Pigeons, and the Birds Nest Stadium.

Posted 28 August, 2008 by amishthrasher
Categories: Uncategorized

Some opinions have more value than others.

Some opinions have more value than others.

The world of the worm is a very different place to the world of the bird.

Let’s imagine, for a moment, a world in which animals can talk. The bird would describe a world of wide open skies, and of life in a flock. The worm would describe a life spent underground in nutrient rich compost.

Were you to ask both about a bird eating a worm, you would obviously get two very different answers. The bird may recall a tasty, squirmy snack. The worm would probably turn white on you asking the question; after all, you would have asked them about a quick and painful death. Neither perspective would be right, or wrong; just taken from a very different vantage point.

But to get a truly bizarre answer, you would have to ask the bird about life as a worm (or vice-versa). Sure, a wise and well read old owl with an active imagination might give you a fairly reasonable account of a worm’s life. But the mind boggles at what sort of nonsense you’d get from your average pigeon.

That birds and worms see the world may see the world differently is self evident. Yet we forget that something similar can happen when we talk about other societies. And in the wake of the 2008 Olympics – particularly in the cases of Zimbabwe, Georgia, and China – there’s been no shortage of talk.

Of course, as human beings, we have far more in common than birds and worms. It is too often forgotten just how much we all do share in common, particularly at a biological level. But we are far more than our biology.

What defines us as humans are the circumstances we find ourselves in. Since the day we were born, we’ve been the products of our natural and urban environment, our language, our culture, our language, our education, our personal history, and the people around us. We spent our whole lives re-adapting who we were as infants as our circumstances change. We adapt, and re-adapt, and then re-adapt again.

In turn, we are enmeshed in the complex webs of co-operation and conflict that make up our cultures and societies. As with the humans that make them up (and are shaped by them), these webs are constantly adapting to an ever-changing interplay of circumstances. The history of a civilisation is the fascinating tale of how it has adapted to new circumstances (or, sometimes, how it has failed to adapt), and has come to be what it is today. In turn, our culture today is largely a product of how it has adapted throughout its history.

There are large differences between cultures. This is because they are the products of different histories, and different circumstances, having overcome different challenges at different times. And, like birds and worms, people from different cultures also interpret the same events differently. Because of this, the wise old owls of anthropology warn, we need to be careful about assuming our values, culture, and history when we examine other societies. We need to be mindful not to project the lessons learned from the histories of one set of cultures on another set of very different cultures and histories.

Because China never experienced Christendom, or the Dark Ages. Nor did it experience the Enlightenment or Reformation. Where the English Industrial Revolution took place in the 18th and 19th Centuries in a post-Feudal society, China’s equivalent is taking place now, in a post-Maoist state.¬† Similarly, the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, the Chinese Civil War, the Cultural Revolution, and the Great Leap Forward all took place in China, and not the West. Projecting the lessons of Western history on China’s many cultures will, ultimately, and in frustration.

The same thing happens when we criticise Robert Mugabe as if he existed in a historical vacuum, and treat him accordingly. Even to the most aware Westerners, cultural imperialism, colonialism, the IMF and the World Bank are (and were) problems ‘somewhere else.’ Well, to Zimbabweans, that ‘somewhere else’ is also known as ‘home.’ It has bred, in Zimbabwe, a politics of national liberation – a ‘defensive nationalism’ – with no equivalent in the West (with a few exceptions, including Northern Ireland, Eastern Europe, and Israel). The idea that a leader, whose power is based on a defensive nationalism, could use Western threats to legitimise his government seems not to have crossed the minds of many in the West.

As for Russia’s recent rise… well, that’s a topic for another day.

The Beijing Olympics have come and gone. In its wake, there was much talk of Russian troops in Georgia, of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, and of Chinese human rights. But all I could hear was the sound of a thousand pigeons.


On the Australian Political Right: The Many Colours of the Liberals.

Posted 19 August, 2008 by amishthrasher
Categories: Uncategorized

Let’s be blunt. The state of the Libs is currently an ugly picture. There is currently no Liberal Government in power either federally, or in any Australian state or territory.

