re: Zen of Transformation: some new thoughts


Richard Moore

From: <•••@••.•••>
To: •••@••.•••
Subject: Re: Zen of Transformation: some new thoughts
Date: Fri, 7 Nov 2003 09:18:53 +0000

Hi Richard, 

Your new thoughts maybe provide an answer to a question I have
posed and you have posed in the past;

"How do we begin?"

Is the answer that we already have begun?

Those who write and think are all contributing to the Theory
thread. They should not feel guilty or stressed because they do
not contribute too much to the Activist thread.

Your analysis should provide some comfort and strength to those
who might criticise themselves for 'lack of action'.

To achieve anything someone must Think, Plan, then Act. To
achieve great societal change we must not think of the Thinking,
Planning, Acting as being all for one person.

Instead, your inclusive 'four threads' idea allows some to do
more of the thinking, others to do more of the acting etc. People
can pick and choose when they are inspired to think, write, talk,
walk, take action, take a break, have a kitkat etc.

I hope your reference to where your contribution "has been" does
not imply that you are winding down in any way!

What about the Strategic Thread, the meeting of the theorists and
the Activists? Any plans/ ideas for putting this into practice?
I'd certainly be interested.

Tony Oí Reilly, 


Dear Tony,

Nice to hear from you. I like your enthusiasm about multiple
threads. Different courses for different horses, as they say here
in Eire.

But we need to be careful about proclaiming that "the" movement
has begun. If we are talking about the movement I was describing,
then I'd say it exists only in microcosm. A microcosm of the mass
thread exists in those scattered places where Dynamic
Facilitation and similar processes are being applied to help
communities resolve conflicts.  A microcosm of the activist
thread exists in the folks who organize, facilitate, and
publicize those sessions.  A microcosm of the theory thread can
be found  on this list, and there are other people who have
developed some very similar ideas. Indeed I've borrowed from them
whenever I agreed with them. But still it's all only in

If we are talking about the anti-globalization movement then that
is more than microcosm, but it is quite a different thing than
the movement I was talking about. More about that below in my
dialog with Jan.

You suggest a meeting of the theorists and the activists. Let's
assume you're talking about a meeting somewhere in the region
between Cork and Wexford.  We can count ourselves as two
available theorists and I imagine we will think of a few others.
But where will we find an activist in this particular movement? 
Where is there someone planning or carrying out actions aimed at
building a mass movement thread by means of community-problem
solving sessions?  Either some of us theorists must become
activists, or we need to find some activists who find these ideas
inspiring and motivating.  Any suggestions?


To: •••@••.•••
Subject:  some new thoughts
From: Tadit <•••@••.•••>
Date: Thu, 06 Nov 2003 08:20:20 -0500

While I agree with the basic thrust of your observations regarding
factions/partisan politics and hierarchy, consensus is often
defined in a reactionary sort of way, that is defined more by
what it isn't than by what it is.  In my experience there are
forms of consensus which are similar in their net impact than the
hierarchy and partisanship we are trying to be released from. 
Instead of the tyranny of the majority we produce tryrannies of
minorities and P.C. dominance. As evidence that this has been well
considered before, I recommend Mary Parker Follett whose major
work was The New State (1918).  Her approach was that consensus
was a principle that needed to be integrated through both
organizations and communities, not just practiced during a
decision making process but a way of life.  As an approach it
builds consensus by integrating the interests and needs of all,
which to me seems more like a tribal process than most. Her
approach has been promoted by Peter Drucker, progessive
management preceptor and scion, as a precursor of modern
progressive management.  The problem with progressive management
theory in these times is that it has been more often been
exploited to put a veneer onto the same old short term profit
elitist economic myopia. There is a Follett
Foundation which has archived many of her essays.  Her major book
is also on the web through a UK organization.  Historically the
"Progressive" period, of which Mary Parker Follett was a
participant, in the US was swamped and obliterated by the
corporately endowed "logical" positivists.

