From email@example.com Thu Jan 6 10:38:15 2000
Date: Mon, 3 Jan 2000 23:38:01 -0600 (CST)
From: “Richard K. Moore
The course of world events, for the first time in history, is now largely controlled by a centralized global regime. This regime has been consolidating its power ever since World War II and is now formalizing that power into a collection of centralized institutions and a new system of international “order”. Top Western political leaders are participants in this global regime, and the strong Western nation state is rapidly being dismantled and destabilized. The global regime serves elite corporate interests exclusively. It has no particular regard for human rights, democracy, human welfare, or the health of the environment. The only god of this regime is the god of wealth accumulation.
>From the beginning, this evolving regime has employed dual-agenda propaganda. For each elite initiative there has been a public cover story which makes that initiative seem palatable to public opinion. There has been a public reality and a hidden reality. In public reality the UN was to be the instrument of peaceful international collaboration. In fact the postwar era has been dominated by US interventionism in support of international capital. In public reality the Reagan-Thatcher revolution was about increasing freedom. In fact neoliberalism was about transferring power to corporations and dismantling democracy. In public reality humanitarianism has been the motivation for the recent acceleration in Western interventions. In fact the global regime has been establishing - in the public mind - the “legitimacy” of its new world order.
In Section 1, THE CRISIS OF GLOBALIZATION, the following observation was offered:
A once functional ideology has now become dysfunctional and yet it remains globally dominant. This is humanity's mental disconnect; this is our collective insanity - our dysfunctional, out-of-date growth ideology.
But in fact is not humanity - in any democratic sense - which has a “mental disconnect”. It is not humanity that directs the course of world events. It is not humanity that decides to give top priority to unrestrained growth. And yet humanity, in a general sense, IS ACQUIESCING to this state of affairs. It is acquiescing not out of informed choice, but out of a diet of disinformation and a lack of perceived alternatives.
In two centuries the Western world has come full circle from tyranny to tyranny. The tyranny of monarchs was overthrown in the Enlightenment and semi-democratic republics were established. Two centuries later those republics are being destabilized and a new tyranny is assuming power - a global tyranny of anonymous corporate elites. This anonymous regime has no qualms about creating poverty, destroying nations, and engaging in genocide.
Humanity can do better than this - much better - and there is reason to hope that the time is ripe for humanity to bring about revolutionary changes. For the past two hundred years capitalism has employed a sound formula to maintain its stranglehold over the world. That formula has been based on the relative prosperity of Western populations. Popular support maintained Western regimes and those regimes had the military might to dominate the rest of the world. That formula reached its culmination in the postwar years when Western prosperity reached unprecedented heights.
With neoliberalism and globalization, this formula has been replaced by another. Western populations and democracy have been abandoned and capitalism has bet its future on the success of its WTO new-world-order tyrannical system. In a few years this regime may be so thoroughly established that it will be invincible. But in the meantime - if Western populations wake up to the fact that they are being betrayed - they have the opportunity to rise up and assert the democratic sovereignty which they in theory yet possess.
The fact is that we - the world's people - have no choice about revolution. Either we bring about a revolution that benefits humanity or else we submit ourselves to the elite-sponsored revolution in whose midst we now find ourselves. Our choice is between revolutionary democracy or revolutionary tyranny. This is the REVOLUTIONARY IMPERATIVE.
The capitalist system cannot be reformed. Our elite rulers did not lead us into tyranny and environmental collapse because they are evil people, but because they were forced to by the nature of capitalism. Capitalism must continually grow in order to survive. If investors have nowhere to increase their funds then they stop investing and the whole system collapses like a house of cards. The history of the past two centuries can be understood as a process of creating new growth vehicles as required by the capitalist system.
Imperialism provided immense room for capital growth and enough wealth was generated to be shared with Western populations. This process continued up until the late 1960s. At that point growth through external expansion began to slow down. Neoliberalism permitted growth to continue by consuming the nest of capitalism - by dismantling Western societies and subjecting them to intensive capitalist exploitation. Globalization takes this process even further - creating capital growth through intensive exploitation on a global scale. The new-world-order system of global tyranny is a necessity - in order to force the world's people to submit to the exploitation which globalization represents. Any attempt to reform corporations or reverse the tide of globalization cannot succeed - while the capitalist system continues.
