Friday, February 27, 2015

Useless Waste is what Provides Jobs

This is one way of trying to address the issue of a whole lot of GDP being useless waste–for example, lots of marketing people flying around from meeting to meeting. The problem, of course, is that the useless waste is what provides jobs. Without the essentially wasteful jobs, we have an even larger number of people unemployed. It becomes even harder to repay debt with interest. The government tries to fix this, but in the end, it is the government/financial system that fails. - Gail Tverberg

To Share the Wealth of the Very Rich is Not Possible

The advantage of tipping most of the wealth toward the very rich is that they tend to spend very little of it. If it all were taxed away, and distributed to the poor, they would try to actually spend the wealth. The catch is that this wouldn’t actually result in the huge amount of goods needed to fill the needs of the less wealthy. There isn’t enough oil being extracted to build all of the cars and houses that the new-found wealth would buy (plus pay the wages of all of the people needed to build these things).

I am not a student of thermodynamics, but intuitively what you say this makes sense to me. These presentations are at this point are still in draft form, and the “Overview of the Networked Economy” in particular is short, so could be added to. The thermodynamics behind this change in wealth distribution would be an interesting addition. - Gail Tverberg
His wealth cannot be shared

Spend Your Savings Now, or Never!

I agree. The vast majority of the wealth of the billionaires will simply be lost. They can only eat a certain number of calories–about the same number as the rest of us. They can only sleep in one bed a night. The pixels in their bank account statements may say that they have a lot of money to spend in the future. When the time comes when they think they can spend it, it likely won’t be there. - Gail Tverberg
Now is a last window of opportunity to spend your savings. If you cannot spend them on something useful, waste them on bullshit. Tomorrow it may be to late to transform your savings into real money, as they are just pixels in computers, evaporating into thin air when not constantly sucked in oil flow.

We are Now in the Prelude to Collapse

That is a good point–the “something different” that we are already into is very low oil prices. This is the prelude to collapse, because we cannot actually pull the oil out at these prices.

You are also right about existing man-made ecosystems needing oil–namely farms and farm substitutes, and the whole transportation system for getting the things distributed to us. There are many parts to it, including processing and distribution. Solar panels don’t fix this problem. - Gail Tverberg
Enjoy the prelude. Real collapse starts soon!

Humanizing Technology

Excerpted from a post by Charles Siegel.

This recent history of architecture and urbanism is important because it involves a key issue of our time: How should we use technology for human purposes?

Among mid-century modernists, the design centered on the technology. The dogma was that the design must be an “honest expression” of modern materials and functions—in other words, an expression of modern technology. The modernists’ designs were so striking visually that they helped spread technophilia through society.

Among the serious postmodernists and the New Urbanists, design centers on the human users. They are not against modern technology, but they are selective in their use of technology. They use modern technology when it helps to create good places for people.

For example, modernists designed cities around the automobile. They had faith that this new technology would improve our lives and, in any case, would inevitably dominate our lives, because you can’t stop progress. By the 1960s, it was becoming clear that the modernists’ theories had created an ugly, environmentally destructive suburban landscape of freeways, shopping malls, and auto-dependent subdivisions.

The New Urbanists take a more reasonable view of this technology, accommodating the automobile but not letting it dominate our lives. New Urbanist design centers on creating streets and public spaces that are attractive, comfortable places for people, and it accommodates the automobile ways that further this goal. They emphasize that their traditional urbanism can accommodate any style of architecture, and they mention Tel Aviv and Miami’s South Beach as examples of cities where good traditional urbanism is combined with modernist architecture, but their goal is to create good places rather than to design an “expression” of modern technology.

Modernists also designed individual buildings around new technology: the buildings were “honest expressions” of glass, steel, and concrete. By the 1970s, it was becoming clear that these buildings were cold, sterile and overwhelming. Serious postmodernists tried to design buildings that were attractive, comfortable places for people to be.

Yet today’s avant gardists have gone back to the sterile high-tech design of the modernists with added “artistic” touches. They often create very uncomfortable places for people to be.

The use of technology is a key issue of our time, because modern technology gives us more power and more freedom of choice than ever before.

We can use the power that technology gives us well or badly. Modern technology can be immensely beneficial; an obvious example is polio vaccination. And it can be immensely destructive; an obvious example is nuclear weapons. We need to use the beneficial technology and limit the destructive technology.

We can use the freedom of choice that technology gives us well or badly. For example, traditional agricultural societies had a limited variety of foods that they grew locally, they prepared these foods in a few conventional ways, and they lived with the constant threat of hunger. Modern societies have a greater abundance and variety of foods, which gives us much more choice about what we eat. Everywhere in the world, people can choose to eat the corn that was domesticated in the Americas, the rice that was domesticated in Asia, the wheat and barley that were domesticated in the Middle East, the spices that were domesticated in the Indies, and a vast number of other foods that originated in every corner of the world. We can use this abundance to eat a more varied and healthier diet than any society in the past, or we can use it to eat a diet that is heavy on processed food and high-fructose corn syrup, the diet that has made today’s American more obese than any society in the past.