Weak oppositions are devastating to democracy. This is demonstrated in the way the Brumby Government (in Victoria) has arrogantly ignored widespread community outrage at the Desalinification Plant in Gippsland, the Pipeline Project, the dredging of Port Philip Bay, a near total lack of new investment in suburban rail infrastructure in spite of horrendous overcrowding, and – coming soon – the East-West Tollway. Yet in spite of the gross arrogance of the State Labor Governments, many feel that the Liberal oppositions fail to deliver an appealing alternative. The question is why.

The left often sees the right as being a monolithic whole, yet when we take a closer look, we see that this is not the case. The Coalition brings together people standing for a number of distinct philosophies, including the religious conservatism of Tony Abbott, the nationalism of the RSL, the law and order populism of the police association, the ‘status quo’ conservatism of Barnaby Joyce, the small government individualism of the IPA, and new liberalism / ‘small-l liberalism’ of Petro Georgiou. These philosophies often don’t lead to the same answers to social questions. It’s not difficult to imagine, for example, that if you got both an RSL member and an IPA member to present what they thought Australia’s trade policy should be, you may end up with two very different answers. These philosophies are, if you will, the paints in the Liberal Party’s palette, ready to be splattered on a policy canvas.

While the colours are different, most are not mutually exclusive. The nation can, for example, be defined to suit whatever ends you want. We can – for example – live in a nation defined by its freedom, its Judeo-Christian values, or as a nation of laws. The big exception to this, during the Howard era, was the rift between the ‘Howard-Abbott’ camp (standing for religion, nationalism, authoritarian populism, and to some degree individualism) up against the Kroeger-Costello Camp (largely status quo conservatives, small-l liberals, and some small government individualists). Over the months (and years?) ahead, picking or mixing the right philosophical colour will be the party’s big challenge. They then need leaders who can paint what the Liberal Party stands for in modern Australia, both at state and federal level.

It is an art made more difficult by the legacy of the Howard era, which has alienated many of the party’s potential supporters (for high profile examples, see Fraser, Malcolm; also, Manne, Robert). And this alienation came from how far the Howard era deviated from the underlying principles of many small government and small-l liberals. Some examples of principles undermined include: smaller government (increased spending on ‘middle-class welfare’ before elections), lower taxes (income tax bracket creep), individual liberty and rights (anti-terror laws), and competitive markets (Telstra’s wholesale, network, and retail divisions being privatised as a single entity). In the wake of the crushing electoral defeat of the Howard Government, the challenge of finding the right philosophical colour, and showing how this colour is different to Howard’s, is a large part of the Liberals’ challenge.

A similar phenomena happened at State level in the wake of the Kennett Government’s fall in 1999. While there are obvious differences – Kennett was quite clearly a small-government individualist who made very significant cuts to the state public service (in clear contrast to Howard), there challenge at state level has been similar: finding the right colour for Victoria, and showing how this is different to the deep blue of Kennett. While Robert Doyle was a very different artist to Kennett, he somehow forgot to highlight how his landscape was different to Kennett’s individual portrait, or even mention that he doesn’t like portraits. Whether Ballieu will end up doing the same is a matter for debate.

Painting the right picture is part of the challenge for the Libs. But that’s not the only challenge the Liberals face.

Libraries, Walkable Communities, and Imaginary Squares.

Posted 12 August, 2008 by amishthrasher
Categories: Uncategorized

Aside from opening the door to discredited theories such as Malthusianism, there has been a moralising tendency among many urging action on climate change. It is a logic which suggests that people are “evil” because of their CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) emissions; that inefficient use of natural resources are a moral failure. This moralising tendency often neglects the fact that people are products of their environment; that we develop and adapt our beliefs and behaviors to the environment we find ourselves in. If you create a Brave New World, you will socialise a society full of Soma-popping Alphas, Betas, Deltas, Gammas, and Epsilons. If you create an Oceania, then a society full of indifferent Proles and subservient Outer Party members will be the result.

