Richard Moore




In order to explore the possibilities for a new world system, it is necessary to
have some kind of value system or criteria by which to evaluate the 
possibilities. The value system I will be working from is very simple. I seek a 
world without warfare, and that is made up societies that are democratic, 
prosperous, and sustainable.  I believe that such a world can be expected to 
evolve creatively to maximize human potential for everyone. And I believe, based
on my investigations, that such a world is both possible and achievable. 

If the new societies are to be sustainable, then their economic systems must be 
set up to reflect environmental realities as faithfully as the current economic 
system reflects market realities.  Instead of encouraging short term 
exploitation and continual growth, the economies must be be set up to reward 
long-term planning and the prudent use of resources. Whereas currencies today 
are controlled by hierarchical organizations and are based on the creation of 
debt, the currencies of transformed societies must be controlled democratically 
and must be oriented around facilitating productive exchange rather than 
facilitating the growth imperative and  the accumulation of wealth by a few .

If we want our economic systems to be sustainable and if we want peace among 
societies, then the dominant cultural paradigms of exploitation and dominion 
must be supplanted by the paradigms of respect and cooperation. These new 
paradigms must guide the relationship between each society and nature, and they 
must guide the relationship among societies. And instead of being based on 
exploitation and domination, international trade must be based on mutual-benefit

If the new societies are to be democratic, then they must avoid all forms of 
hierarchical control, whether they be economic, political, religious, or social 
in their orientation. Not only must hierarchy be avoided within societies, but 
they it must be avoided as well in the relationship among societies. These 
"musts" arise from the fact that the dynamics of hierarchy always lead 
eventually to the concentration of power in a leadership clique. If such an 
empowered clique is allowed to develop, either within a society as part of 
inter-societal relationships, that could only serve to undermine democracy and 
interfere with the ability of societies to run their own affairs democratically 
and sustainably.

If hierarchy is to be avoided within societies and among societies, then the 
local community must be the fundamental unit of political and economic 
sovereignty. Only at the community level is it possible for the whole population
to dialog together face to face, consider its collective situation, and reach a 
democratic consensus on the best way forward. Early American politics was 
frequently based on Town Meetings, and the technology of such dialog events has 
improved immensely since then. On such a base a democratic society can be built.
If we start with any larger unit than the community, then the system must be 
based on representation - but representation of a constituency which has not 
figured out what it wants. Such agenda-free representation inevitably leads to 
the kind of political corruption and power-brokering that plagues our current 

Economically, the community level provides optimal conditions for regulating 
economic affairs sensibly and productively. Feedback loops are immediate and 
direct. Local residents have a natural motivation to respect and improve their 
own local environment, just as much as they are motivated to pursue economic 
prosperity. If the local people have the power to control their local 
environment and its resources, then they are in an ideal position to husband 
those assets in the most creative, sustainable, and productive way - and they 
are naturally motivated to do so. I believe that a sovereign community unit 
would be guided toward productive and beneficial economic operations by the same
kind of "invisible hand" that Adam Smith described in reference to a market 

From a systems point of view, these are the "constraints" or "design 
requirements" that must guide the development of our transformed society. I have
identified these necessary constraints based on my examination of history and 
current events, as outlined in the previous chapter. In later chapters, I will 
develop further the ideas and observations outlined there - putting the ideas 
into context and providing substantiation for the conclusions reached. In this 
chapter, I would like to explore the consequences and implications of the 
constraints I have identified. I'd like to examine these questions: Is it 
feasible for a society, and a world system, to function under these constraints?
What can we say about the nature of such societies and such a world system?

Transformation of world view
In order to achieve sustainable societies, it will be necessary for humanity's 
relationship with nature to become one of cooperation and respect rather than 
exploitation. The dominion myth cannot be allowed to poison our relationship 
with the Earth. Nature wants to be a generous and regenerative resource, and she
is willing to share her bounty with us - but she cannot do her job unless we are
sensitive to her needs and nurture her along.  Somehow the wisdom of 
sustainability and cooperation with nature needs to be deeply embedded in the 
psyche of our new societies.  

One thing that would help us is a mythology that can resonate widely in the 
population and which can supplant the biblical dominion myth. Perhaps what we 
need is a story where we find out the serpent is the good guy, Adam and Eve 
return joyously to the Garden, and Jehovah repents his sinful ways. Presumably 
the inherent wisdom of such a myth could be expected to resonate with our primal
inner natures, which evolved in cultures which respected and lived in harmony 
with nature for untold eons. 

