rule of present day democracy.

Synocracy is a synergic form of government. Synergy means working together—operating together as in Co-Operation—laboring together as in Co-Laboration—acting together as in Co-Action. The goal of synergic union is to accomplish a larger or more difficult task than can be accomplished by individuals working separately.

However Synocracy, which gives us humans the opportunity to accomplish more together than we can accomplish separately, also requires more from us. It requires synergic consensus. For any group of humans, synergic consensus can provide a much more powerful mechanism of decision making than even the best majority rule democracy carefully following Roberts Rules of Order.

Synergic consensus occurs when a group of humans sit as equals and negotiate to reach a decision in which they all win and in which no one loses. In synergic science this is called heterarchy. That means all members of the deciding group sit on the same level as “equals”. All decisions within a truly synergic group are made within “decision heterarchy”. A decision heterarchy is made up of a group of humans with common purpose. The minimum number is 2 the maximum number is presently unknown. I believe the ideal size may be ~six or seven individuals. The group is organized horizontally with all individuals sharing equal authority and equal responsibility.

Most Western humans are familiar with the democratic committee system. It is very different from the decision heterarchy. While both are methods of organizing human individuals to make decisions for group action. Committees are filled with conflict and highly ineffective. In a committee no individual is held responsible for the actions taken by the group. And decision is made by majority ultimatum. A desenting minority member is forced to support the action he voted against or leave the committee. Heterarchy within a synergic group, in contrast organizes individuals to have equal authority to decide on joint action with equal responsibility for the resultant that is produced by that joint action.

Synergic consensus occurs when a group of humans sitting in heterarchy negotiate and reach a decision in which they all win and in which no one loses. In a synergic heterarchy, all members sit on the same level as “equals”. No one has more authority than anyone else. Every one has equal responsibility and equal authority within the heterarchy. The assignment for the heterarchy is to find a plan of action so that all members win. It is the collective responsibility of the entire heterarchy to find this “best” solution. Anyone can propose a plan to accomplish the needs of the group. All problems related to accomplishing the needs would be discussed at length in the heterarchy.

The proposed plan of action for solving a problem is examined by all members of the heterarchy. Anyone can suggest a modification, or even an alternative action to solve the problem. All members of the heterarchy serve as information sources for each other. The heterarchy continues in discussion until a plan of action is found that will work for everyone. When all are in agreement and only then can the plan be implemented. The plan insures that all members of the synergic heterarchy win.

Synergic Veto

All members are required to veto any plan where they or anyone else would lose. This is not an arbitrary veto. This is a veto to prevent loss. The heterarchy is seeking to win together. Plans causing loss need to modified to plans that insure winning.

Therefore all vetoes are immediately followed by renegotiation to modify the plan of action so that loss can be eliminated.

Synergic consensus is unanimous consensus. Unanimous consensus is protected by the judicious use of the synergic veto. Synergic relationship requires that when any party within a group is losing, the action causing the loss must stop. But again all vetoes are immediately followed by renegotiation to modify the plan of action so that loss can be eliminated, and action can continue.

Thus synergic consensus is a two step process. 1) consensus–to find mutual agreement, and 2) consent–to find specific disagreements and eliminate those through modification and re-negotiation of proposed plans. This second step is initiated by use of the synergic veto.

After I designed Ortegrity, which uses the process of synergic consensus and synergic veto, I learned about Sociocracy. It is from Sociocracy that I have borrowed the term consent for the second phase of synergic consensus.


Originated in the Netherlands in 1945 by Kees Boeke, a Dutch educator and pacifist, Sociocracy was a way to adapt Quaker egalitarian principles to secular organizations.

It uses the decision-making process of consent which is different than most systems of  ‘consensus’.

Consent looks for disagreement and uses the reasons for disagreeing to come up with an amended proposal that is within everyone’s limits. Consensus looks for agreement.

If a group wants to paint an outbuilding, consensus would require everyone agreeing on a color. Consent would require everyone defining their limits and then allowing the choice to be made within those limits. The painter might end up with 10 colors that are within everyone’s limits and then choose from those.

Synergic Consensus as described in ORTEGRITY seeks both consensus and consent by utilization of the synergic veto. When any member of the deciding group is in conflict and vetos a proposed plan, they are asked how would they change the proposal to accomodate their objection. Let’s take a deeper look at Sociocracy to see what we can learn. I will mark my annotations with an asterick.

The Four Principles of Sociocracy

1) Governance by Consent: The consent principle says that a decision can only be made when none of the circle members present has a reasoned, substantial objection to making the decision. The consent principle is different than “consensus” and “veto.” With consensus the participants must be “for” the decision. With consent decision-making they must be not against. With many forms of consensus a veto blocks the decision without an argument. With consent decision making, opposition must always be supported with an argument.

* Synergic veto always requires renegotiation to find a plan of action that will solve the group problems without causing loss. Veto is never arbitrary in Ortegrity.

Every decision doesn’t require consent, but consent must exist concerning an agreement to make decisions regularly through another method. Thus, many decisions are not made by consent. Rather, with consent, persons or groups are given the authority to make independent decisions. Consent can also be used with non-human elements.

2) Circle Organization: The organization arranges for a decision making structure, built from mutually double-linked circles, in which consent governs. This decision-making structure includes all members of the organization. Each circle has its own aim, performs the three functions of directing, operating and measuring (feedback), and maintains its own memory system by means of integral education. A good way to evaluate how well a circle is functioning is to use 9-block charting. Every circle formulates its own vision, “mission statement” and aim/objective (which must fit in with the vision, mission and aim of the organization as a whole and with the vision, mission and aim of all the other circles in the organization).

* Circles are equivalent to heterarchies. In  ORTEGRITY, they are similar to Decision-Action Tensegrities.

3) Double-Linking: Coupling a circle with the next higher circle is handled through a double link. That is, at least two persons, the supervisor of the circle and at least one representative of the circle, belong to the next higher circle.

* Decision-Action Tensegrities as described in ORTEGRITY are single linked by the Organizers-Organized or the O-O.


Using a double link would add redundancy, security and allow more information to flow between Decison-Action Tensegrities–two heads are better than one, but at a price of decreased efficiency.

4) Sociocratic Elections: Choosing people for functions and/or responsibilities is done by consent after an open discussion. The discussion is very important because it uncovers pertinent information about the members of the circle.

* In Ortegrity, once the primary synergic task is defined and unanimously elected by the heterarchy, then a plan for synergic action must be developed using synergic negotiation. Now the members of the heterarchy will accept hierarchical roles with individual responsibility and authority.

In addition to the four main principles of Sociocracy, there are also these guidelines:

  • No secrets may be kept  (*Transparency in Ortegrity)
  • Everything is open to discussion – limits of an exec’s power, policy decisions, personnel decisions, investment policy, profit distribution, all rulesÖ.
  • Everyone has a right to be part of a decision that affects them.
  • Every decision may be reexamined at any time

* I am in agreement with most of what I read about Sociocracy. In many ways Sociocracy and Ortegrity are complimentary mechanisms with lots of similarities.

Sociocracy accomodates growth by creation of new circles that are then connected by double linking. Sociocracy can be regarded as a fractal structure, which means that the same patterns occur at different levels in the structure. That is why, once the basics are understood, the procedures at the highest level are as clear as the procedures at the grassroots level. It also doesn’t require very many levels to include a great number of people.

ORTEGRITY grows by shreddng out. If the primary synergic task is within the abilites of the primary Decision-Action Tensegrity to accomplish it,then they accomplish it operating in action-hierarchy. When they are done, they reconfigure back into decision-heterarchy to define their next synergic task.

If however, the synergic task is too large for the primary Decision-Action Tensegrity to accomplish, then part of the primary synergic task will be to make the Ortegrity larger. This is accomplished by having the primary members recruit and organize secondary D-A Tensegrities.

TopDown Self-Organization

Once all members have agreed to a primary plan of action, they then divide it into smaller secondary plans for distribution among themselves. This results in the self-assignment of tasks. The members of the primary tensegrity, then divide labor through the voluntarily formation of a action-hierarchy to implement the plan. Each “organizer”, the term “manager” is scraped altogether, then takes his task down to the secondary tensegrity which he is responsible for organizing.

The pattern of organization is from the top down. This is not the “other-directed” hierarchy of American Capitalism. The process of organization is from the top down, but the mechanism is “self directed” heterarchy. Only when synergic consensus has been achieved at the higher level can the organizational focus move down to a lower level.

Within the Ortegrity, most “organizers” will function at two levels of tensegrity. Within the primary tensegrity, they are “organized” by the primary “organizer” — the synergic alternative to a CEO. In addition these members are also the “coodinators” of their own secondary tensegrities which they are responsible for organizing.

Within the Ortegrity, those individuals operating at two levels are then both organized and organizers. As members of the primary tensegrity, they are organized by the “primary organizer” — the O’ (called the O prime) and they are also the organizers of their own secondary tensegrities. Each of these is therefore an “organized-organizer” — the O-O  (called the double O).

An organization can have any number of Decision-Action Tensegrities. These Decision-Action Tensegrities can be on different levels. Large organizations would include several levels of Decision-Action Tensegrities. These different levels are referred to simply as first level, second level, third level and so on in synergic terminology.

Compound Tensegrities

The following illustration is of a base five, level two O.T.. Twenty five employees with one five-member primary DA-Tensegrity and five (five-member) secondary DA-Tensegrities.