By that same token, if people live in an environment which makes it easy to live with low CO2e emissions, and they are rewarded for doing so, they will. Similarly, if people live in a physical environment in which it is impossible, or takes significant effort and sacrifice, to live with low CO2e emissions, and they are rewarded for not doing so, then they won’t. Urban planning and public policy are therefore at the very heart of creating a low carbon emission environment.

In terms of urban planning and natural resources, if you need to house a whole heap of people, low density sprawl is horrendously inefficient way of doing it. And Melbourne has plenty of it. According to The Age, Melbourne has an average of 10 homes per hectare. A Hectare is an area of 100m x 100m (i.e. 10,000 square metres). Phrased differently, if your house were in the middle of an imaginary square 100m by 100m, the nearest edges of this imaginary square would be 50m walk from your house, and there would be (on average) around 10 homes in that square.

But what does this sprawl mean in human terms? Well, there’s a limit to the distance that a reasonably fit, able bodied person would be comfortable to walk to a destination before they chose to drive. in this example, we’ll be generous and say it’s 400m (though this distance will vary from person to person). If you were to walk to the edge of an imaginary square 400m away from your home, the area of that imaginary square would cover about 80 homes.

Population density, and the number of households within walking distance of a home, become important factors when we look at the many businesses and services which depend on population base (and, in many cases, a customer or user base) in a given area in order to be viable.

Let me give you an example: imagine that one library is viable for every – say – 1,000 homes. Obviously, this would mean roughly one library would be viable in every 100 hectare area (or thereabouts). If you imagine a square demarking the homes the library serves, its nearest edge would be 5 Km away. Of course, only 80 homes would be within a comfortable (400m) walk of the library, meaning that the other 920 homes would be using some other means to get to the library. And, with inadequate public transport, this means driving.

In this example, what would happen if we doubled the population density? If, instead of 10 homes per hectare, we moved to 20 homes per hectare? If our 400m walk invisible square covered 160 homes instead of 80?

We could chose to have our libraries closer together. The nearest edge of that square demarking the area the library serves, instead of being 5 Km away, would be only 2.5 Km away. 160 homes would be within walking distance of the library, with 840 left to drive.

Or we could chose to build bigger, more efficient libraries  (in terms of labour and Рmore importantly Рnatural resource use) that serve 2,000 people. The savings made in avoiding duplicating staff and resources across two libraries could be channeled back into better services and lower taxes. The local residents would have more books and resources available to them, and they would not have to travel any further from home than they do now to get to it.

And if we increased the density further, you could chose to do both.

Of course, the situation would not just apply to libraries. It would also apply to train stations, bus and tram routes, schools, hospitals, parks, and shops, just to cite a few examples.

These are important if we want to reduce our car use, dependency on oil, and the Co2e emissions this creates. In our library example, doubling our density could mean an extra 80 homes who would not need to drive to the library. And instead of 500 homes being within 2.5 Kms of the library, now all 1,000 would be. This means fewer people are driving, and when they do, they drive a shorter distance.

Reduced car use is further encouraged by the more efficient public transport networks that higher population densities allow. Reducing the size of suburbia means shorter bus routes, and by reducing the number of kilometres our bus network has to serve, and we can redirect those resources to more intensively serve each kilometre of bus route. More people would live within walking distance of public transport, and more destinations are within walking distance of public transport. This, in turn, encourages more commuters on public transport, meaning more money entering the system through fares, and more fares in turn mean more frequent for the same level of government funding. While – as I will point out in a future post – higher density is only part of the public transport challenge, it is certainly one means to improve public transport patronage.

So if we are serious about creating an environment which encourages lower resource usage, we need to aim for Walkable Communities: medium and high density communities where more businesses and services are within walking, cycling, and public transport range of more homes. Sermons about individual moral failings do little in comparison.

Malthusian Belts

Posted 8 August, 2008 by amishthrasher
Categories: Uncategorized

In the past decade, a number of people have noted the simultaneous phenomena of population growth worldwide, and the mounting problems caused by environmental problems (such as global warming and peak oil). Seeing this correlation, some have erroneously assumed that the former is the cause of the latter (forgetting that correlation and causation are two very different things).

