The direction of evolution and the future of humanity

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(new) The most recent and refined version of the evolutionary worldview that was first presented in Evolutionís Arrow can be found in the 34 page document The Evolutionary Manifesto which is here

Chapter 17.    Planetary Society and Beyond        


How must human society evolve if we are to participate successfully in the future evolution of life in the universe? How should we change the way human society is currently organised if we want future evolutionary success?

We have seen what we must do as individuals. We must develop the psychological capacity to adapt in whatever ways are necessary to achieve future evolutionary success. This means that we must no longer pursue motivations and values set by our biological and social past. Instead, we must develop the psychological ability to find motivation and emotional satisfaction in whatever we need to do to achieve future evolutionary success. We must use mental models of our evolutionary future to set our ultimate objectives, and then align our emotional system and other pre-existing adaptive processes with these evolutionary objectives.

But we must also organise ourselves socially in whatever ways will enable us to best exploit the benefits of cooperation. Whatever it is that we have to do for evolutionary success in the future, cooperative organisation will enable us to do it more effectively. We have seen that during the past evolution of life on earth, the larger the scale of cooperative organisation and the more evolvable it is, the better it is at exploiting the benefits of cooperation, and the better it does in evolutionary terms.

We can expect that the same principles will apply to future evolution. The larger the scale of human cooperative organisation, the larger the scale on which humanity can organise matter and energy to adapt to whatever challenges confront us. The greater the evolvability of human organisation, the better it will be at discovering and supporting the most effective cooperation between its members. And the better it will be at discovering new adaptation, including technological and scientific advances, and at adapting as circumstances change.

Of the instances of life that emerge throughout the universe, the ones that will be most significant will be those that progressively evolve cooperative organisation of larger scale and greater evolvability. When life evolves successfully on a planet, it will eventually produce a cooperative organisation on the scale of the planet. The planetary organisation will be established by external management that supports cooperation and suppresses destructive competition within the organisation. The members of the planetary organisation will be aware of the direction of evolution, and will consciously design and structure their social organisation so that it pursues evolutionary objectives. They will consciously improve the evolvability of their planetary organisation, structuring it so that it can adapt for the outside/future as well as for the inside/now. Like each of its member organisms, the planetary organisation will be able to adapt as a coherent whole, pursuing evolutionary objectives by acting on its external environment, and able to relate to any other large-scale living organisations that it encounters.

The instances of life that will be most significant in future evolution will be those that continue to expand the scale of their cooperative organisation. As an organisation expands, it will be able to manage the matter and energy of a solar system, then of a number of stars, and then of a galaxy. The range of things it can do in response to adaptive challenges will increase substantially as it gains the ability to manage matter and energy over wider and wider scales. As it expands, an organisation may amalgamate with cooperative organisations of other living processes, forming a larger-scale organisation containing a diversity of instances of life. Organisations will become expert at forming large-scale cooperative organisations that preserve and advance the interests of their members, and that exploit and celebrate the diverse perspectives of their members for the benefit of all. The members will be united by the common objective of contributing to the successful evolution of life in the universe, wherever that takes them.

The direction in which humanity must head for future evolutionary success is clear. The first great challenge is to establish a highly evolvable cooperative organisation on the scale of the planet. Humanity is likely to move some way toward such a planetary society even if we do not consciously pursue evolutionary objectives. This is because planetary cooperation will provide immediate material and social benefits to humans. These benefits have already driven the expansion of economic markets. Markets now operate globally, organising cooperative divisions of labour on the scale of the planet. Markets have increased in scale because the actions that cause them to expand are in the interests of market participants. Markets that are wider in scale cover a greater diversity of participants and provide more opportunities for useful specialisation and division of labour. Individuals who expand the scale of markets by exploiting these opportunities benefit from doing so[1].

But the processes of government do not yet operate on the scale of the planet. The scale of cooperative human society organised by external management has expanded enormously since the first agricultural communities emerged about 10,000 years ago. We now have nation states that include hundreds of millions of people. Yet this falls far short of a system of governance that would span the globe and would manage all humanity into a unified but diverse cooperative organisation.

The scale of governance is likely to continue to increase. A system of global governance is in the interests of humanity whether or not we consciously adopt evolutionary objectives. The deficiencies of the market system and the immediate material and social benefits of wider-scale cooperation will drive the move toward global governance. We have seen that a cooperative and effective society cannot be produced by a market system alone. This is as true for global society as it is for any other society. There are a number of reasons why global governance is in the immediate interests of humanity. First, an effective market can emerge only if there is a system of governance to establish the framework of market controls. If participants can escape these controls, they can cheat or free ride, undermining the market. If global markets are to be effective, all participants must be subject to a system of global controls that can be adapted swiftly and efficiently as circumstances change. To be effective, global markets demand global governance.

