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Ananda

Ananda is a Sanskrit word that has found a place in international English because of the influence of yoga, meditation, and the philosophies and arts of India.

Its near equivalents are pleasure, joy and bliss. However these do not convey the special meaning of Ananda, which is more than these experiences, as it points not just to an experience but to an inherent characteristic of consciousness. Experiencing Ananda is both a capacity of consciousness and it is also its highest impulse. In Indian philosophy a gradation of functions was described for consciousness (Sanskrit:chit): starting with activities of nutrition and of other perceptual functions for body-mind survival, followed by the collective activities of the senses and of mind which lead to cognition, and finally, at the apex, ananda—absorption and transformative bliss.

This conception of bliss as transformational can be explained as follows - bliss is not seen as being ‘blissed out’, but rather as being ‘blissed in’ or/and ‘blissed up’ – an experience that is integrative and causes a progression in understanding and cognitive growth.

This movement of consciousness towards ananda furnished the highest purpose of the arts (music, drama, dance, painting and sculpture) in classical Indian cultures – which was to help create transformational shifts in the human mind and spirit through Ananda.

Ananda is experienced as deep, profound and blissful joy. It is integrative and is marked by a sense of non-duality – the separation between the experience and the experiencer softens and dissolves, and a taste of non-conceptual understanding – of reality as it is (“suchness”, “is-ness”, “thus-ness”) is attained. It is one part of the inseparable triangulation of ‘reality-consciousness-ananda’ (sat-chit-ananda).

Tasting Ananda is considered transformative as it is part of the experiences of deep meditation, and because its experience is a moment of mini-awakening. It is an experience that becomes a part of one’s deep inner being. We wish to re-experience ananda, and, if possible, to make it a more active and continuous part of our everyday consciousness.

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See also

_______________________

Author: Shakti Maira

Anarchy

Anarchy

Animal

Animal

Apology

An apology is an expression of regret for having committed a wrong against another.

Motivation and impact of apologizing

Apologizing, according to Aaron Lazare, author of On Apology, can be motivated by strong internal feelings such as empathy for another or the distress of guilt and shame. In such cases, the person issuing the apology seeks to restore and maintain his own self-esteem.

Other motivating factors are external. One may, for instance, want to affect other people's perceptions, perhaps to induce forgiveness. People who don't apologize often say they don't do so because they fear the reactions of the people to whom they apologize, or they are embarrassed and ashamed of the image they would have of themselves as weak, incompetent, or in the wrong.

Lazare points out the healing benefit of the apology to both parties, the harmed and the one causing the harm. The apology fulfills several possible psychological needs for the offended party. Among them are: restoration of self-respect and dignity; a sense of connection and shared values with the other person; a sense of safety in the relationship; assurance that the offense was not his fault; and sometimes the sense that the offender is suffering from the harm.

The results for the person issuing the apology can be more dramatic. The apology often restores the person's self-esteem and dignity, allows him the opportunity to make reparations, and reconnects him with the other person.

The term apology is sometimes inaccurately used to describe all expressions of sympathy or regret. A greeting card that bears the message "I'm sorry for your loss," for instance, expresses condolences but not an apology.

Famous apologies for past wrongs

In recent years, apologies have been made for past actions (or inaction) to a variety of groups. [1]

African-Americans
In June 2009, the US Senate apologized for slavery, 150 years after the end of the US Civil War. [2] Likewise, the Southern Baptist Convention drew up a Resolution On Racial Reconciliation asking for forgiveness for past actions and for any residual racism.

Jews
The Roman Catholic Church, in the 1998 "We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah" , acknowledged the passiveness of many of its adherents during the Nazi Holocaust. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America apologized for the strong anti-Jewish statements made by Martin Luther and the effects his legacy had on later generations. [3]

Indigenous populations
The United Methodist Church apologized for the brutality of a lay preacher and Civil War hero Colonel John M. Chivington who led the massacre at Sand Creek, killing more than 150 Cheyenne and Arapaho.[4]

Abused children
Pope John Paul II apologized for the paedophilia of U.S. priests as one of the nearly 100 apologies made during his pontificate on behalf of the Catholic Church [5]. In the same vein, Pope Benedict XVI apologized in 2008 for the Australian victims of paedophile priests. [6]

Apologies and legal advice

Lawyers traditionally advise their clients not to apologize, fearing that an apology would lead to an admission of guilt and that the client would become liable for damages. They may believe they are saving their clients from liability, but anecdotal evidence and recent research suggest they are wrong. A seven-year study at the Lexington, Kentucky Veteran Affairs hospital, which practices a "come clean" policy, showed that their average settlement was $16,000 versus the national VA average of $98,000.

An apology for wrongdoing can reduce the potential for litigation and liability and also help maintain or restore public trust. Refusing to admit wrongdoing may cause greater problems than the wrongdoing itself.

Apologies in action

Data arising from empirical research suggests that an apology can actually prevent further repercussions.

Health care providers
Kathryn Johnson, a registered nurse and the director of risk management at the University of North Carolina's health care system, argues that apologizing to patients for things that go wrong in their care or the care of relatives is not just the right thing, but the right thing for business. In Essentials of Physician Practice Management, she identifies studies that show that litigation by patients was reduced when providers were forthcoming about mistakes they'd made and took responsibility for them, especially smaller mistakes. Patients whose caregivers communicate with them honestly and consistently are more likely to feel that their providers act in good faith, are more forgiving of their human errors, and are less likely to want to punish them with lawsuits.

Lawnmower manufacturing
According to the National Law Journal, lawnmower manufacturer Toro responds to a product-related accident by having a product integrity specialist - not a lawyer - contact the injured party, express the company's condolences, and initiate an investigation to discover the cause of the accident. An engineer goes with the product integrity specialist to look at the equipment that caused the injury, and where appropriate the company takes steps to improve the equipment to prevent future injuries. In two-thirds of the cases, the product integrity specialist resolved the matter without legal intervention; almost all of the remaining cases are resolved in mediation.

Sources

Additional resources

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Author: J Kim Wright

Asylum

Many ancient peoples - the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Hebrews among them - recognised a religious right to asylum and offered protection in the place of worship to those accused of criminal acts. Later adopted by the established Christian Church during the Council of Orleans in 511, the Christian right of asylum came to be offered to anyone who sought sanctuary in a church, in its dependencies or in the house of a bishop. This included fugitive slaves, who would be returned to their owner only after he had sworn on the Bible that he would not be cruel to them.

Right of political asylum

The right of political asylum is an equally ancient judicial notion, under which a person persecuted for his political or religious beliefs may seek protection from another sovereign authority or a foreign country. History contains many examples of troublesome thinkers offered sanctuary in foreign lands: Hobbes in France, Descartes in the Netherlands, and Voltaire and later Marx in Britain. During the revolution of 1789, over 150 000 French people fled France and sought asylum not only in neighbouring states but as far afield as the US.

In 1951, mindful of the fate of the hundreds of thousands of Jews who had asked for and been denied asylum as they tried to escape the Nazi holocaust, and conscious of the thousands of others turned into refugees by the destruction and altered borders of World War 2, the UN drafted a Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. In 1967 they followed with a Protocol for creating guidelines for national legislation. Under these and other agreements a refugee eligible for asylum is deemed to be one who has been forced to flee his country owing to a “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion”. Refusing asylum and returning a victim of persecution to his own country is considered a violation of the principle of non-refoulement.

Ambiguities around asylum

Clear and precise on paper, the issue of asylum remains mired in arbitrariness, paradoxes and uncertainty. The very term asylum seeker is often confused with migrant worker (a person who leaves his country voluntarily, in search of work, to join family or to study) or illegal immigrant (one residing in a foreign country without permission). Faced by ever growing numbers of people fleeing conflict and persecution, states have responded with ever harsher and more excluding legislation. Driven by the democratic will of their people, many of whom are frequently hostile to those seeking asylum, governments are struggling to find policies which protect their borders, yet which are at the same time humane and protect the rights of those who seek asylum.

The US is today the country which accepts more asylum seekers than any other nation - over two million since 1980.

Additional resources

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Author: Caroline Moorehead

Beauty

Beauty was once part of the high trinities of Greek and Indic philosophies (“Truth, Beauty, Goodness”, and “Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram”). In recent times it has slipped from the place Keats accorded it in his famous ode: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know“, to an ingredient that can be added to one’s hair, face and wardrobe.

Beauty and subjectivity

A question often asked about beauty is whether it is ‘skin deep?’ For all practical purposes, the collective answer has been ‘Yes’, because that is exactly where beauty is usually located these days: on the visible form, and quite literally on the skin. Beauty has become almost completely superficial. Beauty, the word, has become a rather general and amorphous adjective – used interchangeably for good, pleasing, terrific, wonderful, great and excellent, even being used to describe bombs and wars.

The contemporary confusions about beauty include the subjectivity associated with beauty – captured by the popular adage: ‘Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder’, and the valid need to resist discriminative definitions of beauty – such as fair skin – in many cultures. Such notions of beauty – which make some things and some people beautiful and others not, with all the attendant problems of who decides what or who is beautiful, and the culture and gender issues that are wound up with it, have resulted in a post-modern abandonment of beauty itself.

The issues of the slippery subjectivity of beauty and the tyranny of absolute notions of beauty are, in a sense, related misunderstandings. Is beauty subjective? Yes it is. Is beauty fixed and definable? No it isn’t. But this does not diminish its importance. These are problems of a worldview that gives undue importance to the non-subjective, the measurable and the absolute, and which is out-of-sync with the dynamic, interlinked and relational reality of the world.

These problems of subjectivity vs. absolute inherence, of surface vs. structure, and of appearance vs. being, might be obviated by a view that understands beauty as an experience and not an ingredient, not the property of any object or thing. Objects, or other stimuli, can and do create the beauty experience, but like all experiences, beauty is temporary and relational.

Experiencing beauty

The experience of beauty, though triggered by different stimuli, has commonality across people and cultures. Beauty is commonly experienced as pleasure, gladness, wellness, delight, joy, spaciousness, connectedness, timelessness, integration and wholeness. All deep beauty experiences are imbued with feelings of harmony and balance, and of proportionality and rhythm. In the Indian view, these experiences have the potentiality for inducing ananda, a bliss that is transformative.

Beauty forms in the relationship between viewer and object, and, beauty deconstructed comprises the relational values of balance, harmony, proportionality and rhythm. Profound experiences of beauty bring together and integrate opposites. They create higher levels of transformative understanding of harmony and balance, and of the cycles and rhythms of life.

In all cultures there have been attempts to discover patterns of harmony and rhythm, proportion and goodness, which have been found in physical, spatial and mathematical relationships, for instance, as well as in sound and music, in colour and form – such as The Golden Mean and the musical scales.

Beauty and the arts

In the arts, beauty was for long considered a vital purpose. This idea was dismissed in modernism and post-modernism when beauty became suspect – decorative and elitist. Recently beauty has begun to re-enter the arts again as it has been remembered that the deep, profound experience of beauty is transformational, and that the transformational role of the arts cannot be limited to protest and conceptualism.

Beauty, through art and music, has been celebrated and used in systems of prayer, worship and meditation as it helps brings inner and outer worlds into harmony. It connects people with the world around them - to sense and perceive the world and to experience delight. Internally, whenever the beauty experience occurs, attention, thoughts, feelings, senses, and emotions become integrated and harmonized.

Beauty can also be an activator of consciousness and conscience. At an intuitive level, the absence of deep beauty is the trigger mechanism for conscience – the sign that something is wrong, out of alignment, asymmetrical, in disharmony, discordant. Recently people like artist-philosopher Shakti Maira have begun to theorize beauty as a fundamental organizing system of the ‘relational’ world, and suggest that with its embedded values of harmony, balance, proportionality and rhythm, it could be a master key to solving a range of problems that stem, in part, from the contemporary confusions about beauty.

We increasingly recognise that all life and social systems are webbed, networked, interconnected, inter-related and interdependent, new ways of living - ecologically aware, cooperative, sane, balanced and harmonious - are being imagined and developed that are more consistent with this understanding, and beauty is once again finding its deeper and more profound meaning.

See also

_____________________

Author: Shakti Maira

Beloved Community, The

Beloved Community, The

Bottleneck

Bottleneck, as described by biologists, is the period of drastically narrowed life opportunities when a species has expanded into a newly available niche, overshot the permanent carrying capacity afforded by that niche, thereby damaging its habitat, and finds itself therefore facing a die-back to a number commensurate with the diminished carrying capacity residually available to sustain it.

Human bottleneck

How is the human prospect subject to this biological concept?

Consider the thrust of three books by Jared Diamond. His stated theme in 1992’s The Third Chimpanzee was “How the human species changed, within a short time, from just another species of big mammal to a world conqueror, and how we acquired the capacity to reverse all that progress overnight." His 1997 Guns, Germs and Steel amplified this, as did especially his magisterial coverage of factors leading to reversal, in his 2005 book, Collapse.

In the twentieth century, human numbers exploded and advances in technology and organization made vast new niches available. A substantial fraction of the world’s total Homo sapiens population committed itself to living as Homo colossus (people equipped with fossil-fuel-using technology giving them gigantic capabilities). Millions of other people in many lands aspired to follow in those footsteps.  Because humanity’s enormous twentieth-century technological accomplishments made so many people resource-ravenous, the twenty-first century will have to be a bottleneck era for the world’s human population. During this swarm into the ephemeral niches made by and for Homo colossus, little thought was given to the possibility that those new niches were irreparably temporary—based as they were on ravenous use of non-renewable resources and upon virtually unfettered spatial expansion of human activities. Confined to a finite global habitat, progress produced an awesome and deepening carrying capacity deficit.

Viewed from today, the vaunted “land of opportunity” promised by technological progress might turn out to be a land of exhausted and constricted opportunities. Will wars now be fought among competitors over access to dwindling resources? Plausible scapegoats are being and will be sought—to function as “explanations” of the self-inflicted miseries resulting from human overuse of the planet. Those scapegoats become targets of malicious and destructive actions.

Prodigal Homo colossus has learned to require resources Earth cannot continue supplying. Nor can Earth absorb (and recycle) the prodigious accumulation of noxious, toxic, landscape-altering or climate-changing end-products injected into the global environment to meet mankind's basic needs and more importantly the contemporary lifestyles demands of many.

Accordingly, the number of humans living upon this planet, although still increasing in the twenty-first century’s first decade will very probably be markedly fewer by 2100, the century’s end. And people accustomed to economic growth (shortsightedly equated with progress) will be compelled to adapt to inevitably squeezed and constrained standards of living in a resource-depleted world.

Sources

See also

_____________

Author: William Catton

Capitalism

The term capitalism is most commonly defined as an economic system in which capital is privately owned and managed for private profit. It is often used as a synonym for the term market economy. The 18th century economist Adam Smith is sometimes thought of as the greatest defender of capitalism.

History of the term capitalism

The esteemed French historian Fernand Braudel traces the history of the use and development of the term capitalism in volume II of his three volume history of capitalism, Civilization and Capitalism. According to Braudel, the first identified use of the term capitalist was in 1633. By the late 1700s it had come into use as a name for private handlers of money for private financial gain.

In 1850, Louis Blanc defined capitalism as "the appropriation of capital by some to the exclusion of others." Proudhon later defined it as an "Economic and social regime in which capital, the source of income, does not generally belong to those who make it work through their labour."

Adam Smith published his seminal thesis The Wealth of Nations in 1776. Clearly the term capitalism was unknown to him. Furthermore, since Smith had a strong aversion to financial speculation and any concentration of monopoly power he would have been a strong critic of capitalism.

Capitalism vs state control of the economy

Conventional wisdom has it that capitalism is the only alternative to communism, or state control of the economy. In fact most economies feature some mix of private and state ownership. Beyond ownership, all economies depend on the state to set a framework of rules for economic life and to order many aspects of social existence which fall outside the realm of exchange (see externalities). The financial and economic collapse of 2008 demonstrates the consequence of inadequate governmental oversight and regulation of capitalist markets.

Ambiguities in the definition of capitalism tend to obscure the nature and implications of the variety of economic models that are available from which a nation may choose. By the classic definition of capitalism, it refers specifically to a concentration and abuse of the power of money.

Capitalism and concentration of ownership

The more contemporary definition of capitalism ignores the essential issue of concentration. An economic system in which private ownership is broadly distributed such that almost every person has an ownership stake in in his or her home and the business on which his or her livelihood depends is one thing. An economic system in which ownership is concentrated in the hands of a few thousand people is quite another. The first provides a solid foundation for true "one person-one vote" democracy. The latter is the foundation of a form of privatized authoritarian rule lacking any semblance of public accountability. It is also anti-market because it favors monopoly pricing and the externalization of costs, both of which are antithetical to efficient market allocation.

The ambiguities and confusion are abetted by the fact that economists subscribe to a very broad definition of the term market economy that includes pure competition at one end and pure monopoly at the other, thus blurring the essential distinction between distributed and concentrated economic power. Market fundamentalists persistently ignore the fact that the magical invisible hand of Adam Smith to which they pledge their faith applies only to the pure competition end of the spectrum.

Capitalism, understood as a concentration of economic power, is a form of social pathology to which market economies are prone in the absence of proper public oversight and regulation to assure that the foundational principles of market efficiency are honored. The equitable distribution of economic power, which means it must be dispersed and locally rooted, is one of the most fundamental of these principles.

See also

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Author: David Korten

Carbon Neutrality

Carbon Neutrality

Caring Economy

Caring Economy

Carrying Capacity

Different species with different resource requirements impose loads of different magnitude upon their environment. For any given species, an environment’s carrying capacity is the maximum load it can support indefinitely—i.e., without reduction of that environment’s suitability for continuing to support that kind of load.1

Humans, as truly as any other type of creature, impose a load upon the environment they inhabit, because any organism needs to withdraw sustenance materials therefrom and, after making life-sustaining use thereof, to dispose of materials metabolically transformed. Because of this, carrying capacity is a concept too essential to remain confined within the occupational jargon of pastoralists and range managers.

Although withdrawals and disposals made by any one individual of a particular non-human species do not much differ from those of another member of that same wild or domesticated species, among Homo sapiens per capita loads vary enormously between different societies. Each million people in industrial societies impose a vastly greater load than imposed by a million hunter-gatherers.

Our ancestors lived in a world where political leaders did not yet need to know the carrying capacity concept. We now live in a world drastically changed. Truly ethical leaders must, as US President Theodore Roosevelt declared a century ago, protect posterity’s interests. For our descendants to have a future, carrying capacity must become part of the working vocabulary of office-holders at the highest levels of all governments.

Varying resource demands

Per capita resource demands, and per capita environmental degradation, are hugely different in developed countries compared to developing countries. With modern equipment, people engage in prodigious amounts of exosomatic metabolism, or garbage. Devices we use have appetites for fuel and raw materials, and excrete more abundant and varied effluents than are produced by endosomatic conversion of food into sewage. Resource demands of modern people have been technologically magnified. So have their waste streams requiring disposal—becoming contaminants of land, sea, or atmosphere.

A human carrying capacity surplus was a fundamental condition of pre-industrial Earth, capable of accommodating increasing numbers of humans seeking more abundance. Humans multiplied, and the New World today is more densely settled than was the Old World when it began sending excess people to colonize what were perceived as virgin lands. Moreover, many of us, equipped personally or collectively with mechanical extensions, have become colossal in our per capita resource demands and disposal needs. We’ve overloaded our planet.

Carrying capacity deficit

Twentieth-century industrial growth raised standards of living and seemed wonderful—with no consideration given of whether it was sustainable. It converted the former surplus of human carrying capacity into a serious and deepening twenty-first-century carrying capacity deficit. The carrying capacity deficit’s effects can be seen (a) locally in traffic congestion, such as that which obliged several of America’s national parks to substitute shuttle-bus service for visitor-driven automobiles on park roads,2 (b) nationally in the devastating practice of mountain-top removal for access to coal to feed our voracious furnaces, (c) globally in the many perils of climate change due to what we fossil-energy-users have done to Earth’s atmosphere.3

Inhabitants of a planet with a carrying capacity deficit, cannot live as people did in a time of carrying capacity surplus. Political leaders who fail to recognize this will grievously mislead, making bad situations worse—even with the best of intentions.4

Sources

1 Catton, William R. Jr. 1980. Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change. University of Illinois Press, p. 4.

2 National Park Service Looks at Transit to Reduce Environmental Impacts of Increased Visitors

3 Karl, Thomas R., Jerry M. Melillo, and Thomas C. Peterson (eds.). 2009. Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States. Cambridge University Press

4 Catton, William R. Jr. 2009. Bottleneck: Humanity’s Impending Impasse. Xlibris Corporation.

See also

____________________

Author: William Catton

Censorship

Censorship

Civil Disobedience

Civil disobedience is a method of nonviolent protest that involves purposely and publicly breaking an unjust law. Without proper accountability, those who hold the reins of power often enact legislation that entrenches the status quo and accrues wealth and control to a ruling elite. The trend is not new, and is the basis of privilege, Latin for "private law," and stands in direct contrast to just laws aimed at the general welfare of a people. It is against such privilege that civil disobedience is most effective, by publicly forcing those in power to attempt to justify their private law.

Risks of civil disobedience

Every form of protest carries some risk, but civil disobedience is perhaps the riskiest, since it involves breaking an established law and therefore opens the protesters up to the violence of the state either through physical attack or incarceration. It involves taking the moral high ground against an unjust government, and as such the standards that the protesters must abide by are strict, lest they give the state the opportunity to label them as terrorists or rebels, and potentially justify violence against them in the court of public opinion.

Success factors for civil disobedience

Every situation is different, but any given act of civil disobedience is likelier to succeed in ultimately changing an unjust law if as many of the following criteria as possible can be met:

  • Nonviolence by the protesters is maintained at all times;
  • All other routes of protest have been exhausted and have been ineffective;
  • The desired change in the law or policy can be understood in the context of a universal right, and not just for the profit of the protesters;
  • There exists at least a modestly free press to report the protest, and the protest is as public as possible;
  • The more the merrier;
  • The government is corrupt but not totalitarian.

Civil disobedience and revolutionary change

Civil disobedience is not limited to changing laws, but can also be part of a strategy of revolutionary change, given enough critical mass. If the enforcers of the law, the military and police, see that the majority of the public is against not only certain laws, but the government in general, then they can potentially be turned against their rulers and side with the will of the people, and the government can be changed, hopefully for the better.

In an autocratic state with little free press, civil disobedience is unlikely to be successful unless it is quite massive, since it cannot be made sufficiently public, and changing laws in such a system is close to impossible. An act of civil disobedience in such a situation is likely only to identify those dissatisfied with the status quo and bring the violence of the state upon them with no benefit. In such situations, the potential protesters should evaluate their dedication to the cause of political change, and consider an armed revolution instead.

Additional resources on civil disobedience

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Authors: Rebekah and Stephen Hren

Civil Liberties

Civil liberties is a term that has generated many meanings over the centuries of its use. In their legal shape, civil liberties are the freedoms enjoyed by all in a society governed by the rule of law. These liberties can be asserted in ordinary courts against any wrongdoers (even government agents or servants) that interfere with them. The difference from human rights lies in the residual character of these liberties: they are the freedoms we enjoy in the space which law has not occupied, the zone of individual autonomy untouched by government regulation. Expressed in this way, it is not surprising that supporters of civil liberties often find themselves suspicious of state power. This view of the term comes close to libertarianism and can be seen today in the way in which civil libertarians express their grave anxieties about, for example, DNA sampling or CCTV surveillance.

Another version of civil liberties approaches it from the opposite direction, seeing the idea as encompassing the political freedoms that are essential to the proper functioning of democratic society. On this reading it is the freedoms of speech, association and assembly together with personal liberty that truly matter since these are the essential building blocks of the kind of open, discursive society on which democratic institutions depend. This type of civil libertarian has more in common with the republican tradition that sees freedom as being about living in a free society than he or she has with those who see liberty as being mainly about being able to resist the Big Brother state.

Civil liberties and human rights

In whatever form it takes, civil liberties tend to be more located in a specific place and culture than their more cosmopolitan counterparts, human rights. As such they are often attractive to those for whom the langauge of human rights makes too many ethical demands. Attractive though such localism is, however, the risk from the progressive perspective is that a civil libertarian approach can be more easily desensitised to minorities and in particular to outsiders than is the case with the more universalistic language of human rights.

Additional Resources

See also

_______________________

Author: Conor Gearty

Civil Society

As a term, civil society is the source of much confusion and contestation, yet it continues to hold a great deal of interest for the practice of ethical politics. Originally it was used by Aristotle to describe the ideal, self-governed society of Ancient Greece. After the Enlightenment and the French and American Revolutions, it became attached to the world of voluntary associations which defended individuals from government abuses of their newly-found rights and freedoms. And over the last 100 years or so, a third tradition arose from the writings of Antonio Gramsci, Jurgen Habermas and others who defined civil society as the ‘public sphere’ – the places where ideas are tested, consensus is negotiated, and, at least potentially, power relations are challenged and reformed.

All three of these definitions are reflected in present-day debates about civil society and politics. The ideal or ‘good’ society can be seen as the outcome of ethical politics. The world of voluntary associations provides one mechanism through which they can be practiced – informally but increasingly important as democracy is reshaped to provide more routes to direct participation. And the public sphere provides the forums in which different visions of the good society are debated towards some sense of a common or public interest. Therefore, civil society is simultaneously a goal to aim for, a means to achieve it, and an arena for engaging with each-other about ends and means. In this sense, civil society and ethical politics are inseparable.

Inseparable they may be, but exactly how civil society and politics combine is the source of continuing controversy. When voluntary associations or public spheres are captured by politically-partisan interests, they cannot exercise their functions effectively and public policy problems become embedded – even frozen – in polities that cannot solve them (think health care in the US). On the other hand, when civil society fails to engage with politics it can become irrelevant to large-scale social progress, distanced from the venues and processes where key decisions are made. One way through this dilemma is to recognize that the health of democracy is determined by the depth of its roots in pre-political processes and formations – in the everyday engagement of ordinary people’s voices, not their votes, at the community and other levels.

After all, this is what citizens are doing in millions of settings across the world through advocacy, organizing, movement-building, monitoring, and other forms of participation that promote accountability in society, diffuse political power, and fill out the formal processes of politics. Many observers see these roles growing in the future because traditional, representative democracy cannot satisfy the twin demands for autonomy and participation that characterize contemporary societies. In this sense, civil society will be central to the practice of ethical politics.

Additional resources

Civil Society - short and accessible overview by Michael Edwards (Second Edition, Polity Press, 2009).

See also

_______________________

Author: Michael Edwards

Civilization

Civilization is commonly defined as a type of human society with permanent settlements, high social and technological complexity, and agriculture, in contrast to primitive societies, which are nomadic, have lower complexity, and get their food through foraging and hunting. This definition can be value-neutral, but popularly it is usually slanted in favor of civilization: living in towns and cities, adding complexity, and growing our own food are seen as improvements. At the same time, in the popular story, human intelligence, knowledge, wealth, power, health, lifespan, morality, and quality of life are also improving. All of these improvements are tied to increasing technological complexity and economic growth. In the most extreme story, these changes are built into history itself and destined to continue.

The idea of history as a climb from savagery is fairly new. Most indigenous cultures have seen history as circular, and most preindustrial civilized cultures saw it as a decline from a golden age. Even among civilized people there have been critics of almost every aspect of civilization as we know it, from industrialization to agriculture. Jared Diamond has looked at archaeological evidence and argued that the switch from wild foods to grains ravaged human health, and the ability to store grains led to class divisions and hierarchy.[7] Marshall Sahlins has looked at hunter-gatherers observed recently and argued that they enjoy abundant food and leisure time, and a higher subjective quality of life than most civilized people.[8] And it is now becoming clear that the spread of the western industrial lifestyle is causing ecological catastrophe.

Primitivism

The most extreme critique of civilization is primitivism, which declares that repression, conquest, and ecological destruction are inseparable from cities and high complexity and agriculture, and the only tolerable path for humanity is to return to living in forager-hunter tribes. Although primitivists differ from techno-utopians in which aspects of civilization they focus on, their definition is the same in that it draws a clear line between civilized and primitive. This is challenged by societies in the grey area, like the tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy, who had towns, farms, wars of conquest, and representative government, but also sustained their local ecosystems, and lacked both written language and the wheel.

Also, both the common pro- and anti-civilization positions focus on civilization as we know it. There is another definition that keeps the positive value of the word, but does not apply it to the present society. You can see this in statements like "We have never been civilized," or in Gandhi's remark, when asked about western civilization, that he thought it would be a good idea. This is a speculative definition, a vision of a society that has not yet existed, but that if it ever does exist, will have most of the features we like about past and present civilizations, and few of the features we dislike.

Additional resources

See also

_______________________

Author: Ran Prieur

Climate Change

Climate Change

Closed-Loop Systems

Closed-Loop Systems

Collaborative Law

Collaborative law is a method of practicing law where the parties and the lawyers representing them sign a contract in which they agree to work towards settlement. If the parties are unable to settle and adversarial proceedings are to be filed, the lawyers are required to withdraw. New lawyers must be obtained for trial. In this method, the attorneys must focus on settlement and are free to use their creative problem solving skills. Communication is respectful and the process is future-focused. It works best if several lawyers in the community are trained in collaborative law so there are options for the clients and lawyers to work together.

Collaborative law was created by Stu Webb, a Minnesota family lawyer. In one Canadian community, Medicine Hat, Alberta, collaborative law has virtually replaced the adversarial family law system.

Collaborative law is suitable for many types of law and experiments are applying it to many civil contexts: probate, employment, medical error, and business. Still, it most often occurs in the domestic area. There are several different models of collaborative law. In some places, the prevailing model in the community is the two-lawyer model. In other places, there is a multi-disciplinary team approach using a counseling team and financial advisor to work with a family in a collaborative process.

You may also hear the terms collaborative practice, collaborative divorce or civil collaborative law. Collaborative practice is actually the preferred term since so much of collaborative law is actually interdisciplinary and it is more inclusive to say "collaborative practice". Collaborative divorce refers to the full team interdisciplinary model of family law. Civil collaborative law refers to non-divorce applications of collaborative practice.

Sources

See also

  • Comprehensive Law - legal alternatives incorporating procedural justice and personal dynamics

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Author: J Kim Wright

Collective Consciousness

Consciousness is typically thought of, at least in Western culture, as an individual, subjective phenomenon. Extreme materialists view it as an epiphenomenal byproduct of purely physical processes. Dualists on the other hand tend to view consciousness as a distinct animating force or spirit that inhabits the physical body.

Beyond this however, many religious, philosophical, and cultural traditions also hold the notion of a collective consciousness or shared experience of being: the akashic field of theosophy and Eastern religion, the Christian body of Christ, Carl Jung's collective unconscious, Teilhard de Chardin's noosphere or philosophical pan-psychism. The notion is further reflected in a variety of mainstream cultural settings: company morale, team spirit, mood of the market, public sentiment, consumer taste.

Especially in the latter instances, the language of collective consciousness is often merely a quaint way of referring to the statistical behavior and beliefs of a group of individuals. Yet beyond this, some researchers point to an inter-subjective, transpersonal phenomenon that runs beyond the sum of individual group member actions. Perhaps this is most clearly illustrated in the flocking/schooling/herding behavior of animals lower on the evolutionary tree. The simultaneous action of such groups is difficult to account for without a unifying, collective guiding phenomenon. This would require that consciousness occur as field-like effect rather than by simple transmission of chemical and electrical impulses. A number of studies have found evidence for such an effect [citations needed].

Additional Resources

See also

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Author: Bill Miller

Community-based Sustainability

On the rise in towns and cities across the globe, community-based sustainability groups respond to the urgent environmental, social, and economic challenges of the day through the collaboration of local businesses, non-profit organizations and governmental institutions.

Taking their lead from various sources, sustainability groups look to such organizations as the Ecological Footprint, Willits Economic Localization, the Business Alliance of Local Living Economies and Transition Towns, to name a few. Others go it alone and pave the road as they walk, taking the best of what they learn from various sources and utilizing the capital within their communities.

While each locale must build initiatives based on their particular needs, values, beliefs, and the assets of the leadership group, this definition specifically addresses three areas of research that should be considered as foundational for community-based sustainability groups: asset mapping, inventories, and indicators.

Separately or together, asset mapping, inventories, and indicator projects raise the level of awareness within the community; build critical collaborative relationships; provide data that help people think strategically about prioritizing actions; flatten ideological differences that often get in the way of positive, forward looking thinking; and, lay the groundwork for policy change.

Asset mapping

Described and put in to practice in a variety of ways, asset mapping is about identifying and locating resources that already exist within the community, and then leveraging those assets to support actions. The asset map for community-based sustainability groups is one that identifies the informal and formal organizations, institutions, groups, associations, and individuals already working on sustainability projects.

Asset mapping serves a number of important purposes:

  • Gives groups an opportunity to introduce themselves to many segments of the community and begin the critical work of relationship building, collaboration and networking.
  • Demonstrates successful sustainability efforts and initiatives.
  • Connects existing efforts and builds bridges between different types of work.
  • Develops a clear educational tool for those wanting to contribute their time and talent to sustainability projects.

Inventories

Inventories are analytical studies that help communities identify opportunities for economic localization, a key element of building a resilient, sustainable community. Economic localization is the process by which a region, county, city, or even neighborhood frees itself from an unhealthy dependence on the global economy and looks inward to produce a significant portion of the goods, services, food, and energy it consumes from its local endowment of financial, natural, and human capital.[9] Inventories serve to help quantify the potential for local production and inform policies that set sustainable, self-reliance targets in key sectors.

Indicators

Indicators are the qualitative and quantitative signs of a community’s overall health and long-term sustainability in order to track measurable change in social, economic and environmental systems over time. Indicators spur critical thinking, examine priorities, and leverage actions that will ensure a community’s long-term health. The most successful indicator projects are developed by a diverse cross-section of residents, stakeholders, and experts; reflect community values; illuminate linkages among multiple issues; considers a community’s’ carrying capacity (relative to the four types of community capital: natural, human, social, and built), and focus on long-term future change. Category examples include: economy, education, environment, government, health, housing, population, public safety, recreation, resources use, society, and transportation.

Research and passion - keys to community-based sustainability

Research projects are often the most over-looked aspects of creating sustainable communities, and for good reason, they take an enormous commitment of time and energy and require the best in democratic practice. These important research projects don’t need to preempt educational opportunities, “shovel-ready” projects, and other initiatives common to community-based sustainability groups. The most enduring and successful groups go with the energy and passion of the people who show up to get the work done.

See also

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Author: Neva Welton

Comprehensive Law

Comprehensive law, coined by law professor Susan Daicoff of Florida Coastal School of Law, is a movement that "utilizes the insights of procedural justice and other social science-based understanding of the intrapersonal and interpersonal dynamics of legal affairs and legal disputes. Problem solving courts, which include drug treatment courts, unified family courts, and mental health courts, are examples of the comprehensive law movement in application."

There are various vectors or related approaches and developments in the law that make up the comprehensive law movement:

Daicoff explains that comprehensive law and its vectors "intersect in two broad areas: first, it explicitly seeks to optimize human well-being in the administration of law, the resolution of legal disputes, and the resolution of legal matters, when to do so does not impinge or reduce the legal rights of the individuals involved. Second, in resolving legal matters, it explicitly considers more than strict legal rights, duties, and obligations; it includes needs, goals, values, beliefs, resources, relationships, psychological dynamics, and other nonlegal factors in its analysis of legal problems and legal solutions."

Comprehensive law provides an alternative to contemporary lawyering, aiming to improve the legal system from both the perspectives of lawyer and client.

Sources

Additional resources:

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Author: J Kim Wright

Conscious Coherence

In social systems, conscious coherence refers to the phenomenon of seemingly coordinated group behavior, when group members are acting individually, and without apparent direct communication. The collective action might be deliberate and intentional, as is achieved in successful work teams, sporting teams, or performance troupes. Or, it might occur passively as a product of some subtle, transpersonal phenomenon like Jung's collective unconscious.

See also

_______________________

Author: Bill Miller

Consciousness

In essence, consciousness is an internal experience (awareness) that bears some correlation to external events or phenomena, yet is distinct from them and self-existent. In its highest form, it is also self-referential (i.e. can consider itself as an object). Such experience is typically thought of as cognitive (thoughts, mentation), but can also be emotional (feelings), physical (pain, pleasure, body skills such as dancing, touch-typing, bicycle-riding) - or typically, some combination of all three.

Conscious awareness may be a response to, concurrent with, or an initiator of current phenomena. It may also be an awareness of past phenomena (memory), or speculations about hypothetical past, present or future phenomena (imagination, fantasy). In the case of fantasy or nocturnal dreaming, the awareness and its object exist in a feedback loop, wherein the experience of hypothetical phenomena in one moment itself serves as an object to be experienced in the next moment. Fantasy experience generally starts in the mind and is subsequently experienced in the emotions and body - sexual fantasy being one of the more compelling illustrations.

In popular usage, the term is often applied to social phenomena, using a modifier, to denote collective attention focused on a specific topic - for example, racial consciousness, or gender, or consumer, or ecological consciousness.

Western and Eastern perspectives on consciousness

Western philosophies generally view consciousness as a by-product of the increasing complexity of neural organization in living systems. In contrast, many Eastern philosophies hold that consciousness is a primary force in the cosmos, and that the material universe arises as a movement within it. In the former, a living object is considered to have consciousness. In the latter, the manifest world occurs within consciousness. In the latter case, consciousness is thought to pertain to all extant things, in increasing levels of complexity.

Debates around consciousness

Several ongoing controversies exist around the topic of consciousness. One pertains to whether machines can be made to possess true consciousness, or can they merely mimic its effects? The answer perhaps hinges on the resolution of a greater controversy: can consciousness exist apart from a physical substrate? This is the essence of the historical conflict between religion and science, having implications not only for concepts like eternal life and the realm of spirit, but also for the way we view and treat other peoples, the planet, and the greater ecosystem. Are these phenomena merely objects to be efficiently managed and manipulated, or must each be treated with the respect due a living subject? Citing a popular folk wisdom, perhaps our conscience will have to be our guide.

Additional Resources

See also

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Author: Bill Miller

Consumerism

Consumerism is more than simply equating personal happiness with consumption. Is one subject to consumerism if there is appropriate use of the items purchased? One can use one's automobile, cell phone, jewelry, computers and computer games. Does that support consumerism? Not necessarily – but likely.

