cj#973,rn-> re-2: movement strategy

1999-08-15

Richard Moore

Dear friends,

If we want a better world, we can't think in terms of minor perturbations
on what we have now.  We've been living according to a paradigm, and that
paradigm has outlived its sell-by date.  The whole paradigm has to change.
Changing paradigms is quite a different proposition than 'reform'.  You can
fix a car for a while, and then at some point you need a new car.  Same for
PC's.  Same for world systems.

The paradigm of exploitation, change, and growth has, over the past couple
of centuries, been exceptionally 'productive', as we commonly use that
term, and we can give the paradigm (capitalism) full credit where credit is
due.  We can even forgive the excesses and downsides. But we cannot avoid
facing the fact that it cannot go on.  It is no longer paying dividends, in
human terms, and the Earth can no longer survive its ravages.  Its postive
side has become marginal, and its negative side has become unbearable.  As
global monopoly concentration moves toward an historic climax, the 'class'
that actually benefits from the system is becoming increasingly tiny.

It is not easy to think in terms of paradigm shifts.  On the one side is
the pitfall of thinking-too-small - reform instead of transformation.  On
the other side is the pitfall of fantasyland - unrealistic dreaming instead
of vision.  One falls into these pitfalls not beacause one isn't 'smart
enough', but because one does not fully accept the magnitude of change
required.  The small-thinker, by definition, is thinking on the wrong
scale.   The dreamer is too... he (or she) doesn't _really believe that
transformation is possible, so their ideas come out of the 'Once up on a
time...' part of their brain.  A prince on a white horse... and they lived
happily ever after.

The starting point for useful thinking is accepting that a monumental,
unprecedented, historic societal transformation is called for.  The most
systematically entrenched regime of all time must be overcome, and a whole
new way of dealing with politics and economics needs to be established.
Either we have the most thorough house-cleaning that humanity has ever
experienced, or else we continue our relentless path into global fascism
and squalar under a faceless elite oligarchy.  Do we really have a choice?
Can we leave such a world to our children?

rkm

============================================================================
Date: Wed, 04 Aug 1999 16:45:12 -0400
To: •••@••.•••, •••@••.•••
From: jeff gates <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Sustainability via Shared Capitalism
Cc: Thomas Kocherry <•••@••.•••>

In response to RKM's comments, kindly note that I've taken a cut at a
strategy for combining capitalism and sustainability by designing
capitalism not only for inclusion but also for peoplized, human-sized and
localized ownership patterning.  You might check my 1998 book, The Ownership
Solution (see endorsements below).  Am presently polishing a sequel that
focuses more on the U.S.  Penguin is the Commonwealth publisher; Perseus
(paperback) in the U.S.  As counsel to the Senate Finance Committee
(1980-87), I bring a viewpoint that may prove useful; I've since advised in
30 other countries on various aspects of "ownership design."   Note also
the web site below.  The book was sponsored by Stephan Schmidheiny, founder
of the World Bus. Council for Sustainable Development, who also wrote the
foreword ("This book may save capitalism.")  Hopefully that's enough of a
tease to get some of you to read it....

All the best,

Jeff Gates

>
Endorsements re The Ownership Solution

---<excerpts>---

"Expansion of ownership and greater access to capital will both strengthen
and spread democracy and market economies throughout the world.  This is a
compelling account of how to help bring it about."
--  Jack Kemp, former Republican vice presidential candidate

"How do we close a growing gap between successful owners and investors and
an increasingly anxious underclass?  One way that would help - more
participants in ownership!  No one knows more about how that should be done
than Jeff Gates and he offers his spectacular insight in this cornucopia of
philosophical and practical ideas."
        --  Mario Cuomo, Governor of New York  (1983-1995)

"The most incisive and fascinating analysis yet of how broader capital
ownership can help drive faster U.S. growth -- and in the bargain repair
the moral basis of American capitalism."
--  Robert J. Shapiro, Vice President, Progressive Policy Institute

"The twenty first will be the 'Century of the Corporations.'  Jeff Gates
gives an exciting and well written preview of this New World and the
'owners' whose informed involvement will be essential for the continued
welfare of the planet."
--   Robert A.G. Monks, author, Power and Accountability and Corporate
Governance

================

Dear Jeff,

Thanks for sending in your book promo.  With so many luminary endorsements
(only a tiny sample above) you certainly don't need mine, so I'll offer a
critique instead.

First of all, saving capitalism is a bad idea.  We need to get rid of
capitalism.  We don't need market-driven growth, we need humanity to grow
up and take responsbility for itself.