In this regard we can take some encouragement from the fact that Wikka (a pagan 
religion oriented around nature spirits) is reportedly the fastest growing 
religion in the West. And deep ecologists like Elisabet Sahtouris, along with 
writers such as David Korten, are promoting the idea that we need to look at 
modern biology - emphasizing cooperation and creativity within nature - to find 
deep models for a transformed society. This kind of thinking, though perhaps 
more secular than spiritual, begins to reach mythological depth - just like 
Enlightenment thinking did in the late 1700s. It seems that humanity is in the 
process of creating the myths that will be necessary for its continued survival.
Our species evolutionary wisdom is perhaps expressing itself.

Another thing that would help support a sustainable society is an ethical 
framework that respects appropriate technology and sustainability. But guess 
what, isn't that a fairly dominant ethical framework already? Don't we recycle 
all over the Western world? Aren't efficient cars popular? Don't we watch two or
three documentaries a week about cute species in remote areas, and don't we 
yearn for their survival? Don't we have Green Parties and hundreds of activist 
environmental organizations, and haven't we achieved some success getting 
environmental legislation passed? And the EU, isn't it showing lots of greenness
in its ever-expanding regulatory regime - as a result of public pressure?

When it comes to the important principle of sustainability, people generally are
already on board ethically. There is no need for any mass conversion of 
consciousness to prepare people for participation in a sustainable society. 
Humanity is destroying the planet not because of the sentiments of the 
population, but because of the economic system they are forced to operate 

Economic Transformation
At present, the overall relationship of humanity toward nature is one of 
systematic exploitation. This exploitation is accelerating even in the face of 
widespread resource depletion and degradation. To a limited extent the increase 
in resource exploitation is driven by the need to feed growing populations.  But
it turns out that a more significant driver of the increase arises from the 
nature of our exploitation practices. Modern agriculture is a good example. From
the standpoint of money, modern agriculture is acclaimed as maximizing the 
productivity per unit of investment. That's why MacDonald's hamburgers are so 
cheap. But modern agriculture achieves its profitability by extremely wasteful 
and imprudent exploitation of scarce water and soil resources that have higher 
value uses - in human terms and in the long term. And there are other ways to 
pursue agricultural productivity which avoid these kinds of adverse 

If a society is going to be sustainable, then its economic system must implement
that principle. The principle needs to be reflected in the financial system, in 
trade arrangements, and in the way people and enterprises are motivated to 
operate. I'll have more to say about this in subsequent chapters. For now let me
emphasize two of the points I will develop later. The first point is that 
setting up such economic systems is not difficult from a technical point of 
view. We have countless examples to look at around the world today and 
throughout history - and there is a rich school of thought being developed and 
published by competent people that focuses on sustainable economics.  The second
point is that there are many solutions and they can co-exist. There can be 
market economies alongside collectively managed ones, and export-oriented 
industrial economies alongside self-sufficient agricultural economies.  There 
can be different currencies and there can be efficient trade across currency 
boundaries. Trade can be non-exploitive. These things turn out not to be rocket 
science, but rather a matter of societal will.

If we look at some of the Latin American responses to globalization - 
particularly the participatory budgets in Brazilian cities - we see how ordinary
people can participate competently in sound economic practices when the 
political environment is supportive. If the opportunity to create a transformed 
world arises, humanity has adequate know-how and adaptability to set up 
appropriate economic arrangements to facilitate sustainable practices. The 
current dominance of neoliberal laissez-faire policies is not due to a lack of 
economic understanding, but rather reflects the ability of wealthy elites to set
up economic regimes that serve their own narrow interests.

Assuming we will be able to set up appropriate economic systems to support 
sustainability, how then do we make the transition from current practices to the
new practices?  Must we face food shortages in the interim? Will there be 
financial chaos while we change over to new banking systems, currencies, etc.? 
And then there's the big question: has global population reached the point where
sustainability is simply impossible - without massive die-offs?

These are non-trivial questions and we will explore them in more fully in later 
chapters. As regards the pressure of population levels, I suggest that the 
sooner we can begin sustainable practices the better we will be able to respond 
to those pressures. The longer we postpone the transition, the more diminished 
and degraded will be the resources available for us to respond with. As regards 
managing the transition, I suggest again that the principle of localism should 
be our guide.

To put it baldly, I would begin the transition process by transferring title and
control over everything in each community to that community. This implies that 
no one outside the community can retain ownership of anything in the community. 
All absentee-held property would transfer - without consideration - to the 
locality as a whole. All corporate offices and plants, government land and 
buildings, roadways, waterways, utilities infrastructures, etc., would become a 
resource of the local community to be managed and developed by the community in 
the long-term best interests of the community as a whole. 