Second, global markets share the deficiencies of all other markets. They are unable to establish economic and social activities that have collective benefits, prevent environmental degradation and other collective harms, or produce a distribution of income that ensures all members of society can realise their full potential as individuals and collectively. A global society must be managed by global governance if these limitations are to be overcome, and if the benefits of cooperation on a global scale are to be realised. The governments of nation states can attempt to correct these deficiencies within their borders, but cannot succeed where the causes of the deficiencies extend beyond the borders of any one state. Only a larger-scale government that can manage the behaviour of all nations and their members can do this[2].

Global governance is essential if nations are to cooperate to overcome the deficiencies of global markets. Global governance can ensure that nations capture any harms they or their members cause by degrading the global environment. It can ensure that nations capture the benefits of their contribution to global social, economic and environmental projects that have collective benefits across nations[3]. Only global governance has the power to redistribute wealth between nations in the same way that nations do between their members. Only global governance can prevent war and other destructive competition between nations by using its power to ensure that nations capture the harms they produce[4]. And global governance is the most effective way of ensuring that all nation states use systems of governance that are fair and develop the potential of all their citizens[5].

Finally, global governance is in the immediate interests of humanity because global markets are undermining the ability of nation states to govern in the interests of their citizens[6]. We have seen that nation states must be governed effectively if the deficiencies of their internal markets are to be corrected, and if they are to fully exploit the benefits of cooperation within the state. But global markets are increasingly unravelling the systems of laws, taxes and government programs that nations have put in place. This is because these systems add to the costs of producing goods and services, and producers in countries with lower costs will be more competitive in global markets. Governments price their producers out of the market if, for example, they maintain higher minimum wages than other countries[7], or stronger workplace safety standards, or more effective pollution controls, or if they require employers to contribute more to employee pension funds, or to pay higher taxes so that government can fund a better social security system and a more effective education system. When producers sell goods and services in international markets, they are unable to capture any of the effects of providing these benefits to their employees or to others in their country. The market does not give any additional returns to producers who provide these benefits. In a competitive global market, producers cannot set prices that recoup their contribution to these types of benefits.

Producers who are able to manufacture the same goods anywhere in the world will locate in a country where they can do so most cheaply. Those who do not will be uncompetitive in global markets. Governments have to reduce the cost to business of government regulation and taxation if the nation’s economy is to be competitive. Governments that do not do so will be undercut by others. Competition will drive down the costs that governments can impose on business, and therefore will undermine the ability of governments to correct the deficiencies of the market. This will be the case no matter how beneficial the government regulation would have been to the society. Gradually, competition will dismantle the social security systems and other protections that governments have introduced this century to make the market system bearable[8]. Governments will not be able to fund these programs by increasing taxes on the income and expenditure of the affluent. The wealthy will use their political power and their increasing mobility between countries to ensure that any attempts in this direction fail.

Those nations that enter global competition with an initial competitive advantage will be able to maintain these government protections for longer. For example, a nation might have a relatively better education system and a more highly skilled workforce. This might give the nation a competitive superiority that enables it to resist the forces that are undermining the governance of nation states. But it is very unlikely that any country can maintain a competitive advantage for any length of time that is sufficient to continue to fund the programs of a welfare state. Other countries will imitate the successful one, and eliminate its competitive advantage. The dismantling of social security systems is proceeding apace in even the world’s most powerful economies.

The only actions of governments that can survive global competition will be those that make their producers more competitive in the market. All other management activities, including those that are needed to correct the deficiencies of the market, will be undermined. Unchecked, this would eventually return us to the unmanaged markets of the nineteenth century, and the widespread misery, poverty and inequality that they produced[9].

The only way in which this process can be stopped is by some form of global governance. Individuals, corporations and nations are powerless to prevent the disintegration of society that unmanaged markets will produce. Even if nobody in the world wants it, unmanaged global markets will continue to undermine national government. Anything a nation does to counter the process will simply make business within the country less competitive. Only global governance can end the competition between national governments that is eroding their ability to correct the deficiencies of the market. Global governance is essential to establish and enforce minimum global standards for wages, working hours, and social security. Only the power of global governance can prevent countries from undercutting these minimum standards and continuing the downward spiral into environmental and social disintegration that is being produced by unmanaged global competition. Global governance can establish minimum standards of living to provide a floor from which business competes in all countries of the world.

Just as the misery produced by unmanaged markets in the nineteenth century made the modern welfare state inevitable, the misery produced by unmanaged global markets will make global governance inevitable. The only unanswered question is how much misery will be produced before global governance is established. Effective global governance is in the interests of the majority of people in the world. If they had a capacity for systemic mental modelling that enabled them to see and understand this, global governance would be established swiftly. The majority would use democratic processes to have their national governments get together with other governments to set up such a system. To an extent, the European Union is a small-scale example of how this could happen[10].

