The following is a rough transcript which has not been revised by The Jim Rutt Show or by Max Borders. Please check with us before using any quotations from this transcript. Thank you.
Jim: Today’s guest is Max Borders. He’s a futurist, a theorist, a published author, and an entrepreneur, and he is the Founder and Executive Director of Social Evolution, a nonprofit organization dedicated to liberating humanity through innovation. Max is also co-founder of the Future Frontiers Event, and he’s been on the show before, twice to be precise. He was back on EP76 with his first book, The Social Singularity, and he was on EP115 for the first part of After Collapse: The End of America and the Rebirth of Her Ideals.
Jim: Today, we’re going to continue talking about that book, After Collapse. There’s so much in it. It’s only 300 pages, but there were so much in it. We got less than halfway through my topic list the last time and we’re going to pick right up and roll right along.
Jim: So, Max, welcome back to the Jim Rutt Show.
Max: Jim, thank you so much for having me. I always have a ball.
Jim: I always do, too. I mean, we don’t always agree, but we don’t always disagree either. That’s what makes it interesting.
Max: That’s right.
Jim: All right. Before we jump later into my topic, let’s do a little bit of recap for the audience here, and let’s reframe it. After the collapse, what kind of collapse? What kind of collapses are you talking about, and most particularly, what kind are you not talking about?
Max: Well, look, collapse is a cluster concept in the book. I mean, I used it as framing and there is a particular kind of collapse I think you might call the linchpin, which is a financial collapse surrounding sovereign debt, but I also identify in the first part of the book ways in which the American experiment is breaking down, and I called these breakdowns. So, each chapter in the first part of the book is going to be the breakdown of something, and we talk about everything from the breakdown of civility and civil order, the breakdown of the federal government in terms of just the financial matters that we discussed.
Max: We also talk about the breakdown of community and mutual aid, and the breakdown of hierarchies, which is one of my favorite subjects because that really scratches the complexity theory itch.
Max: In any case, there’s this seven dimensions along which I believe that the United States experiment is collapsing. I think some of these applied to other countries, and it’s really a cosmopolitan message. So, it’s really not just about America. I just think that these breakdowns are most pronounced in the United States right now.
Jim: Yeah, and then the taxonomy I tend to use, the class of things that you’re talking about are what I call endogenous collapses, i.e., we’re essentially failing of our own institutions and our own structures and aren’t necessarily being forced by an external forcing function like being hit by a comet or a solar flare or even advanced climate change. So, is it fair to say that we’re talking here about internal collapses of decay and failure modes of our institutions?
Max: Yeah. I think that’s perfect. So, some of the institutions are more formalized than others, but at the end of the day, the thing to think about it, I like the term endogenous collapse, but I also use the term collapse of human systems. The human systems description is really the level at which I’m talking about and I think that the breakdown or the collapse of our human systems is really the one that we need to be focusing on relative to other kinds of collapse that you might read about in a Jared Diamond book, for example, which might be a more ecological catastrophe.
Max: It’s not to say that these kinds of problems aren’t with us, but I’m trying to argue that, “Hey, we need to look at our human systems at least a top three priority, if not the number one priority.”
Jim: Now, there are lots of people that talk about collapse and what’s coming next, the Game B Movement, amongst others, which you mentioned in your book, but another one that you mentioned in your book, which I always am interested in is called Fully Automated Luxury Communism. What is that, and what do you think about that as a possible what comes next after the collapse of our current civilization?
Max: Yeah. I think I wanted to mention the fully automated luxury communism sort of for fun because this is actually the name of a New York Times articles that came out a couple of years ago in which the author wanted to paint the vision of a society that was mostly, I guess, going to be like the Star Trek hollow deck, which you could just summon up this, that or the other experience or food or whatever as you like because the marginal cost of production in some future is going to be so low that we don’t even need to use traditional economic thinking.
Max: I think that we’re so far away from this eventuality that it still seems to be in the land of Salinas, and I don’t want to insult any of your listeners, by the way. I encourage you to read the book and see why I am a little skeptical of these kinds of things. Everything from the Venus Project, which is, “Oh, if we just gather a bunch of sunlight with this very sophisticated and beautiful-looking architecture, then somehow we’ll be able to transmute that energy into all the plenty that we ever needed.”
Max: This kind of thinking goes to Jeremy Rifkin, who’s known for it prior to that, I believe, one of the neo-Marxist, whose name escapes me, and then prior to that back to Marx in Marxist Remnant, where he imagines a technologically sophisticated society, one so sophisticated that Marx imagines that we’re no longer going to have to think in traditional economic terms about production and about work, about labor, the cost of labor and so on.
Max: I think this kind of fanciful thinking is the kind of stuff that people are talking about right now because they really imagine that it can be true, and a world after collapse, we’re going to have to double down on some of our orthodox economics, not the other way around. So, that’s my main criticism of it.
Jim: Now, the centerpiece, at least I would argue, the centerpiece of traditional economics and the argument in favor of classic, financialized capitalism is the so-called calculation problem that was amazingly enough put forth by Ludwig von Mises in 1922. Could you tell us a bit about the calculation problem and whether you think there are any workarounds for it besides the market?
Max: Yeah. I will and, in fact, I like to go ahead and mention someone who I think is if anyone is to be listened to in terms of workarounds for this would be first and foremost Elinor Ostrom of the Ostrom School. She is a cosmopolitan liberal like you and me. So, she would be more in our camp, I guess, as it were. She’s certainly not a socialist, but she won the Nobel Prize for talking about the evolution of the commons.
Max: One of the major exponents of this kind of thinking about reverting certain kinds of property and then certainly the digital space to the commons is a contemporary thinker, whom I don’t mention in the book, but maybe in the next book or so I will mention him. He’s a guy named Michel Bauwens. He heads up the P2P Foundation. He’s got some really interesting ideas on how some things could be in the commons.
Max: This comes out of his what I would call a socialist background or this more egalitarian sensibility, but one thing about balance is that he also acknowledges the classic calculation problem that Mises, I think, won in the 20th century, and we really ought to be familiar with, and that’s as follows.
Max: If you don’t have a system of property prices, profit and loss, it becomes exceedingly difficult to figure out an intersubjective matrix of value, i.e., what capital gets allocated to what uses in a rational way. In other words, in the absence of a price system where the price of any particular thing is information wrapped in an incentive, it becomes exceedingly difficult to know what it means, much less whose perspective should hold sway for the use of some resource.