Consumerism is multi-fold. It is the idea that one must purchase items, whether it brings happiness or not. The question is whether a purchase is made to achieve some personal happiness quotient or "just because"—to fulfill a want, to keep up with friends, to seek a way out of emotional pain, national pain and even international debt.

Consumerism is the macro-activity of making purchases, compelled by a social structure that values growth as the pinnacle of success. People hope to grow their salaries to grow the size of their homes to grow the number of items filling those homes.

Consumerism is fed by a plethora of new and engaging products, and by a blitz of advertising. People are influenced by peers, by the famous and infamous, by consumption-saturated children, to exchange a used product for a new one. Planned obsolescence prohibits one from deeming what's owned as sufficient when the item/product/service in question purposefully becomes obsolete.

And, consumerism escalates as the stakes increase, as perceived financial status increases, not to be confused with actual financial resources. So, combined with the idea of growth is the inevitable concept of more and the concept of better, both required to justify the purchase of that which does not meet the threshold of need.

Consumerism, then, incorporates the concept of wealth. An item that is modestly priced must not be of the same quality as that which carries a higher price tag. Paying that extra amount lends itself to personal prestige, that of the perceived financial status to afford more and better.

To consume is not, in and of itself, negative. One must consume food. One consumes energy resources. One consumes retirement income. The question of ethics arises when that consumption is not founded on what J.V. Crum quantifies as sufficient abundance or what Stephanie Mills has described as epicurean simplicity — phrases that allow for consumption of needs and even enjoyment of wants — but in a manner that is meaningful and rational to the individual rather than mandated by a pressure most do not perceive at all.

Additional Resources

See also

__________________________

Author: Rosalinda Sanquiche

Contemplative Law

Attention is paramount in the law - attention to details; to legal, ethical and moral principles; and to the hearts and minds of clients, colleagues, judges and juries. Many lawyers have found that contemplative practice (like mindfulness meditation, for example) helps lawyers cultivate a greater ability to “pay attention.” Meditation can also help lawyers deal better with stress, develop self-awareness and understanding of others, improve concentration and creativity, and perform better as attorneys and mediators. There is a growing trend toward such contemplative practices in law, sometimes referred to as contemplative law.

Meditation training

Contemplative law is gaining attention by mainstream academia not only as means for personal development stress reduction, but also to cultivate perspective and skill to be a more effective lawyer and mediator. Academic programs explore ways of helping lawyers, judges, law professors and students reconnect with their deepest values and intentions, through meditation, yoga, and other contemplative and spiritual practices.

Many law firms are initiating meditation training and students at many law schools have taken mindfulness meditation instruction on campus, sometimes as part of law school courses. Groups of lawyers across the country are gathering together to practice meditation and to reflect on their law and/or mediation practices.

Contemplative law and criminal justice

Meditation is proving to be of benefit in the criminal justice arena. For instance, training in Transcendental Meditation (TM) is sometimes a condition of parole - as with the Enlightened Sentencing Project in St. Louis, MO. TM has been taught to tens of thousands of inmates worldwide and has shown to have significant effect on recidivism rates.[10] Vipassana meditation training has also been introduced to numerous prisons in the United States and abroad. Research is showing that such meditation instruction substantially reduces the rates of recidivism.[11]

Sources

  • Interview with Douglas Chermak, The Law Program
  • Tree of Contemplative Practices
  • Riskin, Leonard L. "Mindfulness: Foundational Training for Dispute Resolution," 54 Journal of Legal Education 79-91 (2004)
  • Riskin, Leonard L. "The Contemplative Lawyer: On the Potential Contributions of Mindfulness Meditation to Law Students and Lawyers and their Clients". 7 Harvard Negotiation Law Review 1-66 (June 2002).

Additional resources

See also

______________________

Author: J Kim Wright

Corporatocracy

The term corporatocracy is generally accepted as a euphemism for the corporate aristocracy or modern corporate oligarchy, an expression meant to identify the loose confederation of corporations, banks, and media who use their financial and political influence to bend the will of nations, supersede national sovereignty and governmental structures, and serve their own interests.

A corporatocracy or corpocracy is also considered to be a form of government where a corporation, group of corporations, or entities run by corporations, controls the direction and governance of a country.

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

The term corporatocracy was popularized in the 2004 best-selling book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man:

“The corporatocracy is not a conspiracy, but its members do endorse common values and goals. One of corporatocracy's most important functions is to perpetuate and continually expand and strengthen the system. The lives of those who "make it," and their accouterments — their mansions, yachts, and private jets — are presented as models to inspire us all to consume, consume, consume. Every opportunity is taken to convince us that purchasing things is our civic duty, that pillaging the earth is good for the economy and therefore serves our higher interests. “ (Preface pg. xiii)

Corporatocracy and power

The corporatocracy has immense power and influence, even the power to foment war, as John Omaha writes in Sourcewatch about corporate influence in the Iraq War:

“The war against Iraq is the creation of the corporations that have seized control of America and its institutions. America was once a democratic republic. It is now a corporatocracy. Corporations are soulless, deathless entities that have all the rights of citizenship that real people have and none of the responsibilities. Corporations have accumulated vast wealth that they have used to purchase, infiltrate, and colonize American government and many governments around the world. Corporations have absorbed the media, the two major political parties, the Congress, the Executive, almost all the Judiciary, in America and in many other countries, welding them into the globe-spanning unit that I have named the Corporatocracy. Corporations have distilled the essence of greed and rage to form their corporate structure. Profits must be maximized. Territory, natural resources, institutions, and citizens must be used and then discarded when they are no longer useful…

"Since the end of World War II, corporations have emerged as the dominant force controlling the planet. Through the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization, a mere 200 corporations have managed to seize control of 28.3% of the world's economic output. The fifty largest commercial banks and diversified financial companies assets amount to 60% of the $20 trillion global stock of productive capital.”

Sources

See also

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Author: John Perkins

Corruption

Corruption in the body politic follows the lines of corruption of the body human, though the natural process of human disintegration or decomposition is considered to be an inevitable part of the normal life cycle. When applied to governmental systems, however, corruption is viewed much more negatively, because the putrefaction is imposed consciously and willingly, usually with an eye to gain on some individual or group’s part.

In recent years corruption has appeared in many forms, though those instances rooted in the destructive use of money, power, and sex have dominated public forums.

No human individual willingly submits to corruption of their own body. But, especially when dealing with the three sources listed above, politicians are all too frequently offered the opportunity feed and prosper on the corruption of the very system with which they have been entrusted, that governmental body which nurtures millions of other individuals.

For corruption to exist, there needs to be an initial “pure” state, a situation in which a system or ideal works to the benefit of all, with little or no detriment to any existing entity. One such overriding state that deals specifically with positively administering the public good is called “integrity”. When corruption becomes the status quo, integrity disappears, truth and any concept of the public good is contaminated.

Sources

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Author: Jim Gabour

Crowd Sourcing

Crowd Sourcing

Culture

Culture is the set of shared beliefs and values that serve as the lens through which the people of a particular group, organization, or society interpret their world. A shared culture, or shared lens, is essential to the coherent function of any social group. Functioning without a shared culture can be like trying to have a conversation among people who lack a common language.

Culture gives humans a potentially powerful evolutionary advantage. Most species are limited by their genetic programming to a narrow range of adaptive possibilities. The limitations to human adaptation, however, are as much cultural and institutional as genetic. Human culture and institutions are human creations. They represent choice not destiny — and they are subject to change, sometimes with remarkable speed. As a species, humans have the capacity to choose their future by choosing their culture.

Cultural consciousness

This capacity is most fully developed in individuals and groups that have awakened to a cultural consciousness, an active awareness of culture as a shared lens that is of human creation and therefore subject to choice. It is possible for such groups to adapt their culture and behavior by conscious collective intent to deal with new threats and opportunities such as those now posed by climate chaos and the end of cheap oil.

A shared culture can also be a liability, however, if a group is not consciously aware that its own culture represents but one of a number of possible interpretations of reality. In the absence of such awareness, a group's members become captive to a cultural trance that can threaten their very survival by blinding them to possibilities that their existing culture rejects or denies. In his book Collapse, cultural historian Jared Diamond cites the case of a group of early European settlers in Greenland whose culture defined eating fish as uncivilized. Consequently, they starved when their cattle died even though they were surrounded by fish.

Manipulating culture

Since the beginning of time, most humans have lived out their lives entranced by the culture into which they were born. Demagogues have long instinctively capitalized on this liability by manipulating culture to their own ends with powerful effect. During the 20th century advertisers mastered the arts of cultural manipulation to create an individualistic culture of material excess that serves Empire well, but now threatens human survival. See the BBC documentary The Century of the Self.

Impact of global communications on culture

A primary source of hope for the human future is the increase in intercultural exchange spurred by the sudden expansion of global communication technologies that is now liberating people by the millions from the cultural trance and unleashing the potentials of the cultural consciousness. One of the most important tasks of progressive social movements is to accelerate the spread of this awakening and to coalesce and shape the creative life energy thus unleashed.[12]

See also

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Author: David Korten

Debt

Debt is a socially-recognized claim on one's property or future income by another person, bank, or other corporate entity. It is the flip side of credit: when one party issues credit, the other goes into debt. The claim on another's income and property is enforced through social, legal, and moral mechanisms.

Debt - a form of slavery?

As many a mortgage holder or student loan recipient knows, debt is closely akin to slavery: the fruits of one's labor are not one's own. There are some important differences of course: people can be born into slavery, but are not born into debt. Borrowing money is, ostensibly, always a choice. Secondly, at least in Western society, the coercive mechanisms that enforce debt do not extend to those of a slave-based system. One will not be whipped, thrown in debtor's prison, separated from family, or killed for defaulting on debts.

Perhaps these differences are not so great as they might seem. Yes, to go into debt is a choice, but the system is set up in a way to compel most people to make that choice. That is because money, needed in order to survive, is created through debt. In a fractional reserve banking system, each dollar originates as a dollar of debt; moreover, because debts bear interest, the future value of all debts exceeds the present quantity of all money, forcing everyone into competition to obtain the scarce money to repay their debts. While some people may never go into debt, a majority must. Indeed, because another feature of an interest-based system is the concentration of wealth, the debtor majority is a growing majority.

While it is true that one will not be killed, whipped, or imprisoned for non-payment of debts (excluding imprisonment for non-payment of tax debts), the means by which debts are enforced are becoming more coercive. Part of that coercion is psychological: people are made to fear the destruction of their credit rating, as well as the social stigma attached to defaulting. Collection agency representatives are expert in manipulating these fears and the stigma, and most people find their collection calls quite traumatic. Moreover, creditors can and do take debtors' property through outright force, through agency of the law (court orders, sheriff's sales, etc.) With the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005, creditors became able to take future income by force as well, through mandated payment plans giving them a right to a portion of the debtors' wages.

The tendency of debt toward slavery is not a new phenomenon. In ancient Athens at the time of Solon, the society was in crisis because numerous farmers were unable to pay their debts and had lost their freedom. Solon responded with the famous Seisachtheia, or "shaking off of burdens" that annulled all debts. Debt annulment was also practiced in ancient Sumer, Babylon, and other societies.

Debt annulment

Debt annulment has profound political implications, because the distribution of debt and wealth determines, to a great degree, who holds power in a society. Ultimately, debt is nothing but an agreement, a story that specifies who owes and who owns, who has a claim on the assets and labor of whom. To change the distribution of debt is to change the distribution of wealth, and therefore of the capacity to direct and coordinate human activity. It is therefore significant that, facing the financial and economic crisis that began to intensify in 2008, the Bush and Obama administrations did everything they could to keep as many debts as possible on the books. Widespread defaults amount to transfer of wealth away from creditors and toward debtors. Inflation has much the same effect; hence the fiscal authorities have long sought to prevent both.

Rise of indebtedness

For the last four decades, the level of indebtedness in the developed world has steadily risen: household debt, corporate debt, and public debt. That means that more and more of one's income goes toward debt payments; in other words, more and more income goes to the banks and bondholders. Or one could argue that this is a deepening slavery to the banks. As of 2009, income is insufficient to service accumulated debts, and cannot ever become sufficient without the kind of economic growth not seen since the 1960s. One cannot pay any more, yet the debts must keep growing. Something has to give. There is no way out besides defaults and inflation. Both are likely to occur in the coming years - first one, then the other - opening an opportunity for new currency systems (demurrage-based, mutual credit, etc.) that do not create and depend on ever-growing debt.

Additional resources

See also

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Author: Charles Eisenstein

Deep Ecology

Definition by Shena Turlington

Deep ecology focuses on the inherent value of the environment and all species, beyond their use to humans. This philosophy is an important foundation for thought on ecological policy, spirituality, and psychology. Deep ecologists believe that the lack of recognizing intrinsic value of the biosphere beyond its relation to humans leads to overuse in natural resources, disrespect and destruction of natural landscapes and biological communities, and deterioration of cultures and traditions that are tightly interwoven with thriving local biodiversity.

The term was introduced in 1972 by Arne Naess, an important proponent in the environmental movement. Naess stressed the importance of respecting the intrinsic rights of all biological species in grassroots initiatives in order to influence environmental conservation policy, contributing to movement in thought away from anthropocentrism and toward species equality. Naess also emphasized the need for a change in consciousness, which should be achieved through learning to relate to trees, animals, and other elements of nature in an effort toward self-realization.[13]

Deep ecology platform

The eight principles of deep ecology, as outlined by Arne Naess and found on the website, include:

1. The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on Earth have value in themselves (synonyms: inherent worth; intrinsic value; inherent value). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.

2. Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves.

3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs.

4. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening.

5. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease.

6. Policies must therefore be changed. The changes in policies affect basic economic, technological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.

7. The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent worth) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between big and great.

8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly or indirectly to participate in the attempt to implement the necessary changes.”

Deep ecology laid the foundation for many types of ecophilosophy, such as transpersonal ecology, ecofeminism, and ecopsychology, as well as for Bill McKibben's Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future.

Sources


Definition by David Landis Barnhill

Deep ecology is a contemporary school of ecological philosophy. The term was first used by the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess in 1972 in his paper "The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movement." Naess contended that conventional environmental debates and reform efforts only skim the surface of the problems. We need instead to probe deeply, engaging fundamental worldviews that shape our ideas and practices no deposit casino. The central problem such probing uncovers is anthropocentrism, a view that we are separate from here and superior to nature.

One formulation of deep ecology is the platform of eight principles. Devised by Naess and American philosopher George Sessions, the platform is intended as a point of unity among different philosophies and modes of activism. Those principles are:

1. Everything in the community of life has intrinsic value independent of their value to us, buy best essay. The process of essay writing will be much easier with MarvelousEssays.Com as there are a lot of highly professional and talented writers who are always eager to help you out with any sort of academic assignments regardless of the complexity levels. I do know what I�m talking about!

2. The richness and diversity of life contribute to the realization of these values.

3. Humans have no right to reduce this diversity except to satisfy vital needs.

4. The flourishing of life requires a decrease in human population.

5. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is highly destructive.

6. Policies and social structures need to be changed.

7. We need to focus on the quality of life rather than material affluence.

8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation to implement the necessary changes.

More specifically, deep ecology is an ecological worldview and political stance that is distinct from others such as ecofeminism and social ecology. It has the following characteristics:

1. Ontology. Nature is seen holistically, as an organic field of being.

2. Human-nature relationship. Humans are fully a part of nature, with no ontological divide between our species and others in the community of life.

3. Self. Rather than being an autonomous individual, a person is a self-in-Self, one part of the larger web of life. On an individual level, the goal is the full realization of one’s self as integrated with the whole of nature

4. Axiology. Nature has unqualified intrinsic value, with humans having no privileged place in nature's web, a view known as biocentric egalitarianism.

5. Consciousness. We can achieve an intimate communion with the natural world, which yields a deep psychological identification with the community of life.

6. Critique. The ongoing devastation of the natural world is rooted in anthropocentrism.

7. Social ideal. We need to work toward a society that lives in harmony with the natural world, with political structures that reflect ecocentrism.

8. Morality. Morality in deep ecology is a spontaneous disposition to work for the flourishing of all, rather than a rational system of normative rules.

Many of these qualities have been informed by nature-affirming spiritualities, including Buddhist and Native American. Certain Western philosophers, such as Baruch Spinoza and Martin Heidegger, have also been influential. Nature writing has also influenced and been influenced by deep ecology. Many radical activists find theoretical support for their work in deep ecology.

Deep ecology has been criticized by ecofeminists and social ecologists for neglecting social analysis that would reveal the connections between environmental and social problems. Some critics have charged that deep ecology’s holistic view devalues the individual and that biocentric egalitarianism leads to ethical absurdities such as valuing a worm or shrub as much as a son or mother. In some cases these charges are based on an extreme formulation of deep ecology that does not reflect its primary orientation. However, some of these criticisms have proved valid and led to revisions in deep ecology. In addition, some ecophilosophers have combined deep ecology and other perspectives. Gary Snyder, for instance, is considered a leader of deep ecology yet he exhibits a number of views and values found in social ecology.

Further reading

Devall, Bill, and George Sessions. Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Mattered. Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith, 1985.

Naess, Arne. Ecology, Community and Lifestyle: Outline of an Ecosophy. Trans. and ed. by David Rothenberg. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 1980.

Sessions, George, ed. Deep Ecology for the 21st Century. Boston: Shambhala, 1995.

Snyder, Gary. The Practice of the Wild. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1990.

Websites

Deep Ecology: An Introduction

no deposit casino blog

The Green Fuse

Joanna Macy’s Deep Ecology

See also

Democracy

Democracy

Demurrage Currency

Demurrage is a carrying cost or storage cost charged by someone holding a commodity on behalf of someone else. Applied to money, it refers to a reduction over time in the face value of currency. In other words, it is a kind of negative interest: if for example you hold one hundred units of a currency to which a 7% demurrage charge is applied, at the end of a year it will be worth only 93 units.

The idea of demurrage originated with currencies that were issued as receipts for deposits of grain and other semi-perishable commodities in ancient agricultural societies. This is quite reasonable, as it reflects the depreciation of the stored commodity due to spoilage. Some medieval currencies were also subject to a kind of demurrage: the local lord issuing coinage would recall it every few years, and replace each four old coins with three new ones.

Revival of demurrage in 20th century

The idea of demurrage was revived by the economist Silvio Gesell in the early 20th century. He articulated some of its most important advantages. Chief among these is a systemic discouragement of wealth accumulation. In contrast to the present system, in which merely owning wealth generates (because of interest) more wealth, in a demurrage-based system wealth comes with a carrying cost. If you have more money than you can use, you will be happy to loan it out, even at zero interest.

Moreover, as Gesell puts it, "Money is no longer preferred to goods." Today's money is different from any natural substance, in that it does not decay over time and return to its source. Instead, it grows with time. The problem is that it is linked to an economy that is embedded in a finite world. Interest-based money drives endless, exponential economic growth, which means that more and more of nature must be converted into "goods", and more and more of human relationships must be converted into "services". Interest thus drives the monetization of everything. Demurrage does not do this.

Benefits of demurrage

A demurrage currency system is mathematically similar to today's inflation. It has some of the same effects: it favors debtors over creditors, it encourages circulation over accumulation, it reduces the polarization of wealth. There are some important advantages to demurrage over inflation, however. For one thing, the demurrage rate is fixed, obviating the dangerous non-linear feedback loops involving inflation, expected inflation, and money velocity that can spark hyperinflation. It also does not harm people on fixed incomes as inflation does.

Another advantage of demurrage over interest-based currency is that it reverses the short-term thinking that is harming our planet. In an interest-based system, the value of an investment is calculated by discounting future cash flows by the expected interest rate. For example, if you must choose whether to clearcut a forest and turn it into a desert now for an immediate profit of one million dollars, or to log it sustainably in perpetuity for twenty thousand dollars a year, the rational choice would be to clearcut it, bank the million dollars, and collect maybe forty or fifty thousand dollars of annual interest on that million. Demurrage encourages the opposite: long term thinking, preservation of productive resources, and sustainable investment. It also supports various innovations of the new economy that Paul Hawken calls the industrial ecology: the leasing economy, zero-waste manufacturing, storage costs for toxic waste, and so on.

Demurrage advocates

Several prominent economists vouched for the mathematical soundness of demurrage currency, including John Maynard Keynes and Irving Fisher. Fisher in particular became a vocal advocate of it during the Great Depression, and indeed demurrage currencies were adopted in many localities in the United States and Europe. Most famous was the town of Worgl, Austria, where a local demurrage currency was issued in 1932, sparking an economic miracle. However, when neighboring towns began to imitate the Worgl currency, the Austrian authorities banned it, and the town returned to its depression economy.

Impact of demurrage

Demurrage is not a gimmick or a superficial reform. Widely applied, it would fundamentally alter our attitudes toward money, wealth, and work. For one thing, demurrage currency is inherently non-scarce, circulating at its maximum possible velocity. Just as, today, if I have more bread than I can eat, I will happily lend some to you rather than see it go stale, so also do people prefer not to hold demurrage currency. Money is no longer special, but becomes just as abundant as the things it buys. This contrasts with our world today, in which we have a huge over-abundance of the necessities of life, but because of the scarcity of money, inequitable distribution leaves many in want. Thus we have enormous waste alongside terrible poverty. Demurrage currency would end this state of affairs. As Gesell puts it,
"With Free-Money [demurrage currency] demand is inseparable from money, it is no longer a manifestation of the will of the possessors of money. Free-Money is not the instrument of demand, but demand itself, demand materialized and meeting, on an equal footing, supply, which always was, and remains, something material."[14]

In a demurrage-based economy, wealth, power, and status no longer accord to those who own the most, but to those who give the most. It would recreate the dynamics of the potlatch societies, where leadership was associated with the inclination and capacity for generosity.

Demurrage-based currency also influences our spiritual intuitions. Today, money is something different from the rest of money, being imperishable, ever-increasing. It is an exception to the laws of nature, and leads us into a human realm that we equally pretend is exempt from nature's laws. But demurrage currency, like all natural things, eventually decays and returns to its source (the demurrage charges go to the issuer, who then issues an amount of new currency sufficient to maintain price stability). If we are to have an economy that is an extension of the ecology, it had better use money that accords with ecological principles.

Additional resources

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Author: Charles Eisenstein

Development

As conventionally defined, development means progress, improvement, advancement to a higher or preferred state. Conventional economists, equate economic development with economic growth, creating an assumption in the public mind that economic growth represents universal progress and improvement.

According to Mexican intellectual Gustavo Esteva, development was first introduced as an economic term on January 20,1949 when U.S. President Truman, in his inaugural address, called for ". . . a bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industri­al progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas."[15] The announcement of this commitment set in motion a grand scheme to bring universal prosperity to all the world’s people by recreating the world in the image of the industrial-consumer society of the United States. In a mere instant Truman had stripped two billion of the world's people of the dignity due themselves and their richly diverse cultures. They became homogenized and redefined as underdeveloped, i.e., people’s whose consumption levels did not meet the standards that Western societies felt appropriate.

In Esteva's words: "From that day forward roughly two-thirds of earth's people have found themselves in a struggle to escape from the undignified condition called underdevelopment. Yet development's constant press for economic efficiency in a resource scarce world has produced only one commodity in abundance—useless people for whom the economy has no need and therefore to whom it assigns no value.

"For the underdeveloped, to develop means sacrificing the environments, solidarities, traditional interpretations and customs that have given their lives meaning in order to embark on a road that others know better, toward a goal that others have reached. For the overwhelming majority it has meant not the alleviation of poverty, but rather its modernization: a devaluation of their own skills, values, and experience in favor of a growing dependence on guidance and management by bureaucrats, technocrats, educators, and development experts."

Additional resources

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Author: David Korten

Dialogue

Very simply, dialogue may be defined as conversation that generates greater understanding. However, dialogue-based processes have been developed far beyond that simple formulation. Dialogue as conceived by the late physicist David Bohm can be considered a vital process of ethical governance and politics:

"...it may turn out that such a form of free exchange of ideas and information is of fundamental relevance for transforming culture and freeing it of destructive misinformation, so that creativity can be liberated." [16]

Dialogue at its best supports deliberations that yield profound understanding of issues, including thorough inquiry into all positions of a conflict. The dialogue process itself resists expectations or goals for conflict resolution, and as such a focus on outcome often obstructs the depth of process necessary for true understanding, precisely the understanding that is necessary to gain real resolution or transformation. Dialogue theory presumes that conflict arises naturally from our limitations as incarnate beings, with unique backgrounds and experiences, none of whom possess individually, or even as groups, access to all knowledge. The theory also views conflict as an opportunity for individuals and disparate groups to enlarge their understanding of both self and other, expand their limitations, and thin the boundaries that define their sense of separateness.

Likely, the ability to engage in dialogue is an evolved human capacity that predates civilization and the establishment of hierarchy. Certainly many indigenous cultures had, and some retain, deliberative processes that indicate dialogue as a key aspect. However most non-indigenous schooling and cultural conditioning stifles that ability, and rewards competitive argument and debate over understanding and collaboration.

Barriers to dialogue

Absent in most political deliberations is the willingness and ability to identify, and then to suspend or release attachment to, assumptions or core beliefs. Also largely absent is the ability to listen in profound ways, especially in the face of conflict, in order to explore thoroughly the truths contained in different beliefs, experiences and values. We are well schooled in debate and argument but not in investigation into the nature of our thinking processes, or in skills that tap collective wisdom. It is rare for leaders in any arena, except in a handful of cutting edge businesses, to take the time, or to have the peers or governing body willing, to engage in such rigorous and revelatory conversation that requires the ability to notice and “hold,” rather than react to, the inevitable tension that arises when individuals and groups encounter conflict.

William Isaacs, a scholar and consultant who has devoted much of his professional career to the study and training of dialogue, suggests that dialogue could transform the nature of our social and political structures. The power in dialogue that leads to transformation is rooted in the willingness to truly let go of defending one’s own position in order to engage in profound inquiry. Had the leaders attending the first Kyoto summit on climate change been willing, there could have been inquiry into the deep assumptions that drive climate change: The value of economic growth, the impact of global capitalism, the spreading tide of rapacious consumerism, and most critically, our underlying mental models of the environment. (Isaacs, Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together, p. 25)

The incorporation of such inquiry and deep reflection as dialogue practice entails might evolve political and social structures that would ethically assess and creatively address our collective predicaments.

Sources

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Authors: Tim Bennett & Sally Erickson

Disenfranchisement

Disenfranchisement is generally defined as the practice of “depriving of a franchise” (or legal right), or depriving someone of some privilege, participatory right, voice, or immunity in a given society.

Specifically, it is the practice by governments in all areas of a democracy (local, municipal, state, and federal) of removing, either by legal or illegal means, a citizen’s right to vote, or rendering their vote or voice ineffective. Historically there have been two forms of disenfranchisement, direct and indirect.

Euphemistically, disenfranchisement describes the condition of those existing outside the mainstream of society who feel themselves shut out of the same opportunities and privileges granted to others: prosperity, property, credit, access, audience, mates. Generally these include minority (by race, class, and sexual orientation) populations, and those living alternative or counter-cultural lifestyles or having what are viewed by the mainstream as "radical" or "extreme" belief systems. The highest concentration of disenfranchised are found in the ex-offender population, where a prior arrest and/or conviction--even for a minor crime--can forever alter the course of one's life.

Direct disenfranchisement

Direct disenfranchisement is made up of actions that explicitly prevent people from voting or having their votes counted. In the United States, this practice was put into widespread use beginning at the end of the Civil War with the passage of the 15th Amendment (which prohibited the explicit disenfranchisement of any citizen on the basis of race or prior enslavement) and continued up until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Southern states that were former members of the Confederacy “devised an array of alternative techniques designed to disenfranchise blacks and, to a lesser extent, poor whites.”[17] Some of the techniques of direct disenfranchisement included threats and violence against blacks and poor whites, fraud such as ballot box stuffing or ballot tampering, poll taxes, literacy tests, and restrictive registration practices.

Indirect disenfranchisement

Indirect methods of disenfranchisement are used to prevent people's votes from having an impact on political outcomes. Examples of this include tampering with electronic vote totals on touch screen voting machines, hanging chads and other physical ballot anomalies, limited numbers of voting machines in poor neighborhoods, provisional ballots, gerrymandering, legal challenges, and the most pervasive of the post-Voting Rights Act era, felony disenfranchisement.

Felony disenfranchisement

Felony disenfranchisement is the practice by state governments of barring people convicted of a felony from voting, even after they have served their sentence and reentered society.

The roots of felony disenfranchisement laws can be traced back to ancient Rome:

“Disenfranchisement was commonly imposed on individuals convicted of "infamous" crimes as part of their "civil death", whereby these persons would lose all rights and claim to property. The practice of disenfranchisement was transplanted to America by English settlers.”.[18]

The philosophy behind felony disenfranchisement is that persons who commit felonies have broken the social contract, and have thereby given up their right to participate in a civil society. But opponents argue that so many felony charges, like drug possession, are victimless moral crimes that did not break the social contract, and that those who honor the terms of their punishment and serve their sentences (the ostensible "paying one's debt to society") or otherwise rehabilitate themselves should be permitted the opportunity to be re-enfranchised.

The Sentencing Project in Washington, D.C. reported in 2008 that about 5.3 million U.S. citizens are ineligible to vote due to felony disenfranchisement, 2 million of whom are African-American.[19] Of these, 1.4 million are African-American men, which translates into an incredible 13 percent of that population, a rate seven times higher than in the overall population. Forty-eight states have some form of felony disenfranchisement law. Most bar voting while prisoners are incarcerated, as well as while they serve probation or parole. Two states, Maine and Vermont, allow prisoners to vote from behind the walls, as does Canada and a number of other countries. Two other states, Kentucky and Virginia, impose a life-long denial of the right to vote to all citizens with a felony record.

Felony disenfranchisement was one of the central issues of the 2000 US presidential election. Then Florida governor Jeb Bush and Secretary of State Katherine Harris paid a database company to compile a master list of anyone who conceivably might have been a former felon. These names, and many similar to them, were then scrubbed from voter rolls. The final list contained the names 82,389 voters to purge from registries, but subsequent investigation called into question the authenticity of most of the names. Investigative reporter Greg Palast contends that "at least 94,000 [were] falsely accused of being felons without the right to vote.... Most of the innocents accused and abused were Black...I know, because I saw those state records with the carefully recorded "BLA" next to the voters' names."[20]

Sources

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Author: Charles Shaw

Diversity

Diversity is variously conceived of as a quality of society, or of nature or a challenge to be managed. Homogeneity might be its opposite, and it has been credited with permitting Scandinavian-style social democracy. The value of diversity in itself can be derived from a philosophy of respect, from utilitarianism and from a notion of the sanctity of being. However, every view of the ethical world must see limits to diversity; from a simple perspective of logic, no one wants diversity to include all that is bad.

E.F. Schumacher

Dr Ernst Friedrich Schumacher, more commonly known as Fritz Schumacher, is an economist-philosopher and progressive entrepreneur from the twentieth century. Schumacher was an early prophet of the current ecological crisis and although he was a talented academic he became frustrated by theorising and so became a practical exponent of his theories in business, agriculture and journalism.

Fritz Schumacher was born in Bonn in 1911 and died in Caux, Switzerland after a speaking engagement there, in September 1977. He remained an atheist until the age of 44, when he began to read widely around comparative religions and he was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1971.

Schumacher left his native Germany in 1937 to live in London after having established himself as an ascendant academic in economics in Germany, Britain and the USA. During the second world war, Schumacher worked as a farm labourer in Northamptonshire, and then joined the Oxford Institute of Statistics. In 1950, he was invited to become the Economic Advisor and Director of Statistics at National Coal Board, where he remained until 1970.

Schumacher travelled to Burma during his post at the Coal Board, where he developed his ideas for Intermediate Technology and also Buddhist Economics, which grew into his seminal work, Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As if People Mattered, first published in 1973. It is this book for which he is perhaps most famous, but it was A Guide for The Perplexed, published in the year of his death, of which he was most proud. The books Good Work and This I Believe and other Essays were published posthumously, the latter being an anthology of essays which appeared in Resurgence magazine during the 1970s.

Schumacher actively supported organisations which he felt were doing good work. And, when he couldn’t find such organisations, he set about founding them himself. In 1970, Schumacher founded the Intermediate Technology Development Group (now Practical Action) and in 1964, he founded the India Development Group (now the Jeevika Trust) to promote village scale appropriate technology. He was also an active member of the Soil Asscociation, and was appointed as its president in 1970.

His commitment to sustainable solutions also had the capacity to inspire others to set up organisations founded on Schumacher’s belief. And so, after Gerard Morgan-Grenville met Schumacher in 1974 he went on to set up the Centre for Alternative Technology, or CAT in Machynlleth, mid Wales. The Schumacher Society, a membership organisation, was set up to commemorate his work, and has been holding annual lectures in Bristol every year since its inception in 1978.

Schumacher’s intellectual legacy, his holistic approach and search for appropriate, human scale solutions to contemporary problems are particularly resonant in the shadow of the global economic downturn. One of many particularly apposite quotes from Small is Beautiful reads, ‘the modern industrial system…consumes on the very basis on which it has been erected. To use the language of the economist, it lives on irreplaceable capital which it cheerfully treats as income.’ (p16, Small Is Beautiful, A Study of Economics as if People Mattered).

Earth Charter

Earth Charter

Earth Community

The term Earth community comes from the Earth Charter, a declaration of university responsibility to and for one another and the living Earth created through a process that began with the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and carried forward through a multiyear collaborative process involving hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals of diverse religious faiths, cultures, races, languages, and nationalities.

The Earth Charter elaborates four overarching principles of Earth community: (1) respect and care for the community of life; (2) ecological integrity; (3) social and economic justice; and (4) democracy, non-violence, and peace. It calls for a reintegration of humans into the planetary system of life and requires the birthing of human cultures and institutions that embrace and nurture material sufficiency for everyone, honors the generative power of life and love, seeks a balance of feminine and masculine principles, and nurtures a realization of the mature potential of our human nature.

Additional Resources

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Author: David Korten

Economic Democracy

Economic Democracy

Economic Hit Man

Economic hit man is a term first popularized in the 2004 book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. It is generally regarded as a euphemism for economic operatives employed in the private sector, who act as agents for advancing or enriching the interests of corporations and governments.

Economic hit men are contemporary instruments of empire and imperial control, who work within a system that includes transnational banks and corporations, government intelligence agencies, and military forces (the corporatocracy). This system was originally developed by the United States but is now in practice by most of the developed world (what Hardt and Negri call the culture of “Empire”), although the US has been the most successful at these practices to date.

Author John Perkins describes his work in the 70s, and early 80s as Chief Economist for the international consulting firm of Chas T. Main. While still in business school, Perkins was recruited by the National Security Agency (NSA), the United States' largest and most secretive intelligence gathering organization. While he never actually worked for the NSA, or became a government employee, Perkins believes that his subsequent recruitment by Chas T. Main was a direct result of the evaluation made regarding his character, talent, and abilities by the NSA.

“Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign ‘aid’ organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet's natural resources. Their tools included fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization.”

EHMs provide favors in the form of development loans to build infrastructure projects like power plants, highways, ports, airports, or industrial parks. A condition of these loans would be that American engineering and construction and equipment supply firms would exclusively build these projects.

“In essence, most of the money never leaves the United States; it is simply transferred from banking offices in Washington to engineering offices in New York, Houston or San Francisco… Despite the fact that the money is returned almost immediately to corporations who are members of the corporatocracy (the creditor), the recipient country is required to pay it all back, principle plus interest. If an EHM is completely successful, the loans are so large that the debtor is forced to default on its payments after a few years… This often includes one or more of the following: control over United Nations votes, the installation of military bases, or access to precious resources such as oil or the Panama Canal."

Origins of the term economic hit man

In a November 2004 interview with Amy Goodman on DemocracyNOW!, Perkins explained that the first real economic hit man was Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., the grandson of former US President Theodore Roosevelt, who, in 1953, overthrew the democratically elected government of Iranian head of state Mohammed Mossadegh, and replaced him with a totalitarian government led by Reza Pahlavi, otherwise known as the Shah of Iran. Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. was so successful at doing this without any military intervention, (instead, simply by spending millions of dollars to foment a domestic overthrow) that forces in the CIA realized they had stumbled upon a good model.

“At that point, we understood that this idea of economic hit man was an extremely good one. We didn’t have to worry about the threat of war with Russia when we did it this way. The problem with that was that Roosevelt was a C.I.A. agent. He was a government employee. Had he been caught, we would have been in a lot of trouble. It would have been very embarrassing. So, at that point, the decision was made to use organizations like the C.I.A. and the N.S.A. to recruit potential economic hit men like me and then send us to work for private consulting companies, engineering firms, construction companies, so that if we were caught, there would be no connection with the government.”

Contemporary economic hit men

Despite reports of their demise, EHMs are not only still active but proliferating. These days specialized EHMs work at the behest of corporate conglomerates like Monsanto, McDonalds, and Nike. Their job is to strike deals that benefit their specific corporations.

Bolivian President Evo Morales and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez both report being approached by EHMs, and in the end, were the victims of failed coups by EHMs and their more sinister replacements, jackals.

In a 2005 radio address, Chavez referred to Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by name, saying that economic hit men approached him at one point. He said he was offered funds from the IMF if he agreed to surveillance flights and the presence of US advisers. Even though he refused their offers, he said, these economic hit men did not give up and tried to exert pressure through weak government officials, legislators and even military officers around him, eventually leading to the failed coup of 2002.

Sources

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Author: John Perkins & Charles Shaw

Economic Hitman

This term has been reserved for John Perkins.

Economy

A people's or nation's economy is traditionally defined as its method for allocating scarce resources; who gets what, and when? There are a great many theories as to how to answer the question of allocation, from capitalist theories of supposedly meritocratic disbursement, to more egalitarian-based systems based on theoretical need such as socialism. Beyond the question of allocation, economic systems share some fundamental similarities.

Scarcity and abundance

Of primary importance, an economy is traditionally framed in terms of its scarcity, not its abundance, and especially as this relates to the human race, not by any ecological or planetary measurement. To illustrate, breathable air, a necessary good, is not finite in meaningful terms, and hence has no price. It is readily available to all. It is abundant. Thus, as abundance increases, all things being equal, scarcity is reduced, and the economy should necessarily be smaller. It is not surprising that in many indigenous cultures where all imagined needs and wants could be met by available resources, that there was necessarily little or no economy. This is not the world we inhabit, obviously, as additional needs and wants are identified or manufactured to create a “larger” economy (and hence, an increase in perceived scarcity). The greater the economy, the greater the power and control of those who can fill the scarcity, be it perceived or legitimate.

