Revolution That Is Arising
From The Earth
By William M. H. Kötke
13 September, 2007
planetary elite are compelled to continue on their path of growth leading
toward planetary domination. The international bankers through their
control of the industrial world’s privately owned central banks
maintain a tether on the money system through their control of the U.S.
dollar as the currency of international trade. One important mechanism
that allows this is that the largest item in international trade - oil
- is sold in dollars. In order to insure the continuance of the dollar
economy, they must be able to choose which currency oil is sold for
or control the oil - or both. The center of the empire, the U.S., is
maintained by debt as the petrodollars and other dollars come into the
U.S. at the rate of at least two and a half billion per day (purchasing
U.S. government bonds) in order to continue the cycle, which keeps the
empire and its military power expanding As the elite carry out their
strategies of domination they are racing against time. The monster trends
of Peak Oil and energy exhaustion, climate change which will severely
disrupt the seasons of growth in the food supply system, the weakness
of the dollar and ecological collapse are pursuing them. An exponentially
growing world population with growing material consumption based on
dwindling resources and a dying planet won’t work, but they have
no other option to maintain their power and profit.
Seeds of Change
As the industrial system
spins toward exhaustion, seeds of change are sprouting at the base.
The people at the base are not revolting in order to take the power
that the elite have but are revolting to take power over their own lives.
In Argentina, after the Neoliberal apparatchniks collapsed the economy
and devastated the middle class leaving massive unemployment, the workers
began to take over the factories and run them themselves, with all employees
receiving the same wage. The great documentary, The Take, details the
story of one factory take-over by the employees against a background
of over two hundred factory take-overs. Earlier, the people at the base
had begun to move when the courageous “The Mothers of the Plaza
de Mayo” began to organize and demonstrate. These were women who
had family members disappeared and were demonstrating in the face of
a vicious fascist military dictatorship which is estimated to have murdered
at least thirty thousand people. The courage of the mothers was an important
factor in bringing down the fascists and spreading courage and inspiration
to the working people.
The economy had crashed under
the military dictatorship and then after electoral politics was reorganized,
the economy revived to some extent and then it crashed again under the
auspices of the Neolibs in the IMF and World Bank. President Carlos
Menem who had acquiesced to them was tagged as the culprit.
In the final scenes of the
documentary, The Take, Menem had gone down in disgrace and a new election
was being prepared. Suddenly, the new factory worker/owners saw that
the political class had gone down to central casting and thrown up a
slate of the same tired old political characters. Even Menem ran again,
though Nestor Kirchner won.
When the film makers questioned
the worker/owners about this they symbolically shrugged their shoulders.
The machinations of electoral politics preformed by the political/financial
class had become only marginally relevant to them. They had taken power
in their neighborhoods, on the factory floor and in the head office.
The Mondragon Cooperatives
The Basque people exist in
Northern Spain, centered in the Pyrenees mountains. Their culture and
population exist partly in France and partly in Spain. They are an ancient
people and one of only several peoples of Europe who have a language
that is not Indo-European, the grain eating patriarch herders who invaded
Europe from Central Asia thousands of years ago. The Basque culture,
centered in the mountains, is land - based in small, fertile, productive
farms and hamlets. Though cities and towns have grown up in some areas,
the cultural roots exist in a system in which each small farm was inherited
within the family and the surname of each member of the family was the
same as the ancient name of the farm. This and the manner of farming
and interaction were inherited from the ancient past.
In addition to the land -
based culture, the Basque in the Twentieth Century had become significant
industrialists with their iron mines, industries and international trade.
This was mixed with the chaos of the Spanish Civil War and the establishment
of Francisco Franco as the head of the Spanish fascist state. The economic
environment was not welcoming to innovation during the Franco regime
as the fascist state was lead by financiers and politicians who had
a foot in both realms much like in the present United States. Nonetheless
the Mondragon cooperative movement grew out of this soil. As described
in the classic study, We Build The Road As W e Travel, by Roy Morrison,
eleven young people purchased a small bankrupt factory that produced
paraffin cooking stoves. The year was 1954. Since that time the Mondragon
cooperative movement has grown to tens of thousands of workers and dozens
of enterprises networked together and anchored by their own bank the
Caja Lboral Popular, owned by the enterprises.
