Rational means logical and reasonable. Rational man = collaborating man


#1

Following on from the thought-provoking animation by Jonny Lawrence (thank you), I wonder how the “collaborating human” we want will become the picture in our heads when we hear or see the term “rational man”. Do humans have the capacity? It’s easier if life is less stressful.
Would that more citizens had the space for altruism; the head space, the time space, the financial space.
Inspired by the Cooperative movement among many others, I’m developing a project to explore ways to give communities more opportunity to benefit from collaboration. If it delivers benefit, which others see as logical and reasonable, what better way to encourage a change in behaviour? “To change something, build a new model, that makes the existing model obselete” - R. Buckminster Fuller quote used in Kate’s lecture last weekend. So people need to plan and, to know what they want, they need to see what’s out there, then have the freedom to collaborate to create something that is better than they could have had if acting as individuals.
I reckon we are pretty close to Doughnut Economics. Our core values, (the bit that goes in the hole) include consensus decision-making so people have a voice, equal treatment, opportunities for education, better access to energy via renewables and insulation (sheep’s wool naturally), more disposable income for food, permaculture…and more. We add care, creativity and joy through play as essentials.
We strive to keep the right side of the Doughnut’s ecological ceiling by applying our EMS and core values to all our economic activity - purchasing, investment, construction, travel etc.
Next challenge may be to present rational Doughnut Economics to our Cumbrian town. What challenges and pitfalls await? Thoughts welcome…


#2

One thing I think might be relevant to this discussion is the connection and reciprocity that often comes from dependence and, inversely, the separation and selfishness that often comes from wealth.

I moved from Canada to Sierra Leone in 1992, a year in which Canada ranked at the very top of the UNDP’s Human Development Index and Sierra Leone ranked at the very bottom. I don’t want to trivialise the vast and deep human pain and misery experienced in Sierra Leone for the want of a few pounds (in leones). However on the day-to-day, minute-by-minute level of living, I found Sierra Leoneans much, much happier than Canadians. They talked to each other more, smiled more, laughed more and generally seemed to enjoy day-to-day life more than Canadians. I’m not saying they were or are happier, and there’s plenty of variation, but certainly in a way they are.

I’ve seen this also here in Ireland in poor areas vs rich areas, and even in poor friends vs rich friends. There’s something about poverty that brings people together and encourages them to help each other - and I would imagine that’s dependence.

Rich, high-consumption people are more dependent than anyone on earth, but the complexity of the economic, technological and other systems that supply their lifestyles hides that dependency. We need oil to get to work, we depend on roughnecks in Saudi Arabia or on North Sea rigs to get that oil for us. We’re dependant on them but we will never meet or know or even think about them. So our dependency on them is hidden both from them and from us. Although it’s a real, practical dependency, it remains theoretical in the minds of the participants.

But when you’re poor you need to borrow a €5 for phone credit, or you need the lend of a lawnmower, or you need help fixing your roof or (God forbid) you need to crash on somebody’s couch. So you have to get along with people. And you have to help them too. Favours given are in some ways like money in the bank - i.e. social credit. When you are need you can draw on that credit (although not in a formal, mercenary or enforceable way!).

I’ve spend many evenings and weekends knocking on doors for the Irish Green Party, and one thing that has always struck me is the difference between the poor and rich housing estates. The poor ones are untidy, noisy, messy and full of life. Neighbours run back and forth and are often found in one another’s houses/flats, keys are often left in doors so anyone can let themselves in, kids surround you, ask you questions and annoy you, etc.

The rich housing estates, on the other hand, are quiet, tidy and empty. There are alarms on every house and high walls, hedges and fences between them. During the day most houses are empty. When there is someone home the doorbell is often answered with nervous cautiousness. I somehow doubt they run next door to borrow an egg very much.

Maybe in a simplistic aggregate generalisation you could say that money does something to people - in some ways makes them less human? Maybe by turning inter-dependent relationships into power relationships money might also isolate in a deep, fundamental and important way? Maybe for people to be more cooperative, collaborative and altruistic they have to be more dependent on each other? And maybe it’s possible to design a system of real, practical and immediate interdependency that’s valuable enough for people to voluntarily join?

Or maybe not! Anyway, just my 2p worth!


