Damn, it's a good book. It ticks so many boxes for me. Socialist calculation debate, Markets vs planning, climate science, climate breakdown, eco-socialism, Project Cybersyn, Viable system model, etc etc.
Plus, the accompanying game that you can play at https://play.half.earth is brilliant.
Main nub of it:
- Rewilding half the earth - Half-Earth
- A rapid transition to renewable energy
- Worldwide socialist planning
Also check the backlinks.
our book, after all, belongs to the utopian tradition
Think then of Half-Earth Socialism as a cookbook divided into four courses: the philosophical, the material, the technical, and the imaginative
The main course, the third chapter, delves into the devilishly difficult problem of planning. If it is necessary to prevent the market commodifying and controlling all of nature, and we also have a sense of what material goals we want to achieve, how then is it possible to organize production and consumption without a market? We draw on a range of influences, including Soviet cybernetics and mathematics, Chile’s ‘Cybersyn’ programme, meteorology, and cutting-edge integrated assessment models (IAMs) used by climate scientists today.
We invite everyone from all liberatory traditions to join us in the revolutionary kitchen to think up many new recipes and work together to realize them
We follow his example of digging deep into the epistemic layers of our beliefs, but whereas Hayek covered the market with the veil of ignorance, we drape that veil over nature
The environmental crisis, however, strains the neoliberals’ foundational postulates because they have to decide what is more complex and unknowable – the market or nature
One can go beyond Boulding by giving his framework a Jennerite twist: Earth is a natural machine, both ancient and alien, whose operating systems we will never fathom, and therefore it is wisest to let the ghost in the shell control the circuitry even if we do not always understand it ourselves
Rather than the conscious control of nature, the neoliberals seek one unconscious realm (nature) to be subdued by another (capital
In response, we try to out-Hayek Hayek by arguing that nature is more unknowable than the market, and therefore far more deserving of our awe as an unconscious, decentralized, and unimaginably complex system
The process of nature’s humanization stops not when it is realized, but when our species comes to recognize that this process undermines the basis of human freedom. Climate change, emerging zoonotic diseases, and other environmental crises make a mockery of this pretence of control. To bring the humanization of nature to an end, the collective consciousness (Geist) must become aware of its own limits
The task of unbuilding makes clear that environmentalism isn’t so much the idealization of ‘pristine’ nature (though it is vital to protect intact ecosystems) but the recognition that it is still possible to repair our broken world
The goals of Half-Earth socialism are simple enough: prevent the Sixth Extinction, practise ‘natural geoengineering’ to draw down carbon through rewilded ecosystems rather than SRM, and create a fully renewable energy system
way to save land would be to produce less energy, which is why Half-Earth socialism embraces quotas. The exact number can be debated, but we admire the target of the 2,000-Watt Society
An economic system resembling Half-Earth socialism can actually be found in recent history: Cuba’s Período Especial
necessary to marry Kantorovich’s technical vision to Neurath’s democratic socialism, in which planners lay out their goals and constraints in natural units and then devise different plans that could be chosen by an informed public
similar to P2P Accounting for Planetary Survival?
In this chapter, we will detail how to organize a democratically planned economy in an age of ecological crisis
Even a wisely managed eco-socialist utopia would still be plagued by some inefficiencies and shortages, as we will discuss later in the chapter. However, we believe that it is worth paying to gain other advantages, such as a stable climate, wondrous biodiversity, and a respite from pandemics. Half-Earth socialism also promises the prospect of a unified humanity, peace, and equality, with an economy
Half-Earth socialism requires a similar balancing act, supplying everyone with the material foundations for a good life – sustenance, shelter, education, art, health – while protecting the biosphere from destabilization
While the static, one-off calculations made using linear programming are a valuable tool in managing any complicated project – the method is ubiquitous in contemporary applied mathematics, including in planning renewable energy systems – we will need other tools to allow local administrators to meet the needs of the people they serve, while simultaneously achieving global goals such as rewilding or long-distance trade.
There were two main currents that shaped planning debates in the Soviet Union over the following decade: the theory of mathematical optimization (e.g., linear programming) and the cybernetic theory of control, built around differential equations
Thirdly, and perhaps more importantly, these loosely connected models create space for democracy, diversity, and political initiative, all unified in pursuit of national or even global goals
Although Chile in the early 1970s might seem far removed from the global crises in the 2020s, Cybersyn is perhaps the closest historical analogue to Half-Earth socialism
In our effort to understand how Half-Earth socialism could work in practice, we have undertaken a tour of socialist planning theory that has travelled from Leningrad to Vienna to Novosibirsk and finally to Santiago. At this point, we return to Siberia some two decades after Kantorovich’s work at CEMI began.
As Kantorovich noted in his vision of multilevel linear programming, a planned society needs a way to balance an overarching national or global vision with sensitivity to local conditions
All this data does not mean that we fully know nature, only that Half-Earth socialist planners would have access to the vital signs of the planet so they could modify humanity’s interchange with nature when necessary
However, it is the third chapter that tackles the difficult problem of organizing production and distribution without the market. Half-Earth socialist planning is inspired by a slew of traditions, including Neurath’s in natura calculation, Kantorovich’s linear programming, Beer’s Cybersyn, and the climate-economy models of Austria’s IIASA
British socialist utopians in this period were a tightly knit group. Oswald might have been an acquaintance of William Godwin, whose utopian writings provoked Malthus to write his Essay on Population. Godwin, who dabbled in vegetarianism, knew herbivorous radicals Robert Owen and Percy Shelley
We hope that Orwell spins in his grave when Half-Earth socialism becomes a movement, radiant in its queer, feminist, vegetarian glory
The other inheritor of the unorthodox Left was the Frankfurt School, whose theorists criticized the destruction wrought by the mindless conquest of nature. Adorno, Horkheimer, and Benjamin, as well as Alfred Schmidt and Herbert Marcuse, all contributed to the foundations of eco-socialism
The point, however, is not simply to substitute socialist utopianism for Promethean Marxism, but rather to strive for a synthesis of the two to create a new, epistemically humble socialism.