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    Second-Order Values for Social Transformation
    Cultural Cohesion: Harmonious Design of Society and Earth
    Education and Technology: Maintaining Social Complexity for Resource Democracy


Use value and exchange value are essential principles of economics (see June's EDA News). They are beneficial forces in local settings but can turn destructive when applied more broadly. For example, when individuals engage freely with other people in their use of common resources, this may transform into contentious claims of private ownership, legal sovereignty or corporate personhood as their scale of business activity enlarges. In a similar way, equitable exchange creates mutual trust between strangers in a local market, but can result in excessive profits, capital accumulation and hoarding of wealth when their scale of trade increases.

Together, these principles create a false dichotomy of competition between the Market and the State, generating wide gaps between the rich and poor, the squandering of non-renewable resources and extreme losses in biodiversity. Instead of generating freedom and equality, the polarizing energies of use value and exchange value are the primary reason behind the selfish misallocation of Earth's resources, creating massive social and ecological imbalances.

Economics has evolved through this dynamic tension between individual freedom and social equality -- a stratified system that devalues the cooperation of individuals in small groups. Throughout history, people who seek to share their resources through voluntary community associations have been systematically repressed through slavery, feudalism, colonialism, fascism and wage slavery. Although social cooperation has always been practiced informally at the community level, it has never been realized on a large scale or over a sustained time frame.
Contrast this with the cycles of Nature. Ecosystems work when there are enough resources available in an area to meet the needs of its population. There is no overconsumption or squandering of resources in a balanced ecosystem. Yet the modern free market does not measure the extent to which products are distributed to meet the needs of everyone -- and because these needs are not universally accounted, they are not met. Carrying capacity is the missing link that brings the individual freedom of use value and the social equality of exchange value into alignment with the interpersonal cooperation of distributed value, guaranteeing that the basic physiological requirements of food, water and energy for every person are satisfied.

What then? If every person were taken care of at a minimum standard, is this enough to provide for a reasonable quality of life? No. Supplying our sufficiency needs provides the essential foundation for the fulfillment of higher human needs and potentials -- yet it does not automatically generate the greater context for personal and social well-being. A more systemic framework is required to sustain basic human requirements beyond subsistence economics. A baseline existence for everyone is no guarantee of economic well-being or collective security.

A second order of social transformation is necessary for the economic principles of 1) freedom, 2) equality and 3) cooperation to support the fulfillment of human needs above the material level of existence. This broader social network must express the values, beliefs and aspirations that are commonly held by the people of a regional area, including access to a basic education and social and technical knowledge and skills. This cultural framework is necessary for transforming our belief structures and creating greater self-sufficiency through our participation in local decision-making. Our task is not just to call for system change; it is to train our minds to this new way of thinking and show people how to bring about equitable resilience in our communities. This is the social organization of economic democracy, which we examine below.
When art, science, education, technology and ecology are influenced predominantly by economic interests or by government, human understanding in these fields is deprived of psychological depth and spiritual meaning. This is why the real fabric in the cohesion of society is our cultural life, which exists outside the functional machinery of economics. We cannot achieve a healthy economic life unless we intentionally cooperate by nourishing our everyday material existence though cultural engagement. Culture requires an independent and prominent place in society, apart from the established measures of use value and exchange value.

In turn, as we strive to fully actualize our personal skills through cooperative culture, this informs our unique and knowledgeable contributions to economic life. The focus of economics, then, is on the material needs of society and its organizing form is the cooperative association and the cultural institutions which support this collaborative activity. Cooperatives vitalize our individual economic experience through liberated voluntary action. Their mutuality and trust create a powerful cultural resonance, leading to the formation of harmonious societies.

This is why cooperation is not socialism, which views the state as the key economic actor. Just as in capitalism, socialism focuses on economic supply and demand rather than the principle of social cooperation. Neither use value nor exchange value express the distributed value of cooperation that is found in Nature, where the need expressed in an ecosystem is directly met through that system. Use value and exchange value can only be transformed by the wealth-creating capacities of self-expression, individual evolution, knowledge creation and spiritual understanding when they are rooted in cultures with a symbiotic relationship with the Earth.
Across our long, collective history as human beings, indigenous cultures have honored their natural and social commons. Native languages, customs and habits reveal a different sense of time by recalling a uniquely civilizing moment, an unusual type of music and dance or a distinct appreciation of local plants and animals. This is how a place-based relationship with Earth informs the integrity of culture, the meaning of existence and the recognition that all creatures on Earth are related. The beliefs and worldviews that are held in common by a people or an ethnic group instruct them to coalesce as a cultural community and use their resources wisely.

