Ch 6: ENVISIONING A TRANSFORMATIONAL MOVEMENT

2005-02-07

Richard Moore

Friends,

Most of this version is new. The old version just didn't work for me 
when I read it over.

regards,
rkm

_________________________________________________
draft version 3.1

Chapter 6

ENVISIONING A TRANSFORMATIONAL MOVEMENT


                If only people could see each other as agents of each other's
                happiness, they could occupy the earth, their common
                habitation, in peace, and move forward confidently together to
                their common goal. The prospect changes when they regard each
                other as obstacles; soon they have no choice left but to flee
                or be forever fighting. Humankind then seems nothing but a
                gigantic error of nature.
                - Abbe Sieyes. Prelude to the Constitution, 1789, France

* Where we are in our quest

Let's review the path of our quest so farŠ

        Chapter 1 concluded with Civilization in crisis, and the
        thesis that our entire society needs to be radically changed,
        both economically and politically. We need to rid ourselves,
        somehow, of elite rule, and we need to establish, somehow,
        democratic, peaceful, and sustainable societies.

This left with us an implicit question: "If we want a
different kind of society, what models do we have that might
guide us?"

        Chapter 2 looked back into our origins, and found hopeful
        models in the Old Civilization of Europe, and the partnership
        cultures that characterized the earliest agricultural
        civilizations. These societies prove that it is possible to
        have a stable, peaceful, and complex society which is
        egalitarian and which is based on harmony among people and
        with nature. The path of hierarchy was the path we eventually
        followed as a global civilization, but it was not the only
        path available.

From this we know that people are capable of living in a
partnership society just as they are capable of living in a
dominator society; human nature is capable of cooperation as
well as exploitation. Social transformation is not a hopeless
quest. The question is not whether a better society is
possible, but rather how it can be created. We next need to
face the question of how transformation might be accomplished.

        Chapter 3 argued the thesis that only We the People, by means
        of some kind of social movement, can be the agent of social
        transformation. We surveyed several social movements, and I
        suggested some preliminary observations. One observation is
        that capturing territory is important to any transformational
        movement. Another observation is that electoral politics is a
        quagmire that any successful transformational movement must
        avoid becoming bogged down in. If such a movement is to
        prevail, it will need to recruit nearly the whole population
        to its cause, as Gandhi's movement was able to do.

We now have the basic skeleton of a transformational project:
We the People need to wake up and find our identity, and we
need to build a social movement aimed at transforming our
cultures and our societies; our movement must avoid the
political quagmire and seek to bring everyone into the
movement. In order to pursue such a project, we need to
understand just how deep the transformation must go: we need
to know which of our existing cultural paradigms must be
abandoned, as being incompatible with a democratic and
equitable society.

        Chapter 4 expanded on Chapter 3's preliminary conclusions,
        arguing the thesis that adversarial politics -- the whole
        basis of liberal "democracy" -- is a system that by its
        inherent nature facilitates rule by elites; it is a modern
        version of divide and rule. In reality we live in a plutocracy
        -- we are ruled by wealthy elites. Only in the Matrix does
        democracy exist. If we want real democracy, we must invent it.
        Our new culture must avoid the factions and interest groups
        that pit us one against the other; we need to create a culture
        which enables us to harmonize our various needs and concerns.

We can now see that harmonization is the critical factor in
both our movement and our new society. In order to bring
everyone into the movement we need to learn how to harmonize
everyone's concerns, and we also need to base our new society
on harmonization. In order to transform our societies, we need
to transform our adversarial culture into a culture based on
harmonization. But how can we go about pursuing harmonization?

        Chapter 5 argued that our culture suffers from a certain
        deficiency: when we gather together for discussions or to make
        decisions, we don't know how to go about harmonizing the
        various concerns and interests of the participants. We either
        suppress our differences in order to reach a compromise
        consensus, or else factions compete to impose their views on
        the whole group. This deficiency channels us toward
        participation in the quagmire of adversarial politics. As a
        remedy, we looked at some examples of gatherings that overcame
        this cultural deficiency, and discovered the dynamics of
        harmonization. In the microcosm of a face-to-face gathering,
        it is possible to find our common ground and realize our
        identity as We the People. The necessary facilitation
        techniques are proven, and with their help almost any group of
        people can go through this kind of experience. Harmonization
        is able to bring out the creative synergy and the collective
        wisdom that lie latent in any group of people.

We can now see the beginning of a path to social
transformation: we know how to achieve harmonization in the
microcosm of a face-to-face gathering. We next need to
understand how we can use this knowledge to build a movement
and to transform our cultures and societies. That is the goal
of this chapter.


* Harmonization and cultural transformation

Let us begin by reviewing the nature of the harmonization
experience, based on the examples we've looked at. In the
Michigan conference, the Maclean's experiment, and the Rogue
Valley Wisdom Council, we saw the same general pattern: a
diverse group of people participated; they were surprised,
even amazed, at their ability to find common ground and reach
a deep level of mutual understanding and respect; they became
enthusiastic about the wider social potential of such an
experience; they were able to see that this potential has to
do with dialog and mutual understanding, rather than with any
particular platform or agenda -- as the Maclean's group
explicitly articulated. The experience awoke a strong spirit
of democratic solidarity and empowerment, leading two of the
groups to identify themselves with the phrase, "We the
People."