The central DA-Tensegrity is the primary Tensegrity it is demarcated with the Omega symbol. It divides the primary tasks of the company into secondary tasks, these are then carried down to the secondary Tensegrities for solution by the O-Os, “organized-organizers”. In this example the O’ functions as both primary organizer and one of the O-Os.

Ultimately Flexible

No known system of organization is more flexible and adaptive then Living systems. The Ortegrity is a pattern of life.

The Ortegrity is ultimately flexible. There can be two to twenty individuals within the base D-A Tensegrities. Bases can be regular — all with the same number of members or irregular — all with different numbers of members or any mixture of regular and irregular.

There can be any number of levels, and any number of branches on each level. The system is so powerful that twelve levels looks like enough for most of our needs.

The following chart is based on a base seven regular tensegrity. All DA-Tensegrities would have seven members. 

# of base tensegrities
# of individuals
1 1 7
2 8 49
3 57 343
4 400 2401
5 2801 16,807
6 19,608 117,649
7 137,257  823,543
8 960,800 5,764,801
9 6,725,601  40,353,607
10 47,079,208 282,475,249
11 329,554,457  1,977,326,743
12 2,306,881,200 13,841,287,201

A level 12 Ortegrity would be adequate for organizing the entire humans species within a single organization. Recalling that the larger a tensegrity the more powerful it will is. Synergic science predicts this will also be true for human organizations structured as Ortegrities. Therefore, I would expect a trend towards very large organizations.

Imagine, what could be possible if the entire human species were a single organization. No conflict, no wars, no crimes. Is there anything we could not accomplish?

SynocracyUnanimous Rule Democracy

Any group of humans organized as an Ortegrity are using synocracy. If a nation of people chose to organize as an ortegrity they would have a synocracy. If all of humanity were organized as an Ortegrity, we would have world wide synocracy.

Synergic consensus is unanimous consensus. I can hear the objections now. “That’s impossible, you will never get everyone in the group to agree.” “Decisions will never get made.” “It is hard enough to get a majority to agree.”

A Japanese business heterarchy is slower at making decisions than a single manager in an American business hierarcy. It takes longer for a group of individuals to discuss, negotiate, and come to agreement than it takes for a single American manager to decide all by himself and order his subordinates to follow his instructions. If the speed of making decisions is the only criteria for choosing a mechanism of decision making then the dictatorship—the rule by one is the clear standout.

However, humanity has moved beyond dictatorships for reasons of fairness and justice. Majority rule democracy is not a rapid decision making process. Individuals within a group deciding—whether the group is a small committee or a large nation choosing a President—are seeking to gain the majority of support. This takes time—sometimes a lot of time. Our national elections often take place over an entire year. The focus is on lining up votes—working deals—in a word—politics. This process is anything but rapid. If all decisions in American businesses were made by majority rule, decision making would probably be even slower than in Japanese companies using heterarchical consensus.

Synergic consensus is not commonly availability to humanity today. We do not yet know how fast it will be at making decisions. But, I predict that unanimous rule democracy will prove faster than majority rule democracy. Synergic consensus elimates conflict. Recall conflict is the stuggle to avoid loss. Conflict is at the very heart of majority rule democracy. The focus of synergic consensus is very different. The entire group knows from the outset that they cannot lose. They are focused on choosing a plan of action that serves the needs of all the members in the group—to choose a plan of action that causes no one to lose.  The synergic veto is not invoked capriciously. The only basis for synergic veto is to prevent someone from losing. This is a mechanism to eliminate loss—to choose the very best plan of action for everyone. This may well speed up the process of decison making. In any event regardless of the speed of decision, implimentation will be rapid. There is no conflict. This is a major advantage over majority rule democracy.

Life Utilizes Synergic Consensus

Today, mind and brain scientists have made enormous progress in understanding how the human brain works. There has been many surprises in these recent advances. But the biggest shocker is that the brain doesn’t decide what to do. Decision making is not controlled centrally in the brain. The mind-brain appears to act as a coordination and consensus system for meeting all the needs of the cells, tissues, and organs of the body. The brain doesn’t decide to eat. The cells of the body decide to eat, the brain coordinates their activity and carries out the consensus will.

Our human brain stores the gathered information from the body’s sensing of its environment, the brain presents opportunities for action reflective of both the sensing of environment and the needs and goals of the 40,000,000,000 cells it serves. The brain is not the leader of the body, it is the follower of the body. It is a system that matches needs of the body with its sensing of opportunities to meet these needs by action within the environment. The brain is a ‘synergic government’ that truly serves its constituents—the cells, tissues, and organs that make up the human body. The body is governed by a unanimous rule democracy that has survived millions of years.

The apparent ‘I’ is not real. It is really a ‘we’. We humans have mistaken the self-organization of synergic consensus for the directed organization of an ego decider.

If the human body can using unanimous rule democracy and synergic consensus can organize and coordinate the actions of 40,000,000,000 cells so totally that we identify the whole organism as a single individual, then we humans should be able to use these same mechanisms to organize our species and solve our human problems. 

More on Ortegrity. More on Sociocracy. Read a Synergic Version of Robert’s Rules of Order

References and Acknowledgements:

Barbara Hubbard originally coined the term Synocracy to refer to a not yet defined future system of “rule by the people” in a co-Operative society.

Barry Carter the author of Infinite Wealth also independently created the term Synocracy. He writes: “Barbara Marx Hubbard created the term synocracy. Having never read her book, I independently created the synocracy concept by way of mass privatization. When people are owning partners in a mass privatization organization they must participate because owners operate on profit and loss. As mass privatization communities work together we move beyond representative democracy and even beyond consensus democracy to create synergy-ocracy and synthesis-ocracy or synocracy. Infinite Wealth shows mass synocracy to be the new system of social order for the information Age to replace representative democracy. It even replaces the notion of government with the broader notion of social order. Just as learning is driven internally where education is driven externally representative government is external and where as self-organizing mass synocracy is internally driven.”

Front Page

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

Happy Jesus of Nazareth Day!

Go Be Reconciled With Thy Brother

The Golden Rule

Timothy Wilken, MD

Edward Haskell, a pioneer of synergic science, explained:

“The first formulation of the MORAL LAW for a non-human “kingdom” of Universe was Dimitri Mendeleev’s discovery of the Periodic Law in 1869. “The properties of the chemical elements are functions of their atomic weights.”

“What Mendeleev’s discovery states for Atoms is that “As ye sow, so shall ye reap,” where “reaping” is the properties of the chemical elements and “sowing” is the co-Action between the atom’s two components ≠ its vast, light, electron cloud, and its tiny, massive nucleus.”

Haskell’s analysis of the Atomic elements showed that these two components ≠ the electron cloud and the massive nucleus related in only three ways ≠ positive, neutral, or negative. Haskell called this the Moral Law of Unified Science.

For humans, the earliest formulation of the Moral Law of Unified Science appeared 3500 years ago as the doctrine of karma.

“Hinduism began in India about 1500 BC. The belief in rebirth, or samsara, as a potentially endless series of worldly existences in which every being is caught up was associated with the doctrine of karma (Sanskrit: karman; literally “act,” or “deed”). According to the doctrine of karma, good conduct brings a pleasant and happy result and creates a tendency toward similar good acts, while bad conduct brings an evil result and creates a tendency toward repeated evil actions. This furnishes the basic context for the moral life of the individual.”

The doctrine of karma was accepted by Buddha ~500 BC and is incorporated in modern Buddhism today. It appeared in western thought ~300 BC, in the Old Testament of the Bible as the phrase: 

“As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”

Two thousand years ago Jesus of Nazareth stated this law this way:

“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.“

Recall Universe is now understood to be process. Reality is a happening. Many things are going on all at once. Living systems ≠the plants, animals, and we humans all live within the EVENT paradigm. Buckminster Fuller defined an event to be a triad of related phenomena≠ action, reaction, resultant.

The dynamics of all behavior can be understood using these three concepts. Fuller discovered for every action there is a reaction, and a precessional resultant.

I can decide on an action. I can then implement my action. The environment including all life forms react to my action, the vector sum of the two (my action and the world’s reaction) produce a resultant. I act, the rest of the world reacts, and when it all settles down the change made by the interaction of the action and reaction is the resultant.

Now reformulating Haskell’s The Moral Law of Unified Science to include Fuller’s Principle of Action≠-Reaction≠-Resultant, we get:

Adversary action tends to provoke adversary reaction ending in an adversary resultant.

Neutral action tends to provoke neutral reaction ending in a neutral resultant.

And synergic action tends to provoke synergic reaction ending in a synergic resultant.

“As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”

We humans have three choices. We can sow adversary actions and reap adversary resultants. We can sow neutral actions and reap neutral resultants. Or we can sow synergic actions and reap synergic resultants.

The First Synergic Scientist

The first formulation of the synergic corollary of the Moral Law of Unified Science was:

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

This formulation is credited to Jesus of Nazareth who intuitively discovered the synergic way 2000 years ago. He gave us the rules for synergic relationship in his sermon on the mount.

 “You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. Ö Go be reconciled with thy brother.”

But, can we modern humans do this? Can North American whites love the South American browns? Can the Jews love the Arabs? Can the Northern Irish love the English? Can the Bosnians love the Serbs? Can the South African whites love the South African blacks?

