Open Source Everything Manifesto

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* Book: The Open Source Everything Manifesto: Transparency, Truth, and Trust. By Robert David Steele. Evolver, 2012.



'The Open-Source Everything Manifesto is a distillation of author, strategist, analyst, and reformer Robert David Steele life's work: the transition from top-down secret command and control to a world of bottom-up, consensual, collective decision-making as a means to solve the major crises facing our world today. The book is intended to be a catalyst for citizen dialog and deliberation, and for inspiring the continued evolution of a nation in which all citizens realize our shared aspiration of direct democracy—informed participatory democracy. Open-Source Everything is a cultural and philosophical concept that is essential to creating a prosperous world at peace, a world that works for one hundred percent of humanity. The future of intelligence is not secret, not federal, and not expensive. It is about transparency, truth, and trust among our local to global collective. Only "open" is scalable.

As we strive to recover from the closed world corruption and secrecy that has enabled massive fraud within governments, banks, corporations, and even non-profits and universities, this timely book is a manifesto for liberation—not just open technology, but open everything."


Ralph Peeters:

"A basic point of Steele's is that "The U.S. government does not study anything holistically. Everything is studied in isolation from all else." As someone with extensive government experience, I certainly can attest to the painful, destructive truth of this point: We're like the fable of the blind men and the elephant, except that we're legions of blind men and the elephant has already fled the zoo by the time we complete our analysis. Some sections of the book are, to me, worth the full price by themselves, not least his discussion of "liberation technology" and his provocative views on how its spread can better aid humanity. Next, his discussion of "panarchy," interconnected self-government(to over-simplify the concept)moves several steps beyond current notions of the viability and utility of connectivity. Another aspect of the book to which I can bear witness is the extensive "fraud, waste and abuse" in our intelligence system (as well as in our government, overall). Steele has made his case for open-source intelligence in previous works, but never so crisply and immediately as here. Wisely, he warns that "Dangers increase as man creates complications and misdirects his energy and resources," reinforcing my own point that an African village would be more resilient in a global crisis than the hyper-complex and hyper-centralized socio-economic system of the United States (this is not a matter of quality of life, but of existential robustness--that village could feed itself long after our national food distribution system had broken down). And as a Sierra Club member, I certainly concur with his statement that "We are deluded in our belief that we can control complexity and predict the outcome of perturbing large systems such as the climate." Much of this, of course, is the result of the "fragmentation of knowledge," of over-specialization and compartmentalization that plagues government and academia as much as it does the intelligence community (which isn't really much of a community in the classic sense). And his call for "intelligence minutemen" has already found preliminary echoes in US hackers who, on their own initiative, have responded to foreign cyber-bullying. I've already pushed this review far beyond an ideal length, so I'll close my inadequate praise of this remarkable, stimulating, sometimes infuriating (in the best sense) book by citing two of his conclusions that go to the heart of the author's concerns: "Empowered by open software, hardware, spectrum, data access, and intelligence, we are within reach of open democracy." And, above all, "Connected we are one." (Amazon review [1])



Via Reality Sandwich:

"The circumstances underlying this manifesto are stark and compelling: We are at the end of a five-thousand-year-plus historical process during which human society grew in scale while it abandoned the early indigenous wisdom councils and communal decision-making. Power was centralized in the hands of increasingly specialized “elites” and “experts” who not only failed to achieve all they promised but used secrecy and the control of information to deceive the public into allowing them to retain power over community resources that they ultimately looted.

In the beginning, there was the commons. Over vast stretches of prehistoric time, tribal cultures evolved in tandem with the natural environment. They did this without creating private property or hierarchical relationships of control and dominance that led to consumption of nature as a resource. Open-source culture provided for community sharing and community development. With the rise of patriarchy, empire, and systems of egoic control and empowerment, this open-source approach to community was destroyed. Over the course of the last centuries, the commons was fenced, and everything from agriculture to water was commoditized without regard to the true cost in non-renewable resources. Human beings, who had spent centuries evolving away from slavery, were re-commoditized by the Industrial Era.

