Sahtouris-1/3-“The Biology of Globalization”


Richard Moore

Dear PPI & cj,

It is with pleasure that I announce the _CADRE Library_.

We've got the shiny new shelves all in place, organized according to our
outline for "Globalization and the Revolutionary Imperative".  (See below)
Only a few documents have been placed on the shelves as yet.

I invite you take a look at this article which Elisabet Sahtouris has
graciously allowed us to place in our library.  And please take a browse
around and checkout the shelves before they get cluttered...


btw> If you have material you'd like to contribute to the library, please
send it in to  <•••@••.•••> along with a note about
who wrote it, whether it's been published before, etc. etc.

                              CADRE Library
 - a public service of CADRE (Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance) -

                       "The Biology of Globalization"
                    Copyright 1997 by Elisabet Sahtouris

              CADRE home page ->
      PPI home page ->
  CADRE library home page ->

               - Republication permission granted for
                       NON-COMMERCIAL use only,
            with all sig & header info incorporated, please.

     ( "Globalization and the Revolutionary Imperative" )

     ##------>      Biology-of-Globalization.txt

     Elisabet Sahtouris, Ph.D. is an evolution biologist, futurist and
     UN consultant on indigenous peoples. Author of Gaia and
     EarthDance, and co-author with Willis Harman of the forthcoming
     Biology Revisioned, she lectures widely in Europe, North, South
     and Central America. She can be reached by e-mail: •••@••.•••

                       "The Biology of Globalization"
                   Copyright 1997 by Elisabet Sahtouris

                Previously published:
                    Perspectives on Business and Global Change,
                    the World Business Academy journal, Sept 1997.
                    Reprints available from the editor:
                        Maya Porter <•••@••.•••>


   How many citizens of the WTO's seventy member nations are aware that
   their "democratic" congresses voted away the sovereignty of their
   nations by agreeing to uphold the provisions of the WTO, which can meet
   in secret and challenge any laws made at any level in our nation, our
   state, county or city that are deemed to conflict with its
   interests?... Under WTO rules, for example, Ralph Nader points out that
   "certain objectives are forbidden to all domestic... including
   [objectives such as] providing any significant subsidies to promote
   energy conservation, sustainable farming practices, or environmentally
   sensitive technologies."

     "The human being of the West has abandoned being human and has
     turned himself into an individual... community has died in them."
        -- Nicolas Aguilar Sayritupac, Aymara Indian, Lake Titicaca,

     "Anyone who knows how to run a household, knows how to run the
                -- Xilonem Garcia, a Meshika elder in Mexico

     "Survival means the survival of humankind as a whole, not just a
     part of it.... If the South cannot survive, the North is going to
     crumble. If countries of the Third World cannot pay their debts,
     you are going to suffer here in the North. If you do not take care
     of the Third World, your well-being is not going to last, and you
     will not be able to continue living in the way you have been for
     much longer."
               -- Thich Nat Han, "The Heart of Understanding"


     From the vantage point of a macrobiologist-- a human species
     watcher-- it's encouraging to see the swell of interest in, even
     fervor for, a global human community with more equitable and less
     ecologically destructive economics. I rejoice that the words
     "community" and "communal values" are back in our vocabulary now
     that the Soviet stigma has been removed from them. As the Aymara
     Indian quoted above observed, we have suffered greatly from their
     absence. The big question is whether we can restore community and
     communal values before all is lost.

     As an evolutionary biologist, I see globalization as natural,
     inevitable, and even desirable, as I hope to show. It is already
     well on its way and is not a reversible process. We are doing some
     aspects of it cooperatively and well, to wit our global telephone,
     postal and air travel systems, but the most central and important
     aspect of globalization, its economics, are currently being done
     in a manner that threatens the demise of our whole civilization.
     For this reason, we must become more conscious participants in the
     process, rather than letting a handful of powerful players lead us
     all to doom.

     Fortunately life is resilient, and we are witnessing a growing
     storm of protest along with some quieter discussions of economic
     globalization. These are healthy reactions that can help lead us
     to survival. Their common features lie in the recognition that
     communal values have been overridden in a dangerous process that
     sets vast profits for a tiny human minority above all other human
     interests. Most of those looking at the problems of market-driven
     capitalism are aware on some level that the measure of human
     success must shift from money to wellbeing for all, and that to do
     this communal values must be reclaimed and acted upon in a way
     that ensures a balance of local interests and the global interests
     we share with each other and all other species.

     The evolutionary process never goes well until individual,
     communal, ecosystemic and planetary interests are met
     simultaneously and reasonably harmoniously. This is an aspect of
     biological evolution which has unfortunately not gained
     prominence, and is therefore not in our meme (social gene) bank.
     My purpose is to help put it there, for we humans, however
     spiritual we can also be, are inescapably biological creatures and
     could benefit greatly from the lessons already learned in the four
     and a half billion year improvisational dance we call evolution.

