Chile

Chile

And then it started. Sudden huge demonstrations in: Hong Kong, Chile, Lebanon, London, The Hague, Berlin, etc. etc.   “Coordinated Communities” in Cities/ City regions.

What do they have in common? What have they learned, and are learning fast, from each other?

I hope to soon write here a short essay, and disclose only what is already well known in the press. But nevertheless you will be able to see the patterns, right?!

jaap van till, TheConnectivist

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What can WE do: 10 WE are a Force, Find The Others, connect and cooperate

This is a remarkable book, and timely! It shows what WE should do on the right side of History. “Team Human” (Norton & Company, inc 2019) by the famous Douglas Rushkoff, has the following subtitle:

Our Technologies, markets and cultural institutions – once forces for human connection and expression- now ISOLATE and REPRESS us. #

Johnson

#  It is time to remake society together, not as individual players but as the team WE actually are: TEAM HUMAN ]

Rushkoff has very finely tuned antenna’s for what young people are motivated by and are doing. His book is a well designed guide for those young.

Yes, it means ALL the people on this planet Earth and in connection with Nature. Let us start building a “Collective Intelligence with Distributed Authority“#CollIntellDA . Is the Hong Kong #umbrellaMovement the Revival of Democracy by the Demos? Are they the FIRST to organise that distributed way, instead of the Last part of China to be under central control?

Voor Rushkoff blog

Jaap van Till, TheConnectivist

============Brilliant article in Medium.Com=====permission asked==

[[Excerpt from the book ]]

Evolution Is Not the Cause of Selfish Capitalism

Cooperation is imprinted in our genes just as unmistakably as competition

Douglas Rushkoff
Jan 14 2019· 9 min read

Nature is a collaborative act. If humans are the most evolved species, it is only because we have developed the most advanced ways of working and playing together.

We’ve been conditioned to believe in the myth that evolution is about competition: the survival of the fittest. In this view, each creature struggles against all the others for scarce resources. Only the strongest ones survive to pass on their superior genes, while the weak deserve to lose and die out.

But evolution is every bit as much about cooperation as competition. Our very cells are the result of an alliance billions of years ago between mitochondria and their hosts. Individuals and species flourish by evolving ways of supporting mutual survival. A bird develops a beak which lets it feed on some part of a plant that other birds can’t reach. This introduces diversity into the population’s diet, reducing the strain on a particular food supply, and leading to more for all. What of the poor plant, you ask? The birds, much like bees, are helping the plant by spreading its seeds after eating its fruit.

Survival of the fittest is a convenient way to justify the cut-throat ethos of a competitive marketplace, political landscape, and culture. But this perspective misconstrues the theories of Darwin as well as his successors. By viewing evolution through a strictly competitive lens, we miss the bigger story of our own social development and have trouble understanding humanity as one big, interconnected team.

The most direct benefit of more neurons and connections in our brains is an increase in the size of the social networks we can form.

The most successful of biology’s creatures coexist in mutually beneficial ecosystems. It’s hard for us to recognize such widespread cooperation. We tend to look at life forms as isolated from one another: a tree is a tree and a cow is a cow. But a tree is not a singular tree at all; it is the tip of a forest. Pull back far enough to see the whole, and one tree’s struggle for survival merges with the more relevant story of its role in sustaining the larger system.

We also tend to miss nature’s interconnections because they happen subtly, beneath the surface. We can’t readily see or hear the way trees communicate. For instance, there’s an invisible landscape of mushrooms and other fungi connecting the root systems of trees in a healthy forest. The underground network allows the trees to interact with one another and even exchange resources. In the summer, shorter evergreens are shaded by the canopies of taller trees. Incapable of reaching the light and photosynthesizing, they call through the fungus for the sun-drenched nutrients they need. The taller trees have plenty to spare, and send it to their shaded peers. The taller trees lose their leaves in the winter and themselves become incapable of photosynthesizing. At that point, the evergreens, now exposed to the sun, send their extra nutrients to their leafless community members. For their part, the underground fungi charge a small service fee, taking the nutrients they need in return for facilitating the exchange.

So the story we are taught in school about how trees of the forest compete to reach the sunlight isn’t really true. They collaborate to reach the sunlight, by varying their strategies and sharing the fruits of their labor.

Trees protect one another as well. When the leaves of acacia trees come in contact with the saliva of a giraffe, they release a warning chemical into the air, triggering nearby acacias to release repellents specific to giraffes. Evolution has raised them to behave as if they were part of the same, self-preserving being.


Animals cooperate as well. Their mutually beneficial behaviors are not an exception to natural selection, but the rule.

Darwin observed how wild cattle could tolerate only a brief separation from their herd, and slavishly followed their leaders. “Individualists” who challenged the leader’s authority or wandered away from the group were picked off by hungry lions. Darwin generalized that social bonding was a “product of selection.” In other words, teamwork was a better strategy for everyone’s survival than competition.

Darwin saw what he believed were the origins of human moral capabilities in the cooperative behavior of animals. He marveled at how species from pelicans to wolves have learned to hunt in groups and share the bounty, and how baboons expose insect nests by cooperating to lift heavy rocks.

Even when they are competing, many animals employ social strategies to avoid life-threatening conflicts over food or territory. Like breakdancers challenging one another in a ritualized battle, the combatants assume threatening poses or inflate their chests. They calculate their relative probability of winning an all-out conflict and then choose a winner without actually fighting.

The virtual combat benefits not just the one who would be killed, but also the victor, who could still be injured. The loser is free to go look for something else to eat, rather than wasting time or losing limbs in a futile fight.


Evolution may have less to do with rising above one’s peers than learning to get along with more of them.

We used to believe that human beings developed larger brains than chimpanzees in order to do better spatial mapping of our environment or to make more advanced tools and weapons. From a simplistic survival-of-the-fittest perspective, this makes sense. Primates with better tools and mental maps would hunt and fight better, too. But it turns out there are only slight genetic variations between hominids and chimpanzees, and they relate almost exclusively to the number of neurons that our brains are allowed to make. It’s not a qualitative difference but a quantitative one. The most direct benefit of more neurons and connections in our brains is an increase in the size of the social networks we can form. Complicated brains make for more complex societies.

Threats to our relationships are processed by the same part of the brain that processes physical pain.

Think of it this way: a quarterback, point guard, or midfielder, no matter their skills, is only as valuable as their ability to coordinate with the other players; a great athlete is one who can predict the movements of the most players at the same time. Similarly, developing primates were held back less by their size or skills than by their social intelligence. Bigger groups of primates survived better, but required an increase in their ability to remember everyone, manage relationships, and coordinate activities. Developing bigger brains allowed human beings to maintain a whopping 150 stable relationships at a time.

The more advanced the primate, the bigger its social groups. That’s the easiest and most accurate way to understand evolution’s trajectory, and the relationship of humans to it. Even if we don’t agree that social organization is evolution’s master plan, we must accept that it is — at the very least — a large part of what makes humans human.


Human social cohesion is supported by subtle biological processes and feedback mechanisms. Like trees that communicate through their root systems, human beings have developed elaborate mechanisms to connect and share with one another.

Our nervous systems learned to treat our social connections as existentially important — life or death. Threats to our relationships are processed by the same part of the brain that processes physical pain. Social losses, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or expulsion from a social group, are experienced as acutely as a broken leg.

Managing social relationships also required humans to develop what anthropologists call a “theory of mind” — the ability to understand and identify with the thinking and motivations of other people. From an evolutionary perspective, the concept of self came after our ability to evaluate and remember the intentions and tactics of others. Unlike the relatively recent cultural changes that encouraged ideas of personal identity or achievement, our social adaptations occurred over hundreds of thousands of years of biological evolution. Enduring social bonds increase a group’s ability to work together, as well as its chances for procreation. Our eyes, brains, skin, and breathing are all optimized to enhance our connection to other people.

Prosocial behaviors such as simple imitation — what’s known as mimesis — make people feel more accepted and included, which sustains a group’s cohesion over time. In one experiment, people who were subtly imitated by a group produced less stress hormone than those who were not imitated. Our bodies are adapted to seek and enjoy being mimicked. When human beings are engaged in mimesis, they learn from one another and advance their community’s skill set.