Second, extending stock ownership is of little value in influencing the
policies of corporations.  Voting is by stock value, and beyond that, the
effective influence of large-block holdings is disproportionate.  And
beyond that, corporations require capital, and capital demands competitive
performance.  If you ever find yourself in charge of a large corporation,
you'll find that you can't just wave a magic wand and 'do good'.  It's like
the story of the boy who got his wish to make the kingdom the way he
wanted.  He started by saying no one had to work, and ended by wondering
why there wasn't any food in the market.  Corporations exist within a
larger capitalist system, and they can't change significantly until the
system is changed.

Third, a great deal of stock ownership is already technically in the hands
of little people, in the form of pension funds.  And through various
mechanisms, control over those funds ends up in the hands of professional
investment firms, who park them in long-term stocks so as to stabilize the
market and permit the corporate machine to continue its ruinous agenda.
Patching capitalism is like fighting kudzu.

Fourth, the idea of shifting ownership from a minority to a majority is
wholly contrary to where things are actually heading.  The tidal wave is
toward further concentration of ownership, and lots of little paddles
aren't going to turn back the market-forces tide.  This is an age of the
big fish eating the little fish, and so ad infinitum.  In particular, the
TNC's are taking over everything (including patents on life itself) and are
fighting it out amongst themselves to see which handful of logos will
remain to manage 'Earth Inc'.  It is no surprise that capitalist apologists
endorse 'The Ownership Solution', because they understand these issues, and
their profession is misleading the public.

You're welcome to respond,
rkm

============================================================================
Date: Wed, 4 Aug 1999 15:53:44 -0700 (PDT)
To: •••@••.•••
From: "John H.St.John" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: cj#971> Thomas Kocherry: GLOBALISATION NEEDS A DEEPER
  UNDERSTANDING

Globalization is nothing more than giant merged corporations searching the
world for cheap labor and buying foreign despots so they can get their hands
on cheap raw-materials. Corporations are illegal organizations that have
become robots because their ownership is dispersed to stock-market gamblers.
They are composed of 100% employees who must make bottom line decisions or
get fired.

Outlaw common-stock!

John H. St.John The Abolitionist http://users.abac.com/homer

=====================

Dear John,

So, instead of _everyone having stock, _no one_ should have stock!  I must
say I'm much more sympathetic to your line of thinking.  Yes we need to
leave behind the no-one-responsible stock-corporation - it is a sorcer's
apprentice that grew into a monster out of control.

But the slogan 'outlaw common stock' sounds a bit like 'outlaw
automobiles'.  It points in a good direction, but it points to an abyss.
How do you get to work without your car?  What happens to our world machine
if we pull one of the principle gears out of its gearbox?  If you want to
get rid of cars, you need to think about how people will get around, or get
along without getting around so much.  If you want to shift our economic
system toward something compatible with human well being, then ending
non-responsible ownership is only one of many 'system requirements'.

Have you ever considered joining forces with a broader coalition?  POCLAD
(Program on Corporations, Law, and Democracy), for example, has ideas in
similar directions.  ( mailto:•••@••.•••  http://www.poclad.org )

all the best,
rkm

============================================================================
From: Paul Isaacs <•••@••.•••>
To: "Richard K. Moore" <•••@••.•••>
Date: Wed, 04 Aug 1999 22:52:55 -0500
Subject: Re: rn- regarding the development of an effective global movement...

On 04-Aug-99, Richard K. Moore wrote:
    I'd like to invite discussion on the following line of
    thinking...  Perhaps the third world is the most likely
    source of a strong global movement against globalization -
    or more accurately, _for global democracy,
    self-determination, and sustainability...

Sympathetic support for a massive reduction in our much beloved consumerist,
unsustainability personified, standard of living?

A very large perhaps indeed.

Paul Isaacs

==================

Dear Paul,

The relative contentment of the Western middle classes has of course been
the bulwark of the capitalist-imperialist system for quite some time.  You
are quite right to identify it as a still-continuing force of reaction.
And this is precisely why a correct understanding of globalization is so
strategically important.  If Western populations can understand that
globalization represents a sellout of their traditional role as 'top dogs',
then even those motivated by narrow self-interest might wake up to the
danger.

I think it is all to easy to assume the worst about human nature.  I see
our current society, in a very real sense, as being like animals living in
a zoo.  We have cages all around us, limiting our freedom to do, and even
our freedom to think.  We see 'success' as moving from one job to a better
job... and what is a 'job' but a cage in which you perform services to some
corporation or the other, in return for a daily feed?  And when it comes to
politics, we are put in a cage, given a pencil, and told to choose between
tweedly dumb and tweedly dumber.

It is not human nature which is narrow and limited.  It takes a
mind-control educational system and a daily diet of propaganda to reduce us
to a state where we lose faith in ourselves.

Have hope,
rkm



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