Taken all together, these are very impressive outcomes. I
think I do not exaggerate if I say that the various
participants experienced a profound transformation of personal
consciousness. They were able to glimpse a new way of being,
and that glimpse gave them an entirely new perspective on what
might be possible in society more generally -- and it expanded
their personal sense of power and responsibility as citizens.
They knew that any group can have this same experience; they
themselves had no special qualifications in this regard. And
they knew that anyone who has this kind of experience will
never again view society's problems in quite the same way,
will never again be fully captured by the disempowering
illusion of "us" vs. "them." This new way of being opened
their minds to the possibility that factional strife could be
healed, and that ordinary people, working and thinking
together, can be active and effective participants in the
affairs of society. That's a remarkable amount of
transformation, I suggest, to come out of just a few days of
meetings!

Imagine what it would be like if everyone were to undergo such
a transformation of consciousness. What if everyone went
through the experience of sitting down with others, some of
whom were considered to be "the enemy," and glimpsed for
themselves the new way of being? What if everyone were to
experience the empowerment and hope that comes with the spirit
of We the People? What if everyone understood, at a deep
level, that that divisiveness in society can be overcome, that
We the People can harmonize our needs and concerns?

                Imagine no possessions, 
                I wonder if you can, 
                No need for greed or hunger, 
                A brotherhood of man, 
                Imagine all the people 
                Sharing all the world... 
                
                You may say I'm a dreamer, 
                but I'm not the only one, 
                I hope some day you'll join us, 
                And the world will live as one. 
                -  John Lennon, from Imagine

If everyone were to have this kind of experience, our culture
itself would be transformed. Not only would this fill our
"cultural gap" as regards meetings, but our cultural paradigms
about competition and adversarial politics would be
neutralized. Although our societal systems would remain
unchanged, for a while at least, the culture that supports
them would be gone. The elite's divide-and-rule strategy would
be fatally undermined. No longer would we feel compelled to
choose sides among political parties; no longer would we feel
powerless and isolated as citizens. Our culture, beginning in
the grassroots, would be transforming into the partnership
category.

Harmonization is a transformational force. Spreading the
harmonization experience is equivalent to transforming our
cultures and our consciousness as individuals. Harmonization
is the means by which We the People can wake up, find our
identity, and undertake effective collective action.

To spread harmonization is to spread the seeds of
transformation. But as with any kind of seeds, depending on
their nature, some soils are more fertile than others, some
seasons more conducive to growth, and certain cultivation
methods most effective: a cactus grows well in a dry desert;
rice requires lots of water. What are the most fertile
conditions for the seeds of harmonization?


* Harmonization and community empowerment

When a group enters the space of harmonization it becomes, for
the duration of the session, a close-knit community, where
everyone is respected and everyone's concerns are considered
to be important. Within this space a culture of harmonization
comes into existence. In general, a culture is shared by a
group of people. In a session, the group of participants
shares a culture of harmonization, but only temporarily.

In the previous section I asked the question: "What if
everyone were to experience the empowerment and hope that
comes with the spirit of We the People?" As regards a whole
society, this may seem like only a theoretical question. To
get everyone in a society to go through some experience seems
highly unlikely. But consider the question in the context of a
local community. On the scale of a local community, might it
be possible for everyone to experience the space of
harmonization? Might it be possible for the ongoing culture of
a local community to be transformed into a culture of
harmonization?

Consider the public meeting that followed the Wisdom Council
session in Rogue Valley. The session participants were able to
communicate their experience to the people who came to that
meeting, and the whole meeting was characterized by a spirit
of enthusiasm and empowerment. This offers us some
encouragement. Let us consider how this kind of scenario might
be further extended.

Instead of a single harmonization session, suppose that a
series of sessions were to be organized in a community, each
followed by an open public meeting. Suppose further that the
organizers of this series undertook to publicize the events,
and the outcomes of the gatherings, to the wider community. If
this were to happen, I suggest that a culture of harmonization
would begin to take root and grow within the community. Let me
explain why I make this suggestion.

As the number of "graduates" (people who have participated in
sessions) increases in the community, the time will come when
nearly everyone in town knows someone, or is related to
someone, who is a graduate. Each graduate, based on the
transformation of consciousness that typically occurs, would
act as a kind of informal evangelist for the harmonization
culture, able to provide first-hand answers to questions, and
most likely willing to relate, with some enthusiasm, the
session experience to others. In this way familiarity with the
harmonization experience would spread on a word-of-mouth
basis.

Each harmonization session brings together some microcosm of
the community and its concerns. To the extent the various
concerns of the community find voice within a session, we can
expect the solutions and insights that come out of the session
to find resonance in the larger community. As the results of
each session are published locally, and people see those
results as being relevant to their own concerns, we could
expect a sense of enthusiasm to develop in the community
regarding the series of sessions and public meetings.

Presumably the public meetings would grow larger over time,
based on the enthusiasm generated, with people returning to
subsequent meetings, and inviting their neighbors along. We
could expect some continuity to develop, with certain issues
rising to the fore as recognized community concerns. This
might naturally add focus to subsequent harmonization
sessions, so that the breakthroughs reached in sessions would
become increasingly relevant to recognized community concerns.
A shared sense of the community and a sense of community
identity would begin to emerge. The growing sense of
empowerment in the community would be accompanied by a growing
understanding of the culture that enables that empowerment:
mutual respect and heartfelt dialog. Dialog would carry on
informally in the community; the spirit of We the People would
become palpable. The sleeping giant would be waking up on the
scale of one community.

