The following is a rough transcript which has not been revised by The Jim Rutt Show or Julyan Davey. Please check with us before using any quotations from this transcript. Thank you.
Jim: Today’s guest is Julyan Davey. He works in transformative facilitation. Previously, he’s worked as a technical dude and a startup dude and was involved with the Extinction Rebellion. I came across Julyan’s work when I was doing my daily reading of interesting links. People send me stuff, I find it on Twitter. God knows how I find shit, but I spent a fair amount of time reading stuff. Frankly, most of it’s not so interesting, but I came across a series of essays back in December that Julyan had written. The first of which is, “Weaving a Non-Dual Civilization, Part One”. And, guess what? The other ones are Part Two and Part Three. That’s what we’re going to talk about mostly. As I said, I did read this back in December.
Jim: As listeners know, I always do research my podcasts fairly heavily. I went back and reread them yesterday. I got to say, they stood up. This is actually interesting stuff. Not to say I agree with everything Julyan says. As listeners know, I seldom agree with everything anyone says, but nonetheless, I do believe these are very useful essays for people to read, particularly people who are thinking, living, exploring, even just trying to figure out what it all is in the sort of Game B, Liminal Web world. I would really recommend reading these essays. As always, you can find links to them on the podcast page at jimruttshow.com. With that, welcome, Julyan.
Julyan: Hi, Jim. It’s really nice to be here. Thanks for your amazing intro.
Jim: I mean, this stuff, it was good. It really was. What motivated you to write this series? There’s a lot of work. There’s a lot of words there. It’s well-thought-out. It’s well-written, well edited. What motivated you to put that level of effort into it?
Julyan: It was really trying to put into words experiences that I have been having. I’ve been working with groups with this modality called Sublime We, which is a way for groups to really shift into a different culture. You could think about it as shifting into a Game B space, shifting out of the culture that we live in, into a Game B kind of environment or a space where non-rivalrous things can happen. I’m going to use your language. We’ve been doing this work, a few of us, trying to work with this tool and offer spaces to people that make the shift happen. This article was really me trying to put into words what I’ve seen, experienced through trying to make the shift happen, about how we can actually shift into a Game B space, I guess is the bottom line of it. That’s really helped me see the space live in at the moment and the difference between where the world and the culture that we have at the moment is coming from, and where a different culture, a different space is coming from and what the differences are.
Julyan: The article is really about how could we look at the world today from this complex systems perspective, seeing all the different parts and how they interact? What’s the difference between sort of a model of that, of the world we have today, that’s the first part. Then the second part is thinking, “Okay, how can we shift out of that place that we are today with all of the problems that it’s causing around the world into this other space and what are the qualities that other space has? How do the different parts of it function?” The amazing thing is you can see that other space happening with just a few people. You can see the different parts of it. Then you can also scale that up to a whole world that is operating in that new way.
Jim: I really like it. Again, of course, that’s what caught my attention. Particularly, you point out right up front in the article, that one of the problems of a lot of people who sort of smell and feel something is wrong with the world, they tend to put their finger on one thing. It’s bloody capitalists or it’s bad toilet training or whatever. You make very clear from the beginning that that kind of thinking itself is part of the problem.
Julyan: Yeah, it’s really isolating one element and trying to put a patch on that one part of the world that we live in. But when you really start looking out there, you kind of see the same pattern, the same common thread through all areas of our world. You can look in the political system. You can look at the economic system. You can look at the meaning crisis in our culture. You can look at how we do things physically, the material world. All of those things are part of this interconnected system. If we don’t look at it in an interconnected complex systems kind of way, then we are just only going to be working on one end of it.
Julyan: I guess a common thing in my world in climate activism is you focus on technical solutions. You say, “Okay, what we need to do is have enough solar panels,” or, “Change all the heating systems,” or something. That doesn’t really, in my opinion, get to the roots of the problem, which is really incorporate everything and needs a shift in all areas of life.
Jim: That’s hard. It’s hard for people to be willing because none of us can be experts in everything. Many of us can be experts at one or two things. Solar panels, I know all about solar panels. I know how to design them. I know how to cost them. If we could get the cost down to that, that would be cool, but that’s not enough, not even close to enough. There’s so many things. We have to back off and open up and try to feel the gestalt.
Jim: The other thing, this is the first thing that caused me to pull my head up off the page and go, “Hmm, I think I might want to talk this dude,” is when you said, “Even if you get to the complex systems perspective in the material world, that’s not enough.” You point out, this is your words, “We also need to incorporate the inner subjective world into our model.” I think that is truthfully in the evolution of Game B, we didn’t necessarily know that when we first started down this road. We actually famously had a big fight about it. What was our priority, institutional change or personal change? Then after having our early ugly fight that almost killed the movement, we backed away for a couple of years. Then we came back together and realized how could we have been so stupid? The obvious answer is they have to co-evolve together.
