re8: Returning to the Garden, total transformation, etc.


Richard Moore

Bcc: contributors.

Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 07:06:25 -0400
Subject: Re: re4: Returning to the Garden, etc.
From: Gary Swanson via Bill Ellis <•••@••.•••>
To: •••@••.•••, •••@••.•••

    someone said > There are lots of people like me who would
    jump at the chance to be self-sufficient - but it means a
    drastic change of life-style made at significant expense.
    The back-to-the-landers of the sixties all gave up. With
    reason; it was far too spartan. It is possible, the
    Mennonites live a very low energy lifestyle.

I live on an island cut off from any grid grow most of my
own food with my family of four and run my accounting
business on with a solar powered computer.  We've been here
for 12 years and have no thought of moving. It hasn't been
even a struggle.

I just happen to be in town today, via snowmobile, the ice
is still thick enough.  I dropped in on Bill Ellis and read
your e-mail. My advice is just do it.

Gary Swanson.


Dear Gary,

Sounds like a nice life style, more environmentally benign
than most - but in truth it is neither self-sufficient nor
sustainable. You are dependent on the outside economy to
support a relatively high-paying job, and you are using
unsustainable fossil fuels for transport.


From: (Raven) •••@••.•••
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 07:38:11 EST
Subject: Re: re2: Returning to the Garden, etc.
To: •••@••.•••

Would someone please explain to me why 'total economic
collapse' might be a problem?  I have been awaiting this
collapse anxiously and was very disappointed when all the
bank and stock market computers failed to collapse with the
new millennium.  Raven  P.S.  In case you're wondering, this
IS a serious question.


Dear Raven,

It will be a very serious problem if we are not prepared to
deal with it. Depending on how total is 'total', one might
expect general unemployment, a collapse of transport and
agricultural industries, massive starvation and disease,
riots and looting in cities, etc.  Most likely marshal law
would be declared and we'd find ourselves in an outright
police state.

There would be no hope whatever of establishing our own
self-sufficient solutions in a time of crisis - one cannot
begin sewing parachutes after the plane starts going down.

What collapse scenario do you envision?


btw> When the movement gets close to victory, then we can
expect all the markets to collapse, and we will need to be
suitably prepared to deal with that.

Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 10:54:49 -0500
From: paul riesz <•••@••.•••>
To: •••@••.•••, •••@••.•••, Chomsky@mitedu,
        •••@••.•••, •••@••.•••
Subject: Benefits of Globalization?

Dear Richard:

In your latest posting you comment:
    > "Fruits of globalization'?  The destruction of the
    environment?  The waste of our few remaining fossil fuels? 
    The enslavement of the South by the IMF?  The loss of our
    sovereignty to corporate bureaucracies?  An accelerating
    pattern of military interventionism by the US and the EU?"

This does not seem to be based on an objective analysis, since:
The basic idea of globalization, that countries should export part of
the goods, which they can produce cheaper than elsewhere and import
others, for which they have few if any comparative advantages MUST
produce economic benefits for both sides. It can and should be carried
out WITHOUT any of the harmful practices you mention.

You should have taken the time to read the later part of my original
posting, where I suggest:

    > "The pioneering country might also want to invite foreign
    investments in selected sectors, where such investments
    offer both a lot of well paying jobs and other benefits for
    the country and good profitability for the investors. 
    Conditions on decent and slowly growing wages, workers
    protection and on safeguarding the environments could be
    established in the invitation or could be negotiated."


Dear Paul,

You say...
    > The basic idea...that countries should export part of the
    goods, which they can produce cheaper than elsewhere and
    import others, for which they have few if any comparative
    advantages MUST produce economic benefits for both sides.

This 'basic idea' has little to do with globalization, but
is instead a reference to David Ricardo's economic theories.
 Have you 'taken the time to read' those theories?  He bases
them on certain assumptions, which include full
internalization of costs, investment capital staying within
national borders, and trade being balanced between each pair
of nations.  None of these principles are characteristic of
globalization, nor are any of them even being pursued as
goals, not even in official rhetoric.

The ~actual~ basic idea behind globalization - which is
obvious from any 'objective analysis' of either the
realities of globalization or the motivations of those
promoting it - is to open up every economy to maximal
exploitation by the largest global corporations.

