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[ox-en] Re: Marcin Jakubowski * Open Source Ecology, Inc. -- An Operational Model for a Replicable, Regenerative Development Social Enterprise

Hi lists!

Here are some comments on Marcins contributions.

12 minutes ago Stefan Merten wrote:
It is useful to provide a brief summary of world economics to date,
with respect to the provision of human needs. Conflict and warfare has
been a common route to securing life-meeting needs if resources of one
group were scarce, and today this trend is on an upswing. (ref) At all
times in history both the elite class and subsistence class was able
to meet all of their needs relatively well.

Subsistence class had often major problems based on the influence of
both nature and nobility (hunger revolts).

Some people always had
more access to resources than others in non-indigenous populations.
Formerly, it was typically possible to find a new frontier for
resource base expansion. Today, physical frontiers are mostly closed,
with accompanying overpopulation and increased resource scarcity

Physical frontiers on the demand side are not closed when looking at
the (non-)emerging markets in former SU and all of the third world.
There are only market frontiers preventing a capitalist expansion
into these areas.

Where the physical frontiers are actually *closed* on the supply

This provides an opportunity for an increase in the quality
of resource use, as opposed to the quantity of resource use.

Not at all a new opportunity arises. On the contrary the expectable
frontiers in resource use need to be enforced by states but largely
this seems impossible for the smallest of goals - the Kyoto protocol
is a very good example here.

Today, the economies of the industrialized world are increasingly
specialized, where each member of society provides an ever decreasing
fraction of society's needs. One individual is typically not in a
position to produce all of any person's needs. In pre-industrial
times, before the deskilling and specialization of labor, each person
was more self-sufficient. The number of one's dependencies on others
today is hard to calculate. Craftspeople turned into well-defined cogs
in the industrial machine.

Deskilling has only been one aspect of the process of
industrialization. On the other hand a number of new skills had to be
developed and today skills of a wide range are needed more than
anything else. Or would you say that a computer expert is less skilled
than a farmer 300 years ago?

In a deskilled economy of specialization, access to information is
becoming more and more important due to the increased complexity and
interconnectedness of society. Access to information determines one's
ability to produce and market. This is called the Information Age.

Specialization has nothing to do with deskilling. On the contrary
specializing in a certain area means acquiring skills there.

Also it is no longer possible to put all the skill available to
mankind in one head during a single life time - not even the skills
available at one single point in time. So the concept of skill you're
seemingly using is inadequate to modern societies.

IMHO the Information Age is not marked by the higher degree of
interconnectedness you are putting in the focus. Interconnectedness
means only a higher degree of socialization ("Vergesellschaftung").
Instead the Information Age is marked by the transfer of the center of
gravity of a society from the production of material goods to the
production of information goods - which we are currently experiencing
the stone age part of.

Because of specialization in a complex world, one has a narrow focus
and a decreased ability to make connections or to determine
cause-and-effect relationships, such as connections between human
organizational structures, technology, and ecology. This explains the
need to be well-informed in such a society to cope with the
complexities of life in the Information Age.

Not at all. Nothing prevents you from specializing to the connections
and cause-and-effect relationships. You are only unable to put *all*
available knowledge in your head.

In the information economy, access to information is access to
capital, is access to the means of production, is access to a
democratic foundation of society. This is where the need for
transparent access to information becomes an obvious democratizing

Well, access to information has always meant access to capital and
democracy is of course build on public access to information. Insofar
there is nothing new in "information economy". However, there seems to
be a change concerning the meaning of information.

Information has always been connected closely to means of production.
The flint stone to get fire as well as the combustion motor. What
changed was the - hmm, how to put it? - the amount of information put
into a single piece of means of production. The more modern means of
production get the higher the amount of information is "condensed" in
them. Because information is a societal effort and can be copied an
arbitrary number of times the price of the means of production did not
raise according to the amount of condensed information. Indeed it is
only the amount of labor put into this single piece which counts. A
thought I never had before BTW.

Today we can say we reached a new level on these grounds. Information
needs no longer be embodied in a stone or the exact carving of a
cylinder for a combustion engine. Pure information in its real virtual
and volatile nature is now a very means of production by using
computers: Put another software on it and the computer including its
robotic hand does something different.

I think this is the point where the important shift towards
information society takes place.