Julyan: Yes, it’s almost if you come to the world from a traumatized, triggered place, then you end up recreating that in the world around you. If you’re not really resolving people’s personal problems and their personal relationship to their existence, then you can’t have people who are able to stand up in the world and offer something different and come from a different place. It almost goes in both directions because you need a culture and a system that supports those people to do that with, but then you also need the people to be able to stand up and do it themselves.
Julyan: There’s this chicken and egg thing of we need the people, then we need the culture and the systems for the people to happen. The model that I talk about in the article is almost how do we follow the closest thread to us right now? The thread is, it’s almost this metaphor for meaning, what is important to me in the moment? What’s important to me in the moment could be something in my inner world. If I’m triggered, do you know what I mean by the word triggered?
Jim: Sort of. I must admit, I’m not up on the psychobabble all that much and tend not to use it myself. But I think I know at least the pop culture version of what that means.
Jim: Somebody reminds you of your third grade teacher who beat you or something and you want to punch them in the face. That’d be triggered, right?
Julyan: Yeah, I would say it’s any way you’re in a rejection of another person or yourself. You’re pushing something away and saying, “There’s a bad thing. I need to get rid of it. There’s a bad thing in society or in the world.” Your limbic system is really active in, that’s why it’s called triggered because you are ready to shout at someone or whatever.
Jim: The famous fight-or-flight wiring in our brain, which for a good reason, goes way back yonder. You see waving in the grass on the savanna and you go, “Hmm, there’s something in there. Now, it could be dinner. It could be an antelope. It could be a lion or it could be someone trying to steal my shit.” Or, it could be the wind. It’s really, really important for our survival at that time, of course, which is our genetic basis for much of our biological being, to be able to sort that out and then to act decisively once you’ve figured out which of the four is most likely.
Jim: As it turns out, if you do a mathematical simulation, if you assume that our judgements are noisy and fairly often wrong about what the waving grass means, you should probably be overweighted on flee because getting eaten by the lion has much more downside than the upside of the other scenarios. That’s where this triggering behavior probably originally came from.
Julyan: Exactly. The key is it might be good for you to run away from a lion, but it’s not good for you to build a relationship with someone, or a new Game B space, from that kind of place.
Jim: You shouldn’t run away from your wife because she tells you she is sick and tired of you leaving wet towels on the bathroom floor. That’s something you should figure out. All right, either she needs to learn to deal with it or I need to learn to pick them up, but we got to find some way to resolve this. Neither side should flee from the encounter, shall we say.
Julyan: Totally. You have this meaningful thread almost, which is what is meaningful for you in the moment. That might take you on a journey inwards to resolve something, one of those triggerings that you have, but it might also take you out into the world to build a new part of the Game B space that we want to create. Those two things need to feed off each other. There’s the inner work and the outer work. Lots of people think it’s do both of them, i.e. do the outer work and do the inner work almost in parallel, but how I see it is more this interweaving. For some period of your experience is going inside and some is going outside and vice versa. They’re both important at all stages. You’re doing some outer project, there’s some inner work that you need to do to make that happen.
Jim: I think that’s an interesting thought. It’s a new thought to me, and probably a valuable one, is that probably each individual needs to be more weighted towards one or the other at any given point in time. But if we think about actually building, let’s say a proto B, an on the ground Game B community, which we’re actually starting to work on now, fortunately, different people are in different places at different times. Let’s say a new person comes from Game A to live in the proto B, their main problem may be that they are just overwhelmed with their Game A malware. They need to deprogram by eating better, by exercising more, spending more time in nature, engaged in true conviviality with other people, understanding, finally, that they are secure, all those things.
Jim: Yet, as to your point, and I think the Game B perspective, that’s going to be extremely difficult unless some of the institutions are already in place. Because yeah, there are a few pioneers, 2%, 5% who can fundamentally change their behavior, even if they’re embedded in the belly of the beast. Just kind of hardheaded motherfuckers. I’m one of those. You probably are too. We don’t really give a shit what the world thinks. We’ll do what we think is right, but that’s not how most people are wired. I did the OCEAN five-part personality inventory, I don’t know, about six months ago. Not to my surprise, I discovered I was at the 99th percentile disagreeable. That I really don’t give a fuck other people think.