Max: Of course, we can recall the times of the Soviet Union when all of what you might call capital or capital goods was state-owned and there was a centralized bureaucracy governing it. There were really difficulties among the Soviets just figuring out how many shoes to make or how many screws to make and what sizes of screws because there was very little basis except the plans of the state itself to determine what was needed.
Max: In that instance, you have these really weird phenomena such as the Soviets had more shoes than anybody else in the world stacked in warehouses that nobody wanted, and they had black markets of shoes from the West, where the emergent properties of prices were operating in the shadows of the Soviet economy. Of course, the shoes that were being made for the citizens presumably at low to no cost were sitting in warehouses unwanted.
Max: These are the kind of distortionary effects that happen when you try to rationally allocate resources as a person or a committee rather than through the price system that takes a much more full fledged account of the decentralized wishes and desires of people operating in a complex economy.
Max: So, whenever we talk about prices property, and profit and loss for any entity, whether it’s a corporation or a nonprofit or a government, we want to think about revenue and excessive cost because that usually means whether or not some entity is going to be alive or not, persist in time, and we want prices because they are more rational way to allocate resources and send you a signal to look for substitutes if the price of some input is too high. Of course, property is the notion that without which it’s very difficult to trade if you don’t have a property right in some good. It’s hard to trade it in a market to get it to where it needs to go.
Max: So, those three basic institutions, I believe, still need to be there and when you stray from that, you better have a very good system for doing so, and it may be the technology helps us with this, and it may be that commons management on the order of the kinds of technological solutions, someone like a Michel Bauwens is imagining, is going to help us move toward a state where we can have a greater balance between the commons and markets and market prices, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Jim: Yeah. It’s a very interesting question. Certainly, in 1922 or even 1965, the ability to solve that problem of what to produce, who ought to consume what, and how much should be invested in the next generation are producing what were non-solvable, right? The Soviet Union was a fine example. Even East Germany, which was a fairly high tech country in some ways couldn’t do it. Of course, North Korea today is trying to do it. Presumably, they have computers, but they can do it.
Jim: I do wonder if we had a more sophisticated, nuanced, realtime social signaling system about how we rank order our consumption beliefs because that’s one of the important things about pricing, right? I decide, “Well, I might prefer a Peter Luger Steak dinner, but I don’t prefer it 12 times more than I do a Big Mac,” right? So, it helps us rank order our consumption with respect to the demands on resources, capital, land title, et cetera, but there may be other ways.
Jim: So, I do hope open and encourage people to explore other forms of ways to balance production consumption and investment. I haven’t yet seen anything convincing, but I’m not convinced it’s not possible.
Max: Amen. Look, the real lesson, one of the major throughlines of After Collapse and, indeed, of the Social Singularity is that we need institutional experimentation because someone may well fund a way of splitting the baby. I’ll just give you a quick example. In the digital space, where a good is not … We talked about this idea of rivalry, non-rivalrous, non-excludable goods. Some digital goods seem to be infinitely replicatable or at least close to being that way.
Max: So, we get some really interesting phenomenon in the digital space. Likewise with digital ledgers and blockchains, you have these interesting hybrids of something being considered a commons, for example, an open source programming system like Ethereum, that it also has a price mechanism associated with it. I wouldn’t say that the way the commons of Ethereum is governed is immune to a single master, and yet there’s a price system involved.
Max: People who are experimenting with cryptocurrencies and other mechanisms in environment like Ethereum are going to find some really interesting ways, not only to govern the commons, but to allocate resources and so on. We just need to operate with humility when doing so and not think that it’s important to destroy the currently working systems that exists. Maybe it’s improving upon them, maybe forming hybrids, and it’s certainly at root. We need room for experimentation for our institutions.
Jim: We’re both people who believe in pluralism, and a certain amount of epistemic modesty or humility that we understand the complex systems are really hard to predict, “What they’re going to do?” Right? So, you got to change by increments and experimentation is generally the best way.
Jim: So, another idea that’s floating around with respect to what comes next, call it after the collapse or instead of the collapse, is a concept that I used to be quite skeptical about called post-scarcity economics. Then as I thought about it, I realized that, “Hmm, it’s not the magic. Okay. We can magically wave our magic wands and our 3D printers more than we could possibly want of everything,” but rather, when you really think about it correctly, it’s suppose we were able to modulate what we desire.
Jim: One of the fundamentals, in some sense, of neoclassical economics is that there’s an unlimited number of material desires. Sure enough, late stage Game A seems to be able to generate demand for almost anything through sophisticated marketing and beeping phones and all that sort of stuff, but suppose when we’re to build a different kind of society where status didn’t come through the shiny objects that you owned and that we had curated our information flows so that we weren’t exposed to very much at all in the way of advertising, and we had a concept of enough.
Jim: I mean, it’s amazing. The per capita GDP in the United States is $67,000, thereabout. So, a family of three would have $200,000 worth of stuff equivalent. That strikes me as damn close to enough if we weren’t being programmed by the inner dynamics of the money return machine, the marketing machine, the attention hijacking machine to make us think that we needed more. Up till now, it probably was true. We did need more, but maybe we don’t.
Jim: So, I’ve come to at least take seriously the analysis of a post-scarcity world built around discernment and acceptance of enough.
Max: Yeah. I think maybe what distinguishes us or in other words, points out the difference between you and me in this regard, and I don’t want to misattribute any kind of view to you, but I will say that, for me, the idea in some monolithic fashion of building that kind of society from the top down through the, as we talked about last time, the administrative ordering of society is probably not going to be the way we go about it. I think it’s going to be an evolved thing.
Max: In other words, when Bernie Sanders says, “We have too many types of deodorant,” I chuckled, and I’m very happy with the range of options in deodorant, even though Bernie Sanders is not. That being said, I do think we are going to see an evolution of our more materialistic psychology.
Max: There’s a guy named Joseph Pine who has written a couple of things on what is known as the experienced economy. I think we’ve already gone from a society that’s based primarily on the production of goods, of stuff to a society that’s more based on the production of knowledge and of services.
Max: I think more and more everyday people want services and, indeed, they want experiences. I know that for generations younger than I, and I have to admit, Jim, and I’m not trying to sound like the X-er that I am or even a boomer, God forbid, but you and I, boomer and X-er, probably see a lot about the millennial and Gen Z or younger that we’re worried about in terms of the way they comport themselves, the kind of sense of expectation and entitlement the have in certain contexts that we just don’t share.