Cooperatives are a good example of how a good concept can be
subverted.  Though the principles of cooperation require
democrative member control, management is often operated under
conventional the dominance/dependence pattern.  In effect the
conventional management model is accepted because people
generally don't know of any other model when they bail out of the
naive consensus process.  It becomes the trojan horse which
subverts cooperatives as an alternative form of economic
democracy.  Here again ignorance remains the primary facilitative
factor for reducing the effectiveness of alternate ways of doing
business and suffocating the hope that it represents.

Dear Tadit,

I'm intrigued by your characterization of Mary Parker Follet's work:

  > Her approach was that consensus was a principle that needed to
    be integrated through both organizations and communities, not
    just practiced during a decision making process but a way of
    life.  As an approach it builds consensus by integrating the
    interests and needs of all

Her vision of how people and communities can get along
harmoniously seems to be identical what I talk about in ZGT. I
don't know whether she extrapolates the notion to the global
level -- as a general political / economic paradigm for a new
world.  I imagine we're looking at the same picture, but perhaps
from different camera angles, or different levels of

Also, thanks for your brief survey of consensus variants. The
term does seem to carry a lot of excess baggage, and tends to
confuse people more than it conveys meaning.

Perhaps it would help to focus less on the process, and more on
the session in which the process is employed. Consider the phrase
"harmonization session".  The word "harmonization" emphasizes the
purpose of the session rather than the method of the session. If
I were to see the phrase used by someone else, it would naturally
carry certain connotations for me. It would seem to imply that
some group of people is experiencing some degree of disharmony,
and that there is some kind of session which might be able to
resolve that disharmony.

Perhaps I should start using "harmonization session" in
preference to ZGT's "collaborative consensus". What do you think?

Of course in anything I write I would need to define what I mean
by the phrase, but if I'm right about the connotations, they seem
to be helpful rather than confusing.  To be more specific, my
definition of a Harmonization Session would be about bringing
together people who have a shared problem to solve and who have
conflicting views and interests regarding what the solution
should be. The Session is facilitated in such a way that people
are able to hear one another, but without any attempt to guide
the direction of the group. Such a Session is considered to be
successful if a solution is found to the problem that all the
participants are enthusiastic about.   An observed outcome of
successful sessions is that the participants experience a strong
sense of community and mutual understanding, transcending the
immediate identified problem.


Date: Thu, 06 Nov 2003 09:56:05 -0800
Subject: re: musings on ZGT
From: Jan Slakov <•••@••.•••>
To: "Richard K. Moore" <•••@••.•••>

Dear Richard,

I just read your posting and right away it struck me that you
didn't list decentralized politics and economics (and to
consensus) among the list of things people would need to agree

"There would need to be universal agreement on the principles of
sustainability and non-aggression -- but other than that, there
is little that would be needed, or even desirable, in a "New
World  Constitution". "

I was glad to see that you do recognize that the germs of a new
society are springing up spontaneously in many places (and then
you say that this seems too scattered (essentially) to really be
effective in producing the changes we need).

It just occurred to me to contrast your list of needed actions
with those of Joanna Macy:

You list:
 > "theory thread", to which my writing has been my contribution.
    Another thread could be called the "activist thread", involving
    those willing to get out and organize, plan, and carry out
    projects. And there is a supporting thread, a "strategy" thread,
    which involves collaboration among activist leaders and theory
    folks. All of these are in support of the "mass thread" of the

Joanna Macy speaks of "holding" actions, creating new
organizations & systems and changing consciousness. (cf. the
"Great Turning" posting)

Personally, I think what each of you has to say is valid. But
Joanna Macy's paradigm was "empowering" for me; I notice that
people do tend to assume that only one of the 3 types of actions
is the most important one and thereby undercut each other... It
was so important to see that all three are necessary &

Another thing that is inspiring me lately is, oddly enough,
something that came out of UNESCO! It's a list of 6 principles
for a culture of peace & nonviolence. (As I wrote before, I'm
working on a teachers' kit for peace education.) In another
message I'll send you more about those principles...