Jim: That’s actually a good thing if you want to try to live Game B in the belly of Game A, but for most people, that’s not feasible. Most people are just not wired that way. Hence, the proto B needs to already have some infrastructure that supports the behavior. This is the actual learning I took away from your article, which was, let’s work with this asynchronicity. That people will be at different stages of the journey so that some people can be building the institutions while people who still need the inner work, as you would call it, come into these early vestigial institutions and get support for the right behaviors, essentially.
Julyan: I imagine almost these month-long initiation camps where people make the shift into Game B. They come, and together with other people, and learn how to be in the other space, learn how to shift into the paradigm. It’s not that it is finished in a month, but I think it takes a month or a year or something.
Jim: It’s interesting you should mention that. I was just talking with a guy who’s spent 10 years studying this. What he’s come up with, of course, its just his protocol, but he claims it works, is approximately a year to physically detox. Things like not eating shit food, not having your phone with you all the time, not fighting the commute, not working in the cubicle farm, et cetera. Then something like 42 days, he has a specific process, a group process, of course, to essentially finish off the transition to at least being an apprentice Game B-level person. Whether he’s right or not, I don’t know, but it sounds like that’s not far from your vision of how this thing might work out.
Jim: Interesting. All right, let’s move into some of the details to your article. One of the concepts that you use throughout the article is the shadow.
Julyan: Dun, dun, dun.
Jim: Dun, dun, dun, only the shadow knows. I realized very quickly, and then you said so, that you didn’t mean to use the term shadow in the strictly Jungian sense, which is relatively popular, but you had your own meaning around it. Why don’t you tell us what you mean when you say the shadow?
Julyan: By the shadow, I mean, any part of ourselves, or any part of this complex system, that is in some way rejecting experience or life. We all have these underworlds where what we really want to bring into the world gets polluted by our trauma and conditioning in different ways. It’s almost that pollution seeps out into the world in what I’m calling the shadow. Instead of us taking responsibility for ourselves and our lives and having sovereignty and saying, “I want this thing. I want to have this relationship with you. I want our relationship to be this particular way,” we end up trying to manipulate the world around us. You could see all of Game A is this giant manipulation in order to take from the world to fulfill our own lack of sense of value in the present moment.
Julyan: We have this feeling that something is wrong and our experience doesn’t feel good. We go out into the world to try and fill, I call it the hole of value. We go out into the world to try and fill that hole of value. When we do that, we end up causing these knock-on effects on everyone else around us, which is our shadow moving out into the system. Then when we get together with other people, we end up making these institutions that just perpetuate that. They perpetuate this mode of me versus you, competition and scarcity and win-lose dynamics would be the Game B term, I assume. That then causes more trauma in people, which then causes the same problem. You have this sort of perpetuating cycle of empire, like the Roman Empire goes out to claim loads of land and ends up traumatizing the people in the countries who then become Europe and then go and colonize other places.
Julyan: This train kind of continues rumbling on of one person’s shadow going to affect somewhere else. That affects our relationships with the natural world and relationships with each other. They all have this taint to them. It’s by coming into contact with that and seeing it for what it is and learning to express ourselves in a healthy way with each other, that we can start to actually build this other culture. The key is really shifting into this responsible space where you are owning what you have. You might have things that you want. You might have expertise that you want to share, and you are really owning that and not using it to be violent to other people or put other people down. You’re just holding your shit.
Jim: Interesting. I noticed that, again, like a lot of folks emphasize trauma, but I wonder if that’s actually fully complete. Maybe it’s a step simpler. That it’s essentially the values of Game A that get enculturated in children. It may or may not require trauma. I will confess, I had a rather happy childhood, mentally good parents. I grew up in an upper working class community where nobody starved, but nobody was into fancy possessions and what have you. I think I walked away from my childhood with relatively little trauma, no doubt there’s some things that are buried deep in the baggage. But nonetheless, somehow I was enculturated with the Game A status through possessions, status through material goods meme, essentially memetic contamination, not necessarily response to trauma per se. While I didn’t have a real serious case of it, I was able to go fuck off for a couple years after university, hitchhiked around the country, logged 50,000 miles. Did this, did that, had a good time.
Jim: Eventually I got back on the career track, as I’ve confessed on the show before, I was a pretty good Game A motherfucker. I played the game hard, played the game good and won way often than not and all that. I would say that wasn’t necessarily a response to trauma, but rather the value system that I was acculturated in. I think that we need to look at that as well. I mean, even if people can have relatively trauma-free lives and still, if this is the institution versus personal change stuff, they can have a value structure, which leads them to play the Game A game.
