At both the Global ZDay event in Brisbane, Australia the New Zealand ZDay event in Auckland in 2017 and at the Global Zday event in Frankfurt, Germany in 2018 I gave this presentation about the Price of Zero transition to a Natural Law Resource Based Economy.
The slides are based on the presentation given on Sunday the 26th of March 2017 at the New Globe Theatre in Brisbane, Australia as part of the Zeitgeist Movement’s 9th annual ZDay event, but with some tweaks incorporated from the New Zealand presentation, although that was a shorter version.
The presentation video was based on audio which I recorded in a Karaoke bar in rural Vietnam as the original Frankfurt presentation had audio recording issues.
We’ve heard from plenty of speakers over the last day and a half about how screwed our current socio-economic system is.
It’s obvious that this shit’s got to go.
Thankfully there’s a variety of alternative economic systems we can choose from:
True Cost Economics – which values human well-being and the environment.
Steady State Economics – Which helps us live within the carrying capacity of the Earth.
Participatory Economics (Parecon) – Understands that there’s an issue with voting for people to represent you if they are meant to work in their own self interests.
So instead of representative democracy at the core of Parecon those most affected by a decision are the ones with the most influence in the decision.
Then there’s the Natural Law, Resource Based Economy which is based on
the application of the scientific method to social concerns.
access over ownership and
abundance through automation and a systems design approach
As you can see the current best option is to transition towards is an RBE.
If this is a journey then that’s our target.
It’s a combination of science, technology, and a mindset change which helps us reduce scarcity, waste and violence towards zero.
Before going on our journey we need to know where we are. We are in a fiat based, fractional reserve lending system
With a culture who’s definition of success is how much financial and material wealth, power control and fame you can acquire.
The engine of this system is the cyclical consumption cycle, powered by people earning money and buying things
Due to the way supply and demand works with the priority of profit, and externalities, when you boil it down we currently consider the cost of things based on :
Property Rights and
We don’t really value human wellbeing, nor the environment.
Knowing the system, we can predict 3 main ways that it can collapse.
The Price of Infinity collapse is really just business as usual
Whereby the issues with Capitalism cause Environmental, Energy and Economic crises andwould mean that nearly everything costs so much you can’t afford it.
In short, it’s not good.
The Phoenix Model is the price of infinity, but somehow as the monetary system is collapsing we transition to an RBE, despite there not being any Internet and barely enough food, water and electricity to survive.
This is the transition model I heard being advocated a lot when first joined the Zeitgeist Movement.
I think the thinking behind this is that no one will change to a new system if they are happy where they are.
It’s like being asked to cross a long thin plank to go from the roof of one building to another. It’s dangerous, very few people are going to do that.
As per http://kevinpojezny.com/the-compound-effect-part-2/
However, if the building is on fire you bet your ass you will. You’ll walk, crawl or do whatever you can to get away from the burning building.
But the trick is to put the plank on the ground and make the trip easy and fun.
There could even be a party at the end which people want to go to.
NB: Photo by Michael Kubler
That’s why thankfully there’s a third option, the Price of Zero.
The aim is to at least have Food, Water, Electricity, Transport, Education, Entertainment,Health and all the necessities of life for free to everyone on the planet.
But it’s beyond that. The end game is to create such long term abundance there’s no longer a need for money, so we transition away from Capitalism.
So which is the best transition approach? Well the Price of Zero is obviously the better option as we can : Start it today and
we are heading towards the end goal.
The Price of Zero is also based on the Buckminster Fuller idea that
You Never Change Things By Fighting The Existing Reality.
To Change Something,
Build a New Model which
Makes the Existing Model Obsolete.
OK. So you can’t build a global Resource Based Economy instantly. But we can start small and expand.
Like a plant spreading seeds all over the place
we would want at least a dozen or so RBE like sustainable communities
Which can develop into towns, cities and beyond.
Now, not all will succeed, but we can learn from those that fail.
