Richard Moore


  (C) 2004 Richard K. Moore








                     AND LOCALISM



* Are you ready for the red pill?

The defining dramatic moment in the film The Matrix occurs
just after Morpheus invites Neo to choose between a red pill
and a blue pill. The red pill promises "the truth, nothing
more." Neo takes the red pill and awakes to reality --
something utterly different from anything Neo, or the
audience, could have expected. What Neo had assumed to be
reality turned out to be only a collective illusion,
fabricated by the Matrix and fed to a population that is
asleep, cocooned in grotesque embryonic pods. In Plato's
famous parable about the shadows on the walls of the cave,
true reality is at least reflected in perceived reality. In
the Matrix world, true reality and perceived reality exist on
entirely different planes.

The story is intended as metaphor, and the parallels that drew
my attention had to do with political reality. This article
offers a particular perspective on what's going on in the
world -- and how things got to be that way -- in this era of
globalization. From that red-pill perspective, everyday
media-consensus reality -- like the Matrix in the film -- is
seen to be a fabricated collective illusion. Like Neo, I
didn't know what I was looking for when my investigation
began, but I knew that what I was being told didn't make
sense. I read scores of histories and biographies of
historical figures, observing connections between them, and
began to develop my own theories about roots of various
historical events. I found myself largely in agreement with
writers like Noam Chomsky and Michael Parenti, but I also
perceived important patterns that others seem to have missed.

When I started tracing historical forces, and began to
interpret present-day events from a historical perspective. I
could see the same old dynamics at work and found a meaning in
unfolding events far different from what official
pronouncements proclaimed. Such pronouncements are, after all,
public relations fare, given out by politicians who want to
look good to the voters. Most of us expect rhetoric from
politicians, and take what they say with a grain of salt. But
as my own picture of present reality came into focus, "grain
of salt" no longer worked as a metaphor. I began to see that
consensus reality -- as generated by official rhetoric and
amplified by mass media -- bears very little relationship to
actual reality. "The matrix" was a metaphor I was ready for.

* Imperialism and the matrix 

From the time of Columbus to 1945, world affairs were largely
dominated by competition among Western nations seeking to
stake out spheres of influence, control sea lanes, and exploit
colonial empires. Each Western power became the core of an
imperialist economy whose periphery was managed for the
benefit of the core nation. Military might determined the
scope of an empire; wars were initiated when a core nation
felt it had sufficient power to expand its periphery at the
expense of a competitor. Economies and societies in the
periphery were kept backward -- to keep their populations
under control, to provide cheap labor, and to guarantee
markets for goods manufactured in the core. Imperialism robbed
the periphery not only of wealth but also of its ability to
develop its own societies, cultures, and economies in a
natural way for local benefit.

The driving force behind Western imperialism has always been
the pursuit of economic gain, ever since Isabella commissioned
Columbus on his first entrepreneurial voyage. The rhetoric of
empire concerning wars, however, has typically been about
other things -- the White Man's Burden, bringing true religion
to the heathens, Manifest Destiny, defeating the Yellow Peril
or the Hun, seeking lebensraum, or making the world safe for
democracy. Any fabricated motivation for war or empire would
do, as long as it appealed to the collective consciousness of
the population at the time. The propaganda lies of yesterday
were recorded and became consensus history -- the fabric of
the matrix.

While the costs of territorial empire (fleets, colonial
administrations, etc.) were borne by Western taxpayers
generally, the profits of imperialism were enjoyed primarily
by private corporations and investors. Government and
corporate elites were partners in the business of imperialism:
empires gave government leaders power and prestige, and gave
corporate leaders power and wealth. Corporations ran the real
business of empire while government leaders fabricated noble
excuses for the wars that were required to keep that business
going. Matrix reality was about patriotism, national honor,
and heroic causes; true reality was on another plane
altogether: that of economics.

Industrialization, beginning in the late 1700s, created a
demand for new markets and increased raw materials; both
demands spurred accelerated expansion of empire. Wealthy
investors amassed fortunes by setting up large-scale
industrial and trading operations, leading to the emergence of
an influential capitalist elite. Like any other elite,
capitalists used their wealth and influence to further their
own interests however they could. And the interests of
capitalism always come down to economic growth; investors must
reap more than they sow or the whole system comes to a
grinding halt.

Thus capitalism, industrialization, nationalism, warfare,
imperialism -- and the matrix -- coevolved. Industrialized
weapon production provided the muscle of modern warfare, and
capitalism provided the appetite to use that muscle.
Government leaders pursued the policies necessary to expand
empire while creating a rhetorical matrix, around nationalism,
to justify those policies. Capitalist growth depended on
empire, which in turn depended on a strong and stable core
nation to defend it. National interests and capitalist
interests were inextricably linked -- or so it seemed for more
than two centuries.

 * World War II and Pax Americana 
1945 will be remembered as the year World War II ended and the
bond of the atomic nucleus was broken. But 1945 also marked
another momentous fission -- breaking of the bond between
national and capitalist interests. After every previous war,
and in many cases after severe devastation, European nations
had always picked themselves back up and resumed their
competition over empire. But after World War II, a Pax
Americana was established. The US began to manage all the
Western peripheries on behalf of capitalism generally, while
preventing the communist powers from interfering in the game.
Capitalist powers no longer needed to fight over investment
realms, and competitive imperialism was replaced by collective
imperialism (see sidebar). Opportunities for capital growth
were no longer linked to the military power of nations, apart
from the power of America. In his "Killing Hope, U.S. Military
and CIA Interventions since World War II", William Blum
chronicles hundreds of significant covert and overt
interventions, showing exactly how the US carried out its
imperial management role.

      * Sidebar
      Elite planning for postwar neo-imperialism...
      Recommendation P-B23 (July, 1941) stated that worldwide
      financial institutions were necessary for the purpose of
      "stabilizing currencies and facilitating programs of capital
      investment for constructive undertakings in backward and
      underdeveloped regions." During the last half of 1941 and in
      the first months of 1942, the Council developed this idea for
      the integration of the worldŠ. Isaiah Bowman first suggested a
      way to solve the problem of maintaining effective control over
      weaker territories while avoiding overt imperial conquest. At
      a Council meeting in May 1942, he stated that the United
      States had to exercise the strength needed to assure
      "security," and at the same time "avoid conventional forms of
      imperialism." The way to do this, he argued, was to make the
      exercise of that power international in character through a
      United Nations body. - Laurence Shoup & William Minter, in
      Holly Sklar's Trilateralism (see access, page XX), writing
      about strategic recommendations developed during World War II
      by the Council on Foreign Relations.

In the postwar years matrix reality diverged ever further from
actual reality. In the postwar matrix world, imperialism had
been abandoned and the world was being "democratized"; in the
real world, imperialism had become better organized and more
efficient. In the matrix world the US "restored order," or
"came to the assistance" of nations which were being
"undermined by Soviet influence"; in the real world, the
periphery was being systematically suppressed and exploited.
In the matrix world, the benefit was going to the periphery in
the form of countless aid programs; in the real world, immense
wealth was being extracted from the periphery.

Growing glitches in the matrix weren't noticed by most people
in the West, because the postwar years brought unprecedented
levels of Western prosperity and social progress. The rhetoric
claimed progress would come to all, and Westerners could see
it being realized in their own towns and cities. The West
became the collective core of a global empire, and
exploitative development led to prosperity for Western
populations, while generating immense riches for corporations,
banks, and wealthy capital investors.

* Glitches in the matrix, popular rebellion, and neoliberalism

The parallel agenda of Third-World exploitation and Western
prosperity worked effectively for the first two postwar
decades. But in the 1960s large numbers of Westerners,
particularly the young and well educated, began to notice
glitches in the matrix. In Vietnam imperialism was too naked
to be successfully masked as something else. A major split in
American public consciousness occurred, as millions of
anti-war protestors and civil-rights activists punctured the
fabricated consensus of the 1950s and declared the reality of
exploitation and suppression both at home and abroad. The
environmental movement arose, challenging even the
exploitation of the natural world. In Europe, 1968 joined 1848
as a landmark year of popular protest.

These developments disturbed elite planners. The postwar
regime's stability was being challenged from within the core
-- and the formula of Western prosperity no longer guaranteed
public passivity. A report published in 1975, the "Report of
the Trilateral Task Force on Governability of Democracies",
provides a glimpse into the thinking of elite circles. Alan
Wolfe discusses this report in Holly Sklar's eye-opening
"Trilateralism". Wolfe focuses especially on the analysis
Harvard professor Samuel P. Huntington presented in a section
of the report entitled "The Crisis of Democracy." Huntington
is an articulate promoter of elite policy shifts, and
contributes pivotal articles to publications such as the
Council on Foreign Relations's "Foreign Affairs".

Huntington tells us that democratic societies "cannot work"
unless the citizenry is "passive." The "democratic surge of
the 1960s" represented an "excess of democracy," which must be
reduced if governments are to carry out their traditional
domestic and foreign policies. Huntington's notion of
"traditional policies" is expressed in a passage from the

      To the extent that the United States was governed by anyone
      during the decades after World War II, it was governed by the
      President acting with the support and cooperation of key
      individuals and groups in the executive office, the federal
      bureaucracy, Congress, and the more important businesses,
      banks, law firms, foundations, and media, which constitute the
      private sector's "Establishment."

In these few words Huntington spells out the reality that
electoral democracy has little to do with how America is run,
and summarizes the kind of people who are included within the
elite planning community. Who needs conspiracy theories when
elite machinations are clearly described in public documents
like these?

Besides failing to deliver popular passivity, the policy of
prosperity for Western populations had another downside,
having to do with Japan's economic success. Under the Pax
Americana umbrella, Japan had been able to industrialize and
become an imperial player -- the prohibition on Japanese
rearmament had become irrelevant. With Japan's then-lower
living standards, Japanese producers could undercut prevailing
prices and steal market share from Western producers. Western
capital needed to find a way to become more competitive on
world markets, and Western prosperity was standing in the way.
Elite strategists, as Huntington showed, were fully capable of
understanding these considerations, and the requirements of
corporate growth created a strong motivation to make the
needed adjustments -- in both reality and rhetoric.

If popular prosperity could be sacrificed, there were many
obvious ways Western capital could be made more competitive.
Production could be moved overseas to low-wage areas, allowing
domestic unemployment to rise. Unions could be attacked and
wages forced down, and people could be pushed into temporary
and part-time jobs without benefits. Regulations governing
corporate behavior could be removed, corporate and
capital-gains taxes could be reduced, and the revenue losses
could be taken out of public-service budgets. Public
infrastructures could be privatized, the services reduced to
cut costs, and then they could be milked for easy profits
while they deteriorated from neglect.

These are the very policies and programs launched during the
Reagan-Thatcher years in the US and Britain. They represent a
systematic project of increasing corporate growth at the
expense of popular prosperity and welfare. Such a real agenda
would have been unpopular, and a corresponding matrix reality
was fabricated for public consumption. The matrix reality used
real terms like "deregulation," "reduced taxes," and
"privatization," but around them was woven an economic
mythology. The old, failed laissez-faire doctrine of the 1800s
was reintroduced with the help of Milton Friedman's Chicago
School of economics, and "less government" became the proud
"modern" theme in America and Britain. Sensible regulations
had restored financial stability after the Great Depression,
and had broken up anti-competitive monopolies such as the
Rockefeller trust and AT&T. But in the new matrix reality, all
regulations were considered bureaucratic interference. Reagan
and Thatcher preached the virtues of individualism, and
promised to "get government off people's backs." The
implication was that ordinary people were to get more money
and freedom, but in reality the primary benefits would go to
corporations and wealthy investors.

The academic term for laissez-faire economics is "economic
liberalism," and hence the Reagan-Thatcher revolution has come
to be known as the "neoliberal revolution." It brought a
radical change in actual reality by returning to the economic
philosophy that led to sweatshops, corruption, and
robber-baron monopolies in the nineteenth century. It brought
an equally radical change in matrix reality -- a complete
reversal in the attitude that was projected regarding
government. Government policies had always been criticized in
the media, but the institution of government had always been
respected -- reflecting the traditional bond between
capitalism and nationalism. With Reagan, we had a sitting
president telling us that government itself was a bad thing.
Many of us may have agreed with him, but such a sentiment had
never before found official favor. Soon, British and American
populations were beginning to applaud the destruction of the
very democratic institutions that provided their only hope of
participation in the political process.

* Globalization and world government

The essential bond between capitalism and nationalism was
broken in 1945, but it took some time for elite planners to
fully recognize this new condition and to begin bringing the
world system into alignment with it. The strong Western nation
state had been the bulwark of capitalism for centuries, and
initial postwar policies were based on the assumption that
this would continue indefinitely. The Bretton Woods financial
system (the IMF, World Bank, and a system of fixed exchange
rates among major currencies) was set up to stabilize national
economies, and popular prosperity was encouraged to provide
political stability. Neoliberalism in the US and Britain
represented the first serious break with this policy framework
-- and brought the first visible signs of the fission of the
nation-capital bond.

The neoliberal project was economically profitable for
corporations in the US and Britain, and the public accepted
the matrix economic mythology. Meanwhile, the integrated
global economy gave rise to a new generation of transnational
corporations, and corporate leaders began to realize that
corporate growth was not dependent on strong core
nation-states. Indeed, Western nations -- with their
environmental laws, consumer-protection measures, and other
forms of regulatory "interference" -- were a burden on
corporate growth. Having been successfully field tested in the
two oldest "democracies," the neoliberal project moved onto
the global stage. The Bretton Woods system of fixed rates of
currency exchange was weakened, and the international
financial system became destabilizing, instead of stabilizing,
for national economies. The radical free-trade project was
launched, leading eventually in 1993 to the World Trade
Organization. The fission that had begun in 1945 was finally
manifesting as an explosive change in the world system.

The objective of neoliberal free-trade treaties is to remove
all political controls over domestic and international trade
and commerce. Corporations have free rein to maximize profits,
heedless of environmental consequences and safety risks.
Instead of governments regulating corporations, the WTO now
sets rules for governments, telling them what kind of beef
they must import, whether or not they can ban asbestos, and
what additives they must permit in petroleum products. So far,
in every case where the WTO has been asked to review a health,
safety, or environmental regulation, the regulation has been

Most of the world has been turned into a periphery; the
imperial core has been boiled down to the capitalist elite
themselves, represented by their bureaucratic,
unrepresentative, WTO world government. The burden of
accelerated imperialism falls hardest outside the West, where
loans are used as a lever by the IMF to compel debtor nations
such as Rwanda and South Korea to accept suicidal "reform"
packages. In the 1800s, genocide was employed to clear North
America and Australia of their native populations, creating
room for growth. Today, a similar program of genocide has
apparently been unleashed against sub-Saharan Africa. The IMF
destroys the economies, the CIA trains militias and stirs up
tribal conflicts, and the West sells weapons to all sides.
Famine and genocidal civil wars are the predictable and
inevitable result. Meanwhile, AIDS runs rampant while the WTO
and the US government use trade laws to prevent medicines from
reaching the victims.

In matrix reality, globalization is not a project but rather
the "inevitable" result of beneficial market forces. Genocide
in Africa is no fault of the West, but is due to ancient
tribal rivalries. Every measure demanded by globalization is
referred to as "reform," (the word is never used with irony).
"Democracy" and "reform" are frequently used together, always
leaving the subtle impression that one has something to do
with the other. The illusion is presented that all economic
boats are rising, and if yours isn't, it must be your own
fault: you aren't "competitive" enough. Economic failures are
explained away as "temporary adjustments," or else the victim
is blamed for not being sufficiently neoliberal. "Investor
confidence" is referred to with the same awe and reverence
that earlier societies might have expressed toward the "will
of the gods."

Western quality of life continues to decline, while the WTO
establishes legal precedents ensuring that its authority will
not be challenged when its decisions become more draconian.
Things will get much worse in the West; this was anticipated
in elite circles when the neoliberal project was still on the
drawing board, as is illustrated in Samuel Huntington's "The
Crisis of Democracy" report discussed earlier.

* The management of discontented societies

The postwar years, especially in the United States, were
characterized by consensus politics. Most people shared a
common understanding of how society worked, and generally
approved of how things were going. Prosperity was real and the
matrix version of reality was reassuring. Most people believed
in it. Those beliefs became a shared consensus, and the
government could then carry out its plans as it intended,
"responding" to the programmed public will.

The "excess democracy" of the 1960s and 1970s attacked this
shared consensus from below, and neoliberal planners decided
from above that ongoing consensus wasn't worth paying for.
They accepted that segments of society would persist in
disbelieving various parts of the matrix. Activism and protest
were to be expected. New means of social control would be
needed to deal with activist movements and with growing
discontent, as neoliberalism gradually tightened the economic
screws. Such means of control were identified and have since
been largely implemented, particularly in the United States.
In many ways America sets the pace of globalization;
innovations can often be observed there before they occur
elsewhere. This is particularly true in the case of
social-control techniques.

The most obvious means of social control, in a discontented
society, is a strong, semi-militarized police force. Most of
the periphery has been managed by such means for centuries.
Urban and suburban ghettos in America -- where the adverse
consequences of neoliberalism are currently most concentrated
-- have literally become occupied territories, where police
beatings and unjustified shootings are commonplace. So that
the beefed-up police force could maintain control in
conditions of mass unrest, elite planners also realized that
much of the Bill of Rights would need to be neutralized. This
is not surprising, given that the Bill's authors had just
lived through a revolution and were seeking to ensure that
future generations would have the means to organize and
overthrow any oppressive future government.

In the matrix, the genre of the TV or movie police drama has
served to create a reality in which "rights" are a joke, the
accused are despicable sociopaths, and no criminal is ever
brought to justice until some noble cop or prosecutor bends
the rules a bit. Government officials bolstered the construct
in the 1980s and 1990s by declaring "wars" on crime and drugs;
the noble cops are fighting a war out there in the streets --
and you can't win a war without using your enemy's dirty
tricks. The CIA plays its role by managing the international
drug trade and making sure that ghetto drug dealers are well
supplied. In this way, the American public was led down the
garden path to accepting the means of its own suppression.

The covert guiding of various social movements has proven to
be one of the most effective means of programming factions and
stirring them against one another. Fundamentalist religious
movements have been particularly useful. They have been used
not only within the US, but also to maximize divisiveness in
the Middle East and for other purposes throughout the empire.
The collective energy and dedication of "true believers" makes
them a potent political weapon that movement leaders can
readily aim where needed. In the US that weapon has been used
to attack the women's movement, to support repressive
legislation, and generally to bolster the ranks of what is
called in the matrix the "right wing."

In the matrix, the various factions believe that their
competition with each other is the process that determines
society's political agenda. Politicians want votes, and hence
the biggest and best-organized factions should have the most
influence, and their agendas should get the most political
attention. In reality there is only one significant political
agenda these days: the maximization of capital growth through
the dismantling of society, the continuing implementation of
neoliberalism, and the management of empire. During the
Clinton era, his liberal rhetoric and his playing around with
health care and gay rights were not the result of liberal
pressure. They were rather the means by which Clinton was sold
to liberal voters, so that he could proceed with real
business: getting NAFTA through Congress, promoting the WTO,
giving away the public airwaves, justifying military
interventions, and so forth. Issues of genuine importance are
never raised in campaign politics -- this is a major glitch in
the matrix for those who have eyes to see it.

* The New American Century

The New American Century began on September 11, 2001. For
anyone familiar with the history of American war-enabling
"outrage incidents", the attacks on the World Trade Center and
Pentagon were highly suspicious from the very beginning. Four
planes were known to be hijacked for more than an hour, and
yet no fighters were scrambled to intercept them -- not even
after the first Tower had been hit. This is completely
contrary to standard procedure. Typically, when any flight
goes off course in the U.S., even if it's not a hijacking,
interceptors are scrambled within minutes. The manner in which
the Towers collapsed was also highly suspicious --
particularly the third tower, which was not even struck by a
plane. All three collapsed in precisely the manner one would
expect from a professional demolition, and numerous fire
fighters and other eyewitnesses reported hearing explosions in
the buildings -- after the fires had been brought mostly under
control. Although the Administration expressed complete
surprise at the attacks, it claimed to know the exact
identities of all the hijackers within hours of the event.
While the whole world was transfixed to TV screens, awed at
the magnitude of the attacks, President Bush read stories to
children and other top administration officials carried on
with their normal schedules. The announcement of the War On
Terrorism and the Patriot Act followed entirely too rapidly to
have been the result of a surprise attack.

As more information emerged in the following weeks and months,
the official version of the 9/11 events became increasingly
untenable. The administration had received dozens of warnings
that Al Qaeda was planning to use hijacked aircraft as attack
planes, contrary to White House claims of being caught
completely by surprise. In fact, the Pentagon had carried out
practice exercises in anticipation of precisely such an
attack. Two weeks prior to the attacks, Lt-Gen Mahmud Ahmad,
head of Pakistani Intelligence, transferred $100,000 to the
account of Mohammed Atta, leader of the alleged hijackers.
While the attacks were being carried out, Ahmad was having
breakfast in the Senate lunch room with members of the Select
Committee on Intelligence. The FBI identified Ahmad as the
"moneybags of the hijacking", and yet he was allowed to leave
the country and there has been no follow-up regarding his
involvement. About the only thing supporting the
Administration's official version of events is the inability
of most people to imagine that the events of 9/11 could have
been an inside job. For those familiar with America's history
of "outrage incidents", not much imagination is required.

We now know that Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and crew came into the
White House with a detailed agenda up their sleeves, and it
was an agenda that would have been very difficult to pursue
without the dramatic events of 9/11. Indeed, such an agenda
would have been incomplete if it did not include a plan for
achieving domestic public acceptance and international
acquiescence. And after 9/11, the pre-existing agenda was
immediately launched into implementation. In terms of
evaluating suspected perpetrators for 9/11, one must clearly
attribute to top U.S. elites motive, opportunity, means, modus
operandi, and lack of alibi. In addition there has been no
evidence presented that is contrary to their culpability.

The agenda of the new White House was written up as a report,
"Rebuilding America's Defenses -- Strategy, Forces and
Resources For a New Century", produced in September 2000 by
The Project for the New American Century (PNAC). The report is
an updated version of a classified "Defense Policy Guidance"
document drafted in 1992 under the supervision of Paul
Wolfowitz. Some of the founding members of PNAC include Deputy
Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Vice President Dick Cheney,
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Defense Policy Board
chairman Richard Perle. Here are some excerpts from their
written agenda for the New American Century:

   "The United States has for decades sought to play a more
    permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved
    conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need
    for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends
    the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein". (p. 14)
   "Further, these constabulary missions are far more complex and
    likely to generate violence than traditional 'peacekeeping'
    missions. For one, they demand American political leadership
    rather than that of the United Nations, as the failure of the UN
    mission in the Balkans and the relative success of NATO
    operations there attests" (p. 11).
   "Despite the shifting focus of conflict in Europe, a
    requirement to station U.S. forces in northern and central
    Europe remains. The region is stable, but a continued American
    presence helps to assure the major European powers, especially
    Germany, that the United States retains its long-standing
    security interest in the continent. This is especially
    important in light of the nascent European moves toward an
    independent defense 'identity' and policy; it is important
    that NATO not be replaced by the European Union, leaving the
    United States without a voice in European security affairs"
    (p. 16).
   "Since today's peace is the unique product of American
    preeminence, a failure to preserve that preeminence allows others
    an opportunity to shape the world in ways antithetical to
    American interests and principles. The price of American
    preeminence is that, just as it was actively obtained, it must be
    actively maintained" (p. 73).
  "To preserve American military preeminence in the coming decades,
    the Department of Defense must move more aggressively to
    experiment with new technologies and operational concepts, and
    seek to exploit the emerging revolution in military affairs" (p.
   "Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings
    revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some
    catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor" (p. 51).

Soon after the PNAC crew managed to gain control of the White
House, they got their "new Pearl Harbor", they got their
"substantial American force presence in the Gulf" under
"American political leadership", and the revolution in
military affairs is now moving "more aggressively". The "War
on Terrorism", enabled by 9/11's "new Pearl Harbor", is the
smoke screen behind which the agenda of the New American
Century is being aggressively implemented. American
"preeminence", apparently, is to be ensured into the future.
No challenge to U.S. military or economic supremacy is to be


* Civilization in crisis

Civilization, and humanity, are now facing the most severe
crisis of survival that either has ever faced. The unbridled
exploitation and waste of resources, required by capitalism's
growth imperative, is destroying the bio-infrastructure upon
which future human life depends. The pace of this devastation
is ever increasing, as corporations must seek each quarter to
achieve greater growth than the quarter before. In many ways,
civilization has already passed the point of no return. So
much carbon dioxide has already been released into the
atmosphere, for example, that the effects of global warming
will continue to worsen even if we were to somehow stop
burning fossil fuels immediately and totally. Huge tracts of
agricultural land have been irreversibly turned into barren
desert, many fishing stocks are near extinction levels, and
the global population is already so large that feeding
everyone -- even under some ideal system of agriculture and
distribution -- would be a major challenge.

