____________________________________________________________________ CADRE Library "The Biology of Globalization" Copyright 1997 by Elisabet Sahtouris http://cyberjournal.org/.../Biology-of-Globalization.txt ____________________________________________________________________ (continued...) What's to be done? The new wave of outrage at corporate greed, as I said earlier, is a healthy reaction to this win/lose global economic Monopoly game. But globalization is the unstoppable and natural next phase of evolution; we are not entirely in control and it is very likely beyond our power to stop. Clearly we have already globalized transportation, communications, money, industries, food, weapons, pollution and other aspects of human culture. The good news is that we don't have to play Monopoly to globalize. There are, as Hazel Henderson has urged us for decades, other games to play: win/win games (Paradigms in Progress: Life Beyond Economics, 1991; Building a Win/Win World, 1996). As Henderson points out, it was the UN's most powerful nations that commandeered the World Bank and the IMF, then dominated GATT discussions and set up the WTO together with corporations and financial institutions. Yet the UN's special agencies, during the same timespan, formed agreements and treaties on nuclear proliferation (IAEA), air traffic rules (IATA) and postal rates (GPU), also working doggedly on health, education and security issues, as well as accepting a great deal of criticism and recommendations for UN restructuring, which is now an official process. Obviously the UN can only be as good as its member states will make it and as NGOs can push it to be. Polls show clearly that the American people support the UN overwhelmingly, while their presumably representative government does not pay its dues and periodically threatens to quit. Interesting global power shifts would happen if it did. Henderson's recommends a new UN funding structure by a tiny tax (.003%) on international currency transactions, global commons use fees, "sin taxes" on polluters, drug traffic fines and taxes on arms sales, to avoid the problems created by non-payment of dues by its members. The UN, whatever its problems and whatever our view of it is, remains, as Henderson points out, "the world's major networker, broker, and convenor of new global negotiations." All the new problems of globalization are centered in its spinoffs, especially the GATT and WTO. So we must also see as a sign of hope the relentless popular pressure of NGOs that is proving itself increasingly an agent of change. As an example, the UNDP under Gus Speth has been restructured to include NGOs and grassroots participation in its programs and supports demilitarization. In 1995 the UN World Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen, covered by two thousand journalists, discussed replacing GNP measures with a people centered and ecologically sustainable "new development paradigm." The 1996 UN Habitat II Summit in Istanbul hosted a World Business Forum that set up a process for Global Standards. Inside the World Bank, its own staff is creating significant progressive changes. In addition to NGOs, Labor organizations, religious bodies, investment and pension funds, meetings such as the Gorbachev conferences and grassroots movements are all playing a role in global awareness and the restructuring of human society. Historian Arnold Toynbee studied twenty-one past civilizations, looking for common factors in their demise. The two most important ones, it seems, were the extreme concentration of wealth and inflexibility in the face of changing conditions within and around them. We cannot go on playing Monopoly when a cooperative game is called for by our new and obvious global problems. The February 1994 Atlantic Monthly showed a burning globe on its cover, to illustrate the feature article "The Coming Anarchy" by Robert Kaplan. He warned that anyone who thought things were still going well was ignoring three-fourths of the world. This year, same month, same weathervane magazine, new cover story, George Soros tells us that global corporate and financial capitalism is at fault. Good! Now at least the picture is clearer and we can get on with the task of insuring our civilization against demise. We can prove ourselves a mature species, ready to learn from our parent planet's four and a half billion years of experience in evolving workable living systems. The Principles of Living Systems: Consider world economics and imagine it as the economics of a living entity such as your body. Think what would happen in your body if the raw material blood cells in your bones were mined as resources by the "northern industrial" lung and heart organs, transported to their production and distribution centers where blood is purified and oxygen added to make it a useful product. Imagine it is then announced that blood will be distributed from the heart center to those organs that can afford it. What is not bought is chucked out as surplus or stored till the market demand rises. How long could your body survive that system? When will we turn the UN and its spinoffs into a governing body as dedicated to service as our central nervous system? When will our diversity be as celebrated and non-controversial as the diversity of our cells and organs? When will we be as concerned with the health of every local bioregion in our global body as our individual body is, or practice its cellular full employment policy? When will we practice its efficient and universally beneficial economics? Obviously metaphors have their limits and I do not for a moment suggest we slavishly emulate body models. But bodies beat unrealistic mechanical metaphors of perfect societies running like well-oiled machines. They are something we all have in common regardless of our worldviews, our political or spiritual persuasions, and they do exemplify the main features and principles of all healthy living systems or holons (see box), be they single cells, bodies, families, communities, ________________________________________________________________________ Main Features and Principles of Living Systems * Self-creation (autopoiesis), self-regulation (autonomics), self-maintenance * Self-reflexivity -- (autognosis) * Embeddedness in larger holons * Input/output flow of matter/energy/information * Transformation-- of matter/energy/information * Complexity-- diversity of parts * Communications among parts (chemical, electrical, etc.) * Coordination of parts and functions * Balance of