As the sense of the community begins to converge around
certain shared concerns, community attention would naturally
begin focusing on, "What can we do?" And in a community there
are usually many things people can do, when they are acting
out of mutual understanding and common purpose. People working
together can deal with many problems on a self-help basis:
they can give the local school a fresh coat of paint, create a
community garden, establish a local currency, or set up a
childcare co-op or a crime-watch network. There is also much
that be accomplished politically. Local officials have a
self-interest motivation to listen to citizen petitions, when
those are enthusiastically backed by the general community.

When a whole community has achieved a harmonized sense of
itself, as an aware We the People, they can simply choose a
slate of candidates from among themselves and elect them, on a
nearly unanimous basis, to all the local offices. The official
political process, and the administration of the community,
can be brought into the space of harmonization. The policy
decisions of the community would no longer be made behind
closed doors, but would come from the people themselves, by
means of harmonization. At the level of community, it is
possible for We the People to govern ourselves on the basis of
direct, participatory democracy. And we can do this within the
current political system. In a local community it is possible
for a sub-culture based on harmonization to be established, a
transformed oasis of democracy embedded within the larger
hierarchical society.

Just as not every seed germinates in a garden, and just as not
all gardens are equally productive, so such a process of
community awakening might be more successful in some
communities than others. Nonetheless, a local community seems
to be the appropriate garden in which to create and nurture a
culture of harmonization. A face-to-face session provides a
hot house where the seeds of harmonization can germinate, and
a community provides fertile soil where those seeds can take
root and grow. If we want to spread a culture of
harmonization, the community seems to be a fertile environment
in which to plant the seeds.

                Four hundred years ago the village of Maliwada, India, was a
                thriving agricultural center, producing fruits, vegetables,
                and wines. In 1975, it had little water, no sanitation, few
                crops. Over 2,000 villagers barely eked out a subsistence
                living. Muslims and Hindus of many different castes lived with
                centuries of mutual distrust. The villagers knew about their
                prosperous past, but it seemed long gone and hopeless to
                recreate.
                
                The discussions began based on two questions: "What would it
                take to have prosperity exist again in this village? What can
                you do to make that happen?" Gradually, as ideas began to pour
                fourth, perspectives changed. Hindus and Muslims talked
                together excitedly about how to clean out the ancient well.
                Brahmins and Untouchables discovered in a joint meeting that
                all despaired at the lack of medical care for their sick
                children. They all wanted to create a health clinic in the
                village. Hope began to creep into their voices and eyes. What
                had seemed totally impossible suddenly became doable. People
                organized and tapped resources they had forgotten they had.
                
                They acquired loans from a bank and received government
                grants. They built a dam, a brick factory, and the clinic. The
                shared vision of what they wanted for themselves and their
                community allowed them to go beyond their personal and
                cultural differences and continued to motivate them. Each
                success made them stronger, more confident, more self-assured.
                Today, Maliwada is a prospering village.
                
                When transformation like this takes place, the news travels.
                Nearby villagers wanted to know how they could do this....
                - Quoted from Patricia R. Tuecke, Rural     International
                Development, in Discovering Common Ground, by Marvin R.
                Weisbord, et. al. (Berrett-Koehler, 1992), p. 307.

When the first atomic bomb was set off in the Nevada desert in
1945, the physicists were not absolutely certain that the
device would work. Their theories and experiments said it
would, but they couldn't be really sure until it happened.
They knew that tremendous energy was locked in the atomic
nucleus, and they had seen it released in a controlled
reaction, but they had never before applied their theories to
a critical mass of material. But although none of them could
have been certain, the result on the desert did not surprise
any of them. The principles had been well understood, and
their consequences logically unavoidable. If the big test had
failed, that would have been the surprise.

The principle of harmonization is similar to the principle of
a nuclear reaction: they are both based on releasing locked-up
energy. The energy of the atom was so tightly locked up that
scientists didn't even know the energy existed until the 20th
century. The energy of human liberation and empowerment has
been locked up for so long that we have forgotten it exists.
But in both cases, once the key is found to unlocking the
energy, the consequences are awesome.

In the laboratory the physicists had been able to observe the
kind of energy released under controlled conditions, and
simple linear extrapolation told them how much energy could
come from a critical mass. Similarly, we have been able to
observe the kind of energy released in a small group, and
extrapolation can tell us what would happen if the energy
could be released in a community, or in a society. In our
discussions of community empowerment and cultural
transformation, I have attempted to sketch out those
extrapolations, as best I could, based on common sense
thinking.

In our case, where the released energy involves creative
synergy, the extrapolation is not linear: it is closer to
exponential. The combination of heartfelt expression,
respectful listening, and "bouncing ideas around" is potent.
When a group of people are connected in this way, it is as if
a higher level sentient being comes into existence: a being
that has seen life through many eyes and is able to integrate
its diverse experiences and tap its various skills as it
ponders a problem -- i.e., as the group dialog proceeds.

In our usual forms of discussion and debate, we are
individuals exchanging text messages over a narrow channel. In
the space of harmonization, it's as if our mental processes
are networked together, enabling synergistic parallel
processing and the sharing of a common knowledge base. Normal
discussion taps into energy comparable to a chemical reaction;
real dialog taps into energy comparable to a nuclear reaction.

Nuclear energy comes from the bonding strength among atomic
particles. The energy of harmonization comes from the bonding
that is possible among people. Not a sentimental bonding, nor
a bonding of dependency, but a bonding based on the personal
experience of wholeness, of oneness. With this experience
comes the realization, perhaps not fully consciously at first,
that the brotherhood of man is not an ideal, but rather an
achievable reality, a reflection of our primordial heritage.
I've been using the phrase We the People, but that refers only
to the civic and political dimensions of this kind of bonding.
There are spiritual dimensions as well, and we will consider
those further in the final chapter.

