Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Small-Mart Revolution

To Save the World, with P2P to a post-capitalist society

Book by Michel Bauwens, published in Belgium:

Save the world
With P2P towards a post-capitalist society

From the back cover:
Our present society is based on the absurd idea that material resources are abundant and immaterial ideas are scare. We behave as if the planet is infinite and exploit the earth in a way that endangers survival of the human species. On the other hand, we are building artificial walls around human knowledge to prevent and impede sharing as much as possible.

The peer-to-peer model of Wikipedia (knowledge), Linux (software) and Wikipspeed (design), inspired by open source, wants to turn this logic on its head. According to Michel Bauwens, the sharing economy, P2P-networks, open source, crowd sourcing, fablabs, micro-factories, hackerpsaces, the makers’ movement, urban agriculture… all new phenomena forming patterns that lead us towards a post-capitalist society, in which the market will be subsumed to the logic of the commons.

Just as feudalism developed within the womb of the Roman slave society and capitalism developed within feudalism, we are witnessing the embryo of a new form of society within capitalism.

In order to save the world, we need a relocalisation of production and an extension of global cooperation in the field of knowledge, code and design.
Additional information:

The book is based on a 12-hour interview by former journalist Jean Lievens with Michel Bauwens, and is divided into sis chapters: the Economy of P2P, The politics of P2P, P2P and spirituality, the Philosophy of P2¨, the P2P Foundation and a Biography of Michel Bauwens, who was the only Belgian elected on the Enriched List of the Post-Growth Institute, a list with the 100 most inspiring people (dead and alive) ever in relation to sustainability.

A New System of Values is being Born

How does deep social change and a phase transition from one system to another start? It starts with a cultural revolution. It starts with a new system of values being born, a “transvaluation”. The feudals and the Christians did not have the same values as the elite of the Roman Empire. If you were a member of the Roman Empire work was bad, it was for the slaves, but if you were a Christian monk work was good. You were supposed to work, you were creating God’s word on earth. So feudalism was not just a continuation of the Roman empire, it was a value revolution, of course it took something over but it was really another system. This new system of common production, the commons-based peer production, is not just a continuation of capitalism, it is not just a marginal rearrangement of the furniture, it is basically a revolution in values. For us openness, sharing and commons are the core of our value system. We are still entrepreneurs but we are a different type of entrepreneurs.

What do you do if you have a bunch of people with new values?
Let us go back to the end of the feudal system: the serfs escape the countryside and go to Florence and Venice where they meet up with the merchants and because they do not fit in the guild system they have to work for the merchants. What happens in that situation? This new segment of population demands new things and new social charters are established (the Magna Charta, the free city charters). What is a GPL, a General Public Licence? It is a social charter that says: we, the community, tell you, entrepreneurial coalition (of course it is often the same people, the developers working for Linux are the same that work for IBM or that own small companies developing Linux services), that if you want to collaborate with us you have to abide by five rules and if you don’t you do not play.

Next step: we are embedding those new values and those social charters in new open infrastructures. Think about BarCamps, a new way of meeting where the people collectively decide how the meeting will go. It is a new way and it has a new value embedded in the infrastructure of meetings. These are co-working spaces, hackers’ spaces, new infrastructures of cooperation based on different values.

Open manufacturing like Arduino is another example. Or the eCars project in Finland … if you are interested I have on a list of over 300 project that are emerging among which about 25 open-source cars being planned and developed. The first one, Local Motors, based on crowdsourced design, is already on the road in the United States. ECars in Finland has made its own first shared design to transform Corolla into eCorolla, the “common” car in the Netherlands is headed for production in 2011. This is not a utopia. We are talking about real projects that are advancing at a pretty fast speed, faster than open software. These open charters, open infrastructures become new practices. You are doing open designs, you are doing open currencies, open funding, crowd funding which you apply in your own domain, so now we have open science, open education, open politics which create products. Then you have people like me who think that this is exciting and we talk about it and try to put a little grease in the system.

This is what I am trying to say: the old system is obviously crumbling and the alternative is not going to be centralised state planning, I think most people today agree on that. So what are the new alternatives? I would argue the alternative is being built. You may not see it; it depends on where you are in the system. I have a good friend who has been working for IBM for 3 years and it was really frustrating because I was excited, I am an evangelist so I always see the good side of things but he would say: “Michel, I do not see these things happening, I do not know what you are talking about”.

Well, luckily his wife got a really nice job and now he is not working but being a house-dad, he is in Alicante and I just skyped with him yesterday and he said: “Michel, for the first time in 3 years I am starting to think that you were right”. He is no longer working for IBM so he sees things differently, he is starting to see that young people today have no future, there is generalised insecurity. So if you are faced with a crumbling mainstream system, what do you do? You look for alternatives.