The physical cues we use to establish rapport are preverbal. We used them to bond before we ever learned to speak — both as babies and as early humans many millennia ago. We flash our eyebrows when we want someone to pay attention to us. We pace someone else’s breathing when we want them to know we empathize. The pupils of our eyes dilate when we feel open to what another person is offering. In turn, when we see someone breathing with us, their eyes opening to accept us, their head subtly nodding, we feel we are being understood and accepted. Our mirror neurons activate, releasing oxytocin — the bonding hormone — into our bloodstream.

Human beings connect so easily, it’s as if we share the same brains. Limbic consonance, as it’s called, is our ability to attune to one another’s emotional states. The brain states of mothers and their babies mirror each other; you can see this in an MRI scan. Limbic consonance is the little-known process through which the mood of a room changes when a happy or nervous person walks in, or the way a person listening to a story acquires the same brain state as the storyteller. Multiple nervous systems sync and respond together, as if they were one thing. We long for such consonance, as well as the happy hormones and neural regulation that come with it. It’s why our kids want to sleep with us — their nervous systems learn how to sleep and wake by mirroring ours. It’s why television comedies have laugh tracks — so that we are coaxed to imitate the laughter of an audience of peers watching along. We naturally try to resonate with the brain state of the crowd.

These painstakingly evolved, real-world physical and chemical processes are what enable and reinforce our social connection and coherence, and form the foundations for the societies that we eventually built.


Thanks to organic social mechanisms, humans became capable of pair bonding, food sharing, and even collective childcare. Our survivability increased as we learned how to orchestrate simple divisions of labor, and trusted one another enough to carry them out.

The more spectacular achievement was not the division of labor but the development of group sharing. This distinguished true humans from other hominids: we waited to eat until we got the bounty back home. Humans are defined not by our superior hunting ability so much as by our capacity to communicate, trust, and share.

Biologists and economists alike have long rejected social or moral justifications for this sort of behavior. They chalk it up instead to what they call “reciprocal altruism.” One person does a nice thing for another person in the hope of getting something back in the future. You take a risk to rescue someone else’s child from a dangerous predator because you trust the other parent to do the same for your kid. In this view, people aren’t so nice at all; they’re just acting on their own behalf in a more complicated way.

But contemporary research strongly supports more generous motives in altruism, which have nothing to do with self-interest. Early humans had a strong disposition to cooperate with one another, at great personal cost, even when there could be no expectation of payback in the future. Members of a group who violated the norms of cooperation were punished. Solidarity and community were prized in their own right.

Evolution’s crowning achievement, in this respect, was the emergence of spoken language. It was a dangerous adaptation that involved crossing the airway with the foodway, making us vulnerable to choking. But it also gave us the ability to modify the sounds that came from our vocal folds and make the variety of mouth noises required for language.

While language may have been driven by the need for larger, more complicated social structures, think of the immense collaborative act that developing a language required from its speakers. That multigenerational exercise alone would change the fabric of society and its faith in a cooperative enterprise.


From TEAM HUMAN by Douglas Rushkoff. Copyright © 2019 by Douglas Rushkoff. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved
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What can WE do: 9 Stop Obeying the NeoLib Gang

Neolib 9

The following article in the Guardian by George Monbiot explains where the shit we have to face nowadays is coming from and who is blocking democracy: the NeoLib Gang.

They are on the wrong side of history. All over the world young people are showing their anger at the big and small NeoLib dicktators (and behind them the billionaire oligarchs). My advice is: STOP obeying them and stop asking for permission to work together on new wealth creation and jobs that are interconnected with Nature.

Jaap van Till, TheConnectivist

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Yes, some people will benefit. To judge by recent donations to the Conservative party, some very rich people approve of Boris Johnson’s policies. A no-deal Brexit might favour hedge funds that thrive on uncertainty, financiers seeking to short the pound, vulture capitalists hoping to mop up cheap property if markets collapse. But the winners are likely to be greatly outnumbered by the losers, among whom are many powerful commercial interests.

This, I believe, is the key to understanding what is happening today. The Brexit ultras in government are not just Brexit ultras. They are neoliberal ultras, and Brexit is a highly effective means of promoting this failed ideology. It’s the ultimate shock doctrine, using a public emergency to justify the imposition of policies that wouldn’t be accepted in ordinary times. Whether they really want no deal or not, the threat of it creates the political space in which they can apply their ideas.

Economist Milton Friedman
 Economist Milton Friedman, one of the fathers of neoliberalism. Photograph: George Rose/Getty Images

Neoliberalism is the ideology developed by people such as Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. It is not just a set of free-market ideas, but a focused discipline, deliberately applied around the world. It treats competition as humanity’s defining characteristic, sees citizens as consumers and “the market” as society’s organising principle. The market, it claims, sorts us into a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Any attempt by politics to intervene disrupts the discovery of this natural order.

It was embraced by Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and most subsequent governments. They sought to implement the doctrine by cutting taxes, privatising and outsourcing public services, slashing public protections, crushing trade unions and creating markets where markets did not exist before. The doctrine was imposed by central banks, the IMF, the Maastricht treaty and the World Trade Organization. By shutting down political choice, governments and international bodies created a kind of totalitarian capitalism.

It has failed on its own terms, and in many other ways. Far from creating general prosperity, growth has been slower in the neoliberal era than it was in preceding decades, and most of its fruits have been gathered by the rich. Far from stimulating an enterprise economy, it has created a gilded age for rent-seekers. Far from eliminating bureaucracy, it has created a Kafkaesque system of mad diktats and stifling control. It has fomented ecological, social, political, economic and financial crises, culminating in the 2008 crash. Yet, perhaps because its opponents have not produced a new, compelling story of their own, it still dominates our lives.

Unsurprisingly, people have reacted to the closure of political choice and the multiple disasters it caused. But because neoliberalism, in broad terms, was adopted not only by the right, but also by the Democrats, New Labour and similar parties, there were few places to turn. Many people responded with nationalism and nativism. The new politics that Boris Johnson’s government represents incorporates both neoliberalism and the reaction to it. The glitter-eyed essentialists on the frontbenches – such as Dominic Raab, Liz Truss and Sajid Javid – still seek to implement the ideology in its most extreme form. The opportunists, such as Johnson, Michael Gove and Priti Patel, appeal to those who seek scapegoats for the disasters it has created.

Johnson uses neoliberal framing to justify his attacks on public safety. He wants to pull down environmental standards, create free ports in which businesses can avoid tax and regulation, and strike a rapid trade deal with the United States that is likely to rip up animal welfare rules and threaten the survival of the NHS.

He rages against red tape, but the real red tape is created by the international trade treaties he favours, that render democratic change almost impossible, through rules that protect capital against popular challenge, and shift decision-making away from parliaments and into unaccountable offshore courts (“investor-state dispute settlement”). This explains the enthusiasm among some on the left for Brexit: a belief that escaping from the EU means escaping from coercive trade instruments. In reality, it exposes us to something even worse, as the UK enters negotiations with the US, holding a begging bowl.

Now, as the professor of political economy Abby Innes argues, neoliberalism has reached its Brezhnev phase: “ossification, self-dealing, and directionless political churn”. Like Leninism, neoliberalism claims to be an infallible science. Its collision with the complexities of the real world has caused political sclerosis of the kind that characterised the decline of Soviet communism. As a result, “the only way to complete this revolution today is under cover of other projects: Brexit is ideal”.

The creation of emergency is the inevitable destination of an absolutist, failed system. But emergency also provides the last means by which the failed system can be defended and extended.

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What can WE do, 8 : The Fifth Network Effect: The Law of P2P Cooperation and scaling up

Screen Shot 2019-08-24 at 08.49.58

A spectacular Flock of Sparrows twirling in the air : strong together !

Nothing is as practical as a good theory (or recipe that works)!!!

