On persons as systems

What’s really interesting, and I am not aware of anybody who has researched into it, is how do people work as personalities from a systems perspective? Every person can be seen as a psychodynamic system; to maintain proper operation, motivation, enjoyment, relaxation etc. are needed and have to come from some source. Now it will be interesting to see the very different ways how people provide these, and become a working (or non-working) system, within their own environment. This is especialy helpful to understand cultural differences.

And in the same way, open source projects are sociodynamic / psychodynamic systems. And even societies are. Failure arises if these systems cannot maintain their own integrity and stop working properly: open source projects die, societies falter.

So there should be a discipline “social engineering” and “personality engineering” that helps structure people and groups so that they can be working systems. It seems that nobody attempted that yet (on society level, they just focus on money … what a poor abstraction).

On personal disintegration

While we are at this topic, there is another aspect: avoiding personal disintegration. One should take care to keep up ones personality as a system, to keep it from falling apart, that is, disintegration. Because, disintegrated persons are no longer able to live on their own; they are also unable to learn living on their own again; instead, they need “professional help”. A disintegrated person is what is commonly understood as a “broken personality”. Someone who stopped working as a self-supporting system.

There are many “disintegrating forces” in life. Stress, the lack of relaxation times, the expectations of others, substance dependence, other dependences, unhealthy nutrition, lack of fitness, … . The result of disintegration is normally no physical issue, at least not alone. Physical issues like lack of fitness, bad nutrition etc. can contribute, but more important are the mind issues to which these physical issues contribute: lack of motivation, depression, inability to enjoy, lack of visionary goals, feeling a lack of meaning in life etc..

On free will

People still discuss if people have a free will or not. Here is a new approach: the free will might be nothing that has a biological foundation (biology might even hinder it), but free will might be nonetheless present, “purely in software”, that is, in learned brain function. In that respect, the concept of “personhood” might be correct simply because others expect people to behave as persons, and they learn to fulfill these expectations (they learn to behave as persons: being responsible, having a conscience, having a free will). That way, personhood would be a social construct. (Just as free will, so also responsibility, so also moral debt, which are entailed in the concept of personhood.)

You might have realized my increased interest in resilient communities and all the autarkic technology that they need. Why is this? Of course it is a viable (any my personal) answer to the current financial crisis and generally to the dangers of globalization. But it is also more. Here is a wild and quite unordered list of reasons why I like the “autarkic resilient community” idea:

  • Earning bread, not money. Autarky is about, I want to earn my own bread, not money. That’s the most free style of working, when you create what you need, being neither dependent on others for creating nor consuming. With money, you depend on others for that both.
  • Leaving personal exploitation. It is also my personal way and tool to get out of exploitable dependencies. Totally out. It is the hard-hitting, full-scale, quite extreme solution to that problem. After I met with exploitation in various ways in my few years of adult experience, I do no longer want anybody to do anything like that to me. In effect this means, I do not want anybody “above” or “below” in any kind of hierarchy, as all these relationships can draw resources to the degree of exploitation. The “theoretical optimum” would be personal autarky, with the ability to help all the people around (which would also meet ones social needs). However, this is technically impossible, and still quite lonely: the feeling of being cared for is actually also a good experience. So interdependence is o.k. and desirable, where this means peer-to-peer relationships where no partner can (or will) exploit the other. Like the people within one resilient community, who are able to trust each other. And also like multiple resilient communities, supporting each other, but being fully able to immediately stand on their own if there is the need for it.
    I must admit that this solution to cope with unrighteousness (esp. exploitation, see above) is not really a solution: it is just avoiding to meet with unrighteousness. This is because I see no meaning in coping with or fighting unrighteousness, because it should simply not exist. Being able to successfully fight against unrighteousness is a qualification one would not need in the “ideal world”, so there is better stuff to learn. But that is my view of things. Also, I still think that one should be able to clearly communicate to people that what they do is unrighteous, so that they have a chance to repent and undo what they did; but investing more energy and resources to actually fight back is beyond what I think is meaningful. Instead of that, I better want to invest my energy and resources into developing a parallel, resilient “new world”, where righteousness lives. (To be clear: this is not blasphemy, it is irony. Righteousness lives with God in Heaven alone, but in a very limited sense one could apply it to resilient communities that are able to exclude unrighteousness by reorganizing themselves, through resilience.)
  • A give-based society. This is another personal reason for this autarky thing: I tried to live “according to the moral standards of the New Testament” in my life up to now, which is in essence: to love your neighbor as you love yourself. But it did not work out: “the system” exploited my graciousness, just as people exploit the grace of God. Because “the system” is all about taking, while NT is all about giving; both systems work (and the NT system is much more pleasure to live in), but not if they do mix with each other (then the NT part is worst of all). Which means, God has to find a place for me now … as I still hate the “taking-based system” of capital / wealth / rights aggregation in economic and personal life, and love the “NT system”, the NT standard of love, but find it impossible to live it out in a world of exploitation and hard, exploiting competition. I think the autarkic community thing can be that kind of place for me.
  • Exploitation-free society. I do not exploit, so I do not want to be exploited. It’s akin to anarchism. As people and institutions are unwilling to respect that, I will move out of all their systems. That’s the background of autarkic communities. Among the expolitation-prone relationships to replace are: institutionalized health insurance; the whole “free market economy” thing where every contract is basically exploitable by the other party; large nation states with all their inefficiency and very limited participation options in parliamentary democracy; intellectual property industries; landlords; commercial products; and so on, and so on.
  • The philantropic component. Ah, and yet another thing. Though I have to admit a deep frustration about the “state of the world” and esp. about the business world, and though I seek total independence from peple now, my philantropic, visionary strain did not vanish. This autarky project is not just about autarky for myself, but at the same time about inventing and providing the necessary tools to everybody, so that people can start their own autarky from scratch.
  • A Robinsonade. Still another thing: It is quite interesting that my enthusiasm about autarky started already in my childhood, me writing the story “Primitive Lage” (primitive state) at the age of 12-14 (?), which was kind of a Robinsonade.
  • Against the moral dilemma of inhumane globalized production. And again, another reason: autarky solves the moral dilemma of globalization, namely, that it is not meaningfully possible (except perhaps for the rich) to not buy all the products that have been produced in inhumane conditions somewhere overseas.
  • Ad-free society. And still another advantage: in autarky-based economy, advertisement is unnecessary. Which will add to the efficiency and profitability of this mode of economy, as advertising is simply waste of resources (time, money, energy … everything). Because it is a pull-based economy: people search for the design they need, and then produce it themselves.
  • On not needing large systems. Autarky-based economy and autarky-based society is the discovery that any large-scale system (political, economic, technical) is unnecessary. Which introduces simplicity, as all these large-scale systems are unmanageable, or nearly that, and a good percentage of the population is busy with steering them (using statistics, controlling, business administration, politics and the like). People in the autarky movement have the right to be no longer interested in steering large-scale systems, and to not search for solutions to their problems (“the global problems”).
  • Solving over-population. In autarky-based society, there is not even a problem of global over-population, because of the following emergence: an autarky community will take care to get no bigger in numbers than the amount of people it can feed sustainably (and also in times of crop failure).
  • It’s about small-scale socialism. Autarky-based communities are actually socialism. But small-scale, and that makes the difference. Large-scale socialism cannot work because there is a large free rider and inefficiency problem: large systems are hierarchical, and those higher in hierarchy can always be free riders, as those below have no influence options and also there are no market forces that hinder managers from being too much of a free rider. In small-scale socialism however, every inefficiency and free riding hurts everybody, and as there is no need for hierarchy, there can be effective governance to tackle inefficiency and free riding.
  • It’s Marx minus utopies. The Marxist interpretation of this new autarky movement would probably be that the means of production are now returned to the hands of the people. But contrary to Marx, whose image of humanity was flawed by optimistic utopism, the autarky movement includes precautions to be resilient against the inherent evil of the human being: the means of production are not returned “to the people” as a whole, but to small communities who use them only for themselves (with very limited external trade). Without a central market and central governance, there can be no centralized exploitation (as in real socialism), autarky communities can only fall one at a time. There is no point in using the means of production in any centralized (large scale) way, as this just elicits centralism and centralized exploitation again.
  • Against institutionalized politics. The governance of an autarky community is the governance of a small-scale society: one needs to employ principles learned in friendships, marriage, partnerships, tribes and villages; not those form any kind of larger society where any degree of anonymity exists. Because the examples of small-scale societies mentioned before can be stable, by our experience, so can be the autarky community. And yet: autarkic communities (at least the ones with software governance) are the grassroots approach to pose an end to the system of “politics”. Where the definition of politics is that it is about power: about getting ones chosen way done, not about choosing the right or best way. Only in small-scale entities, where problems are small-scale and therefore understandable and solvable, opinions and therefore politics can be avoided. So it should be done in these small-scale autarkic communities.