Resource flows

Secondly, as a measure of the allocation of scarce resources, economic indicators tend to look only at flows, and to disregard stocks of wealth, especially those that escaped the original definition of a people's economy. Flows can often be increased dramatically in the short term to make the stock of supposed economic “wealth” appear to increase. Any resource used before it is naturally replenished is a drawdown of a people's true wealth, though scarcity has increased and the economy will be said to have “grown.” As one example among thousands, poisoning water through agricultural or resource extraction run-off makes fresh water scarce, leading to the need of the people to pay more for the scarce need. The extraction and the degradation has, in conventional terms, made the economy “grow,” but only by drawing down the people's long term stock of wealth, and by making an abundant resource scarce. For a metaphor, imagine a family that owns their home, but mortgages it and uses the money to buy huge quantities of junk food. Their health and wealth has declined, but their economy (as measured as a flow of money) has increased.

An economy cannot grow infinitely, as the amount of replenishable resources is limited. However, this does not mean that a people cannot live with all their needs and wants met. A just economy recognizes what these resources are, how much of each can be used, and determines how to distribute them in a fair and sustainable way. Since traditional definitions of economy rely on scarcity and fail to acknowledge resource limits, it is necessary to redefine what a given people's allocation system is.

Additional resources

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Authors: Stephen & Rebekah Hren

Ecopsychology

Ecopsychology explores the relationship between humans and nature, specifically involving this relationship’s influence on mental health, environmental health, and spirituality.

The core of ecopsychology is the belief that humans and the environment are deeply interconnected, and that needs and health of one should best be explored by examining and responding to the needs of the other as well. Without the health of the environment humans are unable to thrive, and thus human treatment of and relationship with the environment can be seen as a reflection of human treatment and perception of the self. Disconnection with nature will result in decreased mental health, instability, and delusions, which will lead to self-destruction concurrent with environmental degradation.

Main tenets of ecopsychology

Ecopsychology can be broken down into three main tenets, according to psychologist John Davis:

  • There is a deeply intertwined and reciprocal relationship between humans and nature, often manifesting as home, mother, siblings, or self
  • The illusion of separation between humans and nature leads to suffering
  • Opening to the connection between humans and nature leads to healing

Origin of the term ecopsychology

The term ecopsychology first emerged from Theodore Roszak's book Voice of the Earth (1992), which called for a need for new methodologies to understand human treatment of the earth, and find more effective ways to prevent environmental degradation. Ecopsychology grew out of the necessity for a new paradigm in western psychological analysis that recognizes the limits of technocratic solutions in addressing issues and relationships which cannot be examined through a body of thought or ‘expert analysis’ because they exist in the realm of ‘experiencing’ and ‘being’.

Ecopsychology and the environment

The realm of ecopsychology explores how a person’s level of connection with, view of, separation from, or dominance over the environment will affect mental health, views of self-identity, treatment of others, and treatment of the environment. The importance of this relationship is the foundation of therapeutic methodologies utilizing nature and outdoors for healing, such as ecotherapy, wilderness therapy, shamanistic healing modalities, and other earth-based therapies that involve immersion into the outdoors and deep exploration of the inherent human-nature connection for the purpose of healing.

Ecopsychologists believe that “environmental crisis is a crisis of consciousness” [21], that our environmental issues are driven by unhealed emotions and psychological states, and vice versa. A lack of access to healthy environment can drive social and mental unbalance. Ecopsychologists thus explore the role of nature in healthy development starting at a young age, and often work with people and cultures that feel deep pain, anxiety, and despair due to environmental destruction, species abuse, and loss of sacred places.

Ecopsychologists often stress the importance of activism, as establishing mental and ecological balance can only be achieved through experiential methodologies, not just the act of thinking and analysis. Establishing a reciprocal relationship of giving and receiving with nature is essential, and a large body of work in ecopsychology deals with prescribing methodologies for people to become better caretakers of the environment, as well as identifying the changes that need to be made in psychological and social beliefs in order for a global shift toward sustainability to take place.

The realm of ecopsychology involves studies in environmental conservation, environmental philosophy, psychology, activism, social justice, ecological development, sustainable living practices, wilderness immersion, spirituality, transcendentalism, poetry, and other art focused on the aliveness of nature in humans.

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Author: Shena Turlington

Ecotherapy

Ecotherapy is exposure to nature and the outdoors as a form or component of psychotherapy. This type of therapy is based on the premises of ecopsychology, which explores the relationships between mental, environmental, and spiritual health.

Methodologies of ecotherapy

Ecotherapy can involve a variety of methodologies to deepen a person’s relationship with the natural environment and restore mental and emotional balance. Some methodologies include indigenous rites of passage and rituals, shamanic counseling, wilderness therapy such as vision quests or survival training, and simple acts of gardening, nature meditation, or walking outdoors. These methodologies are based on the belief of an interconnected relationship between humans and the environment and the inability to study or heal one apart from the other. Often ecotherapy is centered around eradicating beliefs of human superiority over or separateness from the environment.

Access to green space

Studies have shown that simple access to green space can greatly reduce recovery time for patients or improve worker productivity [22] [[23]. One study performed by Mind, a mental health charity, found that when subjects with mental health problems were sent to exercise either in woodlands and grasslands or in an indoor mall, 71% of those exposed to the green space experienced decreased levels of depression and 90% reported increased self esteem, while 22% of those indoors experiences increased levels of depression and 44% decreased self esteem. [24]

Studies in ecotherapy greatly support initiatives in sustainable development, such as building codes and green certification requirements for access to green space, biodiversity, and high atmospheric quality in communities and buildings such as hospitals, schools, and offices.

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Author: Shena Turlington

Elites

Elites

Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice efforts can generally be defined as advancing equal and fair access to the environments in which people live, work, worship, and play; supporting equal protection under the law and just enforcement of all environmental regulations.

Environmental justice involves rectifying the disproportionate burdens select communities have suffered as a result of the placement of environmental hazards. Environmental justice seeks to highlight and rectify the inequitable distribution of natural resources and the disproportionate placement of environmental toxins through grassroots activism and legal action.

The environmental movement in the United States has traditionally focused on resource conservation and species preservation, while international efforts have been more expansive and incorporated the concept of environmental justice. The United States has seen an increasing inclusion of environmental justice within the framework of the environmental movement since the late 1960s.

Environmental racism

Environmental racism is the social injustice represented by the disproportionately large number of health and environmental risks cast upon communities of color. Historically, communities of color have been unable to accrue sufficient financial, political, and legal resources to organize and oppose the siting of toxic facilities. Polluting industries are also attracted to low-income and neighborhoods of color because land values, labor, and other costs of doing business are lower. Globally, this can be seen in actions such as the export of electronic waste from developed nations to developing ones. Companies may perceive these communities to be the paths of least resistance.

Predicated on the acknowledgment of environmental racism, environmental justice defines environmental rights as civil rights. In the United States, the Civil Rights movement laid the groundwork for environmental justice through the use of litigation and mass movements as instruments of change. National attention was brought to these struggles in 1982 when residents of Warren County, North Carolina, protested plans to situate a toxic waste landfill in their community. The landfill was to store soil contaminated by 30,000 gallons of oil containing Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) that had been illegally sprayed along roadsides in 14 North Carolina counties. PCBs are persistent organic pollutants that do not easily degrade and accumulate in the tissue of animals and humans at higher rates than can be absorbed and eliminated. At the time, Warren County, chosen from ninety proposed sites, had the highest percentage of African-American residents in the state. The county was 64% black, and, out of North Carolina’s 100 counties, ranked 97th in per capita income.

The Warren County struggle was the catalyst for the landmark 1987 “Toxic Waste and Race” report compiled by the United Church of Christ (UCC) Commission for Racial Justice. In this report, Reverend Benjamin Chavis Jr. originated the term "environmental racism,” defined as racial discrimination in the official sanctioning of the life-threatening presence of poisons and pollutants in minority communities through strategic siting, government policy, unequal enforcement of laws and regulations, and the exclusion of minority stakeholders from mainstream environmental groups, decision-making boards, commissions and regulatory bodies. The UCC study highlighted the direct correlation between the location of hazardous waste sites and minority populations. More recently, the United Church of Christ released an update of its original report Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty: 1987-2007. The study reaffirmed that race and place matter. Significant racial and socio-economic disparities persist in the placement of hazardous waste facilities and polluting industries. Legal remediation is inconsistent, and communities of color and low-income communities continue to face unequal protection under the law.

Environmental justice and environmentalists

The environmental justice movement is comprised of people who do not typically identify themselves as “environmentalists.” These citizens, grassroots organizers, and advocates have a vested stake in the environment but may not participate in organizations exclusively dedicated to nature conservation. While environmental groups have dedicated themselves to highlighting the plights of species extinction and climate change, the environmental justice movement strives to put a human face on these issues and address the preservation of communities through the inclusion of local stakeholders.

Environmental justice and climate change

Recent environmental events demonstrate that the struggle for environmental justice is ongoing and amassing greater interest. The United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2007 sought to develop a road map to tackle climate change but failed to set binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and used market mechanisms as the primary means of change. Because agrarian-based developing nations are most vulnerable to climate disruptions, these official decisions spawned sideline discussions among activists working to increase civilian participation and define just climate parameters and policies. The growing green-jobs movement expands environmental justice and uses employment as an instrument of social change, working to revitalize low-income communities and communities of color through the transformation of blue-collar jobs and the creation of localized jobs in renewable energy, recycling, and other environmental industries.

Environmental justice requires us to rethink our relationship with our own and neighboring communities and expand our understanding of the environment; it is as much about saving people as preserving wildlife. The struggle for clean air, clean soil, and clean water benefits everyone. Acknowledging and understanding political and social divisions of race, class, and gender are fundamental to shifting the global organization of environmental inequality and justice for all.

See also

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Author: Simran Sethi

Ethical Markets

Markets cannot function for long without trust, transparency and contract law, and are usually created by governments as a social contract. This contradicts the idea of an invisible hand proposed by Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations (1776).

Markets are not part of the natural world, analogous to the forces such as gravity, studied by physicists. Neither do markets derive from God. Instead, markets are a creation of humans, as part of our "propensity to barter" since ancient times, as described in The Politics of the Solar Age (1981, 1988, pages 160-162). Exchange and trading by humans is a recurrent activity throughout our history (e.g., the Kula Ring described by Bronislaw Malinowski in his Argonauts of the Western Pacific,1922). Karl Polanyi describes in Primitive, Archaic and Modern Economics (1968) how early markets used mediums of exchange, e.g., shells, cattle, tally sticks and other forerunners of money. Barter is becoming more prevalent in today's Information Age as facilitated by websites such as Craigslist, Freecycle and many others.

Move from local markets

Markets were local and decentralized until they were nationalized in the 1600s by the British Parliament in the Enclosure Laws, as described by Polanyi in his The Great Transformation (1944). (see also Creating Alternative Futures (1978, 1996)). Kirkpatrick Sale in Human Scale (1980) traces the effects of expansion of markets in industrial gigantism. Once markets became de-coupled from the social and cultural bonds of small-scale communities in local village squares and town centres, they lost their ethical moorings provided by face-to-face contacts and personal relationships. The more the scale of markets grew, the more abstract their dealings, the greater the temptations grow. Players could hide the social and environmental consequences of production and exchange of commodities, and these social costs grew in lockstep. This was a key insight of E.F. Schumacher in his Small is Beautiful (1973) as well as Mildred Loomis, a leader in local community renewal, in her Decentralism (1980) published by the School of Living Press, York, Pennsylvania.

Markets were free from the moral constraints of community and the empathy humans can feel due to the mirror cells in our brains that allow us to experience what others experience (codified by all major religions in the Golden Rule). As Adam Smith noted, markets must operate under two conditions:

  • buyers and sellers meet in market places with equal power and equal information
  • no harmful effects be inflicted on any innocent bystanders not part of the transaction.

In today's industrial societies, there are very few markets where these conditions are met.

Financial markets

Clearly, markets outgrew Adam Smith's conditions, and in the 1980s, financial markets were de-regulated by US President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This began our current form of globalization. These new global markets not only for goods, but also for services – even the bogus "services" of finance – were inherently unstable. A global casino emerged – devoid of any regulations, since even UN agencies, the World Bank, the IMF and international trade agreements lagged behind the speed of electronic communications, satellites and the internet. Today, formerly paper and now electronic assets are traded in nanoseconds. Fifty percent of all Wall Street trading is now done by computer programs, and $4 trillion of currencies are traded everyday on computerized currency exchanges. No wonder these runaway markets exploded and led to financial collapse.

It has been no surprise to analysts (see Paradigms in Progress, Building a Win-Win World, The United Nations: Policy and Financing Alternatives and "Foreign Exchange Transaction Reporting System (FXTRS)" Futures, Elsevier Scientific, UK, 1996, as well as recent articles like "Tax to the Rescue" Asia Times Online, March 24, 2009, and Policy Innovations, March 18, 2009) that this global casino would collapse of its own absurdities. The extent of abstraction from reality of these computerized markets is illustrated by the staggering errors in modeling markets by mathematicians. These so called "quants" ran hedge funds and dreamed up "financial innovations" like credit-default swaps (CDSs) and collateralized debt-obligations (CDOs). The insane size of these credit derivative contracts reached $685 trillion in December 2008 (Bank for International Settlements, Basel, Switzerland, December 2008) compared with real world GDP of only $69.5 trillion (CIA World Factbook, based on purchasing power parity (ppp) for 2008). After the financial collapse of 2008-2009, the reality of how markets must return to the real production and exchange processes still occurring in millions of communities and villages around the world became apparent.

A return to ethical markets

The need for ethical markets, embodying those original values of trust, transparency, contracts and providing actual products and real services to consumers, is clear. While governments are limited in their ability to allocate resources, their role as norm-setters, rule-makers, enforcers and overseers of markets is essential. Markets cannot govern themselves. In truth, all societies are mixtures of markets and regulations: rules and markets are two sides of the same coin.

Additional resources

  • Ethical Markets - news and perspective on socially responsible investing, global corporate citizenship and lifestyles of health and sustainability

See also

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Author: Hazel Henderson

Ethics

Ethics

Externalities

Externalities are a technical term in classical economics: they are those consequences of actions which are not reflected in market prices. Non-economists might think that this must include almost all of human activity, and that to make those external to your study---special cases, as it were---can only be proof of the narrowness of classical economics. The notion that externalities are exceptional, however, is very important in the claim that a small-government world of rule of law and property rights can deal with the impacts of social interaction.

In a testament to the power of economics in policy-making circles, the term has become a standard way to think of environmental questions as well as all sorts of quality of life issues. An interesting view of the evolution of the language of environmentalism is offered by Mike Hulme.

A.C. Pigou provides the classical analysis, and his analysis seems to call for wide-ranging taxation by government to correct market failures. Ronald Coase was the very influential Chicago economist who produced some examples of externalities which did not require taxation to sort out. His proposition was that as long as it is easy for those affected by outcomes to do deals with those causing the outcomes, externality problems could be fixed.

Environmental problems are often extremely diffuse. How can future generations do deals with current generations to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases? Whether a tax to limit consumption today in the interests of the future is clearly not a technocratic matter, but a collective ethical and political choice. Despite such obvious difficulties with Coase and Pigou, their analyses have been very influential in the development of market mechanisms, like rights-based cap and trade policies.

An alternative view is to consider so-called externalities to be pervasive aspects of human action. What is the right attitude towards others---and more broadly other life---when nothing that is done has effects that can be contained? Such a view would tend to emphasise respect rather than freedom.

Additional resources

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Author: Tony Curzon Price

Fair Trade

Fair trade is a term used to describe a system of trading where each of the participants in the supply chain gets a fair price for the part they play in the chain without any party using their buying power to distort the relationships.

In a narrower sense fair trade is normally used to describe a relationship between poor commodity producers in the developing world and commodity buyers; a relationship where some buyers exploit their position of strength by buying at an unfair price. Other buyers may impose conditions on their continued purchase of a commodity; for example by insisting that the producer buy seeds and necessary fertilizer from them at inflated prices.

A number of fair trade organizations have been set up to encourage and ensure a fair trade deal is struck between the commodity producer and the buyer. Typically this fair trade relationship ensures the producers receive prices that cover the costs of sustainable production, advance credit, longer term trade relationships, and decent working conditions for hired labour. Those commodities that are fairly traded can then state this on their products which gives the end consumer the option to buy them and so encourage fairly traded products and reinforce the benefits of fair trade. To make it even easier for the consumer a system of labelling has been established which clearly identifies the product as having been fairly traded.

The idea of fair trade is strongly linked to the Trade Justice Movement.

Additional resources

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Author: Peter Marcham

Fear

Fear is one of the principal factors determining political decisions throughout the world and contributes readily to anger and violence. Fear is easily exploited by politicians during times of insecurity and makes peaceful and progressive solutions harder to find. Fear, more perhaps than any other emotion, impedes change and healthy development, even where the need for it is clearly understood.

Political cultures often insist that politicians appear strong and certain of themselves in order to provide leadership in a frightening world. Their consequent unwillingness to admit to any uncertainty or doubt surely impedes clear debate on complex issues and blocks wise decision-making.

Fear and conflict

War and conflict is often brought about or worsened by fear and manipulation of fear. Sometimes it may seem reasonable and necessary, but a fearful response can easily become self-fulfilling. Less fearful and more peaceful approaches to issues of potential conflict could save countless lives and do more to create global trust, goodwill and security than any number of military operations. If we could act and make policy with less fear and more love, as all spiritual traditions urge us to do, then surely the world would be a far safer place.

In addition to strategic questions, policies relating to crime and punishment are also often overshadowed and influenced by a heavy weight of fear. In part because of this, they then focus more on punishment than on prevention and rehabilitation in attempting to reduce criminal behaviour. In the same way, many troubled children are neglected and ignored when they need help and then, through fear, demonised and punished when it may almost be too late to help them.

Personal fears and society

Clearly there is a strong link between fear as it affects societies and as it affects individuals. We project inner fears onto the world around us, particularly onto the unknown, the unfamiliar and the other. While unscrupulous leaders frequently take advantage of our fears, the most remarkable and admired leaders are often those who are lacking in fear. They understand the interconnectedness of life and thus act lovingly without appearing to fear for their own security. They trust that others will support them when necessary and they speak their mind clearly and courageously, even if they are isolated or ridiculed as a result.

In a less fearful world there might be more people with a strong sense of authenticity and empathy, which provide protection against competitive and consumerist pressures and against the urge to seek constant movement and novelty. Such people would be more resistance to advertising, which notoriously plays on our fears of inadequacy compared to others or to some supposed ideal.

A fearful and mistrustful person or society is likely to cling for security to all that is familiar. Fear of losing that security can lead in turn to conflict or to clinging and difficult relationships. Those who cling to dogmatic beliefs frequently come into conflict with others, may be highly intolerant of bold questioning and may nurture fear of non-conformity and of outsiders.

The first task in creating a less fearful and mistrustful world would surely be to ensure that as many children as possible spend their early years in a loving atmosphere of confidence and security. Meanwhile, we could choose to examine our fears and to see what they are really about and we could consciously seek political leaders who are not influenced by fear and whose manifestos would pursue more peaceful and optimistic paths.

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Author: James Sainsbury

Feminism

The challenge of defining feminism was encapsulated by the celebrated English writer Rebecca West when she remarked, “I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” But if feminism is notoriously difficult to define, most would agree that it is based on the struggle for equal rights and legal protection for women.

Thankfully, much progress has been made in transforming deeply entrenched assumptions about gender, and the specific human rights of women are increasingly accepted within societies; including the right to have control over and decide freely on matters related to sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.

However, these hard-won rights are not only insufficiently upheld in many countries – they are also threatened by demographic, cultural and economic change. For example, the current financial crisis has particular consequences for women. The effect of free trade on women has been considerable, especially in developing nations where women are seen as cheap labour and drafted in to low skilled, low paid, flexible work. Despite social and employment rights in the EU to help women combine work and family life – flexible working, more maternity rights and part-time work - women remain over-represented in precarious jobs which make them particularly vulnerable.

The dominant male culture of the global political economy continues to exclude women and the feminist perspective from key decision making processes on issues such as financial and economic management, free trade and development, conflict resolution and health. Women and children often suffer the worst effects of conflict, poverty and humanitarian catastrophes, yet women are under-represented in most government and commercial bodies. Women still carry out the majority of unpaid work in the home and, on average, work considerably more hours than men.

The barriers to women’s political participation are numerous and pervasive: expectations to conform to stereotypes, undervalued contributions, lack of confidence, resources or access to claim positions of power, the patriarchal bias of political parties, structures, systems and procedures. The threat of gendered and sexual violence is ever present. And even in developed societies, women are often not taken seriously, or paid equally, in their work.

Feminism is about encouraging profound cultural shifts towards more equal and flexible definitions of gender, putting women at the heart of decision-making, adequately addressing the specific needs of women through government measures to eradicate poverty, provide good health care, and counter negative portrayals and sexual objectification of women in the media.

Feminism is very much about men too - both sexes benefit from more flexible definitions of gender. Men can feel equally trapped by strict paradigms of masculinity which bear little resemblance to the reality of their feelings about themselves. For example, many men have been exasperated at governments’ lack of action to address the disparity between the sexes when it comes to childcare – given the assumption that women are always the primary carers.

Measures to encourage equal shouldering of family responsibilities are certainly crucial to the wide reaching feminist agenda, as are strategies to encourage female participation in politics, improve conviction rates for sexual violence, give women in the developing world more control over their fertility, and provide specific support networks and gendered health facilities for those that need them.

Additional resources

See also

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Author: Caroline Lucas

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a process of letting go of the anger and resentment for a perceived wrong-doing or debt. The International Forgiveness Institute distinguishes several kinds of forgiveness:

Moral

  • It is a response to an injustice (a moral wrong).
  • It is turning to the "good" in the face of this wrongdoing.

Goodwill

  • Merciful restraint from pursuing resentment or revenge. Generosity or offering good things such as: attention, time, remembrances on holidays.
  • Moral Love or contributing to the betterment of the other.

Paradoxical

  • It is the foregoing of resentment or revenge when the wrongdoer's actions deserve it and giving the gifts of mercy, generosity and love when the wrongdoer does not deserve them.
  • As we give the gift of forgiveness we ourselves are healed.

Beyond duty

  • A freely chosen gift (rather than a grim obligation).
  • The overcoming of wrongdoing with good.

They point out that forgiveness is not denial or ignoring the wrong-doing, condoning it, pretending it didn't happen or that the person wasn't really responsible. Forgiveness isn't morally superior and no compensation is required for forgiveness. It is not condemning.

Additional resources

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Author: J Kim Wright

Free Expression

Free Expression

Fundamentalism

Strictly speaking, fundamentalist is a term applied to a subset of conservative Protestant Christians. It derives from a set of pamphlets, The Fundamentals, written in the United States shortly before the First World War, and ultimately deriving from denominational orthodoxies of the seventeenth century, and revivalist movements in America and Britain during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Among the cornerstones of Christian belief designated by The Fundamentals are the divinity of Christ, his atoning sacrifice on the cross, the Virgin Birth, and the inerrancy of the Bible interpreted in a literalistic fashion. The Fundamentals were published to shore up the faith in response to the perceived threats posed by scientific advances and other forms of cultural change.

Some more liberal Christian groups had reacted with flexibility to the discoveries of Darwin and of early biblical scholarship, reasoning that the creation narratives and other scriptural passages should be interpreted allegorically. To many conservatives, though, such revisionism was profoundly unsettling. Their hardline reaction illustrates the paradox that fundamentalism is a product of the modern era that it deplores, rather than a genuine expression of Christian tradition. For this reason the number of fundamentalists did not decline during the twentieth century in line with the spread of education and other developments. On the contrary, fundamentalist groups mutated, and tended to resist change with ever-greater vehemence. As a research document produced at the University of Chicago in 1988 put it, “fundamentalism is an approach, or set of strategies, by which beleaguered believers attempt to preserve their identity as a people or group by a selective retrieval of doctrines and beliefs...”. [25] Disputes over the teaching of evolution in schools, among other examples, are thus at root symptoms of a broader conflict about who gets to define a way of life.

Islamic fundamentalism

During recent decades, the fundamentalist label has increasingly been applied across the board to those – whether Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist or atheist – who are convinced of the infallibility of their world view, and liable to demonise those who disagree with them. So-called Islamic fundamentalism has received most attention, despite a problem over definitions. It stems from Wahhabism, a Saudi Arabian-based movement with an especially conservative understanding of sharia law. As historians of Islam have pointed out, however, there is no tradition of liberal or modernist interpretation of the Qur’an against which conservatives can react. The violent repudiation of the West seen in groups such as al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan is more a political matter premissed on a simple (and, to critics, highly simplistic) equation between Western power and alleged imperialism.

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Author: Rupert Shortt

Gaia

Gaia, originally the ancient Greek name for the Earth conceived as mother-goddess, today refers to the insight that Earth as a whole is a living, self-maintaining system. This idea was put forward in the 1960s by British scientist James Lovelock to explain how the extraordinary mix of unstable gases manages to persist in the Earth’s atmosphere. The answer, he proposed, is that living organisms provide a constant flow of gases to maintain its improbable balance. Taking the suggestion of novelist William Golding, Lovelock christened his vision of a living Earth as Gaia –– a fateful decision that proved controversial, but gave his radical idea a double life as both scientific theory and an imaginative vision challenging the modern image of machine nature.

In this post-Darwinian understanding of Earth’s history, living creatures have done more than adapt to conditions on Earth; they have played an active role in creating and maintaining the world we know. Not unlike the human body, our planet continually sustains and renews itself through a global metabolism that depends on living organisms as well as chemical and geological processes to keep it suitable for life. Besides maintaining the atmosphere and the planet’s climate, various parts of the system also shield the Earth from the sun’s dangerous radiation and recycle water and four nutrients vital to life: carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorous.

Lovelock’s Gaian framework has helped counter the rigid specialization within science and has fostered the study of the Earth as an interconnected living system, but its most lasting impact may lie beyond science. The conviction that the Earth itself is alive in some sense has been expressed through the ages in various religious and cultural traditions, including our own during the Renaissance. In Timaeus, a dialogue describing the physical nature of the world, Plato describes the Earth as “that single living creature...of which all other living creatures, severally and generically, are portions.” Now this ancient and archetypal perception of a creative, dynamic, living Earth has returned through the door of modern science.

The Gaian story of life and Earth as an ongoing collaboration advances a far more attractive and optimistic vision than the modern era’s metaphor of world as machine, which portrays a passive, deterministic alienating nature that few would be eager to claim as kin. The same has been true for some recent versions of evolutionary theory, which, in the spirit of the modern era, view life primarily through the lens of competition and the metaphor of selfish genes. Through Gaia as metaphor, it is possible to glimpse the organic unity of the Earth and be awed by our own existence within this rich, complex, and wondrous whole. It also opens the possibility for a new cosmology or worldview that embraces nature and humanity in a single common order, providing a foundation for a new cultural map that can guide us in the planetary era.

Additional resources

  • Exploring the Gaia Hypothesis - a presentation by James Lovelock and Bill Donohoe, excerpted from Gaia: The Practical Science of Planetary Medicine.

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Author: Dianne Dumanoski

Gift Economy

In its simplest form, the gift economy is not hard to comprehend: it is an arrangement for the transfer of goods or services without an agreed method of quid pro quo. Indeed, there may be no expectation or mechanism of exchange whatsoever; hence, the "gift" aspect of the interaction.

But things get complicated quickly. Application of gift economy principles varies widely; and there is, perhaps, considerable disagreement about what constitutes a gift economy transaction. Is every act of generosity, in effect, a gift economy transaction? Does every transfer of goods and services that lacks a predetermined price or definitive method of exchange qualify? The assessment is sometimes complicated and confounding.

Essential elements of a gift economy transaction

There are three essential features to any gift economy transaction. The first is that there is an act of selflessness on the part of the producer of the goods or services. This does not necessarily mean that they intend to confer the benefit without remuneration, though that is often the case; but there must be some element of altruism that transcends calculations of self-interest as judged within the narrow perspective of the transaction itself.

The second element of a gift economy transaction is that it entails an element of free play in the transactional structure – particularly in opposition to the dominant modes of exchange in the prevailing market economy – which fundamentally alters the way in which the giver and the recipient measure value. Thus, while in the market economy prices are usually established by the provider of the goods or services, in the gift economy the roles are often reversed, with the recipient shouldering the responsibility to place a value on the benefit. Most importantly, the gift economy calls into consideration larger social objectives extending beyond the intrinsic value of the goods or services. Market-based exchange tends to focus on the inherent value of the product – measured by the material conditions of production, relative functionality or emotional satisfaction, and relative abundance or scarcity – and therefore tends to externalize both the true social costs and instrumental social benefits associated with consumption. By contrast, the producer in the gift economy is motivated by a systemic faith that giving freely strengthens the basic social fabric, benefiting everyone, even if the transaction is quite limited, specific, and without any overtly social purpose.

The final component is, perhaps, more aspirational than actualized. Ideally, a gift economy transaction is not a single transaction at all; it aims to be a vector of giftings and re-giftings. Whereas market economy transactions tend to be bound within a single, reciprocal exchange, gift economy transactions involve catalyzing a process of selfless giving which induces the recipient of the benefits to, in turn, confer a benefit selflessly on another. This chain-reaction quality of the gift economy is commonly referred to by the phrase, “Pay it forward,” meaning that the moral obligation of the recipient is not to remunerate the giver, but rather to become the giver in an ongoing altruistic process.

Illustrations of gift economy activity

There are a number of transaction models that are said to fall within the gift economy. How well do they fare against the rules of recognition described above? The assessment is sometimes complicated and confounding.

Charitable Donation: unreciprocated philanthropic gifts of money, goods, or service. This mode displays the purest of altruism and a clear conferring of economic (or economically measurable) benefit. Donations of time or resources are clearly gift economy transactions. Ironically, these transactions generally evoke the gift economy ethos in less overt ways than the more contrived, innovative modes.

Collectivism: the common pooling of the society’s resources, redistributed without regard to contribution. Early collectivist hunter-gatherer societies are sometimes considered gift economies, but these forms of sharing are probably best described as embracing socialist ideals, rather than gift economy principles. Some collectivism falls nicely within the gift economy model, however; for example, the North American First Nations Potlatch tradition or its modern, culturally agnostic, role-reversed namesake, the potluck dinner party. The differing levels of contribution people make to these collaborations reflect their differing assessment of the value of the events as well as differing decisions about how they will participate within the social networks.

Cooperativism: where individuals (rather than the entire social network, as in collectivism) conspire to create things of social value, made openly available and free-of-charge. Famous examples include the open-source software movement, wikis like Wikipedia (and this site), citizen journalism portals, and collective volunteerism projects like CharityFocus.

Donation Requested: where goods or services are ostensibly gifted, but come with moral suasion for remuneration. Does this mode more closely resemble charitable donation, pay it forward, or pay as you will? A case-by-case assessment would be required to pass judgment.

Pay As You Will: where the buyer, not the seller, sets the price of exchange. While this mode of establishing value may have an element of free play about it, this alone does not bring it within the gift economy. The expectation of exchange nullifies the gifting quality of the transfer and the focus remains on the intrinsic value of the goods or services, not on broader social utility. And not all pay as you will systems are transgressive of the market economy. Consider, for example, the common practice of tipping.

Pay It Forward: where the consumer receives a benefit with the tactic understanding that payment to the producer will be applied to the giving of similar benefits to others in the future. There can be legitimate debate about whether this conceit carriers a transaction beyond the pay as you will model. In cases where meaningful social contribution is significant factor in the valuation exercise and the activity involves systemic participation rather than transactional participation, this mode is an archetype of the gift economy. Where the communitarian intention of the producer, the instrumental social value in the mind of the recipient, and the incentives or inspiration to carry the gifting forward are weaker, the gift economy bona fides are also weaker and the antithetical element of simple exchange is difficult to overlook.

Portion of Proceeds Donated: where the seller pledges to donate only a part of the proceeds of the sale, usually some or all of the profit margin. This model demonstrates the difficulty of identifying gift economy transactions. Is the gift component of the transaction simply a marketing ploy to increase the volume of sales, presently or in the future, or does it represent genuine philanthropy? Variants on this mode include such things as the difference between socially progressive retooling of production or distribution methods to achieve meaningful environmental sustainability and greenmail, the exploiting of token environmentalism as an advertising gimmick. Whether a transaction under this model qualifies as gift economy depends on the true selfless intent of the producer, which be may difficult for the purchaser to divine.

Proceeds of Sale Donated: where the seller gifts both their capital contribution and profit to a charitable or social cause. This presents a fascinating example because, although it is clearly an exchange-based interaction between buyer and seller, it meets all the criteria of a gift economy transaction.

Lessons of the gift economy

The common thread among the various modes of gift economy transactions is that the giver of good or services contributes as much to a systemic appreciation of communitarianism and interdependence as to the individual recipient of the benefit.

The gift economy represents an optimistic perspective, engendering attitudes of compassion and generosity, favoring a outlook of relative abundance over relative scarcity, and based on faith that others will also be motivated to favor the common good over individual advantage, at least from time-to-time and in ways that are socially significant.

The gift economy shifts perspective in another important way, forcing a reappraisal of the manner in which we think about and measure value. This awareness can carry over into to normal market transactions as well, sparking consideration of the consequential costs and benefits of specific acts of material consumption which are otherwise externalized from the price.

Finally, the gift economy reminds us of the interconnection of our lives to other human lives, to non-human lives, and to the non-living world. It offers a broader perspective on the ripple effects of our other-regarding actions, even if the specific consequences remain mostly invisible to us. It demonstrates, transaction-by-transaction, that each of us has the power to positively influence collective behavior within our communities and throughout the world.

See also

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Authors: Mark Jacobs & Bill Miller

Global Change

Global change came into use in the late 1980s as humans became as a planetary force affecting the basic functioning of the overall Earth system. Previously, the change wrought by human activity had been local or regional in extent. While this term has a history in other fields, in the context of the global environment, it refers to linked planetary-scale changes in environment and human society described in the 1990 report A Study of Global Change [26] that marked the beginning of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme.

The more familiar term climate change is but one symptom of modern civilization’s new and problematic relationship with Earth. Global change is a far more extensive and complex phenomenon, stemming from disruption not only of the atmosphere and climate, but of many other interacting processes and components of the Earth’s metabolism that keep the planet hospitable for humans and the rest of life.

Human transformation of nature

Since living things inevitably alter their environment in the process of living, human transformation of nature is not itself new. But with the advent of the modern industrial economy propelled by abundant, cheap, concentrated energy in fossil fuels, the human enterprise over the past two centuries has been transforming Earth on a scale and at a speed that is mind-boggling and unprecedented.

In this time, the human population has increased by more than sixfold from 1 billion to approaching 7 billion, energy use has escalated more than eightyfold, and the world’s economy has grown roughly sixty-eightfold. After World War II, this transformation accelerated explosively, altering the planet as much in a single lifetime as our ancestors had since the move to agriculture and complex civilization some 10,000 years ago. It took all of human history for the global economy to reach the 1950 level of $5 trillion; in this decade, it expanded that much in a single year. This explosive, exponential growth in the scale of the world economy made humans a planetary force and agent of global change.

Humanity confronted the first life-threatening breakdown of a planetary system in the mid-1980s when a yawning hole suddenly appeared in the ozone layer over Antarctica caused by man-made chemicals, a close call we survived thanks not to scientific prowess, but rather, according to Nobel chemistry laureate Paul Crutzen, to mere luck.

The growing concentration of greenhouse gases that trap heat poses a different danger. What is immediately at risk is the stable climate necessary for complex civilization. The world as we know it with agriculture, civilization, and dense human numbers emerged during an exceptional, long, tranquil period of climatic stability over the past 11,700 years. Because of humanity’s planetary impact, this benign period, known to scientists as the Holocene and described as “the long summer”, is now ending.

Additional resources

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Author: Dianne Dumanoski

Global Corporation

Global Corporation

Global Standards

If we are to have a fair, equitable, viable and sustainable form of globalization, it must include globalization of human rights, environmental protection, energy efficiency and the values codified in the sixteen principles of the Earth Charter. Therefore, global standards are necessary for all international enterprises, banks, stock exchanges, etc., to enforce the "earth ethics" now needed for human survival. These global standards for reducing pollution, increasing human welfare, health and education may also require new forms of taxation, e.g., on carbon and other pollution, waste, exploitation of virgin resources and the taxation of all cross-border stock and currency transactions. Revenues from such taxes can be collected by all countries and used to reduce income and payroll taxes

Progress toward global standards is being advanced through many agencies of the UN as well as professional and scientific bodies around the world. These include civic society organizations, such as Social Accountability International, the Global Reporting Initiative, the Association for Sustainable & Responsible Investment in Asia, the Instituto Ethos de Empresas e Responsabilidade Social and many other partner organizations of Ethical Markets Media.

Sources

  • Introduce 'Green' Taxes, Christian Science Monitor, 1990.
  • The Foreign Exchange Transaction Reporting System, Futures, Elsevier Scientific, UK, 1996.

See also

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Author: Hazel Henderson

Globalization

Globalization

Governance

Governance

Green-Collar Economy

A green-collar economy is a production economy of goods and services driven by the creation and sustaining of green-collar jobs.

Green-collar jobs, as defined by the Green For All foundation, are well-paid, career track jobs that contribute directly to preserving or enhancing environmental quality. Like traditional blue-collar jobs, green-collar jobs range from low-skill, entry-level positions to high-skill, higher-paid jobs, and include opportunities for advancement in both skills and wages.

Green-collar jobs tend to be local because many involve transforming and upgrading the immediate built and natural environment—work such as retrofitting buildings, installing solar panels, constructing transit lines, and landscaping. Green-collar jobs are in construction, manufacturing, installation, maintenance, agriculture, and many other sectors of the economy. While some green-collar jobs (e.g. wind turbine technician) are in new occupations, most are existing jobs that demand new green economy skills. For example, construction companies building and retrofitting America’s cities need workers with traditional construction skills who also have up-to-date training in energy efficiency. And employers doing solar installation need workers with conventional electrical training, in addition to specialized solar skills.