Are we humans better able to love today? Have we learned enough in 2000 years—“To reconcile with our brother”?

Jesus of Nazareth may have been the first human to embrace synergy. His words seem to capture the very essence of synergic morality. Synergic morality is more than not hurting other, it requires helping other. Jesus was the first human to state the fundamental law of synergic relationship. It is known as the Golden Rule:

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law.”

What would you have others do to you? The best one word answer I can find for this question is help. “Help others as you would have them help you.” Synergic morality is helping.

Andrew J. Galambos, in his lectures describing Moral Capitalism, often quoted the negative version of the Golden Rule:

“Do not do to others what you would have them not do to you.”

What would you have others not do to you?

Here the best one word answer is hurt. “Do not hurt others as you would have them not hurt you.”

The negative version of the Golden Rule is true and correct as far as it goes. In fact, it is the underlying premise for the Neutral Morality found in the western world today. But, Synergic Morality requires more of us than simply not hurting. It requires more of us than simply ignoring others. It requires us to help others ≠ to help each other.

Jesus of Nazareth understood this on the deepest of levels. He called for more than a prohibition against hurting others. He asked all humans to help each other.

Synergic Morality is more than the absence of hurting. It is the presence of helping. Synergic Morality rests then on the premise≠ that when you help others, you will find yourself helped in return.

So whether you believe Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ foretold in the Old Testament, or just a man, his words bring wisdom to all of humanity.

What’s wrong with wishing others a Merry Christmas?

Front Page

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

 As we reach the end of 2008, the magic of money and the market place is quickly losing its luster. The following essay was first posted here in 2001. It seems more relevant today. From the SynEARTH Archives.

What is so wrong with just making money?

Timothy Wilken, MD

Making money is not the same as creating life support. Elsewhere I have defined mutual life support to be synergic wealth. Money was defined as neutral wealth. We humans are an interdependent species. We meet our needs by making exchanges in the marketplace. Supply and demand often determines the value of things that we need. High demand raises the value of a particular good, as does low supply. It is scarcity that gives everything its maximum value.

The laws of supply and demand were originally formulated by Adam Smith before the invention of advertising. Advertising is a powerful tool designed to create demand. This tool is a constant and insideous companion to modern life. It is enormously effective at creating demand. You can’t watch television, listen to radio, read a magazine, or even drive on the public highways without being bombarded with advertising. This prolific advertising creates a strong demand for products and services that have little or no benefit to humankind.

Most of this advertising created demand is for our wants not for our needs. Wants and needs are not the same.

I want a Mercedes, but I need transportation.

I want a gold Rolex, but I need to know the time.

I want Gucci loafers, but I only need shoes.

I want a million dollar architectually designed home, but I only need safe, comfortable housing.

Our present culture is dominated by the idea that more is always better than less–that expensive is always better than inexpensive. Two phrases in common use today encapsulate this attitude: “The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.” and “He who dies with the most toys wins!”

Scientists have discovered that Nature is always seeking more for less–always seeking maximum efficiency in all that she does. R. Buckminster Fuller called this principle of seeking more for less the “dymaxion” way.

This is of course simply another way of stating the “Principle of Least Action”. In science the most elegant solution is the one that explains the most with the fewest variables. A synergic culture will be dominated by the dymaxion ideal. The best will be that which accomplishes the most with the least.

Doing more with less will makes more available to help others. Helping others so that you are helped in return is the operating basis of synergic culture. There our human wants will move towards congruence with our human needs.

But, back to the present world, today’s wants are not only more than we need, but they often are not even good for us.

I want a cigarette, but what I need is to relax.

I want a drink of alcohol, but what I need in to reduce the stress in my life.

I want an extra dessert, but what I need is more love in my life.

Much of what we want is not helpful for us and often times even harmful. But the laws of supply and demand respond as well to human wants as they do to human needs.

Those products most demanded whether for wants or needs are considered valuable. And it is the possession of valuable things that is the usually definition of wealth. This means in today’s world many harmful things are valuable–cocaine is very valuable, and possession of a ton of cocaine would make me wealthy.

In a synergic science, we make a major distinction between creating mutual life support or synergic wealth and just making money which is neutral wealth.

Synergic wealth is more than just what humans want or value. Synergic wealth is that which supports mutual human life. Synergic Wealth is defined as life itself and that which promotes human well being generally–that which satisfies the human needs of self and other–that which promotes mutual survival and makes life meaningful for self and other.

While money is considered wealth in our present neutral society, even here it is not really wealth. Money is a symbolic tool that can be used to represent real wealth. It was originally invented as a mechanism to protect real wealth. This distinction has been lost in our modern world. Today there is no distinction between money and real wealth.

Most of the activities found in today’s neutral cultures have as their only purpose the making of money. As R. Buckminster Fuller explains:

“Those who have learned how to make money with money–which money can never be anything but a medium of wealth exchanging–have now completely severed money from its constant functional identity with real wealth . . . About 90 percent of all U.S.A. employment is engaged in tasks producing no life-support wealth.”

If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. How can you tell if you are helping the human condition or simply making it worse?

You must ask yourself, am I creating real wealth with my actions and my leverage or am I just making money to purchase the life support I need? Do my actions and leverage create life support–that which promotes human well being–that which satisfies human needs–that which promotes both human survival and human meaning? Do I create the real wealth necessary to support myself and my family, or do I live off the real wealth created by others.

When we analyze our present world, we discover that most individuals in today’s world do not create the real wealth that supports them and their families. They live off the productivity of others. These are not obvious criminals or thieves. Most of them are completely ignorant of their unknowing participation in the plundering of their fellow humans. They are busy making money which in today’s world is easily exchanged for life support–real wealth.

If as Fuller tells us 90% of employed Americans are engaged in tasks that make money, but produce no real wealth, what are these Amercans doing?


Some of those making money, but producing no real wealth are involved in making products to satisfy human wants. In 1947 Buckminster Fuller coined the term Obnoxico to represent a fictious private-enterprise corporation  whose only purpose was to exploit the “wants” of humanity to make money. As Fuller explains:

“In my theoretical Obnoxico’s catalog the number-one item suggested that on the last day that your baby wears diapers you very carefully remove them, repin them empty, and stuff them full of tissue paper in just the shape in which they were when last occupied by your baby. You pack this assembly carefully into a strong corrugated-paperboard container and send it to Obnoxico, which will base-metallize the diapers, then gold- or silverplate them and send them back to you to be filled with ferns and hung in the back window of your car. The easily forecastable profits from this one item ran into millions of dollars per year.

“Somehow or other the theoretical Obnoxico concept has now twenty-five years later become a burgeoning reality. Private enterpriseis now building airports with ever-longer walkways and hotels with ever-increasing numbers of levels of ground-floor and basement arcades to accommodate the ever-more-swiftly multiplying Obnoxico stores. “Human beings traveling away from home with cash in their pockets, thinking fondly of those left behind or soon-to-be-joined loved ones, are hooked by the realistic statuettes of four-year-old girls and boys with upturned faces saying in a cartoon “balloon,” “What did you bring me, Daddy?”

“As the banking system pleads for more saving-account deposits (so that they can loan your money out to others at interest plus costs) the Obnoxico industry bleeds off an ever-greater percentage of all the potential savings as they are sentimentally or jokingly spent for acrylic toilet seats with dollar bills cast into the transparent plastic material, two teddy bears hugging an alligator, etc..”

Look around today, and you will find no shortage of products that fit in with Fuller’s concept of “Obnoxico”. Television, radio, and our sunday newspapers are filled with ads for these silly products that are of little or no value to humanity. Those creating these obnoxious products are simply seeking to earn their livings by making money.

They are unaware that making money is not the same as creating life support.


Some of those making money, but creating no life support are engaged in selling products and services to satisfy human wants. Recall human wants are not human needs. Advertising is the creation of  human wants so that individuals will buy products they don’t need so that others can make money.

In today’s great market, which is the very hallmark of our neutral society, enormous amounts of money and effort are spent in advertising to create human wants where none exist. When you really need something, do you require someone to inform you that you need it. I don’t think so.  If you need something, you will automatically go and look for it.

Wants now are a very different case. I don’t know I want something until I see or hear an advertisement for it. It is estimated that $170, 000, 000, 000 is spent annually on advertising to generate demand for products and services that we almost never need. And the entire cost of all advertising is added on to the price of the products and services we are being urged to buy. As David Shenk explains:

“In 1971 the average American was targeted by at least 560 daily advertising messages. Twenty years later, that number had risen sixfold, to 3,000 messages per day. More than 1,000 telemarketing companies employ 4 million Americans, and generate $650 billion in annual sales. Today’s commercial messages have crept into every nook and cranny of our lives–onto our jackets, ties, hats, shirts, and wristbands; onto bikes, benches, cars, trucks, even tennis nets; onto banners trailing behind planes, hanging above sporting and concert events and now, in smaller form, bordering Internet Web pages; onto the sides of blimps hovering in the sky. Magazine ads now communicate not only through color and text but also through smell and even sound.”

This barrage of 3000 messages a day is not to sell us any thing that we really need. We don’t need advertising to urge us to meet our human needs. We may benefit from a directory, i.e. the Yellow Pages of the telephone book, or a catalogue of available products, but we certainly don’t require a constant bombardment of messages telling us where to get out needs met.

The purpose of advertising is to make money, not to create life support.

