cj#856> rkm’s book, draft 2: Part II Introduction

1998-10-21

Richard Moore

Dear cj,

Below is my first attempt to rewrite material more in line with feedback
received from publishers.

Given that this is an Introduction, it is somewhat abstract and lacks the
examples that have been requested for the body of the text. But I do hope
this succeeds better in guiding the reader through the arguments.

Let me know what you think.

-rkm

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                         Achieving a Livable World

                      Part II - Introduction - draft 2

                     Copyright 1998 by Richard K. Moore
                    Version: 21 October 1998 - 2420 words
                    comments to: •••@••.•••

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Part II - Envisioning a livable world: an inquiry into democracy,
sustainability, and world order
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Introduction
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The necessity of global revolution
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Part I examined the path on which the world is currently headed under the
control of the well-entrenched Western capitalist oligarchy. Our
investigation revealed that societies and economies are being systematically
and intentionally destabilized by free trade polices and by interventions of
the IMF. A global economy is being imposed on the world which is rapidly
being dominated by a handful of giant TNC's. A de facto world government has
been established which serves TNC interests, has no democratic
representation whatever, and which is backed by Western military power.
Democracy and national infrastructures are being dismantled as sovereignty
is being transferred to TNC-dominated global bureaucracies.

The Earth is being poisoned and its life-support resources are being
squandered in the pursuit of never-ending capital growth. Poverty,
starvation, and disease are becoming rampant worldwide while a global regime
of Civilization Clash is being established to maintain world order in the
midst of ongoing tension and strife. As the mass-media is being concentrated
into the hands of a few global conglomerates, populations are being fed a
steady diet of disinformation, escapist entertainment, and neoliberal
propaganda.

As Western societies are being downgraded to the status of Third World
societies, police-state regimes are being established to contain popular
unrest. Factionalism and fundamentalist ideologies are being systematically
promulgated worldwide so that groups and nations will struggle against one
another rather than uniting in opposition to the global capitalist regime.

As the Earth's fragile ecosystems are being pushed to the breaking point,
the world is faced with the very real possibility of the total breakdown of
civilization and the massive die-off of populations. Alternatively, if the
capitalist oligarchy decides to change course and cease the pursuit of
unmaintainable economic growth, the world faces a bleak future enslaved
under the thumb of global tyranny.

Is there any hope for humanity? Can capitalist domination be overcome? Is it
too late to change course, restore a healthy environment, and establish
democratic and sustainable societies? No one can answer these questions with
certainty, but I suggest that we, the world's people, must make the effort
to save ourselves and the Earth. If we fail to do so we are betraying
everything decent in humanity's heritage and we are condemning our progeny
to a dire fate. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by standing
up for ourselves and courageously challenging the oppressive global system
that now controls our lives.

Part III of this book will examine the history of social movements, and of
revolutions, and will endeavor to develop a practical strategy for
non-violent, global, democratic revolution. Please let me clear: when I use
the word revolution, I am not referring to armed insurrection. I simply mean
that the transformation needed to replace the capitalist system goes so deep
that it can only be called a revolutionary change, and I further mean that
such a transformation can only be achieved by means that go far beyond the
normal channels of reform and participation in elections.

In Part II, we will develop the goals of such a non-violent revolution -- we
will investigate the nature of a livable world.


Identifying the fundamental principles of a livable world
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
If we the people are to somehow join forces and strive to change the world,
based on a shared understanding that the capitalist system severely
threatens our well-being, the first step is to agree on our fundamental
vision of a better world, of a livable world. No project can succeed unless
there is agreement on the goals of the project. This is as true for global
revolution as it is for building a bridge or planning a military campaign.
Without agreement on basic goals there cannot be effective collaborative
effort.

Achievement of a shared vision for a livable world is itself a formidable
undertaking. Even among sincere and informed political activists there are a
wide range of future visions, many of them in contradiction with one
another. Marxists and socialists, for example, seek a change in the basis of
power in society, and a more equitable distribution of wealth.
Environmentalists think more in terms of limiting growth and protecting the
health of living systems. What are often called "right wing" groups
emphasize a reaffirmation of national sovereignty, national interests, and
personal liberties. Some groups, on the other hand, seek salvation through a
world government, based on the principles of peace, human rights, and
democracy. Religious and spiritual groups seek a better world through
greater adherence to this or that religious doctrine, or perhaps through the
achievement of universal personal enlightenment. With such a diversity of
visions being actively pursued, the prospects for general agreement on the
part of the world's people seem remote indeed.