A little anecdote and then I close. The chairman has been very kind to give me some more time. I was in Tampere in Finland one month ago. There was in the audience a lady who is a start-up entrepreneur. There is a new subjectivity being born. Young people are building their identity based on their contribution to this common projects. So more and more identity is going away from “I am working for IBM” to “I am doing Linux”. It is the combination of their engagements which creates a reputation, association networks and their happiness in life. I have seen that many times, for example in Amsterdam. What the lady said was: “I am creating this company and I want to hire people. Finland is in crisis, you know, there is unemployment also in Finland. And you know what? I cannot find anybody who wants to work more than 3 days a week for me”. Now, why is that? According to a study in the city of Malmö, 52% of the population is engaged in peer production. 52%! And this is why Google did it, Google is a pioneer in leaving one day a week for people to engage in their own projects. This has become the reality for young people in Finland. They are not just victims of job insecurity, they also need it in a way because they want to be engaged in their passionate projects. This is what gives meaning to their lives and this is why we have a new culture and why we are building all these new alternatives. - Michel Bauwens

You Cannot Really Make Real High Quality Products that Last Long and are Sustainable Because You Would Lose the Competitive Game

You may not believe this when you hear me talking but I have been in business for over 30 years and you know how that works. If you are in business you spend half of your money making a good new product, innovating and then you spend the other half of the money making sure that your competitors are not going to copy it, making sure that your TV breaks down after 10 years so people buy new ones. The game is rigged. You cannot really make real high quality products that last long and are sustainable because you would lose the competitive game. - Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens on New Age

In other ways, New Age thinking was an heir to utopian socialism. Given the difficulty of changing society in radical ways at the macro level, people began to change their own lives by abandoning blind trust in the mechanistic approaches to the human body that were espoused by Western medicine; and by leaving aside the knowledge-stuffing, rote-learning style of education they were fed in order to treat children as whole persons. These changes have made the world unrecognizable from thirty years ago.

Whatever the negative features of the neoliberal age, many institutions have become more humane, more egalitarian, more respectful, and more attuned to the whole individual. People have changed, institutions have evolved, and many small-scale communal experiments have yielded valuable learning experiences even if they have failed to change the bigger picture. 
At a time when the left was disintegrating and many social gains were undone, New Age thinking provided a banner under which millions of people continued their concrete efforts for personal and social change. Nevertheless, this thinking was also reactionary in its exaggerated rejection of 'cognicentrism' - the Western focus on the thinking mind alone. It went too far in dismissing the role of critical intelligence.

Instead of being integrative it was often regressive, a 'liberation' where selfish desire could reign unchecked. It fell prey to cults, mindless anti-modernism and extremism in the fields of diet and medicine that refused to see anything positive in western science. Spiritually, it had a romantic, rosy-tinted outlook that served to compensate for a life of dreary reality in which hyper-competition was degrading the quality of human relationships.

Finally, being born in an age of hyper-commerce, New Age thinking took on the trappings of the market, and it started functioning in ways akin to market logic. It encouraged people to behave like consumers in picking and choosing what they wanted. It became too focused on the individual and neglected processes of social change. Many of these trappings, which sometimes verged on exploitation by scumbag cults and gurus, were incompatible with authentic spirituality, which must be open-ended and participative, not based on a market model of paid experience.

In pre-modern times, people lived as members of communities with roles that were largely externally defined; in modern times they live as atomized but autonomous self-directing individuals who are bound together through social contracts and institutions. Post-modernity, seen as a critique of neoliberal capitalist structures, sees the individual as increasingly fragmented, and it has developed a strong critique of all the forces that have shown us that we are not nearly as autonomous as we think, including language and power. But this process has also left us stranded as fragmented individuals without much sense of a direction, forever deconstructing realities but rarely reconstructing them with much success. Therefore it is time for something new.

Today, individuals are no longer defined only by their membership in traditional communities or rigid roles. In my world, for example, an increasing number of people see themselves as contributors to open-source software systems like Linux rather than employees of Microsoft or Google. In this context, the key to an integrated self is to construct a rich identity of contributions that stem from active participation in many different communities. No longer New Age or Old Age but building on elements of both, a relational spirituality could form a cornerstone of the contributive societies on which the twenty-first century will be built. - Michel Bauwens

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Capitalism as the Second Revolution

I think that the second revolution in human productivity is capitalism because what capitalism does, at least in theory, is that it changes the primary motive from extrinsic negative motivation, fear (if I do not work I die) to a new game whose logic is: I am exchanging something for my benefit against another benefit. I sell my labour against a wage, I sell a product and I get money. This creates a huge leap in human productivity when we shift from a situation of negative extrinsic motivation, where basically you do not work if there is no coercion, to a situation where you work because you get a benefit. - Michel Bauwens
The Third Revolution

Kjernen i miljøkatastrofen

Sjelden jeg får 13 likes og ingen dislikes. Kommentaren er litt satt på spissen, men essensen er klar.

Les artikkelen her.
Unge kvinner på +/- 21 år er en ekstremt ettertraktet knapphetsvare blant klodens 3,5 milliarder menn. Vi rører her ved kjernen i miljøkatastrofen, det faktum at kvinner foretrekker RESSURSSTERKE og RESSURSRIKE menn. Ja, kvinner søker også snille menn, men uten ressurser kommer dette langt ned på lista, det ses heller på som en evt. bonus.

Vi har her milliarder av menn ivrig opptatt med å utpine klodens ressurser for slik å tiltrekke seg unge kvinner, i naturen symbolisert i atlaskgartnerfuglen (Se "Det biologiske mennesket" av Terje Bongard).

Hvem som egentlig har mest skyld i at vi er i ferd med å kverke oss selv, kvinner som ønsker menn med gods og gull, eller menn som sanker alt dette godset og gullet for å tiltrekke seg kvinner, er ikke godt å si.

Uansett, faktum er at uten kvinner i verden ville vi menn satt oss rett ned rundt bålet og fordrevet dagene med å fortelle historier, og vært strålende fornøyd med et lite krypinn under ei gammel gran eller lignende.
PS! Det viser seg nok at uten kvinner ville menn skutt hverandre ned til siste mann. Uten kvinner ingen sivilisasjon!

