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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

What Would a Sustainable Society Look Like?

an excerpt from Chris Williams’ recent book, Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis, carried in Climate and Capitalism.
What will be required is an ecologically and culturally rele­vant diversity of agricultural, industrial, transportation, educa­tional, and residential forms based on communal ownership and democratic control by the people themselves.
Instead of passive consumers we will become active, educated, and in­volved participants in economic, cultural, and political life. Everyone will be involved in decisions about manufacturing methods, energy techniques, use of chemicals, and so on in order for the whole community to democratically decide the best alternative when toxin, resource, and energy minimization are the goals. Furthermore, with everyone productively en­gaged, the number of hours anyone works will be drastically reduced, leaving ample time for cultural and personal growth.
This is precisely what would be required of citizens if such a society can exist in a truly democratic way. People at the grass roots after taking power would have to be educated, active decision makers, and acting through organizational structures that they would construct and control. 

This type of society would replace what we have now: a few people with all the power, control, wealth, and leisure time while the vast majority are overworked wage slaves or else unemployed, under-educated, and impoverished.