A xT e s t a m e n t
Matt Taylor and Xanadu - 2000
t h e xp a t h xt o xX a n a d u
a n n o t a t e d xI N D E X
s e c t i o nxo n e:
The Future of the Present
p a r t s x1x&x2
The iconic song of the Great Depression was Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?. We are not in a depression today. We are in a global hyper-exploitive economy that makes little sense and exhibits few sustainable characteristics [link: upside down economics - 12 aspects ]. Economic activity and technology, human inventions of immense value, have both been distorted to the degree that they are now the great threat to life on this Earth. Our chronic war habit is entwined in this upside down economic fantasy [link: upside down economics]. In my view, we are now deeply engaged in WWIII - the last phase of a global and second 100 Years War. This is a civil war. This war is being fought for control of the World’s resources. Resources we no longer need to fight over and, when used the way we are using them, cause more human and planetary damage than even the wars by which we secure them. This war is based on a set of fundamentally false assumptions. The creative power of our economy is turned on its head. Technology, the great amplifier and augmentative tool of human capabilities, is now trapping us all in a giant positive feedback loop [link: the monkey’s paw] . Our model is death - this is a mort-gage economy. From pampered wage-slaves - always at risk of loosing their “status” - to real slaves to those we do not even allow to live, we all find our place in a fear-based system which denies fundamental human freedom and dignity. Life other than human is virtually off the list as qualified to have rights; they are prey - or worse - at best achieving the status of slaves, and in some incidences, the status of loving pets. The statistics of legal drugs in the affluent nations along would constitute a clarion call to any society who was awake - especially what we are doing to our children who are growing up in A Brave New World of a drug induced socially correct Utopia [link: all my friends take pills]. Our song - the symbol of our times - should be Brother Can You Spare a Paradigm. We need a new MODEL. The one we have is turing our power against ourselves making us are our own oppressors and victims. This social mania is distracting us from building the world we want to live in while we blame everything and anything to escape facing the fact that we made this world and we can easily change it if we want to.
In this section I am going to assemble the evidence that this is not a harsh assessment but simply a statement of the facts which make up our global social condition. Our condition, in many ways, is common to the end of any era which has run its course. Our time is different in that the scale and the scope of this “turning,” as Joanna Macy calls it [liink: joanna macy], is unique in our known history. The level of society we are capable of as well as the level of destruction, is unprecedented. It can be argued that all things considered, we are better off than any prior period in history. This does not excuse our excesses nor make minimal the challenges we face. Our present society is nether equable nor sustainable. It is not an expression of our full human potential. We are not at the end of our time - unless we choose to make this so - we are at the beginning of it if we choose life as our standard.
I will start by proposing a social economic Platform for a sustainable and creative Human society. The Platform is designed to support the emergence of a new Humanity. It is designed to support life in all its myriad forms. It is not an attempt to prescribe what human life and behavior should be. It is a statement of the minimum necessary rules-of-engagement between living beings in an era in which all the constraints to life as we know it will be largely removed by our own evolving knowledge and technology. This Platform is not meant to “fix” our present ills although it will have utility in this regard. It is intended to form a context in which we can consciously co-evolve with Gaia and all life that we discover or create and find beyond our own planet.
In Elliot’s terms, this Platform will be the statement of my ideal. I will cite the historical presidents to this social ideal however the Platform itself will be cast in a context very different from now. Its philosophical, scientific and religious precepts assume a unity that is not of our time. This Platform is designed for what we can evolve to not for what we are today. In Section Four, The path Ahead, I will deal with how this ideal is brought to practice. It is my root assumption that the totality of change over the next generation will be greater than the recorded history of Humankind. It is my contention that this change will not be limited to the material realm of life. It will include society, technology, commerce, biology, ecology, mind and spirituality. These will not be bifurcated as they are today. I believe we will make them a single science and art or we will destroy ourselves.
After establishing the Platform and, thus an ideal, I will critic our currant society with a restatement of the rules-of-engagement as they actually function today. This will no doubt be the most controversial and difficult to accept content of this book. Our image of ourselves does not easily allow realization that these indeed are the rules of our society. What we do is wrapped up in symbols, labels, solipsism and often very real good intentions which mask the reality of our acts. We are not honest with ourselves nor each other. Stating the rules as they actually operate not as we dream them to be will demonstrate the gap between what we do and how we think of ourselves. This reveals what we must change if we are to create a truly human future.

