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A GULP (!) of Utopia

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[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 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.



1.  Sustainability


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.




2.      Spirit


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.

Of spirit.



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).

Discussion 1 Comments

  • Caragh - 13th Jun 2012

    of ecstatic dust
    and ashes whirl
    from hallucinatory citadels
    of shattered glass
    into evacuate craters'