We Must Act Now!

Friends,

The Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic is serious business. For the sake of community resilience, please take it seriously. If this is to be ovecome, we all need to do our part.

At a MINIMUM, we must ALL follow the guidelines set out by the Whatcom County Health Department, which are regularly updated here.  They currently recommend that “people at higher risk of severe illness should stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible.” If you are over age 60 or have underlying health conditions, or weakened immune systems, you are considered high risk. 

There are a growing number of people who believe we need to be taking more aggressive steps – that we should ALL be engaging in physical isolation NOW.  I personally have been persuaded this is the wisest approach.  Here I am going to quote in full a recent post by thought leader Daniel Schmachtenberger:

“Public influencers: please strongly encourage physical isolation to your audience now. You will be saving lives and helping mitigate catastrophe.

All of Hollywood, youtube and instagram celebrities, podcast hosts, bloggers, companies with mailing lists, social media platform companies…please take this simple action immediately. Help people who don’t fully understand the situation yet to take this seriously.

The total number of people infected is much much higher than the reported numbers (we aren’t doing the testing to know how many people are infected, but many hospitals are already getting overwhelmed throughout US cities).

The number of people infected doubles in about 4 days with normal social behavior. Do the math on 2-3% death rate ~70% of the population.

With physical isolation, the transmission stops completely. This virus is transmitted via physical human contact (direct and indirect).

Two months of complete physical isolation and the pandemic is over. Otherwise, this could continue with no clear end in sight, and kill more Americans than the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan combined.

I wish we had ubiquitous, early, accurate testing already in place like South Korea so we could do a smart quarantine. But we don’t. So we need a total quarantine.

We don’t have to wait for the government to enforce it with the police and national guard. We can recognize the need and self organize to do what needs done. That is self-governance: of, for, and by the people.

We are too focused on the role of our elected leaders; this country was founded on the idea of self-governance with intentionally very limited representative power.

China has strong top down government and was able to enforce quarantine, build hospitals quickly, disinfect entire cities, put hazmat gear on all the workers. Our government is not prepared to do that. And, while effective, nobody wants to be in a Wuhan style enforced quarantine. If there was ever a good time for Americans to take back their sovereignty and lead themselves, this is it.

“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy”

For more information, please at least skim the following article, which numerous people are calling the single best article they have read on this topic (including Michael Dowd and Alan Seid): Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now.  Michael Dowd commented, “I especially appreciated the reminder that because contagion is delayed in expression and that only “lock-down” examples are showing any ability to quash exponential infection rates and hospital overloads, that a wait-and-see attitude is the least responsible approach.”

Some of you might also be interested in exploring more deeply how we might relate differently to the fear in ourselves and in others — as well as the larger systemic turbulence we’re experiencing. I encourage you to check out the podcast conversation between Terry Patten and spiritual teacher Thomas Hubl: Coronavirus Crisis – Touching, Not Touching, Not Separate.

Finally, a consideration about how the coronavirus is affecting all of us on the financial/economic level.  Economist Steve Keen has an excellent analysis, and some key recommendations for how authorities should be responding: A Modern Jubilee, a Cure to the Financial Ills of the Coronavirus.

Thank you for reading and considering the above.  Stay safe and resilient! Remember to wash your hands for 20 seconds, with vigorous rubbing. Here’s the best video I’ve found on how to do it right; it also demonstrates why a quick hand wash is not sufficient: A Complete Guide to Hand Washing.  Remember that it is the friction that is important. According to a recent discussion between functional medicine practitioner Chris Kresser and infections disease specialist Dr. Ramzi Asfour:

Ramzi Asfour:  There are quite a few studies showing that it’s the friction that’s most important. Whether you’re using alcohol jelly or washing your hands, it’s friction that’s very important. And the reason that, spores are not very well, like, for example, Clostridium difficile, spores are not well-removed by alcohol jelly because people, probably because people don’t use enough friction. They don’t do the rubbing or scrubbing for 20 seconds with alcohol jelly.