I do not believe my extrapolations have been unduly
optimistic. They are in fact optimistic, but I believe that
reflects the natural implications of the data we have looked
at. If a critical mass of  the people in a community
personally experience this oneness, this new way of being, I
think it is clear that a chain reaction will follow in the
culture of the community. A spirit of democracy will be in the
air. Those who don't know what it is about will be curious. As
more attention focuses on the sessions and their outcomes, the
momentum and participation will build, and the natural
dynamics of harmonization will lead toward convergence around
a "sense of the community" and a "sense of community
empowerment."

You've seen the experiments, the theory, and the
extrapolations. What do you think would happen in a real
community, if a series of sessions (along the lines of Rogue
Valley) were to be carried out? For myself, like the Los
Alamos physicists, I would be surprised if such a project did
not lead to the kind of explosive chain reaction I have
anticipated. But like those scientists, I cannot be really,
really sure until a test is carried out. So far as I know, in
the major Western nations at least, no community has yet had
quite this kind of experience, over an extended period of
time, with harmonization.

Such a project would not be a formidable undertaking. With a
handful of local citizens sharing the work, and some modest
fund raising for facilitators and meeting rooms -- applied
over several months -- we'd have our "live test." Perhaps by
the time this book is in print such an experiment will have
already been carried out somewhere, somehow.

                Hope is a dimension of the soulŠ an orientation of the spirit,
                an orientation of the heart. It transcends the world that is
                immediately experienced and is anchored somewhere beyond its
                horizons . . . .It is not the conviction that something will
                turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense
                regardless of how it turns out.
                - Vaclav Havel


* Community empowerment as a transformational movement

If my vision of community awakening is self-delusional, or
unsound for any reason, then the rest of this book has little
value. The empowered community is the foundation stone for my
understanding of how transformation can be brought about, and
how a liberated global society can be organized. I see
community as the garden of social transformation, the smallest
meaningful unit of "We the People," and the seat of primary
sovereignty in a democratic society. We will examine each of
these points as the book progresses.

The rest of this chapter is predicated on the assumption,
"What if some communities did begin to wake up, in the way I
have described?" If this never happens, then so be it. On the
other hand if it does happen, then the following discussion
could be of considerable interest to those involved -- in what
would amount to the launch of a social movement. In the
previous section I started with the Rogue Valley experience,
and attempted to extrapolate the emergence of an empowered
community. In the rest of this chapter, I will assume that
some communities are awakening, and will attempt to
extrapolate the emergence of a transformational movement.

Let's assume, then, that a series of harmonization events are
launched in a half-dozen scattered communities, and that the
begin communities, each in their own way, to approach a
community-wide sense of identity, agenda, and empowerment.
Even if these six were completely independent initiatives to
begin with, I would imagine that the communities would soon
begin networking and exchanging ideas. These communities would
be pioneers on a common path, and they would naturally want to
hold conferences, stay in touch, and share their enthusiasm --
just as fellow travelers do in most areas of life.

Each of these pioneering communities would be undergoing a
cultural transformation. Perhaps slow and piecemeal at first,
once a critical mass is reached we could expect each community
to rather rapidly develop a solid sense of itself as a
"community with a will," an awakened segment of We the People,
a community that understands the new way of being and the
experience of oneness.

As I suggested earlier, there is much that such a community
might occupy itself with locally, in terms of bringing the
official government into the process, and in the pursuit of
civic improvements. It is unlikely, however, that the focus of
such a community's attention would long remain primarily
local. Such a community would soon be frustrated by the limits
to local power. Perhaps the local woodlands are owed by a
timber company, or most of the employment is controlled by a
few large corporations, or much of the budget and services are
regulated by outside agencies. The people and their government
together, even empowered by harmonization, will soon find that
they lack the power to control the main elements of their own
destiny.

Awakened as the people are to a sense of democratic
empowerment, such a community would not be likely to accept
defeat in the face of such frustration. Indeed, having seen
what is possible in their own diverse community, people would
be starting to think in terms of wider social transformation.
They would be asking themselves, and their neighbors, why
society as a whole cannot operate based somehow on the
principle of harmonization. Adversarial strife would be
increasingly perceived as being a dysfunctional and
uncivilized behavior pattern, like a lifetime disease one has
finally been cured of.

For this reason alone we can be sure that the various
awakening communities would get together in conferences, to
hold conversations about their mutual situation vis a vis the
centralized power structures of the larger society.
Delegations would be sent, representing the harmonized
consensus of each community regarding the issues of
inter-community concern. When these delegations meet in
conference, all being savvy of the space of harmonization and
its creative power, they would naturally dialog together using
harmonization. As a microcosm of the concerns of the various
communities, the outcomes of such a conference would be likely
to find resonance throughout the community-empowerment
movement. In this way the movement would evolve coherence of
identity and purpose; the movement itself would move toward a
wholeness, a oneness of spirit, a movement-wide We the People
consciousness.

Earlier I suggested that a critical mass of session graduates
would be reached in a community, and this would then lead to
an explosive chain reaction in terms of local cultural
transformation. Similarly, I imagine that a critical mass
would be reached in the development of the movement. Partly
based on the number of communities involved, and partly based
on the quality of the creative ideas and visions that have
been generated by the movement, the movement would become
increasingly appealing to an increasing number of people. Once
a critical mass of momentum and enthusiasm is reached, and
given the latent hunger for hope throughout our societies
today, I believe that the movement, and cultural
transformation, would begin to spread throughout Western
society, and beyond, on a chain-reaction basis.

