Sunday, May 27, 2012

A New World — A New Humanity

With this post I am going to flesh-out an idea that has been nagging at me since I first started reading about world crises and the people and organizations that dedicate themselves to finding and implementing solutions. My contention is that there is enough passion, enough energy, enough ideas and ingenuity, enough tools and resources and even enough time and money to build the world of justice and peace and we seek. Unfortunately the efforts to do so are fractured, priorities are not set on a coordinated basis, in short, there is not enough attention being paid to the “Big Picture” that we want to change.

One effort to amalgamate these various energies is being worked on by Nick Fillmore, he calls his idea the Campaign to Build One Big Campaign. This may well be the place to start but I am going to propose a little different approach.

In order to achieve a workable structure without positing yet another hierarchy (hierarchies are something that I abhor btw) I am going to pick one existing organization and suggest building what I see as the necessary adjuncts onto it. As “I AM CANADIAN”, I will look at a Canadian solution which could then spread without limits. This does not mean being limited to ideas from Canada, it means taking the best that can be found, adapting them first to the Canadian context and then loosing them on the world. Big concepts? Absolutely. But, if we refuse to accept limits imposed by existing society, there is no reason to impose our own.

Without more ado, I am going to propose The Council of Canadians as the base structure on which to build the-most-important-organization-the-world-has-ever-known (there is also no reason to impose humility on ourselves). Why CoC? - they are well established, have a good history, have a high profile but, most importantly - this is their “Vision Statement”.

So, what's missing?

  1. A “Mainline News” presence.

  2. At present, we have no way of talking to the potatoes on their after-dinner couches, watching CBC, MSNBC, CTV, CNN, Faux News etc. and thinking that the corporate sponsored content they see represents reality. We have some excellent alternative news services –, Media Co-op, and the Tyee all do excellent and unbiased reporting. There are a number of others.

    As a model for how to do it, we can look at Aljazeera english. As they are not able to get network status and time from North American Gov'ts, they use their website and YouTube videos to provide real-time coverage on the Internet. As the coming generation of TV monitors will access the Internet with increasing ease as time passes, this provides a ready-made and pretty easy solution for those who don't seem to be able to think beyond the remote control for their TV. One more time - there is still a disconnect between those who use the internet, alternate news sources and social media to spread and access news and other information (young, relatively non-wealthy and non-powerful) and those who still use newspapers and TV network news (older, wealthier and more powerful). If there is ever to be any degree of acceptance by those in the second group that there are crises in the offing or that something needs to be done, the message has to be hand delivered to their living rooms and compelling enough to prevent at least some of them from simply clicking back to their usual and more comfortable channels.
  3. A Government-in-Waiting political presence.

  4. In order to make the changes to institutions, systems and the various governance organizations which presently exist, there has to be the promise of something better and a way for the populace to envision the transitioning process. This requires a government-in-waiting which, in the case of violent revolution is often the Military or perhaps a radical Opposition Party. We are looking at a non-violent revolution (NVR) and we want to be in a position to identify to ourselves and to the public who that is and how it will function.

    My choice for this entity would be The Green Party in all its local, provincial, national and international incarnations. The Green Party is globally established but locally approachable, its principles are consistent yet flexible and it has far more international respect than its electability in North America would indicate. Here's the kicker – The Green Party's greatest asset would be its lack of baggage from having worked extensively within the corrupt political systems that are to be replaced.

  5. Horizontal (democratic) vs Vertical (hierarchical) organization

  6. We are accustomed to all our institutions being organized in a vertical manner. From the corporation with the CEO at the top and the minimum-wage, part-time worker at the bottom, the religious organization from the Pope down to the congregation, the government from the President down to the elector or the NGO from the Chairperson to the member we see only top-down management. We attempt to give the impression of distributing power more justly by talking of bottom-up or grass-roots input but the final result always has some element of being non-democratic and non-equitable.

    True democracy is seen in the organization of the Occupy Movement and in at least parts of the Arab Spring uprising where decision making is accomplished through a General Assembly process and leadership arises spontaneously to meet current need. An excellent picture of horizontal organization is painted by Judy Rebick in her book Transforming Power: From the Personal to thePolitical. Society is transformed, everyone is empowered and justice is served within this model of true democracy like nowhere else.

    If this sounds like Anarchy, it is - but only if Anarchy is properly defined and understood. Here is a definition:

    "The easiest way to explain anarchism is to say that it is a political movement that aims to bring about a genuinely free society - that is, one where humans only enter those kinds of relations with one another that would not have to be enforced by the constant threat of violence. History has shown that vast inequalities of wealth, institutions like slavery, debt peonage or wage labour, can only exist if backed up by armies, prisons, and police. Anarchists wish to see human relations that would not have to be backed up by armies, prisons and police. Anarchism envisions a society based on equality and solidarity, which could exist solely on the free consent of participants."