     The Wake-up Call:

     To see why the current course of globalization cannot continue and
     must be changed to a healthier one, we need to look at the
     inherent contradictions between what we have euphemistically
     called "free market capitalism" (in fact an incipient global
     totalitarian capitalism) and what we should have: a democratic and
     ecologically sound economic system. I want to discuss this
     fundamental contradiction from a biological perspective, but let's
     look first at the pattern of growing opposition to corporate
     globalization without representation.

     Such opposition has long had a grassroots character in the United
     States, with recent developments such as the Green Party drafting
     Ralph Nader as its presidential candidate and the populist
     Citizens Alliance that sprang up in response to Ronnie Dugger's "A
     Call to Citizens: Real Populists Please Stand Up" (The Nation,
     Aug. 14/21 1995). But it also now includes some very respectable
     capitalist system professionals, to wit Paul Hawken (The Ecology
     of Commerce, Harper 1993), Herman Daly of the World Bank with John
     Cobb (For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward
     Community, the Environment and a Sustainable Future, Beacon 1994)
     and David Korten, with his Harvard Business School faculty, USAID
     and Ford Foundation credentials (When Corporations Rule the World,
     Kumarian 1995).

     Some capitalist entrepreneurs are uniting with each other to work
     out ways of doing alternative and responsible-to-community
     capitalism in such organizations as The World Business Academy,
     Business for Social Responsibility, the Social Ventures Network
     and the Conscious Business Alliance. A significant body of
     intelligent and respectable critics have gathered together in the
     San Francisco-based International Forum on Globalization (IFG),
     which has now published a volume of some forty essays on the
     subject (The Case Against the Global Economy and For a Return to
     the Local, edits. Mander & Goldsmith, Sierra Books 1996).

     But of all the recruits to this cause, the most surprising are two
     multi-multi-billionaires drawn from the biggest winners in the
     global casino of cyberspace money created by the corporate
     capitalism they now oppose: Sir James Goldsmith and George Soros.

     Sir James, in a London Times article of 1994 (March 5) pondered on
     "What an astonishing thing it is to watch a civilization destroy
     itself because it is unable to re-examine the validity, under
     totally new circumstances, of an economic ideology." Soros, some
     three years later, warns us of "The Capitalist Threat" as the
     cover article of the February (1997) Atlantic Monthly. Hardly the
     first to point out the sacrifice of communal values to market
     values, they must nevertheless be heralded as the most convincing
     critics of bigtime corporate capitalism to date. As Robert Kuttner
     wrote in the Los Angeles Times on January 27-- "When a man who
     makes billions by understanding markets warns of their excesses,
     even the most ardent defenders of pure capitalism should pay

     In Soros' own words: "Although I have made a fortune in the
     financial markets, I now fear that the untrammeled intensification
     of laissez-faire capitalism and the spread of market values into
     all areas of life is endangering our open and democratic society.
     The main enemy of the open society, I believe, is no longer the
     communist but the capitalist threat."

     In brief, a loud and clear wake-up call is being heard in the

     Communism vs capitalism?

     Let's look back for a moment at "the communist threat." Seen
     through the lenses of my worldview as a biologist, the
     capitalist/communist drama that played out for most if not all of
     our lifetimes reveals a fundamental dramatic flaw. We played our
     own roles in it by buying into an odd and ultimately impossible
     ideological choice: to build society on the basis of individual
     interest or on the basis of communal interest.


     Whatever labels we give to the human econo-political systems of
     various times and places, I think we can all agree they are living
     systems. If we see them that way, this either/or choice makes no
     sense. A living system can only maintain its health while there is
     a balance of interests between parts and whole, between
     individuals and community. To sacrifice one to the other would
     kill the system, as it did Soviet communism, and as Soros warns us
     could happen as well with capitalism. He points out that in
     nature, "Cooperation is as much a part of the system as
     competition" and again, "The doctrine of laissez-faire capitalism
     holds that the common good is best served by the uninhibited
     pursuit of self-interest." But unless self-interest is "tempered
     by a recognition of a common interest," the society, on which the
     market rests, "is liable to break down."

     In practice, it turned out, there was more in common between the
     two systems than the surface ideology indicated. Alvin Toffler was
     the first author I recall talking about parallels between the
     Soviet East and the Capitalist West: both, he pointed out, were
     unfairly exploiting the Third World to support their large
     industrialist economies (The Third Wave, William Collins, London
     1980). Now David Korten goes further, in the IFG (International
     Forum on Globalization) volume of essays, telling us "that a
     modern economic system based on the ideology of free market
     capitalism is destined to self-destruct for many of the same
     reasons that the Marxist economy collapsed in Eastern Europe and
     the former Soviet Union." He spells out these common features as
     1) the concentration of economic power in unaccountable and
     abusive centralized institutions (state or transnational
     corporations); 2) the destruction of ecosystems in the name of
     progress; 3) the erosion of social capital by dependence on
     disempowering megainstitutions; and 4) narrow views of human needs
     by which community values and spiritual connection to the Earth
     are eroded.

     Note that all of these illustrate systems in which the "top" level
     is empowered by disempowering local and individual levels. We are
     accustomed to understanding this about communist systems, but we
     have ignored the erosion of our own democratic principles in the
     process of capitalist globalization.