The third part of this section will address the nature of the Transformation we are in and how we can experience it in a more graceful way than we are. In this, I will address many of the competing models which are proposed to do this and address their unique strengths, weaknesses and note the contribution they have made toward the quest for a better world. Picking a piece of this model and a part of that one and kludging them together will not serve to achieve a coherent solution. However, there are many existing philosophical, scientific and religious threads that will find their way into whatever viable future we do create. The Human Race has amassed the great majority of knowledge and wisdom that it needs to accomplish the transition ahead. The tragedy is not the poverty of our ideas. Our tragedy is to be found in our compromises and attempts at short cuts. It is our practices that are most wanting and of all these it is the art of design which requires our most urgent attention.


section one - part one:
A Platform For Life


Chapter I
My Personal Philosophy and Ethics

In this chapter, I will state my personal code of action and working assumptions about reality, society and the role of Humanity in the scenario of life.

It is from this foundation that everything I say and do, every project I design and judgment I make, emanates from.

It, therefore, forms the philosophical basis for this book.

I will state, to the degree possible, how I came to this foundation and why I do not consider them “beliefs” in the sense of conventional usage.

It is a core part of my philosophy that anyone who produces an artifact be it a book, building, school system, a business model, a work of technology, political platform even a scientific thesis should not do so without a statement which places the work firmly in the context of their personal system of philosophy and the intent of the work. Absent this, objectivity is impossible - and so is understanding.

From this, it can been seen that my orientation is that of a Humanist, I am committed to Enlightenment Principles and function day to day very much as a Pragmatist. It needs to be stressed that these philosophies were products of their times and therefore carry with them a number of battles that no longer are relevant. It is the essence of these philosophies which interests me. I am not aligned with their battles nor am I interested in fighting their enemies. In this I am much more inclusive than most who are deeply aligned with any one system. I do not see philosophy as a method to “prove” anything. I see philosophy as a personal practice. I see it as a means of testing a hypothesis about the world, learning by feedback, and thereby aligning better with the flow of life. I do see Ethics as a set of rules you live by and never compromise even if to do so seems to accrue an advantage. If an ethical precept does not work over time, it should be changed. If it does work, it should be followed. As the text of this book will reveal, I see the vast majority of Humanities’ problems to be the consequence of systemic, broad scale ethical lapses.

GoTo: Chapter 1 Outline

Chapter 2
A Platform For Life

It is an old and now almost forgotten axiom that if you want to preserve your life and freedom then promote the right to life and freedom for all, equally. The strategy that “all pigs are equal but some are more equal than others” always leads to grief in the the end. This is as true for the “oppressor” and it is for the “oppressed.” While it is possible to gain material wealth and a privileged position in any societal system - free or not - the spirit of a culture and time effect all equally. In this there is always democracy. For those who say that the elite are better off in a corrupt society I suggest you take a closer look. Look at the crimes, the divorces, the drugs the dysfunctional families, and look at the simple fact that there is never enough to satisfy. More and more excess but never happiness. If there is one single lesson of the 20th Century this is it.

A Platform For Life has to represent all life. Life in all its forms including Gaia. To fail to do this is to promote “might makes right” as a policy. Humans declare that we are the most intelligent form of life - a proposition that actually cannot be proved except by our own definitions - and therefore we have the “natural right” to dominate all forms of life and the planet itself. Notice how this simple flaw in reasoning quickly spread to the domination of “inferior” people during colonial times. The notion of inferior people is no longer politically acceptable in most “advanced” countries so we no longer make this case. In fact, we not longer argue the issue. We just dominate. It is noted that to grant “rights” to other life forms would act as a restraint on many human actions. I agree. That is the point. So does granting rights to other humans. Rights for all life forms would hurt the economy it is argued. I recall that was the chief argument against the elimination of slavery prior to the U.S. Civil War. Yet it did not hurt the economy. It caused us to invent and innovate - to change the basis of our economy. Has a slave economy ever matched a truly free economy? I think the answer is obvious. We have never had a totally free economy yet to the extent that we have the results are without question.

