12/12 Vital Conversation featuring Charles Eisenstein: "How Might Occupy Support the New Economy?"

"The root of the word economy itself comes from the Greek meaning 'home,' the place we occupy," writes Occupy Cafe Steward Gary Horvitz in his short piece on "why we're doing this."  It should therefore come as no surprise that the subject of a New Economy is intimately bound up with our vision for the movement itself.  And it is also no coincidence that we have Gary to thank for inviting Charles Eisenstein to join us on Monday,12/12 for the eighth in our regular series of "Vital Conversations" Cafe Calls. Now that this call is complete, please review our "Collaborative Tablecloth" notes, and continue the conversation via the thread below.

Our intention is to produce the "raw material" for a declaration of what might be possible for the movement in this terrain.  The questions below provide our focus, and we invite you to offer our thoughts as we explore this further.  Meanwhile we have convened a small team to take what has emerged and craft it into a one or two page statement that can be presented to the wider movement in general, and in particular to people planning to participate in Occupy Wall Street's 12/18 "unconference" on the Vision for the movement going forward.  You can participate by joining the "Occupy 2.0: New Economy" group, where we are using this Forum thread as our "home base."   We are also planning a call for Wednesday, 12/14, time TBD.  If you wish to participate, post your availability here.

Background:

As the Occupy movement continues to evolve, it seems increasingly important that a positive, creative  focus emerge at the core of what we standing for.  We know that our current economic system is morally, and increasingly financially, bankrupt.  Over the past decades, much deep and innovative thinking has gone into imagining alternatives to the current failed approach, i.e. a "New Economy.".

Conversations about a New Economy have evolved naturally out of the focus on Wall Street that sparked this movement.  And they have been among the most active discussions here at OC.org as well.  Paul Bernstein spoke powerfully to this subject as a conversation starter for the 11/14 Cafe Call.  The New Economy dialogue has also flourished via the forum discussion "A new Economy--Exploring the Heart of Sustainability," started by Gary Horvitz on 10/26, which had 177 posts as of 12/11.  

We are now honored and delighted to by the opportunity to deepen this conversation with the help and inspiration of Charles Eisenstein.  Charles is the author of Sacred Economics and The Ascent of Humanity.  "No Demand Is Big Enough," his "Reality Sandwich" blog reflecting on the nascent occupation of Wall Street, should also be considered "required reading" for those who care about where this movement is heading.  An excerpt:

We protest not only at our exclusion from the American Dream; we protest at its bleakness. If it cannot include everyone on earth, every ecosystem and bioregion, every people and culture in its richness; if the wealth of one must be the debt of another; if it entails sweatshops and underclasses and fracking and all the rest of the ugliness our system has created, then we want none of it.

No one deserves to live in a world built upon the degradation of human beings, forests, waters, and the rest of our living planet. Speaking to our brethren on Wall Street, no one deserves to spend their lives playing with numbers while the world burns. Ultimately, we are protesting not only on behalf of the 99% left behind, but on behalf of the 1% as well. We have no enemies. We want everyone to wake up to the beauty of what we can create.

Inspired by Charles' insights and our sense of the current moment in the Occupy movement, we invite you to join us for this Vital Conversation.  We are framing our conversation around the following questions, which we invite you to respond to via this forum thread in advance of our call as well, in order to help "seed" our dialogue:

  • How might the Occupy movement powerfully contribute to the emergence of the New Economy?
  • Many organizations and initiatives are already engaged in bringing the New Economy into being.  How can we work together with them in taking the next steps?  What unique contribution can the Occupy movement make?
  • How might the act of “Occupying” be re-imagined such that it is modeling and bringing forth the New Economy in ways that have impact, are accessible to anyone who wants to participate and are widely embraced by all segments of our society?


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Just went to check up on status of Community Capital Bank..it is notthe one that just went bust in Goergia..what happened to the New York Bank could be instructive..I'll see what I can find out.

I wanted to bring these two quotes from When the Governed Don’t Consent to this forum considering what Occupy 2.0’s role should be in the 2012 Elections, in the New Economy.  There has been a very rich and deep exchange on these issues there..I encourage all to take a moment to read all of What Gisele and Victoria, both involved Canadian Occupiers ,are saying.

http://www.occupycafe.org/forum/topics/when-the-governed-don-t-cons...