However, if a job improves the environment, but doesn’t provide a family-supporting wage or a career ladder to move low-income workers into higher-skilled occupations, it is not a green-collar job. Such would be the case with workers installing solar panels without job security or proper training, or young people pushing brooms at a green building site without opportunity for training or advancement.

Most green-collar jobs are and will be middle-skill jobs requiring more than high school, but less than a four-year degree. Clearly many PhDs, financial analysts, and engineers hold green jobs and directly contribute to the building of a green economy. But publicly-funded workforce development projects should promote green-collar jobs accessible to those with less than a university degree. These jobs represent the bulk of employer demand and range from entry-level to high-wage jobs in a multitude of industries, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, and biofuels.

Green jobs thus defined can be significantly affected by state policy and meaningfully supported by established workforce development systems. Given the exploding interest in green jobs, and the real potential for their development, present concerns include the need to consider where the lack of a trained workforce might hinder the regional development of a given industry, where state policies might be effective in shaping related employment and training programs, and where the potential size of the industry merits sustained public efforts to leverage private investment.

In sum, spurring the creation of green-collar jobs in the community means building a sustainable economy, where environmental goals go hand in hand with social and economic goals.

Sources

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Author: Van Jones and Charles Shaw

Green Politics

Green politics, sometimes known as political ecology, is a political ideology which seeks to achieve environmental sustainability, social justice and peace through inclusive and participatory democratic processes. It is informed by progressive thinking on ecology, human rights, feminism, civil liberties, respect for diversity, equality, animal rights and nonviolence. Electoral politics is not the only expression of Green politics (which also sees peaceful direct action as a legitimate tool), but it is a vital element in the process of achieving political change.

Green politics offers a profound critique of conventional economic theory, and a direct challenge to the domination of corporate power. Ecological economics, based on the recognition that a planet of finite resources cannot sustain indefinite economic growth, is at the heart of the Green political approach, together with a commitment to the policies of radical redistribution, both nationally and internationally.

Greens believe an infinitely growing capitalist economy is destroying nature, fuelling injustice and leading to an alienated way of life. Since we threaten our future if we try to live beyond what the Earth can provide, we must build a sustainable society that guarantees our long-term survival. Everyone should be entitled to basic material security. In green politics, basic needs are classed as not only the physiological needs of food, water, and shelter, but also the need for love, respect, autonomy, security, and meaningful activity within communities. The fact that many people's basic needs are not met has far reaching consequences, expressed as anxiety, insecurity, and aggressive behaviour towards others, and exploitation of the environment. These personal factors give rise to, and are perpetuated by, social institutions which actively encourage oppression, pollution, resource depletion, poverty and military conflict.

Diversity, creativity and empowerment are also core Green political values, which find expression in Green support for the promotion of The Commons, as a model for consensus-based sharing and co-operation. Open-source software, for example, can be seen as a stunning example of how both the market and the state can be bypassed by cooperative creativity.

The first Green Parties were founded in the early 1970s. In 1972, the Values Party of New Zealand became the world's first country-wide green party to contest Parliamentary seats nationally. A year later in 1973, Europe's first green party, the UK's Ecology Party, was founded. One of the most electorally successful parties has been the German Green Party, which won its first 27 seats in the Bundestag in the 1983 federal elections. There are now around 90 Green Parties around the world.

Additional resources

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Author: Caroline Lucas

Growth

The word growth, which generally refers to the development process in living things, is also the name of a political and economic ideology that makes continual expansion in the production of goods and services and ever greater material consumption the dominant aim for human society. Though typically associated with capitalism, the quest for economic growth became a universal faith embraced by nationalists, socialists, and communists alike, making it, in the words of historian J.R. McNeill, “easily the most important idea of the twentieth century.”

Over the past two centuries, the growth of the human enterprise has been explosive and utterly unprecedented, increasing ten times faster than the increase in human numbers. Modern industrial civilization brought a new, revolutionary process of self-sustained, more or less automatic growth propelled, according to historian Eric Hobsbawm, “by perpetual technological revolution and social transformation.” But what fundamentally allowed humans recently to break free of the constraints that governed previous societies was the geological legacy of fossil fuels and a new tool, the steam engine, which first unlocked the power to remake the Earth and produce great economic wealth.

Despite now inescapable evidence that the global economy is exceeding the Earth’s physical limits, establishment leaders still assume the growth can and will continue indefinitely. Advocates view growth not as a problem but rather as a panacea that can solve almost all that ails modern societies from unhappiness, poverty, and unemployment to the disruption of Earth’s life support systems. Moreover, growth appears to be necessary, though the question is still debated, for the stability of the current system, because it creates new jobs to replace those eliminated through continuous improvements in manufacturing methods and technology. If growth falters, workers lose jobs, triggering a downward recessionary spiral driven by reduced spending, collapsing consumer confidence, and even less demand. The reverse positive feedback drives a growing economy toward even more growth.

The gross world product which stood at $65 trillion in 2008, could, according to economic forecasts, reach $275 trillion by mid-century. With such a growth rate, it will be difficult if not impossible, according to an analysis by leading climate scientists, to keep heat-trapping carbon dioxide levels low enough to avoid dangerous climate change. Climate experts, therefore, judge it likely the world will face a 4 degrees C warming by 2100 and physical changes so extreme that our civilization may find it difficult, if not impossible, to adapt. Yet in mainstream efforts to find a credible strategy to prevent greenhouse gas emissions from rising to catastrophic levels, policy analysts never question continuing growth. The prominent economist Jeffrey Sachs has made the claim that better technologies will “square the circle of economic growth with sustainability” [27] but there is no credible scenario yet that can justify this belief.

In current circumstances with the existing economic system, growth has become a conundrum which confronts us with two bad choices: continue with business as usual and risk our civilization or halt growth and risk social and economic chaos and collapse.

See also

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Author: Dianne Dumanoski

Health Care

Health Care

Hegel

Hegel

Holistic

Holistic is one of those words that has come to be used as shorthand for a way of looking at the world and engaging with it that acknowledges that all that is is whole and connected; that the old mechanistic view of the world as being like a clock made up of separate parts is flawed; that individuals are a part of, and not apart from, each other and the rest of Nature.

Holistic, whole and holy

Holistic is also a word that has come to be used thoughtlessly – as if the mere use of the word was enough. Indeed, the American poet and farmer Wendell Berry once said: “Holistic is a word used by people who are too proud to say whole and too embarrassed to say holy”

If one wishes to refer to the notion of wholeness, one can use “whole” or possibly “entire”. If one wants to refer to notions of connectedness one can use words such as “interconnected” or “related”, the last of which has the advantage of suggesting “relationships” or preferably “relatingness” – since such relationships are typically dynamic, impermanent and ever in flux.

For those that see the world as divine, there is the word “holy”, which can be used to describe relationships with each other and with Nature that are governed by timeless principles of goodness, beauty and truth; by generosity, reciprocity, patience; simplicity; love and a caring for one another that is selfless. In this sense the word refers not to that which is set apart but to that of which all are a part of a common and everyday holiness.

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Author: David Cadman

Holistic Law

Holistic law is generally defined as an approach or style of practice that focuses on the whole person and the whole of the problem as a way of finding more healthy and sustainable solutions to legal problems. The whole problem or picture to a holistic lawyer would include more than just a focus on the "other side" and their contribution to the problem. It often entails a look at the lawyer's role, the client's role in the problem and solution, and the impact of the problem and solution on the community.

Holistic law practitioners often look inward to become whole themselves to better assist their clients in using the legal process to find wholeness. Often holistic lawyers take a spiritual component, exploring the unity of purpose between the seemingly opposing parties.

Some attorneys who practice in this style view holistic law as the umbrella under which other styles or approaches fit. For example, a holistic lawyer might take a preventive law approach or a collaborative law approach as part of their holistic legal problem-solving. Although this style or approach has been identified as holistic, there are a number of practitioners who practice in this style, but who are not aware of the term that identifies them. Other attorneys practicing as holistic lawyers have self-identified their approach putting holistic law or holistic lawyer on their business cards, letterhead and in their marketing.

Professor David Wexler, director of the International Alliance of Holistic Lawyers notes that holistic law is the antidote to what has become a confrontational culture that resolves little.

Additional resources

See also

  • Comprehensive Law - legal alternatives incorporating procedural justice and personal dynamics

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Author: J Kim Wright

Human Rights

Human rights is the term generally used when seeking to explain why it is right that people should be treated as of equal worth and value regardless of where they have been born, how much money they have, their gender or the colour of their skin. The idea behind the phrase is that each of us has this entitlement in view simply of our humanity. Human rights were a key building block in the construction of the post war world (emblematised in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948) and received a further impetus with the end of the Cold War and the consequent decline of socialism in 1989.

The power of the term lies in its multifaceted nature. It is most easily understood as a bundle of specific entitlements - whether to be found in national, regional or international instruments - which can be acted upon by rights-holders themselves (in litigation to enforce their rights) or on their behalf by independent agencies charged with the protection of human rights (eg, a treaty body established to police a UN treaty). The openness of the language of rights inevitably leaves some leeway as to meaning and this is why the subject is so often thought of as a legal one, with judges either being called upon at the national or regional level to determine whether democratic legislatures have acted consistently with their rights’ charters, or engaging on the international stage in ruling definitively on egregious breaches of rights in the context of an international criminal prosecution.

In the absence of an international court of human rights, however, most of the enforcement of the human rights standards set by the United Nations is done by quasi-judicial committees created by treaty or by oversight bodies established within the UN itself (eg, the Human Rights Council). Inevitably this work is sometimes controversial, with states hostile to being subjected to human rights scrutiny and with allegations of double standards often dogging the way in which such bodies discharge their human rights duties.

Some believe that human rights is not a universal idea at all but rather a creature of ‘First World’ power. This critique drew strength as a result of the United States actions during the second Bush presidency, when the protection of human rights in the world seemed to many to have become one of the rationales for military intervention. Proponents of the idea of human rights continue to wrestle with this question of how far they are prepared to go to assert the rights of others, just as they continue to strive to establish intellectual foundations for the idea that can survive in a secular as well as a religious society. In the absence of any terms as remotely as compelling in their impact on world opinion or as broad in their reach, the idea of human rights is likely to remain for some time as a vital language through which to foester the articulation of progressive ideas.

Additional resources

See also

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Author: Conor Gearty

Humanism

This simple word has been interpreted by philosophers in many ways over time and has become intertwined with the individual philosopher’s philosophical interests.

So the following tries to capture the essence: early 20th Century humanism is the belief that humans are animals driven by the basic cycle of life and needs of every animal: to eat, to sleep securely and procreate; and that within that framework they have no free will, there is no God or supernatural overlord. Paradoxically humanism in the later part of 20th Century developed into the belief that people are masters of their own destiny: humans reign supreme as they have awareness of the self and the ability to think, imagine, express ideas, empathise, take actions.

This belief relies primarily upon humankind’s capacity for reason and understanding of life through science, and the ability to take actions to shape life as we wish it to be. At an ethical level it embraces compassion and mutual respect between humans, and respect for all sentient beings.

Beyond this simple definition, there are an array of groups who have taken on board the idea of human supremacy and have included humanism in their title. These groups includes:- Religious, Educational, Secular, Liberal, Marxist and Humanist Ecology.

The latter embraces the idea of a symbiotic relationship with the natural environment: pro-actively putting human thinking, decisions, actions in the context of this relationship.

See also

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Author: Peter Marcham

Humanitarian Law

Humanitarian Law

Humanizing Legal Education

For many lawyers, the memory of law school is not a pleasant one. Professor Kingsfield in The Paper Chase and the book One L by Scott Turow set the stage for a boot camp-like experience in law school. Most endured it and escaped. Others flourished in law school. Many studies have shown that entering law students have average rates of depression but that somewhere after the second year, the incidence of depression increases drastically. What makes the difference? A new movement dedicated to humanizing law school is growing among law professors, deans and clinical instructors, answering that question and creating more humane approaches to legal education.

Daisy Floyd, Dean of Mercer Law School, found that law students seem to be going through a grief process. She and her students have noticed that all of the stages of grief, ending with resignation, are expressed in law school. Perhaps, says Steve Keeva, this is a result of loss of self and what is important to the individual. In the quest for "thinking like a lawyer," students lose the ideals that called them to law school in the first place.

Research has documented the deleterious effects of law school on students’ well-being and on their values. A study completed by psychologist Ken Sheldon and Larry Krieger tracks and correlates changes well being, values, and motivation of among students from orientation through the third year of law school. The findings suggest that new law students are quite well adjusted and service oriented, but that their well-being drops dramatically and their values shift toward less adaptive, 'extrinsic' pursuits, during law school. A second, diverse law school was studied through the first year, and the results confirmed those of the initial study, suggesting that these results may be generalizable to other law schools. Further follow up research is also being conducted by Professor Krieger. For further information or to participate, contact Professor Krieger at Florida State University.

Resources

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Author: J Kim Wright

Ideology

Ideology---literally the "science of ideas"--- is a sort of modern term for religion (usually seen from the outside rather than from the perspective of the practitioner). It was coined during the French revolution to refer to the beliefs, values, meanings, interpretations and stories that could contribute to making a secular State "a cohesive republican nation".

Sources

Integrative Law

Integrative law is a term some have used to describe a movement in the law which is also known as transformational law, comprehensive law and holistic law. Proponents of this term compare it to the medical model which went from traditional medicine to holistic medicine to integrated or integrative medicine.

See also Comprehensive Law.

Interdependence

Interdependence is the mutual dependency of many beings upon one another for their well-being. In the ecological realm, it refers to the dependency of each life form on the others within its food web, its local ecosystem, and indeed the totality of life on earth. In spiritual or religious thought, it extends beyond well-being to include one's existence: people exist through relationships to other people, to nature, and to the universe.

Before biological interdependence was understood, scientists assumed that "pests" -- the weeds, the pathogenic bacteria, the crop-destroying insects -- could safely be eliminated with impunity. What use were they? Today mankind is learning, often the hard way, that all are poorer and sicker when any species is eliminated.

This is true in the ecosystem: for example, when the wolves and mountain lions were eliminated from the forests of the Eastern United States, the deer population exploded. The deer stripped the bark off trees and devoured certain plant species entirely, changing and reducing the composition of the flora. Each change produces a cascade of other changes, with highly unpredictable results. Who knows why our forests today are overrun with ticks and poison ivy?

In the human body, the elimination of species has a similarly debilitating effect. The depopulation of intestinal bacteria through antibiotics, chlorinated water, and sterile diets causes all kinds of problems: yeast overgrowth, immune system disorders, and so on. One depends on the community of life, within and outside, for its well-being. As the increasingly dire effects of deforestation, extinction, and global warming become more evident, it becomes clear that truly, what one does unto the other, he or she does unto themselves. That is because self and other are not ultimately separate.

Ancient cultures had a living intuition of the connection among all life, referring to other species as, for example, "All my relations". TBC

See also

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Author: Charles Eisenstein

International Justice

International Justice

Intervention

Intervention

Intrinsic Value

Intrinsic value is the value of an existent thing (physical, mental, informational or otherwise) manifested by virtue of its very existence. That is, it is independent of its value or utility to any other existent being (such as humans) or thing. It is necessarily a metaphysical, and indeed biblical, concept, and is conceived as being derived from and reflecting the glory of God.

Intrinsic value is an essential concept in human affairs from philosophy to economics, and has been of critical importance in biological conservation, in which the intrinsic value of life, living systems and processes is presented as a fundamental ground for conservation action. For many involved in conservation, it is the key motivation, although other more tangible motivations, such as utility (food, medicine etc.), are often cited because practitioners may feel uncomfortable about the metaphysical basis of their motivation (Gosler 2009). Recent developments in biology, such as the Selfish Gene hypothesis undermine the concept of intrinsic value, thereby undermining a key philosophical basis for conservation and environmental ethics.

Is there a link between intrinsic value and the information content of reality? Claude E. Shannon’s information theory suggests that both information and value are related to ‘surprise’ and the probability of an event (Aleksander 2002). Improbable events or existent things (like rarity and the value of objects) are more valuable intrinsically than certain events. Therefore, the improbability of existence grants it intrinsic value, the improbability of life grants it greater intrinsic value than non-life, and so on. He warns that from this perspective, it is essential not to confuse intrinsic value, which reflects God’s Grace (see reciprocity), with contingent value, which reflects the utility of something to humans.

Sources

  • Aleksander, I. (2002) Understanding information, bit by bit: Shannon’s equations. In Farmelo, G. (Ed.) It Must be Beautiful: Great Equations of Modern Science. Pp. 213–230. Granta Books, London.
  • Gosler, A.G. (2009) Surprise and the Value of Life. In Berry, R.J. (Ed.) Real Scientists, Real Faith. Monarch Books, Oxford.

See also

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Author: Andrew Gosler

Justice

Justice, by James O'Dea

The time has passed when justice could be conveyed as a solitary blind figure holding a devise representing a simple up or down relationship between cause and effect. Justice cannot be served without a deeper understanding of causality or an appreciation for the complex relationship between personal and collective responsibility or conditions which are the direct by-product of systems design and structural realities.

A justice system bound by strict orthodoxy to rules, procedures, historical precedents and the language and intention of forbears and whose judiciary is reduced to higher clerical functions in meting out punishments and mandatory sentences is anachronistic and incapable of meeting the complex needs of 21st century citizens.

Inclusion and interdependence

Justice must be designed to reflect not an ancient ideal but the capacity to integrate an ever evolving morality based on inclusion and interdependence rather than the right and privilege to exclude based on outdated norms of the past. Rather than selectively ignoring our scientific, cognitive, social, psychological or moral development as a species, justice must always seek the most comprehensive and reliable synthesis of contemporary knowledge.

This task cannot be accomplished as long as justice is regulated to the status of bureaucracy, or subsumed under narrow ideological and political purposes or the interests of corporations. Justice can only be accomplished through the cultivation of wise judges, laws and legal institutions which are based not on unscientific notions of punishment and retribution but on notions of healing, contrition, making amends, restorative action where damage is caused and, where possible, rehabilitating offenders into healthy citizens. Justice must always be vigilant to systemic inequities and the interrelatedness of systems: rights held within economic systems need to be matched with rights within ecological systems.

Administering justice

Thus those who administer justice must be qualified to make judgments that are informed by psychological insight, emotional intelligence and an ability to demonstrate creativity in problem solving. The 20th century will be remembered for the reintegration of the subjective component of consciousness and the end of the myth created by scientific materialism of a reality consisting of purely objective laws. We now know that our subjective witnessing conscience is entangled in everything it perceives in the objective realm. There are objective laws and there is powerful subjective meaning making. Justice too has its principles and may be informed by an evolving body of law, but it also resides in the unique capacity of the human to discern unobvious truths and forge uniquely creative solutions.

Justice therefore must seek to be comprehensive, restorative, distributive, ever evolving in its inclusiveness, psychological penetration, and humanizing dimensions. Rather than symbolized by the blind person with a scales, its modern symbol is the community in all its diversity standing open-eyed, vigilantly encircling the planet, held together in mutual responsibility for the emergence of the highest good.

See also

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Author: James O'Dea

Justice: How the environment changes traditional conceptions, by Niki Seth-Smith

A fundamental distinction between theories of justice lies in their understanding of its source – either as a creation of man, or as derived from the discovery of a higher order, such as the divine will, or natural law. A second distinction pertains to application. Theories of justice have historically been applied to groups of people, determined by factors such as territorial boundaries, religious affiliation, or race. In the late 20th century, however, a sustained effort began to develop ethical analyses of international politics, drawing upon the traditional concerns of domestic justice. The need for a theory of international justice necessitates an analysis of the extent to which traditional theories of justice can be internationalised or universalised. Furthermore, from the perspective of environmental ethics, a theory of justice is insufficient if it fails to take into account the moral relationship of human beings to the environment, as well as the environment’s own moral status.

Justice derived from a social contract

Theories of justice based on the concept of a social contract posit man as the source of justice. Contractarianism, which stems from the Hobbesian line of social contract thought, is both a moral theory, setting out the origins of justice, and a political theory of the legitimacy of authority. Contractarians hold that people are primarily self-interested, and that self-interest leads people to act morally, where the moral norms maximise joint interest, and to consent to governmental authority. The most important recent contractarian was John Rawls, whose theory of justice proposes a hypothetical situation in which persons in "the original position" - a state of equality and lack of bias - agree to the provisions of a contract that defines the basic rights and duties of citizens in a civil society.

Social contract theory has traditionally referred to a nation state. It relies on the possibility of a meaningful, if hypothetical, agreement between citizens in a civil society. For a global contract to be plausible, then, we must assume that there is a certain degree of shared self-interest between people, whatever there nationality and wherever they may live.

From an environmental perspective, Contractrianism holds further difficulties. It may be argued that protecting the environment is in the collective interest of people on the level of the nation-state, as well as on the international level. However, within this framework, the environment is given only extrinsic value, as a means to the end of fulfilling other aspects of the social contract. Environmentalists have argued against the anthropocentric view, which has traditionally dominated Western ethical perspectives, that only human beings have intrinsic value. Arne Naess is a leading thinker in this field, and has made the distinction between the ‘shallow ecology movement’, which he has summarized as “the fight against pollution and resource depletion” and his own ‘deep ecology movement’, which endorses “biospheric egalitarianism” – the view that all living things have value in their own right, independent of their usefulness to others.

Social contract theory appears to only be able to recognise the environment as having an intrinsic value by including ‘the environment’ as privy to the contract, which, if any sense can be made of it at all, throws up questions as to the relevance of ideas around self-interest to the environment.

Theological theories of justice

Theological theories of justice are derived from an understanding of God or Gods. Thus, according to divine command theory, ethical sentences express propositions, some of which are true, about the attitudes of God. Sentences such as ‘to forgive is good’ are thus identical in meaning with sentences such as ‘God commands forgiveness’. It is often claimed that divine command theory is refuted by the Euthyphro dilemma, which asks: ‘Is an action morally good because God commands it, or does God command it because it is morally good?’ In the first formulation, it is claimed, justice must be arbitrary; in the second, God must be subordinate to a higher truth. Theologians who seek to refute this dilemma propose that God is by nature good, and thus God's actions are necessarily just.

Through proclaiming a universal God (or Gods) as the source, religions posit their systems of justice as universally true. However, the extent to which a theological theory of justice can be internationalised or universalised is restricted where the rules laid down by these systems are applicable only to members of the faith in question. Being rule-based, religious systems of justice enshrine the duty to protect the environment where they recognise its intrinsic value. While the Judeo-Christian tradition contains ideas of humans as ‘stewards’ or ‘perfectors’ of God’s creation, environmentalists have criticised the major Western faiths for their shared hierarchical notion of man as having dominion over all other life on Earth.

Natural law, human rights and the rights of the environment

Natural law theory makes the distinction between particular laws, created by human beings, and the common law that is according to nature and unalterable. While Aristotle is often named as the father of natural law, Aquinas is credited with having set out the central case for a natural law position: first, that the precepts of natural law are universally binding by nature; second, that the precepts of natural law are universally knowable by nature. The idea of natural rights, developed in the Enlightenment by figures such as John Locke and Immanuel Kant, is closely related to natural law theory. These rights are proposed as inalienable, self-evident and universal and are not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs or any particular culture or government.

Natural law theory, and the theory of natural rights, has informed our modern concept of human rights. These rights exist in morality and in law at the national and international levels. The main contemporary sources are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the many human rights documents and treaties that followed in international organizations such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the Organization of American States, and the African Union.

While there is a substantial body of international environmental agreements, the essential concern of these treaties, protocols and conventions is the common good and future of humanity, drawing upon ideas of sustainable development, the common heritage, and the precautionary principle. There are no recognised legal or moral international norms regarding environmental rights, therefore. Furthermore, from the perspective of environmental philosophy, there are fundamental difficulties in attempting to apply the concept of equal rights for individuals to different species, or to organic wholes, such as ecosystems. Proponents of Naess’ deep ecology, for example, may reject the individualist logic of human rights, arguing that the world should instead be conceptualized in relational terms, with an emphasis on the ecological relationship between organisms, whether human or otherwise.

Consequentalist theories of justice - Jeremy Bentham and Peter Singer

Consequentalist theories of justice determine whether an act is just based on the consequences of that act – or of something related to that act, such as the motive. Utilitarianism is a paradigm consequentialist theory. Classic utilitarians, such as Jeremy Bentham, view the moral worth of an action as determined solely by its usefulness in maximizing ‘the good’ and minimizing ‘the bad’, where pleasure is the only intrinsic good and pain the sole intrinsic bad.

While Bentham’s ‘felicific calculus’ has been applied in practice to determine the greatest pleasure for the greatest number of people, Bentham himself believed that all beings capable of pleasure and pain should be taken into equal consideration when assessing an action. Peter Singer, a modern utilitarian, has adopted this position to argue that the privileging of humans above other sentient beings is a kind of “speciesism”, as unjustifiable as racism and sexism. Whether a utilitarian ethic can be considered an environmental ethic is a point of contention, as the protection of non-sentient beings is only justified to a utilitarian where to do so would maximize the pleasure of sentient beings.

See also

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Author: Niki Seth-Smith

Liberty

Such has been the nature of government throughout history that liberty has most often been defined by its absence. In the most extreme cases, it is sought by slaves, by an occupied or colonised people or by the subjects of a totalitarian dictator or of an absolute monarch. Under constitutional monarchies parliaments have sought to defend their liberties against the Sovereign and under parliamentary democracies citizens have struggled to defend or extend their liberties in the face of parliamentary opposition. In various forms all of those struggles continue today.

More recently a different struggle has developed between governments elected by universal suffrage and their citizens, who see their liberties being threatened or eroded by technological and legislative means. This is the battle over i.d. cards, police databases, surveillance, detention without trial and limits to trial by jury; the battle against an intrusive, arrogant and overbearing state, willing and able to crush the helpless individual in a Kafkaesque nightmare. In a broader sense, liberties can also be seen as threatened by electoral systems which deliver victory on a minority of the votes cast and privilege a few marginal swing seats, by ineffective legislatures which routinely fail to hold the executive to account and by numerous less than democratic constitutional anomalies.

History of liberty

Historically speaking, liberty has been the rallying cry of all who have sought to throw off oppressive authority; among them, Boadicea, Cromwell, Garibaldi, Simon Bolivar and, most famously, the revolutionaries of 1789. However, people have meant many things by their use of the word. The mythical figure of Robin Hood invoked images of Anglo-Saxon liberty crushed and turned to serfdom by Norman invasion and aristocratic oppression. When the Parliamentarians of the English Civil War spoke of the liberty of the subject, they principally meant regular meetings of Parliament and security of property, while some of them also meant freedom of conscience to worship as they wished. Charles the First, however, thought that liberty meant only the rule of law and not a share in government.

Liberty after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 had a sense of privilege and exclusivity. It was principally concerned with the interests of the ruling class. During the reign of George the Third, his political enemies presented the King as a threat to the liberty of Parliament through his excessive use of patronage and control of ministers.

Thus in Britain, where the fight against absolutism and arbitrary rule was won earlier than on almost all of the Continent, questions of liberty were primarily concerned with strengthening an existing parliamentary system against royal encroachments and subsequently with extending the franchise. On the Continent, where absolutism remained dominant until 1789 and beyond, the quest for political liberty and the Enlightenment project of which it was a central part faced a greater challenge and a more complicated outcome. When the bankrupt French monarchy was overthrown, “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” led to the Reign of Terror, the Napoleonic Wars, the Bourbon restoration and further uprisings during the 19th century. In North America, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” were proclaimed as rights but were not open to all. Throughout the 19th century, liberty often entailed a volatile mixture of constitutional government and aggressive nationalism, while for much of the 20th century absolute monarchies were replaced by totalitarian dictatorships.

Use and misuse of the term liberty

There is sometimes an element of Orwellian doublespeak about the word liberty. People from very different political perspectives use it to suit their own ends and to disguise their selfish intentions. In America in 1776, as we have seen, the rights of liberty, magnificently conceived though they may have been, were limited essentially to white males and would encompass slavery, suppression and slaughter on a vast scale. During the American Civil War, it still meant to Confederates the right of the South to maintain its slave economy. Despite the failure of Secession, some Americans today might use liberty to mean in part the primacy of states’ rights over federal rights. In America and elsewhere, some would use it to mean the liberty of the Wild West: small government, low taxes, minimal bureaucratic interference in business and devil take the hindmost. Others assert that liberty can only have true meaning and value in the context of a government which uses higher taxes to provide adequate social security and to support the public good.

Contemporary assaults on liberty

Meanwhile, liberties are continuously assaulted around the world by the destructive activities of corporations, which, because of their multinational structure, are largely unaccountable and often substantially unregulated or actively abetted by corrupt governments and international trade agreements, which are weighted in favour of the rich world. There can be no meaningful liberty without the means to support a decent livelihood and so for Indian farmers or indigenous peoples of the Amazon, driven from their land by the forces of globalization, liberty can only be an empty word. Although many colonial empires and totalitarian dictatorships have been swept away and replaced by democratic rule, poorer and weaker countries and populations continue to be exploited, manipulated and ravaged by the military and economic power of other states or of their own governments, while conventions and binding agreements on human rights are routinely ignored and so liberty continues often to be denied.

Additional resources

  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • Liberty - British campaigning organization to protect basic rights and freedoms through the courts, in Parliament and in the wider community
  • Liberty!- PBS documentary on the American Revolutionary War

See also

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Author: James Sainsbury

Liddism

Liddism was a term coined in the late 1990s to identify a post-Cold War trend by western states to control threats to international security by military means, rather than understanding the nature of the threats and countering them at source. The analogy is with a cooking pot in which every attempt is made to keep the lid on rather than turn down the heat, implying that liddism is ultimately self-defeating. Thus:

Attempting to keep the lid on insecurity – liddism – without addressing the core reasons for dissent, will not work. It is more likely to make western elite societies more vulnerable.” 1

Liddism - before 9/11

Prior to the 9/11 attacks the liddism analysis identified four potential drivers of global insecurity:

  • The widening socio-economic divide, with a transnational elite of one-fifth of the world’s population having around 85% of the wealth.
  • Huge improvements in education, literacy and communications across the world, ensuring that the marginalised majority was increasingly aware of it own marginalisation.
  • The prospect of environmental constraints, especially climate change, having a massive impact on the marginalised majority.
  • A western security paradigm, largely shared by elites across the world, that the status quo must be maintained.

Liddism - after 9/11

Since 9/11, the war on terror is seen as a prime example of the old control paradigm or liddism in that it has concentrated on military control rather than countering the factors which have given the al-Qaida movement its support in many quarters. The failure of the war on terror to achieve its results gives scope to argue for a rethinking of approaches to international security. This may also be aided by two other factors. One, the severe economic downturn that evolved in 2007-08, is likely to have an impact for at least a decade and is recognised as having potential for social unrest. The other is the rapidly growing awareness of the security implications of climate change.

The idea of sustainable security, as developed by a UK think tank, Oxford Research Group, is therefore attracting interest. This is rooted in a common security approach focused primarily on individuals and communities, but with an emphasis on long-term sustainability. It thus requires recognition that any security policy must embrace an understanding of any negative long-term impacts and must seek to avoid those. In relation to global trends the main emphasis would therefore be on closing the socio-economic divide together with a radical response to climate change and other environmental constraints.

Note: The term liddism also gave rise to the liddite conversations, series of meetings in London that started shortly before 9/11, and are hosted by Gabrielle Rifkind to provide a forum for discussing global security issues from a liddite perspective.

Sources

1 Paul Rogers, Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century, Pluto Press, 2000 (3rd edition due in 2010)

Additonal resources

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Author: Paul Rogers

Living Democracy

Living democracy is democracy understood as a way of life, not simply a structure of government; not something done to us or for us but democracy as the rewarding practice of engaged citizens; not a set system but a set of system values – inclusion, fairness and mutual accountability – infusing all arenas of public life, including but far beyond political life; not the burden a free people must bear but a rewarding way of living that meets deep human need for efficacy in community.

Additional resources

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Author: Frances Moore Lappe

Local / Locality

This term will be defined by Jim Gabour.

Locality

Locality derives from the Old Latin concept of locus, or place. In its basic state, the word defines the elemental human perception: “Where am I?” But the qualities of the place itself in the end have a profound effect on the makeup and disposition of the human tribe that becomes its population.

Basically, this approach lets the place define itself, accommodating humans only as a secondary function. This is a farming community, or a manufacturing town based on its proximity to coal, or a fishing village that sits on an ocean filled with aquatic life. In each case there is food and land and resources enough to support a certain number of people. The locality is delineated by its function of keeping humans alive and reproducing.

Locality and politics

The simple nature of the word’s origin, however, decries the modern usage, which escalates exponentially in complexity and amorphously in shape once it touches the unnatural system called politics. Within the political realm, locality is used as a systemic tool, designed by administrative bureaucrats especially for administrative and bureaucratic governmental manipulations.

Locality in the political system inevitably derives from its ultimate distillation: the connection and/or disconnection between two human beings. Politics can see its genesis there but many factors enter into what is deemed local within this interpersonal system.

This grassroots concept of locality becomes even more important in an age of world stock market crashes and international bank meltdowns. The sense of a complete loss of empowerment permeates the morning paper and the evening news. And thus, local politics becomes more relevant by the day.

Defining what is local

At a very basic level, the people involved may themselves define what is local. “The center of the universe is where I am” was a concept which Galileo had a great deal of trouble contradicting in sixteenth-century papally-dominated physics. Oddly enough, the same orientation has come back to the fore with the re-ascendance of more highly strictured ideologies.

This is a legitimate system for describing one’s intellectual roots, defining that base locale simply as the people associated within a certain mental confine, whether secular or religious, familial or social. The power of these groups is diffused within the workings of elemental government – they can influence, and they can vote, but that vote is spread across the political landscape, in a system which demands concentrations in physical locales for there to be an effect. A numerical vote happens in the physical rather than the philosophical realm.

So the “Where am I?” becomes attached with “Who is with me?” and inevitably “Can I bend them to my will?”. This manipulated concept is often inconsistent with objective reality. For instance, the gerrymander in the US is a political mechanism designed to harness such a definition to a politician’s own ends. Gerrymander encompasses the shaping of a district to gain political advantage as well as a direct reference to a representative elected from such a district. The ill-shaped locality, forged as an entity by political ambitions, in return comes alive to find its way to define the politician that now theoretically controls all within its confines.

Locality and international politics

It can be argued that, as president, George W. Bush looked at everything solely in terms of how it would affect himself and those within his local dominion. In contrast, half a century before, another Republican president, well-versed in the practical realities of war and its effects on the smaller world, stated:

"In most communities it is illegal to cry ‘fire’ in a crowded assembly. Should it not be considered serious international misconduct to manufacture a general war scare in an effort to achieve local political aims?"

- Dwight D. Eisenhower

See also

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Author: Jim Gabour

Localization

Localization is a set of policies that actively discriminate in favour of the more local whenever it is, in the words of John Maynard Keynes, "reasonable and conveniently possible". It is a process of gradually bringing aspects of economic activity and global commerce closer to home, thereby reducing our dependence on fossil fuels for transport, supporting local economies, and minimizing the risk of instability which can arise from conflict, natural disasters or increasing scarcity of resources.

Localization - a response to globalization

Localization is a practical response to the widely held concern that economic globalization, which prioritizes international competitiveness and maximum economic growth – often at the expense of social and cultural justice – has taken power away from national governments and put it in the hands of huge corporations and financiers.

Advantages of localization

A major advantage of localization is that it brings power back, shifting the balance of economic control towards a level where democratic institutions enjoy greater prospects of imposing socially and environmentally sensitive regulations on the market, and it offers the potential, at least, for the benefits of the economy to be shared more equally.

Localization can therefore play a crucial role in the promotion of greater social justice, more equitable distribution of resources and greater environmental sustainability. It is about supporting local producers and businesses, developing a better sense of shared communities, enabling these communities to retain their own capital, encouraging ethical investment in community bonds and mutual banks, and encouraging democratic participation to give people a real stake in their future.

Citizen initiatives

A number of citizens' initiatives which have grown up in response to the threats of climate change and peak oil, like the Transition Town Movement, or Carbon Reduction Action Groups, actively promote localization as a key tool in reducing carbon emissions. Local food groups are particularly popular, and offer a way of promoting the local economy, boosting local farmers' incomes, reducing the environmental impacts associated with industrialized agriculture, and maximizing the availability of affordable and healthy local food.

What localization is not

It is also important to state what localization is not. It is not parochial and inward-looking. Far from leading to a "fortress Europe" approach, as some have claimed, it is about "protecting the local, globally". While localization has developed as part of a critique of economic globalization, it is entirely compatible with, and supportive of, internationalism - the positive flow of technology, ideas, and information, together with growing international understanding and co-operation.

See also

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Author: Caroline Lucas

Love

Love and politics are usually seen as opposites (especially in Hannah Arendt’s influential work), yet ethical-political leaders from Gandhi to Aung San Suu Kyi have based their philosophy and actions on the marriage of these two forces. Martin Luther King called this “the love that does justice,” signifying the mutually-reinforcing cycles of personal and social transformation that eventually produce the “beloved community” of which he dreamed.

“Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice,” he said, “and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

Ethical politics enjoins us to develop both the personal qualities that are required to practice politics in new ways, and the political institutions that nurture the values that underpin a successful, collective future. This may be the only way to liberate ourselves from the constraints of conventional politics and the use of democracy to impose majority views.

Unlimited love

Of course, King and others were not talking about romantic love, or love of and for our children. They were talking of unconditional or unlimited love (or agape in the Greek and Christian traditions), that knows no boundaries of kin or affiliation, expressed through non-violent moral action, radical equality, and a profound respect for others. In this sense, love can sustain political action without internalizing the fear and insecurity that underpins oppression in all its forms, and so starting the self-defeating cycle afresh – the source of a new form of politics that does not try to bury or distance its opponents but looks for opportunities to welcome and engage with those who have a different view, and to struggle with them towards some form of imperfect, continually-evolving consensus.

Love underpins equality-consciousness, breaks down hierarchies, and respects the self-empowerment of others. Love eschews paternalism for relationships of truth and authenticity, even when they move through phases of conflict and disagreement. Love releases us from our diminished sense of self and gives us hope, optimism, openness instead of closure. As Paul Tillich reminds us, the first duty of love is simply to listen, and deep listening would transform the practice of politics as we know it.

