Monday, 9 July 2012

After the Future

The following is excerpted from The Open-Source Everything Manifesto: Transparency, Truth, & Trust published by Evolver Editions, an imprint of North Atlantic Books.

 The circumstances underlying this manifesto are stark and compelling: We are at the end of a five-thousand-year-plus historical process during which human society grew in scale while it abandoned the early indigenous wisdom councils and communal decision-making. Power was centralized in the hands of increasingly specialized "elites" and "experts" who not only failed to achieve all they promised but used secrecy and the control of information to deceive the public into allowing them to retain power over community resources that they ultimately looted.

In the beginning, there was the commons. Over vast stretches of prehistoric time, tribal cultures evolved in tandem with the natural environment. They did this without creating private property or hierarchical relationships of control and dominance that led to consumption of nature as a resource. Open-source culture provided for community sharing and community development. With the rise of patriarchy, empire, and systems of egoic control and empowerment, this open-source approach to community was destroyed. Over the course of the last centuries, the commons was fenced, and everything from agriculture to water was commoditized without regard to the true cost in non-renewable resources. Human beings, who had spent centuries evolving away from slavery, were re-commoditized by the Industrial Era.
The corruption of the commons led to the loss of integrity between and among individuals, organizations, and community. Artificial paradises made up of objects and possessions were substituted for true community based on authentic heart-to-heart relationships. Secular corruption is made possible by information asymmetries between those in power and the public. In the absence of transparency, truth, and trust, wealth is concentrated and waste is rampant.
We, Homo sapiens, were in harmony with the Cosmos and the Earth during earlier centuries when indigenous wisdom prevailed. The evolution of social forms and technology toward ever-greater levels of complexity is part of our human development toward deeper consciousness and self-awareness. The technosphere, as José Argüelles and others have realized, is the necessary detour that takes us from the pristine biosphere to the psychically collectivized state of the noosphere.
We live in a constellation of complex systems. It is impossible for any single person or even any single organization or nation in isolation to understand complex systems.
Collective intelligence -- multinational, multiagency, multidisciplinary, multidomain information-sharing and sense-making -- is the only means of obtaining near-real time understanding of complex systems sufficient to achieve resilience in the face of changes. Many of these changes, including biospheric ones such as climate change and depletion of planetary resources, are the result of human activity and industry in the last three centuries.
As our technological capacities continue to increase and our environment becomes ever more fragile and endangered, we find that changes to the Earth that used to take ten thousand years now take a fraction of that. We must rediscover and reintegrate indigenous wisdom in order to come back into harmony with larger whole systems, and do so in a manner that allows for application of appropriate technologies and science, open-source intelligence gathering, and real-time self-governance.
This means that we cannot afford to address our complex world with industrial-era hierarchies in which information travels laboriously up the chain to the top, some elites deliberate -- lacking much of the information they need, and often lacking ethics as well -- and then micro-management instructions go back down. All this takes time, and the instructions are invariably wrong. Instead, we harness the intelligence at the edge of the network -- at the point of impact -- and the individual who is face to face with a problem in a microcosm is the tip of the human spear, able both to reach back to all other humans for assistance, and to act on behalf of all humans in the moment.
It is in this light that we must recognize that only a restoration of open-source culture, and all that enables across the full spectrum of open-source possibilities, can allow humanity to harness the distributed intelligence of the collective and create the equivalent of heaven on Earth -- in other words, a world that works for all.
The goal is to reject money and concentrated illicitly aggregated and largely phantom wealth in favor of community wealth defined by community knowledge, community sharing of information, and community definition of truth derived in transparency and authenticity, the latter being the ultimate arbiter of shared wealth.
When we relate and share knowledge authentically, this places us in a state of grace, a state of "win-win" harmony with all others, and establishes trust among all.
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