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Friday, September 26th, 2008

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.

Synergic Wealth

Timothy Wilken, MD

In my articles Beyond Property and Redefining Wealth, I explained that most human wealth is a gift and cannot be owned. As such it is a mistake to call this form of wealth property. Therefore, I coined the term “Synergic Trust” to represent wealth received as a gift. However, some wealth is property.

Property — wealth that we earn with our action and/or our leverage

Action is how most humans earn their livings today. We work for salaries using either the action of our bodies, or solve problems using the actions of our minds. Our understanding of Time-binding has revealed that thinking is the most powerful form of human action. Many of us earn our livings today by thinking.

Tools allow humans to lever the power of their action. Humans are tool users and tool makers. If I am a skilled tool user I can sell my actions to serve others with my skills. If I am a skilled tool maker, I can sell the tools I make to give other leverage increase the effectiveness of their action. Thinking can produce ideas and discoveries which lead to hypotheses and theories which lead to technology designs which allows us to build technology artifacts or tools which leverages action further.

Property is synergic wealth created by human action and leverage.

Property is not received as a gift, but is that which is earned by the labor of mind or body. Property is owned by the individual acting and the individual providing the leveraging.

Now let’s examine Volitional Scientist Andrew J. Galambos’ definition of property with my annotated comments in colored font:

“Property is individual man’s life and all non-procreative derivatives of his life.

“Property is the basis of ownership because to own means to have and hold Property. From the definition of Property, it follows that man must first own his life before he can own anything else. Life itself is defined as primordial Property.”

I define the human body and the spark of life itself to be part of the Life Trust. Our bodies and life itself is a gift from God, Nature, and our Parents. As the Life Trustees of our own bodies and life itself, we owe some responsibility to God, Nature, and to our Parents. This obviously has some implications for how we use or abuse our bodies.

However, I can agree that human actions and human behaviors can be considered property, and since our lives are mostly determined by our actions and our behaviors it would follow that our lives can be considered to be our property. Galambos continues:

“No one may own any man but himself. Thus, Property excludes slavery at the outset.

“The first derivatives of man’s life are his thoughts and ideas. Thoughts and ideas are defined as primary Property.

“From the definition, man owns primary Property and, through this ownership, intellectual freedom arises and inspires knowledge and production. From primary Property (ideas) stem actions.”

Galambos’ concept of primary property legitimizes the concept of intellectual property rights, and forms the rational basis for ownership of one’s actions. Galambos continues:

“Ownership of one’s own actions (clearly a Property right) is commonly called liberty. Liberty, then, as well as life itself, is a Property right. Since all so-called human rights depend upon man’s liberty, it follows that all human rights are Property rights. There can be no conflict!”

Property rights come with Property Responsibilities. I agree with Galambos that you should not injure other while exercising your property rights. But synergic responsibility goes further in that you are encouraged to use your property to help others.

Synergic Trust privileges come with Synergic Trustee Responsibilities which are even greater than Property Responsibilities. Here again, you should not hurt others while controlling a trust, but in addition you must help others. Helping others is a requirement of Guardian Trustee responsibility. In addition, Guardian Trustees are bound to protect and preserve the Synergic Trust. Galambos continues:

“Ideas and actions produce further, or secondary, derivatives. These include the access to and use of land.”

Access to land and other natural resources are controlled by the Earth Trust in a synergic culture. One can gain control over land and natural resources, but only with acceptance of Synergic Responsibility—you cannot hurt anyone, and you must help others to the extent possible. In addition, one must act as a good conservationist you cannot damage or pollute the land. Galambos continues:

“Other secondary derivatives include the production, utilization, enjoyment, and disposal of material, tangible goods of all kinds from ash trays to television sets, from log cabins to skyscrapers, from oxcarts to jet planes.”

Complex secondary derivatives such as television sets, skyscrapers, and jet planes contain significant amounts knowledge and technology from the Time Trust. In synergic culture all humans are free to make use the Time Trust and incorporate our inherited ‘knowing’ into their products as long as their use of the trust does not hurt anyone. For example in synergic culture, it is immoral to use the knowledge of physics to make weapons. Galambos continues:

“These are called secondary Property. They are secondary both logically and chronologically. In all instances, their existence is antedated by primary Property which led to their generation and employment.”

Alfred Korzybski makes a similar distinction to primary and secondary property with his discussion of two kinds of wealth:

“We have seen that the term wealth, rightly understood, means the fruit of the time-binding work of humanity. Wealth is of two kinds: one is material; the other is knowledge. Both kinds have use-value. The first kind perishes—the commodities composing it deteriorate and become useless. The other is permanent in character; it is imperishable; it may be lost or forgotten but it does not wear out.

“The one is limited in time; the other, unlimited in time; the former I call POTENTIAL USE-VALUE; the latter; KINETIC USE-VALUE. Analysis will justify the names. The energy of a body which is due to its position, is called potential energy. The energy of a body which is due to its motion, is called kinetic energy. Here the material use-value has value through its positon, shape and so forth; it is immobile if not used, and has not the capacity to progress. Mental use-values are not static but permanently dynamic; one thought, one discovery, is the impulse to others; they follow the law of an increasing potential function of time.”

Galambos continues:

“Further derivatives of man’s life lead to voluntary transactions involving Property transfers (sales, trades, gifts, etc.). Involuntary Property transfers are derivative not from the property owner’s life but from the life of the coercer. Therefore, Property ceases to remain Property and is converted to plunder when subjected to involuntary (coercive) transfer.

“Children—being young human beings—have Property rights of their own and cannot themselves be owned; children are not property.”

Children receive their bodies as Synergic Trusts from God, Nature, and their Parents. In synergic culture, the parents are the trustees for infants and young children, as children grow they gain more and more control over their bodies and eventually are invested with Trusteeship of their bodies and Property rights for their actions and behavior.

Reproduction is not a property right. Reproduction is a Trust Privilege. No individual has the right to reproduce if that reproduction would injure humanity as Community. This ends my comments on Galambos’ statements.

Now we can expand our definition of Property to one compatible with synergic science.

PROPERTY—def—> Wealth created by human action and leverage. It belongs to the individual(s) whose action and leverage created it. All humans are entitled to the fruits of their action and leverage. All human-made wealth is property, and all property has an owner. The owners of property have 100% control over their property as long as such control does not injure others, this prohibition of injury includes other individuals’ property, and the synergic trusts.

Property Rights —> Owner(s) may transfer partial or complete control of their own property to others as they choose. They may sell, trade, rent, lease, license, gift, or donate their property as they please.

Intellectual Property —>Thinking is recognized as a powerful form of action. Ideas, discoveries, hypotheses, theories, and technology designs are therefore property. Synergic science recognizes Galambos’ definition of Primary Property and fully accepts Intellectual Property Rights. Primary Property — Ideas, discoveries, hypotheses, theories, and technology designs can be used to develop Secondary Property—technology artifacts or tools which leverage further action.

Action and Leverage

Synergic Economics accepts that wealth produced from human action and from human leverage is property. Therefore, wealth created by human action and leverage is owned by the individual(s) acting and the individual(s) leveraging.

The animal has action, but only we humans have leverage. While our human action can be applied directly to solving problems and meeting our needs, the labor of our backs does not take advantage of our Time-binding power. We humans owe our great success not to our muscular strength, but to the intelligence we can use to guide that strength, and the leverage we gain by using tools. Remember, we humans are the tool makers and tool users.

If I am a skilled tool user, I can use my skilled action to serve myself and others. If I am a skilled tool maker, I can leverage my action and the action of others to serve myself and others.

Thinking is recognized as a powerful form of action. Ideas, hypotheses, theories, and discoveries are therefore property. Synergic Economics recognizes Galambos’ definition of Primary Property and fully accepts Intellectual Property Rights. Primary Property—Ideas, hypotheses, theories, and discoveries, and technology designs can be used to develop secondary property — technology artifacts or tools which leverage further action. Therefore, synergic science recognizes property rights based on two forms of human behavior — Action and Leverage.


plunder—def—> Property or Trust acquired with force or fraud—all adversarily acquired Property or Trust. Stolen property is plunder. Exploited Trust is plunder. This includes Trust that is used or controlled in violation of the Synergic Trust Responsibility. Synergic Trust that is used without helping others is plunder. Synergic Trust that is used to hurt others is plunder. Causing damage to the Life, Earth, or Time Trusts is plunder. And, using Time Trust to hurt others is also plunder.

Any individual who steals property with force or fraud is accorded no property rights. Plunder cannot be sold, traded, rented, leased, licensed, gifted, or donated to anyone. Possession of plunder even when obtained innocently does not entitle the possessor to property rights. It should be returned to its rightful owner, if that is not possible then the rescued Property should be placed in the Custody of the appropriate Guardian Trustees.

We can now update our definition of Synergic Wealth.

Synergic Wealth —def—> Life itself and that which promotes human well being generally—that which satisfies human needs of self and other—that which promotes mutual survival and makes life meaningful for self and other. This then includes all Property and all Synergic Trust.

Synergic Wealth is then 1) Life itself including the Life Trust 2) Human Action—Mental and Physical—Thinking, Action, and Behavior—Primary Property 3) Human Leverage—Mental and Physical—Intellectual Property in the forms of Theories, Discoveries, and Technology Designs—Primary Property, and Physical Property such as Tools, Technology Artifacts, and Products—Secondary Property, 4) the Time Trust, and 5) the Earth Trust.

plunder is not Synergic Wealth. As stolen Property or exploited Trust it has been removed from the Synergic Wealth pool to serve the criminals’ needs.

If and when stolen Property is rescued by synergic justice, then it is returned to its rightful owners, or if that is not possible it is placed in the protective custody of the appropriate Trustees. If and when exploited Trust is rescued by synergic justice, it is returned to the protective custody of the appropriate Trustees.

Mixing Property and Trust

There is often an area of overlap with Synergic Trusts and Property being mixed. For example, animals trained as security agents would be a blend of Life Trust (the animal) + Property (the training and care). Also Synergic Trusts often require property to make them valuable. As example, Earth Trust (crude oil under the ground) has no value until property (oil well technology — finding, drilling, pumping, refining, transporting) is added.

Andrew J. Galambos, Freedom100: Capitalism—The Liberal Revolution, Free Enterprise Institute, Los Angeles, Privately Published 1961

Alfred Korzybski, The Manhood of Humanity, E.P. Dutton & Co., New York, 1921

To be continued …

Front Page

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

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. In an earlier article, I wrote:

Truth #1-Possessions are not necessarily property.

The possession of an object does not mean that the possessor has a moral or rational claim to ownership of the object. The political, economic, and social structures of our present world are all based on our concept of ‘property’ and property rights. If we define property as those possessions that were acquired by 1) either paying a fair price in a free market to the rightful owner, or 2) that which is produced by the mind and hands of the owner. Using this definition, most of today’s possessions are plunder and not property. In today’s world plunder is common and property is rare.

Truth # 2-The Majority of Human Wealth is a Gift

The vast majority of human wealth is a gift free for the taking, and cannot be morally or rationally claimed as property by any individual.

The land and natural resources are wealth provided to us by God and Nature. The sunshine, air, water, land, minerals, and the earth itself all come to us freely. The Earth’s land and natural resources are not products of the human mind or body. They existed long before life and humankind even emerged on our planet. There exists no moral or rational basis for any individual to claim them as Property.

If a claim of ownership can be made at all, it must be a claim on behalf of all humanity both the living and those yet unborn.

From these truths, it follows that if we humans synergically reorganized our world, we would all be wealthy beyond our wildest dreams. Today in 2008, if we were to reclaim the gift of all the land and natural resources presently held on planet Earth as individual property. And if we were to further reclaim the gift of Progress from those few who control it today, and then divided these two gifts equally among the 6.7+ billions of us living on the planet, we would discover to our surprise and amazement that every man, woman, and child is wealthy beyond their dreams.

With synergic organization, and careful utilization of the planet’s total wealth for the benefit of all humanity, the carrying capacity of the Earth could be maximized to solve all our human problems and meet our all our needs. And this is without any need to damage the Earth, or degrade our environment.

There would never be any need for humans to earn their livings again. Our livings have already been earned by all those humans who lived and died to give us the great gift of progress. Then all humans would be free to spend their time making their lives meaningful by creating more wealth to be gifted to living and future humanity.

