We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ecological civilization

by Fred Magdoff, excerpts from article in Monthly Review.

A few days ago I read the full article in Monthly Review, but found it a bit too lengthy for my postings. So I am grateful that "BA" provided these excerpts from the article. I like positive articles like this that illustrate how society could be, and must be, organized to serve the needs of everyone, unlike under capitalism which serves only the selfish, neurotic needs of a few.
...nearly the entire world is now part of a global capitalist system, which is, at its heart, an anti-environmental economic/social system. Having accumulation of capital without end as its motivating force and only goal, capitalism creates environmental havoc locally, regionally, and globally.

... The accumulation of capital, the driving and motivating force of capitalism, leads naturally to many consequences that harm the environment. The system proceeds assuming—contrary to all evidence—unlimited resources (including cheap energy) and unlimited natural “sinks” for wastes generated.
Hence, in contrast to the assertions of neoliberal capitalists, the author clearly shows that there are alternatives.
An ecological society is one that will need to be the opposite of capitalism in essentially all aspects. It would:

   1. stop growing when basic human needs are satisfied;
   2. not entice people to consume more and more;
   3. protect natural life support systems and respect the limits to natural resources, taking into account needs of future generations;
   4. make decisions based on long-term societal/ecological needs, while not neglecting short-term needs of people;
   5. run as much as possible on current (including recent past) energy instead of fossil fuels;
   6. foster the human characteristics and a culture of cooperation, sharing, reciprocity, and responsibility to neighbors and community;
   7. make possible the full development of human potential; and
   8. promote truly democratic political and economic decision making for local, regional, and multi-regional needs.
Decisions are made—to as great an extent as possible—at the level where the effects will be most felt. Self-regulation in this sense is democratic self-governing and needs to occur at the workplace, community, multi-community, regional, and multi-regional levels, so that major political and economic decisions are in the hands of an empowered populace. A system of economic and political democracy provides better identification of, and solutions to, problems. ...