It wouldn't be too long before whole regions, cities, or
provinces became "harmonized territories." Larger units of
official government would be absorbed, via movement-elected
slates, into the harmonization context.

Somewhere in this unfolding process, we can be sure that the
movement will wake up to the fact that's its inherent mission
is the total transformation of society. This was not the
mission of the Rogue Valley Wisdom Council, nor would I expect
it be the mission of early harmonization projects in a
fledgling movement. The natural and appropriate focus at the
beginning, as in the Rogue Valley, will be on overcoming
divisiveness in communities, and seeking solutions to
community problems. But as a culture of harmonization spreads
and becomes familiar to people on a daily basis, they will
become increasing unwilling to accept being controlled by
remote dominator institutions, a state of affairs that will
increasingly be perceived as being dysfunctional, uncivilized,
antiquated, unnecessary -- and the source of our major
problems.

The movement will realize, at some point, that it represents
the leading edge of cultural transformation -- and that this
transformation itself is the movement's most important
outcome. As the movement grows larger, and is able to maintain
its coherence via networking and harmonization, people will
begin to realize, based on their own experience, that large
social projects do not need to be based on centralization and
hierarchy. The development of the movement itself will point
the way to those social structures that are suitable to a
democratic society.

Rather than a centralized movement leadership deciding policy
for "the good of the movement," people will learn in this
movement that policies can come from the grassroots, and that
good ideas and breakthroughs can be rapidly and voluntarily
adopted by other communities, or adopted by the whole movement
in appropriate sessions of delegates. Only with the help of
harmonization can a movement be both coherent and grassroots
based. Without harmonization, a movement must either be
disorganized or centrally led.

I imagine that the "movement structure" would naturally evolve
toward a tiered arrangement of councils, where communities
send delegates to regional councils, regions send delegates to
national councils, and so on up to global councils -- with
harmonization being used at all levels. Although this may
superficially resemble the hierarchical pyramids of our
current representative governments, power would flow in the
reverse direction, and there would be no permanent
decision-making bodies.

Each delegation to a council would come in with a consensus
perspective that was reached in their community, and they
would not be empowered to reach agreements outside the
boundaries of that consensus. If there seem to be conflicts
among these incoming perspectives, those conflicts would be
addressed as shared problems in the council sessions. Perhaps
breakthroughs could be found in the council, overcoming the
apparent conflicts, or perhaps delegates would go back home
better informed about the concerns of other communities. Each
community could then re-examine its thinking in the light of
that new understanding. Harmonization would proceed, perhaps
iteratively, while power, in terms of movement decision
making, would remain based in the grassroots, in the
individual communities.

In this way, as the chain reaction spreads, the culture of
whole societies would be transformed. Or at least that is how
things could be expected to develop if there were no defensive
response from the currently established regimes. Such a lack
of response, however, is highly unlikely.

                I feel the suffering of millions, and yet when I look up at
                the sky I somehow feel that this cruelty shall end and that
                peace and tranquility will return.
                - Anne Frank

                In the late 1930s, David Ben-Gurion wrote: "What is
                inconceivable in normal times is possible in revolutionary
                times; and if at this time the opportunity is missed and what
                is possible in such great hours is not carried out -- a whole
                world is lost."


* Engagement with the regime

In this section, I will seek to anticipate the various kinds
of opposition the movement could expect to encounter, and
explore how we might effectively respond to them. To begin
with, I believe it is very important that we look to the game
of Go for our models of engagement rather than the game of
chess. Chess is about battle, and on the battle ground it is
those who command tanks and attack helicopters who have the
advantage, not the people. Besides, transformation is not
about destroying anyone, but about taking everyone's concerns
into account. When eventually they have no useful alternative,
our elite brothers and sisters will be willing to talk to us,
and their concerns will be listened to with the same respect
afforded everyone else. Indeed, it will be much easier for us
to transform our economies and infrastructures when we have
the enthusiastic cooperation of those who currently run our
governments, corporations, and banks.

The game of Go is about gradually consolidating territory
while artfully constraining the alternatives of your opponent
-- so that eventually he has no available move that can
improve his position. Among master players, it is seldom
necessary to actually remove stones from the board -- both
players know from the position what would be the outcome from
that mundane exercise in mechanical capture, and so they don't
bother with it. As I pointed out earlier, this kind of
strategy characterized Gandhi's resistance movement against
British occupation. Certainly his non-violent ethic provides a
model we want to emulate, and I suggest his Go-like strategic
approach also provides us with useful lessons.

In our case, assuming that the movement develops along lines
similar to those I have outlined, the first strategic
objective should be to capture as much territory as possible
-- while keeping a low a profile on elite radar. The initial
task of the movement is not to confront any regime, but rather
to carry forward a cultural transformation. The more widely
such a culture can spread and the more firmly established it
can become, prior to encountering strong elite opposition, the
better off we will be. We would be well advised to focus our
initial We the People empowerment on local problems and
issues, and on developing our We the People consciousness. We
need to learn to walk before we can run, and during that
learning process we should not tread too near to sleeping
dogs.