Many do have access to wealth. Many don't. Most people have to work
long hours to make ends meet, and the first casualty in working on
something not consistent with one's passion is meaning and
perspective. Meaningful employment that helps one to evolve as a
person is in short supply in an economy where each member produces an
ever-decreasing fraction of their needs. Perspective is impossible if
one doesn't have time to reflect.

Again I think it is not in the first place the degree of
"completeness" of a task, the degree of division of labor to make
Selbstentfaltung possible. If it would be so large tasks like flying
to Mars would not be possible at all. However, in the contrary I think
goals like this are a source of Selbstentfaltung for many (technical)

As most probably expected IMHO the alienation of labor from people
accounts much more for Selbstentfaltung being impossible in a
alienated task than anything else. The only remedy for this is
logical: Don't act for reasons which are not your own, which are

Open Source Ecology refers to the integration of the natural,
societal, and industrial ecologies aimed at sustainable and
regenerative economics. Participatory models of production represent
the core of any truly democratic society. It is only in such a system
that a balance can be found between human activity and the sustainable
use of natural resources. Part of this process involves the
exploration of societal structures and productive activities to
determine what is truly appropriate to meeting human needs. The goal
is to provide human needs while liberating our time so that we can
engage in exactly that which each of us wants to be doing in this
life, instead of spending all of one's time on the necessities of

Well, I think there is no single notion of "what is truly appropriate
to meeting human needs". The very notion smells like dictatorship.

Also I'm not sure how you mean "while liberating our time". If you
mean "while at the same time and as part of the same process" then I'm
all for it but if you mean "while in a separate space" then I'd
strongly disagree.

The open source method is relevant to regenerative economics in that
it allows a large set of applied information to be collected as a
route to integrated economic models. Integrated economic models
require a large set of interdisciplinary knowledge, which may not be
easy to acquire in a system of extreme specialization. We believe that
the creation of truly sustainable systems is difficult, if not
impossible, within the mainstream economics framework, because the
components that are already available are hard to link due to various
boundaries to integration and collaboration. Difficulties within the
present system that make regenerative development difficult include
overspecialization, where too many "hands in the pie" drive costs up;
there is also proprietary information; a legal and financial system
which promotes specialized, short term gain; the general lack of
genuine wealth-distributing cooperation, and excessive overhead costs.

You did not mention the biggest problem: A society based on exchange /
money. In the followin therefore I conclude you do not want to change

If you refuse division of labor and specialization on such fundamental
grounds as you do in effect this means to reduce technicalization back
to a degree where virtually everybody is able to do anything after
some hours of introduction. This means reverting industrialization
back to an agricultural level. To me this looks like one of the
biggest cruelties I can imagine - and I think those millions of people
who were used to an industrialized life style would really like to
return to it instead of continue to live in the poverty of the
agricultural live style they are now pushed back to. Examples are the
former Eastern bloc and some countries bombed back to stone age.

In the contrary I can remember of many occasions where I thought that
it would far better if this or that employee would be *more*
specialized in the sense of s/he knows what s/he does. I'm working in
the software industry and during boom times many firms employed
everyone who could type "computer" correctly. I can tell you it's a
pain in the ass to work with people who are largely under-educated
("unausgebildet"). It makes processes longer, a pain, and the overall
results are always worse.

But this applies not only to software work but also to agriculture. I
remember the organic farmer I'm getting most of my food from how he
describes his years of gathering experience with exactly the land he
is working on. Sure open sources would have helped him and for sure
the high classical agricultural education he had helped him.
Nonetheless he needed to specialize very much to his sort of work
under his conditions.

Absolutely contrary to you I think technicalization is in general a
good thing. It need to be part of Selbstentfaltung of course but for
me technicalization made possible the degree of Selbstentfaltung
visible today. Specialization is an absolute prerequisite for any
level of technicalization worth thinking about and a good education
("Ausbildung") is a prerequisite for specialization.

Also high skilled people are more able to selbstentfalt than low
skilled ones because high skills give more freedom how to complete a
task. Also high skilled people are able to produce higher quality
products of all kinds and high quality products in turn are another
prerequisite for Selbstentfaltung.

And yes, open sources do further skills, but no, open sources doesn't
replace skills. This is exactly the difference between information and

We claim that there are inherent threats to the democratic process
that are embodied in a proprietary intellectual property model. We are
not indicating that private property should not exist, but that access
to it should be equitable. We are trying to make a case that only if
the best designs are developed collaboratively and shared freely, the
development costs can be reduced drastically, time could be liberated
for other endeavors, and equitable distribution of wealth may come
closer to reality.