It is easy to add similar examples. Modern technology lets us choose among a huge variety of drugs, which we can use to cure diseases or which we can abuse to feed addictions.

The same reasoning applies to architecture. Modern technology lets us choose among many different ways to build. Traditional societies were limited by the local materials and the relatively simple techniques available to them; their vernacular buildings were stylistically consistent because they did not have the choice of building in any other way. Today, we have a much greater choice of materials and of building methods. We can use this choice to design buildings and cities that are more livable than ever before, or to design buildings and cities that are more sterile and overwhelming than ever before.

The architecture establishment says we should build in styles that are “of our time” and that anyone who learns from traditional architecture is “nostalgic.” They should learn from the more sensible attitude that we have toward food. The best restaurants use locally grown, fresh ingredients because they produce healthier, tastier food. Traditional societies also used locally grown, fresh ingredients, but no one says that these restaurants are “nostalgic” and that they should use canned or frozen ingredients produced for the world market because industrial agriculture is “of our time.”

No one cares about this sort of precious esthetic criticism of food because we have very clear criteria for deciding which food are good: taste and nutritional value. The best restaurants use some new technology, such as sous vide cooking, but they use them because the food tastes better—not because they are “of our time.”

These criteria are based on human nature. Our bodies evolved to need certain nutrients. Our tastes evolved to make us enjoy food that helped our ancestors survive during the period of evolutionary adaptation. Evolution has hard-wired these needs and preferences into human nature, and chefs work to accommodate them.

Has evolution also given us preferences about the buildings that we live in and use? Are there aspects of human nature that architects should work to accommodate? We will look at this question in the next chapter.

Since the 1970s, the environmental movement has shown us that we must make a deliberate choice of technologies—for example, by choosing solar and wind power rather than coal to generate our electricity—but this movement focuses on limiting the most destructive technologies that pose grave threats to health or to the natural environment, such as global warming. Architecture and urbanism could do much more. Because they design the built environment that we live in, they could help society learn how to use modern technology in ways that are in keeping with human nature.

Our avant gardists are designing the most dehumanized buildings ever built, but their approach is not inevitable. Just as mid-century-modernist architects helped spread faith in technology and progress, today’s architects could help spread the idea that we should use modern technology for human purposes.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Technological Progress in a Market Economy is Self-Terminating and Ends in Collapse

Read the whole essay by JMG here.

At this point it may be helpful to sum up the argument I’ve developed here:

a) Every increase in technological complexity tends also to increase the opportunities for externalizing the costs of economic activity;

b) Market forces make the externalization of costs mandatory rather than optional, since economic actors that fail to externalize costs will tend to be outcompeted by those that do;

c) In a market economy, as all economic actors attempt to externalize as many costs as possible, externalized costs will tend to be passed on preferentially and progressively to whole systems such as the economy, society, and the biosphere, which provide necessary support for economic activity but have no voice in economic decisions;

d) Given unlimited increases in technological complexity, there is no necessary limit to the loading of externalized costs onto whole systems short of systemic collapse;

e) Unlimited increases in technological complexity in a market economy thus necessarily lead to the progressive degradation of the whole systems that support economic activity;

f) Technological progress in a market economy is therefore self-terminating, and ends in collapse.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Generating a Neighborhood that Works

The essence of successful unfolding is that form develops step by step, and that the building as a whole then emerges, coherent, organized. The success if this process depends, always, on sequence. A building design can unfold successfully only when its features “crystallize out” in a proper order.

Instead of using plans, design, and so on, I shall argue that we must instead use generative processes. Generative processes tell us what to do, what actions to take, step by step, to make buildings and building designs unfold beautifully, rather than detailed drawings which tell us what the end-result is supposed to be.

The step-by-step approach works. The all-or-nothing approach does not work. This is the secret of biological evolution. During the course of evolution, the adaptation of the thousands and millions of variables that must occur to make one successful organism happens step-by-step, essentially one gene at a time. That is what makes evolution possible. It would be impossible for nature to “design” a system as complex as any organism all at once.

What steps do you take, in what order? The most basic instruction I can give you as a guide for a living process, is that you move with certainty. That means, you take small steps, one at a time, deciding only what you know. You try never to take a step which is a guess or a “why don’t we try this?” Large scale trial-and-error, shots in the dark, simply do not work. Rather, you move by slow, small decisions, deciding one thing, getting sure about it, and then moving on.