Gisele Theriault

“I am not comfortable with the idea of Occupy-aligned candidates. I think the non-partisan nature of Occupy is important. It was how we could say “we are the 99%”. The most important thing about Occupy is not that we have somewhere to lead people. It is that we are listening to each other, engaging each other, connecting citizen to citizen and talking about what is really important in life. Occupy is the 99% of people who are not happy with the way things are right now. Expecting Occupy to birth a solution is misguided. The fact that it is neither left, or right, capitalist or anti-capitalist, is its strength not its weakness. It is why we can all come together”

Partial Reply Victoria Collier

“Lots of good points, Giselle, and I only have the energy to respond to the last paragraph.

Occupy aligned candidates could be many things. They could be candidates within existing parties that just take a stand to support the 99% instead of the 1%. They could be Independents running on a similar platform. Or perhaps some people will take their own initiative and start a new party -- which I think these people are proposing at the Occupation Party website.

I agree that the most important thing about Occupy so far has been its listening, engaging, connecting. But I don't think I'm alone in stating that I feel there needs to be action that emerges from that.

I actually do expect Occupy to birth many solutions, and if it doesn't, I'm not sure why I'm interested in it as a movement. I'm only interested in solutions right now, and I hear many, many good ones. If Occupy is only a forum for discussing them . . . then how do we implement them? Where is the center of action?

It keeps coming back, again and again, to whether and how Occupy engages with the existing structures of power.

Some of the solutions we can implement outside the power structure, but many we simply cannot. We need to deal with the Goliath” 

Also worth a read for process..Gisele has a unique and very beautiful way of listening beyond ideology, listening beyond  conflict.  What has happened in that conversation, what Gisele has done so beautifully, is what we all have to lean to do if we are to become effective catalysts for the changes that are so urgently and quickly needed now. .Victorias voice too, and her thoughts on what Occupy needs to do to become an effective catalyst for change is wise, clear, focused on realistic and very doable core short term goals.  

Occupy and the declaration by Edward O. Wilson, the top biologist in the world at Harvard, that cooperation (oneness) is fundamental in nature, not competition, define a new era: the end of the idea that individual freedom (capitalism) and the common good (communism) are mutually exclusive and in competition with each other. Now cooperation is seen as fundamental in nature and the new definition of moral behavior recognizes the cooperative, co-creative relationship between the two by prioritizing them (the way we reflect the oneness of nature in the pattern of our thinking): "mature human beings freely choose to give priority to the common good." Like all living things we graduate through layers of maturity that build on one another. Our developed societies are stuck at the teenage and adult layers of maturity where the unity of nature is not included in our thinking. Occupy and Wilson define the next stage in the maturation of our social agreements. Therefore, we need to create freestanding organizations people can join or leave at anytime but people will flock to because they are based on this next layer of maturity. Here is an article I have written on this recently. You can jump to page 5 to begin to read about the new economic organizations I believe will be coming into existence as a result and I want to help bring into existence hopefully in partnership with many others. 

My Main Observations

From Living In Occupy Tent Towns 

By Terry Mollner

Published November 17, 2011

Two Months Into This New Era 

Allow me to first state that if the government officials, such as those in New York City, Oakland, and Portland who just cleared the Occupy tent towns out of their parks, had any idea of the beauty of the new era this movement is gifting to their citizens – which I will do my best to describe in this paper, they would cherish and support this movement. However, their naïve actions will only embolden it and probably more rapidly catapult it into building the second stage movement organizations that will be described herein.

First, however, I have now spent some time living in and being a full part of the “tent towns” in Occupy Boston and Occupy New York City. Here are my main observations:

  1. 1.    The highest priority is what has been the highest priority of every successful new movement, like the civil rights’, women’s, or environmental movements: actions that expose the fundamental immorality of an up to this point socially acceptable tradition.

 

In this case it is the immoral distribution of income to all of us who work for a living.

It is horribly immoral that 1% earn so much more than the rest of us. The primary chant of “We are the 99%!” has very artfully and in a few words brought this into easy awareness. This has resulted in a spontaneous outpouring of support for the correction of this up to now acceptable immoral behavior from millions of people around the world.

Many movements try to get started by a few people expressing their outrage. When a society is overly ready to embrace the change, that is, to go to the next layer of maturation as a community of human beings, there is the kind of spontaneous and widespread support from the public that Occupy has received. So we have to conclude that people around the world, not just in the USA, are ready to make this change.

It is important to note that at one time killing; stealing; slavery; discrimination based on color, sex, creed, and nationality; and pollution of the environment were all acceptable behaviors. Today, at least in most of the developed nations, they are not. We are a constantly maturity species! Occupy has clearly identified one of our next layers of maturation into which we are ready to graduate.