Through systems based thinking plus automation they will be creating an excess of goods and services which can be sold off to the surrounding monetary system for cheaper and cheaper prices whilst also allowing the communities to expand, converting our current system into an RBE over time.
Just like it takes years for a tree to bear fruit it could take 10 or so years to go from a tribe of under 150 people, to a city of tens of thousands and producing a substantial amount of abundance.
I mentioned 150 people in a tribe as it is Dunbar’s number beyond which you can’t really know everyone in the group. Adding more people means changing from a connected tribe to a large community,
In the process requiring more complex governance structures plus tools for management, trust and the like.
Thus it’s an important milestone.
After the cities get to around 10k or 100k people that’s when we hit a tipping point.
It’s also when we have to start worrying about crossing the chasm.
With the adoption of new disruptive or highly innovative trends, be it social media,LGBT rights or an RBE different stages of the uptake are done by different groups of people.
At the start the RBE concept is being developed by ourselves. The innovators and early adopters.
We can see the potential and are willing to work on making it a reality.
Even if not that many other people share our passion and aren’t ready to join us.
Then there’s the chasm, this is where a lot of ideas and trends die out. They don’t become mainstream if they can’t cross the chasm.
Often what is needed to cross the chasm is a whole new set of branding as a way of attracting the pragmatists.
These are the people who will join the RBE because it provides a tangible benefit, a better life for them than they currently have.
They are likely to be people who have a dream of something they want to do, but are too limited by capitalism.
After the pragmatists join the late majority will often tag along simply because it’s what everyone else is doing,
whilst the laggards are those still trying to use a rotary phone until they no longer work.
Not shown here are the Luddites, those who will actively try to suppress or attack the adoption of a Resource Based Economy.
The luddites are the main reason why we will need to defend our cities, ourselves and the core RBE concepts.
In saying that, we should treat violence like a contagious disease. We don’t want to inflict it or spread it.
There’s some broad structures we can use for the transition.
I would suggest starting with a Decentralised community of like minded geisters. They would be limited to what they can do whilst living within the monetary system.
But could be an initial support network that are donating their time and resources towards helping create a small village that can grow into a sustainable RBE like city.
These initial cities are for trying out new paradigms, such as being created around access abundance and designed to work without the need for fossil fuels nor money.
Being Distributed is the end goal whereby we have all the communities and cities physically linked together, hopefully by Maglev trains.
The communities should have lots of communication from early on so they can learn from each other.
We don’t want to keep making avoidable mistakes.
Note the structure of the movement should be as leaderless or starfish like as possible. What I mean by that is that if you:
Cut head off spider, it can’t control itself, it dies.
Cut legs off spider, it can’t get food, it dies.
Many corporations and capitalist systems are spider like in nature, they have a central leader and will attack as if we are the same.
But if you cut the leg off a starfish, it contains everything needed to grow into a new starfish.
That’s the power of leaderless or leader full movements.
When attacked we can spread out and create more communities, fantasia broom style.
Reference : The Starfish and the Spider – The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organisations
When creating the RBE like cities they should be adapted to their local environment and resources.
Trying to live in the desert? Build a long thin city in the sand dunes
Living in Bali? You might want to learn from the green school about how to build with bamboo.
You might also want Earthship houses, tiny houses, Venus project style circular cities or massive million people plus buildings.
An important concept during infrastructure design for reducing waste is Access instead of ownership
An example of access over ownership is that not every house needs a vacuum cleaner. You could have one industrial grade long lasting vacuum that is shared among a block or apartment. Now you’ll be using a 20th of the resources. Apply that thinking on a large scale for everything from kitchens to cars and you have reduced a lot of the resource requirements, allowing more access abundance.
Although in some cases we might be able to retrofit existing cities we will usually want to create new infrastructure which is designed with this mindset from the start.
To implement this all properly you need to use some systems design thinking which works best by zooming out your view on a problem until you see how the whole system works, and how it should actually work.