The corruption of the commons led to the loss of integrity between and among individuals, organizations, and community. Artificial paradises made up of objects and possessions were substituted for true community based on authentic heart-to-heart relationships. Secular corruption is made possible by information asymmetries between those in power and the public. In the absence of transparency, truth, and trust, wealth is concentrated and waste is rampant.

We, Homo sapiens, are defined by what we know in the context of the Cosmos and the Earth — larger Whole Systems.

We, Homo sapiens, were in harmony with the Cosmos and the Earth during earlier centuries when indigenous wisdom prevailed. The evolution of social forms and technology toward ever-greater levels of complexity is part of our human development toward deeper consciousness and self-awareness. The technosphere, as José Argüelles and others have realized, is the necessary detour that takes us from the pristine biosphere to the psychically collectivized state of the noosphere.

We live in a constellation of complex systems. It is impossible for any single person or even any single organization or nation in isolation to understand complex systems.

Collective intelligence — multinational, multiagency, multidisciplinary, multidomain information-sharing and sense-making — is the only means of obtaining near-real time understanding of complex systems sufficient to achieve resilience in the face of changes. Many of these changes, including biospheric ones such as climate change and depletion of planetary resources, are the result of human activity and industry in the last three centuries.

As our technological capacities continue to increase and our environment becomes ever more fragile and endangered, we find that changes to the Earth that used to take ten thousand years now take a fraction of that. We must rediscover and reintegrate indigenous wisdom in order to come back into harmony with larger whole systems, and do so in a manner that allows for application of appropriate technologies and science, open-source intelligence gathering, and real-time self-governance.

This means that we cannot afford to address our complex world with industrial-era hierarchies in which information travels laboriously up the chain to the top, some elites deliberate — lacking much of the information they need, and often lacking ethics as well — and then micro-management instructions go back down. All this takes time, and the instructions are invariably wrong. Instead, we harness the intelligence at the edge of the network — at the point of impact — and the individual who is face to face with a problem in a microcosm is the tip of the human spear, able both to reach back to all other humans for assistance, and to act on behalf of all humans in the moment.

It is in this light that we must recognize that only a restoration of open-source culture, and all that enables across the full spectrum of open-source possibilities, can allow humanity to harness the distributed intelligence of the collective and create the equivalent of heaven on Earth — in other words, a world that works for all.

History is a narrative we construct and a tool we can shape. Our model of history has been corrupted by “information pathologies” that include weapons of distortion and deception; suppression of alternatives and repression of inconvenient knowledge; and manufactured consent, propaganda, secrecy, and outright ideologically justified lies that go unchallenged by most journalists and scholars.

Knowledge has fragmented due to academic specialization, which supports an elite culture of secrecy and allows for control of populations by the wealthy few, who maintain surveillance and information-gathering operations. The sciences are divorced from the humanities and from religions; disciplines are divorced from one another; within disciplines the sub-disciplines have become tiny cultures in isolation from all other knowledge clusters.

We find ourselves at the end of centuries of isolation and alienation. We are at the beginning of the Great Awakening. The evolution of social technologies and communications media appears to align with prophecies of indigenous cultures like the classic Maya, who looked toward our epoch as the end of one great cycle and the beginning of another. It’s a window of opportunity for us, potentially the threshold of transformation of humanity into a new psychic collectivity, a new global civilization that can attain galactic citizenship. We have the potential to achieve a radical evolution and expansion of our consciousness as a species, once we put aside all lesser goals.

Sharing, not secrecy, is the means by which we realize such a lofty destiny as well as create infinite wealth. The wealth of networks, the wealth of knowledge, revolutionary wealth — all can create a nonzero win-win Earth that works for one hundred percent of humanity. This is the “utopia” that Buckminster Fuller foresaw, now within our reach.

Context matters. Context creates coherence and restores the missing connections that the fragmentation of knowledge into academic specializations has caused. Economy needs to be reimagined in terms of a whole systems approach-the “true costs” of human action need to be measured holistically, in terms of effects on the regenerative capacity of the biosphere as a whole. If we as Homo sapiens fail to connect the dots and make decisions on the basis of truthful, true-cost information, we will self-destruct.