But the majority of people on the planet do not yet have the knowledge or the ability to form mental models of how global markets operate and how various alternative forms of global and national governance would interact with those market systems. And the economically powerful are using their influence over public ideas to reinforce simpler and less adequate models. These models point to the evils rather that the benefits of national and global governance. It is in the immediate interests of the wealthy to support the dismantling of the social security and other programs of national governments. They do not need these programs. Their wealth enables them to satisfy their own needs, and to avoid the effects of social disintegration. But governments currently make them contribute to the funding of the programs through their taxes. The wealthy have the most to lose from attempts by governments to redistribute income and to correct other failings of markets. In many industrialised countries, the wealthy have pursued their interests by using the harmful effects of global competition to gain support for dismantling the welfare state even more quickly than the market would have required.

In the long run, however, the economically powerful will see that effective global governance is as essential to their interests as were effective systems of national governance earlier this century. Large-scale social unrest is as inevitably a consequence of unmanaged global markets as it was of the unmanaged market systems of the nineteenth century. And this social disintegration will eventually threaten the interests of the economically powerful, as it did earlier this century. Eventually, it will be clear to all that global governance is essential to correct the disadvantages of the global market.

Effective and adaptable global governance can ensure that the enormous advantages of global markets can be enjoyed without the disadvantages. Global markets can go a long way toward ensuring that citizens of the planetary society will capture the effects on others of their actions. To the extent that global markets achieve this, they make it in the interests of citizens to cooperate to satisfy the needs of others. Where markets fail to do this, government intervention is essential to organise society cooperatively. Governance at the level of the neighbourhood, city, region, nation, and the planet can act to ensure that members of the planetary society capture all the effects of their actions, good or bad, on others. To the extent that governance achieves this, human society will fully exploit the benefits of cooperation. Where cooperation can produce overall benefits, effective governance can ensure that individuals will find it in their interests to act cooperatively.

But, as we have seen, our existing systems of governance will not do this efficiently and effectively. Our existing forms of government are incompetent. Where governments have competed directly with markets in the organisation of economic activity, governments have proved inadequate. The same deficiencies in government that make it inferior to the market also limit its ability to organise the features of society that markets cannot. As we have seen, governments lack the information they need to manage a complex society effectively. They also must rely on incompetent bureaucracies to design and implement their policies. And their interests are often not aligned with the interests of the society as a whole.

Management is essential to produce an effective, cooperative planetary society. But our current forms of government are seriously limited in their ability to discover and adapt the management that is needed. If humanity is to fulfil its evolutionary potential, it must discover new and better processes for establishing the various levels of governance. The development of a managed planetary society is not enough. The next great evolutionary challenge for humanity will be to invent a new form of governance that will overcome the serious flaws in our existing processes.

We need a system that is as superior to current governance as is the market. We need a system for establishing and evolving governance that is as dynamic and evolvable as the market. It must be superior at discovering better forms of governance, and at adapting them as circumstances change. Highly evolvable management is essential if we are to have a highly evolvable human society.

What features would a system of governance have to have if it were to match the evolvability of the market? As we have seen, the market owes its effectiveness to a number of key features. Markets enable individuals to capture the effects on others of their actions. Individuals capture these effects when they sell the goods and services they produce. This aligns the interests of producers and consumers, and ensures that the energy and creativity of the members of society are harnessed to satisfy the needs and wants of others. There are no restrictions on who can try to produce and sell particular goods and services. This generates competition that ensures that producers survive only if they satisfy the needs of consumers efficiently.

As we have seen, the market mechanism uses a supra-individual change-and-test process to search for better ways to satisfy the needs of the members of a society. The change-and-test process operates through the collective activities of market participants. The market tries out new goods and services by providing incentives for producers to develop and market them. Producers, like central planners, can never be certain which products will satisfy consumers best. So the market uses the purchasing decisions of consumers to test the ‘best guesses’ made by producers. In a market, it is consumers rather than incompetent bureaucracies or governments who decide whether particular goods and services are useful to consumers, and how much they are worth.

Taken together, these collective actions of producers and consumers operate a supra-individual change-and-test mechanism that can discover better goods and services. The mechanism can do this even though no individual within the market knows which products will prove to be better. As a result, the market is more effective at matching goods and services to the needs of citizens than any group of central planners, or any producer acting alone. And the entire process operates through individuals pursuing only their own immediate interests.

Is it possible to establish similar processes to produce and adapt the functions currently performed by government? Could governance be established by supra-individual change-and-test processes that continually search for and implement better governance? Could these processes replace our current political processes and systems of government?