- Menn er dyr - kvinner også

Kjernen i miljøkatastrofen! Foto: Ferdinand Reus

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Barn «støpes til kopier» og blir «statens barn» i barnehage

"Studerer jeg dagens familier der barna «settes bort» i barnehager eller til dagmammaer allerede fra ettårsalderen, er jeg ikke forundret over at de mangler tilhørighet og tilknytning. Min påstand er at familien er gått i oppløsning, og at barn og unge støpes til kopier av hverandre. Det unike hos det enkelte barn files bort, de mister sitt opphav, sin identitet og sin trygghet. Jens Bjørneboe beskriver dette på en god måte i boken Jonas. «Statens barn» er blitt en realitet, og barnehagen, skolen, skolefritidsordningen og psykiatrien har overtatt foreldrenes rolle." - Per Sandberg

Monday, November 25, 2013

“Damn the Masters’ Plan!”, by Wouter Vanstiphout

Strelka Talks. "Damn the Masters' Plan!" by Wouter Vanstiphout from Strelka Institute on Vimeo.
Read more about this talk at Archiframe.
Nikos Salingaros says about this video:
Here is an excellent video linking urbanicide to modernism. Wouter still likes the modernist aesthetic look, but he clearly analyzes its destructiveness. It’s what we have been saying all along, though nobody paid any attention!
Maybe the time has finally come for a change?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

How to help have a great meeting - Responsibility for Attitude

How to handle the person who talks too much – Validate and hear from others

A common complaint about meetings is that one or two people talk too much and dominate the conversation. Not only does this make others feel resentful and unfulfilled, it can be very unproductive and inefficient for the group as a whole. It’s unproductive because the best ideas may not have found room to be shared or because the group got diverted off topic, and it’s inefficient because the whole group spends time going over and over the same ground or serving the interests of a single person.

As a meeting facilitator or group leader, how can you fix this? Validate what the person is saying and then make it about wanting to hear from others.

Check out the video for an explanation and a little demonstration.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

That Answer is Faith

It’s not a minor point, nor one restricted to twentieth-century French intellectuals. Shatter the shared figurations and abstractions that provide a complex literate society with its basis for collective thought and action, and you’re left with a society in fragments, where biological drives and idiosyncratic personal agendas are the only motives left, and communication between divergent subcultures becomes impossible because there aren’t enough common meanings left to make that an option. The plunge into nihilism becomes almost impossible to avoid once abstraction runs into trouble on a collective scale, furthermore, because reflection is the automatic response to the failure of a society’s abstract representations of the cosmos.  As it becomes painfully clear that the beliefs of the civil religion central to a society’s age of reason no longer correspond to the world of everyday experience, the obvious next step is to reflect on what went wrong and why, and away you go.

Religion can accomplish this because it has an answer to the nihilist’s claim that it’s impossible to prove the truth of any statement whatsoever. That answer is faith: the recognition, discussed in a previous post in this sequence, that some choices have to be made on the basis of values rather than facts, because the facts can’t be known for certain but a choice must be made anyway—and choosing not to choose is still a choice. Nihilism becomes self-canceling, after all, once reflection goes far enough to show that a belief in nihilism is just as arbitrary and unprovable as any other belief; that being the case, the figurations of a religious tradition are no more absurd than anything else, and provide a more reliable and proven basis for commitment and action than any other option.
The Second Religiosity may or may not involve a return to the beliefs central to the older age of faith. In recent millennia, far more often than not, it hasn’t been. As the Roman world came apart and the civil religion and abstract philosophies of the Roman world failed to provide any effective resistance to the corrosive skepticism and nihilism of the age, it wasn’t the old cults of the Roman gods who became the nucleus of a new religious vision, but new faiths imported from the Middle East, of which Christianity and Islam turned out to be the most enduring. Similarly, the implosion of Han dynasty China led not to a renewal of the traditional Chinese religion, but to the explosive spread of Buddhism and of the newly invented religious Taoism of Zhang Daoling and his successors. On the other side of the balance is the role played by Shinto, the oldest surviving stratum of Japanese religion, as a source of cultural stability all through Japan’s chaotic medieval era. John Michael Greer

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Recovery of a Shareable Basis for Life

In such a discussion, it is never quite enough to critique the failings of the mainstream approach, even if it is catastrophic. One has an obligation to provide a working alternative, which illustrates a proposed path to addressing the challenge. Once we stop favoring the machine aesthetic that produces giant abstract sculptures in place of buildings, then we can turn to nature, science, and common human values for new design tools. This is what those of us who are harshly critical of the current “business as usual” — like the authors — must also surely do.

So we work on new pattern language tools, new kinds of wikis, new strategies for making more walkable neighborhoods, and new types of buildings and places that learn from the successes of old ones. We believe that the problems we humans face today are largely of our own creation, and can be resolved by us too — IF we understand the structural nature of these challenges. But we also believe that it is long past time to surrender the dogmatic claim to a failing ideology of design — one that belongs to the last century and its failing industrial approach, and not to the next century and its biological lessons.

In creating a shared language for architecture and urbanism, one that relies upon positive human emotional and physiological responses, we find universals that cross all cultures, periods, and locations. This appeal to a shareable language was a centerpiece of Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language, and is extended by Alexander’s The Nature of Order, the present authors’ own writings, and many others’ work. A commons-based shareable form of architecture supports life in all its complexity, all of its emotional and even hidden dimensions, through the geometry and multiple configurations. The experimental evidence has been mounting that, because of its self-imposed geometrical limits, Modernism and its variants simply cannot achieve this positive response.

