cj#1061> Brian Hill: THOUGHTS ON RECENT GRASS-ROOTS ORGANIZING

2000-02-02

Richard Moore

Friends,

I had the pleasure of meeting with Brian Saturday.  He was
arriving from the east coast (New Hampshire?), I picked him
up at the airport and we spent the day around San Francisco.
While walking in Golden Gate Park, enjoying a hot tub, and
over a meal, I was asking him about the growing "alliance of
alliances" and his experiences in Seattle.

Since then he's written up his thoughts from a historical /
philosophical perspective.  Enjoy!

rkm


============================================================================
From: "Brian Hill" <•••@••.•••>
To: <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Fw: Alliance views- bhill
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2000 23:20:40 -0800
X-Priority: 3


Feb. 1, 2000

Model/Focus/Agenda/Direction of Campaign Issues/Alliancing process

The following are my thoughts on the grass roots and
political organizing we have been engaged in in Iowa and New
Hampshire.  As a person who has degrees in many of the
social sciences and has been on front line of
cultural/political issues since 1968, I feel obligated to go
into a little background on where we are as a movement
before drafting my views of possible organizational models
and directions for the campaign-issues-alliances-core-group
which we all agreed to write when we were in New Hampshire.

Taking a macro-perspective of human cultures from the field
of archeology's study of the evolution of cultures and
civilizations (see general definition of "civilization" and
"culture" at end of this writing), we are a civilization
which has reached its peak, using Western values for judging
"peak".  The archeologist would say that today Western
civilization (regardless of its global-ness) is in its
post-classic phase of evolution.  Archeology finds that
civilizations pass through clearly marked, cross culturally
similar phases of evolution.  The major cultural shift that
takes place following post classic times is that
hierarchical, military predominance gives way to a more
horizontal, localized way of live(s).  The world views of
people living in civilizations is almost always competitive,
whereas the world view of horizontal cultures, i.e., hunting
and gathering, and early farming peoples, is reciprocal.

As a significant cultural movement, the back-to-nature
movement beginning in the 60s, followed by the environmental
and grass root right movements in the succeeding decades
constitute the first shift from centralized
administration/focus to local focus for Western
civilization.  As civilizations go, we can anticipate that
the disintegration and localization of Western culture has
begun.  There are many, many more indications of this shift
which would take too much space to describe here.  Prior to
the disintegration of civilizations, years of warning of
impending death are evident in art and public expression.
The recent y2k paranoia and nightly death reports which we
call news are such examples.  The WTO will never be as
organized as it was prior to its veto by the people in
Seattle. An old political science adage says something to
the effect that "when a people looses faith in its
government, that government is doomed."

The lesson here from our human record is that attempts at
centralization during the present post-classic period of
Western civilization will increasingly fail, whereas efforts
to facilitate the shift to local control/focus will
increasingly succeed.

There is a major difference now as far as the evolution of
civilizations is concerned:  Previous civilizations
disintegrated ("declined") when, as male dominated,
hierarchical military empires, they trashed the people and
the land.  The following civilization then arose in new
lands with new peoples to exploit.  The difference this time
is that one civilization is global.  There is a global
culture. Civilizations, are by definition, cultures
conscious of themselves. Now the global culture, as Marshall
McLuhen said, is literate for the first time because of the
media.  He also said in about 1970 that the media will
ultimately democratize the world.  It seems quite likely
that we are participants in this democratization process,
and we should be very conscious of it and facilitate this
natural cultural evolution with our conscious efforts.  This
is most likely what the existentialists meant by history and
future being dissolved into an eternal existential present -
a new world view for humanity.

"The people united will never be defeated." "This is what
democracy looks like." "We changed the world today."

Were popular chants during the Seattle WTO shut down.

Localization will most likely for the next evolutionary
phase of global culture begin to inherit centralization, as
noted above. Global culture will continue, but it will be
managed locally, i.e., from the bottom up.  Human cultures
are based on their environments/natural resources.  Because
environments differ from region to region the term
bio-region has become popular beginning in the early 70s by
vanguards from the 60s political movements who became the
back-to-the-land movement and environmentalism.  It must be
noted that the shift from centralization to localization has
its origins in 60s politics and psychedelics when the
traditional Western (state structured) world view
transformed from a cultural perspective of mankind against
nature to a more tribal or grass roots world view of the
universe which sees and strives for ways of life where human
cultures are in harmony with nature.

Therefore, emerging governments, economics, values, social
organization will for sure reflect this new nature-based way
of perceiving the universe.

Here's how this translates politically:  Grass roots
interest groups are beginning to replace top down,
centralized administration.  The illegitimate WTO is
aborting.  We need waste little time hastening its demise.
Ours is a positive role of revitalizing the nature destroyed
by each succeeding civilization all the way back to the
origin of farming.

Our new path for restoring life in harmony with nature is as
global as the free reign of capitalism has been, but it must
be based in the management of local natural
resources/ecosystems or bioregions by local communities
working in unity with bioregional councils from all
bioregions.