Clarity (transparency) is the means by which we nurture the recognition and sharing of truth.

Diversity is how our human species will achieve ongoing abundance by liberating human innovation.

Integrity is how we enter into a “state of grace” and become “one with God,” however you choose to define and understand these broad terms. This manifesto defines “God” as an experience of collective solidarity that extends from the human realm to the universe as a whole.

Sustainability can only be achieved through mass collaboration and the achievement of panarchy — a constellation of co-equal hybrid systems of self-governance in which all individuals freely choose where they wish to be heard, and have full access to all relevant information.

Culture is the soul of the community, the “glue” that keeps the lessons of history alive, that demands clarity, that unifies diversity, that nurtures and demands integrity, and thus sustains the community.

A model for public intelligence is proffered in this book, ideally providing a means for every citizen to be a collector, producer, and consumer of public intelligence (decision-support).

A model for informed democracy also is proffered here — it provides a means for achieving panarchy, enabling every citizen to have access to all relevant information and to participate constructively in an infinite number of self-selected communities of interest.

Organized people will defeat organized money every time. We must all come together to begin a new era that restores the sovereignty of the public in the aggregate over all other forms of organization and influence.

Panarchy is the end-state, Radical Man is the soul, Reflexive Practice is the process, and Web 4.0 — all people connected to one another and all information in all languages all the time — is the means whereby we create and actualize a World Brain and Global Game, a noosphere, and achieve evolutionary collective consciousness.

The goal is to reject money and concentrated illicitly aggregated and largely phantom wealth in favor of community wealth defined by community knowledge, community sharing of information, and community definition of truth derived in transparency and authenticity, the latter being the ultimate arbiter of shared wealth.

When we relate and share knowledge authentically, this places us in a state of grace, a state of “win-win” harmony with all others, and establishes trust among all." (

Integrity, Lies, and Panarchy

From chapter 5:


"In the twenty-first century, intelligence, design, and integrity comprise the triad that matters most. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is the non-negotiable starting position for getting it right, and this is crucially important with respect to the sustainability of the Earth as a home for humanity.

Integrity at the top requires clarity, diversity, and balance.

Integrity can be compounded or discounted. It is compounded when public understanding demands political accountability and flag officers ultimately understand that they have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution, not support the chain of command. It is discounted when flag officers are careerists, ascribe to rankism, and generally betray the public interest in favor of personal advancement.

Universal access to connectivity and content is a means of accelerating both public access to the truth and the power of the public to offset “rule by secrecy,” which inherently lacks integrity at all levels." (


"Every major segment of our society–academia, civil society [including labor unions and religions], commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-government/non-profit–is currently suffering from epidemic lack of integrity, which only gets worse at large scales of operation, leading to implosion from corruption of intelligence and information-sharing.

. . . . . . .

For many years I though that our elected representatives had been corrupted by corporations, and more recently, by banks (or I should say, the people who use these structures as veils for their own unethical accummulation of profit). I was in error. As we now know from numerous cases, the most blatant being that of former Congressman Randy Cunningham, it is more often the elected representative who have been shaking down banks and corporations in order to fund their own ambitions to remain in power and to profit at the expense of the people.

. . . . . . . .

This manifesto is a political and intellectual “call to arms” for carrying out a non-violent revolution that restores the sovereignty of We the People. With Oath Keepers gaining ground among law enforcement professionals, and Ron Paul receiving more support from veterans than all other 2012 Presidential candidates combined, it’s possible that the police and military can come together with labor, Occupy, the Tea Party, and Independents to achieve electoral reform and then intelligence, governance, and national security reform." (


"All the kum-ba-ya in the world and all the micro-issue think tanks and advocacy groups are ineffective because they lack a strategic analytic model, a process for doing intelligence so as to do informed activist democracy, and a call to arms that brings us all together centered on taking back our government or routing completely around it.

. . . . . . . . .