Such a system would have to operate a market in the various things that are currently done by governments. It would have to establish what I will call a vertical market, to distinguish it from our current economic markets. In a vertical market, it would not be the goods and services traded in economic markets that would be produced and sold. Instead, the vertical market would trade in regulations, market frameworks, systems of education, laws, taxes, law enforcement systems, and programs that build better communities. Any component of governance could be developed and sold in a vertical market. The ‘goods’ of the vertical market would be any act of governance that could organise some part of the society more effectively[11].

Like goods in economic markets, acts of management and components of governance would be purchased by the members of society who benefit from them. As we have seen, effective governance can produce net benefits for citizens because it enables the advantages of cooperation to be exploited. Governance can do this by supporting beneficial cooperative activities directly (e.g. by buying a defence force), or by creating a framework of market controls that ensure individuals can pursue their own interests only by cooperating. So governance can provide net benefits for members of society by, for example, redistributing income, improving community life, preventing environmental degradation, enabling economic markets to emerge or providing general education. Acts of governance that produce net benefits in these ways could all be sold at a profit in a vertical market.

Unlike in economic markets, the products sold in a vertical market would not be purchased by individuals. Acts of governance commonly affect many people, not just individuals. So in a vertical market, acts of management would not be purchased by individuals. They would be purchased collectively by the group of citizens who benefit from the management.

Vertical markets would be fully open to competition. No one would have a monopoly on developing the various acts of management that are put in place. Unlike at present, there would be no government with a sole right to decide the governance that is implemented. Any individual or corporation could develop an act of management and attempt to market it. If the act produced superior benefits, it would be purchased and implemented. Competition between producers of acts of governance would ensure that governance was produced efficiently.

The result would be a system that used a supra-individual change-and-test process to determine how a society is governed. Entrepreneurs would develop alternative acts of management and attempt to sell them to those who would benefit from them. The acts of governance that were established would be those that could be sold at a profit—those that could produce net benefits to members of the society. By making good governance profitable, the vertical market would give entrepreneurs an incentive to develop ways to improve governance. And like the horizontal economic market, the effectiveness of the collective change-and-test processes of the vertical market would not depend on entrepreneurs getting it right. Any particular act of management that was purchased by consumers might have been developed incompetently. It might have hit the mark by chance, like a random mutation that happens to work. Entrepreneurs would not have to be any better than central planners for the vertical market to produce better governance. A process that uses the best judgements of entrepreneurs in a change-and-test mechanism can be far superior to a process that relies on the judgements of entrepreneurs (or central planners) alone.

This completes a brief outline of a vertical market system. But before we move on to a more detailed description of how it would operate, we need to look in greater depth at the key condition that must be met if a vertical market is to emerge. A vertical market can operate only if entrepreneurs are able to obtain appropriate payment from all those who benefit from the acts of governance that the entrepreneurs develop. Then, if the total of the benefits produced by an act of governance exceed its costs, it will be profitable for an entrepreneur to develop and implement the act. If entrepreneurs are able to make a profit by designing and establishing better governance, a vertical market can emerge. But a vertical market will fail if all those who benefit do not pay for the benefits they receive.

So why is it that entrepreneurs do not develop and market better governance at present? If, like better goods and services, better management can produce net benefits to others, why are entrepreneurs unable to make a profit out of improving governance at present? The reason is the free rider problem. Even though an act of management might be in the interests of all members of a society, it is in the interests of individuals to let someone else pay for it. If the taxes needed to provide effective defence or a system of public roads were voluntary, many would not pay. As we have seen in detail, governments and rulers can overcome this problem by using their power to prevent free riding. They can force everyone to pay for collective benefits by making tax compulsory.

An entrepreneur can profit from establishing an act of governance only if all who benefit pay for the governance. A vertical market can operate effectively only if the free rider problem is overcome. Just as economic markets can emerge only if a framework of controls exists to prevent cheating and theft, a vertical market needs a framework of controls that prevents free riding. The simplest way of overcoming this problem would be a requirement that all who benefit from an act of governance must pay for it if the majority decide to buy the governance. If such a requirement applied, it would be in the interests of all who benefit sufficiently from an act of governance to support a decision to purchase it. There would no longer be any way in which they could get the benefits without paying for them. Free riding would no longer pay.

The framework of controls for the vertical market would also have to ensure that any proposed acts of governance would fully compensate for any harmful effects they caused. This would ensure that acts of governance capture their full effects on members of society. Of course, the exceptions to this are where an act of governance would harm individuals to ensure they capture the effects on others of their harmful acts, or where governance would prevent individuals from capturing greater benefits than reflects their effects on society. So acts of governance that prevent cheating and free riding, or that redistribute income away from individuals who earn high incomes because they are sheltered from competition, would not have to compensate the individuals they disadvantage in these ways.