#3

Thanks for that powerful response Graham. 2p for that is a bargain!
The idea that money turns inter-dependent relationships into power relationships resonates in particular. One of the conditions my Community-Led Housing group has laid out for projects is that no development should have expensive houses where the owners can look down on the affordables. An uneven balance of power can be designed in, as is the case in most places, just through following the paradigm already set by those who have provided homes for some decades.
The group would like to change this. What if one house linked with or overlapped the next and it was hard for observers to know who owned what? What if nobody knew who owned the full share of a home and who had taken shared ownership?
My Mother loved her road because of the mixed housing offer; large detached, shops, terraces, semis and rented flats. “Ha” she used to say “People try so hard to ‘place’ me and some are not sure whether they ought to be friendly or not; they are the ones to avoid”.
Some communities build in inter-dependence. It’s hard to create if the underpinning values or conditions don’t make it either very desirable or, perhaps, inescapable.
Yes, maybe something has been lost with prosperity bringing independence, (nice and lazy though it can be not to feel beholden to, or responsible for, anybody). What makes people able to live close to others? Maybe the means to be able to adapt to a crowded environment.
I wonder if the Community-Led Housing Group will find a way to build homes where people value skills and character above wealth. I think a lot may depend on the culture created when we begin our conversations with the town about the place they want to live in. We must work hard on the language we use, the questions we ask, the conclusions we draw, the stories and pictures we share.
2 penn’ orth back atcha Graham, thanks.


#4

I love the way you put that - you summed up my few paragraphs in a sentence!


#5

Much as I agree with both of you, and find your comments very true in my own experience, I will also argue that this form of alienation is tied to the form and function of conventional linear money - scarce (for most of us), goes away, comes from them. In that context we tend to competition over collaboration, and so it goes.
With unconventional circular money - sufficient, goes around, comes from us - it’s all very different. Giving and getting are more balanced, and localisation supports the formation and persistence of mutually supportive patterns.
Money as-we-know-it has rightfully earned a very bad name for its social and environmental and psychological outcomes, but the root of all this lies in the form of the money - seen as a material commodity to be distributed by power play. Moneys that are measures of relationship aren’t at all bound by such rules.


#6
  1. RATIONAL OR PSYCHOPATHIC?
    Economic man is not rational. If he were a person - self-interested, calculating, maximising everything to his advantage, without empathy but with insatiable needs - he would fall within the severe personality disorder/psycopathic classification. He is the latest incarnation of the Man the Hunter/Warrior model that has dominated society since a few renegade hunters failed to adapt to the new Agricultural Age, when animals were farmed and meat easily available. Resentful at losing their special status and privileges, they turned their cold-blooded, calculating, cunning and killing skills onto their own kind to become violent leaders backed by a warrior elite.
  2. MAN THE HUNTER TODAY
    You see dictators backed by the militia taking the same evolutionary retrograde step today. Man the Hunter atill lives in sexual predators, in gangs in urban jungles in search of prey, or in those who make a killing on the stock market, or in the fat cats in business, banking and politics who take the majority of the spoils as did those early, psychopathic, anti-social killers.
    The divergent developmental paths between the violent hunter and the collaborating settler led to a split in brain development and society that still needs to be healed: the hunter preys on the young, the old and the vulnerable, the very groups that civilised societies seek to protect.
  3. A NEW MODEL
    We cannot exclude the part of the brain that created this model and way of thinking because it contains many processes essential to our survival. We need however to relegate it to playing a minor role rather than taking the lead, and bring forward the alternative path of collaborative, caring, sharing woman, on whose gathering and nurturing skills the Agricultural Age and mutual social welfare were based.
    See my book ‘Integrated Thinking: The New IT’ for further information
    Sue

#7

Changing the way we think is not like changing our mobiles. Out with the old and in with the new. We need both linear and circular thinking which use different brain modes where one focuses on ‘things’, the other on people. Linear thinking has been overdeveloped at the expense of circular thinking, particularly through higher education and in the fields of science, business and economics.
Think of how the two modes approach ‘time’: time to linear thinking means deadlines and efficiency, but to circular thinking, it means seasons and anniversaries. To move from linear to circular thinking about money, for example, means huge mental shifts in individual and collective cognition. Amd the brain has many other ways of thinking that need to be taken into account too.
But before we change anything that the brain does, we need to know how it works. See ‘Integrated Thinking: The New IT’ for more information.


#8

Human kind are too fond of getting sidetracked into thinking in their fear & past based ego mind to do any rational thinking even when they get enough Oxygen from living plants to reduce stress & allow the rational mind to work.
The human baby develops the nerve connection from gut (body) to the Heart (Your infinite self) before it branches of to form the brain & down to the Souls of your feet to get support from Mother Earth. If your spirit is not fully grounded in your body, because it does not want to be in this mad world where it is not appreciated, then decisions are made by the Ego mind which compares all incoming stimuli with the stimuli recorded at the time of past events and reacts in the same way it did before reducing blood flow from skin, digestion, rational brain & fingers to fight or flight.
Economics is just another method bullies use to impose their whims on the majority. Paying people to be true to their Soul & for the things they do instead of letting bosses determine what % of the value they produce they get to have.