You seem to have your own vision of what globalization
~should~ be about, in a different world, but your vision as
well does not conform to Ricardo's assumptions. In your
hypothetical world, you still envision the South being
dependent on profit-hungry foreign investors to provide
employment and 'other benefits'.  This has nothing to do
with 'comparative advantage' in the sense Ricardo used the
term, and it could only lead to debt-enslavement of the
South, as we have in the real world today.


From: "John" <•••@••.•••>
To: <•••@••.•••>
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 21:11:31 -0800

My main interest is in political reform and I know another
who is interested in judicial reform.  I don't see how its
possible to change the whole system unless there is
something to change to.  Personally I don't want change
unless I know exactly what we are changing to.


Dear John,

I agree, I'd rather maintain the status quo than have some
well-meaning do-gooder go in and start making radical
changes that would lead who knows where.

On the other hand, the whole system ~does~ need to change.
It does no good to elect progressive candidates, if when in
office they are hamstrung by an out-of-control financial
system, where national budgets are dwarfed by the magnitude
of the casino global economy, where corporations have all of
the rights but none of the responsibilities of real live
citizens, and where the only formula for prosperity is
growth and more growth.

So how do we figure out what to change the system to?  For a
start, there's been a lot of very good work done in
understanding what a sustainable world must be like.  Good
references are Korten's "The Post-Corporate World", Bossel's
"Earth at a Crossroads", and  Mander & Goldsmith's "The Case
Against the Global Economy and for a Turn Toward the Local".
 The message is clear that we must re-invent the whole
monetary system, move toward local production for local
consumption, greatly reduce our energy use, and generally
re-orient our societies around sustainability instead of

Who do you think should do the necessary planning for the
new system?  We certainly can't count on the current regime
to do it, they will be the ~last~ to consider the possibility
that growth must be abandoned!

As I see it, developing a consensus vision and plan for a
new society should be one of the primary tasks of the
movement, and in places like Porto Alegre that task is
beginning to be pursued.  You say your main interest is in
political reform.  I suggest that any attempt to reform
politics, within the current system, is doomed to failure.
On the other hand, not nearly enough thinking, and consensus
building, is being done in the area of 'politics for a
livable world'.  How do you think politics should _really
operate, if not limited to incremental refinements to the
current set up?   Now _there's an enquiry that would
contribute to the consensus-building which is needed by the


From: "New Age Center" <•••@••.•••>
To: <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: Paul, the pessimist and Richard, the optimist  wed.  Mar 21st.
Date: Sun, 1 Apr 2001 19:09:49 -0400

I absolutely love your site and the many contributors.
One part of me totally agrees with Paul Isaacs.  How can 3
billion people who make $2 a day even buy Richard's "most
efficient refrigerator"?  And even the most efficient still
draws too many kilowatts!  And as a Sociologist, looking at
population projections, I can't imagine things getting
better UNLESS miracles happen.  Can we create those
miracles?  I hope so, but have little faith. Richard: What
is your "humane way" to reduce population levels?

Richard--you say that sustainability is not something that
can be achieved by individuals or small groups....ONLY by a
total transformation of societies globally.  My studies
indicate that the "Circulation of the Elites" ALWAYS end up
after societal revolutions, whether forced or peaceful.  And
if you have read Rule by Secrecy, by Jim Marrs or Beware of
God, by David Ash, one wonders how the majority of people on
earth (uneducated, struggling to survive, etc) could
possibly overcome the control by the International  Power
Elite, especially the international bankers.  Most Americans
don't even know that the Federal Reserve is NOT part of the
US government  (see Marrs)   Even Karl Grossman's "US
Military Moves to Control Space and Be  Enforcement Arm for
the Global Elite adds further to our predicament

Yet, with Paul, I am almost distraught about our
possibilities  but your "idealism" keeps the flickering fire
lit even though it's hard to believe not only that we can
"overcome" the "Custodian gods and their henchmen" (see
Bramley, Gods of Eden) but also that the general populace
might come to understand and have ideas about what to do
"even though they are concerned (Richard).  So, shall WE be
the "intellectual elite" paving the way? Shades of history!