1. You may know the FOUR network effects (the Laws of: Sarnoff, Metcalfe, Reed and Van Till), see: https://theconnectivist.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/np9-engines-for-the-new-power-the-four-network-effects/

But there is a Fifth Network Effect, which is the secret formula behind the success of many recent internet giants that dominate our society. Billions of smartphone owners use their networked services (aka Unicorns) many times a day:  Google Search, Facebook, Amazon, Alibaba, Baidu, TenCents, Twitter, Instagram, eBay (NL: Marktplaats), YouTube, Instagram, WikiPedia, iTunes, WordFeud, Gmail, WhatsApp, etc. And that is while other promising apps like FireChat and Skype failed to catch on.

voor blog 8

This is what happens every minute on Internet IN USA

The EU, fearing that we fall further behind China and the USA, in new technology, is working on a plan to boost with 100 billion dollars similar high tech European companies with the so called “European Future Fund” [1]. It is lesser known by politicians that Spotify, Wi-Fi and Bleutooth are European inventions which where unrecognised in Brussels. We have such exponential growing ventures right now and right here and yes they do exhibit the “Butterfly effect”, from day one !  Problem is that bankers and politicians only recognize them when they are BIG. As part of that “Fund” (I guess) Herr Altmaier, the German minister for the economy,  proposed last week to copy some of the Unicorn success services on a German/ European network of Super Cloud computers (server farms): project Gaia-X.  I am not sure though if copying successful services works. The fast and flexible services learn so much from DOING what they do,  that as soon you have a copy working they are miles ahead again. Successful Internet projects are not a product but a process of improvements. Better start something totally new, but for that you need vision and imagination and daring to walk into uncertainty (hated by bankers and politicians).

2. So, what made and make the huge networked services grow so fast and scale up into billions of users? What is their Secret Formula?  Well eighteen years ago I did read in a fascinating book about ICT  breakthroughs [2] the following  few lines by Dan Bricklin:

….. in contrast to the well known “Tragedy of the Commons” (shared but limited grazing grounds or orchards  in villages) ……… “In the case of certain ingeniously planned services, we find a contrasting cornucopia of the commons: (dropdead simple) use brings overflowing abundance. Peer-to-peer architectures and technologies may have their benefits, but I think the historical lesson is clear: concentrate on what you can get from users, and apply whatever protocol can maximize their voluntary contributions. That seems to be where the greatest promise lies for the new kinds of collaborative environments”

Or to rephrase this in a way more understandable,  even for EU civil servants:

The Fifth Network Effect is Bricklin’s Law: If you want to construct a development team, a cooperative, a tribe, a P2P Commons, an Internet online information/energy ecosystem, a smart city, a smart grid; and want it to grow and scale up, you should make sure: (I ) the volunteering users contribute together more value into it than they take out by selfish use. 

Schermafbeelding 2019-09-01 om 16.05.22

And let me add something essential to that, to make sure there are incentives for all participants to drive an upwards spiral:

(II) Make sure that the (long time) general interest of the construction/service is perceived as in line with/ driving the (short term) self interests of the individual volunteer participant. Which in turn boosts the shared general interest, etc into a bottom-up driven”virtuous circle” where value is created by Synergy [3]

Schermafbeelding 2019-09-01 om 16.31.53

I and II together results in unstoppable exponential growth (repeated and constant doubling time) because the users show it to their friends and they ‘infect’ each other, etc.

And by volunteering, they do not need to ask permission 🙂 Real innovation is always disobedient. Young people and madmen like me dare to do that.

If you observe this I & II rapid growth “connectivity phenomenon”, you will see the forces of LIFE in action!!! And it will enlighten your spiritual energy.

3. Does this “put more value in than is taken out” sounds too obvious? An open door you can drive a lorry through? No it is not always money or stuff. It can be roads, fiber optic links, services, data, connectivity, servers, clouds, information, knowledge, wisdom or…. private networks, like in the case of Internet (see the definition of what Internet is, elsewhere on this blog).  And sometimes the two streams are not obvious to all users. Example: the BitTorrent P2P clever parallel file sharing system on Internet with asymmetric network access speeds, invented as a datacom protocol by Bram Cohen in 2001. The users think that they can download music files from other users for free, but do not realise that by doing so, they offer their computer with these files to the user community.

4. The difference between A: The neoliberal hierarchical capitalism mindset and B: the P2P collective intelligent commons mindset.

To put this blog in the perspective of Time, I would like to explain that it tries to answer the request of George Monbiot in his TED talk (see link to that in https://theconnectivist.wordpress.com/2019/08/09/new-blog-series-what-can-we-do-1-and-2/ ) for a new “story” after the economic and social Crash of 2008. The concensus of NeoLiberal capitalism with its mantra of Market competition for everything to be able to extract value for a few at the expense of the middle and lower classes has broken down and is not working anymore. The market does not work for Healthcare, the legal system, Science, education, the military and the shared investment in infrastructures (including the digital infrastructures). These tasks should be done in the shared general interests by the State. We need a new “story” and new concensus about how to create value. We are in a transition towards a new phase as was done after the crash in 1930’s. Do I advocate that the pendulum of society policy should swing back from market to state ? No, absolutely not. As stated certain functions should be run by the State and other functions by Business Enterprises, when they involve taking risks with new innovations that improve price/performance and reaping for self interest the benefits if they succeed. It is however becoming apparent that there is a third cluster of functions that are done by (groups of) volunteers and done in the non-hierarchical organisational form of a “P2P Commons“. They are able as I have described above to connect and combine unique contributions from participants, and from those combinations appear Synergy and thus CREATE VALUE in society and as part of nature. This is however only possible when connectivity is available, the participants are able to learn from each other and under strict rules and boundaries and only for certain sharable goods and services. Do not share Ground please. The P2PFoundation has a large body of knowledge and cases available to further inform you.

Do I recommend a Commons for every type of activity in groups? No. Everything in society has a proper place in the “Trias Telematica” https://theconnectivist.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/commons-a-frame-for-thinking-beyond-growth-p2p-foundation/ of Business, State and Commons. And none of these three functions should be misunderstood and try to expand outside its own proper boundaries. Like recently a group of near monopoly business leaders stating that they would no longer would have shareholder value as #1 priority. In other words: they should be trusted with functions of the State? I do not think so as long as they are not asked to justify themselves to the Demos in elections, etc.

5. Message to the dolphins: Beware of sharks.

In the described Commons when properly done according to Bricklin’s Law the volunteers can achieve together a wonderful flourishing of cooperation and value creation together. Like a school of Dolphins swimming, eating and playing together, each appreciated and getting the benefits of the shared efforts according to the value of their own contributions, plus part of the synergy.  But beware, nearly always such success attracts SHARKS. They will disguise themselves as volunteers but stap by step will try to take over control and ownership of the Commons, transforming it into a business enterprise. Is that malice? No it is just the only way they can think, in terms of money and in extraction. They do it very subtle. It begins by offering to organise the client database, do the administration and then offer cash when extra investments are needed, for some of the shares, sure. And sometimes these sharks succeed, like in the case of Facebook. Zuckerman took over and did get all the volunteers and co-owners out. He is now very very rich and we the dolphins still do nearly all the work for him.  This is not a normal path for Commons. There are many cases where the sharks where kept out. Like in the Internet Society (ISOC, group of engineers) and The Internet (see the not well known definition of Internet  ) it-self still growing long distance, expanding on many continents and now also in-house and in-office (IoT).

The nation states should also abstain from trying to get Commons (groups of volunteers) which is the core of the Civil Society under their control, in their zeal to “Regulate” it. This is not only because a Commons can be trans-national across borders, but also since such commons can not function when they are part of a particular government interest. Example: The Red Cross or “Medicins sans Frontieres”.

