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 Permission for non-commercial republishing hereby granted - BUT include and observe all restrictions, copyrights, credits, and notices - including this one. .