If we look at this situation from an objective point of view,
as an outside observer, it makes no sense at all. Humanity as
a species is behaving insanely, like lemmings jumping over a
cliff. Given finite resources, the only sensible strategy for
humanity is to carefully manage the resources that remain, to
help the environment begin healing, and to transform our
economies and cultures so that we are able to survive
sustainably using renewable resources. And the sooner such a
transformation begins, the better -- the longer we continue on
our current path, the fewer resources will be left to manage
and survive on. There is no natural law or dictate of the gods
that requires us to continue on our ill-fated course. If the
societal will existed, we could readily scale down our
industrial operations and re-purpose them toward producing the
the technologies and products which can be used to build
sustainable societies. When the will exists, as we have often
seen under the pressure of war, societies are capable of great
creativity and resourcefulness.

Some people believe that it is already too late to save most
of humanity -- there are just too many of us. This may serve
as a rationalization to acquiesce in the status quo, but it is
largely a myth. India, for example, could end its own
starvation problem if it simply diverted 5% of its food
exports to feed its own hungry. Although population levels do
present a significant problem, it is not population per se
that accounts for widespread poverty and the rapid depletion
of our resources. The causes of both are the wasteful and
reckless manner in which resources are exploited, and the
excessive consumption that characterizes the richest
societies. The USA for example, with 5% of the world's
population, uses 20% (?) of the world's energy.

As long as there were new lands to conquer and plenty of room
to grow, humanity could operate -- even if unwisely and
unjustly -- under an economy based on the paradigm of growth
and development. Such a paradigm was never sustainable, not in
the long run, but the long run always seemed far away -- and
the visible benefits of 'progress' were seductive.
Unfortunately for those of us alive today, the long run has
finally arrived and the visible benefits are declining as
well. Either we somehow wake up as a species and deal with
this crisis, or else civilization will continue down the
slippery slope to mass die offs, perhaps the collapse of civil
order, and in any case a very dismal future for our
grandchildren and future generations.

* We the People

      "If the world is saved, it will be saved by people with 
      changed minds, people with a new vision. It will not be saved
      by people with the old vision but new programs." 
       - Daniel Quinn, "The Story of B" 

If civilization is in dire crisis, and if only a radical
transformation of our economic and governance systems can
provide a lasting and favorable outcome to that crisis, then
we must inquire into what means might be available to bring
about that kind of radical transformation. Changes in society
are usually initiated from the top, by elites acting through
their various hierarchical institutions. In those cases where
change has been initiated from the grassroots, by elements of
'We the People', that change has always come by the efforts of
a social movement. 'Social movements' is a broad category,
including everything from polite reform organizations to armed
insurrections, from labor unions to anti-globalization
protests. In general, a social movement is an attempt to give
voice to popular sentiment, to provide a vehicle that enables
the members of the movement to act as a whole, to be a
collective 'actor' in society, to have a coherent effect on

Quite clearly the kind of transformation we are seeking will
not be initiated by the elite establishment. If such a
transformation is to be achieved, the initiative will need to
come from We the People in the form of a social movement that
is suitable to that task. That social movement might be quite
unlike previous movements, as its objectives are uniquely
radical. But by examining various existing and historical
movements, we can gain some insight as to the kind of movement
that would be suitable for our needs.

Let's first take a look at the anti-globalization movement, a
movement whose sentiments are largely in harmony with the kind
of transformation we have been discussing. The
anti-globalization movement understands that unbridled
capitalism is destroying the world, and the movement seeks a
radical shift towards democracy, justice, and sustainability.
The movement also has many thousands of committed supporters
worldwide, who are willing to participate in movement events
at considerable expense and risk to themselves. Is the
anti-globalization movement an appropriate vehicle for
achieving global transformation?

Unfortunately, this movement has not proven to be particularly
effective. It's heart is in the right place and it's
supporters show commitment, but it has no clear vision of a
transformed society, no strategy to bring about change, and no
program to expand its constituency. It is in the amorphous
mold of the protest movements of the 1960s, and those kinds of
movements can no longer be effective in this post-neoliberal
age. Neoliberalism brought the economic abandonment of the
middle classes, and elites no longer see any need to maintain
an illusion of popular consensus. In the 1960s governments
were concerned when masses of people protested, and they
responded with a Civil Rights Bill, a Freedom of Information
Act, and an Environmental Protection Agency. Today's
neoliberal elites respond to protests by suppressing them or
ignoring them, and then simply carry on with business as
usual. One of the things leaders are taught at globalist
gatherings is to avoid being distracted by popular

About a century ago, just prior to 1900 in the U.S., there was
a movement which provides a closer model for the kind of
movement that might bring about transformation today. Its
goals were not nearly as radical as what we are considering,
but they were radical, and they did represent a challenge to
the ascendency of monopoly capitalism. This movement did have
a vision of a transformed system, a strategy for bringing
about change, and an effective program for expanding its
constituency. It began as the Farmers Alliance, was later
known as the Populist Movement and the Peoples Party, and it
became a very significant actor in society. In 1890, for
example, Georgia and Texas elected Alliance Governors, and
thirty-eight Alliance members were elected to the U.S.

The Farmers Alliance began in 1877 as a self-help movement in
Texas, organizing cooperatives for buying supplies and selling
crops. The cooperatives improved the farmers' economic
situation, and the movement began to spread throughout the
Midwest and the South. By 1889, there were 400,000 members.
This was a thinking movement as well as an action movement.
Howard Zinn, in "A People's History of the United States",
writes, "The Populist movement also also made a remarkable
attempt to create a new and independent culture for the
country's farmers. The Alliance Lecture Bureau reached all
over the country; it had 35,000 lecturers. The Populists
poured out books and pamphlets from their printing
presses...". Zinn goes on to cite from another source, "One
gathers from yellowed pamphlets that the agrarian ideologists
undertook to re-educate their countrymen from the ground up.
Dismissing 'history as taught in our schools' [ie., The
Matrix] as 'practically valueless', they undertook to write it
over -- formidable columns of it, from the Greek down. With no
more compunction they turned all hands to the revision of
economics, political theory, law, and government." And from
another source, " other political movement -- not that of
1776, nor that of 1860-1861 -- ever altered Southern life so

There is much here that makes sense for a transformational
democratic movement. Our current systems are supported by
cultural mythologies, and "writing it over" is a good
description of what needs to be done if the illusions of the
old culture are to be exposed and the culture of a new society
is to be developed. The emphasis on education of the
membership shows a respect for popular intelligence, and it
builds a shared cultural perspective that enables a movement
to act with increasing unity and coherence. The emphasis on
outreach and recruitment is necessary if a movement hopes to
grow large enough to bring about significant changes.

The Populist Movement arose due to economic problems that were
being faced by farmers, and the movement set out to find
practical ways to solve those problems. I suggest that such a
problem-solving emphasis is appropriate to a democratic
transformational movement. If a movement makes demands, then
it is affirming that power resides elsewhere -- in that person
or agency which is the target of the demands. If a movement
creates solutions, then it is asserting its own empowerment,
it is taking responsibility for its own welfare. Furthermore,
problem solving ability in general is necessary for any
movement which intends to achieve radical goals. Such a
movement is bound to encounter all sorts of challenges and
barriers along the way, and it will need to be able to respond
creatively and effectively to them. The emphasis on economics
in particular is also appropriate to a transformational
movement. Economics is the basis of most social activity, and
it is in the realm of economics that solutions can be found to
our social and environmental malaise.

The Populists, being largely farmers, were closely connected
to place, and their movement was in part an expression of
localism. The movement built up its constituency region by
region, rather than by seeking isolated members spread
throughout the society, as do modern reform organizations like
the Sierra Club. To use a military metaphor, the movement
'captured territory' and then 'consolidated that territory'
through education and by implementing its solutions in that
'territory' -- and by winning elections there and gaining some
degree of official political power. Such a territorial
emphasis is very appropriate to a transformational movement.
Within a 'captured territory' -- a region in which people
generally have become part of the movement -- the vision and
culture of the movement has an opportunity to flower and to
find expression in ordinary conversation among people. The
culture has a place to take root and grow, and people's sense
of empowerment is reinforced by being in the daily company of
those who share an evolving vision, and who are in effect
collaborators in a shared project.

The Populist Movement was also an expression of localism in
another way. At the core of the Populist political agenda was
a set of economic reforms. Those reforms represented an
attempt to stem the ascendency of centralized big-money
capitalism -- and reassert the interests of locally-based
farms and small businesses. The Populists were calling for
fundamental reform of the financial system, the debt system,
and currency policies. They wanted to give local communities
and regions enough economic viability to be able to take
responsibility for their own welfare.

In their relationship to the political process, the Populists
again had much to teach a transformational movement. They
began as a grassroots organization oriented around self-help,
not as a movement attempting to influence the political
machine. They were successful at their self-help endeavors,
and they expanded their focus to recruitment and territorial
expansion. Only when they had achieved overwhelming success at
the grassroots level did they turn their attention to the
ballot box. In this way they were able to achieve some measure
of political power without compromising their objectives in
the horse-trading that characterizes competitive politics.
They were able to integrate politics into their tactical
portfolio and also retain their integrity as a grassroots

But ultimately the Populists faltered and collapsed, and we
have as much to learn from that experience as from their
earlier successes. They ran up against an unavoidable barrier,
one that all radical movements must run up against eventually,
and that is the limit on how much can be accomplished in the
face of establishment opposition. In order to promote their
economic reform agenda, and encouraged by their electoral
successes, they decided to commit their movement
wholeheartedly to the political process. They joined forces
with the Democratic Party and backed William Jennings Bryan in
the election of 1896. The Populists had then placed themselves
in a no-win situation. If the Democrats lost, the movement
would be defeated and shattered; if the Democrats won, the
movement would be swallowed up in the horse-trading of
Democratic politics.

The reactionary capitalist establishment responded vigorously
to this opportunity to put a final end to the upstart Populist
movement. Corporations and the elite-owned media threw their
support to the Republican candidate, William McKinley, in what
Zinn calls "the first massive use of money in an an election
campaign." Bryan was defeated, and the Populist movement fell
apart. The establishment was taking no chances: even diluted
within the Democratic party, the Populists represented too
much of a threat from below, they were too successful at
providing a voice for We the People. Democracy had raised its
ugly head, and elites chopped it off at their earliest

Any transformational movement that wants to go the distance
must be prepared to resist the seductive siren call of
electoral politics -- a siren whose voice becomes even more
appealing after the movement has made some significant
progress. As the Populists' earlier experience showed,
politics can be used successfully to consolidate gains made on
the ground, particularly if the expansion program employs a
territorial strategy. But when electoral politics is allowed
to dominate movement strategy -- before the territory of the
movement encompasses the entire electorate -- then the hope of
ultimate success has been lost. Either the movement will be
destroyed abruptly, or it will die a slow drowning death in
the quicksand of factional politics.

Any transformational movement must also eventually run up
against the barrier of establishment opposition. Like the
Populists, it makes good sense for a transformational movement
to focus initially on what people can collectively do for
themselves, without confrontation and within the constraints
of the existing system. This is how the movement can be built,
and how a culture can be fostered based on common-sense
analysis, creative problem solving, self-reliance, and
democratic empowerment. But the movement's self-help progress
will eventually be frustrated by the economic and political
constraints of the establishment's system, and that's when the
movement needs to decide what it's really about.

At that point the movement can either take the 'blue pill',
and settle for temporary reformist gains within the elite's
political circus, or it can take the 'red pill' and face the
challenges of the real world -- of power and engagement. As
much as we may be enamored of a win-win, love-your-enemy
approach to the universe, we must face the fact that the
currently entrenched regime is ruthless in its tactics,
determined to stay in power, and resourceful in its
application of its many means of suppression, subversion, and
co-option. Though we may carry universal love in our hearts,
the strategic thinking of the movement must at some point
focus on the principles of effective engagement. The Populists
have little to offer us here. A better model for this phase
would be the non-violent grassroots movement against British
rule in India, led and inspired by Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhi is most renown for his non-violence and for his
universal empathy for all people, including even the British
oppressors. Those are wise principles for any transformational
movement that must engage an armed establishment and that
seeks to create a just and democratic society. But Gandhi
should be equally renown for his strategic acumen, and we can
learn much from that aspect of his work. Like a skillful Go
player, he was able to set up situations where the British
felt compelled to respond, yet any response they chose would
undermine their position. They had to choose between yielding
ground to the movement, or else engaging in suppressive
measures which could only serve to build greater sympathy and
support for the movement. The point is not necessarily that a
movement should emulate Gandhi's tactics, but rather that
flexible and creative strategic thinking is absolutely
essential to successful engagement.

Gandhi's movement did succeed in its immediate objective of
ousting the British occupiers, but it failed to achieve
Gandhi's deeper goals for a new kind of harmonious and
democratic society. The leadership of the movement was
concentrated too much in him personally and after his
assassination his followers reverted to traditional political
patterns. His movement was in the final analysis a
hierarchical movement. A successful transformational movement
-- which seeks to establish a democratic, non-hierarchical
society -- would be best served by taking a non-hierarchical
approach from the very beginning. Goals and strategy should be
developed at the grassroots level, and the movement culture
should facilitate the exchange of ideas and solutions, thus
building a self-reliant and holographically led movement --
and a movement which is not vulnerable to death by leadership

The Populist Movement too had a hierarchical leadership
structure, and this limited its transformational potential in
several ways. In the long run hierarchy is the bane of
democracy, so in that sense the Populists were from the
beginning not pursuing a path toward a transformed democratic
society. And by monopolizing strategic thinking, the wisdom of
the movement was limited by the cultural perspective and
prejudices of the relatively small leadership cadre. In
particular the rural, farmer-based leadership limited the
growth of the movement to what we might in some fairness call
'their own kind of people'. Although movement activists
sympathized with urban industrial workers, and expressed
support for their strikes and boycotts, the culture of the
Populist leadership did not lead them to bring urban workers
into their constituency, to make them part of the Populist
family. From an objective strategic perspective, it is clear
that this was a fatal error of omission. There was a natural
alignment of interests, based on mutual exploitation by
monopoly capitalism, and an effective joining of forces would
have propelled the expanded movement onto a new and much
higher plateau of political significance.

Any movement which aims to create a transformed and democratic
society needs to keep this in mind: when the new world is
created, everyone will be in it -- not just the people we
agree with or the people we normally associate with. Certainly
any particular movement is likely to attract certain kinds of
people before others, and that must inevitably give a certain
flavor to the emerging movement -- but a movement must aim to
be all inclusive if it seeks to create a democratic society
that is all inclusive. Is there anyone you would leave behind,
or relegate to second class citizenship? If not, then you
should be willing to welcome to the movement anyone who shares
the goal of creating that new world.

* The transformational imperative

We the People have found our identity and common purpose many
times in the past: on the fields of Lexington and Concord, at
the gates of the Czar's palace and the Bastille, and in
movements like the Populists. We have a tradition to learn
from, and there are many wrong turns we must avoid. Martin
Luther King used a phrase that sums up one of the most
important lessons we need to take to heart, "Keep your eyes on
the prize." If we want a world which is democratic, and which
is sustainable both economically and politically, then we must
stay true to that vision. We must anticipate that the devil --
the elite regime -- is likely to offer us enticing
distractions when we show up on their radar. But only a
thorough and radical transformation can rid us of the dynamics
of hierarchy, exploitation, and elite rule.

There is no one out there, no actor on the stage of society,
who can or will bring about the radical transformation
required to save humanity and the world -- no one that is
except We the People. Not we the electorate, nor we the
public, but we who are members of the intelligent and aware
human species. We who are capable of thinking for ourselves,
and envisioning a better world, and working together with
others in pursuit of our common visions. There is no one else
who will do it for us, and it is a job that must be done.

This is our transformational imperative.


* Adversarial systems and liberal democracy

If We the People are to respond effectively to our
Transformational Imperative, then we will need to do so by
means of an appropriate social movement. In the preceding
chapter I argued that a protest movement like the
anti-globalization movement cannot be our transformational
vehicle. I also suggested that electoral politics cannot be
our vehicle either, and I offered the Populist Movement as an
example of a promising popular movement that finally
floundered on the shoals of the political system. In this
chapter I'd like to take a deeper look at our 'democratic'
system, as a prelude to investigating what kind of movement
could serve our needs.

Liberal democracy is an adversarial system. Candidates compete
for party nominations, parties compete to get their candidates
elected, and elected representatives compete to get their
programs adopted in parliaments. In the U.S. Constitution,
adversarial dynamics are enshrined in the form of a carefully
worked out balance of powers among the executive, judiciary,
and legislature.

There is a naive democratic theory behind this system of
governance. When advocates for side each present their case,
there is some hope that all relevant information will emerge,
enabling good decisions to be reached. When candidates and
parties compete, there is some hope that their relative
success will be related to the size of their following --
leading indirectly to a democratic result. In a competition
among people, ideas, and programs -- the theory goes -- the
best will rise to the top.

But with any kind of system, theory is one thing and practice
is another. Systems tend to have inherent dynamics -- and the
way those dynamics play out is not always consistent with the
theory or purposes under which the system is established. In
the case of hierarchies, an inherent tendency toward
centralization of power inevitably pushes against whatever
mechanisms are set up to constrain the hierarchy. We can see
this in the gradual consolidations of power by the Federal
Government in the U.S. and by the Brussels bureaucracy in the
EU. In the case of adversarial systems as well, there are
inherent dynamics which we can observe wherever adversarial
systems are employed.

An adversarial process operates as a competitive game. The
objective of the game is to win. If you want to be a
successful player in the game, you need to be better at
winning than the other players. In the case of politics,
winning means getting elected. According to the naive theory
of democracy, the election of a candidate should reflect
general acceptance of the candidate's program. But in reality,
victory in the political struggle depends on the ability to
attract a constituency by whatever means prove to be effective
-- and selling programs isn't the means that works best in
practice. More important might be the charisma of the
candidate, or the vulnerability of the opponent to a smear
campaign, or the ability to focus public attention on
superficial but dramatic issues, or countless other propaganda
games we see played out in typical campaigns. When programs
are talked about, a candidate usually does best by evading
questions or by telling people the lies they want to hear. The
dynamics of the competitive game lead to results that have
little to do with the naive theories behind representative

Electoral reforms can be attempted, and have frequently been
implemented, but reforms are like sand castles set against the
tide. The same political dynamics, and similar results, can be
seen in every nation that uses competitive elections. Indeed,
if we look back two thousand years to the Roman Republic we
can see the same patterns of corruption, complete with costly
campaigns, gerrymandering of districts, bought votes, etc.
What we need to understand here is that 'corruption' is the
wrong word for these phenomena. They are not distortions of
the system, rather they are the normal behavior of such a
system. It is the adversarial system itself that is a
corruption -- of democratic principles.

* Liberal democracy and elite hegemony

Liberal democracy is an ideal system to facilitate rule by
wealthy elites. In any adversarial game, the advantage goes to
the strongest players. On the school yard, the game of 'King
of the Mountain' is naturally dominated by the biggest and
strongest kids. In politics, the game of elections is
naturally dominated by those with the most campaign funds and
the most media support. By such means wealth can be translated
directly into political power and influence -- and by such
means every so-called 'democracy' is in fact ruled by wealthy
elites, either in office or from behind the scenes. There is
an ironic truth behind the neoliberal myth that capitalism and
'democracy' are closely related. In the myth the two are
related by a mutual respect for human freedom; in truth they
are related by their mutual friendliness to elite domination.

It is not by chance that we are governed by a system that
facilitates elite rule, nor was the system established due to
a mistaken belief in the naive theory of liberal democracy.
The naive theory is for school text books; it is part of the
establishment's supporting mythology. The elites who set up
these political systems understood very well how they actually

When the American revolution was over, the result was thirteen
sovereign republics, collaborating under the Articles of
Confederation. But there were problems. So much was new that
unforeseen difficulties arose. There was no common agreement
to protect sea lanes, for example, and piracy became rife. The
States all agreed that the Articles required amendment. A more
collaborative framework was needed. The legislatures agreed to
sponsor a Constitutional Convention, empowered to amend the
Articles and bring them back for unanimous approval of the
States. The delegates were supposed to represent their States,
and the Constitution was to be an agreement among the States,
an amended version of the Articles. Such was the charter under
which the Convention was empowered to operate.

The legislatures, unfortunately, mostly appointed their
delegates from among their local wealthy elites. The delegates
then ensconced themselves in secret session and proceeded to
betray the charter under which they had been assembled. They
discarded the Articles, and began debating and drafting a
wholly new document, one that transferred sovereignty to a
relatively strong central government. The delegates reneged on
the States that had sent them, and took it upon themselves to
speak directly for "We the People" -- and thus begins the
preamble to their Constitution. In effect they accomplished a
coup d'etat. They managed to design a system that would enable
existing elites to continue to run the affairs of the new
nation, as they had before under the Crown -- under a
Constitution that for all the world seems to embody sound
democratic principles.

At every level of the new Constitution there were safeguards
against uprisings from below. The life-appointed Supreme Court
Justices and the six-year Senators provided a kind of
conservative flywheel against any kind of rapid change. The
President was to be elected indirectly by State Legislatures,
which provided a buffer from "mob" sentiments in each state.
Most significantly, the strongest protections in the
Constitution were granted to private property. The
Constitutional sanctity of private property guaranteed that
existing elites would be able to hold on to and continue
developing their fortunes. Whereas in most European nations
the financial system is controlled by a central government
bank, in the new American republic the private sector was
given a more influential role. This provides American elites
with a way to influence economic affairs outside of political

This may seem like a cynical assessment of the legacy of
America's "Founding Fathers". Have they not given us all those
noble sayings?... "Give me liberty or give me death.", "The
price of liberty is eternal vigilance.", .etc. Were they not
true democrats? Some were and some weren't. Even some of the
best of them, like Thomas Jefferson, were slave owners. The
worst of them, like Alexander Hamilton, would have preferred
rule by an American royalty. In general the allegiance of
colonial elites to democracy was tempered by their concern for
their own self-interest, and their notion of how society
should operate. They didn't want Royal interference in their
affairs, but neither did they want interference by what many
of them referred to as "mob rule".

By the very way they carried out the secret Constitutional
Convention they demonstrated how the new government was going
to operate. They were delegates, chartered to represent their
constituencies, and they were mostly from wealthy elite
circles. When gathered in their own company they represented
instead their own mutual interests -- yet they presented their
work as the embodiment of their charter. And they succeeded
politically in selling their product to the people and to the
States. Such has been the story of American politics ever

After the Convention completed its work, a debate raged
throughout the colonies as to whether the new Constitution
should be ratified. As part of this debate, a series of
newspaper articles appeared that came to be known as the
Federalist Papers. These papers reveal with considerable
candor the elite reasoning behind the design of the new
government. Zinn writes:

      In Federalist Paper #10, James Madison argued that
      representative government was needed to maintain peace in a
      society ridden by factional disputes... "Those who hold and
      those who are without property have ever formed distinct
      interests in society." The problem he said, was how to control
      the factional struggles that came from inequalities in
      wealth.Minority factions could be controlled, he said, by the
      principle that decisions would be by vote of the majority.
      So the real problem, according to Madison, was a majority
      faction, and there the solution have an "extensive
      republic", that is, a large nation ranging over thirteen
      states, for then "it will be more difficult for all who feel
      it to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with
      each other...The influence of factious leaders may kindle a
      flame within their particular States, but will be unable to
      spread a general conflagration through the other States."

The purpose of the new system, in other words, was to enable
the colonial elite to retain their economic and political
dominance by systematically preventing the ascendency of any
kind of popular democratic movement. The rules of the
adversarial game were carefully worked out so as to enable the
successful management of factionalism by the elite
establishment. The system was consciously designed to
facilitate elite rule and that is how it has functioned ever

* Divide and rule

Directly after the ratification of the Constitution, two
elite-led political parties were established. Madison,
Jefferson, and Monroe joined the Democrat-Republicans, while
Hamilton, Washington, and Adams joined the Federalists. This
set the pattern for U.S. politics ever since: two mainstream
parties, both controlled by wealthy elites, and providing the
illusion of choice to voters. The two major parties had the
funding to carry out major national campaigns, and then as now
people were corralled into choosing between the lesser of two
evils when they cast their ballots.

From the beginning, the primary agenda of all mainstream
parties has been to facilitate economic growth and the further
enrichment of the wealthy elites who control both the economy
and the government. I do not mean to imply that the elite were
then, or are today, a monolith with a single consensus agenda.
There have always been ideological divisions and different
cliques competing for relative advantage. These differences
play themselves out partly in political campaigns, and lead to
rhetoric that attempts to attract voters to supporting one
clique rather than the other. Each party tries to convince
voters that the other party is to be feared, and that their
own party will lead to popular prosperity. Voters have a
choice, but it is always between two different elite agendas
which differ only in the tactics by which growth is to be
facilitated -- and by which the people are to be kept under

As Madison anticipated, political stability in America has
been achieved through the management of factionalism. At any
given time, some sizable faction was always doing rather well
under the elite-managed system of economic growth, and these
more prosperous elements provided a solid base of support for
government policies. But there was always a mass of unrest
boiling up from the less advantaged segments of society.
Particularly with industrialization and the increasing
dominance of capitalist dynamics, wealth was very unequally
distributed, workers, women, and minorities were exploited,
and there were always movements of various kinds attempting to
influence the elite agenda. These movements were contained
either geographically, or else by means of pitting one faction
against the other. The Populists probably came closer than any
other movement to challenging elite hegemony, but they too
finally fell prey to adversarial dynamics when they cast their
lot in the electoral game.