Julyan: Yeah, I would totally agree with that. There’s this really nice bit of Forrest Landry’s work where he talks about three different value systems. You’ve interviewed him on the podcast. He has this triad of omniscient, imminent and transcendent. Each of those has a set of values that are associated with it. There’s omniscient values, transcendent values and imminent values. Our culture really is hyper-focused on these omniscient values. For a culture to be healthy, it needs to have its basis in all three. Maybe we’ll get to this later on, but later on in the article, I talk about part of what needs to happen is the sharing of values between people, which is in the framework that I use, which is from this thing called, Sublime We. It’s called memetical integration. There’s the meme of the value. That gets shared between us.
Julyan: If you, Jim, you have some value from your childhood about going out into the outdoors, into nature or whatever, and I don’t, and there’s some way that you can express the value of that to me that means I really get it and I really take on the value that you have. But there’s another way that it could happen, which is you come to me and say, “You are wrong, you piece of shit. You’re destroying my woodland.” In that mode, there isn’t the opportunity for communication to happen because if we want this sensemaking, collective intelligence system to work, there needs to be the flow. What the flow is, is partly of values. We need the values to flow and we need principles to flow. Those are kind of the two aspects that I see as being the things that are necessary to flow in the system between people.
Jim: I’d add a third. I think it’s key is the eminent part. Let’s go do it, dude. I can tell you about the woods, but let’s go for a hike. Let’s go hunting. Let’s go mushroom foraging. If you do that, you’ll probably start to get it. Why people are so enchanted by nature is to actually get out and do it. Then I do think that’s part of our problem, particularly amongst our educated crowd is we live a little too much in our heads. We forget about our bodies.
Jim: The other thing, that’s from my work studying cognitive science, is I’m more and more convinced that we are principally the sum of our episodic memories, the memories of things that we have done along with the emotional valances that they were tagged with. This, in some sense, speaks to your trauma idea. You got something from your past that had a high emotional valance associated with it. It was fucked up in some way. That memory is always voting into your consciousness on what to pay attention to, how to respond to opportunities, et cetera. But the flip side’s also true that experiences that are positive are also, and fortunately, the recent experiences are much more powerful in this sense than the old experiences. Something fucked up happened to you when you were nine years old. Yes, it was really fucked up. It still has a significant vote, but even a lesser thing that happened three weeks ago has a relatively strong vote, even if it doesn’t have to quite so strong an emotional valance.
Jim: This is how living right reinforces thinking right because the good experiences, going with me on the walk in the woods and finding 24 different kinds of edible mushrooms, is going to have a really significant impact on how you relate to the idea that nature is important. That most people are not capable of understanding nature being important intellectually. I would argue that, again, one of the reasons why we have decided that proto Bs ought to be in rural places. Not that we can support eight billion people probably in rural villages, but maybe we can. Actually, the numbers do work, but at least at this early stage of trying to form institutions and minds, co-form them together, actually living on the land and being with beautiful nature and being relatively self-sufficient, we’re of the view, at least, that helps this bootstrapping between the external and the internal.
Julyan: That would make sense to me.
Jim: Cool. Let’s go continue with your story. You hypothesized this fellow, Tim. Of course, you confess that, all right, telling the story of Tim is kind of a little fucked up because it kind of perpetuates the individualist problem that we have in our society. That’s okay. You got to tell a story somehow. Tell us a little bit about Tim and what’s going on with him.
Julyan: Tim is your archetypal Game A, capitalist person. I look at him as an individual. I break it down into these five aspects, which also comes from the Sublime We framework that was created by this woman, [Siris 00:23:56], who really merged together complex systems thinking with Vedic spiritual understanding. That’s where the model really comes from. Then I’ve kind of made my addition to it. A lot of it is this part is mine and the first part. Then I use her model in the second part. In this part, we are looking at the individual, what’s going on in their system, in the different parts of them? What we see for this person called, Tim, I’m saying because of his trauma, we see that he’s not really present to his experience. He’s what I call, inner sleeping.
Julyan: He’s not really aware of his present moment. He’s distracted. He’s in this unconscious state where he is checking his phone all the time. That’s the other one is, in his body, he’s playing out these addictive patterns. He’s drinking to numb himself. He’s addicted to his phone. Even in really micro ways, so it could go down to when he sees his boss, his body goes into this small mode where he makes himself small in relationship to his boss and plays out this hierarchy and doesn’t really take ownership for his life.
Jim: He’d be what Sam [Oboria 00:25:11] calls an NPC, a non-player character, right?
