Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

How Do We Get Out From Behind the Ecological Eight-Ball?

This is the logo for the Pando Populus web site.  Pando is the name of the largest and oldest organism on the planet - a giant quaking aspen tree, spread over more than a hundred acres, 80,000 years old, connected by a single root system

Here are my 14-pages of notes from the conference I just attended in Clermont, California.  While I agree with most of these thoughts from various presenters some of it I could quibble with but it’s all worth sharing.  A few of the thoughts are mine from the ‘Track’ I presented in.

  • Learn more about ‘Process Studies’
  • Ecological civilization is our goal
  • We are in trouble unless we change and allow the natural systems to teach us how to live
  • Mechanisms have no soul
  • When we think the world is a machine there is no incentive to save it
  • Universities have been shaped by the mechanism model
  • We know we are not machines, then why should we study like we are machines, presenting what we are programmed to present
  • We have to specialize, none of us can do everything, but if we can see the connections then we all make progress toward our goals.  This is the example of nature
  • Ecological economics
  • Free ourselves from this prison
  • Catastrophe means ‘down’
  • We should covert the Pentagon into the ‘Natural Guard’ which would do relief work as climate change begins to wreak havoc on our fragile Mother Earth
  • Weapons production facilities should be building rail, solar, wind turbines, and tidal power systems which would create more jobs than military production presently does
  • Some say Pope Francis should shut up about climate change – he is not a scientist.  But actually he has a Masters Degree in Chemistry
  • Check out the movie called ‘Snow Piercer’
  • The good news is that capitalism is dead
  • We currently have a Mafia-ocracy at the national and global levels
  • Financial markets act like a super global government
  • We need a peace academy to counter military academies
  • 67% of Baltimore’s black men under 18 are in the criminal justice system
  • Need to expand national youth service to do needed things across our country.  But to pay for that, and other good programs that are needed, we must first cut the Pentagon budget and tax the rich
  • If everybody only considers his or her own point of view then we compete.  If we stay open to others we learn to cooperate
  • Old economic models depend on scarcity
  • We now have an abundance of information thus we can have more cooperation
  • Makerism – Robots will do the work and we will have 3-D printers to make things (this came from our MIT friends). We won’t need much trade because we will make what we need.  Print your own house
  • Coop-i-tition
  • Master Card wants to be a social justice company.  They want to get rid of paper money.  Don’t need big banks.
  • If we get rid of paper money and go to computer money – the corporate oligarchy could turn off the money flow to anyone who speaks out against the system
  • Chasing debt drives the economic growth culture
  • Artificial scarcity – banks sell us money as a product which we pay interest on. Never enough money because the monetary system managers make money by regulating the $$$ supply
  • The caring components of our society are devalued and are being defunded
  • Public banks don’t dramatically change the capitalist system as debt just moves from private to public institutions but they are still important anyway
  • Need more ways to have transactions between people outside of the debt system
  • We sing to make ourselves happy because we are the ones we have been waiting for
  • Human survival is not a solo act
  • We are the building blocks determined not to become the stumbling blocks
  • Simplify, simplify, simplify
  • The tigers are vanishing.  What is the answer?  Build more cages?  No, build more forests
  • Limiting factor in capitalist growth these days is resources
  • If you don’t grow the economy then you have to solve poverty by redistribution which is an unpopular topic
  • Unlimited growth is increasing environmental and social problems
  • In China the obstacles to reevaluate the consequences of endless growth are less than in the west
  • The economy is primarily studied as an isolated system.  The issues of waste and environmental consequences must be factored into economics
  • Globalism destroys communities at the national level.  Corporate feudalism is a global commons of another kind
  • We’ve been brainwashed by individualist thinking.  We need community
  • Gross national happiness has been declared in the constitution of the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan
  • If we continue with the growth model nations will keep fighting wars over resource control
  • We need a federation of nations to agree to limit war and resource competition
  • If people were truly self interested they’d reject individualism
  • Pando aspen tree grove in Utah has lasted 80,000 years with one inter-connected root system.  This is the way we should live.  The pando grove is now in danger of destruction from failing environment
  • Check out
  • We must share with the future generations and non-human life
  • Be fruitful and multiply is the only commandment in the Bible that we have obeyed
  • It is a humanly controlled fact that we can’t now make changes thus it is a humanly controlled fact that this could change
  • The power of the purchased media is the leading voice for continued growth
  • The irresistible power of the unarmed truth
  • The education system is a key prop that holds people to the growth system