This has, in turn, led to the re-emergence of the dangerous and discredited theories of Thomas Malthus. At the core of this neo-Malthusian creed is the notion that overpopulation was to blame for diesase, poverty, war, famine, and other social and environmental ills.

What these neo-Malthusians often overlook is that there is a large disparity between rich and poor in terms of access to natural resources. For example, Australians emitted 25.6 tons of CO2 equivalent per capita in 2000, compared to 1.9 tons per capita from India.

By framing the question in terms of over-popualtion, rather than in terms of how efficiently we use natural resources, the neo-Malthusians obscure real solutions. Consider how either public transport or driving a large SUV both get a commuter from point A to point B, a family can live on the 22nd floor of an apartment building or on a quarter-acre block, or how both low energy lighting and halogen lamps can light a small space. In all three examples, the same end utility is gained, but with different amount of natural resources used. In many cases, the technology and know-how already exists to perform many tasks far more efficiently than at present, allowing far more people to be comfortably supported off fewer natural resources.

It is worth noting that Malthus himself acknowledged this inequality in access to natural resources, but this was of no concern to him. Malthus believed that the poor had no inherent rights to natural resources, and their lot in life was a Divine punishment for sexual promiscuity. Similarly, the neo-Malthusian advocates of population reduction probably wouldn’t feel same way if it were their own lives (or the lives of their loved ones) on the line. It is only when the victims are someone else – the underprivileged – that overpopulation argument comes up.

And this is the crux of the matter. It’s the downtrodden who suffer. Not looking at how people in developed world could do things more efficiently, and blaming overpopulation instead, only serves a small section of society, who have a large vested interest in earning their wealth by “owning” natural resources.

Of course, as Robert Owen so sagely pointed out, people are what their environment makes them. If you have an economic and social environment that encourages disproportionate, unsustainable and wasteful resource use, why would anyone be surprised that disproportionate, unsustainable and wasteful resource use is what you get? And if the economy allows people to make money off speculation in – and private ownership of – natural resources, why shouldn’t people take advantage of that opportunity? So long as the economic status quo continues, so to will the environment – in both senses of the word – it creates. The world’s downtrodden are not to blame for this.

The reality is that the problem is not in population sizes. instead, it lies in the economic system we use to allocate how finite natural resources are effectively used. What we need is an economic system that systematically encourages the efficient and sustainable use of natural resources, frees up labour and capital to this end, and compensates those who receive less than their fair share. As the economist Henry George pointed out, a century ahead of his time, this means shifting the tax base from labour and capital on to the ownership of scarce natural resources, and the wealth generated by such taxes redistributed equitably across the community.

About This Website: Part Two.

Posted 2 August, 2008 by hux3alt
Categories: About us

Welcome to Huxley’s Third Alternative!

Rather than having a hidden ideological agenda, as many websites and blogs do, we’ve decided to be somewhat old-fashioned, and be upfront with the key ideas behind this site (and its editorial position) in a two part series.

In part one, we looked at the underlying ideas behind this site, explained what we mean by ‘Huxley’s Third Alternative,’ and looked at three key philosophies behind it. In part two, we will make a list of a number of philosophical and political questions, then briefly explain where Huxley’s Third Alternative stands.

Neither Left Nor Right: Where We Stand

Part one of this series was rather abstract and philosophical. To simplify matters a little, we’ve decided to spell out, in 22 points, where ‘Huxley’s Third Alternative’ stands on a number of underlying social questions (these are the premises that we will base our analysis, and our policy solutions, on):