Giving up capitalism does not mean giving up private property, nor free enterprise, nor decent living standards, nor political freedom, nor democracy. Nor does giving up capitalism mean that we need to adopt centralized state planning or any other single ideology. Karl Marx presented an elegant analysis of capitalism, but his proposals for alternatives were narrow and unimaginative. In fact, what he proposed was a continuation of the growth ideology, only under control of “the proletariat”. What is needed today - economically - is to give up the growth ideology altogether and replace it by sustainability and common sense. And what is needed - politically - is to spurn control by elites of any kind and to replace that by bottom-up, community-based democracy. In general, we need locally-based solutions which are suited to local circumstances. Why should any single model fit California, Fiji, and India?
This kind of radical global transformation cannot be achieved by piecemeal political reforms. What is required is a massive, global, grass-roots movement for democracy and sustainability. The elites who now control the world must be removed from power entirely. This cannot be achieved by armed revolution because the current regimes are too well entrenched and have too much military power at their command. The people of the West must rise up peacefully and reclaim the sovereignty which is promised to them by their constitutions, and they must do this in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in the rest of the world.
This kind of massive movement cannot be carried out by means of party politics nor can it be accomplished by means of mass-media communications. Our political machines and the mass-media are controlled by the corporate establishment and will oppose a genuine popular movement by all means at their disposal. The movement will need to develop its own means of communication as movements have learned to do many times in the past. The Internet is useful while it exists, but it will be taken away as a movement tool as soon as the movement gains momentum.
The most potent weapon of all which will be used against the movement is that of “reform”. Just when the movement begins to gather strength, candidates will be offered to us who claim to represent popular will, as happened with Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933. Such reformist leaders must be rejected if a better world is to be achieved. Democracy is not about leaders - it is about the people exercising power directly from the grassroots. If we trust in leaders, we are turning power over to hierarchies. And whenever power is centered in hierarchies, then elites always take over in the end.
The theory behind our Western model of democracy is that people - by joining parties or various other kinds of voting constituencies - can collectively achieve some measure of representation in the body politic. This process inevitably devolves into a game of power-brokering. What could theoretically be a bottom-up process of democratic input becomes instead a top-down, hierarchical process of demagoguery and manipulation. Such a system of competitive factionalism is ideally suited to enable power usurpation by well-organized wealthy elites, and that is precisely what has happened throughout the West. In the case of the U.S., James Madison and other Constitution-framers were well aware of these dynamics, and it was their express goal to avoid “too much” democracy - what they referred to as “mob rule”. They felt the nation should be run by “those who own it.” They succeeded.
What I am going to say next will shock many readers: a much better model of democracy is exemplified by Cuba! Corporate propaganda portrays Cuba as a dictatorship but in fact the Cuban political system is oriented at the grass roots and is strongly supported by the overwhelming majority of Cubans. Local communities - with 95% popular participation - discuss the issues of the day. A slate of local citizens is then elected to represent the community consensus at “higher” levels. These delegates are not professional politicians but are local people who retain their regular jobs and carry out their representative duties on a part-time basis. Such a system is controlled from the bottom rather than the top and that is why Cuba is so reviled by the elites who control the West. Such a system also serves the needs of the people much better than does capitalism - and that is why Cuba has had a far better record of health, education, and lack-of-poverty than most of the third world - despite the longtime American embargo.
I'm not suggesting that the Cuban model - nor any single model - be adopted by everyone else. My point is that bottom-up grass-roots democracy is both necessary and possible. We need to expand our thinking beyond our usual models and assumptions. After all, most of us in the West have been raised under the influence of capitalist propaganda. Even our understanding of the alternatives to capitalism have been drilled into our brains by propaganda. We need to talk to our brothers and sisters in the third world and learn from them. Part of our propaganda world has been the belief that we in the West know everything and the third world needs to learn from us. It ain't necessarily so! We all need to learn from one another. A democratic world is a collaborative world.
