Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Franz Hörmann’s Infomoney, Part IV

(Part III here)
The logic of [debt] is continued expansion. And that is almost a platitude of empires generally, that empires have an expansive logic built into them that obliges them to continue to expand, otherwise they kind of collapse inward. They can’t remain static.
Matthew Restall , source

As a process, civilization resembles a long-running economic bubble. Civilizations convert found or conquered ecological wealth into economic wealth and population growth.
William Ophuls, Immoderate Greatness

Yet we can’t stop the process. A capitalist economy, by definition, lives by growth; as Bookchin observes: “For capitalism to desist from its mindless expansion would be for it to commit social suicide.” We have, essentially, chosen cancer as the model of our social system.
Ursula Le Guin, source
Modern money is debt. Its logic is continued expansion for two mutually-reinforcing reasons:

1.   The civilisational/empire project is ‘congenitally’ about perpetual growth
2.   The perfect engine and/or fuel for 1. is interest-bearing debt-money creation.

Interest is exponential growth. Societies that systemically rely on it must grow else they collapse. This is the basic dynamic of a Ponzi scheme or economic bubble: if it isn’t growing, it’s collapsing. Because infinite growth is impossible on a finite planet, it follows that civilisation needs to discover, systemically, how to stay moving, how not to stagnate, by embarking on a new course of sustainable development. Therefore, because our money systems, financial institutions and the broader commercial world are each perpetually growing offshoots of the underlying civlisational dynamic, we need a profound revolution in all of these systems and down to the underlying dynamic before such a fundamental change of direction and emphasis becomes at all possible. Some call this a revolution of consciousness, and I agree with them.

The end of growth is a far more radical undertaking than most realise. Mere tweaks to the current system cannot induce it to function healthily on a path of sustainable development / steady-state growth. What is required goes against civilisation’s grain. Because our socialisation governs what we think of as natural and possible, a critical part of accomplishing this change of direction is education.

Education is currently an institution designed with perpetual growth in mind. It produces obedient consumers unschooled in imaginative and critical thought, incapable of direct democracy and mature citizenship, and thus prepared to subjugate themselves to meaningless jobs to pay for addictions skillfully foisted on them by the advertising industry to briefly assuage insatiable hungers generated by the hollowness of the broader system. Schools teach us what to learn, primarily by rote, not how to learn with playful yet sceptical enthusiasm.

In light of all this, Franz Hörmann’s proposal includes radical change to the education system. His tentative idea accomodates findings from brain researchers like Gerald Hüther and evolutionary psychologist Peter Gray, and educationalists such as John Taylor Gatto and John Holt. The ideas and findings of such thinkers and scientists cannot be realised in the current system, which is why no amount of evidence in support of them nor reasoned appeals to the elites have much effect. In something of a catch 22, the broader system has to change before it can want to revolutionise its education institutions, but education has to change to generate mature citizens who collectively give rise to and can sustain the type of new system humanity now requires. This double bind is echoed in Bookchin’s observation: “For capitalism to desist from its mindless expansion would be for it to commit social suicide.” As I have stressed elsewhere, it therefore falls to outsiders to make the attempt to get sufficient numbers hungry for self-motivated re-education in and then desirous of radical change.

Life coach

In an information money system, most of today's professions will no longer be needed. "Work time" (that time we humans spend doing something we don't want to do but must in order to secure a certain standard of living) will be significantly reduced, perhaps to as little as 8 – 10 hours a week.

However, there will be a new profession, though it will be more of a calling than a job: the life coach.

Mainly during the paradigm change, but also thereafter, everyone will be accompanied by an empathic, experienced friend who has 25 – 30 people in his or her care and helps them develop their potential. Today,
coaching is familiar as a brash management approach in almost all large companies. For our purposes, life coaching is closer to the mark. Moreover, life coaching will involve all personal assistance, training and support functions carried out today by bureaucrats who often toil anonymously under insufficient holistic knowledge (doctors, teachers, trainers, etc.). There is today a large number of highly empathic people who derive their greatest pleasure from helping others freely develop their potential and realise their goals and ambitions. Such people gravitate towards a wide variety of professions, for example Reiki practitioners, energy healers, shamanic healers, psychotherapists, physiotherapists, nurses, teachers, and countless others. And though in these professions there is an equally wide variety of attitudes and beliefs, those active in these fields are united by one significant factor: they are made happy by helping others.

The life coach concept embodies those aspects of the information money system proposal that are currently the least understood. Many people are discomfited by the idea that their entire lives would be accompanied by others, by people who would have a comprehensive overview of their life's course, their private goals and desires.