Today the grassroots U.S. population is divided into two
primary factions, usually known as liberals and conservatives,
or left and right. This split represents a rather
sophisticated version of factional manipulation. It does not
represent any real difference of interests. It is not the case
that grassroots liberals and conservatives are from different
economic strata, or have different self-interest agendas for
fundamental national policies. The divisions, though deeply
felt, are not over matters of state, but over issues such as
abortion, gay rights, and the like. These kinds of issues,
according to the Constitution, are not even the business of
the Federal Government -- they are the kind that should be
dealt with locally or at the state level. But divisiveness is
so effective at controlling the population that the major
parties are happy to promote such issues to the national
level, where they can be exploited to generate fear and
anxiety. Campaigns and rhetoric are focused on these
peripheral issues, and fundamental issues of national policy
never even come up for discussion. Campaigns have no more
relevance to national policy than do high school debates, and
as in high school debates the winner is decided more on the
style of their presentations than on the validity of their

* The Harmonization Imperative

      It ain't left or right. It's up and down. Here we all are down
      here struggling while the Corporate Elite are all up there
      having a nice day!..
      - Carolyn Chute, author of The Beans of Egypt Maine and
      anti-corporate activist

For two tactical reasons, the pursuit of a 'progressive
victory' via the electoral system is a no-win idea. The first
reason is simply that such a project cannot succeed. The
divisive power of the establishment media and political
machines are too powerful. Elites have refined the management
of factionalism into a science. We all know this intuitively,
and that is why most progressives don't want to 'waste' their
vote on a Nader-style candidacy.

The second tactical reason is that a strong and aggressive
progressive movement -- within the context of neoliberalism
and adversarial politics -- would heighten the fears of the
right, fan the flames of polarization, and help facilitate an
overt fascist takeover. Indeed, if a progressive movement
showed any signs of gaining power, the elite regime would be
likely to play the fascist card in self-defense. This is why
I'm writing this book instead of campaigning for Nader.

There is also a more strategic reason why a 'progressive
victory' is a no-win idea -- even if it were achievable. Such
a victory would perpetuate hierarchy and the adversarial game.
The progressives would be on top for a while, but society
would remain divided. Progressive legislation would presumably
be enacted, but it would be enacted and enforced by a
centralized government. Those in opposition would rankle under
what they perceived to be a 'leftist dictatorship'. The forces
of reaction would exploit this divisiveness and there would
always be a danger that the political pendulum would swing
back to the right. This is in part how Reagan was able to come
to power -- an eventuality that would have seemed
inconceivable during the euphoric progressive resurgence that
followed the resignation of Richard Nixon.

If we want to transform society both economically and
politically, then we must first transform our culture. If we
want a non-dominator culture, we cannot achieve it by using
dominator methods. Such a culture cannot be imposed by a
centralized government, it must be grown from the grassroots.
The Soviet experience demonstrates what can happen when a
centralized government sets out to create a brave new world in
the name of 'the people'. A dictatorship of the proletariat is
just another kind of hierarchical rule by elites.

In order to escape from the trap of factionalism, we need to
find a way to get beyond the superficial issues that divide
us. Underneath our political and religious beliefs we are all
human beings who want a better and saner world for our
families and our descendents. Instead of focusing on what
divides us, and struggling to prevail over the 'other', we
need to find a way to focus on what unites us -- and learn how
to work together to achieve the kind of world we all want. We
face a common crisis as neoliberal capitalism destroys our
societies and threatens our life support systems. This crisis
presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to find our
common ground, as there is no sizable segment of the
population that benefits from the direction the regime is
taking us in. Factionalism no longer has any economic teeth --
the regime keeps us divided not by appealing to our self
interest but by means of manufactured and sensationalized
fears and anxieties.

If We the People are to respond effectively to our
Transformational Imperative -- to save the world and humanity
from its crisis -- we need first to actualize our common
identity as We the People. We need to learn to see one another
as human beings rather than as 'us' and 'them'. We need to
learn how to harmonize our deep common interests instead of
accentuating our superficial differences. In order to respond
to our Transformational Imperative, we must first respond to
this Harmonization Imperative.

Fortunately, there is a proven means by which we can move
effectively toward cultural harmonization and overcome
cultural factionalism. That means goes under the simple name
of 'dialog', and the next chapter is devoted to examining the
remarkable results that been achieved by appropriate kinds of
dialog -- and exploring how dialog might be employed to awaken
We the People and empower us together to respond to our
Transformational Imperative.



* A very promising gathering in Michigan

In June, 2004, twenty four diverse "opinion leaders" were
invited to a conference in Michigan which had the following
stated purpose:

      The purpose of this gathering is to [initiate] a new kind of
      public conversation that moves us beyond polarization so we
      [can] effectively address the issues we care most about. . . .

The participants were from all across the political spectrum,
including a former FBI agent, the National Field Director of
the Christian Coalition, a founding member of the National
Congress of Black Women , a board member of the National Rifle
Association, the president of a left-leaning legal-issues
organization, former Weather Underground supporters, and
former speakers at white racist gatherings.

Is this gathering a joke? From such a radically diverse
conference one might expect fist fights and shouting matches
to emerge, rather than any kind of agreement or consensus. Tom
Atlee, one of the participants, expressed his misgivings prior
to the gathering this way:

      Using Google, I researched the people who were coming to the
      conversation. I read articles by the conservatives and
      listened to their radio talk shows -- and I got triggered by
      what they said. I reacted with anger, frustration and
      rejection of who they were. I thought silent counter arguments
      and felt the rise of adrenaline. Friends warned me to be
      careful -- or couldn't even imagine going to talk with such

But somehow, at the conference in Michigan, the outcome
transcended these negative expectations. It turned out to be a
very productive meeting. Another of the participants, Mark
Satin, wrote an article about the experience, and he sums up
the results this way:

      Before leaving, we all signed our names to a document titled
      "We the People." Many of us signed with flourishes, as if we
      were signing something akin to the Declaration of
      Independence. Here are the key passages:
      "We respect our differences and recognize America needs every
      one of our viewpoints, ideas, and passions -- even those we
      don't agree with -- to keep our democracy vital and alive;
      "We recognize that meeting here and across our land for
      dialogues across differences builds trust, understanding,
      respect, and empowerment -- the conditions necessary for
      freedom and democracy to live in us and around us;
      "And, therefore, each still grounded in our own considered
      views (conscience and convictions), we commit ourselves and
      our communities of interest to foster dialogue across the many
      divides in America, in large and small groups, to build trust,
      insight, and inspired action toward the more perfect union we
      all desire".

How were these people able to cut through their differences
and arrive at a statement they could all sign their names to?
Why did these people take the trouble to get together with
their political 'enemies' in the first place? Why do they now
feel it is important for them to keep working together? Was
this a one-off event or is it something that could be repeated
elsewhere? Could this be a microcosm of how factionalism might
be overcome in our society generally -- could it be part of
the response to our Harmonization Imperative? Could this be a
way to give real meaning to the phrase, 'We the People'?

* Meeting dynamics: collaborative & adversarial

Consider for a moment the many kinds of meetings that occur in
our society. In business, meetings are held regularly to make
plans and coordinate people's activities. If parents feel that
their children need a crossing guard on the way to school,
then they organize a neighborhood meeting. When a country
decides to go to war, that decision is made in some meeting
among high-level officials. In government one wonders if they
do anything but go to meetings, whether they be official
government sessions, or meetings with staff, colleagues,
lobbyists, backers, or constituents. If people want to start a
political movement, they begin by organizing meetings. The
American Revolution was born in New England pubs, where the
rebellious minded held meetings and plotted against the King,
inspired by the local brew.

Although many of us have negative feelings about meetings, and
about their effectiveness, the fact is that meetings are the
place where people generally make joint plans and reach group
decisions. Some of these meetings are collaborative, and some
are adversarial. We are all familiar with both kinds.

A typical example of a collaborative meeting would be the
neighborhood gathering mentioned above, where the parents
would like to see a crossing guard assigned to a dangerous
local intersection. The people have a common goal, and they
work together cooperatively to achieve it. People offer
suggestions for actions which can be taken, the suggestions
are discussed, and people volunteer to help with the actions
that are agreed to. If the meeting is successful, everyone
comes away better off -- the concept of winners and losers is
irrelevant to a collaborative meeting.

A typical example of an adversarial meeting would be a city
council session where a controversial development project is
being discussed. The developers and business community are
showing slides of beautiful landscaped buildings and talking
of new jobs, while neighborhood protestors are complaining
about increased traffic and the loss of a children's
playground. The typical outcome of such a meeting is that one
side wins and the other loses. Either the development project
goes ahead, and the neighborhood suffers, or else the project
is rejected and the investors may suffer considerable losses.

It is very unusual for anything creative to happen at an
adversarial meeting. People, or factions, come in with agendas
to promote -- agendas that were created somewhere else. If the
meeting is unable to resolve an issue, it is typically
deferred -- and people are expected to go off somewhere else
and create revised proposals. The 'somewhere else' -- where
the creative activity of planning occurs -- is generally a
meeting of the collaborative variety. In our city council
example, the developers and promoters have been meeting
collaboratively for months preparing their project plans and
their city-council presentation. Similarly, the neighborhood
protestors have held collaborative meetings to assess their
feelings and to decide how best to express their concerns to
the city council. The adversarial meeting -- the official
'decision making' meeting -- is not a discussion session, but
is rather a battle of strength between the two opposing sides:
Which side can muster the most support among the city council
members? Which side can spout the most convincing rhetoric,
painting its own proposals in the colors of the common good?

Parliamentary sessions in liberal 'democracies' are based on
the adversarial meeting model. A chairman governs the
proceedings, proposals can be introduced, time is allowed for
debate, and a majority vote decides each question. The
'debate' is typically rhetorical, for public consumption, and
seldom affects the outcome of the vote. This is not a system
designed to solve problems nor to encourage useful discussion
-- it is a system designed to efficiently measure the relative
power of opposing factions, and to promptly assign the rewards
to the strongest. Just as the floor of the stock market is
designed to efficiently manage the investment transactions of
the wealthy elite, so is the floor of the parliament designed
to efficiently referee power transactions among elite

A collaborative meeting operates according to collaborative
dynamics, and an adversarial meeting operates according to
adversarial dynamics. Collaborative dynamics are about people
seeking common ground, identifying common problems, and
working creatively together to find mutually beneficial
solutions. Within collaborative dynamics people have an
incentive to listen to one another's perspectives, and in the
problem-solving process the group typically converges toward a
consensus perspective on the problems at hand.

Adversarial dynamics are about people debating from their
fixed perspectives in an attempt to prevail over the other
side. There is little incentive to listen to the other side,
apart from looking for weaknesses that can be exploited. Each
side may attempt to shift the perspective of the other side,
but neither side has any intention of shifting its own
perspective. Whereas people learn useful things about their
shared problems within collaborative dynamics, the only thing
learned within adversarial dynamics is how to better combat
the other side. Collaborative dynamics tend to resolve group
factionalism when it arises, while adversarial dynamics tend
to reinforce and encourage group factionalism.

* A gap in our cultural repertoire

These two meeting models are very common in our society, and
indeed they are more or less the extent of our cultural
repertoire. We know how to get together with our allies and
make plans to promote our shared interests, and we know how to
fight for our side in an adversarial gathering, according to
whatever rules are in play. What we don't know much about, and
don't have many cultural models for, is how to resolve
differences within a group of people. We don't know how to
engage in productive dialog within a group of people who
express conflicting interests.

In an adversarial meeting the differences are accepted as a
given, as a fixed quantity, and the business of the meeting is
to enable the different factions to battle it out until a
winner can be chosen. There is no attempt to resolve the
differences: people go away with their perspectives unchanged,
and the same factions retire to prepare for their next

When people come into a collaborative meeting, they come in
with the knowledge that they are bound by common interests to
the other participants. Indeed, the people come together in
order to collaborate in advancing those common interests. In
order to 'get on with it' and 'make progress', participants
tend to avoid bringing up internal differences in such
meetings. At such a meeting a 'good leader' will be skillful
at defusing differences, articulating compromises, and keeping
the meeting 'on track'. Minority factions within the group are
encouraged to stifle their 'divisive' concerns, and join the
majority in a 'consensus' that will advance the identified
common interests of the group. And in the competition between
different factions, success tends to go to those which are
best able to submerge their internal differences, focus on
their primary interests, and adopt decisive action plans.

Under neither dynamics is there an attempt to engage in
constructive dialog regarding the differences in the group.
Under adversarial dynamics there is dialog over differences --
but it is the dialog of power, expressed in the language of
influence and votes. Under collaborative dynamics, discussion
of differences is avoided, so that the group can focus on
their identified common interests and get on with their
primary business. In the one case difference are expressed
competitively and are reinforced, and in the other case
differences are suppressed. In neither case are differences

This gap in our cultural repertoire creates a problem for
popular initiatives, particularly in a society which is
already split by factionalism. Indeed, the gap can lead to
difficulties whenever people attempt to work together. Here's
an example I observed on a recent visit to the San Francisco
Bay Area. The population there is relatively progressive, and
there is widespread support for an increased focus on public
transport. But instead of people getting together and coming
up with a common proposal, people soon divided themselves into
two camps. One camp wanted to expand the conventional rail
network, while another wanted to expand the rapid-transit
system. Most of the available activist energy was then devoted
to a struggle between these two camps.

As I read over the positions of the two camps, as an outside
observer, it seemed obvious to me that the best of the ideas
could be usefully combined into a cost-effective hybrid
proposal. The real solution, it seemed, would be to make
strategic interconnecting links, and coordinate upgrades,
among available transport systems -- rather than promoting one
kind of transport to the exclusion of another. Of course my
own arm-chair proposal probably didn't take everything into
account, but the main point remains: the two camps were
fighting over their differences rather than trying to resolve
them -- and missed any opportunity to find synergy in some
creative middle ground. The collaborative meeting model could
not serve the two camps, because neither side was willing to
stifle its ideas -- so the activists adopted the only other
available cultural model: adversarial engagement. As a
consequence of this split in popular activism, the transport
planning decisions will most likely be made by speculative
developers and their politician cronies, and whatever they
decide they will be able to claim their decision has 'public

Most of us consider public meetings to be a waste of time,
particularly when they attempt to deal with issues that are
complex or controversial. This is because we have prior
experience with the dynamics that are likely to occur. First
there will be an attempt to reach a rapid consensus, most
likely proposed by those calling the meeting. Then someone in
the back stands up and disagrees, voicing some objection. That
sparks other suggestions and objections. The meeting threatens
to 'get out of control' -- to revert to adversarial dynamics.
The organizers attempt to bring the dynamics back into
collaboration. If they succeed, then some of the participants
go away feeling their interests have been betrayed; if they
fail, then everyone goes away with the feeling that yet
another meeting has been a waste of time.

Because of these circumstances, anyone with a motivation to
pursue political activism soon learns to flock with birds of
the same feather. Environmentalists flock under a green
banner, animal rights activists follow their drummer, other
groups rally around their opposition to corporate power, or
their stance in favor of or against abortion rights, etc. In
order to get anything done, collaborative dynamics are
required, and gathering together in interest groups seems to
be the natural thing to do. Those gathering together already
agree on what's important, and they are thus able -- depending
on their organizational ability -- to get get on with a
program, rather than 'wasting time' debating the priority of
different issues. In this way the energy of popular
initiatives gets sucked into the game of adversarial
factionalism -- a game whose rules are set down by elites for
their own advantage. Just as in Las Vegas or Wall Street, this
is a game where the house always wins in the end.

If we want to overcome factionalism at the macro level, at the
level of society, we must first learn how to overcome
differences at the micro level, down in the grassroots where
people meet face to face. We need to extend our cultural
repertoire to include gatherings of a third kind, where people
neither compete to win or lose, nor submerge their differences
in order to reach a shallow consensus. We need a third
dynamics, a dynamics of harmonization, a dynamics that
encourages us us to express our concerns fully, and which
enables us to work creatively with that information to find
ways forward that benefit everyone involved. If our cultural
repertoire can be extended in this way, at the micro level,
then we may find that there are new ways of working together
on a larger scale as well -- ways that avoid the quicksand of
adversarial politics.

* The dynamics of harmonization

Although harmonizing dynamics is not part of our mainstream
culture, it is a well-developed part of certain sub-cultures.
In particular, if we look at the management-consultant and
meeting-facilitation communities, we find that harmonization
(under various names) is a rapidly expanding domain of
knowledge and practice. In the pursuit of greater efficiency
and competitiveness, corporations want their internal teams to
work more effectively together -- and this has spawned a whole
industry of consultants and facilitators. As a consequence the
state-of-the-art of facilitation has progressed along many
lines, and some of those lines have produced very promising
results as regards harmonization. Indeed, there are several
proven facilitation methodologies that focus on overcoming
group differences at a deep level, thereby unlocking creative
synergy that was previously blocked by divisiveness or
misunderstanding. Not all of these methodologies were
developed in the industrial context, but corporate support has
overall provided a boost to this field of practice -- and
success in the domain of corporate teamwork provides hard
evidence for the effectiveness and value of these techniques.

These facilitation techniques have proven to be successful in
socially-oriented contexts as well, as evidenced by the
outcome of the Michigan gathering. An extensive listing of
initiatives and methodologies relevant to harmonization
dynamics (closely related to what Tom Atlee calls
"co-intelligence") can be found on Tom's website: These techniques are proven
and reliable. They enable groups to transcend their
differences, discover their underlying common ground, and come
up with creative, breakthrough solutions to difficult problems
and seemingly intractable conflicts. Furthermore, people who
participate in one of these session generally report that they
find the experience to be personally transforming.

This kind of facilitation is not about a leader guiding the
group through an agenda or a problem-solving system. The main
job of the facilitator, in achieving harmonization, is to
enable the participants to learn how to listen to one another.
That turns out to be the key to harmonization -- really
listening. Listening without thinking about a counter-argument
at the same time. Listening without judging and dismissing.
And beyond that, listening with the respect that every person
deserves and that we ourselves would hope to receive when we

Our culture doesn't give us much experience with this kind of
patient and respectful listening. Typically in social
conversations we are thinking about what we're going to say
next instead of really listening. In adversarial meetings we
listen in order to retort, and in collaborative meetings we
are only interested in hearing things that move the agenda
forward. It never seems like a good use of our time to pause
and really listen to what everyone has to say, even those we
might consider to be divisive or uninformed. But such
listening is possible, we can all do it if we have a bit of
support, and when it occurs amazing things happen.

The Michigan gathering was a particularly dramatic example,
involving people who are deeply committed to radically
opposing factions. At the end they created and signed a "We
the People" declaration, and we will return to examine the
substance of that declaration. Perhaps more significant than
the specific document is the fact that this group could reach
any agreement at all, and perhaps still more significant is
the fact that the group expressed a sense of solidarity. The
title itself, "We the People", indicates an amazing and
surprising outcome from this particular group.

My own introduction to harmonization dynamics came in a
roundabout way. I had organized a gathering in Berkeley of
about a dozen progressive activists and thinkers. My intention
was to to explore with the group certain ideas that I had been
developing. I had learned about consensus decision making and
was convinced that the key to an effective movement could be
found in consensus. If we could agree on a vision for a new
kind of society, and if we could agree that radical change was
necessary, then we could reach a consensus that might become
the basis of a radical popular movement. Since we all shared
progressive views, I figured we should be able to avoid
divisiveness, and consensus would be achievable. I prepared a
discussion agenda and my intention was to lead a discussion
based on the agenda, the last item of which was to document
whatever consensus we had reached.

For a while the meeting seemed to be going 'on track'. We got
through a good portion of the agenda and wrote down many
points of agreement on several flip charts. And then someone
spoke up and complained about the agenda. He had other things
in mind he wanted to talk about. I considered this to be a
divisive interruption of our process, and a threat to the
'progress' we were making in our 'limited time'. I tried to
get the discussion back 'on track', but he persisted in his
objections. At that point, feeling frustrated and
'threatened', I totally lost awareness and told the fellow he
should go off and organize his own meeting(!) I'm sure you can
imagine how my rude outburst affected the tone of the
gathering. Any momentum we had achieved suddenly evaporated.
There was a seemingly endless moment of embarrassing silence.
I wished I were somewhere else, as I was expecting some
measure of deserved ridicule from the group.

But something else happened instead, something that
transformed the gathering and created a space that I hadn't
visited before -- the space of real dialog. A woman spoke up
and asked if I'd mind if she tried a bit of facilitation.
Relieved to see the focus of attention shift away from myself,
I readily agreed to her offer, not knowing what 'facilitation'
was or how it could help. What she did was very simple. She
asked the other fellow what he was expecting from the meeting
and then she asked me the same thing. His answer was basically
a repetition of what he had said before, but somehow I could
now hear it as a sensible concern rather than as a disruption.
When it came my turn to answer I felt like I was making a
public 'confession'. I was opening myself up to a kind of
vulnerability I wasn't accustomed to -- the vulnerability of
being really 'present' and 'exposed'. As other participants
shared their thoughts about the session, that's when I
realized that our exchange was now taking place in a different
space than before. It was a space occupied by people, rather
than by ideas, 'discussion', flip charts, and 'progress'.

I had always thought of dialog as being primarily a logical
interaction among ideas, as in the pages of a scientific
journal. In this new space I realized that dialog has a more
profound dimension. Dialog is the means by which people
express who they are. It is the means by which they become
'present' in the group. By 'listening to people', rather than
'hearing ideas', we allow a shared space of openness and trust
to emerge. As people express their concerns, in an atmosphere
of respectful listening, the space expands and everyone's
presence expands. The group becomes a 'We' rather than just a
cluster of individuals. Not a manufactured, compromise We,
where diversity is submerged, but an empowered, alive We,
where diversity is embraced -- all of it adding to the
collective experience and insight of the group. In this space,
diversity brings synergy rather than conflict.

Being in this space was a powerful experience. It wasn't a
new-age "We are one with the cosmos" experience, and it wasn't
a brainwashing "Merge with the group" experience. It was more
like the experience of being part of an effective team: "We
are all present and now we can do some good work." It became
clear to me that until this kind of presence comes into being,
dialog can only exist in the black & white space of abstract
ideas. With presence, and with listening, I felt that We could
tackle any problem and We would do so with technicolor synergy
-- with a spirit of intelligent, creative, collective inquiry.

Unfortunately, in the Berkeley gathering, we didn't have
enough time left to do much with the experience -- other than
for us first-timers to get a taste for what might be possible.
Let's return to the Michigan gathering, which was better
organized and able to go further. Mark describes the first
evening's activities this way:

      On Friday night, we broke into three groups (of eight
      participants and one facilitator each) to discuss such
      questions as, What did you understand about being an American
      when you were 12 years old? How have you experienced political
      differences and how did that affect you personally?
      It was impossible to participate in that exercise without
      coming to see (and feel and know) that every participant,
      whatever their politics, was a complex and caring human being.

This description is extremely brief, but we can see the same
basic elements I experienced in Berkeley. People were invited
to become present by expressing who they are, and what kind of
experience they've been through. And as a consequence of this
open sharing, in a space of facilitated listening, the focus
was on the people, and their mutual respect, rather than on
any specific issues. As the weekend progressed, the group
moved on to examine questions like, "What is missing in
conventional political discourse?". Conflict was expressed as
well as agreement, but the group was able to do something
creative with the conflict as well:

      Someone tried to classify participants' approaches as "left"
      or "right." Someone on the right took umbrage with that,
      feeling that the qualities cited as "right" were insulting
      stereotypes; and that pressed many people's buttons; and round
      and round and round we went, and the afternoon shadows grew
      But the end result of that conversation is we all realized --
      I mean, we all really "got" -- how misleading and even
      infantilizing the old political spectrum had become.
      In another exercise, the participants were asked to tell about
      each of the key decisions they'd made in their political
      Everyone stared, some of us open-mouthed, as various
      "left"-wingers and "right-" wingers, former Weather
      Underground supporters and former speakers at white racist
      gatherings, shared the incidents that shaped their lives.
      And revealed without even trying that every caring person is a
      brother or sister under the skin.
      And that our values are at some deep level fundamentally the
With these kinds of breakthroughs, we can understand how the
group was able and willing to sign their "We the People"
declaration. They also decided to co-sponsor a larger,
follow-up conference -- and they agreed to pursue a few other
collective projects as well. We'll return in the next chapter
to explore the political potential of this thread of
initiatives. For now, I'd like to focus on the dynamics of the

Earlier, I drew a distinction between collaborative and
adversarial dynamics, and suggested that our culture is
lacking -- and needing -- a dynamics of harmonization. In that
discussion I was talking about ideas and issues, and the
problem of how to resolve differences. In this current
section, we've seen that it is possible to enter a space where
the dynamics of harmonization operate -- but the door to that
space seems to be about people rather than about ideas and
issues. And in going through that door, its seems that we may
experience some kind of personal transformation. Mark reported
a transformation in terms of his activism:

      ...for the first time in many years, I feel enthusiastic
      enough about an incipient political movement to want to put my
      shoulder to the wheel.
In the Berkeley gathering, my transformation was about the
realization that the people part of dialog is more fundamental
than the issue part of dialog. Tom Atlee says, regarding the
Michigan gathering:
      In the end I experienced a deep, gut-level transformation. I
      had a profound personal shift away from Left/Right framings
      that was comparable to my earlier shifts away from sexism and
It seems that there is no single flavor of transformation that
occurs in this space of harmonization. Rather, we each tend to
undergo whatever transformation is needed to remove those
internal blocks that prevent us from being present with a
particular group at a particular time.

