The Revolution of Everyday Life

The Revolution of Everyday Life” is the english title given to Raoul Vaneigem’s 1967 major contribution to the body of Situationist work – the late-modern strand of left anarchist thinking that so perfectly nailed post WWII capitalism as ‘The Society of the Spectacle” – the title of Guy Debord’s book of the same year.

Where Debord analysed and criticised, Vaneigem moved on to proposition: only by reclaiming the immediacy and agency of daily life as the space of creation of social relations, he suggested – by wresting these away from the reified and spectacular re-enactments of roles through the determined creation of ‘situations’ – encounters within which people find it impossible to play the parts which their society has prefigured for them – could we break free of stultifying and deathly grip of the relentless dollar maximiser that is developed capitalism (see also).

All of this was great stuff, which fuelled not only the widespread youth revolts of 1968, but also the iconoclastic whirlwind of british punk (both Malcolm McLaren and Bernie Rhodes were active Situationists) – a whirlwind which was the ‘situation’ which woke me up and has not since ceased in its requirement of me to take responsibility for my whole self – for which I am profoundly thankful.

Continue reading “The Revolution of Everyday Life”

Operationalised Trust

After an earlier post here on Transcender Economic Action was cross-posted to the Low Impact blog, I got a response questioning the capacity of Mutual Credit to scale and serve a global economy.

My response grew ‘like Topsy‘, to the point where it seemed most appropriate to post it here.

Indeed, the problem of scale is serious. Some people in the Low Impact community are all for a ‘de-scaled’ civilisation – one of small towns, small global population, low-tech, believing that living in this way would be more sustainable and harmonious with nature.

I am not one of these. Everything I can see about life, over its three and a half billion year history, is that it tends towards growth and increasing complexity: from a few cubic centimetres then to a global biosphere now, the domain of life has expanded by an order of at least 10^25.

The idea that ‘nature’ is ‘harmonious’ seems also indefensible. When blue-green algae evolved, they produced oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis. Oxygen is an extremely dangerous chemical, toxic to all previous life-forms. There was a global ecological crisis as oxygen levels rose relentlessly – an enormous disharmony, to the extent that one name for this period is “The Oxygen Holocaust“. Oxygen tolerant, then oxygen-breathing life evolved, but this didn’t make for harmony – instead it set the stage for life to invade the land, utterly transforming the planet.

Continue reading “Operationalised Trust”

Experts, savants and complexity.

It has been my experience and observation, not once, but a few times, that someone I have known to have some level of ability in a domain that goes beyond straightforward expertise, when asked honest and interested questions about how some outcome of theirs was achieved, has become unhelpful. Sometimes tetchy, sometimes incommunicative, sometimes vague.

And this can be surprising. Somehow, we can have an assumption that anyone who can produce extraordinary results in their domain has such a lucid command of that domain that they should be able to tell us just how and why they do it – and further, that they ought to be happy to explain. After all, we are in awe of them, fascinated by their capacity to produce such work – surely they’ll be happy to be listened to.

But no, not always. Quite often not, in my experience.

Continue reading “Experts, savants and complexity.”

Response to Joe Brewer

Joe recently posted a long article that resonated with me, with the rather forbidding title, ‘Why I am no longer attempting to build a rigorous science of social change‘. I don’t know Joe, but have been aware of other posts and essays of his for some time. I connected with these because of seeing the name of the organisation he has co-founded; The Center for Applied Cultural Evolution, which immediately gave me the feeling that we had followed many common thought paths –  a feeling that has been reinforced by everything I have read of his since.

Briefly, what I sensed we share is a certainty that all that we humans really have is each other and our shared culture – that it is past time for us to take responsibility for our own development, and to seek to do this in the wisest, most sane way possible – using the best discoverable integration of our rationalising endeavours and our capacity for humanity. That despite full awareness of the provisional, incomplete and patchy status of both these resources, we are nevertheless at a point in our civilisational development when, for all sorts of reasons, it is both possible and necessary to begin this work.

Screenshot 2018-06-03 14.23.34

This is not the place to rehearse this conviction. If you share it, then read on. If it resonates with you, but you want more detail, then you may wish to read elsewhere before continuing.

Continue reading “Response to Joe Brewer”

Life-like governance: structure thoughts

UPDATE: This post came from some thoughts that had been with me for some time. The title – ‘life-like governance’ was new. And when I saw the title on the screen, I realised that it encompasses a whole set of thoughts that are wider than this one post.

Accordingly, I have tweaked the title of this post with the suffix ‘Structure thoughts’. I’ll add others that relate, and try to build a more complete picture as I go.

Most conversations around governance as progressive organisations form are either handwavy; “It’ll be flat and super democratic” or hyper-specific; “We’ll be using holocracy and a modified version of dot voting plus some Loomio – read this document”. Or worse, some mash-up of the two. This rarely ends well. Either the Tyranny of Structurelessness asserts its dread grip, or the pancake falls apart into a depressing soggy mess.

But we want to build dynamic, effective organisations that have a chance at living alongside rapacious capitalist analogues, and so we must relate to our stakeholders in ways which engage them, and which capitalism cannot copy or steal.

We must have good governance, and it must be engaging.

If we can’t achieve this, we should go and try some other mode. For if we succeed on the basis of something that capitalism CAN do, we will be overrun – access to capital is their superpower (for instance it enables Uber to run at a massive loss, now and for years to come).

Our superpower is humanity. We can and must relate to our stakeholders (whether at the core, at the coalface, or customers) on a basis which engages them as whole humans – to the extent that they will stay because they want to, because they know they want to be with us, rather than with the ‘cheaper’, ‘faster’, ‘flashier’, ‘sexier’, ‘bigger’ that capitalism will always offer.

So here are some thoughts on founding our thinking in notions of ‘life-like’ qualities.

ONE

An idealised scenario for our experience with life-like governance:

TieredGovernanceDiag
We spend our daily lives doing what seems to come next. Only if there is some doubt about whether what we plan to do ‘fits’ do we need to think about ‘policy’. Policy is kept in the pit. Continue reading “Life-like governance: structure thoughts”

On vision, path-dependency, agility – and bears.

A friend sent me a rather wonderful description of an ideal future – one where we knew how to live well on the planet, at ease with each other and our reality, with the positive aspects of incredible technology incorporated and wisely integrated into our humanity – in short, a vision.

And I reacted against it. Certainly not in terms of the spirit, and not in terms of much of the detail. But because of the detail.

Continue reading “On vision, path-dependency, agility – and bears.”

PIVOT!

This blog was started as a pivot – from a vocational career as a bricks-and-mortar architect into the terra incognita of the digital realm.

Lacking qualifications, experience; a track record, deep skills, but at the same time confident that I had much to offer, as well as much to learn, I dove in

.. and now it’s time to pivot again – on this blog at least. From being a commentary, mostly from the outside, looking in at the digital, I’m now involved in some projects, and embarking on others; my interests, my views, my intentions are much clearer – at once more focused and more ambitious.

So from now on there will be more about what I’m involved with, often from a more political, more social point of view.