Growing out of this context,
the individuals are not simply farm cooperative workers, industrial
workers or even bank workers but the movement has a wider and deeper
reach. One of the guiding principles of the movement is equilibrio.
“The Mondragon cooperative
system is informed by an essentially ecological consciousness. Ecology,
conventionally defined as the relationship of living things to their
environment, is understood here to encompass social as well as biological
reality and their interaction. Today, Mondragon’s ecological consciousness
is manifested not primarily through environmentalism, but through the
practice of a social ecology: the pursuit of equilibrio is fundamentally
connected to the basic ecological principle of diversity and unity,
or, in social terms, freedom and community. Its promise is basic change
that will harmonize both social life and the relationship between the
social and natural worlds.”
Writer Steven Curtis Jackobs
says, “Basque leadership styles are unauthoritarian, involve consensual
processes, and are aimed at harmonizing the group’s feeling for
collective ends with possible suspicion and lack of trust. A neighborhood’s
elected representative does not simply wield power, but builds consensus
for group projects. This process often encounters problems of suspicion
arising from individual and class differences. These are reflected in
the relative difficulty of establishing agricultural cooperatives and
point to the nonutopian nature of the Basque situation.”
Ten percent of the cash flow
of the network is invested in the communities and in charitable institutions,
while another principle is to maintain as little spread between the
bottom wage and the top as possible. In this amazing movement from the
base, coming out from under a fascist political/financial class as it
did, the Mondragon cooperatives show a way to build resilient community
social institutions. This social health will be valuable as we head
into the future of the exhaustion of industrial society and its fragmentation.
These areas are only a portion of the movement of people at the base
who are acting to protect and enhance their communities even under the
trampling impact of raw industrial capitalism. India especially, has
a number of home - grown movements attempting to protect and strengthen
their local social fabric. One would be remiss not to mention the cooperatives
of the state of Kerala in India and of the many grassroots movements
that the amazing eco/feminist Vandana Shiva was been associated with
and has publicized.
In 2003, Richard Heinberg
published his seminal book, The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the
Fate of Industrial Societies. His study concerns the observation that
the production of crude oil will peak and then begin to decline to its
end. At this point most of the oil producing countries of the world
have declining production. Heinberg, who is a faculty member at New
College of California, Santa Rosa campus, projects that we are now at
the peak of world production of crude oil. This, as he suggests, will
have immeasurable impact on the exponentially exploding world population
living on oil. He also suggests that this will collapse the capitalist
economies which must have growth in order to survive.
Following the publication
of his book, he and others who were also following these trends have
swung into action to notify the world’s populations of the impending
apocalypse. Many are now involved. The flagship organization of this
effort is the Post Carbon Institute, www.postcarbon.org
led by Julian Darley. Under the umbrella of this organization a Relocalization
network has been organized, www.relocalize.net . The effort of these
local groups is to examine and take action concerning the local community
life support systems with the obvious view that soon the outside energy
supports will decrease or stop.
With amazing speed this network
has mushroomed. There are now one hundred and thirty eight community
groups in twelve countries. The relocalization group in Willits, California,
www.willitseconomiclocalization.org is one of the cutting edge points.
Their project teams are assessing and taking action on all points of
the community’s survival support areas. Their teams are focused
on eight areas; business, culture/education, energy, food, health, shelter,
transportation and water.
Each of their project team’s
focus is quite comprehensive. For example the Business project team’s
focus is, “...a Sustainable Mix of Businesses in our area, Business
Financing, Small Business Incubation, Finding productive uses of Waste
Streams from Business (preferably as raw material for another businesses),
Employment, Vocational Training, Local Market Structures, Local Currency,
and Bartering Systems.”
Their Food project team at
this point has three areas that they work on, the Mainstreet Community
Garden, the Gleaners and Brookside Farm
www.energyfarms.net/willits . This year the Gleaners have
collected tons of food from the local area and donated it to local charities
and food banks. Their Brookside farm is in full production and a salient
point there is the installation of a micro-hydro system.
