From Tue Feb 20 06:24:49 2001
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2001 18:31:48 -0600 (CST)
From: “Richard K. Moore” <>
Subject: cj,rn> * RKM's 2001 Manifesto *
Article: 115174
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

RKM's 2001 Manifesto

By Richard K. Moore, 16 February 2001

Evolution, models, and episodic events

When biological evolution was first discovered, everyone assumed that it was a UNIFORM, gradualist process. Only later did we learn that speciation is primarily EPISODIC. In the 90 million years of the Cambrian period, for example, all current life-form structures were developed, and since then natural biological evolution has proceeded within that framework. Another episodic event was the development of herding and agriculture. At that point the ‘evolution’ of corn, wheat, sheep, cattle, etc., was superceded by human intervention, and in 10,000 years we’ve seen more changes in those species and their distribution than occurred in the previous million years.

If one wants to understand how cattle or wheat are distributed over the Earth today, one needs models that take into account human population and diet patterns—models about natural evolution and migration patterns, applied to domesticated species, are of no value.

The evolution of human societies has been similarly episodic. The models that apply to hunter-gatherer societies are fundamentally different than the models that apply to agricultural societies. With hunter-gatherers, the primary factors are the distribution of naturally-occuring food sources, and the development of some simple tools. In settled agricultural societies, with their storable surpluses, political and economic structures become of primary interest, and technological developments play a more central and dynamic role.

The rise of the West as an episodic event

I suggest that the rise of the West since 1492 has been another episodic event, and here I disagree with the discussions that have arisen from Gudner's “ReORIENT”, to the effect that we might experience the rise of a dominant China.

He points out a ‘dynamism’ in Asian culture which, according to the process of natural societal competition, could be expected to lead to Asia overtaking the West. I don’t dispute the existence of the dynamism, nor do I disupte that natural societal competition might shift power to Asia. What I claim is that the natural process of societal competition has been pre-empted by a different process: the intentional management of global affairs by an entrenched Western power structure, backed by an always war-ready military apparatus.

This is exemplified very clearly by two specific historical episodes: the Opium War and World War II. Before the Opium War, China was depleting British gold reserves due to the tea trade. The economic dynamism of China, so to speak, was succeeding in promoting China's relative economic position. But that dynamism was pre-empted by an intentional Western intervention, compelling the importation of Opium, and all at once the balance of payments shifted the other way. China ended up being imperialized by the West, despite its inherent dynamism, immense resources, and large population.

In the 1930s, Asian dynamism was again demonstrated by Japanese industrialization and expansionism. Japan, with their Co-Prosperity Sphere, might well have become the world's dominant power. The only thing that prevented that was a specific Western intervention, in the form of World War II.

Currently China is rising up, and the U.S. is systematically preparing yet another military adventure to reassert Western supremacy. That's what the missile defense system, the emerging Space Command, and Colin Powell's appointment are all about. Bush's new administration is packed with CFR members, and you can understand CFR thinking about China by looking back over past issues of Foreign Affairs. They debate ‘engagement’ vs ‘confrontation’, but always in service of a single premise: China cannot be allowed to become an Asian hegemon—not now or ever.

The domestication of societal evolution

If one wants to understand where global society is headed, and what variations might be expected, one needs to use models that take into account the nature of the Western power structure, its motivations and intentions, and its available strategies and tactics.

Western power has now superceded other evolutionary forces, in the same way that agriculture superceded the natural evolutionary process of corn and cattle. Indeed we could say that the Western regime has ‘domesticated’ global society. Just as a herder might cull an undesirable bull from the herd, so the regime culls Chile, Nicaragua, Iraq, and Yugoslavia (politically), and the Southeast Asian Tigers (economically).

Whatever cycles and forces that world-system analysis holds dear, and regardless of how well they have modelled the past, they have been superceded by a particular Western power-center that has the ability to destroy utterly any nation on Earth at any time, and which has established a global financial / credit system that can make or break any local economy at will. The older evolutionary forces still operate, just as random gene variations continue to occur in cattle—but in neither case can this succeed in undermining the dominance of the regime. As soon as ‘undesirable’ changes begin to cause a ‘problem’, they are culled.

Overcoming the global regime

What this anaylsis suggests is that our ongoing bondage, and the continued deterioration of the world, cannot be expected to change until the regime is confronted directly and successfully by some new agent acting outside the constraints of the current paradigm. That new agent, I suggest, can only be a massive, global, grass-roots movement whose express purpose is overcoming the regime and replacing it with a fundamentally different world system, both politically and economically. That movement must succeed particularly in the West, and specifically in the USA.

The analysis suggests that all activists, academics, writers, and organizers who wish to ‘do something’ about the state of the world will need to orient their endeavors around the problems of creating the necessary movement, and informing the movement so as to enable a satisfactory outcome. Reform efforts and political intiatives which do not harmonize in some way with the development of such a movement are part of the problem and not part of the solution.

The movement will face two equally momentous problems. First, is the problem of overcoming the entrenched power of the regime. The second problem—once the regime is dethroned—is to deal with the deteriorated state of the world economy and ecosystem, and to establish the foundations of a system that can last, which provides decent human societies, and which can serve the needs of humanity within the hard constraints of a finite ecosystem.

The creation of the movement also faces some major obstacles. In particular, the challenge of constructing a post-capitalist society make recruitment difficult. Even those who don’t like what capitalism is doing have little interest in bringing down the current regime—if chaos and mass starvation might be the outcome. For this reason, the development of a comprehensive movement agenda is of primary urgency at this time. We need to develop a consensus agenda for a post-capitalist world, and that needs to be an agenda which can appeal to the full cross-section of the world's population, and particularly the populations of the West. Without such an agenda, and a scheme for dealing with the transition from capitalism, the movement can never grow beyond a fringe who are willing to act on a merely ‘anti neoliberal’ platform.

Section 2.b of the Guidebook, soon to be posted, is called “Fundamental principles of a livable world”, and represents my own humble attempt to draft an outline for the necessary movement agenda. Perhaps members of this list might choose to break their ‘Guidebook silence’ and offer some feedback on this particular section.