Property is the very possibility to deny access. That's what property
is good for and that's what it is used for. I can not see how this
very feature of property can be combined with equitable access which
is the opposite of the option to deny access.


     Market actors are forced to seek more and more narrow niches to
     fill because of the access barriers and protectionism associated
     with existing enterprise; with open source development, access
     barriers are not there, and increasingly integrated economic
     models can arise

I think this is grossly wrong. Market actors need to specialize
because they are not able to sell even more standard products which
are sold by other market actors already. This would be no different if
of all the production knowledge would be open source. The sellability
of a product has nothing to do with how easy it is to acquire the
production knowledge for it.

In the contrary: If production knowledge is easy to get then the
market actors competing for the limited money available for spending
on a certain standard product will get harder and prices fall which in
turn is bad for the market actors. In an exchange economy it is only a
logical reaction to look for niches where competition is low and
profit high.

Or in other words: As long as your are talking of market / money you
are talking of a live-or-die competition. And as long as you are
talking of a live-or-die competition looking for niches is a useful
strategy and open source models will prevent this strategy from being
successful. This all changes immediately if you drop market / money
but I can't see this is your intention.


     Open source information fosters integrated business models that
     provide a larger fraction of one's needs, such that one is less
     dependent on other products for survival, and one does not need
     to overproduce to gain the extra income necessary for survival

It is absolutely common to speak of (physical) survival. However,
(physical) survival is a category which is relevant as a societal
topic before industrialization. Any utopia which goes beyond
industrialization needs to build on the level of civilization
industrialization already achieved and where thus survival is simply

Overhead costs

     There are "too many hands in the pie" in any sphere of economic
     activity. Overhead costs are reduced when functions are shared in
     integrated business models.

I would agree that the barriers created by contracts and the
contradictory interests of market actors (maximizing profits while
minimizing expenditures) the contracts are trying to confine are
overhead costs. However, given the degree of division of labor
wishable for a next society there would be no less "hands in the pie".
However, given money vanished the interests would be less
contradictory and thus overhead costs lower.

In contrary to your assumption I'd expect even more "hands in the pie"
especially if you want to act conforming to ecological or other human
oriented principles. Given the power of modern production capabilities
you can't asses the impact of your actions if you are not specialized
in the given field so you have to ask someone / some group to help you
with this. Today *these* hands are simply kept out of the pie because
of which a lot of people fight for integration of ecological and other
purposes in production.

The land acquisition is the main thrust of our effort since this will
provide the land base for permanent income generation via agricultural
production, and it will be the base of a research campus which houses
our experimental and demonstration facilities with associated
personnel. Our operational strategy is to minimize overhead costs by
structuring operational activity in the form of internships (check on
4th world movement model), where agricultural production provides 90%
of our diet, the remaining 10% coming from barter economics. Housing
will be provided on site, and our energy needs will be based on
renewable energy sources. Our research program will be based on
subsistence activity, including the development of flash-steam solid
fuel combustion systems based on dry feed corn, as well as waste
vegetable oil, on-site grown vegetable oil. We are investigating
hydrogen internal combustion or external combustion engines as a
longer-term option.

How is this different from the goals of country-side communes form the
1970s? The open source thing seems a bit less to make a difference. If
not much of a difference: Why do you think that your country-side
commune will succeed and promote societal progress while they failed

Shortcomings of "pure market forces" refers to the incomplete
effectiveness in terms of economic systems to provide for human needs.
It should be noted that there is no "pure market forces," or some
abstract power that guides the economic process. Instead, economies
are guided by human will. Features that make economic systems
ineffective are part of overall system design or of executives'
decisions. True, the executive powers are forced into unethical
behavior by system design - such as making big returns or a company
would collapse from competition. System design is where open source
thinking can be utilized.

Every economic system based on money / exchange turns into capitalism
and you are grossly misleaded if you think that any such system exists
to provide human needs. It exists for itself. It *is* an autonomous
machine the visibly actors are only a dependent part of. Economic
theory knows this and clusters this in the terms incentive or
interests. Provision for human needs is only by chance an effect such
a system can have.

