Dave Patterson: Green Island and real democracy


Richard Moore

Richard et al,

The recent 2-3 postings, including this one, have had me nodding my head in agreement – yes, this is what Green Island is all about – describing a truly ‘social democratic’ society, which could be called Utopian, although the main meaning of ‘Utopia’ translates as ‘nowhere’, and Green Island is very much written to describe what could, I think, very easily be. I hope you will add this note to the discussion, in case others out there are as yet unaware of Green Island. I should stress, this book is not so much for most Cyberjournal readers, who would fit in well on Green Island and are, as I group, pretty much aware of the problems in our society (and probably too busy to be wading through a 1,000+ page fiction book, although many may well enjoy it) – the top level problems, I mean, such as the way most ‘average’ people are pretty unaware of what is really happening in ‘their’ society, such as how they are indoctrinated and ruled by propaganda fed them through the media and the education system, how they do not live in any kind of ‘real’ democracy at all, etc. But what I see for Green Island is not ‘just’ some novel, but as a social-democratic response to Atlas Shrugged, which has become such a bible for Libertarians and like-minded people who childishly believe that a country full of  “Me Tarzan King of Jungle look after own self’ types is the best way a society could operate (I have some sympathy for such people, as when I was quite young I also thought for several years that Atlas Shrugged was the epitome of utopian literature – it appeals very much to young, simplistic, even well-meaning, thinking, and it is only as you get older and more widely read and wiser, and understand the much deeper things involved, in the context of predatory capitalists and such people and how any kind of ‘we the people’ government is their worst nightmare, how we really need to stand together to fight these people off, etc). I would imagine, for instance, there are many more people who have read and been influenced by Ayn Rand than by Hayek or Rothbard or even Freidman – the academics may lead, but ‘the people’ have to have some ‘popular’ or popularized reason to understand them in their own way and take up such notions and follow them.
Anyway, Green Island is not (at least primarily) meant to be read by people who already understand the way our society works, such as most, I would presume, on Cyberjournal and similar lists, but rather I would hope it gets read by people who are still unaware of what is really going on in the capitalist paradises, so they can have some help understanding the problems in their society and how they got in such a mess, and how we really could have a much better place if we/they followed social democratic ideas. And my hope has been simply that people on lists such as Cyberjournal would see this potential in Green Island, and mention it in other appropriate places when the opportunity presented itself to try to help spread the idea that there actually is an achieveable alternative to capitalism – if ‘we’ want it and work for it together. I know nobody has the time to actively promote this or any book, and don’t expect anything like that, but it is only the work of a few seconds to recommend the book to someone when discussing alternatives to our present dystopia, or mention it on lists where others might find it useful, should an appropriate occasion arise.
I think that many people who would never go anywhere near a sociological or economic text such as Mumford and others would more readily read a fiction book such as Green Island, and thus  become exposed to some new ideas – think of how many people hold up Atlas Shrugged, or The Fountainhead, as examples of ‘their’ ideal society, or at least setting down the parameters of what they see as an ideal society. And in response to such people, or others who see through the simplistic ideas Rand expresses, who currently have no well-known ‘bible’ expressing ‘their’ ideal society – I now offer Green Island (which may not be perfect, but at least is an open and true democracy where people work together to forge what they want in their society). As such a fictional response to Atlas Shrugged, I think the story carries it along pretty well, so the philosophical-sociological messages are included in an interesting and compelling narrative – I think, for instance, a lot of people would nod with a grim little satisfied sort of smile to read of the US regime-changers get their butts booted as they do when they try to regime-change Green Island, and maybe find interesting the ‘tables turned’ scenario I posit – that is, Rand describes ‘we the socialists’ as whinging parasites stealing the wealth created by the hard-working, endlessly sacrificing, godlike capitalists, but in Green Island, we see these capitalists for the parasites they really are, endlessly stealing the wealth which is actually created by millions of hard-working, decent people.
Anyway, as are you, Richard, and most others, I think, who are on your Cyberjournal list, I am not just playing around with fiction here, I am on a serious mission, trying to think of ways to ‘wake up’ the people, so they see the danger we are all in, understand those dangers themselves and how we got there and what we need to do to ‘save’ ourselves, and get the lights turned on enough to realise that the only way we are going to be ‘saved’ is if WE the people do it ourselves – I don’t attempt to define any particular path, just more exhortation that ‘we’ must wake up, and start making our own path together rather than passively being led along the capitalist Brave New World path. No saviours – just everybody taking some responsibility for our communities and world. And that is what I posit in Green Island – a positive example, where people are running their own community / country, through complete particiapatory democracy.
We participating in lists such as Cyberjournal have no way of knowing what will reach ‘the people’, and we are all trying in our own ways, and we all see different priorities and strategies – but I do think we should try to support one another, as long as we believe the others are on the same track, reaching for the same ultimate end – which to me is a community of intelligent, engaged citizens, discussing things of importance together, and coming to something we all agree with – not unlike Ted Trainer’s ‘Transition Towns’ I sent you a note about a couple of weeks ago (I think Ted and his people would be very happy on Green Island – or vice versa, for that matter).
Well, enough rambling. If anyone is interested, the web site is Green Island http://www.rudemacedon.ca/greenisland.html , where several chapters are online, and there is also a free PDF of the whole first volume for free download. If anyone is ready for the hardcopy, I might suggest waiting a week or so (I wanted to send this email now while the discussion is timely) – right now it is with Lulu, and the shipping costs are ridiculous, but I am in the process of moving it to a place called Book Surge, which is associated with Amazon and has much, much cheaper postage costs, which should be finished in a few days.
Keep up the good work, Richard –
Dave Patterson