Anyhow, I just wanted to send you some kind of feedback. I hope
it will contribute usefully to the mosaic of feedback you'll be

all the best, Jan


Dear Jan,

Thanks for your contribution. 

I agree that "sustainability and non-aggression" are an
incomplete list, and that also included should be "a commitment
to decentralized politics and economics (and to consensus)".  I
had elsewhere described society as being "based on local control
over resources, economy, and local affairs", but better to say
that again if a list is being put together.

There are some obvious technical problems with  decentralization
-- both of politics and economics. With politics, there is the
potential problem of a locality that deviates from the list of
ground rules, particularly if it threatens the peace or welfare
of others. How can such a threat be dealt with without
introducing hierarchical policing institutions?  And there are
similar problems about how to resolve conflicts over The Commons
-- fishing on the high seas, air & water management, scarce
mineral usage, etc.  With economics, there are issues of property
ownership, control of community resources, currency, taxation,

I don't think there are clear single solutions to these kinds of
technical problems, and I don't think any of the problems are
insurmountable. They are all problems which have been
successfully solved in various ways by different societies and
communities at different times in history. Most likely a variety
of solutions would be tried and good solutions would evolve and
promulgate, as with everything in the natural universe.  Those
problems are all concerned with how to find solutions that take
everyone's concerns into account, and Harmonization Sessions
serve that purpose very well.

I re-read that 11 Sep posting, the interview with Joanna Macy
(available on the website).  She describes threads which she saw
operating around the "anti-globalization" movement and she
envisions that those represent the essential elements of a Great
Turning -- in which a new culture will arise to replace the
crumbling  Taker capitalist system.  I think what she has to say
is perceptive and is admirably inspiring to activists and
potential activists.  I appreciated your sending the material and
was happy to post it without comment.

As with Mary Parker Follet, I imagine that Joanna and I are
looking at different aspects of the same picture.  She talks
about "new forms of organization" (a wide angle view) while I focus
in on specific kinds of process and organization (a macro-lens
view). She talks about a Great Turning (another wide angle view),
while Mary Parker and I focus in more closely on the specifics of
how a new society might operate.  As regards "holding actions",
Joanna and I are again looking at different aspects of the
picture. She is looking at the gains that arise from such
actions, while I am looking at the overall decline in our
situation that continues to occur despite those gains. I cannot
help but see the gains as sand castles, erected at great effort
and only temporarily defensible -- as the tide of fascist
globalization continues to rise.

I see value in activism itself rather than in the gains achieved
by activism.  The building of links and networks, the development
of decentralized modes of collaborating, the mutual education and
teach-in sessions, the creation of spaces where radical thinking
comes alive, the evolution of individual and collective
empowerment, the development of consensus-oriented processes --
these are a few of my favorite things about activism, and they
are  part of Joanna's Great Turning.

In the West, Joanna's movement -- the anti-globalization movement
-- does not, I believe, have a mass base. It is primarily an
affair of an activist minority. The masses view the movement as
fringe, extremist, or even violent. The political effect of the
movement is very limited, apart from the police-state regime that
is being installed partly as a reactionary response to the
potential threat posed by movement. The movement seems to be
repeating the same pattern over and over again and doesn't show
signs of trying to somehow build a mass base.  As things
currently stand, I believe that any actions the movement might
undertake will always be easily eclipsed by event-management on
the part of the White House and news  management on the part of
the capitalist media.

If a Great Turning is to occur in society as a whole, and not
just in the consciousness of an activist minority, then the
movement will somehow need to become a truly mass movement. In
that sense, parts of the third world seem to be significantly
further around the Great Turning Bend than is the West.

