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Friday, 16 December 2011

From Nature to a Moneyless Sustainable Society

Taking nature as a source of inspiration as as an example of a sustainability, we could build a society that spreads power among the people. Building up in layers of teams that interact like life on this planet in what we refer to as a holarchy.

Nature and its complex interactions

Nature presents a spectacular array of different types of interacting organisms. For the micro level of germs to the largest mammals on the planet. These inactions sometimes work for the benefit of all those involved and sometimes not. The symbiosis of clown fish and the sea anemone as well as the oxe pecker and the zebra or even the bacteria we have in our stomachs all form examples of positive interactions where both life forms benefit from the other. However, pray / predator and parasites and well as virus or bacteria caused disease form examples of interaction where one side looses out to the other.

Interactions don't just work at the animal lever but at other levels in the natural world; from molecules and atoms to the way star systems and galaxies interact with each other producing all kinds of ordered, stable, structures. We could see a sort of hierarchy of interactions in nature; from atoms interacting with each other to form molecules and molecules with other molecules to form parts of cells and then the cells themselves. We could then look at cells interacting to produce organs in the body which in turn form a body. People then interact with other people to form families, clubs, clans and tribes which then form nations and societies.

All these interactions, useful or harmful, produce a state of dynamic equilibrium. A sustainable state that has existed, for life on Earth, for over 4 Gyears.

Parts and wholes

From such an observation of nature, Arthur Koestler coined the term “holon” to describe the part - whole structure of nature where entireties work, in their own right, autonomously yet join together with others to form a whole; bridging the gap between the atomistic and holistic view of nature.

Holons in nature exists when we find parts that form an integrated part of a whole yet they work without the direct control of the whole; so the parts exists as more than appendages and the whole more than an aggregation of parts. The parts work autonomously, according to a set of rules and contributing to and overall goal of the whole. They work together to produce the behaviour of the whole. The parts also have a self-regulating nature, thus contribute to the stability and sustainability of the whole.

The cells in our body form just one example of a holon; they exists in thier own right yet have organelles forming them as well as forming part of organs. The cells follows rules; the laws of chemistry. Cells work autonomously needing no direction form a central source. Cells contribute to the overall objective of keeping the whole alive and functioning.

Other examples of holons include the words you read now. A word that forms part of a sentence, yet has letters composing it. Entities within entities; parts within wholes which form parts themselves.

When we see such interactions in nature we refer to the whole set of holons as a holarchy. It differs from a hierarchy as it has no centralised point of command at the top. The parts could also exists separate from the main holarchy. The holarchy as a depth composed of the number of layers. It also has a span composed of the number of holons on each layer.

As the holons follows rules and interact with other holons they tend to self-organise, working toward the same goals. They can change and adapt to changes in the world around them, evolving as they do so. The interactions between holons on the same layer form communications channels that aid in self-regulation for the parts as well as the whole.

In nature, lower levels in the holarchy tend to manage simpler, mechanical function such as everyday living for a cell. Higher levels tend to handle more complex tasks and have less predictable behaviour patters (such as humans). Theses higher level functions, such as life or intelligence, tend to emerge from the lower level functions.

From Nature to Society: A Holonic Approach to a Moneyless World

We can emulate the way nature works, forming holons and laying the foundations of a moneyless world forming a holarchy. For our future society we can start with individuals on the lower level of a holarchy.

Individuals differ from one another. They have different skills, knowledge and abilities as well as interests which can change over time. The difference in people can work as a strength in a team or group. For a society to function, we need work done. A team composed of individuals with different abilities could focus on a problem appropriate to their combined expertise.

As most people will have some kind of skill, knowledge and ability, especially after a number of years of study and training, most people would have a place in the holarchy where they can make decisions and contribute to the whole.

Groups working together would form the next layer of holarchy above the individual. Teams would work on a local level. Working on the functions and sustainability of a sustainable community but they could also work with teams in other communities building the next layer up for a holarchy, a zone. Each community would then become a sustainable building block for a world around sustainable society.

Zones, formed from teams, would work together on tasks that effect a number of local communities. Zones could link up to form larger teams, called areas, that work on larger tasks that cover the size of a nation. We can then build upon the areas to have sectors that work on larger parts of the planet such as a continent. Sectors could join up to work on global tasks. Thus, we move in steps from the local to the global producing a moneyless society where nearly everyone can contribute to the decision making that effects them through contributing their own unique set of skills, knowledge and abilities.

Such a holonic society would need channels of communication and a sense of openness so that it can self regulate. It would also need a goal that each layer in the holarchy would work towards autonomously. Each holon need not work to the overall goal directly but would need compatible goals. A cell, for example, does not have the goal of keeping the whole alive but does work toward maintaining itself which results in helping to keep the whole live.


From emulating the layer interactions of nature we could build up a holonic, sustainable, moneyless, society that gives people the power on a local level. Form the local level it works towards a achieve an overall global goal.