We all know the numbers of
the percentage of the population in the old days who were agrarian and
produced food and the small percentage now who produce the food for
industrial citizens. We are members of the industrial society. We purchase
our survival systems with money. We do not go out to the back forty
and cut some wood for our wood cookstove and heater. We are a population
who’s survival systems are huge organizations that stretch to
ethereal heights which we cannot see and only vaguely understand and
over which we have little control. But the base is moving to protect
itself and the relocalization effort offers great encouragement.
The Earth Speaks
We who can read these words
are civilized people who have been mentally conditioned by the culture
of civilization and the industrial society from birth. We have precepts
loaded into our subconscious minds which cause us to see reality in
a certain way. To a native Maya person in the State of Chiapas, Mexico,
the earth speaks through them. They live integrated with the earth in
their everyday energy systems and in their mental attitudes. To them
the fact that the earthlife has manifest these living things around
us, and us, means that we are children of the Mother Earth and we speak
as one of the voices of the earth. To the Maya this is obvious on a
deep level. To us it is an interesting intellectual proposition only,
because we have been conditioned by a cultural upbringing that filters
out this deep understanding and we do not mentally link our life with
the life of the living earth.
To the Maya security is the
earth and its care. The Maya live with the earth and feed from its natural
bounty. Historically for a million years our species has been very successful.
We have been adapted to the earth life. We lived within the ecological
web and energy flows of the earth. Our traditional migratory patterns
carried us over our gathering areas. In the season when the game were
fat in one place we went there, when the berries were ripe in another
we went there. Our success was adaptation to the life of the earth.
We also had a culture that respected the earth and living things. The
proposition is simple. We are alive, we live because of the other living
things which feed us, we are obligated to respect and encourage those
other living things so that we too can live.
Though this simple logic
escapes civilization, it is obvious that we must begin to fashion a
culture that has these values at the center, if our species is to survive.
Our culture teaches us that wealth is the central value of human life
and that wealth is our security. When we left our forager/hunter life
and began agriculture, civilization and empire, we began a way of life
that was not integrated with the life around us but ran a net ecological
deficit of the earth’s fertility. The earth’s flesh; the
topsoils, the forests, the fish stocks and the other species began to
decline and recede. Thousands of years ago the effects of this culture
were displayed in the early empires of Sumeria and Babylon in the Tigris-Euphrates
valley. With irrigated agriculture they managed to exhaust and salinize
the soils to the extent that today one third of the possible arable
land in Iraq still cannot be used because of salinization caused by
the early empires. With agriculture, overgrazing and deforestation,
they so destroyed the land that the river borne erosion material has
filled in the gulf for one hundred and eighty five miles! Now the mouth
of the river enters the ocean that far from where it did before the
culture of civilization began.
The culture of the Maya of
Chiapas is not like that of civilization. They are survival remnants
of a culture impacted by imperial colonization. In order to protect
themselves, their culture and their living world, they have risen up
in resistance. In many parts of the Southern Hemisphere the indigenous
at the base are arising but the EZLN, the Zapatista Army of National
Liberation, were the lead. The Zapatistas are anti-capitalist but no
propagandist could get away with calling a Native American an industrial
communist. They are more properly termed anti-civilization, Against
civilization in its present form.
Chiapas is one of the richest
states in Mexico in terms of industrial resources and has the poorest
people. The Maya know well the effects of “civilization”
- empire, war, colonization and exploitation by the elites. Against
this backdrop they have begun to change some of the forms of governance
of their own communities such as the role of women and the position
of the elders. Women are now occupying positions of authority and the
elders authority is being relegated to the sphere of traditions and
culture rather than clan power in all the aspects of life.
They are creating a new kind
of culture out from under the burden of colonialism www.ezln.org
. They have a culture of sharing, cooperation and care of the earth.
This is being made the cultural basis of governance. They scorn the
political class along with the electoral politics which is their control
mechanism. The Zapatistas control from the base through community meetings.
Theirs is a culture of human community rather than social isolates in
mass industrial society who vote periodically for a list of names. They
have power over the way of life of their community rather than voting
on someone in a far-off parliament.
