Economics & Dharma

A table of all Founder roles within the twelve Houses can be found via the link below, along with the latest accounting of the Dharma (Δ) reputation system:

A systematic ZS and Social Futurist approach to economics is currently under development, and will be soon be developed at length, here. The four essential “pillars” of that approach are as follows:

1. Means of Production

The central ideological dilemma of the 20th Century was between Capitalism and Communism. At the heart of that Dilemma is the Marxist concept of worker ownership of the Means of Production (MoP). To keep things simple here, let’s just note a few quick points on that:

  • Marxism didn’t exactly offer much in the way of realistic, non-authoritarian, constructive alternatives, but it did provide a concise criticism of Capitalism (not to mention the term “Capitalism” itself, or at least “the Capitalistic system”).
  • That criticism was that the MoP (i.e. all resources other than worker’s labour employed in an enterprise) is, under Capitalism, owned by an increasingly wealthy Capital-investing class. In other words, the workers do the work in return for an agreed wage or salary, while non-working investors make open-ended profit, which then gives them even more to invest again, and so on ad infinitum. The Marxist solution to this systemic problem is for workers to collectively own the means of production, which means banning or dismantling the Capitalist class of owner-investors.
  • Social Futurism recognises this problem as critical, given its basis in the fundamental organizing principles of our civilization. A similar problem at the heart of any computational or organizational system would be considered unacceptable. Given our 21st Century perspective, however, it makes sense to learn from history and attempt to develop a solution to the problem which transcends historical failure modes (most notably financial and societal crisis in the case of Capitalism, and extreme authoritarianism under Communism, both of which have caused untold suffering).
  • Under Capitalism the MoP are owned by an increasingly tiny group of Capitalist investors, and under Communism – to take Communist claims at face value (which history strongly suggests would be a mistake) – they are democratically owned by everyone who works on them. These are both extreme positions, basically saying that the critical machinery of civilization should be owned by either (A) an increasingly tiny minority, or (B) everyone.
  • The Social Futurist alternative is simple, rooted in a synthesis of three factors. Those factors are [1] a natural urge toward balance (or conversely away from extremes proven historically dangerous), [2] a high value placed on advancing technology, and [3] a desire to use that technology to solve societal problems. As these three factors converge, they demand an approach based on using technology to integrate the needs of the many with the desires of the few, bringing them together in service of society as a whole.
  • In short, Social Futurism necessarily demands putting resource allocation (including control over MoP) in the hands of Artificial Intelligences bound to ensure that profit is allowed and innovation encouraged, but only insofar as the needs and rights of the wider community are properly defended. In other words, AI would act as a kind of regulator, allowing private ownership where it benefited society as a whole, but dissolving it where necessary to maintain societal integrity.

2. Usury and Speculation

Social Futurism is – as stated in its Principles – opposed to the dysfunctional aspects of Capitalism. Chief among these are usury (i.e. charging extortionate interest to make profit), debt trading, and unproductive financial speculation.

3. Tithing

To the Anglo-Saxons, “tithing” could mean one of two related things. One was the payment of one-tenth of income to some authority (usually the Church), and the other was a grouping of ten households which were collectively held responsible for each other’s behaviour. Although this seems to be an archaic concept on the face of things, it could actually be a powerful organizational principle within the Array.

Like the Social Futurist approach to regulating Means of Production, tithing (in the first sense above) is essentially a kind of minimal tax which maintains funding for central operations that all organizations and societies need, but doing so in a flat and fair way which leaves most funds decentralized across the network.

In the second sense of a group of households, loosely speaking ZS already uses a tithing system. The Zero State is comprised of twelve Houses rather than ten, but the logic is still the same: The Houses each pursue their own culture and goals, but are collectively held responsible for each other’s conduct as a single State.

The common thread between these two senses is a kind of regulated diversity, in which decentralization and freedom to pursue diverse goals and values are “baked into” the system, but with a binding mechanism – tithing – which ensures that there remains a centre of common identity, Principles, and operational cohesion.

4. Taxonomy and Economic Diversity

When it comes to more specific economic systems, such as emergent/alternative (e.g. private, virtual, complementary & crypto-) currencies and particular banking or taxation practices, Social Futurism favours voluntarist experimentation and diversity. In other words, all such currencies are acceptable and indeed encouraged where they promote constructive innovation, as long as the Principles are not being contravened in some way.

Voluntarism is a key factor however, and is of course one emphasized within those Principles, meaning that use of any given currency or economic system must be voluntary (i.e. people must at least always have an opt-out option). Within ZS this is related to the House system and tithing, in that Houses may adopt particular economic systems as part of their internal culture, but at minimum all citizens must have at least the option of leaving that House (and preferably also have other options within that House).

5. Dharma (Economic System)

A table of all Founder roles within the twelve Houses can be found via the link below, along with the latest accounting of the Dharma (Δ) reputation system:

In addition to ZS’ theoretical and medium-long term economic concerns, the combination of our Principles and practical realities necessitates a pragmatic initial approach to such issues. We might conceptualize this as a “scaffolding” approach, which is to say erecting a temporary organizational structure which isn’t theoretically ideal, but which makes the eventual development of an ideal structure possible.

Exploratory economic systems such as cryptocurrencies are actively encouraged across ZS, to the extent that they are compatible with our Principles, the ZS Constitution, and the Constitution of any given House in which such systems are employed. The core “scaffolding” system which initially integrates all such exploratory systems across ZS is known as Dharma.

Dharma is a deliberately simplistic in-house reputation currency of sorts, not intended as a theoretically elegant or long-term solution to ZS’ internal economics. It merely exists to lend initial structure and impetus to interactions between Founder-Members. The Dharma system works according to simple rules which will be posted here shortly.