The “magic” of panarchy is that it combines the wisdom of the crowd, smart mobs, here-comes-everybody “cognitive surplus” and “collective intelligence” (two different concepts) with evolutionary/revolutionary process–they cycle of growth, stasis, break-out, and regeneration with innovcation. As an inherently open-source everything system of systems, panarchy exposes fraud, waste, and abuse; eradicates corruption, and in the ideal–at full operational capability–creates infinite wealth in the form of a prosperous world at peace.

. . . . . . . .

Lies are like sand in the gears of a very complex, delicate machine. Lies steal from the commonwealth. Lies kill. Lies are a cancer on the body of humanity. Integrity is not just the opposite of lies–integrity is the restoration and maintenance of the whole. Integrity is the cosmic mix of transparency, truth, and trust that creates heaven on Earth. Panarchy is heaven; resilience is the Earth and its humanity in a state of balance." (

Whole-Systems Thinking

From chapter 6:


"The evolution of evolution is a transition from unconscious to conscious choice.

- – - – - – - -

In order for us to live within this finely balanced constellation of complex systems, in order for the Earth to show resilience and last for centuries into the future as an environment for human life, we have to embody three things: a respect for Earth systems and their details in balance; a commitment to discovering and sharing the truth and only the truth at all times about all things; and a commitment to doing no harm.

- – - – - – - -

No amount of money is going to prvent catastrophe. Absent a commitment in creating a culture of attention and interoperability and information-sharing, we will create our own catastrophes each time we are challenged by what could have been nothing more than a localized disaster."


"In The Collapse of Complex Societies, Joseph Tainer concludes that if we are to achieve sustainability and resilience, we must nurture at all levels across all boundaries a culture that elevates “problem-solving” as well as the ability to think strategically–an understanding that everything is connected and that getting a grip on the facts of the matter across all boundaries is an essential first step toward conceptualizing workable solutions to complex challenges.

Truth–the combination of intelligence and integrity as well as transparency–is the foundation for both understanding and eradicating these threats, while moving as quickly as possible toward what should be the human mantra toward the Earth and all species, “First, Do No Harm.”

. . . . . . . . .

David Keys, author of Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of Modern Civilization, tells us that natural catatrophes are treated as remote and improbable until they actually occur. Only those civilizations that plan ahead and are well-organized can respond to disasters as they happen, thus reducing the severity of draught, famile, or other challenges.

What he does not focus on, covered very ably by Ted Steinberg in Acts of God: The Unnatural History of Natural Disasters in America, is how systemic corruption among the elites increases the damage caused by natural disasters, as little flexibility or resilience is built into systems designed to reward the few. People are persuaded or allowed to occupy floodplains and other areas prone to disaster; land speculation runs rampant with local government and insurance company complicity; intermediate measures suc has levees are built at public expense. When it all comes crashing down, as with Katrina over New Orleans or the increasingly regular Mississippi River flooding, the rich walk away with their high risks having been amortized, which the poor and minority communities are ruined." (


"Even before the digital information explosion, the rapid expansion of scientific, social scientific, and humanities knowledge led to the fragmentation of academic disciplines, and then increasing fragmentation as sub-disciplines developed. Figure 14 depicts how little of the knowledge can be accessed via online search, the default option for all too many people. Add 183 languages in which knowledge is created, and the Babel factor is a multiple order of magnitude worse than a quarter century ago.

. . . . . . . . .

There is one other fragmentation that must be addressed. I call them “the eight communities of intelligence” that do not share information with one another in any coherent manner, illustrated in Figure 15. I use a figure, having listed these communities briefly above, because I want to illuminate two points: that they all share a “green” information commons; and that there are outer rings of yellow, orange, and red “restricted information information that demand security and privacy.

Each of these communities have vital original data, information, and analytical insights on any given issue. They are not trained, equipped, organized, nor culturally disposed to share information they have, not even within their own community.

. . . . . . . . .

The fragmentation of knowledge is much worse than this. When you look at data in context–what we should be able to do with all information in all languages all the time–we immediately see many more divisions in terms of time, space, discipline, and domain." (

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