The dynamics of harmonization are quite different than
adversarial and collaborative dynamics. Harmonization begins
by expanding the space to include everyone's diverse concerns
and interests. Adversarial and collaborative dynamics both
begin by limiting the space to narrowly defined issues and
interests. Participating in the space of harmonization
involves being open and present as a complex human being.
Participating in an adversarial or collaborative space
involves only being an advocate or opponent of some issue or
proposal. The experience of harmonization often leads to
personal growth and transformation, while adversarial and
collaborative experiences tend to reinforce pre-existing
positions and attitudes. Harmonization breaks down barriers
between people and enables them listen to one another and to
find common ground at a deep level. Adversarial and
collaborative dynamics  reinforce factionalism and regard
deeper issues as being irrelevant or divisive.

Collaborative meetings provide a space in which factions can
rally together and plan their strategies. Adversarial meetings
provide a space in which factions can compete for dominance.
Harmonization-based meetings provide a space which may enable
us to do away with factional divisiveness altogether.

In the microcosm of a facilitated gathering, we know it is
possible for the empowered spirit of We the People to be
kindled. We know that in that space of harmonization it is
possible for this empowered microcosm to work together
effectively and creatively as a group. At the level of the
microcosm, assuming the availability of appropriate
facilitation, we can see a way to overcome factionalism and
bring We the People into being.

This leads us to several useful questions: How can the
practice and understanding of harmonization dynamics be
brought into the mainstream culture? How can the availability
of facilitators be expanded, or alternatively, how can the
need for facilitators be reduced -- so that the dynamics of
harmonization can be practiced more widely? How can progress
in the microcosm be translated into progress in the macrocosm?
That is to say, how can We the People come into coherent being
at the level of a community, a region, a nation, or the whole
globe? How can We the People become a 'player' in society and
in global affairs? And if We achieve that, how can We dialog
with, or engage with, the established regime so as to respond
effectively to Our Transformational Imperative? How can We the
People create a new society, and can we (you and me today)
anticipate what that society might be like?

These are the questions we will be investigating in the rest
of this book.


* The prospects for a large-scale harmonization movement

One of the remarkable outcomes of harmonization experiences is
the enthusiasm that can be generated for sharing the
experience more widely. In my case, soon after the Berkeley
gathering, I was inspired to write and self-publish a
pamphlet, "The Zen of Global Transformation" -- in order to
share the principle of harmonization and to explore its
potential. The Michigan gathering arose out of the enthusiasm
generated by a previous harmonization event that occurred in
Ashland, Oregon. The Ashland event, in turn, was inspired by a
radio interview with Tom Atlee, whose enthusiasm for
harmonization lit a flame under a few Ashland activists. The
same kind of evangelistic enthusiasm arose again in the
Michigan gathering, as evidenced by the "We the People"
declaration and also by the plans the participants agreed to
(quoting again from Mark):

      It was decided that we'd all join the advisory boards of the
      two co-sponsoring organizations (Let's Talk America and
      Democracy in America). Immediately those boards became the
      most politically diverse boards in America.
      It was decided that the two organizations would convene a
      follow-up conference for hundreds of participants some time
      this fall (with funding to come from three left-wing groups,
      three right-wing groups, and a "bridging" grant from Fetzer).
      It was decided that many of us would initiate political
      conversations in our professional or geographic communities,
      and invite participants to the follow-up conference.

The fundamental reason why these sessions generate such
enthusiasm is the sense of empowerment that arises when the
space of We the People is entered. When you are in that space,
you realize that We really can make a difference -- it really
is possible for Us -- all of Us -- to get Our act together and
change things. This realization is a transformative, uplifting
experience. When you experience it in the microcosm, you know
intuitively that it could -- somehow -- happen on a larger
scale. It is an experience that awakens those who are
apathetic, and offers new hope and direction to those who are
already socially conscious. It is an experience that gives one
a new faith in humanity -- no one really needs to be my enemy,
we can all work together, and peace on all fronts is not
contrary to human nature. In order to see that faith realized,
one naturally would like to see others go through the same
kind of experience.

Whenever a certain experience inspires people to bring that
experience to others, then we have the seed of a potential
cultural movement. When people are inspired by an experience
to go out and actively bring it to MANY others, then we may be
looking at a cultural movement that has the potential to grow
rapidly and widely. One shares with ten, ten share with a
hundred, etc. Such a movement can spread throughout a whole
society in a relatively short period of time. The propagation
dynamics are like those of a funny story -- one day you
haven't heard it and the next day it's all around you. A funny
story propagates exponentially: the more it spreads the faster
it spreads -- because the more it has spread, then the more
people there are who are spreading it further.

Unfortunately, spreading the harmonization experience is more
difficult than spreading a story. It takes more than just one
person telling a few others. An event needs to be organized
and funded, people must be found who are motivated to
participate, and adequate facilitation support must be
available. These difficulties slow down the rate of
propagation, but they do not change the exponential dynamics.
Let's examine each of the difficulties in turn.

The activist energy available for organizing and promoting
harmonization events is likely to grow in proportion to the
number of activists who have gone through the experience. This
would help support an exponential rate of propagation. In
addition, the receptivity of people generally (activists or
otherwise) to respond to invitations can be expected to
increase as word spreads about the nature of the experience.
The Michigan gathering demonstrates that everyone -- across
the spectrum of beliefs -- is potentially receptive to the
experience. It is a movement for everyone, not just
progressives, and not just activists.

Funding is a different sort of difficulty. Funding sources,
such as those tapped for the Michigan event, cannot be
expected to multiply their contributions indefinitely. In
order for an exponential rate of propagation to continue, new
means of funding would need to be developed along the way. I
do not believe this would turn out to be a limiting obstacle.
I don't see any reason why such events would not become
self-funding -- particularly as interest begins to develop in
the mainstream culture. Besides, the costs of holding
harmonization sessions are not exorbitant. If such a movement
gains momentum, creative ways to deal with funding would be
very likely to emerge and be adopted by subsequent organizers.
In many cases, we might expect motivated activists to
volunteer their time and skills, reducing or eliminating the
need for funding.

The most critical difficulty in achieving exponential growth
would seem to be the availability of qualified facilitators.
If the number of facilitators remains relatively fixed, then
that places an upper bound on the rate of propagation. This
would threaten to reduce the propagation to a linear rate,
rather than exponential. But even this obstacle would probably
be overcome. It only takes a few days to train a new group of
facilitators, and just a bit more training enables a
facilitator to train others. If the movement gains momentum,
the dynamics of supply and demand should encourage more
training sessions to be offered and more potential
facilitators to attend those sessions. Every motivated
activist is a potential facilitator, and there are hundreds of
thousands of activists in each of our Western societies.

Besides, as people become familiar with the dynamics of
harmonization there would presumably be less need for special
facilitation skills. After all, harmonization is simply about
a group of people taking a 'time out' to listen to one another
-- and it turns out that this is a very natural thing for
people to do. Native Americans, with their their pow wows and
peace pipes, were creating a space of listening and
harmonization. When we lived in small bands, which is most of
our time as humans, it was natural for us to learn how to
maintain basic harmony in the group, and this was important
for group survival. Under the domination of hierarchies, and
divided either by class or factionalism, we have forgotten
what was once natural. Remembering is a liberating experience.

These considerations do not prove that a large-scale cultural
movement will develop. But they do show that the potential is
there. The We the People enthusiasm generated by harmonization
provides the energy for propagation, and there is no inherent
obstacle that would be likely to prevent exponential growth.
Whether or not such a large-scale movement actually develops
depends on whether actual individuals and groups follow up on
their enthusiasm and do something to bring the experience to
others. When we look at the chain of events from the Ashland
session, to the diverse Michigan session with its "We the
People" declaration, to the planned "follow-up conference for
hundreds" -- we can see a momentum developing, and we are
seeing the kind of initiatives that might be able to get a
real flame going under this potentially wildfire movement.

Although the scenario I've been developing here has been
highly speculative, I nonetheless believe -- because of our
current historical situation -- that this movement is very
likely to grow and break into the mainstream. Everyone knows
down deep that our societies are in trouble. Some blame the
liberal elite and the liberal media, while others blame the
right-wing elite and the corporate media. Some are concerned
about moral decline, others are concerned about environmental
degradation, and others are mainly concerned about feeding
their families in a deteriorating economy. Everyone is
concerned by the increasing levels of conflict and suffering
on the world stage. Some think we need to return to
traditional values, and some think we need to advance into a
more progressive age. We all know down deep that something
needs to be done, and most of us don't see anything very
promising on the horizon. Many of us, perhaps most, have given
up hope that things might get better or that there is anything
we can do to make a difference. The most we hope for is that
things don't get too bad too quickly, and that our own family
and friends will be OK. If we still have enough hope to be
activists, we mostly spend our energy trying to minimize
suffering and slow down the process of decline.

The reason that the We the People experience generates such
deep and general enthusiasm -- at this particular time in
history -- is because it offers real, deeply-felt hope that
'something can be done' about our situation. Most of us have
had to submerge any such hope in order to get on with our
lives. When that hope is allowed to awaken, and when it finds
nourishment in community with others, that is transformative
at a very deep psychological level -- the level of personal
survival and species survival. If this were the relatively
prosperous 1960s, the We the People experience might be just
one more 'tribal trip', another 'group high' for that segment
of society which was entranced by the vision new-age
flower-power. But today, when the seemingly unstoppable
deterioration of our societies can be perceived by everyone of
all stripes, the We the People experience hits home for all of
us, and at a more profound level.

For those who have a strong social conscience, in this time of
social crisis and hopelessness, the discovery of a 'path that
offers real hope' creates an action imperative. If you care
deeply about humanity and its future, and if you know there is
a promising way forward, then you don't simply want to do
something about it -- you MUST do something about it.
Different people will experience this imperative more strongly
than others, and people may have a variety of notions about
where harmonization might lead us as a society -- but taken
all together I believe this deep imperative will provide a
formidable driving force that will push the movement forward
with determination and persistence. Real hope, in an era that
desperately needs hope, will turn out to be highly contagious.

* We the People: the process of waking up

We the People are like a sleeping giant, a giant that has been
asleep for millennia. When a group of us find community in a
harmonization session, that is a twitch -- a part of the
giant's body beginning to wake up. When a harmonization
movement leads to many of us finding community in that way,
the giant begins to toss and turn. When the movement begins to
be consciousness of itself as a potential actor in the affairs
of society, then the giant sits up, rubs its eyes, and begins
to wonder, "Where am I?". The giant's brain is muddled as
dreams fade and confusing images begin to come in from the
outside world. The dreams are all the hopes and fears that we
as individuals have experienced under the oppression of
hierarchies -- while the giant slept. The confusion of new
images represents Our first fumbling attempts -- as We the
People -- to achieve a coherent sense of the world around Us,
and Our place in it.

Before the giant can make plans or begin to act, it must first
clear its head, stretch its body, take a look around, and gain
an understanding of the unfamiliar situation it finds itself
in. That is to say: before We the People can usefully think in
terms of social goals and strategies, We must first finish
waking up. We must learn how to achieve coherence as a
movement, We must develop a realistic shared understanding of
the political and economic challenges that face us, and --
unaccustomed as we are to giant-hood -- We must learn to
appreciate our own strength and potential as an actor in
society. Only then can our plans and actions -- as We the
People -- reach their full potential.

Unfortunately, as our giant begins to awake, it will not know
that it is a giant. My apologies for mixing metaphors, but the
waking giant will be like the ugly duckling who didn't know it
was really a swan. The giant will not realize how much it has
to learn, and it will have little understanding of its full
potential. That is to say: most of the people who come to the
harmonization experience will be mainstream citizens who do
not yet think in radical terms. Most participants, when they
encounter the We the People experience, will not be thinking
in terms of a total transformation of society. They will see a
'path that offers real hope', but for most of them 'hope' will
be defined in terms of democratic reforms to the current
system. They will feel empowerment in community with others,
but their vision of how far empowerment can go will be bounded
by the current structures of society. They will be very likely
to think in terms of plans and actions before the giant is
fully awake. Consider for example these words from Mark Satin,
referring to plans for the follow-up conference:

      It was strongly suggested that a "consensus statement of
      American goals and priorities" be prepared during or after the
      conference, by functional area -- "governance and law,"
      "learning and education," etc. (None dared call it a political

I think it is clear that any such consensus statement, at such
an early stage of the movement, will be very timid. We might
see calls for increased funding for education, a bigger role
for public input to policy, curbs on corporate power, etc. We
are unlikely to see any deep thinking about how a capitalist
economy functions -- and why meaningful reforms cannot be
delivered simply by waving the magic wand of policy
priorities. We may see a call for environmental safeguards,
but we are unlikely to see a fundamental commitment to
sustainability, nor an understanding of what sustainability
really implies in terms of social transformation. We are
unlikely to see the emergence of a systems perspective, nor an
understanding of how deep the problems go in our current
societies. Our giant is still in the early stages of waking up
and its mind is still muddled by dreams. The giant doesn't
realize that it is not yet fully awake and that its attempts
to begin taking action are premature and futile.

This kind of premature attempt at action is both necessary and
dangerous. It is necessary because We the People need to learn
how to think and act coherently. It is dangerous because the
all-important evolution of the cultural movement might be
aborted by the premature development of a political movement.
Suppose for example, at the follow-up conference, that the
group of "hundreds" succeeds in adopting a seemingly strong
consensus agenda of "American goals and priorities". Suppose
then that the energy of the organizers and participants is
shunted into an effort to build a political movement around
that agenda. The harmonization process might then become only
a means of advancing that limited agenda, and We the People
might be prevented from fully awakening. Such a political
movement might succeed in achieving some temporary reforms --
if it is lucky -- but the real potential of the cultural
movement would not be realized.

I doubt that this adverse scenario will actually develop. Such
an unwise narrowing of perspective to short-term objectives is
not typical of the outcomes of previous harmonization events.
There seems to be an inherent wisdom in such gatherings (Tom
Atlee's "co-intelligence") that tends to avoid such cul de
sacs. Although the Michigan participants suggested that a
future gathering might focus on a policy agenda, it is notable
that they did not narrow their focus in that way themselves in
their own gathering. They realized, even without articulating
it explicitly, that any policy agenda of their own would have
been premature. They knew that they were only a small group,
and that more people would need to be brought in before policy
discussions have any democratic legitimacy. The focus of their
work, wisely, was to figure out how they could most
effectively spread the harmonization experience to others.

If the "conference for hundreds" works within the dynamics of
harmonization, then I believe those dynamics will enable the
group to come to the same implicit understanding. Even
"hundreds" are not enough to speak for We the People
generally. In the space of harmonization people come to
respect one another -- and they also feel respect and
responsibility toward those who are not present. The
experience of We the People does not lead to an exclusive
feeling that "We are a special, talented group who should
point the way for others", but rather to a universal feeling
that "Any group of people can experience this, and everyone
should get the chance to do so". I suspect, and hope, that
even while its brain is still beclouded by dreams, our We the
People giant will have enough inherent good sense to avoid
stumbling into premature pitfalls. From a strategic
perspective, the primary mission of a harmonization movement
-- in its early stages -- is to spread the We the People
experience into the mainstream culture. I believe that the
nature of the harmonization experience will prevent the early
movement from straying too far from this all-important

If our giant can avoid early pitfalls -- while it is still
rubbing the sleep out of its eyes -- then it will soon be able
to develop a sense of itself and a basic understanding of its
surroundings. In movement terms, this means that the movement
is likely to soon achieve an essential critical mass -- as
regards constituency, coherence, and awareness. In terms of
constituency, critical mass will be achieved when the
harmonization experience is spread widely enough so that the
movement develops several independent 'centers', and several
autonomous threads of initiatives. In terms of coherence,
critical mass will be achieved when these parallel threads
begin learning how to harmonize their thinking and activities
without creating a hierarchical organization or a centralized
leadership circle. In terms of awareness, critical mass will
be achieved when people in the movement begin to get a sense
for the immense potential of the movement -- and of the
equally immense challenges that We the People must learn how
to deal with.

The giant will be nearly awake when people in the movement
begin to realize that the problems of our society can only be
addressed by a deep reexamination of the systems that govern
our lives -- and that our political systems are a major part
of the problem. The giant will be fully awake when people
begin to understand the true nature of the crisis that
humanity currently faces -- an understanding that I have tried
to articulate in the form of a Transformational Imperative:

      There is no one out there, no actor on the stage of society,
      who can or will bring about the radical social transformation
      required to save humanity and the world -- no one that is
      except We the People. Not we the electorate, nor we the
      public, but We who are members of the intelligent and aware
      human species -- We who are capable of thinking for ourselves,
      envisioning a better world, and working together with others
      in pursuit of our common visions. There is no one else who
      will do it for Us, and it is a job that must be done.

When the movement is fully awake, and a critical mass has been
achieved, then it will be possible for the movement to begin
thinking effectively in terms of plans and strategies. It will
then make sense for Us to think in terms of a transformational
movement -- a movement which is not primarily political, but
which can transform the very meaning of politics.

The movement is beginning as a cultural movement, and its main
activity so far has been, and wisely so, to spread the
experience of harmonization. In today's context, we might say
that the movement is 'less than' a political movement -- in
the sense that the movement is not explicitly challenging or
engaging the existing regime. But as the movement evolves,
more and more of us will realize that this kind of cultural
movement is in fact 'much more than' a political movement. The
promise -- and the inherent mission -- of this movement is to
transform not only our political priorities, but to transform
our entire global culture and the cultures of each of our
societies and communities.

The metaphor of the waking giant is about We the People
awakening to our full heritage as an intelligent, self-aware
species. Harmonization is merely the catalyst that enables us
to listen to one another, find our common identity, and work
together with synergy and coherence. We are capable of
governing ourselves wisely, we have the power to bring that
about, and we have both the right and the responsibility to do


      "May you live in interesting times."
      - An ancient Chinese curse

* The crisis of civilization

We are now in the midst of an extremely volatile and unstable
moment in history. It is a chaotic instability, where a
variety of likely events can each lead to unpredictable and
far-reaching consequences. Nuclear war is a strong
possibility, as the U.S. pursues its New American Century
agenda and tensions continue between Israel & Iran, India &
Pakistan, and China & Taiwan. Abrupt climate changes are
likely to occur, as global warming threatens to melt the polar
ice caps and disrupt the Gulf Stream. Global food supplies are
being diminished by depletion of fishing stocks, water tables,
and arable land. Declining oil supplies threaten to
destabilize our entire energy-hungry civilization, while
rising oil prices are already stressing the global economy.
Even without the oil problem, the global economy is in serious
trouble as it faces the ultimate limits to growth on a finite
planet. And this is only a partial list of potentially
disastrous disruptions. All major governments and political
leaders, meanwhile, have no policy concept other than a
stubborn insistence on 'more of the same'. Attempts at reform
have become futile, as neoliberal economists tighten their
budgets and governments militarize their police forces.

In such a chaotic context, it may seem like a waste of time to
pursue processes of social transformation. Perhaps it would
make more sense to escape to high ground, find a cave, and
stock it with provisions. A few may adopt such a survivalist
strategy, but most of us cannot or will not. For the majority
of us who stick with the Titanic, we might as well use our
time in the best way we can. I believe that taking control of
our own destinies is the most sensible thing we can devote our
efforts to, no matter what the state of the world. If we can
gain control of the ship before it sinks, we may be able to
steer around the worst dangers. If instead we become survivors
in a post-apocalyptic world, then the more we know about
governing ourselves the better off we will be. If we are
forced to build a new civilization, we would be well advised
to take charge of that process -- and consciously avoid the
mistakes of our predecessors.

In other words: even in the midst of a chaotic situation, our
Transformational Imperative remains in effect. Indeed, a time
of chaos is the most fertile time for new possibilities. In
more stable times, there would be no mass constituency for
social transformation. In today's world, everyone knows that
fundamental change is needed. But our societies are divided by
factionalism, and this prevents us from working together to
bring about change. Overcoming factionalism in society, by
harmonizing our differences, is the only way that We the
People can come together and become the desperately needed
agent of transformation.

We know how to overcome divisiveness in the microcosm, in a
face-to-face gathering. There are proven techniques for
achieving that, based on deep listening, and the outcomes of
such gatherings are very promising. Not only do participants
overcome their differences -- and reach a place where they can
work creatively together -- but they come away with a sense of
We the People, and an understanding that factionalism can be
overcome in society generally. As a consequence, participants
also come away with an enthusiasm for spreading the experience
to others. They've seen the light of hope, and being caring
human beings, they want to share it.

My message to activists and concerned citizens everywhere,
regardless of your political or religious orientation, is to
take heed of this ray of hope. If you really want to make a
difference, I can see no more promising direction for your
energies at this time than to help spread a culture of mutual
understanding and creative dialog. Massive worldwide protests
against war and globalization have been ignored, but if We the
People get our act together in the right way, there is no
power that can stand against us. The following links provide
useful information, contacts, and resources:

      Tree Bressen, "Dynamic Facilitation for Group Transformation":
      Jim Rough's Dynamic Facilitation workshops: 
      Rogue Valley Wisdom Council:
      Tom Atlee's politics and democracy pages:
      A Canadian experiment in citizen's councils:
      National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation:
      Report on popular democracy in Venezuela:'846'&lists='cj'

* Achieving critical mass: the role of activists

Despite the transformative experience of harmonization in the
microcosm, and despite the many groups and initiatives aimed
at spreading this experience (eg., the above links), there is
not as yet any real momentum -- and no real harmonization
movement. The Michigan gathering shows promise, in terms of
systematically getting some momentum going. But in terms of a
major movement that initiative is only a drop in the bucket.
If the movement is to really get off the ground, we need a
much wider variety of initiatives. If there is to be a
harmonization movement, I believe there must first be an
earlier movement, a movement to spread an understanding of
harmonization -- and the importance of overcoming factionalism
-- among activists.

Throughout the West there are hundreds of thousands of
activists. They are the stalwarts who regularly show up at
anti-globalization and anti-war protests, and they are the
ones who organize such events. They organize boycotts to fight
against sweatshop practices, they create community currencies,
they demonstrate against or in favor of abortion rights -- and
there are hundreds of other such causes. Activists are people
who have the motivation, and make the time, to roll up their
sleeves, get involved, and do what they can to make a
difference -- according to their own values and perspectives.
If this kind of mass energy could be shifted to spreading
harmonization, the movement could build momentum very quickly.

In general, when people experience a harmonization session,
they come away with an enthusiasm for spreading the
experience. In the case of activists, that enthusiasm would
likely be turned into action. Currently, most activists think
in terms of adversarial engagement within the current
political system. After experiencing the empowerment of We the
People working together, activists would naturally want to
share this experience with other activists and with people
generally. They would have new visions of how social change
can be brought about -- as did the participants in the
Michigan gathering.

The Michigan participants were activists of a sort, what we
might call 'organizational' activists. From their experience
of overcoming divisiveness, they naturally thought in terms of
joining advisory boards, building bridges between their
organizations, planning follow-up conferences, and creating
policy agendas. These are very useful initiatives, and in
their way they can do much do reduce factionalism in society.
But at the same time these initiatives are basically
hierarchical in their nature. They are, in their main thrust,
aimed at coalition building -- within the context of
adversarial politics. Rather than spreading harmonization as a
cultural movement, these initiatives are, it seems, directed
more at using harmonization as an organization-building tool.

The great bulk of modern activists, on the other hand, tend to
be 'grassroots' activists. They think in terms of
face-to-face, locally-based affinity groups rather than
at-large membership organizations. They participate in
large-scale events -- but they see those as collective
expressions of grassroots energy rather than the result of
coalitions among hierarchical groups. Their demonstrations are
marked by diversity, creativity, 'spirit', and spontaneity,
rather than by agendas and centralized planning. Within the
context of our adversarial political system, these grassroots
activists can be criticized as regards their ultimate
effectiveness. But in terms of deep social transformation,
this kind of activism could be very effective indeed -- if
empowered by an understanding and appreciation of
harmonization and its potential.

In closing the previous section I said, "If you really want to
make a difference, I can see no more promising direction for
your energies at this time than to help spread a culture of
mutual understanding and creative dialog." To that I would now
add that the most promising way to get the momentum going is
by bringing in grassroots activists and giving them the
opportunity to experience a harmonization session for
themselves. The communication and organizational links among
these activists tend to be horizontal and multi-branched --
based on networking rather than hierarchy. If a fire can be
lit among grassroots activists, it would be likely to spread
widely and quickly.

* Achieving critical mass: the role of community

If a harmonization movement develops momentum on a grassroots
basis, then we could expect many different kinds of sessions
to be organized. We could expect the same kind of imagination,
variety, and energy to be expressed as we currently see in the
many diverse forms of activism throughout the West. In this
way an understanding of harmonization could spread throughout
the culture. In this section, I'd like to discuss some of the
kinds of sessions that we might expect to see, and consider
how the movement might lead to an awakening of We the People
-- as an agent of social transformation.

One kind of session might be among activists themselves, as a
means of reaching consensus on activist projects. In
anti-globalization protests, for example, most of the
protestors have been strictly non-violent while others, the
'anarchist' wing, insist on engaging in property destruction.
Perhaps, by using harmonization, more coherent tactics could
be adopted among all parties in such an event. This could
increase the effectiveness of the event and perhaps reduce the
likelihood of conflict with police.

