Sharing Water

This is an abstract of a position paper on the list of position papers and list of process papers. It defines and constrains many of the list of process terms and is directly relevant to the GFC Constitution and next GPC constitution and GFC protocols, GPC protocols, and GPNS protocols. See WUNS for an example of it applied in Nova Scotia.

sharing water: embodied peer, trust, power terms
situated in each trade, family, village and watershed and their expression in green political platforms

Craig Hubley
Efficient Civics Guild
November 2004


The economics of body, trust and identities reflecting facets of both bodies and the bonds between them, is under-explored. The proliferation of digital representations of persons and support for diverse practices that assume mobility and have direct body relevance (dating, politics, recreation) make it useful to study these economics directly.

Neoclassical economics views human capital as a simple quantity that yields a salary - it has no model of how labour or rest or risk to the body occur or affect cashflows (or "GDP"). But human development theory ("development as freedom" after Amartya Sen) views individual body and talent, instructional credentials, and social bonds, separately. Models based on this view are presented.


distributed collective practices, durable knowledge management, situated, embodied, instructional capital, social capital, faction, guild, durable, Share Alike, identity, repute, distrust, mistrust, chat, wiki, web, ID, IP, village, family, tribe, pair product, infrastructural capital, natural capital, individual capital, ethic, caste, law, jurisdiction, bioregion, bioregional multi-member district


No sane person would confuse their own body with a data record of it. Nor would they confuse either with a bond with someone else (a marriage, or willingness to go on a canoe trip in the wilderness with someone, or the implicit trust relations between neighbours). When making choices about these things, they do not follow the "rational choice" model proposed by neoclassical economists: "economic choice" is just an abstraction about "supply" and "demand" of interchangeable commodity parts. But our bodies are not such commodities, to ourselves, nor are our relationships, nor are the rules and ethics by which we live our lives and teach our children.

Consider, as the most basic example, the sharing of water. We all live downstream from someone, unless we live on a mountain top, and even then there are other factors (SO2 outputs for instance) that affect our water - most of us also live upstream from someone, even on oceans our effluents affect marine life and those who consume it. A model of trust that begins with "sharing water" (upstream-downstream relations in real physical watersheds and ocean current flows) is not only ideal for citizens to protect their own watersheds 17 but serves also as the basic organizing model for other social relations. Historically, Sumer is often cited as an example of social organizations following needs of irrigation systems that kept large populations alive and cooperating - it may not be a coincidence that Sumer also originated "accounting".

The basic assumption that governments whose jurisdictions and mandates *cross* watershed borders will necessarily *fail* to protect integrity of the water-sharing body, is basic to bioregional democracy 18 and other modern models of power sharing. We might make political choices on a basis of who we expect will protect our water supply better and whose management of it we trust. As this simple example demonstrates:

Our real life choices are ecological, they are social, they are personal and moral and aesthetic. They are not "economic" in the sense that we have been trained to believe is "rational" in the sense of "maximizing GDP" or "raising ones income earning potential". All of us made a choice today that would decrease the GDP (for instance, doing something as a favour for someone instead of charging for it) or reduce one's income potential (for instance, teaching someone to do something we have been paid to do ourselves). When we are designing digital records of body, bonds between bodies, and instructions to guide bodies to do their daily work, we are literally forced to consider ecological, social, personal, political, cultural and moral ways we decide: it is insufficient to work only with a model that treats our choices as "economic" or as "rational".

So rather like Valentine Michael Smith in Stranger in a Strange Land 19 and the mythical Martians who raised him, we propose water sharing as the absolute foundation of all human trust relations: we cannot live for more than a day without water, while in many climates we can live without any form of shelter for much longer - thus it is more basic than buildings or cohousing or other infrastructural relations. We can live longer than we can without food - thus it is more basic than energy or soil relationships that mediate energy to our bodies. Also, our bodily vulnerability to each other's pollution or redirecting of water is so difficult to trace and has so many pathways to do harm, we are forced to vigilance regarding water: we are in many ways socially and cognitively the direct product of water sharing relationships. Were we to live on the Moon or Mars or undersea, we would likewise be concerned with the most basic air sharing relations: if airborne illness were to exceed waterborne as the main source of human illness on the Earth, we might likewise shift our focus to such relations.

But, given that the fundamental bodily relationships must be ecological, we consider how people ought to be represented to each other in digital systems, how their trust relations (starting with water and air sharing)are modelled from a human development theory view, i.e. the social capital, instructional capital, individual capital involved, and how these combine into a set of protocols to maximize human freedom in specific contexts: emergency response 1, sustainable infrastructure building/repair 2, ordinary "white collar" design and professional work 4, and the special stresses of political platform building 6 and campaigns to convince people to vote for it 7. We believe this is the foundation of models of trust on a practical scale which intersects with political ecology and provides the most reliable foundation for any stable model of reputation. One that is embodied in that it relies on actual body relations for all of its conceptual metaphor, and one that is situated in the actual physical locations in which human body to body relations all occur.


In constructing meaningful models of choices that are actually made by real people in the real world, and the information they need about each other to make those choices, and how trustworthy the systems really are:

One thing lacking is an actual fundamental model of the transactions between bodies that recognize each other as peers, trust each other, turn to third parties to express common commitments - that are not just economic but remain "contracts" including "social contracts" that when fulfilled lead to expansion of trust. Embodied peer, trust, power terms must describe actual relations between bodies so they can be disproven.

Another lack, addressed to some degree in the green economics of the 1990s that emphasized energy and "nature's services" and the role of "natural capital"in generating wealth and flows of consumables esp. in agriculture, is a model of the limits of economic choice: where ecological and ethical tolerances "take over" and must pre-empt any economic "preference". This could lead to a formal model of "the state's services", everything from meat inspection to property and water rights protection, but will simply be sketched for now as the relationship between "the village" with its natural and infrastructural capital, and "the family" with its financial and social capital. Regulating the interaction is "the guild" which manages instructions, and transacting business or "trade" within this framework is "the individual": situated in each trade, family, village and watershed where one lives and work, and subject to limitations on freedom from each. In turn, there are relations between trades, between families, between villages and between watersheds that are managed in what we might call "politics as usual": the usual dance of representative democracies and party.

(Three more complex, more social, less internally consistent models exploited in actual political campaigns in Canada in 2004 are briefly described, with some useful failures, in Appendix V: Three Green Platforms 2004). These are the GPC Platform 2004, ImagineHalifax and subordinate HRM green platform 2004, GPNS Platform 2005. Since then the GPC Platform 2005 and others have been instituted based on some of the same principles.