Spiritual activism

Gandhi, King and others were practicing ethical politics every day, and their legacy has been taken up by a new generation of ‘spiritual activists’ who know that they can ‘win with love’ as they put it, without sacrificing their goals or principles, a love that seeks not to accumulate power, even in the face of oppression, but to transform it so that ‘victory’ means more than a game of revolving chairs among narrow political interests. In their eyes therefore, love is the wellspring of ethical politics.

Those interested in ‘spiritual activism’ may want to visit Seasons Fund for Social Transformation. The speeches of Martin Luther King are also essential reading, particularly his last address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as its President in 1967, from which the above quotation is taken.

See also

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Author: Michael Edwards

Luddite

Popularly, the word Luddite means someone who reflexively and thoughtlessly opposes broad categories of technology. But the original Luddites opposed a few specialized technologies for practical reasons. They were skilled textile artisans who were accustomed to working autonomously, making high-quality products, and earning good money. They saw that new machinery was destroying their trade and replacing it with the manufacture of low-quality textiles, by unskilled workers, for low wages, in oppressive factories, enabling a concentration of wealth in the hands of the factory owners.

Ironically, the actual Luddites had a more sophisticated understanding of the social effects of new technologies than modern technophiles who use the term to imply simple-mindedness. Although they failed to halt industrialization, the Luddites drew strong popular support, and they forced the ruling powers to make some economic concessions. Their example suggests that opposition to technology is effective when it is precisely focused and linked to concrete needs.

Sources

Additional resources

See also

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Author: Ran Prieur

Matthew Atwood



Responsible for defining :-

Mediation

Mediation is simply defined as: The attempt to settle a dispute through a neutral party. (dictionary.com) That is a broad definition and covers a lot of ground -- as does the field of mediation.

Settlement vs reparation

On one end of the spectrum, settlement is the goal to be achieved. At this far end, retired judges act as evaluators and convince litigants to agree to a settlement that has been developed by the mediator. At that far end of the spectrum, the parties usually meet in separate rooms and never talk with each other.

On the other end of the spectrum, repairing the relationship is the primary goal and the issue is seen as an underlying break in the relationship. Transform the relationship and the issue won't be so important. Emotions are brought to the table and expressed face to face.

Between those poles, there are many different models of mediation and applications for the models.

Interest-based mediation

Facilitative, interest-based mediation is widely used in community, family and commercial mediation. The classic story which illustrates interest-based mediation is this one:

Billy and Bobby are arguing in the kitchen when Mom comes in. I have to have this orange, each exclaims to Mom. There is only one orange and Mom offers to cut it in half. They each scream in protest. I must have the whole orange says Billy. No, I must have the whole orange, says Bobby. Mom is perplexed. Billy, why do you need the orange, she asks. Because I must have the peel of one whole orange to make Grandma's birthday cake. And why do you need the whole orange, Bobby? she asks. Because I must have the juice of one whole orange for my cold.

When each interest was known, the answer was simple. One orange was enough that both of them could meet their needs. The interest-based mediation is resolved.

Additional resources

Videos

See also

  • Comprehensive Law - legal alternatives incorporating procedural justice and personal dynamics

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Author: J Kim Wright

Meritocracy

Meritocracy

Modern Worldview

The modern worldview, which emerged between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, represented a radical departure from the way most previous human cultures had understood the world and the place of humans within it. This revolutionary change involved two distinct steps: the demotion of Nature from a vast, living organism to a passive, predictable mechanism and the bold elevation of humanity vis a vis the world––moves that shattered the typical premodern conviction that humans and the natural world were both part of a unified cosmos or larger scheme of things. The upshot was a dualistic vision in which emancipated humans stand starkly opposed to a Nature reduced to a storehouse of raw materials.

This dramatic shift was a response to growing tension between the organic image of nature and accelerating social, intellectual, and economic changes. The Renaissance world picture proved increasingly at odds with an expanding commercial society and with the desire, shared by early capitalists and the pioneers of the Scientific Revolution, to exploit, manipulate, and transform nature. “The new commercial empires began to demand an ideology that presented Nature only as a material system,” according to historian of science Peter Bowler. “If people were to feel comfortable when they used the earth for their own selfish ends…, Nature has to be despirtualized.”

The image of world as machine is the deep metaphor at the heart of modern culture. In the seventeenth century the French mathematician René Descartes, described the world as a giant clock, which suggests it is simple, orderly, predictable, fully comprehensible through studying its parts, and open to manipulation. Since machines are by design under human control, this metaphor made the enterprise of science and the dream of human control seem possible. Francis Bacon, a prophet of the dawning of the Scientific Revolution, advocated new technologies to give men power “not only to bend nature gently, but to conquer and subdue, even shake her to her foundations.” Guided by this overweening ambition, modern civilization has sought an extreme, aggressive, grandiose notion of dominion––Dominion with a capital D.

The narrative of progress, a dominant and pervasive faith that history is moving inevitably toward complete human mastery of Nature, has propelled the modern era onward toward this desired dominion. This modern myth has supported the ideas and institutions that have shaped our current civilization: science, technology, industrial capitalism, the imperative of economic growth, the pursuit of ever greater material wealth and comfort, freedom, and radical individualism. If medieval Europeans were obsessed with sin and salvation, their modern descendants have been obsessed with power and autonomy. They have pursued the intoxicating dream of emancipation––a revolt that began against kings and hierarchy but grew into an ever expanding rejection of constraints of every kind. Over recent centuries, moderns have yearned to be free of tradition, free of society, free as individuals of shared purposes and obligations, free of physical limits and natural constraints, free of history, and ultimately free of Earth.

Additional resources

See also

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'Author: Dianne Dumanoski

Money

Money

Morphic field

In the field of biology, researchers such as Rupert Sheldrake have suggested that the organization of complex organ systems, composed of a multiplicity of discrete, relatively independent parts, is difficult to account for purely on the basis of gene expression. Proposed instead is the notion of a "morphogenetic field" (form-generating field) to account for such structures.

Beyond physiology, Sheldrake further proposes that a similar principle is active in social contexts, pertaining to collective thought, feeling, and behavior. In essence, the theory is that, in addition to individual subjective consciousness, all creatures also dwell in a general "morphic" or "morphogenic" field of consciousness; one that both informs and is informed by individual and collective thought, feeling, and action.

The latter phenomenon is popularly known as the 100th Monkey Effect, though that particular account has largely been established as myth. However, in scientifically controlled experiments, Sheldrake and other have shown weak but statistically significant transpersonal effects for the sharing of knowledge, perception, and autonomic response. One of the more quaint studies for example, found that crossword puzzles are easier to solve on the day following their publication, presumably as the solution becomes more imprinted in the morphic field. [citation needed]

To the extent that this phenomenon is validated, the implications for collective thought, choice, and action are great.

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Author: Bill Miller

Multinational Corporation

The term multinational corporation is commonly and incorrectly used to refer to any corporation that engages in business in more than one country. In its more precise meaning a multinational corporation is one that has independent operations in multiple countries, each acting as if it were a national corporation loyal to the interests of the host country and its people. The term is best understood as an artful term of choice of corporate PR because it implies a commitment to good citizenship everywhere. In fact it is nearly impossible to find any corporation that is truly multinational in this technically correct sense.

Most corporations referred to as multinational, are more accurately referred to as global or transnational corporations that accept no obligation or loyalty to the interests of any nation, place, or people other than their top managers and largest shareholders. It is unfortunate that even citizens engaged in challenging corporate rule often use the term multinational corporation, which plays into the corporate PR fiction of corporations that are loyal to local people and interests everywhere, thus undermining their own case.

See also

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Author: David Korten

Neo-Tribalism

Neo-Tribalism is a modern sociological phenomenon that has developed in response to civilization, or the modern corporation/state society, wherein smaller social groupings of like-minded or themed communities are formed. These smaller groupings, loosely referred to as tribes, are bound by common practices, values, beliefs or goals, with varying degrees of adherence to traditional tribal practices ranging from the purely aesthetic to the radically orthodox. The key delineating factor of Neo-Tribalism is the commonality that binds the tribe together.

Urban tribes

The most casual form of Neo-Tribalism is the urban tribe, a term first coined in 1985 by French sociologist Michel Maffesoli in Le temps des tribus: le déclin de l'individualisme dans les sociétés postmodernes. According to Maffesoli, urban tribes are microgroups of people who share common interests in metropolitan areas. The members of these relatively small groups tend to have similar worldviews, dress styles and behavioral patterns. Their social interactions are largely informal and emotionally-laden, which stands in sharp contrast to the formalized Machiavellian constructs of corporate culture. The term was expanded upon by author Ethan Watters in Urban Tribes: A Generation Redefines Friendship, Family, and Commitment as “an intricate community of young people who live and work together in various combinations, form regular rituals, and provide the support of an extended family.”

The premise of Watters' book was to explore the “tight-knit groups of friends [that] fill the increasingly wide stretch between college and married life” in the social phenomenon he calls “never-marrieds”—unmarried urbanites in their 30s and beyond. The urban tribe is one of the outcroppings of the so-called “Creative Class”, the class of young, mobile, educated professionals--first identified by sociologist Richard Florida in his book, The Rise of the Creative Class--who agglomerate in major urban centers where social, cultural and economic opportunities exist in greater numbers. Traditionally, urban tribes were commonly found in the gay and lesbian community, where members often find themselves estranged from their birth families and communities.

Other forms of Neo-Tribes

Moderate forms of Neo-Tribalism believe that a tribal social structure can co-exist within modern society, and often, take advantage of the products of civilization, such as technology, to support their Neo-Tribal associations. Examples include countercultural groupings like punks and those that grew out of the Burning Man and Rainbow subcultures.

The yearly Burning Man festival, built in opposition to the social and commercial structures of modern civilization, refers to itself as “a gathering of the tribes”, and incorporates tribal motifs in its organizational structure, in the layout of Black Rock City, and in many of the practices and pastimes associated with Burner culture, such as art, ceremonial rituals, fire dancing, lexicon, and the costume aesthetic characterized by bones, feathers, long hair often dreadlocked, leather, piercings, tattoos, and earth toned fabrics. This whole milieu is meant to pay homage to traditional tribal culture, even though many do not engage in orthodox practices in their lifestyles.

Although many Neo-Tribalists live in shared communities like art collectives--defined by sociologist Sue Heath as “peer-shared households consisting of unrelated individuals living in self-contained houses and apartments”—this version as well is more homage to traditional tribalism than it is a return to it. Little binds these groups together for extended periods of time, as they tend to be more transient and the bonds they form temporary.

Radical to orthodox forms of Neo-Tribalism include intentional communities, eco-collectives and communes, anarcho-primitivism, the “back-to-the-land” movement, and various "off-the-grid" survivalist sects. Most of these belief systems view modern civilization—which includes the nuclear family at the micro level and the corporation/state at the macro—as inherently detrimental and unsustainable, and see tribal structures as the natural state of humanity and the form we will return to following any crash of civilization.

Optimal Neo-Tribe numbers

Neo-Tribalists see the optimal living arrangement and social grouping as being no more than 150 people in a “clan”, broken into “bands” or working groups of 30-50. This they believe was the dominant human ordering principle for hundreds of thousands of years, as 150 people is the maximum number of individuals any one person can get to know well enough for meaningful social interaction. Tribes then consist of several clans comprising 1000-2000 individuals. As environmentalist Dave Pollard writes, “bands were the optimal size for short-term collective action, clans for mutual knowledge and learning, and tribes for buffering (to optimize inter-tribal physical and cultural diversity and to minimize inter-tribal conflict, both Darwinian advantages).”

The modern equivalent of a clan, such as an intentional community, should ideally replicate 150 people comprising several bands, who, according to Pollard, “love each other (you can't spend 15-20% of your life physically grooming people you don't love) and live together, their society cemented by rites and shared principles.”

Sources

See also

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Author: Charles Shaw

Net Neutrality

Net neutrality is a key underling principle that supports the free flow of information on the Internet. It means that the middle of the network is neutral so that no companies charge extra to move different bits of information through the middle.

Citizens and businesses pay to access the network paying a fee to an Internet Service Provider (ISP). On the other end those who have web pages (citizens and businesses) pay for the amount of traffic that accesses that website. This payment on both sides is what covers the cost of running the network. In the middle, network services are provided under best effort.

Those who seek to end net neutrality would charge access fees or toll fees in the middle of the network. Those who provide internet services like Verizon and Comcast are seeking to end net neutrality by seeking payment from large content providers like Yahoo! and Google to access their subscribers (or better service to their subscribers for a fee). These large providers can afford to pay these fees but chose not to end net neutrality but paying these fees they have chosen not not agree these fees and stand with the end to end principle the internet is built on.

The Save the Internet Coalition, formed in 2007, has produced a video on how net neutrality works.

Additional Resources

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Author: Kaliya Hamlin New Economy New economy is a general label applied to an actual, anticipated, or proposed restructuring of economic institutions. It is neutral with regard to the actual nature of the restructuring. Those who use the term agree only that the economy of the future will be, or should be, different from the economy of the past.

The term new economy has been used to refer to the service economy that has replaced the industrial economy in many high-income countries. Many have used it to refer to the transition to a high tech information economy. Some pundits made the claim prior to the Wall Street meltdown of 2008 that a new economy of financial innovation would make old approaches to wealth creation based on material production obsolete, eliminate business cycles, and usher in a new era of perpetual growth in material prosperity free from environmental constraints. Most new economy visions are focused primarily on institutional restructuring driven by advances in technology.

New economy - a progressive perspective

More recently, the term new economy has come into use by progressive groups concerned with the need to bring human consumption into balance with Earth’s regenerative capacity while eliminating economic deprivation through a reallocation of economic resources to increase equality and eliminate wasteful and destructive uses. These groups generally oppose the model of a global economy that concentrates power in global corporations accountable only to the short-term financial interests of their own shareholders and top managers. They generally favor economic models that root economic power equitably in people and communities of place, support local self-reliance in food, energy, and other necessities, and serve the needs of all for essential goods, services, and a meaningful source of livelihood. By their reckoning, any economic model that concentrates power in the hands of unaccountable decision makers and measures economic performance primarily in terms of financial return is merely a variation on an old economy model that fails to distinguish between the interests of a ruling financial elite and the real wealth needs of the rest of society.

Additional resources

See also

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Author: David Korten

News

  • January 2010 - Phase Two, the open source "Wiktionary," begins with the publication of "Does environmentalism destroy the world? - openDemocracy and Resurgence launch the Dictionary of Ethical Politics to explore how our political concepts can cope with the end of the limitless" by Tony Curzon-Price.
  • July-Dec 2009 - The first round of definition editing was implemented by the core team of editors.
  • The writing phase of the project got underway on 12.01.08 as the first 50 potential authors were contacted.

Non-violence

This will be defined by Satish Kumar

Offence

This term will be defined by Ursula Owen.

Oligarchy

Oligarchy

Online Identity

In physical space we have bodies that anchor our identities. When we go online we have the freedom create different identities.

Our online identities are anchored with an identifier on the network. An example would be a MySpace URL or Twitter URL http://www.twitter.com/myname or a 2nd level domain name - mydomainname.com

Open standards for online identity are important to avoid the enclosure of citizen’s identities and their “ownership” by the companies where they are hosted. Open technical standards are needed to make this possible along with legal agreements that give people the rights to the information about them.

OpenID is a standard that gives people the freedom to create their own online identifier and use it around the web (just like we walk around the physical world in our body). There are several other standards that build on top of OpenID known as the Open Stack; these are still being innovated at the Internet Identity Workshop.

To create a free open network of progressive communities and organizations adoption of these open standards is essential.

See also

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Author: Kaliya Hamlin

Open Standard

Open standards are what helps industry work both in the physical world but more importantly in the digital world. Open means that anyone is free to use the standard without payment or royalty. Standard means that in using it it works across many systems and forms.

Examples of open standards in the physical world include, rail road track gauges, container ships for shipping, electric plugs, light bulb sockets.

Open standards for the internet

On the internet open standards are different networks that link together and help different networks talk to each other to inter-operate - to create an inter-net. There are three main standards bodies for the internet:

  • Core operations of the network, including the physical layer: IETF, SMTP - email and others.
  • The display layer of the web: W3C, HTML and others.

Online open standards are key to supporting a free, open and neutral internet.

See also

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Author: Kaliya Hamlin

Pacifism

Pacifism, in the narrow sense of the rejection of war by an individual, is little more than 2000 years old. Before the Christians, there is no record of a soldier refusing to take part in war on grounds of conscience. And right up until the early 18th century, Western pacifism was a concern only of those who belonged firmly within the Christian teachings.

But pacifism has far broader meanings. It can equally stem from a non-religious belief in the sanctity of life and from a more practical belief that war is wasteful and ineffective. Many believe that pacifism is more than opposition to war, and that it must embrace action to promote justice and human rights. At its most extreme, pacifism can mean complete dissociation from society and all its violent tenets, like the Hutterite communities of the 16th century. It can mean refusing to kill animals as well as men, and rejecting, like the Anabaptists, the whole structure of government, along with the machinery of war, as inherently violent; it can mean absolute non-violence for oneself, but no strictures on those who have not seen the light, as for many Buddhists. It can also mean the refusal to condone or be involved in one war, but not all wars, as in the case of the American pacificists in the war between the States. There are equally those who protest against war, in whatever form it takes, but not against self-defense; and those who refuse to fight, not because they are against fighting, but because they do not believe that the state has any right to order them to do so.

20th century pacifism

Most common in the 20th century pacifists in Western countries have been those who opposed war from rationalist, humanitarian reasons, rather than purely religious ones, and who have wished to integrate pacificism into the world order. Many have seen themselves as disciples of the great teachers of non-violence - Thoreau, Garrison, Tolstoy and Gandhi - all of whom argued that the techniques of non-resistance are ultimately more effective than, and ethically superior to, violence.

Pacifism became widespread as a reaction to the scale of killing in WW1. In Britain, some 16 000 conscientious objectors refused to fight and many were sentenced to repeated terms of hard labour. After the passing of the Military Service Act of 1916, the No-Conscription Fellowship, voicing the concerns of men like Bertrand Russell, Clifford Allen and Fenner Brockway, mounted a vigorous campaign against such punishments, and some went to jail themselves for their outspokenness.

During the Vietnam war, the US introduced conscription and between 1963-1973, more than 9000 men were prosecuted for refusing to be drafted into the army. It was in the US that the poet and pacificist, Edna St Vincent Millay, wrote:

"I shall die/ That is all that I shall do for Death./I hear him leading his horse out of the stall/...He is in haste; he has business in Cuba, business in the Balkans, many calls to make this morning./ But I will not hold the bridle/...And he may mount by himself:/ I will not give him a leg up"

Additional resources

See also

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Author: Caroline Moorehead

Paradigm

Paradigm, from the Latin and Greek meaning “to show side by side”, first appeared in English in the 15th century with the meaning of a typical example, a pattern, a model, or an archetype. Until the 1960s, use of the word was largely limited to the fields of grammar and rhetoric. Today, a quick Google search of the term paradigm reveals the word being applied to everything from diplomacy, trade, education and journalism to cell phones, fast food, shopping malls and charter fishing. The word paradigm has been adopted by many fields to refer to a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind: the prevailing view of things, the worldview, the mindset, the cultural stories, the cosmology, the box outside of which we so often try to think.

History of the term paradigm

In 1962 historian of science Thomas Kuhn published The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in which he used the word paradigm to refer to the generally accepted conceptual, philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific discipline or community.[28] A scientific paradigm includes theories, laws, rules, models, concepts, practices, assumptions, values and knowledge. It shapes and determines what can/will be observed, what experiments should/will be performed and how they should be conducted, what sorts of questions can/will be asked, and how results can/will be interpreted.

Kuhn argued that the history of science could best be described as a series of scientific revolutions, during which old paradigms give way to new ones. Paradigms are strongly resistant to change, with its adherents holding confidence that the paradigm will eventually answer all questions and solve all problems. To believe otherwise would be to admit that the current paradigm is partial and incomplete, leaving its adherents feeling the discomfort of uncertainty. Because of that intense discomfort, people will not abandon one paradigm until a credible alternative is available; this is known as paradigm shift.

Kuhn also argued that it is not possible to understand one paradigm through the concepts, standards, measures or terminology of a second paradigm, or to make meaningful comparisons between the two. Different paradigms represent radically different worldviews. An average member of the current dominant American culture may experience quantum mechanics as incomprehensible, or any speculation regarding intelligent beings from other planets as silly notions held by the mentally ill, or faith healers as merely scam artists. Standing in one paradigm, other paradigms can look absurd or insane.

See also

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Authors: Tim Bennett & Sally Erickson

Paradigm Shift

Historian of science Thomas Kuhn (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 1962 [29]) argued that the history of science could best be described as a series of scientific revolutions, during which old paradigms give way to new ones. He wished to counter the notion that science progressed in a slow, linear fashion toward ever-greater truths and the accumulation of facts. Instead, he observed, science tends to stay fixed on a particular paradigm, a story, dogma or orthodoxy to which it clings until enough anomalous information arises which cannot be explained by that paradigm.

The accumulation of anomalies calls into question the assumptions of the current paradigm, and stretches it beyond its ability to explain the observed world. But, because the current paradigm has been so successful, and because of the discomfort of not knowing, people will not abandon an old paradigm until a credible alternative exists. Even then there is huge resistance and, as Max Planck observed, often "a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." In other words, the Stone Age did not end for a lack of stones.

As explored in the documentary film, What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire, the present-day confluence of seemingly insoluble problems (including oil depletion, economic meltdown, political upheaval, climate destabilization, mass extinction and population overshoot) can be seen as anomalies that call into question the current cultural paradigm of growth, separation, domination and control. Contemporary culture tends to cling to old-paradigm stories that reinforce that things have never been better.

In the face of this collective predicament, many point to the famous quote from Albert Einstein, “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Humanity, with all of the best intentions, labors to engineer a mass consciousness change, a shift to some new paradigm from which it can solve its collective problems. Sadly this approach fails to notice that the whole notion of problem solving - seeing the world as a series of problems to be solved by humans - is likely an aspect of the paradigm or kind of thinking that created this predicament in the first place. And attempts to engineer, or in any way force, mass consciousness change may, unwittingly, be firmly rooted in that same paradigm.

New paradigms are not linear progressions from the old (cell phones instead of landlines), but represent radically new world views (let’s communicate telepathically) that are barely comprehensible to an older one. Given that, attempts to create or engineer a paradigm shift as a matter of design, intellect or will may be in vain.

This may be disconcerting to those steeped in a paradigm of separation, domination and control. A helpful construct may be that of ego. For these purposes, ego means that sense of separate self that most are familiar with; the collective ego is the widely shared stories about separation and the resultant need for control or domination of the world, and all of the cultural, economic and political ramifications of that. Ego, individual and collective, is by definition conservative and defensive. It defends a set of stories because its life depends on those stories. Ego is closed to any shift of paradigm that threatens that basic notion of separation, or any other notions that hinge on the idea of separation, like the unquestioned benefits of competition.

Interrupting ego, then, is likely necessary to further the movement into a new paradigm. When uncomfortable ego feelings that arise in the presence of different ways of thinking, experiences, and concepts, are identified, they can be used to inform and alter behavior or perception. An example of this is if an encounter leaves one feeling confused, afraid, angry, appalled, shocked, dismissive, or agitated, ego may have bumped into another paradigm. Or, if the notion of moving into a gift economy feels silly, impossible, or stupid, those reactions, paradoxically, could indicate a direction in which to head.

The ability to shift the paradigm may be aided by practices that help to break up ego and support openness to unfamiliar experiences. Dialogue, spiritual practices like meditation, chanting, vision quest, sacred use of experience-altering substances, or even falling in love with someone of a different paradigm may be useful in this venture.

Sources

See also

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Authors: Tim Bennett & Sally Erickson

Pay-it-Forward

Virtually all forms of commerce are based upon some form of transactional exchange of value - whether the goods or services are exchanged directly, as in the case of barter, or whether some component of the transaction involves monetary tokens of value. In the first case, valuation of the items exchanged can be established by convention, but is often simply determined in the moment, based on the relative needs of the parties. In a money-based economy, the items exchanged generally have a relatively fixed, broadly agreed upon monetary valuation, which may evolve over time based on market forces.

Such transactional exchanges may be equitable, exchanging value for perceived equal value, but especially in money-based economies, parties commonly seek a relative economic advantage in an exchange, known as profit. In an economy like capitalism, the profit-seeking aspect often becomes the primary purpose of a transaction rather than the utility of the goods or services or the quality of relationship between the parties.

In contrast, in a Pay-It-Forward transaction, a good or service is offered without the expectation of a direct, quid pro quo (pay-it-back) return of value. Rather, the beneficiary is encouraged (or morally mandated) to perform a similar, counterpart transfer of value at some point in the future. The nature of this future transaction however, is generally left to the discretion of the performing party. Whereas the impetus for a traditional value exchange transaction lies in satisfying personal need or gaining personal advantage, the goal of pay-it-forward is primarily to benefit the recipient and/or the greater community.

While pay-it-forward is somewhat related the notion of a gift economy, there is a greater implication that the transacted value will continue to circulate in some form through the general economy. Gifts are commonly intended to remain with the original recipient.

Viability of pay-it-forward economies

The long-term viability of a pay-it-forward economy generally depends upon a cohesive sense of community among the participants. In addition to attending to personal need, members must also appreciate the needs and health of the greater social and ecological system in which they dwell. This often involves an ability to defer immediate gratification on the faith that the benefits of aiding and supporting others and the community will ultimately redound in a way that elevates the lot of all.

Individualistic, competitive economies like capitalism tend to involve zero-sum transactions - that is, the gains of one must be offset by the losses of others. This is an artifact of an economy where value is largely stored in material goods or in money as a coupon for material goods. In contrast, pay-it-forward economies place additional value in more abstract social and ecological benefits - happiness, community, beauty, nature, artistic and intellectual pursuits, and other quality of life issues that are difficult to quantify and monetize in a capitalistic system. These latter qualities are generally open-ended and non-zero sum in that having more for the one does not diminish the supply for others.

In a world with a relatively small population and a large supply of resources, competitive economies can flourish with relative comfort for all. However, as worldwide resources and carrying capacity become stretched, the economic security and quality of life becomes increasingly uncertain for those less able to compete. Alternative, or complementary, economies may be needed as growing numbers of people become disenfranchised from the mainstream economy.

Additional resources

  • Pay it Forward Movement - real-life success stories of people practicing pay-it-forward
  • Pay It Forward Foundation - set up to educate and inspire students to realize that they can change the world, and provide them with opportunities to do so
  • Video from the theatrical release of Pay It Forward (2000, Warner Bros.)

See also

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Author: Bill Miller

Peace

Peace is not merely an absence of war, it is a positive state of harmony, balance and justice. In other words, peace is a way of life where good relationships among people, and between people and nature are established. The seeds of peace are rooted in the hearts and minds of every individual; there cannot be peace in the world unless individuals are at peace with themselves. Before we make peace in the world we have to make peace with ourselves, then peaceful relationships will unfold among people. To achieve this we have to celebrate the diversity of cultures, religions, political systems and philosophies. There can be no peace if there is no justice. Poverty, exploitation, subjugation, domination and institutionalised violence of discrimination and inequality results in conflicts, therefore social justice is a prerequisite for peace.

Peace among people is not complete unless we make peace with nature. Respecting the rights of nature is as essential as respecting the rights of people. Treating animals cruelly, treating land disrespectfully and poisoning the rivers, oceans and atmosphere is as much a form of war as going to combat with other nations.

In order to establish comprehensive peace we need to have peace in our hearts, peace among people and peace with nature.

Sources & Additional Resources

See also

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Author: Satish Kumar

Peak Oil

The term peak oil refers to the point after which the amount of oil that can be extracted from the earth in a given year, begins to decline. The phrase was first coined by the American geophysicist Dr. M. King Hubbert in 1956. Hubbert was the first person to predict that US oil production would peak in 1970, which has since been proven to be correct. Hubbert also predicted a world-wide peak in oil production around the year 2000.

Peak oil does not mean that there is no oil left, rather it means that the quantity that is produced each year has reached its maximum rate and future production rates will decline. Before this point, extra production could be brought on line to satisfy growing demand. As long as demand continues to rise or is static, the pattern of peak of production, followed by a plateau and then contraction will result in ever higher prices. A large part of economic activity depends on oil so a recession can have the effect of reducing the oil price temporarily as demand dips, but ultimately, oil is a finite resource made millions of years ago, and so the remaining reserves are increasingly difficult and expensive to extract.

Prospectors and producers around the world first tapped into the easiest oil fields to find and exploit. Large scale oil extraction began in the mid 1850s and since then oil fields have been prospected around the world, but many of these resources are now reaching depletion, such as the North Sea supply off the coast of Britain. Eventually the amount of energy available from the oil extracted gets ever closer to the amount of energy needed to extract the oil in the first place. This ratio is often termed the Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI).

The closer EROEI is to one, the less economically viable is the extraction, no matter how much oil may be left in the ground. Oil producers have begun to exploit alternative sources of oil, such as the tar sands in North America, to try to meet the expanding markets of the growing global economy. But such sources have much lower returns on investment than conventional oil fields and require the price of oil to be far higher to be worth extracting. The catch is that these higher prices may stall the world's energy dependent industrial economy, leading to recession and a periodic collapse in oil prices. This makes it far harder to maintain the investment needed to exploit non-conventional sources of oil.

The physics of peak oil can be further understood on a well-by-well or field-by-field basis. When oil is first extracted it is often under great pressure and it is therefore easier to extract. When oil wells begin to run down, what remains is under less pressure and is further down in the earth’s core. Such reserves may be large but the oil is harder to extract. Current commentators and energy insiders are now suggesting that we are at peak oil now, or that we will reach it sometime before 2018.

"Our ignorance is not so vast as our failure to use what we know." - M. King Hubbert

Additional resources

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Author: Julia Forster

Person

Person

Phantom Wealth

Phantom wealth, or illusory wealth, is wealth that appears or disappears as if by magic. The term generally denotes money created by accounting entries or the inflation of asset bubbles unrelated to the creation of real wealth. The high-tech-stock bubble and the housing bubble are examples.

Phantom wealth also includes financial assets created by debt pyramids in which financial institutions engage in complex trading and lending schemes based on fictitious or overvalued assets in order to generate phantom profits and justify outsized management fees. Debt pyramids may be used as a device to feed financial bubbles, as in the subprime mortgage scam.

As during the boom and bust phantom wealth housing bubble that began to collapse in 2007 and led to economic crisis in 2008, those engaged in creating phantom wealth collect handsome performance fees for their services during the phantom wealth boom and then walk away with their gains when their schemes inevitably collapse.

Those who had no part in creating or profiting from the phantom wealth scams are then left to absorb the losses and to sort out the phantom-wealth claims still held by the perpetrators against the marketable real wealth of the larger society. It is all legal, which makes phantom wealth creation a perfect crime.

Phantom wealth vs real wealth

The acceptance and success of most phantom wealth financial scams rests on the illusion that money is wealth and those who create money are engaging in creating real wealth. In fact money is nothing but a number, an accounting chit created out of nothing when a bank issues a loan. It has no reality outside the human mind and has value only because we agree to accept it in return for things of real value.

According to Kurt Richebacher, the ridiculous idea that financial bubbles create real wealth was given undeserved intellectual respectability by a 1996 article titled Securities: The New Wealth Machine published in the respected Foreign Policy journal [30]. Thornton Parker warned in 2001 that the retirement portfolios of baby boomers are comprised largely of phantom wealth assets likely to disappear when they begin withdrawing funds to meet retirement needs [31].

Additional resources

See also

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Author: David Korten

Philanthrocapitalism

Philanthrocapitalism is a word that was invented by Mathew Bishop of The Economist magazine to describe the use of business thinking and market mechanisms to achieve social and environmental goals – to use capitalism, in other words, for philanthropic ends. This word is sometimes used to describe the activities of mega-wealthy philanthropists like Bill Gates and his foundation, and at other times it is used to indicate a general attitude of mind among social entrepreneurs, venture philanthropists and others who may not be personally wealthy, but who still see value in deploying the lessons and methods of the market to the social challenges of their day.

Arguments for and against philanthrocapitalism

For its proponents, philanthrocapitalism is a boundary-breaking movement that promises to provide new solutions to global poverty, health, agriculture and environmental degradation. The market can be used to get innovations to a scale and level of sustainability that is impossible for conventional foreign-aid projects or privately-funded NGOs, and because they face fewer political constraints, the philanthrocapitalists can act as ‘hyper-agents’ in taking bigger risks, and getting things done more quickly and efficiently.

For its critics, this movement is another ‘emperor with no clothes’, at best a way of getting useful goods and services to lower-income groups and at worst a self-serving attempt to preserve an unjust economic system by giving a little more back to social causes. There is no evidence that philanthrocapitalism can tackle entrenched social problems more effectively than government and civil society activism, in part because it ignores or eschews support for politics, social movements and other essential components of social transformation.

In terms of ethical politics, philanthrocapitalism poses a particular challenge for democratic accountability and public policy formation, because rich donors may have undue influence over debates and decision-making in crucial areas like health and the reform of public education. In these areas, the hyper-agency of the philanthrocapitalists must be balanced by the agency of ordinary people, expressed through their elected representatives and through the civil society associations to which they belong.

The best argument in favor of this movement is Philanthrocapitalism: How the Rich Can Save the World by Mathew Bishop and Michael Green (Bloomsbury 2008). The counter-arguments are explored in Just Another Emperor? The Myths and Realities of Philanthrocapitalism by Michael Edwards (Demos/Young Foundation, 2008).

Additional resources

See also

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Author: Michael Edwards

Plain Language Law Movement

The Plain Language (or Plain English) Movement is an international movement toward writing documents that are free of unnecessary legal jargon and easier for readers to comprehend. Plain language has the goal of being understood by the widest possible audience, often the public. It encourages writers to prepare well-written, clear, simple, well-organized documents that meet the needs of the audience. Rather than jargon like "the party of the first part," a plain language document actually refers to people by their names or by simple identifiers that are understandable to the reader.

Plain language drafting seeks to limit legalese and repetition of synonyms. Rather than prohibiting someone to "cut, mutilate, slash, tear up or shred," a plain language document might say "you can't destroy this." According to a leading proponent of plain legal language, Cheryl Stephens, "Legalese is a block to communication with clients; it has made lawyers the butt of jokes for centuries."

In 2008, the Federal Government of the US passed a plain language law, the Plain Language in Government Communications Act of 2008 which requires agencies to rely on the Federal Plain Language Guidelines or the SEC's Plain English Handbook.

Additional resources

From the Plain Language Network:

From the Law and Justice Foundation:

Cheryl Stephens

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Author: J Kim Wright

Plutonomy

Plutonomy, a term that combines plutocracy and economy, refers to an economy in which growth is confined to people at the very top of the wealth pyramid. The term was coined by investment and marketing advisers to characterize the U.S. economy, as an ostensible guide to framing profitable investment and marketing strategies. Critics assert that this usage is one of the many indicators of the moral corruption of the system.

Plutonomy stands at the opposite end of the continuum from economic democracy, a system in which every person has an ownership stake in the means of production on which their livelihood depends. Economic democracy is an essential foundation of political democracy. Plutonomy and political democracy are mutually exclusive, as the current U.S. experience demonstrates so clearly.

Additional resources

See also

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Author: David Korten

Popper,Karl

In the political sphere Karl Popper is best known for his seminal work The Open Society and Its Enemies, published in two parts over the period 1947-49. The book provides an analysis and critique of the philosophy of Plato, Aristotle, Hegel and not least Marx within a context of historicism. It was written for the everyday person, or at least Popper’s perception of such. It was a popular underground book with the intelligentsia in Eastern Europe and Russia before the collapse of communist rule.

Historicism

Popper was primarily concerned with the influence of historicism on society and its development. Historicism simply put is the idea that history predicts or determines the future. He saw historicism as an underlying threat to the open society, that is one where man is free to use his critical powers. He believed that our civilization has not yet made the transition from a closed society (one based on tribalism, submission to magical forces and collective tradition) to an open one.

Historicism, for him, was the primary threat to democracy in part because it encourages those who believe themselves to be on the side of history to show contempt for alternative points of view and those who hold them, thus undermining the possible development or evolution of an open society towards a meaningful democracy.

Additional Resources

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Author: Peter Marcham

Popper, Karl

In the political sphere Karl Popper is best known for his seminal work The Open Society and Its Enemies, published in two parts over the period 1947-49. The book provides an analysis and critique of the philosophy of Plato, Aristotle, Hegel and not least Marx within a context of historicism. It was written for the everyday person, or at least Popper’s perception of such. It was a popular underground book with the intelligentsia in Eastern Europe and Russia before the collapse of communist rule.

Historicism

Popper was primarily concerned with the influence of historicism on society and its development. Historicism simply put is the idea that history predicts or determines the future. He saw historicism as an underlying threat to the open society, that is one where man is free to use his critical powers. He believed that our civilization has not yet made the transition from a closed society (one based on tribalism, submission to magical forces and collective tradition) to an open one.

Historicism, for him, was the primary threat to democracy in part because it encourages those who believe themselves to be on the side of history to show contempt for alternative points of view and those who hold them, thus undermining the possible development or evolution of an open society towards a meaningful democracy.

Additional resources

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Author: Peter Marcham

Poverty

The World Bank has one definition of poverty as those living on less than $1.25 per day: "1.4 billion people in the developing world (one in four) were living on less than $1.25 a day in 2005, down from 1.9 billion (one in two) in 1981".[32] It seems like a miniscule change over 24 years, but, says the Rawlsian, it goes in the right direction.

However, a Rawlsian might be concerned with the inefficiency of a world which had to increase incomes overall by xx% in order to reduce extreme poverty by 500 million people. The hope that growth would relieve poverty is referred to as trickle-down economics, and the broad statistics of poverty discredit it. An ecological Rawlsian would wonder whether that reduction in poverty was achieved under conditions of sustainability.

While many ecologists, such as Mike Hulme, want a more inclusive definition of poverty---one that would count the excessive consumerism of the over-developed West as being in some sense "poor" ---many progressives would want the legitimate material aspirations of the poor not to be overlooked. Thomas Aquinas, the medieval theologian, distinguished between poverty and misery. The first can be chosen, and can be a virtue, while the second necessarily stunts human potential. A revival of this Thomist distinction might be useful in an age of ecological priorities.

