Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
This dude also deserves a thread, a postmetaphysical visionary of an integral paradigm different from the trademarked variety. And quite "spiritual" to boot, if by that we mean creating a more equitable and humane lifeworld in which all can thrive and aspire to their highest potentials. From the integral capitalism thread:
Have you discussed Jeremy Rifkin's notion of "distributed capitalism," based on emergent peer-to-peer technological models, which he discussed in his book, The Empathic Civilization? I skimmed the thread and didn't see mention of it, so I thought I'd add it to the mix. Here's a brief article on it.
(An interesting notion of his, which is not directly relevant to this thread but possibly relevant to this forum, is Rifkin's notion of an emergent "dramaturgical self" as a stage of self-making beyond the "existential postmodern self." I haven't explored it in depth -- I've just been reviewing his book for a class -- but I'll look into it more and will comment further if it's relevant.)
Thanks for these links. I've heard of Rifkin but have yet to read him. I agree with most of what he's saying but he is stretching the definition of the term capitalism beyond its intended meaning. Recall its meaning from the beginning of the thread. Private ownership of the means of production with profit flowing to the top is antithetical to shared, open and distributed ownership of resources and information and P2P relationships, much like selfish concern and cosmocentric morality are so in a moral hierarchy. Rifkin is right to make the connection between the worldview and economic-communication systems, and that the internet correlates with an empathatic, biospheric view necessary for such shared resources and environmental consciousness. But again, capitalism was all about the exploitation of natural resources as if they were infinite with little to no regard for the environmental consequences. Rifkin laments this destruction and rightly analyzes the consciousness and systems that created it, capitalism, yet by keeping that name in his new view of P2P distribution is a functional misfit.
One can also view him speak on his new book at YouTube. Just watching the first couple minutes it seems to be the same info in the text linked above.
I also had posted this video on his work here on IPS awhile back.
Now I understand hybrid systems during transition phases. For example we have hybrid gas-electric cars which are better than just gas-driven. But we know that it is a transition to a full electric car when we develop the technology and infrastructure to make it feasible. That is, we know we must completely leave behind using a limited resource like petrol for a more sustainable energy source. So with economic systems. There are hybrids of capitalism with open source and of course it is a step in the right direction. But like with petrol we know that at some point we will leave capitalism behind in a more equitable, humane and environmental consciousness with correlative political economy.
So for me it says something about our consciousness to which economic system we attach. Given the I-I agenda of a kinder, gentler capitalism it appears to be on the transition of rational-pluralistic and it calls that integral. Hence you get no language or values about open source, distributed networks or P2P. Whereas I think what Rifkin is describing, that ecologic empathy that is growing out of the informational-pluralistic into the internet P2P network, is what we might call integral. And it is open source, not private property. But again, it is currently a hybrid in transition but we know where it is going and what must be left behind.*
*As to worldview and moral level replacement, see the previous thread on ladder-climber-view. Like I said, I don't think it's a strict or clean dividing line between one level and the next, with transitions containing mixes and hybrids. But we see the trajectory of where it's going and what it will eventually leave behind.
You can find Rifkin's website here. Following is an excerpt from the synopsis on his lecture "The age of access":
"The new information and telecommunications technologies, e-commerce and globalization are making possible a new economic era as different from market capitalism as the latter is dissimilar from mercantilism. In the new century, markets are slowly giving way to network ways of conducting business, with far-reaching implications for the future of society....The notion of exchanging and holding on to fixed property becomes an anachronism in a society where everything is continually evolving."
Here is a link to previous discussion on socio-economic levels. Also see the posts following. Recall Kennilingam saying:
"It is not the consciousness of men that determines their reality but their economic-material realities that determine their consciousness."
Henna. How did you find these...contemporary-inflected sites, yo?
Just use the Gizoogle search engine to find dis shiznit.
Rifkin talks about the entropy created by fossil fuels. Yes, using them as an energy source also creates an 'order' on one side of the equation in terms of electricity that runs so many useful things. But fossil fuels are a finite resource, and more importantly they create a huge entropy bill on the other side of the equation. A bill quite unlike that created by renewable energy sources. The following is from one of Rifkin's interviews where he incorporates entropy into economics. The lead-in says this:
"In his book, Mr. Rifkin takes on Adam Smith, challenging classical economic theory with the contention that it does not take thermodynamics into account. The Third Industrial Revolution presents economic theory that incorporates entropy and the relationship between commerce and the planet."
"Modern economic theory was developed in the Enlightenment. What was a rage at the time was Newtonian mechanics. And it was a metaphor for everything because every new emerging discipline wanted to use Newtonian physics to get a sound basic framework for legitimacy. So, all the metaphors were based in Newtonian physics.
