(Community Design) Is this Communism? What is this Anti-Fragile Playbook?

The following are a series of questions and answers regarding our project, because people keep trying to figure out how to reconcile our vision with their lens upon the world.

What is this thing you’re promoting? Is it communism?

Let’s begin with our vision statement:

What is your solution?

The Anti-Fragile Neighborhood Wealth Production model is designed to bring forward the hidden wealth of neighborhoods, creating an accessible, inclusive story of the future for all, no exceptions.

What’s in the package?

The Anti-Fragile Playbook is an easy to follow guide for self-governance, and features a neighborhood franchise, where the neighborhood goes into business with itself to create a citizens assembly that’s entirely self-supporting and regenerative.

We’re writing a recipe book that walks you through the process necessary to achieve community autonomy, delivering improved health, wealth, and security; it’s not communism.

We’re building a program (including a handbook, people-based professional services, and a mobile app) for self-funded rejuvenation that leverages an exclusive marketplace to deliver an economic and social stimulus on the community’s terms.

What kind of community?

A: We typically shoot for one or more potentially overlapping communities of no greater than 1,500–5,000 people.

An actual neighborhood in Austin, Texas

If you walk in a loop for an hour in a city such as Denver, Austin, Portland, Seattle, or San Diego, you’d have circled about 340 acres, within which are about 1,200 residences, and 5,000 people. A subset of a zip code, typically, similar to what you see here:

You’ll notice that this could easily be a small town (1,200 homes, 5,000 people), or could be a hybrid community that includes people that are local to one another and those who identify as a member of the community, but live elsewhere.

Are you talking about an intentional community?

Definition:

An intentional community is a planned residential community designed from the start to have a high degree of social cohesion and teamwork. The members of an intentional community typically hold a common social, political, religious, or spiritual vision and often follow an alternative lifestyle.

This is an intentional community.

A: No, although it can certainly be used by an intentional community if they so choose. Typically it’s been our observation that most intentional communities fail because they fail to invest in diversity and thus devolve into monoculture.

They begin as a club, and often dissolve because the community failed to invest in a healthy diversity that might have otherwise carried them over the hump, so to speak, when one or more of its key individuals either die to depart.

Any organism or entity which fails to invest in diversity eventually fails — that’s not a judgement statement. That’s science, history, and fact.

Are you creating communes?

Definition:

A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property, possessions, and resources in common. In some communes, the people also share common work, income, or assets.

This community of separatists were recently covered in the New York Times

A: Not really, although there may be some co-housing enthusiasts that may be interested in what we are doing.

From a high-level, a commune isn’t that much different than an intentional community, for what it’s worth.

Therefore, the same observation can be made regarding their long-term viability: a failure to invest in diversity often leads to the failure of a commune, same as with an intentional community.

Is it a co-op?

Definition:

…a cooperative society, business, or enterprise. A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned enterprise. Cooperatives are democratically owned by their members, with each member having one vote in electing the board of directors.

A farm coop delivers community benefit

A: You’re getting closer. Farm cooperatives typically embrace a hyper-local economy to deliver greater communal bang for the buck.

Is it an example of a commons?

Definition:

The commons is the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a community or a society, including natural materials such as air, water, etc. Commons can also be understood as natural resources that groups of people (communities, user groups) manage for individual and collective benefit.

A: Yes, with an emphasis on cultural and service-based resources accessible to all participating members of a community.

Some of our customers discuss leveraging a shared watershed to institute a hyper-local community that’s calibrated to the local environment. Others discuss a wisdom that’s derived from a shared identity and cultural tradition.

It’s worth noting that we embrace common law legal precedent in our governance model for a lot of reasons, not the least because many common law legal precedents pre-date and transcend statutory law, forming the basis of evolving a community towards true legal sovereignty.

Wait. Is this communism?

Definition:

…a political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs.

Giggle

A: No. It’s not communism, on any level. Private property ownership is encouraged, and it’s our recommendation that the community fund is leveraged to help greater numbers of people in the community acquire more private property to better facilitate their ability to become producers, rather than just consumers.

We’re not talking about seizing the means of production, but embrace and owning them, all the way down to the household.

Is this an example of socialism?

Definition:

…a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

A: Not really. There may be some community decisions regarding the use of common resources, such as food or water, but the emphasis is upon private property stewardship. Beyond that: how much can you apply the word “socialism” to describe a community of 1,500–5,000? Our solution would not be any more or less “socialist” than an ordinary Christian church.

Is this anarchy?

Define:

Anarchy is the state of a society being freely constituted without authorities or a governing body. It may also refer to a society or group of people that entirely rejects a set hierarchy. Anarchy was first used in 1539, meaning “an absence of government.”

psst, mister policeman: want some anarchy? Your first one is free.

