practopians

The Society for Practical Utopians

Working together to shape a brighter future for humanity

Latest Content of All Types

Here is a list of all the latest content, including references to content originating at other sites.

The Value of Individuals

By Herb Bowie

A belief in the value of individuals is one of the core Practopian principles.

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Basic Info   |   2018 Dec 10


The welfare of the whole human race

The twentieth century will be chiefly remembered by future generations not as an era of political conflicts or technical inventions, but as an age in which human society dared to think of the welfare of the whole human race as a practical objective.

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Quotation by Arnold J. Toynbee   |   2018 Dec 06


It's the rich class that's winning

There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.

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Quotation by Warren Buffett   |   2018 Dec 04


Calling for a US Sustainability Initiative

By Herb Bowie

Looking back over the history of the United States, it’s easy to see in hindsight a series of events and actions that have either united or divided us.

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Blog Post   |   2018 Dec 03


The Importance of Mission

By Herb Bowie

The dictionary on my Mac defines mission as “a strongly felt aim, ambition, or calling.”

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Basic Info   |   2018 Nov 26


This strange hankering for play and surprise

That exploratory, expansive drive is what separates delight from demand: when we are in play mode, we are open to new surprises, while our base appetites focus the mind on the urgent needs of staying alive.

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Quotation by Steven Johnson   |   2018 Nov 22


A Broadcast Consciousness

By Herb Bowie

Let me take you on a little journey of thought exploring some hitherto unconsidered aspects of our common cultural evolution.

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Blog Post   |   2018 Nov 19


Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts

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Quotation by Daniel Patrick Moynihan   |   2018 Nov 15


It's sports and it's all love

At the end of the day, it’s sports, and it’s all love. I feel for both sides. – Commenting on stopping on the court after a game to console Devin Davis, an opponent who was sobbing on the court, despondent over missing two crucual free throws.

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Quotation by Moritz Wagner   |   2018 Nov 15


Living with the strains of complexity

Political society wants things simple. Political scientists know them to be complex…

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Quotation by Daniel Patrick Moynihan   |   2018 Nov 15


Public Truth

Reviving the common good also depends on each of us taking responsibility for finding, sharing, and insisting upon public truth.

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Quotation by Robert B. Reich   |   2018 Nov 15


Public morality

Moral guidance about what is right or decent can be found both in religious teachings and in our contemporary understanding of what we owe one another as members of the same society. As I have suggested, they overlap.

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Quotation by Robert B. Reich   |   2018 Nov 15


Set off from the rest by a line drawn

Of all dangers to a nation, as things exist in our day, there can be no greater one than having certain portions of the people set off from the rest by a line drawn – they not privileged as others, but degraded, humiliated, made of no account.

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Quotation by Walt Whitman   |   2018 Nov 15


That community asks for and gets chaos

From the wild Irish slums of the 19th century Eastern seaboard, to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history; a community that allows a large number of men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to….

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Quotation by Daniel Patrick Moynihan   |   2018 Nov 15


The divine literatus

View’d, to-day, from a point of view sufficiently over-arching, the problem of humanity all over the civilized world is social and religious, and is to be finally met and treated by literature. The priest departs, the divine literatus comes.

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Quotation by Walt Whitman   |   2018 Nov 15


The institution of the family

The institution of the family is decisive in determining not only if a person has the capacity to love another individual but in the larger social sense whether he is capable of loving his fellow men collectively.

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Quotation by Daniel Patrick Moynihan   |   2018 Nov 15


To differentiate truth from falsehood

It is the civic responsibility of all of us to check the facts we read or hear, to find and depend upon reliable sources, to share the truth with others, and hold accountable those who lie to us or suppress the truth.

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Quotation by Robert B. Reich   |   2018 Nov 15


Man must believe in an open future

Man’s freedom is a reality – a reality that makes a difference to his physical, as well as his mental health. When Frankl’s prisoners ceased to believe in the possibility of freedom, they grew sick and died.

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Quotation by Colin Wilson   |   2018 Nov 13


Each man is questioned by life

Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.

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Quotation by Victor Frankl   |   2018 Nov 13


Love is the ultimate and the highest goal

A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire.

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Quotation by Victor Frankl   |   2018 Nov 13


We should always be fighting evil

All I tried to do in my stories was show that there’s some innate goodness in the human condition. And there’s always going to be evil; we should always be fighting evil.