Despite our best efforts to keep a low profile on elite radar,
it is unlikely that we could postpone an elite response for
very long. Public opinion and shifts in alignments are of
great interest to the establishment, and they keep close tabs
on trends. It's not that they want to be responsive to public
sentiment, but rather that they want to maintain control with
their system of divide-and-rule propaganda. If they begin to
see a trend toward people thinking for themselves, and
dialoging across factional lines in their communities, the
opinion managers will have the good sense to perceive those
developments as a potentially serious threat to their system
of control. They might initiate appropriate counter-measures
earlier than would seem to be warranted by the actual progress
of the movement on the ground. We must keep in mind that the
current regime is characterized by preventive, preemptive
action against those deemed to be a potential threat. Indeed,
the Patriot Act amounts to a preemptive strike against popular
movements in general.

Let's consider some of the early counter-measures that the
regime might deploy. Surveillance and infiltration by spies
and provocateurs are very common tactics used against
movements of all kinds throughout the world. But a
harmonization movement is relatively immune to such tactics.
The movement has nothing to hide as regards its activities,
and harmonizing processes are characterized by too much good
sense to allow themselves to be sabotaged by a provocateur
pushing some counter-productive agenda. There may be
infiltrators who intentionally try to thwart the process of
sessions, and we may need to develop some sensible
countermeasures to that line of attack. More drastic measures,
such as arresting organizers or banning meetings among
citizens, are unlikely to be undertaken at any early stage.
That would be a strategic error on the establishment's part,
as it would only bring attention to the movement and generate
support for it.

There are other counter-measures that might be deployed, but
the one I believe is most likely would be a demonization
campaign launched over various media and propaganda channels
-- a counter-attack within the Matrix. Religious conservatives
would be warned, from pulpits and by radio pundits, that
harmonization is a cult movement, and that it seeks its wisdom
not exclusively from the Word of God: good Christians should
stay away. To the libertarian-minded would come the warning,
from radio chat jocks and online bulletin boards, that
harmonization is communistic and that it submerges the
individual in the collective: stay away and don't risk being
brainwashed. Liberals would read in the Op-Ed pages that
harmonization is undemocratic and that it would lead to
one-party tyranny. They would learn that it's hip to dismiss
harmonization, in the same way that it's hip to scoff at
"conspiracy theories".

It would be a mistake to underestimate the potential
effectiveness of such a campaign, particularly in the American
context. If the general population adopts a variety of strong
negative attitudes toward harmonization, that might stifle or
even destroy the early movement. But if the movement can build
sufficient momentum in the meantime, and establish sufficient
roots, it should be able to hold its ground and respond
effectively to such an attack. We can take some comfort from
the fact that a demonization campaign would make little sense
until after the movement has made noticeable progress.

The movement would have no incentive to cause any kind of
trouble for the regime -- until the time came when such
initiatives could be effective. Before that time the threat to
the regime would exist only in potential, and conflict would
be most likely to arise due to preemptive attacks from the
establishment, not all of which can be anticipated in advance.
We can only trust in our collective wisdom to deal with such
challenges as they arise.

Eventually, if we overcome the intermediate obstacles, most of
our society will be part of the new culture, and we will have
developed a coherent vision of a transformed society. Only
then does it make sense to initiate decisive engagement with
the regime. One form of engagement could be general strikes --
everyone, apart from emergency services, stays away from work
for a week or so; the systems stops operating. Perhaps
military units overseas refuse to engage in actions as part of
the strike, and police join in as well. This is similar to how
Soviet-era regimes were brought down in Eastern Europe.
Eventually elites will realize they no longer have control,
and they can either run away or express a willingness to
"negotiate." At that point we can invite them to sit down and
together resolve our mutual concerns.

                If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your timeŠ
                but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with
                mine, then let us work together.
                - Aboriginal Woman

* Global transformation and the third world

The third world persists in poverty for precisely one reason:
because it has been systematically dominated, robbed, and
looted by centuries of still-ongoing imperialism on the part
of the industrialized nations. This has been a horrible fate,
accompanied by much genocide, bloodshed, and suffering, and no
right-thinking person would wish such an experience on those
peoples. And yet, there is a benefit that accrues from that
suffering: social transformation will be much easier for the
third world than it will be for the West.

The problem for the West is that we believe we already live in
democracies. That particular Matrix construct is very
persuasive. When a bad official gets elected, we blame
ourselves for not getting out the vote. We get caught up in
adversarial games, pursuing reform, and don't realize that all
the paths of the maze leave us inside the same box. We are
kept from liberation by what the Sufis call a veil of light,
which is more dangerous than a veil of darkness. A veil of
darkness is a recognized obstacle, against which we know we
should muster our resources. A veil of light is a seductive
siren that seems to be what we want, but which imprisons us.
Moving past our pseudo-democracy veil of light requires, if my
investigation has been relevant, a wholesale cultural
transformation. Only when we experience genuine democracy will
we realize that what we had wasn't the real thing.

The third world, on the other hand, sees the mainstream
capitalist imperialist system as a veil of darkness. People in
the third world know that most of their rulers are corrupt
puppets, and their societies are being raped by globalization
and corporations -- modern descendants of the conquistadors.
People in the third world don't need to awaken to the
possibility of transformation; they need only the freedom to
liberate themselves. If the West is able to transform itself
to a culture based on networking and harmonization, ends
imperialism, and extends the hand of friendship and support to
the people of the third world, I suspect that transformation
would be global in a matter of weeks.