We have pointed to humans’ innate biological need to create and enjoy ornament, as witnessed in all societies. Indeed, the cultural wealth of human civilization, in all its myriad expressions around the world, comes down to its ornament — its “illumination” of the most profound aspects of ordinary life. A healthy society must affirm and enable such an approach, and continue to develop tools to support it and make it feasible. This is as much an economic challenge as a social and environmental one.

Ironically, Loos was right, though in the opposite sense of what he intended: a crime had been committed, one that had inflicted “serious injury on people’s health, on the budget and hence on cultural evolution”. To that we can add injury to the planet’s ecosystems, and the life of cities around the globe. The crime was the adoption of a geometrical fallacy — geometrical fundamentalism — which is, quite simply, incompatible with a sustainable future. - Salingaros & Mehaffy

Modernism is Not Simply One Style Among Many

There is a more serious reason to critique the continued use of architectural Modernism, and its “rococo” and “Neo-Modernist” variants, as suitable foundation for design in the 21st Century. That is because Modernism is not simply one style among many, but an expression of an elaborate discourse and practical methodology for the generation of environmental structure — and which makes a totalizing claim to its exclusive legitimacy. Modernism proposes itself as a universal form-generating discipline, allowing no alternatives. In turn, this methodology relies upon an equally elaborate theory of society, of technology, and of geometry. - Nikos A. Salingaros

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Valget mellom IGD (InnGruppe-Demokratiet) eller katabolisk kollaps

En innledning til mitt essay "Kapitalist-modernismen: eit fatalt feilsteg etter vegen mot ein varig sivilisasjon"

Les essayet her:

Kapitalist-modernismen: eit fatalt feilsteg etter vegen mot ein varig sivilisasjon

På et vis er overskriften til dette innlegget feil, vi kan ikke velge mellom katabolisk kollaps og IGD, da katabolisk kollaps er uunngåelig. Katabolisk kollaps vil si en gradvis kollaps av vår industrielle sivilisasjon i løpet av de neste 100-300 år, med en tilsvarende nedgang i verdens befolkning, teknologisk utvikling etc. Begrepet forfektes i dag først og fremst av bloggeren John Michael Greer. I følge Greer har vi allerede entret vår sivilisasjons undergang, hvoretter vi går inn i en ny "mørk middelalder". Trolig vil det vare flere tusen år før menneskene igjen blir i stand til å danne en ny sivilisasjon, og en ny fossilbasert sivilisasjon som vår egen vil neppe igjen se dagens lys før om 100 millioner år, men da av andre intelligente vesener som har etterfulgt mennesket.

I stedet for å ta grep og forberede oss velger de fleste mennesker en av to meget farlige fornektelsesstrategier, troen på evig fremskritt eller troen på at mennesket er dødsdømt uansett. Begge valgene bunner i en motvilje til å ta ansvar.
I’ve suggested in the past that one of the things the paired myths of inevitable progress and inevitable apocalypse have in common is that both of them serve as excuses for inaction. Claim that progress is certain to save us all, or claim that some catastrophe or other is certain to doom us all, and either way you have a great justification for staying on the sofa and doing nothing. I’ve come to think, though, that the two mythologies share more in common than that. It’s true that both represent a refusal of what Joseph Campbell called the “call to adventure,” the still small voice summoning each of us to rise up in an age of crisis and decay to become the seedbearers of an age not yet born, but both mythologies also pretend to offer an escape from life, in the full, messy, intensely real sense I’ve suggested above. - John Michael Greer
Et parti som Fremskrittspartiet, som viser total fornektelse for at vi er inne i en katabolisk kollaps, og helt og fullt dyrker fremskrittsmytologien, blir i denne sammenheng livsfarlig. Blant de politiske partiene har vi ikke en klar motpol til Fremskrittspartiet, dvs. et parti som sanker stemmer på å predikere menneskets og sivilisasjonens dødsdom, hvilket kanskje heller ikke er så underlig.

Men vi trenger ingen av disse to alternativene, hva vi trenger er et politisk system som innser realitetene i en katabolisk kollaps, og at vi nå har entret vår sivilisasjons undergang slik vi kjenner den.

Her har vår egen adferdsbiolog Terje Bongard tatt grep og utformet en ny demokratiform, InnGruppe-Demokratiet eller IGD. Denne demokratiformen har en svært resilient utforming og tar innover seg realitetene av at vi i dag lever i et utgruppesamfunn, samt at vi dyrker de mørkeste kreftene i handikapprinsippet gjennom kapitalismen. Dette kan ikke vare ved!


Videre er jeg overbevist om at vi må lenke IGD opp mot biofilia, ikke biofobia. Moderne arkitektur og struktur er en materialisert form for biofobia, og må derfor opphøre, på lik linje med kapitalismen.

Konklusjonen av mitt essay er derfor at for å kunne tilpasse oss realitetene av en katabolisk kollaps, må vi bygge en sivilisasjon som består av en symbiose mellom IGD og biofilia.

Alternativet er en flere tusenårig ny mørk middelalder for menneskeslekten, som vil få vår foregående middelalder til å fremstå som en søndagstur.