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Quotation by Stan Lee   |   2018 Nov 13


Regulating the ownership of data

So we had better call upon our lawyers, politicians, philosophers, and even poets to turn their attention to this conundrum: how do you regulate the ownership of data? This may well be the most important political question of our era.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2018 Nov 12


People are happy to give away their most valuable asset

At present, people are happy to give away their most valuable asset – their personal data – in exchange for free email services and funny cat videos.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2018 Nov 12


Selling sugared water

Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?

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Quotation by Steve Jobs   |   2018 Nov 12


The Written Word in the 21st Century

By Herb Bowie

Whether we are talking about the King James Bible, The Catcher in the Rye, On the Origin of Species, or Wikipedia, we recognize that writing things down is an important means of preserving human knowledge and wisdom, and that both writing and reading are invaluable human activities.

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Basic Info   |   2018 Nov 12


An emotional poverty so bottomless

I have always been struck, in America, by an emotional poverty so bottomless, and a terror of human life, of human touch, so deep that virtually no American appears able to achieve any viable, organic connection between his public stance and his private life.

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Quotation by James Baldwin   |   2018 Nov 09


A beast or a god

But he who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god: he is no part of a state. A social instinct is implanted in all men by nature.

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Quotation by Aristotle   |   2018 Nov 08


Egocentric Existence

Both the authoritarian and the submissive develop standards which they feel will insure them against threat, but these are very raw standards. The submissive person chooses to get away with what he can within the life style which is possible for him. The authoritarian chooses to do as he pleases.

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Quotation by Clare W. Graves   |   2018 Nov 07


While he was focusing on the inner self, his outer world has gone to pot

At the personalistic level (F-S), man becomes centrally concerned with peace with his inner self and in the relation of his self to the inner self of others.

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Quotation by Clare W. Graves   |   2018 Nov 07


Man's nature is an open, constantly evolving system

The error which most people make when they think about human values is that they assume the nature of man is fixed and there is a single set of human values by which he should live. Such an assumption does not fit with my research.

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Quotation by Clare W. Graves   |   2018 Nov 07


My Advice to Young People of All Ages

By Herb Bowie

Today I’d like to change my focus and offer some advice for what people can and should do to improve their own personal lots in modern life. I have only a few recommendations, and they’re rather brief and straightforward, although I won’t claim they’re easy.

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Blog Post   |   2018 Oct 31


Let us accept our own responsibility for the future

Let us not despair but act. Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past – let us accept our own responsibility for the future.

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Quotation by John F. Kennedy   |   2018 Oct 29


Thinking should be generous and have a good appetite

Thinking should be generous and have a good appetite. I find life far too valuable these days to shut out most of its variety in favour of digging down into the depths….

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Quotation by Sarah Bakewell   |   2018 Oct 26


The historical trajectory of violence

The historical trajectory of violence affects not only how life is lived but how it is understood.

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Quotation by Steven Pinker   |   2018 Oct 26


If the future of humanity is decided in your absence...

In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power. In theory, anybody can join the debate about the future of humanity, but it is so hard to maintain a clear vision. We might not even notice that a debate is going on, or what the key questions are.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2018 Oct 26


Struggling against irrelevance

Brexit and the rise of Trump might therefore demonstrate a trajectory opposite to that of traditional socialist revolutions.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2018 Oct 26


Economic growth will not save the global ecosystem

Liberalism traditionally relied on economic growth to magically solve difficult social and political conflicts.

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Quotation by Yuval Noah Harari   |   2018 Oct 26


The better angels of our nature

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

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Quotation by Abraham Lincoln   |   2018 Oct 26


An Integral Approach

By Herb Bowie

A belief in an integral approach is one of the core Practopian principles. At its most basic, this principle simply means that people can see things from different perspectives, and that often no one way of seeing something is the “right” or only way.

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Basic Info   |   2018 Oct 26


Fruitcakes

By Herb Bowie

I’ve always considered this to be Jimmy Buffet’s masterwork. The musical backing is infectious, swaying and danceable, and the background vocals add depth. The words are cleverly crafted, and perfectly suited to Buffett’s conversational, wisecracking delivery.

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Appreciation   |   2018 Oct 13


When I get a little money I buy books

When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.

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Quotation by Desiderius Erasmus   |   2018 Oct 11


Imperfection

By Herb Bowie

Belief in imperfection as a fundamental principle may seem like an odd concept but, in fact, it is an essential part of our thinking. Let’s look at some of the reasoning behind this principle.

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Basic Info   |   2018 Oct 11


Core Clusters

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Core Writing   |   2018 Oct 10


US Political Observations for October 2018

By Herb Bowie

In this brief respite between primary season and the general US midterm elections in November, I thought it might be fitting to offer up a few suggestions to those of us who will be participating, whether as candidates or as voters.