One of our propaganda myths says that the path to peace is through world government. We have been taught that warfare has been the result of nationalism, and that by ending nationalism we will end warfare. The fact is that warfare arises from competition among elites. Before capitalism, monarchs forced their peoples into warfare for their own glory. Since capitalism, all major wars have been wars of competitive imperialism, and minor wars have resulted from the enforcement of imperialist rule. Nationalism has not been the cause of warfare, rather nationalism has been the propaganda tool used to recruit populations to support imperialist wars. In all the centuries that monarchs or competitive imperialism existed in Europe, European powers were continually at each others throats. As soon as competitive imperialism was ended - with pax americana - war between the European powers became unthinkable. No united Europe was necessary and no end to national spirit was necessary. Only an end to elite competition was necessary.
A democratic, non-capitalist world can be a peaceful world for the same reason that postwar Europe has been peaceful - by replacing competition with collaboration. A world government would not make peace easier, but it would make democracy impossible. The larger the unit of sovereignty, the easier it is for elites to find a way to take over. Democracy works best the smaller the unit of sovereignty.
But the strongest argument against world government comes from the concept of SYSTEM STABILITY. Every system fails sooner or later - whether it be an automobile engine, a computer, or a government. In the case of democratic government, “failure” means the usurpation of power by some elite or the other. If we have a world government, then when failure happens democracy is lost for everyone. That would bring us back in the situation we have now under globalization - world tyranny. But with distributed sovereignty, a failure (tyrannical takeover) can be localized. The other nations can band together and restore a peaceful, democratic world.
In early December 1999 a ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization was held in Seattle Washington. Activists from around the world, from many different “causes”, and across social divisions, all gathered in opposition to the WTO - the central symbol of the global regime. Television viewers worldwide were aware of the street demonstrations, the violent response of the authorities, and the fact that the WTO process was slightly curtailed. But these were not the strategically significant events. Of strategic significance was the fact that an embryonic movement became aware of itself and began a collaborative movement-building process. It was in the street demonstrations that a visceral feeling of MOVEMENT SELF AWARENESS arose; it was in the less dramatic classes and discussion groups that the COLLABORATIVE PROCESS began.
In Seattle a sleeping giant awoke - the people of the world. But waking up is only the first tiny step in a thousand-mile journey - replacing capitalism and elite rule with a peaceful democratic world. And that thousand-mile journey is along a very narrow path. At every step there are dangerous cliffs.
There is the cliff of divisiveness: the movement must build on the solidarity and collaboration begun in Seattle. There is the cliff of violence: the movement must be peaceful and it must educate those so-called anarchists who only give the authorities an excuse to come down with an iron fist. There is the cliff of charismatic leaders: leaders can always be either killed or seduced by elites. There is even the cliff of demonstrations themselves - those are useful in building movement self-awareness, but they are not the means to achieve political power. In the days before neoliberalism and globalization, demonstrations could be used to accelerate reform in one particular direction or another. But reform is no longer possible - and was never of lasting value anyway. Grass-roots organizing and the building of a MAJORITY MASS MOVEMENT is the only path to political victory. This will not be easy but who ever said a peaceful and livable world would be easy? What is necessary is possible if human determination is sufficient.
There are many other cliffs. There will be all sorts of suppression, infiltration, and agent provocateurs. There always have been when a mass movement has threatened the privileges of installed elites. But these are not the most dangerous cliffs. The most dangerous cliffs of all are CO-OPTION and VICTORY. Co-option will be attempted as soon as the movement shows any sign of strength. Our elite rulers will run up the white flag and pretend to adopt our causes. They will offer election reform, WTO reform, smooth-talking candidates, and whatever else seems necessary to disarm the movement. These offers will be shallow illusions but they will be terribly seductive. We must be prepared against them, just as we must be prepared in non-violent resistance against police suppression.
But even more dangerous than co-option can be victory itself! Consider the example of the French Revolution, and consider Stalinism. We do not want a reign of terror, guillotines, nor rule by a centralized “people's party”. The only way a collaborative democratic world can be attained is by a movement which is itself collaborative and democratic. THE MEANS ALWAYS BECOME THE ENDS. The collaborative process by which the movement learns to cooperate and to work out its agendas and strategies is the very process that will turn into the democracy of the new world. To compromise with violence is to bring the seeds of violence into the new world. To compromise with consensus is to bring factionalism and suppression of minorities into the new world. To compromise with capitalism is to guarantee the failure of the new world. Let us begin.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world, indeed it's the only thing that ever has.
invisible- Margaret Mead