cj#833> re: “Livable and sustainable societies”

1998-09-17

Richard Moore

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From: Anthony Arrott <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: cj#832-2/2> GRI.II / Intro & C.4: "Livable and sustainable
societies"
To: •••@••.•••
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 1998

Do you address the fundamental problem:

In a cooperative society, an non-cooperative individual or collective
can exploit those that cooperate. Of course, if everyone or every
group is non-cooperative, the cooperative society fails.

So what sanctions can the cooperative society impose on the
uncooperative. This is hard enough in a local society, what about
a global society?

------------

Dear Anthony,

This problem will be treated in Chapter 5 (within a society) and in Chapter
6 (between societies and globally).  There must be both carrots and a
sticks.  Consensus and collaboration are a very effective mutual-benefit
carrot, but sanctions must be defined.  Even knowledge of their existence
is of value.  They must be constructive -- leading eventually to a
consensus accomodation, not domination.

rkm

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Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998
To: •••@••.•••
From: •••@••.••• (Michael A. Lewis)
Subject: Re: cj#832-1/2> GRI.II / Intro & C.4: "Livable and sustainable
societies"

rkm:
 >In primitive societies the regulatory mechanisms were natural and cultural.
>Tabus, religious beliefs, and other cultural norms -- along with the limits
>of the surrounding environment -- kept populations in balance and resource
>use within sustainable limits. These cultural norms and economies evolved
>over time out of the necessity of societal survival. But such societies were
 >relatively static, making stability easier to achieve. Modern societies are
  >highly dynamic, and achieving stability is therefore more difficult.


        The term "primitive" societies is no longer an adequate descriptor
for small-scale, non-state societies. Such societies are not and never were
static, in which stability was achieved through a variety of social and
biological mechanisms.

"Anarchism is not a romantic fable but the hard-headed realization,
based on five thousand years of experience, that we cannot entrust the
management of our lives to kings, priests, politicians, generals, and
county commisioners."     - Ed Abbey

Michael A. Lewis
Oil Colony in Alaska

--------------------

Dear Michael,

I'd like to hear more about why "primitive" is not an appropriate term, and
what term would be better.

Dynamic and static are of course relative terms.  _Every economy represents
a dynamic equilibrium among resources, population, climate, activities of
neighbors, etc. etc.  _Relatively speaking, today's societies actively
engage in promoting change itself (development) as their primary activity,
while what I call "primitive" societies _tended to stay the same year after
year (even century after century) unless conditions forced them to adjust.


Also, I do not limit "primitive" to non-state or small-scale. Much of
China, India, and Africa I would say have primitive economies to this day.
That doesn't mean they're simple or unsophisticated.  It means rather that
they have evolved more or less holistically, that they are still more or
less connected in some harmonious way to the Earth.

further comments welcome,
rkm


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BIOREGIONAL thread >
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Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 12:02:22 +0100
Sender: •••@••.•••
From: •••@••.••• (Richard K. Moore)
To: BIOREGIONAL  <•••@••.•••>
Subject: RE: "Livable and sustainable societies"

9/15/98, Patricia Levendofsky wrote re/Dan's comments:
 >I would agree if the reference made was to the absence of a SINGLE organized
>constituency, but then that leads me to wonder how effective such an
 >organization would be, given the multiplicity of definitions of
  >"sustainability"?

Dear Patricia,

Divisiveness, among those who oppose capitalism, globalization, and its
many dangers, is our greatest problem: while Goliath builds his power,
David remains paralyzed with indecision, so to speak.

Not only are there different definitions of "sustainable", but there are
whole different understanding of where "the problem" lies.  While some
focus on ecology & sustainability, others focus on corporate power, or
election reform, or taxing the rich, etc, etc.

None of these approaches is "wrong", a strong case can be made for each as
being an effective pivot of political effectiveness, and of overall
benefit.

Our "mistake", if I may be so bold, is that we don't talk enough _across
our groupings.  To over-simplify, the ecology-minded mainly talk to one
another -- the choir continually preaching to the choir.

What can we do to build movement solidarity?  One suggestion, for us as
netizens, is to spread out and join other kinds of email lists, to join in
the dialog, and help build bridges of understanding.  The capitalist system
is a coherent whole, is very well-defended against systemic changes, and it
can only be changed by replacing it totally.  It's like a giant granite
boulder -- great strength must be assembled to move it at all, but once it
budges it can easily be rolled out of the way.  But chipping away at it
with platic spoons has no effect.

-rkm

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At 7:54 AM 9/16/98, Mark Douglas Whitaker wrote [to bioregional]:
 >I would like to pose that 'sustainably' won't come out of consensus
>anyway. It will come out of political compromise. Thus, one should look for
>means to moderate systemic power and production facilities, change state
 >structures to be more faciliative to grass roots input into fiscal planning
  >and budgetary decisions, etc.