Julyan: Yeah, in his terminology, he’s a dead player. He’s not really alive because all he’s doing, he’s not able to choose how he responds to things. He’s just stuck in this automatic response. In his mind, his intellect, he’s in what I call cognitive defending, which is he’s in this ideological way of seeing the world where there are these fixed beliefs, structures about things. He’s not really in touch with the fact that everything is proto in some way. Everything is a proposal and is not fixed either in science or in spirituality or some other area of life or art or wherever you are. Then in his heart, he’s really in that fight-or-flight mode that you’re talking about, where his emotions are really going out into the world and hurting other people. All of this is really about defending himself because his present moment experience doesn’t feel good. It feels painful for him to be in the present moment. Everything he’s doing is trying to get away from that.
Jim: He drinks too much, jerking off, watching porn, all that, all those kinds of addictive behavior. Daniel Schmachtenberger, I think was the first person I’m aware of, who enlightened me to the fact that an awful lot of these destructive loops are, at least they’re like addictive behavior, whether they’re actually addictive behavior, I’m not sure, but they have a lot of similar attributes in that they seem to be reinforced by the dopamine cycles and have to do with emotional self-regulation and things of that ilk.
Julyan: Yeah, totally. Then when Tim goes out into the world, we’ve kind of looked at his inner world there, when he goes out into the world, his relationship with other people is about taking. I call this his extractive intentionality, which means his intention is to take.
Jim: I really like that phrase, by the way. I highlighted that in my notes. I said, “That’s a really good phrase.” I like that. I’m going to steal that.
Julyan: I think the great thing is any of these aspects, you could look in yourself and you can look at the world around you and see them playing out. You could almost be with other people and then spot someone in the pattern of cognitive defending or you can spot them in the heart reactivity or you can spot their addictive pattern. The more awareness you build up of that, the more you’re able to see how Game A flows, you can see its presence in a space. Then you can act to try and shift out of it into something else.
Julyan: Just to say a bit more about how Tim shows up. He is trying to take from the world. He’s this CEO. He’s trying to make as much money as possible. He wants people to like him. It’s all about him, all about his taking. How he really does that is by going to influence people. That’s this second part, which is called social influence, which is that in all of his interactions, he’s trying to make people like him. He’s trying to persuade the world to give him more of what he wants. When he actually does that, when he gets what he wants, he ends up creating this violent infrastructure, or he ends up spending his money on this violent infrastructure. Which is his car, his flights all over the world, his beating up his wife, how he treats the people who are under him at work, all this is this violence that he perpetuates out into the world.
Julyan: He’s also really ignorant. There’s another part of it, which is this outer ignorance, which is because he is not present, he can’t actually see what’s going on. He can’t do sensemaking to create a picture of what’s happening in the world. All of his attempts to see the world get distorted by his ego’s desire to take from the world. Then the last aspect I’ll talk about is this shadow flow, which is all of these ways that he interacts with other people end up pushing them more towards being more like Tim. Then if they’re more like Tim, then the people they meet become more like Tim, and then eventually, you have this world of Tims.
Jim: Guess what? Game A is autopoietic. It invents itself in every minute and in every week, and every month, every year and every generation. I think that’s a very key takeaway that Game A is a very sophisticated system. If we’re going to beat it, it’s going to require some very clever thinking. These are very good things. These are very good ideas. Let me react to some of them. Your idea of social influence in that we’re living in socially gaming each other, one of the names I use for that is performativity. That instead of authenticity, the late-stage Game A is really sucking us into the game of performativity. As they say at work, you spend a third of your time managing your boss, a third of your time managing your career, and a third of your time doing the work.
Jim: Two-thirds of your time at work in most bullshit jobs is performativity. It’s not actually helping society be richer by doing good work. That’s fucked up. It’s pervasive. Of course, our new network world is probably making that worse. You read about the mental health crisis in adolescent females, in particular. Where somehow, I mean, I guess being an old crusty boomer, I don’t understand such things, but that many teenage girls today literally identify with their Instagram persona more than they do with their actual self. That they are imagining everything they do in their life is this Instagramable enough, et cetera? How does this position me in some Instagram persona hierarchy? I mean, how fucked up is that? Where essentially someone’s life has been turned into what kind of things could I stamp on some stupid assignment social media site?
Jim: I think, again, that is a key part of where our institutions are sucking us even to worse places than we were before. Sure enough, a teenager in the ’50s or ’60s was into performativity to try to look sexy to get laid and get married with someone that they liked and have kids, but at least that’s grounded in actual normal human urges and biology. This current level of performativity seems to be spiraling deeply into the Baudrillardian simulation to a level that it’s hard to see how that is resonating with our actual human selves.
