Different economic systems, one floating megacity: introducing Witness

Alberto-

It’s a useful consideration – the question of the extent and effects of integration into the global economy of non-integrated countries. I spent a lot of time in Russia in the 90s (my wife is Russian, and was an interpreter for the International Monetary Fund at the time). I argued with some IMF economists, who of course went ahead with “cold turkey” for Russia, with devastating results (that arguably led to Russia’s conflict with the so-called “West”, but that’s another conversation…).

It is not clear to me from what little I know why Albania would have lost public services as a result of opening to the global economy, unless they were COMPLETELY inefficient… but this is a guess – I’d be interested to hear – the problem in Russia (IMHO) was that integration should have been pursued at a much slower pace, so that industry standards and work practices would have time to adapt – maybe over a decade – as it was, as you know, whole industries completely collapsed because of poor quality, obsolete equipment, bad management, etc – this is what capitalism is supposed to do, but if it ruins an entire economy then this is not helpful…

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Rule of law broke down. People deserted their secure-and-paid-a-pittance jobs; other people pillaged and vandalized post offices, ripping telephones from the walls and taking everything that could be taken. There was a legitimate government, and it was negotiating with IMF ghouls; but it focused on high level reform based on optimizing static allocation, rather than keeping the lights on.

I travelled it on an old motorcycle, in 1996. The only way to make sure the bike would still be there in the mornings was to pay some local person to sleep next to it. In theory there was a revolution going on, but you would never see police. All young people wanted to leave.

And this was on my doorstep, mind you: I grew up in Italy, so I took a ferry from Ancona to Durres, and there I was. I remember being inspired by the German Vereinigung: Italy could have stepped in and made Albania an autonomous region, not even a particularly big one (Italy has 20 regions). It would have been expensive, but doable, and well worth it. We could have given everyone a European passport and at least basic infrastructure in a couple of years, and kickstarted a cycle of growth for both countries.

The way I have approached this econ problem is this. People dream up some kind of society, with a culture, an ideology. Then, I sit down and wonder: how would its economy work? Suppose it’s very egalitarian. How would one build institutions that would make egalitarianism a (mid- to long-run) equilibrium? So that’s a kind of Nash equilibrium notion, something that is at least in part self-enforcing. The next step is to go subgame-perfect, and try to imagine an economic history that led to that outcome from baseline Witness (late stage capitalism, with a government strong enough to set Project Viking in motion).

Avantgrid is a kind of eco-Switzerland: strong local government, island geography, focus on the environment. I do not need to remind you, Philip, or @Nightface, that Kim Stanley Robinson is endlessly banging on about the Swiss in the Mars Trilogy – @hugi, who dreamed up Avantgrid, is in good company. What would its economy look like?

(Maybe we should move this discussion into a different thread, eh :slight_smile:)

Easy: we agree on a date and time, and I set up a Zoom meeting using the Edgeryders account. I propose Tuesday 16th March. European time is great, and there are definitely people living on it. However, two of the most interesting conversationalist and contributors to Witness, @yudhanjaya and @petussing, are in Sri Lanka and Texas respectively. If they express interest, we could try and find a time that accommodates them (given, of course, your own schedule).

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Tuesday March 16th in the evening actually works well for me. Looks like 1900 my time (GMT+2) would be 2230 in Srti Lanka and 1000 or 1100 in Texas. Does that work for people? @yudhanjaya @petussing
I could easily make it later, but I think my earliest would be 1800 my time.

I want to respond to various other things in this thread, but that’ll be later today, as work is currently eating my life.

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My times when I am teaching are Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9:30 and 10:50 AM and between 12:30 and 1:50 PM. So… 10 I cannot make; 11 is possible; a Monday or a Wednesday would be better.

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I’ve noticed that Avantgrid seems to evoke this reaction. I guess it’s a little more eclectic than the other Distriks? I would be curious to hear more about both what fascinates and where the main WTF factor lies?

