The following is excerpted from The Open-Source Everything Manifesto: Transparency, Truth, & Trust published by Evolver Editions, an imprint of North Atlantic Books.
The circumstances underlying this manifesto are stark and compelling: We are at the end of a five-thousand-year-plus historical process during which human society grew in scale while it abandoned the early indigenous wisdom councils and communal decision-making. Power was centralized in the hands of increasingly specialized “elites” and “experts” who not only failed to achieve all they promised but used secrecy and the control of information to deceive the public into allowing them to retain power over community resources that they ultimately looted.
In the beginning, there was the commons. Over vast stretches of prehistoric time, tribal cultures evolved in tandem with the natural environment. They did this without creating private property or hierarchical relationships of control and dominance that led to consumption of nature as a resource. Open-source culture provided for community sharing and community development. With the rise of patriarchy, empire, and systems of egoic control and empowerment, this open-source approach to community was destroyed. Over the course of the last centuries, the commons was fenced, and everything from agriculture to water was commoditized without regard to the true cost in non-renewable resources. Human beings, who had spent centuries evolving away from slavery, were re-commoditized by the Industrial Era.
The corruption of the commons led to the loss of integrity between and among individuals, organizations, and community. Artificial paradises made up of objects and possessions were substituted for true community based on authentic heart-to-heart relationships. Secular corruption is made possible by information asymmetries between those in power and the public. In the absence of transparency, truth, and trust, wealth is concentrated and waste is rampant.
We, Homo sapiens, are defined by what we know in the context of the Cosmos and the Earth — larger Whole Systems.
We, Homo sapiens, were in harmony with the Cosmos and the Earth during earlier centuries when indigenous wisdom prevailed. The evolution of social forms and technology toward ever-greater levels of complexity is part of our human development toward deeper consciousness and self-awareness. The technosphere, as José Argüelles and others have realized, is the necessary detour that takes us from the pristine biosphere to the psychically collectivized state of the noosphere.
We live in a constellation of complex systems. It is impossible for any single person or even any single organization or nation in isolation to understand complex systems.
Collective intelligence — multinational, multiagency, multidisciplinary, multidomain information-sharing and sense-making — is the only means of obtaining near-real time understanding of complex systems sufficient to achieve resilience in the face of changes. Many of these changes, including biospheric ones such as climate change and depletion of planetary resources, are the result of human activity and industry in the last three centuries.
As our technological capacities continue to increase and our environment becomes ever more fragile and endangered, we find that changes to the Earth that used to take ten thousand years now take a fraction of that. We must rediscover and reintegrate indigenous wisdom in order to come back into harmony with larger whole systems, and do so in a manner that allows for application of appropriate technologies and science, open-source intelligence gathering, and real-time self-governance.
This means that we cannot afford to address our complex world with industrial-era hierarchies in which information travels laboriously up the chain to the top, some elites deliberate — lacking much of the information they need, and often lacking ethics as well — and then micro-management instructions go back down. All this takes time, and the instructions are invariably wrong. Instead, we harness the intelligence at the edge of the network — at the point of impact — and the individual who is face to face with a problem in a microcosm is the tip of the human spear, able both to reach back to all other humans for assistance, and to act on behalf of all humans in the moment.
It is in this light that we must recognize that only a restoration of open-source culture, and all that enables across the full spectrum of open-source possibilities, can allow humanity to harness the distributed intelligence of the collective and create the equivalent of heaven on Earth — in other words, a world that works for all.
History is a narrative we construct and a tool we can shape. Our model of history has been corrupted by “information pathologies” that include weapons of distortion and deception; suppression of alternatives and repression of inconvenient knowledge; and manufactured consent, propaganda, secrecy, and outright ideologically justified lies that go unchallenged by most journalists and scholars.
Knowledge has fragmented due to academic specialization, which supports an elite culture of secrecy and allows for control of populations by the wealthy few, who maintain surveillance and information-gathering operations. The sciences are divorced from the humanities and from religions; disciplines are divorced from one another; within disciplines the sub-disciplines have become tiny cultures in isolation from all other knowledge clusters.
We find ourselves at the end of centuries of isolation and alienation. We are at the beginning of the Great Awakening. The evolution of social technologies and communications media appears to align with prophecies of indigenous cultures like the classic Maya, who looked toward our epoch as the end of one great cycle and the beginning of another. It’s a window of opportunity for us, potentially the threshold of transformation of humanity into a new psychic collectivity, a new global civilization that can attain galactic citizenship. We have the potential to achieve a radical evolution and expansion of our consciousness as a species, once we put aside all lesser goals.
Sharing, not secrecy, is the means by which we realize such a lofty destiny as well as create infinite wealth. The wealth of networks, the wealth of knowledge, revolutionary wealth — all can create a nonzero win-win Earth that works for one hundred percent of humanity. This is the “utopia” that Buckminster Fuller foresaw, now within our reach.
Context matters. Context creates coherence and restores the missing connections that the fragmentation of knowledge into academic specializations has caused. Economy needs to be reimagined in terms of a whole systems approach-the “true costs” of human action need to be measured holistically, in terms of effects on the regenerative capacity of the biosphere as a whole. If we as Homo sapiens fail to connect the dots and make decisions on the basis of truthful, true-cost information, we will self-destruct.
Clarity (transparency) is the means by which we nurture the recognition and sharing of truth.
Diversity is how our human species will achieve ongoing abundance by liberating human innovation.
Integrity is how we enter into a “state of grace” and become “one with God,” however you choose to define and understand these broad terms. This manifesto defines “God” as an experience of collective solidarity that extends from the human realm to the universe as a whole.
Sustainability can only be achieved through mass collaboration and the achievement of panarchy — a constellation of co-equal hybrid systems of self-governance in which all individuals freely choose where they wish to be heard, and have full access to all relevant information.
Culture is the soul of the community, the “glue” that keeps the lessons of history alive, that demands clarity, that unifies diversity, that nurtures and demands integrity, and thus sustains the community.
A model for public intelligence is proffered in this book, ideally providing a means for every citizen to be a collector, producer, and consumer of public intelligence (decision-support).
A model for informed democracy also is proffered here — it provides a means for achieving panarchy, enabling every citizen to have access to all relevant information and to participate constructively in an infinite number of self-selected communities of interest.
Organized people will defeat organized money every time. We must all come together to begin a new era that restores the sovereignty of the public in the aggregate over all other forms of organization and influence.
Panarchy is the end-state, Radical Man is the soul, Reflexive Practice is the process, and Web 4.0 — all people connected to one another and all information in all languages all the time — is the means whereby we create and actualize a World Brain and Global Game, a noosphere, and achieve evolutionary collective consciousness.
The goal is to reject money and concentrated illicitly aggregated and largely phantom wealth in favor of community wealth defined by community knowledge, community sharing of information, and community definition of truth derived in transparency and authenticity, the latter being the ultimate arbiter of shared wealth.
When we relate and share knowledge authentically, this places us in a state of grace, a state of “win-win” harmony with all others, and establishes trust among all.
Copyright © 2012 by Robert David Steele. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
image by katerha, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.