To better understand my proposal for a synergic future, it is important to understand what I mean by wealth.

Redefining Wealth

Timothy Wilken, MD

The collective term we humans use to describe what we value is ‘wealth’.

The human species emerged in the world of space-binding. Here the rule of survival was fight or flight. The values in this world were adversarial. Adversary relationship originates on earth in the animal world. Earth supplies limited space for the animals. Space is finite. Good space is even more finite. This means it is very limited. There is only so much good water, so much good grazing land, so much good shelter, and so much good food. There is not enough to go around. The space-binders must compete for this limited amount of good space. They compete adversarialy. They compete by fighting and flighting. They compete by attacking and killing other space-binders. Humans living as space-binders follow the adversarial rule. They compete by fighting and flighting. They compete by attacking and killing their enemies. In this world survival depends on securing good space and avoiding bad space. Bad space is where the predators live — bad space is where you lose — bad space is where you die. Bad space has threatened humans for a very long time as Jared Diamond explains:

“For most of the time since the ancestors of modern humans diverged from the ancestors of the living great apes, around 7 million years ago, all humans on Earth fed themselves exclusively by hunting wild animals and gathering wild plants, as the Blackfeet still did in the 19th century. It was only within the last 11,000 years that some peoples turned to what is termed food production: that is, domesticating wild animals and plants and eating the resulting livestock and crops.”

Jared Diamond makes the point, that for 99.9% of the seven-million-years that our species has existed, we have been hunter-gatherers. And, for that same period, our species has been dominated by the adversary way, and all human values have been adversarial values.

Adversarial Wealth — Physical Force

The human species emerged in the world of space-binding. Here the rule of survival was fight or flight. Their values were adversarial. Adversary relationship originates on earth in the animal world. Earth supplies limited space for the animals. Space is finite. Good space is even more finite. Thus, it is very limited. There is only so much good water, so much good grazing land, so much good shelter, and so much good potential food. There is not enough to go around. The space-binders must compete for this limited amount of good space. They compete adversarily. They compete by fighting and flighting. They compete by attacking and killing other space-binders.

Humans living as space-binders follow the adversarial rule. The compete by fighting and flighting. The compete by attacking and killing their enemies. Physical force is what adversarial humans value most. The force to physically control other humans. Adversarial wealth is fighting men, weapons, horses, fortresses, that which gives me the adversarial advantage. Adversarial humanity uses force and coercion to protect life, to promote human well being and satisfy human needs.

The adversary world is a game of with losers and winners. This is a world of fighting and flighting — of pain and dying. To win in this game someone must lose. Winning is always at the cost of another.

All humans living in the adversarial world are struggling to avoid losing — struggling to avoid being hurt.

CONFLICT —def—> The struggle to avoid loss — the struggle to avoid being hurt.

Here humans must fight and flee to stay alive, and they do. Always ready at a moments notice to go tooth and nail to avoid losing — to avoid death. Losers/winners is the harshest of games. Winning is always at the cost of another’s life. The loser tends to resist with all of his might occasionally prevailing by killing or wounding his attacker. So both parties can lose, turning the game — losers/winners into losers/losers. If we analyze adversary relationships, we discover that individuals are less after the relationship. 1+1<2. In the adversarial world where the loser forfeits his life 1+1=1. Or in the end game of losers/losers, both adversaries may die in battle, then 1+1=0.

The adversarial value system is much intact in our present world. Much of today’s wealth is weapons. Nearly all of today’s nations maintain large armies, navies, and airforces. The number of weapons in private hands is equally enormous. Adversary wealth is physical force.

With the emergence of Neutrality which became institutionalized in 1776, came a new option for humanity. And with this option came a new set of values — neutral values. 

Neutral Wealth — Money

Neutral relationships originated in the plant world.

Sunlight provides unlimited energy for the plants. Each individual plant needs only the sun, and adequate water and minerals to survive. Plant survival does not require any relationship with other. This fact makes plants the independent class of life — independent of other.

Humans living in the world of Institutional Neutrality view themselves as independent of others. They should not deliberately hurt another human, but they are also are never required to help another human. Their success or failure depends solely on their own efforts and talents. Individuals have no relationship with each other. Individuals have no awareness of each other, they ignore each other. To survive in the neutral world, you must be self-sufficient. If we analyze neutral relationships, we discover that individuals are unchanged by their relationship. They are neither less or more after the relationship. They are the same. 1+1=2.

Choices which do not hurt or help are neutral. Actions which do not hurt or help are neutral. Relationships which do not hurt or help are neutral. The mechanism of relationship is conducted through a free and fair market with the honest exchange of merchandise of good value at a fair price.

FAIR TRADE —def—> The bartering to insure that the exchange is fair — to insure that the price is not too high or too low — to insure that neither party loses.

Institutional Neutrality is about fairness. The market place is a fair and safe place to exchange goods and services. Neither seller nor buyer should be injured in the exchange. Products should represent a good value and be sold at a fair price. All citizens are quaranteed freedom from loss.

The medium of exchange in the neutral world is money. Money is used as symbolic representation of all real wealth. For all intensive purposes in the Neutral world money and real wealth are the same.

Money is what neutral humans most value. The money to purchase help. Neutral wealth is any negotiable security — cash, stocks, bonds, Certi?ates of Deposit, that which can be exchanged in the fair market. Neutral humanity uses money to buy life protection, to buy human well being and satisfy human needs.

Today, humanity has the option for synergic relationship. If we choose synergy we will adopt a new set of values — synergic values. 

Synergic Wealth — Mutual Life Support

In a synergic culture wealth is defined very differently. Synergic wealth is that which supports life for self and others. It is mutually life affirming. This by definition excludes adversary wealth — physical force that hurts other human beings, and neutral wealth — money that ignores other human beings.

Synergic humans recognize that interdependence is the human condition. They recognize that all humans need help unless they wish to live at the level of animal subsistence.

They know that adversarial humans make people help them. This is help obtained with coercion — force or fraud. Those providing the help are losing. When you force others to help you, they do the least they possibly can. Because the helper is hurt, adversary help produces the lowest quality help.

They know that neutral humans purchase help through the open market place. This is help purchased from others. This is the way most of us living in the free world get help today. We hire it or we buy it in the market place. When I go to McDonald’s, I pay them five dollars to help feed me. The focus in the market place is on a fair price. Because the helper is ignored, neutral help is of average quality.

They understand that synergic humans attract help by helping others. This is help attracted by helping others — when another individual understands that by helping you, they will also be helped, they will automatically help you. When others understand that when you win, they win, they will support and celebrate your success. This is the power of the win-win relationship. Show those who can help you, how they will win by doing so. Show them how they will be helped by helping you. Because the helper is helped, synergic help is of highest quality.

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 neither party is hurt.

Synergic relationships are mutually helpful. Both parties in the relationship experience a gain. In Synergic relationships, one individual plus another individual is more after their relationship than before: 1+1>>2. Synergic relationships are marked by low conflict with high effectiveness and enormous productivity.


The wealth available to humanity in a synergic future is mutual life support. Synergic wealth resulting from Synergic Organization and Synergic Government can produce a high quality of life for all humanity.

While Adversary-Neutral Organization and Adversary-Neutral Government can only offer a decent quality of life to a fraction of the 6.7+ billion humans currently living on the Earth. And that achievement is possible only with the exploitation and squandering of Nature’s great gift of the fossil fuels.

Petroleum, natural gas, and coal are are called fossil fuels because they are all made from decayed plants and animals that have been preserved in the earth’s crust by pressure, bacterial processes and heat. It takes millions of years for these organisms to chemically change into fossil fuels.

With the exhaustion of the fossil fuels, our current Adversary — Neutral Organizations and Governments can only offer humanity an Earth with a carrying capacity for ~100 million humans. That means a lot of people will die.

Fortunately, there is no law of nature or man that requires us to limit our selves to Adversary-Neutral Organizations and Governments. We can move forward. We can work together. We can co-Operate. We can synergically reorganize. To begin all we have to do is change our minds. …

Synergic Wealth—Defined

Recall that Synergic wealth is that which supports life for self and others.  Synergic Wealth comes in two forms: Synergic Trust and Property

Synergic Trust — wealth that comes to us as a gift

This includes the Life Trust — life itself, the plants and animals which are a gift from God, and Nature, and our human bodies which are a gift from God, Nature, and our Parents.

It includes the Earth Trust — the sunshine, air, water, land, minerals, the earth itself all of which come to us freely. This wealth is provided to us by God and Nature.

And, thirdly it includes the Time Trust — the accumulated ‘knowing’ from the time-binding of all the humans who have ever lived and died. Our inherited Wisdom, Knowledge, and Information including Architecture, Art, Literature, Music, Science, and Technology. It is the Time Trust that forms the basis of all human progress.

We humans are the beneficiaries then of three major trusts — the Life Trust, the Earth Trust and the Time Trust. We, humans can not and do not own these trusts. They are not derived of our lives. They are not the product of our mind or labor. We have not paid for them. There is no moral or rational basis for us to claim ownership. They are not property.

If we wish to use and control these trusts, then we must act as trustees, and then only if we act responsibly. As responsible trustees, we must preserve and protect these trusts. We must act as conservationists.

“Conservation is the sustainable use of natural resources—soils, water, plants, animals, and minerals. The natural resources of any area constitute its basic capital, and wasteful use of those resources constitutes an economic loss. From the aesthetic viewpoint, conservation also includes the maintenance of national parks, wilderness areas, historic sites, and wildlife.

“Natural resources are of two main types, renewable and nonrenewable. Renewable resources include wildlife and natural vegetation of all kinds. The soil itself can be considered a renewable resource, although severe damage is difficult to repair because of the slow rate of soil-forming processes. The natural drainage of waters from the watershed of a region can be maintained indefinitely by careful management of vegetation and soils, and the quality of water can be controlled through pollution control.

“Nonrenewable resources are those that cannot be replaced or that can be replaced only over extremely long periods of time. Such resources include the fossil fuels (coal, petroleum, and natural gas) and the metallic and other ores.”

The Life and Earth Trusts are perishable. They do not belong to us. We must protect them for our children, and for all future children. The Time Trust is less susceptible to damage by the user. Using knowledge or technology designs does not diminish their future value, but it must also be used responsibly. We must not hurt others with any trusts that we control. In fact, we should help others to whatever the extent we are capable.

All humans are trustees. We are of course the Life Trustees of our own bodies. We should take good care of ourselves. Take care with our health and nutrition. We are also the Time-binding Trustees of all the knowledge and skills that we personally have mastered from our study of the past. We must strive not to hurt others with this knowledge and skill. We should try and help others to whatever extent we are capable.

TRUST—def—> Wealth provided as a gift — The Life Trust includes our bodies as provided by God, Nature, and our Parents in addition to all other forms of life — the plants and animals provided by God and Nature. The Earth Trust includes the Earth itself and all Natural Resources provided by God and Nature. And, the Time Trust includes all the accumulated knowing and technology from the mental and physical labor of all those humans who lived and died before us. These three trusts can be referred to together as the Synergic Trusts.

In our present Adversary-Neutral Culture with its Pseudo-Independence, it is to common to boast that “I don’t owe anybody anything.” This could hardly be farther from the truth. Without our gifts from the Synergic Trust, we humans would have nothing, not even our lives. Without the gifts from the Time Trust, we would achieve nothing, each generation trapped at the subsistence level of the animal fighting and flighting to survive.

The scientific reality is that we humans owe nearly everything we are or have to God, Nature, and those humans who have lived and died before us. We are dependent on others. And sometimes others can depend on us. We humans are the Interdependent class of life.

Because Trusts are not property, control of Trust is a privilege and not a right. In synergic culture, humans may control Trusts as long as they exercise Synergic Responsibility.

Synergic Responsibility—def—>

1) Trustees must help others through their control and use of the Synergic Trusts.

2) Trustees should not hurt others through their control and use of the Synergic Trusts.

3) Trustees should preserve and protect the Synergic Trusts they use and control. They should not damage the Synergic Trusts.

Synergic Responsibilty is an obigation that is incurred by all Trustees of the Synergic Trusts. Any Trustee who violates their Synergic Responsibilities would lose their Trustee privileges.

