Convivium: A Global Commonwealth

I’ld like to return, today, to an earlier theme of The Chrysalis and develop it further — and that is the idea of the Convivium, which should be the real end and aim of the process we call “globalisation” and the meaning of “globalism”. We would be better off talking about the Convivium and convivialism rather than globalism and globalisation. The choice of the right name for things makes all the difference, and the difference here, again, bears on our seeming inability to distinguish between higher and lower things, and our continuing confusion of the Whole with the mere Totality (which is but the shadow of the Whole) — therefore, the fatal confusion of the processes which belong to life with those processes which belong to death.

It is my contention, as you may know, that the confusion of the totality with the whole lies at root of our decadence and our nihilism, for it is a prime example of how “all higher values devalue themselves” — Nietzsche’s succinct definition of nihilism (and particularly that form of nihilism called “decadence”). Therefore, I want to speak to convivialism as life process and of the Convivium as the Community of the Whole Living Earth, for that is what the word means.

What we are doing in speaking of convivialism and the Convivium, of course, is simply elevating the ideas of globalisation and globalism to a “higher” plane of understanding, which is that ideal of Earth Community or, if you prefer, the Global Commonwealth. A Convivium (that is “life together”) does summarise the meaning of that higher insight realised and expressed by Jill Bolte-Taylor, for example, as “one human family” in her marvelous TED talk on her “stroke of insight”. A Convivium is William Blake’s ideal of his “New Age” and is, furthermore, the chief goal of Rosenstock-Huessy’s attempts at “universal history,” as well as the obvious correlate to Jean Gebser’s “integral consciousness”, the realised Earth Community of integral consciousness.

Maybe we should even change the name “Earth” to “Convivia” to express this experience of the solidarity of all Life, for the ideal of “Earth Community” really has no meaning other than this fundamental mutualism, underlying cooperation, and the solidarity of all that lives and dies, and which does so precisely for the preservation of the life of the Earth as a whole. That is what Jean Gebser means by his enigmatic reference to “the law of the Earth” in his Ever-Present Origin.

A Convivium, having to do with living processes — aliveness, livelihood, life-time, etc — is a fitting counter ideal to Lewis Mumford’s “Megamachine” (who is also the old god “Moloch” and is equally Yanis Varoufakis’s The Global Minotaur). The Megamachine is a Juggernaut that is indifferent to life or death processes, as is proved by the environmental and climate crisis, and the “sixth extinction event”. Nothing could be clearer. The Convivium and the Megamachine are contraries, and in those terms “globalism” is not the problem. The Megamachine is the real problem.

Roderick Seidenberg’s “Post-Historic Man” is the servant of the Megamachine. (Varoufakis calls these servants of the Megamachine the Minotaur’s “handmaidens”). The Megamachine has no need of history because it has no need of consciousness. It’s ideal is the automaton. It is against this “post-historic man”, and against the Earth as Megamachine, that Rosenstock-Huessy pursued rather his ambitious project for a “universal history” of the collective human experience of the Earth as the only authentic foundation for a true Earth Community, or Convivium. The Convivium is William Blake’s (and Sri Aurobindo’s) “Universal Humanity”.

The Megamachine does not “integrate”. It assimilates. Again, the confusion of integration and assimilation reflects the confusion of the Whole and the Totality, which are treated as synonyms when, in fact, they are contrary in meaning. Not only do they refer to life and death respectively (tot being the Germanic word for “dead”), but they differ in the sense that a “totality” is a mere aggregation, an assemblage of parts into a totality. A Whole, on the other hand, pre-exists its particularisation or analysis. The holonic pre-exists its disassembly into parts, and its reconstitution (or “synthesis”) via rationalisation and systematisation into a “totality”.