And it is very effective at making money by generating enormous demand for unneeded products and services to satisfy artificially created human wants.

 Advertising injures humanity

Even, if we were somehow wise enough to ignore advertising and never purchased a single unneeded product or service, advertising would still be very damaging to the quality of our lives.

It intrudes into every facet of modern life, wastes so much of our precious time, and disrupts the very fabric of our lives.

Imagine a world without advertising. Imagine a world where  magazines, newspapers, radio, and television contain no advertising. Take a few minutes to really imagine it.

It would be wonderful.

Play money

Some of those making money, but creating no life support are speculating in currencies, commodities, and of course the stock and bond markets. Speculators buy low and sell high. They do not invest in anything. They are seeking to gain a momentary price advantage and realize a quick profit. Their only interest is making money.

Today’s markets are such a large part of our political-economic world that most living humans assume they have always existed. This is of course not true as Hazel Henderson explains:

“Until the sixteenth century the notion of purely economic phenomena, isolated from the fabric of life, did not exist. Nor was there a national system of markets. That, too, is a relatively recent phenomena which originated in seventeenth century England.

“Of course markets have existed since the Stone Age, but they were based on barter, not cash, and so they were bound to be local. The motive of individual gain from economic activities was generally absent. The very idea of profit, let alone interest, was either inconceivable or banned.”

Day traders are new breed of speculator emerging in the current American stock market. These individuals are drawing a lot of attention by buying and selling stocks many times a day. They hold on to their purchases sometimes for only a few minutes to a few hours again seeking to buy low and sell high.

Collectively, all these speculators are having a large effect on the global economy. Henderson explains:

 “Regulators and central bankers were forced into collective action on a crisis basis after the 1994-95 Mexican peso crisis, since none could defend their currencies, even in concert. Central bankers’ policies are defeated each day by the collective action of currency traders staging “bear raids” on weak currencies at will. U.S. treasury Secretary Robert Tubinand and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan’s efforts to coordinate thirteen countries’ central banks to boost the dollar prior to the June 1995 Economic Summit meeting between the United States, Britain, Germany, Italy, Canada, France, and Japan and later efforts gave only short-lived warning to currency traders–at a cost to their respective taxpayers of over $2 billion each. Increasingly, central banks will have to shift from managing domestic money supply to focusing on global aggregates. No longer is it only developing countries that are swamped by waves of hot money washing across thier borders. McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the total stock of financial assets traded in global capital markets will increase from $35 trillion in 1992 to $83 trillion in 2000.”

Speculators do not create life support. They are only making money. And all the money they make through this process is at the expense of life support created by someone else. Speculators do not really invest in anything. But what about the Stock Market? Surely, this is a place where real investment takes place in companies that are creating life support.

It depends of course on whether I invest in a company creating products and services that support life, or I invest in a company just making money by creating products and services to satisfy human wants. But let us suppose, I do invest in a company creating life support then surely my investment is contributing to the creation of life support. The following description is found on the internet at the Financial Forecast Center.

How the Stock Market works

“It all starts when a company wants to raise money to invest in something they think will be profitable, such as a new manufacturing process, more production capacity, or a new product. The company can do this a number of ways, but the two most popular are to borrow the money or sell part of the company. Borrowing the money is usually done by issuing a “bond” which is a promise to repay the borrowed money with interest.

“The next most popular way for a company to get money is to sell “stock” in the company. This is essentially selling a bit of the company in return for a promise of getting a split of the profits when there are profits to split. Stocks are also called “equity” because the owner of the stock has equity, or part ownership, of the company.

“When a company is formed, or incorporated, it sets up a certain amount of stock, which is worth about as much as the paper it is printed on–stock in its infancy carries no real value outside of the company. When the original owner of the company needs to raise money, he has to find good natured people with money to burn and sell this stock person by person, one person at a time. A share of stock signifies the holder owns some fraction of the company and allows the owner to enjoy part of the profits of the company. The stock may have a “face value” given to it when the company was formed, but you couldn’t walk into a grocery store with $10 worth of this stock and buy a loaf of bread.

“As the company becomes even larger and needs to raise even more money (usually several hundred million dollars), the stock will be offered on the open market. This is when it gets interesting. An initial public offering is made of so many shares of stock at a predetermined price, say $15 a share. People who invest in the stock market usually read the Wall Street Journal looking for initial public offerings, or IPO’s. At the moment the stock is sold to a shareholder it is worth its selling price of $15 a share. Now, you could turn around and sell it for $15 dollars to someone else and then go buy a loaf of bread, if someone is willing to pay you $15 dollars for it. The stock has now gone from being held by a few owners of the company, who would have a hard time selling it, to being held by thousands of owners who could sell it more easily because it is now being traded at stock exchanges such as the New York Stock Exchange or via the NASDAQ.

“Soon after trading hands a few time, the people buying the stock now determine the value of the stock by what they are willing to pay for it. Sometimes the price of a stock that sold for $15 a share at its initial public offering will drop like a rock. Other times, it will skyrocket. The value of the stock is set by many, many people trading it in a free market. And even though a person buying a share of stock may be a hundred times removed from the person originally buying the stock from the company at the IPO, that person still owns some teeny, tiny fraction of the company. I don’t know how they do it, but the company keeps track of all their stockholders, even if a person holds one share for a week.

“Sometimes the value of a share of stock is determined by crazes, such as the internet which tends to drive the price up quickly, but the price may also fall as quickly when the craze looses it “newness”. More often than not, the price of stock is set by how much profit the owner will receive, or dividend, and by the company’s current earnings and their prospects for future earnings. A company with little hope for the future will be frowned upon by the people wanting to buy their stock, and the buyer will not pay very much for it (its price usually doesn’t drop to $0 right away, as there are optimists and opportunist who will take a chance on disfavored stocks and will keep the price from falling to nothingness over night).

“It’s just like trading baseball cards. When stock is traded on the open market, the only reason it is worth so much is because there is someone out there willing to pay that much for it. No magic, no mystery.”

The stock market is really two different markets–the primary market for new shares and the secondary market for existing shares. The primary market is where companies offer new securities for sale to the public. When a company first joins the Stock Exchange their initial public offering is made offering new shares to the public. Also established companies listed on the Stock Exchange from time to time may issue additional new shares to raise additional money. It is this selling of new shares in this primary market that raises money for companies. Once the public has purchased these new shares, they are then free to turn around and trade these now existing shares as they like in the secondary market.

The proceeds from such trades goes entirely to the shareholder. Sales of existing shares in the secondary market does not raise money for the companies. Now the vast majority of stocks bought and sold every day are existing shares in this secondary market. Most investors are not seeking the small return that comes from dividends paid by the companies on the stocks they purchased, but rather hope that the market value of these shares will increase enough so that they will profit when they sell later.

Again, we have a case of buying low and selling high–we are just making money rather than creating life support. Buying and selling stock is almost completely divorced from the companies whose shares are purchased. The rise and fall of stock prices often have little or nothing to do with the real value or health of the companies themselves.

The stock market has become like a global casino. Will I get lucky. Will I buy low and sell high. Will I make money. There is no thought of creating life support.

Crack dwelling

Some of those making money, but creating no life support are dwelling in the cracks between the creators of life support. These cracks have been created by our adversary-neutral government.

Crack dwellers include the service industry that surrounds the Stock Market. You are not allowed to purchase stocks or bonds directly. You require a stock broker to be sure that you pay a commission everytime a trade is made. Commissions are paid with every buy and every sell.

The stock brokers are always winners regardless of whether the stocks go up or down. They make lots of money, but of course create no life support.

Government employees are fully supported by by tax dollars. The American government (federal, state, and local) consumed 44% of our national income in 1996. To the extent that government action does not help the people, and certainly in all instances where it hurts the people, this represents plunder–crack-dwellers. Our government wastes much of the national income it siezes in the name of the public good. As Hazel Henderson explains:

“As most U.S. citzens know, state and local governments in the United States are often the most corrupt, dominated by financial and corporate special interests. Local politicians almost routinely line their pockets, thanks to inside information on where airports, roads, and other projects are to be sited, allowing profits for politicians and their friends from real estate and construction deals.”

Accountants and attorneys spend many hours working in the cracks between the people and the government. They are living off the productivity of their clients–crack dwellers.

Before you buy a house a Title Search is legally required. Fees are charged for this service that is many times greater than its real value. Fuller told us that the Banking industry collected over $1 billion in 1978 just for transferring home-ownership deeds–crack-dwellers.

The entire Real Estate Industry is based on government licensed Realtors getting into the cracks between the buyer and seller and “earning” 12% of the selling price of the house–crack-dwellers.

Once a home is sold it must be financed and here again the banking industry charges “points” to originate the loan in addition to the prevailing interest of the moment–crack-dwellers.

Today’s health care system is full of crack-dwellers. Occupying the cracks between the providers and users of health care, some CEOs of today’s modern HMOs are “earning” as much as $400 million a year by denying needed health care to their members. As a practicing Physician, I now spend hours each week playing “may I help my patients” with clerks who know nothing of medicine but are instructed in blocking all requests for authorization–crack-dwellers.

Insurance clerks at some of our largest Health Insurance companies routinely throw away every third claim they receive on the basis that this practice will significantly delay payment, and if the insurance company is lucky as many as one third of providers will not rebill–crack-dwellers.