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Blog Post   |   2018 Oct 04


I learned a lot of things from failure

I learned a lot of things from failure. When you play 162 games, I don’t think any sport emulates life like baseball. You play football once a week or basketball twice. But you start playing baseball, you play every day, day in and day out.

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Quotation by Brooks Robinson   |   2018 Oct 03


Seeking ways to disagree with myself

It has allowed me to return to a long-lost self who once wrote in peace and quiet … doing what I have always loved: finding ways to disagree with myself in order to discover what my true thoughts are.

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Quotation by Yanis Varoufakis   |   2018 Oct 02


Our Societal Disconnect

By Herb Bowie

I was thinking recently about my own upbringing in Annapolis, Maryland, back in the sixties, and it occurred to me that there were several aspects of my experience there and then that I took for granted, but that are no longer very common today.

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Blog Post   |   2018 Sep 26


The Village Green Preservation Society

By Herb Bowie

This is a rather amazing song by The Kinks, first released in 1968. I loved this song from the moment I first heard it, but my appreciation for it has only grown over the years.

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Appreciation   |   2018 Sep 21


Why I Call Myself a Practopian

By Herb Bowie

I suffered a crisis of faith a few years ago: a crisis of faith in my atheism.

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Blog Post   |   2018 Sep 15


Confusion leads to understanding

I’m trying to confuse peoples’ initial perceptions. Confusion leads to exploration, exploration to learning, and learning to understanding.

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Quotation by Vishavjit Singh   |   2018 Sep 14


Will the Circle be Unbroken

By Herb Bowie

It’s certainly fair to categorize this song as a religious one, and more particularly as a Christian song, and yet, even though I consider myself to be a non-believer, my lack of faith doesn’t diminish my appreciation for this song in the slightest: if anything, I think it increases it.

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Appreciation   |   2018 Aug 15


Cultural Evolution

By Herb Bowie

A belief in cultural evolution is one of the core Practopian principles. But what do we mean by human culture? And by its evolution? Let’s dive a little deeper to uncover some of the significant ideas lurking behind this simple statement.

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Basic Info   |   2018 Aug 13


If triangles had a god

If triangles had a god, they would give him three sides.

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Quotation by Montesquieu   |   2018 Aug 12


A Twenty-Six Legged Stool?

By Herb Bowie

A few years ago, when I was teaching software development, I often invoked the image of a three-legged stool, with each leg representing one of the essential leadership roles: leave out any one of them, you see, and your project is liable to fall over.

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Blog Post   |   2018 Aug 04


Liberal democracy's strongest glue is economic growth

We are taught to think our democracies are held together by values. Our faith in history fuels that myth. But liberal democracy’s strongest glue is economic growth. When groups fight over the fruits of growth, the rules of the political game are relatively easy to uphold.

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Quotation by Edward Luce   |   2018 Aug 03


Responsible Nationalism

Lawrence Summers complained of ‘the development of stateless elites whose allegiance is to global economic success and their own prosperity rather than the interests of the nation where they are headquartered’.

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Quotation by Edward Luce   |   2018 Aug 03


Conscious Improvement for the Masses

In the newly created Germany, Otto von Bismarck set up the world’s first social insurance system for the working classes in the late nineteenth century. Britian followed suit under Lloyd George in the early twentieth century.

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Quotation by Edward Luce   |   2018 Aug 03


A hereditary meritocracy

The golden decades of the post-war era bore out the theory of declining inequality. But over the last thirty years that has gone into reverse. During those decades, the share of the US economic pie divided between labour and capital was roughly 70:30.

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Quotation by Edward Luce   |   2018 Aug 03


Capitalism works best in societies where there are high levels of trust

Adam Smith, the great theorist of free trade economics, is revered for his The Wealth of Nations. His companion work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, is mostly forgotten. Yet it is the more important of the two.

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Quotation by Edward Luce   |   2018 Aug 03


The stagnation of American middle-class living standards

I believe that the rising intolerance and incivility and the eroding generosity and openness that have marked important aspects of American society in the recent past have been, in significant part, a consequence of the stagnation of American middle-class living standards.

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Quotation by Ben Friedman   |   2018 Aug 03


The yen to work drops in flat economies

Writing in the 1950s, Daniel Bell, the great American sociologist, said ‘economic growth has become the secular religion of advancing industrial societies’. He was right. It follows that in its absence, many people lapse into the equivalent of atheism.