An example is Litter
The current thinking is around ensuring people put their trash in the bin.
A better option is to have signs saying Please litter here because the packaging is Bio-nutritional and good for the environment.
Supermarkets When dealing with automation people might ask how for example you would replace checkout chicksat the supermarket. Self-serve checkouts is the current answer but that’s the wrong thinking. Zoom out and you realise what you want is to have Food in your fridge, or things in your cupboards.
Imagine taking some tomatoes out of the fridge, making a meal and by the time you are done a new set has already been picked from the local vertical farm and is already in your fridge.
Now you no longer have a need for supermarkets.
Cradle to Cradle Materials Flow
Just like there’s a water cycle and carbon cycle we should have a materials cycle. Instead of the cradle to grave system used where we throw things away we should be tracking the flow of say steel, titanium, glass and other materials and be creating things to be broken down into their component elements and reused.
There’s going to be a whole lot of different variations. There’s already been some attempts, here’s some of the learnings.
Earth Communities was a decentralised RBE like community started in Adelaide, South Australia.
It failed for a number of reasons:
It tried to grow too quickly and purchased an organics food shop that had some crushing debt.
That was a bad decision done in haste which showed how important it is to find the right balance of speed and quality when working out decision making processes.
I suggest trying to identify decisions which are important and lasting versus small and inconsequential and ensure that the lasting ones are made with quality and consensus (has buy in).
There’s a variety of decision making processes and often the important point isn’t the voting, but the discussions which stress test the options and can sometimes uncover new, better options.
Ideally we’ll use the scientific method to work out what the best decision making processes are for the variety of decisions.
Some examples of different decisions :
Technical decisions with quantifiable metrics
Things with quantitative and qualitative goals,
People and their positions
Ethics, morals and behaviours.
These likely all need to use different decision making processes which will also vary according to the number of people making or being affected by the decision.
For the continued creation of new communities we will need some starting resources.
A great method for this is the revolving funding model.
You get people to donate towards the pool of money and resources. This is used to create the first RBE aspiring communities. As those communities develop they pay back the interest free loan, which can be used to kick start new communities and fund larger projects. I’ve been a part of a group in Australia called CORENA who’s applied this thinking to SolarPV installations and we’ve funded 14 projects so far. If someone put in some money at the start to buy a SolarPV panel then the money from that has have already gone on to fund multiple panels in other projects.
For those that are interested in the idea a crypto currency smart contract could be a great mechanism for orchestrating this.
Of course, the aim is to not need the fund in the future.
That said, I might be completely wrong about everything.
Failure is OK and expected. Failures provide an opportunity to develop better understandings and mental models.
But, you need to be willing to learn from the mistakes and failures. The aviation industry is one such org which does that. They have black box flight recorders so that if something goes wrong they can investigate and learn from the problems.
We should learn from them and be open and transparent, recording everything we can. From meetings and decisions to the measurements tracked and outcomes of what was being done.
Whenever there is an issue we can do a 5 whys analysis. Asking why a problem occurred and then you ask why that was allowed to happen and keep asking why until you get to the core problem. You then work on fixes for each level of why.
There’s lots of other techniques, like randomised controlled trials, A/B testing, dealing with the cultural issues of blame, fear of failure.
Learning from failures and near misses is probably the most important part of my talk as I can be wrong about nearly everything else and with the right approach we can discover the best solutions.
This is also the core of what the Zeitgeist Movement advocates.
Check out the NZ Earthsong community for information about how they go about their consensus based decision making process which is great for up to 70 or so people.
We still have a lot we can learn from existing communities.
For example Christie’s Walk, the only sustainable community in a capital city in Australia (Adelaide) found that working on things together helps with conflict resolution so much they haven’t yet needed a formal conflict resolution process.
But when looking at the communities we have to realise that few communities are trying to be RBE like.
That’s why the Brisbane ZM chapter (which also hosted the Global ZDay) has started creating the RBE Aspiration Index. A way of rating the sustainable communities they have been visiting.