Dear Mark,

Here I must disagree.  Political compromise, when the "other side" owns the
media and the polticians and the regulators, becomes like a ratchet: each
round of compromise tightens the noose around our necks just a little more.
Every upsurge of popular rebellion, if you will, is diverted and
compromised into a net gain for capitalist power.  Our granite boulder, to
stretch the metaphor, has the ability to heal itself whenever you manage to
chip away a fragement.

We do need consensus -- bottom-up, grass-roots consensus -- that builds
until it includes everyone but a few billionaire holdouts.  Only a massive,
consensus-based, global movement can shift the boulder.


 >Sustainabilty will come out of conflict. Groups breaking away and
>forming 'sustainable communities' only allow the degradative societies to
>expand without further political pressure, as well as set themselves up for
 >a later fall becuase they are turning their back on the larger problems if
  >'dropping out' is considered a solution.

D'Accord!

 >I can say this. I am originally
>from Chattanooga. Whenever I visit, it's quite surreal seeing free electric
>busing downtown, in what was only 30 years ago, one of the worst cases of
 >urban air pollution. UTNE editors recently picked Chattnooga as #10 (in a
  >top ten list) as one of the most 'progressive' cities in the United States.

I'd love to visit Chattanooga, sounds reminscent of Amsterdam, where cars
get less road-space than streetcars or even bicycles.

-rkm

------------------------------------------------------------------------
9/17/98, Dan Kerlinsky wrote [to bioregional]:
        >Having read more carefully through chapter three let me say again
how impressed I am with the direct way you have laid out the subject and
developed the logic of the situation. <

Dear Dan,

Thanks.  Chapters 3 and 4 wrote themselves... I didn't know what I was
going to discover.  Starting from first principles, each point followed
naturally from what preceded.  Feel free to forward the material where you
think it might be useful.

        >Knowing the crazy things human do individually, in groups and in
institutions I am not sanguine about TNC ability to pull back from the
brink of ecological disaster.  I believe the dynamics of external ownership
are exactly as you describe.  And I do perceive the disasters IMF creates
as leading to the dependency and opportuities for capital you describe.
        >But I am still skeptical that this is a conscious, intended dynamic. <

Skeptical on what basis?  The case is a rather strong one.  There is an
elite; they do study things, make plans, publish some of them, and keep
others secret; they do have the means to carry out their plans; they carry
them out and they sytematically benefit.

The only thing that _seems difficult to prove is intent itself.  But even
here the case is strong.  For one thing, one can look at repetition.  The
_first time IMF policies ruined a nation's economy, one might chalk it up
to accident or blundering.  But when the same scenario is played out again
and again, always with similar consequences, then any reasonable jury would
begin to reach for the "convict" button.

One can also look at history.  At the time of the Afghan-Soviet war for
example, we who claimed CIA involvement were considered conspiracy
theorists.  Recently, a high official admitted that the war was
intentionally stirred up in order to bankrupt and destabilize the Soviet
Union.  There are many such documented examples.

It is therefore an established fact that major elite projects are often
carried out with intent being both present and hidden.  I'd say we have
motive, means, opportunity, and an established modus operandi.  But where
to find a jury that can disregard everything they've ever been told by the
defendant's media?


        >Perhaps it is just a failure of the imagination on my part but I
have difficulty seeing myself outside of  the capitalist world;  can
individuals and communities live now without dealing with purchaising
products or capitlaist-influenced government policies? <

There is no escaping the capitalist world, and dropping out can be seen as
abdicating responsitility for changing things, for shifting the boulder.

        >My deeply-committed nature friend and teacher John Stokes has said
that a hunter-gatherer mode of existence is no longer viable with the
population density we have created and the ecological disruption that makes
root crops and choice prey animals scarce.  Collapse, rather than
transition to a better way of life, seems most probable given the trends
since the revolutionary calls of the 1960's have faded. <

"Hunter-gatherer" has nothing to do with our situation.  Mankind, generally
speaking, has been dependent on agriculture and animal husbandry for many
centuries, and there is no reason to abandon them, only to make them
sustainable.

        >I look forward to reading the rest of your piece and joining
whatever informed action that is necessary. <

Your ongoing feedback will be much appreciated.

rkm
http://cyberjournal.org

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WORLD SYSTEMS NETWORK thread>
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Subject: Re: Livable and sustainable societies & capitalism
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9/16/98, "Nikolai S. Rozov " <•••@••.•••> wrote:
  > Sometimes ago Richard's localism seemed to me suspicious but
 >now you have removed these doubts. In spite of author's refusal
>the 4th chapter is essentially utopian, but it is not bad at all
 >because Utopia is one one of most intellectually and ideologically
  >powerful cultural traditions in history.