Poverty in a world of limited resources

A finite world has to make equitable distributions a priority over growth. The Rawlsian temptation has been to grow our way out of misery: emphasise making the cake bigger to grow everyone's slice rather than sharing it more equally. For ecologists, humankind is already living beyond the earth's means. This is the logic of the World Wildlife Fund's well-branded One Planet Living program. Growth cannot therefore be a solution to misery.

Progressives---liberals, Rawlsians as well as Marxists---have not been used to thinking of the kingdom of ends as being materially constrained. The ecological perspective therefore introduces a new challenge: how can the ideals of human self-realisation be made compatible with constrained distributions. Here is the moment when politics asks for a change of consciousness: to maintain the humanist ideals of enlightenment as well as a genuine concern for earth and others.

Additional resources

See also

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Author: Tony Curzon Price

Precautionary Principle

The precautionary principle, as defined by the Precautionary Principle Project, is a
"response to uncertainty, in the face of risks to health or the environment. In general, it involves acting to avoid serious or irreversible potential harm, despite lack of scientific certainty as to the likelihood, magnitude, or causation of that harm."

The precautionary principle has been a false friend to environmentalists. Caution is a political virtue, without a doubt. Its opposite is foolhardiness, and no one would want to be accused of that. But elevating virtues into principles leads to trouble.

As an example, Bjorn Lomborg delights in using the language of caution against the climate change agenda. He argues that the cost of cutting warming by using renewable energy sources in the UK may result in far worse outcomes than a small rise in temperatures---for example, those resources could otherwise be used to alleviate poverty whose consequences are also possibly very grave. [33]

Turning the virtue into the principle forces one to think about morality only as consequentialists. There is no future in that.

Additional resources

See also

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Author: Tony Curzon Price

Print version


Ananda

Ananda is a Sanskrit word that has found a place in international English because of the influence of yoga, meditation, and the philosophies and arts of India.

Its near equivalents are pleasure, joy and bliss. However these do not convey the special meaning of Ananda, which is more than these experiences, as it points not just to an experience but to an inherent characteristic of consciousness. Experiencing Ananda is both a capacity of consciousness and it is also its highest impulse. In Indian philosophy a gradation of functions was described for consciousness (Sanskrit:chit): starting with activities of nutrition and of other perceptual functions for body-mind survival, followed by the collective activities of the senses and of mind which lead to cognition, and finally, at the apex, ananda—absorption and transformative bliss.

This conception of bliss as transformational can be explained as follows - bliss is not seen as being ‘blissed out’, but rather as being ‘blissed in’ or/and ‘blissed up’ – an experience that is integrative and causes a progression in understanding and cognitive growth.

This movement of consciousness towards ananda furnished the highest purpose of the arts (music, drama, dance, painting and sculpture) in classical Indian cultures – which was to help create transformational shifts in the human mind and spirit through Ananda.

Ananda is experienced as deep, profound and blissful joy. It is integrative and is marked by a sense of non-duality – the separation between the experience and the experiencer softens and dissolves, and a taste of non-conceptual understanding – of reality as it is (“suchness”, “is-ness”, “thus-ness”) is attained. It is one part of the inseparable triangulation of ‘reality-consciousness-ananda’ (sat-chit-ananda).

Tasting Ananda is considered transformative as it is part of the experiences of deep meditation, and because its experience is a moment of mini-awakening. It is an experience that becomes a part of one’s deep inner being. We wish to re-experience ananda, and, if possible, to make it a more active and continuous part of our everyday consciousness.

See also

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Author: Shakti Maira

Anarchy

Anarchy

Animal

Animal

Apology

An apology is an expression of regret for having committed a wrong against another.

Motivation and impact of apologizing

Apologizing, according to Aaron Lazare, author of On Apology, can be motivated by strong internal feelings such as empathy for another or the distress of guilt and shame. In such cases, the person issuing the apology seeks to restore and maintain his own self-esteem.

Other motivating factors are external. One may, for instance, want to affect other people's perceptions, perhaps to induce forgiveness. People who don't apologize often say they don't do so because they fear the reactions of the people to whom they apologize, or they are embarrassed and ashamed of the image they would have of themselves as weak, incompetent, or in the wrong.

Lazare points out the healing benefit of the apology to both parties, the harmed and the one causing the harm. The apology fulfills several possible psychological needs for the offended party. Among them are: restoration of self-respect and dignity; a sense of connection and shared values with the other person; a sense of safety in the relationship; assurance that the offense was not his fault; and sometimes the sense that the offender is suffering from the harm.

The results for the person issuing the apology can be more dramatic. The apology often restores the person's self-esteem and dignity, allows him the opportunity to make reparations, and reconnects him with the other person.

The term apology is sometimes inaccurately used to describe all expressions of sympathy or regret. A greeting card that bears the message "I'm sorry for your loss," for instance, expresses condolences but not an apology.

Famous apologies for past wrongs

In recent years, apologies have been made for past actions (or inaction) to a variety of groups. [34]

African-Americans
In June 2009, the US Senate apologized for slavery, 150 years after the end of the US Civil War. [35] Likewise, the Southern Baptist Convention drew up a Resolution On Racial Reconciliation asking for forgiveness for past actions and for any residual racism.

Jews
The Roman Catholic Church, in the 1998 "We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah" , acknowledged the passiveness of many of its adherents during the Nazi Holocaust. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America apologized for the strong anti-Jewish statements made by Martin Luther and the effects his legacy had on later generations. [36]

Indigenous populations
The United Methodist Church apologized for the brutality of a lay preacher and Civil War hero Colonel John M. Chivington who led the massacre at Sand Creek, killing more than 150 Cheyenne and Arapaho.[37]

Abused children
Pope John Paul II apologized for the paedophilia of U.S. priests as one of the nearly 100 apologies made during his pontificate on behalf of the Catholic Church [38]. In the same vein, Pope Benedict XVI apologized in 2008 for the Australian victims of paedophile priests. [39]

Apologies and legal advice

Lawyers traditionally advise their clients not to apologize, fearing that an apology would lead to an admission of guilt and that the client would become liable for damages. They may believe they are saving their clients from liability, but anecdotal evidence and recent research suggest they are wrong. A seven-year study at the Lexington, Kentucky Veteran Affairs hospital, which practices a "come clean" policy, showed that their average settlement was $16,000 versus the national VA average of $98,000.

An apology for wrongdoing can reduce the potential for litigation and liability and also help maintain or restore public trust. Refusing to admit wrongdoing may cause greater problems than the wrongdoing itself.

Apologies in action

Data arising from empirical research suggests that an apology can actually prevent further repercussions.

Health care providers
Kathryn Johnson, a registered nurse and the director of risk management at the University of North Carolina's health care system, argues that apologizing to patients for things that go wrong in their care or the care of relatives is not just the right thing, but the right thing for business. In Essentials of Physician Practice Management, she identifies studies that show that litigation by patients was reduced when providers were forthcoming about mistakes they'd made and took responsibility for them, especially smaller mistakes. Patients whose caregivers communicate with them honestly and consistently are more likely to feel that their providers act in good faith, are more forgiving of their human errors, and are less likely to want to punish them with lawsuits.

Lawnmower manufacturing
According to the National Law Journal, lawnmower manufacturer Toro responds to a product-related accident by having a product integrity specialist - not a lawyer - contact the injured party, express the company's condolences, and initiate an investigation to discover the cause of the accident. An engineer goes with the product integrity specialist to look at the equipment that caused the injury, and where appropriate the company takes steps to improve the equipment to prevent future injuries. In two-thirds of the cases, the product integrity specialist resolved the matter without legal intervention; almost all of the remaining cases are resolved in mediation.

Sources

Additional resources

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Author: J Kim Wright

Asylum

Many ancient peoples - the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Hebrews among them - recognised a religious right to asylum and offered protection in the place of worship to those accused of criminal acts. Later adopted by the established Christian Church during the Council of Orleans in 511, the Christian right of asylum came to be offered to anyone who sought sanctuary in a church, in its dependencies or in the house of a bishop. This included fugitive slaves, who would be returned to their owner only after he had sworn on the Bible that he would not be cruel to them.

Right of political asylum

The right of political asylum is an equally ancient judicial notion, under which a person persecuted for his political or religious beliefs may seek protection from another sovereign authority or a foreign country. History contains many examples of troublesome thinkers offered sanctuary in foreign lands: Hobbes in France, Descartes in the Netherlands, and Voltaire and later Marx in Britain. During the revolution of 1789, over 150 000 French people fled France and sought asylum not only in neighbouring states but as far afield as the US.

In 1951, mindful of the fate of the hundreds of thousands of Jews who had asked for and been denied asylum as they tried to escape the Nazi holocaust, and conscious of the thousands of others turned into refugees by the destruction and altered borders of World War 2, the UN drafted a Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. In 1967 they followed with a Protocol for creating guidelines for national legislation. Under these and other agreements a refugee eligible for asylum is deemed to be one who has been forced to flee his country owing to a “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion”. Refusing asylum and returning a victim of persecution to his own country is considered a violation of the principle of non-refoulement.

Ambiguities around asylum

Clear and precise on paper, the issue of asylum remains mired in arbitrariness, paradoxes and uncertainty. The very term asylum seeker is often confused with migrant worker (a person who leaves his country voluntarily, in search of work, to join family or to study) or illegal immigrant (one residing in a foreign country without permission). Faced by ever growing numbers of people fleeing conflict and persecution, states have responded with ever harsher and more excluding legislation. Driven by the democratic will of their people, many of whom are frequently hostile to those seeking asylum, governments are struggling to find policies which protect their borders, yet which are at the same time humane and protect the rights of those who seek asylum.

The US is today the country which accepts more asylum seekers than any other nation - over two million since 1980.

Additional resources

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Author: Caroline Moorehead

Beauty

Beauty was once part of the high trinities of Greek and Indic philosophies (“Truth, Beauty, Goodness”, and “Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram”). In recent times it has slipped from the place Keats accorded it in his famous ode: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know“, to an ingredient that can be added to one’s hair, face and wardrobe.

Beauty and subjectivity

A question often asked about beauty is whether it is ‘skin deep?’ For all practical purposes, the collective answer has been ‘Yes’, because that is exactly where beauty is usually located these days: on the visible form, and quite literally on the skin. Beauty has become almost completely superficial. Beauty, the word, has become a rather general and amorphous adjective – used interchangeably for good, pleasing, terrific, wonderful, great and excellent, even being used to describe bombs and wars.

The contemporary confusions about beauty include the subjectivity associated with beauty – captured by the popular adage: ‘Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder’, and the valid need to resist discriminative definitions of beauty – such as fair skin – in many cultures. Such notions of beauty – which make some things and some people beautiful and others not, with all the attendant problems of who decides what or who is beautiful, and the culture and gender issues that are wound up with it, have resulted in a post-modern abandonment of beauty itself.

The issues of the slippery subjectivity of beauty and the tyranny of absolute notions of beauty are, in a sense, related misunderstandings. Is beauty subjective? Yes it is. Is beauty fixed and definable? No it isn’t. But this does not diminish its importance. These are problems of a worldview that gives undue importance to the non-subjective, the measurable and the absolute, and which is out-of-sync with the dynamic, interlinked and relational reality of the world.

These problems of subjectivity vs. absolute inherence, of surface vs. structure, and of appearance vs. being, might be obviated by a view that understands beauty as an experience and not an ingredient, not the property of any object or thing. Objects, or other stimuli, can and do create the beauty experience, but like all experiences, beauty is temporary and relational.

Experiencing beauty

The experience of beauty, though triggered by different stimuli, has commonality across people and cultures. Beauty is commonly experienced as pleasure, gladness, wellness, delight, joy, spaciousness, connectedness, timelessness, integration and wholeness. All deep beauty experiences are imbued with feelings of harmony and balance, and of proportionality and rhythm. In the Indian view, these experiences have the potentiality for inducing ananda, a bliss that is transformative.

Beauty forms in the relationship between viewer and object, and, beauty deconstructed comprises the relational values of balance, harmony, proportionality and rhythm. Profound experiences of beauty bring together and integrate opposites. They create higher levels of transformative understanding of harmony and balance, and of the cycles and rhythms of life.

In all cultures there have been attempts to discover patterns of harmony and rhythm, proportion and goodness, which have been found in physical, spatial and mathematical relationships, for instance, as well as in sound and music, in colour and form – such as The Golden Mean and the musical scales.

Beauty and the arts

In the arts, beauty was for long considered a vital purpose. This idea was dismissed in modernism and post-modernism when beauty became suspect – decorative and elitist. Recently beauty has begun to re-enter the arts again as it has been remembered that the deep, profound experience of beauty is transformational, and that the transformational role of the arts cannot be limited to protest and conceptualism.

Beauty, through art and music, has been celebrated and used in systems of prayer, worship and meditation as it helps brings inner and outer worlds into harmony. It connects people with the world around them - to sense and perceive the world and to experience delight. Internally, whenever the beauty experience occurs, attention, thoughts, feelings, senses, and emotions become integrated and harmonized.

Beauty can also be an activator of consciousness and conscience. At an intuitive level, the absence of deep beauty is the trigger mechanism for conscience – the sign that something is wrong, out of alignment, asymmetrical, in disharmony, discordant. Recently people like artist-philosopher Shakti Maira have begun to theorize beauty as a fundamental organizing system of the ‘relational’ world, and suggest that with its embedded values of harmony, balance, proportionality and rhythm, it could be a master key to solving a range of problems that stem, in part, from the contemporary confusions about beauty.

We increasingly recognise that all life and social systems are webbed, networked, interconnected, inter-related and interdependent, new ways of living - ecologically aware, cooperative, sane, balanced and harmonious - are being imagined and developed that are more consistent with this understanding, and beauty is once again finding its deeper and more profound meaning.

See also

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Author: Shakti Maira

Beloved Community, The

Beloved Community, The

Bottleneck

Bottleneck, as described by biologists, is the period of drastically narrowed life opportunities when a species has expanded into a newly available niche, overshot the permanent carrying capacity afforded by that niche, thereby damaging its habitat, and finds itself therefore facing a die-back to a number commensurate with the diminished carrying capacity residually available to sustain it.

Human bottleneck

How is the human prospect subject to this biological concept?

Consider the thrust of three books by Jared Diamond. His stated theme in 1992’s The Third Chimpanzee was “How the human species changed, within a short time, from just another species of big mammal to a world conqueror, and how we acquired the capacity to reverse all that progress overnight." His 1997 Guns, Germs and Steel amplified this, as did especially his magisterial coverage of factors leading to reversal, in his 2005 book, Collapse.

In the twentieth century, human numbers exploded and advances in technology and organization made vast new niches available. A substantial fraction of the world’s total Homo sapiens population committed itself to living as Homo colossus (people equipped with fossil-fuel-using technology giving them gigantic capabilities). Millions of other people in many lands aspired to follow in those footsteps.  Because humanity’s enormous twentieth-century technological accomplishments made so many people resource-ravenous, the twenty-first century will have to be a bottleneck era for the world’s human population. During this swarm into the ephemeral niches made by and for Homo colossus, little thought was given to the possibility that those new niches were irreparably temporary—based as they were on ravenous use of non-renewable resources and upon virtually unfettered spatial expansion of human activities. Confined to a finite global habitat, progress produced an awesome and deepening carrying capacity deficit.

Viewed from today, the vaunted “land of opportunity” promised by technological progress might turn out to be a land of exhausted and constricted opportunities. Will wars now be fought among competitors over access to dwindling resources? Plausible scapegoats are being and will be sought—to function as “explanations” of the self-inflicted miseries resulting from human overuse of the planet. Those scapegoats become targets of malicious and destructive actions.

Prodigal Homo colossus has learned to require resources Earth cannot continue supplying. Nor can Earth absorb (and recycle) the prodigious accumulation of noxious, toxic, landscape-altering or climate-changing end-products injected into the global environment to meet mankind's basic needs and more importantly the contemporary lifestyles demands of many.

Accordingly, the number of humans living upon this planet, although still increasing in the twenty-first century’s first decade will very probably be markedly fewer by 2100, the century’s end. And people accustomed to economic growth (shortsightedly equated with progress) will be compelled to adapt to inevitably squeezed and constrained standards of living in a resource-depleted world.

Sources

See also

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Author: William Catton

Capitalism

The term capitalism is most commonly defined as an economic system in which capital is privately owned and managed for private profit. It is often used as a synonym for the term market economy. The 18th century economist Adam Smith is sometimes thought of as the greatest defender of capitalism.

History of the term capitalism

The esteemed French historian Fernand Braudel traces the history of the use and development of the term capitalism in volume II of his three volume history of capitalism, Civilization and Capitalism. According to Braudel, the first identified use of the term capitalist was in 1633. By the late 1700s it had come into use as a name for private handlers of money for private financial gain.

In 1850, Louis Blanc defined capitalism as "the appropriation of capital by some to the exclusion of others." Proudhon later defined it as an "Economic and social regime in which capital, the source of income, does not generally belong to those who make it work through their labour."

Adam Smith published his seminal thesis The Wealth of Nations in 1776. Clearly the term capitalism was unknown to him. Furthermore, since Smith had a strong aversion to financial speculation and any concentration of monopoly power he would have been a strong critic of capitalism.

Capitalism vs state control of the economy

Conventional wisdom has it that capitalism is the only alternative to communism, or state control of the economy. In fact most economies feature some mix of private and state ownership. Beyond ownership, all economies depend on the state to set a framework of rules for economic life and to order many aspects of social existence which fall outside the realm of exchange (see externalities). The financial and economic collapse of 2008 demonstrates the consequence of inadequate governmental oversight and regulation of capitalist markets.

Ambiguities in the definition of capitalism tend to obscure the nature and implications of the variety of economic models that are available from which a nation may choose. By the classic definition of capitalism, it refers specifically to a concentration and abuse of the power of money.

Capitalism and concentration of ownership

The more contemporary definition of capitalism ignores the essential issue of concentration. An economic system in which private ownership is broadly distributed such that almost every person has an ownership stake in in his or her home and the business on which his or her livelihood depends is one thing. An economic system in which ownership is concentrated in the hands of a few thousand people is quite another. The first provides a solid foundation for true "one person-one vote" democracy. The latter is the foundation of a form of privatized authoritarian rule lacking any semblance of public accountability. It is also anti-market because it favors monopoly pricing and the externalization of costs, both of which are antithetical to efficient market allocation.

The ambiguities and confusion are abetted by the fact that economists subscribe to a very broad definition of the term market economy that includes pure competition at one end and pure monopoly at the other, thus blurring the essential distinction between distributed and concentrated economic power. Market fundamentalists persistently ignore the fact that the magical invisible hand of Adam Smith to which they pledge their faith applies only to the pure competition end of the spectrum.

Capitalism, understood as a concentration of economic power, is a form of social pathology to which market economies are prone in the absence of proper public oversight and regulation to assure that the foundational principles of market efficiency are honored. The equitable distribution of economic power, which means it must be dispersed and locally rooted, is one of the most fundamental of these principles.

See also

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Author: David Korten

Carbon Neutrality

Carbon Neutrality

Caring Economy

Caring Economy

Carrying Capacity

Different species with different resource requirements impose loads of different magnitude upon their environment. For any given species, an environment’s carrying capacity is the maximum load it can support indefinitely—i.e., without reduction of that environment’s suitability for continuing to support that kind of load.1

Humans, as truly as any other type of creature, impose a load upon the environment they inhabit, because any organism needs to withdraw sustenance materials therefrom and, after making life-sustaining use thereof, to dispose of materials metabolically transformed. Because of this, carrying capacity is a concept too essential to remain confined within the occupational jargon of pastoralists and range managers.

Although withdrawals and disposals made by any one individual of a particular non-human species do not much differ from those of another member of that same wild or domesticated species, among Homo sapiens per capita loads vary enormously between different societies. Each million people in industrial societies impose a vastly greater load than imposed by a million hunter-gatherers.

Our ancestors lived in a world where political leaders did not yet need to know the carrying capacity concept. We now live in a world drastically changed. Truly ethical leaders must, as US President Theodore Roosevelt declared a century ago, protect posterity’s interests. For our descendants to have a future, carrying capacity must become part of the working vocabulary of office-holders at the highest levels of all governments.

Varying resource demands

Per capita resource demands, and per capita environmental degradation, are hugely different in developed countries compared to developing countries. With modern equipment, people engage in prodigious amounts of exosomatic metabolism, or garbage. Devices we use have appetites for fuel and raw materials, and excrete more abundant and varied effluents than are produced by endosomatic conversion of food into sewage. Resource demands of modern people have been technologically magnified. So have their waste streams requiring disposal—becoming contaminants of land, sea, or atmosphere.

A human carrying capacity surplus was a fundamental condition of pre-industrial Earth, capable of accommodating increasing numbers of humans seeking more abundance. Humans multiplied, and the New World today is more densely settled than was the Old World when it began sending excess people to colonize what were perceived as virgin lands. Moreover, many of us, equipped personally or collectively with mechanical extensions, have become colossal in our per capita resource demands and disposal needs. We’ve overloaded our planet.

Carrying capacity deficit

Twentieth-century industrial growth raised standards of living and seemed wonderful—with no consideration given of whether it was sustainable. It converted the former surplus of human carrying capacity into a serious and deepening twenty-first-century carrying capacity deficit. The carrying capacity deficit’s effects can be seen (a) locally in traffic congestion, such as that which obliged several of America’s national parks to substitute shuttle-bus service for visitor-driven automobiles on park roads,2 (b) nationally in the devastating practice of mountain-top removal for access to coal to feed our voracious furnaces, (c) globally in the many perils of climate change due to what we fossil-energy-users have done to Earth’s atmosphere.3

Inhabitants of a planet with a carrying capacity deficit, cannot live as people did in a time of carrying capacity surplus. Political leaders who fail to recognize this will grievously mislead, making bad situations worse—even with the best of intentions.4

Sources

1 Catton, William R. Jr. 1980. Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change. University of Illinois Press, p. 4.

2 National Park Service Looks at Transit to Reduce Environmental Impacts of Increased Visitors

3 Karl, Thomas R., Jerry M. Melillo, and Thomas C. Peterson (eds.). 2009. Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States. Cambridge University Press

4 Catton, William R. Jr. 2009. Bottleneck: Humanity’s Impending Impasse. Xlibris Corporation.

See also

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Author: William Catton

Censorship

Censorship

Civil Disobedience

Civil disobedience is a method of nonviolent protest that involves purposely and publicly breaking an unjust law. Without proper accountability, those who hold the reins of power often enact legislation that entrenches the status quo and accrues wealth and control to a ruling elite. The trend is not new, and is the basis of privilege, Latin for "private law," and stands in direct contrast to just laws aimed at the general welfare of a people. It is against such privilege that civil disobedience is most effective, by publicly forcing those in power to attempt to justify their private law.

Risks of civil disobedience

Every form of protest carries some risk, but civil disobedience is perhaps the riskiest, since it involves breaking an established law and therefore opens the protesters up to the violence of the state either through physical attack or incarceration. It involves taking the moral high ground against an unjust government, and as such the standards that the protesters must abide by are strict, lest they give the state the opportunity to label them as terrorists or rebels, and potentially justify violence against them in the court of public opinion.

Success factors for civil disobedience

Every situation is different, but any given act of civil disobedience is likelier to succeed in ultimately changing an unjust law if as many of the following criteria as possible can be met:

  • Nonviolence by the protesters is maintained at all times;
  • All other routes of protest have been exhausted and have been ineffective;
  • The desired change in the law or policy can be understood in the context of a universal right, and not just for the profit of the protesters;
  • There exists at least a modestly free press to report the protest, and the protest is as public as possible;
  • The more the merrier;
  • The government is corrupt but not totalitarian.

Civil disobedience and revolutionary change

Civil disobedience is not limited to changing laws, but can also be part of a strategy of revolutionary change, given enough critical mass. If the enforcers of the law, the military and police, see that the majority of the public is against not only certain laws, but the government in general, then they can potentially be turned against their rulers and side with the will of the people, and the government can be changed, hopefully for the better.

In an autocratic state with little free press, civil disobedience is unlikely to be successful unless it is quite massive, since it cannot be made sufficiently public, and changing laws in such a system is close to impossible. An act of civil disobedience in such a situation is likely only to identify those dissatisfied with the status quo and bring the violence of the state upon them with no benefit. In such situations, the potential protesters should evaluate their dedication to the cause of political change, and consider an armed revolution instead.

Additional resources on civil disobedience

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Authors: Rebekah and Stephen Hren

Civil Liberties

Civil liberties is a term that has generated many meanings over the centuries of its use. In their legal shape, civil liberties are the freedoms enjoyed by all in a society governed by the rule of law. These liberties can be asserted in ordinary courts against any wrongdoers (even government agents or servants) that interfere with them. The difference from human rights lies in the residual character of these liberties: they are the freedoms we enjoy in the space which law has not occupied, the zone of individual autonomy untouched by government regulation. Expressed in this way, it is not surprising that supporters of civil liberties often find themselves suspicious of state power. This view of the term comes close to libertarianism and can be seen today in the way in which civil libertarians express their grave anxieties about, for example, DNA sampling or CCTV surveillance.

Another version of civil liberties approaches it from the opposite direction, seeing the idea as encompassing the political freedoms that are essential to the proper functioning of democratic society. On this reading it is the freedoms of speech, association and assembly together with personal liberty that truly matter since these are the essential building blocks of the kind of open, discursive society on which democratic institutions depend. This type of civil libertarian has more in common with the republican tradition that sees freedom as being about living in a free society than he or she has with those who see liberty as being mainly about being able to resist the Big Brother state.

Civil liberties and human rights

In whatever form it takes, civil liberties tend to be more located in a specific place and culture than their more cosmopolitan counterparts, human rights. As such they are often attractive to those for whom the langauge of human rights makes too many ethical demands. Attractive though such localism is, however, the risk from the progressive perspective is that a civil libertarian approach can be more easily desensitised to minorities and in particular to outsiders than is the case with the more universalistic language of human rights.

Additional Resources

See also

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Author: Conor Gearty

Civil Society

As a term, civil society is the source of much confusion and contestation, yet it continues to hold a great deal of interest for the practice of ethical politics. Originally it was used by Aristotle to describe the ideal, self-governed society of Ancient Greece. After the Enlightenment and the French and American Revolutions, it became attached to the world of voluntary associations which defended individuals from government abuses of their newly-found rights and freedoms. And over the last 100 years or so, a third tradition arose from the writings of Antonio Gramsci, Jurgen Habermas and others who defined civil society as the ‘public sphere’ – the places where ideas are tested, consensus is negotiated, and, at least potentially, power relations are challenged and reformed.

All three of these definitions are reflected in present-day debates about civil society and politics. The ideal or ‘good’ society can be seen as the outcome of ethical politics. The world of voluntary associations provides one mechanism through which they can be practiced – informally but increasingly important as democracy is reshaped to provide more routes to direct participation. And the public sphere provides the forums in which different visions of the good society are debated towards some sense of a common or public interest. Therefore, civil society is simultaneously a goal to aim for, a means to achieve it, and an arena for engaging with each-other about ends and means. In this sense, civil society and ethical politics are inseparable.

Inseparable they may be, but exactly how civil society and politics combine is the source of continuing controversy. When voluntary associations or public spheres are captured by politically-partisan interests, they cannot exercise their functions effectively and public policy problems become embedded – even frozen – in polities that cannot solve them (think health care in the US). On the other hand, when civil society fails to engage with politics it can become irrelevant to large-scale social progress, distanced from the venues and processes where key decisions are made. One way through this dilemma is to recognize that the health of democracy is determined by the depth of its roots in pre-political processes and formations – in the everyday engagement of ordinary people’s voices, not their votes, at the community and other levels.

After all, this is what citizens are doing in millions of settings across the world through advocacy, organizing, movement-building, monitoring, and other forms of participation that promote accountability in society, diffuse political power, and fill out the formal processes of politics. Many observers see these roles growing in the future because traditional, representative democracy cannot satisfy the twin demands for autonomy and participation that characterize contemporary societies. In this sense, civil society will be central to the practice of ethical politics.

Additional resources

Civil Society - short and accessible overview by Michael Edwards (Second Edition, Polity Press, 2009).

See also

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Author: Michael Edwards

Civilization

Civilization is commonly defined as a type of human society with permanent settlements, high social and technological complexity, and agriculture, in contrast to primitive societies, which are nomadic, have lower complexity, and get their food through foraging and hunting. This definition can be value-neutral, but popularly it is usually slanted in favor of civilization: living in towns and cities, adding complexity, and growing our own food are seen as improvements. At the same time, in the popular story, human intelligence, knowledge, wealth, power, health, lifespan, morality, and quality of life are also improving. All of these improvements are tied to increasing technological complexity and economic growth. In the most extreme story, these changes are built into history itself and destined to continue.

The idea of history as a climb from savagery is fairly new. Most indigenous cultures have seen history as circular, and most preindustrial civilized cultures saw it as a decline from a golden age. Even among civilized people there have been critics of almost every aspect of civilization as we know it, from industrialization to agriculture. Jared Diamond has looked at archaeological evidence and argued that the switch from wild foods to grains ravaged human health, and the ability to store grains led to class divisions and hierarchy.[40] Marshall Sahlins has looked at hunter-gatherers observed recently and argued that they enjoy abundant food and leisure time, and a higher subjective quality of life than most civilized people.[41] And it is now becoming clear that the spread of the western industrial lifestyle is causing ecological catastrophe.

Primitivism

The most extreme critique of civilization is primitivism, which declares that repression, conquest, and ecological destruction are inseparable from cities and high complexity and agriculture, and the only tolerable path for humanity is to return to living in forager-hunter tribes. Although primitivists differ from techno-utopians in which aspects of civilization they focus on, their definition is the same in that it draws a clear line between civilized and primitive. This is challenged by societies in the grey area, like the tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy, who had towns, farms, wars of conquest, and representative government, but also sustained their local ecosystems, and lacked both written language and the wheel.

Also, both the common pro- and anti-civilization positions focus on civilization as we know it. There is another definition that keeps the positive value of the word, but does not apply it to the present society. You can see this in statements like "We have never been civilized," or in Gandhi's remark, when asked about western civilization, that he thought it would be a good idea. This is a speculative definition, a vision of a society that has not yet existed, but that if it ever does exist, will have most of the features we like about past and present civilizations, and few of the features we dislike.

Additional resources

See also

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Author: Ran Prieur

Climate Change

Climate Change

Closed-Loop Systems

Closed-Loop Systems

Collaborative Law

Collaborative law is a method of practicing law where the parties and the lawyers representing them sign a contract in which they agree to work towards settlement. If the parties are unable to settle and adversarial proceedings are to be filed, the lawyers are required to withdraw. New lawyers must be obtained for trial. In this method, the attorneys must focus on settlement and are free to use their creative problem solving skills. Communication is respectful and the process is future-focused. It works best if several lawyers in the community are trained in collaborative law so there are options for the clients and lawyers to work together.

Collaborative law was created by Stu Webb, a Minnesota family lawyer. In one Canadian community, Medicine Hat, Alberta, collaborative law has virtually replaced the adversarial family law system.

Collaborative law is suitable for many types of law and experiments are applying it to many civil contexts: probate, employment, medical error, and business. Still, it most often occurs in the domestic area. There are several different models of collaborative law. In some places, the prevailing model in the community is the two-lawyer model. In other places, there is a multi-disciplinary team approach using a counseling team and financial advisor to work with a family in a collaborative process.

You may also hear the terms collaborative practice, collaborative divorce or civil collaborative law. Collaborative practice is actually the preferred term since so much of collaborative law is actually interdisciplinary and it is more inclusive to say "collaborative practice". Collaborative divorce refers to the full team interdisciplinary model of family law. Civil collaborative law refers to non-divorce applications of collaborative practice.

Sources

See also

  • Comprehensive Law - legal alternatives incorporating procedural justice and personal dynamics

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Author: J Kim Wright

Collective Consciousness

Consciousness is typically thought of, at least in Western culture, as an individual, subjective phenomenon. Extreme materialists view it as an epiphenomenal byproduct of purely physical processes. Dualists on the other hand tend to view consciousness as a distinct animating force or spirit that inhabits the physical body.

Beyond this however, many religious, philosophical, and cultural traditions also hold the notion of a collective consciousness or shared experience of being: the akashic field of theosophy and Eastern religion, the Christian body of Christ, Carl Jung's collective unconscious, Teilhard de Chardin's noosphere or philosophical pan-psychism. The notion is further reflected in a variety of mainstream cultural settings: company morale, team spirit, mood of the market, public sentiment, consumer taste.

Especially in the latter instances, the language of collective consciousness is often merely a quaint way of referring to the statistical behavior and beliefs of a group of individuals. Yet beyond this, some researchers point to an inter-subjective, transpersonal phenomenon that runs beyond the sum of individual group member actions. Perhaps this is most clearly illustrated in the flocking/schooling/herding behavior of animals lower on the evolutionary tree. The simultaneous action of such groups is difficult to account for without a unifying, collective guiding phenomenon. This would require that consciousness occur as field-like effect rather than by simple transmission of chemical and electrical impulses. A number of studies have found evidence for such an effect [citations needed].

Additional Resources

See also

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Author: Bill Miller

Community-based Sustainability

On the rise in towns and cities across the globe, community-based sustainability groups respond to the urgent environmental, social, and economic challenges of the day through the collaboration of local businesses, non-profit organizations and governmental institutions.

Taking their lead from various sources, sustainability groups look to such organizations as the Ecological Footprint, Willits Economic Localization, the Business Alliance of Local Living Economies and Transition Towns, to name a few. Others go it alone and pave the road as they walk, taking the best of what they learn from various sources and utilizing the capital within their communities.

While each locale must build initiatives based on their particular needs, values, beliefs, and the assets of the leadership group, this definition specifically addresses three areas of research that should be considered as foundational for community-based sustainability groups: asset mapping, inventories, and indicators.

Separately or together, asset mapping, inventories, and indicator projects raise the level of awareness within the community; build critical collaborative relationships; provide data that help people think strategically about prioritizing actions; flatten ideological differences that often get in the way of positive, forward looking thinking; and, lay the groundwork for policy change.

Asset mapping

Described and put in to practice in a variety of ways, asset mapping is about identifying and locating resources that already exist within the community, and then leveraging those assets to support actions. The asset map for community-based sustainability groups is one that identifies the informal and formal organizations, institutions, groups, associations, and individuals already working on sustainability projects.

Asset mapping serves a number of important purposes:

  • Gives groups an opportunity to introduce themselves to many segments of the community and begin the critical work of relationship building, collaboration and networking.
  • Demonstrates successful sustainability efforts and initiatives.
  • Connects existing efforts and builds bridges between different types of work.
  • Develops a clear educational tool for those wanting to contribute their time and talent to sustainability projects.

Inventories

Inventories are analytical studies that help communities identify opportunities for economic localization, a key element of building a resilient, sustainable community. Economic localization is the process by which a region, county, city, or even neighborhood frees itself from an unhealthy dependence on the global economy and looks inward to produce a significant portion of the goods, services, food, and energy it consumes from its local endowment of financial, natural, and human capital.[42] Inventories serve to help quantify the potential for local production and inform policies that set sustainable, self-reliance targets in key sectors.

Indicators

Indicators are the qualitative and quantitative signs of a community’s overall health and long-term sustainability in order to track measurable change in social, economic and environmental systems over time. Indicators spur critical thinking, examine priorities, and leverage actions that will ensure a community’s long-term health. The most successful indicator projects are developed by a diverse cross-section of residents, stakeholders, and experts; reflect community values; illuminate linkages among multiple issues; considers a community’s’ carrying capacity (relative to the four types of community capital: natural, human, social, and built), and focus on long-term future change. Category examples include: economy, education, environment, government, health, housing, population, public safety, recreation, resources use, society, and transportation.

Research and passion - keys to community-based sustainability

Research projects are often the most over-looked aspects of creating sustainable communities, and for good reason, they take an enormous commitment of time and energy and require the best in democratic practice. These important research projects don’t need to preempt educational opportunities, “shovel-ready” projects, and other initiatives common to community-based sustainability groups. The most enduring and successful groups go with the energy and passion of the people who show up to get the work done.

See also

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Author: Neva Welton

Comprehensive Law

Comprehensive law, coined by law professor Susan Daicoff of Florida Coastal School of Law, is a movement that "utilizes the insights of procedural justice and other social science-based understanding of the intrapersonal and interpersonal dynamics of legal affairs and legal disputes. Problem solving courts, which include drug treatment courts, unified family courts, and mental health courts, are examples of the comprehensive law movement in application."

There are various vectors or related approaches and developments in the law that make up the comprehensive law movement:

Daicoff explains that comprehensive law and its vectors "intersect in two broad areas: first, it explicitly seeks to optimize human well-being in the administration of law, the resolution of legal disputes, and the resolution of legal matters, when to do so does not impinge or reduce the legal rights of the individuals involved. Second, in resolving legal matters, it explicitly considers more than strict legal rights, duties, and obligations; it includes needs, goals, values, beliefs, resources, relationships, psychological dynamics, and other nonlegal factors in its analysis of legal problems and legal solutions."

Comprehensive law provides an alternative to contemporary lawyering, aiming to improve the legal system from both the perspectives of lawyer and client.

Sources

Additional resources:

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Author: J Kim Wright

Conscious Coherence

In social systems, conscious coherence refers to the phenomenon of seemingly coordinated group behavior, when group members are acting individually, and without apparent direct communication. The collective action might be deliberate and intentional, as is achieved in successful work teams, sporting teams, or performance troupes. Or, it might occur passively as a product of some subtle, transpersonal phenomenon like Jung's collective unconscious.

See also

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Author: Bill Miller

Consciousness

In essence, consciousness is an internal experience (awareness) that bears some correlation to external events or phenomena, yet is distinct from them and self-existent. In its highest form, it is also self-referential (i.e. can consider itself as an object). Such experience is typically thought of as cognitive (thoughts, mentation), but can also be emotional (feelings), physical (pain, pleasure, body skills such as dancing, touch-typing, bicycle-riding) - or typically, some combination of all three.