Nonetheless, I suggest, the problem of reaching agreement on basic goals is
not as insurmountable as it may at first appear. We are, after all, not
seeking to define an ideal utopia, but rather to agree on goals that are
practically achievable. The real world offers many constraints on what is
possible, and these constraints limit our choices for an achievable, livable
world. In addition, history provides many examples which inform us as to how
various ideas work out in practice, and these lessons further limit our
choices. In Part II, I will endeavor to explore these constraints and
lessons in a systematic way, and attempt to demonstrate that we don't really
have as many choices as we might suppose. Realism -- the recognition of
necessities -- forces us into a considerable degree of agreement if our
quest is to be practical and not utopian.

Furthermore, it is not necessary to achieve agreement as to every detail of
a better world. The most we can hope to achieve is agreement on the
fundamental principles for such a world. The actual formulation of detailed
policy can only occur after the capitalist regime has been replaced. The
goal of a revolution can only be to establish a basic framework of
principles upon which a better global society can be established. The
identification of those principles is necessary to enable revolutionary
solidarity, and it is necessary to start the new world off on the track to
livability.

With all due humility, let us begin to investigate what principles must
realistically and necessarily be included in such a framework. Without
certain essential principles, I hope to show, a livable world cannot be
achieved. And beyond those principles, I hope it will become clear, it is
both futile and unnecessary to seek agreement. The reader must be the judge
as to the soundness of these arguments, but if they are valid, I suggest
that the framework to be developed in Part II can be of considerable help in
achieving a livable world. By identifying objective necessities, rather than
describing what may seem subjectively desirable, this framework can
contribute to the unified vision that is necessary to enable a successful
global revolution.

Let us first consider the principle of sustainability, or stability.
Sustainability, or stability, refers to the ability of a system to continue
operating over time. If our framework for a livable world does not include
sustainability as a fundamental principle, then we would simply be passing
on a tougher problem to future generations. We would be setting up a system
that was destined, eventually, to collapse.

The principle of sustainability is most familiar as it applies to the
Earth's resources. Clearly any society which is based on the rapid depletion
of the Earth's resources cannot be sustained for long. But the principle of
sustainability and stability also applies more generally to other aspects of
society. Political arrangements, for example, need to be stable if a livable
society is to endure over time. Sustainability is not just a dream of
environmental purists, but is in fact a necessary principle in the framework
of a livable world. Chapter 5 will investigate further what is implied by
the principle of sustainability.

Let us next consider the principle of democracy. Democracy is much more
difficult to define than is sustainability. Given that the world is now
controlled by a capitalist oligarchy, we can hardly look to our current
political systems as being models for democracy. Permit me to offer a
common-sense, functional definition of democracy for our consideration.

     Democracy -- a citizens' test
     ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
     A society is democratic if people generally feel they are in
     control of their destinies and that society is operating for their
     benefit. A society is undemocratic if people generally feel their
     interests are not being served by society, and that they have
     little or no control over their own destinies or the direction of
     society.

If a society passes the citizens' test -- if its people generally feel they
are in control of their destinies, etc. -- then I suggest that the society
deserves to be called democratic, even if its structures do not fit the
standard Western democratic model. On the other hand, if a society does not
pass the citizens' test, then I suggest the society is undemocratic
regardless of how admirable its constitution or its formal institutions
might seem to be. In fact, as I will endeavor to show in Chapter 4,
democracy has more to do with the participation of citizens in the process
of societal decision making than it has to do with formal institutions. The
formal structures of the leading Western nations, for example, may in fact
be compatible with democracy, but they are not currently functioning as
democracies.

Using this functional definition, I suggest that democracy is as necessary
to a livable world as is sustainability. Can we call a world "livable" if
people generally feel their interests are not being served, and that they
have little or no control over their destinies? Even if such a world
happened to provide temporary well-being to citizens, there would be no
guarantee those conditions would continue to prevail. Only the people
themselves can judge whether their society is livable, and only in a
functioning democracy do people have the means to ensure that society
remains livable.

The question of whether functional democracies are achievable, and how they
might work, will be explored in chapter 4. The point I am arguing here is
that such democracy is necessary for livability -- if democracy cannot be
achieved, then livability cannot be assured. If we seek a framework for a
livable world, then functional democracy must be a fundamental principle of
that framework, along with sustainability and stability.

