Juristiction and the unRule

This is part of a series of speculative sessions, that need facilitators read here first:



“3. Benedict protocolized. While at Monte Cassino, he writes the Rule as a guide to people wishing to live together in a monastery. The Rule is really a remarkable document, that unMonasterians (especially those leading new settlements) would do well to spend some time brooding over. If you have any experience with online community management, you will find the Rule eerily familiar: it has roles with different levels of access and authorization (abbott, cellarer, brethren); a moderation policy to prevent flame wars from distracting monks for doing God’s work (and their own); a very modern idea of the higher echelons as a service to the rank-and-file monks, rather than as their lords. Most importantly, the Rule does not specify a set of goals and activities to reach them: it never says “build a library and a scriptorium and start copying manuscripts to preserve knowledge as the Roman Empire goes down in flames”, or “build extra space to lodge travelers, since the Early Middle Ages are low on inns”. Yet, benedictine monasteries did end up doing those things and others: following the Rule can result in many outcomes, all beneficials from the point of view of Benedict and his crew. Most of them could not possibly have been foreseen by Benedict himself. Since it is a document of instructions, the Rule is software; since it does not carry out a specific task but enables a variety of mutually consistent outcomes, it is not an app. The Rule is a protocol. And what a protocol! It spread all over the world; arguably transformed (mostly for the better) Middle Ages Europe; is still in use after a millennium and a half; and has spread beyond the Catholic church (it is used in some Orthodox and even Lutheran contexts). I can’t think of many other protocols with that kind of track record. Benedict may have been the Supreme Ninja Mage Lord Protocol Hacker of all time.”

Key Questions:

-How will the internal politics of the unMonastery function?

-How is order and productivity maintained? Should it be?

-On a longer term scale how will the unMonastery interface with existing institutions of law and order?

-How will serious issues be dealt with?

-What are the unMonastery’s internal safety mechanisms? And how does it articulate its duty of care through the unRule?

Needs: ???

Ideal Facilitator: You???

Possible Outcomes:

First draft of the unRule

Set of pattern languages for implementing safety mechanism.

Reference Points: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_Saint_Benedict

Imo, an unMonastery needs an unRule more than a Rule. In a movie about Saint Francis’ life, Francis was contrary to a rule for his followers who, instead, were asking one to him. I do not know if it is true or fictional. I think both, maybe the source is one of the legends about Saint Francis. In the movie, the followers are portrayed as “weak” because living with a rule is easier than living without rules (like Saint Francis). However, I think the reason for an unRule is another. In this book (Against Method - Wikipedia), Feyerabend says that the only principle that does not inhibit progress is “anything goes” and this motto could be a very cool unRule: anything goes, the only rule is that there are no rules.

What he says, imo, is very close to some points of the unHagiography written by Alberto. In particular, action has priority over theory, because theory is often an a-posteriori rationalization of experience. In a similar way a Rule is an attempt to formalize “Truth” or “Good” within a framework, but “Truth” or “Good” escapes formalization. In other words, rules are useful when living together, but we should not take a rule for the Truth or Good it rapresents.

Regarding the dealing of serious issues and decision making, you should consider the consensus method (Consensus decision-making - Wikipedia). This summer I was in a commune where people have been using this method for 30-40 years and they say it works. They apply the consensus method to everything, from ordinary life to most important and serious decisions. A commune is a small community (that one was about 20-30 people), but it has a lot of similarities with monastic life, above all, the importance of work and the idea of sharing everything.