  • A mistrust against centralized systems. Main reason for establishing an autarkic community is because I do not trust any centralized systemt to be able to create and maintain adequate living conditions for people.
  • Liberal or social? By the way, is the concept of autarkic communities a (neo-)liberalist or a socialist idea? None of it, and both of it. It is totally liberalist regarding its relation to the state, by not needing the state for anything any more (dear state, if you read this: this does not mean that I intend to do anything against the state; it’s just not needed). And it is totally socialist regarding its inner relations, by needing the other members of the community for everything, by implementing “small-scale communism” within such a group. It seems that the sum of liberalism and socialism in any culture has to be the same for the culture to work; but the distribution can be chosen. So either the “public society” can be mainly socialist, allowing the “private life” to be liberalist / individualistic. Or vice versa (as in the case of autarkic communities). Or a mixed variants in various degrees (as in the case of most Western societies).
  • Biblical support? By forcing things a little, one can even find Biblical support for the autarky / autarkic community idea:  Rom 13:8; I Thess 4:10-12; Acts 2:44-45.
  • Easier to build and maintain than a state. More reasons why to prefer the autarkic lawless system to the large-state law system: it needs less effort to build, while it needs a large movement to change a state, and a large movement to keep it in order, means one community cannot guarantee it. Whenever you cannot maintain or uphold something, you need to let it down because it is a waste of resources. Means you need to let down society with all its problems and questions to go managing the small community, which is manageable.
  • It’s simpler in small societies. Things that will no longer be necessary when moving to autarky-based economy include: Customs duty, and all entailed administration. Because autarkic economy has the intrinsic motivation to not buy essential goods, there is no danger to come into unhealthy dependencies by trade (which just adds luxury items), so trade needs not be regulated.
  • Work as fun and fulfilling. It is true (esp. in the first time) that there is much less luxury and leisure time in an autarkic community. There would be also no commercial entertainment available like videos and music (apart from the vast amount of cost-free stuff on the Internet). And also, people will have to work more. All this is no problem, however, as work is fun and meaningful and fulfilling now. There is simply no need for entertainment, leisure time and luxury if people like their work, think it is meaningful and have enough social fun in an unstressed working condition as to not need leisure time or entertainment. People will value their work to be meaningful because they do create the essential things for themselves, and help the world to do the same – while work for luxury and pseudo-products (like McDonalds food …) is not meaningful because it is avoidable.
    If you want a book to look up more on this: Jerry Mander (Ed.), Edward Goldsmith (Ed.): The Case Against the Global Economy: And for a Turn Toward the Local [here on Amazon]. There is also an excerpt chapter on Indian local economy (swadeshi).
  • The right to use ones full potential. In my view, the “right to use ones full potential, for the good of oneself and of all” should be a fundamental right in society. But it is not, because the unemployed people are not allowed to use their full potential, as no corresponding counter-value is offered to them (by means of a job, or other means) that would allow them to use their potential for the good of theirselves. They could, however, use their potential for volunteering, for the good of all; but a part of the fundamental right proposed above is also to use ones potential for oneself. Because if volunteering is the only option, it is not voluntary, it is collective slavery.
    Now there is no such right in Germany: GG Art. 2 (1) allows to use ones full potential if it does not hurt the “rights of others”, and others have the right to not offer somebody a job – which is the problem of the unemployed. GG Art. 12 (1) allows to choose ones job freely; but does not guarantee the option to choose.
    GG Art. 2 (1): Jeder hat das Recht auf die freie Entfaltung seiner Persönlichkeit, soweit er nicht die Rechte anderer verletzt und nicht gegen die verfassungsmäßige Ordnung oder das Sittengesetz verstößt.
    GG Art. 12 (1): Alle Deutschen haben das Recht, Beruf, Arbeitsplatz und Ausbildungsstätte frei zu wählen.
    Now, what would an autarkic community improve here: by being autarkic (independent of the job market), it allows everybody to use his / her potential, for the good of theirselves and others. Society should at least guarantee to found autarkic communities for the unemployed, so that they can use their time and power to their potential. There are “education” and “occupation” programs for the unemployed, but these are currently just “1 EUR jobs”, which is far from a counter-value for using the “full potential” of time and power.
  • Replacing bad rules. This society has “bad rules”, so I do not want to get socialized into it, instead I want to found my own. The bad rules are the excessive protection of properties by the forces of the state: while the rich get richer, the poor not even get something to help themselves out of being poor. They get subsistence fees. But let’s not miss the exceptions where the state indeed tries to help people realize their full potential, like the EXIST program.
  • The advantage of deliberate societies. Autarkic societies are about deliberate societies: the thesis is that a society that can select its members will work better than one that needs to include everybody just because he / she got born there. This is not about elitism, but about being able to abandon people who do not obey the “social contract” of a society.
  • Eliminating resource conversion friction loss. Also, autarkic community is about eliminating the huge amount of loss (“friction loss”) that happens both when converting personal resources (knowledge, qualifications, tools and time) into money, and money back into personal resources (products and services obtained). This loss is due to many reasons: the state captures near 50% of resources in one full such cycle; there is maximized commercial gain of the supplier parties involved; one might not be happy enough to have customers whi pay good in timely fashion, or even can pay good; and one might not even be happy enough to be able to convert ones resources to money at all (called unemployment, which is a problem in the socioeconomic system, not a necessity of the physical world). In addition, the rich and powerful people succeed to make this system work at a surplus for them, even increasing the loss that the other contributors have to bear in this resource-to-money-and-back cycle, and leading to unhealthy concentrations of power and money.
  • Post-scarcity economics. When it comes to autarkic / sovereign / resilient communities, people often talk about “post scarcity” economy. This does not mean to exploit nature (or fellow humans) even more so that one personally has no scarcity any longer; as this is what people try nowadays, and it creates all sorts of wars and problems. Post-scarcity is about adapting ones choice and use of resources so that the supply is abundant relative to ones use. Then, people can stop fighting against nature and fellow creatures, because there is nothing any more to struggle about. The choice of resources to use would then include all the abundant and the renewable resources of nature: water, air, soil (silicium), aluminium, sun energy, wind, wood, … . Behind the open design idea is the conviction that humanity is depraved of much potential well-being because institutions keep back their designs as secrets, instead of publishing them for all to see and use. read more on that “scarcity economics” background of capitalism.