Synergic Trusts are a gift for all humanity both the living and those waiting to be born. They must be shared equitably and in perpetuity. Synergic Trusts and the mechanisms to preserve, protect and administer them for the benefit and and weal of all humanity must be developed now. They will play a crucial role in a synergic future. This role will be explained in much detail in a later chapter. But first we must talk of that form of wealth called property.

To be continued …

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.

Front Page

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

The following essay was  written  in 2001. Its truth is even more apparent today.  The names of the players have changed since then, but the problems we face are just the same. Our present political-economic system is obsolete. It no longer works. The evidence for that claim can be found by our daily newspapers. Maybe, it is time for a change. … From the SynEARTH Archives.

Beyond Property

Timothy Wilken, MD

If we humans are going to solve our fossil fuel energy/global warming crisis, it will require that we take action. We can expect no help from big government and big business. They created this crisis and they have no interest in solving it. Big government’s only goal is to be re-elected so they can retain political power, and the only goal of big business is to make money. These two forces have combined to create the present law of society one dollar = one vote.

If we humans with no political or economic power want to solve our problems, then we will have to take charge of our society. What is our authority for taking such action? We must begin by seizing the moral highground. And, taking the moral highground requires that we face the truth.

Truth #1-Possessions are not necessarily property.

The possession of an object does not mean that the possessor has a moral or rational claim to ownership of the object. The political, economic, and social structures of our present world are all based on our concept of ‘property’ and property rights. Recall from the Basics section, my discussion of the shifting of human values as humanity evolves from adversary processing to neutral processing to synergic processing. Adversary wealth is physical force. Neutral wealth is money. And, synergic wealth is mutual life support. Therefore adversary ‘property’ is property obtained by force or fraud, and then held with physical force. Neutral ‘property’ is property purchased in the fair market, and held by right of law enforced by neutral government.

Remember Neutrality was an evolutionary advance from Adversity, at the time of Neutrality’s inception most possessions were adversary. They had been obtained through force or fraud and held with physical force. The new institutions of Neutrality never made any attempt to correct what by the new values of Neutrality would be past injustices. Neutral values would prevail in future, but the past was left alone.

This resulted in the legal precedent wherein possession is 9/10 of the law.

In other words, at the time Neutrality was institutionalized, all existing ‘property’ whether adversary or neutral was made legal ‘property’. However, all new ‘property’ was required to be neutral ‘property’–that is ‘property’ acquired by paying a fair price in a free market to the rightful owner, or that ‘property’ which is created directly by the mind and labor of the owner.

Most of the founding fathers of Neutrality were beneficiaries of ‘adversary’ property and in no hurry to give it up. They also believed that in the long run these injustices would slowly be corrected, and all property would eventually come to be ‘neutral’ property. We will see later that this was not the case.

While synergic ‘property’ is not yet defined, it would have to be property that was obtained without hurting or ignoring anyone, and even more importantly, it would have to be property that was mutually life supporting–that is it would have to be property that had a beneficial effect for self and others. If humanity is to advance to Synergy, our concept of ‘property’ and property rights must change radically in the future. How this could work will be explained in the Future section, but now let us examine ‘property’ as it exists today.

The Territory Imperative

The need to control land begins in the Adversary world as Robert Ardrey explains:

“A territory is an area of space, whether of water or earth or air, which an animal or group of animals defends as an exclusive preserve. The word is also used to describe the inward compulsion in animate beings to possess and defend such a space. A territorial species of animals, therefore, is one in which all males, and sometimes females too, bear an inherent drive to gain and defend an exclusive property.

“Observations of twenty-four different hunting peoples so primitive that their ways differ little from the ways of paleolithic man revealed that their homes were isolated and far-spread. So remote were they from each other that there seemed small likelihood that any one could have learned its ways from others. Yet all formed social bands occupying exclusive, permanent domains.

“Lions, eagles, wolves, great-horned owls are all hunters, and all guard exclusive hunting territories. The lions and wolves, besides, hunt in cooperative prides and packs differing little from the bands of primitive man.”

Frederick G. Kempin, Jr., Professor of Legal Studies at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania explains further:

“The concept of property goes far back into history. Records of primitive societies indicate a degree of private ownership of personal property. Private ownership of real property–the land itself–is apparently a much later concept, one that evolved after nomadic tribes settled down in permanent agricultural communities. Even in agricultural societies the land was often considered the property of the tribe or of a clan within the tribe and was rarely privately owned. Even as late as the Middle Ages the absolute ownership of the land by its individual occupants was unusual. Under feudalism, for example, land was held subject to obligations to a superior lord. The breakdown of the feudal system gradually destroyed the feudal relationship between lord and vassal, and the settlement of the New World increased by millions of acres the available land. In the Western Hemisphere absolute ownership of the land became the norm.”

Institutional Neutrality seeks to protect the free and independent citizens from loss. The escape from the Adversary way is the escape from losing. This fact makes property, private ownership of property, and property rights the very foundation of Institutional Neutrality. In today’s America,

“Property is anything that can be possessed and disposed of in a legal manner. Running water in a stream is not anyone’s property, because no one possesses it. If one, however, lawfully takes water from a stream in a container, the water in the container becomes property. In a legal sense property is the aggregate of legal rights of individuals with respect to objects and obligations owed to them by others that are guaranteed and protected by the government. Ownership of property is classified as either private or public. Private property is ownership by an individual or individuals, whereas public ownership implies possession by some kind of a governmental unit. In another sense property is classified as either real or personal. Real property, also known as realty, is land, any buildings that may be on the land, any mineral rights under the land, and anything that is attached to the land or buildings with the intention that it remain there permanently. Personal property is simply defined as any property that is not real property.

“During most of human history, real property–the land itself–was considered the greatest source of wealth. With the coming of the Industrial Revolution, however, personal property–especially in the form of stocks and bonds–gradually outstripped land as the basis of the industrial nations’ wealth. Classical Marxism views the private ownership of both forms of property as symptoms of the capitalist system that needs to be abolished to make way for a communist society. Therefore, in traditional communist nations very little real property and wealth-producing personal property is individually owned. Private ownership is generally limited to such personal articles as furniture and clothing. Small farms and dwellings in some Marxist countries remain privately owned, but most land is cooperatively owned. In the reformist and democratic socialist countries a mixture of private and public ownership of property generally prevails.

“Perhaps because land was traditionally the main source of wealth, the transfer of real property from one owner to another used to be much more complicated than the transfer of personal property. Since the Middle Ages this difference has diminished. Two basic instruments of transfer are used: the deed and the will. The government may cause land to pass from some form of public ownership to private ownership by a grant (and reclaim private land for public use by eminent domain). Much of the land in the American West, for example, was granted by the government to the original settlers.”

Who has the Right of ownership?

When children sit down to play the board game Monopoly, the first step after choosing your game piece is to count carefully so all players begin with exactly the same amount of play money. That is the only fair way to begin.

The control of property did not begin with the institutionalization of Neutrality. The players of Neutrality did not start out as equals. The adversary way dominated all human relations until 1776. It continues to dominate most human relationships throughout the rest of the world.

However, in the United States in 1776, the empty continent with its seemingly unlimited resources allowed the new players of Neutrality access to land that could be turned into private property by simple occupation. If you didn’t have what you needed here–you just moved west. There appeared to be land enough for all–available for the taking. However even in America in 1776, the empty continent of North America was not as empty as it appeared. The native Americans were simply swept aside by the American colonists. The lands they occupied were seized by force and fraud.

“In 1851, Chief Seattle and the Suquamish and other Indian tribes around Washington’s Puget Sound, were “persuaded” to sell two million acres of land for $150,000 or seven and one half cents per acre.”

And what of the large plantations in the South that were build on the backs of ~12 million negro slaves? Did those land owners have a moral claim to their ‘property’? And, what of the “carpet baggers” who stole the same lands after the Civil War, did they then represent the rightful owners?

Even those who settled in empty spaces did not pay any price for the land. They either just took it or received as a grant from the government. That is certainly not a fair exchange. And, who gave the land to the government in the first place? Of course, the Government had simply seized the land. After all, might made right. The strong dominated the weak–it was the adversary way.

Galambos Redefines ‘Property’

Today ‘property’ clearly has many different meanings. In the early 1960s, one capitalistic theorist, Andrew J. Galambos proposed an advanced capitalistic system which was non-coercive. Galambos’ Moral Capitalism was based on a new definition of ‘property’ designed to eliminate and prohibit loss. Galambos’ Moral Capitalism promised to eliminate losing relationships. Galambos’ Moral Capitalism was a type of Super-neutrality. It allowed win-draw, draw-win, draw-draw, or win-win. In Galambos’ own words:

What is Property?

“Most people think of Property in terms of material possessions. Because of this, many have successfully denounced the morality of the pursuit of material well-being and claimed it produces conflicts with human rights.

“The above is a restricted and erroneous point of view on Property. A more satisfying and total concept arises from the following definition:

“Property is individual man’s life and all non-procreative derivatives of his life.

“Property is the basis of ownership because to own means to have and hold Property. From the definition of Property, it follows that man must first own his life before he can own anything else. Life itself is defined as primordial Property.

“No one may own any man but himself. Thus, Property excludes slavery at the outset.

“The first derivatives of man’s life are his thoughts and ideas. Thoughts and ideas are defined as primary Property.

“From the definition, man owns primary Property and, through this ownership, intellectual freedom arises and inspires knowledge and production. From primary Property (ideas) stem actions. Ownership of one’s own actions (clearly a Property right) is commonly called liberty. Liberty, then, as well as life itself, is a Property right. Since all so-called human rights depend upon man’s liberty, it follows that all human rights are Property rights. There can be no conflict!

“Ideas and actions produce further, or secondary, derivatives. These include the access to and use of land and the production, utilization, enjoyment, and disposal of material, tangible goods of all kinds from ash trays to television sets, from log cabins to skyscrapers, from oxcarts to jet planes.

“These are called secondary Property. They are secondary both logically and chronologically. In all instances, their existence is antedated by primary Property which led to their generation and employment.

“Further derivatives of man’s life lead to voluntary transactions involving Property transfers (sales, trades, gifts, etc.). Involuntary Property transfers are derivative not from the property owner’s life but from the life of the coercer. Therefore, Property ceases to remain Property and is converted to Plunder when subjected to involuntary (coercive) transfer.”

Property or Plunder?

Galambos acknowledged Frederick Bastiat as his antecedent in recognizing the distinction between property and plunder. Bastiat recognized that French society in 1848 was heavily influenced by the Adversary way, and he was calling for a better way when he wrote the following words:

A Fatal Tendency of Mankind

“Self-preservation and self-development are common aspirations among all people. And if everyone enjoyed the unrestricted use of his faculties and the free disposition of the fruits of his labor, social progress would be ceaseless, uninterrupted, and unfailing.

“But there is also another tendency that is common among people. When they can, they wish to live and prosper at the expense of others. This is no rash accusation. Nor does it come from a gloomy and uncharitable spirit. The annals of history bear witness to the truth of it: the incessant wars, mass migrations, religious persecutions, universal slavery, dishonesty in commerce, and monopolies. This fatal desire has its origin in the very nature of man–in that primitive, universal, and insuppressible instinct that impels him to satisfy his desires with the least possible pain. (*Here Bastiat is describing the Adversary way and the Principle of Least Action.)

Property and Plunder

“Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property.

“But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder.

“Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain–and since labor is pain in itself–it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it.

“When, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor.

“It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.”

This then is one of the major problems with human society even in today’s world. It is based on a definition of ‘property’ which makes no distinction between possessions held through honesty and possessions held through thievery – possession and ownership have long been considered synonymous. This is a belief that persists even in our present world.

Galambos reserved the word property for those possessions that were acquired by 1) either paying a fair price in a free market to the rightful owner, or 2) that which is produced by the mind and hands of the owner. Using this definition, most of today’s possessions are plunder and not property. Galambos continues:

“Children–being young human beings–have Property rights of their own and cannot themselves be owned; children are not property.

“Your ownership of Property is the basis of all you are, all you have, and all you can hope to achieve. Therefore, protect your property as though your life depended upon it. It does!”

