Robert David Steele, career intelligence officer, presents a radical vision of change in his book The Open-Source Everything Manifesto.
His interdisciplinary 'whole systems' approach dramatically connects up the increasing corruption, inefficiency and unaccountability of the intelligence system and its political and financial masters with escalating inequalities and environmental crises. But he also offers a comprehensive vision of hope that activist networks like Reclaim are implementing today.
"Sharing, not secrecy, is the means by which we realise such a lofty destiny as well as create infinite wealth. The wealth of networks, the wealth of knowledge, revolutionary wealth - all can create a nonzero win-win Earth that works for one hundred percent of humanity. This is the 'utopia' that Buckminster Fuller foresaw, now within our reach."
So what exactly do you mean by open source everything? "We have over 5 billion human brains that are the one infinite resource available to us going forward. Crowd-sourcing and cognitive surplus are two terms of art for the changing power dynamic between those at the top that are ignorant and corrupt, and those across the bottom that are attentive and ethical. The open source ecology is made up of a wide range of opens – open farm technology, open source software, open hardware, open networks, open money, open small business technology, open patents – to name just a few. The key point is that they must all develop together, otherwise the existing system will isolate them into ineffectiveness. Open data is largely worthless unless you have open hardware and open software. Open government demands open cloud and open spectrum, or money will dominate feeds and speeds." [emphasis mine]
I find his martix for the preconditions of revolution somewhat confusing and contradictory, with plenty of judgments built in. For example under Synergy/ Ideo-Cultural he says "Absence of sublimating myths; failure of religion"
Since all of these open systems must emerge simultaneously, it sounds as if the phase change he envisions is extraordinarily unlikely. He thinks new grassroots structures made of representatives from "academia, civil society including labor unions and religions, commerce especially small business, government especially local, law enforcement, media, military, and non-government/non-profit" will be the foundation. Somehow these local councils will be immune to the power of the gun and capable of generating a new currency based on truth and the infinite resource of human brain power, instead of money as we know it. And why will this happen? Because "the alternative is too dismal to contemplate". I personally don't see humanity grasping this utopian alternative through fear of civilization's collapse. Or perhaps he means after civilization collapse this will be our last hope. But how people will come together for this vision, as opposed to instinct-based anarchy or the thousand competing visions, isn't clear.
"Open Source Everything overturns top-down 'because I say so at the point of a gun' power. Open Source Everything makes truth rather than violence the currency of power. Open Source Everything demands that true cost economics and the indigenous concept of 'seventh generation thinking' – how will this affect society 200 years ahead – become central. Most of our problems today can be traced to the ascendance of unilateral militarism, virtual colonialism, and predatory capitalism, all based on force and lies and encroachment on the commons. The national security state works for the City of London and Wall Street – both are about to be toppled by a combination of Eastern alternative banking and alternative international development capabilities, and individuals who recognise that they have the power to pull their money out of the banks and not buy the consumer goods that subsidise corruption and the concentration of wealth. The opportunity to take back the commons for the benefit of humanity as a whole is open – here and now."
For Steele, the open source revolution is inevitable, simply because the demise of the system presided over by the 1% cannot be stopped – and because the alternatives to reclaiming the commons are too dismal to contemplate. We have no choice but to step up. [emphasis mine]
While his diagnosis of the current system rings true, his nugget of civilization re-invention needs more work. Perhaps it will inspire elaboration, because it's interdisciplinary and addresses many root problems. My personal vision is also based on radical sharing, instead of secrecy.
His tee shirt example clarified what he means by true costs. Such costs must be included in production, rather than being externalized, in a sustainable economy. It's obvious, though that we'll be able to afford very little clothing.
... a white cotton T-shirt contains roughly 570 gallons of water, 11 to 29 gallons of fuel, and a number of toxins and emissions including pesticides, diesel exhaust, and heavy metals and other volatile compounds – it also generally includes child labor. Accounting for those costs and their real social, human and environmental impacts has totally different implications for how we should organise production and consumption than current predatory capitalism."