Architecture in the Age of Austerity: Leon Krier

Hi Øyvind,

Many thanks for passing along these resources! Krier is a giant, it has been some time since I've engaged with his thinking, but I've very much enjoyed watching this provocative presentation. And it links up quite well with J.A. Arnfinsen's conversation with Nikos Salingaros at

In particular, I found it interesting to come into some of these lines of thinking after having wrapped up the past month of working on this exhibition in San Diego: Good to pull into these topics now that the dust has settled a bit.

All the best,
Joseph Redwood-Martinez

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Difference between Elemental and Object Oriented Design

Read the article this comment is saxed from here.
Ornament is a characteristic of one of two broad categories of design. These categories are elemental and object oriented design.

Elemental architecture is composed of expressed components, arranged according to a convention and with a gravitational logic, and typically these components are human scaled. In classicism, for instance, the elements are the entablature, the column, the cornice, and so on. These elements are arranged with the visually heaviest at the base, the visually lighter above. Arguably, Art Deco is the last dominant instance of elementalism.

Ornament is a component of elemental architecture. It is important in highlighting elements, providing visual coherence and enhancing proportions, providing light and shade to surfaces.

Post war, architectural design has become object oriented. The building is regarded primarily as a three dimensional object, a singular or ‘sculptural’ form, intended to stand in isolation, or to contrast with its setting. The constituent elements of the building are repressed in favour of the coherence of the singular object. Ornament has no part in this form of architecture, because the enhancement of a hierarchical composition is not relevant to this style. Texture is antithetical to object oriented design, large planes of simple materials, ideally with all jointing and evidence of fabrication repressed, is favoured.

Elemental architecture is the building block of coherent urban form. It is suitable for creating urban walls. A row of elemental buildings creates a textured and rich urban streetscape with a commonality of proportion and composition. The streetscape becomes more than the sum of its parts. A row of object buildings rarely delivers urban coherence.

I suggest, therefore, that a starting point for recovering a more adaptable and resilient form of architecture may be found in re-evaluation of the point at which the elemental was superceded by the object oriented. We need reinvigorated elementalism. - MJEFFRESON

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Society is Yelling in Triumph, Utterly Convinced that the Road to Imminent Ruin Will Lead Them to Paradise on Earth

Most of the rising spiral of problems we face as the industrial age approaches its end could have been prevented with a little foresight and forbearance, and even now—when most of the opportunities to avoid a really messy future have long since gone whistling down the wind—there’s still much that could be done to mitigate the worst consequences of the decline and fall of the industrial age and pass on the best achievements of the last few centuries to our descendants. Of the things that could be done to make the future less miserable than it will otherwise be, though, very few are actually being done, and those have received what effort they have only because scattered individuals and small groups out on the fringes of contemporary industrial society are putting their own time and resources into the task.

Meanwhile the billions of dollars, the vast public relations campaigns, and the lavishly supplied and funded institutional networks that could do these same things on a much larger scale are by and large devoted to projects that are simply going to make things worse. That’s the bitter irony of our age and, more broadly, of every civilization in its failing years. No society has to be dragged kicking and screaming down the slope of decline and fall; one and all, they take that slope at a run, yelling in triumph, utterly convinced that the road to imminent ruin will lead them to paradise on Earth. - John Michael Greer

The Electronic Hallucinations that Count as Wealth Today

Vico barely mentioned economics in his book, but it’s a prime example: look at the way that wealth in a dark age society means land, grain, and lumps of gold, which get replaced first by coinage, then by paper money, then by various kinds of paper that can be exchanged for paper money, and eventually by the electronic hallucinations that count as wealth today. John Michael Greer

The Rhetoric of the Civil Religion of Progress Presupposes that Every Human Being Who Lived Before the Scientific Revolution was Basically Just Plain Stupid

Now of course the transition between ages of faith and ages of reason carries a heavy load of self-serving cant these days. The rhetoric of the civil religion of progress presupposes that every human being who lived before the scientific revolution was basically just plain stupid, since otherwise they would have gotten around to noticing centuries ago that modern atheism and scientific materialism are the only reasonable explanations of the cosmos. Thus a great deal of effort has been expended over the years on creative attempts to explain why nobody before 1650 or so realized that everything they believed about the cosmos was so obviously wrong. - John Michael Greer

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

9 Reasons Why Green Modernist Architecture is a Myth

Read more:

A Vision for Architecture as More Than the Sum of Its Parts

9 Reasons Why Green Modernist Architecture is a Myth

We can now turn to debunk the recent claim by many practitioners, alluded to previously, that modernist architecture can actually be more sustainable.

True, many modernist “high tech” architects claim that their work represents the height of so-called “green building”. Gleaming new industrial icons of sustainability (enthusiastically and imperiously claimed to be so) are sprouting like mushrooms around the globe — in many cases replacing older traditional neighborhoods, or ecologically sensitive undeveloped areas. What is the actual evidence that they are more sustainable?

A new wave of post-occupancy evidence is demonstrating remarkably poor performance by many new sustainability icons — let alone several earlier generations of standard-issue modernist resource-guzzling buildings. The problems are not superficial, but go to the essential geometry of Modernism, and the rationally segregated “geometric fundamentalism” on which it is based.

Problems include:

• Poor capacity to wear over time. The fundamentalist aesthetic relies on two eye-catching ingredients that are by definition perishable: newness, and pristine cleanliness. These qualities are striking (and appealing to many) when such structures are completely new. But as time passes, the accumulation of minor dents, streaking, and patinas, which would be acceptable or even complementary to more natural kinds of buildings — think of the beautiful patinas of Rome — become horrible forms of disfigurement in modernist buildings. The remedy (aside from accepting an increasingly ugly building) is either relatively constant and expensive maintenance and repair, or demolition — hardly sustainable.

