A continued series on Indigenous modes of Bottom Up System design…
Core Collective Patterns
More & more we can hear this language of commons in the world of web3. But first we should preface our dialogue with a fundamental indigenous precursor to their application of the “commons.” A collectively agreed upon and observable design pattern for regenerative engineering. A cosmology for indigenous communities, but maybe core values of any given community that, at the least agrees on the fundamentals of atomic physics in which we all live.
In other words, what may seem at first like disparate groups of people & moments in time, quickly start to share core values & constants for mechanisms for sustainability. Through dialogue or even brief thought experiments we can start to see similar patterns of core value(s) or constants & design principles. Key to seeing these patterns & designs emerge amidst or between any group of communities seemingly too distinct for shared values — is a shift in paradigm, to a foundation of tangible regenerative abundance rather than extraction & artificial scarcity.
As this is preferable to conventional economic exceptionalism & its myths about the “tragedy of the commons.”This is can be seen in today’s game theory — chaos theory — initial conditions of complex dynamics, drastically alter the basins of attraction in which said systems settle. Dialogue about commons can give us a robust start to redesigning initial conditions of today’s innovations away from concentrated wealth & power and towards decoupled control or freedom in modern innovation.
From an indigenous lens, the capacities for peaceful dialogue within & between autonomous nations & this concept of commons are closely related. Leveraging the regenerative concepts from their cosmology, resulting in the three sisters: corn, beans and squash, enabled a regenerative or eco-matrilineal foundation. From this foundation grew the capacity for commons. And from this capacity for regenerative commons, came the means for peace within & between nations. The autonomy between these nations being a key mechanism when combined with free open accessibility to commons.
The autonomy and protection for identity, of refugees, visitors or even previously hostile nations was a signal for peace. And more than a signal it was intricately built into the system design — Access to the corn commons didn’t come with a caveat of outsourced labor, being pre processed into a myriad of finished goods or dogmatic conditions of preparation or access, from seed to fruit.
This design feature is a felt and objectively observable move toward peace without interference. And is a fundamental transformative concept for commons between autonomous individuals, families etc. Between nations too.
Now building such intricacies can’t be winged and still expected to be effective — and they don’t have to be, as we have whole ecosystems worth of heritage from which to pull. So if we discussed the edge between core values & commons, next is the edge between commons and sustainable power distribution.
Again matrilineal heritage is a beautiful guide, for indigenous communities & beyond, for proper protections against misuse of the commons & sustainability of peer to peer management of the commons. Commons without this attention to detail in design becomes an empty concept very quickly and this is a slippery slope for implementation in real world lives of both us & our ecosystems.
No interference is also a beautiful motif to note even at the level of regenerative modes of production and distribution. No interference in unalienated value flows of another nation’s labor, expression or ecologies. Matrilineal power reinforces abundance via nameable paths of delegation, representatives of communities obliged to protections against top down control, but rather structures for bottom up power built along said paths of delegation.
Paths of Delegation
These paths of delegation can be named with core values as the guide to inform us. Indigenous modes we are researching (Kanienkehaka) extrapolate a cosmology that points to fundamentals of physics, into their social organization, as a kind of modifiable metagovernance that begins with a universal three pronged design theme, which plays on fundamental concepts of functional organization, not unlike the three pronged structure of an atoms functional organization.
Many varying backgrounds can exist in an online ecosystem, as they can in historical native confederacies; key to the three clan design is to name paths of delegation even beyond these granular variations of discipline or other backgrounds, naming functions within deeper collectively shared values, enables bottom up streamlining of formal bottom up delegation. Not only preventing decision gridlock but also protecting against spreading keystone community members too thin for simple troll management, or more nuanced conflict resolution work — also important to transformative potential.
Finally, the lack of due diligence in delegation design, can result in loss of collective power to immediately & instantly preserve the ‘incorruptibility’ of the titles of each of the three reps, ensuring the voices of said matrilineal heritage are accurately represented, commons are properly distributed. In effect, every individual is a node in a network of delegation & has access to formal decision making processes.
Not all paths have to be active, as not every individual has to be active in governance work or may not need to utilize decision making structures as often as others. But as long as the paths are named, they can be used efficiently when needed. This power is imperative to commons actually functioning like a commons in the indigenous sense. Ensuring sustainable cycles beyond the static beginning to dynamics that can quickly & drastically shift to harmful basins of attraction if not cautious.