Currently the ratings are based upon :
It’s still in it’s infancy but ask me or Zac Syme if you’d like to learn more.
Because you’ll be limited to what the government requirements are, from building codes to use of money and paying of taxes, it will likely help if you can convert the RBE like city’s land into a micro-nation, a block of land that’s considered it’s own country.
There are 12 Micronations in Australia alone and 79 around the world.
Although few are still active or officially recognised as it’s hard to pull off.
The Hutt River Province is one of the most famous micronations in Australia and Sealand is more well known Internationally.
You likely have a number of questions and want every step of the transition explained in great detail. Unfortunately
This is a long journey currently without a good map.
We know the direction to head, but like the Fog of War concept used in computer games, we can only see a few steps ahead of us, not all 100,000 steps. Thankfully as we walk along we can work out the next few steps ahead of us and in an iterative process make our way towards ->
A far more abundant, inter-connected and sustainable Future…
Other things I could have also mentioned if there was more time :
Inertia of decisions and what the first people do. Like a small water trickle turning into the Grand Canyon over time a lot of things are set early on and get harder to change over time.
The sheer amount of work needed. Expect something like 15hr days for 8+ years.
Likely costs AU$20 Million+ (of current day power purchasing equivalent), e.g as $1/mill yr in interest payments for a proper shot at a decent community and that’ll still be really hard..
The Rules for Rulers and how we need to work out what the actual values we want should be and what the structure should look like instead. Would love a deep discussion about this.
Disclaimer and other notes :
Whilst I’ve purchased or taken many of the stock photography used in these slides, there’s still plenty of images that I’ve used which comes from online and I’ve had for such a long time I’ve lost the references to. I’m sorry if I haven’t properly credited your imagery, please let me know if this is the case.
This was a repost from the ZInfo website. But I have kept this version more up to date, so this is now the canonical version.
A number of years ago I watched Gary Slutkin’s TED talk on treating violence like a contagious disease and it has drastically changed the way I think about terrorist attacks, military war, police brutality, world peace and more.
If you haven’t watched the presentation already I HIGHLY recommend you do. Actually the rest of the article expects that you have.
OK I know you haven’t watched the TED talk yet but the crux of it around hiring new categories of workers, the first being violence interrupters. They are hired from the same group for the credibility, trust and access. Just like the health workers in Somalia, but designed for a different category. They are trained in persuasion, cooling people down, buying time and reframing.
Then there’s the outreach workers who to keep people on therapy for six to 24 months. Just like treating Tuberculosis, but the object is behavior change. There is also a bunch of community activities for changing norms.
I had that talk in the back of my mind when today I came across an article on Medium titled Some Numbers on Terror by Tom Pollock and whilst I knew that you were far more likely to die of a car crash than a terrorist attack, he explains the point well.
He’s talking about the terrorist attack in Nice, France and a quote from his article :
In France, in the last two years, there have been 8 attacks for which responsibility was claimed by Islamic Extremist Terrorists, killing a total of 247 people. There are 66,000,000 people in France. At the current level of activity, their odds of being killed in a terrorist attack in a given year are less than two ten-thousandths of one per cent. That’s 27 times lower than their odds of dying in a car accident.
Even if the current level of attacks continues for 80 years (which would be unprecedented), a child born today in France would have only one percent of a one percent chance of being killed in one.
In Turkey, the probability is lower. 194 people killed in attacks since the start of 2015, with a population of 80,000,000 gives each one of them a roughly one ten-thousandth of one percent chance of being killed in one, in any given year.
Now he does point out how there’s a major difference between being killed by an accident and being murdered. Intent.
Whilst the type of response we need as a civilisation is the type based on Gary’s idea of treating violence like a contagious disease, I fear that we will continue to perpetuate the cycles of violence. We need people who will intervene and prevent the violence from spreading. Similar to the protagonist in Armada by Ernest Cline (I recently finished the audiobook).