I believe it is well known that there are three main stages to a social maturation movement:

a)    the initial outrage of a few people that receives widespread public support,

b)   unilateral and freely chosen actions by individuals and organizations that are their corrections of the immoral behavior that both build greater widespread support and prove that life is better and the society does not fall apart if the correction is made, and

c)     widespread support for legislation.

Because of our now easy of global communication, in only a few weeks the outrage phase has been successful throughout much of the world. There are, of course, those who cling to the idea that it is the rich who make it possible for everyone also to have something from the trickle down; however the very positive response to “We are the 99%!” reveals that many no longer buy that point of view which now is perceived by them to be an old, immature idea.

  1. 2.    The main action in response to this up to now socially acceptable immoral behavior is to focus on proving to ourselves that we are capable of living together in democratically moral tent towns.

In other words, like good scientists we have immediately moved into phase two of this movement by unilaterally creating tent towns where we can learn how to live with each other in the more moral ways we believe we are now capable of doing.

The politicians, op-ed columnists, and commentators on radio, television, and the web are all begging to know this new movement’s specific demands, if they are going to fashion them as legislative proposals, and when they will rally voters to support them. What they do not see are many things:

a)   this movement is not a one issue movement. It does not want to only correct the immoral distribution of income. It also wants to correct the paternalism that is the source of that symptom.

The people with money control the politicians, through them they control the “democracy,” “scientific research,” and just about everything else. Therefore, we will not allow the emergence of a hierarchy as a personal power system in our tent towns. We will allow a hierarchy, however, as an efficiency system. So groups accept responsibility for areas that need focused attention – legal, food, energy, healthcare, information, event organizing, etc. Hierarchy for efficiency is viewed as a good thing; hierarchy for personal power is viewed as a bad thing.

b)   The highest priority at all times has to be the common good as a result of free choice.

We are viscerally and intuitively aware of how moral behavior has been defined by mature human beings nearly throughout all of history and in every land: freely choosing to give priority to the common good.

Some of the more politically seasoned types among us quickly perceive that the embracing of this most fundamental and generic definition of moral behavior defines a new era, a post-capitalist-communist era. The capitalist-communist era of the last 150 years saw individual freedom in conflict with the common good. Capitalism was based on getting control of the state, a form of paternalism, and then organizing the society based on us pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps; its most recent improvements only going toward caring about the common good to provide “safety nets.” Communism also got control of the state and then a group was given responsibility for passing laws that used force to do their best to get all to give priority to the common good. Both did not believe it was possible for people to mature to where they would freely choose to give priority to the common good. This is not seen as libertarianism – only individual freedom with little to no government. This is seen as more mature people creating more mature voluntary organizations within societies based on individual freedom and cooperative rather than competitive democracy. The cooperative democracies will be continually maturing the agreed upon container; however the main services will be provided by the freestanding and voluntary more mature organizations that emerge as options, not imposed by force.

The Occupy movement is clearly and loudly saying, “We are now mature enough to where we can freely choose to give priority to the common good. To prove it to ourselves and to all who observe us, we are going to focus on doing it in our tent towns. Later, or perhaps real soon, we will begin setting up organizations that people are free to join or leave at any time – we will never use force – that will end many of our immoral social traditions based on paternalism and in denial of the natural cooperative relationship between individual freedom, the common good, and human maturation in a way that provides the option of freely choosing to give priority to the common good. They will be so much more attractive, moral, and successful that people will freely choose to abandon the old systems. However, first we want to see what we can learn from actually doing it in our tent towns.”

Secondly, some of the more scientifically oriented among us are aware that science has just taken a major turn to become part of this new era as well. Edward O. Wilson, the 81-year-old Pulitzer Prize winning Biology Professor Emeritus at Harvard University who is considered the second Charles Darwin, declared in a Nature Journal cover story in August 2010 that cooperation, not competition, is fundamental in nature. Cooperation is when all the parts give priority to the whole. Therefore, he is declaring that the universe is one indivisible whole. For the first time, science is coming into agreement with moral philosophy and many of the spiritual teachings throughout the ages.

In other words, many in our political and scientific communities also now support what our Occupy Communities viscerally and intuitively know. When you add the extremely spontaneous, passionate, and widespread support for the Occupy Movement, it is easy to see that we are moving into a new era. In this new era we will believe it is possible to build societies where people believe it is possible to freely choose to give priority to the common good in a way that enhances the experience and joy of individual freedom rather than in any way enhances an experience of it being limited, an 

c)   This movement must remain non-violent and loving.