For me it mostly came from this:

To me it sounds like each trade is a duel. You stand on neutral ground, bring no more than 2 second’s each, force a certain kind of bargaining, and everyone’s proud of this. If I need to buy a box of food from the next Canton all the people involved need to travel somewhere else, treat it like a duel, we all love that, but we hate waste? This is so wasteful, so inefficient! Why would this happen?
This could happen if all Cantons feel threatened by the others. If I think everyone’s always planning to take my stuff, I’ll be very wary whenever anyone visits and treat all trade in a manner which maximizes my security - neutral ground, seconds, pride and defensiveness.

The ledger and money reducing in value with use are strange ideas to me and seem very compute-expensive, but they could fit in with an almost religious or actually religious (See your “Dune” reference) eco-conservation culture. If you’re energy-poor and see up close the damage that harm to the world can do, than keeping close control and track of the energy you use could both make sense and be pro-survival, so there’s a reinforcement mechanism. This still leaves the problem of the deadweight loss - you need to spend energy and resources to store this information and use it. What level of energy use is worth logging depends on the marginal cost of compute, with levels just under that being possibly culturally-religiously monitored, and with philosophies about wasting small amounts of energy is bad thing and builds up to massive costs that we can’t track and harms us all and being…‘sins’?
Some people this works on. Some semi-believe but do because of social sanction in small Cantons.

Makes me think of something like an Avantgrid youth version of the Amish rumspringa or simply teen rebellion - you go to Libria or Hygga and waste some energy! You revel in being inefficient and wasteful and rebellious and fun! But then most of you feel bad, realize you’re harming the world and your friends and family and human race, and go home to Avantgrid to live a low-energy lifestyle, be proud of your self-reliance, and know that by doing so you’re helping save the world. You can even measure it in (CO2 levels? Sea acidity? Species return? All of the above and more.), You can literally see how you’re helping improve the world, both outside your window and in your ledger.

I could also do Monday(15th) or Wednesday(17th) as well as the Tuesday in between. Other weeks are also possible.
@petussing What time zone are you in, Central or Mountain?

Ah. I may be at fault for some of that (the Coasian duels). General observation from bartering goods and running supplies to families during flood situations in Sri Lanka. In low-trust situations, with no clear enforcement mechanisms, people seem to want backup.

I could do Tuesday or Wednesday. My big problem is that March is full of research deliverables and I’m trying to get at least five hours of sleep a day to ensure optimal function. @petussing, how are you for Wed? I gather we’re some 11h apart.

Wait, maybe we’re thinking about different things. When I read that, it sounded like whenever anyone on Avantgird went to the neighbor’s farm to buy some tomatoes, they needed to do a whole massively expensive and semi-combative ritual. Meaning both within and between Cantons.

Did you mean that in the same way? Or was it meant as primarily (or only) between Cantons?

Because then it makes much more sense. I live in Canton X where I generally trust my neighbors, live, barter, etc. with no general problems. If, however, I’m trading outside Canton X, which means I’m doing something large, not just buying eggs, or furniture, I’m going from a high-trust to a low-trust environment. The other side could screw me, there could be bandits etc. Given that it’s a barter system, we might have misunderstood or mis-represented the relative quality of the things we’re trading. This could get messy. So when I do it, I come backed by 2 people from my Canton, showing Canton pride, giving the other side the proper respect that I know that they could kill me and steal my stuff, even if I’m pretty sure they won’t. That could be a point of pride.

If that’s it, then I imagine it as a somewhat clannish idea. Inside the Canton we conserve, don’t waste. When we go outside it’s either low-cost (we row a boat or use a solar motor) or it’s a trading trip (which is higher-cost because it’s big, needs more transport etc.) where the defensive attitude, weapons, extra people etc., and finding neutral ground to trade on are only a small-added cost per unit of trading volume.

So Avantgrid culture means “fashion” isn’t wearing the newest thing, it’s wearing the oldest thing and showing you’ve taken care of or upcycled it? :smiley:

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Definitely between Cantons. You’re right, it makes zero sense inside a community - I imagined this as a way that traders would stray beyond for goods outside their own communities, do the whole thing of showing up and inspecting the goods, then take them back to their own Canton for selling. Sorry I wasn’t clearer. Should have written that in.
This was also meant to scaffold an idea @alberto once pointed out: how people did trade, especially along the silk road. You’d invest your wealth / goods in someone who would be gone for six months, maybe a year, with a fairly high chance of getting shanked on the way or dying of disease. Bereft of states to enforce transactions or provide security, traders effectively functioned on reputation, and it largely worked. This whole inter-Canton ritual/honor code was meant to support the idea of Avantgrid traders who would function similarly (which fits in well.with its libertarian bent).