The crux of every design process lies in finding the generative sequence for that design, and making sure that sequence is the right one for the job. - Christopher Alexander, The Process of Creating Life
The emergence of new structures in nature is brought about, always, by a sequence of transformations which act on the whole, and in which each step emerges as a discernible and continuous result from the immediately preceding whole. New form comes into being. Morphogenesis occurs. New form that is, in almost every case, unpredictable from the initial state, appears smoothly via a sequence of tiny continuous changes. The sequences are not merely smooth. We have a sequence in which new structure grows organically, holistically, from the structure which is there already. One whole gives rise to another. - Christopher Alexander, The Process of Creating Life
Essay by Vera Bradova:

Generating a future that works

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Three Evils of Capitalism

Excerpted from a longer piece by professor Eric Schechter. I strongly recommend reading the whole essay here.
“The old world is dying; we must move on to the new world being born. How will we make the great change? I don’t know the details of that. But it has already begun; you can see it in the peaceful demonstrators being beaten by police. Awareness and understanding are spreading, and our foremost tactic must be to spread them further. When enough people see what is really going on, we will unite, and we will find a way to change things, and the violence will end.
1st evil:   INEQUALITY (3:30 in video)
The data in Thomas Piketty’s recent book shows that increasing economic inequality is a normal trend in capitalism, not an aberration. The problem is deeper than debt-based currency or any other particular method of exploitation and theft. It is inherent in all market economies, even barter economies: Market transactions increase inequality, because they favor whichever participant is in the stronger bargaining position. The only way to not have a wealthy class is by not having a market — that is, by sharing.
Increasing inequality is simplified in the board game Monopoly, which always ends with all the players but one totally impoverished. That’s the outcome even if no one cheats, so the problem is in the principles, not in “corruption.”
The recent study by Gilens and Page shows quantitatively that the USA is a plutocracy, not a democracy. Just a few people now own our homes, workplaces, debts, government, mass communications media, everything. Privately owned workplaces are little dictatorships; that’s why we hate Mondays. Progress brings higher productivity, but its benefits are pocketed by the owners of the workplaces; for the rest of us, progress means layoffs, not leisure.
Psychopaths seek positions of power over others, and even people who are not already psychopaths become corrupted by power if they acquire it; strong evidence of that was given by the Stanford Prison Experiment. We see cruelty wherever the opportunity for it arises — in prison guards, police, soldiers, workplace managersbusiness tycoons, dictators, or even democratically elected politicians — though in that last case, they cover it up by conducting much of their work in secret and lying about the rest. All these bullies proclaim, and perhaps believe, that they are deserving and that their victims are not.
Clearly, we should reorganize our society so that there are no concentrations of power. That requires not only replacing markets with sharing, but also replacing authoritarian hierarchical government with peer-to-peer networking. This is why I’m an anarcho-commie, which means share and don’t hit, the first two things we all learned in kindergarten.
2nd evil:   EXTERNALITIES (6:17 in video)
Any market transaction is negotiated by a buyer and a seller, but it may affect other parties besides those two. Such effects are outside the considerations of the negotiations, and so they are called externalities. During the crash of 2008, Wall Street traders often reassured one another with the acronym “IBGYBG,” which stood for “I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone.”
Externalities are more due to indifference than outright malice, and so you might think their effects would be random — sometimes harmful and sometimes beneficial — but it doesn’t work that way. The proverbial “bull in a china shop” is not motivated by malice, but he is never beneficial.
Market prices are far from true costs, because they leave out the externalities. Thus the market is not at all the “wise and efficient” allocator of resources claimed by its worshipers. Conventional textbooks gloss over this topic, as though it were something minor, but in fact externalities are enormous: War, poverty, and ecocide are inevitable consequences of any market economy. And by the way, the ecocide is a lot worse than most people realize; feedback loops are about to send us over a climate cliff.
A living whale is an awesome creature, but it has no monetary value. The parts of a recently killed whale are worth a million dollars in quick profit to someone who doesn’t care about the consequences elsewhere. That’s why the whales are disappearing. And that’s why the ecosystem is disappearing too, though it’s larger, more abstract, and harder to see.
You might think that the few people in power would get together and conspire to save the planet that they have seized for their own. But that’s not how they’re behaving.
For instance, a few years ago, the Arctic began melting rapidly. That’s one of the climate feedback loops, and it should have been a wakeup call to stop using fossil fuels before they kill everyone. But instead the plutocrats said, “oh goody, now it will be so much easier to extract fossil fuels from the Arctic!”
The market compels its biggest players to compete against each other in offering quick profits to investors, without regard to consequences. Any big players who find scruples will fall behind in the competition, and will be replaced. We need to overthrow not just the big players, but the entire system.
3rd evil:   ALIENATION   (9:06 in video)
The problem is not just in our rulers. It’s in all of us, in our culture, in the so-called “American dream“: You keep your stuff in your house, I keep my stuff in my house, and God help the guy who doesn’t have a house, because no one else can help him, in our present socioeconomic system. We get the illusion that my well being doesn’t depend on yours, and I don’t need to care about you, and in fact I can’t afford to care about you. We blame the less fortunate for their bad luck, because that’s easier than facing up to the fact that we might be next, that the system is unjust, and that we don’t know how to fix it. We may try to be kind, because that’s human nature, but that’s swimming upstream against the current of separateness.
How blind are we to our own culture? Compare it with physics. An apple’s mass, volume, and color are objective and measurable traits, independent of any observer. The “owner” of the apple is merely a story that we agree upon, one that can be changed by whoever controls the courts. And yet it has become impossible for us to imagine an apple without an owner.
Our possessions separate us psychologically, and that in turn legitimizes our material separateness. Apathy and alienation seem inevitable and normal. We are forced to compete against each other for survival; friendships become commodities and strategic alliances. We’re distrustful, and our anxiety about lack of security is medically harmful. The wealthy are harmfully stressed too, by their desire to stay ahead, and by their lack of the things that money can’t buy. Lacking meaning, purpose, and direction in our lives, we turn to drugs and entertainments. We see ourselves alone and helpless, and few of us realize that everyone else is alone in much the same way.
No wonder random shootings have become commonplace in our shopping malls. The only thing that can make us safe is a change to a culture in which everyone cares about everyone else and no one gets left behind. But that kind of caring will require sharing. To shelter the homeless and to end the prevalence of sh*t jobs, we’ll have to restructure the entire economy, and we’ll have to change how we feel about one another.
We’ve been told — and some of us have believed it — that it’s human nature to be greedy, selfish, and lazy. We’ve been told that humans work only for private gain, and work well only in competition. We’ve been told that our culture and behavior can’t change. But none of that is true.”