Contrary to popular belief this can not be remedied by any intrinsic
change but only by making exchange as the basis of the society
superfluous. Free Software demonstrates this. It is indeed an economy
which provides for human needs. Any production stripped of the need to
earn money tends to provide for human needs - otherwise it would not
be worth the hassle.

If information is fully available, as fostered by open source
transparency - then feedback on issues of performance - ecological or
social - is available.

The more hand in the pie I mentioned above.

Issues such as pollution, inequity,
overpopulation are acknowledged, as downstream effects of
environmental degradation and inequity are visible. If
cause-and-effect relationships can be understood, there is a chance to
correct systematically recurring negative features of our economies.
Transparency of the underlying cause-and-effect relationships can be
fostered via interdisciplinary, open source learning. This learning
can occur at the level of our educational systems or at the level of
an informed population. Skills necessary to correct or address these
causal relationships can be attained if barrier-free,
interdisciplinary, applied rapid learning is nurtured. This is the
goal of open source learning, while trade secrets, propaganda
machines, advertising, patents, scholastic disciplinarity, and other
barriers stand in the way.

I think much of the knowledge is already there - open or not. The
problem is that the system based on exchange "lives better" when such
knowledge is ignored.

What is a completely educated individual? It is our opinion that the
absence of abundant disincentives to holistic understanding, mentioned
above, would result in individuals who know how to grow food, produce
their shelter, and become involved in other creative endeavors that
are fundamentally related to the human psychological stability. We are
not promoting a life of toil, because we have enough knowhow and
technology to remove survival pressures from dictating our political
choices. We can have a generally enlightened society, or a society
that is significantly more wise than today.

You are defining how humans have to behave and what is a "completely
educated individual". Then I for one am out because I *never* will be
interested in growing food or to build shelter.

There's a catch here. We assume that people, the economic actors,
care. That is, we assume that if they have a complete information base
for making wise decisions, they will make ethical and ecological
decisions. Many would agree that such care is in short supply in
today's world. This is a matter of speculation, since this can not be
proven one way or another, given the presence of human will. Humans
have a choice to make decisions, if free from abject poverty that
reduces their choice to base survival. Since it is not the abject poor
that control our economy, but instead by those with ample means for
survival, we can hope that these leaders will make wise decisions.
Yes, you can choose to care or not to care about something.

This is nice. Above you say that an "completely educated individual"
is one who has knowhow in exactly those things which in the following
paragraph you are naming as those things you need to care for if
poverty forces you to. I am not able to point your program out better:
Reduce wealth industrialization achieved to a poverty where everyone
needs to have knowhow for base survival. No thanks.

The practical implementation of an open source product development
process can manifest as a foundation or nonprofit research institution
which generates the knowhow that is freely available for all to use
and build upon. The foundation or nonprofit organization can be funded
publicly, while anyone can privatize resulting income by engaging in
productive activity. However, no one can privatize the information
itself, and an equitable governance should encourage further
developments to be placed in a common pool of open source knowledge.
This has been demonstrated in the Linux model of open source software
development, and we are engaging this method for developing products
and services at OSE.

This is exactly the model of state financed research. Please note that
Free Software largely has *not* been funded this way and thus is a bad

I agree with you that in a society based on exchange public goods like
information available to all can not be produced by market actors
because in general they can not profit from it - which they need to as
long as they are market actors. Such public goods need to be financed
by non-market actors like the state or the various models employed by
the Free Software community.

The problem with your approach needing the state or similar external
public institutions is that it doesn't work without these
institutions. In other words your model can not function without them.
This can only be solved if you aim to make funding unnecessary because
every human being has the means of living at hand and exchange, money
and the like is thus superfluous.

A general trend in human history is that groups and regions were not
self sufficient. Trade routes and merchant commerce were present for
thousands of years, and the current phenomenon of globalization is the
limit of such exchange, where electronic transactions can travel
across the globe in a fraction of a second, and physical products can
travel to the farthest reaches of the earth in a fraction of a day.

Self sufficiency is by no way a wishable feature of any future
society. Self sufficiency limits freedom because your options are
reduced to what is available from your own local activities. However,
I find neither bananas nor coffee, nor computers with their highly
integrated microprocessors needing very specialized machinery and
skills to be produced neglectable parts of my life - to name some
arbitrary examples. Self sufficiency would reduce me to a life style I
would do anything to prevent. If you call for self sufficiency as a
model then you want to worsen my life. And I'm absolutely sure that
this applies to 90% of the people who had contact with

Because all human knowledge can be collected in any location rapidly
by information and communication technology, and because technologies
are increasingly efficient in producing goods and services, there now
exist conditions under which high levels of prosperity and wealth can
be the norm in just about any region of the world. We call this
autonomy, the self-determination of regions free from pressures such
as random global market forces or the necessity of war.