In response to this, we present below some answers to the most frequently asked questions

1) Can a life coach dictate terms to me?
Life coaches are supportive companions who can only make suggestions and offer positive incentives. They have no power to punish whatsoever and cannot therefore bring any force to bear. Their advice is simply advice to be considered, experimented with or rejected. Because one of our foundational premisses is that people are fundamentally good (friendly, cooperative, positively oriented), we want to establish a new society without force and punishment. In our view, it is normative social pressures and processes that encourage competitiveness and scarcity-based thinking, and subsequently fear and greed as drivers of antisocial and criminal urges. Once we are able to cooperatively produce the things we need and want in abundance such that we need not fight each other to acquire them, then envy, theft and deception will fade away as social behaviours. Psychological disorders (e.g. kleptomania) should be healed through compassionate and sympathetic therapies; "punishment as deterrence" is of little-to-no use in such cases.

2) Why would I have any need for a life coach at all?
The paradigm change we are now going through will be a serious psychological challenge for all of us. On the one hand, certain social assumptions will be displaced (e.g. the basic idea of the "moneyed person" as being superior to others, and the idea that money grows or "works"). On the other, other aspects of our contemporary understanding of life, the universe and everything will be subjected to profound changes (e.g. the basics of material realism, human health, concepts of body, mind and soul, but also what sort of life goals we set ourselves and how we choose to spend our time). Because these changes will confront us almost all at once, many of us will feel rather inundated, unmoored, perhaps to the extent that the process will place us in something approaching a state of shock. In light of this, it would make sense to have a competent and trusted person to turn to, a person who is already quite familiar with these changes, but one who also possesses the psychological communicative competence to gently and constructively guide those who trust him or her through the transition period. Their attentive and compassionate guidance can also prevent, lastingly, some of us from falling prey to emotional stress, panicking, and turning to violence (such as burning cars, breaking windows, robbing shops, etc.). Because we will have far more free time in the new society, it also makes sense that these trained life coaches are able to offer suggestions from a wide variety of sensible activities that are also fun. Later on, life coaches will propose further physical, mental and spiritual development, not as an attempt to manipulate but always as suggestions that their "students" can try out, accept or reject. A life coach is a health, nutrition and fitness advisor who is widely connected with all their colleagues who have their own specialist knowledge. A specialist among specialists. Life coaches can thus been thought of as a living knowledge network focussed on helping all people develop their potential.

3) Can my life coach lock my account?
No. Your life coach helps you to set up your own "economic system" by helping you draw up your "life contract with the whole community" (organising your personal price and tariff systems and shopping basket). They can also draw on the support of life coaches who are differently specialised than they. Life coaches cannot force you to do anything, nor can they punish you. As there is no power-based hierarchy in the information-money system, no one can benefit from manipulating anyone else. Everyone is on a level playing field as a direct logical consequence of the structure of the information money system (but only in terms of opportunity: this equality cannot result in uniformity of outcome, will not produce a homogeneous mass of identical people all wearing blue jeans and sneakers).

4) Is having a life coach optional or mandatory?
We want a new society without compulsion. However, seeing as we will in future no longer have doctors, lawyers, teachers, trainers etc. (i.e. professions whose practitioners know us today more or less as anonymous numbers), having a life coach is indeed mandatory: the role includes all these valuable functions (which means of course that holistic understanding for each individual's situation is ensured). Basically, life coaches negotiate our "life contract" with us as representatives of the rest of the community. Because "the community" functions as a dummy (proxy) in the life contract, the contract's content can be fully adapted to the particular interests and needs of each individual (see
cooperative individualism). But, should the "chemistry" between an individual and their life coach not be quite as desired, the individual is free to seek out a different life coach. The heart of the relationship is trust. And of course every life coach is also under the guidance of their own life coach. 

Me again. In conjunction with Hörmann’s Life Caoch idea, which is essentially about opening up education to be a seamless part of one’s entire life and not bound to schools and colleges, I believe the ideas of Sugata Mitra are a very good fit. He has tested his idea of self-organising learning environments (SOLEs) quite extensively across the world and the results are incredible, and is currently raising funds to implement them. These would be unmanned, safe environments for children to use as curiosity leads them, in sharp contrast to the mandatory and regimented school factories we know today. They would use what Mitra calls the Grandma Method (constant encouraging praise about accomplishments). This would be a screen in the SOLE connected to a positive and encouraging ‘authority’ figure on hand to assist the children should they feel they need assistance. If this has peaked your interest, his talks are fun to watch.


1 comment:

Roger Lewis said...

Hi Toby,
Its been a while I like this article. I was alerted to the Blairite wrecking ball of education as a dialogical process by a friend the other day. This is an interesting talk on Deliverology by John Seddon.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6n9TH5ktKFE

Hope you are finding a work life balance to your own tastes.
All the best