The Upside of 'Collapse'; 6 Ways to Live

In the aftermath of the upheaval that was EdgeRyders and EdgeCamp, a friend posed this question on Twitter ;

“SCIM is ok & done. We need a manual on “support networks for activists”. Starts at self-support & outwards. Six ways to live anyone?”

SCIM stands for ‘Simple Critical Infrastructure Maps’ which is a clarifying and elegant thought process regarding ‘societal collapse’ (of any kind) which takes as its starting point the ‘6 Ways to Die’. These are; too hot, too cold, hunger, thirst, illness & injury. There are 3 axes there of environment, nourishment and externalities.

We live in a time of rapid change that threatens to unfold into chaos and collapse. Those of us who think about these issues, ‘the collapsonomists’, have spent a lot of time considering the ‘downside’ which is probably why our tools and thoughts look so pessimistic.

But my friend brings up a vital issue, the other side of the coin or, in other words, the ‘upside’.

Everyone has heard the piece of apocrypha that the Chinese ideogram for crisis is made up of the characters for ‘danger’ and for ‘opportunity’. We are all agreed on and all too well aware of the dangers. But it is, also, true that we do live in a time of magnificent opportunity.

Not only are there opportunities to design away many of the ‘bad’ aspects of our society in the midst of the coming changes but also there will be chances to create new and imaginative structures and systems that will better support humans and nurture our humanity.

Mainly, these will come from the Internet in terms of the amount, the different types and the cheap abundance of the information it will supply us. But all of the old paradigms will be available for reworking as their underpinnings weaken and shift and as their promises evaporate.

So, it is incumbent on us to have a clear vision of what the downside risks are and to build tools to mitigate the damage. But it is also and, in my view, a greater imperative to have a vision of what shape we want the ‘New World Order’ to be.

I do not pretend to know that NWO should be. I am very clear that I know what I do not want it to be. I would like to start this discussion by building a framework to guide those thoughts.

Let me start with a popular if outmoded model, that of Herzberg’s ‘Hygiene/Motivation’ 2 Factor Model of behavior. If SCIM can be taken as the ‘hygiene’ component, then what we are missing is the ‘Motivation’ component. What do we want our society to be, what does motivate us and how should we shape our new culture to ‘accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative’, so to speak.

I will start by positing 3 axes that configure human existence as being the emotional, the spiritual and the intellectual. I would extend that ‘model’ by saying that each axis has opposites or counterbalances (in preference to saying positives and negatives).

With respect to our emotional well-being we are both individuals and we are tribal. Where spirituality concerns us we are physical beings with a consciousness that tells us, despite our raging egos, that we are but dust-motes in Nature’s cathedral. Intellectually, we also know that, despite our talents and abilities, we are nothing without the contributions of others and all progress comes from “standing on the shoulders of giants” who went before us.

Our axes give us 6 faces or boundaries of our space.

These are (I think), as paired by opposites; Autonomy vs Collaboration, Material vs Mental, Public vs Private.

We have to find a way for people to have freedom commensurate with our genetic form and mental capacities. This means balancing being an individual and autonomous with the need to support and be supported by a tribe or troupe of collaborators of one’s choosing.

We have to find a way to live materially in a sustainable way while having sufficient resources to fulfill our mental ambitions be they artistic, scientific or spiritual.

We have to find a way to balance the needs of governance with the needs of the governed. Lincoln phrased it beautifully when he spoke of government of the people by the people for the people. Today we have the dichotomy of the need for openness and transparency as a counterweight to the huge scale and power of the machinery of governance whose role and scope we keep expanding throughout positive and negative pressures.

In addition to these hopes and dreams we are faced with severe constraints.

We know that we are apes and that we are still evolving. That implies a legacy that has good and bad traits and imposes constraints as well great gifts. We are still evolving and we have the desire and the ability to shape that evolution, starting from here and now.

We have been a different kind of ape for about 150,000 years now and that comes with a legacy of culture of various forms and qualities as well. Again, some of this wonderful and enriching but much of it is either pointless or harmful.