Another kind of session might be among different parties in a
local dispute, as a means of reaching resolution. Perhaps some
community is divided between people supporting a development
project and others wanting to protect the environment.
Harmonization might enable the community to come up with a
consensus approach that everyone can support. For local
environmental activists, organizing such a 'both-sides'
session could be more fruitful than a traditional
environmentalist protest event.

Another kind of session, like the Michigan gathering, might be
aimed at reducing divisiveness among competing organizations.
Certainly many activists will think in traditional political
terms, and there might be attempts to create a political
movement or even a new party. And there are countless other
possibilities, limited only by the imagination and creativity
of diverse activist groups. And whenever a certain kind of
harmonization session achieves a successful outcome, that
would provide energy and inspiration for future similar events
in other places. In this way the movement could spread
non-linearly, along many lines of propagation, and a broader
sense of 'harmonization movement' would emerge.

Of all the various kinds of sessions that might arise, there
is one in particular that I would like to focus on -- a
session aimed at creating a collective sense of identity and
empowerment within a local community. For a variety of
reasons, I suggest that this kind of session offers the
greatest potential for social transformation. In order to
explore this notion further, let's examine the Ashland
gathering -- the one that generated the enthusiasm for the
Michigan event.

Held in January, 2004, the Ashland event was billed as "The
Rogue Valley Wisdom Council" (see URL above). A "Wisdom
Council" is a concept developed by Jim Rough, the inventor of
Dynamic Facilitation -- one of the most effective forms of
facilitation for achieving harmonization in a diverse group of
people. The Wisdom Council is Jim's proposal for how the We
the People experience might be translated into the political
domain. The basic idea behind a Wisdom Council is to bring
together a group of randomly selected citizens, as a kind of
'representative microcosm' of a larger population -- a
community, a region, or even a whole nation. Ideally, a Wisdom
Council would be officially chartered in some way, so that the
outcome of its harmonization process would have a claim to
democratic legitimacy. The ideas and proposals generated in
the Council session would be published to the larger
population, and could presumably find their way eventually
into public policy.

The Ashland session was organized as an attempt to implement
this Wisdom Council vision for the people of Rogue Valley,
Oregon. Not every part of the Wisdom Council formula was
followed, for example there was no official political
chartering of the event. But overall the event was a very
useful experiment and from it we can learn quite a bit about
the potential of Wisdom Councils and of community-based
sessions more generally.

In order to achieve a reasonably random selection of
participants, hundreds of names were picked randomly from the
phone books for the Rogue Valley area. These people were
contacted by phone, and eventually a small group agreed to
participate in the event. Jim Rough personally facilitated the
two-day session, and the group did indeed achieve a strong
sense of We the People. The event was recorded on video, and
one can readily see the transformation in the participants. At
the beginning they were all rather shy and didn't feel they
had much to say. By the end, they were overflowing with
enthusiasm about the possibility of some more direct kind of
participation in the democratic process.

As a follow-up, a public meeting was held in the week
following the session, and this was also recorded on video.
The meeting started off with a report by the participants on
their experience, and their highly articulate expressions were
in stark contrast to their original shyness. The meeting then
broke up into several roundtable discussions, each including
one of the Council participants. There was no attempt to
facilitate these discussions, and remarkably the enthusiasm of
the Council participants turned out to be highly contagious.
The people at the meeting were able to somehow pick up the We
the People spirit without actually going through the
harmonization experience themselves.

Everyone came away from the public meeting with a great deal
of enthusiasm, including the organizers. But along with the
enthusiasm, there was also a kind of let-down. The potential
of We the People had felt so real, so promising, and yet the
next day the world goes on as usual. How can We the People be
more than a transitory experience? How can it have a
noticeable effect on society? Where do we go from here? What

For these particular organizers, the answer to the 'What
next?' question was the Michigan gathering. The strategy there
is to piggy-back on existing activist organizations. Those
organizations have some degree of political influence, and if
that influence can be shifted away from divisiveness we can
hope for beneficial political consequences. Jim Rough's
strategy with Wisdom Councils is similar, only he seeks to
piggy-back on official political institutions rather than
activist organizations. Both strategies are promising and make
good sense, but the sense they make is within the context of
the existing hierarchical political system. They are not aimed
at creating the kind of deep social transformation that is
required to deal with the unprecedented crisis being faced by
humanity and civilization.

So let's return to the Ashland experience, and consider again
the 'What next?' question -- from the perspective of
transformation. How can We the People achieve democratic
legitimacy -- not as an influencer within hierarchical
politics, but rather as a primary actor in society? I suggest
that the answer to this question can be found at the community
level. I've been referring to face-to-face sessions as being
examples of 'harmonization in the microcosm'. The community, I
believe, is the natural next step. If a community as-a-whole
can achieve harmonization, then that would be an example of
harmonization in a very important larger microcosm, the
microcosm of a community. If a whole community can 'wake up',
then We the People would exist as a coherent entity in an
identifiable territory. This would be a very important
milestone in terms of social transformation, and we will
return to this point shortly.

What would it mean for a community to achieve harmonization --
for a community to 'wake up'? It would not necessarily mean
that the whole community participates in face-to-face
sessions, although that might be possible in a very small
community. More likely 'waking up' would be a multi-stage
process. In Ashland, a significant number of people came away
with a considerable amount of enthusiasm, from both the
session and the public meeting. It seems likely that a similar
project could be carried out in any locality, with similar
results. So let's take the Ashland scenario, and consider how
that kind of momentum might develop into a community waking-up

It seems to me that there would be two 'threads' in such a
process. One thread has to do with organizing more sessions
and spreading the experience among more members of the
community. The other thread has to do with the content of what
is discussed in the sessions -- and the publication of that to
the community at large. The first thread serves to involve
larger and larger segments of the community in the vision of
We the People, and the second facilitates the evolution a
'sense of the community' -- the awakening consciousness of We
the People.

After several sessions, it seems likely that certain issues
would rise to the top, as being of general community concern.
There would begin to be a coherence in the awakening
consciousness, as a harmonized perspective begins to emerge on
those issues. Subsequent sessions would have a 'starting
point'; they could move beyond simply discovering a sense of
We the People, and go on to advance the ongoing community
dialog. Each session would bring in new perspectives and
concerns, leading to greater coherence in an evolving
community consciousness. As harmonization became part of the
local culture generally, it would become possible for larger
gatherings, and shorter gatherings, to operate effectively
within the context of harmonization. At some point the
community as a whole would be awake -- it would have a sense
of itself as a community, it would have evolved ways of
maintaining community dialog, and it would have a shared
understanding of its collective concerns and priorities.

I've extrapolated quite a bit, in drawing out this scenario.
But based on the experience of previous harmonization
sessions, it seems to me that these kind of dynamics would be
likely to develop if sufficient organizational energy were
applied to pursing the two threads. In the case of Ashland, I
believe enough energy was generated to enable a next step to
be taken in this process -- a follow-on session, let's say,
and some effective local publicity. Out of the enthusiasm
generated in that next session, there would be new energy
released to enable another step, and so on. Perhaps that will
happen or is happening, but for the time being most of the
energy seems to have been diverted instead to the Michigan
event. What is needed for the community process to proceed is
not more seed energy -- an Ashland-like event can provide that
-- but rather an awareness, on the part of organizers, of the
transformative potential of awakened communities. This is a
point that I promised , a bit earlier, to return to.

My claim here is that an awakened community has the potential
to be an active and effective agent of social transformation.
There are three basic reasons for this claim, and they have to
do with political legitimacy, ability to act coherently, and
ability to serve as a model for other communities. Let's
examine each of these reasons in turn.

The most basic principle of politics, since time immemorial,
has been a mutual respect among societies as regards
sovereignty and territorial integrity. Whenever this principle
is violated we note that as an exceptional episode, and we
give it a label like 'raid', 'invasion', 'conquest', 'war', or
'imperialism'. Most of us yearn for peace, and we define that
in terms of societies not interfering, or threatening to
interfere, in the affairs of other societies. In today's world
sovereignty and territorial integrity are defined, for the
most part, at the level of nations. In earlier eras, the level
was kingdoms, chiefdoms, tribes, and hunter-gatherer bands.
The principle that the 'people of a place' have a right to run
their own affairs, according their own system of governance,
goes all the way back to our origins, evolving out of the
territorial behavior found throughout the animal kingdom,
including in particular the primates.

As the size of political entities has grown, through conquest
and imperialism, peoples have often been forced together
against their will. With the Kurds and Palestinians in the
Middle East, the Basques in Spain, and the Tibetans in China,
we see examples of peoples who see their primary identity in a
smaller entity, and who yearn for their own sovereign
territory. In the splitting up of the USSR, Czechoslovakia,
and Yugoslavia, we see examples of such yearnings being
allowed to play themselves out. In some cases we may
sympathize with a demand for independence, and in other cases
we may not, but we all recognize that any legitimate claim to
independence must begin with a consensus among the 'people of
a place' that they want to be independent. Thus international
recognition of a new nation is frequently associated with some
kind of plebiscite, verifying that the desire for independence
is genuinely shared by most people throughout the identified

It is within the context of this primordial principle -- that
the 'people of a place' have an inherent right to seek to run
their own affairs -- that I speak of the political legitimacy
of an awakened community. I'm not claiming that a community
has the right to become a sovereign state, at least not at
this point in our discussion. What I am claiming is that a
community is the 'people of a place', and there is an inherent
political legitimacy in the will of a community -- if that
will is based on a genuine consensus of the members of that
community. An awakened community has the ability to achieve
such a consensus -- to evolve a community 'will' or 'agenda'
-- and it has the ability to express that will with a coherent
community voice. When 'We the People of Our Town' can speak
with such a voice, then that voice has a legitimate claim to
be taken seriously by surrounding communities and by relevant
governmental agencies.

Let's next examine the ability of an awakened community to
'act coherently'. When a community has achieved a sense of its
collective will or agenda, then there are many ways in which
the people of the community can act to move that agenda
forward. For one thing, they can select a slate of candidates
from among themselves, and elect them to all local offices
with something near 100% of the vote. In this way We the
People can also speak with the official voice, and exercise
the authority, of the local governmental apparatus. The people
of the community would be involved in ongoing policy
formation, by means of appropriate harmonization processes
that the people work out for themselves. The local government
apparatus would serve as the operational arm of the people,
rather than as a vehicle of power and wealth for local elites
and politicians. And there are many things an awakened
community can do outside the governmental context, such as
organizing co-op industries to create employment and generate
income for the community. Regardless of what local agendas
might be pursued, We the People would be learning how to
think, act, and respond as a whole community. This is an
important phase of the waking up process.

Porto Alegre is a medium-sized city in Brazil which operates
under a bottom-up consensus process that has enabled the
residents to achieve some degree of We the People
consciousness. The budget of the city is determined by this
process, in which everyone can participate, and the official
government implements that budget -- spending the allocated
amounts on the identified items. Porto Alegre is recognized
internationally as being a well-managed, efficient, and
livable city, and has won many civic prizes and awards. Within
the constraints of higher-level government and funding, an
awakened community can basically run its affairs according to
its own preferences and priorities. Policies on open spaces,
public services, traffic, zoning, and other matters can be
developed creatively, with respect for the concerns and tastes
of everyone in the community. We the People, at the level of
community, can be the agent of transformation of its own civic

An awakened community, I suggest, would be a very appealing
model to people in other communities. Every community today
has conflicts between different factions or ethnic groups,
gripes about the way the local government runs things, and
recognized local problems that seem to never go away.
Activists, concerned citizens -- and even elected officials --
in such a community would naturally have some interest in
finding out how 'Our Town' was able to resolve its internal
conflicts, and move forward toward achieving a civic
renaissance. Perhaps nothing could be more effective in
spreading a culture of harmonization than the inspiration
provided by a growing number of awakened 'Our Towns'.

* The waking of the giant

So far in this chapter we've been looking at harmonization
mostly as a cultural movement. We saw in the previous chapter
that such a movement exists in an embryonic form, with a
handful of initiatives seeking to generate momentum in one way
or another, based on one strategy or another. In this chapter
we've been exploring ways in which such a cultural movement
might gain momentum. We've looked particularly at the
potential role of grassroots activists, and focused on
applying harmonization to the mission of enabling 'We the
People' to wake up at the level of community. I suggested that
this focus is important because the people in a community, if
they find common purpose, can claim a kind of legitimacy
(being the 'people of a place'), and because the community
level can give We the People practice in thinking and acting
together coherently, and because awakened communities could,
by their example, be effective vehicles of movement

If the movement were to develop in this way, and if several
different communities began to achieve a sense of We the
People, and if interest in these activities began to spring up
in the society at large -- then we would probably be able to
say that the movement had reached critical mass. In actual
experience with harmonization processes, as in Ashland and
Michigan, participants have come away with a great deal of
enthusiasm. It seems to me that we would see that kind of
enthusiasm magnified many times when the process is enabling
communities to begin taking charge of their own affairs. With
that kind of enthusiasm, and sufficient initial momentum, I
anticipate that the movement would take off in a big way.

In terms of our waking giant, this would bring us to the point
where the giant is conscious and able to interact
intelligently with its local environment. But social
transformation cannot be brought about at the local level. We
the People may begin to awaken locally, but our consciousness
must become global if we are to save humanity from the crisis
it faces. The giant is not fully awake until it understands
its role in the wider world. Fortunately, it is very likely
that awakened communities would soon discover the limitations
of what can be accomplished locally. For example, they would
find themselves encumbered by restrictions placed by
higher-level government, they might find that outside
landlords control much of the property in the community -- and
that remote corporations have more say over the local economy
than do the local government and the people combined.
Eventually, people would begin to realize that further
progress requires a deeper perspective than that of civic

Communities are made up of real people, some of whom are
experts in various areas, and some of whom are concerned about
things like sustainability and globalization. There is no
reason to assume that there would not be sessions early on in
the waking up process that would be brave enough to venture
into radical thinking of one sort or another. I've found that
in face-to-face discussions people can entertain surprisingly
radical ideas. It is only in public forums and the media that
everyone seems to limit themselves to mainstream thinking.
Here's one experiment I've carried out a couple times in
airports. I'd find myself next to some 'very ordinary' middle
class couple and I'd strike up a conversation. They'd ask what
I did, I'd say I write, they'd ask what about, I'd say
political stuff, and then I'd say, "For example, what do you
think of capitalism?". That's a question that had never
occurred to them, and amazingly, within about ten minutes of
discussion they'd be saying something like, "I see what you
mean, capitalism doesn't really make much sense, does it?".
I'm not saying that people can be converted quickly away from
capitalism, only that people are more open than we might
presume to entertaining deep questions about the myths of
society -- if the circumstances are right.

Earlier, I introduced the concept of 'harmonization dynamics'
-- within the context of a face-to-face meeting. In that
context, those dynamics typically lead to remarkable results:
people learn to respect one another as human beings, they
learn to resolve their differences, they learn how to work
creatively and effectively together, and they experience a
sense of We the People. In that earlier discussion, I
contrasted the dynamics of harmonizing meetings with those of
'adversarial' and 'collaborative' meetings -- in which
differences are not resolved, but are instead either
reinforced or submerged.

Just as harmonization exhibits remarkable dynamics in the
microcosm, I believe we can expect it to also exhibit
remarkable dynamics in the macrocosm. I think we can assume,
for example, that awakened communities would tend to stay in
touch with one another on a networking basis. It would be only
natural for them to want to compare experiences and share
ideas amongst one another. And as people began to see the need
to think more globally and more deeply, they would be likely
to organize gatherings and conferences to bring in as many
ideas and perspectives as possible -- and to seek to harmonize
them. After such gatherings, people would go back to their
communities and most likely there would be follow-up
discussions, harmonizing community perspectives as regards
whatever ideas or proposals came up at the wider gathering.
Good ideas or resolutions-of-conflicts that come up in one
community would tend to spread around and be considered by
other communities. Breakthroughs in any microcosm would soon
become breakthroughs for the macrocosm. In this way, a
movement-wide consciousness would tend to develop -- and We
the People would begin to have meaning on a society-wide
scale. The macrocosm reflects the microcosm: communities would
learn to respect one another as human communities, they would
learn to resolve their differences, they would learn how to
work creatively and effectively together, and they would
experience a sense of We the People -- at the level of the

If these kind of dynamics emerge and become a factor in the
mainstream culture, then the giant will be fully awake and
ready to become a player in society. We the People will be
emerging from the anonymous masses, just like the figures
emerging from the rock in Michelangelo's "The Prisoners".

  [picture here]

* Cultural dynamics and cultural transformation

What we would be seeing, with harmonization in the macrocosm,
is the beginning of a fundamental cultural transformation --
from a hierarchical-adversarial culture to a
networking-harmonizing culture. Under hierarchical-adversarial
dynamics, people seek empowerment by joining forces with some
faction or 'cause'. When we 'push' within such a system,
opposition energy arises to push back, and the net transaction
tends to reinforce divisiveness -- whether or not our pushing
gets us anywhere. In such a culture, we have little motivation
to think creatively about solving the problems that face us as
a society because no one would listen to us, and besides our
energies must go to supporting those candidates and causes
which are, at best, _somewhat aligned with our own concerns.
No one asks us for our ideas, they only ask us for our
support. The creative thinking that sets the direction of our
societies comes from the top down, and it reflects the
interests of those near the top. Furthermore, this
hierarchical planning results in a tendency toward uniformity
in society -- cookie cutter towns with a Starbucks, a WalMart,
look-alike motels and freeways -- and now occurring on a
global scale.

A networking-harmonizing culture begins in the community, and
its creative thinking is aimed at dealing fairly with
everyone's concerns. We can seek empowerment in such a culture
by openly expressing our concerns and ideas, and by listening
respectfully to those of others. If we 'push' a concern which
is important to us, we will be listened to, and rather than
opposition we would find cooperation in trying to find a way
in which the concern can be dealt with, taking into account
conflicting concerns as well. Regardless of what the concern
is about, the net transaction tends to broaden community
understanding and deepen harmonization. In such a culture, we
have every motivation to think creatively about the problems
that face us a society, and at the scale of community we will
find that we are blessed with a considerable measure of
collective wisdom.

In a networking-harmonizing culture, creative problem solving
goes on in parallel in every community, and indeed in every
gathering or conference that is concerned with social issues.
Whenever something is learned in one venue, or a new idea is
generated, that becomes available for consideration everywhere
else. In this kind of culture, we could expect the emergence
of diversity, as different communities find their own way of
dealing with their own unique problems and opportunities. Such
a culture would be incredibly more creative in dealing with
social and economic problems than is our current culture.
Under hierarchy, fundamental policies are determined
centrally, and then implemented everywhere more or less the
same way. Apart from the fact that 'one size does not fit
all', there is a more systemic problem: a central planning
agency is a creative bottleneck. It's like having one central
processor in society's computer instead of thousands of
parallel PCs -- each of which can share its discoveries with
the others. (In our current society, we see this kind of
parallel creativity in the way the marketplace operates, but
unfortunately all that creativity is constrained and channeled
by the harmful dynamics of capitalism.)

I suggest that a networking -harmonizing culture is precisely
what we need to be aiming for, in terms of social
transformation. The community as the primary autonomous unit,
harmonization as the way of relating, and networking as the
principle of organization. That is my formula for the
enlightened society. I come to this not because I think it is
ideal, nor because it suits my native sentiments -- although
both or these are true -- but because from a systems
perspective I see this as the only viable alternative to
hierarchies and elite rule.

But I get ahead of our story. So far, in our examination of
where harmonizing dynamics might lead, we've gotten to the
point where a culture based on networking and harmonization is
growing up within the larger hierarchical society. The new
culture is characterized, to use the rhetoric of revolution,
by 'captured territory' -- ie., the network of awakened
communities. This territorial aspect is very important. When
people in their everyday lives participate with their
neighbors in a new culture, that culture is reinforced and
strengthened, and the culture begins to elaborate itself in
the form of artistic and poetic expression. Awakened
communities are in fact 'liberated zones', and in liberated
zones we begin to see the potential of a transformed society.
Without territory, there are only dispersed partisans. With
territory, a new culture will begin to lay down roots.

I daresay it would not be too long before people would began
to ask, "Why can't we just run society this way? What are
those jerks in Washington (or Dublin, or Paris, or wherever)
doing for us anyway? What do we need them for?" This is when
the giant begins to realize its own power. In terms of
revolutionary dynamics, this situation is very similar to that
of the American colonies under British rule.

The American colonies were not really ruled by Britain, rather
they were compelled to pay tribute to Britain in monetary
terms, in the form of levies to the Crown or profits sent home
to British-owned enterprises operating in the colonies. In
terms of governance, the colonies had their own elected
assemblies that managed their own local affairs. The American
Revolution was not a social revolution -- as were the French
and Russian -- it was simply the severing of ties with the
Mother country. Whereas the French and Russian revolutions
were followed by considerable conflict and strife, the
aftermath of the American 'Revolution' was relatively orderly
and civil. The new society had already been in place -- it
only needed to be freed from outside domination. The
Constitution was not intended to transform the colonies, but
rather to legitimize the way they already were -- and to
preserve the privilege of those who had come out on top under
Crown rule. There was no breakdown of society, no chaos, when
the British were defeated. The transition to the new regime
was at least orderly, even if it didn't lead to a democratic

Similarly, as the new networking-harmonizing culture begins to
establish itself throughout society, people will begin to
realize that their relationship to the hierarchy is a matter
of paying tribute -- in taxes to government, in profits to
corporations, in interest to banks, and in young people
sacrificed to the military machine. As we gain experience in
running our own affairs, we will understand that it is
possible for us to sever our ties with oppression and
exploitation. At this point, our giant is making the decision
to claim its rightful ground.

* Global transformation and the third world

The third world persists in poverty for precisely one reason:
because it has been systematically dominated, robbed, and
looted by centuries of still-ongoing imperialism on the part
of the industrialized nations. This has been a horrible fate,
accompanied by much genocide, bloodshed, and suffering, and no
right-thinking person would wish such an experience on those
peoples. And yet, there is a benefit that accrues from that
suffering: social transformation will be much easier for the
third world than it will be for the West.

The problem for the West is that we believe we already live in
democracies. When a 'bad' official gets elected, we blame
ourselves for not 'getting out the vote'. We get caught up in
adversarial games, pursuing reform, and don't realize that all
the paths of the maze leave us inside the same box. We are
kept from liberation by what the Sufis call a 'veil of light',
which is more dangerous than a 'veil of darkness'. A veil of
darkness is a recognized obstacle, against which we know we
should muster our resources. A veil of light is a seductive
siren that seems to be what we want, but which imprisons us.
Moving past our pseudo-democracy veil of light requires, if my
investigation has been relevant, a wholesale cultural
transformation. Only when we experience genuine democracy will
we realize that what we had wasn't the real thing.

The third world, on the other hand, sees the mainstream
capitalist imperialist system as a 'veil of darkness'. People
in the third world know that most of their rulers are corrupt
puppets, and their socieities are being raped by globalization
and corporations  -- modern descendents of the missionaries
and conquistadors. People in the third world don't need to
awaken to the possibility of transformation, they need only
the freedom to liberate themselves. If the West is able to
transform itself to a culture based on networking and
harmonization, and if it ends imperialism and extends the hand
of friendship and support to the people of the third world, I
suspect that social transformation will be global in a matter
of weeks.

But in fact the third world is not waiting for us in the West
to lead the way. All over the third world people are
struggling for local control, and they are building networks
and learning to find their empowerment as We the People. They
have been forced into bottom-up solidarity by the array of
forces exploiting and dominating them. They have not been
encumbered by illusions of living in democracies. Under the
hyper-exploitation brought on by globalization, rejection of
the imperialist system is spreading to all strata of many
third world societies, not just the poorer segments. I
mentioned earlier the example of Porto Alegre, a medium-sized
city in Brazil, where the budget is determined by a bottom-up
consensus process. This model has been replicated elsewhere in
Brazil, and there there are many other democratic initiatives
and innovations being pursued in Brazil, under the progressive
stewardship of a strong labor party at the national level.

There are more radical examples of third-world leadership on
the path to social transformation, but before I mention them
I'd like to review a few points. Consider for a moment the
possibility of a whole society operating on the basis of
harmonization and networking. Each community basically runs
its own affairs, and wider scale issues are dealt with by
harmonizing the concerns of all affected communities. There's
a lot more to be said about how that could work in practice on
a global scale, and we'll get into that in the next chapter.
For the moment and for the sake of the argument, please
imagine that such a society would be viable.

What I'd like you to notice is that voting and political
parties do not play a role in such a society. Parties are the
embodiment of factionalism, and they make no sense in a
culture of harmonization. If people have concerns that need to
be addressed, harmonization is a more effective way of
addressing those concerns than would be the formation of a
faction dedicated to those concerns. As regards voting, there
are two kinds to consider: voting on issues, and electing
representatives. As regards issues, voting is a vastly
inferior decision-making system in comparison with
harmonization. If there are competing proposals on the table,
it makes much more sense to creatively harmonize the
underlying concerns than it does to simply choose among the
proposals. Indeed, this is the core principle underlying the
virtues of harmonization.