But in fact the third world is not waiting for us in the West
to lead the way. All over the third world people are
struggling for local control, and they are building networks
and learning to find their empowerment as We the People. They
have been forced into bottom-up solidarity by the array of
forces exploiting and dominating them. They have not been
encumbered by illusions of living in democracies. Under the
hyper-exploitation brought on by globalization, rejection of
the imperialist system is spreading to all strata of many
third world societies, not just the poorer segments. One
example is Porto Alegre, a medium-sized city in Brazil, where
the budget is determined by a bottom-up consensus process.
This model has been replicated elsewhere in Brazil, and there
are many other democratic initiatives and innovations being
pursued in Brazil, under the progressive stewardship of a
strong labor party at the national level.

There are other, more radical examples of third-world
leadership on the path to social transformation, but before I
mention them I'd like to review a few points. Consider for a
moment the possibility of a whole society operating on the
basis of harmonization and decentralization. Each community
basically runs its own affairs, and wider scale issues are
dealt with by harmonizing the concerns of all affected
communities. There's a lot more to be said about how that
could work in practice on a global scale, and we'll get into
that in the next chapter. For the moment and for the sake of
argument, imagine that such a society would be viable.

What I'd like you to notice is that voting and political
parties do not play a role in such a society. Parties are the
embodiment of factionalism, and they make no sense in a
culture of harmonization. If people have concerns that need to
be addressed, harmonization is a more effective way of
addressing those concerns than would be the formation of a
faction dedicated to those concerns. As regards voting, there
are two kinds to consider: voting on issues, and electing
representatives. As regards issues, voting is a vastly
inferior decision-making system in comparison with
harmonization. If there are competing proposals on the table,
it makes much more sense to creatively harmonize the
underlying concerns than it does to simply choose among the
proposals. Indeed, this is the core principle underlying the
virtues of harmonization.

As regards electing representatives, the issue is really one
of hierarchy. In our current system, candidates compete to be
given the power to rule over us. We choose among masters, live
under hierarchy, and call it democracy. While we live under
this illusion, it is natural that we value open and fair
elections. That serves to maximize the meaning of our votes,
for whatever that's worth -- or at least it helps us be
comfortable in our illusion. But open and fair elections are
only of value within the context of hierarchy. In a society
based on harmonization there are no rulers and no need to
elect any. Instead we might select people, or solicit
volunteers, to manage certain projects or to represent the
community's concerns in some gathering or conference -- what
the Native Americans called a powwow. Such representatives or
managers are not given power, but are rather given the
responsibility to carry forward the agenda that has been
articulated by the community as a whole. If people compete for
such roles, it is not on the basis that they will make better
decisions, but rather on the basis that they are good managers
or good communicators. And in many cases, it would probably be
a team or slate that would be selected for such a role rather
than an individual. Competitive elections of rulers, whether
open and fair or not, makes no sense in a society based on
harmonization and localism.

It is in the context of these observations that I dare to
bring up the examples of Cuba and Venezuela. I'm not claiming
that these are ideal societies, nor that they embody
harmonization, but I do suggest that we can understand these
societies better if we are able to see that competitive
parties and elections are not the same thing as democracy.
According to mainstream mythology, there are basically two
kinds of governments: democratic and dictatorial. In this
mythology, democracy equals fair & competitive elections, and
everything else is dictatorship. And indeed, most of the
governments in the world that don't have fair & competitive
elections are indeed dictatorships. I suggest, however, that
Cuba and Venezuela are examples that need to be examined on
their own merits.

In Venezuela, we do have fair & competitive elections, as
recently verified by international observers including
ex-President Jimmy Carter. Based on eyewitness reports I've
seen, by Venezuelan and foreign observers alike, Chavez is
facilitating a cultural transformation in Venezuela. He is not
launching massive state programs, but is instead encouraging
local empowerment, and providing services and support for
those programs which seem to be achieving results. Katherine
Lahey, a community studies major at the University of
California Santa Cruz, offers these comments in an article she
wrote based on her observations in Venezuela:

                The stitching of the fabric of the revolution is unmatched in
                its strength and breadth of anything I have ever seen.
                Throughout the country, not just in the urban barrios, social
                programs called misione -- a social development strategy
                borrowed from the Cuban revolution -- are being implemented by
                the people with the support of government resources.
                
                What takes place behind the scenes of each misione is simply
                incredible and inspiring beyond words. These campaigns include
                education -- from literacy to university level, health,
                employment, citizenship, support for indigenous groups and
                their reincorporation into society, economic justice and
                resistance to neoliberalism through development of grassroots
                and community cooperatives and businesses, to name a few.
                - Full article at:
                http://www.cyberjournal.org/cj/show_archives/?id=846&lists=cj

Chavez is genuinely trying to help the people of Venezuela
mobilize their own creativity to solve their problems and
develop their communities and society generally. He is not
representing a privileged elite. If his efforts lead to a We
the People kind of democracy in Venezuela, then competitive
elections will not be relevant to the situation. It is likely
that the people would choose to continue on that path -- there
would be no rascals to vote out of office. Venezuela needs to
be judged on its own merits, not compared to a set of
political standards that themselves do not deliver democracy.
If Chavez starts suppressing or exploiting people then he
would be a dictator after all. If he continues to shepherd a
cultural transformation toward local empowerment, then we
should acknowledge him and the people of Venezuela as being
bold pioneers on the path to global social transformation. So
far, at least, that seems to be what is going on there. In the
third-world context, Venezuela is apparently evolving a
credible response to our transformational imperative. And that
is precisely why our elite rulers in Washington and Wall
Street don't like Chavez and don't like the broad-based
support of the Venezuelan people for the "Bolivarian"
revolution. One can only hope that the Venezuelan military is
loyal to the government, unlike the Chilean military in the
time of Allende, which was covertly linked with the CIA.