From a geo-political point of view there is a lot of the hatred against Muslims refugees, especially in Europe but even here in Australia. However from my relatively limited understanding of the situation (I’m glossing over a lot). During the cold war the US indirectly gave Afghanistan Billions in weapons and training to help them fight off the USSR (Russia) who was invading at the time. In part because of the failed invasion and events like Chernobyl around the same time caused the USSR to fall apart.
Fast forward some decades and the US invades Afghanistan basically as revenge against 9/11. Firstly, this is spreading violence back to the very country which the US had already armed and taught how to fight. A rather bad idea.
Think about it, if you are a child when a foreign country invades you and kills your parents destroys your school and slaughters your friends. Are you going to grow up to be a patent lawyer, or are you more likely to be a suicide bomber? Here again the need for intervention to prevent the spread of violence could have helped.
Later, under the guise of some story about weapons of mass destruction, Iraq is invaded, although it’s well known that the main reason for the invasion of the Middle East is to secure access to oil. Later the US and it’s allies and even Russia attack Syria and other middle eastern countries in an attempt to combat a group which formed because of the very violence the ‘allies’ inflicted. There’s a mass exodus with millions of refugees fleeing. As has been done with nearly every armed conflict, there are some violent people within the refugees who have been exposed to large amounts of violence, often with an ideology which promotes it and they then spread this violence.
So from a systems perspective I see the primary reason for much of the Western violence inflicted in the Middle East is their dependence on fossil fuels. The black gold that keeps the very tanks and aircraft running and the cogs of the economy spinning. I’m reminded about Endgame by Derrick Jensen and whilst I don’t agree with his conclusion, I agree with a number of his premises the most pertinent being “In a city your life must be based on violence (due to the required importation of resources)“. This doesn’t have to be the case, we COULD have sustainable cities, but they would have to be majorly reworked so they aren’t largely depended on oil and other resources.
Imagine if the Trillions of dollars spent on just the US Military from the end of the cold war to now was instead spent on renewable energy technologies like solar thermal, wind and the like? The US, Australia and the ‘Allied’ countries could be exporting energy. The great thing about renewable energy is that the price goes down over time, so we would have nearly free electricity and an incredible level of abundance to go with it. Add in a culture that treats violence like a contagious disease and you have the type of world I would prefer to live in.
I would like to point out that one of the common original causes of violence is resource scarcity. Think about it, when you imagine an end of the world scenario where there’s barely any resources left then everyone is fighting over those last resources. However in a more utopian vision you usually see an abundance of resources. There’s no need to fight. As such, we should be pushing towards a post scarcity society. THAT is what is worth working towards and non-violently fighting for.
If you are interested in learning more about how we could transition towards such as society let me know and I’ll post about the Price of Zero transition.
There’s 4 main things that I’d like to help usher paradigm changes in :
Entertainment – Using the Multipath, interactive online video concept.
Education – Using a combination of the flipped classroom model and child-driven self education.
Energy – From centralised Fossil Fuels, to decentralised renewables (although I’m helping push some large scale centralised renewable projects as a transition).
Economics – From our current Capitalist monetary system to the Resource Based Economy model, which is based on science, sustainability and automation.
They are all somewhat linked. The energy change requires a change in Economics because the price of renewable energy goes down over time, which directly affects the GDP of the country and also removes power from the oil monopolies. To change Energy and Economics you need to change the education and culture (entertainment).
The reason I came to these aims is because I realised I didn’t have a good enough direction in life, I knew that my long term aim is that I want to be remembered for my contributions to humanity and the environment, but I didn’t have enough details on how or what specific contributions. The 4 paradigms are ones that I’m passionate about and feel that I can actually help with, using the skills I have and the knowledge that I am often seeking.
The paradigm changes may occur with 10 years, with my life time, or might take a few generations to occur, but given my understanding of current trends, these are things which need to occur, but certainly aren’t the only changes.