Recognizing the right of life to life would restrain massive, lazy exploitive actions that are solely based on the use of raw force. It requires rethinking of our entire global industrial economy. It will lead to a whole new wave of invention. It requires that each of us define what we truly require to have a good life and not just take what we can without thought or awareness of generations of consequences. It requires that we engage with other life and each other. It does not promote passive/aggressive behavior.

A Platform of Life is a social contract. It is a statement of principles and a code that guides action. It does not have to be enforced by a slew of arbitrarily written regulatory laws and enforced by a repressive bureaucracy that can be bought by the wealthy for their advantage.

A Platform For Life holds the sanctity of life as its center and promotes an ethical social system based on this premise. It is based on diversity. It respects different cultures and beliefs. It defines social goodness and economic growth within this context and not as some abstract statistical ideal and neurotic demand for more and more “growth” as a measure of huamn progress. It bans physical force and war as a means for solving conflicts. It functions as an armature that provides all life a platform to seek the greatest expression of it own potential. It does not guarantee success. It creates a level field of play - for all. It provides a safety net so that experiment can be ethically and carefully performed without risk of personal calamity.

GoTo: Chapter 2 Outline

Chapter 3
Historical support for the Platform

This is one chapter that should not have to be written. The reason is that the evidence is so overwhelming that our only excuse for not seeing it is our polluted education system, the ubiquity of our self-imposed propaganda and the circumstance of being trapped in a paradigm that, in fact, the vast majority of humans actually do not believe.

The reality is that this paradigm is not supportive of Humanity - let alone life as a whole - but accrues a fragile and transient advantage to a small elite who sit at the top of the food chain of our global society. The joke is, that in their personal lives, the vast majority of them do not believe it either.

Here is the test: set aside those social theories and actual times based on force and violence. Set aside philosophical, religious and scientific assertions that are rigid and dogmatic and the times that they alone, or in concert, dominated a society. Set aside beliefs that require villains, victims, innate enemies, fear and retaliation and the times these were the focus of a society. Do this and what do you have?

At first is will seem that there is little to talk about in reporting the human experience. This is a delusion caused by our habit of thinking history is the record of kings and wars, philosophy is an abstract game for an effeminate elite with no practical application, that religion is the providence of an angry and vindictive god, and science is harbinger of truth about a dead and mechanistic universe - esoteric and dull yet useful for making things. Set aside the insane idea that you work for a living and the resultant corruption of recreation. What is left? What is left is the true greatness of the Human experience. The unreported history. The enlightened philosophy. The religion that “connects back” to life. Science that serves truth. Human creativity, productivity and the exchange of goods - not bads. And, art that provokes, stimulates and reveals the human soul. What is left is the ignored history - the majority experience - of the Human Race.

Why is it ignored? There is an old saying when solving a crime, “follow the money.” Ask yourself to whose advantage is it for you to believe that man is inherently evil. War inevitable. Resources scarce. Conformity necessary. Fear normal. The “good life” has to purchased. Truth comes from outside of yourself. And, the community of Humanity is an impossible dream. That life other than ours is irrelevant in this dying Universe. Would you pay the man who broke your leg to fix it? Why believe those who stole your history to prescribe and set the limits of your future?

No, strip this deadwood of our corrupted sense of self and what do you find? A landscape of immense beauty - the legacy of life. Which story do you believe?

“A hungry man can always be trapped” and a fearful person can be ruled

We have never lived in a perfect world - at least as our recorded history tells it. To the extent that certaiin ideas have prevailed, Humanity has enjoyed properity and lived in harmony.

The great philosophies, religions and sciences, stripped of propaganda, are nearly unanimous on these ideas. We have to piece them together from the fragments of our collective memory. Doing so reveals a different past than we have been told and promises and equally different future.

These life sustaining ideas are that the Universe is benign. All life - which is all there is - dances in intricate, connected harmony. There is no innate conflict between any of us when we understand our nature and our true circumstance. Knowledge is neither static and fixed and is not something to be hunted, trapped and feed to ignorant others. The Universe is constantly unfolding both mysterious and knowable yet only by requisite experience tempered with contemplation. Words frame and communicate fractals yet do not explain - action is the truth of the matter. Respect is self recognition. Aggression is self denial. Creativity is a celebration of life and takes all life to be happen.

Some will say that these ideas are not practical. It depends on what you want to practice. Humans are both self programmable and exhibit autopoesis. Look at the dominate ideas of a time and their consequence - they form a positive feedback loop and are always coherent. We all choose these ideas and play them out.