If there is to be a wholesale transfer of ownership, then there must first be a 
preliminary transition phase - wherein ownership and control are passed from 
absentee hands to local hands. This preliminary phase would also need to deal 
with a financial transition. Suddenly all the big corporations and banks would 
no longer exist.  Debts and assets recorded on accounts would become 
meaningless. Money itself would be just so much paper and metal. I am 
intentionally suggesting that a transformed economic system can best be 
established by first razing the current system right down to the ground. 

If the community is to have political and economic sovereignty, then it must 
have control over its money. This is why The City (London's financial center) 
doesn't want the UK to join the Euro zone - they know it's important to control 
their precious Pound Sterling. With that control, they can better coordinate 
their efforts to regulate inflation, interest rates, money supply, and other 
aspects of economic activity. In the case of local money, we find that once 
again our species wisdom is emerging just when needed. All over the world local 
currencies are coming into use - it's becoming an economic movement. In parts of
Latin America, where IMF policies have made money scarce, local currencies have 
sprung up and productive exchange has begun to replace poverty and stagnation. I
don't know how successful this movement will be in our current context, but I do
know that this movement provides us with a considerable laboratory of 
experiments to learn from. 

One of the principles upon which local currencies operate is trust, or 
reputation. Let me illustrate this trust principle with an episode that occurred
here in Ireland in the 1970's. There was a general bank strike. All the banks 
were shut down for an extended period - months - and there was no way to draw 
money out, no check cashing service, no ATM machines, etc. What people did was 
to keep right on doing business, and they'd write checks to each other for goods
and services - and then would pass those checks on again when purchasing in 
turn.  What developed here is a reputation-based regulation system. Obviously 
you would not accept a check signed by a vagrant in exchange for a new Mercedes.
But you might accept such a check signed by the owner of the biggest hotel in 
town, and you would accept a check from your employer - or else you'd leave your
job. Commerce proceeded, and when the banks opened they took in all the checks 
and everything generally balanced out. The folk market had successfully 
regulated itself.

The technology of local currencies has developed sufficiently for our needs. It 
would not be difficult to establish local currencies and some efficient means of
exchange among them - that's a minor problem on the overall scale of global 
transformation. With such a financial system in place, it would then be possible
to transfer ownership to the communities and get on with business. Each 
community would be motivated to maintain the integrity and stability of its 
currency. In that way it enhances its own economic activity and its 
attractiveness as a trading partner. Such a distributed financial system would 
be naturally self-stabilizing. 

There is a lot more to think about as regards the process of transition and the 
wisdom of centering sovereignty locally. Our attention will return to those in 
later chapters. The question of local political sovereignty is the subject of 
the next section. Another question is "Who decides?" - to initiate a radical 
global transformation on the scale I have described. And I do mean global - 
another of my working hypotheses is that transformation must be global and 
nearly simultaneous. We'll get into that in the next chapter on the 
transformational movement.

Political transformation
Above I suggested that both economic and political sovereignty - and control 
over money - be centered locally, in the community, neighborhood, borough, or 
whatever. These are the kind of units involved in the very successful 
participatory budget processes in Brazil. At this scale, people can get to know 
and understand one another, they can dialog about their common problems both 
formally and informally, and they can develop a community consensus regarding 
their policy priorities. It is important to note that the efficacy of localism 
is being demonstrated "on the ground" in many parts of the world. There is 
empirical evidence for the hypothesis.

Nonetheless, from a theoretical and common-sense perspective, there are 
important questions to be addressed. For example:  "Why would we expect that the
people who happen to live in the same community, and who may have quite 
different perceived interests, would be able to deliberate effectively as a 
community, take on difficult problems, come up with and agree on creative and 
effective solutions, and then implement those solutions successfully?" Anyone 
who's ever been to a town meeting or committee meeting, or participated in a 
large group project, might have reason to doubt this scenario. One might also 
suspect that politics and cliques would develop. Again permit me to refer to a 
subsequent chapter, this one devoted to group processes, facilitation, creative 
problem solving - and the emergence of collective wisdom, empowerment, and 
community bonding. 

That all may sound a bit new-age, but I am convinced that community solidarity 
and empowerment are reliably achievable. I hope my evidence and reasoning will 
make sense to you. One thing to keep in mind is that communities will not be in 
the position to assume sovereignty until after some kind of major shift in power
relationships occurs - the equivalent of a successful popular revolution. Such a
"revolution" would presumably be brought about by some kind of popular mass 
movement. Indeed, I believe the movement will need to be global and be supported
by nearly everyone, for more than a simple majority. These ideas will be 
developed further in the chapter on the transformational movement. In a world 
where nearly everyone has just succeeded in overcoming history's most powerful 
regimes, we might expect that those people would be ready to collaborate 
enthusiastically with one another in building the transformed society that they 
had struggled to achieve.