Example from Hong Kong of massive and sudden volunteer actions, where the “5th law” did work:

Dunkirk evacuation staged in #HongKong. All the brake lights are the volunteer drivers who helped rescuing thousands of protesters to safe places. Those protesters were trapped in Tung Chung due to the shutdown of the metro system and surrounded by riot police.Screen Shot 2019-09-02 at 09.26.37

I wish you a lot of success in one or more of the Commons that have applied Bricklin’s Law. And I hope that this blog is a start for the “new political story” that is urgently needed, as George Monbiot said. We can demonstrate against failing central governments but in order to succeed we should re-start (local) democracies and then scale up.

jaap van till, TheConnectivist

 

[1] https://www.politico.com/story/2019/08/22/europe-plan-trump-tech-companies-1472326

[2] Dan Bricklin, (Cocreator of Visicalc), “The Cornucopia of the Commons”, Chapter four, pp.59-63; “PEER-TO-PEER – harnessing the power of Disruptive Technologies” ; Ed. Andy Oram; O’Reilly & Associates, 2001

[3] Peter Corning, “Synergistic Selection – How Cooperation has shaped Evolution and the Rise of Humankind” , World Scientific Publishing, 2018

Posted in Bottom-up, Bricklin's Law, butterfly efffect, disobedience, Exponential growth, Life Energy, Life on Earth, Network Effect, Network Effects, permission, scaling up, secret formula, Uncategorized, Unicorns, Vital for Life, volunteers | Tagged | 4 Comments

What can we DO, 7. About Democracy, its enemies and champions

Schermafbeelding 2019-08-19 om 15.55.46.png

Dear readers,

In this blog two very strong and important “interrupts” for the present chaotic political transition we are re-blogged here:

  1. Column by Sibylle Berg, author of the best-selling book GRM. She explains that the upcoming “populist” authoritarian regimes will fail and result in huge destruction. Because what they promise does not work, and is not even expected to work.  (in the German language. My attempt to translate it into English is attached below that).

2. “Opinion” by the famous journalist Ann Applebaum in The Washington Post.

And, I added a very important article in The New York Review of Books by prof. Tamsin Shaw about who are behind the attacks on Democracy: the Oligarchs  https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2019/08/27/the-oligarch-threat/

Full copy of that must read article is shown below.

Jaap van Till, TheConnectivist

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Angst, Hass, Hetze: Die neue Generation PolitikerInnen und ihr Irrtum

Nationen spalten, Unfrieden stiften und den Reichtum weniger vermehren: Kann man machen, bringt nur nichts. Am Ende ist die Geschichte der Menschheit intelligenter als ihre ProtagonistInnen. Ein offener Brief.

© Joseph Strauch

Eine Kolumne von 

  Der Spiegel (GER)

An alle autoritären nationalradikalen PolitikerInnen, (Begriff gelernt von Herrn Heitmeyer)

Vielleicht erreicht mein offener Brief Sie im Probenraum, in dem Sie sich einmal im Monat treffen. Ein wenig Parolen schreien und sich umarmen. Und dann wieder schreien. Je dümmer, desto besser. Ihrem Menschenbild gedankt. Danach darüber lachen, wie dumm die Menschen sind.

Der Probenraum, in dem Sie, VolksvertreterInnen aus Polen, Guatemala, Ungarn, England, Deutschland usw., vor dem Spiegel Parolen mit dem Motto üben: Wie erreiche ich es, an die dumpfsten Gedanken in Menschen zu appellieren, also dieses Aufzucken von Bösartigkeit, das man beim Stuhlgang hat. Wie kann ich mit unbewegtem Gesicht in kürzester Zeit möglichst wirkungsvoll denunzieren? Wie kann ich den Menschen mit starken aber sparsamen Gesten von meiner Führungsstärke überzeugen?

Vielleicht lesen Sie den Brief auch nachts, wenn Sie nicht schlafen können, weil da kurz wieder das Gefühl von Versagen wach geworden ist, das Sie durch Ihr Leben begleitet. Das Versagen, es nicht an die Spitze geschafft zu haben, zu denen, die Sie finanzieren, Sie benutzen, Sie verachten.

Ihr Größenwahn ist Attitüde

Vermutlich ahnen Sie, dass der wirklichen Elite nie wieder ein Fehler wie Hitler unterlaufen wird. Ein Irrer, ein Größenwahnsinniger. Ihr Größenwahn ist Attitüde. Sie sind nicht mehr als kontrollierbare Handlanger. Nie werden Sie dazugehören. Zur wirklichen Elite. Zu denen, die die Welt beherrschen. Nicht durch die Kraft Ihres Verstandes, sondern schlicht wegen Ihres Reichtums.

Und Sie, Herr und Frau Populist, wollen so gerne dazugehören. Wenn schon kein unermesslicher Reichtum, dann doch wenigstens in der Nähe der Macht sein. Gesehen werden, befehlen können, Spuren in dieser verdammten Welt hinterlassen. Wie schön das klingt.

Dann nichts wie ran. Weitermachen. Die Bevölkerungen von dem, was gerade passiert, ablenken. Vom Abbau der Sozialstaaten, von einem neuen neoliberalen faschistoiden weltumspannenden System, das wenigen noch mehr Reichtum bringen wird. Mit dem sie dann irgendwas machen können. Was kann man mit 100 Milliarden machen? Keine Ahnung. Ich weiß es nicht. Sie, werte PolitikerInnen, werden es auch nie erfahren.

Sie machen nur Ihren Job: Die Bevölkerungen gegeneinander aufhetzen, die alten Parameter von links und rechts wieder beleben, Sündenböcke finden, Staaten zerschlagen, alles Soziale eliminieren, denn Reiche haben wirklich keine Lust mehr, für Leute aufzukommen, die es nicht geschafft haben, ordentlich zu erben oder irgendeine Scheißplattform zu gründen. Darum gibt es euch.

Da ist nur Angst, aber kein Plan

Ihr seid die VollstreckungsbeamtInnen der Gier, die VollzugshelferInnen in einem Krieg gegen Normal- und GeringverdienerInnen, HenkerInnen des Sozialstaates und Hampelmänner und -frauen eines asozialen Systems, das sich weltweit etablieren will: ein paar Feudalherren und die Völker, die weit von Ihnen entfernt leben, und viele, die dann eben – nicht mehr überleben werden.

Ihr pöbelt und hetzt, ihr fördert das Schlechteste im Menschen zutage, und ihr seid ohne Scham. Nur Angst habt ihr. Angst davor, aufzufliegen. Angst davor, dass ihr nach euren Plänen gefragt werdet, denn da sind keine Pläne. Da ist nichts, was die Welt zu einer besseren werden lässt. Der Klimawandel, den gibt es nicht in eurer Agenda, denn die Umrüstung von Industrie und Wirtschaft würde teuer für eure Gönner. Ihr seid gegen gute Bildung, denn kluge BürgerInnen, das wissen wir seit Lenin, sind eine Gefahr für Despoten. Ihr seid gegen ein gutes Gesundheitswesen, denn wer kein Geld hat, kann aussterben.

Außer Hetze und Bosheit habt ihr nichts zu dieser Welt beizutragen

Ihr seid gegen alles, was es der Mehrheit der Menschen ermöglicht, ein menschenwürdiges Leben zu führen, und ihr habt keine Antworten. Außer Parolen und Gebrüll. Außer Hetze und Bosheit, die ihr hinter Phrasen versteckt, habt ihr nichts zu dieser Welt beizutragen. Außer Unfrieden, Elend, Verwüstung und ihr ahnt es. Ihr ahnt, dass ihr vielleicht nicht einmal einen Platz in einer “Gated Community” bekommt, wenn euer Plan aufgeht, der nicht einmal euer Plan ist.

Liebe autoritäre nationalradikale PolitikerInnen,

die dritte Möglichkeit ist, dass ihr diesen Brief nicht lest oder dass ihr einfach aus eurer Rolle nicht mehr rauskommt. Vielleicht ist es an der Zeit, ein Aussteigerprogramm zu initiieren, na oder…

Warum eigentlich? Ihr habt Missgunst und Unfrieden über die Menschen gebracht, ihr habt zu Morden aufgerufen, direkt oder indirekt. Ihr seid TäterInnen. Seht zu, wie ihr mit dieser Schuld klarkommt. Eure Zeit ist jetzt. Sie wird vorübergehen, wie alles, was rückwärtsgewandt und dumm ist. Und ihr werdet nicht einmal in einem Geschichtsbuch weiterleben. Kommt damit klar.