• Inherent problems with curtain wall assemblies. Research shows remarkably poor performance for the glazed wall, fancy ribbon window, and exotic glass pattern assemblies that are hallmarks of the fundamentalist style. They might look dramatically transparent, but the high fashion comes at a steep price: typically profligate use of energy, and very likely, extravagant repair or replacement costs. It’s possible to layer on complex sandwiches of special gas and reflective coatings to mitigate this or other problems — but this contraption-on-top-of-contraption approach adds significantly to complexity and cost, and increase the likelihood of early maintenance troubles. The simplest way to avoid the problems of such assemblies is not to use them in the first place.

• Other problems with maintenance, efficiency, and durability. The stories of new modernist architectural projects with serious construction problems and soaring cost overruns (in both construction and operation) are legion — many of which clearly stem from the irrational quest for novel, extravagant shapes that require untested construction methods. Modernist projects also typically require construction methods and materials with high-embodied energy and resources — steel, glass, concrete, and others.

• An indifference (or worse) to walkable streetscapes. Early modernists pretended to be untroubled by the oppressively blank walls and lack of human-scale details along the street, for the simple reason that they didn’t care for streets at all. Le Corbusier, for example, was famous for his desire to “kill the street”, along with the “fungus” of sidewalk cafes and other essential human-scale elements of urban life.

• Poor ability to accommodate urban complexity and change. As Jane Jacobs famously pointed out in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Le Corbusier and other early modernists were obsessed with imposing a simplistic visual order onto a complex urban fabric — with disastrous results. The simplicity of this visual order was in its minimalism — again, a central tenet of modernist aesthetics. But forced simplicity forbids the geometrical complexity necessary for accommodating human life in the city.

• Reliance on visual and cognitive segregation. Architectural fundamentalists are fascinated by the merciless logic of crude, powerful early machines and industrial equipment — concrete grain elevators, steam ships, and the like. Their proposals for cities included similar machine-like segregations of simplified parts, from the largest to the smallest scales: zoned districts, super-blocks, buildings, walls, windows, columns, details — all stripped down to machine-like minimalism. But as Christopher Alexander warned in 1965, a city can’t be segregated into such a neat hierarchy of parts, without damaging the life inside it. This is not how biological complexity operates, and it is not how human settlements operate.

• Evidence of cognitive problems from minimalist environments. Extensive research has documented the negative effects on children, the elderly, and other vulnerable populations of environments that do not have a complement of rich experiential aesthetic variety. Some modernist environments may provide cognitively appealing and desirable qualities such as drama, contrast, novelty, and so on. But these by themselves appear to be inadequate and even possibly damaging characteristics, and it seems increasingly likely that we humans must also have a major complement of “biophilic” qualities missing from most Modernism. Research in environmental psychology suggests that what human physiology needs are fractal scales, patterning, spatial layering, interlocking geometries, and the like.

• Perishability of modern design fashions. Ironically, one of the key fundamentalist arguments is that the universality of Modernism would serve to avoid the vagaries of fashion, and thus be more durable. Of course history has shown quite the opposite, as the quest for novelty is by definition insatiable. So we have seen an endless cycle of briefly novel stylistic permutations: once-exciting new modernist buildings torn down only a few decades later, widely regarded by then as hated eyesores. Sometimes, incredibly, these same eyesores have been brought back yet again as exciting retro-futurist novelties — but with the same fate awaiting them once more, as the destructive cycles go on.

• Dependence on the car. Geometrically fundamentalist urbanism promulgated by CIAM (the Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne) became the blueprint of 20th Century urban development, built around fast superhighways and arterials, creating a series of segregated, unwalkable superblock structures. The human-scaled web of life, with its foundations of free pedestrian movement and common urban space, was erased by design.

Modernism’s fundamentalist geometry destroyed architecture’s capacity to form significantly cohesive wholes. Instead, we were left with a disordered collection of abstract art pieces — forced, in effect, to live in someone else’s increasingly disorganized sculpture gallery. - Salingaros & Mehaffy

Published at P2P-Foundation on 14th November 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

Nozomi Hayase Summarizes "The Century of the Self"

An excerpt:

* The Empty Self and Representation As a New Authority

“How have the American people lost touch with reality? What made them so vulnerable to manipulation and political and media misinformation? No doubt the corporate media played a large role in the controlling of perception, yet there is something deeper at work. The root causes of the passivity and apathy of the populace can be better understood by looking into a particular configuration of self that has emerged in Western history.

In Constructing the Self, Constructing America, psychoanalyst Phillip Cushman analyzed how in the post-WWII United States, modern industrialization broke down the traditional social bonds and restructured the reality of community. Out of this, he argues, a specific configuration of self emerged. Cushman called it “the empty self” — “the bounded, masterful self” — and described how this empty self “has specific psychological boundaries, a sense of personal agency that is located within, and a wish to manipulate the external world for its own personal ends”. Cushman further characterized this empty self as one that “experiences a significant absence of community, tradition and shared meaning — a self that experiences these social absences and their consequences ‘interiority’ as a lack of personal conviction and worth; a self that embodies the absences, loneliness, and disappointments of life as a chronic, undifferentiated emotional hunger.”