Conscious awareness may be a response to, concurrent with, or an initiator of current phenomena. It may also be an awareness of past phenomena (memory), or speculations about hypothetical past, present or future phenomena (imagination, fantasy). In the case of fantasy or nocturnal dreaming, the awareness and its object exist in a feedback loop, wherein the experience of hypothetical phenomena in one moment itself serves as an object to be experienced in the next moment. Fantasy experience generally starts in the mind and is subsequently experienced in the emotions and body - sexual fantasy being one of the more compelling illustrations.

In popular usage, the term is often applied to social phenomena, using a modifier, to denote collective attention focused on a specific topic - for example, racial consciousness, or gender, or consumer, or ecological consciousness.

Western and Eastern perspectives on consciousness

Western philosophies generally view consciousness as a by-product of the increasing complexity of neural organization in living systems. In contrast, many Eastern philosophies hold that consciousness is a primary force in the cosmos, and that the material universe arises as a movement within it. In the former, a living object is considered to have consciousness. In the latter, the manifest world occurs within consciousness. In the latter case, consciousness is thought to pertain to all extant things, in increasing levels of complexity.

Debates around consciousness

Several ongoing controversies exist around the topic of consciousness. One pertains to whether machines can be made to possess true consciousness, or can they merely mimic its effects? The answer perhaps hinges on the resolution of a greater controversy: can consciousness exist apart from a physical substrate? This is the essence of the historical conflict between religion and science, having implications not only for concepts like eternal life and the realm of spirit, but also for the way we view and treat other peoples, the planet, and the greater ecosystem. Are these phenomena merely objects to be efficiently managed and manipulated, or must each be treated with the respect due a living subject? Citing a popular folk wisdom, perhaps our conscience will have to be our guide.

Additional Resources

See also

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Author: Bill Miller

Consumerism

Consumerism is more than simply equating personal happiness with consumption. Is one subject to consumerism if there is appropriate use of the items purchased? One can use one's automobile, cell phone, jewelry, computers and computer games. Does that support consumerism? Not necessarily – but likely.

Consumerism is multi-fold. It is the idea that one must purchase items, whether it brings happiness or not. The question is whether a purchase is made to achieve some personal happiness quotient or "just because"—to fulfill a want, to keep up with friends, to seek a way out of emotional pain, national pain and even international debt.

Consumerism is the macro-activity of making purchases, compelled by a social structure that values growth as the pinnacle of success. People hope to grow their salaries to grow the size of their homes to grow the number of items filling those homes.

Consumerism is fed by a plethora of new and engaging products, and by a blitz of advertising. People are influenced by peers, by the famous and infamous, by consumption-saturated children, to exchange a used product for a new one. Planned obsolescence prohibits one from deeming what's owned as sufficient when the item/product/service in question purposefully becomes obsolete.

And, consumerism escalates as the stakes increase, as perceived financial status increases, not to be confused with actual financial resources. So, combined with the idea of growth is the inevitable concept of more and the concept of better, both required to justify the purchase of that which does not meet the threshold of need.

Consumerism, then, incorporates the concept of wealth. An item that is modestly priced must not be of the same quality as that which carries a higher price tag. Paying that extra amount lends itself to personal prestige, that of the perceived financial status to afford more and better.

To consume is not, in and of itself, negative. One must consume food. One consumes energy resources. One consumes retirement income. The question of ethics arises when that consumption is not founded on what J.V. Crum quantifies as sufficient abundance or what Stephanie Mills has described as epicurean simplicity — phrases that allow for consumption of needs and even enjoyment of wants — but in a manner that is meaningful and rational to the individual rather than mandated by a pressure most do not perceive at all.

Additional Resources

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Author: Rosalinda Sanquiche

Contemplative Law

Attention is paramount in the law - attention to details; to legal, ethical and moral principles; and to the hearts and minds of clients, colleagues, judges and juries. Many lawyers have found that contemplative practice (like mindfulness meditation, for example) helps lawyers cultivate a greater ability to “pay attention.” Meditation can also help lawyers deal better with stress, develop self-awareness and understanding of others, improve concentration and creativity, and perform better as attorneys and mediators. There is a growing trend toward such contemplative practices in law, sometimes referred to as contemplative law.

Meditation training

Contemplative law is gaining attention by mainstream academia not only as means for personal development stress reduction, but also to cultivate perspective and skill to be a more effective lawyer and mediator. Academic programs explore ways of helping lawyers, judges, law professors and students reconnect with their deepest values and intentions, through meditation, yoga, and other contemplative and spiritual practices.

Many law firms are initiating meditation training and students at many law schools have taken mindfulness meditation instruction on campus, sometimes as part of law school courses. Groups of lawyers across the country are gathering together to practice meditation and to reflect on their law and/or mediation practices.

Contemplative law and criminal justice

Meditation is proving to be of benefit in the criminal justice arena. For instance, training in Transcendental Meditation (TM) is sometimes a condition of parole - as with the Enlightened Sentencing Project in St. Louis, MO. TM has been taught to tens of thousands of inmates worldwide and has shown to have significant effect on recidivism rates.[43] Vipassana meditation training has also been introduced to numerous prisons in the United States and abroad. Research is showing that such meditation instruction substantially reduces the rates of recidivism.[44]

Sources

  • Interview with Douglas Chermak, The Law Program
  • Tree of Contemplative Practices
  • Riskin, Leonard L. "Mindfulness: Foundational Training for Dispute Resolution," 54 Journal of Legal Education 79-91 (2004)
  • Riskin, Leonard L. "The Contemplative Lawyer: On the Potential Contributions of Mindfulness Meditation to Law Students and Lawyers and their Clients". 7 Harvard Negotiation Law Review 1-66 (June 2002).

Additional resources

See also

______________________

Author: J Kim Wright

Corporatocracy

The term corporatocracy is generally accepted as a euphemism for the corporate aristocracy or modern corporate oligarchy, an expression meant to identify the loose confederation of corporations, banks, and media who use their financial and political influence to bend the will of nations, supersede national sovereignty and governmental structures, and serve their own interests.

A corporatocracy or corpocracy is also considered to be a form of government where a corporation, group of corporations, or entities run by corporations, controls the direction and governance of a country.

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

The term corporatocracy was popularized in the 2004 best-selling book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man:

“The corporatocracy is not a conspiracy, but its members do endorse common values and goals. One of corporatocracy's most important functions is to perpetuate and continually expand and strengthen the system. The lives of those who "make it," and their accouterments — their mansions, yachts, and private jets — are presented as models to inspire us all to consume, consume, consume. Every opportunity is taken to convince us that purchasing things is our civic duty, that pillaging the earth is good for the economy and therefore serves our higher interests. “ (Preface pg. xiii)

Corporatocracy and power

The corporatocracy has immense power and influence, even the power to foment war, as John Omaha writes in Sourcewatch about corporate influence in the Iraq War:

“The war against Iraq is the creation of the corporations that have seized control of America and its institutions. America was once a democratic republic. It is now a corporatocracy. Corporations are soulless, deathless entities that have all the rights of citizenship that real people have and none of the responsibilities. Corporations have accumulated vast wealth that they have used to purchase, infiltrate, and colonize American government and many governments around the world. Corporations have absorbed the media, the two major political parties, the Congress, the Executive, almost all the Judiciary, in America and in many other countries, welding them into the globe-spanning unit that I have named the Corporatocracy. Corporations have distilled the essence of greed and rage to form their corporate structure. Profits must be maximized. Territory, natural resources, institutions, and citizens must be used and then discarded when they are no longer useful…

"Since the end of World War II, corporations have emerged as the dominant force controlling the planet. Through the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization, a mere 200 corporations have managed to seize control of 28.3% of the world's economic output. The fifty largest commercial banks and diversified financial companies assets amount to 60% of the $20 trillion global stock of productive capital.”

Sources

See also

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Author: John Perkins

Corruption

Corruption in the body politic follows the lines of corruption of the body human, though the natural process of human disintegration or decomposition is considered to be an inevitable part of the normal life cycle. When applied to governmental systems, however, corruption is viewed much more negatively, because the putrefaction is imposed consciously and willingly, usually with an eye to gain on some individual or group’s part.

In recent years corruption has appeared in many forms, though those instances rooted in the destructive use of money, power, and sex have dominated public forums.

No human individual willingly submits to corruption of their own body. But, especially when dealing with the three sources listed above, politicians are all too frequently offered the opportunity feed and prosper on the corruption of the very system with which they have been entrusted, that governmental body which nurtures millions of other individuals.

For corruption to exist, there needs to be an initial “pure” state, a situation in which a system or ideal works to the benefit of all, with little or no detriment to any existing entity. One such overriding state that deals specifically with positively administering the public good is called “integrity”. When corruption becomes the status quo, integrity disappears, truth and any concept of the public good is contaminated.

Sources

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Author: Jim Gabour

Crowd Sourcing

Crowd Sourcing

Culture

Culture is the set of shared beliefs and values that serve as the lens through which the people of a particular group, organization, or society interpret their world. A shared culture, or shared lens, is essential to the coherent function of any social group. Functioning without a shared culture can be like trying to have a conversation among people who lack a common language.

Culture gives humans a potentially powerful evolutionary advantage. Most species are limited by their genetic programming to a narrow range of adaptive possibilities. The limitations to human adaptation, however, are as much cultural and institutional as genetic. Human culture and institutions are human creations. They represent choice not destiny — and they are subject to change, sometimes with remarkable speed. As a species, humans have the capacity to choose their future by choosing their culture.

Cultural consciousness

This capacity is most fully developed in individuals and groups that have awakened to a cultural consciousness, an active awareness of culture as a shared lens that is of human creation and therefore subject to choice. It is possible for such groups to adapt their culture and behavior by conscious collective intent to deal with new threats and opportunities such as those now posed by climate chaos and the end of cheap oil.

A shared culture can also be a liability, however, if a group is not consciously aware that its own culture represents but one of a number of possible interpretations of reality. In the absence of such awareness, a group's members become captive to a cultural trance that can threaten their very survival by blinding them to possibilities that their existing culture rejects or denies. In his book Collapse, cultural historian Jared Diamond cites the case of a group of early European settlers in Greenland whose culture defined eating fish as uncivilized. Consequently, they starved when their cattle died even though they were surrounded by fish.

Manipulating culture

Since the beginning of time, most humans have lived out their lives entranced by the culture into which they were born. Demagogues have long instinctively capitalized on this liability by manipulating culture to their own ends with powerful effect. During the 20th century advertisers mastered the arts of cultural manipulation to create an individualistic culture of material excess that serves Empire well, but now threatens human survival. See the BBC documentary The Century of the Self.

Impact of global communications on culture

A primary source of hope for the human future is the increase in intercultural exchange spurred by the sudden expansion of global communication technologies that is now liberating people by the millions from the cultural trance and unleashing the potentials of the cultural consciousness. One of the most important tasks of progressive social movements is to accelerate the spread of this awakening and to coalesce and shape the creative life energy thus unleashed.[45]

See also

______________________

Author: David Korten

Debt

Debt is a socially-recognized claim on one's property or future income by another person, bank, or other corporate entity. It is the flip side of credit: when one party issues credit, the other goes into debt. The claim on another's income and property is enforced through social, legal, and moral mechanisms.

Debt - a form of slavery?

As many a mortgage holder or student loan recipient knows, debt is closely akin to slavery: the fruits of one's labor are not one's own. There are some important differences of course: people can be born into slavery, but are not born into debt. Borrowing money is, ostensibly, always a choice. Secondly, at least in Western society, the coercive mechanisms that enforce debt do not extend to those of a slave-based system. One will not be whipped, thrown in debtor's prison, separated from family, or killed for defaulting on debts.

Perhaps these differences are not so great as they might seem. Yes, to go into debt is a choice, but the system is set up in a way to compel most people to make that choice. That is because money, needed in order to survive, is created through debt. In a fractional reserve banking system, each dollar originates as a dollar of debt; moreover, because debts bear interest, the future value of all debts exceeds the present quantity of all money, forcing everyone into competition to obtain the scarce money to repay their debts. While some people may never go into debt, a majority must. Indeed, because another feature of an interest-based system is the concentration of wealth, the debtor majority is a growing majority.

While it is true that one will not be killed, whipped, or imprisoned for non-payment of debts (excluding imprisonment for non-payment of tax debts), the means by which debts are enforced are becoming more coercive. Part of that coercion is psychological: people are made to fear the destruction of their credit rating, as well as the social stigma attached to defaulting. Collection agency representatives are expert in manipulating these fears and the stigma, and most people find their collection calls quite traumatic. Moreover, creditors can and do take debtors' property through outright force, through agency of the law (court orders, sheriff's sales, etc.) With the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005, creditors became able to take future income by force as well, through mandated payment plans giving them a right to a portion of the debtors' wages.

The tendency of debt toward slavery is not a new phenomenon. In ancient Athens at the time of Solon, the society was in crisis because numerous farmers were unable to pay their debts and had lost their freedom. Solon responded with the famous Seisachtheia, or "shaking off of burdens" that annulled all debts. Debt annulment was also practiced in ancient Sumer, Babylon, and other societies.

Debt annulment

Debt annulment has profound political implications, because the distribution of debt and wealth determines, to a great degree, who holds power in a society. Ultimately, debt is nothing but an agreement, a story that specifies who owes and who owns, who has a claim on the assets and labor of whom. To change the distribution of debt is to change the distribution of wealth, and therefore of the capacity to direct and coordinate human activity. It is therefore significant that, facing the financial and economic crisis that began to intensify in 2008, the Bush and Obama administrations did everything they could to keep as many debts as possible on the books. Widespread defaults amount to transfer of wealth away from creditors and toward debtors. Inflation has much the same effect; hence the fiscal authorities have long sought to prevent both.

Rise of indebtedness

For the last four decades, the level of indebtedness in the developed world has steadily risen: household debt, corporate debt, and public debt. That means that more and more of one's income goes toward debt payments; in other words, more and more income goes to the banks and bondholders. Or one could argue that this is a deepening slavery to the banks. As of 2009, income is insufficient to service accumulated debts, and cannot ever become sufficient without the kind of economic growth not seen since the 1960s. One cannot pay any more, yet the debts must keep growing. Something has to give. There is no way out besides defaults and inflation. Both are likely to occur in the coming years - first one, then the other - opening an opportunity for new currency systems (demurrage-based, mutual credit, etc.) that do not create and depend on ever-growing debt.

Additional resources

See also

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Author: Charles Eisenstein

Deep Ecology

Definition by Shena Turlington

Deep ecology focuses on the inherent value of the environment and all species, beyond their use to humans. This philosophy is an important foundation for thought on ecological policy, spirituality, and psychology. Deep ecologists believe that the lack of recognizing intrinsic value of the biosphere beyond its relation to humans leads to overuse in natural resources, disrespect and destruction of natural landscapes and biological communities, and deterioration of cultures and traditions that are tightly interwoven with thriving local biodiversity.

The term was introduced in 1972 by Arne Naess, an important proponent in the environmental movement. Naess stressed the importance of respecting the intrinsic rights of all biological species in grassroots initiatives in order to influence environmental conservation policy, contributing to movement in thought away from anthropocentrism and toward species equality. Naess also emphasized the need for a change in consciousness, which should be achieved through learning to relate to trees, animals, and other elements of nature in an effort toward self-realization.[46]

Deep ecology platform

The eight principles of deep ecology, as outlined by Arne Naess and found on the website, include:

1. The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on Earth have value in themselves (synonyms: inherent worth; intrinsic value; inherent value). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.

2. Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves.

3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs.

4. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening.

5. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease.

6. Policies must therefore be changed. The changes in policies affect basic economic, technological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.

7. The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent worth) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between big and great.

8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly or indirectly to participate in the attempt to implement the necessary changes.”

Deep ecology laid the foundation for many types of ecophilosophy, such as transpersonal ecology, ecofeminism, and ecopsychology, as well as for Bill McKibben's Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future.

Sources


Definition by David Landis Barnhill

Deep ecology is a contemporary school of ecological philosophy. The term was first used by the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess in 1972 in his paper "The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movement." Naess contended that conventional environmental debates and reform efforts only skim the surface of the problems. We need instead to probe deeply, engaging fundamental worldviews that shape our ideas and practices no deposit casino. The central problem such probing uncovers is anthropocentrism, a view that we are separate from here and superior to nature.

One formulation of deep ecology is the platform of eight principles. Devised by Naess and American philosopher George Sessions, the platform is intended as a point of unity among different philosophies and modes of activism. Those principles are:

1. Everything in the community of life has intrinsic value independent of their value to us, buy best essay. The process of essay writing will be much easier with MarvelousEssays.Com as there are a lot of highly professional and talented writers who are always eager to help you out with any sort of academic assignments regardless of the complexity levels. I do know what I�m talking about!

2. The richness and diversity of life contribute to the realization of these values.

3. Humans have no right to reduce this diversity except to satisfy vital needs.

4. The flourishing of life requires a decrease in human population.

5. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is highly destructive.

6. Policies and social structures need to be changed.

7. We need to focus on the quality of life rather than material affluence.

8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation to implement the necessary changes.

More specifically, deep ecology is an ecological worldview and political stance that is distinct from others such as ecofeminism and social ecology. It has the following characteristics:

1. Ontology. Nature is seen holistically, as an organic field of being.

2. Human-nature relationship. Humans are fully a part of nature, with no ontological divide between our species and others in the community of life.

3. Self. Rather than being an autonomous individual, a person is a self-in-Self, one part of the larger web of life. On an individual level, the goal is the full realization of one’s self as integrated with the whole of nature

4. Axiology. Nature has unqualified intrinsic value, with humans having no privileged place in nature's web, a view known as biocentric egalitarianism.

5. Consciousness. We can achieve an intimate communion with the natural world, which yields a deep psychological identification with the community of life.

6. Critique. The ongoing devastation of the natural world is rooted in anthropocentrism.

7. Social ideal. We need to work toward a society that lives in harmony with the natural world, with political structures that reflect ecocentrism.

8. Morality. Morality in deep ecology is a spontaneous disposition to work for the flourishing of all, rather than a rational system of normative rules.

Many of these qualities have been informed by nature-affirming spiritualities, including Buddhist and Native American. Certain Western philosophers, such as Baruch Spinoza and Martin Heidegger, have also been influential. Nature writing has also influenced and been influenced by deep ecology. Many radical activists find theoretical support for their work in deep ecology.

Deep ecology has been criticized by ecofeminists and social ecologists for neglecting social analysis that would reveal the connections between environmental and social problems. Some critics have charged that deep ecology’s holistic view devalues the individual and that biocentric egalitarianism leads to ethical absurdities such as valuing a worm or shrub as much as a son or mother. In some cases these charges are based on an extreme formulation of deep ecology that does not reflect its primary orientation. However, some of these criticisms have proved valid and led to revisions in deep ecology. In addition, some ecophilosophers have combined deep ecology and other perspectives. Gary Snyder, for instance, is considered a leader of deep ecology yet he exhibits a number of views and values found in social ecology.

Further reading

Devall, Bill, and George Sessions. Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Mattered. Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith, 1985.

Naess, Arne. Ecology, Community and Lifestyle: Outline of an Ecosophy. Trans. and ed. by David Rothenberg. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 1980.

Sessions, George, ed. Deep Ecology for the 21st Century. Boston: Shambhala, 1995.

Snyder, Gary. The Practice of the Wild. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1990.

Websites

Deep Ecology: An Introduction

no deposit casino blog

The Green Fuse

Joanna Macy’s Deep Ecology

See also

Democracy

Democracy

Demurrage Currency

Demurrage is a carrying cost or storage cost charged by someone holding a commodity on behalf of someone else. Applied to money, it refers to a reduction over time in the face value of currency. In other words, it is a kind of negative interest: if for example you hold one hundred units of a currency to which a 7% demurrage charge is applied, at the end of a year it will be worth only 93 units.

The idea of demurrage originated with currencies that were issued as receipts for deposits of grain and other semi-perishable commodities in ancient agricultural societies. This is quite reasonable, as it reflects the depreciation of the stored commodity due to spoilage. Some medieval currencies were also subject to a kind of demurrage: the local lord issuing coinage would recall it every few years, and replace each four old coins with three new ones.

Revival of demurrage in 20th century

The idea of demurrage was revived by the economist Silvio Gesell in the early 20th century. He articulated some of its most important advantages. Chief among these is a systemic discouragement of wealth accumulation. In contrast to the present system, in which merely owning wealth generates (because of interest) more wealth, in a demurrage-based system wealth comes with a carrying cost. If you have more money than you can use, you will be happy to loan it out, even at zero interest.

Moreover, as Gesell puts it, "Money is no longer preferred to goods." Today's money is different from any natural substance, in that it does not decay over time and return to its source. Instead, it grows with time. The problem is that it is linked to an economy that is embedded in a finite world. Interest-based money drives endless, exponential economic growth, which means that more and more of nature must be converted into "goods", and more and more of human relationships must be converted into "services". Interest thus drives the monetization of everything. Demurrage does not do this.

Benefits of demurrage

A demurrage currency system is mathematically similar to today's inflation. It has some of the same effects: it favors debtors over creditors, it encourages circulation over accumulation, it reduces the polarization of wealth. There are some important advantages to demurrage over inflation, however. For one thing, the demurrage rate is fixed, obviating the dangerous non-linear feedback loops involving inflation, expected inflation, and money velocity that can spark hyperinflation. It also does not harm people on fixed incomes as inflation does.

Another advantage of demurrage over interest-based currency is that it reverses the short-term thinking that is harming our planet. In an interest-based system, the value of an investment is calculated by discounting future cash flows by the expected interest rate. For example, if you must choose whether to clearcut a forest and turn it into a desert now for an immediate profit of one million dollars, or to log it sustainably in perpetuity for twenty thousand dollars a year, the rational choice would be to clearcut it, bank the million dollars, and collect maybe forty or fifty thousand dollars of annual interest on that million. Demurrage encourages the opposite: long term thinking, preservation of productive resources, and sustainable investment. It also supports various innovations of the new economy that Paul Hawken calls the industrial ecology: the leasing economy, zero-waste manufacturing, storage costs for toxic waste, and so on.

Demurrage advocates

Several prominent economists vouched for the mathematical soundness of demurrage currency, including John Maynard Keynes and Irving Fisher. Fisher in particular became a vocal advocate of it during the Great Depression, and indeed demurrage currencies were adopted in many localities in the United States and Europe. Most famous was the town of Worgl, Austria, where a local demurrage currency was issued in 1932, sparking an economic miracle. However, when neighboring towns began to imitate the Worgl currency, the Austrian authorities banned it, and the town returned to its depression economy.

Impact of demurrage

Demurrage is not a gimmick or a superficial reform. Widely applied, it would fundamentally alter our attitudes toward money, wealth, and work. For one thing, demurrage currency is inherently non-scarce, circulating at its maximum possible velocity. Just as, today, if I have more bread than I can eat, I will happily lend some to you rather than see it go stale, so also do people prefer not to hold demurrage currency. Money is no longer special, but becomes just as abundant as the things it buys. This contrasts with our world today, in which we have a huge over-abundance of the necessities of life, but because of the scarcity of money, inequitable distribution leaves many in want. Thus we have enormous waste alongside terrible poverty. Demurrage currency would end this state of affairs. As Gesell puts it,
"With Free-Money [demurrage currency] demand is inseparable from money, it is no longer a manifestation of the will of the possessors of money. Free-Money is not the instrument of demand, but demand itself, demand materialized and meeting, on an equal footing, supply, which always was, and remains, something material."[47]

In a demurrage-based economy, wealth, power, and status no longer accord to those who own the most, but to those who give the most. It would recreate the dynamics of the potlatch societies, where leadership was associated with the inclination and capacity for generosity.

Demurrage-based currency also influences our spiritual intuitions. Today, money is something different from the rest of money, being imperishable, ever-increasing. It is an exception to the laws of nature, and leads us into a human realm that we equally pretend is exempt from nature's laws. But demurrage currency, like all natural things, eventually decays and returns to its source (the demurrage charges go to the issuer, who then issues an amount of new currency sufficient to maintain price stability). If we are to have an economy that is an extension of the ecology, it had better use money that accords with ecological principles.

Additional resources

See also

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Author: Charles Eisenstein

Development

As conventionally defined, development means progress, improvement, advancement to a higher or preferred state. Conventional economists, equate economic development with economic growth, creating an assumption in the public mind that economic growth represents universal progress and improvement.

According to Mexican intellectual Gustavo Esteva, development was first introduced as an economic term on January 20,1949 when U.S. President Truman, in his inaugural address, called for ". . . a bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industri­al progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas."[48] The announcement of this commitment set in motion a grand scheme to bring universal prosperity to all the world’s people by recreating the world in the image of the industrial-consumer society of the United States. In a mere instant Truman had stripped two billion of the world's people of the dignity due themselves and their richly diverse cultures. They became homogenized and redefined as underdeveloped, i.e., people’s whose consumption levels did not meet the standards that Western societies felt appropriate.

In Esteva's words: "From that day forward roughly two-thirds of earth's people have found themselves in a struggle to escape from the undignified condition called underdevelopment. Yet development's constant press for economic efficiency in a resource scarce world has produced only one commodity in abundance—useless people for whom the economy has no need and therefore to whom it assigns no value.

"For the underdeveloped, to develop means sacrificing the environments, solidarities, traditional interpretations and customs that have given their lives meaning in order to embark on a road that others know better, toward a goal that others have reached. For the overwhelming majority it has meant not the alleviation of poverty, but rather its modernization: a devaluation of their own skills, values, and experience in favor of a growing dependence on guidance and management by bureaucrats, technocrats, educators, and development experts."

Additional resources

See also

___________________

Author: David Korten

Dialogue

Very simply, dialogue may be defined as conversation that generates greater understanding. However, dialogue-based processes have been developed far beyond that simple formulation. Dialogue as conceived by the late physicist David Bohm can be considered a vital process of ethical governance and politics:

"...it may turn out that such a form of free exchange of ideas and information is of fundamental relevance for transforming culture and freeing it of destructive misinformation, so that creativity can be liberated." [49]

Dialogue at its best supports deliberations that yield profound understanding of issues, including thorough inquiry into all positions of a conflict. The dialogue process itself resists expectations or goals for conflict resolution, and as such a focus on outcome often obstructs the depth of process necessary for true understanding, precisely the understanding that is necessary to gain real resolution or transformation. Dialogue theory presumes that conflict arises naturally from our limitations as incarnate beings, with unique backgrounds and experiences, none of whom possess individually, or even as groups, access to all knowledge. The theory also views conflict as an opportunity for individuals and disparate groups to enlarge their understanding of both self and other, expand their limitations, and thin the boundaries that define their sense of separateness.

Likely, the ability to engage in dialogue is an evolved human capacity that predates civilization and the establishment of hierarchy. Certainly many indigenous cultures had, and some retain, deliberative processes that indicate dialogue as a key aspect. However most non-indigenous schooling and cultural conditioning stifles that ability, and rewards competitive argument and debate over understanding and collaboration.

Barriers to dialogue

Absent in most political deliberations is the willingness and ability to identify, and then to suspend or release attachment to, assumptions or core beliefs. Also largely absent is the ability to listen in profound ways, especially in the face of conflict, in order to explore thoroughly the truths contained in different beliefs, experiences and values. We are well schooled in debate and argument but not in investigation into the nature of our thinking processes, or in skills that tap collective wisdom. It is rare for leaders in any arena, except in a handful of cutting edge businesses, to take the time, or to have the peers or governing body willing, to engage in such rigorous and revelatory conversation that requires the ability to notice and “hold,” rather than react to, the inevitable tension that arises when individuals and groups encounter conflict.

William Isaacs, a scholar and consultant who has devoted much of his professional career to the study and training of dialogue, suggests that dialogue could transform the nature of our social and political structures. The power in dialogue that leads to transformation is rooted in the willingness to truly let go of defending one’s own position in order to engage in profound inquiry. Had the leaders attending the first Kyoto summit on climate change been willing, there could have been inquiry into the deep assumptions that drive climate change: The value of economic growth, the impact of global capitalism, the spreading tide of rapacious consumerism, and most critically, our underlying mental models of the environment. (Isaacs, Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together, p. 25)

The incorporation of such inquiry and deep reflection as dialogue practice entails might evolve political and social structures that would ethically assess and creatively address our collective predicaments.

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Authors: Tim Bennett & Sally Erickson

Disenfranchisement

Disenfranchisement is generally defined as the practice of “depriving of a franchise” (or legal right), or depriving someone of some privilege, participatory right, voice, or immunity in a given society.

Specifically, it is the practice by governments in all areas of a democracy (local, municipal, state, and federal) of removing, either by legal or illegal means, a citizen’s right to vote, or rendering their vote or voice ineffective. Historically there have been two forms of disenfranchisement, direct and indirect.

Euphemistically, disenfranchisement describes the condition of those existing outside the mainstream of society who feel themselves shut out of the same opportunities and privileges granted to others: prosperity, property, credit, access, audience, mates. Generally these include minority (by race, class, and sexual orientation) populations, and those living alternative or counter-cultural lifestyles or having what are viewed by the mainstream as "radical" or "extreme" belief systems. The highest concentration of disenfranchised are found in the ex-offender population, where a prior arrest and/or conviction--even for a minor crime--can forever alter the course of one's life.

Direct disenfranchisement

Direct disenfranchisement is made up of actions that explicitly prevent people from voting or having their votes counted. In the United States, this practice was put into widespread use beginning at the end of the Civil War with the passage of the 15th Amendment (which prohibited the explicit disenfranchisement of any citizen on the basis of race or prior enslavement) and continued up until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Southern states that were former members of the Confederacy “devised an array of alternative techniques designed to disenfranchise blacks and, to a lesser extent, poor whites.”[50] Some of the techniques of direct disenfranchisement included threats and violence against blacks and poor whites, fraud such as ballot box stuffing or ballot tampering, poll taxes, literacy tests, and restrictive registration practices.

Indirect disenfranchisement

Indirect methods of disenfranchisement are used to prevent people's votes from having an impact on political outcomes. Examples of this include tampering with electronic vote totals on touch screen voting machines, hanging chads and other physical ballot anomalies, limited numbers of voting machines in poor neighborhoods, provisional ballots, gerrymandering, legal challenges, and the most pervasive of the post-Voting Rights Act era, felony disenfranchisement.

Felony disenfranchisement

Felony disenfranchisement is the practice by state governments of barring people convicted of a felony from voting, even after they have served their sentence and reentered society.

The roots of felony disenfranchisement laws can be traced back to ancient Rome:

“Disenfranchisement was commonly imposed on individuals convicted of "infamous" crimes as part of their "civil death", whereby these persons would lose all rights and claim to property. The practice of disenfranchisement was transplanted to America by English settlers.”.[51]

The philosophy behind felony disenfranchisement is that persons who commit felonies have broken the social contract, and have thereby given up their right to participate in a civil society. But opponents argue that so many felony charges, like drug possession, are victimless moral crimes that did not break the social contract, and that those who honor the terms of their punishment and serve their sentences (the ostensible "paying one's debt to society") or otherwise rehabilitate themselves should be permitted the opportunity to be re-enfranchised.

The Sentencing Project in Washington, D.C. reported in 2008 that about 5.3 million U.S. citizens are ineligible to vote due to felony disenfranchisement, 2 million of whom are African-American.[52] Of these, 1.4 million are African-American men, which translates into an incredible 13 percent of that population, a rate seven times higher than in the overall population. Forty-eight states have some form of felony disenfranchisement law. Most bar voting while prisoners are incarcerated, as well as while they serve probation or parole. Two states, Maine and Vermont, allow prisoners to vote from behind the walls, as does Canada and a number of other countries. Two other states, Kentucky and Virginia, impose a life-long denial of the right to vote to all citizens with a felony record.

Felony disenfranchisement was one of the central issues of the 2000 US presidential election. Then Florida governor Jeb Bush and Secretary of State Katherine Harris paid a database company to compile a master list of anyone who conceivably might have been a former felon. These names, and many similar to them, were then scrubbed from voter rolls. The final list contained the names 82,389 voters to purge from registries, but subsequent investigation called into question the authenticity of most of the names. Investigative reporter Greg Palast contends that "at least 94,000 [were] falsely accused of being felons without the right to vote.... Most of the innocents accused and abused were Black...I know, because I saw those state records with the carefully recorded "BLA" next to the voters' names."[53]

Sources

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Author: Charles Shaw

Diversity

Diversity is variously conceived of as a quality of society, or of nature or a challenge to be managed. Homogeneity might be its opposite, and it has been credited with permitting Scandinavian-style social democracy. The value of diversity in itself can be derived from a philosophy of respect, from utilitarianism and from a notion of the sanctity of being. However, every view of the ethical world must see limits to diversity; from a simple perspective of logic, no one wants diversity to include all that is bad.

E.F. Schumacher

Dr Ernst Friedrich Schumacher, more commonly known as Fritz Schumacher, is an economist-philosopher and progressive entrepreneur from the twentieth century. Schumacher was an early prophet of the current ecological crisis and although he was a talented academic he became frustrated by theorising and so became a practical exponent of his theories in business, agriculture and journalism.

Fritz Schumacher was born in Bonn in 1911 and died in Caux, Switzerland after a speaking engagement there, in September 1977. He remained an atheist until the age of 44, when he began to read widely around comparative religions and he was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1971.

Schumacher left his native Germany in 1937 to live in London after having established himself as an ascendant academic in economics in Germany, Britain and the USA. During the second world war, Schumacher worked as a farm labourer in Northamptonshire, and then joined the Oxford Institute of Statistics. In 1950, he was invited to become the Economic Advisor and Director of Statistics at National Coal Board, where he remained until 1970.

Schumacher travelled to Burma during his post at the Coal Board, where he developed his ideas for Intermediate Technology and also Buddhist Economics, which grew into his seminal work, Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As if People Mattered, first published in 1973. It is this book for which he is perhaps most famous, but it was A Guide for The Perplexed, published in the year of his death, of which he was most proud. The books Good Work and This I Believe and other Essays were published posthumously, the latter being an anthology of essays which appeared in Resurgence magazine during the 1970s.

Schumacher actively supported organisations which he felt were doing good work. And, when he couldn’t find such organisations, he set about founding them himself. In 1970, Schumacher founded the Intermediate Technology Development Group (now Practical Action) and in 1964, he founded the India Development Group (now the Jeevika Trust) to promote village scale appropriate technology. He was also an active member of the Soil Asscociation, and was appointed as its president in 1970.

His commitment to sustainable solutions also had the capacity to inspire others to set up organisations founded on Schumacher’s belief. And so, after Gerard Morgan-Grenville met Schumacher in 1974 he went on to set up the Centre for Alternative Technology, or CAT in Machynlleth, mid Wales. The Schumacher Society, a membership organisation, was set up to commemorate his work, and has been holding annual lectures in Bristol every year since its inception in 1978.

Schumacher’s intellectual legacy, his holistic approach and search for appropriate, human scale solutions to contemporary problems are particularly resonant in the shadow of the global economic downturn. One of many particularly apposite quotes from Small is Beautiful reads, ‘the modern industrial system…consumes on the very basis on which it has been erected. To use the language of the economist, it lives on irreplaceable capital which it cheerfully treats as income.’ (p16, Small Is Beautiful, A Study of Economics as if People Mattered).

Earth Charter

Earth Charter

Earth Community

The term Earth community comes from the Earth Charter, a declaration of university responsibility to and for one another and the living Earth created through a process that began with the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and carried forward through a multiyear collaborative process involving hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals of diverse religious faiths, cultures, races, languages, and nationalities.

The Earth Charter elaborates four overarching principles of Earth community: (1) respect and care for the community of life; (2) ecological integrity; (3) social and economic justice; and (4) democracy, non-violence, and peace. It calls for a reintegration of humans into the planetary system of life and requires the birthing of human cultures and institutions that embrace and nurture material sufficiency for everyone, honors the generative power of life and love, seeks a balance of feminine and masculine principles, and nurtures a realization of the mature potential of our human nature.

Additional Resources

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Author: David Korten

Economic Democracy

Economic Democracy

Economic Hit Man

Economic hit man is a term first popularized in the 2004 book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. It is generally regarded as a euphemism for economic operatives employed in the private sector, who act as agents for advancing or enriching the interests of corporations and governments.

Economic hit men are contemporary instruments of empire and imperial control, who work within a system that includes transnational banks and corporations, government intelligence agencies, and military forces (the corporatocracy). This system was originally developed by the United States but is now in practice by most of the developed world (what Hardt and Negri call the culture of “Empire”), although the US has been the most successful at these practices to date.

Author John Perkins describes his work in the 70s, and early 80s as Chief Economist for the international consulting firm of Chas T. Main. While still in business school, Perkins was recruited by the National Security Agency (NSA), the United States' largest and most secretive intelligence gathering organization. While he never actually worked for the NSA, or became a government employee, Perkins believes that his subsequent recruitment by Chas T. Main was a direct result of the evaluation made regarding his character, talent, and abilities by the NSA.

“Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign ‘aid’ organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet's natural resources. Their tools included fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization.”

EHMs provide favors in the form of development loans to build infrastructure projects like power plants, highways, ports, airports, or industrial parks. A condition of these loans would be that American engineering and construction and equipment supply firms would exclusively build these projects.

“In essence, most of the money never leaves the United States; it is simply transferred from banking offices in Washington to engineering offices in New York, Houston or San Francisco… Despite the fact that the money is returned almost immediately to corporations who are members of the corporatocracy (the creditor), the recipient country is required to pay it all back, principle plus interest. If an EHM is completely successful, the loans are so large that the debtor is forced to default on its payments after a few years… This often includes one or more of the following: control over United Nations votes, the installation of military bases, or access to precious resources such as oil or the Panama Canal."

Origins of the term economic hit man

In a November 2004 interview with Amy Goodman on DemocracyNOW!, Perkins explained that the first real economic hit man was Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., the grandson of former US President Theodore Roosevelt, who, in 1953, overthrew the democratically elected government of Iranian head of state Mohammed Mossadegh, and replaced him with a totalitarian government led by Reza Pahlavi, otherwise known as the Shah of Iran. Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. was so successful at doing this without any military intervention, (instead, simply by spending millions of dollars to foment a domestic overthrow) that forces in the CIA realized they had stumbled upon a good model.