These are only a few examples. If you look around, you will discover that our adversary-neutral world makes cracks between every buyer and seller–between every producer and consumer.

Today many modern humans are living in the cracks “earning their livings” off the productivity of others.

What’s so wrong with wanting things?

Human wanting will survive a synergic revolution. In a synergic culture we humans will also want things that we may not need. But our wants won’t be artificially generated just so someone else can make money. This change will mean an end to unsolicited advertising.

Some would argue that this would mean an end to free television, or cheap newspapers. I would argue that commerical television, and newspapers full of adverstisments are neither free nor cheap. When we purchase any advertised product we are paying for our “free” televison and our “cheap” newspaper. And, this ignores all the time we waste being distracted by misdirected advertisements.

When humans have need for a product or service, they will take action to meet their needs. Clear and easily accessible information about all available products and services will be a part of synergic culture. However, advertising as we know it today will go the way of the dinosaur.

What’s wrong with just making money?

The money makers in today’s world are among the most respected and admired. The vast majority of humanity thinks there is nothing wrong with just making money since they are completely unaware of the difference between just making money and creating life support.

Of course the difference is that making money is making neutral wealth, but it is not creating synergic wealth. Those just making money are often the “winners” in the neutral-adversary reality of our modern world. But the price humanity pays for this minority to win is the necessity for the majority of living humans to lose.

Those who just make money still need life support. They get it by trading their Neutral wealth–money for Synergic wealth–life support. If as Fuller tells us 90% of Americans are just making money then only 10% of Americans are creating life support. No wonder the majority of humans are losing.

The truth is especially hard to believe if it requires that we take action–if it requires that we change. If humanity is to have a future, we must take action–we must change. If humanity is to have a future, we must believe the truth.

Read More on Ortegrity and on Sociocracy  Read a  Synergic Version of Robert’s Rules of Order

Read the Synergic Future Series: 1) Beyond Property 2) Redefining Wealth 3) Synergic Wealth 4) Synergic Wealth II: Deepening Our Understanding 5) Trustegrities — Protecting the Future and 6) Synergic Guardians — Protecting the Future.

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Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Wise woman Ellen Brown explains that building a positive future will depend on creating a sustainable government that is founded on reality based principles. Reposted from YES! Magazine.

“This isn’t about big government or small government. It’s about building a smarter government that focuses on what works.”

– Barack Obama, November 26, 2008

Sustainable Government

Ellen Brown

As our 45th President prepares to enter the Oval Office, bank lending has seized up, some of the nation’s largest banks are on life support, and the big three automakers are bankrupt. Housing continues to crash, and so does the economy.

Little wonder that Obama is being compared to Franklin D. Roosevelt, who entered the White House in similar financial straits in 1932. Even before taking office, Obama has started his version of the “fireside chats” (updated from radio to online video) given by Roosevelt nearly weekly to reassure the public. He said on November 22 that he plans to create 2.5 million new jobs by 2011 and kick-start the economy by building roads and bridges, modernizing schools, and creating technology and infrastructure for renewable energy. These are excellent ideas, but what will they be funded with—more government debt?

Obama has pledged to honor the commitments of the outgoing administration to rescue financial markets, on the theory that if we don’t, our credit system could freeze up completely. But as noted by Barry Ritholtz in a December 2 article, the bailout has already cost more than the New Deal, the Marshall Plan, the Louisiana Purchase, the moonshot, the savings and loan bailout, the Korean War, the Iraq war, the Vietnam war, and NASA’s lifetime budget combined.(1) Increasing the debt burden could break the back of the taxpayers and plunge the nation itself into bankruptcy.

How can the new President resolve these enormous funding challenges? Thomas Jefferson realized two centuries ago that there is a way to finance government without taxes or debt. Unfortunately, he came to that realization only after he had left the White House, and he was unable to put it into action. With any luck, Obama will discover this funding solution early in his upcoming term, before the country is declared bankrupt and abandoned by its creditors.

The Key to a Solution: Understanding Money and Credit
Jefferson realized too late that the Founding Fathers had been misled. He wrote to Treasury Secretary Gallatin in 1815:

“The treasury, lacking confidence in the country, delivered itself bound hand and foot to bold and bankrupt adventurers and bankers pretending to have money, whom it could have crushed at any moment.”

He wrote to John Eppes in 1813:

Although we have so foolishly allowed the field of circulating medium to be filched from us by private individuals, I think we may recover it Ö The states should be asked to transfer the right of issuing paper money to Congress, in perpetuity.”

It had long been held to be the sovereign right of governments to create the national money supply, something the colonies had done successfully for a hundred years before the Revolution. So why did the new government hand over the money-creating power to private bankers merely “pretending to have money”? Why are we still, 200 years later, groveling before private banks that are admittedly bankrupt themselves? The answer may simply be that, then as now, legislators along with most other people have not understood how money creation works. Only about 3% of the U.S. money supply now consists of “hard” currency—coins (issued by the government) and dollar bills (issued by the private Federal Reserve and lent to the government). All of the rest exists merely on computer screens or in paper accounts, and this money is all created by banks when they make loans. Contrary to popular belief, banks do not lend their own money or their depositors’ money. They merely “monetize” the borrower’s promise to repay. Many creditable authorities have attested to this fact. Here are a few:

“[W]hen a bank makes a loan, it simply adds to the borrower’s deposit account in the bank by the amount of the loan. The money is not taken from anyone else’s deposit; it was not previously paid in to the bank by anyone. It’s new money, created by the bank for the use of the borrower.”

– Robert B. Anderson, Secretary of the Treasury under President Eisenhower

“Banks create money. That is what they are forÖ The manufacturing process to make money consists of making an entry in a book. That is allÖ Each and every time a Bank makes a loanÖ new Bank credit is created—brand new money.”

– Graham Towers, Governor of the Bank of Canada from 1935 to 1955

“Of course, [banks] do not really pay out loans from the money they receive as deposits. If they did this, no additional money would be created. What they do when they make loans is to accept promissory notes in exchange for credits to the borrowers’ transaction accounts. Loans (assets) and deposits (liabilities) both rise [by the same amount].”

– The Chicago Federal Reserve, Modern Money Mechanics (last updated 1992)

Not only are banks merely pretending to have the money they lend to us, but today they are shamelessly demanding that we bail them out of their own imprudent gambling debts so they can continue to lend us money they don’t have. According to the Comptroller of the Currency, the books of U.S. banks now carry over $180 trillion in a form of speculative wager known as derivatives. Particularly at issue today are betting arrangements called credit default swaps (CDS), which have been sold by banks as insurance against loan defaults. The problem is that CDS are just private bets, and there is no insurance commissioner insuring that the “protection sellers” have the money to pay the “protection buyers” if they lose. As loans have gone into default, the elaborate gambling scheme built on them has teetered near collapse, threatening to take the banking system down with it. Now the players are demanding that the government underwrite their bets with taxpayer funds, on the theory that if the banking system collapses the public will have no credit and no money. That is the theory, but it misconstrues the nature of money and credit. If a private bank can create money simply by writing credit into a deposit account, so can the federal government. The Constitution says “Congress shall have the power to coin money,” and that is all it says about who has the power to create money. It does not say Congress can delegate to private banks the right to create 97% of the national money supply in the form of loans. Nothing backs our money except “the full faith and credit of the United States.” The government could and should have its own system of public banks with the authority to issue the credit of the nation directly.

Buyouts, not Bailouts
Accumulating a network of publicly-owned banks would be a simple matter today. As banks became insolvent, instead of trying to bail them out, the government could just put them into bankruptcy and take them over. Insolvent banks are dealt with by the FDIC, which is authorized to proceed in one of three ways. It can order a payout, in which the bank is liquidated and ceases to exist. It can arrange for a purchase and assumption, in which another bank buys the failed bank and assumes its liabilities. Or it can take the bridge bank option, in which the FDIC replaces the board of directors and provides the capital to get it running again in exchange for an equity stake in the bank. An “equity stake” means an ownership interest: the bank’s stock becomes the property of the government.(2) Nationalization is an option routinely pursued in Europe for bankrupt banks. As William Engdahl observed in a September 30 article, citing economist Nouriel Roubini for authority:

“[I]n almost every case of recent banking crises in which emergency action was needed to save the financial system, the most economical (to taxpayers) method was to have the Government, as in Sweden or Finland in the early 1990’s, nationalize the troubled banks [and] take over their management and assets Ö In the Swedish case, the Government held the assets, mostly real estate, for several years until the economy again improved at which point they could sell them onto the market Ö In the Swedish case the end cost to taxpayers was estimated to have been almost nil. The state never did as Paulson proposed, to buy the toxic waste of the banks, leaving them to get off free from their follies of securitization and speculation abuses.”(3)

As in any corporate acquisition, business in the banks nationalized by the government could carry on as before. Not much would need to change beyond the names on the stock certificates. The banks would just be under new management. They could advance loans as accounting entries, just as they do now. The difference would be that interest on advances of credit, rather than going into private vaults for private profit, would go into the coffers of the government. The “full faith and credit of the United States” would become an asset of the United States. Instead of paying half a trillion dollars annually in interest, the U.S. could be receiving interest on its credit, replacing or eliminating the need to tax its citizens.

