Sanctuary for All Life & land emancipation

I’m re-reading Jim Corbett’s Sanctuary for All Life.  I don’t know how to express how powerfully deep this book is.  For me it both opens doors and provides a foundation for a post-civilized world for humanity.

Here’s are some extended quotes, because I think the book speaks for itself:

I think the integration of humanity into life on earth requires that capitalism’s drive for ecosystem dominance be succeeded by a way of life beyond capitalism, and I see this from the viewpoint of the wildland pastoralist whose way of life has really never been integrated into civilization’s orienting viewpoint (that we must live by a command economy that reconstructs life on earth to fit us).  Here’s how a latter-day Whig Manifesto might put it:

1. The richest, most efficient, dynamically stable, “no-waste” economies evolve naturally, as spontaneous orders unmanaged by human beings (for example, the Amazonian rainforest).

2. A highly developed economy of this kind grows through the emergence of new symbioses that strengthen its ability to support life and harmonize diversity.

3. Founded on the  premise that the earth belongs to humankind, civilized economies are degenerative, growing primarily from the impoverishment of the more inclusive natural economy that the city-centered economy invades, plunders, and relentlessly tries to subjugate.

4. “Sustainability” concerns the stabilization of the human economy’s degenerative relation to the natural economy at a level that the natural economy can support without further degradation.

5. “Symbiotic naturalization” concerns the integration of a human economy into the natural economy in ways that strengthen the natural economy’s ability to support life and harmonize diversity.

6. Unlike sustainability, symbiotic naturalization requires the transformation of civilization, to establish the institutional base for human beings to become good citizens of the land’s whole, untamed community, enabled to live by supporting rather than degrading the life of the land.

7. In our deliberations about right livelihood, the need to transform civilization means that we seek to be superseded, but not by a new humanity of ecosaintly Uebermenschen; rather, by an unviolated land community that includes us, freed to evolve into richer harmonies.

8. The integration of humanity into the natural economy necessarily evolves as a spontaneous order in which our stewardship role is just to clear the way, not to impose a plan.

9. The invisible hand that guides the natural economy’s evolution reveals that our best choices are transitional, our best intentions are disoriented, our personal moralities are peripheral, and the covenant community’s guidelines are inconclusive; but universal liberty is fundamental:  The land’s liberation remains focal.


…the problem with civilized humanity’s exploitation of nature goes beyond our treating it as a commons that is just there for the taking.  The problem is rooted in the managerial delusion that the land belongs to us either inclusively, as a commons, or exclusively, as property, to use, degrade, or destroy however we like.  The land is actually a living community to which we belong.  …  The tragedies of the commons and of appropriation will end only when the land community’s enslavement ends–when the land is given back to the land.


Proponents of state control see the solution to the tragedy of the commons as a relinquishment of individual freedom to the state, which must take command in order to save us from ourselves.  Yet, the local, daily, on-the-land, community practice that weaves earth rights into the social fabric is beneath the reach of the state, while the commons really at issue is the earth ecosystem, which is beyond the reach of any state but within the reach of a border-bridging community movement.  A basic society of friends can join to establish earth rights where the cumulative efforts of individuals are fruitless and action by the state is counterproductive.  Even if the state didn’t give its primary allegiance to Money, it couldn’t do what’s needed to give the land back to the land because what’s needed is the societal cohesion that grows from communion rather than coercion, and the state is firmly founded on organized violence.  Locally as well as globally, land redemption is a task for those who gather as “church” (a voluntary society based on communion) rather than “state” (an involuntary society or organization based on coercion).

At the core of his work, Corbett is trying to open a way-of-life in which we can realize that we belong to the land, rather than pretend that it belongs to us.  He is trying to open doors to world in which rather than the command & control relationship we currently have as the land’s enslavers, that we might move to a co-creative one as a people symbiotically re-naturalized.

This means that Land Emancipation must happen.  That possibility is thrilling.

confucianism, standards, and culture

In a previous post, I talked about how there are two different kinds of trust, and how important that is to understanding what needs to happen in the currency world. Here is a fantastic essay on confucianism technical standards and culture, which gets to the same essential pattern but in a different arena. The essay includes the following quote from Confucious’ Analects:

Lead the people with administrative injunctions and keep them orderly with penal law, and they will avoid punishments but will be without a sense of shame. Lead them with excellence and keep them orderly through observing [禮] and they will develop a sense of shame, and moreover, will order themselves.