As regards electing representatives, the issue is really one
of hierarchy. In our current system, candidates compete to be
given the power to rule over us. We choose among masters, live
under a hierarchy, and call it democracy. While we live under
this illusion, it is natural that we value 'open and fair
elections'. That serves to maximize the meaning of our votes,
for whatever that's worth -- or at least it helps us be
comfortable in our illusion. But 'open and fair elections' are
only of value within the context of hierarchy. In a society
based on harmonization there are no rulers and no need to
elect any. Instead we might select people, or solicit
volunteers, to manage certain projects or to represent the
community's concerns in some gathering or conference -- what
the Native Americans called a 'pow wow'. Such representatives
or managers are not 'given power', but are rather given the
responsibility to carry forward the agenda that has been
articulated by the community as a whole. If people compete for
such roles, it is not on the basis that they will 'make better
decisions', but rather on the basis that they are good
managers or good communicators. And in many cases, it would
probably be a team or slate that would be selected for such a
role rather than an individual. Competitive elections of
rulers, whether 'open and fair' or not, makes no sense in a
society based on harmonization and networking.

It is in the context of these observations that I dare to
bring up the examples of Cuba and Venezuela. I'm not claiming
that these are ideal societies, nor that they embody
harmonization, but I do suggest that we can understand these
societies better if we are able to see that competitive
parties and elections are not the same thing as democracy.
According to mainstream mythology, there are basically two
kinds of governments: democratic and dictatorial. In this
mythology, democracy equals fair & competitive elections, and
everything else is dictatorship. And indeed, most of the
governments in the world that don't have fair & competitive
elections are indeed dictatorships. I suggest, however, that
Cuba and Venezuela are examples that need to be examined on
their own merits.

In the case of Venezuela, we do have fair & competitive
elections, as recently verified by international observers
including ex-President Jimmy Carter. Nonetheless, based on the
grassroots support for Chavez's radical programs, one suspects
that a one-party-state scenario might develop. Based on
eyewitness reports I've seen, by Venezuelan and foreign
observers alike, Chavez is facilitating a cultural
transformation in Venezuela. He is not launching massive state
programs, but is instead encouraging local empowerment, and
providing services and support for those programs which seem
to be achieving results. Katherine Lahey, a community studies
major at the University of California Santa Cruz, offers these
comments in an article she wrote based on her observations in

      The stitching of the fabric of the revolution is unmatched in
      its strength and breadth of anything I have ever seen.
      Throughout the country, not just in the urban barrios, social
      programs called 'misiones' - a social development strategy
      borrowed from the Cuban revolution - are being implemented by
      the people with the support of government resources.
      What takes place behind the scenes of each mission is simply
      incredible and inspiring beyond words. These campaigns include
      education - from literacy to university level, health,
      employment, citizenship, support for indigenous groups and
      their reincorporation into society, economic justice and
      resistance to neoliberalism through development of grassroots
      and community cooperatives and businesses, to name a few.
      - Full article at:'846'&lists='cj'

Chavez is genuinely trying to help the people of Venezuela
mobilize their own creativity to solve their problems and
develop their communities and society generally. He is not
representing a privileged elite. If his efforts lead to a We
the People kind of democracy in Venezuela, then competitive
elections will not be relevant to the situation. It is likely
that the people would choose to continue on that path -- there
would be no rascals to vote out of office. Venezuela under
their "Bolivarian" revolution needs to be judged on its own
merits, not compared to a set of political standards that
themselves do not deliver democracy. If Chavez starts
suppressing or exploiting people then he's a dictator after
all. If he continues to shepherd a cultural transformation
toward local empowerment, then we should acknowledge him and
the people of Venezuela as being bold pioneers on the path to
global social transformation. So far, at least, that seem to
be what is going on. In the third-world context, Venezuela is
apparently evolving a credible response to our
Transformational Imperative. And that is precisely why our
elite rulers in Washington and Wall Street don't like Chavez
and don't like the broad-based support of the Venezuelan
people for the Bolivarian revolution. One can only hope that
the Venezuelan military is loyal to the government, unlike the
Chilean military in the time of Allende which was covertly
linked with the CIA.

I've saved Cuba to the last because it is the most
controversial case. We never hear Castro's name mentioned in
the news without it being accompanied by the label 'dictator'.
And in mainstream entertainment propaganda, we see stories of
'daring refugees from tyranny', who never have anything good
to say about the Cuban Revolution or Castro. And in the case
of Americans, we are told by our government that Cuba is a
communist dictatorship, and that loyal Americans shouldn't go
there. And it goes deeper than that. With the history of the
Cuban Missile Crisis, the Bay of Pigs, and the derision of
Cuba in right-wing circles, Castro turn out to be rather
deeply embedded in the general American psyche as a bad-guy
commie dictator. I risk alienating my readers if I dare
challenge that myth.

Nonetheless, I must take that risk and offer the challenge. As
an example, Cuba is too valuable to ignore, despite the shadow
cast by decades of demonizing propaganda. As it turns out, the
extent of Cuba's success in achieving a culture of
community-based democratic harmonization can be estimated by
measuring the hostility of Washington towards Cuba. Hostility
from Washington is not a guarantee that democracy exists
somewhere, but wherever a people stand up effectively for
their rights against the imperialist system, you can be sure
Washington's ire will soon follow. For Washington, Cuba is too
important an example to allow it to be seen for what it is --
proof that there are viable models for development outside the
capitalist paradigm. The success of Cuba stands as a
contradiction to the dominant mainstream economic mythology.
It is not at all surprising that Washington and the corporate
media make every effort to demonize, destabilize, and harass
Cuba in every way they can -- and every effort to make other
third-world nations understand that Washington would look with
strong disfavor on any nation that might seek to emulate Cuba,
as we have seen in the case of Venezuela.

Charles McKelvey, an American Professor of Sociology, has
spent considerable time in Cuba as an observer. In 1998, he
wrote a report on his studies for an Internet list, and here
are two excerpts:

      The Cuban political system is based on a foundation of local
      elections. Each urban neighborhood and rural village and area
      is organized into a "circumscription," consisting generally of
      1000 to 1500 voters. The circumscription meets regularly to
      discuss neighborhood or village problems. Each three years,
      the circumscription conducts elections, in which from two to
      eight candidates compete. The nominees are not nominated by
      the Communist Party or any other organizations. The
      nominations are made by anyone in attendance at the meetings,
      which generally have a participation rate of 85% to 95%. Those
      nominated are candidates for office without party affiliation.
      They do not conduct campaigns as such. A one page biography of
      all the candidates is widely-distributed. The nominees are
      generally known by the voters, since the circumscription is
      generally not larger than 1500 voters. If no candidate
      receives 50% of the votes, a run-off election is held. Those
      elected serve as delegates to the Popular Councils, which are
      intermediary structures between the circumscription and the
      Municipal Assembly. Those elected also serve simultaneously as
      delegates to the Municipal Assembly. The delegates serve in
      the Popular Councils and the Municipal Assemblies on a
      voluntary basis without pay, above and beyond their regular
      employment. ...
      So the Cuban revolutionary project has many gains, not only in
      the area of social and economic rights, but also in the area
      of political and civil rights. Because of these achievements,
      the system enjoys wide popular support, in spite of the
      hardships caused by U.S. opposition and by the collapse of the
      Soviet Union. Drawing upon the institutions that they have
      developed over the last forty years, they are responding to
      the present challenges and are surviving in a post-Cold War
      world. The strength and vitality of these institutions is
      worthy of our investigation, for Cuba may represent an
      important case as we seek to understand how peripheral and
      semi-peripheral states can overcome the legacy of

      - Full article at:'0009'&lists='cj'

I am not trying here to give a full, balanced report on Cuba
or Venezuela. I imagine there are failures as well as
successes in both places, as regards democracy and justice. My
main point here is that the absence of competitive elections
is not necessarily a sign of dictatorship, and may in some
cases be a sign of a democratic process characterized by the
dynamics of harmonization. Each case deserves to be evaluated
on its own merits by looking at the results on the ground and
at the reports of people who live there. And the fact that
Castro is still around after all these years is not
necessarily evidence that he is a tyrant. It could equally be
an indicator that the people of Cuba continue to support their
revolution, and that Castro continues to support the people in
their project. If that is the case, as it seems to be, then
one can only hope that the Cuban scenario does not depend too
heavily on Castro's personal moral leadership, as he will not
live forever.

As regards the third world in general, I repeat my observation
that social transformation will be easier to accomplish there
than in the West -- once the West abandons its imperialist
ways. In the meantime it seems that the third world is leading
the way in transformational innovation and may provide models
that we can learn from in our own pursuit of transformation.

* Engagement with the regime

In the West there are two primary obstacles to transformation.
The first, which we have been discussing at length, is the
current absence of an effective transformational movement. In
the principle of harmonization at the level of community, I
believe we can find one viable path to building such a
movement. Perhaps there are other viable organizing principles
and paths as well, although I haven't heard of any as yet. But
whatever kind of transformational movement might arise in the
West, it will sooner or later need to face the second
obstacle: determined opposition by the ruling elite regime.

In this section, I will try to anticipate the various kinds of
opposition we could expect to encounter, based on the
experiences of previous social movements and based on what we
know about the tactics and attitudes of the current regime. I
will present this material as a kind of Movement Guidebook --
"How to Overcome the Regime With the Least Confrontation". I
am not competent to write a definitive version of such a
guidebook, but this seems to be the most convenient way for me
to convey observations and analysis which, hopefully, may be
of some value to the movement.

To begin with, I believe it is very important that we look to
the game of Go for our models of engagement rather than the
game of chess. Chess is about battle, and on the battle ground
it is those who command tanks and attack helicopters who have
the advantage, not the people. Besides, transformation is not
about destroying anyone, but about taking everyone's concerns
into account. When eventually they have no useful alternative,
our elite brothers and sisters will be willing to talk to us,
and their concerns will be listened to with the same respect
afforded everyone else. Indeed, it will be much easier for us
to transform our economies and infrastructures when we have
the enthusiastic cooperation of those who currently run our
governments, corporations, and banks.

The game of Go is about gradually consolidating territory
while artfully constraining the alternatives of your opponent
-- so that eventually he has no available move that can
improve his position. Among master players, it is seldom
necessary to actually remove stones from the board -- both
players know from the position what would be the outcome from
that mundane exercise in mechanical capture, and so they don't
bother with it. As I pointed out earlier, this kind of
strategy characterized Gandhi's resistance movement against
British occupation. Certainly his non-violent ethic provides a
model we want to emulate, and I suggest his Go-like strategic
approach also provides us with useful lessons.

In our case, assuming that the movement develops along lines
similar to those I have outlined, the first strategic
objective should be to capture as much territory as possible
-- while keeping a low a profile on elite radar. The initial
task of the movement is not to confront any regime, but rather
to spread and develop a culture of harmonization and
networking. The more widely such a culture can spread and the
more firmly established it can become, prior to encountering
strong elite opposition, the better off we will be. We would
be well advised to focus our initial We the People empowerment
on local problems and issues, and on developing our We the
People consciousness. We need to learn to walk before we can
run, and during that learning process we should not tread too
near to sleeping dogs.

During this stage, we need to beware of the temptation to
reach too high and too soon for the gold ring. The experience
of harmonization generates a lot of hope and enthusiasm, and
many of us might come away with the feeling that there is a
magic short cut to transformation. We see this already in the
agenda of the Michigan organizers and in Jim Rough's Wisdom
Council strategy. These are intelligent people and their
sentiments are beyond reproach, but the diversion of movement
energy in those ways causes problems of two kinds. The first
problem is that early attempts to influence the general
society are premature: they can only have meaning within the
arena of adversarial politics, and there has not as yet been
an opportunity for We the People to evolve any kind of
consciousness of who we are and what we're about. Any
discussion of major issues at this point would be
impoverished, and would be dominated by mainstream thinking --
discussion now could only remain 'inside the box'.

The second problem, perhaps more harmful, is that premature
efforts take up scarce energy that would be more usefully
devoted to spreading a culture of harmonization more widely,
particularly with a focus on grassroots activists and
community empowerment. At this early, embryonic stage of the
movement there are only a handful of activists who are
politically oriented in their activism and who at the same
time understand the value of harmonizing processes. Until some
of their energy is guided by a more strategic transformational
perspective, or until new activists get involved, the
potential of the movement remains, unfortunately, only latent.

Despite our best efforts to keep a low profile on elite radar,
it is unlikely that we could postpone an elite response for
very long. Public opinion and shifts in alignments are of
great interest to the establishment, and they keep close tabs
on trends. It's not that they want to be responsive to public
sentiment, but rather that they want to maintain control with
their system of divide-and-rule propaganda. If they begin to
see a trend toward people listening to their own drummers, and
dialoging across factional lines in their communities, the
opinion managers will have the good sense to perceive that as
a potentially serious threat to their system of control. They
might initiate appropriate counter-measures earlier than would
seem to be warranted by the actual progress of the movement on
the ground. We must keep in mind that the current regime is
characterized by preventive, preemptory action against those
deemed to be a potential threat. Indeed, the Patriot Act
amounts to a preemptory strike against popular movements in

Let's consider some of the early counter-measures that they
might deploy. Surveillance and infiltration by spies and
provocateurs are very common tactics used against movements of
all kinds throughout the West. But a harmonization movement is
relatively secure against those tactics. The moment has
nothing to hide as regards its activities, and the
harmonization process is characterized by too much good sense
to allow itself to be sabotaged by a provocateur pushing some
counter-productive agenda. There may be infiltrators who
intentionally try to thwart the progress of sessions, and we
may need to develop some sensible counter-measures to that
line of attack. More drastic measures, such as arresting
organizers or banning discussions among citizens, are unlikely
to be undertaken at any early stage. That would be a strategic
error on the establishment's part, as it would only bring
attention to the movement and generate support for it.

There are other counter-measures that might be deployed, but
the one I believe is most likely would be a demonization
campaign launched over various media and propaganda channels.
Religious conservatives would be warned, from pulpits and from
radio pundits, that harmonization is a cult movement, and that
it seeks its wisdom not exclusively from the Word of God --
good Christians should stay away. To the libertarian-minded
would come the warning, from radio chat jocks and online
bulletin boards, that harmonization is communistic and that it
submerges the individual in the collective -- stay away and
don't risk being brainwashed. Liberals would read in the Op-Ed
pages that harmonization is undemocratic and that it would
lead to one-party tyranny. They would learn that it's hip to
dismiss harmonization, in the same way that it's hip to scoff
at 'conspiracy theories'.

It would a mistake to underestimate the potential
effectiveness of such a campaign, particularly in the American
context. If the general population adopts a variety of strong
negative attitudes toward harmonization, that might stifle or
even destroy the early movement. But if the movement can build
sufficient momentum in the meantime, and establish sufficient
roots, it should be able to hold its ground and respond
effectively to such an attack. We can take some comfort from
the fact that a demonization campaign would make no sense
until after the movement has made noticeable progress.

I believe that such early confrontation would lead to a major
turning point in the development of the movement. The
establishment would be pushing the movement to consider issues
beyond the civic and the local -- perhaps earlier than if the
movement had been left to develop at its own pace. In the
struggle to respond, We the People would be forced to raise
our political consciousness. Nothing can wake up a giant more
quickly than a poke with a sharp stick. The establishment
would be saying we are dangerous to society, and we would
begin to realize that they are right. We would begin to
understand that the latent destiny of the harmonization
movement is nothing less than the transformation of society.

The movement would be spreading a culture based on
harmonization and networking, and it would be developing a
vision of a society organized around those principles. As the
movement deals with difficulties, innovates in the local
arena, and finds ways to cooperate effectively on a networking
basis, people would be creating the foundations of a
transformed society. They would come to understand, based not
on theory but on their own experience, that We the People are
capable of running our own affairs, and that we can do a much
better job of that than can any remote and corrupt central
government. And yet, even with this raising of
'transformational consciousness', the movement could continue
to co-exist comfortably within the current electoral system.
In liberated zones, we would be able to incorporate local and
regional governmental structures into the movement. Government
there would be aligned with the will of the people, which is,
after all, the proper role for constitutional government.

The movement would have no incentive to cause any kind of
trouble for the regime -- until the time came when such
initiatives could be effective. Before that time the threat to
the regime would exist only in potential, and conflict would
be most likely to arise due to preemptive attacks from the
establishment, not all of which can be anticipated in advance.
We can only trust in the inherent wisdom of the harmonization
process, and our own collective creativity, to deal with such
challenges as they arise.

Eventually, if we overcome the intermediate obstacles, most of
our society will be part of the new culture, and we will have
developed a coherent vision of a transformed society. Only
then does it make sense to initiate decisive dialog with the
regime. One form of dialog will be to elect our own people to
all the national offices. But enforcing rules from the top is
not the way of harmonization. We will also want to bring elite
leaders into the dialog process -- but only when they realize
their best option is to participate. When the time comes to
consolidate the new society, we can expect everyone to be on


* Introduction

Up until this point, this book has been addressed to readers
in today's untransformed cultures, particularly those in the
industrialized West. It has presented an historical analysis,
focusing on the role of elites and the dynamics of hierarchy,
imperialism, growth, and capitalism. Special attention was
devoted to exposing the sham of liberal democracy, and showing
how it functions, by design, as an effective mechanism of
elite domination. The objective of this analysis has been to
make it clear that our current societal systems are leading us
inevitably to disaster, and that relief cannot be found by
attempting to reform those inherently flawed systems. The
central conclusion of this investigation was stated as a
Transformational Imperative, identifying We the People as
being the only conceivable agent of social transformation.
That was followed by the development of a Harmonization
Imperative: for We the People to come into existence, we must
first find a way to overcome the factionalism that keeps us
divided and facilitates rule by elites.

The rest of the material has been an exploration of the
potential of harmonization as a means of transforming our
cultures and enabling We the People to wake up. I developed a
scenario of how a harmonization movement might develop, based
on awakened communities and networking, and the kinds of
obstacles it would be likely to encounter. That scenario was
not intended to be a detailed prediction or recommendation,
but rather a rough map of what I see as a plausible route. We
can compare the scenario to a satellite photo of mountainous
terrain: from such a photo we can identify the main passes
through the mountains, but we can't really know what the
terrain is like until we get there -- "The map is not the
territory." Again, this material has been addressed to readers
in today's hierarchical societies, in the hope that some might
be inspired to pursue what appears to be a promising route to
social transformation.

The rest of this book is intended for a moment in the future,
that moment when the movement achieves victory. We the People
have woken up all over the world, and we have just succeeded
in bringing the world's elites into our harmonization circle.
In accomplishing this victory, we have learned to make plans
and take action together and to develop effective strategies.
Now with everyone on board, We the People of the world are
ready to take on the responsibility of transforming our
societies and our global economy. At this special moment of
victory everyone in the world is unified in a common spirit,
as we have seen historically whenever tyrants have been
overthrown. People celebrate and dance in the streets, and
everyone is embraced as a brother or sister.

Everyone, for the moment at least, is reading from the same
page, is full of hope for the future, and has a spirit of
trust toward humanity in general. We have been unified up to
this point by our common struggle, but that's now over. Now
begins a much more difficult task, with many trade-offs to be
made, and we will need a new organizing principle. Presumably
our first step will be to arrange a global council, to
establish a basic system of world order. By using
harmonization, with back-and-forth exchange between the global
council and ad hoc local councils and networks -- and in our
current spirit of cooperation -- we can expect to converge on
a universally acceptable global charter. What elites
accomplished at Bretton Woods, we too can accomplish.

This rest of this chapter is my advance contribution to the
dialog of this future global council. I will be developing,
from a systems perspective, a proposal for a global charter
for a democratic and sustainable global society. My starting
point is to identify a minimal set of 'enabling qualities' for
our new society:

      - genuinely democratic
      - peaceful
      - stable
      - economically efficient
      - sustainable
      - can deal effectively with issues at all levels up to the global

If even one of these qualities is lacking in our new society,
then I suggest we will have serious problems sooner or later.
But if we can be sure our society will exhibit these qualities
as it operates, then we will be enabled to carry on with the
business of running and transforming our societies. We will be
able to set our agendas at all levels democratically, pursue
them efficiently in peace, and plan our futures with an
expectation of stability. That's all we need from a charter;
the rest will be up to us, We the People, as creative and
responsible citizens working together.

The list of qualities is not itself a charter. It makes little
sense to proclaim, for example, "Thou shalt be stable". That
states a desirable outcome, but it says nothing about how to
achieve it, nor how compliance would be measured. What our
charter needs to be about is a set of system constraints
(charter provisions), which are well defined and achievable,
and which can be expected to lead to system dynamics which
exhibit the qualities we are seeking. In case this seems
confusing, here's a simple example. You don't want your child
to be injured in traffic: that's a 'quality' that you want to
see realized. What you tell your child is: "Look both ways and
cross with the light." That's a system constraint. If your
child constrains its behavior in that way whenever it crosses
the street (microcosm), then 'not being injured in traffic' is
likely to characterize that child's life (macrocosm). But if
you tell your child directly, "Don't get injured", that
conveys little useful information.

Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" presented an entirely
analogous exercise in systems analysis. Smith identified a
small number of constraints (eg., each buyer and seller is
small compared to the market size), and then demonstrated, by
examples and logic, that compliance with those constraints in
the microcosm would cause everyone's economic self interest to
lead toward the common good in the macrocosm. His model has
proven to be accurate in those competitive sub-markets (eg.,
PC peripherals) where his constraints largely apply. His model
has no relevance to a capitalist economy generally, which is
designed to facilitate the concentration of wealth into a few

Similarly we seek a charter, with a small number of primary
provisions, that will ensure that as people pursue their own
self interest in their local microcosm, the global society
will exhibit our minimal enabling qualities in the macrocosm.

* A global charter: the primary provisions

The first constraint I would like to introduce has to do with
harmonization. If we can ensure that harmonization processes
will be used to develop agendas and to resolve conflicts in
our society, then that will go a long way toward facilitating
our enabling qualities. Harmonization facilitates democracy by
allowing every voice to be heard and taken into account. It
facilitates peace by providing a way to resolve conflicts to
everyone's benefit. It facilitates stability by inhibiting the
emergence of factional strife. It facilitates "dealing
effectively with issues" by providing a tool -- the
harmonization session -- which is designed for that express

What I offered in the previous paragraph was a rationale for
considering harmonization as a system constraint. But the
suitability of a constraint is not established by such a
rationale, no matter how persuasive it might seem. The test of
a constraint comes later, as we consider what its consequences
are likely to be in conjunction with the other constraints.

Before stating the first constraint in the language of a
provision, I'd like to bring in the principle of localism, in
the context of democracy. To begin with, let me suggest that
genuine democracy can exist among a group of people only if
every one of their individual voices is able to participate in
the policy decisions of that group. I for one would not be at
all happy if I don't get my two cents in. Who doesn't feel the
same way? Who has nothing to contribute? Who has no unique
concerns? Who doesn't care how their community is run?

If every voice is to be heard, then there would seem to be a
limit to how large a democratic group of people can be. How
can every voice be heard, for example, in a city of ten
million people? I don't know what this size limit is, but I'm
sure we'll know by the time we're considering charter
provisions. If I had to guess now, I'd say the limit is
somewhere between 1,500 and 3,000 citizens. By a process of
iteration, and participant rotation, such a group of people
can converge via harmonization on a shared sense of We the
People, in which everyone's concerns are represented. I
suggest that if we want a democratic society, we would be well
advised to build it on a foundation of political units, or
'communities', each of which is small enough to enable an
inclusive, participatory, democratic process.

A 'community' might be a neighborhood in a town or city, or it
might be a rural village -- presumably it would be some
existing, traditional unit of society. The boundaries of
communities will presumably be determined by the people
involved, and the sizes of different communities might vary
considerably, both in area and population. The only
requirement, from the perspective of democracy, is that a
community be small enough that everyone can participate
effectively in the community's affairs. Thus at the community
level it is possible to achieve genuine participatory
democracy -- a democracy without factions, without
representation, and with no need for elected authorities. We
the People of a community can think and speak for ourselves,
with a sensible and coherent voice, and with every individual
voice included in the process.

If every individual voice needs to be heard, then we will have
some challenges to face when it comes to dealing with global
issues democratically and effectively. It turns out that those
challenges become easier to deal with if we can assume our
society is based on democratic communities as the lowest-level
political entity. More about that in the next section.

With these rationales as an introduction, permit me to offer
my first three provisions:

      Provision 1 (Communities): Communities are to be established,
      in which every person will be included on the basis of their
      primary residence, and which are small enough to enable an
      inclusive democratic process.
      Provision 2 (Harmonization): Communities are to set their
      policies by a process of inclusive democratic harmonization,
      and by similar processes a harmonious relationship is to be
      maintained among communities as they interact and collaborate
      with one another.
      Provision 3 (Local sovereignty): Presuming it abides by all
      the provisions of this charter, each community has the
      sovereign right to manage its internal affairs, and its
      external relationships, as it sees fit -- without interference
      by the rest of society. However, if the actions or inactions
      of a community raise legitimate concerns in another community,
      those concerns are to be resolved as per Provision 2

If these provisions are followed, then we could expect to have
genuine democracy at the local level, and we could expect
effective and peaceful collaboration among neighboring
communities. Provision 3 (Local sovereignty) has an economic
rationale in addition to the obvious democratic rationale. Not
only does this provision ensure that the management of the
community's resources will serve the needs of the people in
the community, but it facilitates economic efficiency. The
feedback loops are small at the local level, the consequences
of policies are visible to everyone, and effective corrective
measures can be taken promptly whenever they are needed. The
people of such a sovereign community, when working in harmony,
have both the motivation and the means to manage the community
wisely and with a view to the long term. They can make better
decisions about how to use and preserve their local commons
than can some remote regulatory agency. In a society made up
of such democratic communities we could expect a proliferation
of creative initiatives and a renaissance of civic culture.