3 Ways to Fund the “New” New Deal
There are three ways government could fund itself without either going into debt to private lenders or taxing the people: (1) the federal government could set up its own federally-owned lending facility; (2) the states could set up state-owned lending facilities; or (3) the federal government could issue currency directly, to be spent into the economy on public projects. Viable precedent exists for each of these alternatives:

1. The Federal Bank Option
The federal government could issue credit through its own lending facility, leveraging “reserves” into many times their face value in loans just as banks do now. Franklin Roosevelt funded his New Deal through the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC), a government-owned lending institution. However, the RFC borrowed the money before lending it.(4) A debt-free alternative would be for a government-owned bank to issue the money simply as “credit,” without having to borrow it first. This was done by the state-owned central banks of Australia and New Zealand in the 1930s, allowing them to avoid the worldwide depression of that era.(5) In the informative booklet “Modern Money Mechanics,” the Chicago Federal Reserve confirms that under the fractional reserve system in use today, one dollar in reserves is routinely fanned by private banks into ten dollars in new loans.(6)  Following that accepted protocol, the government could fan the $700 billion already earmarked to unfreeze credit markets into $7 trillion in low-interest loans.

Apparently, that is how Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke are planning to generate the $7 trillion they say they are now prepared to advance to rescue the financial system: they will just leverage the $700 billion bailout money through the banking system into $7 trillion in new loans.(7)  But the Federal Reserve is a privately-owned banking corporation, and the recipients of its largesse have not been revealed.(8) The $700 billion in seed money belongs to the taxpayers. The taxpayers should be getting the benefit of it, not a propped-up private banking system that uses taxpayer money for the “reserves” to create ten times that sum in “credit” that is then lent back to the taxpayers at interest.

Seven trillion dollars in government-issued credit could furnish all the money needed to fund Obama’s New Deal with a few trillion to spare. Among other worthy recipients of this low-interest credit would be state and local governments. Many state and municipal governments are going bankrupt through no fault of their own, just because interest rates shot up when the monoline insurers lost their triple-A ratings gambling in the derivatives market.(9)

2. The State Bank Option
While states are waiting for the federal government to step in, they could charter their own state-owned banks that issue low-interest credit on the fractional reserve model. Article I, Section 10, of the Constitution says that states shall not “emit bills of credit,” which has been interpreted to mean they cannot issue their own paper currency. But there is no rule against a state owning or chartering a bank that issues ten times its deposit base in loans, using standard fractional reserve principles.

Archive photographs from 1919 of the founding of the Bank of North Dakota
Archive photographs from 1919 of the founding of the Bank of North Dakota. Visit

Precedent for this approach is found in the Bank of North Dakota (BND), the nation’s only state-owned bank. BND was formed in 1919 to encourage and promote agriculture, commerce and industry in North Dakota. Its primary deposit base is the State of North Dakota, and state law requires that all state funds and funds of state institutions be deposited with the bank. The bank’s earnings belong to the state, and their use is at the discretion of the state legislature. As an agent of the state, BND can make subsidized loans to spur economic and agricultural development, and it is more lenient than other banks in pressing foreclosures. Under a program called Ag PACE (Agriculture Partnership in Assisting Community Expansion), the interest on loans made by BND and local lenders may be reduced to as low as 1 percent.(10)  North Dakota remains fiscally sound at a time when other state governments swim in red ink, and its educational system is particularly strong. While disruptions in capital markets have hampered student loan operations elsewhere, BND continues to operate a robust student loan business and is one of the nation’s leading banks in the number of student loans issued.(11) North Dakota’s fiscal track record is particularly impressive considering that its economy consists largely of isolated farms in an inhospitable climate. Ready low-interest credit from its own state-owned bank may help explain this unusual success.

3. Government-issued Currency
A third option for creating a self-sustaining government would be for Congress to simply create the money it needs on a printing press or with accounting entries, then spend this money directly into the economy. The usual objection to that alternative is that it would be highly inflationary, but if the money were spent on productive endeavors that increased the supply of goods and services—public transportation, low-cost housing, alternative energy development and the like—supply and demand would rise together and price inflation would not result. The American colonial governments issued their own money all through the eighteenth century. According to Benjamin Franklin, it was this original funding scheme that was responsible for the remarkable abundance in the colonies at a time when England was suffering the depression conditions of the Industrial Revolution. After the American Revolution, private bankers got control of the money supply, but Abraham Lincoln followed the colonial model and authorized government-issued Greenbacks during the Civil War. Not only did this allow the North to win the war without plunging it into debt to the bankers, but it funded a period of unprecedented expansion and productivity for the country.

Obama would do well to consider these funding solutions for his “smarter” government. He has been quick to assemble his advisers and form policy, but a fast start down the wrong road could do more harm than good. The bailout scheme of the current administration is serving merely to keep a failed banking system alive by draining assets away from the productive economy. The conventional wisdom is that we must continue down the path we are on, because the alternative means frightening, radical change. Financing a new New Deal without putting the country further into insolvency, however, would not be a radical departure from tradition but would represent a return to our roots, to the uniquely American monetary policy advocated by our venerable forebears Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.


(1) Barry Ritholtz, “Bailout Costs More than Marshall Plan, Louisiana Purchase, Moonshot, S & L Bailout, Korean War, New Deal, Iraq War, Vietnam War,”, Global Research (December 2, 2008).

(2) G. Edward Griffin, The Creature from Jekyll Island (Westlake Village, California: American Media, 1998), pages 63, 65.

(3) “William Engdahl, “Financial Tsunami: The End of the World as We Knew It,” Global Research (September 30, 2008).

(4) See Ellen Brown, “The Collapse of a 300 Year Ponzi Scheme,”, October 16, 2008.

(5) See “Sustainable Energy Development: How Costs Can Be Cut in Half,” ibid., (November 5, 2007).

(6) Chicago Federal Reserve, “Modern Money Mechanics” (1963, updated 1992), originally produced and distributed free by the Public Information Center of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, now available on the Internet.

(7) Mark Pittman, Bob Ivry, “U.S. Pledges $7.7 Trillion to Ease Frozen Credit,” (November 25, 2008).

(8) Ellen Brown, “The Fed Now Owns the World’s Largest Insurance Company – But Who Owns the Fed?”, (October 7, 2008); Mark Pittman, et al., “Fed Denies Transparency Aim in Refusal to Disclose,” (November 10, 2008).

(9) Tami Luhby, “Credit Crisis Hits Main Street,” (February 21, 2008); “Bond Failures May Bankrupt Cities,” Marketplace (February 28, 2008).

(10)The Bank of North Dakota,” New Rules Project,; “Ag PACE,” (2007).

(11) Richard Sisson, et al., The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia (2007), page 41; Liz Wheeler, “Bank of North Dakota Keeps Student Loan Funds Flowing,” Northwestern Financial Review, (September 15, 2008).

Ellen Brown, J.D., wrote this article in December, 2008, for Path to a New Economy, a collection of online articles for YES! Magazine, on economic and financial solutions. Ellen developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. In Web of Debt, her latest book, she turns those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and “the money trust.” She shows how this private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Her eleven books include the bestselling Nature’s Pharmacy, co-authored with Dr. Lynne Walker, and Forbidden Medicine. Her websites are and

Read More on Ortegrity
and on Sociocracy  Read a  Synergic Version of Robert’s Rules of Order

Read the Synergic Future Series: 1) Beyond Property 2) Redefining Wealth 3) Synergic Wealth 4) Synergic Wealth II: Deepening Our Understanding 5) Trustegrities — Protecting the Future and 6) Synergic Guardians — Protecting the Future.

Front Page

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

If we humans are to grow up, we must first understand our role in the scheme of living systems. … From the SynEARTH Archives.

Classes of Life

Alfred Korzybski

THE problems to be dealt with in this chapter are not easy, but they are exceedingly important. To classify phenomena correctly, they must be correctly analysed and clearly defined. For the sake of clearness I will use the simplest illustrations and, avoiding as much as possible the difficulties of technical terms, will use language easily to be understood by every one. In some cases the words will indeed have a technical meaning and it will be necessary to exercise great care against the danger of giving false impressions; for clear ideas are essential to sound thinking. As a matter of fact our common daily speech is ill adapted for the precise expression of thought; even so-called
“scientific” language is often too vague for the purpose and requires further refining. Some may say that it is useless and unnecessary to lay so much stress on correct thinking and precise expression; that it has no practical value; for they say that “business” language is good enough to “talk business”, or to put “something over”-the other fellow. But a little explanation will show that precision is often of the greatest importance.

Humanity is a peculiar class of life which, in some degree, determines its own destinies; therefore in practical life words and ideas become facts-facts, moreover, which bring about important practical consequences. For instance, many millions of human beings have defined a stroke of lightning as being the “punishment of God” of evil men; other millions have defined it as a “natural, casual, periodical phenomenon”; yet other millions have defined it as an “electric spark.” What has been the result of these “non-important” definitions in practical life? In the case of the first definition, when lightning struck a house, the population naturally made no attempt to save the house or anything in it, because to do so would be against the
“definition” which proclaims the phenomenon to be a
“punishment for evil,” any attempt to prevent or check the destruction would be an impious act; the sinner would be guilty of “resisting the supreme law” and would deserve to be punished by death.

Now in the second instance, a stricken building is treated just as any tree overturned by storm; the people save what they can and try to extinguish the fire. In both instances, the behavior of the populace is the same in one respect; if caught in the open by a storm they take refuge under a tree-a means of safety involving maximum danger but the people do not know it.