The effects of globalization in the third world have been so
drastic and all-pervasive that people have in many cases been
forced to band together and find ways to survive outside the
capitalist regime. All sorts of ways have been found, including
barter economies, unofficial currencies, communal agriculture on
squatted lands, etc. In some cases, as in Brazil, major political
parties and even governments at various times and levels have in
effect became activist elements in the movement. In other cases
mass strikes and demonstrations have been able to bring down
governments and bring about some degree of policy relief. The
various armed rebel movements going on around the world are
today called "terrorist" and in the old days would have been
called "communist". In both scenarios, the legitimate rebels (not the
CIA stooge movements) have been in fact mass movements of people
trying to establish their right to self-determination in the face
of an invading imperialism that threatens their way of life and
their survival. These movements too, represented perhaps by
Commandante Marcos, are an important part of the
anti-globalization movement, and a part that has a mass base.

The situation faced by much of the third world today, under
invasion by the forces of globalization, is ominously similar to
the situation faced by the Indigenous peoples of Australia and
North America when the Europeans invaded.  In both scenarios we
see the advancing scythe of capitalist development encountering
whole populations which are standing in the way -- populations
which have little value on the market, apart from prostitution
and internal organs, and which occupy lands and use resources
which could be exploited profitably by corporate developers.

The pressures of privatization, debt, and the global economy are pushing
people in the third world off their land and stealing their
resources and livelihoods with the same relentless ruthlessness
that characterized the displacement of Native Americans by
westward-moving settlers. CIA-sponsored civil wars,
Western-supplied arms, and IMF-engineered collapses are spreading
genocide with the same relentless ruthlessness that characterized
the US Cavalry in the Indian Wars. The US military today spreads
radioactive DU pellets wherever it goes, just like the old US
Cavalry used to distribute smallpox-infested blankets.

In the face of the so-called North Korean "threat" we are in a
situation where the US is very likely to use nuclear weapons, and
such weapons have been integrated into all levels of military
operations. In response to the Iranian "threat" we've seen
reports, from usually reliable sources, that Israel has been
supplied with nuclear cruise missiles, and that Bush is willing
to leave the decision to attack up to the madmen who are running
Israel. Not only that, but US warplanes are reportedly massing to
join in such an attack. Sharon has proclaimed that any nation
which might pose a potential threat is a "legitimate target of a
defensive attack".  I think we are very close to the time when
nukes will be added to the menu of routine genocidal instruments.

In response to all this, the third world is showing signs of
developing an effective mass opposition.  I'm afraid, however,
that the hope of successful resistance in the long run is no
greater than it was for the Australian or North American natives.

For that reason, I believe that the Great Turning can only be
fulfilled if the movement becomes a mass movement in the West,
while there is still something left of the world to save. A
minority movement of activists in the West is not enough. We can
learn from the third world, but we cannot depend on them to save
us or themselves from capitalism's always advancing scythe.

How can the movement reach the masses?  How can it mobilize them?
The anti-globalization, anti-corporate message is simply not
being bought by the masses. It is perceived as being too
threatening, and it is seen as not offering realistic alternative
solutions. At the same time, the capitalist media devotes itself
to keeping the masses entranced with a self-reinforcing matrix
version of reality.

As much as I am inspired by Joanna's vision of a Great Turning, I
must protest that the Turning, and the change of consciousness,
is a trend which has been confined so far to a minority activist
community. We need to acknowledge that there is little sign that
the Turning is likely to become a trend in the mass community.
Her vision may be a valid one, but it was extrapolated from the
experiences of a microcosm, not by what's going on in Western
society generally.

If the Great Turning is to be other than a dream, the existing
movement energy must find some new threads of expression --
threads which somehow bring in ordinary people who don't want to
be activists, who don't hold strong beliefs about Gaia, who don't
show any signs of being on the verge of a change of
consciousness, and who may be conservative in their values and
beliefs.  Such people are the masses.  And only a mass movement
can undertake the scale of coordinated non-violent actions that
can bring down an established regime and create a new order.

Thanks again for your comments,


    "...the Patriot Act followed 9-11 as smoothly as the
      suspension of the Weimar constitution followed the
      Reichstag fire."  
      - Srdja Trifkovic

    There is not a problem with the system.
    The system is the problem.

    Faith in humanity, not gods, ideologies, or programs.

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