Thursday, 31 December 2009
Tim Jenkin at realitysandwich.com has a review of Thomas Greco's The End of Money and the Future of Civilization. In Jenkin's words, Greco is saying that the financial problem we now face, "distilled to its essence... is the concentration of power by the financial elite through its monopolization of money. This has been achieved through a pact with government, which has given the money monopoly such power that today it is not inaccurate to say that governments are the junior partners in this alliance." Furthermore, "governments are fully tied into and dependent on this system, and are not the primary decision makers about what happens and how it works. Even if governments did have the will and the power to wrest control of the issuance of credit from the banking cartel.., the historical record suggests that where governments have come out on top their monopolization of credit has led to militarization, wars, expansion and a weakening of democratic processes." So, "the money problem will not be solved by shifting the issuing power, even if governments are able to do it debt free. What is required is the ending of the money monopoly. This means the decentralization and democratization of the exchange process. Again this can only be achieved through traders establishing their own mutual credit clearing circles and independent private and community currencies."
I don't think that this conclusion goes far enough: I side with the comment by MindScape, who says: " I do not agree with the conclusion that what we need is to do is to revert back to a kind of Dark Ages isolationism, where each micro-region has an entirely independent economy and government. Not only is this unrealistic because it runs against the grain of human history - ever increasing unity and cooperation is the foundation of human civilization, just look how we've gone from family, to tribe, to village, to city, to nation, etc - but also this eventuality would have extremely damaging consequences for our world, because it would promote short-sighted and regional considerations over long-sighted and global ones - what is to stop one village dumping its waste in to the river and polluting the water supply of a neighbouring, but independent/isolated village down stream? What we need is to continue the process of globalization, but just to change its direction away from greed towards peace and happiness.. How do we do this? We shift our global consciousness (which I feel is happening as we speak) and we trust in technology. The frontiers of quantum physics has presented man the opportunity finally to unite the spiritual with the scientific ... and technology is what can solve our current problems and establish a world where we don't even need any system of money at all - we have the resources, we just need the will."
As the old saying goes, "money is the root of all evil". A decentralization of money will not free us from the damage caused by basing our world view on ownership, scarcity, and competition. We have to create a new world based on sharing, co-operation, and abundance.
Thursday, 24 December 2009
Here are some extracts from the googleblog post, The meaning of open , which champion the openness of the internet:
Open systems allow innovation at all levels — from the operating system to the application layer — not just at the top. This means that one company doesn't have to depend on another's benevolence to ship a product. If the GNU C compiler that I'm using has a bug, I can fix it since the compiler is open source. I don't have to file a bug report and hope for a timely response.
So if you are trying to grow an entire industry as broadly as possible, open systems trump closed. And that is exactly what we are trying to do with the Internet. Our commitment to open systems is not altruistic. Rather it's good business, since an open Internet creates a steady stream of innovations that attracts users and usage and grows the entire industry.
An open Internet transforms lives globally. It has the potential to deliver the world's information to the palm of every person and to give everyone the power of freedom of expression... There are forces aligned against the open Internet — governments who control access, companies who fight in their own self-interests to preserve the status quo. They are powerful, and if they succeed we will find ourselves inhabiting an Internet of fragmentation, stagnation, higher prices, and less competition.
Our skills and our culture give us the opportunity and responsibility to prevent this from happening. We believe in the power of technology to deliver information. We believe in the power of information to do good. We believe that open is the only way for this to have the broadest impact for the most people. We are technology optimists who trust that the chaos of open benefits everyone. We will fight to promote it every chance we get.
Open will win. It will win on the Internet and will then cascade across many walks of life: The future of government is transparency. The future of commerce is information symmetry. The future of culture is freedom. The future of science and medicine is collaboration. The future of entertainment is participation. Each of these futures depends on an open Internet.
I cannot argue with most of this vision. However, the post also claims that the Goog will gain competitive advantage from embracing open. Yet surely the ultimate result of open collaboration and participation will be to eliminate the purpose of commercial competition. Control and competition become impossible and unnecessary in a truly open and collaborative world.
And of course The Goog has no intention of opening up its search or advertising algorithms, the two things it actually makes money from. They are happy to push others into being open and collaborative, while keeping their own commercial engine sealed in a black box. They want to grow the internet, not out of a spirit of benevolence, but so that their ad revenues increase. The Goog wants to continue having its massive cake and eating it.
The Goog will champion openness when they see something in it for them, and will stay closed when it suits them to. This selfish attitude is not in the true spirit of open source or open standards. It is inherently a paradox for a commercial organization to embrace openness.
Accordingly we should not place too much emphasis on the Goog's vision for a more open and collaborative and participative world. The Goog is reacting to the new paradigm of the internet, a force way beyond its (or anyone's) control. It is not creating that paradigm. It will keep making mistakes and misunderstanding what it is dealing with, due to its old paradigm commercial and competitive focus.
For an example, consider the recent reports that the Chrome OS will be aimed solely at devices that have no local storage.. the Goog wants to control and centralize our data, but the coming economic meltdown will ensure that internet connectivity will not be constant for many of us - we will need a distributed system which allows us to continue using our computers when we are offline. The Goog has the ability to provide this for us, but does it have the will? We shall see - the Goog might be hiding its true intentions. But it is in the nature of a commercial enterprise to seek to control. And true benevolence is anathema to such a creature. The above quotes even claim that "our commitment to open systems is not altruistic". Therefore it is not a true commitment.
