I’ve been meaning to write something about abundance for ages… things keep coming up – eg: the Chinese Suicide Factories intention to employ a million robots, about a billion people starving not because there isn’t enough food but because they don’t have enough money, land-grabs in Africa, artificial scarcity.
I think that the design of our currency – the way it is lent into existence as a scarce resource (rather than based on value-created (the corn-exchange approach)) has a bias towards forcing scarcity on everything else… because we need to “Pay Rent”… in various forms. So we create artificial scarcities – trouble is, it’s killing us. Trouble is, we’re in the midst of one, and on the brink of two more revolutions that are self-replicatory (with the infinite capacity to break scarcity)… so scarcity needs to be imposed with more and more draconian force. Scarcity is not the solution, it is the problem. The need to “Monetize” is the problem, and to some extent, it is an artificial problem.
I’m not going to get it together to write this post. Here are the notes… in thought bubbles. Take what you want and leave the rest. There is a coherent Theory Of Everything in here somewhere, but I don’t know what it is.
(that’s me in the corner)
The Damage Economy
Once upon a time, someone figured out that breaking all the windows in Paris, was not good for the economy even though it seemed to create jobs.
The glazier economy went up. The Parisian economy went down… The net value of Paris went down.
We live on a planet now.
The Napster of Music
The Napster of Films
The Napster of Books
The Napster of Currency
The Napster of Water
The Napster of Energy
Tha Napster of Medicine
The Napster of Food
The Napster of Air
The Napster of Truth
The Napster of Violence
Jesus The Pirate
He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye ? go and see.
And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes.
And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass.
And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties.
And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all.
And they did all eat, and were filled.
And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes.
And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.
- Mark 6:36-46
Jesus The Socialist
We are not here in this world to find elegant solutions, pregnant with initiative, or to serve the ways and modes of profitable progress. No, we are here to provide for all those who are weaker and hungrier, more battered and crippled than ourselves. That is our only certain good and great purpose on earth, and if you ask me about those insoluble economic problems that may arise if the top is deprived of their initiative, I would answer ‘To hell with them.’ The top is greedy and mean and will always find a way to take care of themselves. They always do.
- Michael Foot
The Free Spaghetti Factory
… and things that are businesses stop being businesses… , they’re just not a business any more…
…if someone is making your business into a socially based means of peer-production, where the labourers do better job than you, and a faster job than you and a cheaper job than you, and they aren’t actually working…
…and they’re not seeking political power, they don’t try to legislate anything, they just start piling it up you know… they’ve all got information factories, they all have machines that are easily as powerful as any mainframe from the early 90s and these are just the kind of machines people abandon on the roadside… you can see people just turning on these machines in like peer to peer networks and just like… turn on the free spaghetti factory, and leave the room…
- Bruce Sterling
The defining conflict of our era is network vs hierarchy.
… and this conflict is ABOUT abundance vs scarcity.
It is our moral duty to bypass scarcity and optimise for abundance.
Freedom grows out of abundance; slavery from the control of scarcity. Nobody has a moral “right” to monetise abundance by stopping it being abundant.
The prime-driver of any disruptive (Agincourt-style) technological revolution is always to destroy scarcity.
Rent is an attempt to get more value out of the system than is put in. Something for nothing.
Money is a storable means of exchanging scarcity. That is all it is.
Everything on earth is a limited resource (and therefore (generally) part of a cycle), except sunshine. Creating economic systems optimised for scarcity compounds the suffering that this causes.
Tune in, Turn on, Drop out
The key to abundance is going off-grid, and shifting structures from hierarchical to Peer to Peer. This is not just touchy-feely hippie-shit. Guantanamo has it’s own wind-generators. The internet was invented by the military for a very specific purpose.
Civilisation (by Derreck Jensen’s definition) is unsustainable. It can’t be sustained, and it’s starting break – right now. Off-grid/P2P has very powerful (and simple) survival drivers.
The democratisation of violence
The purpose of democracy is to provide a monopoly of violence that is accountable to those that live under it. This is what democracy is for. Anything else it does is a “nice-to-have”.
Anything else we’ve tried devolves into a protection racket.
