Some Personal Observations Regarding the CopySouth Workshop:
Trivandrum, Kerala, December 2008. Trevor Batten, Manila January 2009
SECTION 4. Transcending Doctrine:
1.0 Designing Systems of Social Organisation:
Bottom-up, Top-down, Hierarchical or Autonomous?
As the world gets increasingly interconnected there seems to be a
(neo-conservative) tendency in the global system towards the
- A small powerful (invisble) social (commercial/political?) elite who organise and control the global system
- A fairly large group of "technical assistants" who provide the technology and know-how needed to run the system
- A medium sized group of people who can still get trivial jobs that have not yet been replaced by automation
- An "underclass" of people who do not fit into the systemm economically (or politically), except (perhaps) as consumers
- How can dissidents and other "outsiders" be integrated into the system?
- Conceptually (emotionally)
The develpment of globally "connected" (network) society reduces the number of
possible local alternative systems -simply because
everything and everybody gets "plugged-in" to the single interconnected
system that determines everybody's position in relation to the contribution
they make towards the preservation of the single system.
Internal paradoxes and contradictions do appear to offer alternatives
-but because everything is interconnected and interdependant, the range
of actual choice is extremely limited.
What kind of other social systems might be possible? Are there viable
alternatives which might function externally to the current system -or could/should they
function as local "nodes" within a single larger (unified) global
Should there be limitations placed on (local) interference from global (and/or national) political or commercial systems
(defining and interfacing alternative systems)
- Systems of Social Organization and Control
Hierarchical system (heriditory, merit or wealth)?
Council of Elders (inherited or appointed)
Slave owners and (electronic) slaves?
- Egelatarian and Free
- (problems of internal contradictions and conflicts)?
- Social Relationships between and within Communities
-Static or Nomadic
-Sovereign or Connected
- -Cooperative or Competitive
- -Communal or Individualistic
- Individualism allows freedom but not communal protection
- Communalism encourages social protection but reduces individual freedom
- Protecting the rights of individuals
- Regenerating the concept of "community"?
- -collective ownership
- -rights of use
Defining the Parameters of Change:
Developing Alternative Economies:
How voluntary are the interactions with other cultures?
How voluntary are the cultural changes caused by interactions with other cultures?
Destruction if one accepts change -destruction if one resists change?
Does one support change or resist it
- (which changes -and under what conditions)?
What are the limits of choice within the society -and who defines these limits?
- (What is the role of governments)
How does one deal with exceptions and dissidents?
What happens to those who resist?
- Are the conditions for resistance fair to all parties?
Prey and Preditors -or Symbiotic interactions?
How should economics relate to culture (and culture to economics)?
(how do material and immaterial interact?)
How does the future relate to the past (in cultural terms)?
How does cultural developement relate to to (traditional and modern) technological development?
Is the economy simply concerned with production and distribution -or also with generation and control?
(Second law of thermodynamics?)
Do free market mechanisms actually exist?
Do freemarket mechanisms actually work?
Should the market system be corrected, renovated -or completely replaced (by what)?
Do "economies" have to be based on "money" or are other systems possible?
- energy (natural ecologies?)
- prestige (academic system?)
- happiness (American constitution?)
- beauty (artistic production?)
- food (communal living?)
Is a "Practical Utopia" possible?
How can one imagine and give form to things that do not exist?
2.0 Some Epistemological conceptualisations and Questions:
Nature as an inspirational source for human invention
(and a model for cultural expression?)
Invention as a "social dialogue" (for the benifit of society?)
-Where does the concept of "property" (IP) come from?
-Whales use Sonar (world wide communication network now threatened by human noise pollution)
-Feelings of territory in animals (nesting and mating habits -preservation of their young)
-Invention of machines, tools and labour by animals
-Can humans accept their similarity and debt to animals?
(some animals have some "skills" but have they developed an integrated system?)
-What is the nature of "humanity" & "human nature"?