Monday, February 23, 2015


Ved hjelp av instrumentell tenkemåte har vi i det
moderne utviklet en teknologi som har ført med
seg stadig nye, 'uante' konsekvenser. Vårt demo-
krati er avhengig av velgere som forstår sammen-
hengene i sammenkjedingen av disse konsekvensene,
slik at de er i stand til å fremme en demokratisk prak-
sis som med handlekraft setter i verk tiltak for en
naturvennlig fremtid. Til det formålet trenger vi
danningsinstitusjoner og folkeopplysning som
er virkelighetsorientert og som utløser verdi-
dannende læring for et liv i lage.

Så lenge samfunnskontrakten er basert på
'samfunnsøkonomisk lønnsomhet' etter ressurs-
økonomisk tenkemåte, taper menneskeverd og
naturverd i kost-nytte-analysene. Tidsskrift
som er kritiske til dagens situasjon, mangler
i Norge i dag. Publikasjoner i kultursfæren
såvel som i miljøbevegelsen' mangler redak-
sjonell innsikt til å avsløre de sterke
lobbyene som er driverne i vårt politiske
liv. Oljelobbyens innflytelse på norsk 
klimapolitikk er ett slående eksempel
på dette (våre to miljøstiftelser unnser seg
f eks ikke for å hente økonomisk støtte 
fra petroleumsindustrien). 

Vi trenger KULTURVERK på papir. Om
det i første omgang ikke er realistisk å hamle
opp mot lobbyregimet, er det et tiltak som kan
bidra til å vekke norske medier, slik at de trap-
per ned sin medløper-rolle. Vi må handle for å
bidra til at det norske demokratiet fremstår som
en del av løsningen i en verden i krise, og ikke som
en del av problemet. Vi trenger KULTURVERK på 
papir for å fremme det frie ord for et liv i lage!

Med naturvennlig hilsen Nils Faarlund,
praktisernede øko-filosof på heltid siden 1966
med sivilingeniørkompetanse fra NTH 1961

Nils Faarlund på Totenåsen

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Pesten vender tilbake

Av Ingvar Ambjørnsen

Navn til Holocaust-ofre på veggene i Pinkas-synagogen i Praha. Foto: Øyvind Holmstad.

Nå i 2015 forlater jødene Europa i tusentall. De frykter – med god grunn – for sine liv. Jeg hadde aldri trodd jeg skulle få oppleve noe slikt.

Faren min gikk på skolen sammen med Arnold Jacoby. Som fjortis syntes jeg det var stas, for Jacoby var forfatter, og jeg hadde allerede begynt å drømme meg inn i den rollen. Jacoby bodde utrolig nok i vår lille filleby, Larvik, selv om han var født i selveste New York. Han skrev krim og spenning for både ungdom og voksne, og syslet til og med tegneserier.
Og vi vet jo hvorfor. Men læren om holocaust må bankes inn, ikke bare på videregående, men i grunnskolen. Det må være pensum. Det er livsfarlig å late som om det store antallet muslimske barn og ungdommer i klasserommene er helt uproblematisk i denne sammenhengen, slik mange nå velger å gjøre. Det er vanskelig å røre ved dette i dagens opphetede situasjon, men det er ingen vei utenom.
Senere kom den store biografien om barndomsvennen Thor Heyerdahl. Hans viktigste bragd som forfatter ble imidlertid boka om en annen barndomsvenn, Herman Sachnowitz. Han som eide klesbutikken «Ekko» rett oppi gata. Han som var det eneste familiemedlemmet som vendte tilbake til Larvik etter helvetet i Auschwitz. Faren, fire brødre og tre søstre «gikk opp pipa», som de sa i leirene.

Det tok femten år å skrive «Den angår også deg». Herman klarte sjelden å snakke om det som hadde skjedd i mer enn ti, femten minutter i strekk. Det kunne gå uker og måneder til neste gang. Da får forfatteren god tid til å dvele ved setningene.