Accessibility to Freedom
Before totalitarian economic systems were global, peaceful systems based in commons were just as ubiquitous. An accurate history of debt tells us of a flipped perspective — from credit to hard currencies & to credit again rather than a slow linear progression to modern credit. War being the battery in the back of the beginnings of hard currency — a heavily armed occupying army wasn’t the greatest candidate to include into indigenous local credit systems or trust commons management.
Thus Alexander’s armies were notorious for obtaining the silver mines in order to survive with pop up markets so far from imperial power. Mine extraction & coinage or even checks of Arab or Tamil origins of cash, were an answer for the wealth draining problem that was large, long distance traveling caravans to follow the world’s first globally effective armies of settler colonists.
Right up until the enclosure acts of the 13th — 19th century Britain. Formerly matrilineal commons were broken and enclosed, accessibility to peer to peer management was lost. A final means of effective pacification was a replacement to the full life cycle & peaceful autonomy driven p2p management — enter end of lifecycle, finished goods markets. Modern consumption then, is fundamental to the sustained removal of p2p commons building, and the freedom for identity preservation, autonomy in innovation in said building.
This blocks the unique abundance potential in every local & regional community globally. It blocks a global foundation of abundance in favor of a global artificial scarcity — war and its geopolitics opting for production only in zones of severe oppression of labor, expressive & ecological rights. As opposed to production and trade where ever and with who ever possible — peaceful abundance.
Freedom & Unalienated Sustainability
So we see that within the edge of commons & power is the importance of freedom to unalienated value flows. This means commons also do not properly function without this assurance built into the design. Monetary sustainability or project self sufficiency is only one lens — and as mentioned above, a settler colonial lens we didn’t have much say in historically no matter our respective backgrounds. But self sufficiency & sustainability can be defined beyond conventional monetary or GDP metrics. In fact, this is imperative to avoid a huge mess when it comes to genuine attempts at SDGs, the UN’s approach at “sustainable development goals.”
Before currencies made for armies — were indigenous tracking mechanisms that functioned in managing the commons, production and distributions by tracking morphologies from the community up to the nation scale. The tracking mechanisms itself was not to be commodified, or everything else was at risk of the same — thus artificial scarcity. Brought on by war, preventing freedom to collect the means of currency like shells at a lake, in a safe way. The Wampum Shells aren’t gone, but life threatening geopolitics creates an artificial scarcity.
So again, returning to tracking intrinsic motivations and unalienated value flows, values beyond the mere medium of accounting, becomes key to commons & true self sufficiency.
A final layer to the nuances of commons speaks to these unalienated value flows within local & regional systems of bottom up power. Full life cycle prosumption and the local upskilling therein is a critical means for both removal of speculation, commodification or other conventional market dependencies in respective commons efforts.
As these extraction based markets are commonly an extension of socioeconomic & ecological warfare, until transformed. To transform such artificial dependancies, we focus on the unalienated flows of skills sharing, intra- & interpersonal relationships, collective power sensing that leads to thick community across regions. Which is the end goal of tracking these flows in the first place. Innovating beyond the grip of conventional endless commodification is at our discretion with today’s innovations in OSS & web3!
There’s a truly infinite space and opportunity for prosumption facing system design needs that overlap with the tech stack, developer tools and core values we adore in the Stacks community. The direct digital fabrication angle is closely tied to real world innovations in local and regional data security, management & ownership. But even indirect impact on these efforts by new web3 developers is a beautiful potential, as it offers a tangible way out of participation & oppression of the extractive conventional modes of today’s generators of value across the tech industry. While still offering broad ambitious collective goals to strive toward of course.
Emphasis again on the function of commons being incomplete without these considerations for the long term sustainability. Systems will have to design themselves out of the limitations & control of conventional structures & tools to avoid missteps in these “commons” efforts.
To conclude we’d like to briefly mention another edge to summarize the relationship between everything mentioned here. The edge between power & balance. The potential intricacies of which we will hopefully learn together, but the potential alone illustrates a beautiful recursive relationship to becoming “solid” or again reference to physics or evolution in general — the elements first obtaining their mass, a coming into an acceptable form to the conditions around us. Commons, like the organic elements around us can literally take infinite forms, as long we respect & pay attention to the funk, of value(s) flows & relationships & edges in our communities.