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Quotation by Edward Luce   |   2018 Aug 03


Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself

Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

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Quotation by Jesus   |   2018 Jul 27


Value Creation

By Herb Bowie

Many of the Practopian Core Beliefs will seem rather straightforward to most people: Liberty and Equality, for example, are fundamental human values that should sound familiar no matter what your background. The belief in the importance of Value Creation, on the other hand, may be puzzling to many.

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Basic Info   |   2018 Jul 24


Civilization was a thin and precarious crust

We were not aware that civilization was a thin and precarious crust erected by the personality and the will of a very few, and only maintained by rules and conventions skilfully put across and guilefully preserved.

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Quotation by John Maynard Keynes   |   2018 Jul 20


Governments losing their ability to anticipate events

Governments of all types – democratic and authoritarian, small states and superpowers – are losing their ability to anticipate events. They are thus losing the means to shape them. The days when national leaders could peer around the corner and head off coming dangers are receding.

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Quotation by Edward Luce   |   2018 Jul 20


Writing off half of society as deplorable

If we write off half of society as deplorable we forfeit claims on their attention. We also endanger liberal democracy.

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Quotation by Edward Luce   |   2018 Jul 20


History is not some self-driving car

But I have grave doubts about history’s long arc. History is not some self-driving car taking humanity to a pre-set destination. Whichever human is behind the wheel must ensure the others stay in the car.

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Quotation by Edward Luce   |   2018 Jul 20


What would a new social compact look like?

What would a new social compact look like? Since our crisis is political, the solutions must stretch far beyond economics. My own views do not always fit into twentieth-century pigeonholes.

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Quotation by Edward Luce   |   2018 Jul 20


The axis is constructive-destructive

The axis today is not liberal and conservative, the axis is constructive-destructive, and you’ve cast your lot with the destructive people. Fox has become an incredibly destructive force in our society. You can be better, and this is going to be your legacy if you’re not careful.

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Quotation by Steve Jobs   |   2018 Jul 18


Technological Unemployment

We are being afflicted with a new disease of which some readers may not yet have heard the name, but of which they will hear a great deal in the years to come – namely, technological unemployment.

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Quotation by John Maynard Keynes   |   2018 Jul 09


To live wisely and agreeably and well

Thus for the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem – how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound interest will have won for him, to live wisely and agreeably and well.

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Quotation by John Maynard Keynes   |   2018 Jul 09


The legitimate object of government

The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves – in their separate, and individual capacities.

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Quotation by Abraham Lincoln   |   2018 Jul 09


The Half-Finished Heaven

Despondency breaks off its course. Anguish breaks off its course. The vulture breaks off its flight. The eager light streams out, even the ghosts take a draught. And our paintings see daylight, our red beasts of the ice-age studios. Everything begins to look around.

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Quotation by Tomas Tranströmer   |   2018 Jul 07


People are finally finding out that the guy next door isn't a bad egg

You mean to tell me you’d try to kill the John Doe movement if you can’t use it to get what you want? Well, that certainly is a new low. You sit there with your big cigars and think of deliberately killing an idea that has made millions of people a little bit happier.

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Quotation by Robert Riskin   |   2018 Jul 07


Most advertising an insane irrelevance

It is often said that our society is too materialist, and that advertising reflects this…. But it seems to me that in this respect our society is quite evidently not materialist enough, and that this, paradoxically, is the result of a failure in social meaning, values and ideals….

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Quotation by Raymond Williams   |   2018 Jul 05


What To Do About Big Business?

By Herb Bowie

Has business gotten too big? Rather than trying to answer this question directly, let’s start by reviewing the fundamental architecture of all modern societies.

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Blog Post   |   2018 Jul 02


No person in America should be too poor to live

For me, democratic socialism is about – really, the value for me is that I believe that in a modern, moral and wealthy society, no person in America should be too poor to live.

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Quotation by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez   |   2018 Jun 29


A diminishing sense of shared humanity

In grounded theory, researchers try to understand what we call ‘the main concern’ of study participants. When it comes to belonging, I asked: What are people trying to achieve? What are they worried about? The answer was surprisingly complex.

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Quotation by Brené Brown   |   2018 Jun 27


Humanism

By Herb Bowie

The first Practopian core principle states that “We are humanistic: we are focused on human concerns and human potential.” The primary intent behind this statement is to signal that we don’t claim to represent any authority other than our own very human selves, and that we focus on the interests of….

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Blog Post   |   2018 Jun 22


Generosity is the robust strategy

It is deeply unfortunate how difficult it is for humans to practice foresight.