Galambos’ Moral Capitalism

In Galambos’own words:

Moral Capitalism is the societal structure that produces freedom by ensuring that each individual is fully (100%) in control of his own property (property being individual man’s life and all non-procreative derivatives of his life). Either each individual controls his own life and all of its derivatives–or he does not. If he does, capitalism is the societal structure that prevails–by definition. From this definition of capitalism, it is evident that moral capitalism is an absolute concept. It does not depend upon time, place, and circumstance.

“There are no possibilities of this being compromised or misunderstood.

“Thus, moral capitalism–an absolute–requires new ideas to bring it into existence. How do we know this? Because it doesn’t exist at this time–anywhere on this planet. Furthermore, it has never existed to this date–anywhere on this planet. Before you jump to the false conclusion that it is impossible, consider that the reason for this is not that it would violate any law of nature (the condition for impossibility), but that the social technology to establish it has not been known in the past. Thus, moral capitalism requires the constant search for new ideas, new theories, and new applications. It is, therefore, a progressive and liberal development because it requires forward-thinking and increased individual freedom (liberation from property interferences and controls). Moral capitalism’s only tie with the past is the American Revolution and its ideological antecedents.

“Today moral capitalism does not exist. And those who argue that if more enlightened men are appointed or elected to high office and if the present restrictive laws are repealed then we will achieve freedom are wrong.

“The trouble is not with men, but with a system that can do nothing but coerce. Regardless of who holds the reins of power, the individual is still at the mercy of the state authority. It is not true that good men will reform the state. It is true that the state will corrupt the best of men. No one–and this includes the most sincere and well-meaning of politicians–is immune to Acton’s disease. Acton first defined the symptoms of the world’s foremost political disease: “Power corrupts and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.”

“Moreover, conservatives worship tradition. Moral capitalists, on the other hand, honor the knowledge of the past, but believe themselves capable of improving upon it and do not succumb to self-derogation by assuming they can do nothing but repeat the processes of the past. The conservatives who concern themselves most with the rituals of the past traditions and their codification into a party line become the major conservative politicians. The moral capitalists who concern themselves most with improvements and progress become the major innovators and entrepreneurs. Conservatism is concerned with codifying past controls of property, moral capitalism is concerned with the improvement of property, the protection of property, and the moral utilization of property.

“The final point to be emphasized is that moral capitalism is not a political concept and that the purpose of moral capitalism is to construct a society wherein man is free by controlling all of his own property all of the time. Because property does not have a political origin (but oftentimes it has a political destruction), moral capitalism does not concern itself with improving the state or any of the political apparatuses employed either to run the state or to exchange the administration of the state. Politics, at best, is a game which never ends. First, the “ins” and “outs” play until the “outs” get “in.” Then they switch sides and play it again. And so on, until man loses all his property and ends up enslaved. Moral capitalism is the vehicle of progress and the builder of civilization through property sanctity. Freedom is its attainable goal. Freedom is not a game. Freedom is a man’s loftiest goal and the prerequisite for all his other permanent goals.

“And when it is finally achieved, freedom is forever!”

Galambos’ Moral Capitalism offers us better protection of property, increased human freedom, and a fairer concept of justice.

However while, Galambos’ Moral Capitalism does prohibit hurting others, it does not require helping others. Thus in the final analysis, Galambos’ Moral Capitalism is a neutral and not a synergic system. However it is a much better neutral system then the one in place today, therefore we should embrace and make use of those mechanisms of Galambos’ Moral Capitalism that do offer clear benefits. One of these is the need for a clear distinction between property and plunder. This distinction is essential if we are to repair our present world.

In today’s world plunder is common and property is rare.

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.

Then we can build a future where the very opposite is true–a future where property is common and plunder is rare.

Truth # 2-The Majority of Human Wealth is a Gift

The vast majority of human wealth is a gift free for the taking, and cannot be morally or rationally claimed as property by any individual. Alfred Korzybski explains:

“In the earliest times, humans knew that they did not create nature. They did not feel it “proper” to “expropriate the creator” and legalistically appropriate the earth and its treasure for themselves.

“Early man felt, in their unsophisticated morale, that being called into existence they had a natural right to exist and to use freely the gifts of nature in the preservation of their life; and that is what they did.”
Property, ownership of land and the control of natural resources by individuals comes later in the human story. Hazel Henderson, a Futurist and Economist, explains:

“Private property is another good example. The word ‘private’ comes from the Latin privare–‘to deprive’–which shows you the widespread ancient view that property was first and foremost communal. It was only with the rise of individualism in the Renaissance that people no longer thought of private property as those goods that individuals deprived the group from using.

“Today we have completely inverted the meaning of the term. We believe that property should be private in the first place, and that society should not deprive the individual without due process of law.”

Land and Natural Resources — A Gift

The land and natural resources are wealth provided to us by God and Nature. The sunshine, air, water, land, minerals, and the earth itself all come to us freely. The Earth’s land and natural resources are not products of the human mind or body. They existed long before life and humankind even emerged on our planet. There exists no moral or rational basis for any individual to claim them as Property.

If a claim of ownership can be made at all, it must be a claim on behalf of all humanity both the living and those yet unborn. This is a truth that has been known and ignored for hundreds of years. In the words of some of our greatest thinkers:

“God gave the world in common to all mankind.”

…..John Locke (1632 – 1704)

“The earth is given as a common stock for men to labor and live on.”

…..Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)

“The earth…and all things therein, are the general property of all mankind, from the immediate gift of the creator.”

…..William Blackstone (1723 – 1780)

“Men did not make the earth…. It is the value of the improvement only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property…. Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds.”

…..Tom Paine (1737 – 1809)

“The land, the earth God gave man for his home, sustenance, and support, should never be the possession of any man, corporation, society, or unfriendly government, any more than the air or water.”

…..Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865)

“Equity does not permit property in land…The world is God’s bequest to mankind. All men are joint heirs to it.”

…..Herbert Spencer (1820 – 1903)

“LAND, n. A part of the earth’s surface, considered as property. The theory that land is property subject to private ownership and control is the foundation of modern society, and is eminently worthy of the superstructure. Carried to its logical conclusion, it means that some have the right to prevent others from living; for the right to own implies the right exclusively to occupy; and in fact laws of trespass are enacted wherever property in land is recognized. It follows that if the whole area of terra firma is owned by A, B and C, there will be no place for D, E, F and G to be born, or, born as trespassers, to exist.”

 …..Ambrose Bierce (The Devil’s Dictionary, 1911)

“How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them? . . . This we know: the earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth.”

…..Chief Seattle (~ 1854)

And yet today, the Earth’s land and natural resources are claimed as the personal property of a few individuals and serve only them.

Galambos on ownership of land and natural resources

Recall Galambos’ basic definition of property:

“Property is individual man’s life and all non-procreative derivatives of his life.”

This definition would exclude land and natural resources since they are clearly not a derivative of any individual’s life.

Whether individuals have a right to the ownership of land and of natural resources was a question that Galambos did not answer. Galambos did made reference to the work of Henry George, a nineteenth century social scientist who had written:

“All persons have a right to the use of the earth and all have a right to the fruits of their labor. To implement these rights it is proposed that the rent of land be taken by the community as public revenue, and that all taxes on labor and the fruits of labor be abolished. Liberty means justice and justice is the natural law. The social and economic ills besetting the world today are the result of non-conformance to natural law.”

In a another paragraph quoted earlier, Galambos says:

“Ideas and actions produce further, or secondary, derivatives. These include the access to and use of land.”

Galambos agreed with George that individuals have a right to use land and natural resources. Elsewhere, Galambos explained that an individual who builds a road to access land, who cultivates a field to grow crops, or who constructs a mine to remove metal ore, is entitled to some property rights related to those modifications and improvements. However nowhere does Galambos state that an individual can claim personal ownership of the land itself, or to the raw natural resources that are found on that land.

Galambos admitted that a better answer was needed and felt that answer might lie in a modification of George’s work. However, his interests took him elsewhere and he died before offering us a better answer.

Progress–another gift

Much of today’s wealth is not in the land and natural resources, nor is it found in cash, stocks or bonds, nor is it in all the personal possessions that we all hold so dear. It is in the evermore powerful tools and technology that results from the accumulation of our human Time-binding power. Present humanity is always the inheritor of the knowledge and technology of past humanity. Our quality of life is always richer, better, safer, healthier, simply because we are later. But present humans pay nothing for this rich inheritance. We take our wonderful inheritance and accept is as our due. We are not even aware that it is an inheritance. We simply call it progress.

Korzyski on Progress

“Our primitive forefather in the jungle would have died from hunger, cold, heat, blood poisoning or the attacks of wild animals, if he had not used his brain and muscles to take some stone or a piece of wood to knock down fruit from trees, to kill an animal, so as to use his hide for clothes and his meat for food, or to break wood and trees for a shelter and to make some weapons for defense and hunting.

“Our primitive forefather’s first acquaintance with fire was probably through lightning; he discovered, probably by chance, the possibility of making fire by rubbing together two pieces of wood and by striking together two pieces of stone; he established one of the first facts in technology; he felt the warm effect of fire and also the good effect of broiling his food by finding some roasted animals in a fire. Thus nature revealed to him one of its great gifts, the stored-up energy of the sun in vegetation and its primitive beneficial use. He was already a time-binder; evolution had brought him to that level. Being a product of nature, he was reflecting those natural laws that belong to his class of life; he had ceased to be static–he had become dynamic–progressiveness had got into his blood–he was above the estate of animals.

“We also observe that primitive man produced commodities, acquired experiences, made observations, and that some of the produced commodities had a use-value for other people and remained good for use, even after his death.

“After the death of a man, some of the objects produced by him still survived, such as weapons, fishing or hunting instruments, or the caves adapted for living; a baby had to be nourished for some years by its parents or it would have died. Those facts had important consequences; objects made by someone for some particular use could be used by someone else, even after the death of one or more successive users; again the experiences acquired by one member of a family or a group of people were taught by example or precept to others of the same generation and to the next generation.

“The produced commodities were composed of raw material, freely supplied by nature, combined with some mental work which gave him the conception of how to make and to use the object, and some work on his part which finally shaped the thing; all of this mental and manual work consumed an amount of time. It is obvious that all of these elements are indispensable to produce anything of any value, or of any use-value. His child not only directly received some of the use-values produced by him, but was initiated into all of his experiences and observations.

“Generally speaking, each successor did not start his life at the point where his father started; he started somewhere near where his father left off. His father gave, say, fifty years to discover two truths in nature and succeeded in making two or three simple objects; but the son does not need to give fifty years to discover and create the same achievements, and so he has time to achieve something new. He thus adds his own achievements to those of his father in tools and experience; this is mathematical equivalent of adding his parent’s years of life to his own. His mother’s work and experience are of course included–the name father and son being only used representatively.

“In political economy , we have not yet grasped the obvious fact–a fact of immeasurable import for all of the social sciences–that with little exception the wealth and capital possessed by a given generation are not produced by its own toil but are the inherited fruit of dead men’s toil–a free gift of the past. We have yet to learn and apply the lesson that not only our material wealth and capital but our science and art and learning and wisdom–all that goes to constitute our civilization–were produced, not by our own labor, but by the time-binding energies of past generations.

“This stupendous fact is the definitive mark of humanity–the power to roll up continuously the ever-increasing achievements of generation after generation endlessly. Such simple facts are the corner stones or our whole civilization and they are the direct result of the HUMAN CAPACITY OF TIME-BINDING.”

“And here arises a most important question: since the wealth of the world is in the main the free gift of the past–the fruit of the labor of the dead–to whom does it of right belong?”

The gift of progress is from all the humans who have lived and died in the past. My grandmother was born in a house without telephone, radio, television, electricity, running water or toilet. My mother was born in the same house with the addition of electricity, running water, and radio. I was born in a modern hospital, my mother was put to sleep for the delivery and I grew up in a house with electricity, running water, flush toilets, radio, and telephone, and when I was eight, we got a television–Progress.

My daughters were born in a hospital “home birth center” with my wife awake and participating. My daughters live with us in a house with three televisions, two stereos, three radios, many telephones, three video recorders, and a three personal computers–Progress.

I am no smarter than my grandparents. I do not work harder. I am do more deserving. But I am richer. I have a better quality of life. I am healthier. Why? simply because, I am later. Human knowledge and technology continuously results form the continuing use of our Time-binding power–Progress.