Jim: Your violent infrastructure, I like that phrase also. It brought to mind David Graeber’s idea from The Utopia of Rules of structural violence, which is not only is Tim violent, but he’s also protected by structural violence. His 1,000-square-meter house in the gated community and his Bentley only exist because the 90% don’t come with their pitchforks and guillotines and take it from him. Game A has built this implicit structural violence that’s part of its autopoiesis to keep these flows going, particularly for the top 1% or least top 10% of people like Tim.
Jim: I really liked your outer ignorance. Of course, we know lots of people like this. They’re just following their nose through life. They have no idea the context that they’re in and that Game A is screaming towards the edge of the cliff at ever faster velocity. They don’t know. It’s very strange, but it is the world that an awful lot of people out there live in.
Julyan: I really like your point about the structural violence. How I’ve set up these terms, each of them can apply both to the individual and what Tim is doing, but they also apply at the system level. For example, social influence. When you look at our political system or you look at advertising and media, you can see that what they’re about is about persuading you to vote a particular way, persuading you of particular opinions, persuading you to buy particular things. When you look at the infrastructure that we have, it’s about carving up the world to produce more profit. It’s about mining things and about chopping things down rather than being about giving in some way or energizing the world around us.
Jim: Indeed. Now, we’ve been having a good time. We’re going to run over on time. That’s all right. We’ve got a good conversation here. I was going to skip it, but I think it’s worth you at least doing a quick take on a something you pointed me to. I liked it sufficiently. I reposted it in the Game B home community, which is at game-b.org, about eight kinds of capital. Somehow I’d never run across that before. I thought that was actually a damn interesting essay that you pointed to. Maybe in a couple of minutes, could you tell us a little bit about the eight kinds of capital and how they interoperate?
Julyan: Sure. I got this from someone called Jake Larry, who I’ve been working with just to say the source. But I think it comes from the permaculture community originally, which is this idea that there are these eight buckets of capital. There’s spiritual capital. There’s material capital. There’s cultural capital. I’m trying to remember what the other ones are, relational capital. I imagine these as being the buckets, that if we were in a healthy system, they would be really full. We’d have this full bucket of culture, which is a culture that’s really thriving and giving us the wisdom to live in a harmonious relationship to life. We’d have a really full bucket in our social capital where we have these deep, interconnected relationships with each other, where we can support each other and rely on each other. Then, we’d also have this full bucket in the material capital one, where we have technology that really serves us and serves us living a healthy relationship with each other and with life.
Julyan: Almost what the Game A autopoiesis system does is really deplete and degrade these forms of capital. When those forms of capital get depleted, you then start to have the crises that we see. How I imagine it is the individual has this whole of value inside of themselves that I talked about. They don’t feel good about their experience. Then the rest of the system works, I use this metaphor of the value Hoover, it’s going around sucking up value from different places. The places it can suck up the value from are these eight buckets, these eight forms of capital. It can suck up value from the natural world. I can’t remember the name of the form of capital for the natural world.
Jim: Let me just read off the eight.
Julyan: Excellent. That’s nice.
Jim: I just pulled up the essay. It might help you frame yourself a little bit. By the way, this essay could be found at appleseedpermaculture.com. As always, there will be a link to it on the episode page at jimruttshow.com. The eight forms of capital are intellectual capital, spiritual capital, social capital, material capital, financial capital, living capital, cultural capital and experiential capital.
Julyan: Thank you. Game A needs to find places to get value. The value is almost contained in these eight buckets out in the world and in ourselves.
Jim: Ah, but unfortunately, Game A wants to steal them all to turn them into financial capital.
Julyan: Exactly, yeah.
Jim: That was, I think called the deep diagnosis. Even before we came up with the Game B synthesis, the group of us, 13 people that were working on these problems back in 2012, is it’s the inner loop of money-on-money return that sucks value out of everything else. That is the engine. These eight capital are a reasonable description of the things that are being depleted and need to be rebuilt.
Julyan: When they’re depleted, that’s when you start having the crises. Why I include this model is it really shows how all the things can be interconnected because you can look at the forms of capital, the living capital of the natural world, that gets depleted, then we have this environmental crisis. The cultural capital gets depleted, and then we have this meaning crisis. The social capital gets depleted, and then we have this crisis in our relationships almost and the mental health crisis, and the political crisis, I guess, because we can’t really relate to each other and we can’t really come to some common place to make decisions with each other.
Jim: We don’t trust each other. That’s the social capital. That then bleeds over into the political system. I think back in 1962, at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and compare it to today. Both pretty fucked up global situations, but the social coherence in 1962 was a shitload better than it is today. The fact that we don’t trust each other, that we’re, what I call late-stage Game A, circa 1975 and on, has ever-increasingly put us in these isolated, war-like tribes that have almost nothing in common. Pretty scary. There’s an example of depletion of social capital.
