An open space for global conversation
Here are a few to consider:
As a "Cafe", we can alert each other to the highest quality resources for each such category of solution, and thus we can save each other precious time by avoiding the merely mediocre or doctrinaire tracts.
We also could be of great benefit to the Occupy movement by identifying instances where each proposed solution (or at least elements of it) have/has already been tested in reality, even in another country (such as Canada, Europe, or Japan) if not yet within the USA.
So we invite you to please offer your knowledge of practical solutions through this discussion thread, for the benefit of the Occupy movement!
Hi Robert --
I also consider that certain root assumptions of our official culture (an "objectified, analytical and reductionist paradigm", as you described it) are contributing causes to the several profound current crises you list.
To me, one major underpinning of that paradigm which needs to change is the official presumption that human value depends on external accumulation. That is one thing that seems to fuel the greed and desperate acquisitiveness of particular CEOs for whom millions of dollars of personal income are still not enough to make them feel truly worthy. Such a lack of an abiding, internal (transcendental) sense of self-worth also seems to fuel the power-gamesmanship of political groups who strive to steer the ship of state toward their particular destination (to the exclusion of the broader public's and the planet's overall needs).
Might you kindly share with us your suggested near-term steps to move our culture in the directions you feel would be most helpful?
I was happy to see the New American Revolution begin at Wall Street. At least we're no longer pretending that the real power rests in DC or that petitioning the corporately-financed government for redress of grievances does anything but prove our powerlessness by reducing us to mendicants. The American political and economic systems are faltering and have long failed to bring equity and justice to our nation. As Richard Heinberg memo-ed the OWS movement:
"Both Wall Street and Washington are trying to do something impossible: grow human consumption forever in a world of limited energy, minerals, water, topsoil, and biodiversity, all while protecting and expanding the riches of the top one percent. Economic growth is over. Given the finite nature of our planet and its resources, the recent trend of global economic expansion was destined to end. No stimulus package or slashing of social programs is going to flip the economy back to an expansionary trajectory. We’ve hit the proverbial wall, and this will be the defining reality of our lives from now on. We need a post-growth economy that works both for people (all of them) and for the rest of nature: a localized economy based on renewable resources harvested at nature’s rates of replenishment, not a fossil-fueled global economy driven by the imperative of ever-higher returns on investment."
So, in addition to shining a light on the inequity and unsustainability of our end-game economy and the culpability of both the financial and political sectors, we need to invest our energy into building alternative political and economic structures as part of an entirely re-defined paradigm of cooperative endeavor towards a just and sustainable world.
The General Assemblies are living examples of a different way to make collective decisions, without delegating our authority to "leaders". The campaign to shift deposits from corporate banks to not-for-profit credit unions is another excellent move toward shrinking the financial sector and building cooperative enterprise.
Other efforts can be aimed at building local communities, local economies (including barter and alternative currencies), local organic agriculture, the non-profit sector, de-instutionalized education, etc. The Transition Town Movement offers a wonderful roadmap for this vital shift toward a more heart-centered paradigm that supports life, liberty, essential human needs and a livable planet.
You and Paul are touching alot of bases here, and quickly.
However, I would step back for a moment and suggest that the Occupy movement is running on two tracks simultaneously. One is this whole conversation about solutions and deciding what they should be and what the analysis is that supports a particular solution. The other track as I see it is the open experimentation with citizen engagement that yields collective intelligence in addressing common issues. These are not mutually exclusive, of course, merely what I would call outer-directed vs inner directed focus. And there remains a very productive tension between these two for the moment.
What I would also suggest is that before deciding what the solutions ought to be, where we imagine this "movement" should go, let's take a look at what is in this moment. There is a deep and broad grounding going on, connecting many locations and involving thousands of people who are organizing into working groups to address dozens of issues that require attention if this burst of energy is destined to be more than meteoric. And while direct actions are being contemplated everywhere and there is brilliance emerging wrt strategic advance, the reality is also that winter is approaching.
This will be our Valley Forge, a time of forming networks and alliances, deepening relationships, appealing to a broader audiences, framing the conversation, articulating a new narrative that includes all the issues that both you and Paul have been mentioning.
But it is not yet time to bring forth a manifesto. It is time to recognize that holding the Commons, tending the inner structures and process, creating micro-economies that work for all will be the seeds of a living manifesto that need not be articulated in words or demands, but which can stand as a statement of who WE are. When WE can stand as a force that is not dependent on permits to camp, that can begin to wield a new meme like the sword of Manjushri cutting through the delusion of the dominant paradigm, when we can look at each other and know that we are living the solution ourselves, then we can put forth a vision for someone else.