Progress is the mark of Time-binding power. As we humans look around us things are always advancing. Three hundred years ago we cooked our food over wood fires. One hundred years ago we cooked with piped in gas. Fifty years ago, we cooked with wired in electricity. And, today we cook with microwave–Progress.

Three hundred years ago we traveled by foot, or rode on the back of an animal. One hundred years ago, we moved by steam powered train. Fifty years ago, came the car and plane. And today, we jet from New York to London in three hours–Progress.

We humans understand progress. We know today’s automobiles are much safer, more comfortable, more efficient than yesterdays models. We know today’s power tools are, stronger, lighter, and cheaper than yesterdays. We know that today’s computers are unbelievable faster and more powerful than those made five years ago and they are much cheaper–Progress.

Modern humans are not smarter, they are not better, they are just later. Humans began first making tools ~2.5 million years ago. Humans began using and controlling fire ~1.5 million years ago. The wheel was invented ~6000 years ago. Each generation of humans inherits the accumulated knowledge and technology created by previous generations. We didn’t pay a fair price in a free market for this knowledge and technology. It comes to us as a human legacy–a free gift of the past–the resultant of human Time-binding Power.

We can purchase the newest model of automobile, or the newest model of computer and “own” that. But we can’t own the knowledge and technology that are embedded in these tools. Progress is the result of Time-Binding.

Two Gifts

It should be clear now that the vast majority of human wealth is a gift. None of us have any moral or rational basis to claim individual ownership of this gift. We did not create it. We never paid for it. It is clearly not property. The land and natural resources of the Earth are a gift from God and Nature to all life on Earth. And, Progress is a gift passed in trust from all the humans who have ever lived in the past to those of us living today, and to those humans that will be born in the future. Today these two great gifts are possessed and controlled by a handful individuals, and these great gifts serve only those few individuals at great cost and harm to the remaining 95% of humanity.

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.

To be continued …

Front Page

Thursday, September 18th, 2008
The Human Race has improved everything except the Human Race. — Adlai Stevenson

Imagine A World without Money

John Steinsvold

Economists concede that economics is an inexact science. What does that mean? Perhaps it means their economic forecast is better than yours or mine. Recently, economic indicators have been rising and people have their fingers crossed. Economists have given us reason to hope that the job market will improve and that the stock market will continue on a steady climb. Yet, the newspapers continue to report more layoffs and more jobs going overseas.

Meanwhile, our economy is getting more and more complex. We associate complexity with progress for some ungodly reason.

The following problems, however, have become inherent in our economy. What does that mean? It means they will be around for a while:

Needless poverty, unemployment, inflation, the threat of depression, taxes, crimes related to profit (sale of illicit drugs, stolen IDs, muggings, bribery, con artists, etc.), conflict of interest, endless red tape, a staggering national debt plus a widening budget deficit, 48 out of 50 states in debt, cities in debt, counties in debt, skyrocketing personal debts, 50% of Americans unhappy at their work, saving for retirement and our children’s education, health being a matter of wealth, competing in the “rat race”, the need for insurance, being a nation of litigation, being subject to the tremors on Wall Street, fear of downsizing and automation, fear of more Enrons, outsourcing, bankruptcies, crippling strikes, materialism, corruption, welfare, social security, sacrificing quality and safety in our products for the sake of profit, the social problem of the “haves” vs. the “havenots”and the inevitable family quarrels over money.

Have we become gluttons for punishment? My college professor once said, “You can get used to hanging if you live long enough!”

We Americans love our freedom; yet, we have allowed the use of money to completely dominate our way of life. Indeed, we are no longer a free people. We are 7.4 trillion dollars in debt. We live in fear of depression, inflation, inadequate medical coverage and losing our jobs. Our freedom is at stake if not our very survival. Yet, we put our collective heads in the sand.

Yes, there is something we can do. We can look into ourselves for an answer. We may find that we have the strength to carry out our internal economic affairs without the need to use money. Yes, we will still need to use money when dealing with other countries.

There is no question that a way of life without money will alleviate if not completely eliminate all of the previously mentioned problems. Yet, we scoff at the idea. We are totally convinced that money is a necessity. We cannot imagine life without money. Perhaps the time has come to think otherwise. It is completely obvious our present economy no longer satisfies our present day needs.

As individuals, we will gain complete economic freedom. In return, a way of life without money demands only that we, as individuals, do the work we love to do. It is a win/win situation. Let us consider the following arguments:

Can we learn to distribute our goods and services according to need (on an ongoing basis) rather than by the ability to pay? Why not? Poverty and materialism will be eliminated! Our sense of value will change. Wealth will no longer be a status symbol. A man will be judged by what he is; not by what he has. He will be judged by his achievements, leadership, ideas, artistic endeavours or athletic prowess; not by the size of his wallet.

Yes, everything will be free according to need. All the necessities and common luxuries will be available on a help yourself basis at the local store. Surely, this country is capable of supplying the necessities and common luxuries for everyone in this country many times over.

The more “expensive”items, such as housing, cars, boats, etc. would be provided for on a priority basis. For example, the homeless would provided housing ahead of those living in crowded quarters. How will this priority be established? Perhaps a local board elected by the people in the neighborhood such as a school board. Or perhaps the school boards could absorb this responsibility in addition to their present duties.

Since cooperation will replace competition, can government, industry and the people learn to work together as a team to meet the economic needs of our nation as well as each individual? Again, why not? Yes, competition is great; but cooperation is even better. Cooperation avoids duplication of effort. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to have everybody freely working together, sharing ideas, thoughts and technical knowledge? Patents and industrial secrets would be a thing of the past. Competition, however, will still be around. Individuals will still compete with their co-workers in ideas, achievements, leadership and getting promotions.

For example, Ford, Chrysler & GM would work together to build automobiles that are truly safe and efficient and environmentally friendly. Perhaps, with everyone working together, we can invent a car engine that would eliminate the need to import oil from the Middle East. (Note: Ford, Chrysler & GM would gradually become one entity.)

Unfortunately, what immediately jumps into the minds of most people is: “It simply won’t work!” The idea of a way of life without money is then dismissed without further thought. After all, what motivation is there for people to work if there is no paycheck? How can we possibly satisfy the labor needs of our nation? The following reasons are offered why people would be completely happy working in a way of life without money:

Today, only 50% of Americans enjoy their work. That will change. In a way of life without money, we will all be free to do the work we want to do or even love to do without any economic fear. We will be free to pursue our passion or as Joseph Campbell suggests we “follow our bliss”.

Cooperation will replace wasteful competition. We will all work together as a team. Work will become a way to help people, to meet people or to be part of something meaningful. It is a proven fact that people like to help one another. An esprit de corps will naturally build up and make work more enjoyable. Even the most menial task becomes easier when people work together. Yes, work will become more of a “togetherness” thing.

The profit motive will no longer be a hindrance to efficiency. There will be no need to sacrifice quality and safety in our products for the sake of profit. We will, like in the olden days, take pride in our work.

Yes, there is very likely to be a shortage of people volunteering to do the more menial tasks. One option is to offer “perks”. A perk can be of various forms such as front row season tickets to the opera or to his or her favorite sports team. Can you imagine an NBA basketball game where the celebrities are sitting in the back rows while the dishwashers and janitors are at courtside? (My apologies to Spike Lee & Jack Nicholson!) Or the perk could be the latest model boat or sports car which would not be immediately available to the public. Another option is to draft everyone once in their lifetime, to do a half year or so stint at a menial task. Perhaps a humbling experience is in order for all of us. It might serve us well in the area of character building.

Also, consider the fact that perhaps millions of people will be freed from jobs associated with the use of money. Millions more that are now unemployed or on welfare will also be available to help fill the labor needs of our country. Thus, we will have the work force necessary to do the work which is not economically feasible in our present economy such as cleaning our environment (land, sea & air), conservation, recycling, humanitarian work, research in medicine, education, science & space and now we can include national security.

Perhaps the most difficult problem is in the administration of a way of life without money. Can we learn to determine our economic needs, allocate our resources from the federal on down to the neighborhood levels? Perhaps some sort of economic bodies must be created to coordinate, monitor and carryout our economic needs. These economic bodies would exist similar to our governments, one for the federal, one for each state and one for each local level.

Yes, in order to administrate a way of life without money, economic bodies, boards or councils or whatever you wish to call them would be created to absorb economic responsibility from our various governments. They will interact and cooperate with one another to meet the economic needs of our country and of each individual. They will be empowered by Congress to tend to the economic needs of its constituents. Thus, a balance of power will be safely maintained.

Our federal needs, which would be similar to the federal budget we have today, will be resolved by an economic body comprised of representatives of the various branches of government, our industrial & labor resources, research (in medicine, education, science & space), our environment, conservation, importing & exporting, and now, national security and whatever facet of our way of life should be represented. This economic body will arrange for the labor and material resources necessary to meet the economic needs of our nation.

Similarly, the same will occur at the state and local levels. The economic body at the local levels will be responsible for providing services to the people in the neighborhood. If the labor needs cannot be met with volunteer workers, “perks” must be offered. Also, the economic body at the local levels will be responsible for keeping the stores stocked with food, clothing and the common luxuries which will be available free. Thus, the economic needs of the nation right on down to the neighborhood levels would be determined and satisfied by these economic bodies.

How much economic responsibility will these new bodies absorb from our federal, state and local governments? How much will be shared? Can a balance of power be maintained? At any rate, our federal, state and local governments will be relieved of considerable amount of economic responsibility. Thus, our various governments will be free to catch up on all the other domestic and foreign issues that face us.

Yes, we will still import and export goods with foreign countries as our needs dictate; but what money will be used in place of the almighty dollar? Would the dollar have any value if everything is free in the USA? Would that be a problem? We would, however, still be able to use the currency of the country we are doing business with. For example, if we export goods to Germany, we would accept marks or euros in payment. The euros would then be deposited in our national treasury for future use. The money could then be used to import goods or perhaps send Americans overseas on vacation.

Yes, a way of life without money could be compared to the kibbutz which now exist in Israel. Can you picture the USA as one big kibbutz? However, ownership of property will remain the same as it is today. Our government will remain the same. Our free enterprise system will remain in place as it is today. There will be no need for money or any substitute for money since everything will be free.

The advantages of a way of life without money stagger the imagination; but they are real and cannot be disputed. Perhaps it is time for us to grab the brass ring.

This article was originally published in March of 2006. I think it stands up quite well.

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Monday, September 8th, 2008

Saturday, I said it was time to move beyond democracy. But, how will we make decisions in a co-Operative future? Remember co-Operation means working together. We are seeking the win-win-win-win solution. This is where I win, you win, others win, and community wins. In this future, there are no Democrats–there are no Republicans–there are only human beings working together to unify the planet where we always share everything–air, water, and energy.

Synocracy & Sociocracy

Timothy Wilken, MD

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

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 true synergy, 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.”

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Saturday, September 6th, 2008

With humanity in crisis, perhaps it’s time for a system of governance more appropriate for our times. … The following essay was first published around the time of the 2000 U.S. Presidential Election.

Beyond Democracy

Timothy Wilken, MD

In today’s world, it is assumed without question that majority rule democracy is the best way to organize humanity. To even offer a criticism of majority rule democracy is to invite an immediate and often emotionally charged attack on oneself. We are quickly asked to choose between majority rule democracy or the dictatorships of communism/fascism. We are quickly reminded that if we don’t like it here in a majority ruled democracy, we are free to leave.

And, majority rule democracy which is rule by the most, appears to offer a clear advance over dictatorships which is rule by the one, or oligarchy which is rule by the few.

Majority rule democracy in its purest form was found in the ancient Greek city-states and early Roman Republic, these were direct democracies in which all citizens could speak and vote in assemblies. This was possible because of the small size of the city-states almost never more than 10,000 citizens. However, even these ancient democracies did not presuppose equality of all individuals; the majority of the populace, notably slaves and women, had no political rights at all. So even here the majority really did not rule.