Julyan: One of the points I make about that in the article is using integration and differentiation and/or division, which is more and more we’re, as you say, we’re split up into these little, tinier groups. Almost the process of building a Game B is a process of trying to reverse that. We’re still going to be differentiating ourselves, i.e. making ourselves more unique, but we also need to be integrating ourselves with other groups and other people. There’s almost these two forces. At the moment, only one of them is happening. The differentiation part, which is we split off and we separate ourselves and we become more unique. We’re this group. They’re that group. We’re not going to talk to them. Almost opposite of that, that needs to happen, but it’s missing this other part, which is the integration, which is us being able to come into dialogue with these people and resolve our differences and come to some shared culture, some shared way of understanding the world again.
Jim: That’ll be hard, but we got to do it. Better move along here. Check that out, folks. It’s actually a good essay. Now, the other thing I like about your essays is while you focus on problems, you also turn to potential solutions. I kind of get tired of reading about, “Oh, we’re doomed, we’re doomed, we’re doomed.” It’s really nice when somebody has some ideas about how maybe we’re not doomed. You guys, you surface the idea of transformative culture. Take it away.
Julyan: Transformative culture is really in opposition to the control culture of our current world, which is trying to pin everything down, fix things and keep things the way that they are fundamentally. Whereas transformative culture is really trying to allow things to change when they need to change. Trying to be changed by our interactions with each other and our interaction with the world because if you come into real relationship with someone, you can’t help but be changed by that interaction. The control culture really wants to stop us from being in a relationship. Transformative culture is about how can we come back into relationship, this relationship with ourselves, like with me. There’s also a relationship with other people and the collective. Then there’s the relationship with the natural world and the relationship with our life as a whole.
Julyan: Each of those are transformative places. If you can really go and be in those relationships, then you’re changed by them. You’re changed in a way that brings you more into alignment, allows you to have a healthy relationship because you are able to see more of what the other person is seeing. You’re able to see more of what you really care about yourself or you’re able to see more about what is this life that we are in right now? What’s the wisdom I need to live a good life? When we do that, we get to the alive, this is where it really fits with the Schmachtenberger stuff because when we really get the alive traditions, I’m trying to really show how do we get this kind of alive tradition where people are free to make choices where they’re not just responding mechanically? He talks a lot about institutions and about groups, but I can also see the same thing in the individual themselves.
Julyan: It’s like me as an individual, I can either be sovereign and making my own decisions and choosing how I live and sourcing my life, or I can be in reaction to everything that’s going on. I can just be mechanical. Oh, this thing happens, then my system goes and responds in this way and I’m not really choosing. That’s where I really make this difference between being alive and being dead like MPC analogy that you talked about. What I see we need in these proto Game B communities is a context, is a culture that allows people to come back into those relationships so that they can be transformed, so that they can start through time to slowly more and more embody what’s necessary to be part of Game B. It’s almost we can’t just wish our way into Game B. We have to have these interactions where we are changed inside of ourselves and we change other people. We are changed by our very experiences and by ourself. Really being with yourself is an experience that will change you.
Jim: Then surfacing that with other people. Humans are, above all else, social creatures. We have to work on ourselves, but we also have to work with other folks. A Game B term we use is coherence, getting coherence with typically small groups. Can you get coherence beyond five or six people? Yeah, but it’s at a lower level. Can you be both sovereign and coherent at the same time? That’s an interesting challenge, but I think the answer is yes. We need to find ways to do that. You talk about some of the processes, I don’t know if they’re quite processes, but approaches of transformative culture. Maybe you can tell us a little bit about some of those.
Julyan: In that shaping transformative culture’s essay, I was really talking about these different relationships and the work that can be done in each of the relationships. There’s the self relationship where getting more in touch with your emotions and what’s really going on for you and more in touch with your actual experience, allows you to you slowly get down to what’s really important to you. What’s really important to you is things that you have to offer the group. You were saying right at the beginning of this talk about, “Oh, we can’t do everything. We can’t know about everything.” It’s almost, we all have our little bit to contribute to Game B. People have talked about the jigsaw piece of the whole thing. It’s by getting that self relationship really clear that we are able to know this is mine to contribute, this is what I’m holding to bring into the Game B space.