As many of you know, this difference between the Whole and the Totality, and therefore to issues of Convivium against the Megamachine, has its source in Iain McGilchrist’s description of the “divided brain” (in The Master and His Emissary) and the two different modes of perception of the left-hemisphere and the right-hemisphere of the divided brain. The Emissary (the “God of the Left-Hemisphere“) is the Megamachine (who is also Blake’s “Urizen”, architect of the “Ulro”). The Master, on the other hand, is Jill Bolte-Taylor’s “Life Force Power of the Universe”, and which is otherwise historically called “soul”. The present conflict between the Whole and the Totality, ergo the Convivium and the Megamachine too, arises from the two very different modes of perception of the divided brain. More specifically, that there is a conflict at all is owing to the interference (or “usurpation”) of the Emissary with the “Life Force Power’s” prerogatives, which pertain to the perception of, and empathy with, wholes.

McGilchrist’s “Emissary” (or what is normally called the “ego-consciousness”, or Jill Bolte-Taylor’s “I” consciousness) is, furthermore, the Prodigal Son of the parables (and the wayward Falcon of W.B. Yeats’ ominous poem “The Second Coming“).

In those terms, then, the “Convivium” is not something that has to be created. It already is, even though it is not. It is not because of the Emissary’s interference with it — which interference McGilchrist describes as a “usurpation”. The “Emissary” — the intellect or ego-consciousness — was meant to be the servant of the Master. All parables about the “servant” are parables about the ego-nature or the Selfhood. In effect, Soul and Selfhood are in conflict, which lies at the root of the problem of “alienation” or “self-alienation”.

Given this, we can appreciate Jean Gebser’s remarks that the key to surviving the “maelstrom of blind anxiety” or “chaotic transition” he anticipated was “knowing when to let happen and knowing when to make happen”. That is, in effect, the harmonisation of the two modes of perception of the divided brain, and a plea, really, to return to the rightful relationship between McGilchrist’s Master and Emissary modes of the divided brain. These also correspond to Nietzsche’s distinction between the Dionysian and the Apollonian consciousness (or Soul and Selfhood as Nietzsche also described it in his chapter from Zarathustra called “The Despisers of the Body“).

Actually, in the few brief minutes of her TED talk that Jill Bolte-Taylor describes her “stroke of insight” you can learn a hell of a lot about the meaning of Blake, of Nietzsche, of McGilchrist, of Gebser, and also of Rosenstock-Huessy, and why I hold that the prime issues of the present and future are already prefigured in her own experience of the two modes of perception of the divided brain, and how this bears on the issue of the Whole and the Totality, and therefore on the issue of Convivium and Megamachine. And quite evidently, too, Rosenstock-Huessy’s maxim that “God is the power that makes men speak” is intelligible when one understands McGilchrist’s “Master” as Bolte-Taylor’s “Life Force Power of the Universe”. “God” is how the ego-consciousness interprets this “Master”.

So, ultimately the question is not whether the Megamachine can be transformed to serve the purposes of life, but whether the ego-consciousness, the Selfhood or Emissary, can be transformed to serve the purposes of the “Master”, which means also, in effect, overcoming merely dualistic rationality and restoring the proper relationship between “truth that sets free” and “the facts of the matter”, and therefore between the Whole and the Totality (for the latter is but the image and shadow of the former). And all this means, effecting the proper relationship between the Emissary and the Master, or Selfhood and Soul.



31 responses to “Convivium: A Global Commonwealth”

  1. davidm58 says :

    This is a refreshing post, emphasizing a positive vision for the future. On an email list I’m on, I received this link to an article titled “Alexandr Dugin and the Death of Globalism,” wherein Dugin is described as Putin’s brain. There was a question about an antidote to Dugin’s philosophy, and I think your post above could serve as part of that needed antidote.

  2. abdulmonem says :

    Scott keeps repeating that all secular isms are the off-springs of the four basic bibles or if we want to put it in a global context the off-springs of the world scriptures. A vision I fully share that requires our return to the source to see the falsification committed and to enter the realm of the integrated consciousness of the ever present origin, the root that points us to the truth away from the obsession of the other humans coinages which if it helps, it can not help us to reach truth which is an inner personal exploration away from too much reading that disturbs more that it calms our mind the first step in spiritual exploration as Whitehead accomplished in his reading the cosmos around him and reading himself only to find that everything around is alive like him and the cosmos likes himself is filled with never-stop cooperative activities and like Blake, condemned the single vision of Newton.