It is likely that a vertical market would redistribute incomes produced in the vertical and horizontal markets by establishing a minimum income system for all members of planetary society. This would provide a minimum standard of living for all, and guarantee that everyone received an education and the other resources they needed to develop their potential to contribute to society. It would also ensure that citizens benefited sufficiently from their participation in society to attract their support for the way the society was organised. And it would guarantee that everyone had sufficient purchasing power in the vertical market. The extent of the redistribution, the level of the guaranteed minimum income, and conditions attaching to its use would all be decided in the vertical market. The market would balance the negative and positive effects of various aspects of the system, including the impact of the redistribution of income on the incentives for participants in the economic and vertical markets.

The framework of controls that establish the vertical market would also be established, adapted and improved through the vertical market. An entrepreneur could propose particular changes to any aspect of the framework, and attempt to sell them to all who would be affected. It would be profitable for an entrepreneur to develop more efficient and effective ways of preventing free riding, cheating, and theft, or to appropriately redistribute income earned in the vertical market, or to open areas of the vertical market to greater competition. Under a vertical market everything would be contestable, including all the elements of the vertical market itself.

Once a vertical market was established, its framework as well as other acts of governance would be free to evolve and improve. Changes that produced net benefits would be implemented. As a result, a vertical market would be self-repairing and self-improving. If any aspect of the vertical market were found not to be operating efficiently and effectively, there would be a profit in finding a way to fix it. If the governance of the society failed in some respect to ensure that the benefits of cooperation were being fully exploited, there would be a profit in new acts of governance that rectified this. And if this failure was due to a flaw in the vertical market itself, there would be a profit in adapting the market framework to correct the failure. The vertical market would self-organise to ensure, as far as possible, that all members of society captured the effects on others of their acts.

For example, a newly implemented vertical market might initially be limited in its ability to establish some acts of governance that are very complex and have complicated effects. The consumers who would benefit from them might not understand how the governance would operate, and be unable to evaluate alternatives. In these circumstances, initiatives that overcame this difficulty could be profitable in the vertical market. For example, it might be in the interests of the entrepreneurs who develop acts of governance to put more resources into marketing and into educating consumers. It might also be profitable for other entrepreneurs to develop independent educational material, or to establish independent teams of experts to evaluate and advise consumers on the benefits of particular proposals. It might be profitable for entrepreneurs who develop new complex acts of governance to be able to show to consumers that they have submitted themselves and their proposals to evaluation by independent experts. Or, in some circumstances, consumers might prefer to delegate the decision about which governance to buy to other bodies. These bodies could be organised and staffed so that they make competent decisions and so that their interests are aligned with the interests of the consumers.

Just as it is impossible to predict the specific goods and services that will be developed in the economic market in the future, it is equally impossible to do so for the vertical market. It is not possible to foresee the specific acts of governance, including those that form the framework of the system itself, that will be developed in a vertical market. As has been the case with economic markets, the innovation and creativity unleashed by a vertical market would produce governance of a diversity and variety that would be inconceivable to those who lived before the market was established. We can be sure that vertical markets would get better and better at managing society to satisfy the needs and aspirations of its members, but the exact details of how it would achieve this is unknowable.

Of course, the vertical market would establish whatever form of governance the members of society wanted to purchase. In theory, it would be open to a planetary society to use a vertical market to purchase a democratic political system along the lines we have at present. If the members of the society could not envisage a better system, and if entrepreneurs could not develop and sell refinements and improvements, a democratic political system could continue indefinitely within a vertical market system. The dead hand of government as we know it could live forever. But this is highly unlikely.

It is much more likely that a vertical market would eventually produce a highly layered, differentiated, diverse and dynamic form of governance. The ability of vertical markets to facilitate the differentiation of governance would be similar to the capacity of horizontal markets to encourage the differentiation of products and services to satisfy every taste and preference. Whenever entrepreneurs developed and sold any new act of governance that benefited a section of society, the overall system of governance would increase in diversity. The opportunities for this diversification and specialisation would be enormous. Groups such as the tenants of a block of flats, a neighbourhood, a small rural community, an industry, a school community, a town, a city, and a region might all discover specialised acts of governance that manage their members and produce benefits for the group. The vertical market would enable them to explore and exploit these opportunities.

These groups would develop their governance within a framework of wider-scale governance established by the vertical market. This wider-scale management would ensure that the ability of smaller-scale groups to establish governance was not abused. It would guarantee that governance could be erected only if it met the test of ensuring that individuals captured the effects of their actions on others. It would therefore not enable any individuals to persecute others within the group or to obtain more benefits than were necessary to reflect their contribution to the group. And these higher layers of governance would also ensure that groups captured the effects of their action on other groups and on individuals outside the group. The highest layer of governance would operate on the scale of the planet, ensuring that individuals and groups captured the effects of actions that had global consequences.