Max: One thing is cool about this generation is that they really do look more for experiences and, of course, signaling these experiences like, “Here’s me in Puerto Rico. Check out my picture,” but I think that to a very great degree, they actually go for more than just the selfie. They go for the experience of being in Puerto Rico. They go for the experience of being in a virtual environment, and more and more of our time and more and more of the way we … even the baser aspects of how we entertain ourselves is being spending our time as mere entertainment or mere amusement is going to get richer, and intelligence going to get more interesting, and it’s going to be provided more as a service.
Max: I also think that people want peak experiences. They want meaningful experiences, and they want fulfillment. If there are people who can help provide them with that or help them on the road to that, which is sometimes otherwise a solitary road, there can emerge markets in that very thing. I also believe in markets and good governance. It’s not just that we want markets and experience, but we want to be able to have more greater selection about the kind of institutions we choose to govern us. In so doing, I think, we get this grand experimentation that is going to take us out of a materialistic stuff based lizard brain signal with my Lamborghini, my sexual prowess kind of economy and more to one that is about fulfillment, is about experience of various kinds, and I’m really heartened by what I’m seeing just with this generation, but maybe I’m just an optimist.
Jim: Like I say, I’m with you. It’s the damn X-ers that annoy me, not the millennials. I actually like the millennials.
Max: I’d shake my fist at you, Jim Rutt.
Jim: Boomers versus X-ers, right? I sometimes say the end of it all will be, I call it, pillow knocked, where the millennials will smother all the existing boomers one night with a night, and the useless X-ers, as usual, will stand at their side and hand them the pillow.
Max: Well, that’s right. That’s what’s wrong with my generation, Jim. I will own that. On behalf of Generation X, I say we didn’t do our job raising our kids correctly, and that’s why we have a generation of kids who are traumatized and looking for every opportunity to signal their virtue and vulnerability online.
Jim: Anyway, back to how we get towards enough, I’m absolutely with you. I loath the idea of Bernie Sanders and anybody else saying, “There can only be four kinds of deodorant, goddamn it,” right? The Game B approach is very, very different, which is to build coherent, smallish communities around the Dunbar number, the first nodes, and then those nodes could interact up to maybe 10 or 12 times that and a hierarchy of organization. Again, in the Game B world, we see this as being pluralistic.
Jim: Some communities may say, “No deodorant at all. We’re going to go back to the natural stink.”
Jim: Others are going to say, “Only four kinds, and we’re going to buy them centrally and get a hell of a good price and so people pay a lot less for their deodorant than they used to.”
Jim: Then others will say, “Oh, any kind of deodorant. We don’t give a shit about deodorant. Freedom, free choice.”
Jim: There’s a very interesting model for that, which is the Mennonites and the Amish, which you can think of as the same thing, though they would disagree. They, typically at the level of a community on the order of the Dunbar number, make these kinds of decisions. The idea that no Mennonites drive cars, which is not true. Some do, some don’t. Some will only drive cars that are black, for instance, oddly enough. Those kinds of decisions are made at the parish level, 25 families or so, and it could be things like milking machines, which many of these groups famously debates for years. Some adopted them, and some didn’t.
Jim: Some said, “Milking machines, but you can’t be connected to the grid. You have to have a generator,” right?
Jim: Each separate group made its own decisions and then they communicate with each other and compare and contrast, and engage in parallel exploration of social design space, essentially, and over time, they adjusted their rules. That’s how I see the right way to explore what comes next rather than some top down group telling us what to do, goddamn it. Don’t care for that at all.
Max: I absolutely agree with you. The moments of agreement we have are wonderful moments. So, I’ll leave it at that. I’ll only add that it’s in these kind of sub-Dunbar experiments where I think really a lot of the action for humanity is going forward, that we’re going to start to figure out how to engage in these more meaningful communities. They’re going to not only be restored, but they’re going to be the source of some of the most important features of our lives. They may come at a cost to us, absolutely, but they will be chosen, they will reflect our conceptions of the good, and that pluralism will be paradoxically planetary. That would be my hope.
Jim: I think we’re on the same page there. Now, let’s go on to the next thing in your book, which had led me scratching my head. You know I’m a down-to-earth kind of guy and some of this woo-woo stuff leaves me a little confused. So, you lay out this taxonomy of Eros masculine, Thanatos masculine, Eros feminine, and Thanatos feminine. I go, “What the hell is all that shit? Max is a really smart guy. There must have been some reason he put that in there. He didn’t kill those trees for no reason at all.” Could you take us through this model and what you think it means?
Max: Yeah, absolutely will. Look, I’m not all about the woo-woo, okay? I do want to acknowledge to your listeners and to the world, indeed, that I have been very, very influenced by the Vedic traditions recently, particularly facets of Hinduism, the yogic traditions, Buddhism, the yamas, the niyamas, that sort of stuff, and they have some very, very interesting things to say that I think go to some fundamental levels of practice.
Max: I also am comfortable with talking about, in some sense, human forces or human energies that impel us. For lack of a better way of putting it, we were evolved to have certain kinds of responses usually in the face of fear.
Max: So, when I experience fear, which is a very reptilian brain, what comes next is a kind of response of a certain sort. I’m trying to come up with this taxonomy as a basic way of looking at the world when we try to adopt or there’s an imbalance in these forces. Let me just sketch it for you.
Max: The two basic axes are masculine and feminine, and the masculine paradigm is what we might call a controlling paradigm. Force, fuck, fight is the way I describe it, and that will be familiar to those who are all familiar with men traditional and endocrinology and what testosterone can do. I’m not going to be doctrinaire about that. It’s just to say stereotypes exist for a reason. Men, on average, if you throw a stone into a group of men, tend to be the ones who will turn to force, forcing or fighting to get something done.
Max: Now, the feminine side of things, they’re really a cluster of what I call flirt, fawn, and facilitate. They’re much more about care than coercion, much more about compassion, and this paradigm, much more about the fluidity or the flow of things. So, then you take these feminine flirt, fawn, facilitate energies at one end and the masculine energies at the other, and you cross that with another axis, and that is Eros and Thanatos. That’s from good old Freud, Sigmund Freud, who thought that these were motivations beyond the pleasure principle or some kind of Benthamite pleasure/pain, what motivates human beings.
