Richard Moore

Date: Wed, 04 Sep 2002 13:09:28 -0500
From: Frank Van den Bosch <•••@••.•••>
To: <•••@••.•••>

Dear Richard,

Thanks for your thoughtful response.  Until now, we
have insisted on honesty and an unflinching eye when we
discuss the political machinations of the current
system and the economic and ecologic ruin that it
brings us.  When we use Korten's work to unravel our
current problems, we accept the fact that economic
interests are the driving force behind the current
ethos.  Our discussions look far back in history and we
agree that previous ages (you say 99.9% of our history)
operated on a sustainable level.

If we want to discuss methods of better organizing our
political systems (societal structures), we can't do
that in a vacuum, just as we can't discuss current
problems on a strictly political level.  If we want to
discuss environmental sustainability we must certainly
incorporate economic structures.  Not necessarily
financial economies as we currently understand them,
but the economy of the finite availability of
"resources" on our planet.  Means of production,
development or progress are all inextricably linked to
these economies.  We can talk about social structures
coming first, but not if we don't understand and
unflinchingly look at the realities, the horrors of
alienation and subjugation that have gone hand in glove
with our post-agriculture systems.

I too believe in localism, and my emphasis on
technologies being 'available to all equally' is
important in this regard.  As Jared Diamond has pointed
out, when guns, germs and steel were available to one
group they had the power to dominate all other groups. 
That is also the central message of Daniel Quinn.  In
his example the technology that empowered a small group
to conquer the world, was agriculture.  The
technologies of map making or printing presses or
computers or wind turbines are all tools that can be
used by the oppressors.  Do you envision a more benign
use of technology, or an ethic of non interference with
other tribes?  A paradigm shift as Fritoj Capra called
it 20 years ago?  Liberals have been the ameliorators
of a corrupt system, but that is a dilemma of current
conditions.  At other times they may have had a more
radical view, but that is neither here nor there. We
certainly want to get beyond such trivia, don't we?

If production is like velocity, and development is like
acceleration how does deceleration fit in?  Is feeding
those who are now hungry not an acceleration of
production?  If everyone in China wanted a beer every
day, the entire world's production of grain would not
suffice.  At what speed do we keep the machine of
production running?  Is status quo the level of
sustainability we all seek?  Does that hold true for
the Ethiopian as well as the Swede or American?  Some
equalization?  Some evening out?  Afterall, if the
Etiopian is to live better and there is no increase in
the current unsustainable level of resource use,
somebody else is going to have to give up theirs.

I too want to work out how to work out the answers. 
You opened up this can of worms and I'm glad you did. 
Do we have the unflinching nerve to pick up that red

On a personal note, I will be on your side of the pond
for the next two weeks and out of e-mail range.  I look
forward to your response when I return.

Frank V  


Dear Frank,

Nice response.  Collaborative.

The central point I realized on the quest is that we
can't start out by dealing with the world's problems. 
Many are attempting that, through their life styles or
through discussion, or through activism.  It isn't
working... not that the efforts aren't useful!  They
are.  But they won't achieve their bold objectives.

We need to start by dealing with more local things and
in the process learn how to develop community
spirit/solidarity/perceived-common-interests.  At least
that's how I see it.

As we develop community-ness, we will begin to
realize/create our own power/existence as We-The-
People.  At first we can achieve things locally, and
that would be the useful focus of our attention.  As
the scope of our power (ability to have effect)
increases, and as different communities learn to
collaborate, then the scope of the problems we can deal
with also increases.  We can begin to deal with
bio-regional issues, etc.

At the early stages, probably the most effective thing
we can deal with is reducing the divisiveness in our
societies.  The mutual misunderstandings and blamings
that go on, one group with another (races, ideologies,
political parties, religions, etc.)

We can debate the fine points of global sustainability
but we can't do anything about it at this point.  I'm
trying to learn how to direct my energies toward those
things that we can do something about now.  I don't
mean things like recycling, I mean things like working
on the foundations which enable moving on to the next
level of effectiveness.


It is true that Diamond speaks in term of technologies
being the prime factors, as in his title.  Quinn
however has a quite different emphasis.  He claims that
agriculture was already a known technology, before the
advent of the Takers.  What created the Takers was a
shift in world view from reciprocity (to use Brian
Hill's term) to exploitation.  After this shift, what
had been harmless (nurturing crops) became harmful, and
became useable as a strategic weapon.

Aboriginal sustainability was the sustainability of
innocence.  It was not through choice but through
habit, perceived necessity, and ignorance of
alternatives.  In terms of our species, we can say it
was the sustainability of childhood.  Aboriginal times
were the childhood of humanity.

The past 10,000 years, I suggest, have been the
adolescence of humanity.  As a species we have been
irresponsible teenagers... drinking and driving,
holding up liquor stores, spurning our parents,
fighting in gangs, taking drugs, dropping out of
school, etc. etc.  With our empires and wars and
genocides and exploitations we've been 'bad boys and
girls'.  But we also must admit we've had a bit of fun
on the way.

To return to sustainability now would not be a return
to childhood, it would be an act of adult wisdom.  Just
as enlightenment is being 'like a child' but not 'being a
child'.  In other words, we DO have the technologies to
exploit, and the knowledge of how to exploit.  We can
return to sustainability, and to 'brotherhood', only by
CHOOSING to do so as a species.  The genie cannot be
put back in the bottle but it can be tamed.

It is not the technologies that need to be removed, but
rather our world view which needs to be changed.  With
a changed world view, we will of course get rid of
nuclears and biotechs, and we will stop squandering
non-replenishable resources.  To do otherwise would
then seem obviously insane to us (as it in fact is).


A comforting observation in all this was expressed
eloquently by Rosa Zubizarreta.  She was talking about
Dynamic Facilitation, and she described it as a 'come
as you are' process.  I suggest that social
transformation is a 'come as you are' affair.  It is
not necessary for everyone to be 'on board' about
sustainability before we begin.  As we begin building
community, we will find ourselves working with people
who don't believe in sustainability, nor other things
that we hold sacred. It will be a breakthrough for _us
to realize we can work with such people and accomplish
worthwhile things.

First we need to harness the horse, then attach it to
the cart, then we can get serious about what path the
cart will follow.

have a good European holiday,


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