The vertical market would have the capacity to establish new markets and to modify existing ones by changing their regulatory frameworks. It would decide between alternative methods of governing, including between markets and central planning. We saw earlier that in some circumstances the best forms of governance are those that establish markets that include supra-individual change-and-test processes. This can be far more effective than governance that centrally plans and implements detailed programs that support specific cooperative activities. Markets that include change-and-test processes are particularly effective when there is insufficient information or knowledge available to design an optimal solution to a problem of governance. In these circumstances, the best that might be done is to establish a specific market process that searches for the best solutions by combining the intelligence of participants with trial-and-error.

The vertical market would decide when and where market processes rather than specific programs were used to organise cooperation. New markets would be established and existing markets modified by purchases made in the vertical market. The vertical market would determine the content and structure of the regulatory frameworks that enable economic and other markets to operate. For example, the vertical market could consider proposals to create a market in rights to produce carbon dioxide emissions[12], or for an ‘ideas futures’ market (ideas futures markets are processes that enable the strength of expert opinion on controversial issues to be gauged accurately. They are particularly effective at ensuring that expert opinion is not biased by conflicts of interest[13]). The vertical market would be a meta market—it would operate markets in markets

One of the greatest strengths of a vertical market system is that it would align the interests of those who produce governance with the interests of the governed. As in an economic market, consumers would ultimately control what is produced. The only way a producer of governance could pursue his interests would be by selling governance to those affected by it. And competition between producers would ensure that they could prosper only by producing efficient governance. In a competitive vertical market, the only way an entrepreneur could advance his interests would be by developing management that served the interests of those who would be affected by it. The producers of governance would capture the effects on others of their actions. As a result, the economically powerful would have far fewer opportunities to bias and manipulate governance than under our current systems. And whenever the economically powerful found a new way to do so, there would be a profit in the development of new acts of governance that ended the bias. Vertical markets would continually search for ways of ensuring that economic power is not abused.

But there is another major advantage to this alignment of interests between those who produce governance and those who are governed. A vertical market would enable any member of society to capture the benefits of anything he could do to improve an aspect of the governance of society. As a result, the vertical market would provide incentives for members of society to continually search for better governance. Economic markets harness the motivations and creativity of members of society to continually develop and produce better goods and services. In the same way, a vertical market would harness the energies and abilities of members of society to improve the various functions that governments now perform.

Just as an economic market makes it profitable to develop a more fuel-efficient motor car engine or a tastier ice cream, a vertical system would make it profitable to develop a better regulatory framework for an economic market, or a program that enhances the quality of life in a particular community, or initiatives that reduce the perverse incentives of a welfare scheme. A vertical market would make it profitable to develop governance that better ensures that polluters pay the full cost of the harm they cause, and governance that provides all members of a society with the material and educational resources needed to realise their potential to contribute to the society. It would make it profitable to organise initiatives that cure the sick and feed the starving.

The energy, drive and creativity that the economic market harnesses to produce better perfumes, mouse traps and hair dryers would also be harnessed to produce better ways of undertaking the functions of government. Where entrepreneurs believed there was significant potential for improvements in particular aspects of governance, they could profitably organise the finance to put together an expert team to develop and market the improvements. Just as corporations are formed to exploit the potential profits to be made from developing better goods and services, they would also be formed to exploit the profitability of improving governance.

Any aspect of governance that did not ensure that members of society captured the effects on others of their actions would provide profitable opportunities for anyone who could devise better governance. There would be advantage in finding an uncaptured harm or benefit, and ensuring that it was captured. Greedy and ambitious young men would dream as much about finding an uncaptured harm or benefit as they would about being the first to develop a better good or service for the economic market. The dead hand of bureaucracy and government would be replaced with the energy and creativity of the market.

As in economic markets, the consumers of governance, not central planners, would decide which acts of governance were better for consumers. The effects of governance would be evaluated by those who were in the best position to do so: by those who felt its effects. A vertical market would provide entrepreneurs with the incentive to use human knowledge and mental modelling to develop acts of governance designed to best advance the interests of the governed. But the effectiveness of the vertical market would not depend on entrepreneurs designing the best forms of governance. The vertical market recognises that due to a lack of relevant information and the complexity of circumstances, entrepreneurs, like central planners, would often get it right only by luck. And entrepreneurs could never know accurately when they had chanced upon the right answer. To overcome this difficulty, the vertical market uses a supra-individual change-and-test process to discover the best forms of governance. It complements the knowledge and mental modelling of entrepreneurs with trial-and-error processes in which the consumers of governance evaluate the trials. The human mind and mental modelling has not been able to replace the internal change-and-test processes that adapt our bodies physiologically. Equally, they cannot remove the need for supra-individual change-and-test processes to adapt our societies.

Of course, democratic political processes also operate a supra-individual change-and-test process in which changes to governance are evaluated and tested by citizens. But democracy is far inferior to a vertical market at discovering better forms of governance. In a typical western democratic system, a small number of political parties each develop a package of governance that they put to the people at elections. Often only two of the parties have a real chance of forming a government. By electing a government, the people choose much of the governance that will apply until the next election, usually about 3 to 5 years away.

