Bcc: a few colleagues Dear friends, What follows is an essay I just now posted to the FixGov list, in response to some threads involving bioregions, new kinds of governance, and the general topic of architecting a new society. The essay summarizes some themes which have appeared before on these lists, and I think pulls a few threads together in a focused way. In particular, there is a fresh attempt to approach the 'left and right together' theme. I hope you find the material useful rkm ============================================================================ To: •••@••.••• From: "Richard K. Moore" <•••@••.•••> Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2000 19:24:42 +0000 Subject: [FixGov] re: bioregions, political issues, building a new society Dear FixGov folks, Several of us have expressed opinions on these inter-related topics. I suggest that what we are talking about is the architecture of a livable world. Permit me to suggest a context for this discussion... 1) Overcoming the existing capitalist regime ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Regardless of what new system we might want, the existing system acts as a formidable counter-force. We often refer to the forces of capitalism as 'conservative', but capitalism is anything but conservative. It is a radical force for change, eroding and undermining whatever exists - 'developing' it into something else, and then again into something else (eg, small shops -> supermarkets -> shopping centers -> mega discount warehouses). Whereas aristocratic power acts conservatively - defending what it owns - capitalist power pursues change itself as the primary means of generating profit and concentrating ownership. Globalization is a typical example of this process. The nation-state system served capitalism for centuries, but in the late 1960s growth opportunities were drying up. The think tanks went to work, and globalization was what they came up with. Reagan-Thatcher were then hired to manage the public release of the first phase of the new program. My point is that capitalism cannot be eroded from within by forming cooperative communities, bioregions, or by any other such means. It is precisely such organizational forms which capitalism has for centuries been destroying. Destruction comes by means of land taxes , manipulations of economic cycles, suppression of popular movements, promotion of reactionary movements (eg, fascism), military interventions, coup d'etats - or whatever else is necessary in any particular case. Capitalism is flexible, dynamic, creative, determined, and ruthless. There is no way to sneak around it or to overcome it through any back door. Capitalism itself is the master of intrigue and subtlety - those are not the weapons which can overcome it. In order to replace the current regime by something better, we need an overt _political movement with that express purpose. We need a society-wide movement comparable in intentsity to the ones in Eastern Europe which forced out the Soviet-era regimes - but with a better vision for the future than those movements had. 2) Will capitalism collapse from its own contradictions? ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Lenin predicted the collapse of capitalism. His argument was based on the dynamics of competitive nation-state imperialism. He knew those dynamics would eventually run out of growth room, and he was right about that. But he underestimated the flexibility and creativity of capitalist elites. He did not envision globalization - a process which changes the rules and creates room for another round of capital growth - beyond the dynamics of competitive imperialism. Today, many people predict the collapse of capitalism on ecological grounds, population pressures, running out of petroleum, and the like. But again those predictions assume that capitalist elites will simply stick to the same course until the ship hits the rocks. Again, capitalism is being misjudged as a force operating with a fixed strategy. If we look around, we can see various tactics which are being employed to manage some of these resource-exahaustion problems. Examples are the promotion of genocidal wars in Africa, widespread sterilization of third world women, the privatization of water supplies, the elimination of Southest Asia as a global competitor, the raising of fuel prices to extract more profit out of remaining oil supplies, and the inreased use of military intervention to manage the process of globalization. It is not a fixed economic program that we are confronted with, rather it is an intelligent elite who have monopolized both power and ownership on a global scale. 'Changing the rules' is the generic management strategy of this elite. Within the confines of capitalism, the rules have been changed whenever necessary so as to permit more growth, with no concern for who suffers. But even capitalism itself is only a tactic, a machine invented in late 18th century Britain, and which automatically accumulates elite wealth. If that machine ultimately does falter, there is nothing to prevent the elite from introducing a different economic model. Perhaps they'll take us back to old-fashioned aristocracy, and abandon the growth paradigm. We'd become some kind of serfs instead of wage slaves, but we'd be exploited all the same. My point here, as in section 1 above, is that we must first and foremost think in terms of shifting political power. Until power is wrested from wealthy elites, there can be no improvement in our situation, nor can we avoid things getting a whole lot worse. We cannot count on capitalism to collapse, nor can we expect it to leave us alone to build our own ecotopias and micro economies - at least not on a sufficient scale to make any real difference. 