Economic Action – A Transcender approach.

This post relates to the wider ‘Transcender Manifesto for a World Beyond Capitalism‘ – more directly addressing the selection, requirements, design and operation of structures that could expand the world of transcender relations around value exchange – those that achieve viability through ‘earning their living’ in the economic sphere.

This is important because, despite the bad name economics has earned through the cruelties and negative impacts of the last few centuries of rampant expansionism, it seems clear that the messaging system facilitated by markets is fundamental to what we require from our civilisation – and that we cannot simply junk these without abandoning much that we value.

We have to accept that economic activity is at the core of our capacity to have a recognisable civilisation, at least until we can evolve further, to a gift economy of abundance.

In order to transcend capitalism, though, starting from where we are, we must fundamentally change the way that money, markets – and thus the implicit incentives that drive overall outcomes – work.

Continue reading “Economic Action – A Transcender approach.”
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A Transcender Manifesto – for a world beyond Capitalism. A seed.

If this makes sense to you, you may well be working along these lines already – I hope it is encouraging. If it inspires you, then seek out others who feel the same, and rewrite it together. Make it yours. Make it specific. Publish it. Act on it. Forge relations with other groups. Federate and interact across the world.

There is no transcendism, there are no transcenders; this manifesto can only be enacted by groups coming together; designing, seeding and developing networks of transcendent social relations.

CORE INTENT

We seek not to destroy capitalism, nor to reform it, but to transcend it – to consciously and rapidly evolve past it. We acknowledge its current hegemony, and accept that this arose as a result of its dynamism, adaptability, and ability to offer value to those who built it (while also recognising with horror its inherent violence towards the people and places which it so forcibly transformed). But the law of diminishing returns has set in, and the future negatives now dangerously and imminently outweigh any historic positives.

We will enact and intensify social relations that produce a human culture which supports the abundance of the biosphere, in confidence that this will require human flourishing that transcends what is considered possible under capitalism.

Continue reading “A Transcender Manifesto – for a world beyond Capitalism. A seed.”

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:

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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”

LETS marketplace from a feature ‘phone

This post follows on from a previous post: Alternative currencies – Simbi and the Flying Brick. Thinking about how alternative currencies can be designed to suit the particular circumstances they are intended to improve, I suddenly realised that it should now be possible to implement LETS in any part of the world where people generally have access to feature ‘phones – which nowadays includes many places where access to hard cash is extremely difficult.

LETS Stands for Local Exchange and Trading Scheme. LETS systems exists to enable groups of people who for any reason at all find trading with traditional ‘hard’ currencies difficult.

For instance: people without enough money, people denied access to markets, people who want to be sure that the results of their efforts benefit their community as much as possible.

LETS systems must be able to do four simple things:

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Progressive Ethics Project – Launched!

The Project for a Progressive Ethics is now a thing. At least, it’s a Meetup, we’ve had an exciting first meeting, and we have a supportive home.

The prospect we have in mind is this. A well-respected, public place (OK a website), which you can use as a sounding board for ethical considerations of any sort – from a personal dilemma, to something in the news, to a debate in the pub, to a Phd thesis. A place where you will find a richly interconnected network of ethical propositions, easy to navigate, designed so that you can easily home in on the issues that concern you, or zoom out to get a wider view – where you can ask simple, quick questions and get simple, straightforward answers – but where you can also dive deep and wide to explore things to your satisfaction. Somewhere you can engage with – where, if you get an answer you think is wrong, or misguided, you can understand where that answer came from, and challenge it – knowing that there is a community of humans who will respond – that the underlying wish of the framework is to be deeply congruent with a reasoned, progressive viewpoint.

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I had no idea what to expect from the first public discussion of this possibly insanely over-ambitious project. As I’ve written before, this is something I didn’t plan to start, which somehow came upon me, from a short forum comment after a London Futurists event.

I had no way of knowing what the people who would actually turn up might be expecting, or whether there would be much overlap between a group of strangers’ views on ethics. Truthfully, it could easily have been something of a trainwreck…

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Trust Aggregation, reputation economies and privacy

Last night I listened to this feature on the excellent BBC World Service – Hacking the Vote – pegged on claims by companies hawking their services to political parties that they know enough about a great many individuals to be able to create specific pyschological profiles and thus enable carefully crafted messages to be shown to them, to get them to vote for the candidate paying for the service.

The shocking reminder of the extent to which data is being collected on all of us and put to murky use in the shadows prompted this post.

It’s not about data privacy, particularly – although I personally make my online life stupidly difficult by using a vpn, by installing the anti-tracking, anti java-script, anti adverts, anti-everything extensions I can find to my browsers in an attempt to at least put some road-bumps down for those who would treat my as a statistical profit centre. With the self-defeating result that half the sites I use won’t work unless I grant them freedom to do it all anyway.

It’s about a way that we, as individuals, might be able to use that data for our own purposes. If it’s all being collected and used to manipulate us anyway, why shouldn’t it work for us, a little?

Aggregated trust scores

There have been several attempts at building tools that provide reputation metrics, trust scores – think credit ratings on steroids.

The idea being that individuals will sign up to aggregator sites, and give them access to various kinds of trust/social standing scores. The aggregator sites will then publish trust metrics on individuals, to be used by all sorts of people. Employers, potential service users, lenders, contacts, dating matches.

If anyone manages to crack this (it’s not easy – see this dead indiegogo site for peeple), then individuals will spend more effort curating these than they do on their credit rating. Lawsuits will be brought over harsh ratings using defamation laws drafted decades before the internet was even imagined.

The trust aggregator metric that is itself trusted will be the locus of immense influence.  If that doesn’t already sound scary, there’s another big problem.

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Startup Equity Distribution – an incremental approach

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Equity distribution in early-stage startups is a slightly odd subject. Obviously at this point the startup is worth nothing – or less-than-nothing, if expenses are being recorded as debts on the future company – and who wants to argue about percentage points of nothing? Sometimes the whole subject is just ignored.
On the other hand, whatever the addressable market size of the idea at hand, the spectre of founders squabbling over enormous wealth is lurking somewhere in the subconscious of everyone involved, so it is equally possible to go the other way, and invoke complex calculation methods of one kind or another, however irrationally over-fussy.
While complex approaches are arguably better than failing to address the issue at all, a simpler method is more typically adopted: if there are two founders at the beginning, they are usually assumed to have 50% each, if three, 33 1/3%, etc – as in this Seedcamp agreement template.
If they add additional co-founders, there is a re-distribution by agreement, such that the original co-founders see their percentage ownership reduced, to ‘make room’ for the new partner. The process is repeated each time a new equity-holder is added (ignoring such things as special share types – usually considered as over-complicated at early stages).

I consider that there are several problems with this:

Continue reading “Startup Equity Distribution – an incremental approach”