Chris Kresser:  Right. And I’ve heard that, I also read a study suggesting that alcohol hand sanitizer wipes were preferable to the jelly for that reason, because it adds more of that friction element.

Steve Keen: A Cure to the financial ills of the Coronavirus

This is what we need – to create realistic economics for the post-crash world. Steve Keen is to be paid attention to. He’s been on this path for a while, and has been influencing other thought leaders, at least the ones paying attention to the predicament of limits to growth.

A Modern Jubilee as a cure to the financial ills of the Coronavirus

 Summary

Extraordinary measures are needed now to stop the health effects of the Coronavirus triggering a financial crisis that could in turn make the Coronavirus worse. All of these actions can be undertaken by Central Banks and financial regulators, once they have been given permission by governments. Two of these measures are already being undertaken by some Central Banks:

  • A per capita payment to all citizens so that renters can pay the rent, mortgagors can service their mortgages, and workers, whether unemployed or not, can buy food and other critical goods. This can be financed as Quantitative Easing was financed, without recourse to the Treasury, or taxation (Hong Kong has already done this);
  • Normal bankruptcy rules for companies and especially banks should be suspended, to allow them to continue operating despite falling into negative equity if revenues fall sharply and share prices plunge; and
  • Central Banks should buy shares directly to support share prices, rather than simply buying bonds under Quantitative Easing, to prevent a stock market collapse undermining both business and banks (Japan’s Central Bank is already doing this, though for other reasons).

Read the argument here:
https://www.patreon.com/posts/modern-jubilee-34537282?fbclid=IwAR1aBouFau-rvIk8yPdg9Me6X2FlZhibhP4FUSU4DquYKstZH_97bymg6Ak

Nourishing a Qualitative Orientation

“We need a philosophy we can smell, a pheromonal philosophy that draws us into the liminal and gives us the tools to navigate it. And it will not be the intellectuals who get us there. It will not be the autistic machinations of Silicon Valley, or the frothy mouthed proclamations of activists. It will be the artists, the shamans, those who go deeply within through embodied practices, the makers and doers and dancers. It will be those who are not talking about entering the liminal, but those who live there and know it like a second skin. ” – Alexander Beiner

Jean Gebser was a 20th century cultural philosopher who deeply valued the arts and what we could learn from them, and pointed the way towards a future integral consciousness that lives into the liminal spaces. His magnum opus, The Ever-Present Origin demonstrates the importance of moving from a Quantitative orientation to the Qualitative. Jeremy Johnson has written an excellent introduction to Gebser’s thought, covering the major themes of The Ever-Present Origin, and making clear its continued, and in fact increasing relevance to the culture of today, and of tomorrow. Check out Seeing Through the World: Jean Gebser and Integral Consciousness, by Jeremy Johnson.

Near the end of his life (1973), Gebser wrote another book, Decline and Participation (to me a fascinating title), which has not yet been translated into English. Johnson offers a short excerpt that has been translated (via Georg Feurstein). In this exceprt, Gebser discusses the qualities of the integral human being (homo integer). 


“Haste is replaced by silence and the capacity for silence;
Goal oriented, purposive thought is replaced by unintentionalness;
The pursuit of power is replaced by the genuine capacity for love;
Quantitative idle motion (Leerlauf) is replaced by the qualitative spiritual process;
Manipulation is replaced by the patient acceptance of the providential powers;
Mechanistic classification and organization is replaced by the “being-in-order” (In-der-Ordnung-sein);
Prejudice is replaced by the renunciation of value judgements, that is to say, the emotional short-circuit (Kurzschluss) is replaced by unsentimental tolerance;
Action is replaced by poise (Haltung);
Homo faber is replaced by homo integer;
The divided human being is replaced by the whole human being;
The emptiness of the limited world is replaced by the open expanse of the open world.”
(Gebser, Decline and Participation)

Now read that again, slowly, with long deep breaths between each statement, as I’m going to do right now…

When I do this, my whole nervous system slows down and relaxes into this quiet, calm, less hurried liminal space.

I was inspired to put this post together this morning after listening last night to a favorite podcast – Naked Conversations, with Helen Lowe and Lisa Fitzhugh.  In the latest episode, “Investing in What Nourishes,” they discuss (among other things) the value of investing energy into quiet inner reflection, and better resourcing ourselves so that we can more creatively be able to offer something more nourishing back into the world, instead of just reflecting back the trauma that we’re all surrounded with.  And cultivating the qualitative over the quantitative. The conversation reminded me of the Gebser quote above, as well as the quote from Alexander Beiner at the top of this post. Do check it out.

Peter Pogany’s Thermodynamic/Economic Analysis of Recent World History

Here I’ll attempt to outline Peter Pogany‘s thermodynamic/economic analysis of recent world history, which entails two and potentially three global systems. There are some parallels, I believe to Jordan Hall’s Blue Church/Red Religion analysis, where the Blue Church represents the current status quo (Pogany’s GS2) that is falling apart, and the Red Religion represents the desire to correct the problems not by progressing forward, but rather by regressing backward to Pogany’s GS1 stage. What is needed, however, is a “Phase Shift” – an evolution of consciousness (Jean Gebser’s integral consciousness) that will support a P2P/Commons approach (Bauwens), with non-rivalrous dynamics (Schmachtenberger), which Pogany calls GS3.

Pogany calls classical capitalism GS1 – Global System 1, stemming from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations in 1776 to the beginning of WWI in 1914. “Laissez faire/metal money/zero multilateralism” – a free market system with little if any regulation, based on the gold standard, and zero collaboration between different nation-states.

“An ideological conviction took root that blossomed into the following general view: Scientific progress and the magic power of the market are destined to make man (the subject) the master of nature (the object). The free market credo effectively locked the repertoire of socioeconomic behavior into the narrow closet of calculative, money-metric self-interest and turned the past into the prehistory of a rationally assessable, eternally valid, equilibrium-centric order.”

Much like the idea of the earth itself as a self-organizing system (Lovelock and Margulis’ “Gaia hypothesis), Pogany sees the development at this time of world socio-economic systems that come to be self-organizing, hence “GS1”).  What did it take for GS1 to emerge? A chaotic transition, otherwise known as the French revolution.

Much success ensued. The free market was right for its time and improvement compared to what came before. By the early 20th century, however, GS1 came into what would in Gebserian terms be called its “deficient” stage (Jean Gebser, The Ever-Present Origin). Every stage concludes with a deficient stage, and we do not see smooth transitions that evolve to the next stage. For this reason Gebser did not like the term “evolution,” but rather spoke of mutation. Each period of mutation was accomplished by breakdown and crisis before the new system would emerge. GS1 lasted until the outbreak of WWI in 1914 (Pogany, 2009).

And so we see the chaotic transition of 1914 to 1945, between which were experienced two world wars and the great depression.

Emerging from that crisis was what Pogany called GS2 – Global System 2, where Roosevelt’s New Deal and the Keynesian economic model was predominant. Pogany characterizes GS2 as “mixed economy/minimum bank reserve money/weak multilateralism.” Until the fall of the communist governments in the 1980s, socialism remained an unsuccessful alternative to GS2. Both GS1 (unfettered market capitalism) and socialism influenced GS2, as it navigated its way between these two polarities.

GS2 performed very admirably for about 60 years, and an improvement on what came before. Some of the signs of deficiency, however, have been around a long time now, evident at least since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and the Meadows, et al Limits to Growth books, and the first American oil crisis. Real deficiency came with policies that were put in place with Reagan and Thatcher (a regressive move reaching back to the ideas of GS1).  And the global crisis of mutation/transition began with 9/11 and marked again with the collapsing economies of 2008.

It is often asked, “how do we make this move when a dialectic has been set up that says one is being a marxist or left wing socialist, etc., when one posits these new realities?”