This is exactly related the trust question. Do we organize ourselves through internal or external processes? Shame and punishment are both processes that can lead to social conformance. The first is internal the second external.

thoughts on a retreat

In March I participated in a retreat that is somewhat hard for me to describe. It’s hard because I fear being judged. So, to my more materialist friends I want to describe it as an experiment in developing the practices of collective intelligence and collective wisdom and stick to the intellectual content. To my more spiritually oriented friends I want to describe it as a re-inventing of the practices of Quaker corporate worship in the context of the post-post-modern, quantum/relativist, networked, Wilberized, self-conscious and what-else-have-you, world.
But this splitting into the mental and the spritual to appease my imagined world view of this or that friend, is a mistake. A huge mistake. So now I declare: go ahead and judge me!
Here’s a better description: I participated in a retreat where a small group of people together worked on integrating all levels of their awareness: physical, emotional, mental, and “soul,” into a single group awareness. I put soul in quotes because there is common agreement that parts of our conciousness are separately devoted to physical, emotional, mental awareness, and we have decent language to talk about those three types of perception, but we don’t have good language or terms to talk about “soul” perception, or even agreement that such a form of perception is even “real” (what ever that means!) and has a similar status as the other three. [And now I’m noticing that that last sentence is yet another caveat to try and prevent judgement.]
For those of you with a scientific/materialist bent I recommend reading Jean-François Noubel’s paper on collective intelligence. This paper mentions only in passing at the very end the need for personal transformation. But it was that part that is what the retreat was all about. The practicing of that transformation to begin to make possible the potential for real collective intelligence.
If you aren’t turned off by spiritual language, try the sacred circle web site.
Some things I learned: I am generally very unaware of my body, and what it has to offer me. If I change the way I sit, I change the way I perceive. I can tell when people are speaking from a place of fear. If I take my glasses off, I can’t see detial, but detail is not all there is to see. The things that I am naturally good at, that come easily to me, are my gifts to the world. If I toss them out as if they don’t matter, I disempower myself and those gifts at the same time. One of the key structural benefits of the open source world is that it requires the formation of human relationships. Because it’s free, i.e. the value it generates has not been monitized, you can’t rely on money to get you what you want, instead you have to either rely on yourself, or, prefereably, rely on relationships with others. I am afraid of esoteric, new-agey, airy-fairy, “stuff” and I have a hard time just being with it when it shows up. Taking on and accepting as true things that people say is very different from being with them and actually listening to what they have to say. There are many levels of listening, at least four of which are: from the past (where we try and understand what we hear based on what we already know); with an open mind (where we try and learn new things that we don’t know); with an open heart (where we try and put ourselves empathically in the position of the speaker and really listen to where they are coming from); and with an open will (which is harder to describe, but it is deeper than the other three, and is similar to the experience of listening for the sense-of-the-meeting when clerking a Quaker meeting for worship with a concern for business, where not only are you listening from all the three other levels, but you’re basic will, i.e. your desires, are left open and subject to modification). Quakers already know a ton about collective intelligence and the practial stuff about what is needed to move foward in this realm, but they suck at integrating body and emotion into mental and “soul” practice. If you get into this work, it will have ramifications on your “personal” relationships.
[tags]quakerism,collective intelligence,open source,FLOSS,Ken Wilber[/tags]

open source spirituality

The open source movement is, I think, the tip of the iceberg of a fundamental sea change in human thought that is swirling all around us. I had been emailing with a friend about how Quakerism seemed to me to embody in a religion,the principles of open source software because (I wrote) “it handles the balance of the community and the individual in a precise way: 1) the individual is highly autonomous and assumed to have unique and direct access to the devine. I.e. everybody can write code. 2) because this is true of everyone, individual revelation must be checked with the group for further descernment, i.e. your code has to be checked in to the repository and actually work with the whole system! Thus there is no preacher/parishoner or consumer/producer relationship, we all minister to eachother (we are all prosumers).”
My friend pointed me to various links on open source spirituality that are worth looking at. I was especially intruiged by yoism which at first seems like yet-another-newagey spirituality thingy, but on closer inspection is quite a bit more than that.