In the beginning of the human journey the predominant incentive was survival. This was made possible through innovation and cooperation between tribal group members in a nomadic existence.
The following documentary series outlines the initial steps in this amazing journey:
An interesting new insight into this subject has been uncovered through recent scientific discoveries, summarised in the following documentary by Deek Jackson:
These were times of great hardship and struggle against the odds for homo-sapiens, but through our many trials and tribulations, we have somehow survived to colonise the entire planet, passing on these traits to our children. Two amazing occurrences helped to make this already amazing assent even more incredible.
First was the ability to harness the power of fire, enabling us to stay warm, cook meat and socialize. And secondly, was the ability to plant crops, ensuring that our survival was no longer simply contingent upon what nature had to offer.
This ability to control nature in our favour allowed us the luxury of settling into communities of increasingly larger size and populations. These changes bought with them an increased ability in the the stock piling of food and the need for some sort of hierarchy and social structure emerged to manage the complexity of social and economic practice within and between these early communities.
Enter the next great player in the human journey: Money.
The history of money is outlined in the following video by Deek Jackson:
The use of a monetary system
The product of the technical inefficiency and relative scarcity of these early times and until very recently, has been the use of money as a tool for economic interaction. Money both facilitated easier trade between tribesman and settlements in these early times, as well as helping to establish countries, empires and the global civilization we see around us today.
Many chores required for the maintenance of society until very recent times has needed the extrinsic incentive system provided by money for this work to be carried out. It has indeed been useful in this regard along with being a far more efficient trading tool than barter. It could be argued that money has been an equal amongst our earlier triumphs of fire, agriculture and the wheel, but as will be described later on in this article, the relative scarcity and technical inefficiency that requires the use of a monetary system is now obsolete in the wake of our current and emerging scientific understanding and subsequent technological capabilities.
Therefore, considering the inherently divisive and detrimental social, economic and environmental consequences that persist due to the continued use of a monetary system, the question becomes:
Can we shift our understandings, values and practices integral to the use of money, to those more aligned with access abundance and social and environmental sustainability?
Perhaps the question might be better phrased by asking:
Can we afford not to?
So what are the detrimental consequences to the continued use of a monetary system exactly?
The problem with profit
The first of these negative consequences is the tendency toward self-interest and maximization inherent to the profit motive. This may not always be the case of course, but with the ever increasing lag in the use of available technological solutions towards human problems, it is clear that if the profit motive were as effective in what it claims to deliver, then we would surely be using these technologies, would we not?
Even when our intentions are honorable, the externalities for anyone in business often hinder or block these better intentions from being maintained or from coming to fruition in the first place.
This point is made more succinctly in the following lecture from Peter Joseph:
And more comedically expressed in the following brief clip:
The psychological effect of the profit motive displays a propensity toward monetary accumulation and self-maximization. This has become especially apparent in recent times, with the 85 richest people on earth now having more wealth than the bottom 3.5 billion combined.
Also, a recent study carried out by the University of California and Toronto shows that those with more wealth tend to be less altruistic and more likely to be dishonest in their dealings with other human beings:
Infinite growth on a finite planet
The second downside to the use of a monetary system is infinite growth on a finite planet and the requirement for employment to sustain consumption and growth.
In one way or another money only works in a scarcity based economic system. However, it is only capable of calculating this relative scarcity in a rather crude sense, in which ultimately those with the most purchasing power get the most say in where these scarce resources are allocated. This is clearly not equitable or capable of meeting human need and will never achieve anything approaching a peaceful or sustainable state of affairs on this planet.
The consequences of infinite growth are expressed in the documentary ‘There’s no tomorrow’:
And in this newspaper article from ‘The Guardian’:
There may well be some useful transitional models of a monetary system but these should be accepted as ‘transitional’ for the reasons stated above.