      • mikemackd says :

        I don’t know how you do it, Steve, but thanks again. I’m studying it now.

      • mikemackd says :

        Despite the many quotes of Mumford I have posted here, my enthusiasm for him, though intense, is not uncritical. One area where I have my doubts is his stated belief in world government, even though it was to be democratic government, as manifested in his signing of a Declaration on World Democracy, called “The City of Man”. This was also signed by many other American intellectuals in an attempt to rid the world, once and for all, of the totalitarian dictatorships in Europe in World War II (1941, Viking, New York. Available at:

        My concern about such world government is expressed in the Ivan Illich article Steve posted above, Tools for Conviviality, as “a self-defeating escalation of power”, which serve to “escalate what they are meant to eliminate”. One of the works Illich quotes there is Mumford’s Pentagon of Power, and I wonder if when Mumford wrote that some 30 years after “The City of Man” he would still have signed up to the following:

        It must be the Nation of Man embodied in the Universal State, the State of States … There can be no peace for the small nations whose feeble freedom is but a gift of the stronger; there can be no peace among the giant states whose size itself bids for the anarchy of violence and conquest.

        All centralizing structures-and not Germany alone, as was the fond hope of those who wagered on her early defeat-must fall into smaller federal units. All states, deflated and disciplined, must align themselves under the law of the world-state, if the world of tomorrow is to have peace.

        It is universality that we oppose to totalitarianism, republican unity to autarchic despotism, service in brotherhood to regimentation in serfdom.

        My concern is that the work appears to put the cart before the horse. The problems of the megamachine being solved by an even “megier” machine!

        By definition, wicked problems are not solved by machines, mega or otherwise. Simple problems? Yes. Complicated? Yes. Complex? Sometimes, well enough. Wicked? No.

        It seems to me that the conviviality of service in brotherhood to regimentation in serfdom etc. simply can NEVER be achieved by either the Master or His Emissary while they remain unintegrated in the manner McGilchrist describes within us, and that to a significant degree the more tempting the power, the harder to sustain the integration.

        Moreover, such megamachine power would attract powermongers like flies to a carcass. Reinhold Niebuhr, another of the signatories, identified this by noting that the more frustrations we have in life and the more we are infuriated by humiliations, then the more we project our narcissistic requirements of grandeur to such collective dimensions of our identities (as quoted in Mead 2007, God and Gold, London, Atlantic Books, pp. 387-390).

        Plato’s Republic comes to mind. Therefore one must ask, does Whitehead’s comment that the “safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato” still apply now, in the 21st century?

        I think not as much as before, because thanks to Whitehead and others more of us now think more in terms of processes than thinging than when Whitehead said that.

        I see this post of Scott’s as one example. In fact, to me at least, this is one of Scott’s most important posts. I have a minor quibble about his statement that “the question is not whether the Megamachine can be transformed to serve the purposes of life, but whether the ego-consciousness, the Selfhood or Emissary, can be transformed to serve the purposes of the ‘Master’”, because I see those as potentially both/and, not either/or.

        As Scott says earlier, it’s process, and I submit potentially a co-evolutionary one. The processes which may emerge only from engagement may be required for “convivialism as life process and of the Convivium as the Community of the Whole Living Earth” to manifest.

        For faith without good works is dead.

        • davidm58 says :

          Well said, Mike! As for a world democracy…as Peter Pogany said, what will it take for the world to get on its knees begging for a planetary guild? Pogany’s idea was that we need some kind of world regulating body, but that it is equally important to have nested governments at many scales as appropriate for the issues or situations. Elinor Ostrom and Edgar Morin seem to have somewhat similar approaches – a complex relationship between global and local. This is a kind of globalism, but definitely not neoliberal globalization. We would need to be very careful, because I share the concerns you’ve outlined.