Cushman argued how this new configuration of self and its emotional hunger was indispensable to the development of US consumer culture. Stuart Ewen, in his classic, Captains of Consciousness, explored how modern advertising was used as a direct response to the needs of industrial capitalism through its functioning as an instrument for the “the creation of desires and habits”: “The vision of freedom which was being offered to Americans was one which continually relegated people to consumption, passivity and spectatorship.” Ewen saw this in the economic shift from production to consumption and in the personal identity shift from citizens to consumers.

It did not take long for this covert manipulation of desires to be widely used for advancing certain economic or political agendas. Through unpacking his uncle Freud’s study of the unconscious, the father of modern corporate advertising — Edward Bernays — gained insight into the power of subterranean desires as a tool for manipulation. In Propaganda, Bernays put forth the idea that “the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.” This deliberate work of controlling perception came to be understood as propaganda, and has been identified as “the executive arm of the invisible government.”

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cap the Grid

This essay comes from the book ENERGY: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth. Published by the Foundation for Deep Ecology in collaboration with Watershed Media and Post Carbon Institute.
Download Cap the Grid

This must see an end!

A Must Read Article by Roger Boyd: Economic Growth: A Social Pathology

Read the whole essay:

Economic Growth: A Social Pathology (at Recilience)

Economic Growth: A Social Pathology (at Humanity's Test)

Some excerpts: 
The theoretical and epistemological bases of mainstream economics, of which GNP is an artefact, are challenged by attempts to integrate economic and ecological considerations. These see the economy as being an open system, embedded within the closed system which is earth. In this picture the economy is reliant upon ecological sources for inputs (e.g. raw materials, soil, plants and animals, oxygen), and ecological sinks for waste product outputs (e.g. nitrogen run-off into rivers, carbon dioxide into the air). Mainstream neo-classical economics does not factor in the measurement of such things, generally treating inputs as infinite or infinitely substitutable, and the impact of waste products as unquantifiable “externalities”. As long as the economy was not large in relation to the overall ecology, such shortcomings tended not to matter, but over the past 200 years of exponential growth the economy has become much larger in relation to its ecology. Authors such as Georgescu-Roegen10, Daly11, and Victor12 argue both for a fully integrated Ecological Economics (or a Bioeconomics as Georgescu-Roegen prefers), and the acceptance that continued exponential growth threatens the sustainability of human society through the depletion of non-renewable ecological sources, and the overuse of renewable ecological sources and sinks.

The Roman Empire, and modern civilization. One thousand years separate the first two, and over fifteen hundred years the latter two. As Morris puts it “If someone from Rome or Song China had been transplanted to eighteenth-century London or Beijing he or she would certainly have had many surprises … Yet more, in fact much more would have seemed familiar … Most important of all, though, the visitors from the past would have noticed that although social development was moving higher than ever, the ways people were pushing it up hardly differed from how Romans and Song Chinese had pushed it up.19” The development of complex societies relied upon the production of a surplus of food, and other forms of energy, above that required for basic existence. This surplus allowed for specialized occupations, such as artisans and soldiers, and an increased level of social complexity. Such societies are an “anomaly in history”, having only existed in the last 6,000 years, while “throughout the several million years that recognizable humans are known to have lived, the common political unit was the small, autonomous community”20. The size and complexity of such societies was limited by the available bio-mass (predominantly food, fodder for animals, and wood) and the efficiency of the mammals utilized (humans, horses, oxen etc.) in converting that bio-mass into useful energy. The reality of these limitations can be seem even in the “cradle of democracy”, Ancient Greece, where the freedom and material comfort of a limited number of men was supported by a large cohort of non-citizens, such as slaves and serfs, whose surplus energy could be utilized for the benefit of the few21. Increased complexity can be seen as a problem solving strategy20, with additional available energy as a pre-requisite, through greater levels of differentiation, specialization, and integration. Tainter proposed that the decreasing returns of additional complexity are a fundamental limitation on societal longevity20, as would be a lack of the incremental energy required to support ongoing increases in complexity, and the resultant lack of ability to deal with new challenges.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Consciousness as Dualism

While we are looking at things from this elevated philosophical perspective, it is worth noting that there seems to be rather a limited range of basic options for the nature of consciousness. You might, for example, believe that it is some sort of magical field, a soul, that comes as an addendum to the body, like a satnav machine in a car. This is the traditional ‘ghost in the machine’ of Cartesian dualism. It is, I would guess, how most people have thought of consciousness for centuries, and how many still do. In scientific circles, however, dualism has become immensely unpopular. The problem is that no one has ever seen this field. How is it generated? More importantly, how does it interact with the ‘thinking meat’ of the brain? We see no energy transfer. We can detect no soul. Michael Hanlon

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Families Made Us Human!

The evolution of human culture can be explained, not by the size of our brains, but by the quality of our relationships.

Very interesting article relevant for the new InGroup-Democracy (IGD). Read the whole article here.

A few extracts:
The point of all this is that the evolution of the family played a huge role in creating a stable, secure environment for the birth of hominin information culture. These longer, safer childhoods must have also contributed to the growth of inner-subjective head space — no doubt leading to greater representational sophistication and eventually language. And the striking feature of this new social learning is that it becomes so flexible and open-ended. SEEKING, plus an information-rich safe environment, produces curiosity about all sorts of things, and both the curiosity and the products of skill can co-evolve via natural and cultural selection. Information-rich, safe environments are highly congenial for cognitive expansion. Thus we find that, by looking into the development of emotional modernity, we begin to understand the rise of human intelligence too.