As a Sociology Professor, I find that most young people
don't read, for innumerable reasons, aren't interested in
political reform (they hardly read the newspaper) , and  are
eating their way to pizza-coke heaven.  Some of my
colleagues call the USA "zombieland.  And if that's true for
most Americans, what of the Third World folks who can't even
get books or have the time to read if they could!!

Finally, why not start a "Get Prepared Section" on your site 
in response to Paul's concern "that we will be completely
unprepared " regarding future energy? However, if that is
individual preparation then it contradicts Richard's "ONLY a
total transformation of societies globally" will do it.  

Help! a frustrated realist with pessimistic undertones and
optimistic overtones. Am I alone in this interpretation? 
And Paul, I'll e-mail you soon--please check out my site;  or  Keep the faith, however


Dear New Age Center person,

Thanks for your support regarding the site and and list

The survivalist approach reminds me of Bob Dylan's Dream,
where he was the only one left after the apocalypse.  Upon
waking, he thought about how unlikely it is that he would be
that lucky one, and in his song he says "You can be in my
dream if I can be in yours."  I think our energy is better
spent collaborating to ensure our mutual welfare than to
store up ammo and seeds and fantasize about how we might
make out as individual Robinson Curusoes in a collapsing
world. If that collapse comes, and after you've seen death
and starvation close hand, then you'll realize that this was
the 'good old days' when something could still have been

Yes, total transformation is the ticket - not because it's
'fun to be radical', but because we are at the end of the
line for the growth paradigm.  We're stressing all the
world's systems, destroying our topsoil, depleting our
fisheries, and basically destroying our nest as rapidly a we
can possibly arrange it.  If you've read the earlier dialog
above, then you've seen my understanding of what kind of
transformation we need, and how we can go about preparing
for it.

Yes, nearly every previous social transformation so far in
history has led to rule by new elites, or old elites wearing
new hats. That is a fact that should be posted above the
bathroom mirror of every movement activist and organizer.

In most of history's transformations, the fact that elites
came out on top should be no surprise - for in most cases it
was elites who promoted the transformations in the first
place.  The Protestant Revolution was promoted by Monarchs,
in order to gain more freedom from the Pope; the
Cromwellian, French, and American Revolutions were all
promoted by rising economic elites, who wanted the King and
the Church out of the way.  (See, for example, Fresia's
"Toward an American Revolution", on the cj website,

In some rare cases, such as the Russian Revolution, there
has been a genuine spirit in the revolutionary leadership
for a more egalitarian society.  But in Russia, and in most
other such cases, there was not adequate preparation of the
post-victory political regime. This then led to a power
vacuum, and there was always some person or clique on hand
to fill that vacuum the old-fashioned way - by taking over.

Even more basic, there have been few transformations that
had any vision of how to organize governance other than on a
hierarchical basis. At best, they would establish a
'benevolent' hierarchy, where the leadership was committed
to the general welfare.  The problem here is that
hierarchies are hierarchies, and over time they always
evolve into self-aggrandizing bureaucracies. They always
become the tail that wags the dog.  In the case of the USA,
we have seen this in the way the power of the Federal
Government has grown steadily over the decades, at the
expense of the States and the People.  At the beginning,
Federal officers were not even allowed to carry guns, or
make arrests.  We've come a long way, baby.

I think there have been a ~few~ successful transformations,
and in particular I think Cuba does not at all deserve the
label 'dictatorship' which is so routinely applied to it. 
Not only has the Cuban experience been exemplary with
respect to health care, education, and adequate food and
housing - but I've heard from many eye-witness reports that
popular support for the revolution has typically been very high,
and that people at the local level participate effectively
and regularly in making policy decisions.

In our current case, it is absolutely necessary that we take
seriously the problem of preventing the movement from being
hijacked.  You might browse the posting of Feb 12, "How do
we keep our movement from getting hijacked?", at

Fortunately, the emerging anti-globalization movement is
evolving a culture of consensus-based, decentralized
decision making, and it is avoiding any dependence on
central charismatic leaders.  This is a very good sign, and
I believe these are the structures that are needed in order
to avoid usurpation of power by elites.