A simpler version of the ‘EA-governance thought-experiment’

The previous post ‘Governance in a responsibility-based enterprise-architecture‘ was a bit long… as usual… So here’s a (somewhat) shorter-form version of the same ‘thought-experiment’ about an EA-based approach to governance and law, laid out in step-by-step format, and without the perhaps rather lengthy explanations that are in that post and the other posts that preceded it.

Step 1: The aim of the ‘thought-experiment’ is to devise a form of governance for a responsibility-based economics for an enterprise of any scale. What we’ll be working on during this thought-experiment is identifying the core constraints for a ‘to-be’ architecture for that requirement.

(Ultimately, we’d need to be talking about governance for economics at a global scale, but it might be best to start with something a bit smaller: your own organisation, for example, in relation to its industry and business-context.)

Step 2: For the purposes of the thought-experiment, take it as a given that any claim of ‘possession’, in any form whatsoever, will cause failure of the respective economic system in the medium- to longer-term. We must therefore class all forms and variants of possession as ‘disallowed’ from the to-be architecture.

(See the previous posts for the background to this assertion. It does happen to be true, but for now let’s bypass any argument by saying that we’re just using it as a nominally-arbitrary assumption for a thought-experiment.)

Step 3: For the purpose here, take it also as a given that possession, and hence all of its overlays, is itself an overlay on top of a responsibility-based economy – a structure of interlocking mutual responsibilities. Because of this, everything that would perhaps more usually be described in terms of possession or its derivatives – the ‘disallowed’ items from the previous step – may instead be described in terms of mutual responsibilities.

(Again, see the previous posts for the detail on that, but for now just take it as an assumption “solely for the purposes of the thought-experiment” etc.)

Step 4: Outline a ‘to-be’ architecture whose core content consists of the responsibility-based replacements for all ‘disallowed’ items. No exceptions can be permitted, because any instance of a possession-based model will inevitably ‘infect’ and eventually destroy the sustainability of the responsibility-based model.

— Step 4a: All concepts of exclusive-possession are ‘disallowed’; societal management of those resources must be described in terms of personal responsibilities for and to those resources, and interlocks between mutual responsibilities for the use (‘exploitation’) of those resources, including all responsibilities to others either elsewhere or elsewhen.

— Step 4b: All concepts of ‘anti-possession’ – a purported ‘right’ to not be responsible for some aspect of a managed resource – are also ‘disallowed’; governance-mechanisms should be defined so as to ensure that the respective personal and/or mutual responsibilities are not evaded.

— Step 4c: All concepts of possession of inherent priority, privilege or ‘entitlement’ are ‘disallowed’. (Note that this means that, by definition, all concepts of supposed ‘rights’ must be ‘disallowed’ – including all purported property rights, right to free speech, right to silence, women’s rights, etc. Which, yes, is going to be seriously challenging for a lot of folks… but for now, play safe, and keep reminding people that this is ‘only a thought-experiment’.) Instead, identify the mutual responsibilities that underpin and/or are evaded in order to create the context for each purported ‘right’ at present, and – as for ‘anti-possession’ – devise governance that would resolve and prevent evasion of mutual-responsibilities in that context.

— Step 4d: From 4a and 4c, all concepts of exclusive ‘property rights’ are ‘disallowed’: this includes physical-property, real-estate, land-title, so-called ‘intellectual property’, brands, cultural-stories and the like. Note that in effect this also includes beliefs about ‘possession of the truth’, such as are common in many forms of law, and in scientism and in similar models of religious or quasi-religious belief. Identify the mutual-responsibilities and evasions of responsibilities that underpin all of these ‘possessions’, and sketch out forms of governance that do also acknowledge and respect people’s emotional and spiritual attachment to things, to places and to ideas.

— Step 4e: All concepts of ‘possession’ of others are ‘disallowed’. Note that such concepts are commonly either explicit or implied in many social relationships, such as employment-contracts, marriage, notions of ‘custody’ of children, etc. As above, identify the actual responsibilities that would be required in each case – taking into account the fundamental differences that would apply in a non-possession-based economic and societal model – and sketch out governance that would support those responsibilities and their mutualities.