A: no. Our solution explicitly includes a framework for self-governance that would necessitate a governing body accountable to the community itself through transparent and accountable governance that’s designed to discourage fraud, waste, abuse, and corruption.

People like to ask if we are antigovernment. No: we are anti-ineptitude.

There are some who consider themselves anarchists who encourage the destruction of government; it’s our observation that the government seems to be doing a pretty decent job of that all by itself, and have chosen to focus upon the legions of those who are being left behind: the poor and the vulnerable.

When I encounter someone who calls themselves an anarchist, I challenge them to provide an answer to the question: how do we care for the elderly, the poor, and the disabled? I press them to consider a tangible plan of action, and one with immediate results.

We aim to facilitate public, private, and faith-based collaborations that ensure that our most vulnerable are not left behind, because what if they are the most important among us?

My question is rhetorical.

Does your system reject capitalism?

Definition:

…an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.

A: If we are sticking to the definition (above), the word “capitalism” is not really applicable; we focus on communities of about 1,500–5,000, not countries.

I think you’re talking about free market economies.

Ok, does it support a free market economy?

Definition:

…an economic system in which prices are determined by unrestricted competition between privately owned businesses.

A: Yes. However: the reputation economy can be used to provide opt-in rewards for those who privately elect to offer their goods or services to those lacking hard capital, and in so doing: be recognized for their spirit of service to the community.

I am fond of saying that capitalism or free market capitalism isn’t necessarily bad; it’s just insufficiently optimized, which results in almost all resources being hoarded by a diminishing number of people, to the detriment of all others.

Which is a tongue-in-cheek way of saying, ok: maybe free market capitalism is not particularly helpful to most people.

But free market exchange is a decent way to incentivize people to “make a few extra bucks,” and it’s our supposition that we might be able to optimize the marketplace through augmentation, in the form of a reputation economy that rewards certain behaviors that are beneficial to the community.

For example, the Selvage reputation score pays people a bonus if they can innovate a way to reduce the rates of arbitration within our system.

The Selvage aspect of the 214 Alpha reputation economy rewards the peacemakers

The economics behind this are pretty simple: by reducing the rates of arbitration, they optimize our system. Pretty straightforward.

In this manner, a skilled mediator could better compete head-to-head with attorneys who are ordinarily incentivized to perpetuate conflict, as described previously.

Likewise the Weft reputation score financially rewards a person if they can innovate away to elevate the reputation of others, and the economic justification is similarly straightforward: it helps optimize our system.

The Weft aspect of the 214 Alpha reputation economy rewards those who are skilled caretakers for “the least of My brethren”

Therefore, a person could distinguish themselves within the community as an entrepreneur of uncanny skill, and they could earn inorganic rates of return by also triggering the Selvage and Weft reputation scores.

How?

They could do so by being great at business, and figuring out how to reduce rates of conflict and arbitration, and do so in a way that elevates the reputation of others.

In this manner, we facilitate a transactional community framework that facilitates interpersonal transformation.

Or as Ruth says: transacting transformation.

What about corporatism?

Definition:

…the control of a state or organization by large interest groups.

A: No. The communal effort is accountable to the community itself, and we don’t work with “a state.” Our communities are about 1,200–5,000 people, total; not much room for a large interest group in that context.

Is it an example of voluntarism?

Define:

…the principle of relying on voluntary action (used especially with reference to the involvement of voluntary organizations in social welfare).

A: Maybe. It’s up to each person. Our reputation economy rewards those who opt-into an investment in social capital that serves to benefit others, but it’s entirely voluntary.

Is it a charity?

Definition:

…an organization set up to provide help and raise money for those in need.

A: It could be. See “non-profit organization” (below).

Is it a non-profit organization?

Definition:

A nonprofit organization, also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is an organization traditionally dedicated to furthering a particular social cause or advocating a shared point of view.

A: A community could certainly organize themselves in this manner, but again: we encourage the use of free-market economics to stimulate a vibrant and active marketplace exclusive to the community, with profits going to each participating seller.

Is it a 501(c)(3)?

Definition:

Section 501(c)(3) is the portion of the US Internal Revenue Code that allows for federal tax exemption of nonprofit organizations, specifically those that are considered public charities, private foundations or private operating foundations.

A: A community could organize themselves in this manner, provided their organizational mission was structured in such a way that delivered qualifying benefits to the community itself. In doing so, the community could avoid paying corporate taxes (current rate: 21%).

This sure sounds anarcho-capitalist

Definition:

Anarcho-capitalism is a political philosophy and economic theory that advocates the elimination of centralized states in favor of a system of private property enforced by private agencies, free markets, and the right-libertarian interpretation of self-ownership.