Vi var flere i byen som visste om denne prosessen. Og da boka kom ut i 1976, leste jeg den med en gang, tjue år gammel. Jeg har lest den to, tre ganger til opp gjennom årene, og kommer ganske sikkert til å plukke den opp igjen. For det er riktig, det den litt baktunge tittelen sier. Dette angår oss alle.

Nå i 2015 forlater jødene Europa i tusentall. De frykter – med god grunn – for sine liv. Jeg hadde aldri trodd jeg skulle få oppleve noe slikt, men der er vi nå. I 2014 forlot 7.000 jøder Frankrike. I år, etter massakren i Paris, vurderer 75 prosent av landets 500.000 jøder å gjøre det samme. Til tross for at mindre enn én prosent av den franske befolkning er jøder, er de ofre for halvparten av rasistisk begrunnet vold i landet. Det er viktig å huske på at dette er jøder født i Frankrike. De velger å forlate sitt fedreland.

Og igjen: Det skjer nå.

Etter at Julius Paltiel døde i 2008, er Samuel Steinmann den siste gjenlevende av de norske jødene som ble sendt til Auschwitz. Snart er alle tidsvitner til det industrielle massemordet i KZ-leirene borte. Da innledes en helt ny fase i historien om holocaust. Da går vi inn i tida etter de opprinnelige stemmene. De som så, overlevde og fortalte. Etter dette må vi som hørte på, bli dem som bringer fortellingen videre.

Det høres greit ut, men i den skyggen som er ved å reise seg i Europa og Russland i øyeblikket, finnes krefter som uten særlige problemer kjemper på to fronter samtidig.

I et virvar av nazistiske og islamofascistiske aksjoner og anslag av alle slag, brenner det allerede godt ute på ytterfløyene. Og innover mot sentrum gløder det faretruende. Det går fort nå. Det er så mange som allerede har begynt å løpe. I en slik situasjon er det viktig at vi ikke mister dødsleirene av syne. At vi ikke et sekund glemmer hva som skjedde der.

I et intervju med Klassekampen i forbindelse med 70-årsdagen for frigjøringen av Auschwitz, snakker Samuel Steinmann om sin mangeårige virksomhet som foredragsholder rundt om på norske skoler. Helt mot slutten sier han: «Det er rørende å snakke med ungdommer. Etterpå kommer de opp og klemmer meg og takker. De vet jo ingenting om dette. Men de er veldig interesserte. Her er det en stor svikt i skoleverket.»

Og et svik kan vi ikke ha når det gjelder dette. Jeg har flere ganger forsøkt å grave i dette. Ringt rundt til lærere og andre som jobber i skoleverket. Svært mange tar dette på like stort alvor som mine egne lærere gjorde. Mange andre vrir seg og blir underlig vage. Noen ganger blir det helt taust i den andre enden.

Barnetegning fra Terezin-leiren. Foto: Øyvind Holmstad

Og vi vet jo hvorfor. Men læren om holocaust må bankes inn, ikke bare på videregående, men i grunnskolen. Det må være pensum. Det er livsfarlig å late som om det store antallet muslimske barn og ungdommer i klasserommene er helt uproblematisk i denne sammenhengen, slik mange nå velger å gjøre. Det er vanskelig å røre ved dette i dagens opphetede situasjon, men det er ingen vei utenom.

Det er norsk skole som skal lære barna hva som skjedde i leirene under det nazistiske vanviddet, ikke foreldrene. Samme hvor de kommer fra. Samme hva slags religion de praktiserer.

Opprinnelig innlegg her.


Friday, February 20, 2015

InnGruppe-Demokratiet (IGD), et reelt, pragmatisk UTOPIA!

Jeg mener å huske at dommerpanelet hos forskningsrådet avviste MEDOSS som utopia. Dette er et dårlig argument. De burde heller tatt til seg MEDOSS fordi MEDOSS er utopia. Merk at mens utopia tidligere betydde det umulige, betyr det nå det ikke tillatte. Les den flotta artikkelen Michel Bauwens har satt sammen om UTOPIA, og la oss fremme IGD som et pragmatisk utopia i positiv forstand: - In defense of pragmatic ‘real utopias’:…/…/19

We badly need more utopian speculation. The consensus future we read about in the media and that we’re driving towards is a roiling, turbulent fogbank beset by half-glimpsed demons: climate...
Liker ·  · 
  • Sett av 9
  • Øyvind Holmstad "From our own point of view, and fate wants me to write this as I’m participating in Erik Olin Wright’s ‘Real Utopias’ project here in Madison, Wisconsin, utopias are a very necessary part of the social imagination, to defend us from the dictatorship of very real neoliberal capitalism, which is presented to us in the context of “There are no alternatives” (TINA), to which we respond, “There are manyh (p2p) alternative” (tapas)." - Michel Bauwens
    7 min · Liker
  • Øyvind Holmstad TINA, There IS NO Alternative, til diktaturet under neoliberal kapitalisme. Det var dette forskningsrådets dommerpanel mente, at det ikke finnes noe alternativ til diktaturet. Derfor er intet alternativ, UTOPIA, tillatt. Ja, vi lever under diktaturet til den neoliberale kapitalismen. Dette diktaturet har knyttet menneskesamfunnene, og gjør det i stadig større grad, som gjennom TISA, opp mot de mest destruktive kreftene i handikapprinsippet, "the dark side of the force". La oss derfor løfte fram IGD, slik Bauwens oppfordrer til, som et reelt, pragmatisk UTOPIA!

