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Fri 3 Apr 2020

Crystallising Economikit's Core Beliefs and Principles

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Sid Sthalekar Public Seen by 29

Hello all @pospi put up a draft version of our beliefs and principles on this HackMD Link last week. I think it's a great articulation of what Economikit hopes to stand for.

There's a few things though that stood out for me, some of it summarised below:

  • How relevant is the word 'female'/'feminine', especially since it lands differently with people. I suggest using a 'Yin/Yang' framework instead?

  • What I like about Yin-Yang is that it doesn't exclude the other. So while feminine thinking may lead, there is a role here for the 'gentle masculine' to give shape to what emerges.

  • Suggested softening a few words and phrases

  • While there's enough collectives out there focused on moving to the p2p/distributed paradigm, I'm excited by the prospect of building contextual systems that guide this new space. Wondering if Economikit's scope extends to this.

    Leave your thoughts/comments on the HackMD doc, or in comments below. Have an awesome weekend :)

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pospi Tue 9 Feb

Many things have happened internally since we started these conversations. It's interesting to reflect on the stages of an organisation's formation, and how an initial contraction phase of gathering energy seems to be a prerequisite for expanding outward. Membranes and boundaries. Ideologies and vulnerabilities. The tension between rawness and openness. Lots to write about there.

I was going to start another internal conversation to do the librarian work on this one, but I thought it might be worth sharing some of our references and inspirations here. In lieu of an impending web presence this might be a good way to give some sense of what's coming, based on where we've been.

Some of this is already present in the content of this thread, but for now I would just like to start things off in a lightweight way by sharing some noteworthy links of importance and influence in my personal aspirations for the DNA of this organisation, which in some part extend into the culture of this collective-

  • The Design Justice Principles offer clear and well-articulated guidelines

  • The Characteristics of the Culture of White Supremacy as a clear and succinct tool for detecting harmful patterns in our behaviour

  • We see the DisCO Governance Model and Manifesto as complementary experiments to our own, with similar lineage. If DisCOs are open value accounting + feminist economics + purpose-oriented + commons-producing + digital platforms; then what Economikit proposes is loosely DisCOs + composable software + cultural articulation.

    • We also have some notions as to how cultural articulation plays into feminist economics and the notion of care-work which we are excited to explore and write about.

  • Our theory of value and wealth is heavily influenced by ValueFlows and the work of the Open App Ecosystem, Lynn Foster, Bob Haugen, Michael Williams, Tiberius Brastaviceanu, Michel Bawens and many others; and the concept of "Deep Wealth" as defined by Arthur Brock, Ferananda Ibarra, Eric Harris-Braun and Jean-François Noubel of the MetaCurrency Project.

  • We are inspired by the culture and codes of conduct of Scuttlebutt, Enspiral, The DAO Alliance and many other groups, though we seek to create something new and different.

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pospi Fri 29 May 2020

Just leaving a note here, somewhat overdue, to say we're parking this discussion for now. Short term focus will be on defining shared mission criteria ("what we do" vs "what we believe"); after which we may decide to loop back and distill some values & principles from those more tangible origins.

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pospi Wed 15 Apr 2020

It may also be really worth some of us reflecting on these resources and seeing what surfaces:

https://decolonialfutures.net/compass-questions/

https://decolonialfutures.net/shared-responsibilities/

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pospi Wed 29 Apr 2020

(Finally, space to reply!)
Really appreciate this feedback. The day you posted it I had an affirming nod from the universe in one of the microsolidarity threads:

I think it is important for a community to be aligned at the abstract level: having shared values, principles and purposes. However, I don’t think it is very interesting to create that alignment by talking about it. Instead, the focus is on finding alignment by doing stuff together.

And these other things you're saying are also very true:

group emphasis and verbal hand-wringing over it feels to me more like personal virtue-signaling

It might be a useful exercise to take every statement and also write down what the Economikit group will concretely offer to help the world attain the stated belief or principle.

I'd really love to do that, and for me starting this page has always been a provocation to get us into those discussions. It feels like something we would want to discuss in person first to sketch out a frame as it's a lot of complex interconnection to bring together all at once. And maybe something we want to really push each other to contribute to in a significant way rather than in dribs and drabs... maybe there is homework to do or solo reflections to be made before a group call, in order to get the best out of each of us?

I'd have a crack at it but I have uncertainty about my ability to facilitate the conversation well, I wonder whether someone else feels like a more experienced facilitator who would be able to do the topic justice?

To me the need feels like grounding the principles in what the specific reasons are for conveying them. We have spoken about the need for a public ideological statement to prefigure any newcomers' understanding of the group and thus ensure that newcomers are a reasonably good fit- that's one such specific need. There are others, a few of which I have thoughts on.

To be honest I find the "virtue-signalling" aspects of this distasteful but necessary, on the basis of that same need. We have to be known to be thinking progressively if we want other progressive thinkers to find us organically, type thing. It'd be remiss of me to speak on his behalf, but there were things Nicolas said to me in conversation that suggested the ideological framing we have is a significant factor in what drew him to connect.