Our difference means that we have moved the planet into the ‘Holocene’ era, something never encountered by Nature before, where humanity can affect its habitat significantly and dangerously. The obverse of the fact that there are now 7 billion of us and likely to be 9 billion within our lifetimes is that we do not have good means of ‘managing’ ourselves. We, the wealthy and educated of the OECD are both few in number and excessive in consumption thereby making an unbalanced example for the majority.

So we have 3 axes (degrees of freedom) and 3 constraints (physiological, cultural and managerial) and 6 boundary conditions and a crisis (the immovable mountain of diminishing resources meeting the irresistible force of 9 billion people demanding “More!”). Despite the mathematical phrasing, I have no formula for a solution nor am I sure that I have properly mapped the problem space.

But I am willing to work at it and am listening for your comments.

An optimist vision of the future and of human evolution

Fantastic mission report!

I have been a Flubie activist for 4 years (pandemic preparedness, which lead me to become an open government activist, and then lately, a quantum (consciousness) activist.

I don’t know what I am anymore… Just Lyne would be ok for me. What have I produced as an activist? No tangible project. Everything has been rejected by governments so far. I’m tempted to go silent and revert to my usual introvert state of being. Does the sole power thoughts have the same effect as speaking out?

If there was an activist manual about how to live, I would read it over and over again, and let its content sink into my mind.

I also tried to make a model of the ‘New World Order’ to be. Do you know about the Global collaborative heteregenous Game of Man, proposed by philosopher Michel Filippi? I played this Game by proposing the model of a ‘Luminous Man’. You are invited to join other participants like Nicolas Hel, Helene Finidori, and play the game too.

Hey, I AM SO GLAD TO READ AN EDGERYDERS PARTICIPANT WRITE ABOUT HUMAN EVOLUTION!!! I often have written about human evolution here at Edgeryders. There were great discussions with Maxime Lathulière and Jorge Couchet. Maxime and Jorge are aware of a ‘cutural evolution’, but nobody has venture so far as to say that we, Mankind, are still in the process of evolving.

I have a rather optimist vision of the future and of human evolution. I wish that people were more aware that we are in a process of evolution. I think that if people had a clearer picture of this process, there wouldn’t be as much loom. There would be more hope. It would probably also push people to change their attitudes. For instance, this current crisis, it’s perhaps not the best and most fun time to live in, but if you look at from an evolutionary angle, it’s an awesome opportunity for human beings, a great process of transition, leading to reshaping systems and to profound social and institutional redesigns.

3 axes and 3 constraints, why not?

3? or 2.5?

Hey Arthur, I am thinking about your three axis.

Autonomy vs. collaboration: definitely relevant. Most of us, however, would probaby argue that this is not exactly an antinomy, as you can be extremely autonomous within a high degree of coordination with others (I call it flying in flocks).

Mental vs. material: I see your point but I am in no position to comment.

Public vs. private. Now, that is definitely interesting, and it seems to me that it is being rethought as we go. The 19th century mapping (private ends are pursued by deploying private assets like racehorses, public ends by public assets like aqueducts) has become totally irrelevant. Private and public ends are pursued by assets all over the scale. Can your model catch some regularity in this apparent white noise? Are we looking at the wrong end of the matter by thinking in terms of private and public? And private/public what? Property? Ends? Sector? How does this intersect with your first axis?

I guess I am not very good at this kind of modeling, so I don’t feel like I can take it a step forward myself. I am definitely interested to see how you develop it.

Scientific evidence

I am curious: do you have scientic evidence about evolution of the brain and nervous system? Do you know about scientific research in this area? Do you have an hypothesis to explain biological human evolution? Any idea how it could be tracked? What would differenciate the “normal” being from the more evolved being? Where should scientists look for?

Evidence re evolution

There have been quite a few articles in the scientific literature and in the popular press about the rate and change of evolution. This TED talk gives some illumination and if you search the ‘New Scientist’ archive you will find items there.

I don’t think or say that evolution is something that we should focus on or try to effect; but, rather that it is a context that we must operate within.

The axes and boundaries and constraints are what we get to play with in our lifetimes, they are fixed for us and so we can only try to find the best available ‘local maxima’ for the apes that we are within that space.