What is a Fractal?

What is meant by ‘fractal’ in the name Fractal Economic Co-operative?

A fractal is a beautiful mathematical thing. A dictionary definition of a fractal is ‘an object whose parts, at infinitely many levels of magnification, appear geometrically similar to the whole’. The images at the top of this website's pages contain a fractal. The co-operative's logo, a stylised nautilus shell, incorporates a fractal. As one 'enters' the spiral, the same pattern repeats itself exactly. The triangular figure below is a simple fractal. Each triangle can have a central triangle taken out of it, and the three resultant corner triangles can likewise have a central triangle taken out of them so that the secondary corner triangles have an identical structure to the primary triangle. The process can be repeated indefinitely.

Below are two more images of fractals – this time taken from nature. One is a computer generated image of a fern leaf; the other is a vegetable called the romanesque broccoli. Note how the sub-branches of the fern leaf (as delineated by the boxed section) repeat the same pattern as the parent leaf, and that the sub-sub-branches also do the same. In the romanesque broccoli, there is a three dimensional fractal. The whole broccoli has a cone shape, but it is covered in smaller cones that repeat the same cone shape; these sub-cones are likewise composed of similar sub-sub-cones. A most wonderful thing to behold! More images of the romanesque broccoli here.

There are also musical fractals and other non-geometric fractals. And then there are social fractals like the Fractal Economic Co-operative. As stated in the Homepage, the FEC incorporates all the key features of a healthy and functional New economy. It does not, we believe, have any missing key parts that should make up a national economy. This means that as a grassroots project, the FEC will effortlessly segue to the national economy. Alternatively, one might think of it as eclipsing the current capitalist economy for the entire country.

Another way to put it is to imagine that FEC has the making of an entire national economy - running within a national economy. The FEC is not a geographically separate nation but has the characteristics of a national economy nonetheless - separate banking system, separate taxation system, etcetera. (FEC could have a separate currency but that is not necessary.)

Using the image of the fern, imagine you take a sub-branch of the fern leaf, and that you were able to plant that sub-branch directly in the soil and keep it alive and growing. The sub-branch would in time become a whole leaf. This is what FEC's relationship to the national economy will be like - and also what the national economy will be for the world economy. Thus we have a three level fractal.