I also want to aim for a very detailed matrix of dependencies, not just an association from "principle" --> "goal". For example, how do the guardrails we design to keep ourselves accountable relate to supporting each principle we decide on?

Lots to discuss on Friday (:

LF

Lynn Foster Sat 18 Apr 2020

P.S. re. "don't have any impulse towards blending that with startup businesses or entrepreneurship", I'm not saying this is right or wrong, I just don't know how to do it. If you all can, then I think that is awesome.

LF

Lynn Foster Fri 17 Apr 2020

>I'm quite curious to hear from non-male members of this group as to whether this altered wording still feels like an appropriately strong framing

I guess I would be one of those, so here you go and I'll be honest. To me either framing feels fake, and also vaguely appropriated. I'm not against feminism (obviously I guess), but I would like that to manifest itself and get worked out in day-to-day practice together, through actual struggle to fix it within myself and within you. Which you and I have engaged in sometimes. This ongoing group emphasis and verbal hand-wringing over it feels to me more like personal virtue-signaling than anything real. I may be wrong, I'm not looking into your head, but I will just let you know that is how it feels to me.

Personally, I would like to see in a group working on an "economy kit" something about the kind of economy we are trying to create, and how our work will help enable that. Of course, sexism and racism/cultural oppression are very intertwined with that, and have supported capital in many ways historically and today. And I am keenly aware of both my privileges and my experiences of oppression. But I don't know what "matriarchal technology" or "the future is feminine" even mean, and I suspect I might even disagree. It might be a useful exercise to take every statement and also write down what the Economikit group will concretely offer to help the world attain the stated belief or principle.

I could go on at length, and did but erased a lot of it. :) I do hope this helps, it is offered in that spirit.

And by the way, I am not putting forward a block. I have always felt I am a bit out of sync culturally and politically with the group (I am not new-agey in any way, and am purely focused on activism, don't have any impulse towards blending that with startup businesses or entrepreneurship), so I truly don't want to stand in the way of anything that you all agree on and feels fitting to you. That said, I appreciate and respect you all, and look forward to continuing to work together - and addressing issues as they come up for us in our work together or in what software will have positive effect - the best kind of team building imo.

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Sid Sthalekar Thu 16 Apr 2020

There's a lot in what you've just articulated, but here are some early thoughts:

We aim to embody and spread the adoption of matriarchal technologies, organising principles, social norms and regenerative design patterns.

Should we use 'matriarchal systems' instead of tech?

For example, "change must be embodied, lived and practised in order to be realised" is very much about the self.

Sounds cliched, but maybe the 'be the change you wish to see in the world' framing might apply. Or just word 'embodied' conveys the message I think.

As in, those who do not acknowledge or understand Colonialism & Partiarchy are doomed to repeat those patterns. But I wonder whether this is necessary to share at this point... it may be sorta covered by "continual effort".

The term 'practitioner' or 'community of practitioners' may be relevant here?


The "rich social intelligence" stuff you mentioned is worthwhile including, but I'm not sure if it's an ideology so much as a vision statement

You're right, this may be more vision statement stuff. Will start a new page for this.

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pospi Wed 15 Apr 2020

After talking through together, this is where we landed:

  • There's a lot to pull apart RE martiarchy vs patriarchy, but they're probably topics we don't want to address up front. Those who feel silenced by a strongly feminine environment have not done the work to understand this context, and would likely lack the awareness to harmonise with the rest of the group.

  • Therefore, feminine is staying for now. But the first bullet point has been altered to provide more nuance at the expense of some of this directness:
    "The future is feminine. We aim to embody and spread the adoption of matriarchal technologies, organising principles, social norms and regenerative design patterns."
    I'm quite curious to hear from non-male members of this group as to whether this altered wording still feels like an appropriately strong framing, or if you believe something is being lost.

There were also a few other things that came up for me in revisiting this, namely:

  • I reordered some things upon realising that the (now) points 3-6 are all really about theory of change. I think they are all okay, but could be distilled into a more succinct set of beliefs. There is likely a "self / collective / world" framing that can be used to anchor these points onto specific facets of reality. For example, "change must be embodied, lived and practised in order to be realised" is very much about the self.

  • On this one, which I reworded a bit-
    "Continual effort and energy must be placed into creating and maintaining counter-cultures to the modern day White Supermacist Capitalist Imperialist Patriarchy. External society and norms exert pressure; resistance must be practised in our everyday ways of being."
    Going on my current experiences, I think this is missing something about awareness of the dominant culture. As in, those who do not acknowledge or understand Colonialism & Partiarchy are doomed to repeat those patterns. But I wonder whether this is necessary to share at this point... it may be sorta covered by "continual effort".

@Sid Sthalekar interested to hear your reading of it now. The "rich social intelligence" stuff you mentioned is worthwhile including, but I'm not sure if it's an ideology so much as a vision statement. Feel it out and feel free to start another page for "vision" where we might more clearly articulate the latter if you feel that it's time (this may also be part of the Neighbourhoods content... not sure).

SS

Sid Sthalekar Mon 6 Apr 2020

I'd suggest taking up this topic in the next Economikit call?