===================translation German – English====Please send me corrections==

Fear, Hate and Rage

Open Letter in Der Spiegel by Sibylle Berg

To all “authoritarian national radical Politikerinnen” (Term learned from  Mr. Heitmeyer )

Maybe my open letter will reach you in the rehearsal room where you meet once a month. To scream a few slogans scream and hug each other. And then scream again. The more stupid the better. Confirming your self-centered worldview. Then afterwards laugh about how stupid people are.

The rehearsal room, in which you, representatives of the people of Poland, Guatemala, Hungary, England, Germany, etc., practice in front of the mirror slogans with the motto: How do I manage to appeal to the dullest thoughts in people, so this rapture of malice, that you have during bowel movements. How can I denounce as effectively as possible with a straight face in no time? How can I convince people of my leadership with strong but frugal gestures?

You may also read this letter at night when you can not sleep, because the feeling of failure that accompanies you through your life has come to life again. The failure to make it to the top, to those who finance you, you use, you despise.

Your megalomania is attitude

You probably suspect that the real elite will never again make a mistake like with Hitler . A madman, a megalomaniac. Such megalomania is attitude. You are no more than controllable henchmen. You will never belong to the real elite. To those who rule the world. Not by the power of their mind, but simply because of their wealth.

And you, Mr. and Mrs. ‘Populist, want to be a part of it. If not immeasurable wealth, then at least be near the power. Being seen, commanded, leaving traces in this damnable world. How nice that sounds.

Then it will not work. Keep going. To distract the populations from what is happening. From the dismantling of the welfare states, from a new neoliberal fascist global system that will bring even more wealth to a few. With which they can do something. What can you do with 100 billion? No idea. I don’t know. You, dear politicians, will never know.

They are just doing their job: Raising the populations against each other, reviving the old parameters from left and right, finding scapegoats, shattering states, eliminating all social issues, because the rich really do not want to pay for people who have not made it, neat to inherit or to start some fucking platform. That’s why you exist.

There is only fear, but no plan

You are the executor of greed, the execution assistants in a war against ordinary and low-income earners, executioners of the welfare state, and runners and women of an anti-social system that wants to establish itself worldwide: a few feudal lords and the peoples who live far from you, and many who will not survive then.

You mob and rush, you bring out the worst in man , and you are without shame. Only you are afraid. Afraid to fly up. Fear that you will be asked for your plans, because there are no plans. There is nothing from you that makes the world a better one. The climate change , which is not available in your agenda, because the conversion of industry and economy would be expensive for your patrons. You are against good education, because smart citizens, we know since Lenin , are a danger to despots. You are against a good health care, because who has no money, can die out.

Other than baiting and malice, you have nothing to contribute to this world

You are against everything that enables the majority of people to lead a decent life, and you have no answers. Except slogans and roars. Other than the hate and malice that you hide behind phrases, you have nothing to contribute to this world. Except strife, misery, devastation and you guessed it. You sense that you may not even get a seat in a “gated community” if your plan works, not even your plan.

Dear Authoritarian National Radical Politicians,

Why? You brought resentment and strife over people, you called for murder, directly or indirectly. You are perpetrators. Watch how you handle this guilt. Your time is now. It will pass, like everything that is backward and stupid. And you will not even live on in a history book. Come to terms with that.

===========end of ubersetzung========

===========(2)===========

Hong Kong and Russia protesters fight for democracy. The West should listen and learn.

We live in an era of declining faith in elected leaders, declining faith in the institutions of the West, declining faith in democracy itself. In the United States, the world’s most important democracy, Congress seems permanently deadlocked, in hock to moneyed interests, unable to grapple with the big issues of climate change, technological change, the information revolution. In Britain, one of the world’s oldest democracies, politicians now speak in an offhand way about “proroguing” Parliament — asking the queen to suspend Britain’s House of Commons — as a way of resolving the unresolvable problem of Brexit.

Nor is the problem confined to the Anglo-Saxon world. A couple of years ago, two political scientists, Yascha Mounk and Roberto Stefan Foa, looked at the numbers in a now famous article and found that the number of people who believe that it is “essential” to live in a democracy has slipped in almost every Western country. The trend is especially pronounced among the young. Among Swedes born in the 1930s and 1940s, just to take one random example, more than 80 percent believe democracy is “essential.” Among Swedes born in 1980, however, the figure has fallen to 60 percent. At the same time, several established democracies, from Hungary to India, have begun dismantling fundamental institutions and principles, including independent courts — a democratic deconsolidation that doesn’t even arouse the interest of this U.S. administration.

It’s a gloomy picture. It’s also too simple. Even while the news at home gets constantly worse, we are simultaneously living in an era when the ideals of democracy have never burned more brightly, especially among younger people — at least those who live in autocracies. Here is a paradox: In two of the most authoritarian countries on the planet, unprecedented pro-democracy demonstrations are now unfolding, inspiring precisely the same generation that is bored by democracy in the West.

In Hong Kong, thousands of young people, most of whom no longer remember the years of British rule, are defying police brutality to make their voices heard. Having learned from the mistakes of the “Occupy” movement of 2014, they have created a whole new set of tactics to oppose a new law on extradition, learning to “be water” by constantly shifting the sites and styles of their protest, one day blocking major roads, another day rendering the airport dysfunctional. Constant, overwhelming propaganda from the Chinese authorities appears not to be working: Opinion polls show that the majority of Hong Kong people — including the vast majority of young people — don’t sympathise with the regime and don’t even feel “Chinese,” a shift in sensibility that helps to explain protesters’ bravery.

In Russia, where propaganda also attacks the West and derides democracy as chaotic and anarchic, protesters have focused very directly on the most fundamental of democratic institutions: They are demanding the right, simply, to vote for independent candidates in local elections. Just as in Hong Kong, Russian protests are being led by younger people, none of whom can remember any other leader except Vladimir Putin: “I am 20 years old, and in my entire life there has not been a single day of freedom,” one of them told reporters, according to Meduza, an independent website that covers Russia. They, too, are well organized, using up-to-the-minute apps to keep in touch with one other, deploying a phalanx of lawyers and a carefully planned social media campaign. Like the young Hong Kongers, young Russians aren’t just dedicated; they are organised, thoughtful and well prepared.

But it may also be that the young protesters of Russia and China are simply ahead of us. We’ve gotten used to the idea that political influence flows from West to East, but are we so sure that is still true? A generation of Eastern dissidents has thought harder than we have about how to self-organize, about how to operate in a world run by secretive, kleptocratic elites who go out of their way to create distraction and apathy. Remember that they, too, are fighting regimes that seem in hock to moneyed interests and wrestling to cope with the pace of technological change. It may be that we in the West simply haven’t thought about what tactics ordinary people need to deploy to compete in a world where money is offshore, power is invisible and apathy is widespread. It may be that we need to learn from people who have.

Read more from Anne Applebaum’s archivefollow her on Twitter or subscribe to her updates on Facebook.

=========================Start of NYR article==========

The Oligarch Threat

Netflix

A still from The Great Hack, 2019

On July 24, 2019, a buoyant Boris Johnson swept past crowds shouting “Bollocks to Brexit! Bollocks to Boris!” and was ushered into the hushed splendor of Buckingham Palace. There, he shook hands with the antique, bejeweled Queen Elizabeth II, and became the prime minister of Great Britain, elected not by popular mandate but by members of his Conservative Party. That same day, on the other side of the Atlantic, a frail and reluctant Robert Mueller took his oath before giving public testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, and later the House Intelligence Committee, on a controversial and difficult twenty-two-month-long investigation—made more challenging by multiple witnesses’ lying under oath—in which he had painstakingly examined Russian interference in the 2016 election of Donald Trump.

That day was also chosen by Netflix for the worldwide release of the documentary by filmmakers Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim, The Great Hack. Within a week, millions of viewers had watched it. For many, this was their first exposure to the links between the political upheavals on both sides of the Atlantic. The documentary almost certainly alarmed many more people than Mueller’s testimony did. July 24 was as close as we have got so far to a day of reckoning with the nefarious activity designed to manipulate voters in both the UK and the US in 2016.