A: We don’t advocate the elimination of centralized states; it’s our intention to orchestrate a network of public-private and faith-based collaborations to ensure that our society’s most vulnerable are cared for and protected, with dignity. It’s been our observation that most people who fancy themselves “libertarians” are merely republicans who don’t want to pay taxes.

giggle

More pertinently, we’ve not seen any actual ancap communities, and note that their existence appears to be currently limited to memes.

Indeed, the design of this platform was informed in no small part by the need for ancaps and others to manifest their aspired communities.

Is it anarcho-communist?

Definition:

Anarcho-communism is a political philosophy and anarchist school of thought which advocates the abolition of the state, capitalism, wage labour and private property (while retaining respect for personal property, along with collectively-owned items, goods and services) in favor of common ownership of the means of production and direct democracy as well as a horizontal network of workers’ councils with production and consumption based on the guiding principle “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”.

A: No. Emphasis upon “we encourage private ownership of property.”

As with the ancaps, we’ve not seen any actual ancom communities, and note that their existence appears to be currently limited to memes, created and posted in ancap forums with the intention of inspiring outrage.

As with the ancaps, the design of this platform was informed in no small part by the need for ancaps, ancoms, and others to manifest their aspired communities.

So what is it?

A co-op, maybe a commons that embraces free market economics within a marketplace that’s exclusive to the community, with some shared resources (services) regulated by the community as a whole.

Some of these services may serve to elevate the well-being of the community, and in that manner the communal effort may qualify as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

A community could tune their self-governance in such a way that they embrace approaches resembling ancap or ancom principles, but that’s not our decision. It’s up to you.

In terms of philosophy, it may be an example of communitarianism.

Wait. What’s communitarianism?

Definition:

Communitarianism is a philosophy that emphasizes the connection between the individual and the community. Its overriding philosophy is based upon the belief that a person’s social identity and personality are largely molded by community relationships, with a smaller degree of development being placed on individualism.

This sounds like an Ashram, inspired by Gandhi.

Definition:

Gandhi and his followers founded numerous ashrams in India (Gandhi had pioneered the ashram settlement in South Africa).

It’s observed that “he who mints the coin writes the rules,” and Gandhi understood that community autonomy and sovereignty can only occur when its reclaimed its productive capacity.

The concept of an ashram has been compared with the commune, where its inhabitants would seek to produce their own food, clothing and means of living, while promoting a lifestyle of self-sufficiency, personal and spiritual development and working for wider social development.

The ashrams included small farms and houses constructed by the inhabitants themselves. All inhabitants were expected to help in any task necessary, promoting the values of equality.

Gandhi also espoused the notion of “trusteeship,” which centered on denying material pursuits and coveting of wealth, with practitioners acting as “trustees” of other individuals and the community in their management of economic resources and property.

A: There’s a lot of things about that which fits, actually, with obvious differences which bias towards an encouragement of private property ownership (embrace of free market economics).

Which brings our imagining of communitarianism a few steps to the right, so to speak, embracing concepts most commonly associated with individualism.

But again, we’re talking about communities of 1,500–5,000 people, and you get to tune the values of each community.

In terms of trusteeship, this comes very close to what we recommend, which leverages common law principles to better prevent the tragedy of the commons, which is an endemic problem within our society.

What’s the tragedy of the commons?

Definition:

The tragedy of the commons is a situation in a shared-resource system where individual users, acting independently according to their own self-interest, behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting or spoiling the shared resource through their collective action.

Privatizing profits + socializing costs = tragedy of the commons

Does that sound familiar?

In our society, we privatize profits, and socialize the costs, resulting in a tragedy of the commons, to our collective detriment.

Which brings us back to what we are building: a solution.

What’s our solution, again?

The Anti-Fragile Neighborhood Wealth Production model is designed to bring forward the hidden wealth of neighborhoods, creating an accessible, inclusive story of the future for all, no exceptions.

What’s in the package?

  • An easy-to-follow playbook for replicating our model
  • The software necessary to replicate a financially self-supporting neighborhood (an app)
  • A franchise for expanding other communities’ self-sufficiency

The Anti-Fragile Playbook is an easy to follow guide for self-governance, and features a neighborhood franchise, where the neighborhood goes into business with itself to create a citizens assembly that’s entirely self-supporting and regenerative.

We’re building a program (including a handbook, people-based professional services, and a mobile app) for self-funded rejuvenation that leverages an exclusive marketplace to deliver an economic and social stimulus on the community’s terms.

Product management fix-it guy. World-famous people skills. Extremely small hands. (edit) marketing lady says I’m also supposed to say “CEO of software company”