Interests among parts, with whole and with embedding holons * Reciprocity of parts in mutual contribution and assistance (Win/Win economics) * Full employment of functional parts * Conservation of what works well * Creative change of what does not work well ________________________________________________________________________ ecosystems, nations or the whole world. By understanding them we can assess the health of any particular living system and see where it may be dysfunctional. This in turn will give us clues to making the system healthier. Xilonem Garcia, a Meshika elder in Mexico, once said to me, "Anyone who knows how to run a household, knows how to run the world." This could be restated as "Anyone who knows the principles of living systems can apply them to any holon at any level of its holarchy." Oddly, we are aware of those principles operating in our bodies, and we seem to get them fairly well at the family level. Not many people starve three of their children to overfeed the fourth, or cultivate one corner of the garden by destroying the rest of it. At the community level they work to the extent that there is real community. Beyond that we seem to lose sight of them. We must not let globalization override the interests of people and local economies. The balance between the interests of the global holon and those of the regional and local holon economies it comprises is as important as the balance between the interests of any local economy and those of the people and other species which comprise it. The appropriate response to the world corporate state that railroaded the GATT and the WTO into existence under the rubric of "economic liberalism" without democratic vote, is the strengthening of self-sufficient local economies, as David Korten, Herman Daly, Edward Goldsmith and other members of the IFG explain clearly. It is also to launch a sufficiently strong movement to demand change in the GATT/WTO itself, and in their parent UN. Taking our cues from our bodies, or from the Earth itself, with its diverse ecosystems, we can see that bioregionalism-- basic local self-sufficiency economics-- is as necessary and important an aspect of healthy globalization as are equitable international trade relations. Certainly no one part of a healthy globalized economy will be able to exploit another. That means local economies will have to protect themselves against unfair trade and strong economies will have to genuinely assist weaker ones in their self-development. President Clinton's Commission on Sustainability, in its initial meetings, which I attended, actually argued whether discussions of ecological sustainability need involve economics. In the brief moment I was given to address the Commission, I pointed out that ecology in Greek is the logos, the organization, of the oikos (the household as society), and ecology the "household's" nomos or rules. The problem is not whether they need be linked but that we separated them. In nature living holons promote their own health, the health of their embedding holons (e.g. ecosystems) and the health of their embedded holons (e.g. cells) in the improvisational dance of negotiating interests I described above. The best life insurance for any species is to make sure all of its output in product and waste is beneficial to itself and its embedding holons. Recycling is a critical feature of Earth's dance-- there is no waste in nature. Other species, whether fish, birds or mammals, have innate knowledge of how to live their lives, and their negotiations over territory are largely ritual and rarely involve murder. But humans have vast and unique freedom of choice with almost no innate behavioral limits. A healthy human social system requires invented guidelines for behavior. Law and ethics are the guidance systems we develop to limit our negative behavior and inspire our positive behavior. And they must begin with values. Soros' thesis is that "Market values served to undermine traditional values." As he says, "Unless [self-interest] is tempered by the recognition of a common interest that ought to take precedence over particular interests, our present system-- which, however imperfect, qualifies as an open society-- is liable to break down." Clearly he espouses communal values, and there is more: "Unsure of what they stand for, people increasingly rely on money as the criterion of value... What used to be a medium of exchange has usurped the place of fundamental values." It is of course the market and monetary values of Soros and his peers that provide the role-model for all of our consumer society and, worse yet, for the poorer countries that made it possible though they have little chance of sharing in it. So we must cheer, or at least breathe a sigh of relief into the winds of change, at Soros' change of heart and his warning. If his peers can hear him, we may be able to avoid extinction yet! Could I address them, my message would be that we must consciously re-form our human systems into an Open Society conforming to the principles of healthy living systems, for we are driven by evolutionary momentum to self-organize a worldwide body of humanity whether we like it or not. My preliminary list of features and principles [see box] is intended as a guide to this process and is given here are a start; surely others will add to them, rearrange them, find new ways to weave them into our improvisational dance. Mark Twain tells the story of a young man returning from his first forays out into the world, amazed at all his father has learned while he was gone. It is of course a characterization of budding maturity: the ability to listen to an elder's accumulated wisdom. When we humans, after all a very new species, drop our adolescent arrogance of thinking we know it all and read the wisdom in our parent planet's accumulated experience, we too will mature as a species, to our own benefit and that of all other species, as well as the planet itself. (end) ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ~================================================~ Restore democratic sovereignty Create a sane and livable world Bring corporate globalization under control. * CITIZENS FOR A DEMOCRATIC RENAISSANCE (CADRE) * http://cyberjournal.org mailto:•••@••.••• ~================================================~ .. ~=-=-=-=-=~=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=~-~=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=~=-=-=-=-=-=-=~ Posted by: Richard K. 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