Designing a system for harmony not antagonism

December 3, 2009 at 4:08 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We are facing a crisis. It is systemic in nature encompassing politics, economics, ecology and our social world. In facing it, it is clear that we are not thinking deeply enough. We are guilty of ‘fast thought’. Our system, and its various components, needs re-design.

The key concern in shaping this re-design is to determine clearly what we want our integrated social, economic and political system to do. We are no longer clear about this. This is one of the reasons  why, despite the system being dysfunctional, we seem to be committed to somehow re-booting it again. We are no longer seeing it correctly. Even it could be re-booted, it should not. It is producing harm.

There are surely two key design objectives that we want any system to achieve:

1. Social equality

2. Ecological well-being.

Why are these critical? Because not only are they ethically appealing and appropriate, they are actually in each individual’s self-interest. Social equality produces the best social outcomes across a range of issues and gives rise to the most human and secure societies. Ecological well-being is simply a fundamental pre-requisite for life and happiness.

Our present system is producing antagonisms both within societies, between countries and between humanity and our planet. We need a system that produces harmonies. This is our challenge – to re-design our system to enhance harmony. Achieving harmony – social and ecological – is the political cause for today.

We now need to devote our minds and energies to these new designs. They will include a new, non-commodified economics centred on reciprocal exchange and ecological costings. Think of our traditional meitheal systems and LETS. They will include participative, democratic descion-making at all levels. They will include community-centred ecological planning.

I think this project can begin now. It already has. This is building new culture from the bottom-up. New ideas, new businesses, new exchanges emerging from the old, decaying model. It is in this sense that we might now be at a time of hope. However, to really enhance this momentum we need to make it explicit and visible and make clear that a new model is emerging. It is incremental, tentative, without a blueprint. What it has is an objective and a method.

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Non-market economics

December 1, 2009 at 12:51 pm | Posted in News | Leave a comment

It’s worth checking out details of this year nobel prize winners in economics. A good link to see details is: http://plus.maths.org/latestnews/sep-dec09/nobeleconomicsindex.html

One of the winners has studied how bottom-up decision-making and organisational structure results in better and more efficient decision. Below is a quotation from the article cited at the link above.

Elinor Ostrom has been honoured for a body of work which closely scrutinises a vast number of case studies of common ownership, from irrigation systems in Nepal to groundwater basins in California. Ostrom’s results show that, while it’s not the best solution in all cases, common ownership can and frequently does work. Often this is down to centuries’ worth of knowledge and experience that have gone into evolving a common ownership system, the subtleties of which external authorities often fail to appreciate. But Ostrom has also identified a set of more abstract rules and procedures which need to be in place to make common ownership work. Some of her more surprising conclusions hold interesting lessons for state-owned or privatised property, too. Ostrom shows, for example, that the users themselves, rather than impartial outsiders, should monitor procedures and dish out punishments where necessary. Decision making processes should be as democratic as possible, allowing every user to take part in building and amending the rules that govern the group. Ostrom also shows that a bottom-up approach to building an organisation, with well-functioning smaller groups coming together to form a larger cooperation, can be more beneficial than the opposite top-down approach.

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