I want to take part in the webinar.
Yes

Introduce yourself
I have yet to figure out!

Witnesspedia entries
^ see above answer

I want to take part in the webinar.
Yes

Introduce yourself
I am most interested in imagining possible futures and how others imagine them. I would likely contribute an observer and writer.

Witnesspedia entries
Aethnography. I see a lack of historical material, or metahistorical material. How people think about time, their historical consciousness, what they believe about the past and how they look at it, what status aspects of it have in their regard of time past.

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Unfortunately I now have a scheduling clash, so I won’t be able to join you on Tuesday

I want to take part in the webinar.
Yes

Introduce yourself
Mainly curious about what exactly unfolds here. I am a philosopher, futurist and engaged in systems transformation, consulting and educational projects. Building future scenarios of worlds we would love to live in seems to me a strong way to unfold potential and ignite creativity.
Depending on the different ways to contribute I might chip in what I can and link with other people and projects. And maybe something else…

Witnesspedia entries
This is my way of getting into this project - I don´t know enough to answer these questions yet.

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Amazing way to put it! We should let this influence the article on Avantgrid. Would you like to take a stab at editing and adding to the article @Nightface? You have a lot of great ideas!

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Thank you!
I’m honored and would love to :smiley:

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I want to take part in the webinar.
Yes

Introduce yourself
I am an independent third-age scholar affiliated with Ronin Institute for Independent Scholarship (Montclair, NJ, USA) who, for example cooperates with the International Association for Promoting Geoethics as Corresponding Citizen Scientist interested in the societal frameworks of the Earth sciences (geosciences). My experience combines international science management and coordination of public administrations (European Commission, 1991-2019) with an education in Physics and Oceanography (Germany, 1975-80), research practice in applied geophysical fluid dynamics (Ecole Polytechnique Fédéral de Lausanne, PhD), modelling of marine ecosystem (University of Hamburg), and operational monitoring (German Federal Maritime Agency). I worked together with researchers, scholars, scientists, engineers, administrators, economists and lawyers of various cultures, and looks forward to cooperate with artists. Against that background, my scholarly interests focus on the interfaces between geosciences and society. Among his concerns are resourceful societies, the intersections of ‘culture’ and ‘nature’, and humans in times of ‘anthropogenic global change’. Since several years, I publish on geoethics and the societal context of the geosciences (example: https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/12/18/7271).

Witnesspedia entries
I like to contribute, were considered helpful, with perceptions along the following lines of thoughts: Nowadays, the technosphere is part of the Earth System. Contemporary humans operate a planetary Technosphere to safeguard their living; that features will stay. It is at the origin of any Anthropocene, although the kind of Technosphere/Anthropocene is a choice. Geoscience knowledge are insights into how Earth systems work. It is embedded in the societal corpus of contemporary/future technologies and cultures. As a result, geoscience knowledge enables people to evaluate anthropogenic changes in societal contexts. Furthermore, citizens need insight into how the Earth System works to make informed decisions. Therefore, geoscience knowledge has the potential to co-shape anthropogenic global change. The COVID_19 health pandemic illustrates the essence of any possible Anthropocene, namely being less a geological epoch than a ‘future World’.

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I want to take part in the webinar.
Yes

Introduce yourself
I am a cultural historian researching the influences on individuals of languages, religions, and politics. Transmission, reception, and conservation of cultures/knowledge. The historical interaction between literary and political/religious Utopia(s).

I want to take part to the webinar to understand better the project and develop ideas for contributions.



Witnesspedia entries
At first glance I was attracted to The History of Witness, Aethnography, and Religious life.

I am wondering if it would be possible to add a short definition and/or a subject in brackets to certain entries. Some of them are quite cryptical for a newbie scrolling the entries list on the general page of Witnesspedia.

After the webinar I will think if and how I can contribute to what seems a promising and revolutionary project.



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I want to take part in the webinar.
Yes

Introduce yourself


Witnesspedia entries


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