  • Many universities claim to be ‘value free’ which means they will teach what ever someone pays them to teach
  • Unsustainable means terrible catastrophe
  • Without virtue happiness cannot be.  We have a crisis of lack of virtue.
  • Love is an action.  We need a civilization of love and an international debt jubilee.  Usury is a crime
  • We the people should own the banks.  Globally 40% of banks are publicly owned
  • We should bail out the students by writing off their student debt
  • Renting or hiring of people puts them in a position of being a slave.  People should be partners in a cooperative firm where they have real rights
  • In Honduras a ‘private city’ is being built and if you go there you would have no rights in this corporate city. Is Detroit a step on the road to private cities in the US?
  • We now have a system not of private property but private theft
  • Priority of labor – 100,000 workers at Mondragon Coops in Spain
  • Neo-abolitionism is the movement against renting workers where they have no rights of labor
  • The ‘Bank of the People’s Labor’ was set up for the Mondragon coop movement
  • We don’t know American history.  Frederick Douglass had a lot to say about wage slavery.  We don’t have to go to Europe and Marx to study this
  • Cities are where production is happening as folks worldwide move to urban areas
  • Slaves and farm animals were often fed the same slop
  • African-Americans and nature both experienced domination
  • Why is this conference so overwhelmingly white?
  • In 1961 MLK spoke to the AFL-CIO and offered to consolidate the civil rights movement with labor but labor turned him down
  • Labor studies in the US usually ignore slave rebellions.  Where is Harriet Tubman in that history?  It’s an obsession with white identify
  • Building trades unions in the US consistently reject overtures by black activists to build strong inclusive unions
  • Economo-centrism – the naturalization of the economy
  • Industrial revolution was a satanic mill that ground people into dust.  The disembeding of economy from society.  The market ruled all.  That separation translates into the way we think and know today
  • Capitalism has functioned by making itself the only story in town
  • We can’t handle differences, everything is reduced to one thing (way) being valuable and the other not valuable
  • The critique of development of well being (bien vive) can help serve as a practice of reframing our economic ideas
  • Multiplicity is a strength
  • Some people think of economy like they think of natural law – like gravity our economy must be the law of nature.  In other words unmovable, unchangeable, rigid
  • How do we design processes to open up public participation in education while fighting off corporate interests that want control of teaching?
  • The left is lacking in developing an alternative economic vision and building support for it.  The public wants to see a real alternative vision
  • An independent media is a key ingredient in helping create an alternative economic and political program
  • We need a Triple bottom line – people, profit, planet – the economy can’t simply just be about profit
  • Who do we need to help us move things along?  How do we figure out how to work with them?
  • One criminal justice worker said he’d never seen a black kid with a job shoot anyone
  • Creating pathways involves deep moral passages
  • We are on a train heading for a brick wall and the people driving it think going faster and faster is the right thing to do
  • A key step toward transformation is for us to reject the notion of American exceptionalism that carries with it the belief that corporate capitalism equals democracy and freedom and is the only way to proceed
  • You’ve got to work in the present moment and do the best you can
  • We need compassion and radical insight into the interdependence of all things
  • The biggest uncertainty is how will human beings act in the coming hard times.  The safest way out is to nurture one another in a loving solidarity
  • The US is the biggest obstacle to peace and sustainability because of its arrogance
  • People change when they have an alternative that is practical and easy to understand.  Helps when there are already successful examples in motion – like coops and places where military installations have been converted
  • When you want to transcend the present system it helps to include some features of the past – people like to feel comfortable about change
  • We need a more just and more humane way of organizing our societies – a more perfect union
  • People want practical examples because they are afraid of change and want reassurances that they will be safe as things change. They fear being left behind
  • Local governments and business community could decide to target their economic procurement power toward worker-owned coops and ESOP’s
  • We should treat evil as a system failure and route around it (MIT guys again)
  • A conference like this should have a direct action component – we need to model taking action so that when folks go home they will do it there as well.  Why not organize a march thru town during the conference?  Bring our message directly to the public – make it a public participatory production.  Our great thoughts and words must be shared in the streets where all America is stopped at traffic lights sitting in their expensive cars
  • We must figure out how to unfreeze blocked institutions and move people to action while there is still time
  • Move from opposites to contrast
  • Peace, love, humility and compassion 


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