3) New-world architecture as a means of causing change ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Ironically, my arguments for a more politically-oriented movement bring me full circle back to endorsing the efforts on this list to develop a new world architecture! Not only do we need such an architecture if we are to build a new society, but we also need a _vision around which to build a movement to overcome capitalist domination. What I'm suggesting is that we continue to work toward a consensus architecture, but that we recognize that we won't simply be able to go implement it on our own within the current political regime. Instead, we need to think of our architecture as a rallying cry for a political movement - a movement which will have other business to attend to before it can turn its attention to actually building the new society. Keep in mind the experience of the American Revolution. _First there was a vision, as articulated by Thomas Paine and others, _then the Redcoats had to be sent packing, and only _then could the new American adventure (for better or worse) be launched. It is important to recognize the scale of movement that will be required. I alluded earlier to the East European changes-of-regime. In those cases the movements were essentially universal. Only direct military suppression could maintain order, and Soviet troops were no longer available for backup. The local militaries lacked the heart for outright long-term suppression, and the movements prevailed (although unfortunately they lost control after that to German-backed corrupt regimes.) In our case we need a movement that is _at least_ as universal- because the regime which suppresses us is not weak as were the Eastern European regimes during the Soviet collapse. Instead, the current regime is at the height of its power, is very well organized, and has fully developed plans to deal with every imaginable kind of civil uprising, non-violent or otherwise - as we saw for example in Seattle, Los Angeles, and Prague. Only a movement which includes every segment of society can hope to prevail under these conditions. If the movement only includes Greens, or Cultural Creatives, or progressive lefties - or any other such segment - then it cannot prevail. As long as any significant portion of the population is not 'on board' the movment, then the regime will exploit divisiveness - as it does now between left and right - and prevent the movement from becoming strong enough to achieve victory. If we are serious about wanting a new society, then I suggest it is imperative that we find a way to work with people whom we currently perceive as 'the other' - those who don't priorize their values in the same way we do. Perhaps they think of jobs ahead of the environment, or perhaps they think first of family values, or of public morality. Does that put them beyond the pale? Do they remain useless until the day they see the light and adopt our values? I don't think so. I also want stable families, decent incomes, and morality in public life, don't you? How is it that such issues end up being divisive? What we need to do, I suggest, is to find ways to shift the discussion from what separates us to what unifies us. One of the exciting developments in Seattle was the dialog that occurred between environmentalists and labor groups - tree huggers and hard hats. The labor folks didn't become tree-huggers, and the environmentalists didn't become union activists, but together they came to understand that the same corporate operators who were destroying forests were also destroying jobs. They kept their different value priorities, but they found they could be allies in pursuit of a better world. Most important, lines of communication were opened and people began to see the 'other' as real people with valid concerns rather than as stereotypes. This, in my view, points the way forward. If a new-society architecture is to be the rallying cry for a universal movement, then it must be an architecture which everyone buys into. And the best way to get buy-in for any proposal is to include the target audience in the development of the proposal. That is to say, we need to find a way to expand our FixGov discussions, and those on similar forums, to include new voices - voices we would currently consider to be 'beyond the pale'. How to do that is a question I don't have a particularly good answer for. yours, rkm http://cyberjournal.org ============================================================================ Richard K Moore Wexford, Ireland Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance email: •••@••.••• CDR website & list archives: http://cyberjournal.org content-searchable archive: http://members.xoom.com/centrexnews/ featured article, "Escaping the Matrix": http://cyberjournal.org/cj/rkm/WE/jun00_Matrix.shtml 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. ============================================================================ .