"And, of course, the classical, neoclassical economic theories are based on that. For each action is an equal and opposite reaction. That’s the pendulum of the marketplace, and on and on and on. They use all sorts of Newtonian metaphors.
"The problem is Newton’s physics don’t tell you a damn thing about economic activity.... The problem is economics is all about how energy flows, and it’s governed by the laws of thermodynamics, which weren’t discovered until the latter part of the nineteenth century by engineers and chemists studying energy flows.
"By that time, economics was already ossified – didn’t want to hear about it. But economic activity is all about the irreversible passage of low entropy energy inputs whether it’s embedded in the material form in the earth – like fossil fuels, or rare Earths, or in energy by itself. And it’s how that energy in both material and energy form is converted to utilities for society and then they end up back in nature in a degraded state to be recycled or replenished.
"So, the laws of thermodynamics really govern economic activity, but almost no economist ever studies the law of thermodynamics. They don’t have a clue. The engineers, the chemists, the biologists, the architects, the urban planners, the physicists – all of those professions, which actually create economic activity, they do so from a thermodynamic lens. So there’s a complete disconnect between them and the economists.
"I’ll just give you one example. GDP – we think of gross domestic product as a store of wealth we generate. John Locke, an early Enlightenment philosopher said, “Look, ten acres of land in the commons that’s doing nothing is of no value. It’s waste. It’s only when you harness that land with your labor and transform it into productive property that you’ve created wealth.” He got it upside down. But that’s the basic Enlightenment theory, that we take nature’s waste, add labor to it, and ingenuity, and we turn it into productive wealth. He got it backwards.
"Thermodynamically, economic activity is taking nature’s valuable, low-entropy, high-energy capability in energy form or energy based in material form. We transform it into goods and services. And every time we transform it we lose more energy in the transformation than we gain in the product or service. And then the product and service degrade back into the environment. And part of it can be recycled, but at a cost.
"So GDP is not a measure of your wealth. It’s a measure of the temporary value that we have been able to engender at the expense of the value we’ve lost in nature and the entropy bill we’ve created. So if GDP is a measure of temporary value and it’s a measure of our debt that we build up with a natural environment.
"There was a chemist at the turn of the century – Frederick Soddy, Nobel Laureate, early 1900s. He was the first to show the relationship between thermodynamics and economics – he said “These are the laws that govern economics.” No one paid any attention to him.
"I think that the economic theories that reinforced the first and second industrial revolution are dysfunctional. They actually don’t give us a realistic assessment of our past, present and future. They’re not a helpful guide. Some of the insides will be retained. They’ll be retained and we’ll find a synthesis to retain the insides of classical, neoclassical theory, placing it within a thermodynamic frame, a scientific frame, and we’ll begin to create a new synthesis that is different from classical, neoclassical economic theory, as it was different from the ‘just price’ theory of the late medieval age.
"Everyone’s talking about balancing the budget. The real global financial crisis is connected to the oil crisis. What we’re paying now is the real debt.
"Every society, early on, creates a new energy-communication mix. At the early stage before scale-up, the energy-communications’ expensive. Then it’s scaled. Then it’s adopted. Then the prices get cheaper. Then it plateaus. Then the entropy builds up for the past activity. Then prices go up. The cost for the entropy bill goes up. And the civilization eventually collapses or dies out. That’s the history of civilization.
"Some of the guys that write these books, they have never really captured this – they’re good anthropologists, but they haven’t really looked at economic history. That’s how it happens. And so that’s what happening in the second industrial revolution now – it’s on the down side of its bell curve. And the key is you’re always constantly building up a debt against nature. And the question is: how do you find a communication-energy regime that allows us to live more in tandem with the rhythms of the planet so that we can learn to live sustainably and not produce and consume faster than we can repay the debt by allowing nature to replenish the stock its best it can?"
This is interesting. Who knows, China might do the right thing, while we keep on dragging our heels and jousting with self-made fiscal dragons.
Are you looking for work? (Or, really, a way to contribute for free...)
Actually I've been to that page and considered it, since I'm in the neighborhood. I just might do that when I'd done with my current assignment, if they'd have me.
Excellent. I hope you do.
Meanwhile, while China and Germany might be ready to do the right thing, we've got to deal with these yahoos...
In this Rifkin interview on the sunsetting of neoliberal economics and the burgeoning of lateral social-market economics, he says just a few seconds after 7:00: "Watch China." Germany is the leader right now on implementing his program but apparently if China gets interested this will indeed be the global tipping point toward the socio-energetic-economic revolution. Marx was indeed right; it is time.
They call environmentalism the deadly Green Dragon. I call their movement the putrid Festering Asshole.