Max: He thought that there was a motivation, a generative motivation that is to create something and one that is also destructive or to end, to bring things to an end. I think at some level we have these tendencies in us in response to fear. So, if you bear with me for a moment, listeners and Jim, let’s put all these together, cross the axes and we get four quadrants, and that’s what you listed out earlier, Eros masculine, Eros feminine, Thanatos masculine, and Thanatos feminine.
Max: The Eros masculine, it is a generative form and that is force control, make it so, right? Then the Thanatos masculine is burn it down, end it now. The Eros feminine is let it flow, and then the Thanatos feminine is let it go, let it pass.
Max: You can imagine these as like mantras for these different energies. What I argue in the book based on this matrix is basically that we’ve got way too much energy in the masculine. We are appealing to this masculine energy way too much, which is coercive, which is about force and control, when what we need to do is embrace the feminine, let things flow and let things go a little bit more than we do because therein we find the magic, magic, I’m using that playfully, the magic of organizational complexity.
Jim: So, what’s the significance of this as we think about collapse and probably more particularly how we rebuild on the other side?
Max: Well, this is a throughline throughout the book, and remember, this was written during the time of the pandemic. During the pandemic, what I found as I practiced, which I learned from you guys, which is using a little bit of the OODA Loop methodology, which is to sit back and regard the situation a little bit before you make a decision or allow others to make a decision on your behalf.
Max: What we see is this deference to authority or this submission reflex almost to authorities, to trust the experts, listen to the experts, listen to what they tell you to do. I understand that this is trying to overcome a collective action problem, but when we too quickly just submit to this submission reflex, what we get is sometimes permanent unhealthy masculine dominance hierarchies, and by dominance hierarchies, I mean, hierarchies that are built on suppression or threat or this masculine paradigm of control.
Max: What we don’t get is what we need, which is a much more fluid and self-organizing state of affairs. This is a throughline throughout the book and, in particular, there’s a chapter on the breakdown of hierarchies and in that, I really get into the complex system stuff, particularly of Yaneer Bar-Yam of the New England Complex systems group out of Boston, I think, and his work. I take great inspiration from that and apply that as well as Adrian Bejan’s work on the law of flow or the Constructal Law, and I marry these two cluster concept that I call basically let it flow or the law of flow.
Max: That really is that sometimes we can have good protocols, good heuristics that allow superior self-organization that would otherwise be gained through this top down management or administrative ordering of society.
Jim: Okay. This comes later on my list, but since we’re there, go for it. Talk to us about the law of flow.
Max: Yeah. I really love this idea, and I’ve been in love with it. Adrian Bejan, who came up with this idea, he was sitting on a plane when he returned back to North Carolina. He’s at Duke University, and if you hear my accent, I have a North Carolina accent. So, it feels like I’m talking about home, even though I’m a Chapel Hill fan, but he’s at Duke. We can forgive him for that, and Professor Bejan had this idea. He was listening to a Prigogine talk about dissipative systems. Prigogine had said something curious before he died in that lecture that set Adrian Bejan to thinking, and it was that these systems are arbitrary, that the way they are configured is rather arbitrary.
Max: This set Bejan to thinking about, “Well, what is it then that we can see about the world that would explain these dissipative systems?” and he came up with the Constructal Law. The Constructal Law is basically this. Any system to persistent time or to live must accommodate for flows that impinge upon it from without or from outside the system.
Max: So, if you have currents of flux or flow and change that are impinging on your system, you have to have a way of accommodating those flows and what he sees throughout all of nature and makes staggeringly good predictions with this in his engineering is that almost everything follows these vascular patterns. So, we want to see in nature these vascular patterns from the raging river to the tributaries, to the streams and the brooks on up to the top of the mountain. When we reverse that, we’ll see everything flowing eventually into the raging river, but these vascular patterns, whether they’re in our bodies, our brains, our river systems, the way our transportation systems look are all because life is trying to accommodate for flow, for energetic flow throughout these systems.
Max: That’s not woo-woo. That’s really science. Although there have been people who accuse it of being woo-woo, I think it’s actually quite an interesting way. He actually sometimes describes it as the fourth law of thermodynamics, which is quite interesting, but you can’t deny the vascular nature of the world around us.
Jim: Another person from the complexity field, who I believe bring some additional light to this, unlike some of the Santa Fe Institute, I am a Prigogine fan, and I do find the idea of dissipative systems quite helpful.
Jim: On the other hand, it doesn’t go far enough in providing very much in the way of scaffolding for the emergence that we actually see. The last book written by one of my favorite people John Holland, the guy who came up with genetic algorithms and a whole lot more, he wrote a book. Frankly, it isn’t entirely finished. You can tell that he unfortunately passed away before it can be entirely polished, but it’s called Signals and Boundaries: Building Blocks for Complex Adaptive Systems. He gets in to the fact that at some point in emergence, you start getting membranes, and you start getting rules and procedures that are build on what passes the membrane, and that these then becomes signaling modalities, et cetera.
Jim: So, while flow is a good place to start, it strikes me that you then also have to start thinking about segregation, where entities put boundaries around themselves and allow things to come through the semipermeable membrane, and that that’s a really important way to bootstrap information processing and call it the history of information processing on Earth, which in some sense is the story that led to us.
Max: Well, and you can see the interplay between these holonic systems within systems. Whenever you look at the boundary, the porous boundaries of the human body, it is not completely a continuous network from my liver to my brain. They’re interconnected systems, but they’re porous boundaries, and there are certainly systems within systems.
Max: Of course, you and I on the first podcast we did together, forgive me for failing to remember the number, but we did talk about holacracy as being one of the systems of organization management that really does pay attention to this idea of systems within systems, holonic systems and porous boundaries that allow for information and regulation from without. That’s really interesting stuff, Jim. You’re absolutely right.
Jim: You’ve anticipated me again about four line items ahead. I have a line item said, “Morning star packing and holacracy.” Tell us about holacracy. I really would like to learn more about it. I’ve done some reading on it, but I am nowhere near the expert that you are. So, tell us about what it is and how it works, and experiences in the real world that demonstrate that it can work.
Max: Oh, sure, yeah. No, happy to. Well, first of all, a guy named Brian Robertson would be an excellent guest on your show for future shows. He is the best exponent of this theory probably because he is the guy who dreamt up holacracy, and he’s got a really good book called Holacracy. So, I’d encourage folks to look into it more deeply, talking to you, Jim, and laying him on your show or going and getting the book, but I’ll do my best to describe holacracy in a quick and dirty way.