In their areas they have
created parallel governments quite unlike the colonial government they
are shouldering aside. One of the strong moves has been to take back
the power to educate their youth. In mass industrial society the education
of the youth is conducted by educational institutions governed by the
elites who make sure that this is tailored to the needs of those elites
and the industrial society that they control. By having control of the
minds of the youth they are able to inculcate the reality view of industrial
society with all it purposes, values and meanings. Nearly all of the
artifacts of industrial culture are purchased from industry. The transportation,
housing, food, water, and then the cultural world view provided electronically
provides a near seamless reality that has little to do with life and
living things but with power, profit and violence. The violence of three
killings per hour on television is reflected in the violence to the
earth and the violence of imperial wars of conquest to feed the maw
of the machine that runs a net deficit of the earths’ fertility
in order to insure its survival.
To the Zapatistas, transferring
to the young the tremendously valuable fund of information that the
species has amassed is certainly possible without also placing it in
the context of the values of industrial civilization. They even have
plans for a Zapatista university. But the manner of teaching is different.
In their view the teacher comes to class to learn just like the students.
It is a combined inquiry and the contribution of each participant is
valuable. An important ingredient in their culture is respect; respect
for the elders, respect for the earth and respect for each other. Life
is valuable. They do not perpetuate a hierarchal command system.
Eco Villages and
the New Aborigines
The immediate world problem
is the net deficit of the earths’ fertility. This is solved by
self-sufficient communities. The eco villages which are being formed
around the world are pointed toward self-sufficiency. Eco villages grew,
in part, out of the intentional community movement that began to swell
in the late nineteen sixties. As the global recognition of the plight
of the earth’s life grew, so did the eco village movement.
The “live in balance
with nature” phrase does not necessarily mean adopting a loin
cloth and eating roots and berries. The fact is that there are far too
few roots and berries left. We can although, create ways of living that
are self-sufficient and that do pay obeisance to the successful million
year history of our species.
Of course there are many
“eco villages” in various cultures around the world that
are still near self-sufficiency but the new eco village movement within
the machine of industrial society is significant. We in industrial civilization
are culturally conditioned to associate power with wealth. In reality,
from top to bottom, our daily lives are governed by huge mass institutions
over which we have little or no control. All our survival systems are
controlled by mass institutions. We have little fundamental control
of our lives. Our picture of “freedom” is to have enough
money to do “whatever we want”. But this is not real power
on the planet earth. Being able to create one’s habitation, feed
oneself through one’s own efforts and live in a real human community
that serves the developmental needs of each individual and the community
is real power.
The eco village movement
is a follow-on to the resources developed by the “alternative
community” activists. These resources are many. They involve alternative
medicine as an alternative to industrial medicine. Herbalism, aromatherapy,
chiropractic, body work ,which is often called energy medicine, acupuncture,
nutrition and many others are resources that are popular. Gender equality
is a very strong theme. Grassroots, consensus government is seen as
real democracy. In the realm of habitation local materials such as straw
bale, cob, adobe and other alternatives to industrial construction are
emphasized. This is usually combined with passive or active solar advantages
in addition to water harvesting systems. Various alternative energy
systems have been perfected.
The pleasure of providing
one’s food has gone beyond the European row crop system to the
far more sophisticated Permaculture www.permacultureactivist.net
. The practice of permacultue has spread world-wide. In some aspects
Permaculture is a way of designing (or planting) one’s area and
watershed with a high diversity of human and ecologically useful species
that all fit together into plant communities. It is based in perennial
plants, does not turn the soil on the broadscale and through its diversity
provides a healthy, balanced diet. Permaculture can restore soil fertility
while providing more food per acre than can industrial agriculture.
This comparison is somewhat unfair to the industrial system which grows
monocrops on vast areas with the purpose of sucking up soil fertility
by the use of annual plants for profit. Its purpose is not to feed people,
but to force surpluses from the earth for profit. Permaculture on the
other hand does not produce massive surpluses of monocrops, its purpose
is to feed people. It can although, produce specialty crops for the
local famers markets or village barter centers.