          • mikemackd says :

            Many Thanks, David.

            While I am reasonably familiar with both Morin and Ostrom (having read:

            Cole, D. H. and Ostrom, E. 2015. The Variety of Property Systems and Rights in Natural Resources. In: Cole, D. H., Mcginnis, M. D., Arnold, G., Blomquist, W., Cox, M., Gardner, R., Ostrom, E., Ostrom, V., Schlager, E. and Villamayor-Tomas, S. (eds.) Elinor Ostrom and the Bloomington School of Political Economy: Resource Governance. Lexington Books;

            Walker, I. and Ostrom, E. 2007. Trust and Reciprocity as Foundations for Cooperation: Individuals, Institutions, and Contexts Capstone Meeting of the RSF Trust Initiative at the Russell Sage Foundation; and

            Morin, E. 2007. Restricted complexity, general complexity. In: Gershenson, C., Aerts, D., and Edmonds B. (eds.). Worldviews, science and us: Philosophy and complexity. Singapore: World Scientific, 5-29.

            And some other works of theirs now and then, here and there), I am not as familiar with their works on the relationships of global and local scales as I think you are. Could you post a couple of links about that here?

            Thanks Again,


            • davidm58 says :

              Hi Mike,

              Too busy at the moment, but I hope to respond in a few days. Remind me if I forget.

            • mikemackd says :

              >> Too busy at the moment, but I hope to respond in a few days.

              I know the feeling. I’m being very naughty, and must get on with pressing matters.

              >>Remind me if I forget.

              Will do.

            • mikemackd says :


              David, let me know if it’s too difficult: I mean to save myself the digging, but not to cause you any.

            • davidm58 says :


              I’m not very familiar with Ostrom’s work directly, but have been impressed by the bits and pieces I get when others reference her.

              Chris Smaje argues in ” One Cheer for the Commons” ( ):
              “Undoubtedly there’s a need in contemporary politics to transcend some of the more problematic consequences of traditional economic systems, both private and state organised, and commons provide some interesting examples of self-organising collective institutions in this respect. But as Ostrom herself pointed out, institutions are seldom wholly private or public – “the market” or “the state” (indeed, markets require state manipulation to operate, and even the most totalitarian of regimes is incapable of eliminating private economic relations). Ostrom provides many examples of the ways that commons – whether pastures, fisheries, irrigation schemes or water catchment protection – draw strength from what she calls “rich mixtures of “private-like” and “public-like” institutions defying classification in a sterile dichotomy”2. So perhaps there’s a need to go beyond simplistic notions of markets or states being bad and commons being good, and to specify more richly what kind of private, public or common institutions can be effective in different circumstances. Ostrom’s work stands as an impressive rebuke to those who think that communities can never organise their own resource use effectively without the help of the state or the market, but she’s at pains to show that commons don’t always work and aren’t always an appropriate mode of organisation.”

              T. Collins Logan, sometimes reader of this blog, wrote a paper titled “The Goldilocks Zone of Integral Liberty” ( ). Logan also draws important ideas from Ostrom. He lists 8 design principles offered by Ostrom, which he references as “self organizing resource management schemas” that do not rely exclusively either on private ownership or government institutions. He writes that “she frequently reiterated during her career that there are seldom a “one size fits all” solution to resource management challenges, and thus she frequently turned to polycentric governance approaches to any complex system.”
              Logan then proceeds to discuss polycentric governance as a multi-tiered effort and a “third way” approach to economics.
              This section of his paper (pp. 56-59) is an especially fruitful discussion – check it out. I mentioned to Logan that it might be even more fruitful to examine Ostrom’s multi-tiered ideas in conjunction with the multi-tiered economic ideas of Peter Pogany that he conceived of as Global System 3.0.