In order for a community to be able to manage its own affairs,
it will need to have dominion over its own local resources. If
the land and resources in a community are controlled by
absentee owners, for example, then the community won't have
the resources it needs to pursue its own survival and
prosperity, and its sovereignty would be meaningless.
Furthermore, if people or entities are permitted to accumulate
property on a wide-scale basis, then they could establish
economic empires and democracy generally would be undermined.
Due to these considerations, permit me to offer my fourth
charter provision:

      Provision 4 (Local ownership): All real property in a
      community -- land, structures, and natural resources -- are to
      remain under the exclusive control and ownership of residents
      of that community, of associations of such residents, or of
      the community as a whole, subject to compliance with the other
      provisions of this charter. No mortgage or lien is valid or
      enforceable against any real property in a community by any
      non-resident person or entity.

This provision gives communities a maximum degree of control
over their own destinies. With the benefit of short feedback
loops, and the ability to adjust policies when needed, we
could expect the grassroots of our new society to operate with
a reasonable degree of efficiency and effectiveness. It would
be in each citizen's and community's self interest to make the
most of what it has, to reuse and recycle on a systematic
basis, to minimize waste, to make appropriate use of
resources, and to generally follow sensible economic
practices. Furthermore, it would be in each community's self
interest to actively collaborate with its neighboring
communities, and with networks of communities, in achieving
the benefits of scale for large projects such as
infrastructure development and regional resource management.

A society cannot remain stable if its economic practices are
unsustainable. Unsustainable practices on the part of any
community would endanger that community's future and would be
ultimately destabilizing for the surrounding society. Based on
self-interest, we could expect sovereign communities to
voluntarily employ sustainable practices. Nonetheless, we must
acknowledge that some communities might unwisely choose to
pursue short-term convenience by over-exploiting their own
resources. Not out of paternalism to such a community, but in
order to ensure the stability of society generally, such an
unwise pursuit cannot be permitted. In this regard, permit me
to suggest three related provisions:

      Provision 5 (Sustainability): While ownership of land and
      natural resources resides within each community, as per
      Provision 4 (Local ownership), the sustained productivity of
      those lands and resources is an asset held in trust by the
      community on behalf of society generally and future
      generations. All use, exploitation, or development of such
      land and resources must be carried out in such a way as to
      sustain and improve the overall productivity of that land and
      resources in perpetuity.
      Provision 6 (Non-renewable resource): Non-renewable resources,
      such as minerals and fossil fuels, are a special case and are
      considered to be jointly owned by the community in which they
      reside and by society generally. Policies regarding extraction
      and use of such resources must be determined in a context in
      which the overall best interest of society in the long term
      can be harmonized with the legitimate prerogatives of local
      ownership and autonomy.
      Provision 7 (Global commons): Resources which are not found
      within a community, such as those in wilderness areas or the
      high seas, are to be under the ownership and control of global
      society generally, and are to be managed according the
      sustainability constraints of Provision 5 and 6.

These seven provisions define the fundamental operating
constraints for our new society. Harmonization helps ensure
that local affairs will be run democratically, that conflicts
can be resolved satisfactorily, and that effective and
creative policies can be developed within communities and
among neighboring communities. Local sovereignty, together
with the sustainability requirements, facilitates sound and
efficient economic practices and inhibits the emergence of
economic empires or hierarchical political structures. In
addition, local sovereignty can be expected to encourage
diversity and experimentation, as various communities around
the world find creative ways to deal with their own unique
problems and opportunities. Communities could be expected to
learn from one another, and successful initiatives to be
adapted for use elsewhere. In this way a culture of localism
and harmonization can be expected to lead to a global cultural
renaissance -- in the realms of art, economics, appropriate
technologies, and even the human spirit itself.

In order to deal with unusual emergencies, and in order to
make amendments our global charter, we will need to have a
formula for assembling future global councils. There are
probably many different formulas that would do the job, and
I'll offer one as an example. Basically, my proposal would be
to assemble two intermediate levels of councils, local and
regional, leading up to the global council. A local council
would be made up of delegations from each of 60 local
communities, and a regional council would be made up
delegations from each of 60 local councils.

Each community would first reach consensus on the issues of
the day, and then select a delegation of three people to
represent that consensus at its local council. Each local
council would then reach consensus on the issues and select a
3-person delegation to represent that consensus at its
regional council. Regional councils would repeat the same
process, and send a 3-person delegation to the global council.
If significant issues come up at any level that have not been
discussed at lower levels, or if the lower-level perspectives
are in conflict and cannot be harmonized, then those issues
would be kicked back down to the next lower level councils for
further discussion. This process would iterate until a
harmonized consensus can be reached at the global level.

If we assume that our average community population is about
three thousand, and that the global population is about six
billion, then we would have about two million communities
worldwide. There would be about 33,000 local councils, and
about 550 regional councils, each involving 180 delegates. The
global council itself would include about 1,600 delegates from
the regional councils. Each council would break down into
smaller groups, and would employ a process of iteration and
participant rotation in order to reach an eventual harmonized

Such a multi-level, iterative process would take some time to
converge on a global consensus, perhaps several weeks or
perhaps a month or two. In case that might seem cumbersome, we
need to remember that a global council is not like a world
government, rather it is more like an international treaty
conference. The council process is not employed to legislate
every-day issues, but rather to consider amendments to the
global charter and to deal with unusual problems or conflicts
that might arise and which defy resolution by the normal
process of voluntary harmonization among communities.

Permit me to put these ideas in the form of a charter

      Provision 8 (Councils): If problems or conflicts arise which
      cannot be otherwise resolved by the provisions of this
      charter, then any community can call for a global council to
      be assembled. Each community will send three delegates to a
      council of sixty local communities; each local council will
      send three delegates to a council of sixty localities in the
      region; and each regional council will send three delegates to
      a global council. Council sessions at all levels will employ
      democratic harmonization processes, as per Provision 2
      (Harmonization). Delegates from each level will be selected
      after a harmonized consensus has been reached at that level,
      and they will be selected by a process of nomination and
      majority vote. No delegation will include more than one
      representative from the same lower level constituency.
      Delegations are empowered only to represent the consensus
      which has been reached in the council that selected them.
      Issues which cannot be harmonized by any council will be
      referred back to lower-level councils for further
      consideration. The global council will continue until the
      problematic issues have been resolved

Delegates at all levels would be ordinary citizens, taking
time off from their normal occupations. There would be no role
in our new society for any kind of professional politicians. A
global council would be an exciting affair for citizens to
participate in. Those who were selected to attend at the
global level would be, for the duration, living in a temporary
community of fellow citizens from around the world, all acting
as equals as they discuss the issues of the day. Delegates at
lower level councils would be likely to return home after
their initial session, only to reassemble if issues were
referred back down for further consideration. Each day reports
of sessions at all levels would be sent out to their
constituencies so that everyone can track the proceedings.

We could expect a great deal of inherent system stability in a
culture based on harmonization. 'Running smoothly' can be
expected to be the norm. This is true because harmonization
tends to nip potential conflicts in the bud. When problems
first arise, they can be addressed right away, in whatever
context or level they arise. Once harmonization is
established, that serves as a kind of stabilizing flywheel --
the atmosphere of collaboration and mutual trust makes it
easier to deal with problems when they do arise. If problems
are not allowed to fester and grow, then there is little
reason for initiatives to arise which threaten social
stability. Thus the need for global councils would not be
expected to arise very often.

I have been giving rationales for these provisions, but we
will need to look more deeply into their likely consequences
before we can have confidence that they would lead to a
society with the desirable enabling qualities outlined in the
opening section of this chapter. In order to take that deeper
look, we will want to consider a number of scenarios. We will
want to look at how large scale problems can be dealt with,
how the global commons can be managed, and how potential
aggressors can be brought under control without creating a
centralized military force -- which itself could become a
vehicle for the seizure of power by some ambitious individual
or clique.

* The maintenance of peace and harmony

In a world in which everyone's concerns are taken into
account, and where societies everywhere cooperate and trade
with one another for mutual benefit, there would seem to be
little motivation for any group or society to pursue a path of
aggression. But there are pessimistic scenarios which deserve
consideration, such as that of some charismatic leader (eg., a
Genghis Khan) who convinces his followers to go on the
warpath. We cannot be sure that harmonization provides a
secure defense against all such anomalies. We need a Plan B in
case something goes wrong.

At this point, I must reiterate that global transformation can
only be possible when a culture of harmonization has spread to
the whole globe. We can't begin transforming the world if some
nation like China or the USA, for example, stays outside the
process and retains its elite leadership and its nuclear
weapons. In any scenario of transformation or transition, we
must assume that everyone everywhere will be cooperating from
the outset and will be participating in the harmonization
process. Before we can talk about maintaining peace, we must
assume that an initial state of global peace and cooperation
characterizes the transitional period.

With that proviso, we can assume that all weapons of mass
destruction, and all major weapons systems generally, will be
dismantled or recycled during the transitional period, along
with the related manufacturing facilities. A peaceful and
democratic world has no need of such weapons, and their
continued existence would pose an extreme potential danger to
social stability and safety. The first step toward global
peace would be universal disarmament. As part of this
arrangement, all facilities in all societies would always be
open to inspection by any visitors who cared to investigate
them. A democratic and peaceful society has nothing to hide.

But, considering again our need for a Plan B, I suggest that
disarmament should not be total. If there were no weapons nor
any kind of militias, for example, then it would be possible
for a rogue society to secretly produce a small arsenal and
begin a path of conquest against its defenseless neighbors. We
should be able to ensure, by inspections, that no big weapons
systems are secretly developed, but at the very low end of
weaponry (rifles, grenades, hand-held rockets, etc.)
inspections might not always be effective. We can't expect to
regularly search everyone's basement, nor would that be
compatible with a democratic society.

Rather than no weapons at all, I think a more stable
arrangement would be to designate a certain level of low-scale
military technology, and then encourage every society to
maintain that level of deterrent capability. As in the Swiss
system, it might be desirable for most able-bodied people to
go through a military training program, so they'd know how to
handle weapons and operate effectively in a militia unit. The
idea would be to have ready-reserve militia units, that
exercise regularly, and which can mobilize if a deterrent
capability is ever required. The designated level of military
technology would emphasize defense over offense. Perhaps there
would be anti-tank rockets, but no tanks; ground-to-air
missiles, but no military aircraft, torpedo boats but no
destroyers, etc. The objective would be to make it difficult
for a rogue to obtain an effective offensive capability, while
ensuring that societies will have an adequate defensive
capability if a rogue somehow succeeds in assembling a secret
arsenal. Any attempt to build a military in excess of the
designated levels would be considered an act of aggression
against neighboring societal units, and an early response by
them would minimize violence and enable the underlying
conflicts to be resolved before they get out of hand.

In keeping with a society based on harmonization and localism,
militia units would be community-based and under the
democratic control of each community. Just as there are no
centralized political governments, there would be no
centralized military commands.

The dynamics of defense in such a system would be similar to
the dynamics of the human immune system. If a rogue emerges,
then surrounding militias can voluntarily and coherently
combine forces to surround the rogue with overwhelming numbers
-- minimizing combat and ensuring a quick resolution. This
would be much like antibodies swarming to overwhelm and
isolate an invading organism. When the rogue has been
disarmed, the militias can go back home to their regular jobs,
and a process of reconciliation and harmonization can begin in
order to resolve the source of aggression, and restore peace
and stability.

Permit me to put these ideas in the form of charter provision:

      Provision 9 (Militias): Each community shall maintain a
      well-trained, ready-reserve militia unit for the purpose of
      maintaining the peace. The level of armaments available to
      this militia shall be strictly limited to that specified in
      this charter. If any community, or group of communities,
      attempts to acquire armaments which exceed those
      specifications, or initiates actual aggression against other
      communities, then surrounding communities are authorized and
      encouraged to mobilize their militias and collaborate
      voluntarily to contain and disarm the aggressing forces.
      Simultaneously, regional councils shall be assembled in the
      vicinity of the disturbance with the purpose of investigating
      and resolving the source of the aggression. When the conflict
      has been resolved, militia units shall return to their
      communities and resume their reserve status.

A common view, particularly in liberal circles, is that the
best way to achieve world peace is to establish a strong and
benign world government. Everything I've been saying in this
book can be interpreted as an attempt to refute that
perspective. Centralization and hierarchy have their own
inherent dynamics, and such structures will never stay benign
in the long run. If positions of power exist, someone will
exploit them sooner or later. Power corrupts, it's that
simple. If there is a world government with a military force,
then a coup is always a possibility -- and a formidable danger
to global stability. In the previous section, I argued that
centralized government is not necessary or desirable from the
perspective of day-to-day governance. In this section, I've
been attempting to show that peace can be maintained without
any centralized military command. Defensive forces can form
themselves when needed, on whatever scale is needed, and they
can go back home when the emergency is dealt with. With no
central military command at any level, the danger posed by
military coups is minimized.

In a culture of harmonization, it seems unlikely that
aggression would occur or that militias would need to be
mobilized. In order to reduce this likelihood still further,
let us consider what kind of circumstances might lead to the
emergence of an aggressor. Clearly we would prefer to nip such
any such development in the bud before it led to actual
aggression. It seems to me that a scenario of potential
aggressiveness could only occur if some locality or region
begins to engage is some kind of secret activity, including
perhaps the development of armaments in excess of the
prescribed levels. In order to prevent the emergence of secret
activity, and to keep our societies as open as possible, we
would be well advised to address the issue of secrecy
directly. In a democratic society there should be no need for
secrecy, apart from the right of citizens to privacy in their
personal lives. Permit me to propose one feasible way to
address this issue. This proposal is based on the idea of a
guest exchange program.

Suppose that each year each community sends off three citizens
to live as guests elsewhere for the year, and in turn accepts
three guests. Actually, a 'guest' might not be a single
citizen, but might be a couple or a family. The three selected
guest contingents would go to three different randomly
selected locations throughout the world, with provision made
for location preferences. Guests would participate as equals
in the host community's harmonization process, and they would
be able to observe everything going on in their host
community, as can any citizen. If the guests are able to
function in consensus effectively in that community, then we
can assume the community is pretty much in line with
acceptable global norms.

By such a mechanism, secret programs would be inhibited and
any kind of brewing dissatisfaction would come to the
attention of the rest of society. In addition to this negative
function -- preventing conflicts from arising -- such a guest
program would serve many positive functions as well. It would
facilitate mutual understanding among societies, and encourage
the cross-pollenization of ideas and skills. Guests would be
provided with employment, or with educational opportunities,
depending on their age, skills, and interests. They would be
expected to contribute to their host communities, and be
responsible citizens, just as they would in their own home
communities. I've suggested that three guests be included in
this program in order to ensure that sufficient
cross-pollenization occurs among societies. But in fact, such
a program might be very popular, and communities might choose
both to send off and to accept a larger number of guest
contingents on a voluntary basis. Permit me to put these ideas
in the form of a charter provision:

      Provision 10 (Cultural exchanges): In order to encourage
      cross-cultural exchange among communities, and to maintain
      open societies, a guest-exchange program shall be organized
      worldwide each year. Each community shall select at least
      three guest contingents to contribute to this program, and in
      turn will accept at least three guest contingents. A
      contingent will consist of an individual, a couple, or a
      family. Each contingent will reside in its host community for
      one year, and the destination of contingents will be
      determined partly randomly, and partly by preference of the
      members of the contingent. Guests shall enjoy the same status,
      and assume similar responsibilities, as permanent local

* The management of large-scale projects and operations

The avoidance of centralized and hierarchical structures is of
fundamental importance if democracy is to be maintained in our
new society. In the preceding sections I have attempted to
show how governance and peace-keeping can be achieved without
centralized governments or centralized military commands. The
avoidance of centralized economic entities is equally
important to the maintenance of democracy. If any person or
clique is able to accumulate excessive wealth, or to control a
very large economic operation, they could very easily leverage
that economic power into political power. Abundant evidence
for this fact can be found throughout history and particularly
since the advent of monopoly capitalism.

And yet, we cannot escape the realities of the industrial
revolution. We cannot afford to ignore the advantages of
mass-production, the economies of scale, and the benefits of
technology -- if we want to survive and prosper. We do not
want to throw the baby-of-efficiency out with the
corporate-bath-water. We need, however to apply these tools
toward the benefit of our families and our communities, rather
than devote them to the accumulation of wealth by a few. In a
democratic society we can expect to use the tools in that way.
And we need to use these tools within the constraints of
economic sustainability, and with due respect for the
environment which provides us with sustenance. In a society
where resources are controlled locally and democratically, we
will have every motivation to use those resources wisely and
with an eye toward improving the quality of life in our
communities in the long run. We also need to use these tools
in such a way that they do not end up controlling us. We do
not want to create production systems which, like
corporations, take on a life of their own and end up
dominating society. Industrialism without hierarchy is the nut
that needs to be cracked.

I do not mean to over-emphasize the importance of industrial
methods. There is also much room for returning to small-scale
ways of doing things, which in many situations can be more
efficient than mass-scale approaches. Local production for
local consumption, and low-technology agriculture, are in many
contexts exactly the 'appropriate technologies'. Yet even in
those contexts, things like high-efficiency turbine
generators, solar cells, personal computer systems, and
satellite communications can offer much complementary benefit.
At least in the large, modern societies, industrial methods --
used appropriately -- certainly have a role to play.

We need benefits of scale, but how much scale do we need? I
suggest that the largest operating entity we really need is a
single-site facility -- on the scale of a single factory, a
regional airport, or a seaport. We might be talking about a
massive factory or other facility, employing thousands of
workers, and covering many acres. But it can be locally owned,
controlled democratically, and it can be autonomous from other
economic entities. Larger, multi-site entities -- such as the
modern large corporation -- do not add significantly more real
economic efficiency. They do however facilitate centralized
control and the building of monopolies. An autonomous factory
can seek the best vendors on a competitive basis, and choose
its markets and distribution channels according to free-market
principles. No single factory, even if massive, is going to
dominate its sector of the larger economy. By limiting scale
in this way, Adam Smith's constraints can be maintained, and
his "invisible hand" can be expected to lead to overall
economic benefit in the macrocosm.

Our Provision 4 (Local ownership)requires that ownership of
real property remain within its local community. In the case
of privately owned enterprises, I suggest that this provision
must be rigorously adhered to. If any private, presumably
for-profit entity, is permitted to grow beyond strict limits,
we may encourage the emergence another J.D. Rockefeller or
J.P. Morgan who will be clever enough to leverage his success
formula into an economic empire. Human nature, if anything, is
infinitely creative in the pursuit of goals, whether
beneficial or not. For our large endeavors, such as a regional
factory or seaport, we need a more democratic and inherently
socially responsible kind of enterprise.

There are probably many entity structures that would suit our
purposes here, and as usual I'll offer one common-sense
proposal just to demonstrate feasibility. I suggest that a
larger-than-community enterprise be organized as a joint-
venture partnership among a group of communities, who mutually
agree to assume specified obligations in regard to funding,
providing land and access, and otherwise contributing to the
enterprise. These same collaborating communities would receive
specified rewards (eg., a specified share of profits, or a
guarantee of employment availability) from the operation of
the enterprise.

The group of participating communities should include any
communities whose residents are intending to be workers in the
factory, as the workers and their communities are also
stakeholders in the enterprise. The enterprise would be
overseen by a board of directors, including representation
from all partner communities, and other communities and groups
which have a stakeholder interest. The board would not be a
fixed body (beware power cliques) but would be constituted by
rotating representatives from the stakeholder communities.The
primary mission of the board would be to maintain harmony
between the interests of the stakeholders (including the
workers) and the operational requirements of the enterprise,
within the provisions of our global charter. The actions of
the board would be fully transparent, indeed videos of board
meetings could be made available to stakeholders.

The existence of such a joint-venture entity would not be
destabilizing to the local political environment because all
affected communities would be represented on the board and
included fully in the policy-setting process. Furthermore, any
such single facility -- even a very large one -- would be only
one small player in the wider marketplace. If we allow
enterprises to be larger than a community -- but limit such
enterprises to a single site of operations -- then we can
expect continued political stability, along with the continued
guidance of Smith's invisible hand, and we would be able to
achieve the scale of operation necessary to support a complex
economy -- on a site by site basis.

There would be no 'personhood' or 'limited liability'
associated with such a joint-venture enterprise. The
communities involved in the enterprise would need to assume
collective responsibility for the consequences of the
enterprise, foreseen or unforeseen, according to an agreed
formula -- just as if the communities had caused those
consequences in the absence of any enterprise. The enterprise
is a mechanism to enable effective collaboration, not a means
of escaping responsibility for actions and decisions. An
enterprise, once established, has no inherent right to
continue existing. At any time the stakeholder communities can
agree, through their board, to disband the operation,
reconstitute its management, or convert the facility to some
other purpose -- always within the provisions of our global

I cannot attempt here to comprehensively consider the full
range of economic empire-building strategies, and seek a way
to prevent each. When the time comes, better minds than mine
will be working on the problem. Our main safeguards are the
democratic process and local sovereignty. If some operator
becomes a problem, people can respond to the actual situation
and take remedial action at the grassroots level, or councils
can be organized at higher levels. Within the scope of the
limited examples we have considered, permit me to suggest an
appropriate charter provision:

      Provision 11 (Collective entities): Enterprises or agencies
      which exceed the scope or territory of a single community are
      to be undertaken as joint-venture partnerships involving all
      affected stakeholder communities. Equity ownership in, and
      liens and mortgages against such entities are limited to
      residents of the stakeholder communities and the communities
      themselves. Stakeholder communities shall include at a minimum
      all communities whose territory is affected, over whose
      territory access will be required, who will be contributing
      resources or manpower, or who might be environmentally or
      economically affected by the entity's operations. Any
      liabilities or debts incurred by such an entity, if they
      cannot be covered out of its operating budget, become
      liabilities and debts of the stakeholders, according to an
      agreed formula. Policy in such enterprises is to be set by a
      rotating board, including representation from all
      stakeholders, and by means of harmonization processes.

As Noam Chomsky and others have pointed out, the American
Constitution over-emphasizes property rights in comparison to
personal rights and social justice. Whereas the Bill of Rights
merely promises 'no harm' as regards civil liberties, the
Constitution overall includes much more active provisions when
it comes to guaranteeing the rights of property. In a society
which has does not restrict its cultural values to greed and
wealth accumulation, we can expect that property rights might
in some cases need to compromise with other considerations. In
particular, the enforceability of contracts may need to be
limited in certain circumstances.

To be more specific, we cannot let contracts among business
entities undermine local sovereignty. To some extent our
latest provision addresses this issue with the phrase, "liens
and mortgages against such enterprises are limited to
residents of the stakeholder communities and the communities
themselves". As regards contracts, suppose that our local
factory fails to deliver on a contract, and a significant
economic penalty has been agreed to. If the factory enterprise
cannot afford to cover the penalty, then I suggest the
stakeholders need to have the freedom to either meet the
obligation or defer it. This can be seen as a kind of
bankruptcy protection, but one generous to the debtor.
Admittedly, the hypothetical purchaser under the contract may
suffer unfair economic hardship, particularly if advance
payments have been made -- but strict enforcement might
compromise local sovereignty and economic viability. If a
community is forced to devote a fraction of its productivity
to repaying an external debt, that is tantamount to a mortgage
on the community, and would be contrary to Provision 4 (Local

This situation is not really as troublesome as it might at
first appear. It does not mean that business relationships
would be unstable and unpredictable. What it does mean is that
reliability and reputation would be a strong element in
business relationships. Relationships among vendors and buyers
would tend to be oriented around trust bonds, and in the long
run this would be more stabilizing than a punitive system of
contract enforcement. And if an enterprise did stumble, it
would be in everyone's best long-term interest to allow that
entity to reorganize itself and become again a contributor to
the regional economy and an employer. Or if the enterprise is
not worth continuing, then the communities' sovereignty over
their real property should not be compromised. They should
have the right to recycle the facilities and equipment to the
benefit of the stakeholders.

In light of these considerations, permit me to amend Provision
4 as follows:

      Provision 4 (Local ownership, amended): All real property in a
      community -- land, structures, and natural resources -- are to
      remain under the exclusive control and ownership of residents
      of that community, of associations of such residents, or of
      the community as a whole, subject to compliance with the other
      provisions of this charter. No mortgage or lien is valid or
      enforceable against any real property in a community by any
      non-resident person or entity. The repayment of debts and
      other obligations, owed by a community or resident to an
      external person or entity, cannot be enforced without the
      agreement of the debtor community, as per Provision 2
      (Harmonization) and Provision 3 (Local sovereignty).

* The management of the global commons

In this final section of the current chapter, I will dispense
with proposing further charter provisions. I've probably gone
overboard as it is with my amateur legalese, but that seemed
like the clearest way to summarize and refer to the desired
system constraints. What I'll try to do here is explore how we
might democratically handle our global-scale problems,
efficiently and effectively. As an example, let's consider the
management of the high seas.