The internet will not bend to the Goog's will, but will force it to change its ways, or perish in the longer run. But meanwhile the Goog will likely surf the internet wave (sic) better than other more reactionary goliaths, such as Apple, or (far far worse) Microsoft. At least, unlike its fellow goliaths, the Goog has ~some idea of where we are heading. It may play a useful role in slaying some of its fellow beasts, before it falls itself.
But the true benefits of openness will continue to be delivered by the radical hacker individuals and loose knit teams who created open source and open standards, and who continue to fuel the internet revolution. They are incognito and they are in tune with the times, and their legacy will last long after the commercial goliaths have turned to dust.
ps: great article on the likely rise and fall of the Google empire HERE
Monday, 7 December 2009
...wait until you see what’s in the cards for commercial real estate... the next train wreck will be in commercial real estate. Couldn’t be worse than last year’s residential market crash? That remains to be seen. But it’s coming soon, probably as early as the second quarter of next year, and there’s nothing that can prevent it... make no mistake about it, that train is going off the tracks no matter what. Every part of the sector – from multifamily apartment buildings to retail shopping centers, suburban office buildings, industrial facilities, and hotels – has accumulated a huge amount of defaulted or nonperforming paper. It’s an impossible, swaying structure that cannot long stand.
As the overall commercial real estate crisis escalates, the banks will do the same thing they did last year: run to the government, palms outstretched.
Rock, meet hard place. Let all the troubled banks fail, and the consequences will range from some excruciating but short-term pain, to a plunge into full-bore depression. Prop them up with yet more newly printed fiat money, and anything from high to hyperinflation will inevitably result, along with the possibility of extending the problem well into the next decade.
Both are frightening prospects. We don’t want either, but realistically, we’re going to get one or the other. Let’s be clear, it won’t be the end of the world. However, it will be the end of the world as we know it. That makes it imperative to prepare for the new one that’s coming.
Spot on Doug - and this is not just a US problem, it is global - Dubai is just the canary in the coal mine (how I love to mix my metaphors, but then coal was once trees...). Never mind about the old decaying giants that are about to collapse around our ears...(timberrrr....) It is inevitable that the banks will, very soon, choke on their own vomit, bringing down the governments that have bought into them too. It is all too huge and too imminent for any of us to be able to fix it, and so we must get busy planning for the replacement.
Goodbye to the old economic and political structures. Make way for new growth!
Friday, 4 December 2009
Spirituality has a different meaning to each of us, it seems. A standard definition would be: "A sense of meaning and purpose; a sense of self and of a relationship with 'that which is greater than self".(taken verbatim from "Understandings: Spirituality" as published at thezeitgeistmovement.com)
Currently, Religion and Mysticism seem to have the monopoly on Spirituality. Theistic religion often regards a 'relationship with god' or divine creator, as a spiritual relationship, while Mystics will often find a relationship to a 'supernatural' force or power. The bottom line is that, almost universally, spirituality has to do with a 'relationship' on one level or another. In most perspectives, it is associated with a person's 'place' or 'meaning' in life... whatever that may be.
In the modern age, we have the ability to look far in our past and examine what our ancestors used to consider 'real', and then compare those ideas to what we understand today. Many "spiritual practices" which have existed in the past, no longer exist due the understandings that have come about in regard to natural phenomenon. As a base example, early religions often 'sacrificed' animals for certain purposes... this rarely happens today, as the relevance of such an act has proven pointless in its desired effect. Likewise, rarely do people perform 'raindances' in order to influence the weather... today we understand how weather patterns are created, and ritual practices have no provable effect.
Similarly, the idea of 'praying' to a god for a particular request, has also statistically proven to have little effect on an outcome, not to mention the evidence to support a personified creator doesn't exist in any scientific way...rather it is often derived from ancient historical literary speculation and tradition.
Establishment Religion, in many ways, seems to be rooted in a perceptual misunderstanding about life's processes. For instance, it presents a worldview which often puts the human on a different level than other elements of nature. This 'spiritual ego' has led to dramatic conflicts for generations, not only between human beings, but inadvertently between us and the environment itself.
However, as time has moved forward, Science has shown how human beings are subject to the exact same forces of nature as everything else. We have learned that we all share the same atomic substructure as trees, birds and all other forms of life. We have learned that we cannot live without nature's elements... we need clean air to breathe, food to eat, energy from the sun, etc. When we understand this Symbiotic relationship of life, we begin to see that as far as 'relationships' are concerned, our relationship to the planet is the most profound and important. The medium by which this is expressed, is Science, for the Scientific Method has allowed us insight into these natural processes, so we can better understand how we 'fit' into this life system as a whole.
This could be called a 'spiritual' awakening.
This realization, which has been proven by science, is that humans are no different from any other form of nature, while our integrity is only as good as the integrity of our environment, to which we are a part. This understanding presents an entirely different 'spiritual' worldview, for it forces the idea of interdependence and connection, at its core.
The interconnection of the whole of life is undeniable in the most basic sense, and it is this perpetual 'relationship' of total interconnectivity that is not fully realized by society overall. Thus, our modes of conduct and perception are largely out of line with nature itself... and hence destructive.
Nature itself is our teacher, and our social institutions and philosophies should be derived from this foundational and, invariably, 'spiritual' understanding.
The faster this spiritual awakening spreads, the more sane, peaceful and productive society will become.