This power does not come from economics or the political state, which build social institutions to increase the self-interest, competition and oppression that most humans seek to avoid. Rather, personal empowerment lies in the mutuality, generosity and joy of working together. We transcend our individual differences through respect, tolerance and care for others as independent agents who participate in activities that serve our common interests. In this way, culture plays a decisive role in sublimating the rancorous competition and violent conflicts that are generated through the blind forces of use value and exchange value in today's economy.

Knowing that we are connected with Earth and with those around us, we can reimagine public governance emerging from place, culture and people. Culture provides the fertile ground for the values of freedom, equality and cooperation to integrate our communities with our environment. As cultural unity blossoms through this conscious relationship between society and nature, it will inspire the fields of education and technology to create new ways of maintaining social complexity, decentralizing our political choices and assuring economic sustainability.
We've seen that the economic principles of use value and exchange value have not transformed individual self-interest into the collective interest. We also recognize that cooperation is necessary to ensure that resources are distributed to meet the needs of everyone and that culture is needed to support the social identity that arises from distributed value. So what are the key elements in building a more peaceful and self-sufficient culture?

Education is first. By educating ourselves in many different disciplines, such as the arts, science, mathematics, medicine, history, anthropology and geography, to name a few, we come to better understand how our species has evolved so that we can adapt and grow as persons. Critical thinking engages our deeply held interests and empowers us to pursue a career, improve our quality of life and have a positive impact on society. Education also offers insight and understanding about other cultures, which ultimately helps us to become tolerant in our interactions with others. It is through this sharing of knowledge that civilizations evolve.

Education helps us to create and mold the kind of culture we want to live in, sparking creativity, promoting collaboration, generating communication and teaching us to think in sequential ways to organize and support today's growing populations. We must understand how to sustain our advanced ways of life, rather than take them for granted. For example, we need to learn why use value and exchange value emphasize private ownership over public ownership of Earth's diminishing resources. We need educators to help us distinguish the various commodities which are logically and rightfully public from those that belong in private hands.
Technology is next. Computers and tablets are needed not only for the pursuit of knowledge in the classroom. Technology is also a crucial step toward the self-governance that is necessary for advanced societies to function comfortably while meeting the basic needs of their people. Yet our sophisticated transportation, agricultural and communication technologies are still serving the use value of consumption and the exchange value of wealth accumulation. Rather than regenerate resources and put an end to inequality, technology's operating myth is that the individual always needs more consumption and wealth and there is little need to care for one another. As in the field of education, modern technology has been captured by the corporate narrative which says that the material aspect of human existence is our ultimate reality.

For example, companies like Facebook, Alphabet, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Uber claim to personalize our experiences in meeting social or material objectives. Yet their main outcome is to profit from fragmenting us into niche markets and belief systems for the purpose of shaping our behavior. Even our public media, which is increasingly run by large conglomerates, has shifted away from informing people in the public interest to training us to believe and consume what businesses want. As a consequence, behaviorist education and rationalist technology are disconnecting people from one another and from the Earth. Rather than help us to survive and thrive, they are managing what is already of value and not regenerating anything new or vital.

We must create an economics of wealth and well-being that reconnects our communities with their living resources by integrating the practices of cultural and biological evolution. Instead of merely enriching people economically, education and technology must begin creating deep emotional connections between local citizens and their ecosystems by reframing economics as an exchange of essential value. We need an economics of distributive value that is based on life and creativity, not the subsistence costs of materialism. Organizing the distribution of resources to meet the needs of everyone will bring new power into the hands of cooperatives, small businesses and public utilities. The gateway to these regenerative cultures and life-sustaining societies is through cooperative self-governance, giving local and regional communities a direct say in the decisions that directly affect their lives. That is the beginning of resource democracy.
* Tad: 100th day of isolation and it's like Vegas in this house. We're losing money by the minute, cocktails are welcome at any hour and no one knows what time it is

* Nel: And we never take a step outside

Tad: [checking his watch] ... okay, apparently we have nine more months of 2020 left? That can't be right!!?