              Just today I read an interview with Molly Scott Cato ( ), author of “The Bioregional Economy.” She says “The bioregional approach is about saying actually an awful lot of stuff can be done at the bioregion. Health systems could be organised there, you could have particular cultures at the bioregion level. You would certainly look to the vast majority of your food and clothes and furniture and those types of products at the bioregional level.

              Nobody’s suggesting that you can’t have a pineapple or that every town has to manufacture its own computers. In order to work out where it makes sense to produce stuff, I then extended that principle of subsidiarity into the idea of trade subsidiarity, and the principle there was saying, you start at the local. You only go beyond the local if you actually can’t get hold of what you need within your bioregion.”

              It was pointed out in the comments that it was Elinor Ostrom who brought forward this idea of subsidiarity applied to political or economic arrangements. I replied:
              “I think the subsidiarity principle is worth pursuing. I believe we need to get away from the binary thinking that we need to choose between localism and globalism, and yet we do still need to maintain a strong distinction between globalism (healthy concern for the whole planet) and globalization (the neoliberal race to the bottom built by a “bulldozing homogenization of cultures” – Morin).

              Edgar Morin also stated succinctly that we must globalize (connect to the whole) AND de-globalize (connect to the community). This is too long, so I’ll write another comment about Morin.

            • davidm58 says :

              One of T. Collins Logan’s references to Elinor Ostrom in “The Goldilocks Zone of Integral Liberty” referenced above is a 2012 International Journal of the Commons article entitled “Polycentric Governance of Multi-Functional Forrested Landscapes by Elinor Ostrom and Harini Nagendra.

              My primary Edgar Morin references are two very approachable books, “On Complexity” (2008) and “Homeland Earth: A Manifesto for the New Millennium,” written with Anne Brigitte Kern. Chapter 1 of Homeland Earth (The Planetary Era) covers the following topics:
              The Planetary Revolution
              The Beginnings of the Planetary Era
              The Westernization of the World
              The Globalization of Ideas
              Globalization Through War
              From Hope to the Damoclean Threat
              Economic Globalization
              The Hologram
              Indications of a Planetary Consciousn
              The Surge of Humanity

              “Economic globalization both unifies and divides, equalizes and inequalizes. Economic developments in the West and East Asia tend toward a local reduction in inequalities. On a global scale, however, there is increasing inequality between the ‘developed’ nations (where 20% of the world’s population consumes 80% of world production) and those that remain undeveloped.”

              “…Despite particularist, local, and ethnocentric fixations, despite the incapacity to contextualize problems (which one finds not only among isolated peasants, but among abstract technocrats as well), despite the fragmentary perceptions, the sense that there is a planetary entity to which we all belong, and that there are problems of a global nature, is becoming more concrete. In multiple fashion, although still intermittently, we are witnessing an evolution toward a planetary consciousness or global mind.”

              Chapter 2: Citizens of the Earth
              “Differences hitherto ignored have become oddities, madness, or ungodliness, sources of misunderstanding and conflicts. Societies see themselves as competing species and set about killing one another…The islamicist, the capitalist, the communist, the fascist have lost sight of their humanity; ence, the all-important necessity of unmasking, revealing, in and through its diversity, the unity of the species, human identity, and the anthropological universals.

              “We can recover and accomplish the unity of humankind…We must recover it, not by a bulldozing homogenization of cultures, but rather by a full recognition and a full flowering of cultural diversity that would not prevent processes of unification and diversification from operating on broader levels.”

              “…This reconstitution will involve the transition from reductive, mutilating, isolating, cataloguing, and abstracting thought to the principles of complex thinking.”

            • mikemackd says :

              Much food for thought, evaluation and reflection there, David. Once again, my thanks.

              Your posts have prompted me to not only download the links you provided, but also to get a couple of books: James C. Scott’s “Seeing Like a State” and Charles Tilly’s “Stories, Identities and Political Change”.

