Again a post about the group of themes involving society models, autarchy, community, the power community idea, technology for all that, and more. The pieces are coming together now … but slowly.
Here is the problem that has to be solved: it is the one and only, the universal problem of humankind. The problem of how to lead your life. (Of yourse, there is a second, even more important problem: getting to know God; this is tackled in the Second Acts series of blog posts, while we keep here with the earth-bound stuff.) Leading life on earth is quite a difficult thing … for some people it is impossible (those who starve to death etc.), for some it is hard (those in the developing world), for some it is boring and lonely (those in the developed world).
Here is the latest solution idea:
There should be a mid-sized (50-150 people) monastery-style community of hackers anywhere in the developing world. That community gets around loneliness by close monastic living, doing so much together. And it gets around the problems of money-induced captivity, loneliness and mind-dullness (all by the “normal” professional occupation) by being autarchic. Where autarchy is here a quite radical concept, including food supply and even medical treatment. That is because to live freely, one has to avoid close coupling to the captivating, exploiting forces in the rest of society (which is always done by money), and to avoid handling money one needs to avoid also buying food and paying health insurance, pension insurance and the like. It would save some money, however, by community integrated companies, for emergency situations and for buying stuff that really cannot be made oneself. Such a thing has to be started in a developing area, as existing on very little money is possible there because it is the norm (cheap food available, free living space in squatter areas, no complex conditions to meet … perfect for a startup). Another major problem that would be solved by such a community is the ever-increasing complexity of highly-civilized societies, where one regulation (like “overhaul of the financial regulation system”) chases the other, and concepts are stacked in more and more meta levels above each other. On the contrary, this community would be a “basic building block” of society: all the complexity is within it, but society itself (made from multiple such communities) is very simple; and therefore, very stable; it cannot break down like our current society is always in danger to do, last time in the 2008 financial crisis. Ah, not to forget: monastery has nothing to do with celibacy here; the community would embrace romantic relationships and marriage.
Any of the ideas that wants to build society from communities has this insight at its core: essentially all of human activity is directed to “happy private life”, including work in companies (their products are directed to improve private life, directly or indirectly), health care (which in effect wants to improve peoples private life), government etc.. Now the problem in highly civilized societies is that we gradually started to do all these activities in centralized organizational forms, and then these forms developed a life on their own, demanding more from the individual that they grant. For example, working in companies is normally a highly stressful and demanding thing, leaving nearly no room for creativity, and social and spare time activities … and all this just for the sake of some money. The community ideas do invert such a society, because: if the central thing is private / individual life and well-being, this should be at the center, and all other stuff should be integrated into that, to serve that goal. Unlike now, where the the individual serves the stuff in the form of centralized institutions like government, companies, health insurance etc.. In this inverted society, the formerly small elements (family / community) now include and incorporate the formerly large / superior elements (companies, governing people) because living (community, family, well-being, being creative etc.) is much more important than keeping organizations running.
I think that the time is quite mature for starting such a thing, because all the ingredients have come into existence in recent years:
- The Internet, as the all-encompassing source of cost-free knowledge, so that the community can learn anything it wants to. The Internet, with its current content, is the most important ingredient!
- A vibrant do-it-yourself community on the Internet, which has created an awful lot of concepts and techniques for producing stuff in autarchy. For example, see my recent discovery of the fab lab idea.
- Prototype communities with proven concepts, such as hackerspaces; see my blog post on that.
- Abundant technology of many sorts; for example, cell phones have been produced in such vast numbers by now that they are essentially ubiquitous and cost-free.
- Medical knowledge all over the Internet, allowing to learn and practice medicine from that, for free.
- Globalization in general, and of the markets in particular; which enables people to get also very special items in short time, and to sell across the globe for the remaining monetary needs.
- Technology for computer supported communication. A power community needs computer support to enable its highly efficient work style. (I wrote my diploma thesis about such stuff.)
- Open Source Software and Open Content. These are the really free resources to build upon as a community that has no money. And it can give back by handing modification results back to the general public.