There is anger, but there is not hate in this movement. We would love for the 1% to join our movement. We do not see good and bad people. We see people as more mature and less mature people with every person on the path toward full human maturity, some have just received better legs up than others. Like Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela, we view all human beings as good. In Christian terms, we love the sinner and hate the sin. Like Edwards O. Wilson, there is now the knowledge in all of us of what the above named people matured to know: we are all part of one indivisible whole called “the universe.”

Therefore, our primary intentions are always good. About this we do not have choice. That is nature; it is the nature of being parts of a whole. Our beliefs may be all over the map and even, as with

Adolph Hitler, insane. This will lead to our secondary intentions and behavior flowing from our beliefs. However, we will always have some kind of rationalization that our primary intention is good. This is the new view of human nature viscerally and intuitively present in the Occupy communities. People are flocking to create tent towns all around the world for the opportunity, at last, to live this new era into being known in experiences with each other.

The Occupy Movement is those who in the privacy of their meditations came to believe it is possible for us to freely choose to give priority to the common good coming out of the closet!

            Finally, what can we expect to emerge in the second stage of this movement beyond tent towns, that is, the unilateral creation of organizations in mainstream society that people can join or leave at any time that will be more mature and attractive ways of solving many of our social, political, and economic problems? Well, lets have some fun by identifying some that could legally come into existence without the need of legislation:

1. Common Good Enterprise Association. If moral behavior is when we freely choose to give priority to the common good, then for-profit corporations are fundamentally immoral: their highest priority is the financial return to a few people, the shareholders. A chapter of this organization could eventually be in every town that becomes forever more strongly supported as the Chamber of Commerce fades into the history books.

Only enterprises, for-profit or non-profit, can join who have declared in their Articles of Incorporation, ethics, and by-laws sufficiently that a judge would have to uphold it that their highest priority is the common good and their second priority is profit or positive cash flow or anything else. Larger organizations, the size to be determined later, would be required to have a third party common good audit done at least every two years, and then posted on their website with managements comments of what their plans are to improve, so the public can easily monitor their behavior.

We expect people and organizations to behave morally. Also, as a result of their closeness with the local community, most small businesses already give priority to this moral position. In addition, the intention of nearly every piece of legislation ever passed has been to encourage it. It can, however, only be encouraged because moral behavior can’t be legislated; it can’t be forced. It has to come from within as the result of maturation and free choice. This is why non-violence is such a core value of this movement 

Many have settled into thinking it is moral to give priority to self-interest or profits. We want to isolate those who still cling to that belief so the public will know exactly who they are and be able to choose accordingly. A Common Good Enterprise Association in every town will make this choice easy 

2. Common Good Fellowships. This is a private sector method of reducing unemployment. Any individual can create his or her own job doing something he or she is qualified to do and wants to do that is a charitable, educational, scientific research, or aesthetic activity in the local community, get three people with strong reputations in the community to be his or her sponsors and approve the proposal, put it on the Internet, let anyone in the world be able to donate to support it (with Americans getting a tax deduction), and the Fellow and sponsors sending monthly emails to all who donated. There could be a floor that must be reached to receive the pledges, such as $20,000 and a ceiling that cannot be exceeded, such as $40,000, so many can receive assistance.

3. CREW Fund, Inc. This is the world's first forever-growing membership directed endowment fund that is already in the process of being created. Any individual or organization can become a member by donating by electronic transfer $11 a month to the endowment fund. Members invite others, from high school students to grandmothers, to become members to support the local community. $1 of each member's $11 monthly donation goes into the inviting member's internal account, called the member's "Stewardship Account." The member gets to direct where that capital is invested, not donated, in the projects of for-profit or non-profit local or far away projects. Only projects that are clearly giving priority to the common good can end up on the website for investment, mostly found and taken through a due diligent process by active members. Members never get money back; however, their Stewardship Accounts will keep growing from the monthly donations and returns on investments. Each member receives a monthly report by email from each business they invested in. Since the members will never receive any financial return, they will naturally cooperate together to create the kind of community they want with the priority being the common good without the need of any force. This provides a forever-growing alternative form of financing for each local community with the priority being the common good.

4. Common Good Democracy. In each area where there is a democratic government operating, citizens could create a parallel cooperative democracy instead of a war of the ballot box democracy. Mahatma Gandhi was working on creating this when he was assassinated. Each major for-profit and non-profit institution in town, such as each religious denomination, each major business and the downtown business association, each major non-profit, etc., would choose their senior most mature and respected states person to be on the People's Committee, as Gandhi labeled it. With good facilitation they could discuss any major issue before the community with the goal of accepting their differences and see how many agreements of over 50% they could reach as the forever-growing bigger donut of agreements surrounding their disagreements. This body would have no legal power, just the power of respectability. It could, however, become seen as the Elder Body of the community. For instance, as the percentage of the community in support of a women's right to an abortion at anytime she chooses climbs each year it is discussed, it would become very difficult for a person to run for office who did not support this growing support for this policy position.