To begin with, there is the question of territorial waters,
which presumably would require language in Provision 1
(Communities). Local stewardship of coastal waters, within
some kind of specified boundaries, makes economic and
ecological sense by the same arguments offered earlier
regarding local sovereignty generally. Coastal communities
would be motivated by self-interest to wisely manage their
fishing stocks and other marine resources, and they would be
bound by our sustainability provisions. Coastal communities
would have primary responsibility for ensuring adequate safety
facilities (foghorns, rescue craft, or whatever) in support of
coastal shipping, just as they would need to provide safe
passage for land traffic and visitors. Neighboring coastal
communities, and economically-involved non-coastal communities
would naturally collaborate in establishing entities, as per
Provision 11 (Collective entities), to provide things like
ports and warehousing, harbor-master services, rescue
helicopters, patrol craft, etc. Local control of territorial
waters can be expected to work out satisfactorily, with
considerable variety in local usage patterns.

For the high seas we need a more systematic approach. We need
to set sensible global policies in order to help restore
fishing stocks to acceptable levels of viability and
productivity. We need to have sound policies which seek to
maximize overall marine productivity, within the constraints
of sustainability and ecological integrity. If we harvest too
much, we reduce net productivity. If we harvest too little, we
are contributing unnecessarily to world hunger and adding
stress to land-based food production.

I don't believe this kind of policy-making would be
particularly problematic. At the level of basic policy
guidelines, and the specification of goals and objectives,
this would be the responsibility of a global council devoted
to that purpose, as per Provision 8 (Councils). A team could
be assembled by such a council, with appropriate scientific
and citizen representation, to draw up more detailed policies,
for review, modification, and eventual amendment and
endorsement by a subsequent global council.

As regards compliance-monitoring, policing, satellite tracking
of shipping traffic, rescue services, and other such
operational issues, I suggest that we would want to establish
various co-operating but separate agencies to deal with
various tasks, as per Provision 11 (Collective entities).
These agencies would be special in that their "stakeholder
communities" would include the whole global society. Clearly,
every stakeholder could not be directly represented on the
board of such an agency. Care would need to be taken to ensure
that every class of stakeholder is represented, and that
rotation be used to diversify participation over time. And it
goes without saying, under our charter, that the performance
of such agencies remains always under the scrutiny of all
affected communities and enterprises. If an agency's
performance is inadequate, or if the agency starts getting
carried away with its own importance, councils can be
assembled at whatever level is appropriate, and the problems
can be addressed.

Presumably our local-militia concept can be extended to
maintaining order and preventing piracy or aggression on the
high seas. Earlier I estimated there would be about 550
regional councils. Perhaps each region could be responsible
for providing and supporting one armed vessel, with an
emphasis on defensive armaments, to participate in a
co-operative global navy. Under normal circumstances, the
assignments of these vessels would be coordinated by one of
our high-seas agencies, something like a 'high seas safety
agency'. The vessels would carry out routine patrols, be
available to deal with rescues or emergencies, and participate
in the monitoring processes, such as measuring fish stocks or
inspecting cargoes.

If any kind of aggressor scenario arises, either on the high
seas or in a coastal area where our vessels might be needed
for support, then I suggest that we stick with the principles
of Provision 9 (Militias). Our 'high seas safety agency' would
be available as a collective resource, and a communication
switchboard, but it would not become the Lord Admiralty of a
Global Naval Force. When it comes to anything like a combat
scenario, each vessel remains under the democratic control of
the region which provided the ship and the crew. Collaboration
in the face of aggression would be determined by each crew and
its home region, based on their interpretation of the alleged
aggressive events. But there is no reason to expect that the
vessels in the region of a genuine rogue would fail to respond
when needed. They would expect the same support from their
naval colleagues if their own home port or their own shipping
were under some kind of attack. By maintaining the autonomy of
individual vessels, we guard against a 'high seas safety
agency' which might seek unilaterally to mask an aggressive
invasion under the rhetoric of 'restoring order'. Once again,
we want to avoid centralized military commands and the
possibility of coups by power-seeking individuals or cliques.

* System review

In the Introduction to this chapter I put forward these
'enabling qualities' for our new society:

      - genuinely democratic
      - peaceful
      - stable
      - economically efficient
      - sustainable
      - can deal effectively with issues at all levels up to the global

Throughout the chapter I have indicated how the each of the
proposed charter provisions can be expected to contribute to
the realization of these qualities. We've looked at a few
representative scenarios dealing with issues that might arise
at each level, from local to the global, and we've found, I
hope you will agree, plausible approaches to dealing with
those issues -- approaches which are viable within the context
of the identified provisions, and which are supportive of our
enabling qualities.

As in the previous chapter, I am not attempting to offer a
comprehensive final recipe. Just as that chapter endeavored to
show a satellite photo of a promising pass through the
mountains, so this chapter has endeavored to show a satellite
map of a plausible democratic global system. Again, the map is
not the territory, and the real terrain will surely bring
surprises. My hope in preparing this early set of proposals is
to encourage us to take a broad view of the solutions
available to us, and to encourage us to keep always in mind
the whole-system dynamics we would set in motion by our
adopted global charter.

Harmonization in the microcosm shows us that there is inherent
wisdom latent within every group of people. We the People as
an awakened macrocosm can be expected to exhibit a level of
collective wisdom that will raise the human species to the
next level of self-aware evolution. In our final chapter we
will explore some of the cultural implications of a truly
democartic society. At the outset, I believe we will have the
wisdom to adopt a sensible global charter, one much better I'm
sure than my own amateur proposals.


* Cultures and conditioning

Animals are born with most of their behavior patterns already
hard-wired in. Humans on the other hand learn their behavior
patterns and beliefs -- their culture -- from their society.
We are born with a programmable culture-unit rather than a
pre-programmed behavior-unit. Psychologists recognize a
measurable programmability-factor in humans which is most
pronounced in infancy, declines gradually, and which falls off
sharply after about age 13. This is why we have the phrase
'impressionable youth'. If a child is taught that Apollo
carries the sun across the sky each day in a chariot, that
will be accepted as unquestioned, literal truth -- as would be
the tenets of any other religion. The adult can't say why he
believes these myths, he simply 'knows they are true'. The
unquestioned faith of the adult is the frozen programming of
the child.

The conversion of a pre-wired behavior-unit into a
programmable culture-unit was one of our most important and
unique evolutionary developments. It facilitated the emergence
of early humans from the forest to pursue a wide variety of
available niches. The rate of our cultural evolution could be
measured in centuries or even generations -- rather than
millennia. We soon left the other species behind like so many
frozen statues in a pastoral tableau. Lions are still doing
exactly what they were doing before humans came along.
Meanwhile, we've gone on to build civilizations and create
cultures appropriate to them.

In our early days as Homo sapiens, each band or tribe
gradually evolved its own culture, adopting a world view that
supported the perceived requirements of its economic milieu.
The culture grew out of the relationship of the tribe with its
natural environment. These cultures were holistic, in that
economics, skills, stories, songs, maturation rites, male and
female roles, beliefs, cosmology, morals -- all of these
things and more -- were of a whole fabric. Cultures were
typically unique to each tribal group and remarkably stable
over time, often including a mechanism for reliably passing on
historical tradition orally.

The stability of early cultures was largely due to the fact
that children are programmable and that adults tend to rigidly
retain the programming. People learn their cultures, and the
meaning of the world, as youth -- and then as adults they
simply see what they were told as being 'truth'. As a
consequence, they pass on the same 'truth' to their children
in turn. If children were more critical of what they were
told, or if adults were more open to learning new truths, then
cultures would be less stable over time. This combination of
youthful programmability and adult rigidity was perhaps
necessary for our early survival. But after civilization came
along these traits became a primary means of subjugating
populations. They became the basis of hierarchical religion
and of social conditioning.

Anthropologists tell us that the first hierarchical societies
were chiefdoms. These early chiefs claimed to be gods -- and
were treated as such by their subjects. The children of the
tribe were taught that the chief was a god, they took it as
'truth', and as adults their obedience was assured. Chiefs
could use force to command allegiance, but their need to use
force was greatly reduced by their status as divinities. To
disobey or oppose the chief was not only a crime punishable by
death, but a sacrilege as well. As long as each new generation
was conditioned to this system of myths, then the chief and
his heirs were able to maintain their ruling positions with
minimum need for force.

Thus from the very beginning of hierarchical societies, myths
and conditioning have been used as tools of subjugation. As
civilization has evolved, the means of conditioning the masses
have become gradually more sophisticated. The basic challenge
for regimes is to instill a fundamental world view that
supports the continuance of the ruling regime. Once the world
view is successfully installed, then the context of
subjugation has been established. For most of the past 2,000
years, strong religious institutions, and strong social
conditioning about faith and belief, have served as the
primary means of inculcating a world view that would accept
hierarchy, suffering, and political impotence as normal states
of being. "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's...", and
so forth. This has been a rather stable conditioning system
over these two thousand years, with occasional readjustments
in response to political and economic developments, such as
the Protestant Revolution which facilitated the emergence of

* Liberalism: today's mythology

The Enlightenment (c. 1800) brought what was perhaps the
greatest transformation in mythology since the first
hierarchical societies. Discoveries in science were
challenging the traditional religious mythologies, and the
rising merchant class felt stifled by the hierarchies of
aristocracy and the church. The result was a gradual
transformation of Western societies from kingdoms to
republics, beginning with the American and French Revolutions.
Although religious doctrines have continued to play an
important role, republicanism introduced a new dominant
mythology: liberalism.

      From my American Heritage dictionary: 
      liberal. 2. Having, expressing, or following views or policies
      that favor the freedom of individuals to act or express
      themselves in a manner of their own choosing.

In this original sense of the word, liberalism included
everyone who was opposed to absolute monarchy. While in
current American usage 'liberal' refers to someone on the left
half of the political spectrum, in its original sense
'liberal' would include nearly everyone in the modern world.
We can see the vestige of this sense of the word in the term
'neoliberal', which is a right-wing agenda.

There are two primary liberal myths. The first myth is that
the individual is the sovereign unit in society, and the
second myth is that the will of the sovereign individual can
find expression through electoral representation. Neither of
these myths makes any more sense, nor has any more evidence to
support it, than the belief that Apollo carries the sun across
the sky in a chariot.

The myth of individual sovereignty is very appealing because
we as individuals like the idea of being autonomous and
sovereign. The myth appeals particularly to the juvenile urge
that arises in the youth of all societies to rebel against the
established order. Children have always messed about a bit,
working out their selfish, not-yet-socialized urges. In large
measure, the liberal cult of individualism is a case of
cultural neoteny -- the retention of a juvenile tendency in
the adults of our society. We are encouraged to compete as
selfish individuals, to make our individual way in the world,
to struggle one against another. This, we are taught, is

Appealing as the idea of individual sovereignty might
superficially appear to be, it suffers from the fact that it
does not and could never exist in reality. Except for the rare
isolated hermit, people have always lived, and always will
live, within ordered societies. Societies have always had
rules which must be followed, and punishments for rule
breakers. Individuals have always had to conform to those
rules, whether they be 'god given' or passed by legislatures.
Most people don't even question the rules, but conform readily
to them so as to make their lives go more smoothly.

In fact, sovereignty is about making the rules, not following
them. In the early days of civilization it was the kings that
made the rules, and they were known as 'sovereigns'. Today it
is legislatures that make the rules -- remote bureaucracies
made up of corrupt power seekers, party hacks, and corporate
proxies. Setting aside globalization and the WTO for the
moment, the nation state is the unit of sovereignty in our
modern world -- not the individual. The individual is
compelled to obey the laws, to seek his or her fortune within
the constraints laid down by elites, and can typically be
coerced into going off and risking his or her life in
imperialist wars. This is not sovereignty, this is slavery. We
won't be sovereign, as individuals or in any other way, until
we make the rules ourselves.

This brings us to the second myth of liberalism: that
democracy is achievable by means of competitive politics and
elected representatives. The fact that history shows us no
example of this myth being realized should raise doubt in the
liberal, in the same way that the fossil record should raise
doubt in those who believe literally in the biblical creation
myth. In neither case, however, do the facts seem to dispel
the myth that was implanted during the programmable years. No
less should doubt be raised in the liberal by the actual
performance of today's so-called democracies. In no way could
anyone characterize the policies of our modern societies as
being an expression of democratic will. Indeed, those who
support the governments most loyally seem to have the least
understanding of what those governments are actually up to.
Accurate information is not made available to the masses, and
their opinion is not requested when policies are being made...
how could they possibly, through representation or not, be the
source of actual social policy? How can an X in a box possibly
convey the complex will of an allegedly sovereign human being?
The idea is preposterous, as preposterous as any primitive

* There is hope for the liberal

Fortunately, there is hope for those who have been programmed
into the cult of liberalism. There are effective deprogramming
tools available. The harmonization process is one such tool.
In the experience of a facilitated face-to-face gathering of
diverse people, the recovering liberal can learn two
liberating lessons at the same time.

The first lesson has to do with the relationship of the
individual to the group. When people learn to let down the
defensive shell of personal prejudices, and allow themselves
to enter a shared mental space, an exciting synergy emerges --
a collective wisdom that is much greater than the sum of the
individual wisdoms. The individual is not submerged by this
process, rather the individual is awakened and empowered by
being really listened to. The experience is one of heightened
personal power, enabled by ceasing to view power as a matter
of dominance, but seeing it instead as a measure of our
ability to achieve our goals -- an ability that is enhanced
profoundly by seeking solutions in open and trusting
cooperation with others. The recovering liberal learns from
this lesson that the solitary individual is under-qualified to
act as a sovereign social unit. We need the synergy of a
larger group, or community, in order to have a context in
which our own will can find expression and effective
realization. In short: the group empowers the individual; the
solitary individual is politically impotent and, relatively
speaking, creatively impoverished.

The second lesson has to do with the relationship of the
individual to governance. The heart of this lesson is that
ordinary people are competent to govern themselves. Our
societies generally, and hence our socialization processes,
give us only the models of collaborative and adversarial
dynamics (as described in "Harmonization and the microcosm")
for use in our interactions. As solitary individuals using
these deficient processes we 'learn' that ordinary people
aren't very effective in solving difficult problems together,
or on reaching agreement on divisive issues. This conditioned
learning reinforces the myth that we can only find effective
political expression through representation, and by trusting
in the professional hierarchy. In a harmonization session, the
recovering liberal learns that ordinary people can work
profoundly well together -- when they learn to engage in
dynamics that enable their collective wisdom to emerge.

The full meaning of this second lesson is not necessarily
taken in all at once. At first it may be only a glimmer of a
realization, in the context of a small group. But after even a
single session, the programmed belief in the necessity of
hierarchy can no longer be entirely sacrosanct. The wedge of
liberation from hierarchy has been put in place. Further
experience with harmonization can only drive the wedge
forward, leading eventually to the realization that genuine
grassroots participatory democracy is possible.

In the end, the recovered liberal finds that his programmed
beliefs were a subtle distortion of a larger truth. Yes the
individual is the primary source of sovereign will in a
democracy -- but that will can only find effective expression
in a larger, cooperative political unit. And yes, political
sovereignty should begin down at the grassroots of a democracy
-- but the solitary individual is not quite viable as a
foundation for that sovereignty. From the perspective of this
larger truth, the natural synergy between localism and
democracy begins to become apparent. It is in the local
community that the sovereign individual can effectively
participate, and it is the local community which is viable as
the sovereign political unit at the grassroots of a democratic

Thus the spreading of a culture of harmonization has two
aspects. On the one hand it is a deprogramming campaign, aimed
at the liberation of liberals of the left and right (victims
our dominant subjugating mythology). On the other hand it is a
positive movement aimed at establishing a culture suitable to
a democratic society. Unlike every other culture which has
characterized civilization, a culture of harmonization is not
supportive of hierarchy. In that sense, it is the most
revolutionary cultural development to come along since
civilization itself. But there is even more to it than that.

* Cultural evolution in a democracy

Earlier I suggested that the emergence of a programmable
culture-unit was a major step forward for humanity's cultural
evolution. With that genetic innovation, Homo sapiens was able
to evolve its cultures in drastically shorter time frames than
can be accomplished by biological evolution. Our consequent
ability to expand into new niches soon outstripped that of our
competitor species. And yet, as I also pointed out, early
cultural evolution was strongly limited by the automatic
passing down of cultures from generation to generation, with
change minimized. This stabilizing aspect of early cultural
evolution was suitable to early societies, where changes in
basic circumstances occurred relatively rarely. Early
societies were strongly conservative, and rightly so.

Our modern societies, particularly when undergoing a process
of radical transformation, are much more dynamic affairs than
those of early Homo sapiens. An even more rapid means of
cultural evolution would be suitable for us. Locally-based
democracy provides a suitable vehicle for that more rapid
evolution. A democratic community can transform its culture
simply by dialoging and adopting changes. Our programmable
culture-unit moved the scale of cultural evolution from the
realm of genetic changes into the realm of behavioral
adaptation. Democracy accelerates the scale of cultural
evolution further on into the realm of conscious cognition. As
I've mentioned before, we can surely expect a global cultural

Early societies needed myths as an effective means of passing
on successful cultural adaptations. Hierarchical societies
needed myths in order to subjugate the people. A democratic
society has no need of myths. People can believe in myths if
they want to, that's their sovereign right, but the
maintenance of a democratic society does not depend on
everyone subscribing to any particular myth. This lack of
enabling mythology is in fact the most revolutionary aspect of
this particular cultural transformation. Not only are we going
back to before civilization began (by abandoning hierarchy),
but we are abandoning something that primates have always had:
a rigid, inherited culture. Early Homo sapiens inherited his
culture through conditioning, rather than genes, but it was
inherited nonetheless, and it was typically rigid and only
very slowly changing.

For the first time ever, humanity will be free to define its
own destiny, unencumbered by systematically conditioned false
beliefs and superstitions. This 'defining our own destiny
rationally' was part of the original Enlightenment vision, but
it was in that case betrayed. To the elites who ran republican
societies, keeping the people under control was the most
important priority. Desirable cultural evolution under elites
has been systematically minimized, being forced only by
effective grassroots activism, or occurring fortuitously as a
result of elite agendas. Meanwhile undesirable cultural
evolution, as we've seen under neoliberalism, has been
initiated whenever such has been required to enable further
capitalist growth.

As we launch into transforming our societies, free at last
from elites and conditioned myths, we will most likely
experience an initial, explosive 'speciation' of new cultures.
This does not mean, however, that our democratic cultures will
be plastic affairs, changing with every season and fashion.
What it does mean is that our cultures will be free to
co-evolve along with the economic, infrastructure, life-style,
and other decisions we make as we transform our societies. In
fact, we can expect our cultures to tend to stabilize over
time due to the constraints of sustainability. Sustainability
and stability go hand in hand. Sustainable agriculture, for
example, tends to involve rotating through those crops which
are most suitable for the local soil and climate. Hence one
might expect regular cycles of agricultural activity to
develop. Sustainable businesses would want to have markets and
suppliers whose demands and productivity are relatively stable
over time. Hence we might see a stabilization of business
enterprises, perhaps somewhat akin to the medieval guild
system, but guided by democratic principles.

We also have reason to expect that our cultures will become
more holistic, as were early human cultures. When our cultures
are free to evolve, instead of being constrained by relatively
rigid myths, the various aspects of our cultures are likely to
converge toward some kind of mutual consistency. As we
universally adopt sustainable practices, for example, we are
likely to regain respect for nature at a spiritual level, as
was characteristic of early human cultures. And as we become
accustomed to using harmonization in our political affairs, we
are likely to develop a more cooperative and loving ethic
toward our fellow humans generally.

As regards respect for nature in early cultures, it is true
that exceptions can be found when tribes migrated to new
territories. They often opportunistically exterminated
vulnerable food species. But eventually equilibrium would be
reached and respect for nature would become part of the
culture. We can view industrialization as such a 'new
territory', leading to the opportunistic decimation of nature.
When we leave those exploitive practices behind us, as did
early societies when the vulnerable species disappeared, we
too can expect our world view to come into alignment with our
new economic practices.

* Democracy and personal liberation

While liberalism promises personal liberty, it is under
genuine democracy that we will experience personal liberty for
the first time. Actually participating in the conditions that
affect our lives will be not only politically liberating, but
psychologically liberating as well. We have been in a dark
prison for millennia, and emerging into the daylight of
freedom will liberate our spirits in more ways than we can
imagine. Like the lion in "Born Free", we will be able to
discover our true natures as free beings.

One of the things we will discover, in a society that is
governed for the benefit of the people, is that we have been
working entirely too hard. It is not our needs that force us
to work ten hours a day or more, but rather the needs of
capitalism. The scarcity that we experience in our lives is an
artificial scarcity, required so that elites can extract
astronomical profits from our labor. Indeed, a major problem
for capitalism has been the 'excess production' enabled by
industrial methods. If applied sensibly, modern technology can
produce whatever artifacts we need with a small fraction of
the effort currently devoted to 'work'. In a democratic
society based on local sovereignty and ownership, we will find
that we have lots of free time on our hands.

Free time plus a liberated spirit is a formula for unleashing
creativity. Not only will we experience a renaissance of
creativity at the level of our societies, but art, poetry,
music, science and all manner of personal creativity will be
enabled as well. In our societies today, it is very difficult
to be an artist. You must have a special talent and dedication
in order to make a living by art in a society which does not
assign much economic value to art. And if you want to pursue
scientific inquiry, your are restricted to what will be funded
by establishment institutions.

When we don't need to spend most of our waking hours working
to support elite's mega-wealth, then we will find there are
artists and poets all around us. Indeed, some indigenous
societies today do not have a special word for 'artist' or
'musician'. They understood that everyone has such talents.
And when scientific inquiry can be pursued free of elite
agendas, who knows what breakthroughs might be possible?
Instead of being constrained by the needs of corporate profit
making, our only scientific constraints will be those imposed
by our democratic will. Rather than most of our research going
toward developing weaponry and frivolous consumer products,
our research can be guided by the needs of society and the
pursuit of understanding.

Many social visionaries today believe that 'personal
transformation' on a massive scale is necessary before social
transformation can be achieved. I suggest that this is a
disempowering myth, a means of subjugation just like our other
myths. It inhibits us from pursuing social transformation and
it blames us, the victims, for a society that has in fact been
fashioned by elites for their own benefit. This 'necessity of
personal transformation' myth can be seen as a vestige of the
myth of 'original sin'. The myth fails to recognize that the
deficiencies in our current level of personal consciousness
are due not to our inherent natures, but are largely the
result of systematic conditioning. If the conditioning is
removed, the path to personal transformation will be a far
easier one. The conditioning can be removed by appropriate
social transformation. If we put the cart before the horse
(personal before social transformation), we are prevented from
moving forward. The teachings of Buddha and Christ have been
known for thousands of years, and yet massive personal
transformation has not yet occurred. But as with all myths,
this kind of obvious evidence seems to go unnoticed by those
who subscribe to the myth.

* Education in a democratic society

In our current societies, the primary role of 'education' is
to fill the youth with disempowering myths and condition them
to the practical requirements of a regimented society. Indeed,
general public 'education' was not established until
industrialism came along, requiring a literate work force who
could understand and obey complex instructions. Before that,
illiteracy had served as one more mechanism to subjugate the
masses. In a democratic society, we can restore 'education' to
the original meaning of the word. The word comes from 'educe',
which means to "bring out or develop something latent or
potential" (New Oxford Dictionary of English). Instead of
force-feeding children myths and 'useful facts', we can seek
to 'bring out' their innate wisdom and allow their learning to
be guided by their innate curiosity. There have been
educational pioneers who have applied such educational methods
in today's societies, and the results have been remarkable.

When children are programmed with myths, then as adults they
are constrained by those myths. To the extent children are
liberated from myths, they as adults will be that much closer
to personal and psychological liberation. The full flowering
of our new democratic societies will be realized by future
generations, who have been freed in this way during their
formative years of learning. We will envy them and, as I
suggested earlier, we can only dimly imagine the personal and
cultural renaissance that is likely to occur.

At the same time, we must respect the right of families to
raise their children according to their own family values,
even if some of us consider those values to be based on
unfortunate myths. For us to instill in children atheistic
beliefs, for example, would be manipulative programming --
just as much as if we instill in them religious mythology. My
own bias against religion has been clear from this material,
but I would not impose that bias on others. I have faith that
in a liberated, democratic society, a balance will be reached
between those with religious convictions and those who lack or
even scorn them. This too was part of the original
Enlightenment vision, and this too was betrayed by elites who
found that in secular 'democracies' religion could be
exploited as a tool to divide and subjugate the masses. We can
take hope from the experience of the Michigan gathering (in
"Harmonization in the microcosm"), where by the process of
harmonization, religious fundamentalists and outspoken
liberals (in the leftist sense) were able to find common



If you find this material useful, you might want to check out our website
( or try out our low-traffic, moderated email 
list by sending a message to:

You are encouraged to forward any material from the lists or the website,
provided it is for non-commercial use and you include the source and
this disclaimer.

Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland

"Global Transformation: Whey We Need It And How We Can Achieve It", current 
    "...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.
"Zen of Global Transformation" home page:

QuayLargo discussion forum:

cj list archives:

newslog list archives:
Informative links: