Sustainability

  • The First Law: Nothing is created or destroyed, it just changes
    • Creation is in a constant state of motion, and we must move with it as the custodial species or we will damage the system and doom ourselves. Nothing can be held, accumulated, stored.

      • Every unit requires velocity and exchange in a stable system or it will stagnate—this applies to economic and social systems as well as natural ones. They all follow the same laws.

    • Ouroboros
      • The idea was already present in the form of a foundational civilising mythology of the ouroboros. This was a metaphor representing infinity—a snake in a circle, eating its own tail. However, it contained the same curse, the same contradiction: how can this serpent be a symbol of infinity if it will eventually eat itself?

  • Cities are unsustainable
    • Cities require constant growth
    • The exponential destruction caused by cities feeds the exponential growth of infrastructure and population. For this they misapply laws like supply and demand: in order for economic growth to occur, there must be more demand than supply.

  • Liberalism and modernity
    • It is difficult to name the ripples and patterns of global power systems when we are limited by nineteenth-century language around race and colonialism.

    • Liberalism has been frequently rebranded to vanquish competing ideologies.
      • The success of liberalism lies in its ability to wear whatever shape a population projects through disruption or dissent (even if, for example, the population openly opposes the system of nationhood)
        • The most roguish of nations still must maintain their status as a nation, and to do so they must follow the blueprint. No matter where you go in the world, you will recognise elements from this template—if you chance upon a place that doesn’t have those elements, you’ll find that the people there have lost or are in the process of losing their right to exist. Everywhere you go, there will be the same institutions, anthems and flags. There will be recognisable schools, banks, hospitals, councils and courts (no matter how poor or rudimentary) and there will be a dreary national anthem. None of these things existed in a universal form a couple of centuries ago, but everyone has them now. The other element you must possess is a flag. It must be rectangular and utilise three colours somehow representing a unifying ideology and national identity.

        • Big countries with one law, one language and one people are a very recent invention designed to facilitate more effective control of populations and resources for economic purposes.

    • Move with the land. Maintain diverse languages, cultures and systems that reflect the ecosystems of the shifting landscapes you inhabit over time. That is the blueprint and we are not the only people who know it.

      • [Y]ou might recall a similar biblical story in Genesis about the Tower of Babel. There is an undeniable pattern in the sum total of all those old stories from around the world, indicating that sedentary lifestyles and cultures that do not move with the land or mimic land-based networks in their social systems do not transition well through apocalyptic moments.

  • If you can see the relational forces connecting and moving the elements of a system, rather than focusing on the elements themselves, you are able to see a pattern outside of linear time. If you bring that pattern back into linear time, this can be called a prediction in today’s world.

  • Meaningful interventions in a complex system cannot be controlled outside of it
    • Systems are heterarchical, a heterarchical model would destroy them
    • Healthy interventions can only be made by strange attractors (free agents within a complex system)
      • Could you be a strange attractor within your institution? It is a risky endeavour in a culture that attaches negative meanings to words like chaos and anarchy, equating them with disorder and ruin. But chaos in reality has a structure that produces innovation, and anarchy simply means ‘no boss’. Could it be possible to have structure without bosses?

  • Sustainability agents have four simple operation guidelines: connect, diversify, interact and adapt.
    • Diversification

      • Maintain your individual difference, particularly from other agents who are similar to you.
        • You must also seek out and interact with a wide variety of agents who are completely dissimilar to you. Finally, you must interact with other systems beyond your own, keeping your system open and therefore sustainable.

    • Connectedness

      • To balance the excesses of individualism in the diversity principle.
      • 3 steps
          1. Forming pairs with multiple other agents who also pair with others.
          1. Creating or expanding networks of these connections.
          1. Making sure the network is open (meaning it interacts both with agents within and out)
    • Interaction

      • This principle facilitates the flow of living knowledge.
      • You must be transferring knowledge (and energy and resources) rather than trying to store it individually, with as many other agents as possible.
      • Knowledge, value and energy in truly sustainable networks of interaction are prevented from remaining static and unchanging by the final protocol.
    • Adaptation

      • The most important protocol of an agent in a sustainable system
      • You must allow yourself to be transformed through your interactions with other agents and the knowledge that passes through you from them.