To see how ineffective such a democratic system is at matching governance to the needs of the governed, it is useful to consider how ineffective an economic market would be if it were organised in a similar way. A comparable economic market would be one in which there were only two possible producers of goods and services. Each possible producer would develop a package of all the goods and services that each citizen would have over a three or four year period. Citizens would then choose which package would actually be implemented by voting for the producer of their choice. They could not pick and choose goods and services out of each package. They could have only one package, in its entirety. Such a system would obviously be far inferior to our current economic markets. Our present democratic systems of governance share all the features that would make such an economic system incompetent at satisfying the needs of consumers.

Vertical markets would also be far superior to citizen-initiated referenda at discovering and adapting effective governance. Referenda are a way of trying to overcome some of the limitations of a system in which citizens vote only every three or four years, and must accept or reject packages of policies as a whole. Referenda enable citizens to vote on specific issues more or less continuously. But a fundamental limitation of current referenda systems is that they do not include processes that properly fund the development of the proposals that are put to the vote. In contrast, the vertical market ensures that the development of proposals for better governance is profitable. Where it leads to better governance, a vertical market makes it profitable to use substantial resources to undertake research, or to develop complex models to evaluate alternatives, or to employ creative and talented people to assist in the development of a proposal. It does this in the same way that economic markets fund the development of new goods and services.

Referenda are good systems for testing proposals, but not for generating them. As a result, their ability to discover new and better forms of governance is very limited. They are as ineffective as would be an economic market that relied largely on consumers to design and invent goods and services. This is not the only serious limitation to the evolvability of existing systems of citizen-initiated referenda: current systems do not allow referenda to change the framework of rules that establishes the system. The systems themselves are not very evolvable.

A vertical market system would have clear advantages over our current systems for establishing governance. It would be better at discovering management that is more effective and efficient at exploiting the benefits of cooperation. It would produce a more cooperative and evolvable planetary organisation. The establishment of a vertical market would be as significant a step in the evolution of human society as was the establishment of economic markets to replace much of the central planning by rulers.

It would be in the interests of the majority of members of human society to put an end to government and politics and to replace them with a vertical market system. But the majority will see this as in their interests only once they have developed a capacity to mentally model vertical markets and alternative systems of governance. And those who do better under current governance will do what they can to undermine the development of this capacity as well as oppose any move to establish a vertical market. An effective vertical market will ensure that citizens capture the effects of their actions on others in the society. Citizens will do no better than this, nor worse. But, as we have seen, under our current system of governance a small minority is able to accumulate and maintain great wealth by obtaining benefits that are way out of proportion to their contributions. The economically powerful have a lot to lose in any move toward a vertical market. They can be expected to use the various opportunities they have to influence the members of society to oppose a vertical market. Of course, this will change as the economically powerful develop a capacity for evolutionary self-management. Once they are able to transcend their narrow biological and social needs, and instead pursue evolutionary objectives, they will support the establishment of a vertical market. Once they develop an evolutionary perspective, they will see that a life dedicated to the accumulation and use of wealth to satisfy their narrow biological and social needs would be a wasted and absurd life.

But a vertical system by itself will not produce a highly evolvable human society that uses the power of cooperation to pursue future evolutionary success. The introduction of a vertical market will not complete the ninth organisational milestone that began 10,000 years ago with the emergence of the first human societies governed by external managers. This is because a vertical market system does not establish the objectives of a society. Instead, a vertical market organises cooperation to satisfy the objectives and preferences of the members of the society. It does not matter what these objectives and preferences are. The vertical market will organise cooperation to pursue their satisfaction. If the objectives of most of the members of a society are to satisfy only their narrow biological and social needs and urges, the vertical market and the horizontal economic markets managed by it will satisfy only those needs. If pursuit of these needs will lead to future evolutionary irrelevance or death, the vertical market will pursue them nonetheless. The vertical market finds the best means of achieving whatever ends are set by the members of society. It ensures that governance serves the interests of the governed, whatever they may be.

So until the majority of members of a planetary society develop a capacity for evolutionary modelling and self-management, a vertical market would manage the society to satisfy only the narrow biological and social needs of its members. The members of society, their technology and science, and the resources of the society would all be managed by the vertical market to serve the narrow needs established in humans by limited and inferior evolutionary mechanisms. The result would be a planetary society that goes nowhere in evolutionary terms.

But once sufficient members of human society developed evolutionary consciousness, all this would change. The vertical market would be harnessed by the new values and objectives of these members to search for better ways of organising the society to pursue future evolutionary success for humanity. As humans developed objectives, motivations and values that reflected their improved ability to adapt for the outside/future, so to would the planetary organisation. As humans developed the capacity to take into account the consequences of their actions over greater scales of space and time, including over evolutionary scales, so to would the planetary organisation.