-Human mental evolution and the "layered ecology" of the information processing system
-Combining our lower "Crocodile Brain" with our "Higher (moral) Brain"
-Models of self?
-Models of Environment?
-Models of language?
-Implementation of "models" to practical advantage in the survival game
-Social and Cultural Systems
Ontological, Epistemological and Organisational
Nomads and Farmers
dynamic exchange (bees)
-or territorial development (bevers)
Parasites, Preditors, Prey or Symbiosis ?
Questioning the Nature of Change:
-Questions of Ownership, preservation and availability for general use
(what happens to nomads when owners put up fences?)
-What is "ownership" without the responsibility for care?
-Questions of Authorship and the potential destruction of the creative communal dialogue.
-Questions of distorted markets and unfair trading practices
-Questions of income for "diffuse" services which cannot easily be
costed in standard commercial terms
- (artists, academics, shamans, etc.)
-Questions of protection against unwanted appropriation and exploitation of (intangible) heritage
-Questions of similarity and difference between tangible and intangible labour and products.
-Questions of balance between privacy and increased public access to (certain kinds of) information and knowledge.
-Questions of the potential symbiosis between "legal" and "illegal" systems
- (illegal systems as a "correction" of poorly working "legal" economic and social systems?)
(70% of Indians operating withing "informal" sector
-Questions of (social) organisation and control
-Questions of conceptualisation and definition (what kind of world do we think we (should) live in?)
-Questions of continuity and discontinuity in a changing world
(alienation and disorientation -or continuous misunderstanding through inappropriate (outdated) approach?)
("new" is not synonymous with "post-modern")
-Questions of Division between "cultural"production and "commercial" production
(what is the social function of "art"and how does it operate in practice?)
-Questions of social, economic and intellectual division between "local" and "global"
(is the global wiser and more trustworthy -or is it alienating and isolated from "local"understanding?)
- Is there a dangerous shift to dealing with large (bureaucratic)
structures that lack understanding of the specifics of local contexts)
(Does anonymous communication avoid (or amplify) the individual bias of those operating (or designing) the system?)
(Can the world be organised as a single system -and is it desirable?)
-Questions of scale
(Do some "small-scale" solutions become impossible to operate efficiently on a large scale?)
(How do we accomodate "difference" on a global scale -when we often have problems accomodating it on a national scale?)
3.0 Developing More Alternative Models:
Some Positive Models for Change?
- -Abundance (based on comparative ease of (post-industrial) electronic reproduction)
- (how does one measure abundance?)
- (Can abunfance really solve the problem of fair distribution?)
- (who, or what, determines the priorities of production?)
- (not all abundance is desirable (cockroaches))
- (would abundance inhibit the competitive struggle?)
- (would abundance destroy greed, or would it promote obesity?)
- -Creative Commons
- (A free source of material to be cherry-picked for commodification?)
- (A subversive undermining of the commercial system?)
- (Should everything be shared with everybody?)
- (Do ideas mean anything if anybody can adopt and adapt them?)
- -Social Activism
- Conciousness raising (activism)
- Do the "activists"know the answers?
-Increased involvement of scientist and artists in policy development
- (the danger of promoting private self-interests within community)
- Can we trust professional artists and scientisrs to only promote the public good?
-Break "privatisation" of Knowledge through blogs etc
- Do we know what to say?
- Can we trust the bloggers more than other people?
- -Promote Human Rights
- What has 60 years of human rights brought?
- -Development of new concepts and new (social) language
- (How does one create this new language?)
- -Regeneration of "culture" as practical language for social survival within in a specific context
- (single global environment (network) implies single global culture)
- Define key concepts
- (avoid "trancedental nonsense")
- Analyse both positive and negative aspects of potential solutions
- (what are good points and what are bad points?)
- Explore the limits of application of key concepts and solutions
- (under what conditions do solutions work and when do they fail?)
Trevor Batten, Manila January 2009