Kristendommens utvikling i en historisk kontekst

Les artikkelen her.

Mine kommentarer

19. februar 2015 klokka 19:44
Man kan da vel heller si at kristendommen er grunnlagt på forfølgelse og som en konterreaksjon fra de fattige mot elitenes makt og etikk, neoplatonismen. Konstantins omfavning av kristendommen kan på mange vis sammenlignes med Lenins omfavnelse av de fattige gjennom kommunismen, for å skyve elitene fra seg. Kristendommen var opprinnelig de fattiges religion, likesom kommunismen var de undertryktes (sivile) religion i det gamle Sovjet. Lenin inngikk en allianse med de fattige gjennom kommunismen, likeledes som Konstantin inngikk en allianse med de kristne vel halvannet millenium tidligere. Her er intet nytt under solen. JMG sier det således:

«The awkward fact remains that classical philosophy, like modern science, functioned as a social phenomenon and filled certain social roles. The intellectual power of the final Neoplatonist synthesis and the personal virtues of its last proponents have to be balanced against its blind support of a deeply troubled social order; in all the long history of classical philosophy, it never seems to have occurred to anyone that debates about the nature of justice might reasonably address, say, the ethics of slavery. While a stonecutter like Socrates could take an active role in philosophical debate in Athens in the fourth century BCE, furthermore, the institutionalization of philosophy meant that by the last years of classical Neoplatonism, its practice was restricted to those with ample income and leisure, and its values inevitably became more and more closely tied to the social class of its practitioners.

That’s the thing that drove the ferocious rejection of philosophy by the underclass of the age, the slaves and urban poor who made up the vast majority of the population throughout the Roman empire, and who received little if any benefit from the intellectual achievements of their society. To them, the subtleties of Neoplatonist thought were irrelevant to the increasingly difficult realities of life on the lower end of the social pyramid in a brutally hierarchical and increasingly dysfunctional world. That’s an important reason why so many of them turned for solace to a new religious movement from the eastern fringes of the empire, a despised sect that claimed that God had been born on earth as a mere carpenter’s son and communicated through his life and death a way of salvation that privileged the poor and downtrodden above the rich and well-educated.

It was as a social phenomenon, filling certain social roles, that Christianity attracted persecution from the imperial government, and it was in response to Christianity’s significance as a social phenomenon that the imperial government executed an about-face under Constantine and took the new religion under its protection. Like plenty of autocrats before and since, Constantine clearly grasped that the real threat to his position and power came from other members of his own class—in his case, the patrician elite of the Roman world—and saw that he could undercut those threats and counter potential rivals through an alliance of convenience with the leaders of the underclass. That’s the political subtext of the Edict of Milan, which legalized Christianity throughout the empire and brought it imperial patronage.»

Som en historiens ironi endte både kristendommen og kommunismen opp som elitenes herskerverktøy.

Øyvind Holmstad
19. februar 2015 klokka 22:26
Ja, det var ikke Jesus, men Augustin som var så opptatt av det hinsidige, men ikke for å undertrykke, men for at kirken skulle overleve Romerrikets fall:

«The problem with this confident civil faith was that history stopped cooperating. In 410, after a long series of increasingly desperate struggles against Germanic invaders, the legions crumpled, and the Visigoth king Alaric and his army swept into Italy and sacked Rome. Only Alaric’s willingness to be bought off kept the city from remaining in his hands for the long haul. The psychological and cultural impact of the defeat was immense, but of equal if not greater concern to the Bishop of Hippo was the uncomfortable fact that the empire’s remaining Pagans were pointing out that the beginning of Rome’s troubles coincided, with an awkward degree of exactness, with the prohibition of the old Pagan cults. Since Rome had abandoned the gods, they suggested, the gods were returning the favor.

Augustine’s response is contained in The City of God, one of the masterpieces of late Latin prose and the book that more than any other defined the shape of medieval European thought. The notion that divine power guarantees the success or survival of earthly kingdoms, Augustine argued, is a complete misunderstanding of the relationship between humanity and God. The inscrutable providence of God brings disasters down on the good as well as the wicked, and neither cities nor empires are exempt from the same incomprehensible law. Ordinary history thus has no moral order or meaning.» - JMG

Det er frustrerende å se at så mange lager seg forenklede forestillinger om religion, uten å teste dem opp mot en større politisk/historisk kontekst.

På samme vis som Augustin skrev «Guds by» for kirkens overlevelse etter Romerrikets fall, har de fremskrittstroende konstruert Singulariteten som sitt «nye Jerusalem», samtidig som den industrielle sivilisasjon faller sammen omkring dem.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


In principle, decisions without enforcement grow weak and eventually wither. When rules or policies are not enforced it causes confusion, resentment, and conflict. The word enforcement comes from a Latin word meaning strength. To enforce decisions is to strengthen them.

