An Open-Source, Sociocratic, Corruption-resistent Model for Humanity to Survive the 6th Mass Extinction

Martin Bishop
10 min readFeb 21, 2022

We are mostly overwhelmed hearing about all the reasons humanity is doomed, so let’s, for a change, have a look at a hopeful scenario for our future and how we might take strategic actions to bring such a vision to fruition.

What are our goals?
1. Preserve and enhance biosphere health and diversity.
2. Preserve human life.
3. Preserve and enhance quality-of-life and freedom.

Many of the technical solutions have been known for decades. We need to transition to 100% renewable energy — wind, solar, geothermal and hydro. We need to shut down coal power plants, nuclear power plants and natural gas power plants. We need to use smart energy storage: hydrogen, gravitational and kinetic batteries instead of chemical-based battery systems that rely on toxic metals and rare earth materials prone to political conflict. We need to re-engineer passenger travel to rely on electric cars and high speed electric maglev trains instead of jet-planes. We need to re-engineer shipping to use 21st century sailing ships with mile-high kevlar sails. We need to develop permaculture robotic systems to sustainably grow and harvest fresh, organic non-GMO foods for everyone. We need to desalinate water and rehabilitate deserts that were once rich farmland (where do you think the pyramid builders’ food came from? The Sahara desert?). We need to transition our diets along Michael Pollan lines (real food, mostly plants, not too much) both to avert greenhouse gasses from livestock feedlots and for our own cardiovascular health. We need to re-define our medical standard of care to focus on health and prevention instead of disease and treatment. And, we need to re-think how we live and what we live for — consumerism, the frenetic pressures of work in fast-growth capitalist workplaces and lack of time for friends and family, play and spiritual growth don’t lead to happiness in the same ways a simpler, less energy-intensive, more integrated and organic lifestyle often does.

Such strategies and ideas have been around for a long time and many people have struggled valiantly to bring these systems to fruition, but they have run up against invisible economic, political and criminal force fields that serve to guard vested interests from innovations that would devalue their current assets and/or diminish their current powers and privileges. And, with each passing year, these invisible force fields seem to get more powerful and more coercive as the collective wealth of the 1% elite outstrips, by ever larger margins, the collective wealth of the 99%.

There is an inertia to money and wealth in the current world-game where capital accumulates and grows, seeking financial talent and flowing to (or orchestrating) optimal growth opportunities. Adam Smith’s “unseen hand” is alive and well and, it seems, too often, creating ever greater wealth for a few at the expense of greater scarcity and poverty for the many. The “tragedy of the commons” is that there is no recognized incentive in this world-game to allocate resources in ways that serve humanity as a whole — in ways that increase the world’s sustainable carrying capacity. We pollute the commons and no one has a profit-incentive to clean up our messes. Indeed, the motivation to deny accountability even drives giant oil corporations to corrupt judges into imprisoning lawyers who champion environmental causes (such as Steven Donziger who has been persecuted by the Texaco and Chevron corporations for years).

Thus, “Saving the World” is not really a technological problem anymore. It is a political problem and, therefore, an economic, social and educational problem as well. Our task is to educate people not only about technical solutions for renewable energy and lifestyle choices for greater health and quality of life, but also about the current political, economic and social landscapes that shape each of our lives in both subtle and gross ways. We have to design human-scale solutions that small groups of people can build and deploy so they’ll be too numerous for the powers-that-be to control or destroy. We have to activate people to invest their time and energy in new systems and create greater security and independence in relation to existing dysfunctional and abusive systems. And, we need to help the wealthy realize that they’re not immune to the destruction their wealth creates — fossil fuels and global warming lead to a mass extinction that is ultimately blind to the size of one’s bank account. We are all, ultimately and finally, in this together.

We have our work cut out for us, eh? But, take heart. This is meaningful work ahead of us and, when we are able to work together with like-minded and like-hearted “comrades”, it can be joyful work as well.

