An open space for global conversation
A new team for the new economy is being formed. We are based at #occupy Montreal in the green shelter.
More here http://www.occupyneweconomy.com/
What do you think about this initiative?
Would you join, and why?
You say "Let’s build our parallel world without attacking to destroy the present-old world. We’re not destroyers, we’re builders. We don’t need to destroy what’s already crumbling down. Don’t sweat on it. If we succeed in building a better place people will populate it. Talent and resources will gradually start flowing from the present-old system to the new, until the new replaces the old."
YES! Building the new within the shell of the old has been a principle guiding strategy since (at least) the 1960s (and for all utopian enterprises). And "build it and they will come" is not just a line from Field of Dreams. It's an ancient truth (often misattributed to Goethe):
"Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way" - W. H. Murray, The Scottish Himalaya Expedition (1951)
But you also say: "Social systems are not good nor bad in essence. They are dynamically stable social patterns, they are attractors of behaviour. They are stable as long as the conditions allow. Once the conditions change society can migrate into a different attractor, which means to undergo deep structural transformations until it reaches another dynamically stable equilibrium."
If "dynamically stable" is synonymous with "sustainable", and describes the evolving phases of Gaian life, then no social system since the agricultural revolution 12,000 years ago has had inherent stability - since each successive stage has been based on extracting surplus (profit) from the earth, concentrating it as wealth and power, and dividing the human population into the 1% and the 99% while rendering the ecosystem increasingly unfit for life.
It is imperative that we remember (or learn for the first time) that, for 99.5% of human evolutionary history, we lived in a "dynamically stable" harmony with our environment and all other nodes of the Grand Web of Life. Since the shift from Nature's Gift Economy (take what you need and no more and you will be provided) to an Extraction Economy (take as much as you can exploit and accumulate as much as you can), fueled by increasingly powerful technologies and ever more concentrated forms of ancient sunlight and stardust, we have lived in an artificially unstable, growth-oriented paradigm that can lead nowhere but Extinction.
You then say: "What can induce these changes? Among other things, technology can. Technology introduces new possibilities, which, once actualized, can modify relations between individuals. Some relations are very important and determine large scale social patterns, like the relations of property, the relations of production and exchange of value, etc. The new digital technology alters a set of these important relations and, in doing so, it induces major structural transformations."
Technologies are not value-neutral (see Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Message, or Jerry Mander, In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations). The Appropriate Technology Movement was founded on this understanding.
Other species use tools, but none other than humans use them on such a massive scale and with such overwhelming power to alter (tame, control) any natural environment (sometimes, for all practical purposes, forever). And all technologies have Unintended Consequences that no mind, no matter how brilliant, can imagine or foresee (see Edward Tenner, Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences).
And this includes the apparent magic and value of the new digital technologies, which allow communication and (virtual) connection on a global scale. One of the fundamental tenets of Appropriate Technology is that scale is inversely related to value. Big is not better. Global is not better than local. This doesn't mean we must never use this or any other technology, but we must use it with great care. We might learn from the Amish (and Wendell Berry) that technology is dangerous to the extend that it disrupts real, living, local relationships.
This is a very good idea. I'm in Minneapolis, not Montreal, so I can't really join on the ground where the work will be happening. But I believe you are embarking on the kind of effort that should be documented, worked up into a shareable format and made available to all other local #occupy movements.
One thing to study would be Ithaca Hours: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ithaca_Hours
It's a LETS time/dollar system. What is most relevant was the pre-work done to obtain local merchant 'buy-in.' The basis of businesses providing real goods and services to back the Ithaca Hours scrip made it worthwhile for individuals to join in, contribute their hours, and build a viable alternative economy.
Local businesses in financial trouble may benefit greatly from joining in to back local scrip.
All money is at its roots is grease to facilitate turning the wheels of exchange. The dollar has ceased to 'grease' exchange of goods and services for the 99%. It's value is locked up by wealthy dollar holders or destroyed in financial speculation.
Building another scrip, a LOCAL scrip to facilitate exchange between local businesses is a win-win for small business and individuals locked out of the dollar system of exchange.
The work you describe is exactly what's needed as a basis for designing local scrip.
Keep us in the loop. -K-