Another big question raised by localism is that of "wider scale issues". The 
community may be clearly motivated to respect its own commons and pursue its own
destiny sensibly, but who looks after the global commons? Are there still 
nations, and if so, how do they run their affairs? What about fishing, whaling, 
pollution at sea, international waterways? And what about international peace? 
What about standard norms, such as prohibitions on slavery, non-sustainable 
practices, and exploitive economics? Who is responsible for things beyond the 
domain of a single locality? How do we deal with a rogue locality or region 
that, for example, begins stockpiling offensive weapons?

Consider the birth experience of this locally-based world in which wider scale 
issues will become an obvious issue. This is a world in which nearly everyone 
has been mobilized by the movement, and has been participating or at least 
supporting and endorsing its aims and activities. Such a movement would be 
supported by trust networks, and it would develop means of coordinating its 
planning and activities. Presumably, if the movement manages to maintain its 
coherence, there would emerge a strong consensus regarding the basic principle 
it was struggling to achieve. Just as the French had "Liberty, Equality, and 
Fraternity", so would the principles of democracy, sensible economics, and 
peaceful global collaboration be - in some poetic form - on everyone's lips. 
Under such conditions, we might expect the collaborative spirit of the movement 
to continue and to facilitate the establishment of deliberative frameworks and 
networks to deal with the management of the global commons.

In our current system, each nation is motivated to exploit whatever resources it
can get control of. If they don't do it, someone else will. In a world where 
each community orients its operations around prudent management, that is the new
perspective they would bring to the larger societal arena. If the community 
depends on fish as part of its average diet, then it would support sustainable 
fishing policies globally - otherwise its own economy would be eventually 
unsustainable. And in the case of sustainability - if you lose it eventually 
then you never had it in the first place.

The basic mechanics of bottom-up global deliberations are quite simple. First 
each community reaches a consensus on the issues of the day, and then they 
select a slate of delegates to represent that consensus - and the background 
sentiments of the community - at a regional council. Here we have representation
with-agenda, in contrast to our current representation without-agenda. The 
regional council then reaches consensus and selects delegates for the next 
level. And so on up to a global council. This is a very simplified overview and 
we'll look at this in more detail in a later chapter. The important thing to 
note is that such a bottom-up process does not require the establishment of any 
government or other authority hierarchy. The councils meet at each level, 
publish their deliberations, and go back home to their communities and their 
occupations. No institution is created which can become a point of leverage for 
power seekers and would-be elites. Each community's agenda became part of the 
tiered consensus outcome, and each community would be motivated to support the 
policies and programs that emerged.

Establishing global regulations and policies is one thing, but monitoring them 
and ensuring they are adhered to is is another. And the endorsement of common 
projects - such as a regional transport system - is one thing, and constructing 
and operating such a network is something else again. But again there are non- 
hierarchical, non-institutionalized means of dealing with such challenges. 
Consider this example of a regional transport system, let's say a rail network. 
If a community decided to support such a project, their consensus would need to 
take into account their contribution to the project as well as their benefit. 
Their resolution might go like this: "We support the regional rail project. We 
will provide a suitable route through our territory, pay for the materials on 
our segment of the track, and we will contribute two dozen experienced workers 
to help with all the segments of track passing through the communities in our 
surrounding bio-region." 

In a participatory democracy people learn to think in terms of responsibility as
much as they do entitlements and the benefits of the commons. Projects which are
adopted on a participatory, consensus basis, can be managed on a bottom-up 
voluntary basis. Crews would select a foreman from their ranks, based on 
experience, etc. There is no need for any hierarchical agency to be established.
No one is being coerced - it is everyone's project.

As radical as these ideas may be, I have been proceeding intentionally in a 
conservative manner. I've been trying to demonstrate the common sense behind the
hypotheses I've been led to, using rational arguments and observations. But I 
invite you now to imagine the sense of empowerment and excitement we would 
experience if we were able to fashion our own destinies in collaboration with 
our neighbors and people everywhere around the globe. What a creative adventure 
that would be!  We would be participating in the entry of the human species into
self-aware maturity - after a multi-millennia detour down the dominion cul de 
sac. Think of the cultural renaissance that could be expected to accompany the 
economic renaissance and the political liberation. We would have stepped through
the looking glass into a world where all things are possible, and where we are 
in charge.


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Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland
    "...the Patriot Act followed 9-11 as smoothly as the
      suspension of the Weimar constitution followed the
      Reichstag fire."  
      - Srdja Trifkovic

    There is not a problem with the system.
    The system is the problem.

    Faith in ourselves - not gods, ideologies, leaders, or programs.
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