This is the same question Pogany asks: “What will it take to go from the current hostile disgust with the dystopia of tightened modes of multilateral governance to people around the world on their knees begging for a planetary guild? It will take nothing less than a mutation in consciousness, as outlined in the oeuvre of Jean Gebser (1905-1973).” (quoted from his 2013 paper on Thermodynamic Isolation and the New World Order). And that mutation in consciousness, he believes, will only take place after a chaotic transition – likely more chaotic than the great depression and two world wars. “The current world order,” he said, “cannot deliver long-term sustainability on a planetary scale. By design, it is incapable of recognizing humanity’s thermodynamic reality.” The new world order, GS3, will likely be characterized as “two-level economy/maximum bank reserve money/strong multilateralism.” Micro-activities would be subject to globally-determined and nationally allocated macro-constraints; money creation would be curbed and disciplined.” [Perhaps parallel to Rifkin’s 3rd revolution, or Edgar Morin’s dictum that “we must globalize and deglobalize.”]

Thus “The grand and painful path of consciousness emergence” (Gebser’s EPO, p. 542).

For more on Peter Pogany, please see our Peter Pogany page.  And stay tuned for a post that provides more focus on what Global System 3 might entail.

Understanding the patterns and processes of interdependency in complexity

Nora Bateson writes, “If humanity can’t approach the complexity of our world with greater collective effort, we can’t meet the challenges we face now.

This is NOT an abstraction. I maintain that developing an understanding the patterns and processes of interdependency in complexity is the single most practical capacity that we can support in ourselves and each other.”

via Digging into Warm Data, The Warm Data Lab, and Certified Training.

The Cognitive Prison Habits of Economic Growth and Development

This post grew out of a recent facebook discussion. Hat Tip to Bruce Kunkel for the title phrase “Cognitive Prison Habits.”

George Monbiot recently made some important points and asked questions we all should be giving some thought to.
“Green consumerism, material decoupling, sustainable growth: all are illusions, designed to justify an economic model that is driving us to catastrophe.”
“The promise of economic growth is that the poor can live like the rich and the rich can live like the oligarchs. But already we are bursting through the physical limits of the planet that sustains us.”
I would add the aphorism that “When you find yourself in a hole, rule #1 is to stop digging.”

The International Energy Agency has just released their yearly World Energy Outlook report, which tells us that current policies put us in a scenario that would add the equivalent of another China and India to today’s global demand for energy by 2040, and greenhouse gas reduction polices currently in play or being considered are “far from enough to avoid severe impacts of climate change.”

While the title of Monbiot’s post mentions consumerism trashing the planet, consumerism is not the fundamental problem (us) that he is addressing, nor is it unrestrained corporate power (them). More fundamental, giving rise to both of the above polarities, is the almost unquestioned commitment to growth that is built in to most of our systems. In Monbiot’s words:
” The promise of private luxury for everyone cannot be met: neither the physical nor the ecological space exists.
But growth must go on: this is everywhere the political imperative. And we must adjust our tastes accordingly…
A global growth rate of 3% means that the size of the world economy doubles every 24 years. This is why environmental crises are accelerating at such a rate. Yet the plan is to ensure that it doubles and doubles again, and keeps doubling in perpetuity. In seeking to defend the living world from the maelstrom of destruction, we might believe we are fighting corporations and governments and the general foolishness of humankind. But they are all proxies for the real issue: perpetual growth on a planet that is not growing.”

One of the most important presentations that I think should be mandatory basic education for everyone is Albert Bartlett’s “Arithmetic, Population, and Energy.”
Bartlett claims that “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” He talks about the arithmetic and the impacts of unending steady economic and population growth, including an explanation of the concept of doubling time.

Fortunately there is a transcript as well!

http://www.albartlett.org/presentations/arithmetic_population_energy_transcript_english.html

Consider these questions (hat tip to Penelope Whitworth) – “Where does that commitment [to growth] come from? Is it programmed into our genes, or our consciousness, or inherent to biological life forms? Part of the “genetic code” of the cosmos? Is it a sociocultural thing? Could we have a humanity whose value system isn’t around growth?”