Though information today can be indeed everywhere this is impossible
on a basis of self sufficiency. Information can be everywhere exactly
because there are a few globally *centralized* production facilities
which produce the hardware necessary for these information flows. This
is a feature of the physical production in some fields and thus
nothing you can discuss away. The Chinese tried exactly your type of
self sufficiency when they tried to produces steel in every community.
Check the results of this disastrous experiment to see what negative
impact self sufficiency can have on nature, people and society.

1.   Sustainable management of regional resources exists to the point
     that the local population stabilizes according to its regional
     resource base.

Given that the most highly populated regions on this planet to a good
share are located in the rich North-Western countries you need to
force people to move to regions like Ukraine because there they can
produce more food than they need at the moment. Stalin would have
applauded probably to such plans.

3.   The appropriate use of technology is a prerequisite to generating
     autonomous regions. Inappropriate technology choices will not
     save time or money when all costs are considered.

     High technology choices require an extensive infrastructure for
     their production and upkeep. For technology to truly serve human
     needs, it needs to be used wisely for it to save time and
     increase the quality of life. The level of technology should be
     such that it genuinely increases the quality of life, instead of
     leading to the "myth of the machine:" that misguided notion that
     machines always save time. It appears that the general present
     trend is unwise technological choice: people work long hours,
     even when the level of technology is sufficiently high that with
     proper management, the time it would take for all human needs to
     be taken care of could be reduced many-fold, simply because a
     machine can do the labor of many people. For the machine to be
     used wisely, the requirement is that it takes less time to
     produce, use, and maintain it than it would take to perform a
     given task without the machine. Apparently, unwise technological
     choice is rampant in the USA, because people are working
     increasingly long hours. Poor distribution of wealth and
     inefficient governance accounts for some of the longer hours, but
     a lot of the trouble stems from poor technological choice.

It's amazing how you ignore basic (exchange) economy facts. I agree
that machines are used unwise in an economy based on exchange - wisdom
simply is not a guiding principle there. Work force is simply cheaper
than machines and this is a result of too low wages and effects of
deregulation. Intrinsically this could - in theory - be remedied by
raising wages to unprecedented heights. Well - you'd probably agree
that this will stay theory until the end of capitalism.

Again this can be resolved when exchange no longer makes sense. Wages
do not make sense then either and human activity necessary for a task
is based on Selbstentfaltung. *Exactly then* wisdom has a chance.

     For example, it can be shown that 5 John Deere tractors from the
     1950s, costing $1K each, which are still in common use today, can
     do the equivalent work of a $200K modern tractor. Moreover, the
     modern tractor depreciates rapidly, while the old tractors retain
     their value. This represents a savings of $195K, which translates
     to a liberation of a huge financial burden and a corresponding
     reduction in working time for purchasing the tractors. The high
     capital inputs in these case can be replaced by labor (4 extra
     tractor operators), which are a renewable resource.

Your ignorance is once more amazing. If the additional labor is a
renewable resource then all tractors on the world are as well. You
confuse renewable in the sense of solar energy with no cost. In an
exchange society labor has a cost, however, and all products are made
from some raw materials and mainly human work which is reflected in
the price of the product.

The sweat equity model may be hard to explain to financing institution
or other mainstream agents, but it does rely on a fundamental need of
humans to shape their own environment, and as such remains a viable
option in spite of the industrialization of house building. The
economics of such an arrangement are motivated by the builders'

I'm not sure whether I understood this sweat equity model completely
but to me it sounds like unpaid work by laymen. I've seen enough
results of such laymen construction to know that I'm not for it

Also I'd agree that there is a basic need of humans to shape their own
environment. However, what type of environment they want to shape is a
very individual thing. Many people don't care much about their living
conditions in the sense of buildings while other environments are
important for them to shape. Once again take me as an example. Your
focusing on the physical level of subsistence ignores the needs of
people like me and thus is anti-emancipatory.

						Mit Freien Grüßen


Organization: projekt

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