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Quotation by Tim O'Reilly   |   2018 Jun 21


The Opposite of Popularizing Economics

This is why this book is my attempt to do the opposite of popularizing economics: if it succeeds, it should incite its readers to take the economy into their own hands and make them realize that to understand the economy they also have to understand why the self-appointed experts on the economy,….

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Quotation by Yanis Varoufakis   |   2018 Jun 21


All must be held valuable, or none

But none of us has the right to assess the value of a human existence. All must be held valuable, or none. The death of Christ and the death of Socrates, Fen added dryly, "suggest that our judgments are scarcely infallible…

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Quotation by Edmund Crispin   |   2018 Jun 21


The Long Now Foundation

The Long Now Foundation was established in 01996 to foster long-term thinking and responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years.

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Link   |   2018 Jun 16


Diversity Helps Your Business -- But Not The Way You Think

I recently published research … that found that members of a social majority are more likely to voice unique perspectives and critically review task-relevant information when there is more social diversity present than when there is not.

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Quotation by Katherine Phillips   |   2018 May 30


Life is more like settling a sequence of villages

Life is not really an individual journey. Life is more like settling a sequence of villages. You help build a community at home, at work, in your town and then you go off and settle more villages.

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Quotation by David Brooks   |   2018 May 29


Discoveries and Inventions

Beavers build houses; but they build them in nowise differently, or better, now than they did five thousand years ago…. Man is not the only animal who labors; but he is the only one who improves his workmanship. These improvements he effects by Discoveries and Inventions.

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Quotation by Abraham Lincoln   |   2018 May 27


Investing in other people's children

All of the great advances in our society have come when we have made investments in other people’s children.

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Quotation by Robert Putnam   |   2018 May 27


Evolution and Its Implications

By Herb Bowie

A belief in evolution is one of the core Practopian principles. But to say that we believe in evolution means quite a bit more to us than simply a denial of creationism. We also mean to imply that we believe in natural selection as a process for improving things, including human culture.

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Basic Info   |   2018 May 22


To simply see human beings

If I ask you all today to look around and tell me who you see…. When you look around, I don’t want you to see black, white, Asian, I don’t want you to wonder if a person is Democrat or Republican, gay or straight.

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Quotation by Charles Woodson   |   2018 May 20


Institute for New Economic Thinking

We advance sound economic ideas to better serve humanity.

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Link   |   2018 May 20


The best way to predict the future is to invent it

Don’t worry about what anybody else is going to do…. The best way to predict the future is to invent it. Really smart people with reasonable funding can do just about anything that doesn’t violate too many of Newton’s Laws.

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Quotation by Alan Kay   |   2018 Apr 24


Worshipping the divine right of capital

Future economic historians may look back wryly at this period when we worshipped the divine right of capital while looking down on our ancestors who believed in the divine right of kings.

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Quotation by Tim O'Reilly   |   2018 Apr 24


Governance is essential

The simple maps of idealized markets leave out many real-world details that must be dealt with in order for the market to actually function properly. Governance is essential.

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Quotation by Tim O'Reilly   |   2018 Apr 24


In the thrall of a vast, world-spanning machine

We are already in the thrall of a vast, world-spanning machine that, due to errors in its foundational programming, has developed a disdain for human beings, is working to make them irrelevant, and resists all attempts to bring it back under control.

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Quotation by Tim O'Reilly   |   2018 Apr 16


To end up here in a pile of bones

Not until we showed them some of the stuff we got at Dachau, that George Stevens photographed with his crew, did it actually impinge itself on the mind of the horror, the horror of this whole thing. Man, the highest of all the animals… the Man who created God…

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Quotation by Frank Capra   |   2018 Apr 16


Information is Beautiful - Rhetological Fallacies

A complete interactive list of errors and manipulative tactics often used to try to persuade us of things that aren’t necessarily true, with examples.

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Link   |   2018 Apr 15


A 76K Monthly Pension - Why States and Cities Are Short on Cash

Governments are struggling as mounting pension obligations crowd out the rest of their budgets. Oregon faces a severe, self-inflicted crisis.

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News Item   |   2018 Apr 14


Talking Openly about Hierarchy

By Herb Bowie

I sometimes think that at least half of the confusion we currently experience in our civil discourse stems from our inability to speak openly and honestly about the nature of hierarchy.

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Blog Post   |   2018 Apr 13


Creatively Maladjusted

There is a need now more than ever before for men and women in our nation to be creatively maladjusted. And I say to you that I choose to be among the maladjusted.

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Quotation by Martin Luther King Jr.   |   2018 Apr 12


An edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring

True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It understands that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

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Quotation by Martin Luther King Jr.   |   2018 Apr 12