The primary focus of The Great Hack is the infamous and now insolvent data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, which worked for the Trump campaign as well as the Leave.EU campaign promoting Brexit. Among various legally questionable activities was the company’s harvesting of huge quantities of data from Facebook in ways unknown to that platform’s millions of users. This data, used to target voters with specific “messages”—in many cases, a euphemism for outright lies—was a powerful propaganda tool, although the precise extent of its influence on electoral outcomes in Britain or the US is incalculable.

The hero of The Great Hack is Carole Cadwalladr, a British journalist for The Observerand The Guardian who broke the Cambridge Analytica story, and in so doing, has had to brave waves of misogynistic abuse, hate campaigns on social media, and numerous bullying legal threats (some still current). Together with colleagues at The New York Times, Cadwalladr was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for their joint reporting.

I know Carole personally, and in the months leading up to the publication of her big Cambridge Analytica–Facebook scoop, I spoke to her often. Initially, she wasn’t writing a story about Facebook and didn’t expect the social network to be a main focus. But executives made Facebook the story’s headline when, two days before publication on March 18, 2018, they sent her a threat of legal action. This was such a bizarrely aggressive move that it drew a great deal of public attention; Facebook later admitted that it had been a mistake and apologized. But by the time an alabaster-faced Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the US Congress, barely a month later, propped like a mildly indignant dauphin upon extra seat cushions and reciting scripted answers to committee members’ questions, the Cambridge Analytica story had wiped $134 billion off his company’s share value.

Netflix

British journalist Carole Cadwalladr in The Great Hack, 2019

It was somewhat surprising that Facebook succeeded in hogging the limelight in a field so rich with villains. The bigger picture, which Carole and I had been discussing during those preceding months, was the way in which the Cambridge Analytica story opened a window onto a new constellation of international billionaires, corrupt politicians, and war profiteers who were apparently amassing enormous power. That story isn’t only about technology, data, and psychographic profiling; it’s also, at root, a story about the consequences of entrenched economic inequality, the privatization of essential public assets and government functions, including even national security, and the challenge to conventional foreign policy posed by the bargains being struck between international kleptocrats. And it tells us why, beyond being manipulated on social media, we should care about businesses like Cambridge Analytica—and why we should be concerned about what the Mueller investigation failed to expose.

*

In both Britain and America, there exists a class of billionaires who seek to become oligarchs and a corresponding class of government officials who want to become billionaires. Since 2008, when the financial markets’ development of complex and ill-regulated derivatives led to a credit crisis and crash that erased huge sums from the fortunes of the global ultra-rich—with Western tycoons like Rupert Murdoch and Sheldon Adelson, and Russian oligarchs like Oleg Deripaska among the biggest losers—the world’s billionaires have been moving away from a commitment to free markets. Learning from the banking bailouts and the socialization of moral hazard, they have instead embraced an ambition to build lasting monopolies that enjoy both official and unofficial forms of state support.

Russia has pioneered this new form of “state capitalism,” in which the state absorbs risk for the companies of certain loyal oligarchs, allowing them to reap enormous profits. In exchange, these billionaires advance strategic objectives, not just through energy deals but also by investing in foreign companies that own sensitive technology or valuable data, or which provide important forms of economic leverage abroad. One recent example is the huge investment Oleg Deripaska’s Rusal made in a Kentucky aluminum plant, funding the economic revival of the area. Shortly before the announcement of the investment, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell had backed the successful effort to lift sanctions on Deripaska and his businesses. The investment increases Russia’s political leverage in the US, since if sanctions were to be reimposed on Deripaska now under another administration they would directly harm the people of Kentucky. Putin is happy for his oligarchs to invest outside Russia so long as they are serving Russian strategic interests. None of the accumulated profit is distributed back to the Russian people: it is generally held off-shore.

The United States has its own versions of the oligarchs, albeit ones who made their money legally rather than through the criminal enterprises for which many Russians have been indicted by American prosecutors or sanctioned by the federal government. As I’ve previously written, the oligarchs of Silicon Valley managed to establish their extraordinary monopolies—viewed by the state as a form of soft power as well as an essential national security asset in a world of cyber-conflict—only because that entire sector received huge injections of venture-capital funding from the military and intelligence agencies. In this case, too, the astronomical profits are largely untaxed and held off-shore. Other national security–related industries have sought a similar status under the Trump administration.

This international billionaire class is also establishing and using private intelligence and influence agencies like Cambridge Analytica to help them manipulate national and international politics. It’s well known that the Koch brothers have their own such agency (called i360), but other billionaires have firms whose names we don’t even know. That’s not to say there’s a grand conspiracy of global elites or coordinated centralization of power for mutual advantage. But what these messy conflicting interests do have in common is that they are all working against liberal-democratic institutions. The free-market dream of being liberated from government authority, once an article of faith for the billionaire class, has turned into the oligarchs’ dream of coopting, or even usurping, government authority in pursuit of profit.

At one time, it seemed inevitable that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation would expose much of this underworld to public scrutiny. It didn’t—though we do get glimpses of it in his report. Mueller tells us, for instance, that in January 2017, Kirill Dmitriev, the Stanford- and Harvard-educated head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, set up a phone call between Putin and Trump. He sent Putin in advance an optimistic report on negotiations with representatives of Trump’s transition team, indicating that business and investment opportunities had been discussed, as well as possibilities for joint counter-terrorism initiatives and other strategic objectives.

If these negotiations followed the usual Russian modus operandi, the business opportunities and strategic objectives would have been closely aligned. Russian and American oligarchs, supported by their respective states, would make billions of dollars in exchange for advancing an agenda that had been negotiated in secret. It’s striking that the ingenues on the Trump team—some of whom, such as Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr., had never been involved in politics before—seemed to approach negotiations viewing their skills and strategic insight as equal to those of the Russians. Back-door foreign policy, uninformed by government intelligence services, the State Department, or foreign service officers, can easily create national security vulnerabilities—if a Kentucky aluminum deal could compromise US interests we can only imagine the unintended consequences of deals involving cyber-powers, nuclear power, or other sensitive areas—yet these actors did not lack confidence.

Despite this account in the Mueller Report, we still don’t know many details of what was discussed ahead of the Trump–Putin phone call. But we do know the details of one joint Russian and American plan intended to supply power plants to Middle Eastern countries, to be funded by Saudi Arabia on the understanding that the venture would ultimately lead to the Saudis’ acquiring nuclear technology as a safeguard against a nuclear Iran. In his brief tenure as national security adviser, Lt. General Michael Flynn was the point man inside the Trump administration, aiming to negotiate an end to Russian sanctions so the Saudi project could proceed, but many other senior military and intelligence figures were on the masthead of the group, known as IP3/Ironbridge, that was pitching to the Saudis. A recent congressional report found that the plan, still alive though without the Russian partners, “virtually obliterated the lines normally separating government policymaking from corporate and foreign interests.”

Dmitriev’s own negotiations were with one of the most ambitious of America’s would-be oligarchs, Erik Prince. He is a private military contractor, formerly of Blackwater; his present company, the Frontier Services Group, has backing from the Chinese government and a Hong Kong billionaire named Johnson Ko, the company’s executive director. Prince’s meetings on behalf of the Trump team were arranged by a former Blackwater colleague who is now an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates, George Nader. Nader, who is currently in federal custody in Virginia as an accused child sex trafficker, claims that Prince was sent as an emissary for Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, to the notorious Seychelles meeting with Dmitriev and Bin Zayed. The accounts given by Bannon and Prince, to Mueller’s team and in congressional hearings, have conflicted, but we know that Prince met with Bannon frequently during the transition period, and Bannon acted as Prince’s advocate in the White House when Prince was lobbying for his Frontier Services Group to take over military operations in Afghanistan (a scheme Prince was still promoting in a New York Times op-ed months later).

The special counsel’s investigation acknowledged the existence of these back-channel negotiations but failed to shed light on them, in part because vital elements of the testimony Mueller’s investigators heard were false, and various encrypted communications had been erased. But Mueller also interpreted his remit in the narrowest possible way: his principal areas of investigation were the Russian social media campaign during the election, and the DNC hackings and release of materials. There had been some expectation that a further area of inquiry would take on financial entanglements, and even potential RICO crimes. Some hoped that if Mueller’s investigation implicated Trump and Russian entities in racketeering, possibly even providing evidence that Trump was compromised by Russia, then the cooption of government by private actors, foreign and domestic, would be exposed.