Practical Tip: Take preventative measures to ensure that members of your group understand the rules of your group. Honor the rules of your group. If you disagree with the rules: Follow them anyway, leave the group, or work in peaceful ways to change the rules.

When you see someone breaking group rules, try these steps:

1. Discuss with them what you saw. Don't ignore it when you see practice out of sync with policy. Such a conversation may bring to light that they "simply didn't know better," or that they interpret the rule differently, or that a larger issue needs to be addressed. If that doesn't work,

2. Point out the consequences of the violation. "When you do ___________, it affects others in the following ways: ___________." If that doesn't work,

3. Impose a penalty. Ideal penalties inflict just the right amount of hurt in order to tilt the scales toward compliance.

When rules are legitimately crafted through good group processes, it is okay to enforce them for the good of the group. Actually, it's essential for the good of the group.

- Craig Freshley

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Vera Bradova: Moment-to-moment unfolding

Stunning essay by my very dear Alexandrine friend Vera Bradova. There is no person in the whole world I should like more to have as a member of my neighborhood. Just imagining what she could have done!

Read the original essay at Bradova's blog here.

Moment-to-moment unfolding

You are lost in a the middle of a dark primeval forest. A moonless night breathes all around you; soft rain is falling. You long to be somewhere safe, warm, and dry. A tiny keychain flashlight illuminates the immediate space — the rest is near-impenetrable blackness. Bogs, logs and wild hogs wait to trip you up. How do you find your way?

Your senses on edge, you look, listen, sniff the breezes. A faint gurgling of a nearby brook gives you initial direction. You take a step, then examine what’s around and ahead. You take another step. It occurs to you to follow the creek downstream. The next few steps reveal an impassable steep bank. A detour leads into a huge rocky scree. “How do I get back to the water?” You peer into the darkness for the flicker of a fire or a lit window…

We too are lost in the universe. And more ominously, we are lost in a human world collectively bent on omnicide. Apart from death, we have no sure destinations. Some of us cling to the illusion of control — they think they know where we must go, and how to get there. But more and more of us have taken a good look at the disastrous centuries of ending up in the wrong places, and we finally call the quest for control a big fat lie. We gather ourselves up and resolve to abandon the control-freak led stampede to the edge of the cliff. Now we need a way to move ahead that is anchored both in the honest admission that we are not in control, and in the pattern all other creatures use as they walk the paths of their lives.

Control insists on linearity, but life is complex. Do we dare to surrender to a visionary co-adaptive journey where each step is an evolutionary state that takes its shape from steps taken before? The process I see in my mind’s eye is a dynamic dance continually responding to itself. Each step illuminates the next step. At each moment in time, new circumstances emerge. Every step brings new insights, surprises, and unforeseen consequences. Each step is part of the ongoing cycles of mutual responsiveness; it accepts feedback from the current whole and passes on feedback in its turn. One state flows into another.

Unplanning is a spiral, dynamic, unpredictable process that begins with a hunch, and evolves from there. Dreaming, doing and becoming form one seamless flow. The initial inkling of a vision does not remain static, but glows a bit stronger with each step taken. The tentative first steps merely begin the process; they do not determine it. Modifications and adjustments are made at any point, as the need becomes apparent. And each new experience undergone changes us as we come to embody the life of the path.

The unplanning process requires of us that we gradually become the kind of people who know how to inhabit this unfolding future, who are able to reach a desired place, where-ever it turns out to be. Visioning, walking, and self-changing go hand in hand; behold, a pilgrimage. Wisdom is in flux, mutually situated and actively embodied. We come to be more and more the people whose path harmonizes with that which we hope for, and that which we hope for evolves right along with our continuous becoming.

The process itself changes people — as all experiential, experimental journeys do — and people come to gradually embody that which draws them on. We don’t know where we’ll end up, trusting the process to emerge each particular end-state as a surprise.

No imaginary picture of the future controls our conception of what must be done. What must be done arises from the needs, problems and possibilities of the living present. The direction emerges gradually from the felt vision, the doing, the becoming, step by step by step.
In our profession of architecture there is no conception, yet, of process itself as a budding, as a flowering, as an unpredictable, unquenchable unfolding through which the future grows from the present in a way that is dominated by the goodness of the moment.
— C. Alexander, The Nature of Order: the process of creating life

Is Permaculture Turning into a Landscape Design Product?

After Vera Bradova’s obviously very provocative essay; “Utopians are ruining everything“, which spurred an intense discussion both at P2P-Foundation and at the original essay, John Wheeler toward the end made an interesting comment:
Sorry I took so long to get back to you. Yes, while I got my PDC almost 2 decades ago, I am well aware of the way landscape architecture is making inroads into permaculture. It is born out of the desire to turn permaculture designs into products that can be sold. It is the need to satisfy the customer that drives that process of making a top-down design and imposing it upon the landscape. And, to my estimation, that is a perversion of what permaculture is supposed to be.