  1. Three forces of production: Traditionally, economics (both Marxist and neoliberal) has presented us with two forces of production: labour and capital. We recognise, however, that the third – and most important – force of production is natural resources. In fact, natural resources are the basis of all other material wealth, which is created by ‘adding value’ through labour and / or capital.
  2. Income from the ownership of the three forces of production: ‘Wages’ are to labour, as ‘interest’ is to capital, as ‘rents’ (or ‘economic rents’) are to natural resources.
  3. Co-existence of mutual aid and conflict in human nature: Conflict and mutual aid are both part of human nature. Contrary to popular belief, they are not mutually exclusive; mutual aid can take place between two or more persons in conflict. This having been said, mutual aid is a far more important force in evolution – in particular human evolution – than conflict.
  4. Augmentation of human nature by social circumstances: While conflict and mutual aid are both part of human nature, the form that they take is impacted by social, political, natural, cultural, and other circumstances. A given person’s nature is formed through childhood by adapting to the circumstances that they find themselves in, and this nature is, in turn, adapted as circumstances change.
  5. People are endowed with basic human rights: These should be protected through a Bill of Rights.
  6. Freedom where no harm is done: People should be free to live their lives as they see fit, without interference, so long as them doing so does no harm to others.
  7. Tolerance is a virtue: In general, a society where its citizens are free from discrimination on the grounds of gender, sexual preference, religious, or ethnic identity.
  8. Genocide is always reprehensible.
  9. Three sectors of the economy: Traditionally, economic institutions have been divided between the ‘public sector’ (i.e. government), and the ‘private sector’ (corporations, individuals, private property, and markets). We recognise, however, that beyond the State and the private sector is a third sector of the economy. This third sector comprises of co-operatives, clubs, mutual societies, building societies, credit unions, communes, collectives, not-for-profit organisations, many religious institutions, trade unions, charities, LETS programmes, and other organisational forms. Such institutions are fundamentally different from both private and public sector institutions (for example, they neither seek to maximise profit, nor are all centrally controlled), yet are all too often systematically overlooked by both the left and right of politics and economics.
  10. Competitive markets, centralised States, and grassroots federation: Traditionally, economic debate has focused on whether industry is best organised via competition (between hierarchical, top-down corporations) within markets, or via hierarchical top-down government. We recognise, again, a third alternative: individuals voluntarily federating into third sector organisations, and said third sector organisations working, (or working together) to organsie industry.
  11. The third sector can fill much of the legislative role of centralised government: Governments have the power to delegate legislative power to democratic, member-owned third sector organisations with open membership. They should do so where practical.
  12. The third sector can fill much of the executive role of centralised government: Where a social service needs to be provided, it is better to do so by providing funding to democratic, member owned third-sector organisations than attempt to do so through a centralised government bureaucracy.
  13. The third sector can fill much of the role of the corporate sector: Many goods and services currently provided through corporations can, and should, ideally be provided via democratic, member owned third-sector organisations.
  14. Where governments must exist, make them as participatory as practical: This means proportional representation or – better still – delegate councils, and direct participation by delegates in government decision-making processes.
  15. Where markets exist, they should be competitive: Or, phrased differently, private monopolies are abhorrent. Private monopolies see people rewarded not for the fact that they have contributed to the wealth of a society because of the contribution of their labour or capital; instead, they are rewarded for the fact that they own a monopoly. Taxation, regulation, and socialisation should be employed to deal with monopolies.
  16. Natural resource rentals are particularly abhorrent: Private ownership of (finite) natural resources is a government sanctioned share in a monopoly. While people should be free to ‘own’ the additional value their labour or capital adds to natural resources, any income generated through the ownership of natural resources should be taxed. This taxed income should be used to offset or eliminate taxes on productive activities, and / or redistributed to the community.
  17. Consumer side critiques: Often, arguments about workers’ exploitation is done through looking at production. However, if we remember that workers earn incomes to supply themselves with goods and services, it becomes apparent that workers – as consumers – are exploited through paying too much (and thus working too much) to cover the cost of private monopolies, and privately owned natural resources.
  18. Four basic socioeconomic classes: Traditionally, socioeconomic classes have been divided into a ‘capitalist class’ and a ‘working class.’ We recognise that, in fact, there are four basic economic classes in the legitimate economy of modern, developed economies: a class who predominantly own natural resources (‘land-owners’); a class who predominantly own capital (‘capitalists’); a class who predominantly manage employees, capital and natural resources, often on behalf of others (‘managerialists’ or ‘co-ordinators’); and the working class schmoes at the bottom of the pile. Managerialists here include middle management, team-leaders, executives, fund mangers, accountants, lawyers, government bureaucrats, and others.
  19. Class conflict still exists in centralised states: In practice, centralised states do not eliminate class conflict at all, they simply remove the ‘capitalists’ and ‘land-owners’, and place more ‘managerialists’ in their stead.
  20. Socioeconomic classes are often hybridised in practice: In practice, many land-owners are also capitalists. Many managerialists own significant numbers of shares in the companies that employ them, but by no means all. In a multi-level corporation, many people may both be the ‘workers’ of those above them in hierarchy, and the ‘managers’ (i.e. managerialists) of those below. Many workers, while dependent on selling their labour, nonetheless are dependent on saved capital and land for their retirement.
  21. Hybridised class structure makes class conflict difficult: Which is partly why class conflict has become less prevalent in many western states.
  22. Reform: Unless a political system has become so dysfunctional that no reform is possible, social change should take place through education and reform. Where protest is used, protest should be nonviolent.