Paul wrote: "To me, one major underpinning of that paradigm which needs to change is the official presumption that human value depends on external accumulation. That is one thing that seems to fuel the greed and desperate acquisitiveness of particular CEOs for whom millions of dollars of personal income are still not enough to make them feel truly worthy. Such a lack of an abiding, internal (transcendental) sense of self-worth also seems to fuel the power-gamesmanship of political groups who strive to steer the ship of state toward their particular destination (to the exclusion of the broader public's and the planet's overall needs)."
It's not only the few at the top or in power struggles who are lacking self-worth. The reduction of most persons to things throughout the last 400 years is responsible for a great deal and variety of compensatory behaviors that neither satisfy nor nourish.
We're fed myths of individualism to distract us from potential individuality that's unrealized. The truth is that each is unique and/while interdependent with all beings.
Cultural rejuvenation truly is our way to go. Robert, please come back to Whole is Beautiful, as I am throwing open the door in response to both your objection to it and this historic moment. Paul, please come, too.
I appreciate this discussion - thank you.
Though it doesn't look as though this platform has been further developed yet, I appreciated the vision Paul Hawken described for wiser business, initial principles are laid out at http://www.naturalcapital.org/wiserbusiness.htm
"To create an enduring society; we will need a system of commerce and production where each and every act is inherently sustainable and restorative. Business will need to integrate economic, biologic, and human systems to create a sustainable method of commerce. As hard as we may try to become sustainable on a company-by-company level, we cannot fully succeed until the institutions surrounding commerce are redesigned Just as every act in an industrial society leads to environmental degradation, regardless of intention, we must design a system where the opposite is true, where doing good is like falling off a log, where the natural, everyday acts of work and life accumulate into a better world as a matter of course, not a matter of conscious altruism."
— from Ecology of Commerce
get out of here, would be my suggestion to the movement. i like ice. i think it would be pretty on earth.
translate: you can only do this later. better than me.
Michael Lerner and Tikkun magazine have been pushing the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment http://www.spiritualprogressives.org/article.php/20100905073234646
Article One: The Pro-Democracy Clause
Article Two: Corporate Environmental and Social Responsibility
Article Three: The Positive Requirement to Enhance Human Community and Environmental Sustainability
Article Four: Implementation
Money must be taken out of the economy first. Money as we know it, is debt-based, requires continual economic growth to pay back interest on the principle, and enriches the bankers while impoverishing everyone else and the earth's life-support systems.
There is a reason that early Hebrew, early Christian and current Muslim teachings abjure usery, or lending money at interest. It is a form of economic slavery.
Money must be taken out of the economy first.
The post by Mathew Switzer that I was responding to stated: "Money needs to be taken out of politics."
The only paradigm-shifting alternative economics is that proposed by Charles Eisenstein in his book Sacred Economics, which is being serialized at http://www.realitysandwich.com/homepage_sacred_economics
Sacred Economics traces the history of money from ancient gift economies to modern capitalism, revealing how the money system has contributed to alienation, competition, and scarcity, destroyed community, and necessitated endless growth. Today, these trends have reached their extreme – but in the wake of their collapse, we may find great opportunity to transition to a more connected, ecological, and sustainable way of being.
This book is about how the money system will have to change – and is already changing – to embody this transition. A broadly integrated synthesis of theory, policy, and practice, Sacred Economics explores avant-garde concepts of the New Economics, including negative-interest currencies, local currencies, resource-based economics, gift economies, and the restoration of the commons. Author Charles Eisenstein also considers the personal dimensions of this transition, speaking to those concerned with "right livelihood" and how to live according to their ideals in a world seemingly ruled by money. Tapping into a rich lineage of conventional and unconventional economic thought, Sacred Economics presents a vision that is original yet commonsense, radical yet gentle, and increasingly relevant as the crises of our civilization deepen.
I was going to say you were sounding just like him. I'm halfway through it now.
But the point is, to say that money must be taken out of the economy first, before anything, ...or before something else that's important, strikes me as not realistic. Aside form the fact that the debt trap we are in may well remove money from the economy all on its own, we don't just do that. We start small, very small, by removing money from a few fundamental transactions at a time. And the more we do that, and more widely, the better we prepare ourselves for some moment when the objective reality washes over us like a tsunami.