In the event, Mueller’s main finding, a “sweeping and systematic” campaign of interference by Russia in the 2016 election, has simply reinforced the idea that the United States and Russia are combatants in a fairly traditional form of political warfare. Mueller’s report and testimony had no impact in exposing the multilateral business deals—here involving American, Russian, Saudi, Israeli, Qatari, and Emirati actors—that bypass national interests, official foreign policy, international regulations, electoral laws, and even ordinary market pressures.

*

By telling the story of Cambridge Analytica, The Great Hack takes us just a little further into this world. The company wasn’t set up by smart fashion students with pink hair or young crypto-grifters in bikinis, yet the film focuses disproportionate attention on the morally ambiguous, countercultural characters that moviemakers and audiences love to imagine at the heart of the cyber-world. It follows, in particular, a young former Cambridge Analytica employee named Brittany Kaiser. In the film, she claims to have been a human rights activist until she was drawn into the world of covert influence campaigns by the apparently seductive Etonian, Alexander Nix. Just how this former social-justice warrior managed to overlook the fact that her new employment was in part funded by corrupt leaders to sway elections in developing countries is not explained.

But Ann Marlowe, an expert on Libya who first met Kaiser in 2015, has pointed outthat Kaiser’s self-presentation is distorted. At one point in the film, Kaiser is pictured standing in front of a poster board advertising a conference on foreign investment in Libya, in 2012, wearing a red cloche hat and red lace dress, smiling politely next to three men in suits. In her voiceover, Kaiser says that after working on Obama’s Facebook team in 2008, she “spent several years working on human rights and international relations.” Marlowe looked into that claim and discovered that Kaiser had been working with the then prime minister of Libya, Ali Zeidan, who was at the time “presiding over its looting and political collapse.” The world Kaiser comes from is darker than she’s prepared to admit.

But Kaiser, and even Nix, were always the show-people for Cambridge Analytica, the circus-masters who distract us—with their eccentricities, their preposterous entitlement, and their moral insouciance—from the real powers that placed them in the public eye. The less TV-friendly conservative donors, hedge-fund managers, kleptocrats, and mercenaries who made people like Kaiser and Nix agents of the far right’s assault on liberal democracy are able to remain in the shadows.

Netflix

Brittany Kaiser in The Great Hack, 2019

The pertinent information, though, is that Cambridge Analytica was set up by Steve Bannon—who boasts on camera of devising the name—in 2015, with funding from his right-wing billionaire friend, Robert Mercer. The new firm was carved out of a larger company called SCL Group, which had held government contracts around the world for influence operations and unorthodox and covert election campaigns. From 2005 to 2015, the biggest investor in the SCL Group was a major donor to Britain’s Tory Party, Vincent Tchenguiz. Tchenguiz made an employee at his Consensus Business Group named Julian Wheatland a director of SCL. Wheatland appears in the movie plaintively lamenting the demise of Cambridge Analytica with all its talented young people. But he needn’t be too disconsolate. His boss continues to be a powerful and extremely connected figure in this sector.

Tchenguiz has invested in State of Mind Ventures, a venture capital fund headed by Pinchas Buchris, a former commander of Israeli military intelligence’s Unit 8200, which has been described as equivalent of the NSA. Tchenguiz also has stakes in Terrogence (part of the Verint Group, which describes itself as a world leader in “actionable intelligence,”), an Israeli agency known as Businesscope Business Intelligence, and the British company Quintel intelligence.

Among the big investors in this shady netherworld of intelligence-gathering and influence operations, there are naturally many overlaps. Tchenguiz’s interests and investments connect with those of Erik Prince, as the freelance journalist Wendy Siegelman has shown in her fine-grained mapping of the field on Medium. Both men have links to one of the best-known private intelligence companies, Black Cube, founded in Israel by another former military intelligence officer. Tchenguiz was involved in setting up Black Cube and was its first major client. (Black Cube first came to widespread public attention when The New Yorker reported that its operatives were working for the former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein in an apparent effort to frustrate the newspaper’s reporting of allegations of sexual assault made against him.) Though Black Cube denies it, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Chris Wiley has claimed the two companies did work together. The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz has reported that Prince also considered investing in a joint venture with Tchenguiz and the Israeli financier Dorian Barak.

Siegelman has also tracked the development of a new company named Emerdata, since its emergence in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica bankruptcy. Julian Wheatland and Alexander Nix were both initially directors, though since they’re now under investigation for their Cambridge Analytica activities, they’ve both had to resign. Robert Mercer’s daughters, Rebekah (who has worked closely with Steve Bannon) and the less high-profile Jennifer, are the major investors, alongside Prince’s billionaire business partner, Johnson Ko. (The Mercer sisters have also acquired their father’s stake in Breitbart, the far-right media outlet Bannon built up.) Emerdata is thus essentially a reincarnation of Cambridge Analytica, possibly with even more funding.

From time to time, a scandal emerges that gives us a glimpse of this deeply interconnected, secretive realm of power wielded by the ultra-rich. The Miami Herald’s recent investigation of Jeffrey Epstein by Julie K. Brown revealed the existence of a company he was involved in named Carbyne. Ostensibly, Carbyne supplies tools for use by emergency services, such as geolocation devices and equipment for live video feeds, but much of this material doubles very effectively as surveillance technologies. The company was founded by the former Israeli general and politician Ehud Barak; its investors and board members are a who’s who of the private security world, and include Peter Thiel and his Palantir co-founder, Trae Stephens, Pinchas Buchris, Michael Chertoff, and, of course, Erik Prince.

*

The Great Hack is an important film, one that people need to see, but its account of the Cambridge Analytica operation scarcely touches the shady world of the billionaire oligarchs who are the real financial and political forces behind the scenes. Perhaps it’s too much to expect a Netflix documentary to accomplish what the special counsel, with all the resources of federal prosecutors and FBI investigators at his disposal, also failed to account for. Although Robert Mueller succeeded in indicting Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, and others, he framed his investigation in such a way that the most significant aspects of what happened in 2016 were judged to be classified counterintelligence threats, about which the public may never learn. The erosion of norms of governance in Washington now means that, according to chairman Adam Schiff, even the House Intelligence Committee has had no counterintelligence briefings in a year and a half.

The public needs to ask questions about these violations of democratic accountability before government intelligence services are completely prevented from finding the answers. President Trump has repeatedly vilified the US intelligence community, and may still appoint a loyalist as Director of National Intelligence who would close down counterintelligence operations related to Trump family foreign involvements.

In Britain, in spite of election law violations by all three organizations supporting Brexit in the 2016 EU referendum and after extraordinarily large donations of money with questionable origins, there has been no public inquiry into the finances and incentives that lay behind this criminal activity. Although many senior civil servants, members of Parliament, and other public figures have called for an inquiry, Britain has had no Mueller. It does have Carole Cadwalladr and a handful of other investigative journalists looking into the peculiar trans-Atlantic alliances that are corroding from within a once-robust parliamentary democracy.

As for Boris Johnson, the wayward Etonian princeling, he was reportedly denied access to sensitive intelligence when he was foreign secretary, even though the two main agencies, MI6 and GCHQ, ordinarily report directly to that officeholder. In April 2018, Johnson was photographed at an airport without the foreign secretary’s customary security detail, in a hungover and disheveled state after partying all weekend in Italy with the British-based Russian oligarch Evgeny Lebedev. Since July 24, when Johnson became prime minister, the prospects of protecting liberal-democratic institutions on either side of the Atlantic have dimmed still further. For both Britons and Americans, the only hope of halting the stealthy advance of oligarchic power is in upcoming elections. But one thing The Great Hack andthe Mueller report show is that this path is narrowing all the time.