5. Common Good Nation. If freely choosing to give priority to the common good is moral behavior, then the geographically defined nations are not moral: each gives priority to their citizens relative to other citizens. So we can create a new nation based on agreement, rather than geography, where any person can join or leave at anytime and the highest priority is not the members but the common good of the planet and us all. No one needs to physically move and we already vote in many democratic areas: our city, state, and nation. So this would just be an additional democratic nation in which we would also vote and it would not attend to what the geographic nations are already doing well enough and behave in full cooperation with them as much as possible. But it will define a new day for us all. People could create local chapters of the Common Good Nation that would be in the business of bringing all the other organizations being described here into widespread use in their local communities.

6. Common Good Currency Equivalent. We could create on the Internet an honest currency equivalent. Like the many local currency equivalents in existence at this time, it would not be a currency but just a debit and credit system that is a currency equivalent but legally not a currency. The unit of measurement could be the value of the US Dollar in the past, such as December 31, 2010. It will never change. Therefore, like the inch that never gets longer or shorter and the pint that never gets larger or smaller by agreement, the value of the unit of measure of the currency would never get larger or smaller (inflation or deflation) by agreement. All other national currencies, however, would continue to fluctuate relative to it. Secondly, for every credit in one account there must be an equal debit in another account and no one will have the right to create additional units. The only way units can be acquired is by paying for them in a direct retail transaction using national currencies. This is done by buying shares in a global bond fund in exchange for "stones," the name we will give to this new currency equivalent unit. Since the value of the stones will always remain the same by agreement no matter how many of them are in circulation, in the same way no amount of the availability of inches or pints effects lengths or sizes, only the supply and demand for a product or service will effect the price of the product or service. The multinationals will be the first to cease the use of stones to save on currency transactions. This will solve all liquidity problems and all will be able to pay their bills using stones, an honest currency equivalent.

7. Common Good Communities. People in local communities could create a local community of friends primarily for the purpose of re-villaging their lives for the pure joy of it and for assistance in raising their children to be fully mature human beings before they marry and have children of their own. 

We can imagine these as examples of the kinds of organizations that could come into existence as expressions of the fundamental beliefs of this new era. Will it still be necessary to have the geographic nations deal with some law and order issues? Probably so. As we are already seeing in some of the tent towns, where anyone no matter how crazy can join, things can occur that we are not yet prepared to handle. We are in the early days of learning how to live in this new era, but we will not go back. We will also constantly improve our skills, and this new era is definitely here to stay. Like the civil rights, women’s, and environmental movements mentioned earlier, it is a permanent maturation of the human species and our societies.

At this time we do not know what words will stick to name it. It could be “the oneness era” or “the moral democracy era” or “the post-capitalist-communism era.” We will probably soon know. Like “We are the 99%!” it will probably just naturally emerge out of our deep and sincere efforts to live into it in our tent towns. We will surely together instantly recognize it as the right words to name it when they are heard.

Terry,

I found this post's volume intimidating and repellant.  Somehow, it dawned on me that I could read the bold parts only.  At Common Good Fellowships, I was pulled in.  I like that!  I resurfaced and skimmed the rest of the bold lines, with growing excitement and interest.

I think a group focused on the common good, with your seven initiatives as the point-of-departure discussion starters, is warranted and perhaps necessary.  Alternatively, one of the existing groups could be used for the purpose.  It would be a blessing for one of them.

I'd happily complement and supplement your efforts, as needed.

"...then we want none of it."

I think Charles got a little carried away right there.  Practically no one is interested in discussing (approaching) doing without most of it.

"We want everyone to wake up to the beauty of what we can create."

Then we should get busy creating beauty that's bright and melodic enough to draw folks out of their dreams and nightmares.  Note that Charles did not say what we will create; evidence must be prepared for the awakening.

Part of the beauty of creations is that nothing stops the creators.  They do what they must to enhance and affirm.

David,

I do not know what you mean by your use of the word "repellant" above. Can you be specific? Was it the number of words being used? The way I presented it? My attitude? 

Glad you like the Fellowship piece....I believe we now need to go to chapter 2 of Occupy...setting up new organizations that are based on our values and succeed in providing social services without the gov.

Terry

Yes, Terry, the number of words (volume).  Perhaps an aspect of my uniqueness, I do not read lengthy stuff in forums.

(As far as I've read) I'm with you.  What do you think of my suggestion?

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