* Nel: And I’m just supposed to eat and cook and eat and cook and eat and cook until I die?

* Tad: I know I've picked a lousy time to have not learned how to cook for the past 26 years

* Nel: Well, I'm not counting these calories I'm eating toward my weight

* Tad: And I’m not counting this year toward my age

* Nel: When I say I want things to be normal again, I mean like it's 1999

* Tad: Look, I know 2020 is screwed up....but don't you ever feel like 'this isn’t even my worst year, personally'?

* Nel: For me, that was 2016. But give 2020 enough time and this could take the cake

* Tad: ... so, imagine this is 2024. Only 9 people have jobs. But we all know how to make focaccia bread

* Nel: {looking down} My poor shoes probably think I died
EDA is delighted to introduce Hunt Henion as our new Director of Marketing.

Hunt has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration Marketing. After working for Wilmer Service Line, a division of Reynolds and Reynolds, he created his own company in 1991, selling standardized Human Resource forms.

Hunt specializes in marketing and copywriting and has written several books. He will be serving on EDA's Finance, Marketing and Website teams.

EDA is opening up several positions to our members for application: Director of Communications, Director of Information Technology, Chair of Education and Chair of Advocacy. We are also looking for a temporary Membership Coordinator to upgrade our membership database.

Details of these jobs are posted on EDA's Active Members site in Loomo.

All of these are appointed positions. To apply for one of these openings, please send a brief letter of interest and a resume or CV to James at .

Following our annual conference in October 2019, the EDA Board of Trustees had a brief conversation about holding our next conference online. A decision was postponed until after the holidays. In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, self-isolation measures and travel restrictions, the germ of this idea became a plan.

Our Fourth Annual Conference, From Crisis to Cooperation, will be held on Saturday, November 7. This will be a four-hour program on Zoom with guest speakers, presentations and breakout conversations. We will also be unveiling our new website.

We are looking for volunteers to help produce this program. This includes everything from advertising and coordinating registrations to booking speakers and Zoom facilitation. We would also like to know if you have creative ideas for presentations.

If you are interested in joining our conference planning team, please contact Managing Director James Quilligan at
Roar (Ramesh) Bjonnes of Prama Institute in Asheville (center in green shirt) was our guest speaker at the First Annual EDA Conference in 2017. Roar became EDA President earlier this year.

A colleague has written an 'unreviewed think-piece' on the faults of democratic government, entitled Democracy...Hypocrisy. This compelling article contrasts representative democracy with direct or participatory democracy. Most of us are more familiar with representative democracy, which the author calls "a government of the politicians and by the politicians that reflects the politicians’ sources of campaign financing". Indeed, under the influence of special interest groups and political action committees, representative democracy has created a cynical public that does not trust its own government and yet refuses to hold its elected representatives accountable for their actions. What created this perilous situation?

The author is entirely correct that without a more organic or direct framework of accountability, representative democracy takes no responsibility for declaring the intention behind its laws and shows no consideration for the unintended consequences of these laws. In addition, representative democracy provides no meaningful feedback mechanisms for people's input or possible means of legislative course correction. As a result, our colleague says, "we live in an unconscious system devoid of feedback loops and thus a system that is not adaptive, unlike all other biological systems that depend crucially on feedback for their survival".

We take this very literally. Because people are in fact organisms who depend on their environmental resources for sustenance, EDA has been applying the rules of ecosystems to our regional economies. We are training people to determine the dynamic balance point between the population of their bioregions and the food, water and energy that can be produced there. Carrying capacity and distributed value provide a basis for community self-organization and self-sufficiency. These measures generate evidence-based feedback loops, accountability and effectiveness metrics, enabling our regional communities to decide how different policy interventions for resource production and distribution will impact their economic outcomes.

Our colleague identifies the blatant structural flaws of representative democracy. Yet we don't think that the real choice before us is between representative democracy and participatory democracy. The fact is both are needed. And the proof is that authoritarian forces are now trying to fill the void left by the shortcomings of representative democracy with their own forms of nationalist populism, moving 180 degrees away from direct or participatory democracy.

The growing assault on objective truth and reality by despots who are exploiting the weaknesses of representative democracy inspires us to hold onto the age-old promise of democracy at all costs. Let's not give up on representative democracy because it has failed. We can make representative democracy accountable through participatory democracy. Participatory representative democracy is the only means of transforming our broken systems of government and economics through social and legislative action for resource democracy.


