Dear friends, Laurence Cox and I led a session at a "Convergence" conference in Dublin last Sunday (April 30). I led off by presenting the outline below, "Achieving a Livable World". There was a lively discussion among the two dozen or so attendees. Laurence then presented a delightful talk in which he used the "good cook" and the "bad cook" as a metaphor "good" and "bad" activism. For example, "A good cook can work with whatever ingredients are at hand, while a bad cook must have specific ingredients or he gives up." Implying that a "good" activist can work with all kinds of people, while a "bad" activist can only work in a particular kind of group and particular kinds of people. Laurence's humor was engaging -- people could take on board what he was saying without getting defensive about whether his words applied to themselves. I found myself thinking that there are "good" speakers and "bad" speakers, and in that regard I had a lot to learn from Laurence. Although my presentation left a lot to be desired, I'm thinking that the outline is an improvement over previous attempts to effectively organize my "message". It could be the TOC for a book, as well a home-page with links off to the various topics. What do you think? rkm ============================================================================ Convergence - Dublin 30 April 00 Achieving a Livable World ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ I. What is a livable world? A. A world whose economics are sustainable. 1. Sustainability is simply living withing your means. * The alternative is a steadily worsening world for our children and their children. * Today, we've already passed the turning point toward general system collapse. * Our economic choice is now between livability and disaster. 2. Sustainable economics maximizes prosperity. * Growth economics is incredibly wasteful of resources. * Under sustainability, the goal is to get the most use out of resources, not the most profits. * We've seen what marvels science and technology can produce when their goal is increasing profits -- the results will be equally as impressive when their goal is sustainability. B. A world where societies are run by and for the people. 1. Genuine democracy is a collaborative process, not a competition among factions. * Conflicting interests need to be harmonized, at all levels from local to national. * The process begins in the community, and delegates to higher levels represent agendas - they don't have blank checks to make political deals. 2. Competing political parties don't harmonize, they divide the people against themselves. * Wealthy elites use election systems to divide-and-rule -- the techniques were known already in the Roman Republic. * As a result, the primary agenda of every society today is to maximize corporate profits. C. A world where nations cooperate rather than compete. 1. In a world which has embraced sustainability, cooperation is the natural course of self-interest. * Conflict wastes resources. * Exploitative trade is not sustainable * Collaboration for mutual-benefit enhances the sustaintability of every society. 2. In a world which has embraced democracy, cooperation among nations is simply a natural extension of the internal democratic process. 3. In a democratic, sustainable world, a world government is both unecessary and dangerous. * The larger the scale of a society, the more easily power can be usurped by some ambitious leader or group. * Every system fails sometimes, and in a centralized system a single failure brings the whole world down with it. * If international cooperation is the norm, then occassional outbursts of national aggression can be contained and corrected through the collaborative action of the international community. II. Is such a world possible? A. Sustainable economics is not a question of if, but of when. 1. The sooner we start, the easier the job will be. 2. There will obviously need to be a transition period. 3. The details and trade-offs need to be decided democratically at the time, not in advance by theorists (Green or otherwise). B. Why should we be afraid to try democracy? 1. If you can't trust yourself and your neigbors to decide your own futures, who can you trust? * We could hardly do worse than the elites we've entrusted so far. * If we let someone else run society, it will be their interests not ours that are served. 2. It's time for humanity to grow up and take responsibility for itself! C. Postwar Europe demonstrates that stable interrnational cooperation is possible. 1. Wars plagued Europe for centuries, due to competition for empire. 2. After 1945, imperialism became cooperative, with the USA playing the role of imperial enforcer. 3. Since then war between the European powers has been unthinkable. 4. The key to successul cooperation is shared goals. * Under rule by exploitive elites, imperialism has been a natural shared goal. * In a democratic world - a stable and livable world becomes the natural shared goal. III. What obstacles are preventing achievement of a livable world? A. A widespread belief in myths by ordinary people... 1. that the media tells us what's going on in the world. 2. that growth can be sustained. 3. that we have democracy already. 4. that imperialism died after World War II. 5. that the only alternative to capitalism is central-planning socialism. B. The entrenched power of wealthy elites... 1. political power 2. control over public information 3. control over economic performance 4. skill in co-opting popular initiatives C. Divisiveness and timidity among well-meaning activists... 1. There are millions of activists worldwide -- apathy is not the problem. 2. Too many of them are isolated, pursuing single-issue causes. 3. Too many of them are willing to be co-opted -- to settle for deceptive and temporary "reforms". 4. Too many of them are trying to get "water from a stone" -- by asking capitalist leaders to provide what they cannot provide. 5. Too many of them believe that capitalism can co-exist with sustainability and democracy. 6. Too few of them are working to build an inclusive movement for a livable world. IV. What are our prospects for overcoming these obstacles? A. The prospects are actually quite good. 1. Elites have abandoned their partnership with the middle classes -- that's what neoliberalism / Thatcherism / Reaganomics are all about, and what globalization only accelerates. 2. Conditions are worsening globally and visibly. 3. People are losing their faith in the system. (Ireland not a good example) 4. The establishment is arrogant and is running out of room for compromise. B. The first rumblings of an appropriate global movement are now underway. 1. Many third-world countries are rising against globalization, at the grass-roots and in the governments as well. 2. Popular protests in Geneva, Athens, Seattle, London and Washington DC show that the movement is taking root in the West as well. 3. The response of the establishment -- excessive police force -- aids the movement. * brings new recruits * builds public sympathyy * encourages the develpment of mutual-aid infrastrucutures -- which will become the framework of future collective action. ============================================================================ Richard K Moore Wexford, Ireland 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.html A community will evolve only when the people control their means of communication. -- Frantz Fanon Capitalism is not the same as free enterprise - it is a very specialized ideology which holds the accumulation of wealth as the only economic value, and which demands that such economics dominate all other societal values. -- rkm Permission for non-commercial republishing hereby granted - BUT include and observe all restrictions, copyrights, credits, and notices - including this one. ============================================================================ .