[ Republished – 2nd edit: March 20, 2017 – from original article April 2015 ]
This general topic is covered repeatly from different angles in different posts, but the intended purpose of this article is just to go straight to the heart of the matter, with respect to the scepticism many people have, as to whether or not an Resources Based Economy is possible in any form.
But to argue the case for an RBE, we must also argue the case for how every other social system attached to the economic system will function in its absence. So this article also deals with how an RBE can deliver justice.
This article begins to explain what is meant by “justice” in an objective rather than subjective sense, such that it is actually quantifiable and perspective agnostic.
First things first in this rewrite, let me make one thing perfectly clear:
the continuance of the status quo is neither beneficial, sustainable, nor desirable for anyone
imagine a world where:
- in place of authoritarian hierarchies of governments and the “ruling class”, there’s just a self-sovereign system which neither makes claims to authority over others, nor respects any such claims made, but which respects your own self-sovereignty
- this world has no official power structures nor laws
- without rules and laws, there’s merely guidelines systems
- how many of you imagined a world in chaos
- a world where the strong exploit the weak?
ok, so why did you think that?
- it’s human nature to be selfish?
- the strong will exploit the weak without controls?
- any other reasons?
Look around you … that’s already happening.
you’re effectively arguing that changing the status quo, has less chance of changing the status quo, than not changing the status quo – which doesn’t even make any sense
The problem here is ( aside from the faulty logic ), that you’ve concluded there exists no possible solution ( or better situation ), just because you can’t think of one.
Whether you realise it or not, that’s actually your reasoning.
Now … what if I told you it doesn’t have to be that way?
the real questions to ask
In all of this we must ask, what are actually seeking?
- a sense of security
- peace on Earth for all
- to have healthy loving relationships
- the satisfaction of our basic needs
- the fulfilment of our dreams and desires
- to express our creativity and imagination
If you had everything on the above list manifesting as a result of your efforts over time, and if those efforts were not being undermined by a system of control and exploitation ( that constantly distracts and drains you ) … if no one needed power over anyone else in order to achieve it – would you not be satisfied?
So why defend the status quo so vehemently?
what is justice?
Justice is taken by a lot of people to be a purely subjective term, ie – what is justice to one man, is a crime to another – but what this really means is that we’re not actually talking about justice at all, we’re talking about personal satisfaction.
Justice by its very definition and nature must be impartial, for if it is biased – relative to the perspective of one person over another – then it is subjective, and therefore not justice at all.
The very nonions of justice and bias are diametrically opposed and therefore incongruent.
So what you’re saying when you say justice is subjective, is that you really don’t understand what justice is … and that you don’t know how to define and quantify it.
So let’s analyse the concept and meaning of the word justice, and realise it’s inherent & self-evident truths:
- IF the values of justice are biased to an individual or group
- THEN such is an injustice to all others
- THEREFORE true justice must be non-species-biased
- THEREFORE ALSO true justice must be quantifiable
- IF accessibility is restricted to an individual or group
- AND IF it is limited or unavailable to others
- THEN such is an injustice to all others
- THEREFORE true justice must be free and transparent
- IF the application of justice is biased to circumstance
- THEN such is an injustice to people’s circumstances
- THEREFORE true justice must be adaptive
- THEREFORE ALSO true justice must be non-authoritarian
anarchy is an absolute requirement, of true & absolute justice
… and in the words of StarTrek starship captain Jean-Luc Picard ( and whomever his dialogue was quoting ):
there can be no justice while law is absolute
I would even go further to argue it’s unlikely ( if not actually impossible ) to achieve true and comprehensive justice via law at all, it is an obsolete and simplistic paradigm … not to mention the very obvious delusion that the Stockholm Syndrome of citizens agreeing to having rules dictated to them, just because they’re brainwashed to believe there’s no other way, has quite obviously got nothing whatsoever to do with justice.
the link from justice to sustainability
So this leads us quite naturally to the question: how can there be justice for any other species, if the rules are dictated by human beings who deny their sentience, deny their needs, their suffering, and their capacity for self determination … and not because there’s any evidence to support the basis of these denials, but because the economic system of human beings deems that the exploitation of other species is quite profitable, that they’re nothing more than resources without rights or minds of their own, and it is perfectly moral and reasonable.
When you look at our movies of alien invasion scenarios, you realise just how hypocritical we are … we treat our cousin species as bad or worse than every single alien invader we depict in cinema.
absolute vs. relative
Justice and sustainability are inextricably linked, because if something is imposed on you, it is an injustice to you, unless there’s some kind of justification for the imposition, and which justification is not itself hypocritical … if something is unsustainable for you, and it is an unjustified imposition, it is therefore an injustice.
- Absolute: the universal absence of injustice
- Relative: the subdomain absence of injustice
A world of relative justice from the human perspective, is where no human suffers an imposed unjustified unsustainable situation. A world of absolute justice is where no being of any kind suffers injustice.
Clearly this is an ideal which can never actually be attained, but it’s vital that we know what it is as an ideal in order to understand the true meaning of the terms we’re using.
Since we have already discussed that bias is contrary to and incongruent with justice, we therefore must conclude that relative justice is not true justice, and we must aim for the absolute in order to avoid hypocrisy.
Therefore ecological and social justice and sustainability – in the absolute sense – are measures of the thermodynamically quantifiable consequences caused by one element ( or set of elements ) of a system, upon another – and which result in advantageous, neutral, or disadvantageous state-changes.
An disadvantageous state change – beyond a critical threshold – for an individual element or system of elements, means the causation was an unsustainable … and where that event was imposed upon the subject, without impartial justification for the imposition, then it was also an injustice.
