Richard Moore


    (C) 2001, Richard K. Moore

    Chapter 2:

    What kind of world do we want?

         a. Globalization: crisis and opportunity
   ===>  b. The Moment of Global Convergence
         c. Fundamental principles of a livable world
         d. Localism, diversity, and genuine democracy
         e. Sustainability and its political implications
         f. Decentralized sovereignty and global stability
         g. Human evolution and the liberation of the spirit


   2.b. The Moment of Global Convergence
       The futility of trying to reform capitalism
       There is a long historical relationship between capitalism
       and reform. Wherever capitalism has arisen it has brought
       exploitation, and that in turn has led to reform efforts by
       popular movements. The high water mark of Western reform, in
       its relationship with capitalism, was in the postwar era -
       1945-1980. During that era prosperity was widespread, and
       continued good times were anticipated by most people.
       Significant gains were made in regulating anti-social
       corporate behavior, opening up governmental processes, and
       protecting the environment. In Britain and Europe many
       industries and services were put under public control, so
       they could be run for public benefit rather than private
       profit. Following the popular movements of the 1960s and
       1970s, the ending of the Vietnam War, and Nixon's Watergate
       disgrace, many people assumed that America, and perhaps the
       whole West, had entered a new age of greater democracy and
       ongoing structural reform. They thought the Aquarian Age had
       But that was not to be. In 1980 Ronald Reagan and Margaret
       Thatcher led a counter-offensive that stopped reform dead in
       its tracks and began driving it into retreat in the US and
       UK. The Maastricht Treaty carried the neoliberal plague
       across the channel to Europe, and it has since become the
       dominant global doctrine. The postwar reform era survived
       only as long as it remained compatible with capital growth.
       When growth opportunities began to dry up, elites promptly
       and effectively changed the rules, beginning with Britain and
       the US - so that new growth opportunities could be created.
       Many decades of reform, representing the struggle of millions
       of workers and good-hearted citizens around the world, was
       all undone in a few short years by this neoliberal assault.
       In Section 1.f we looked at capitalism's growth imperative,
       and noted that capitalist elites _routinely engage in this
       kind of societal engineering. The radical changes introduced
       by Reagan and Thatcher dramatically illustrate this process,
       but that is only one episode from an ongoing series. Every
       piece of corporate-backed legislation represents a
       micro-engineering project, introducing yet another corporate
       advantage into the rules of society. IMF
       structural-adjustment programs are examples of macro
       engineering: each defines the overall framework under which
       some unfortunate third-world nation must operate. 'Reform' -
       as used today by Western officials - is simply a name for a
       series of engineering changes being applied to society, under
       the misleading banner of 'free competition'.
       Capitalism _requires growth. At the top of the heap, the big
       banks and investors make their money exclusively from growth
       investments. If none were available, they would withdraw
       their immense funds from the markets and the rest of the
       global economy would collapse. Over the past 150 years or so,
       Western economies have been gradually re-engineered to the
       point where they now depend at every level on growth to
       continue functioning. Our very money system is based on banks
       lending money into existence. The only way the funds can be
       repaid is for the borrower to go out there in the marketplace
       and gather more funds than he borrowed, in competition with
       every other business and entrepreneur. And when you add on
       the interest charges, there just aren't enough funds
       available to enable all the repayments. Hence the money
       system itself forces businesses to desperately seek monetary
       Capitalism can be compared to an automobile, and growth to
       its petrol (gasoline). If we want to use the automobile to
       get around, then we must provide petrol. Similarly, if we
       want to base our economies on capitalism, then we must permit
       growth - and the societal changes that go with it. To think
       we can reform away the growth or the changes, while retaining
       capitalism, would be like sitting behind the wheel of our car
       and expecting it to run on an empty tank. It is asking for
       the impossible. And yet growth, in the way that capitalism
       defines it, is destroying the planet. A livable world cannot
       be achieved by reforming capitalism.
       The necessity of a regime change
       People often name _greed as the explanation for why
       capitalism is always seeking greater growth. If it were only
       greed, then there might be some hope of struggling to reform
       it. Greedy people can be persuaded to survive on less, even
       if they don't like it - if put under sufficient pressure. But
       what if you ask them to give up everything they've got?  In
       that case you are backing them into a desperate corner, and
       they will resist to their last breath. That is how it is when
       we seek substantial reform from the capitalist regime. For
       the regime to accept such reform would be agreeing to the
       collapse of their whole system. From their perspective, they
       are protecting _us as well as themselves by resisting
       substantive reform. Indeed, they often refer to public
       opposition as 'misguided sentimentalism'. The closer one is
       to the center of power, the more impossible it becomes to
       imagine the system being substantially transformed.
       We must understand that previous reform 'successes' have been
       in fact temporary accommodations. Whenever the people made
       enough noise, they would be granted some concessions - _but
       only as long as way could be found to continue capital
       growth_. The postwar reform era was embraced because a grand
       new project of third-world development had been launched, and
       for nearly thirty years that project provided enough revenue
       to fund both capital growth and popular prosperity in the
       West. When the boom evaporated - as they always must - the
       accommodations and prosperity were promptly withdrawn. We
       then found out where the real power lies in Western society.
            "All around the mulberry bush,
            the monkey chased the weasel.
            The monkey thought it was all in fun,
            Pop! goes the weasel."
            - traditional children's song
       Ever since the Industrial Revolution began, the popular
       monkey has been chasing the elite weasel around the national
       political arena - playing the game of 'Reform'. The monkey
       thought the game would go on forever - but the weasel has put
       an end to the game and has turned on the monkey with a
       ferocious attack. Globalization signals a strategic decision
       by the regime to abandon any efforts at reaching a mutual