Julyan: We could talk about conflict. Where when we meet other people and we try and do things together, inevitably we face these differences. Then the context of that space, or the culture of that space, determines how we face those differences. Do we face them as this opportunity to learn more and become more full embodiments of life and learning and love? Or do we push them away and say, “I want to get away from this conflict. I don’t want to learn anything from this. There’s nothing to learn here.”? More recently since the article, I’ve worked with this one process in particular, which is called Sublime We, which is you get some people in a room and they talk to each other. Through the talking, they unwind their differences between each other.
Julyan: It’s really through the flow of values and principles that they’re able to come to shared understanding with each other. They come to shared understanding about values, which is what they really care about. I might value going for a walk in the woods. Someone else might value going to an opera. There’s always a way that you can meet both of those values. You can always find the omni win solution to that.
Julyan: Then you can have differences at the principles level, which is differences about how we actually make the thing happen. That’s more the scientific end of things, which is how do we make a strategy to make this thing happen? There we would work with first principles, which I know Daniel Schmachtenberger also talks about, which is how do we get to the underlying mechanisms that are in play in a particular domain that are irregardless of the language we use to talk about them, there’s something underneath. It’s almost this causal mechanism that we can use to create a healthy strategy in the world. The strategy is really trying to express the values that we have. When we are in that relationship, we’re really alive because all we really care about is coming out into the world through our wisdom about how to really bring it into the world.
Julyan: I have these 10 aspects that I talk about in part two, which really shows what does the group look in its various parts when that’s happening? When there is this flow of what the person really cares about into the space and they’re holding it responsibly, so they’re not just flowing it out, willy nilly bashing people on the head. They’re holding it and saying, “I have this thing to offer this space. It’s the most meaningful thing in my life to offer this to people. I’m going to do it in this honorable, respectful way that doesn’t put other people down.”
Julyan: The 10 aspects are really saying, “Okay, we’ve looked at what happens in this non-functioning, Game A world, but what are the different parts of a functioning civilization?” We look at the same parts in terms of what’s the me like? What’s the individual like when the individual is functioning? Then what’s the collective like? When you do that, you start to think, “Okay, what would a healthy political system,” or, “What would the political system of Game B look like?” Through looking at a little group of people, like 10 people, and seeing how they exchange, they do their politics, even though it’s not politics and then nothing like we would talk about it in our world, you then start to think, that gives you the information of how could it look on a bigger scale even though we have no idea how to do that yet or even what it would look like?
Jim: Yeah, that’s what I loved about it. You admitted the fact that we got to do it, but we don’t know how. I’m in the same place. We have to figure out this fractal, emergent network of non-hierarchical self-governance, but we’re going to have to do it by experiment because there is no theory that tells you how to do that, I don’t believe. We’re going to have to try various things. We’re going to have to do, I call it coherent pluralism. We have a small number of core values that we share. We’re going to go out and do different things. Different groups of us are going to try different approaches and see if we can crack this problem while remaining in communication, sharing information horizontally so that we can collectively learn how to get to first principles and learn how to build a society that’s not caused in the generator functions of self-termination.
Jim: Cool. Well, we’re getting up near our time here. Final thoughts, what was it that you’d people to take away from this essay and from other work that you might be doing?
Julyan: Mostly, that it’s possible. I’ve been lucky enough to have these experiences of seeing that a Game B space, if you want to call it that, is a possible thing. I’ve experienced it for periods of time and felt this is something that is not a Game A space. It’s not the space that I was brought up in. It’s also not an indigenous space, although it shares things with that. It’s not a religious space. It’s not any space that you have come into contact within your life. It’s possible to create that, maybe just with a few people. That’s something that you can do in your household. We want to start making these videos to show people how they could start doing this sort of process together in their little groups. Then maybe, they can get a scent of it of, “Oh, this is something else happening. There’s not social influence happening right now.”
Julyan: The word that I use instead of social influence is empathic inquiry. Actually, I don’t, someone called [Siris 00:50:26] came up with it. Which is instead of trying to persuade other people all the time, we are listening and trying to draw out from other people. What’s really important to you, Jim? What’s going on right now? Maybe I also might say something to you to say, “I disagree with you about this thing,” but that can all be in the mode of this inquiry that we’re on where I’m trying to get to the bottom of what you really care about. When you can see that happening in a space, then more and more the light has come on for me that it is possible. It is right there that we can create it together.
Jim: Very good. Very inspiring. I had that same takeaway when I went and reread your three essays yesterday afternoon. That you have a hopeful vision that there is indeed a way out. That’s important so that people don’t despair. I would strongly recommend people interested in these questions read Julyan Davey’s series of essays, “Weaving a Non-Dual Civilization”. Thank you, again. This has been a wonderful conversation. I hope we remain in touch.
Julyan: Thank you, Jim. It was really nice to talk.