Building a world of
resilient communities.

Shock over Ukraine

Ukraine is shaping up to be a lot like Yugoslavia, except with more than twice as many people, lots of crazed street fighters who think they now own the place, and a role critical to European energy security. If you aren't in shock about this, then you haven't been paying attention.

David Holmgren's "Crash on Demand"

There has been a lot of reaction in recent days to David Holmgren's recent reassessment of his Future Scenarios paper of 2007. In that paper, Holmgren describes four alternative scenarios, calling them Brown Tech, Green Tech, Earth Steward and Lifeboats.

The untrustworthy and the trustful

Within a modern, highly financialized economy, most interactions are impersonal, based on purchase and sale within a market system. If you are the loser in any one transaction, it is your fault, because you chose to deal with people you had no particular reason to trust, and therefore it is your mistake. If the swindle is not illegal, you have no legal recourse. You can, of course, complain to …

Where there's no government

Modern societies rely on the government to defend property rights, enforce contracts and regulate commerce. As the economy expands, so do the functions of government, along with its bureaucratic structures, laws, rules and procedures and—what expands fastest of all—its cost. All of these official arrangements show an accretion of complexity over time.

Book excerpt: The problem of excessive scale

In his excellent book The Breakdown of Nations the maverick economist Leopold Kohr makes several stunning yet, upon reflection, commonsense observations. He points out that small states have tended to be far more culturally productive than large states, that all states go to war but that big states have disproportionately bigger wars that kill many times more people, and that by far the most …

The practice of anarchy

Whenever an existing hierarchically organized system becomes sufficiently ossified and dysfunctional to give an obvious edge to an improvised, anarchic, perhaps initially inferior alternative, there is a possibility that such an alternative will materialize out of nowhere, spread virally, become dominant, and then, in turn, become hierarchical and ossified.

In Praise of Anarchy, Part III

Kropotkin worked within the framework of 19th century natural science, but his results are just as relevant today as they were then. Moreover, the accuracy of his insights is vindicated by the latest research into complexity theory. Geoffrey West, who was a practicing particle physicist for forty years and is now distinguished professor at the Santa Fe Institute, has achieved some stunning …

In Praise of Anarchy, Part II

When confronted with an increasingly despotic régime, the good people of almost any nation will cower in their homes and, once they are flushed out, will allow themselves to be herded like domesticated animals. They will gladly take orders from whoever gives them, because their worst fear is not despotism--it is anarchy. Anarchy! Are you afraid of anarchy? Or are you more afraid of hierarchy? …

In praise of anarchy, Part I

Peter Alexeyevich Kropotkin is our prince's name, and he eventually became a renowned scientist who advanced the understanding of the history of glaciers, an historian of revolutionary movements, foremost theoretician of anarchism, and, because of his lifelong burning desire to do something to help the plight of the common man, something of a revolutionary himself.

The Joy of National Default

At 78 pages of scholarly, somewhat jargon-laden prose, 'Trade-Off: Financial System Supply-Chain Cross-Contagion' by David Korowicz is not quick reading, nor is it light reading, but it is important reading.