I addressed these isssues in my 2015 ITC paper, Patterns for Navigating the Transition to a World in Energy Descent.   Growth is a natural pattern that exists in all natural systems. However, some tend to fetishize and reify this pattern as a primary imperative. For many it has become something of a “myth of the given” – we don’t even question it. The first step is to recognize and respect this as a natural pattern, but to realize it needs to be balanced and integrated for optimal health with all other natural patterns (see my brief intro to PatternDynamics: Following the Way Nature Organizes Itself to Deal with Complexity.

In natural systems, growth tends to expand exponentially in the early phase when resources are abundant; then comes a phase of climax, where things can settle down into a more cooperative mode, somewhat approximating (comparatively, and for a period of time) a steady state. The best example is to look at a barren landscape, where fast growing weeds compete with one another for dominance. After a long period of time, this landscape could, under the right set of conditions, eventually evolve into a mature old-growth forest ecosystem, which is a perfect example of interconnected mutual support and reciprocity. This in contrast to the competitive growth pattern exhibited by the “adolescent” patch of weeds.

The question becomes, are humans smarter than yeast, which grows rapidly until all available resources are consumed, followed by a collapse? Can we successfully transition to a climax stage which mirrors the steady-state of an old-growth forest, or are we now near our final climax, to be followed by an unrecoverable collapse?

Even those who question unfettered growth are enmeshed in the system that tends to keep driving it forward.
Integral Economist Peter Pogany saw this commitment to growth as part of the “source code” of the self-organizing world system that emerged in recent history. As systems tend to reinforce and sustain themselves and their dominant patterns, it can be very difficult to try to manipulate and change the system’s direction (see Donella Meadows’ “Thinking in Systems: A Primer”). In Pogany’s view, it will take a (brutal) chaotic transition (which has already begun) to get the system to change course to a new, Gebserian, integral world system that is not wedded to the Growth pattern as a prime directive. Pogany saw this chaotic transition “as a necessity to precipitate a crisis of consciousness that would eventually lead to the wide-spread “integral a-rational” consciousness structure, as based on the thinking of cultural philosopher Jean Gebser” (see my articles Chaos, Havoc, and the American Abyss, and Consciousness and the New World Order.

In my 2015 paper for the Integral Theory Conference (cited above, but also posted here), I quoted from Edgar Morin and Peter Pogany to describe what  Bruce Kunkel has called the “cognitive prison habits” that keep us locked in to pursuing endless growth and development at all costs. To requote the quotes quoted in that paper:

Edgar Morin referred to “development” as:

“The master word, adopted by the United Nations, upon which all the popular ideologies of the second half of this century converged…development is a reductionistic conception which holds that economic growth is the necessary and sufficient condition for all social, psychological, and moral developments. This techno-economic conception ignores the human problems of identity, community, solidarity, and culture… In any case, we must reject the underdeveloped concept of development that made techno-industrial growth the panacea of all anthroposocial development and renounce the mythological idea of an irresistible progress extending to infinity” (Morin, Homeland Earth: A Manifesto for the New Millenium, 1999, pp. 59-63).

Addressing this “myth of the given,” Peter Pogany pokes fun at his own profession (of economists):

“Historically, geocapital [matter ready to be used to feed cultural evolution] has registered a net increase; additions and expansions more than offset exhaustions and reductions. This long-lasting successful experience led to the culturally ingrained confidence in the possibility of its eternal continuation. Economic growth theory keeps “deriving” the same conclusion over and over again: Optimally maintained economic expansion can continue forever. Translated from evolutionary scales to our own, this is analogous to “Since I wake up every morning I must be immortal” (Rethinking the World, 2006, p. 118).”

I suggest we join Morin and Pogany in renouncing  the irrational exuberance that expects irresistible progress and economic growth extending to infinity. To break out of this cognitive prison habit may be very challenging indeed. However, at some point there will be no choice.  It’s time to stop digging that hole that we think is taking us up the mountain.