Max: So, most organizations have trouble scaling in some way for various reasons. The traditional hierarchical organization, you can say that there is energy and information flowing in organizations of various kinds, and that we know that based on our good old reading of Ronald Coase that it was less expensive in terms of transaction cost to create hierarchical organization and pay people to stay or to take orders.
Max: With the economy and society becoming much more complex, and the internal tools to reduce transaction costs going down themselves in price, we have now the ability to do some fantastic things with organizations that make them not so hierarchical anymore, and allows them to scale.
Max: It also, holacracy, in particular, tends to bring out the best in people by harnessing their autonomy and their decision making power and their local knowledge. I say local knowledge because, again, holacracy uses circles, which is this reference to the holon, right? You have systems within systems. You have a lot of things. You can do anything you want in a holacratic organization as long as it’s in service of the mission. The mission is the boss, you might say, and the only boss because there are no managers.
Max: They completely get rid of management hierarchy, but it’s not egalitarian either. There’s differential pay, there’s differential responsibilities, and that’s the way it should be, frankly. I’m just not into all of this egalitarian democratic organization stuff that some people are in to. It can work from time to time, but I think holacracy and systems of self-management like them are superior in that they allow for organization in terms of teams and that these teams have these porous boundaries that they deal and they deal effectively with what is known as tensions. Okay?
Max: So, you have these roles and responsibilities within a holacratic organization, where the role is like I’m the web guy, I’m web designer or I’m the accounting, and the role orientation really causes people to see you in a much more functional light in light of how you establish relationships to the rest of the organization, but within your particular circle, you’re constantly raising what is known as tensions.
Max: Now, in traditional organizations, tensions are things sometimes to be avoided or bucks to be passed because you don’t want to get caught handling the hot potato of the tension. You don’t want to bring something up to your boss or your manager that might be inflaming or make you look insubordinate. So, you can sometimes suppress that.
Max: With holacratic organizations, they bring up and process tensions in realtime as much as they can because it is in that, through that, treating your organization as part of an evolutionary fitness landscape that you want to be able to process what are called tensions or uncertainties. You can call them what you like, but there’s something niggling that’s wrong, and you think there might be a better way.
Max: Processing a tension is also about inviting others in your team to figure out a way to do something better, and sometimes that means changing the protocols within the organization. That’s how the organization evolves in the wider evolutionary fitness landscape of the market, and it is a fantastic biological metaphor all the way down and works fantastically.
Max: Holacracy now operates in over 1,000 organizations around the world, and it might even be more now because the last time I heard that was about four years ago talking to Brian. It could be 2,000 now for all I know. At the end of the day, if you want to be able to scale your organization in some way, you’re going to have to adopt features of decentralization, but if you really want to grow to scale, holacracy may be a good way to do it.
Jim: I love to talk to that guy. That sounds very Game B, where we have stipulated that we need to have position-based leadership rather than role-based leadership, meaning who’s best at this particular decision to be the leader of the folks and a fluid reorganizing constantly doctrine of how we get the work done, and it also fits in, loved the description about the tensions. I like that because even before I even had anything to do with Game B, my own business career as an entrepreneur and later as a corporate executive, the one value I always put number one is real intellectual honesty from top to bottom, that nobody hides the bad news, you never shoot the messenger and as you intimated, what is a company, but it’s a group of people working together to try to optimize their work on a coevolutionary fitness landscape.
Jim: If you’re not dealing with the information as quickly as you can and as honestly and unskewed as you can, you’re going to be grossly suboptimized on your mission. Once you understand that, you realize why so many companies are dysfunctional because intellectual honesty is not the organizing principle, rather it’s cover your ass, don’t put your head up, don’t be the messenger of bad news, claim credit for shit you didn’t do, all these kinds of degenerate corporate bureaucratic behaviors that those of us who have worked at big companies have seen.
Max: Oh, absolutely. These pathologies can be shown to flow directly from formalized hierarchies where you don’t have the holonic systems or matches to your capabilities that you’re describing. Really, it operates on a fear-based model. Again, I’m going back to this idea of control, where this masculine paradigm is this idea of control. You think about the smartest guys in the room, the Jeffrey Skillings or Ken Lays of the world, who are going to make these fantastic decisions because they were educated at Harvard and so on. They’re the ones that are going to make the decision, let’s run it up the chain of command. Of course, very often, these kind of organizations fly too high too close to the sun and come down in flames as did Enron, which was Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling’s organization, and others have this problem, too.
Max: Some people who are CEOs adopt holacracy just because they’re tired. The decision fatigue that is required of having things run up that flagpole constantly is awful, especially when you’re surrounded by competent brilliant people and you want to bring out the best of them. Holacracy is certainly one way to do it.
Max: So, I do write about holacracy in one chapter a lot in the book because I see this as something that we’re going to need to do after collapse is not just the collapse of our hierarchical governance and financial system, that is based on this mask illusion between the federal reserve and the US federal government, but it is also the collapse of this if you don’t adjust or adapt your hierarchical structures that are more rigid and formalized, then other companies are going to start running rings around you as they learn how to do it better. You’re going to either be forced to adapt or die.
Jim: I love it. Very Game B. Yeah. Do introduce me to this guy if you still have his email, yeah, and send me a copy or a link to the book and I’ll get it. I will definitely have this guy on. I’ve known it’s existed. I’ll make the commitment to do a deep dive and bring it to the people of The Jim Rutt Show, into the Game B world.
Jim: Now, if we think about holacracy and corporate governance, it’s a machinery for getting things done. You also write about majoritarian, electoral democracy, representative democracy, and you see a lot of problems with that. Why don’t you give us your thoughts on electoral democracy and representative democracy and how can that be improved?
Max: Oh, gosh! I’m going to try to be nice because I usually-
Jim: Oh, don’t be nice. Be obnoxious. Come on. This is The Jim Rutt Show. You can say fuck, right?
Max: Yeah, okay. Well, I think, Jim, it’s a fucking spectacle, and I think the probability that your vote will have an affect on the outcome of an election, particularly if you don’t subscribe to either of these two miserable tribes is that it’s frankly a shit show. We cry our teardrop in the ocean every two years, four years, and we expect the tide to turn, and this government’s process is supposed to hold sway over 350 million people in the United States. It’s absurd. We need to devolve so many more things as the constitution prescribes and we don’t.