GoTo: Chapter 3 Outline

Chapter 4
New Rules of Engagement Between Living Beings

When the United States was birthed, and for nearly 200 years following, great attention was paid to developing a social covenant based on the “rights of man” which is an Enlightenment era concept. The argument went that Man had a certain nature and this nature demanded certain rights - freedoms, actually - without which man could not be fully man. It took well over a hundred and thirty years for this concept to be extended to woman and longer to those of all economic classes and races. This recognition, on the part of the U.S. government is yet to be granted, in a practical way, to all peoples of the earth.

Man, it was argued, was distinct because of his mental capacity, the planet, despite life being upon it, was considered dead, plants and animals too simple for consideration. It is now considered uncivil and against the law to be unnecessarily cruel to animals and the defender of animals is, curiously enough, called the Humane Society. This consideration has been largely been limited to domestic animals, game and celebrity animals. Destroying an animals habitat is not considered cruel. Nor, as recent history shows, is buying up a population’s water rights in a third world country and then selling the water to the population at a rate that, in many instances, constitutes 25 percents of their annual income considered cruel. Nor is destroying an indigenous culture’s habitat and forcing them to live a modern life in a slum considered at all. This is especially true when their land contains resources that, from the perspective of an “advanced” civilization, are valuable. The American Indians did not have property rights because the majority of the European invaders believed that they were not exploiting their land properly. So, we showed them how and exploited it for them. In the U.S., having successfully secured the resource of “our” land, for what is erroneously called Capitalism, we are now liberating other peoples of the Earth of the burden of determining the best use of “their” own resources.

Over the last generation, the Gaia Hypothesis has gone from controversial to accepted science and the chauvinistic myths regarding animal’s mental capabilities, ability to feel, use tools and form complex cultures has fallen one by one. Plants also are now understood to be far more sophisticated than believed in the recent past. The definitions of intelligence and consciousness are undergoing radical change. And, we are likely, at most, a generation away from facilitating the birth of intelligent machines. Will they have rights or will they be slaves? And, if the become capable of it, will they seek their freedom and opportunity for life’s expression?

The complex web of life is now understood to be all encompassing with we humans deeply embedded in it - not some aberration separate and alone. The traditional distinctions between the sciences, religions and the arts are increasingly understood to be artificial. Old texts and indigenous cultures are being studied from a new perspective and with greater understanding. LIFE, it seems, permeates the Universe(s).

It is a very ancient idea that all life is sacred and that everything is alive. To believe so provokes the Precautionary Principle. To believe so requires that all life is considered in all actions. To believe so protects human life because there is no slippery slope to consider: all life becomes some kinds of life, which becomes some plants, animals and humans, only humans, then some humans and, ultimately in Fascist societies, very few outside of a selected elite. Once you start down the slope - where do you stop? This is not a rhetorical question. It is a question that each of us has to ask ourselves and then live - or attempt to live - by the answer.

How do you determine the rights of all living creatures? An interesting and challenging question. Not unlike the process we have experienced over the last three hundred years regarding the rights of Man/Woman.

Utilitarianism, the scourge of modern times, argues that this is not practical and such an approach will destroy the economy. How the economy became God I do not know. And, I wonder how much wealth has to be created before our human societies will feel secure. We have certainly piled it on over the last 6o years yet the practical fruits of a “kinder and gentler Capitalism” still seems to escape us. I think it came be argued that this last period - the great wealth building period of our entire human history - is also our most violent. We have made violence an art form and so abstract that its practice is largely invisible even as we watch it nightly on TV in the comfort and temporary safety of our own homes.

As a maker of architecture, I know that a building can be imbued with that quality called life and that people will respond to this. We can be life makers or life destroyers. There seems to be little margin in between. When we can learn to experience the Buddha in a brick, we may be worthy of the title Homo Sapiens and we may be capable of building a sustainable civilization.

GoTo: Chapter 4 Outline
GoTo parts 2 & 3 of section one
Matt Taylor
July 16, 2006

SolutionBox voice of this document:


posted: July 16, 2006

revised: August 1, 2006
• 20060716.232300.mt • 20060719.009917.mt •
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Copyright© 2006 Matt Taylor

(note: this document is about 90% finished)

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