The 1st Gutenberg Shift
500 years ago it was about the abundance of information-flow.
Today, and increasingly into the future, it is about abundance of everything.
Despite the fact that we seem to be hitting peak-everything, the technological drive, once we get past this hump, is systems optimised for abundance. This is what our technology is doing. This is what it wants.
500 years ago, two institutions were forced (by force) upon us:
1) Fiat Currency
2) The Corporation
Both of these were created to reduce abundance… to create slavery.
Neofacism – The Hydra of the Apocalypse
Corporations need scarcity. This is (generally) how they work and what they do. They take something that is abundant, and repackage it into something scarce, which they sell. They will wherever possible externalise (ie: get someone else to pay) costs. Everywhere you look.
I exchanged emails with a (tory) MEP recently – who was about to enact (another) copyright-term-extension. He crowed that according to PWC, this would “create” £3.5bn in the next 10 years.
Copyright term-extension does not “create” value. It steals what is already ours, and sells it back to us.
And this is what corporations are doing to the world – they are taking what is ours, and trapping us into working for them to repackage it and sell it back to us… or someone else. I’m not talking about small businesses – I’m talking about the macro-scale. What Douglas Rushkoff refers to as “names on debt”
Never before in the field of human conflict, has so much be stolen, from so many, by so few.
EMI, the last UK major record company has now been bought by a Russian Billionaire.
The Fight Of Our Lives
The fight of our lives is going to be over corporations, colluding with governments to make what should be abundant, scarce.
Corporations using the government as their enforcement arm to inflict scarcity on us.
We’re in an era where technology is creating the possibility of not just freedom of speech, but freedom of everything. This is the way it should be – it is our moral duty as described (and enacted) by… you know… Jesus Christ. The loaves-and-fishes guy. The turning-over-the-tables-of-the-money-changers guy.
It is our moral duty to dissolve scarcity and create abundance… but the planet’s political power-structures exist because they’ve cornered the market in various core-scarcities… and they are absolutely hell-bent on extending scarcity to every molecule of available space, and syllable of recordable time.
Kicking The Can Up The Street
SUVs and beef-burgers from The Amazon… that profligate consumerism-as-culture is inflicting scarcity on people from the future.
Abundance is not the same as catering to greed. Abundance is about systems-design. It’s about designing systems where “ownership” is meaningless, and control is impossible, so monopoly-rents cannot be extracted.
The Dawn of The Replicators
Replicating systems inherently create abundance.
That is why Monsanto has suicide genes.
That is why the US made it illegal for farmers to re-plant seeds in Iraq.
That is why the Copyright Cartels are attacking the internet.
The core-activity of evil is to try to destroy abundance. This is how the root of all evil manifests itself.
Coming the other way however are at least 3 technological revolutions.
1) information-systems (which is already upon us but nowhere near played out yet)
3) software-controlled fabrication
The copyright wars are probably only just beginning.
We need to take corporations down, and take them down hard… just as we did with monarchs. Just as we did with the fascists.
They’re different people, but it’s the same hydra.
There are two axis of attack:
– build systems that create abundance.
– undermine hierarchy.
These two need not be mutually exclusive. Information leaks are probably more effective than assassination… but we need to recognise that if what corporations were doing, was being done behind a column of tanks, then we’d be fighting tooth-and-nail. As it is, they’re simply buying the same results – leaving us in the same position. We need to recognise the seriousness of the occupation that’s installing itself.
Value is the reversing of entropy within a localised system.
Value has a context in other words. What is valuable to one person can be damaging to another… but we live on a planet now, and to survive, that is the context within which value needs to be… evaluated.
Plants do it
In it’s simplest form, value is created by pulling down sunlight and turning it into something – sublimating it. Stored energy represents a reversal of entropy (within a localised system)
Plants do it. Animals do it by eating the plants and creating more complex organisms. Miners do it by eating the animals and plants, then digging into the ground to collect metals that can be made into stuff. People who build houses do it by taking the stuff made from plants and metals and making structures for people to live.
Rent-seekers don’t do it. Rent-seekers create micro-monopolies in the hope of getting something for nothing.