       accommodation with Western populations. With globalization
       the regime has launched a full-scale assault on Western
       societies, aimed at dismantling them and disempowering them -
       leaving no firm ground for the people to stand on. That's why
       devolution in Britain and Europe is now being encouraged -
       while in earlier decades popular initiatives toward
       devolution were firmly resisted.
       Major political parties in the West are all committed to the
       neoliberal agenda - making it clear that 'politics as usual'
       can only hasten our decline into the Dark Millennium. At the
       Rio Earth Summit, and at the more recent summit in Nice, the
       regime made it clear that organized international initiatives
       for substantial reform will not succeed. The arrogant
       ferocity with which police have suppressed anti-globalization
       demonstrations makes it clear that direct popular initiatives
       for substantial reform will not be tolerated. The regime is
       firmly committed to pursuing capital growth, regardless of
       the human and environmental costs - and the regime is firmly
       committed to using every means at its disposal to defend that
       A livable world cannot be achieved until capitalist-style
       growth is abandoned. The current regime is irrevocably
       committed to the capitalist system and is intent on
       suppressing all attempts at fundamental change. Only by
       removing the current regime from power altogether - both
       internationally and within our nations - can we begin to make
       those fundamental changes necessary to assure the survival
       and well-being of humanity.
       The Moment of Global Convergence
       If we look at history, we find only three ways that
       entrenched regimes have ever been removed from power. Either
       they have been removed by forces external to the realm, or
       power has been usurped by a faction from within the ruling
       hierarchy, or else a mass popular movement has been the agent
       of change. There is no 'outside' that can effectively
       challenge today's global regime, and a power shift within the
       hierarchy would leave our situation basically unchanged. A
       mass movement is the only available means to replace the
       regime and permit the development of a livable world. The
       'historical moment' is right for such an endeavor, based on
       the opportunities and discontents created by globalization
       itself. The challenge is clear for those who seek to achieve
       a livable world: our task is to participate in the
       development a movement which can effectively engage the
       regime and which can go on to lay down the foundations of a
       better world.
       For such a movement to succeed, it will need to be _very
       broad based, and it must be global in scope - since the
       regime is global in scope and is well prepared to defend
       itself. The movement will need to be particularly strong in
       America, since Uncle Sam continues to dominate the globe
       militarily and could suppress an uprising anywhere else (as
       it does regularly already). The movement cannot leave out any
       significant segment of the population, or else that segment
       would be exploited by the regime to divide the movement and
       to provide a base of support for itself. Besides, what
       segment of the population would we want to leave out of our
       new society? We _all need to live together in the new world,
       and now is the right time to start finding out how we're
       going to do that. Building a movement together is an ideal
       way to learn how to work with one another, and to learn from
       one another.
       In Chapter three we will look into the questions of movement
       strategy and organization, and the prospects for success. In
       looking at these questions, we will consider not only the
       challenge of overcoming the regime, but also the problem of
       following through and laying lasting foundations for a
       livable world. History is full of mass movements which
       toppled regimes - only to have power usurped in the end game
       by new tyrants. We will seek to identify movement structures
       which can sustain the vision and coherence of the movement
       even through the crisis of victory, and which can avoid the
       turmoil and confusion that can so easily follow the collapse
       of a central regime.
       For now, let us assume that a broad-based global movement
       _does arise and achieve victory, and that it maintains its
       coherence after that victory. Such an event would bring us to
       an historic _Moment of Global Convergence_. For the first
       time ever the people of the world would have an opportunity
       to collectively chart their own destiny - without pressure
       from outside threats, and without compromise with an existing
       regime. We would have the opportunity to set up a lasting
       global system, and we would have the opportunity to refashion
       the nature of our societies and our communities. We could
       establish an economic system that serves human needs, that
       respects the Earth which nourishes us, and which is not
       limited by any ideological agenda. All possibilities would be
       opened to us, constrained only by our own human limitations
       and those of the Earth and Universe.
       Fortunately, this appealing scenario is precisely what we
       _should be assuming as we consider the question, "What kind
       of world to we want?". After all, if a global mass movement
       does not achieve victory, then the regime will not be toppled
       - and if the regime is not toppled, we will have no chance to
       implement any of our visions. IN OUR STRUGGLE WITH THE
       The canvas before us is a broad one indeed - proceeding on
       the assumption that victory has been achieved. Our challenge
       in this chapter is to explore how we will be able to make
       best use of the Moment of Global Convergence. We will not be
       engaging here in idle utopian dreaming, rather we will be
       seriously considering our constraints and opportunities, as a
       movement and as a species.
       We can hope by this investigation to make a useful
       contribution to the emerging movement. For the movement to
       begin to come together, one of the things it will need to
       develop is a unifying platform of movement objectives - a
       vision of the world the movement is seeking to create. That
       platform / vision will need to emerge from the movement
       itself, organically, as part of the collaborative movement
       process. What we can attempt in this chapter is to put
       together a comprehensive platform outline, and put it forward
       for consideration by the various constituencies of the infant
       The remainder of this chapter is intended for three different
       audiences. First, it is intended for general readers: may you
       be encouraged to think outside the limits of our current,
       hierarchically-constrained societies. Second, the chapter is
       addressed to movement activists: may you seek alliances among
       diverse constituencies, and think in terms of coalition
       agendas. Finally, the chapter is a timecapsule addressed to
       the future victorious movement: may you show wisdom in the
       structures you establish.