Local management of economy and ecology bioregion by
bioregion is the cultural path which lies ahead.  As scary
as this is for top down, centralized organizations we must
recognize that localization follows all civilizations which
devote most of their efforts to militarism. 50% of the US
budget goes to the Pentagon.

NGOs (non-government organizations) following the 1992 Earth
Summit in Brazil have loosely consensed on a model for
ecosystem management which may serve well as a model for
grass roots unification, empowerment and for the restoration
of natural harmony and balance, bioregion by bioregion
around the world.

Hopefully we will agree that our organizing and alliance
building will include  as much of the full spectrum of grass
roots groups as possible, and that the polarization that
exists in this country today is rich against poor, not right
against left.  And I hope we agree that councils
representing all grass roots interests from each region will
best serve to represent grass roots interests politically,
i.e., bottom up democracy.  A majority voting block should
result from full spectrum grass roots alliances.  This
alliance of alliances could then have the power to define
issues and leverage their enactment for our representative
governments.

Before exemplifying the bioregional model for grass roots
political organization, it seems necessary to describe local
management as it has evolved for the global NGO community.
Because of global literacy we now, for the first time, are
communicating concerning global issues like WTO and climate
change.  Bottom up, democratic management of ecosystems on a
global level has just begun this past decade following Rio
1992.  Local control has become for the NGO community
bioregional management practices which sustain local values,
globally.  Local communities base their management plans on
practices which are consensed by the global grass roots NGO
community.  This is what I mean by local management of
economy and ecology bioregion by bioregion.  This model will
result in the dissolution of the nation state and the
revitalization of tribal nations within the new global
culture which is necessary for the emerging reciprocal world
view to supplant the exploitative view.  Then balance will
flourish.  And, this is the natural course of cultural
evolution.

Here's the bioregional model:

-bioregional communities consense on ecosystem management
plans using the best indigenous, local and scientific
knowledge available. Incidentally, for those favoring
scientific management, it must be noted that science has a
much worse record for managing natural resources than either
local or indigenous knowledge, and indigenous knowledge has
the best record.  NGOs have developed consensus through the
UN particularly in regard to forest management.  Hence,
there is global NGO agreement from the bottom up on forest
management.  Local bioregional communities can refer to this
consensed knowledge, and if a community has issues which
have not been agreed to by the NGO community the best
scientific, local and indigenous knowledge can be brought in
to help arrive at new agreements which will then be added to
the grass roots knowledge pool for forest management.

This same model for forest management can be applied to the
political alliancing process we are developing by;

(1)  including whole bioregions, as much as possible

(2) doing our best to include representatives from all grass
roots interest groups within each bioregion we work in.  Of
course there will be conflict with political boundaries as
they seldom correspond with ecosystem boundaries, but it
seems important to at least bear in mind the natural
boundaries.

(3) including the best indigenous, local and scientific
knowledge available to arrive at policy issues.

Our Model:  Rather than creating a new organization right
now, what does the core group think of being a fluid,
organizing, allying process during this phase of unifying
grass roots and integrating their issues?  Once more of the
grass roots are united we may be in a position to
institutionalize our efforts.

It seems that we have been engaging in two major activities:

    1.  participating in political events, esp., presidential
        caucuses
    2.  grass roots alliance building

Therefore, it seems like we should continue to bring
alliance issues to public political forums.  I would
strongly suggest that we play a role in the up coming
Washington DC events in April and May. As each new group
joins the alliance their issues will be added to our grass
roots issues which we are, hopefully, bringing to mainstream
politics.

Secondly, the strength/effectiveness of our involvement is
directly relative to the diversity and numbers of our
allies.  Therefore, it seems vital that we assemble a team
of alliance builders which can develop common ground
understanding and issues among diverse grass roots groups in
each bioregion we are concerned with.   Of course, we must
combine (1) and (2) but they are distinct activities which
should receive equal value in my humble opinion.

Next, how do we help create alliances between diverse
groups.  The Steelworkers and the redwood enviros with Dave
Brower's blessings is the catalytic example today.  How can
industry and labor be on the same side - the grass roots?

Certified, locally owned, sustainable industries, unions,
guilds, co-ops, credit unions and family owned businesses
are the backbone for creating an across the board grass
roots alliance which will constitute the voting majority.
Unions seem necessary for wage labor industries, but for
family owned industries, co-ops and guilds, perhaps in-house
arrangements are more in order?  Needless to say, there can
be a seamless unity between grass roots, just as the forest
combines its diverse lives.

Brian

    Culture:
        people living a unified system of beliefs and practices
        which are socially  transmitted.  There are generally three
        types of cultures - nomad, early farmer/tribal and
        civilized.

    Civilization:
        monumental public architecture, writing, hierarchical social
        classes, male dominance, taxation, exploitative world view


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Richard K Moore
Wexford, Irleand
Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance
email: •••@••.•••
CDR website: http://cyberjournal.org
cyberjournal archive: http://members.xoom.com/centrexnews/
book in progress: http://cyberjournal.org/cdr/gri/gri.html

                A community will evolve only when
                the people control their means of communication.
                        -- Frantz Fanon

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