It’ll be no small feat, but it may be fun and exciting even if it is dangerous and hard work as well. There is power in knowing that we’re fighting for the side of life, truth, goodness and justice even if the odds seem impossible at times. (Fezzik, Westley & Inigo:

And besides, when you think about it, we really have nothing better to do, do we? Sure, there are always breadcrumbs that lead us off the trail — money, fame, creature comforts, fear — but all of these sidetracks come at the price of feeling we are postponing what’s really important in life and that, if we died today, we’d have to atone for these delays and their consequences, instead of being ready to go with a clean slate, confident we did all we could do in this world under the circumstances afforded us and ready to face our Creator, if that’s how it works, without too much embarrassment.

So, we have our objective and we have our assets. Most encouraging is that we are the 99% and we vastly outnumber the 1% who are, by default, calling the shots today. If we can de-colonize our minds so that we are serving our own best interests instead of the best interests of our corporate masters, we will be an unstoppable force. Also, we live on a planet with ideal gravity, atmosphere, water, land and capacity for growing food and medicines. So, we’ve got all that going for us. Take a deep breath. We got this.

The trick to it, at this point in time, is to deconstruct the invisible force fields that have been holding us back. Another key is to take maximum satisfaction from the integrity and meaningful purpose this work affords — a kind of nobility that helps us walk tall, breathe deep and regenerate our spirits even when material resources aren’t as abundant as we may have become accustomed to. The local free organic gleaned apple tastes so much better than the store-bought pesticide-residue-laden imported-from-another-continent big-ag corporate apple. Thirdly, we must be ubiquitous, relentless and both street-smart and suite-smart in that we know not only what to watch out for, but also how those behind the invisible force fields think, move and change tactics.

Eventually, the needed changes will be so obvious that even the 1% will acknowledge the changes we’ve outlined are necessary and must be funded, but because that may be too late, our task is to develop plans for survival and the necessary groundwork as much as possible beforehand, even as we prepare to welcome defectors from the 1% as they awaken to the implications of choosing human survival and individually convert to a life-affirming/preserving paradigm.

The downside of being the 99% is that although we vaguely want to save the world (because we might need it later), we, as a population, aren’t yet well educated as to what survival entails. We need to cultivate knowledge and skills to compete with the systems that are currently sustained by the capital of the 1%. Having larger numbers also means we have greater difficulty communicating and organizing so we can act effectively and in a coordinated manner. We need to adopt a leaderless, autonomous, sneaky, flat self-organizing approach to be able to endure the retaliations and obstacles that the history of our popular movements has shown us will be deployed against us to maintain the status quo.

The open source model of software development provides an interesting template for large-scale effective collaboration — especially for projects where there is not yet funding to direct material resources (much of the success of open source software had to do with the near-zero cost of creating information resources and the respect of peers in the software engineering space that became a kind of virtual currency in the open source movement). In another essay (, I list the 19 principles of open source development (from Eric S. Raymond’s “The Cathedral & The Bazaar”) and whether they can be applied to real physical-world projects. I think the open source movement gave us some excellent tools for saving the world.

Accordingly, I would envision a matrix-management (two-dimensional table) structure for an open-source approach to world-saving. The X-axis (columns) would be information resources — a list of globally applicable initiatives, best practices and optimized strategies/programs aimed at various aspects of creating a new society and economic/environmental game. The Y-axis (rows) would be a list of geographically localized regions with corresponding social groups who are able to function collectively to conduct real world projects that might best be described as a combination of permaculture projects, triple-bottom-line worker-owned businesses, mutual assistance projects and political movements. Each geographic area primarily focuses on locally executing the evolving best practices/plans from the X-axis AND, secondarily, contributes to the continuous improvement of the “programs” with innovations and educational/training resources.

But what actually exists in a cell of this matrix? At the intersection of a functional area (column) and geographic area (row) is an operational unit (group) that I believe might best be organized according to principles of sociocracy circles. Each circle would be integrated functionally, primarily with its geographic counterparts to manage people and resources locally and, secondarily, with its functional counterparts in other geographic areas to share best practices and access to larger scale supports that would emerge in each functional area (can be thought of as “guilds”).