Max: Nobody pays attention to the Ninth and Tenth Amendment. Look, I’m not even going to be a constitutional maximalist in this. It’s like at least if we did that, we wouldn’t have this great game of seeing what power we can install to try to manage this teetering hierarchy. I just think it’s silly. Anybody’s who’s interested in complex adaptive systems as you and I and folks at Game B sees there’s something deeply problematic about this idea.
Max: Frankly, sometimes around election times they get much more partisan and they get into their Hooliganism and team sports, but at the end of the day, I think people who are interested in the kinds of things we are see that it is a system that is broken and in order to get the kind of experimentation we need with institutions and superior ways of life, even culturally, we’re going to have to have a lot less stake in this process that is really nothing but a show to make us feel like we have some skin in the game that we have no skin in.
Jim: … or very little. Yeah, and I love the fact that you referenced the Tenth Amendment. I call that out fairly frequently as, frankly, enabling states to secede. If you read it honestly, I’ll read it out loud. The power is not delegated to the United States by the constitution nor prohibited by it to the states or reserve to the states respectively or to the people. If you actually take those words seriously, states have the right to secede because that was not forbidden to the states, and so, therefore, they and the people have that capability.
Jim: In fact, you follow that in your book and you say that states ought to have the right to secede, and I think you also implied smaller units than states. Talk us through the argument about what secession could mean and why it might be a good thing contrary to the American lore of the moment.
Max: Yeah. I’m happy to. I do have some regrets coming on your show with this Southern accent talking about secession, but here we are.
Jim: Hey, this is The Jim Rutt Show. If they don’t want a cookie, fuck them.
Max: Well, I just want to reassure the listeners, nevertheless, that I’m not here to talk about secession for good things or bad things. What I’m trying to point out is at the level of systems. Whenever you have the ability to secede or some separatist movement, whether that be the Basque Country, whether that be Scotland, whether that be for cultural reasons or economic in terms of Brexit, in terms of, by God, there’s nothing that resembles Vermont that people in New Hampshire have culturally, and yet, they’re right next to each other. They both sound like New Englanders, but beyond that, they have very different sensibilities and governments. It’s a good thing, too.
Max: What I want to do is extrapolate from that that the more we have this localized governments, the less we’re likely to see catastrophic failures that are universal because any small experiment that doesn’t work at the local level is probably not going to have as great an effect on the surrounding system. This goes back to your idea of porous borders and the John Holland ideas or if you like Nicholas Taleb, who in his book Antifragile talks about the idea that when you have this system-wide monolithic set of policies, if you’re wrong, the whole system goes fubar. If you have localized experimentation, you’re much more likely to get something else that’s good and that perhaps you can even copy in your system or improve upon after having copied it.
Max: This really is thinking of it as like forking the code. People are interested in cryptocurrencies and distributed ledgers. Well, understand the beauty and blessing of open source systems is that you can consent to belong to them, i.e., the consent of the governed, and you can fork the code if you don’t like what they’re doing with the code and want to have something else that is similar, but has certain properties that are sufficiently different to where you forked from that this is a good thing, that this creates a healthy ecosystem of value in a pluralistic world.
Max: I totally agree with that and this is the kind of thinking that, to a great degree, animates the book. It really goes into this idea of flow systems because attached to what flows in these systems are real human beings with real sovereign choices. It’s not that I want to see them escaping any certain responsibilities they might have to their civil association, but rather that they are able to realize their conceptions of the good with people who share their sensibilities.
Jim: Very good. Going on from that, you take a quick pretty good dive into the idea of subsidiarity and you lay out just a rough, I realized, pencil sketch of essentially a series of hierarchies of size of organizing units, but with some strong sense on what should go at what level. So, tell us about that a little bit.
Max: Yeah. Okay. So, let’s talk for a moment about an idea called cellular democracy, and this may have some parallels to liquid democracy in some sense because the dynamics of liquid democracy may generate results that are similar to what I’m describing, but this starts at a different starting point, I think, with cellular democracy.
Max: Cellular democracy assumes that the most powerful and most sovereign collective unit is the cell, okay? So, you might only have very few people in this cell, and that they would be in your neighborhood. They have the right to send a delegation to the next superstratum above them. So, you might start with 30 people. I just use threes with zeros in order to make it a good visual for people to imagine in their minds, but you might have a group of 30, then you might have a group of 300, if you like. Dunbar’s number is better. Maybe you start with 15 and go to 150, and then go to 1,500, but you’re scaling up in this fashion and delegating to the superordinate layer for only certain aspects of governance that need to be dealt with at that layer.
Max: So, you have a system of subsidiarity, subsidiarity rule being that you delegate authority to the most local feasible power and you do so because there are functional reasons to do so because they are able to handle those tasks. With cellular democracy, you get that and you get it by virtue of the folks in that cell deciding whether or not the superstrata are benefiting them in their relationship to those superstrata.
Max: At the end of the day, you guys can always vote to pull out and your vote is sovereign, and it’s much easier to get to unanimity with 13 people than it is or sorry, 15 people than it is 150 or 1,500 up to scale.
Max: That being said, it flips this idea that the federal government should be the all-pervasive power to put its thumb on the scales of justice on whatever the matter is, and instead is much more like Switzerland or even Liechtenstein in that it’s highly localized power, and it still preserves your majoritarian democracy, which I’m not a huge fan. I think there are other mechanisms that are good, but for folks who like democracy, I would certainly take this over the kind that we have today.
Jim: How do we deal with those because, again, subsidiarity fully stated says that decisions should be taken at the lowest level in which it is feasible to address that problem. Sometimes when people are advocates for subsidiarity, they forget the last phrase, at the level appropriate to address that problem. We do have some problems that by their nature require coordination at a very high level, and I think the classic example is climate change. How do you envision a politics based on this vision of subsidiarity and granted power moving up the chain dealing with a global level issue that requires collective action by everybody?
Max: Well, for one thing, so there’s two points here, and I want to parse these two points. I think it’s exceedingly difficult and problematic to think that any describe needs to be able to be handled collectively at a global scale. I know you will want to push back at that, but we’ve seen with so many of these … There’s so many problems of defection and collective action agreements, especially when you have varying degrees of skin in whatever game you’re playing. So, let me give you a specific example of a Paris agreement or a Kyoto Protocol or any of these agreements.