— Step 4f: Scan language in use within the context, for possessives such as ‘my’ , ‘your’, ‘his’, ‘hers’, ‘their’, ‘its’, ‘the company’s’ etc, to identify any implied forms or assertions of ‘possession’. All such forms would be classed as ‘disallowed’, as above; identify, document and model the underlying mutual-responsibilities, also as above.

— Step 4g: All concepts of barter presume the existence of a possession-based model of ‘right to exchange’, and hence are automatically ‘disallowed’. Identify the mutual responsibilities implied by any barter-exchange, and devise alternative mechanisms – and governance for those mechanisms – that are based on the actual underlying responsibilities.

— Step 4h: All concepts of ‘currency’ (including money, tokens, time-based currencies, money-based taxes or fines etc) represent purported possession-based ‘rights to resources’, and hence are automatically ‘disallowed’. As for barter above, identify the mutual-responsibilities – and, often, evasions of responsibilities – that underly such concepts, and devise alternative exchange-mechanisms and governance that are based on the actual underlying responsibilities.

(Note that all of the above is the minimum that would need to be in place in order to create and maintain a viable and sustainable economy. A lot of this might no doubt seem seem seriously scary, but it’s essential to realise that there can be no exceptions here. We can’t cling on to some favoured part of the possession-economy, because any remnant part of the existing possession-based structures will inevitably destroy everything – there is no way round that bald fact. Hence the work here.

Don’t forget that, by definition, every form of ‘possession’ and every so-called ‘right’ is actually based on mutual-responsibilities: the responsibilities themselves are rarely acknowledged, and the mutualities of those responsibilities even less so, yet without them, the ‘right’ or whatever would not and could not exist. To illustrate this, try a very simple exercise: take that classic US description of ‘the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’, and identify the responsibilities that underpin each of those ‘rights’. In reality, every ‘right’ is an arbitrary fiction; but the responsibilities that underly them are real. Hence why we really are best off by discarding the entire concept of ‘rights’, and keep a firm focus on the real responsibilities instead.)

Step 5: Sketch out mechanisms of exchange, and forms of governance for such exchange and relationship, that fully enact and support all of the mutual-responsibilities identify within all the work of the previous step. Document and model all of this as a ‘to-be’ enterprise-architecture for the respective scope.

(Most of this is a straightforward ‘to-be’ architecture-modelling exercise: it’s focussed on governance rather than, say, IT-applications or physical infrastructure, but the principles and process are exactly the same as usual.)

Step 6 (optional):  Map out an ‘as-is’ architecture for the same scope, based on the various current possession-based structures.

(This again should be straightforward: in essence, it’s just describing what we already know and, uh, love…)

Step 7 (optional – requires Step 6): Develop a gap-analysis between ‘to-be’ and ‘as-is’, to identify requirements for change from the present context to a viable and sustainable responsibility-based socioeconomic model.

(This is the part that gets seriously scary for a lot of people… Notice how many existing institutions simply don’t exist any more in the ‘to-be’ model: banks, insurances, pensions, monetary taxes, most concepts of ‘valuation’, the entire money-system, large chunks of the legal system, large chunks of current education, religion, science, and much else besides. What’s interesting is what doesn’t change: for example, most market transactions still have to happen somehow, but via a responsibility-based model rather than via ‘rights of exclusion’.)

Once all of this is done, documented, discussed with stakeholders and the rest… – only then can we sensibly start talking about possible ‘solutions’, ‘roadmaps for change’, and the like.

(Again, this is standard architecture-practice: other than for Agile-style exploratory experiments, we don’t talk about ‘solutions’ until the requirements are properly understood. There are way too many people wanting to rush off into some form or other of instant-‘solution’ – particularly around would ‘alternative-currencies’ and the like – but it’s a complete waste of time and effort unless and until this work is done…)

Oh, and in case you wondered whether any of this is feasible? – if so, perhaps take a look at some the various state-wide or nation-wide emergency-management legislation scattered around the globe…? In Australia, for example, the person in charge of a declared emergency already has the legal right to take possession of anything at all “as he sees fit”, offering only “such compensation as he sees fit”: and there’s nothing whatsoever to stop a government declaring a national-scale emergency and literally taking possession of the whole country – with no payment required at all. The same will almost certainly also be true for your own country… interesting, huh? 🙂

Anyway, try this out for yourself, if you would? – and let me know what insights arise for you in doing so, perhaps?

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