This point, along with a general overview of the history of the monetary system is expanded upon in the following talk by James Phillips:
The problem with the economic calculation problem
The economic calculation problem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_calculation_problem) was a criticism of the central planning proposed by socialist regimes by Ludwig Von Mises in his 1920 article ‘economic calculation in the socialist commonwealth’, later expanded upon by Friedrich Hayek. In his first article, Mises described the nature of the price system under capitalism and how individual subjective values are translated into the objective information necessary for the rational allocation of resources in society.
Though this may have been partially true in a certain time and particular set of technical circumstances, such points should always factor in the notion that technology has and will continue to have a massive effect on social conditions and economic factors and practice in times to come.
The basis of creating abundance for human need in a sustainable manner has to be founded upon the intelligent management of the Earth’s resources. With a necessary accompanying shift in our social customs and values, this can now be achieved using computers and artificial intelligence.
The first demonstration of the management of the complexity of an economy using computers has already showed its efficacy in part, in the republic of Chile in the 1970’s with something called project ‘Cybersyn’. Cybersyn was surprisingly efficient and effective for its time, in terms of managing economic calculation in the socialist republic from the years 1971-73.
For more information on this topic please listen to the following discussion between Ben McLeish and Matt Berkowitz:
This efficacy of economic calculation in an NLRBE is outlined in a more detailed manner in the following talk by Peter Joseph:
A solution to the money problem
Through the humane application of science and technology, absent of the vested interest inherent to the price system, recent technological advancements mean that we can finally address the root causes of poverty, crime, environmental degradation and war, but only if we are willing to shift our values to support the establishment of a socio-economic system capable of delivering these aims.
The efficacy of this technological capability is outlined in the following documentaries,
‘Our technical reality’:
Meeting human need is a technical issue, not a political one and whilst it may well bring politics and current economic principals into the fray in transition, we must come to accept that we cannot go on using a system which demands increasing the money supply through debt with interest applied in the quest for yet more consumption and growth on a finite planet. Especially not in the wake of growing unemployment through the increased technological displacement of human labour.
The issue of technological unemployment is outlined in more detail in the following TED talk by Federico Pistono:
The critical aspects of the problems that our current socio-economic system poses are summed up in the form of 3 questions in the following video by Peter Joseph:
An outline of the resource based economic model is summed up in the following documentary from the Venus Project:
We cannot solve the problems of today by using the same method of thinking we used to create them.
How does this relate to education?
My personal recommendation is that, in schools at least, these blockades need not be mentioned explicitly and especially not to younger Children. In my view, it is far better to be the bringers of good news, rather than the harbingers of doom, by focusing our attention on delivering an understanding of our technological capability to address human problems.
In delivering a presentation or activity to older children, the reasons why we are not employing these technologies as well as the problems of our current paradigm could be raised in a Q&A perhaps, or simply left to be considered for a later date.
The temptation to deliver the idea of an NLRBE in full can have a ‘backfire effect’ by looking ‘cultish’ to those who are unfamiliar with it in my experience. Leaving such questions hanging in the air may well be frustrating in the sense that we may never get to know if that person went on to appreciate the idea in full, but that is the nature of planting seeds unfortunately. Rather than seem like we are imposing our will on those we are communicating with, if we leave them with a question to answer and investigate of their own volition, then they will be far more likely to appreciate and acquire a more rounded understanding of the subject in due course. This approach is not a universal recommendation, but rather a suggestion to consider using depending on the person, situation or context of the conversation being had at the time.
Ultimately if we do nothing, nothing will happen, and if when doing so we focus our attention on communicating with those who already agree with us, or those who are unlikely to, then we are probably wasting our time. This is not efficient or conducive to initiating the shift in values required for an NLRBE and is the reason why communicating these points to the next generation, who are still likely to have an open enough perspective to appreciate the need to move society into a more emergent, collaborative and sustainable direction, is a vital approach for NLRBE advocates to adopt.
So with these points in mind, please be sure to visit the ‘Action in Education’ section to see how to go about enacting this much needed change in your local educational institutions.