Dear Nikolai,

I agree that Chapter 4 reads like a utopian vision, in terms of its
desirability, but I contest that it is utopian in the sense of
"unrealizable" or "impractical".  In many essentials, it merely describes a
return to earlier proven systems; it is not a call to experiment with some
untried intellectual creation.  (God save us from philosopher kings!)


  > I support  Richard's balanced theses on international trade that
 >indicate this version of Utopia to belong to Kantian, not Fichtean
>tradition (the last was in fact realized in international politics of
 >communist countries - the Northern Korea with its chuchkhe is the
  >last bastion).

Ah!  It seems you allow for your utopias to be realizable... that takes
some sting off the label, but still, the common usage implies
unrealizability.


  >... Megatrend 3: multipolar partnership and change of direction of
 >technoeconomic development ((the Kantian line)
>
>I wrote the the Third Megatrend is still rather weak, presented
>mainly in writings and heads of intellectuals. Sure i subscribe to
>the Third Megatrend and i am glad that similar ideas emerge
>again and again independantly.
>  That's why i think we are allies with Richard in principle and
>instead splitting hairs on minor contradictions in views it would be
 >better to focus on the crucial problems of realization (rise of the
  >Third Megatrend in my terms).

Thanks Nikolai, this is music to my ears...  solidarity is the prime
requirement of movement building.  Also Third Megatrend exists more than in
the writings of intellectuals... see comments below re/movements in India
and Brazil.


  >What should be a strategy for realization any global preoject
 >of 'livable and sustainable societies' (f.e. Richard's one) in the
  >context of geoeconomic and geopolitical realities outlined above?

I suggest that your assumptions rule out any solution.  If you assume
international relations must always be based on exploitation, then any
solution must be _truly utopian, such as some kind of benevolent,
omiscient, and omnipotent world government.

The excesses of globalization have created a situation where nearly
everyone, if they can be educated by a growing movement, can see that the
capitalist system is no longer serving their interests.  Unrelenting
exploitation continues in the periphery (3rd World), but has been also now
extended increasingly to the core (1st World).  In US opinion polls,
majorities want corporate power to be reduced; in Canada a very large
movement is struggling for national sovereignty and is opposed to NAFTA and
the MAI.  In Brazil and India there are massive and well-organized
peasant's networks which, temporarily at least, are making gains toward
local self-determination.

If such seeds can be turned into a global movement, with decisive political
results, then one could expect the conditions for a new geoeconomic and
geopolitical paradigm.  I suggest, if I have understood you correctly, that
your proposed restrictions on our investigation of solutions are too
limiting.

rkm

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9/16/98, KP Moseley wrote to wsn, re: "Capitalism, growth imperative...":
  >Yes, but surely a good deal of this devastation is unintended, as it
  >undermines capitalism itself in the longer run and creates troublesome
  >"downsides,"  crises, etc. in the shorter term (e.g. current global
  >financial problems).

Dear KP,

Crisis and devastation do not have downsides for capitalism.  Wars, the
largest of crises, are extremely profitable, in both consumption of
materials and in the financing of same.  Not only that, but devastation
leads to immense growth opportunities in postwar construction.
Furthermore, the victors enjoy the advantages of sphere-of-interest
adjustments, which in many cases were the ultimate reason for the conflict.

Depressions also offer great benefits to capitalism.  Banks can repossess
valuable farm land; the punters are knocked out of the stock market, and
the big players can buy up shares for peanuts.  The air is cleared for
another round of growth, under more concentrated ownership.

The kind of crises being currently stirred up by the IMF are very
well-managed affairs, with the shocks being carefully targetted.  It's kind
of a slow-motion designer-depression.  And big capital is coming up roses:
all the IMF funds go to repaying the investors!  Western taxpayers fund the
IMF; South East Asia suffers the consequences; capitalism makes a profit...
where is the crisis for capitalism??  How is capitalism undermined??  Just
the reverse.

These conditions only create a crisis for capitalism if the people rise up
in response!

  >...Would it not be better to emphasize deliberate goals
  >and structural effects? KPM

Those are precisely what I _have been emphasizing.  These "crises" _are
deliberate projects, with "deliberate goals", and they are succeeding.  The
"structural effects" are that the Tigers have been tamed, and are being
beaten into submission to the predatory global regime; Japan has been put
under economic pressure, weakening its long-term ability to have a
sovereign economic policy within the global economy; over-production in
automobiles, electronics, and other global market sectors, has been to some
extent eased, to the benefit of the remaining producers, providing some
breathing room for growth.  Western stock markets rebounded rapidly from
the secondary shocks, and why shouldn't they?  Western fundamental were
only improved by the crisis; capital must flee _somewhere, and Western
economies are the boats that no one expects to sink.  In a crisis people
want dollars.

all the best,
rkm
http://cyberjournal.org

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