About This Website: Part One.

Posted 29 July, 2008 by hux3alt
Categories: About us

One outcome everyone wants to avoid.

One outcome everyone wants to avoid.

Welcome to Huxley’s Third Alternative!

This is a website that doesn’t believe in hidden agendas. This is a website has been created to put a magnifying glass to current issues in our society. We are proud to say that we are not affiliated to any political party, nor are we owned or funded by any corporation. That having been said, the quest for truth is never an ideologically neutral thing (and who would tell you otherwise do so because of their ideology). Rather than having a hidden ideological agenda, as many websites and blogs do, we’ve decided to be somewhat old-fashioned, and be upfront with the key ideas behind this site (and its editorial position) in a two part series.

In part one, we’ll take a look at the underlying ideas of this site, explain what we mean by ‘Huxley’s Third Alternative,’ and quickly look at three key philosophies behind it. In part two, we will make a list of a number of current issues, philosophical questions, and other political debates, and briefly explain where Huxley’s Third Alternative stands.

Introducing our Philosophy

Think back to the last time that you had to make a choice about something. Two obvious choices that you could make would have rapidly become apparent to you. But, if you stood back for a minute, it is likely that you may have noticed that there was a third alternative that you could chose. And, truth be told, that third alternative probably made a lot of sense.

The same thing happens in the world of social issues, where there is an obvious ‘conservative’ and ‘progressive’ perspective. These, in turn, suggest either ‘conservative’ or ‘progressive’ solutions to our collective problems. But, if you dig a little deeper, you will find other ways of seeing the world, which lead to other alternative courses of action. Ours is a website dedicated to digging deeper.

Some might call this ‘third’ position politically “centrist,” others may call it “social libertarianism.” We prefer to see ourselves as putting forward an alternative analysis; one often left out of the ‘mainstream’ political debate, and therefore alternative solutions to social problems. In short, what we’re putting forward is ‘Huxley’s Third Alternative.’

What is Huxley’s Third Alternative?

The name of this website is a reference to the second edition preface of Aldous Huxley’s literary classic, “Brave New World,” where Huxley wrote:

If I were to rewrite the book, I would offer the Savage a third alternative. Between the utopian and the primitive horns of his dilemma would lie the possibility of sanity – a possibility already actualised, to some extent, in a community of exiles and refugees from the Brave New World, living within the borders of the Reservation. In this community economics would be decentralist and Henry-Georgian, politics Kropotkinesque and co-operative. … a society composed of freely co-operating individuals devoted to the pursuit of sanity. Thus altered, Brave New World would have possess an artistic and … a philosophical completeness, which in its present form it evidently lacks.