In modern representative democracies we find the majority rule mechanism used to select our representatives, to make decisions within committees and to make decisions within the legislative bodies. In the United States, we elect one president, 100 Senators and 435 Congressman. This is one President for ~276 million Americans. There are two Senators for each state. Senatorial representation would vary from one Senator for ~16 million Californians down to one Senator for ~350,000 Delawarians. The members of the first House of Representatives were elected on the basis of 1 representative for every 30,000 inhabitants, but at least 1 for each state. At present the size of the House is fixed at 435 members, elected on the basis of 1 representative for about 500,000 inhabitants.

Our representatives do not even know us. If any Congressman met with 10 of his constituents every day for 365 days a year, it would take over 137 years for him just to meet all of them. And Congressmen are only elected for two year terms. If our Congressman don’t even know us how can they represent us?

So if we carefully examine modern representative democracy scientifically, we discover it is an oligarchy. In other words, we are ruled by the few. When we go to the poles to elect a President, we are simply electing the leader of the few who rule. Majority rule democracy ends for we the people the moment we exit the voting booth. And, our elected leader will have no need of our opinion for four years.

Its even less representative than it appears!

Both houses of Congress facilitate business by the committee system, and each has a fixed number of permanent committees, called standing committees, the chief function of which is considering and preparing legislation.

As the United States grew in population and in influence in world affairs, the volume and complexity of the matters arising in Congress also increased. Due consideration to all matters submitted to the Congress could not be given in open debate on the floor of the Senate and House. As a result, the standing committees of the Congress became the arbiters of the fate of practically all legislation. There are 22 standing committees in the House and 16 standing committees in the Senate. Even though majority rule is used to make decisions in these committees once the decision is made the results are imposed on ~276,000,000 Americans.

In recent years, the American people have attempted to exert their will by making use of ballot initiatives. Almost always if these initiatives are not popular with the few that rule, they are quickly dismantled. In November of 1996, the majority of Californians voted for Proposition 209, which banned affirmative action, Proposition 215, which legalized medical use of marijuana, and Proposition 187, which denied legal benefits to illegal immigrants. By January of 1997, all three were hung up in the courts or in a jurisdictional squabble with the federal government. None was close to being enforced.

By May of 1998, Proposition 215, the Marijuana for Medical Use Initiative which passed by a 56% majority throughout the state and by an 80% majority in San Francisco has all but been dismantled by the Few who Rule. They had succeeded in closing the majority of the medical marijuana clinics which had opened throughout the state, and were pressing criminal charges against many of those involved in the clinics. Obviously, the majority does not rule in California.

This fact is being increasingly realized by citizens across the nation. Voting in our representative democracy does not make a difference.  And we the people appear less and less interested in pretending that our voting has any effect whatever. Voter turnout has been declining steadily since 1960. And as reported in the Wall Street Journal for November 9, 2000:

“Overall voter turnout for this week’s election barely budged despite nearly $1 billion of campaign television advertisements and the closest presidential contest in decades

“About 50.7% of the nation’s 200 million eligible voters cast ballots this week, marginally greater than the rock-bottom level seen in 1996, but significantly lower than the 1992 level, said Curtis Gans, director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate. Four years ago, only 49% of those qualified to vote actually did so, the lowest turnout since 1924. By contrast, some 55% of the electorate went to the polls in 1992’s close race between Bill Clinton and President George H.W. Bush.”


Seeking synergic government

However, even if we had direct democracies using majority rule, it would not be a synergic form of government.

Adversary relationships require loss.
Neutral relationships prohibit loss, but do not require winning.
Synergic relationships prohibit loss and require winning.

So in fact, if we use the Neutral criteria of prohibition of loss, majority rule democracy is not even a neutral form of government. In majority rule democracy, the minority often loses. As Andrew J. Galambos wrote:

“The word Democracy comes from the Greek words which mean “rule of the people.” However, the practice of Democracy can be no better than the understanding of the concept of “rule of the people.” Over the past 2,000 years, most people have come to accept without question or reservation the idea that Democracy means the ability of the people to choose their mode of social organization by means of majority vote.

“The political concept of Democracy arose as a consequence of counting yeas and nays on particular issues and than selecting the men who would decide how issues were to be resolved. Whichever man could muster the choice of more persons than his opposition could muster became the dominant person for the society. This was and is nothing more than an application of the old dictum, might makes right.

“This concept of Democracy (which prevails to this day) relies upon the ability of the winning political leaders to count upon the support of more people than their losing opponents. However, this concept does nothing to ensure the protection of the property, hence, the freedom of those who may disagree. Furthermore, those who may be in the majority with respect to a given issue or political candidate will eventually find themselves in the minority with respect to other issues or candidates. In the long run, therefore, everyone loses. This concept of Democracy eventually breaks down and leads to a destruction of freedom.”

Source: Andrew J.Galambos, What is True Democracy,  Free Enterprise Institute, 1963

In today’s “FREE” world all political decisions are made using majority rule democracy. The the group deciding may be small, a committee faced with solving some particular problem, or large, the entire voting electorate of a nation choosing a President. Regardless of the size of the group deciding, decision is made when one faction within the group achieves a simple majority. That faction wins, the minority faction loses. Majority rule consensus requires only a simple majority to force the minority, the losing voters to accept the position of the majority, the winning voters. There is no need to gain the agreement of all of the members. There is no need to prevent the minority from losing.

Majority rule democracy of which the committee is the most common example is filled with political intrigue and back room deals to obtain majority consensus and defeat the minority. This often results in the dark art of politics which makes strange bedfellows. Even when the majority wins they are not assured of the cooperation of the minority. Often the minority may only support the elected plan half-heartedly, or even seek to sabotage the plan they didn’t vote for since they feel they are losing anyway.

Compared to the rule by the one of dictatorship,  the rule by the most of majority rule democracy, appears to be a much fairer way. And fairness is perhaps the greatest value of our American nation.  However, it should now be clear to the reader that while Neutral political-economic systems are better for humanity than Adversary political-economic systems. Majority rule democracy is really an Adversary political-economic system pretending to be a Neutral political-economic system. In reality only lip service is given to rule by the most.

What we really have in America, the “freest nation on Earth”, is rule by the few. And, while rule by the few holds some advantage over rule by the one, its advantage does not imply there is nothing better for Humanity.

If we are to find a synergic form of organization for humanity, we will have to look beyond the representive democracies of today.

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Friday, September 5th, 2008
The following words are an excerpt from a new book in preparation.

The Gaian Paradigm

Bill Ellis

The Foundation
For some 2000 years or more civilization has been ruled by a social paradigm on which all Aspects of the EuroAmerican cultures are based — the “dominator paradigm.”  In the past 2 decades a new social paradigm has been emerging  that could have the most profound and fundamental impact on human civilization since humanids first came down from the trees.   The old paradigm placed humans in a purposeful universe created  by some superormal power for the domination and use by man.  The new paradigm we’ll call “A Gaian Paradigm.” It suggests a spontaneously self-organizing universe in which humanity is but one of the created interdependent webs of being.

The Dominator Paradigm
The “dominator paradigm,” has had a long evolution.  It grew from the Jewish creation myth that held that the earth was created for the use of and domination by man.  It was strengthened by Greek philosophy with its postulate that “Man is the measure of all things.”  The early Church held that a “chain of being”  put man at the top of a hierarchy with only a few celestial beings above. Below were women, children, other races, animals, plants and the Earth, each there to serve and be dominated by the rungs above.  The “dominator paradigm”  was stamped in the minds of Europe by the thousand-year Inquisition that burned some one million people, mostly women, at the stake for believing in Earth as our creator.  It was spread to the East by the crusades that destroyed “infidel” humans, cities and nations.  During the Age of Colonization and Discovery it  was perpetuated and made worldwide by the sword (technology), the cross (Christianity), and the flag (nationalism).  Newton’s clockwork concept of that cosmos, and Darwin’s theory of evolution were interpreted to “prove” the  validity of the dominator paradigm.  It was fixed in our secular moral system by the acceptance of Adam Smith’s economy that claims that human
“self-interest,” competition and materialism should, and does, dictate all human actions.  This abomination as the essence of humanity now rules the world.

The Gaian Paradigm
A Gaian paradigm not only has many roots but can be, and is becoming, the underpinning of a new global network of cultures replacing the now dominant and domineering man-centered industrial cultures.  The new cultures will be, like all cultures, holistic unified coherences of interdependent components — religion, economics, social and others.  The emergence of the Gaian paradigm is resulting in a deep fundamental transition of our world view, our social institutions and  our lifestyles.  The need for this transition is being made obvious by the growing numbers of  dangers inherent in  industrialism.  And the transition is  happening, and being made real  in the introduction of many positive and creative  social innovations. This  millennium is being looked upon as a time of radical and fundamental change.  Minds are opening to new ideas.  People are looking for new  actions.  It is in this spirit of a hopeful, deep, fundamental  social transformation  that this book is addressed. These are the concepts we’ll explore in the next few chapters.

Foundations for a Gaian Paradigm
Many basic scientific observations led to this new scientific/social paradigm.  The advancement of the Gaia theory, the establishment of Chaos and Complexity theories, and new concepts of evolution were among them. The observation that biological evolution did not progress as Darwin predicted by a series of minute changes which led over time to the emergence of new species.  Rather, biological evolution happened in quantum leaps.  Major biological changes and new species are created in relatively short periods of time after long periods of stability.  This observation was designated by Stephen Jay Gold as “punctured equilibrium.” James Lovelock, a scientist working for NASA, observed that the biosphere of the Earth was radically different from all other planets.  It  stayed amazingly constant within ranges which supported life.  Lynn Margulis, a microbiologist, at the same time was studying the evolution of microorganisms over the billions of years before animals appeared on the face of the earth.  She found that life forms were interdependent.  Life was able to exist on Earth because of a symbiosis among all life forms and the geological Earth.  Everything was interdependent with everything else.  Life created its own biome.  Lovelock and Margulis proposed that the whole Earth was a self-organized, self-supporting ecological system  At the suggestion of a neighbor of Lovelace, William Golding, author of Lord of the Flies, they termed this living Earth system Gaia, after the Greek Earth goddess. A theoretical understanding of how Gaia, or in fact any system, might spontaneously self-organize came from other fields of science including mathematics, physics and particularly computer science.  Chaos and Complexity theories made possible by computer modeling have moved science beyond the limits imposed by linear mathematics, algebra and calculus.  Study of the transition of order into chaos, or chaos into order, and the formation of complex systems from simpler ones has opened a whole new area for science.  Two particular breakthroughs in the field are relevant to the Gaia concepts. “Self-organizing criticality” is an idea proposed by Brookhaven National Laboratory physicist, Per Bak.  His first computer model representing self-organizing criticality was of a pile of sand.  As you pour grains of sand on a spot it slowly builds into a stable inverted cone.  As you continue pouring the cone becomes unstable until sand slides and avalanches restore a new larger stable cone.  He showed that biological evolution occurred in such bursts.  Simple entities formed more complex systems, which remained stable until internal pressures built up and caused a rapid reorganization.  There seems to be a law of nature, self-organizing criticality, by which new forms come into being. “Autocatalysis,” developed by Stuart Kauffman at the Santa Fe Institute, is another concept which provides a theoretical base for the evolution of Gaia.  Autocatalysis holds that systems of biological entities may promote their own rapid transition into different forms.  Kauffman uses the simple example of the slippery-footed fly and sticky-tongued frog.  The mutation of slippery footedness gave no environmental advantage to the fly until the mutation of the sticky-tongued frog. Only then did Darwin’s survival-of-the-fittest come into play.  Networks of potential mutations may develop and remain dormant until triggered by an environmental change or another phenomenum that brings on the avalanche of transition.  Autocatalysis, linked with-survival-of-the-fittest. explains how complex organs like the eye, or new species emerge. Self-organizing criticality and autocatalysis are among the scientific concepts that show how biological entities self-organize in quantum-like leaps from simple cells to linked complex networks of cells, organs, plants and animals.  More than that, physicists like Lee Smolin and Nobeli Laureate Murray Gellmann, have extended self-organizing back to the beginning of time at the Big Bang, suggesting that the same principle may apply to the self-organizing of fundamental particles into atoms, atoms into molecules, and molecules into galaxies, solar systems, planets, and life.  At the same time economists like Nobel Laureate Kenneth Arrow, Brian Arthur, and Jon Holland have extended the new paradigm in the other direction, to include economics, social organization, and human consciousness. This new scientific/social paradigm suggests that people have no superior divine mandate within a universe created for them.  They are not independent of, above or beyond the natural world in which they are imbedded.  They do have the unique ability to understand, through science, the laws that govern them, to envision future worlds, and to co-create those future worlds within the laws of science. 