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Sid Sthalekar Mon 6 Apr 2020

Thanks @pospi, this is great. See points below:

What does seem resonant though is pushing the concept of an inclusive “feminine” / “masculine” energy balance that exists within us all in different measure. For me, using derivatives of the original separatist “male” & “female” to break these concepts back down into a fluid mix of forces feels like a powerful way to approach deconstructing the gender binary in the mainstream reader. There is something true in the idea that you have to use the “language of the Master” to deconstruct the “culture of the Master”.

Love this, and agree.

  • Wrt using the right language (i.e. female/feminine/Yin), it seems like each one has an edge of sorts. I would suggest qualifying the vision with text that articulates what we mean? For example, to some people, the word female/feminine may mean someone like me is not entitled to talk about this topic. To state we're referring to female qualities/energy would be useful.

  • The intentional communities I lived in was centred around feminine values. This ended up creating friction around any masculine expressions like setting boundaries, building infrastructure etc. In other words, we should be sure to communicate this isn't all hippy-dippy :p
    (Maybe this isn't as much of a problem here since we're explicitly saying that we're building economic and tech tool-kits)

I find it increasingly necessary to be radical, to place a firm stake in the ground to push against the dominant paradigm in order that our achievements take us as far as possible in the direction of dignity and harmony for all. We will fall short or our aims, so we must overreach.

Agree with 'putting a stake in the ground'. I think I might not have been clear, but I meant we should state that we're building 'yin' systems (like in this article with Holochain Citizen).

contextual systems that guide this new space

You mean “Specific Culture and Generic Tech Tools”? I’m all-in on that naming.

I brought this up because there's quite a few people out there talking about p2p/distributed things, but no one's breaking through the problem of co-ordination and orchestration in a truly meaningful way. I think Economikit helps build embodied social intelligence, which potentially solves this problem.

So to summarise:

  • Regarding the choice of words, feminine seems good with me, along with qualifying text mentioned above

  • We could frame this work as bottom up, emergent, distributed approaches to building 'matriarchal systems', or something along these lines

  • And yes, the 'specific culture, generic tech tools' thing is exciting :)

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pospi Sun 5 Apr 2020

Thankyou for these thoughts. As always, it’s really interesting reflecting on how different cultural perspectives interpret language that we all take for granted.

If we’re talking about changing the wording of the first bullet point I’m open to that; though I do think “the future is female” is a catchy summary that can penetrate a mass consciousness, and a meme that’s worth projecting. I suppose my feelings as to why it’s a worthy meme are the same feelings as to why I think feminist / female is an important label, so either way I think it’s worth me reflecting on some of that and why I wrote it here. I hear you on literal. “The future is feminine” may be a better option.

I guess the short version is that intersectional feminism is the only social theory I have come across (as an institutionalised Western person) that adequately addresses and accounts for the diverse matrix of rights, needs, responsibilities, concerns and relationships necessary to overcome a runaway Patriarchal society. And the other truth I’d pair that with is that outcomes always fall short of ambitions. I find it increasingly necessary to be radical, to place a firm stake in the ground to push against the dominant paradigm in order that our achievements take us as far as possible in the direction of dignity and harmony for all. We will fall short or our aims, so we must overreach. Doing so (as I’m finding in my personal life) surfaces misconceptions and bigotries which may otherwise be missed.

(Note to self: probably want to add “intersectional” to our one-liner description of the collective.)

In the West, Yin-Yang can have a different subtle connotation. Capitalist systems go hand in hand with Scientism, and in many mainstream circles bringing Eastern spiritual philosophy into “serious” conversations often has the effect of lowering the credibility of the speaker. Perhaps understandable, given that many Westerners’ exposure to Eastern philosophies and belief systems is often unfortunately through the lens of “American Folk Bhuddism” which mixes not just Bhuddist but Hindu, Traditional Chinese and other cultural concepts in superficial appropriations of spirituality.

There is also the “paradox of intolerance” to address. I feel the need for a group that is outspokenly anti-intolerant, and softening the wording feels like it compromises such a goal. This comes back to discussions about membrane keeping and inviting new members. My worry with Yin/Yang, particularly with American Folk Bhuddism, is that the feminist ideology could be missed. The last thing I want is representatives of the “sleazy shaman crowd” being attracted to movements like this.

For this reason I find Yin/Yang a bit of a troublesome energy to work with in the West. What does seem resonant though is pushing the concept of an inclusive “feminine” / “masculine” energy balance that exists within us all in different measure. For me, using derivatives of the original separatist “male” & “female” to break these concepts back down into a fluid mix of forces feels like a powerful way to approach deconstructing the gender binary in the mainstream reader. There is something true in the idea that you have to use the “language of the Master” to deconstruct the “culture of the Master”.

It’s good to hear you’re thinking of this as birthing a Matriarchal culture and ecosystem. That’s what I am hoping to see emerge (:

we are focused on amplifying change that emerges organically, from the bottom upward

Sounds awesome.

contextual systems that guide this new space

You mean “Specific Culture and Generic Tech Tools”? I’m all-in on that naming.