Now in the third instance, in which the population have a scientifically correct definition of lightning, they provide their houses with lightning rods; and if they are caught by a storm in the open they neither run nor hide under a tree; but when the storm is directly over their heads, they put themselves in a position of minimum exposure by lying flat on the ground until the storm has passed.

Such examples could be given without end, but there is another example of sufficient vital importance to be given here, as it has to do with our conception of the social and economic system, and the state. If our institutions are considered “God-given”-sacred and therefore static-every reformer or advocate of change should be treated as a criminal or “a danger to the existing order” and hanged or at least put in jail for life. But now, if our institutions are “man made,” imperfect and often foolish, and subject to change all the time steadily and dynamically in obedience to some known or unknown law; then of course all reactionaries would be a “danger to the natural order” and they should be treated the same way. The importance of definitions can be seen in all other fields of practical life; definitions create conditions. To know the world in which we live, we have to analyse facts by help of such facts as we know in daily practice and such facts as are established in scientific laboratories where men do not jump to conclusions. In some places it will be necessary to make statements that will have to await full justification at a later stage of the discussion. This will be necessary to indicate the trend of the analysis.

The aim of the analysis is to give us just conceptions, correct definitions, and true propositions. The process is slow, progressive, and endless. The problems are infinitely many, and it is necessary to select. Fortunately the solution of a few leads automatically to the solution of many others. Some of the greatest and most far-reaching scientific discoveries have been nothing else than a few correct definitions, a few just concepts and a few true propositions. Such, for example, was the work of Euclid, Newton and Leibnitz-a few correct definitions, a few just concepts, a few true propositions; but these have been extended and multiplied, sometimes by men of creative genius, and often almost automatically by men of merely good sense and fair talent.

The matter of definition, I have said, is very important. I am not now speaking of nominal definitions, which for convenience merely give names to known objects. I am speaking of such definitions of phenomena as result from correct analysis of the phenomena. Nominal definitions are mere conveniences and are neither true nor false; but analytic definitions are definitive propositions and are true or else false. Let us dwell upon the matter a little more.

In the illustration of the definitions of lightning, there were three; the first was the most mistaken and its application brought the most harm; the second was less incorrect and the practical results less bad; the third under the present conditions of our knowledge, was the “true one” and it brought the maximum benefit. This lightning illustration suggests the important idea of relative truth and relative falsehood-the idea, that is, of degrees of truth and degrees of falsehood. A definition may be neither absolutely true nor absolutely false; but of two definitions of the same thing’ one of them may be truer or falser than the other.

If, for illustration’s sake, we call the first “truth” A1 (alpha 1) , the second one A2 (alpha 2) , the third one A3 (alpha 3), we may suppose that a genius appears who has the faculty to surpass all the other relative truths A1, A2, A3, . . . An, and gives us an absolute or final truth, VALID IN INFINITY (A) say a final definition, that lightning is so . . . and so . . .. a kind of energy which flows, let us say’ through a glass tube filled with charcoal. Then of course this definition would immediately make obvious what use could be made of it. We could erect glass towers filled with charcoal and so secure an unlimited flow of available free energy and our whole life would be affected in an untold degree. This example explains the importance of correct definitions.

But to take another example: there is such a thing as a phenomenon called the “color”red. Imagine how it might be defined. A reactionary would call it a “Bolshevik” (A1); a Bolshevik would say “My color” (A2); a color-blind person would say “such a thing does not exist” (A3); a Daltonist would say “that is green” (A4); a metaphysician would say “that is the soul of whiskey”(A5); an historian would say “that is the color of the ink with which human history has been written”(A6); an uneducated person would say “that is the color of blood” (A7); the modern scientist would say “it is the light of such and such wave length” (An). If this last definition be
“valid in infinity” or not we do not know, but it is, nevertheless, a “scientific truth” in the present condition of our knowledge.

This final but unknown “truth valid in infinity” is somehow perceived or felt by us as an ideal, for in countless years of observation we have formed a series of less and less false, more and more nearly true “ideas”about the phenomenon. The “ideas” are reflections of the phenomenon, reflected in our midst as in a mirror; the reflections may be distorted, as in a convex or concave mirror, but they suggest an ideal reflection valid in infinity. It is of the utmost importance to realize that the words which are used to express the ideas and the ideals are THE REPRESENTATIONS of the ideas and ideal; it is only by words that we are enabled to give to other human beings an exact or nearly exact impression which we have had of the phenomenon.

It may be helpful to illustrate this process by an example. Let us suppose that a man makes an experiment of doing his own portrait from a mirror, which may be plane, concave or convex. If he looks into a plane mirror, he will see his true likeness; even so, if he be a poor designer, he will draw the likeness badly. Let us suppose that the man has beautiful features but because the drawing is very poor, it will not convey the impression that the features of the original were beautiful. If this poor designer were to look into and work from a concave or convex mirror, the drawing of his likeness would have practically no resemblance to his original features.

For correct analysis and true definitions of the cardinal classes of life in our world it is necessary to have some just ideas about dimensions or dimensionality. The Britannica gives us some help in this connection. I will explain briefly by an example. Measurable entities of different kinds can not be compared directly. Each one must be measured in terms of a unit of its own kind. A line can have only length and therefore is of one dimension: a surface has length and width and is therefore said to have two dimensions; a volume has length, width and thickness and is, therefore, said to have three dimensions. If we take, for example, a volume-say a cube-we see that the cube has surfaces and lines and points, but a volume is not a surface nor a line nor a point. Just these dimensional differences have an enormous unrealized importance in practical life, as in the case of taking a line of five units of length and building upon it a square, the measure of this square (surface) will not be 5, it will be 25; and the 25 will not be 25 linear units but 25 square or surface units. If upon this square we build a cube, this cube will have neither 5 nor 25 for its measure; it will have 125, and this number will not be so many units of length nor of surface but so many solid or cubic units.

It is as plain as a pike staff that, if we confused dimensions when computing lengths and areas and volumes, we would wreck all the architectural and engineering structures of the world, and at the same time show ourselves stupider than block-heads.

To analyse the classes of life we have to consider two very different kinds of phenomena: the one embraced under the collective name-Inorganic chemistry-the other under the collective name-Organic chemistry, or the chemistry of hydro-carbons. These divisions are made because of the peculiar properties of the elements chiefly involved in the second class. The properties of matter are so distributed among the elements that three of them- Oxygen, Hydrogen, and Carbon-possess an ensemble of unique characteristics. The number of reactions in inorganic chemistry are relatively few, but in organic chemistry-in the chemistry of these three elements the number of different compounds is practically unlimited. Up to 1910, we knew of more than 79 elements of which the whole number of reactions amounted to only a few hundreds, but among the remaining three elements-Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen-the reactions were known to be practically unlimited in number and possibilities; this fact must have very far reaching consequences. As far as energies are concerned, we have to take them as nature reveals them to us. Here more than ever, mathematical thinking is essential and will help enormously. The reactions in inorganic chemistry always involve the phenomenon of heat, sometimes light, and in some instances an unusual energy is produced called electricity. Until now, the radioactive elements represent a group too insufficiently known for an enlargement here upon this subject.

The organic compounds being unlimited in number and possibilities and with their unique characteristics, represent of course, a different class of phenomena, but being, at the same time, chemical they include the basic chemical phenomena involved in all chemical reactions, but being unique in many other respects, they also have an infinitely vast field of unique characteristics. Among the energetic phenomena of organic chemistry, besides the few mentioned above there are NEW AND UNIQUE energetic phenomena occurring in this dimension.

Of these phenomena, mention may be made of the phenomenon “life”‘ the phenomenon of the “instincts” and of the “mind” in general. These energetic phenomena are unique for the unique chemistry of the three unique elements. It is obvious that this “uniqueness”is the reason why these phenomena must be classified as belonging to or having a higher dimensionality than belongs to the phenomena of inorganic chemistry just as the uniqueness of the properties of a volume as compared with surface properties depends upon the fact that a volume has a higher dimensionality than a surface. Just as this difference of dimensions makes the whole difference between the geometry of volumes and the geometry of surfaces, the difference between the two chemistries involves a difference of dimensionality.

The higher energies of the chemistries of the higher dimensionality are very difficult to define; my descriptions are no better than the description of life given by Professor Wilhelm Roux, in his Der Kampf der Teile im Organismus, Leipzig, 1881, which are equally unsatisfactory. In want of a better, I quote him. He defines a living being as a natural object which possesses the following nine characteristic autonomous activities: Autonomous change, Autonomous excretion, Autonomous ingestion, Autonomous assimilation, Autonomous growth, Autonomous movement, Autonomous multiplication, Autonomous transmission of hereditary characteristics and Autonomous development. The words “Autonomous activities” are important because they hint at the dimensional differences of these energies. But a better word should be found to define the dimensional differences between the activities found in inorganic chemistry and those found in organic chemistry. We see it is a mistake to speak about
“life” in a crystal, in the same sense in which we use the word life to name the curious AUTONOMOUS phenomenon of ORGANIC CHEMISTRY, WHICH IS OF ANOTHER DIMENSION than the activities in inorganic chemistry. For the so-called life in the crystals- the not AUTONOMOUS (or anautonomous) activities of crystals-another word than life should be found. In the theory of crystals the term life is purely rhetorical: its use there is very injurious to sound science. These old ideas of “life” in crystals are profoundly unscientific and serve as one of the best examples of the frequent confusion or intermixing of dimensions-a confusion due to unmathematical, logically incorrect ways of thinking. If crystals “live,” then volumes are surfaces, and 125 cubic units=25 square units-absurdities belonging to the “childhood of humanity.”