Holmgren may have been one of the cofounders of permaculture, but it has expanded so much beyond Mollison and his vision. Sepp Holzer, for example, uses pigs to dig ponds.

And quite frankly, I think the process you describe is an excellent example of how permaculture is supposed to work. I know in my own training, Christopher Alexander’s Pattern Language played a big part, and I think it was influential in the development of permaculture. – John Wheeler
Permaculture was born as a counter culture, but is it now, like so many other counter cultures, becoming nothing more than just another design product to be sold at the capitalistic marketplace? In the name of profit, nothing is holy, not even Permaculture. The branding is already done, a name with very positive associations among lots of people, it’s just for landscape designers to jump on, perverting the whole thing.

As Wheeler says, originally even pigs were used to dig Permaculture ponds, while now they send in huge machines imposing perfect lines using GPS. Can it become further away from the intentions of the founding fathers of Permaculture, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren?

To make it clear, landscape design is a branch of Modernism, which means top-down-design. Read more about landscape design in Kristian Hoff-Andersen’s essay:


As one can see from Andersen’s essay, landscape architecture has already perverted what green urbanism means. It seems like their next victim is about becoming Permaculture. Permaculture was let loose on the world, it might not be so loose anymore, becoming caught and infected by the poisoning tentacles of the landscape architects.
Does nature design ecosystems via blueprints and future-to-present impositions? Does it envision a billion years ahead, then implement? Does nature take a burnt-over meadow and shape it according to a plan? Perish the thought. Lifelong nature observation leads me to be confident in asserting that nature emerges and evolves ecosystems by paying attention to present needs and opportunities, that it works piecemeal rather than in grand designs, and that it relies on co-adaptations of all living creatures to one another in a dance whose result cannot be predicted. - Vera Bradova
Making “Hugelculture” at the Scandinavian Permaculture Festival in Hurdal, Norway, 2013
Published at P2P-Foundation on March 3.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Gail Tverberg: Shoot or sue your neighbor to provide jobs!

Gail Tverberg responded to the above image I posted at her blog:
Of course, the vast majority of the spending is non-discretionary–all the programs that have been promised over the years. And the military spending provides jobs as well (or that may be how they think of it). The military provides jobs both directly and indirectly–hire subcontractors, and buy all kinds of goods. Go shoot your neighbor, to get more jobs–just like go sue your neighbor to get more jobs. It seems like there should be a better way. - Gail Tverberg

Integral Urbanism, by Nan Ellin (Book)

Nan Ellin says that "Urban design success should be measured by its capacity to support humanity", and "an Integral Urbanism offers guideposts along that path toward a more sustainable human habitat." To accomplish this, Integral Urbanism must embody five qualities: Hybridity, Connectivity, Porosity, Authenticity, and Vulnerability. The author briefly summarizes the definition of these terms (condensed by this reviewer) as follows: Hybridity and Connectivity bring activities and people together, rather than isolate objects and separate functions. Porosity preserves the integrity of that which is brought together while allowing mutual access through permeable membranes. Authenticity involves actively engaging and drawing inspiration from actual social and physical conditions with an ethic of care, respect, and honesty. And Vulnerability means to relinquish control, listen deeply, value process as well as product, and re-integrate space with time. This is what the essence of the book is about. The brief chapter following the Introduction for the book is titled: What is Integral Urbanism? Followed by a chapter on the five qualities of an Integral Urbanism, then the bulk of the book is devoted to detailed chapters on the five qualities of Integral Urbanism that the author has devised to achieve her goals. In the Conclusion Ellin discusses her findings and summarizes her arguments under the umbrella of the following terms: Convergence, Clearing Blockages, Alignment, and Across the Fissures.

The book is embedded in the architectural/urban design disciplines and thus should be most welcome by practitioners and academics in those fields. Although the concepts are universal and are relevant across disciplinary boundaries, it remains to be seen if outsiders in other fields can take the author's argument and integrate it within the ideological/technical milieu of their disciplines and professions. If that occurs then Ellin's contribution would truly be significant to society and its built environment. The author clearly recognizes this when she says (p. 142): "Although Integral Urbanism pertains specifically to urban design, its five qualities might effectively apply to governance, homeland security, management, business, education, mediation, technology, the healing arts and sciences, and the other expressive forms of culture." Let us hope these qualities will spread via Ellin's book. - Besim S. Hakim
It can be frustrating at times reading Integral Urbanism, because the ideas seem at the same time so obvious and yet so far from the minds of the policymakers, developers and other economic interests who form our modern cities. This is a clearly-written, concise and important document for a country in the midst of an urban/suburban crisis. It lays out an extremely clear framework to apply to urban planning without ignoring economic, human or even scientific realities. It is a contemporary companion to Jane Jacobs' seminal works but folds into that critical strategies about sustainable urbanism. To say it should be read by every architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning student or professional would be short-sighted (though make no mistake - it should be). This is a book that I could only hope to find on the shelves of our policymakers and political leaders. - M. Wagner

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