In chimpanzees, this CARE system is very limited in scope. Mothers and babies bond strongly for approximately seven years, but that’s as far as the sense of family extends. As the biologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy points out: ‘In roughly half the 300-odd species of living primates, including all four great apes and many of the best-known species of Old World monkeys, such as rhesus macaques and savannah baboons, mothers alone care for their infants.’ In her book Mothers and Others (2009), Hrdy argues that human co-operation was facilitated by unique shifts in child rearing. Unlike chimps, Homo erectus children were raised and provisioned by additional caregivers besides just mom. Grandmothers, aunts, uncles, siblings and fathers (collectively called alloparents) all contributed to child rearing, constituting an expanded circle of empathetic filial feelings.

Human offspring need extra work — a whole team of caregivers — because they’re so helpless for so long. The unique human childhood is the result of a remarkable chain of events. Our Australopithicine ancestors had short childhoods and short lifespans. They also had wide hips, which meant their fetal brains probably developed more in the womb, like chimps, and their behaviour was more genetically hard-wired. By the time of our bipedal ancestor Homo ergaster, the human pelvis could no longer accommodate a well-developed infant’s skull. From this point onward, human infants have been born at a very early stage of brain development relative to other primates. The result is a much larger window of infant dependency that requires staggering amounts of parental and alloparental care. - Stephen T Asma

The Paired Myths of Inevitable Progress and Inevitable Apocalypse Have in Common that Both of them Serve as Excuses for Inaction

I’ve suggested in the past that one of the things the paired myths of inevitable progress and inevitable apocalypse have in common is that both of them serve as excuses for inaction. Claim that progress is certain to save us all, or claim that some catastrophe or other is certain to doom us all, and either way you have a great justification for staying on the sofa and doing nothing. I’ve come to think, though, that the two mythologies share more in common than that. It’s true that both represent a refusal of what Joseph Campbell called the “call to adventure,” the still small voice summoning each of us to rise up in an age of crisis and decay to become the seedbearers of an age not yet born, but both mythologies also pretend to offer an escape from life, in the full, messy, intensely real sense I’ve suggested above. John Michael Greer

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Good Group Tip: Direction more important than pace

In principle, moving quickly often seems like a good idea but moving quickly in
the wrong direction simply gets you to the wrong place fast. Most groups have a
high need for quick achievement. We have all heard someone say, "Enough t
alk, let's just do something!" And we have all seen groups charge off quickly and with the wrong direction.

Practical Tip: Even when under pressure to accomplish something in a hurry, resist
the temptation to achieve a quick, although shabby, result. Quality group decisions,
like anything of quality, require upfront investment. Determine your objective before
springing into action. Spend some time planning. Read the directions. Check out
the map. As Bob Dylan says, "I know my song well before I start singing."
No matter how slowly you go, if you are headed in the right direction you might
eventually get there. - Craig Freshley

Monday, November 4, 2013

Lambda, et angstskrik

Maleri av Rolf Groven, stilt vederlagsfritt til rådighet for Lambdamotstandere

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Wendell Berry on His Hopes for Humanity

Next Buddha Will Be A Collective

Title: The next Buddha will be a collective: spiritual expression in the peer to peer era. By Michel Bauwens
Draft on an essay written for ReVision journal. Version without notes and references.




Religious and spiritual expression is always embedded in societal structures. If social structures are moving towards the form of distributed networks, what kind of evolution of spiritual expression can we expect? In this essay, we will first describe the general societal changes that we see emerging, and expect to become more prevalent in the future, then examine to what degree these changes will have an impact on individual and collective spiritual expression. The reader has to bear with us in the first general part, which explains the peer to peer dynamic, in order to understand its application to spirituality, which is the subject of the second part of the essay. Finally, in the third and final part, we will discuss a few concrete examples. Continue reading...

SNAKE OIL: Chapter 6 - Energy Reality

This article is the final excerpt from Richard Heinberg's new book SNAKE OIL: How Fracking's False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future. Given the urgency and importance of the issues we are serializing the book here at 
During the past year, article after article in the mainstream press has gushed over the prospects for American oil independence and natural gas exports, while ignoring the context—an ever-increasing requirement for the investment of capital and energy in the extraction of fast-depleting and often poorer quality fuels.

The media’s euphoria was perhaps epitomized by Charles C. Mann’s lead article in the May 2013 issue of Atlantic titled “What If We Never Run Out of Oil?” The magazine’s cover proclaimed, in tall capital letters, “WE WILL NEVER RUN OUT OF OIL”—which of course is true: the Earth’s crust will always contain immense amounts of crude. It’s just that we won’t be able to afford to extract most of it because doing so would take either too much money, too much energy, or both. Continuing the theme, the article’s subtitle asked a startling question—“What if fossil fuels are not finite?”—which implies uncertainty as to whether the Earth is a bounded sphere or a plain extending endlessly in four directions. Title, subtitle, and headline were presumably intended as attention-grabbers: the article itself was serious and thoughtful—though, as I hope to show, profoundly misleading.

In this chapter, we will first address a few of Charles Mann’s claims in the Atlantic article and then proceed to the much more important discussion of our real energy prospects. Continue reading...

Friday, November 1, 2013

Skibladner i vinterdvale

Kommentar av Odd M. Sørli på Origo: "Noen flotte "linjer" i fotoet ditt Øyvind".

Klikk i bildet for en forstørrelse.

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Dagens demokrati kan ikke redde oss fra klimakrisen

Politikerne tror at løsningen på klimakrisen er å forsterke naturkrisen, ved å grave i filler naturen vår, for å plassere vindkraftverk på h...