“Crystals can grow in a proper solution, and can regenerate their form in such a solution when broken or injured; it is even possible to prevent or retard the formation of crystals in a supersaturated solution by preventing
‘germs’ in the air from getting into the solution, an observation which was later utilized by Schroeder and Pasteur in their experiments on spontaneous generation. However, the analogies between a living organism and a crystal are merely superficial and it is by pointing out the fundamental differences between the behavior of crystals and that of living organisms that we can best understand the specific difference between nonliving and living matter. It is true that a crystal can grow, but it will do so only in a supersaturated solution of its own substance. Just the reverse is true for living organisms. In order to make bacteria or the cells of our body grow, solutions of the split products of the substances composing them and not the substances themselves must be available to the cells; second, these solutions must not be supersaturated, on the contrary, they must be dilute; and third, growth leads in living organisms to cell division as soon as the mass of the cell reaches a certain limit. This process of cell division can not be claimed even metaphorically to exist in a crystal. A correct appreciation of these facts will give us an insight into the specific difference between non-living and living matter. The formation of living matter consists in the synthesis of the proteins, nucleins, fats, and carbohydrates of the cells, from split products….

“The essential difference between living and non-living matter consists then in this: the living cell synthesizes its own complicated specific material from indifferent or nonspecific simple compounds of the surrounding medium, while the crystal simply adds the molecules found in its supersaturated solution. This synthetic power of transforming small building stones, into the complicated compounds specific for each organism is the ‘secret of life, or rather one of the secrets of life.” (The Organism as a Whole, by Jacques Loeb.)

It will be explained later that one of the energetic phenomena of organic chemistry-the “mind,”which is one of the energies characteristic of this class of phenomena, is “autonomous,” is “self-propelling”and true to its dimensionality. If we analyse the classes of life, we readily find that there are three cardinal classes which are radically distinct in function. A short analysis will disclose to us that, though minerals have various activities, they are not “living.” The plants have a very definite and well known function-the transformation of solar energy into organic chemical energy. They are a class of life which appropriates one kind of energy, converts it into another kind and stores it up; in that sense they are a kind of storage battery for the solar energy; and so I define THE PLANTS AS THE CHEMISTRY-BINDING class of life.

The animals use the highly dynamic products of the chemistry-binding class-the plants-as food, and those products-the results of plant-transformation-undergo in animals a further transformation into yet higher forms; and the animals are correspondingly a more dynamic class of life; their energy is kinetic; they have a remarkable freedom and power which the plants do not possess-I mean the freedom and faculty to move about in space; and so I define ANIMALS AS THE SPACE-BINDING CLASS OF LIFE.

And now what shall we say of human beings? What is to be our definition of Man? Like the animals, human beings do indeed possess the space-binding capacity but, over and above that, human beings possess a most remarkable capacity which is entirely peculiar to them-I mean the capacity to summarise, digest and appropriate the labors and experiences of the past; I mean the capacity to use the fruits of past labors and experiences as intellectual or spiritual capital for developments in the present; I mean the capacity to employ as instruments of increasing power the accumulated achievements of the all-precious lives of the past generations spent in trial and error, trial and success; I mean the capacity of human beings to conduct their lives in the ever increasing light of inherited wisdom; I mean the capacity in virtue of which man is at once the heritor of the by-gone ages and the trustee of posterity. And because humanity is just this magnificent natural agency by which the past lives in the present and the present for the future, I define HUMANITY, in the universal tongue of mathematics and mechanics, to be the TIME-BINDING CLASS OF LIFE.

These definitions of the cardinal classes of life are, it will be noted, obtained from direct observation; they are so simple and so important that I cannot over-emphasize the necessity of grasping them and most especially the definition of Man. For these simple definitions and especially that of Humanity will profoundly transform the whole conception of human life in every field of interest and activity; and, what is more important than all, the definition of Man will give us a starting point for discovering the natural laws of human nature-of the human class of life. The definitions of the classes of life represent the different classes as distinct in respect to dimensionality; and this is extremely important for no measure or rule of one class can be applied to the other, without making grave mistakes. For example, to treat a human being as an animal-as a mere space-binder-because humans have certain animal propensities, is an error of the same type and grossness as to treat a cube as a surface because it has surface properties. It is absolutely essential to grasp that fact if we are ever to have a science of human nature.

We can represent the different classes of life in three life coordinates. The minerals, with their inorganic activities would be the Zero (0) dimension of
“life”-that is the lifeless class-here represented by the point M.

The plants, with their “autonomous”growth, to be represented by the ONE DIMENSIONAL line MP.

The animals, with their “autonomous”capacity to grow and to be active in space by the TWO DIMENSIONAL plane PAM.

The humans, with their “autonomous”capacity to grow, to be active in space AND TO BE ACTIVE IN TIME, by the THREE DIMENSIONAL region MAPH.

Such diagrammatic illustrations must not be taken too literally; they are like figures of speech-helpful if understood-harmful if not understood. The reader should reflect upon the simple idea of dimensions until he sees clearly that the idea is not merely a thing of interest or of convenience, but is absolutely essential as a means of discriminating the cardinal classes of life from one another and of conceiving each class to be what it is instead of mixing it confusedly with something radically different. It will greatly help the reader if he will retire to the quiet of his cloister and there meditate about as follows. A line has one dimension; a plane has two; a plane contains lines and so it has line properties-one-dimensional properties-but it has other properties-two-dimensional properties-and it is these that are peculiar to it, give it its own character, and make it what it is-a plane and not a line. So animals have some plant properties-they grow, for example-but animals have other properties-autonomous mobility, for example,- properties of higher dimensionality or type-and it is these that make animals animals and not plants. Just so, human beings have certain animal properties-autonomous mobility, for example, or physical appetites-but humans have other properties or propensities-ethical sense, for example, logical sense, inventiveness, progressiveness-properties or propensities of higher dimensionality, level, or type-and it is these propensities and powers that make human beings human and not animal. When and only when this fact is clearly seen and keenly realized, there will begin the science of man -the science and art of human nature-for then and only then we shall begin to escape from the age-long untold immeasurable evils that come from regarding and treating human beings as animals, as mere binders of space, and we may look forward to an ethics, a jurisprudence and economics, a governance-a science and art of human life and society-based upon the laws of human nature because based upon the just conception of humanity as the time-binding class of life, creators and improvers of good, destined to endless advancement, in accord with the potencies of Human Nature.

It may be contended by some that animals have been making “progress”or some may say that animals also “bind-time.” This use of words would again become mere verbalism, a mere talking about words-mere speculation having nothing to do with facts or with correct thinking, in which there is no intermixing of dimensions. The peculiar faculty belonging exclusively to humans which I designate as “time-binding” I have clearly defined as an exponential function of time in the following chapter. If people are pleased to talk about the “progress” of animals, they can hardly fail to see clearly that it differs both in function and in type or dimension from what is rightly meant by human progress, human time-binding capacity lies in an entirely different dimension from that of animals. So, if any persons wish to talk of animal
“progress” or animal “time-binding,” they should invent a suitable word for it to save them from the blunder of confusing types or mixing dimensions.

This mathematical discrimination between classes, types dimensions is of the utmost importance in the natural sciences, because of the transmutation of species. To adjust the Darwin theory to dimensionality is a somewhat more difficult problem; it involves the concept of the
“continuum”; but with the modern theory of de Vries, these things are self evident. If animals really progress, which is doubtful because they are an older form of life than humans and they have not shown any noticeable progress to the knowledge of man, their progress is so small in comparison with man’s that it may be said, in mathematical terms, to be negligible as an infinitesimal of higher order.

Humanity is still in its childhood; we have “bound” so little time in the course of the centuries, which are so brief in the scheme of the universe. At the bottom of every human activity, historical fact or trend of civilization, there lies some doctrine or conception of so-called
“truth.” Apples had fallen from trees for ages, but without any important results in the economy of humanity. The fact that a fallen apple hit Newton, led to the discovery of the theory of gravitation; this changed our whole world conception, our sciences and our activities; it powerfully stimulated the development of all the branches of natural and technological knowledge. Even in the event of the Newtonian laws being proved to be not quite correct, they have served a great purpose in enabling us to understand natural phenomena in a sufficiently approximate way to make it possible to build up modern technology and to develop our physical science to the point where it was necessary and possible to make a correction of the Newtonian laws.

A similar organic change in our conception of human life and its phenomena is involved in the foregoing definitions of the classes of life; they will replace basic errors with scientific truths of fundamental importance; they will form the basis for scientific development of a permanent civilization in place of the periodically convulsive so-called civilizations of the past and present. To know the cause of evil and error is to find the cure.

Read more from Alfred Korzybski’s Manhood of Humanity

Read More on Ortegrity and on Sociocracy  Read a  Synergic Version of Robert’s Rules of Order

Read the Synergic Future Series: 1) Beyond Property 2) Redefining Wealth 3) Synergic Wealth 4) Synergic Wealth II: Deepening Our Understanding 5) Trustegrities — Protecting the Future and 6) Synergic Guardians — Protecting the Future.