    This is from an article by David Graeber for Aljazeera. This is the best description I have read of the current movements to achieve worldwide justice (I guess I could quit here - but I won't). While I am not saying that I think the Council of Canadians should declare themselves as anarchistic, I am suggesting that all of us who are trying to forward social justice should be constantly and consciously aware of thinking like anarchists - as defined by David Graeber.

  7. The amalgamation of literally hundreds of targeted organizations, their members, their directors, their fund-raising efforts and their ideas.

  8. I have heard numbers in the 10,000 - 20,000 range for  'Charitable Organizations' or N.G.O's extant in Canada. I realize these are two, technically different kinds of organizations but the terms are often thought of as reasonably synonymous, especially by those who are being asked for donations. Also, they often do a lot of similar or overlapping work with the main difference being who is asked to do the funding and at what cost to integrity.

Keep tuned, more yet to come —

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Who could believe this?

I would hope that, to most readers of this blog, the material referenced below would read like something produced by a raving lunatic. However the writer, the late Julian Simon was a longtime business professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C. The material is from Simon's 1981 book "The Ultimate Resource" as presented in Richard Heinberg's "The End of Growth" - 2011.

In his book, Simon declared that there can never be overpopulation because having more people just means having more problem-solvers. How can resources be infinite on a small planet such as ours? Easy, said Simon. Just as there are infinitely many points on a one-inch line segment, so too there are infinitely many lines of division separating copper from non-copper or oil from non-oil, or coal from non-coal in the Earth. Therefore, we cannot reliably quantify how much copper, oil, coal, or neodymium or gold there really is in the world. If we can't measure how much we have of these materials, that means the amounts are not finite — thus they are infinite.

It's a logical fallacy so blindingly obvious that you'd think not a single vaguely intelligent reader would have let him get away with it. Clearly, an infinite number of dividing lines between copper and non-copper is not the same as an infinite quantity of copper. While a few critics pointed this out (notably Herman Daly), Simon's book was widely praised nevertheless. Why? Simon's book was saying something that many people wanted to believe.

Simon himself is gone, but his way of thinking is alive and well in the works of Bjorn Lomborg, author of the bestselling book "The Skeptical Environmentalist" and star of the recent documentary film "Cool It". Lomborg insists that the free market is making the environment ever healthier, and will solve all our problems if we just stop scaring ourselves needlessly about running out of resources.


Perhaps there are actually people who believe this sort of drivel, as difficult as I find that to understand. However, there are definitely people with various qualifications that afford them believability who can be paid to say such things and thereby corrupt the knowledge and understanding of humanity. Some of these falsifiers have been publicly identified but perhaps many more have not. Wealthy corporate interests and their bought-and-paid-for puppet governments would see purchasing and spreading such lies as simply part of the cost of doing business.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The End of Growth

I am presently reading "The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality" by Richard Heinberg (2011). The book points out the many absurdities of currently accepted Economic Theories and how such unquestioning acceptance has brought us to the brink of catastrophic disaster.

Below is an excerpt which seems to me to be as clear, understandable, and true as anything I can think of but apparently seems to others as ludicrous. Perhaps the difficulty of agreeing on the probability of future events comes down to understanding that our views of the world and our place in it are so widely divergent that for many, there is simply no common experience and no common language with which we can communicate.

"Which brings us to the global [financial] crisis that began in 2007 - 2008. By this time the two remaining mainstream economics camps - the Keynesians and the neoliberals - had come to assume that perpetual growth is the rational and achievable goal of national economies. The discussion was only about how to maintain it: through government intervention [Keynesian] or a laissez-faire approach that assumes the Market always know best [neoliberal] . . . . .

. . . . .  The ideological clash between Keynesians and neoliberals (represented to a certain degree in the escalating all-out warfare between the US Democratic and Republican political parties) will no doubt continue and even intensify. But the ensuing heat of battle will yield little light if both philosophies conceal the same fundamental errors. One such error is the belief that economies can and should perpetually grow. 

But that error rests on another that is deeper and subtler. The subsuming of land within the category of capital by nearly all post-classical economists had amounted to a declaration that Nature is merely a subset of the human economy - an endless pile of resources to be transformed into wealth. It also meant that natural resources could always be substituted with some other form of capital - money or technology. The reality, of course, is that the human economy exists within and entirely depends on Nature, and many natural resources have no realistic substitutes. This fundamental logical and philosophical mistake, embedded at the very core of modern mainstream economic philosophies, set society directly on a course toward the current era of climate change and resource depletion, and its persistence makes conventional economic theories - of both Keynesian and neoliberal varieties - utterly incapable of dealing with the economic and environmental survival threats to civilization in the 21st century."

MY WEBSITE   —   ANewHumanity.CA