              Given all that, and given the state of the planet at present, my thought, evaluation etc. will be along the lines of, “if we were tasked with re-writing “The City of Man” today, informed by complexity theory, Gebser, McGilchrist and all we have been discussing here: what would emerge?”

              But also from what we have been discussing here, it seems that that could only be learnt by doing.

        • Scott Preston says :

          You will find this article on economics, old and new, very interesting in terms of the “Megamachine” and the “Convivium”. It appeared in today’s Guardian, and she’s spot-on,

          I did begin a second post, a follow up to this one, which I’ve not yet decided to post or not, but it deals with Convivium in terms of Pogany’s Global System 3.0 — “strong multilateralism”. So, yes, I want to avoid any kind of notion that Convivium corresponds to a “World State”. Nor does a World State follow from Rosenstock’s “Universal History” or Gebser’s “Integral Consciousness” nor Pogany’s “strong multilateralism”.

          Kate Raworth’s “doughnut economics” is an ugly name, though. What’s wrong with convivial economics, which is what she seems to be working towards, so there are some parallels with Pogany here, and also with Gebser (her description of Newtonian economics is straight “mental-rational” deficiency).

          It’s pretty clear from my present reading, in any case, that there’s a shakeup going on in economic thinking post-2008 — Yanis Varoufakis, Wolfgang Streeck, Peter Pogany, and now Kate Raworth (as well as a revolt amongst young economists against the contemporary entrenched orthodoxy, such as we read about on occasion). So, it would appear the 2008 market meltdown was a blessing in disguise — a malfunction of the Megamachine that has called it into question.

          • Dwig says :

            Here’s Abrams on megamachine vs conviviality:
            In the face of the expanding monoculture and its technological imperatives, more and more people are coming each day to recognize the critical importance of revitalizing local, face-to-face community. They recognize their common embedment within the life of this breathing planet, yet they know that such unity arises only from a vital and thriving multiplicity. A reciprocal respect and interdependence between richly different cultures — each a dynamic expression of the unique earthly place, or bioregion, that supports it – is far more sustainable than a homogenous, planetary civilization.

          • mikemackd says :

            Thanks, Scott; I did find it interesting, and am a subscriber to the Evonomics blog. I hope you post Pogany 3.0.

            I don’t know why, but perhaps because of the anti-Darwin fundamentalism in the USA, Peter Corning’s 2005 work “Holistic Darwinism” (University of Chicago Press) does not seem to have had the impact that I, for one, thought it deserved. From the beginning, on the page facing the table of contents, where he quotes Aristotle’s Metaphysics’ “The whole is over and above its parts, and not just the some of them all”, to the end, with his critique of Rawls, there is hardly a page that I did not underline something he said: I found it an incredibly rich and insightful work.

            Despite 55 pages of references, he didn’t quote Mumford, but nobody’s perfect. So I’ll fill the gap from p. 389 of The Pentagon of Power:


            Before Darwin, the concept of organic evolution had floated through many minds. What made his contribution so convincing was not his specific theories about the formation and modification of species, but his singular ability to assemble a great mass of observations about particular events of the most varied nature. Despite the insufficiency of any one set of observations to account for the evolution of life, the total mass, when Darwin put it together, revealed a concrete pattern of utmost complexity, in which every aspect of the whole in space and time was theoretically necessary to account for the smallest part or the most fleeting event. For the first time nature could be rationally contemplated, not as a fortuitous concourse of atoms, but as a self-organizing system from which man himself had finally emerged through a singular neural development that provided images and symbols for his conscious understanding.

            In classic scientific thinking, the whole must be interpreted in terms of the part, deliberately isolated, carefully observed, precisely measured. But in Darwin’s complementary ecological approach, it is the whole that reveals the nature and function and purpose of the part. Though threads in the pattern may need to be replaced, and parts of the pattern modified or completely redrawn as new evidence accumulates, it is important to take in the whole, even at some cost of sharp definition, and to carry that whole through time.

            The feat of putting together the outlines of this intricate ecological pattern was Darwin’s magnificent contribution. And because he was ready to take account of every fresh thread or color that further investigation might reveal, he himself in later editions of ‘The Origin of Species’ on occasion was driven to adopt the Lamarckian explanation he had at first rejected – much to the scandal of more orthodox Darwinists. Thus the very absence of a rigidly systematic, geometrizing mind permitted Darwin to entertain evidence that contradicted or at least modified his original notion about the creative role of elimination, or natural selection.

            Through the concept of evolution, Western man at last began to recognise himself as the frail topmost shoot of a branching and towering family tree, rather than as a favored being given a divine patent of nobility some six thousand years ago, when he and his fellow creatures were created by a single ‘act of God’. This new version of Genesis, it became plain, was not only truer to life, but it proved quite as miraculous as any single act of creation. The greatest lesson of a new natural history was the lesson of history itself: the lesson of life’s cumulative domination over the non-living. If astronomical and terrestrial exploration had revealed new worlds in space, evolutionary exploration revealed and even more significant new world in time. Lawrence J. Henderson’s analysis, ‘The Fitness of the Environment,’ completed this evolutionary interpretation by showing that physical nature, so far from being inherently hostile to life, was by the very chemical and physical properties found on earth pre-disposed in its favour.


            That should be the insight from whence economics springs, with the economics of the megamachine being deposited where it has always belonged: the junkyard.

            • mikemackd says :

              I looked beyond Corning’s critique of Rawls to check the number of pages of References. About to close the book, I saw the following critique of Ayn Rand, the antithesis of the convivium and the guru of Alan Greenspan and his ilk, as the final note (p. 472):

              “A word is in order regarding the libertarian position. A desire for personal freedom and the pursuit of self-interest are perfectly consistent with a Darwinian,evolutionary perspective, and there is good evidence in the literature of experimental
              psychology that a need for personal autonomy is an important (if variable) facet of human nature. Competitiveness and striving for influence and power are also important facets of human nature. However, we are also deeply social beings, and, most important,we are compelled to satisfy our needs within a complex economic system. Freedom and
              social responsibility are the two sides of the social contract. However, some extreme libertarians take a one-sided view; their claims for individual freedom have no regard for
              social obligations. Indeed, in the lexicon of modern-day laissez faire capitalists, freedom is the highest social good. In the words of the eccentric conservative novelist Ayn Rand
              (1943), who remains the soul mate of many libertarians and free-market romantics, “civilization is the process of setting man free from men” (p. 685). Rand’s protagonists
              are always defiant individualists. “Just as life is an end in itself, so every living human being is an end in himself, not the means to the ends or welfare of others—and, therefore, man must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself” (Rand 1962, vol. 1, p. 35). The problem is that this position is ultimately exploitative. In game theory, it’s called defection or cheating, and it is unsustainable. Why should the rest of us accede to this view? As the old saying goes, he who takes from society without giving back is a thief.”

              While Corning doesn’t mention it, the old saying is that of no less a person than Ibn Khaldun.

          • davidm58 says :

            Kate Raworth is getting a fair amount of attention. I’ve come across a number of people pointing to that Guardian article about her. She’s not saying anything new, but she has a great knack for presenting this information. Her “Doughnut” could be overlayed with Peter Pogany’s more complex “ecoplasmic layers with global transformation curve.” Pogany’s diagram is written as a chart with the typical vertical and horizontal axis, but the curves within could be completed into concentric circles that would fit onto the concentric circles of Raworth.

            And yes, Raworth also fits nicely into into this discussion of convivium with both local and planetary consideration. She says we have entered “the era of the planetary household, and we need economic thinking to go with that.” There are some RSA-Animate like short videos that nicely convey her vision.

            I will be looking for her book, “Doughnut Economics: seven ways to think like a 21st century economist”

            • Scott Preston says :

              I was thinking this morning that Durkheim’s “anomie”, Max Weber’s “iron cage”, and Marx’s “alienation” were all attempts to get at the essential pathology of Mumford’s “Megamachine”, or its character of being “anti-Life”. Anomie, iron cage, alienation probably all arise as aspects of the Megamachine having a common origin.

  3. davidm58 says :

    This morning on NPR: Francis Fukiyama retracts his thesis outlined in The End of History. Discussing the decline in popularity of global free trade, and the overall popularity of free-market liberal democracy, and the rise of populism since 2008.

    • Scott Preston says :

      His new book “Political Order and Political Decay” might be an interesting read.

      Fukuyama was one of Samuel Huntington’s students. Very peculiar given that these two figures were rather central to the whole “New World Order” thing post-USSR, and yet they took two different and somewhat conflicting paths: Fukuyama with his “end of history” and Huntington with his “clash of civilisations”. And I think that in this peculiar relationship between Fukuyama and Huntingon you have a really fine example of the problems with the mental-rational consciousness described by Gebser. In a lot of way,s the post-Cold War “order” was pretty much a struggle within elite rule to organise the post-Cold War order in terms of one or the other — “end of history” or “clash of civilisations”.

  4. Charles says :

    What are the qualities of truth? I suggest that a quality of truth is timelessness. What can last over time? Conviviality is a good idea. Mumford’s idea of plenitude is a good idea. Non-violence and cooperation.

  5. Dwig says :

    A nice bit of synchronicity:
    I’m in the middle of reading David Abrams’ “The Spell of the Sensuous”, a deep exploration of the interaction of our sensory faculties with our environment (he uses the term “synaesthetic magic” to describe it.) A major part of the book is an investigation of the transition from oral to written cultures, and its consequences. The way he describes this reminds me of Gebser’s description of the transition from the mythic to the mental consciousness structure, although Abrams’ take on the oral culture reminds me more of the magic than the mythic, or at least more of the shamanic than the priestly (to use Campbell’s distinction).

    Abrams also has a web site titled “Alliance for Wild Ethics” ( The “about” page begins with a quote from Abrams: “We are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human.” (emphasis mine.)

    It seems to me that conviviality will play an important role in the rise of the integral consciousness, including the integration of the synaesthetic faculties with the cognitive.

  6. Dwig says :

    Interesting. The word “sensorium” popped into my head just after finishing the previous comment, so I did a little searching. The Wikipedia article seems to be relevant here.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Yes, “Sensorium” is also another term which approaches also the idea of integral consciousness (the intensification of consciousness having as its correlate an enlivening of the senses, too, as David Abram shows in “The Spell of the Sensuous”). If you have watched Bolte-Taylor’s TED talk, it’s very much implicated in “The Master” mode of perception.

      so, yes, “sensorium” and “convivium” are connected in that way. A “sensorium” might be considered as a commonwealth of the senses.

  7. Scott Preston says :

    This is quite strange: Russia has banned all depictions of Putin in drag.

    What is strange about that is how it uncannily resembles the scenario in the sci-fi movie V for Vendetta. That was set in Britain rather than Russia, though. But depicting the Chancellor in drag could get you killed.

  8. Charles says :

    Tools for Conviviality By Ivan Illich is considered a classic along with his other books. It is available online. Here is a blog about that book.

  9. abdulmonem says :

    How true humans are the only creature that can bring out the wonders of the divine cosmos, all these visions, no wonder god created the human to know god the unknowable through knowing his creative cosmos and the human as his most artistic creation .I was reading father De Cassuade abandonment to divine providence, the surrender the sufi speak about, discussing the human problem between the will and the design of god which make me think in light of what I read about the imitation of those who work in economics, those who work in physics and the dilemma that have created to the world. This makes me think also how dangerous imitation is and gives support to my conviction that busing oneself with the studying the natural patterns which they called laws and forgetting the will of god that is what god wants from the humans is the cause of all the diseases we are facing. God message is simple to be truthful and just . As Mike said in one of his comment faith without good works is dead, which demands the continual pursuance of the path of truth and the fortress of patience.

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