Max: First, you have to accept that there’s going to be some global enforcement body that is empowered to hold sway over defectors whether they defect from the agreement by violating it or they defect from the agreement by not entering into it to begin with. This is a huge game theoretical problem, I think, that persists in time. It’s why we’ve seen the dissolution of these very nice sounding agreements, but they don’t ever amount to anything because people either de facto or de jure defect from the agreements or ex-post, ex-ante, whatever you like. They’re difficult to enforce. We don’t want to create a Leviathan enforcement power at the scale of the globe. I think that would be very dangerous and stupid.
Max: So, yeah, I’m not as excited about the idea of collective action problems at the scale of the planet. You might be able to find me one and you might be able to find a way to resolve it. It’s much better or much simpler than these Westphalian nation state agreements for carbon and methane, but at the end of the day, I think they’re problematic and they’re not really going to work.
Max: Countries like China and other countries are going to violate them where they can because they have deep, deep interest in doing so. That’s perhaps a shame, but perhaps not. I mean, we can understand someone like a country like India wanting to be able to develop before starting to torpedo their development. I’m much more saying, “What about rapidly adopting waste elimination technologies and other carbon sequestration technologies?” than I am about, say, implementing a global carbon tax, although I’m not going to be doctrinaire and saying that I wouldn’t support that.
Max: Now, as far as going back to your question, it all depends, right? It would take some … If you have a constitutional subsidiarity amendment, that would be great. Your Supreme Court is going to always have to deal with the question of what is the appropriate level of decision making. I don’t think any of us are going to be able to make that decision unilaterally because we’re always going to disagree about what that level is. So, in a system like ours, that would be the function of the courts to decide, and then that subsidiarity stratum would be determined and go into settled law.
Jim: Now, I had a very interesting guest on the podcast a couple of months ago, Anatol Lieven, who basically agreed that global firm enforcement mechanisms are not going to work, no one’s going to agree to them, people are going to cheat, et cetera, but he did lay out some interesting ideas on how that, at least at the nation state level, we could coerce, bribe, seduce each other into cooperating to address climate change. For instance, imagine the West got together and agreed amongst ourselves on having carbon tax, and then we all mutually agreed, say 500 million people of the most advanced economies, that we were going to put tariffs on anyone who traded with us equal to 125% of such carbon taxes unless those countries enforce those carbon taxes locally and administer them honestly.
Jim: One could see a gradually cascading agreement where, first, let’s say India says, “Well, shit. I don’t want to give up all this trade with these countries, so I’m going to do a carbon tax. Well, now, it’s my incentive to turn that tariff against the Chinese and the Bangladeshese because otherwise, my internal industries are being screwed,” and you could see a virtuous circle whereby we could have a global agreement of carbon tax and/or import/export offsets that grow organically through arm’s length agreements amongst the nation states.
Max: Yeah. Those are interesting ideas. I think they’re interesting at the level of the bureaucratic notions of sticks and carrots administratively ordering society through the process of using incentives and threats. I think that’s exactly how it has to play out. You’re going to find all sorts of opportunities for people to game systems in that way and get fewer good results or hope for outcomes. You’re going to have a lot of unintended consequences the more you have create the ability to game system, whether it’s carbon credits. What sorts of sticks and carrots are you talking about?
Max: We need always to ask the question, “Are these competing values? Is global warming or climate change, the mitigation of climate change, is that value as it is in comparison with other values, such as the developing of the world’s poorest people lifting out of poverty, which does require energy and does require the release of CO2 and methane? Are these values at odds?”
Max: To the extent that you can find a way to make them more commensurable values, that I think is a good thing, but, again, we have to be very careful about bureaucratic sticks and threats management of these situations because they create too many opportunities for people to game the system, and are not really easy to enforce at the end of the day, but I do think that that is more or less the way you would have to look at it in order to prevent defection. I don’t know whether or not you would always get it, especially with a country like China that is extremely powerful.
Max: Certainly, open to that is an idea. I think we’re much more likely to get traction on the mitigation technologies front and the adaptation front, but the folks who think that we’re going to burn up in 12 years are not going to like me to say that, and I realize it.
Jim: Of course, that is true. It’s an example of failed sense-making, “We’re not going to burn up in 12 years, people,” or I guess we’re down to nine years now. On the other hand, there are scenarios that could get pretty ugly by the end of the 21st century if we have not taken climate change seriously, and this is a classic collective action problem, and I use it as a stressor to look at each proposal. If you can’t deal with this problem, it may not be sufficient for the cause, but we could argue about this one all day and I think let’s move on.
Jim: You talked about it just a little bit more in passing, but it happens to be one of my favorite ideas was the distinction between the English common law and the Roman civil law, essentially the regulatory European model, actually, that came from Rome and the Code of Justinian. Could you tell us a little bit about that and maybe compare and contrast the two and you come down between those two forms of jurisprudence?
Max: Yeah. Thanks. I appreciate your noticing that, and it really calls to mind again this distinction between the masculine and the feminine forms of law, and those practitioners of the common law may not like the idea that I’m describing it as feminine, but, well, tough shit, it is. It is facilitation and flow versus coercion and control.
Max: I do appreciate the common law much more because common law is a kind of bottom up law. It considers the circumstances of time and place and then tries to create precedents based on that. Those legal precedents can be overturned in time as information or tensions prevent themselves.
Max: So, you noticed I use the word tensions there. It’s very much like holacracy internally, where you’re processing tensions. You’re processing the frictions that people have one another in their persons, their properties, and whatever, and in the common law, it’s really a highly localized way of determining what can be rather cosmopolitan or universalistic rules, but it’s not done based on these wise stewards of the law that we imagine are going to Washington and getting corrupted, which is the way statute law gets done. We elect a representative and we imagine that they have some kind of wisdom and they don’t lose that wisdom in all the horsetrading and the bullshit they have to get their bill through. Once that bill goes through, it blankets the land for everyone without any real input from local knowledge or the distributed knowledge of people around the country or of some particular industry or other.
Max: We want always to respect the fact of local knowledge. Statute law is really, it’s an imposed form of law that less to do … It has more to do with planning in the administrative ordering of society than it does with allowing protocols to be designed from the bottom up in the manner of, say, the Lex mercatoria or the English common law. I think these are far more robust in antifragile forms of law, and I would just assume that we not have statute law at all, but if we do, that it’s highly, highly localized.