The novel itself spells out the dystopian future – the “Brave New World” – that would be created if we didn’t listen to his warning. A future of rigid class hierarchies, of Fordism being worshipped, of science being turned over for the eternal quest for more consumption and eternal youth, of Soma pills and synthetic music, and of people feeling outraged about being in a room not synthetically scented. It’s a dystopian future that has increasingly come to resemble a satire of contemporary Australia. We think that Huxley showed a tremendous amount of foresight in his work.

His third alternative ties together a number of philosophies that fall outside the traditional cannon of ‘conservative’ and ‘progressive’ thought. Because of this, some of the terms – “economics would be decentralist and Henry-Georgian,” “politics Kropotkinesque,” and “co-operative” – have meanings that aren’t generally taught in schools and universities (although they should be). Because of this, we’ll spend a brief moment explaining what these terms all mean.

Henry George

The line “economics would be decentralist and Henry-Georgian,” is a reference to the 19th Century economist Henry George (whose best known work is “Progress and Poverty”). It was George who argued that the land and the natural resources that spring from the land were not created by human labour or capital, and should be the common property of the whole community. A small section of society should not be allowed to draw income from a finite natural resource monopoly.

George advocated fixing this problem by taxing the income generated from owning natural resources. Where natural resources have been mixed with human labour or capital, the part of its value created from the natural resources should be taxed, while the value added by labour and capital should not be taxed. For example, with a block of land, the underlying land should be taxed, while the buildings and other improvements should not be. In turn, these taxes should either be redistributed equitably through the community, or be used to offset other taxes on productive labour and investment.

George also disdained other forms of privately owned monopolies, and advocated taxation, socialisation, or regulation (as appropriate) as means of dealing with them. Where a monopoly is the product of Government sanctioning (for example, copyrights and patents), these State sanctions should ideally be dismantled.

Peter Kropotkin

By “politics Kropotkinesque,” Huxley was talking about a philosopher named Peter Kropotkin, whose main book was called “Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution”. Kropotkin rejected Charles Darwin’s view that conflict and ‘survival of the fittest’ was the most important thing driving evolution, by showing that in nature ‘mutual aid’ is far more important than ‘conflict’ in helping a species survive (and that the species that practice mutual aid are the most likely to succeed). In turn, because humans are a part of nature, ‘mutual aid’ is far more important to human nature than conflict. ‘Mutual aid’ and ‘conflict’ are, in turn, shaped by the social, political, and economic environment that people find themselves in.


Finally, while “co-operative” is an everyday word, it has a very particular meaning here. It refers to the idea that a particular form of organisation – the co-operative society – is a more effective of organising industry than through corporations or government. Advocates of this view include Robert Owen, the Rochdale Pioneers, Beatrice Webb, G.D.H. Cole, and Charles Gide.

Co-operative societies, at their most basic, are a form of non-profit organisation that are democratically owned and controlled by the people who ‘use’ it. These people may be the people that work in the co-operative (a ‘workers co-operative’), supply its produce (a ‘producers co-operative’ or ‘agricultural co-operative’), or the people who use the products and services of the co-operative (a ‘consumers co-operative’).

This support of “co-operatives” is linked to another school of thought (advocated by Alexis deTocqueville, Robert Putnam, and Mark Lyons), which is based on the idea that, beyond governments and corporations, modern developed economies have a whole host of different types of organisations – known as ‘third sector’ organisations – that can provide people with goods and services. Aside from various kinds of co-operatives, we find that clubs, mutual societies, clubs, collectives, non-profit organisations, associations, churches, LETS programmes, and trade unions are all ‘third sector’ organisations. These organisations are not only important for building and maintaining bonds of mutual aid in a community and keeping democracy alive, but provide us with workable, real-world alternatives to organising industry and governance in a community.

Putting it Together: Huxley’s Third Alternative

Taken as a whole, you have another ways of seeing the world, and leads us towards other alternative courses of action. This blog is dedicated to applying this view of the world to contemporary social issues, and suggesting those alternative courses of action its logic suggest. And, truth be told, we think that Huxley’s third alternative makes a lot of sense.

In part two, we will make a list of a number of current issues, philosophical questions, and other political debates, and briefly explain where Huxley’s Third Alternative stands on these questions.