The third principle I would like to offer for discussion is that of world
order. If a livable world is to be sustainable, then clearly there must be a
reliable system of world order -- this is almost a matter of definition. If
the world order is unstable, if the potential threat of war always looms,
then no society can be assured stability, no matter how enlightened its
political and economic systems might be. A stable system of world order is a
third necessary principle in the framework for a livable world. Chapter 6
will investigate the question of how a stable world order can be achieved
and maintained.

Above, I said that Part III of this book will "endeavor to develop a
practical strategy for non-violent, global, democratic revolution". Part of
this strategy, I will argue, is that the revolution can only succeed if it
succeeds globally. If there are hold-out nations, which insist on
maintaining non-sustainable societies and undemocratic regimes, and which
refuse to collaborate in a stable system of world order, then all societies
are endangered. Chapter 6 will also investigate the problem of achieving
universal adoption of the principles of livability.


Claim: This framework is complete
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I have argued that the three fundamental principles of sustainability,
functional democracy, and a stable world order are necessary to achieve a
livable world and to maintain it into the future. I have also argued that
these principles need to be adopted everywhere in order to ensure the
stability of such a world.

I now suggest, and will argue systematically in Part II, that these
principles are all that are needed. Everything else that people would
typically expect in a better world are either implied by these principles,
or else they are matters that could never be agreed to by everyone and must
necessarily be allowed to vary according to local circumstances.

Consider for example the principle that population levels must be limited if
humanity is to survive. This does not need to be stated as a separate
principle because it is already implied by the general principle of
sustainability. If population levels are unsustainable in a society, then
that society is unsustainable generally. Population limits will be discussed
in Chapter 5, along with many other principles that are necessarily implied
by sustainability. Such principles include strong environmental protection,
reduced levels of energy consumption, the establishment of non-capitalist
economies, the re-allocation of corporate-controlled resources and
facilities, and many others.

Similarly, as shall be discussed in Chapter 4, the general principle of
democracy necessarily implies many other principles. Such principles include
the protection of human rights, free and open access to accurate
information, the reform of political institutions, respect for local
self-determination, and many others.

Chapter 5 will endeavor to show that a stable world order necessarily
implies that global armament levels be reduced dramatically, that all
weapons of mass destruction be dismantled, that global adherence be
maintained to the principles of a livable world, and much more.

When the three general principles are considered together, they imply still
further principles. Consider for example the question of world government.
Given the principle that a stable world order is needed, most people today
would assume that a centralized world government is necessary. In Chapter 6,
however, I will argue that no centralized world government could be either
stable or democratic. Stability, as will be demonstrated by a consideration
of system dynamics, is much better assured by a decentralized system of
world order. And democracy, it will be argued, is very difficult to sustain
if the unit of sovereignty is too large. Many of today's nations may already
be too large for functional democracy to be achieved and maintained -- a
centralized world government would make democracy all but impossible.

     Fundamental principles of a livable world
     ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
     (1) sustainability and stability
     (2) functional democracy
     (3) stable world order
     (4) global adherence to the above principles

[end Part II introduction]
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[Table of Contents]

                         Achieving a Livable World

                     Copyright 1998 by Richard K. Moore
                       Latest update: 21 October 1998
                    comments to: •••@••.•••

                        Summary of Contents [1 page]

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Table of Contents
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Introduction

Part I - Corporate rule and global ruin: understanding the dynamics
of today's world

     Chapter 1 - Evolution of world power: from Pax Romana to
     Pax Americana, by way of competitive imperialism

     Chapter 2 - Evolution of political power: from kingdoms to
     corporate rule, by way of republics

     Chapter 3 - Evolution of capitalism: the growth imperative,
     societal engineering, and the finite Earth

Part II - Envisioning a livable world: an inquiry into democracy,
sustainability, and world order

     Introduction

     Chapter 4 - Democracy: collaboration and harmonization
     instead of competition and factionalism

     Chapter 5 - Sustainable societies: a realizable necessity

     Chapter 6 - Collaborative internationalism:
     culture-diversity and the trap of world government

Part III - Achieving a livable world: the necessity of non-violent
democratic revolution

     Introduction

     Chapter 7 - Building a global movement: learning from
     history and moving beyond class struggle

     Chapter 8 - Engaging the corporate regime: anticipating elite
     responses and avoiding co-option

     Chapter 9 - The Democratic Renaissance: making the transition to a
     livable world

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This material is a draft book in-progress. You are encouraged to send
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is hereby authorized, in entirety, including this sig.
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