Jim: All right. Let’s move on to our last topic here. This is something that there are many people in the Game B world that are interested in. I personally have always been skeptical about it, but I am open to hear good arguments on how this might work, and that’s the idea of polyarchy, which you talk about some in the book. Could you lay out what polyarchy is and why you think it might work?
Max: Yeah, absolutely, Jim. It’s not that far away from what we have been talking about in polycentrism. Polycentrism is the idea that we have these multiple jurisdictions with diverse rules and cultures within them and people can migrate amongst those jurisdictions and experiments to realize their particular conceptions of the good, with other people who share their sensibilities. You and I agree pretty much that this was a good idea.
Max: The difference between polyarchy and polycentricity is that it takes out this idea that territory has some kind of special magic associated with it. We are so inured to the idea that a jurisdiction is something that has to be somehow attached to some patch of soil, and it strips that notion away.
Max: Now, of course, some things that are attached to a patch of soil need to be administered locally on the soil and it makes sense for the jurisdictional aspects of the law to be attached to territory like whether or not we drive on the right in Texas rather than the left, but most things that we talk about like how we get our healthcare or how we get our health insurance or what kind of systems that we want to enter in to, these really don’t need to be attached to territory. This is really an artifact of a history of domination and conquest that the world is known for ever since the time, basically, when they were settled to agriculture and you learned that you could come to dominate a whole territory simply by taking some of the farmers’ grain in the form of taxes and build a hierarchy atop that system.
Max: We don’t need to do things that way, and now in this day and age where we have so many different ways of arriving at a consensus, which we call consensus mechanisms, there really is no reason that I sitting in Texas or Mexico or Canada shouldn’t be able to enter into some civic association where I pay a certain level of tax in order to enjoy the benefits of a certain kind of health insurance system. It really doesn’t make much sense.
Max: So, the idea comes from a guy named Dupuis, who is a Belgian philosopher of I believe the 19th century. In fact, he wrote his book around the time of Marx’s Kapital or maybe the Communist Manifesto, but his idea was why shouldn’t you be able to join a civic association from your dressing gown and slippers? All you have to do is go to register, instead of joining a party or voting for a party and having your party fight for who gets to win. You have multiple concurrent parties, and you live by the rules and hospices of those multiple concurrent parties or ideological affiliations or civic associations, our view like, and then you allow them the ability to resolve their disputes in court.
Max: This is really no different from what we were talking about before in subsidiarity only it appreciates the idea that not everything needs to be attached to territory.
Jim: I always scratch my head about that. Maybe it’s that I’m not looking at the wide enough lens, but let’s say, for instance, the rules on whether you’re going to allow drinking in public or not. That seems to be a very geographic condition and maybe, and that one seems absolutely geographic because you have a quality of life decision either we allow drinking in public or we don’t, right? You got one choice on it, and it’s hard to see how you can do that in a polycentric kind of way.
Max: Well, it’s easy to see in a polycentric way. It’s hard to see in a polyarchic way, and maybe that is not a suitable thing for polyarchy, right? Polyarchy is a yes and. It is not an ultimate thing, right? So, you might live in a jurisdiction that finds it important for the public morality not having any drinking in public, and then you walk over to your neighboring jurisdiction and find that everybody is out on the streets having a nice celebration and they’re holding drinks. That’s fine, but it’s really not clear why I have to have certain associated regulations over the mode and manner through which I purchase my health insurance, for example.
Max: We not only have a state patch work of laws, but ever since the ACA, some of those have been completely overcome by the federal government. So, we all live under this certain kind of healthcare regime in the United States that is a crazy patchwork of shit. If you want to know the truth, it’s a terrible system. It could not possibly have been designed, just features of it have designed and it creates all manner of distortions.
Max: The idea is why shouldn’t you be able to use a Singaporean healthcare system or the Swiss healthcare system or for that matter, just buy it on the open market according to your own lights. That might sound very libertarian to some, but it is really also quite communitarian. It’s saying, “Look, I identify more with people in Vermont, but I don’t live there. I want to join Vermont system. Why not?”
Jim: For things like that, which are more like purchasing a service, that seems to make a lot of sense. Let me throw a case in the middle. As principled libertarian, you’ll probably object to the whole premise, but let’s imagine-
Max: Wait, wait, wait now. I’m not a principled libertarian. I mean, the kind of stuff I’m talking about really transcends libertarianism in a lot of way.
Jim: I understand. I understand. I know where you’re coming from. I mean, I have my own libertarian biases, too. I mean, throughout the examples, just get your reaction to it because it’s an interesting intermediate case between the two that we just talked about, and that is the current tendency, I believe everyone in the United States, to require a medical degree and going through a whole series of hoops and internships and all this stuff before you can do certain medical practices.
Jim: There’s a lot of argument that, “Hey, nurse practitioners could do all the same things for half the price,” and, frankly, a retired Navy medic could probably do them for a quarter of the price. So, the idea of a bylaw gild, defining who can do what in the area of medical services feels like if you’re going to take such things seriously, which I’m not sure you should, have to be done geographically because the idea I suppose is to protect people from bad decision making.
Max: Yeah. I don’t see why that one would be geographic except for the idea that it’s impossible to enforce otherwise. I personally think that there are all manner of ways to get people certification, to get what level of ability and expertise. We have ranking and reputation systems now. We have so many other mechanisms that make it very clear. In fact, they can be far, in terms of reputation and market process, can be far more damaging than once you get some credential, you’re okay to practice.
Max: I’m very skeptical that this actually really works. It might make us feel better. I’m more interested in the market mechanisms, market transparency and reputation systems that track every move these physicians make, and I certainly would want a doctor that is from the physicians underwriter laboratory than I would some quacktastic person, but that not everyone is. I understand the concern. I just don’t believe that these kind of things always protect you from quacks and that there are better mechanisms for doing so, but what that has to do with polyarchy is difficult to say. I’ll have to give it some thought.
Jim: All righty. Well, I think we’re going to wrap it up here. People, this is just a sample. Two episodes, almost three hours that I did not get fully through every topic I had in my topic list. So, I strongly recommend that if you want to read a whole bunch of rich ideas, which you will not necessarily agree with all of them, check out Max’s book, After Collapse: The End of America and the Rebirth of Her Ideals. Thank you, Max, for appearing on The Jim Rutt Show.
Max: Thanks. I had a ball.
Production services and audio editing by Jared Janes Consulting, Music by Tom Muller at modernspacemusic.com.