Cyberspace and the Networked Universe
“Everything is connected to everything else” is one way of stating the Gaian Paradigm.  It is a fact of science, and is a social mindset.  But it is more than those, it is a fact of technology.  “Networking” was identified by John Naisbit in Megatrends as one of the  major new trends of the century.  As he saw it, it was a social and political trend.  It was made possible by the railroad, the automobile, the telegraph,  and the telephone. Each of these technologies made the Earth smaller and put people in more rapid and reliable touch with one another.  The real quantum jump in networking is only now before us.  Computers and the Internet are providing a challenge that has hardly been explored.  Cyberspace is a global phenomenon providing humanity the opportunity to work globally in real time.  This takes networking well beyond  the concept about which Naisbitt wrote only a few years ago, or the concept of transnational networking which was the root of the formation of TRANET, the organization with which I’ve been working since, 1976.

The Gaia Hypothesis, the theories of chaos and complexity, the Gaian concepts, and the computer technologies which now face us grew independently of one another.   But they form a unity.  They in themselves are an example of the self-organizing principle which shapes all of cosmic evolution.  Together they make up the Gaian Paradigm.  They challenge us to prepare ourselves for an avalanche of social, political and economic change in the years ahead.  This millennium is evolving radically differently from man-centered paradigm which has dominated the past 2000 years.

Bill Ellis is a retired science policy consultant who worked at the National Science Foundation, UNESCO, and The world Bank. He left the rat race 30+ years ago to volunteer at alternative and transformational networks with TRANET: a networking journal on Cooperative Community Economics.

You can access to the whole of which the above words are a part at:

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Thursday, August 21st, 2008
The author of the following wise words has worked for humanity most of his life. He is 87 years young.

To Be or Not To Be: Morality, Mortality and Immortality

Bill Ellis

The Gaian paradigm has implications to our belief systems that go beyond a view of the cosmos.  They include implications to our ideas of morality, mortality, immortality, as well as our  system of human values.  Some people have taken these implications into the sphere of  religion.  Some see the formation of a new Gaia religion.  To others, an understanding of Gaia supports the values that have governed humanity for eons past.  Without taking positions on such speculations we should at least open the dialogue on the degree to which these scientific notions might influence our pragmatic view of our lives.

For most of the 13.7 billion years that the Cosmos has been in existence, there was no one to ponder the question of to be or not to be. While quarks evolved into atoms, the atoms, into molecules, and the molecules into cells, consciousness of being did not exist. Each new step of evolution brought new entities and new properties. Only in the evolutionary phase when brain cells had evolved and created the human mind did “being” — the property of thought, memory, and consciousness — emerge. Only in this brief miniscule submoment of cosmic evolution has the sense of being existed. Only in this small window of time have humans been the source of conscious being and recognized, as Descartes put it, “Cogito, ergo sum” (I think therefore I am).

It is safe to say, that for most of the past billions of cosmic years, I as an individual, did not exist.  It is also reasonable to believe that in billions of future cosmic years after my physical death I, as an individual, will not exist. Only in a brief, transient flash do individual people exist. Certainly, I did not exist before a zygote was formed by the union of cells from my two parents. And, certainly, the development, by chemical and biological means of an embryo from that zygote did not have the property of independent action and conscious thought. It is also clear that, when I drew my first breath on being born, I was not the evolved being that I was to become. The question
“to-be or not-to-be?” was not in my mind. My process of becoming a human being was still ahead of me.

It is clearly impossible to identify all of the experiences in one’s life that contributed to one’s development into a unique being. Everyone is learning every moment from birth to death, from waking to sleeping. Each moment is a step in becoming. Our bodies, brains, and minds slowly evolve from the nothingness of our pre-births to the to the final passage back into dust. If there is no heaven or nirvana into which to pass, it is reasonable to think we come to an end.

So far, I have written about only two aspect of being — the body and the mind. There is a third aspect.  It’s probably more the essence of who we are than the other two. It’s more ethereal and more everlasting. I’m not sure what I should call it.   But, for lack of a better word, I’ll call it “soul.”By soul, I don’t mean anything mysterios, mystical, magical, divine, or other worldly. The soul is the essence of who we are. It’s who we are more than either our minds or our bodies.

This soul, the true center of one’s being, is not easy to circumscribe. It, like the mind and body, evolves. Its evolution is over all time. Not that the past will be embodied in one’s physical and mental being, but from the beginning of time to the end of time what we become involves the whole cosmos.  We have a birth date and a death date. But who we become is already, in part, predetermine by the world around us. The essence of our being — our soul — is absorbed over time from the preexisting world of ideas and actions,  of nature and technologies, of awe and wonder, and of the beauty and mystery that exist in, and is, the cosmos. It is the universal cosmic soul. It is similar to the “noosphere” of  Pierre Teilard de Chardin, the “collective unconscious” of Carl Jung, the “ideosphere” of others. It is the totality of the physical, biological, technological, and cultural worlds and more. It is the the knowledge, the beliefs, the feelings, as well as the written word and the passed on memories of everyone who has ever lived. It is inherited from our ancestors and from the evolving physical, biological, mental. technological and social spheres. It might as well be called the cosmic memory.

This cosmic soul has been evolving since the Big Bang. Each step in cosmic evolution has created a new part of the cosmic soul. It includes Mount Fuji, the Johnston flood, the ice ages, the Crusades, the invention of the computer, and all other happenings. Each individual at birth is enmeshed in the cosmic soul of the time.

A simple example of this idea of soul is in a flock of birds. The soul of the flock evolves as a unit. It includes migration patterns, eating resources, nesting places, and other characteristics. The flock follows certain patterns for centuries. Individual birds live for but a short time. But the memory essence or soul of the flock is passed to new birds as they hatch, join the flock , participate, and learn by doing. The soul of the flock evolves as it continually finds new opportunities and faces new challenges. Each bird gains its individual soul and passes its know-how on to other new birds that join. The soul of the flock is passed from individual souls to individual souls, as it evolves to meet contingencies of the time.

Humans likewise are born into the cosmic soul. They are embedded in the essence of all that exists. Who they are to become depends on what they absorb into themselves from all that is. Each soul is immortal. It is part of the cosmic soul. “Every thing anyone, makes, writes,says,or does becomes part of the cosmic soul and is everlasting. Shakespeare, Edison, Einstein, Jesus, Marx, Smith and others are still with us. So is Joe Blow, Anna Finklestein, and other common people. All have left their marks for eternity.

Each act or expressed idea is like dropping a stone in a mill pond. The stone may sink to the bottom never to be seen again. But its ripples spread out and may join other ripples to produce an overwhelming wave of social transformation. The origins of any act of social change may be lost in its myriad of its sources. Once we recognized that, we are driven to live a positive creative life of value– to be one of the sources of what will become. Whether anyone remembers the name of any one of us, everything we’ve done, said, or written is part of the evolving cosmic soul.

Each person’s soul is formed by every experience and every thought they ever have. It is passed on in the same way. Each “unexpected act of kindness or senseless act of beauty” makes a ripple like a grain of sand dropped in the cosmic mill pond. Every kind word one utters forms a pebble’s ripple that will be passed on. More telling in the cosmic soul will be some of the memos, papers and posts that are written. They are rocks that make a bit bigger splash, or at least have a guaranteed longer life. Most important are the interactions with among people close one another — families, friends, and communities. In a person’s children, friends an colleagues there is a continual riling of the waters (particularly of the good stuff). It is passed into the cosmic memory/soul in that it remains real in the future and assures the immortality of everyone who ever lives.

Recognizing the immortality of our souls suggests a new emphasis on morality. Every act thought or word we utter should be in the context of its impact on the cosmic memory. They change the cosmic soul as they happen and they will be remembered and they will affect cosmic evolution for ages into the future. They provides us with reason for living. As one colleague stated it, the new moral imperative is: “Make all decision based on whatever promotes the health, competence and adaptive flexibility of oneself and of all the larger system of which one is a part.”

Whether we accept this view of the human or the cosmic soul  the Gaian paradigm suggests a view of It does suggest the below value system.

A GAIAN CREED: All That Is — Is Webs of Being

We belong to the Webs-of-being – – to the Cosmos – – to Earth – to Gaia.

Belonging is the protovalue from which all other values derive.

We belong to the physiophere, to the biosphere, to the ideosphere. We belong to Gaia. As the aborigines said it ““we are the ownees of the land, not the owners of the land.” As Chief Seattle said it, “ We can not own the land, we are part of the land. ” We belong to and are inseparable from our culture– from one another –from Earth — from Gaia. We are interdependent with all that is.

Belonging is scientific fact; and, belonging is more than scientific fact.

Belonging is not merely “being a member of”, but it is being subject to- being in partnership with –  – being responsible for. We belong to — are responsible for — the webs -of-being — the universe — the Earth — Gaia. Belonging to-Gaia means recognizing that we are enmeshed in the webs-of-being and that our well-being is dependent on the well-being of Gaia. If we destroy Gaia, we destroy ourselves.

Belonging implies “cooperation” — working with what is — with Gaia — the webs of being. Belonging implies “community.” In our face-to-face relationships with people we form community — we belong to community. Belonging implies “responsibility.” We are responsible for Gaia. We are responsible for one another. Belonging implies “Love.” We can not separate love (agape) from the fact that we belong to Gaia. We love because we must love to preserve Gaia — to preserve ourselves — to preserve the webs-of-being

Cultures built on values other than belonging are doomed to self-destruct. A culture built on “domination of the earth, and all the animals therein” is doomed to disappear. A culture based on “self-interest” is doomed to disintegrate. A Culture based on “survival-of-the-fittest” will not survive. A culture based on competition will destroy itself.

To be stable and sustainable a culture must be based on cooperation, community, responsibility, love, honesty, caregiving, and the other values which are implied by and intertwined with one another and with belonging.

We can no more separate ourselves from belonging — from Gaia– and remain a viable culture; than an oxygen atom can separate itself from hydrogen atoms and retain the qualities of water.

Bill Ellis is a retired science policy consultant who worked at the National Science Foundation, UNESCO, and The world Bank. He left the rat race 30+ years ago to volunteer at alternative and transformational networks with TRANET: a networking journal on Cooperative Community Economics.

You can access to the whole of which the above words are a part at:

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Monday, August 18th, 2008
As I watch the Beijing Olympics, it plain to see that all the athletes participating are human. They are all members of the same race — homo sapiens. Take a close look. They are just like you and me.  They share the same motivations — the same hopes and dreams — the same committment to hard work to achive their goals. Can you see it? …

The following article is reposted from the 2002 SynEARTH Archives.

Recognizing Human INTERdependence

Timothy Wilken, MD

Stop reading! Take a few moment to examine the contents of your pockets or purse ……

Can you find any item there, that you obtained without the help of someone else? Look around you. What do you see? Did you make the clothes you wear? Did you grow the food you eat or the tools you use. Look around your home or workplace. Can you find anything that you made. Do you know the names of those who did make all these things? Do you ever know upon whom you depend. Can you find anything in your environment that was obtained without the help of someone else?

I am not talking about ownership here. I will grant that you own your possessions. But would you have them if they had not been for sale. I would argue that nearly everything modern humans possess was obtained with the help of others.

As I examine my world I discover that I depend on others to to grow and produce my food. I depend on others to design and build my home. I depend on others to generate my electricity. I depend on others to supply my water. I depend on others to deliver my mail. I depend on others to educate my children. I depend on others to entertain my family. I depend on others to manufacture my automobile. I depend on others to refine the gasoline for my car. I depend on others to care for my family when we are sick. I depend on others to protect us from crime and war. I depend on others to………. I depend on others, I depend.

Human INTERdependence is made less visible by our present economic exchange system. I go to work and help my employer. He depends on me. At the end of the month he pays me for my help. I depend on him. I can then take some of the money from my paycheck to pay my house rent. While I depend on my landlord for the roof over my head, he depends on me to pay the rent promptly. Sometimes I depend on others and sometimes others depend on me. When we buy and sell in the economic marketplace we are really exchanging help. When I help others they owe me. When others help me I owe them. Money is just the present accounting mechanism we use to settle up. Arthur Noll explains:

“People are interdependent, social beings. We do not, and cannot, live as the independent tiger, or orangutan, coming together only to mate briefly, all child care and education provided by the mother.

