[Sorry for double post, but it's a bit long because lineated like a poem, so have used smaller font to compress...This just reads on from where last post ended. Hate to hog space, but...]
Liberty, Equality and Fraternity
have now been extended and specified
in a large number of human rights.
Central to these are the rights to democracy:
to civil liberties, free political activity, the rule of law
and the absence of any form of discrimination.
Equally central are the rights to social justice:
to equal access to the means of securing a livelihood,
to meaningful work, education, housing and health.
Are these human rights compatible with our current system?
We think that both democracy and social justice
can be as little realized within capitalism
as can ecological sustainability or spiritual well-being.
Democracy cannot be realized
because the ultimate major decisions affecting people’s lives
and the very shape and texture
of those lives and societies
are not made openly and publicly
in democratic conflict and debate.
They are not made politically and morally, but economically.
They are made by so-called ‘markets’ and ‘corporations’,
that is: within distant invisible boardrooms
by unelected, faceless people accountable to no one
but the mega-rich owners of capital.
These few decide where and where not capital and resources
will flow and how things will be produced.
These few thus automatically also decide
who will bear the costs and who the benefits.
These few decide which areas, products, services, technologies
will be researched and developed and which will not.
These products, services, technologies, jobs then determine
the very fabric and form of everyday life for the millions
much more than any politicians’ decisions.
These products, services, technologies
also very often tend to be highly detrimental
or completely ruinous to the planet’s health.
We were never asked whether or not to develop
nuclear weapons and power plants,
biocides, asbestos, PVC, PCB, CFC, dioxins,
thousands of other toxic chemicals,
genetic engineering, cloning, patents on life forms,
animal factories and feedlots, mass private transport,
expensive high-tech medicine, total ‘free’ trade.
We were never asked whether or not to develop
renewable energy systems, public transport systems,
organic farming, preventative grass roots health care,
fair trade, self-managed factories and schools.
None of this was ever democratically debated
in any country, ‘free’ or ‘socialist’.
We, our grandchildren and the planet’s beings
are now all hostages to these past decisions
made undemocratically behind closed doors
by interlocking political and money elites.
If unchecked, the world created by them
will end up where it is headed:
to the increasing elimination
of nature, human nature and community
as we have known them since the dawn of time.
These are the stakes.
Thus, to implement democracy,
safeguard and extend human rights
and ensure ecological sustainability,
communities will sooner or later have to
confront the socially central issue of Power :
they will have to find forms
of democratically gaining control over
the key form of power: over investment decisions.
That is, they will have to democratically
debate and decide on what will be produced
and how and at what cost to whom and what when.
And how access to and distribution of
necessary work and products, income,
services and technologies will be implemented.
If history is any guide,
this will necessarily entail
a power struggle of some kind or other
with the current holders of these decision-making privileges,
the owners of capital and their political representatives.
Nor can social justice be realized under capitalism.
Eco- and people-centered development is incompatible
with profit- and power-centered development.
Global wealth has now accumulated and concentrated
to such an incredible extent that a mere 100 or 200 individuals
now own as much as almost half of humanity. It is now
‘Two Hundred Pharaohs and Five Billion Slaves’.
However, this is also the good news.
It means that ‘communism’ (in its original sense)
is now objectively possible.
Enough social wealth has been accumulated
to provide a basic living for all.
A guaranteed minimum income at subsistence level, for example,
could now be provided for all, whether they worked or not,
not as a handout, but as a human right.
Such a generalized ‘social wage’ would allow people
freedom from the daily struggle for survival
freedom from the compulsion to sell oneself
freedom from material fear
and thus the time and the space
that is so desperately needed for personal well-being,
for both active democracy and civil society to function
and for the gradual regeneration of community,
families, spirit and the biosphere.
The ‘good society’ and personal and social creativity
could, for the first time in history,
become more than the prerogative of elites
whose leisure has hitherto always been bought
at the expense of others’ labour or outright exploitation
and nature’s degradation and diminishment.
The above vision informs our Way of Getting There,
our strategies and tactics.
B. Strategy, The Ethics of
Our goal, our vision, is also our strategy.
Our means are our ends.
One Spirit informs both.
To get to the social generalization of democracy,
human rights and ecological sustainability,
our actions must strive to contain these themselves,
i.e. be democratic, ethical, sustainable.
This may not always be possible.
(The terrible paradox of democracy’s historical birth
in bloodshed and unethically waged struggles
has already been noted). We shall endeavour
to dance with the differences between the real and the ideal
as they arise. Bread and roses, reform and utopia.
The real and the ideal need each other.
Too great a gap between them, and we have deadness
or hypocrisy: too many boring committees
manned by the power-seeking or committee-minded (‘the politicos’),
too many Greens jetting to too many climate conferences.
And yet we can drive to that meeting on sustainability.
Our CO2 debt will have increased but, hopefully,
sustainability will also have been furthered a tad.
The contradictions and ironies are real, the daily soul weight
of living with awareness in the 21st century.
Humour always helps, guilting others certainly does not.
To get to democracy means being democratic now.
Human rights are universal and indivisible, pretty much either/or.
They apply to all, no matter of which persuasion.
Violence is usually the death of both human rights and democracy,
the way our opponents, sometimes internal parts of ourselves,
take us over as we fight them.
(Even here exceptions are conceivable:
to assassinate a torturing tyrant
would doubtless be a justifiable denial
of the latter’s human rights in most people’s books).
Violence is not always of the obvious kind, however.
We also understand the silent structural violence
of the economy and/or oppressive institutions
(the violence of being compelled to soul-numbing labour
and/or oppressive obedience by the threat of hunger, unemployment,
ostracism). We understand how this breeds counter-violence,
which, when it succeeds, often feeds
into new forms of structural violence. And so it goes.
Our strategies aim to consciously break
with this well known Vicious Circle of Power,
with the demoralizing replacement
of old oppressive elites with merely new ones.
And thus our struggle is a double one:
as we struggle with our powerful opponents,
we shall also struggle against our own temptations
and against those supposedly with us
who seek to gain power for their own (always ‘good’) ends.
Embedded in our vision and strategies, our tactics
are eminently situational, flexible,
fluid, creative, humorous and serious,
as diverse as we are, our spirits are, nature is.
Tactics are responses to specific problems and situations.
Millions engage in them everyday, just surviving
the systems they live under. Our tactics are local
and global at the same time. Thanks to the Internet
we can now, for the first time, be truly planetary
in our minds and actions and communications.
We are practising what we want to achieve:
a democratic globalization from below.
We have learned many tactics
from our struggling brothers and sisters
in the past and in the present.
We have learned that empowered assemblies
are the best real way to learn and practise democracy.
We have learned that the self-activity of civil disobedience
is the best route to self-empowerment.
We have learned that boycotts, bans and strikes
are the ways of withdrawing our supportive energy from our opponents. [Goes on for a few lines, but gotta stop here...]