     Globalization by NAFTA ,GATT and the WTO:

     Also in the IFG volume, democratic activist Ralph Nader and
     attorney Lori Wallach show very clearly how the institutions of
     global corporate totalitarianism evolved from the World Bank and
     IMF to NAFTA, GATT and the WTO, which were established with very
     little understanding by anyone outside the ranks of their elitist
     architects. When, for example, the U.S. Congress was about to cast
     the vote that would establish the Uruguay version of GATT and the
     WTO, Nader offered ten thousand dollars to any member who had read
     the proposed 500-page agreement and could answer ten simple
     questions about it. No one accepted. Only on his second call,
     during a postponement of the vote, did he get one taker: Colorado
     Republican Hank Brown, who changed his vote to oppose the
     agreements after reading them!

     How many citizens of the WTO's seventy member nations are aware
     that their "democratic" congresses voted away the sovereignty of
     their nations by agreeing to uphold the provisions of the WTO,
     which can meet in secret and challenge any laws made at any level
     in our nation, our state, county or city that are deemed to
     conflict with its interests?

     Let us be absolutely clear: the objectives of the WTO have nothing
     to do with the wellbeing of the human community. It was set up by
     a handful of players who have now succeeded in gaining control of
     a process designed to enrich a very small handful of humans at the
     expense of all the rest. Nader and Wallach emphasize that the WTO
     is a permanent and legal structure the binding provisions of which
     "do not incorporate any environmental, health, labor or human
     rights considerations. Moreover there is nothing in the
     institutional principles of the WTO to inject any procedural
     safeguards of openness, participation, or accountability. ... and
     in several provisions, requires that documents and proceedings
     remain confidential."

     All the WTO's member states authorize the WTO to do their business
     negotiations. All are bound by its decisions and can be forced to
     change any of their own present or future laws if, as the WTO
     provisions read , "the attainment of any [WTO] objective is being
     impeded" by its existence. The trade dispute panels of the WTO and
     NAFTA do not guarantee members' economic disinterest. Further,
     they keep all their proceedings, documents and transcripts secret.
     There cannot be any media or citizen participation, and no review
     or appeal is available.

     So, Thailand has been told it cannot refuse to import US
     cigarettes for health reasons, and Indonesia may not keep the
     rattan it needs for domestic use. Neither children nor adults are
     protected from exploitative and unhealthy conditions of labor, and
     no member country may make any effort to protect its local
     industry and employment against erosion by unfair competition in
     the world market. Self-sufficient organic farming is literally
     outlawed, while poisonous chemicals are forced on countries,
     destroying the health of people, crops, land, air and water for
     the sake of short-term profits in high places.

     We have given away democracy, community, health and wellbeing, all
     unnecessarily. We were not paying attention when our
     congresspeople were voting. Although we could have gotten hold of
     those agreements and we could have sorted through those 500
     closely printed pages, we assumed we were living in a democracy
     that our elected representatives would uphold and that they, whose
     job it is, were paying attention.

     We might also have expected that public media would have informed
     us more responsibly of what may be the most important set of
     events in all human history. But then, the media is globalized in
     this same process.

     Maria Gilardin of TUC Radio, one of very few truly independent
     radio producers in the USA, after airing her 1992 series on GATT
     and the creation of the WTO, said " I thought this would be a huge
     debate, that everybody would be passionately discussing the GATT,
     but it was the biggest silence I ever heard in the media." Yet,
     she adds, the head of the World Economic Forum, which was one of
     the architects of the GATT and of economic globalization, was
     quoted in an International Herald Tribune editorial as saying:
     "Corporations should start taking the backlash against
     globalization seriously." The editorial warned: "Globalization is
     causing severe economic dislocation and social instability,"
     adding that this backlash could turn into open political revolt
     that could destabilize the Western democracies.

     Lessons of Nature:

     Soros describes the profound influence that Karl Popper's 1945
     book, The Open Society and its Enemies, had on his life. Popper
     proposed a society that could resist all forms of totalitarianism
     by an open, peaceful dialogue of ideas and interests in the
     recognition that "nobody has a monopoly on the truth," with
     institutions "that protect the rights of citizens and ensure
     freedom of choice and freedom of speech"-- institutions, I might
     add, that would help us achieve our precious dream of "life,
     liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

     Good ideas, sounding as though they were straight out of our own
     Declaration of Independence and Constitution. What ever happened
     to those ideas?

     We can see more clearly what is going on if we understand the
     individual, the community, the nation and global human society as
     living systems embedded within each other, like Russian nested
     dolls or Chinese boxes. Arthur Koestler had an elegant terminology
     for this concept: holons in holarchies (Janus: A Summing Up, Pan
     Books, London 1978). The fundamental flaw in both communist and
     capitalist systems is the subjugation of local holon interests
     (individual and community) to national and global holon interests,
     however much we in the West were ideologically taught that our
     individual wellbeing was primary and our democracy good for our