People leaving the disintegrating
human culture of industrial society have experimented with many social
forms. Celibacy, monogamy and group marriage are possibilities. Ritual
and the creation of traditions are important. The content of our daily
lives are important. How we relate to each other and how we relate to
the youth are important. In community there are mentors for the youth,
uncles, aunts, elders. In the impoverished human culture of industrial
society the young are deposited in front of a television and then when
they are a little older they are stuffed into a mass educational institution
preparing them to become another industrial cipher.
In traditional cultures of
our species, the youth were taught how to be human. This is artfully
shown in the book, Seven Arrows, by Hyemeyohsts Storm from the Cheyenne
culture of the North American Great Plains. An African couple, both
who came from a small, traditional village in Ghana have been valuable
resources for the intentional community movement. Sobonfu E. Some www.sobonfu.com
and her husband Malidoma Patrice Some www.malidoma.com
help us understand what life-centered, human village life is like.
People are returning to the
land and community in many forms. The direction is set and there are
many paths. One unique path is a method using traditional capitalist
techniques to reach that goal. Globalecovillage
www.globalecovillage.com led by Biosphere II architect
Phil Hawes has created a stock company listed on Wall Street to reach
that goal of designed eco villages.
The elephant in the room
is the Global Ecovillage Network http://gen.ecovillage.org/
that involves tens of thousands of villages. This is a world-wide network
of eco villages that shows that rather than having to adopt a loin cloth,
the ancient human values of our species can be established at the next
higher turn of the spiral with eco villages all over the world connected
and communicating over the internet like a global mind. A small solar
panel or a micro hydro, a telephone connected to a satellite and there
you have it. The eco village is not a retreat backwards into some kind
The burgeoning movement is
shown by a statement from the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN). “Network
members include large networks like Sarvodaya (11,000 sustainable villages
in Sri Lanka); EcoYoff and Colufifa (350 villages in Senegal); the Ladakh
project on the Tibetian plateau; ecotowns like Auroville in South India,
the Federation of Damanhur in Italy and Nimbin in Australia; small rural
ecovillages like Gaia Asociación in Argentina and Huehuecoyotl,
Mexico; urban rejuvenation projects like Los Angeles EcoVillage and
Christiania in Copenhagen; permaculture design sites such as Crystal
Waters, Australia, Cochabamba, Bolivia and Barus, Brazil; and educational
centres such as Findhorn in Scotland, Centre for Alternative Technology
in Wales, Earthlands in Massachusetts, and many more.” In the
U.S. there are presently eighty-three villages affiliated with the network.
One can imagine the creative ideas that flow between all of these villages!
GEN is divided into three
areas: GEN - Europe and Africa http://www.gen-europe.org/
, GEN - Oceania and Asia http://genoa.ecovillage.org/
, and the Eco Village Network of the Americas http://gen.ecovillage.org
The worm has turned. In former
decades revolutionaries vied to grab the industrial power of the elites
in order to redistribute wealth. Now we have seen what the “wealth”
of the industrialist/banker has done to the earth and our future. Now
we in the culturally poor but “wealthy” societies are looking
to the “richness” of a new kind of human culture that cannot
be directed but can only grow out of the base.
The base is in motion. The earth is speaking. Those involved with infinite
demands upon finite resources will not survive but the earth will survive
along with those children embedded within her.
William H. Kötke, author of Garden Planet: The
Present Phase Change of the Human Species, available at www.gardenplanetbook.com
Amazon, Barnes and Noble and retail bookstores. He is also the author
of the out-of-print, underground classic, The Final Empire: The Collapse
of Civilization and the Seed of the Future, which may be downloaded
for free at www.rainbowbody.net/Finalempire/index.html
End Of The World?
By William M. H. Kötke
We are all looking at the
end of the world as we know it. Our attention is focused on the holes
in the ozone layer, planet warming, peak oil, the spread of DU weapons,
the collapse of the house of credit cards, and the prospect of the planetary
financial elite quickly establishing fascist control of the planet.
Below this threshold of conscious awareness our biological survival
systems are rapidly eroding
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