[Something between poetry and prose, a 'proem' perhaps. Cutting and pasting has done a few weird things to the spacing... but hope you can still enjoy. About vision, strategy, tactics...]
A GULP (!) OF UTOPIA
A map that does not contain utopia is not worth having.
- Oscar Wilde
The twentieth century, in its violence, has brought about the marriage of Poetry and History.
- Helene Cixous
(A contribution to discussion on a positive program
for the international alter-globalisation movement)
One fine day in the middle of the night 20 million people woke up to fight.
And they said: ‘Well, that’s it. I’ve had enough.’
And they got together in Mass Assemblies of the Annoyed and Sleepless
And let out one big collective sigh of frustration.
And then one big collective sigh of annoyance.
And then one big collective sigh of anger.
And then one big collective sigh of relief.
And then one big collective sigh of clarity.
And then they got down to business.
And after about a year of deliberation and celebration
and fighting and fractioning and mass daydreaming,
they came up with their GRAND ULTIMATE LATERAL PLAN
(GULP !) to save their souls, the planet and a humane future
and to discreetly smash capitalism
which now, for the edification of all, follows . –
To our sisters and brothers on all continents !
The Federated Mass Assemblies of the Bioregional Republic of Australia,
gathered here in the Murrumbidgee Bioregion (formerly Canberra),
wish to submit the following Grand Ultimate Lateral Plan (GULP)
to save the human soul and planet
for their perusal, discussion, stimulation and delight
and for their further modification and re-use
in the light of their own cultural, social and ecological realities.
A. The Vision
Our Vision is based on the three philosophical pillars of
Sustainability, Spirit, and Human Rights.
These over-arching notions aim to cover the relationships
between the three basic elements of current human reality :
Nature, the Individual and Society, the primary triad.
By this we mean ecological sustainability.
Anything that is not ecologically sustainable
at least unto the seventh generation
has, from nature’s viewpoint, literally no future
(this viewpoint we now recognize as our own).
It should thus be eliminated or phased out. Now.
Nature and her criteria (ecological indicators)
can often be a touchstone, providing centering
and clarification and the potential for consensus.
A smooth, firm, maternal kind of touchstone
when we otherwise tend to get a little lost
in the often shortsighted, egoic and heady swirls
of our wonderfully, typically, human conflicts and discussions.
So what are nature’s criteria ?
After much debate we have tentatively come up with
the following general key question to ask
of any current practice or proposal :
is a development, activity, product, technology, lifestyle.
energy-intensive, water-intensive or material-intensive
at any point of its life cycle ?
If so, then its ecological footprint will be too large
for the planet to sustain in the long run.
Future generations will be left with a diminished planet.
It will also be at the expense of the health
and well-being of someone or something
somewhere on the planet right now.
If we do not have full knowledge at present
about any development’s full cumulative long-term impact,
but that impact could be irreversible,
then we shall also not permit that development.
All research and development will be publicly debated
within the framework of these fundamental criteria.
Nationally and globally we are in overshoot:
that is, some of us (in particular the wealthier)
are consuming more resources and emitting more wastes
than our biosphere can cope with, while others
and future generations are left with the degradation and loss.
All this has been well known since at least the 1970s.
Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD)
is now official government policy on this continent.
Its implications are radical and question the very basis
of the current system we live and work under.
We aim to fulfil those implications.
Sooner or later this will mean dismantling capitalism,
its power structures and hold over our collective psyches.
The later, the more difficult it will be to save
and build upon what’s left
of nature and humane community.
Sustainability can thus not be separated
from the other two pillars of our vision,
Spirit and Human Rights.
By this we mean the infinite depth,
complexity, paradoxicality, ambiguity,
subtlety, unpredictability, and sheer,
wonderfully stubborn contrariness
of human nature, the glory of the individual,
the hands-on everyday spirituality
beyond all dogma and religion
that all live and breathe by,
whether they know it or not.
This is precious, both at the centre
of all our deliberations and absent from them.
The silence behind our words.
The immense dark around our brave little lights.
The gap between the lines. The poetry pulsating
under our prose. ‘The still point of the turning world’.
Our revolt comes from there.
Our solutions come from there.
We do not wish to continue to live
under an economic and political world order
that is not only planet-, but soul-destroying.
Although essentially always free, the spirit
Can only really breathe when all are free.
And this, to us, would seem to imply
a different world of human-scale,
nature-grounded communities linked
in global solidarity
and radically implementing human rights,
in particular the right to creativity
and meaningful work for all who want it.
And the spirit being what it is,
we have no wish to prescribe
One Big Solution, One Big Truth,
One Big Story for ever and for all.
We know the universe is 95% Dark Energy.
So too, the spirit is deep, dark and diverse,
like the universe, of which it is the more ‘internal’ form.
Like the universe, like nature,
it can never be really straightjacketed
or externally controlled. Its power is beyond all Power.
It can only be respected, listened to,
protected from controlling interference
of whatever provenance (even, perhaps especially,
the well-intentioned and ‘political’…).
Spirit cannot be legislated for or against,
but it can inform legislation, governance, community.
Its language is often that of symbols and aesthetics,
the forms, the ways, the style in which we do things.
Politics ignores it at its own peril.
We want a democratic politics of sustainability
informed by spirit, but a mature politics
that is no longer blind to its own shadows,
conflicts and contradictions and thus has no need
for demonising projections and scapegoats.
Nor a need for naive, harmonising denials
of real power structures and their human carriers.
We want a mature politics of liberty and diversity,
Of humour and seriousness, of complexity and awareness.
3. Human Rights
By this we mean the definition as accepted in 1948
(after the shattering lessons of a world war)
by the world’s communities in the United Nations’
Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The notion of universal human rights
is the West’s lasting contribution
to the global democratic culture
now more clearly emerging
since the fall of the soviet empire.
This notion did not fall from the sky
or intellectuals’ heads. Human rights
are the development and summation
of almost four hundred years
of (often bloody) social struggle
since the English, American, French,
Russian and Spanish Revolutions. (To be continued, too long apparently, fair enough).