EDA will be holding elections and ratifications soon. Some members have asked about the difference between these two decision-making processes. Elections vote for persons who run for office. Ratifications confirm (or not) the appointments of staff or the adoption of new policy.

In August, the Election Board will use different procedures for elections and ratifications. As in the past, EDA elections will be held through an election program that members will access through email. You will receive an anonymous ballot, meaning that no one can see who you are voting for. What's new is that our ratifications will be held through a public polling process on Loomio. This provides space to comment on the appointments and policies under ratification.

EDA members may wonder why both our elections and ratifications shouldn't be private. While we firmly believe that voting in our elections must remain anonymous, we also think that members have a right to know who confirmed EDA appointments and policies and who did not. Your thoughts and opinions will also be useful in generating greater dialogue and understanding between members, staff and administrators. Simply put, we think that having different procedures for elections and ratifications maintains a balance between the individual rights to privacy (in elections) and the collective responsibility for transparency (through ratifications) that our Charter guarantees to all our members. Making both processes anonymous would overemphasize the interests of the individual over the interests of the collective.
To maintain your voting/ratification privilege, our Cooperative Charter requires that you have taken part in one of the last two consecutive elections and/or ratifications and that your EDA membership is current. This is to encourage voter turnout, but it's really more than that. As a cooperative, our democratic process cannot work optimally unless everyone engages in the process. EDA is designed for everyone to have a direct voice in our organizational decisions, which is why all Active Members are asked to vote and/or participate in ratifications.


Connect in Chaos: An Earth Day Panel on the Convergence of Soil Health and Human Health
Zach Bush, MD, of Farmers Footprint, leads a panel on Earth Day 2020 on the relationship of regenerative agriculture to the Covid-19 pandemic. Watch at least twenty minutes of this and you will be blown away at how critical it is to our survival!

How to Build a Place-Based Economy Where You Live
How can communities rethink ownership to remedy poverty? In this powerful talk, Eric Kornacki shares the story of his journey, carrying powerful lessons learned from Central American sweatshops to a gentrifying neighborhood gripped in poverty in his hometown of Denver.

A Guerrilla Gardener in South Central LA
Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in abandoned lots, in traffic medians and along the curbs of South Central Los Angeles. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer an alternative to fast food in a community where "the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys".

Auroville: A Test Run for the Future
How might a city engage with the needs of the future? Would it look only at buildings, technology or the environment? Or would it start with humanity, education and an integrated plan that could make the city a catalyst for change?

ReConnect with EDA
Fridays at 4:00 PM PDT/ 5:00 PM MDT/ 7:00 PM EDT (US and Canada)

Continuing our Friday tradition of gathering, Active Members and non-members are invited to meet for the educational series, Principles of Local Economic Democracy.

This eight-week series is culminating on July 3 {Self-Governance through Self-Reliance} and July 10 {Sustainable Economy}. Don't miss these presentations!

Each week, James Quilligan and Roar Bjonnes present a new topic on the fundamental values involved in everyday economics, followed by group discussion. Each subject builds on the previous one, so we encourage you to attend all of them.

These free weekly presentations are a great way to further your understanding of economic democracy and provide a place for you to ask questions and share ideas. Meetings are open to the public. Friends and family are welcome, too!

You can post comments or questions on the EDA Active Members website, under ACTIVE MEMBERSHIP DISCUSSION. The Zoom call information is available there and also below:

We are pleased to announce that ReConnect with EDA will be starting up again in August with a new 10-Week series called, The Civics of Resource Democracy.

EDA and EDA Foundation are asking for financial support from friends and members to help amplify our work and our messaging. Funds are needed to expand our Research, Advocacy and Education Teams. We are presently developing a new website and expanding our online and social media presence as we continue our outreach with new collaborative partners.

We're grateful to those of you who have already donated, and want to give our special thanks to those who have signed up for regular monthly contributions. Your generosity helps us sustain this important work.

All contributions to EDA Foundation are tax-deductible and support research, education and training programs. All contributions to EDA are non-tax-deductible and support our advocacy work with your elected officials. Our warmest thanks to you.


Principles of Local Economic Democracy
Part 3

The Civics of Resource Democracy:
A New 10-Week Course
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Economic Democracy Advocates · 106 Gallows Hill Road · Cranford, NJ 07016-1837 · USA

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