“This has seemed obvious to me, and probably it is obvious to most, but it is such an important principle to base further observations on, and logically it is often ignored in the present scheme of things, so I think we should look at the reasons. Lets start with your naked body. Can you manage to clothe and feed and shelter this body, with no hands touching any article except your own hands? If you can make your own tools and live independently for just a few weeks or months, this is interesting, but of course real independence would be a lifetime of this, a reproducing lifetime, so it does fall considerably short of the mark. Additionally, it is an interesting thing that we are communicating, I have written and you are reading this paper. Independent organisms don’t behave like this, if you were independent, your only concern for me should be to tell me to get out of your way, or that you want to mate, and you need no language beyond what the tigers and orangutans use for this. I have heard people say, that they could live independently if they chose. To those few who feel that way, well, you haven’t chosen that path if you are reading this, so if you want to choose it now, then I think you ought to take off your society made things and go. We will send a biologist to study how you live – if you live.

“Next question, is a male- female unit capable of independence? The answer is quite important to the issue of reproduction.

“I have never heard of this being done, and I don’t believe it can be done. Working together, a man and woman with the proper education might make primitive tools and cover some basic needs, if resources are abundant. But wherever resources are abundant, you are going to find competition. Predators can be a serious problem with just primitive weapons, and just two people, one of which might be pregnant or holding an infant. It is true that most large predators are afraid of human beings at the present time, but animals of all kinds eventually test the limits. Domestic animals can be very sensitive about electric fences, for example. You can turn off the fence for weeks, after they learn about wires giving shocks. But they eventually test and learn, and are out. You would not likely find it workable to stay together all the time, either, and the one carrying the child would be alone and vulnerable. And of course, human predators working as a pack, a social group, certainly exist and are the most powerful threat of all. While fantasies are common about individuals and couples escaping social groups, the reality is different. Groups of people have made the rules for individuals for a long time.

“It is interesting to note that walking on two legs has not been all that uncommon in the history of life, but I can think of no other species that has attempted pregnancy on two legs. Two legged creatures have always been egg layers, or marsupials, have never attempted the balancing act of a pregnancy on two legs. I think it is only possible within a social group.

“Further problems are having very little backup for minor sprains or illness. Loneliness can be a big problem, even for couples, as most of us eventually crave other people in our lives.

“The genetic and archaeological evidence indicates that we split off from chimpanzees, which are social creatures, and that we stayed social.”

This may come as a surprise to most readers, but humans are not and cannot be independent. We are an interdependent species. We rely on each other for nearly all our wants and needs. Independence from other is not available to the richest man with the most affluent life style. He is as dependent on the staff of servants who wait on him as they are dependent on him for their livelihoods. Only the poorest of hermits with a quality of life poorer than a cave man can achieve true independence from others. True independence from other humans, requires that he must grow and cook all his own vegetables. He must hunt, kill, skin, dress, and cook all his own meat. He must build his own home using only the materials he can gather and prepare by himself aided only by tools that he made for himself.

We humans are not an independent life form. Despite the common desire of most of us to be independent, human independence is not possible in any scientific sense. Our bodies do not contain chlorophyl and we cannot get our energy directly from the Sun. Other plants and animals serve as our source of energy. We are as dependent on others for our survival as are the animals are for theirs. We can ignore this fact of science by calling the other plants and animals — food and cooking in ways so we are not reminded of the source of our food, but we are still not independent. When we further examine our relationships with other humans, we discover that even here we are not independent. In summary then, we can say that in the lives of plants — the independent class of life, other plays no role . In the lives of animals — the dependent class of life, other serves primarily as a source of food. And finally in the lives of humans, the interdependent class of life, other is very important. Our bodies are as dependent on others for food as the animals, but socially, psychologically and economically, we depend on others and others depend on us. We humans are interdependent.

INTERdependence means that we are dependent on the actions of others to meet our needs. And, others are dependent on our actions to meet their needs.

Once, we accept the reality of our human INTERdependence, then we can get on with winning. The secret of winning then is to get others to help us. Let us examine these options through the lens of synergic science.

Receivers-Givers — partners in survival

The human condition of INTERdependence means all humans need help. This is important enough that it can not be said too often. All humans need help unless they wish to live at the level of animal subsistence. INTERdependence means sometimes I depend on others and sometimes others depend on me.

Sometimes self is a giver of help. Sometimes self is a receiver of help. Sometimes other is a giver of help. Sometimes other is a receiver of help.

Sometimes my actions help others meet their needs. Sometimes other’s actions help me meet my needs.

The bottom line: We humans need each other.

Read more on INTERdependence

Read Arthur Noll’s Harmony

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Thursday, August 14th, 2008
“We are all here on earth to help others. What I can’t figure out is what the others are here for.” –W. H. Auden

Thinking about Altruism

Caitlin Costello

Whether we are here to help others is a question I’ve often asked myself, and a question I will not be able to answer while I am still here on earth. Perhaps before I even consider that question, however, I should wonder whether we even can be here to help others: is selflessness really possible? Or is “altruism” merely doing things for others in order to feel good about ourselves? If human altruism exists, how does our neural system deal with it?

The issue of altruism is complicated by the lack of agreement about many aspects of it, including its very definition. The word altruism, which comes from the Italian altrui, was coined in 1851 by August Comte to refer to benevolence. Although not everyone agrees today on what precisely altruism entails, the most basic definition is seeking the welfare of others. This definition is often extended, however, to include the necessity of some personal sacrifice on the part of the altruist; Edward O. Wilson defined altruism as “self-destructive behavior performed for the benefit of others”. There is also an idea of reciprocal altruism, which is self-sacrificing behavior with the expectation that the favor will be returned eventually. If this behavior is motivated by the desire for future reward, it does not really fit the generally accepted definitions of altruism.

In nonhuman animals, altruism is mainly seen in the form of one animal sacrificing or risking its life to save another. Studies of animals by researchers such as Hamilton, who worked with bees who sacrifice themselves to allow the queen to produce offspring with their genetic makeup, have led to an evolutionary explanation of altruism. One account of altruism in the animal kingdom is kin selection-that an animal will sacrifice its own life only if as a result, its genes have a greater chance of being passed on. Kin selection relates to evolutionary advantage according to Hamilton’s rule, C/B < b. The ratio of the cost, C (which is the expected loss in reproductive success for the doer) to the benefit for the recipient, B (the gain in reproductive success for the must be less than the probability that the recipient has the same allele, for the altruist gene to survive.

Human altruism is much more nuanced than simply risking one’s life for another, and cannot be accounted for by a simple application of Hamilton’s rule. Many self-sacrificial acts that people perform for each other do not involve a direct risk to their life, and may also involve some benefit to the actor. Additionally, if the recipient of the act is not a relative, Hamilton’s rule doe not apply. In fact, there is some question as to whether human altruism actually exists, or whether what we think of as altruism is actually just “enlightened self interest”. Many allow for altruistic acts to include benefits to the actor as long as they are the result of behavior by the recipient of the altruistic act, or others, and as long as the actor has no control over receiving these benefits. Others argue that all supposed altruism is really motivated by the benefits to the person performing the act. These include material gains, such as a tax deduction for a charitable contribution, a rise in self-esteem for having done something good, and a sense of security that sometime the favor will be returned by the recipient. Although not everyone agrees that altruism can be completely pure, the definitions of altruism accepted by those interested in studying it seem to allow for benefit to the donor, as long as the act of self-sacrifice performed for someone else, with benefit to the actor not being a significant motivation.

With human altruism, there is the complication of compassion, which sometimes is confused with altruism. Compassion refers to an emotion, and altruism to an action; although they are connected, one can act altruistically without sharing in the feelings of others, and one can feel compassion without taking altruistic action. Arguments are sometimes made against calculation theories of altruism based on the decision to perform an altruistic act, for example jumping into the water to save a drowning child, is not made based on a calculation of genetic inheritance, but rather emotions and feelings of the right thing to do. Compassion and altruism both seem to be playing a role in making this decision, and the neurological mechanisms that might play into each of these are hard to separate from each other in evaluating such acts.

The mixing of empathy with altruistic behavior may contribute to an unclear picture of sex differences in altruism. A study of 573 twin pairs found females to be significantly more altruistic than males. Several other studies, however, have failed to show such a definitive effect. A study by Dougherty (1983) found that subjects of both genders were more likely to help people who were acting in “appropriate sex roles,” and Colaizzi et al. (1984) found that the display of altruism was affected more by the gender of the recipient of the altruistic act than of the subject performing the altruistic act; people were more likely to help women than to help men. The sex difference in altruism seen in the twin study may have been influenced by females’ tendency to be more empathetic than men; several studies have shown that females tend to care more than males about close relationships and specific people and their immediate situations. Behavior altruism may not have been able to be isolated from this empathetic difference; the emotions involved with altruism may be inseparable from the decision to commit an altruistic act.

The attempt to separate compassion from altruism, of emotion from behavior, although it would allow for a more direct examination of behavioral altruism, may in fact be detrimental to a thorough neurological understanding of altruism because of the connection between emotions and cognitive processes. Antonio Damasio addresses the link between emotion and behavioral decisions by arguing against Descartes’ notion that thought occurs separately from bodily mechanisms. Damasio suggests instead that emotions are integral to the process of rational decision-making. The lower levels of the brain’s structure of reason are the same areas that control emotions, as well as providing a connection between the brain and the rest of the body. Damasio elaborates on the connection between emotion and reason with his Somatic Marker Hypothesis-there is a physical signal, a “gut feeling,” that warns us about poor cognitive choices before we make them, allowing us to make decisions more quickly and effectively. The somatic marker may play a role in altruistic behavior, as well. The positive feeling associated with acting altruistically may be a positive somatic marker of sorts, a response by the nervous system corresponding to the long-term benefits of altruistic behavior.

How is altruistic behavior accounted for in the nervous system? In part, a propensity toward altruism is inherited, with genes coding for enzymes that lay neuronal pathways. John R. Evans proposes a more complicated neural picture of altruism, one that allows Hamilton’s rule to account for human altruism between nonrelatives, through a memetic adaptation of the rule. According to his model, memes, neuronally encoded rules for either physical or mental action, transcribe human behavior through their representation of neural stimulation patterns. Since these neural pathways must compete for limited neurochemical resources, they undergo a natural selection of sorts, whereby some memes are selected over others for a place in the nervous system. As well as being inherited, memes can be horizontally reproduced, evident by our ability to share ideas with each other. As this relates to altruism, someone committing an altruistic act might copy their meme onto the beneficiary’s memetic structure. To take into account the possibility of the altruistic meme, along with the gene, will be passed along, Evers proposes that Hamilton’s rule be rewritten: C/B = b + c(1-b), where c is the rate of conversion-the probability that the meme will transfer to someone not already carrying it (the non-carrier population represented by 1-b). Through taking into consideration the transfer of behavior rules as well as genetic codes, the memetic application of Hamilton’s rule allows for human altruism between nonrelatives.

Can the memetic application of Hamilton’s rule account for the neuronal encoding of human altruism? While that is certainly one of the most interesting questions raised about this issue, we may not be ready to answer it, or even to ask it, until we are more thoroughly able to answer some of the preceding questions. Adding the transfer of memes to Hamilton’s rule assumes that kin selection is applicable to human altruism, and that we are examining altruism itself and not confusing it with expressions of emotion and empathy. Perhaps more fundamentally, it assumes that human altruism is real, and that we even know what altruism is in the first place. All of these questions need more complete answers before the neuronal encoding of human altruism can be understood.


1) The “Problem of Altruism”

2) Altruism

3) Give Until It Hurts: Altruism and Advertising

4) Biology, Evolution and the Global Brain

5) A justification of societal altruism according to the memetic application of Hamilton’s rule

6) The Evolution of Reciprocal Sharing

7) The Problem of Altruism

Ms. Caitlin Costello wrote this paper while a student at Bryn Mawr College in 2001 for her Neurobiology and Behavior class.