Trapping people into surrendering scarcity-tokens via monopoly rents does not create value – instead (because there is friction in the system) it actually increases the entropy in the system. Rent destroys value. Rent represents a “work once, get paid forever” model. Something for nothing.
Give everyone the dole
Fiat money is money itself loaned into existence as a scarce resource, by kings, with interest flowing back to the king. Kings invented this system.
This is bad. We should have a multiplicity of currencies – the entire system should not be under-pinned by one – especially one that is a huge ponzi scheme.
Ideally money should come into existence by people creating real, tangible, value… and this need not be coupled to scarcity.
Everyone else (including kings) should get the dole. Better that they get the dole than go around breaking windows, or imposing fiat-currency. In the long run, it’s cheaper.
Everybody should be getting richer and richer
There is no reason the value in our system should not be going up and up and up, because we get a colossal amount of energy from outside… the sun. Everything except non-cycling minerals, physical space, human-time, and physical artifacts of frozen-energy, should be abundant.
Scarcity is good for corporations (monsters of the fiat system); Scarcity is not good for people, animals, plants.
A rainforest is an evolved state of maximised value. It may look like chaos, but it’s not – it’s finely tuned – self tuning.
When you cut down a rainforest, there is very little left behind in the way of nutrients… the “value” is in-flow. The value is in the plants and animals up in the forest canopy… it’s not hoarded away by a bank and leaked out a little at at time using a mechanism that means more always comes back to the bank than was originally leaked. It’s alive, and every single bit of value is in-flow.
People, can reverse entropy in different ways – growing corn for example. Painting a Vermeer. Making shoes. Cleaning the streets. Creating a globe-spanning data-network. Raising a child. Making a LOL cat. Writing a song. Performing a song. Growing carrots. It’s all pulling down energy and storing it in a living system. That’s what value is… and the more of this that is “in flow” the more value there is in the system. Value is created at the point of sublimation.
So billionaires don’t make a system richer, they make it poorer. By taking value out of circulation.
What we do is create ecosystems. People in this age are obsessed with creating companies – “entrepreneurship”… but the greatest entrepreneurs of this age are actually the ones creating ecosystems in which people create value for free. Twitter Facebook iPhone appstores being recent examples. The internet as an entirety does this as well – google creates value by indexing it.
Some of it naturally lends itself to scarcity-tokens, some of it doesn’t… and not all of it should, because not all of it is scarce. Anything digitisable for example, is not, can not, and should not be made scarce.
Doesn’t mean it’s not valuable, just that once digitised, it’s abundant – so cannot be part of the scarcity-economy without damaging the whole – by making the whole paranoid and bound by unenforceable laws for victimless crimes
Now – every ecosystem… from Twitter down to you as a tweet-producing individual, is dependent on a number of scarce resources… so to be sustainable, we need to be either entirely off-grid, or we need to be generating scarcity-tokens. Ideally, we need to be generating something that can be exchanged for scarcity tokens
This creates a problem for musicians, mothers, open-source software developers etc etc – because they are all creating value that doesn’t lend itself to being swapped for scarcity-tokens. Women really ought to recognise this – they do the most valuable thing in the world, which is not in itself exchangeable for value-tokens, so they’ve been given second-place in history, and in the economy.
Back to the broken windows
So – we don’t live in Paris any more – our economic systems are now global. If you break a window, you’re damaging the economy of the world… you’re increasing the entropy in the system.
Unfortunately, a HELL of a lot of our finance is down to making money out of breaking windows in other people’s countries. 50% of the US federal budget… trillions of dollars, is spent breaking windows in other people’s countries. The “jobs” argument is a fallacy. Spending on weapon-systems represents a net loss. We’ve got to stop doing this. It’s not defense. We’re attacking ourselves.
The guard economy needs to exist… because we humans are often wankers, but the guard economy needs to be prevented from becoming parasitic… because it represents a net loss to the system.
Creating fake scarcity… the extraction of monopoly rents… require a guard economy, and and add no value to the system. Fake scarcities should be actively eliminated wherever possible. People that try to create them should be reviled.
The current currency system is designed so that rich people can get richer without doing any work – and to do this, they need to create fake scarcities.