Google, eBay, Facebook, Yahoo, GMX, MSN, Windows, Apple, Linux distributions etc. are like nation states in cyberspace: if you engage in their society, they provide something to you, but also might demand money from you, to know things about you, and to control you.

So in addition to being a citizen of a nation state (and as if would not already be bad enough), one is a citizen of, mostly several, cybernation states.

The good thing is, it is easy to choose and prefer those you like. I like those that allow me to be free: Ubuntu Linux. And I am opposed to those that have too high taxes (eBay, Amazon) and those that have too powerful intelligence services (Facebook, Google) and those with paranoid property laws (Microsoft) or too strict legislation in general (Apple).

It is shocking to see that adults are damned to stay as they are. Only children are supported to learn something new, but once they threw you into the world of the adults to go out and earn your own money, all support is gone. It seems they just intended to educate you as far as you need to earn tax payers’ money for paying taxes and buying commercial crap. But they do not support you to become a mature personality.

Of course there is self-education, but that is limited to technical things (electronics, computing, …) and does not help to overcome social problems (because of fear to learn what one wants to learn).

And of course, there is experience, but that does not help you to learn social things either, as they only allow you to gather experience (on the job) in areas where you already have some qualifications so that they can hire you. Also people will fear to accept a job that they fear to fail in (as it is about something they need, and maybe want, to learn yet).

And also, there are adult education services, but that is expensive, totally inefficient, and people do not have the time for it. Instead, education must be integrated into daily life.

Might this be a solution: we need hackerspaces for education in technology, and intentional communities for education in social and self governance skills, both with a semi-formal mentoring and evaluation program.

From a practical, motivational and experience-based perspective, it is useless to try to do something that is not favoured by the current circumstances, if that activity is something regular or habitual or something that requires many contributions over time (as part-time work). Such attempts will all fail eventually, and up to that point of time, they burn a huge amount of motivation, strength and other resources.

