Re: Grand Coup dialog: Cultures, EcoVillages, & Politics…

2002-05-21

Richard Moore

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Date: Sat, 18 May 2002 07:00:10 -0400
Subject: Re: Grand Coup dialog: Cultures, values, and media...
From: Bill Ellis <•••@••.•••>
To: "Richard K. Moore" <•••@••.•••>, <•••@••.•••>,
        <•••@••.•••>

Yes, we agree over all but I think we have quite different
spins on how we go on from here.  I'll insert a few comment
in yours  but I've written a number of articles on
"belonging" as our most basic human need that might be of
interest.  A short version is in my chapter in the online
book <www.CreatingLearningCommunities.org>
 
    rkm > You characterize the desirable shared values of many
    cultures this way: "People worked for the good of all
    because the good for all was the good for each." I suggested
    these shared values: "We need to get along with one another
    and with the planet."

The concept of "belonging" within the Gaia Paradigm is a bit
deeper than that.  Belonging is not being altruistic it is
an inherent need to be respected and have someone to respect.
 It is like mothers' love. It supercedes the need for food
or shelter.  But has been submerged in the religious and
economics of EuroAmerican Culture.

=========

Dear Bill,

Yes we do seem to agree on a lot.  (Sorry about mixing up
your statements with those of Bruce Elkin.  He's the one who
talked about a ~single~ belief hierarchy.)

I don't have any problem with 'belonging'... I too see it as
a shared paradigm among pre-agricultural societies. 
Belonging to place, belonging to the Earth, and belonging to
the tribe.  "Individualism" as a concept is probably very
recent, perhaps invented by the Classical Greeks.

I suggested that a shared value of a New Society needs to be
"We need to get along with one another and with the planet."
I don't see any contradiction between my 'getting along'
and your 'belonging'.  'Belonging' is a deeper concept - it
goes further in its implications - but those additional
implications are ones that make a lot of sense to me a well.

So we basically agree on human nature and on pre-agricultural
societies.  How far apart are our spins about "how to go from
here"?  Here's something you sent in earlier:

2/12/2002, Bill Ellis wrote:
    > LETS, Co-housing, organic gardening, homeschooling,
    EcoVillages, CSAs, local scrips, yard sales, solar power,
    homsteading, intentional communities and many other social 
    innovations are returning power to the people and promoting
    local community solidarity.  These are what we concentrate
    on, not politics or changing the mind set of CEOs.  These
    will come as we-the-people create our own civil society of
    peace, equity, justice, and ecological soundness.

More power to such innovations, they are all for the good. 
They get people thinking outside the box of the system. 
They help develop a sense of empowerment, and facility in
bottom-up organization.  And they help rebuild a sense of
community and of ~belonging~.  Go for it!   You have my
blessing.  (:>)

But can you really say these innovations are "returning
power to the people"?  I don't see power shifting in any
direction but toward the center, especially since 911.  One
might hope your innovations might someday ~begin~ shifting
power downwards, but it isn't happening yet.  And it didn't
happen in the U.S. in the 1970s, when there was a rather
sizable back-to-the-land, self-sufficiency movement.

The problem is that such initiatives remain marginalized. 
They make sense to the very dedicated, and to middle class
youth with surplus resources to spend, but they don't make
sense to the vast majority who are enmeshed in the system
and trying to make a living.  Maintaining islands of
self-sufficiency in the midst of an always-expanding
capitalist system is very difficult.  The tax laws are
against you, the building codes, and the economy generally. 
And they pass new codes and laws if you get successful
enough to show up on their radar.  Most of the 70s
experiments quitely folded, or evolved into simply one more
rural business or family eking out an existence in the
hinterlands.  Very little overall impact on the system.

One thing to keep in mind is that the history of capitalism
is the history of self-sufficiency being taken away from
people.  Taking the land away from the natives, pushing
farmers into cities, land taxes to break up self-sufficient
estates, mortgages to prevent ownership of ones own home,
etc.  This is what Marx called "monopolization of the means
of production".  That's the ongoing agenda of capitalism.
To seek self-sufficiency is like attempting to reverse the
course of a raging river.  You can sometimes reverse the 
direction, but only very locally - in an occasional, 
marginalized eddy current.  This will remain true as long
as we live in capitalist societies.  Fact.

You say:
    > These will come as we-the-people create our own civil
    society of peace, equity, justice, and ecological soundness.
    
I agree that we the people need to create our own civil
society, and that is the only way we're going to change
things at this point in history.

But we cannot build that civil society by pretending it
already exists, and that we are part of it.  That's like
playing house.  Kids dress up like mommy and daddy and
pretend their improvised tent is a house.  But then dinner
time comes, the tent is put away, and the fantasy fades. 
For self-sufficiency experiments, dinner time comes when the
economics close in on you.  And the nature of capitalism is
to eventually close in on ~everyone's~ trip.  That's really
what the War on Terrorism is about, both domestically and
internationally.

Creating a new civil society is a political act, whether you
want to use that term or not.  You've thought a lot about
the economics of a new society, and the Gaian belief
system, but have you thought about the politics of a new
world?  Do you think political affairs will simply take care
of themselves, as long as everyone grows vegetables and
thinks Gaian?  Do you think our current political systems,
with parties and elections and all, is suitable for the
Gaian future you envision?

I suggest that our political vision needs to be equally
developed, along with our economic vision, and others will
surely remind us to include spiritual vision.  In my own
investigations, which has been tracked on these lists, I've
focused on the political questions because the economic
questions have largely been answered.  We all know about
sustainability, local production for local consumption, etc.
What we need is the political space in which such knowledge
can be turned to practice on the scale of whole societies.

best regards,
rkm

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