A state change of neutral consequence may have been unsustainable, but it is only an injustice ( since the consequences were neutral ) where it has not also denied the subject an opportunity for beneficial state change in its place, had the imposed causation not occurred.
An example of a valid justification for that which might otherwise be an imposed injustice – in order to avoid the hypocrisy of such a determination – is where the imposition that occurs, is done to prevent a quantifiably equivalent, similar, or greater injustice being perpetrated by the subject upon an innocent third party.
in other words: it is not an injustice to deprive you ( as a thinking human being, perfectly capable of other choices ) of the opportinity to assault someone without justified cause … and since – for this justice to be absolute as opposed to relative, it must be non-species-biased – it is therefore not an injustice to deprive you of the opportunity to do that to another species, so long as you were not doing it to defend yourself ( or for some other valid reason ), and so long as the means of preventing you from that assault does not itself constitute a greater injustice than you were about to commit.
so let’s apply this to a specific scenario:
A man ( not a vegetarian ) decides to go fishing, his actions that day will cause suffering and death to 3 fish. Killing them is clearly unsustainable for the fish, since their priority was to live, and they’re no longer alive.
We make no moral judgement of this, but we first ask ourselves: “does he have other perfectly well available food sources, that are totally adequate to his nutritional needs, or is he starving with no other opportunities ( or similar )?”
This question doesn’t affect the fact that his actions are an injustice to those fish, but it does affect how we assess our response to him doing it, if for example we were to consider ourselves a protector of justice for the fish.
The next question we ask is just what level of suffering are the fish actually capable of ( ? )
From a physiological standpoint, what is the intensity of the pain signals from receptor cells in the fish, and from a psychological perspective, what is the level of consciousness of the fish, and how does that consciousness actually experience and suffer in response to its awareness of the pain, and of its own imminent death.
In all probability, while a small fish is sentient in a rudimentary sense, it would not likely have the capacity for suffering of a human being … whereas a cow is another story, with their comparatively large brains, and their more recent common ancestry with humans – and you can tell this from spending just a handful of minutes with any cow – they’ve got a gigantic capacity for both physiological and psychological suffering.
So if you want to be the defender of the fish, it’s going to take a lot of killing of small fish by a single individual to warrant your actions as defender against those doing the fishing.
However, a much larger fish like a whale shark, would likely ( similar to the cow ) have a much greater capacity for suffering … and the actions of a super-trawler or whaling fleet can cause such vast amounts of injustice to individual fish, that on such basis alone, we could argue a strong case for stopping them, even if we caused quite a bit of suffering to the crew in the process.
The other factor to bring in at this point, is what suffering are you causing to other species which also rely on the same food supply … for if you cause the extinction of their food supply ( an unsustainable injustice to that species ), then you’re also causing an unsustainable injustice to that predator species.
For example: if you empty the ocean of krill, and you cause immense suffering, and unsustainable injustice to the extremely intelligent and sentient cetaceans ( whales ) that rely on them for food ( on top of the injustice to the krill themselves ).
an impartial conclusion to draw
Thus incrementally, proportionally, collectively and cumulatively … we start to see how small relatively sustainable but otherwise unjust predation, is something we don’t have to concern ourselves about too much – unless it is against highly sentient creatures whom are capable of immense personal and collective suffering ( eg: familial loss / grief ) of both a physiological and psychological nature.
However, we do have to concern ourselves with both the injustice and unsustainabiity of farming / hunting of even simpler semi-sentient creatures, when it is done on a massive scale … as it is not just an injustice to those simple creatures, but it is also an injustice ( and potentially unsustainable ) for every other species it interacts with in its natural ecosystem.
ecological vs. social
If you’ve been paying any attention at all, what you should have already noticed from these examples, is how we can also now conclude that the same principles regarding ecosystems can be applied to society, as a community is merely a human social ecosystem.
achieving justice within anarchy
Without authoritarian rulers and the enforcement of laws, we simply need a system that motivates human behaviour towards justice.
That system is to make people responsible for the consequences of their actions, and thus motivating them to consider such consequences in exchange for their probability of access to scarce resources.
The less people care to conside their actions, the consequences, and their contribution to society and environment, the more resources become scarce … thus the more motivation there is to take such responsibility, for such responsibility is required for access to a greater gamut of the total resources in existence ( more of which have become scarce, due to your lack of concern ).
Thus we have a feedback loop, which allows freedom of decision making based on personal values, but at some point is quantifiably not in your own interests, and thus you moderate your own behaviour.
For example: a person wants to eat fish, but massive fishing fleets and megatrawlers are unsustainable, so they seek opportunities to go fishing themselves, they utilise every part of the fish in some way to maximise their benefits and justify the cost of responsibility for consequences ( less waste ), or they find someone else to do it for them, and whom is willing to share the burden of consequences.
Meanwhile: a psychopath wants to eat other humans, so we put a stop to him, and during the struggle he dies.
it’s not that one action is more or less moral by a given set of ideological values … it’s that the total consequences are quantifiably justifiable
No one was an authority.
No laws / rules existed.
We simply analysed the data, and made a determination of correct action.
The less responsibility you take, the more harm ( injustices ) you cause, the less remediation you conduct, the more you make yourself a target.
- IF your present state – as an element of a system – has a range of properties, resources, functions, and relationships
- THEN any unsustainable action imposed on you – which reduces, damages, or destroys these aspects of your present state ( or future potential state ) – is an injustice
- UNLESS a valid reason exists for subjecting you to such loss or damage – such as to enforce reparations for damages caused by you, or to prevent such future harm