The solution is to change the circumstances instead. That is, to create surroundings (infrastructure, organizational rules etc.) that favour the activity one wants to do. This can be called “behavior setting design”; see the behavior setting theory.

It is however possible to perform one-time projects “against the circumstances”; this also consumes much motivation, strength and other resources, but that is o.k. if one can “re-fill” that wile living in ones day-to-day circumstances.


  • To gain fitness, don’t create regular “train this or that” tasks, instead find a friend as a training partner, or a sports group so that training will get a regular, fun activity.
  • To become a more social person, move into a flat sharing community instead of creating tasks to meet people while still living in a very isolated way.
  • To recover from a burn-out situation, place yourself in a relaxing, supportive situation instead of creating tasks to relax, tasks to train physically, tasks to socialize etc..

A related insight is that it’s complete nonsense to permanently try to exhort and persuade the population to do more sport and live healthier, to increase public health. Because, all of the population know about the risks of not following these recommendations, and still do not follow them; so this must have a reason, and cannot by cured by simply intensifying the exhortations. The reason are multiple obstacles in the circumstances that make it impossible to uphold healthy activities in the long term with average human motivation (see above). People are simpl in a behavior setting that promotes unhealthy action (on average and in long term; individual actions and people might deviate, but a behavior setting is always effective on average, and average health is of interest here). So peopel cannot be blamed for living unhealthy, instead, these circumstances have to be changed to be more supportive.


  • open, friendly sport groups to join
  • more informal social security to motivate people (by friends and family)
  • 24 hour gratis gym, operated by the city, incl. trainers
  • well-known places to meet for sports in informal manner
  • city-operated public Internet forums to find sport mates etc.

Have wrath, just don’t do evil: this seems to be the Biblical idea about how to deal with people if some tougher mode is required: if it is required, use the tougher mode (have wrath). There is no meaning in whimsy-flimsy behavior if only strength and tough, honest words lead to the goal. This phrase is actually something Paul wrote once to the Ephesisans: “Be angry, yet do not sin” (Eph. 4:26 ISV); so, it is “biblical”. (On a side note, this is not necessarily a quote from Ps.4:4 which rather speaks against wrath at all; because this connection can only be made via the LXX version, says Matthew Henry in his commentary on Eph.4:26.)

But then also, as Paul goes on to say: “Do not let the sun go down on  your wrath!” (Eph.4:26 ISV) . What does he mean? Know the limits of your wrath. When keeping wrath long term (“over night”, and longer), it breeds aggression and every kind of evil-doing. Therefore it is necessary to limit it to being a short-term emotion. Because then it is just a mode of more powerful social interaction: using the human expression abilities to full potential where that becomes necessary. It seems to me that Paul means this function of wrath here.

Remaining things to think about here:

  • What role does culture have here? Is it wise to adapt the severity of ones expression of wrath to the surrounding culture (like being less wrathful in Asian countries, as they are not used to it, but being more wrathful in South European countries, as they get the message only then?)
  • How to “not let the sun go down” if the reason for ones wrath is still there on the evening? Wouldn’t it corrupt ones message and credibility to still reconcile with the other party?
  • What actually are legitimate expressions of wrath if doing evil  (like destroying things, shellacking people) is not included? From the example of Jesus it seems that screaming and shouting is not even necessarily a part of showing wrath, rather a sharp message that is uttered in a direct, authentic, but sober-minded, low-emotional way.

I have some ideas in mind how to structure content in a way that is more adequate for skimming. Long texts are simply not really navigable in the finer portions (only in chapters and subchapters), and that makes them unadequate for serving in a workplace for content (snippets of scientific work etc.) and as a storage for content that is indexed in the mind.

Some ideas for structuring:

  • all traditional means: title, headers, sub-headers, paragraph headers
  • Line headers, for summarizing the content of a short paragraph
  • making much greater use of symbols (using street sign symbols as a well-known reference set)
  • foldable paragraphs, like in mindmaps: there is a title, but the content appears only after clicking on the title
  • hypertext
  • paragraphs that appear when hovering over them with the mouse
  • diagram languages
  • using structured language, e.g. for todo lists, inspired by programming languages incl. their choice of indentation
  • formula typesetting

In all that, it is important that this kind of content is producable in real-time, just like long texts.