The Great Hack is streaming on Netflix

==========================================end of NYR article======

 

 

Posted in authoritarianism, democracy, Demonstration, Liberal Democracy, participation democracy, populism, populist, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

What can WE do: 6, the Regenerative Leadership book

Dear readers of this Blog series,

Here is my recommendation to read and practice a sixt bundle of future oriented ideas that combine Nature and groups of people. It is reblogged from the article of Giles Hutchins:

http://thenatureofbusiness.org/2019/07/10/next-stage-leadership-for-a-transforming-world-regenerative-leadership/

Although I doubt the validity of too much focus on “leaders” and managers, especially since we now exit the no-longer working hierarchies-paradigm, there will be needs for decision makers aka captains on ships. Their objectives are new however: construct and nourish a diversity of people in a tribe, to maintain and improve inner and outer Sustainability. And yes, it depends on P2P cooperation and connectivity between the participants and with the outside world.

jaap van till, TheConnectivist

================= reblogged from The Nature of Business============

Next-Stage Leadership for A Transforming World: Regenerative Leadership

JULY 10, 2019

Today more than ever we find ourselves in a world out of balance. Our planet is hurting. Our institutions are reaching breaking point. Our stress levels are rising, there are escalating levels of social dissonance, depression, anxiety, obesity and political polarisation across our society.

However, through the cracks of the old systems comes light. The light of a new era. A new way of living, being and working.

A New Paradigm in leadership is being born before our very eyes.  It is simultaneously a challenging yet exciting time to be involved in the future of business.

 

These times ask – demand – that we create the conditions conducive for ourselves and our organizations to become more conscious, more attuned, more human, as we open ourselves up to and re-connect with the magnificence of this more-than-human world and universe.

 

‘We are made wise not by the recollections of our past but by the responsibility of our future.’ George Bernard Shaw

 

This is what the new book by Giles Hutchins and Laura Storm is all about – a new way of leading and operating in business and beyond: Regenerative Leadership

This new book provides an exciting and comprehensive framework for building regenerative life-affirming businesses. It offers a multitude of business cases, fascinating examples from nature’s living systems, insights from the front-line pioneers and tools and techniques for leaders to succeed and thrive in the 21st century.
Regenerative Leadership draws inspiration from pioneering thinking within biomimicry, circular economy, adult developmental psychology, anthropology, biophilia, sociology, complexity theory and next-stage leadership development. It connects the dots between these fields through a powerful framework that enables leadership to become regenerative: in harmony with life, building thriving, prosperous organizations amid transformational times. The book is a combination of theoretical frameworks, case studies, tools & practices: Everything the leader needs to be successful in the 21st century.

Regenerative Leadership – what’s it all about?

While the future is uncertain, we clearly see an upward trend towards sustainable conscious business. And this is more than just a trend – we’re witnessing a new kind of organization emerging.

An organization which is able to rapidly sense and respond to the ever-changing business climate by innovating how and why it creates and delivers value, and the way it engages internally and externally with its ecosystem of employees, customers, suppliers, resources, investors, society and environment.

This new kind of organization is the organization-as-living-system that is designed on the Logic of Life: life-affirming businesses that thrive from the inside out, by cultivating conditions conducive for life, internally and externally. These organizations nurture flourishing cultures while focusing on products and services that enhance society and the environment.

 

Regenerative Leadership starts with an unavoidable conclusion: the world’s most pressing challenges are interconnected, and only through a systems view could we hope to solve them. Hope is what Giles and Laura offer, exploring the wisdom, rules, and models for thinking, being, and doing that the natural world offers us. Business leaders will enjoy this mind-expanding journey.”  Andrew Winston, Sustainabilty Strategist, author of the Big Pivot and co-author of Green to Gold

 

‘Hutchins and Storm demonstrate that they are clearly at the forefront of a new leadership paradigm that maps an emerging model for sustainable organization in any institution that wishes to thrive. Regenerative Leadership is built upon developing awareness of self and system that embraces the wisdom of Nature alongside creative human consciousness. It is an ideal model that recognizes the potential of living systems to revive organizations and leadership to be effective drivers for the next step in our human story. Hutchins and Storm know what they are talking about – and we should start listening.’  Kingsley L. Dennis, The Sacred Revival – Magic, Mind & Meaning in a Technological Age

 

 

“Leaders of today and tomorrow must be equipped with the right knowledge and skills about regenerative design, culture and lifestyle to build organizations geared for transitions towards sustainable systems that the world needs. They have to be systems-thinkers, ecosystem-facilitators and brave enough to address both inner & outer sustainability. This book is an excellent read for all leaders and change makers” Gunhild Stordalen, Founder & President, EAT Foundation

 

“Giles and Laura bring their vast experience and deep wisdom of natural design and development to create an evolutionary blueprint for a sustainable future for business, people and the planet.An evolutionary blueprint for a sustainable future for business, people and the planet.” Richard Barrett, President of the Barrett Academy for the Advancement of Human Values

You can get the book here: http://www.regenerativeleadership.co

and see a short video about the book here:

 

These times ask – demand – that we create the conditions conducive for ourselves and our organizations to become more conscious, more attuned, more human, as we open ourselves up to and re-connect with the magnificence of this more-than-human world and universe.

To explore ‘the new paradigm’ further, join the Face Book community here

For Giles’ latest TEDx talk:

 

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What can WE do, number 5: About COMMONS

elinor 21. Introduction

As mentioned in our positive ideas blog nr.2 about the P2P Commons the organisation structure of the “commons” (NL: meent, FR. commune, DLD: Gemeinde) plays a central role in the redefinition of our societies. The late Lady Elanor Oström has studied these structures in-depth and found they can be viable, although under strict rules of cooperation and sharing. She rejected the old economy comment of “the Tragedy of the Commons” as superficial and only looking of cases of shared public grounds or orchards. Which is not a clever choice of shared resources, just like I can recommend you NOT to share the Kitchen in a building occupied by a commune. In Commons volunteers, artist and scientists can play important roles. Make sure they are rewarded and appreciated for their valuable contributions. Creating value together is the central driver which drives incentives to do so.

2. In my humble opinion the success of a P2P Commons depends on RULE NUMBER ONE for a Commons =

” Make it x-tal clear to all participants A. What is the shared resource or shared activity (is non-competitive)  AND B. What resources / activities are NOT shared (private property, competitive) ” ~ jaap van till.

RULE NUMBER TWO: “Beware of the phenomenon of the appearance, sooner or later, of Sharks who will start to exploit the work of the kind Dolphins. They will, kindly at first, offer to “do the administration”, make a list, or sit at the cashregister. Example: Zuck. They want you to (start) do the work while they get rich. Get them out.”

My RULE NUMBER THREE: ” Keep everybody informed of everything, insides and outsides,  by cascades of P2P communication, I call #weavelets, see elsewhere on my blog. This allows rapid response to unexpected situations and rapid learning by doing. And rapid innovations which are applauded by those who contribute them. No, do not drown in bureacracy and endless meetings. If ants, flocks of birds and colonies of bacteria can do this (collective intelligence with distributed authority) so can WE”

Question: Sometimes a “Commons” is called a “Cooperative”. Are these really the same thing ?

Jaap van Till, The Connectivist

Here is the description of the very useful book mentioned in the headline, taken from:  https://www.plutobooks.com/9780745399355/elinor-ostroms-rules-for-radicals/

An introduction to the groundbreaking ideas of the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Economics

Elinor Ostrom was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Economics. Her theorising of the commons has been celebrated as groundbreaking and opening the way for non-capitalist economic alternatives, yet, many radicals know little about her. This book redresses this, revealing the indispensability of her work for green politics, left economics and radical democracy.

Ostrom has often been viewed as a conservative or managerial thinker; but Derek Wall’s analysis of her work reveals a how it is invaluable for developing a left political programme in the twenty-first century. Central to Ostrom’s work was the move ‘beyond panaceas’; transforming institutions to widen participation, promote diversity and favour cooperation over competition. She regularly challenged academia as individualist, narrow and elitist and promoted a radical take on education, based on participation. Her investigations into how we share finite resources has radical implications for the Green movement and her rubric for a functioning collective ownership is highly relevant in order in achieving radical social change.

As activists continue to reject traditional models of centralised power, Ostrom’s work will become even more vital, offering a guide to creating economics that exists beyond markets and states.

Most important advice:
Elinor 1==============================
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