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the Occupy movement and its contributions to our collective toolkit. Occupy, circa 2011, gave us a global movement of villages in most major cities where camps with kitchens and, often, even medical facilities spontaneously popped up and functioned for a few months until police figured out how to sabotage the camps by dumping drunk and/or violent people in the camps and the media learned to smear instead of cheer the camps by pushing propaganda (true or false) about violence and poor health and sanitary conditions. Even though social media have since made it much harder to map the geographic locations of social media friends and followers (friend mapping features made it much easier to organize real-life events in 2011), the Occupy movement also provided a strong set of tools — establishing claim to physical space in defiance of laws on the books, organizing with general assemblies, sharing knowledge and info globally with online media, radical sharing of resources — kitchens, generators, tipis, yurts, domes, repurposed billboard “tarps”, donated food and medical supplies, clothing, legal advice — so many people dug deep to share what they could with these camps. The message that economic inequality had reached a tipping point post-housing bubble, was a powerful and motivating message just as (we hope) the message that it’s now time to save the world from disastrous policies on many fronts at the same time has power and motivation as well. Like the open source movement, the Occupy movement also gave us some excellent tools and skills for saving the world.

Online organizing will depend on continuing online freedom — free speech and freedom from censorship — and these are far from assured now in 2022. The Electronic Freedom Foundation ( could become a clearinghouse for information that allows people to continue organizing online with a minimum of surveillance, maximum of privacy and an ever-growing array of tools.

In the early 2000’s, it was my privilege to attend a conference in San Francisco called PlaNetWork ( It’s raison d’etre was the observation that the only thing in human experience that seemed to grow at an exponential rate fast enough to keep up with the exponential growth rates of world problems was the internet infrastructure and the diverse applications emerging as part of a “global brain” that might offer an emergent pattern of solutions capable of coordinating humanity’s needed adaptations in order to survive. At the time, I was writing about such ideas here:

It might appear that all of this could, in theory, be done in coordination with existing governmental and corporate organizations, but our current world problematique, inertia, direction and status quo indicates these institutions are incapable of overcoming coercive pressures to make themselves effective parts of real solutions. If they do play a role at all, it will likely be in attempting to “catch up” with popular decentralized movements that will continuously re-form cells and work around compromised cells in an organic and ultimately successful strategy not unlike the original design of the internet (“The net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it” — John Gilmore). In the proposed vision of a regenerative global/local movement, we might say, “The movement interprets corruption as damage and routes around it”.

There is unlikely to be anything resembling what we think of as government in this vision aside from the sociocratic organization of the local geographic-functional cells and their liaisons to other counterparts in their functional columns and geographic rows. There will be no authorities to dictate which functional solutions should be recommended for wider adoption. It will necessarily be a meritocracy with each cell attaching or withdrawing its trust according to its own perceptions of merit. This is probably the best way to resist corrupting influences in the current world-game milieu/environment. Indeed, it may be the only way for humanity to maintain the speed of adaptation necessary to survive the coming century.

Unfortunately, the scenario for education and science isn’t much different. There have been unchecked corrupting influences in academia and research for so long that much of what is taught as history, medicine and science is often more than self-serving propaganda shaped by wealthy corporate cartels and their captive government institutions. It will be necessary to have grass-roots functional area for research and education that also route around the damaged institutions we now have and renew themselves

I could go on, but this feels complete enough to get started (Indeed, it’s taken me too many months to get around to writing down even this much!). Besides one of the key open source principles is “Release Early and Often”. So I will release this essay early and see what kind of feedback I get (bug reports? feature suggestions?). Thank you for reading. Let’s see what we can make of this world situation we find ourselves in.




Martin Bishop

Tirelessly advocating the apparently contrarian view that human extinction is worth avoiding.