It is important to note that individual members of the planetary society would not be able to pursue evolutionary objectives effectively unless the society also pursued evolutionary objectives. Until the society pursued evolutionary success, the resources of the society would not be organised to support activities that furthered evolutionary objectives. Understanding this, those who achieved evolutionary consciousness would promote the development of evolutionary consciousness in others in the society, and would also support the establishment of an effective vertical system that could respond to their evolutionary objectives and values. Once sufficient members of a planetary society developed evolutionary consciousness, the vertical system would reward activities that contributed to evolutionary success. It would ensure that it was in the immediate interests of citizens to do the things that were necessary for future evolutionary success. It would ensure that individuals in the society captured all the effects of their actions on the long-term evolutionary success of the society. In effect, it would immediately feed back to individuals the longer-term consequences of their acts to ensure that they took these into account when deciding their actions.

The vertical system would organise humanity to manage all the resources of the planet for evolutionary objectives. The vertical system would manage the human members of the society and through them, their technology and science, other living organisms and processes on the planet, and the matter and energy of the planet to pursue evolutionary objectives. This would produce a planetary organisation that included the sum total of all processes on the planet, living and non-living, that could be managed to contribute to the future evolutionary success of the organisation. The organisation would not contain only humans. But humans would set the ultimate objectives and values that would be pursued by the vertical system and therefore by the planetary organisation as a whole. The vertical system would then determine how these objectives were best achieved. It would determine how humans, artificial intelligence, other technology, and other living processes would be organised and utilised to best serve these objectives. And it would adapt the ways in which these resources were used as new technology and living processes were developed, and as new evolutionary challenges were met.

In order to achieve continued evolutionary success, such a planetary organisation would have to organise itself to form internal models of its future evolution. It would have to develop the ability to use these models to discover organisational adaptations that would produce future success. It would have to develop the capacity to adapt coherently as a whole in the ways identified by its internal models. Almost certainly, it would also have to develop the ability to move, to expand its scale to that of the solar system and then to the galaxy and beyond, to remodel its physical environment, to have physical impacts on events outside itself, to form intentions, to establish projects and long-term objectives for the organisation, to communicate and interact with any other living processes that it encounters, to amalgamate with other societies of living processes to form larger-scale cooperative organisations, and to do any other thing that might produce success in the future.

To be assured of continued evolutionary success, a planetary organisation must become a self-evolving organism in its own right. Its ability to adapt and evolve must not be limited by the biological and social past of the living processes that participate in it. Through appropriate management of these living processes, the planetary organisation must be able to adapt and evolve in whatever directions are necessary for future evolutionary success.

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[1].       The globalisation of markets is discussed in depth in Carnoy, M. (1993) The new global economy in the information age. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.

[2].       See, for example, Held, D. (1995) Democracy and the global order. Cambridge: Polity Press.

[3].       The need for global governance to deal effectively with global environmental problems is discussed at length by Lipschutz, R. D. (1996) Global civil society and global environmental governance: the politics of nature from place to planet. Albany: State University of New York Press.

[4].       Several advantages of global governance including its ability to prevent war are discussed in the final Chapter of Jones, W. S. (1991) The logic of international relations. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

[5].       For example, the necessity of global governance to prevent human rights abuse within countries is demonstrated in detail by Robertson, G. (1999) Crimes against humanity: the struggle for global justice. London: Allen and Lane.

[6].       This case is argued strongly in Ohmae, K. (1995) The end of the nation state: the rise of regional economies. London: HarperCollins.

[7].       The effects of globalisation on wage levels in developed countries is discussed in Freeman, R. (1995) Are your wages set in Peking? Journal of Economic Perspectives 9: Summer.

[8].       See, for example, Gray, J. (1998) False Dawn: the Delusions of Global Capitalism. London: Granta Books.

[9].       See, for example, Mander, J. and E. Goldsmith (1996) The case against the global economy and for a turn toward the local. San Francisco: Sierra Books.

[10].     The European Union is discussed in the context of moves to global governance by Giddens, A. (1998) The third way. Cambridge: Polity Press.

[11].     The idea of a vertical market was first developed in detail in Stewart, J. E. (1995) Metaevolution. Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems 18: 113-147; and Stewart, J. E. (1997). Evolutionary Progress. Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems 20: 335-362.

[12].     Markets in permits to produce carbon dioxide emissions are discussed in Ingham, A. and A. Ulph (1991) The economics of global warming. In: Reconciling economics and the environment. (Bennet, J. and Block, W. eds.) pp. 223-248. Perth: The Australian Institute for Public Policy.

[13].     For more on ideas futures markets see Hanson, R. (1995) Ideas Futures. Wired. September: p125.

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