I've saved Cuba to the last because it is the most
controversial case. We never hear Castro's name mentioned in
the media without it being accompanied by the label dictator.
And in mainstream entertainment propaganda, we see stories of
daring refugees from tyranny, who never have anything good to
say about the Cuban Revolution or Castro. And in the case of
Americans, we are told by our government that Cuba is a
communist dictatorship, and that loyal Americans shouldn't go
there. And it goes deeper than that. With the history of the
Cuban Missile Crisis, the Bay of Pigs, and the derision of
Cuba in right-wing circles, Castro turn out to be rather
deeply embedded in the general American psyche as a bad-guy
commie dictator. I risk alienating my readers if I dare
challenge that myth.

Nonetheless, I must take that risk and offer the challenge. As
an example, Cuba is too valuable to ignore, despite the shadow
cast by decades of demonizing propaganda. As it turns out, the
extent of Cuba's success in achieving a culture of
community-based democratic harmonization can be estimated by
measuring the hostility of Washington towards Cuba. Hostility
from Washington is not a guarantee that democracy exists
somewhere, but wherever a people stand up effectively for
their rights against the imperialist system, you can be sure
Washington's ire will soon follow. For Washington, Cuba is too
important an example to allow it to be seen for what it is --
proof that there are viable models for development outside the
capitalist paradigm. The success of Cuba stands as a
contradiction to the dominant mainstream economic mythology.
It is not at all surprising that Washington and the corporate
media make every effort to demonize, destabilize, and harass
Cuba in every way they can -- and every effort to make other
third-world nations understand that Washington would look with
strong disfavor on any nation that might seek to emulate Cuba,
as we have seen in the case of Venezuela.

                Who can save our species? The blind, uncontrollable law of the
                market? Neoliberal globalization, alone and for its own sake,
                like a cancer which devours human beings and destroys nature? 
                That cannot be the way forward or at least it can only last
                for a brief period in history.
                - President Castro, U.N. conference, Geneva, May 14th 1998

Charles McKelvey, an American Professor of Sociology, has
spent considerable time in Cuba as an observer. In 1998, he
wrote a report on his studies for an Internet forum, and here
are two excerpts:

                The Cuban political system is based on a foundation of local
                elections. Each urban neighborhood and rural village and area
                is organized into a "circumscription," consisting generally of
                1000 to 1500 voters. The circumscription meets regularly to
                discuss neighborhood or village problems. Each three years,
                the circumscription conducts elections, in which from two to
                eight candidates compete. The nominees are not nominated by
                the Communist Party or any other organizations. The
                nominations are made by anyone in attendance at the meetings,
                which generally have a participation rate of 85% to 95%. Those
                nominated are candidates for office without party affiliation.
                They do not conduct campaigns as such. A one-page biography of
                all the candidates is widely distributed. The nominees are
                generally known by the voters, since the circumscription is
                generally not larger than 1500 voters. If no candidate
                receives 50% of the votes, a run-off election is held. Those
                elected serve as delegates to the Popular Councils, which are
                intermediary structures between the circumscription and the
                Municipal Assembly. Those elected also serve simultaneously as
                delegates to the Municipal Assembly. The delegates serve in
                the Popular Councils and the Municipal Assemblies on a
                voluntary basis without pay, above and beyond their regular
                employment. ...
                
                So the Cuban revolutionary project has many gains, not only in
                the area of social and economic rights, but also in the area
                of political and civil rights. Because of these achievements,
                the system enjoys wide popular support, in spite of the
                hardships caused by U.S. opposition and by the collapse of the
                Soviet Union. Drawing upon the institutions that they have
                developed over the last forty years, they are responding to
                the present challenges and are surviving in a post-Cold War
                world. The strength and vitality of these institutions is
                worthy of our investigation, for Cuba may represent an
                important case as we seek to understand how peripheral and
                semi-peripheral states can overcome the legacy of
                underdevelopment.
                - Full article at:
                http://www.cyberjournal.org/cj/show_archives/?id=0009&lists=cj


I am not trying here to give a full, balanced report on Cuba
or Venezuela. I imagine there are failures as well as
successes in both places, as regards democracy and justice. My
main point here is that the absence of competitive elections
is not necessarily a sign of dictatorship, and may in some
cases be a sign of a democratic process characterized by the
principles of harmonization. Each case deserves to be
evaluated on its own merits by looking at the results on the
ground and at the reports of people who live there. And the
fact that Castro is still around after all these years is not
necessarily evidence that he is a tyrant. It could equally be
an indicator that the people of Cuba continue to support their
revolution, and that Castro continues to support the people in
their project. If that is the case, as it seems to be, then
one can only hope that the Cuban scenario does not depend too
heavily on Castro's personal moral leadership, as he will not
live forever.

As regards the third world in general, I repeat my observation
that social transformation will be easier to accomplish there
than in the West -- once the West abandons its imperialist
ways. In the meantime it seems that the third world is leading
the way in transformational innovation and may provide models
that we can learn from in our own pursuit of transformation.
_________________________________________________
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Wexford, Ireland

"Escaping The Matrix - 
Global Transformation: 
WHY WE NEED IT, AND HOW WE CAN ACHIEVE IT ", somewhat current draft:
    http://www.ratical.org/co-globalize/rkmGlblTrans.html
_____________________________
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