“At that point, we understood that this idea of economic hit man was an extremely good one. We didn’t have to worry about the threat of war with Russia when we did it this way. The problem with that was that Roosevelt was a C.I.A. agent. He was a government employee. Had he been caught, we would have been in a lot of trouble. It would have been very embarrassing. So, at that point, the decision was made to use organizations like the C.I.A. and the N.S.A. to recruit potential economic hit men like me and then send us to work for private consulting companies, engineering firms, construction companies, so that if we were caught, there would be no connection with the government.”

Contemporary economic hit men

Despite reports of their demise, EHMs are not only still active but proliferating. These days specialized EHMs work at the behest of corporate conglomerates like Monsanto, McDonalds, and Nike. Their job is to strike deals that benefit their specific corporations.

Bolivian President Evo Morales and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez both report being approached by EHMs, and in the end, were the victims of failed coups by EHMs and their more sinister replacements, jackals.

In a 2005 radio address, Chavez referred to Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by name, saying that economic hit men approached him at one point. He said he was offered funds from the IMF if he agreed to surveillance flights and the presence of US advisers. Even though he refused their offers, he said, these economic hit men did not give up and tried to exert pressure through weak government officials, legislators and even military officers around him, eventually leading to the failed coup of 2002.

Sources

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Author: John Perkins & Charles Shaw

Economic Hitman

This term has been reserved for John Perkins.

Economy

A people's or nation's economy is traditionally defined as its method for allocating scarce resources; who gets what, and when? There are a great many theories as to how to answer the question of allocation, from capitalist theories of supposedly meritocratic disbursement, to more egalitarian-based systems based on theoretical need such as socialism. Beyond the question of allocation, economic systems share some fundamental similarities.

Scarcity and abundance

Of primary importance, an economy is traditionally framed in terms of its scarcity, not its abundance, and especially as this relates to the human race, not by any ecological or planetary measurement. To illustrate, breathable air, a necessary good, is not finite in meaningful terms, and hence has no price. It is readily available to all. It is abundant. Thus, as abundance increases, all things being equal, scarcity is reduced, and the economy should necessarily be smaller. It is not surprising that in many indigenous cultures where all imagined needs and wants could be met by available resources, that there was necessarily little or no economy. This is not the world we inhabit, obviously, as additional needs and wants are identified or manufactured to create a “larger” economy (and hence, an increase in perceived scarcity). The greater the economy, the greater the power and control of those who can fill the scarcity, be it perceived or legitimate.

Resource flows

Secondly, as a measure of the allocation of scarce resources, economic indicators tend to look only at flows, and to disregard stocks of wealth, especially those that escaped the original definition of a people's economy. Flows can often be increased dramatically in the short term to make the stock of supposed economic “wealth” appear to increase. Any resource used before it is naturally replenished is a drawdown of a people's true wealth, though scarcity has increased and the economy will be said to have “grown.” As one example among thousands, poisoning water through agricultural or resource extraction run-off makes fresh water scarce, leading to the need of the people to pay more for the scarce need. The extraction and the degradation has, in conventional terms, made the economy “grow,” but only by drawing down the people's long term stock of wealth, and by making an abundant resource scarce. For a metaphor, imagine a family that owns their home, but mortgages it and uses the money to buy huge quantities of junk food. Their health and wealth has declined, but their economy (as measured as a flow of money) has increased.

An economy cannot grow infinitely, as the amount of replenishable resources is limited. However, this does not mean that a people cannot live with all their needs and wants met. A just economy recognizes what these resources are, how much of each can be used, and determines how to distribute them in a fair and sustainable way. Since traditional definitions of economy rely on scarcity and fail to acknowledge resource limits, it is necessary to redefine what a given people's allocation system is.

Additional resources

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Authors: Stephen & Rebekah Hren

Ecopsychology

Ecopsychology explores the relationship between humans and nature, specifically involving this relationship’s influence on mental health, environmental health, and spirituality.

The core of ecopsychology is the belief that humans and the environment are deeply interconnected, and that needs and health of one should best be explored by examining and responding to the needs of the other as well. Without the health of the environment humans are unable to thrive, and thus human treatment of and relationship with the environment can be seen as a reflection of human treatment and perception of the self. Disconnection with nature will result in decreased mental health, instability, and delusions, which will lead to self-destruction concurrent with environmental degradation.

Main tenets of ecopsychology

Ecopsychology can be broken down into three main tenets, according to psychologist John Davis:

  • There is a deeply intertwined and reciprocal relationship between humans and nature, often manifesting as home, mother, siblings, or self
  • The illusion of separation between humans and nature leads to suffering
  • Opening to the connection between humans and nature leads to healing

Origin of the term ecopsychology

The term ecopsychology first emerged from Theodore Roszak's book Voice of the Earth (1992), which called for a need for new methodologies to understand human treatment of the earth, and find more effective ways to prevent environmental degradation. Ecopsychology grew out of the necessity for a new paradigm in western psychological analysis that recognizes the limits of technocratic solutions in addressing issues and relationships which cannot be examined through a body of thought or ‘expert analysis’ because they exist in the realm of ‘experiencing’ and ‘being’.

Ecopsychology and the environment

The realm of ecopsychology explores how a person’s level of connection with, view of, separation from, or dominance over the environment will affect mental health, views of self-identity, treatment of others, and treatment of the environment. The importance of this relationship is the foundation of therapeutic methodologies utilizing nature and outdoors for healing, such as ecotherapy, wilderness therapy, shamanistic healing modalities, and other earth-based therapies that involve immersion into the outdoors and deep exploration of the inherent human-nature connection for the purpose of healing.

Ecopsychologists believe that “environmental crisis is a crisis of consciousness” [54], that our environmental issues are driven by unhealed emotions and psychological states, and vice versa. A lack of access to healthy environment can drive social and mental unbalance. Ecopsychologists thus explore the role of nature in healthy development starting at a young age, and often work with people and cultures that feel deep pain, anxiety, and despair due to environmental destruction, species abuse, and loss of sacred places.

Ecopsychologists often stress the importance of activism, as establishing mental and ecological balance can only be achieved through experiential methodologies, not just the act of thinking and analysis. Establishing a reciprocal relationship of giving and receiving with nature is essential, and a large body of work in ecopsychology deals with prescribing methodologies for people to become better caretakers of the environment, as well as identifying the changes that need to be made in psychological and social beliefs in order for a global shift toward sustainability to take place.

The realm of ecopsychology involves studies in environmental conservation, environmental philosophy, psychology, activism, social justice, ecological development, sustainable living practices, wilderness immersion, spirituality, transcendentalism, poetry, and other art focused on the aliveness of nature in humans.

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Author: Shena Turlington

Ecotherapy

Ecotherapy is exposure to nature and the outdoors as a form or component of psychotherapy. This type of therapy is based on the premises of ecopsychology, which explores the relationships between mental, environmental, and spiritual health.

Methodologies of ecotherapy

Ecotherapy can involve a variety of methodologies to deepen a person’s relationship with the natural environment and restore mental and emotional balance. Some methodologies include indigenous rites of passage and rituals, shamanic counseling, wilderness therapy such as vision quests or survival training, and simple acts of gardening, nature meditation, or walking outdoors. These methodologies are based on the belief of an interconnected relationship between humans and the environment and the inability to study or heal one apart from the other. Often ecotherapy is centered around eradicating beliefs of human superiority over or separateness from the environment.

Access to green space

Studies have shown that simple access to green space can greatly reduce recovery time for patients or improve worker productivity [55] [[56]. One study performed by Mind, a mental health charity, found that when subjects with mental health problems were sent to exercise either in woodlands and grasslands or in an indoor mall, 71% of those exposed to the green space experienced decreased levels of depression and 90% reported increased self esteem, while 22% of those indoors experiences increased levels of depression and 44% decreased self esteem. [57]

Studies in ecotherapy greatly support initiatives in sustainable development, such as building codes and green certification requirements for access to green space, biodiversity, and high atmospheric quality in communities and buildings such as hospitals, schools, and offices.

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Author: Shena Turlington

Elites

Elites

Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice efforts can generally be defined as advancing equal and fair access to the environments in which people live, work, worship, and play; supporting equal protection under the law and just enforcement of all environmental regulations.

Environmental justice involves rectifying the disproportionate burdens select communities have suffered as a result of the placement of environmental hazards. Environmental justice seeks to highlight and rectify the inequitable distribution of natural resources and the disproportionate placement of environmental toxins through grassroots activism and legal action.

The environmental movement in the United States has traditionally focused on resource conservation and species preservation, while international efforts have been more expansive and incorporated the concept of environmental justice. The United States has seen an increasing inclusion of environmental justice within the framework of the environmental movement since the late 1960s.

Environmental racism

Environmental racism is the social injustice represented by the disproportionately large number of health and environmental risks cast upon communities of color. Historically, communities of color have been unable to accrue sufficient financial, political, and legal resources to organize and oppose the siting of toxic facilities. Polluting industries are also attracted to low-income and neighborhoods of color because land values, labor, and other costs of doing business are lower. Globally, this can be seen in actions such as the export of electronic waste from developed nations to developing ones. Companies may perceive these communities to be the paths of least resistance.

Predicated on the acknowledgment of environmental racism, environmental justice defines environmental rights as civil rights. In the United States, the Civil Rights movement laid the groundwork for environmental justice through the use of litigation and mass movements as instruments of change. National attention was brought to these struggles in 1982 when residents of Warren County, North Carolina, protested plans to situate a toxic waste landfill in their community. The landfill was to store soil contaminated by 30,000 gallons of oil containing Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) that had been illegally sprayed along roadsides in 14 North Carolina counties. PCBs are persistent organic pollutants that do not easily degrade and accumulate in the tissue of animals and humans at higher rates than can be absorbed and eliminated. At the time, Warren County, chosen from ninety proposed sites, had the highest percentage of African-American residents in the state. The county was 64% black, and, out of North Carolina’s 100 counties, ranked 97th in per capita income.

The Warren County struggle was the catalyst for the landmark 1987 “Toxic Waste and Race” report compiled by the United Church of Christ (UCC) Commission for Racial Justice. In this report, Reverend Benjamin Chavis Jr. originated the term "environmental racism,” defined as racial discrimination in the official sanctioning of the life-threatening presence of poisons and pollutants in minority communities through strategic siting, government policy, unequal enforcement of laws and regulations, and the exclusion of minority stakeholders from mainstream environmental groups, decision-making boards, commissions and regulatory bodies. The UCC study highlighted the direct correlation between the location of hazardous waste sites and minority populations. More recently, the United Church of Christ released an update of its original report Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty: 1987-2007. The study reaffirmed that race and place matter. Significant racial and socio-economic disparities persist in the placement of hazardous waste facilities and polluting industries. Legal remediation is inconsistent, and communities of color and low-income communities continue to face unequal protection under the law.

Environmental justice and environmentalists

The environmental justice movement is comprised of people who do not typically identify themselves as “environmentalists.” These citizens, grassroots organizers, and advocates have a vested stake in the environment but may not participate in organizations exclusively dedicated to nature conservation. While environmental groups have dedicated themselves to highlighting the plights of species extinction and climate change, the environmental justice movement strives to put a human face on these issues and address the preservation of communities through the inclusion of local stakeholders.

Environmental justice and climate change

Recent environmental events demonstrate that the struggle for environmental justice is ongoing and amassing greater interest. The United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2007 sought to develop a road map to tackle climate change but failed to set binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and used market mechanisms as the primary means of change. Because agrarian-based developing nations are most vulnerable to climate disruptions, these official decisions spawned sideline discussions among activists working to increase civilian participation and define just climate parameters and policies. The growing green-jobs movement expands environmental justice and uses employment as an instrument of social change, working to revitalize low-income communities and communities of color through the transformation of blue-collar jobs and the creation of localized jobs in renewable energy, recycling, and other environmental industries.

Environmental justice requires us to rethink our relationship with our own and neighboring communities and expand our understanding of the environment; it is as much about saving people as preserving wildlife. The struggle for clean air, clean soil, and clean water benefits everyone. Acknowledging and understanding political and social divisions of race, class, and gender are fundamental to shifting the global organization of environmental inequality and justice for all.

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Author: Simran Sethi

Ethical Markets

Markets cannot function for long without trust, transparency and contract law, and are usually created by governments as a social contract. This contradicts the idea of an invisible hand proposed by Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations (1776).

Markets are not part of the natural world, analogous to the forces such as gravity, studied by physicists. Neither do markets derive from God. Instead, markets are a creation of humans, as part of our "propensity to barter" since ancient times, as described in The Politics of the Solar Age (1981, 1988, pages 160-162). Exchange and trading by humans is a recurrent activity throughout our history (e.g., the Kula Ring described by Bronislaw Malinowski in his Argonauts of the Western Pacific,1922). Karl Polanyi describes in Primitive, Archaic and Modern Economics (1968) how early markets used mediums of exchange, e.g., shells, cattle, tally sticks and other forerunners of money. Barter is becoming more prevalent in today's Information Age as facilitated by websites such as Craigslist, Freecycle and many others.

Move from local markets

Markets were local and decentralized until they were nationalized in the 1600s by the British Parliament in the Enclosure Laws, as described by Polanyi in his The Great Transformation (1944). (see also Creating Alternative Futures (1978, 1996)). Kirkpatrick Sale in Human Scale (1980) traces the effects of expansion of markets in industrial gigantism. Once markets became de-coupled from the social and cultural bonds of small-scale communities in local village squares and town centres, they lost their ethical moorings provided by face-to-face contacts and personal relationships. The more the scale of markets grew, the more abstract their dealings, the greater the temptations grow. Players could hide the social and environmental consequences of production and exchange of commodities, and these social costs grew in lockstep. This was a key insight of E.F. Schumacher in his Small is Beautiful (1973) as well as Mildred Loomis, a leader in local community renewal, in her Decentralism (1980) published by the School of Living Press, York, Pennsylvania.

Markets were free from the moral constraints of community and the empathy humans can feel due to the mirror cells in our brains that allow us to experience what others experience (codified by all major religions in the Golden Rule). As Adam Smith noted, markets must operate under two conditions:

  • buyers and sellers meet in market places with equal power and equal information
  • no harmful effects be inflicted on any innocent bystanders not part of the transaction.

In today's industrial societies, there are very few markets where these conditions are met.

Financial markets

Clearly, markets outgrew Adam Smith's conditions, and in the 1980s, financial markets were de-regulated by US President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This began our current form of globalization. These new global markets not only for goods, but also for services – even the bogus "services" of finance – were inherently unstable. A global casino emerged – devoid of any regulations, since even UN agencies, the World Bank, the IMF and international trade agreements lagged behind the speed of electronic communications, satellites and the internet. Today, formerly paper and now electronic assets are traded in nanoseconds. Fifty percent of all Wall Street trading is now done by computer programs, and $4 trillion of currencies are traded everyday on computerized currency exchanges. No wonder these runaway markets exploded and led to financial collapse.

It has been no surprise to analysts (see Paradigms in Progress, Building a Win-Win World, The United Nations: Policy and Financing Alternatives and "Foreign Exchange Transaction Reporting System (FXTRS)" Futures, Elsevier Scientific, UK, 1996, as well as recent articles like "Tax to the Rescue" Asia Times Online, March 24, 2009, and Policy Innovations, March 18, 2009) that this global casino would collapse of its own absurdities. The extent of abstraction from reality of these computerized markets is illustrated by the staggering errors in modeling markets by mathematicians. These so called "quants" ran hedge funds and dreamed up "financial innovations" like credit-default swaps (CDSs) and collateralized debt-obligations (CDOs). The insane size of these credit derivative contracts reached $685 trillion in December 2008 (Bank for International Settlements, Basel, Switzerland, December 2008) compared with real world GDP of only $69.5 trillion (CIA World Factbook, based on purchasing power parity (ppp) for 2008). After the financial collapse of 2008-2009, the reality of how markets must return to the real production and exchange processes still occurring in millions of communities and villages around the world became apparent.

A return to ethical markets

The need for ethical markets, embodying those original values of trust, transparency, contracts and providing actual products and real services to consumers, is clear. While governments are limited in their ability to allocate resources, their role as norm-setters, rule-makers, enforcers and overseers of markets is essential. Markets cannot govern themselves. In truth, all societies are mixtures of markets and regulations: rules and markets are two sides of the same coin.

Additional resources

  • Ethical Markets - news and perspective on socially responsible investing, global corporate citizenship and lifestyles of health and sustainability

See also

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Author: Hazel Henderson

Ethics

Ethics

Externalities

Externalities are a technical term in classical economics: they are those consequences of actions which are not reflected in market prices. Non-economists might think that this must include almost all of human activity, and that to make those external to your study---special cases, as it were---can only be proof of the narrowness of classical economics. The notion that externalities are exceptional, however, is very important in the claim that a small-government world of rule of law and property rights can deal with the impacts of social interaction.

In a testament to the power of economics in policy-making circles, the term has become a standard way to think of environmental questions as well as all sorts of quality of life issues. An interesting view of the evolution of the language of environmentalism is offered by Mike Hulme.

A.C. Pigou provides the classical analysis, and his analysis seems to call for wide-ranging taxation by government to correct market failures. Ronald Coase was the very influential Chicago economist who produced some examples of externalities which did not require taxation to sort out. His proposition was that as long as it is easy for those affected by outcomes to do deals with those causing the outcomes, externality problems could be fixed.

Environmental problems are often extremely diffuse. How can future generations do deals with current generations to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases? Whether a tax to limit consumption today in the interests of the future is clearly not a technocratic matter, but a collective ethical and political choice. Despite such obvious difficulties with Coase and Pigou, their analyses have been very influential in the development of market mechanisms, like rights-based cap and trade policies.

An alternative view is to consider so-called externalities to be pervasive aspects of human action. What is the right attitude towards others---and more broadly other life---when nothing that is done has effects that can be contained? Such a view would tend to emphasise respect rather than freedom.

Additional resources

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Author: Tony Curzon Price

Fair Trade

Fair trade is a term used to describe a system of trading where each of the participants in the supply chain gets a fair price for the part they play in the chain without any party using their buying power to distort the relationships.

In a narrower sense fair trade is normally used to describe a relationship between poor commodity producers in the developing world and commodity buyers; a relationship where some buyers exploit their position of strength by buying at an unfair price. Other buyers may impose conditions on their continued purchase of a commodity; for example by insisting that the producer buy seeds and necessary fertilizer from them at inflated prices.

A number of fair trade organizations have been set up to encourage and ensure a fair trade deal is struck between the commodity producer and the buyer. Typically this fair trade relationship ensures the producers receive prices that cover the costs of sustainable production, advance credit, longer term trade relationships, and decent working conditions for hired labour. Those commodities that are fairly traded can then state this on their products which gives the end consumer the option to buy them and so encourage fairly traded products and reinforce the benefits of fair trade. To make it even easier for the consumer a system of labelling has been established which clearly identifies the product as having been fairly traded.

The idea of fair trade is strongly linked to the Trade Justice Movement.

Additional resources

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Author: Peter Marcham

Fear

Fear is one of the principal factors determining political decisions throughout the world and contributes readily to anger and violence. Fear is easily exploited by politicians during times of insecurity and makes peaceful and progressive solutions harder to find. Fear, more perhaps than any other emotion, impedes change and healthy development, even where the need for it is clearly understood.

Political cultures often insist that politicians appear strong and certain of themselves in order to provide leadership in a frightening world. Their consequent unwillingness to admit to any uncertainty or doubt surely impedes clear debate on complex issues and blocks wise decision-making.

Fear and conflict

War and conflict is often brought about or worsened by fear and manipulation of fear. Sometimes it may seem reasonable and necessary, but a fearful response can easily become self-fulfilling. Less fearful and more peaceful approaches to issues of potential conflict could save countless lives and do more to create global trust, goodwill and security than any number of military operations. If we could act and make policy with less fear and more love, as all spiritual traditions urge us to do, then surely the world would be a far safer place.

In addition to strategic questions, policies relating to crime and punishment are also often overshadowed and influenced by a heavy weight of fear. In part because of this, they then focus more on punishment than on prevention and rehabilitation in attempting to reduce criminal behaviour. In the same way, many troubled children are neglected and ignored when they need help and then, through fear, demonised and punished when it may almost be too late to help them.

Personal fears and society

Clearly there is a strong link between fear as it affects societies and as it affects individuals. We project inner fears onto the world around us, particularly onto the unknown, the unfamiliar and the other. While unscrupulous leaders frequently take advantage of our fears, the most remarkable and admired leaders are often those who are lacking in fear. They understand the interconnectedness of life and thus act lovingly without appearing to fear for their own security. They trust that others will support them when necessary and they speak their mind clearly and courageously, even if they are isolated or ridiculed as a result.

In a less fearful world there might be more people with a strong sense of authenticity and empathy, which provide protection against competitive and consumerist pressures and against the urge to seek constant movement and novelty. Such people would be more resistance to advertising, which notoriously plays on our fears of inadequacy compared to others or to some supposed ideal.

A fearful and mistrustful person or society is likely to cling for security to all that is familiar. Fear of losing that security can lead in turn to conflict or to clinging and difficult relationships. Those who cling to dogmatic beliefs frequently come into conflict with others, may be highly intolerant of bold questioning and may nurture fear of non-conformity and of outsiders.

The first task in creating a less fearful and mistrustful world would surely be to ensure that as many children as possible spend their early years in a loving atmosphere of confidence and security. Meanwhile, we could choose to examine our fears and to see what they are really about and we could consciously seek political leaders who are not influenced by fear and whose manifestos would pursue more peaceful and optimistic paths.

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Author: James Sainsbury

Feminism

The challenge of defining feminism was encapsulated by the celebrated English writer Rebecca West when she remarked, “I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” But if feminism is notoriously difficult to define, most would agree that it is based on the struggle for equal rights and legal protection for women.

Thankfully, much progress has been made in transforming deeply entrenched assumptions about gender, and the specific human rights of women are increasingly accepted within societies; including the right to have control over and decide freely on matters related to sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.

However, these hard-won rights are not only insufficiently upheld in many countries – they are also threatened by demographic, cultural and economic change. For example, the current financial crisis has particular consequences for women. The effect of free trade on women has been considerable, especially in developing nations where women are seen as cheap labour and drafted in to low skilled, low paid, flexible work. Despite social and employment rights in the EU to help women combine work and family life – flexible working, more maternity rights and part-time work - women remain over-represented in precarious jobs which make them particularly vulnerable.

The dominant male culture of the global political economy continues to exclude women and the feminist perspective from key decision making processes on issues such as financial and economic management, free trade and development, conflict resolution and health. Women and children often suffer the worst effects of conflict, poverty and humanitarian catastrophes, yet women are under-represented in most government and commercial bodies. Women still carry out the majority of unpaid work in the home and, on average, work considerably more hours than men.

The barriers to women’s political participation are numerous and pervasive: expectations to conform to stereotypes, undervalued contributions, lack of confidence, resources or access to claim positions of power, the patriarchal bias of political parties, structures, systems and procedures. The threat of gendered and sexual violence is ever present. And even in developed societies, women are often not taken seriously, or paid equally, in their work.

Feminism is about encouraging profound cultural shifts towards more equal and flexible definitions of gender, putting women at the heart of decision-making, adequately addressing the specific needs of women through government measures to eradicate poverty, provide good health care, and counter negative portrayals and sexual objectification of women in the media.

Feminism is very much about men too - both sexes benefit from more flexible definitions of gender. Men can feel equally trapped by strict paradigms of masculinity which bear little resemblance to the reality of their feelings about themselves. For example, many men have been exasperated at governments’ lack of action to address the disparity between the sexes when it comes to childcare – given the assumption that women are always the primary carers.

Measures to encourage equal shouldering of family responsibilities are certainly crucial to the wide reaching feminist agenda, as are strategies to encourage female participation in politics, improve conviction rates for sexual violence, give women in the developing world more control over their fertility, and provide specific support networks and gendered health facilities for those that need them.

Additional resources

See also

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Author: Caroline Lucas

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a process of letting go of the anger and resentment for a perceived wrong-doing or debt. The International Forgiveness Institute distinguishes several kinds of forgiveness:

Moral

  • It is a response to an injustice (a moral wrong).
  • It is turning to the "good" in the face of this wrongdoing.

Goodwill

  • Merciful restraint from pursuing resentment or revenge. Generosity or offering good things such as: attention, time, remembrances on holidays.
  • Moral Love or contributing to the betterment of the other.

Paradoxical

  • It is the foregoing of resentment or revenge when the wrongdoer's actions deserve it and giving the gifts of mercy, generosity and love when the wrongdoer does not deserve them.
  • As we give the gift of forgiveness we ourselves are healed.

Beyond duty

  • A freely chosen gift (rather than a grim obligation).
  • The overcoming of wrongdoing with good.

They point out that forgiveness is not denial or ignoring the wrong-doing, condoning it, pretending it didn't happen or that the person wasn't really responsible. Forgiveness isn't morally superior and no compensation is required for forgiveness. It is not condemning.

Additional resources

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Author: J Kim Wright

Free Expression

Free Expression

Fundamentalism

Strictly speaking, fundamentalist is a term applied to a subset of conservative Protestant Christians. It derives from a set of pamphlets, The Fundamentals, written in the United States shortly before the First World War, and ultimately deriving from denominational orthodoxies of the seventeenth century, and revivalist movements in America and Britain during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Among the cornerstones of Christian belief designated by The Fundamentals are the divinity of Christ, his atoning sacrifice on the cross, the Virgin Birth, and the inerrancy of the Bible interpreted in a literalistic fashion. The Fundamentals were published to shore up the faith in response to the perceived threats posed by scientific advances and other forms of cultural change.

Some more liberal Christian groups had reacted with flexibility to the discoveries of Darwin and of early biblical scholarship, reasoning that the creation narratives and other scriptural passages should be interpreted allegorically. To many conservatives, though, such revisionism was profoundly unsettling. Their hardline reaction illustrates the paradox that fundamentalism is a product of the modern era that it deplores, rather than a genuine expression of Christian tradition. For this reason the number of fundamentalists did not decline during the twentieth century in line with the spread of education and other developments. On the contrary, fundamentalist groups mutated, and tended to resist change with ever-greater vehemence. As a research document produced at the University of Chicago in 1988 put it, “fundamentalism is an approach, or set of strategies, by which beleaguered believers attempt to preserve their identity as a people or group by a selective retrieval of doctrines and beliefs...”. [58] Disputes over the teaching of evolution in schools, among other examples, are thus at root symptoms of a broader conflict about who gets to define a way of life.

Islamic fundamentalism

During recent decades, the fundamentalist label has increasingly been applied across the board to those – whether Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist or atheist – who are convinced of the infallibility of their world view, and liable to demonise those who disagree with them. So-called Islamic fundamentalism has received most attention, despite a problem over definitions. It stems from Wahhabism, a Saudi Arabian-based movement with an especially conservative understanding of sharia law. As historians of Islam have pointed out, however, there is no tradition of liberal or modernist interpretation of the Qur’an against which conservatives can react. The violent repudiation of the West seen in groups such as al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan is more a political matter premissed on a simple (and, to critics, highly simplistic) equation between Western power and alleged imperialism.

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Author: Rupert Shortt

Gaia

Gaia, originally the ancient Greek name for the Earth conceived as mother-goddess, today refers to the insight that Earth as a whole is a living, self-maintaining system. This idea was put forward in the 1960s by British scientist James Lovelock to explain how the extraordinary mix of unstable gases manages to persist in the Earth’s atmosphere. The answer, he proposed, is that living organisms provide a constant flow of gases to maintain its improbable balance. Taking the suggestion of novelist William Golding, Lovelock christened his vision of a living Earth as Gaia –– a fateful decision that proved controversial, but gave his radical idea a double life as both scientific theory and an imaginative vision challenging the modern image of machine nature.

In this post-Darwinian understanding of Earth’s history, living creatures have done more than adapt to conditions on Earth; they have played an active role in creating and maintaining the world we know. Not unlike the human body, our planet continually sustains and renews itself through a global metabolism that depends on living organisms as well as chemical and geological processes to keep it suitable for life. Besides maintaining the atmosphere and the planet’s climate, various parts of the system also shield the Earth from the sun’s dangerous radiation and recycle water and four nutrients vital to life: carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorous.

Lovelock’s Gaian framework has helped counter the rigid specialization within science and has fostered the study of the Earth as an interconnected living system, but its most lasting impact may lie beyond science. The conviction that the Earth itself is alive in some sense has been expressed through the ages in various religious and cultural traditions, including our own during the Renaissance. In Timaeus, a dialogue describing the physical nature of the world, Plato describes the Earth as “that single living creature...of which all other living creatures, severally and generically, are portions.” Now this ancient and archetypal perception of a creative, dynamic, living Earth has returned through the door of modern science.

The Gaian story of life and Earth as an ongoing collaboration advances a far more attractive and optimistic vision than the modern era’s metaphor of world as machine, which portrays a passive, deterministic alienating nature that few would be eager to claim as kin. The same has been true for some recent versions of evolutionary theory, which, in the spirit of the modern era, view life primarily through the lens of competition and the metaphor of selfish genes. Through Gaia as metaphor, it is possible to glimpse the organic unity of the Earth and be awed by our own existence within this rich, complex, and wondrous whole. It also opens the possibility for a new cosmology or worldview that embraces nature and humanity in a single common order, providing a foundation for a new cultural map that can guide us in the planetary era.

Additional resources

  • Exploring the Gaia Hypothesis - a presentation by James Lovelock and Bill Donohoe, excerpted from Gaia: The Practical Science of Planetary Medicine.

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Author: Dianne Dumanoski

Gift Economy

In its simplest form, the gift economy is not hard to comprehend: it is an arrangement for the transfer of goods or services without an agreed method of quid pro quo. Indeed, there may be no expectation or mechanism of exchange whatsoever; hence, the "gift" aspect of the interaction.

But things get complicated quickly. Application of gift economy principles varies widely; and there is, perhaps, considerable disagreement about what constitutes a gift economy transaction. Is every act of generosity, in effect, a gift economy transaction? Does every transfer of goods and services that lacks a predetermined price or definitive method of exchange qualify? The assessment is sometimes complicated and confounding.

Essential elements of a gift economy transaction

There are three essential features to any gift economy transaction. The first is that there is an act of selflessness on the part of the producer of the goods or services. This does not necessarily mean that they intend to confer the benefit without remuneration, though that is often the case; but there must be some element of altruism that transcends calculations of self-interest as judged within the narrow perspective of the transaction itself.

The second element of a gift economy transaction is that it entails an element of free play in the transactional structure – particularly in opposition to the dominant modes of exchange in the prevailing market economy – which fundamentally alters the way in which the giver and the recipient measure value. Thus, while in the market economy prices are usually established by the provider of the goods or services, in the gift economy the roles are often reversed, with the recipient shouldering the responsibility to place a value on the benefit. Most importantly, the gift economy calls into consideration larger social objectives extending beyond the intrinsic value of the goods or services. Market-based exchange tends to focus on the inherent value of the product – measured by the material conditions of production, relative functionality or emotional satisfaction, and relative abundance or scarcity – and therefore tends to externalize both the true social costs and instrumental social benefits associated with consumption. By contrast, the producer in the gift economy is motivated by a systemic faith that giving freely strengthens the basic social fabric, benefiting everyone, even if the transaction is quite limited, specific, and without any overtly social purpose.

The final component is, perhaps, more aspirational than actualized. Ideally, a gift economy transaction is not a single transaction at all; it aims to be a vector of giftings and re-giftings. Whereas market economy transactions tend to be bound within a single, reciprocal exchange, gift economy transactions involve catalyzing a process of selfless giving which induces the recipient of the benefits to, in turn, confer a benefit selflessly on another. This chain-reaction quality of the gift economy is commonly referred to by the phrase, “Pay it forward,” meaning that the moral obligation of the recipient is not to remunerate the giver, but rather to become the giver in an ongoing altruistic process.

Illustrations of gift economy activity

There are a number of transaction models that are said to fall within the gift economy. How well do they fare against the rules of recognition described above? The assessment is sometimes complicated and confounding.

Charitable Donation: unreciprocated philanthropic gifts of money, goods, or service. This mode displays the purest of altruism and a clear conferring of economic (or economically measurable) benefit. Donations of time or resources are clearly gift economy transactions. Ironically, these transactions generally evoke the gift economy ethos in less overt ways than the more contrived, innovative modes.

Collectivism: the common pooling of the society’s resources, redistributed without regard to contribution. Early collectivist hunter-gatherer societies are sometimes considered gift economies, but these forms of sharing are probably best described as embracing socialist ideals, rather than gift economy principles. Some collectivism falls nicely within the gift economy model, however; for example, the North American First Nations Potlatch tradition or its modern, culturally agnostic, role-reversed namesake, the potluck dinner party. The differing levels of contribution people make to these collaborations reflect their differing assessment of the value of the events as well as differing decisions about how they will participate within the social networks.

Cooperativism: where individuals (rather than the entire social network, as in collectivism) conspire to create things of social value, made openly available and free-of-charge. Famous examples include the open-source software movement, wikis like Wikipedia (and this site), citizen journalism portals, and collective volunteerism projects like CharityFocus.

Donation Requested: where goods or services are ostensibly gifted, but come with moral suasion for remuneration. Does this mode more closely resemble charitable donation, pay it forward, or pay as you will? A case-by-case assessment would be required to pass judgment.

Pay As You Will: where the buyer, not the seller, sets the price of exchange. While this mode of establishing value may have an element of free play about it, this alone does not bring it within the gift economy. The expectation of exchange nullifies the gifting quality of the transfer and the focus remains on the intrinsic value of the goods or services, not on broader social utility. And not all pay as you will systems are transgressive of the market economy. Consider, for example, the common practice of tipping.

Pay It Forward: where the consumer receives a benefit with the tactic understanding that payment to the producer will be applied to the giving of similar benefits to others in the future. There can be legitimate debate about whether this conceit carriers a transaction beyond the pay as you will model. In cases where meaningful social contribution is significant factor in the valuation exercise and the activity involves systemic participation rather than transactional participation, this mode is an archetype of the gift economy. Where the communitarian intention of the producer, the instrumental social value in the mind of the recipient, and the incentives or inspiration to carry the gifting forward are weaker, the gift economy bona fides are also weaker and the antithetical element of simple exchange is difficult to overlook.

Portion of Proceeds Donated: where the seller pledges to donate only a part of the proceeds of the sale, usually some or all of the profit margin. This model demonstrates the difficulty of identifying gift economy transactions. Is the gift component of the transaction simply a marketing ploy to increase the volume of sales, presently or in the future, or does it represent genuine philanthropy? Variants on this mode include such things as the difference between socially progressive retooling of production or distribution methods to achieve meaningful environmental sustainability and greenmail, the exploiting of token environmentalism as an advertising gimmick. Whether a transaction under this model qualifies as gift economy depends on the true selfless intent of the producer, which be may difficult for the purchaser to divine.

Proceeds of Sale Donated: where the seller gifts both their capital contribution and profit to a charitable or social cause. This presents a fascinating example because, although it is clearly an exchange-based interaction between buyer and seller, it meets all the criteria of a gift economy transaction.

Lessons of the gift economy

The common thread among the various modes of gift economy transactions is that the giver of good or services contributes as much to a systemic appreciation of communitarianism and interdependence as to the individual recipient of the benefit.

The gift economy represents an optimistic perspective, engendering attitudes of compassion and generosity, favoring a outlook of relative abundance over relative scarcity, and based on faith that others will also be motivated to favor the common good over individual advantage, at least from time-to-time and in ways that are socially significant.

The gift economy shifts perspective in another important way, forcing a reappraisal of the manner in which we think about and measure value. This awareness can carry over into to normal market transactions as well, sparking consideration of the consequential costs and benefits of specific acts of material consumption which are otherwise externalized from the price.

Finally, the gift economy reminds us of the interconnection of our lives to other human lives, to non-human lives, and to the non-living world. It offers a broader perspective on the ripple effects of our other-regarding actions, even if the specific consequences remain mostly invisible to us. It demonstrates, transaction-by-transaction, that each of us has the power to positively influence collective behavior within our communities and throughout the world.

See also

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Authors: Mark Jacobs & Bill Miller

Global Change

Global change came into use in the late 1980s as humans became as a planetary force affecting the basic functioning of the overall Earth system. Previously, the change wrought by human activity had been local or regional in extent. While this term has a history in other fields, in the context of the global environment, it refers to linked planetary-scale changes in environment and human society described in the 1990 report A Study of Global Change [59] that marked the beginning of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme.

The more familiar term climate change is but one symptom of modern civilization’s new and problematic relationship with Earth. Global change is a far more extensive and complex phenomenon, stemming from disruption not only of the atmosphere and climate, but of many other interacting processes and components of the Earth’s metabolism that keep the planet hospitable for humans and the rest of life.

Human transformation of nature

Since living things inevitably alter their environment in the process of living, human transformation of nature is not itself new. But with the advent of the modern industrial economy propelled by abundant, cheap, concentrated energy in fossil fuels, the human enterprise over the past two centuries has been transforming Earth on a scale and at a speed that is mind-boggling and unprecedented.

In this time, the human population has increased by more than sixfold from 1 billion to approaching 7 billion, energy use has escalated more than eightyfold, and the world’s economy has grown roughly sixty-eightfold. After World War II, this transformation accelerated explosively, altering the planet as much in a single lifetime as our ancestors had since the move to agriculture and complex civilization some 10,000 years ago. It took all of human history for the global economy to reach the 1950 level of $5 trillion; in this decade, it expanded that much in a single year. This explosive, exponential growth in the scale of the world economy made humans a planetary force and agent of global change.

Humanity confronted the first life-threatening breakdown of a planetary system in the mid-1980s when a yawning hole suddenly appeared in the ozone layer over Antarctica caused by man-made chemicals, a close call we survived thanks not to scientific prowess, but rather, according to Nobel chemistry laureate Paul Crutzen, to mere luck.

The growing concentration of greenhouse gases that trap heat poses a different danger. What is immediately at risk is the stable climate necessary for complex civilization. The world as we know it with agriculture, civilization, and dense human numbers emerged during an exceptional, long, tranquil period of climatic stability over the past 11,700 years. Because of humanity’s planetary impact, this benign period, known to scientists as the Holocene and described as “the long summer”, is now ending.

Additional resources

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Author: Dianne Dumanoski

Global Corporation

Global Corporation

Global Standards

If we are to have a fair, equitable, viable and sustainable form of globalization, it must include globalization of human rights, environmental protection, energy efficiency and the values codified in the sixteen principles of the Earth Charter. Therefore, global standards are necessary for all international enterprises, banks, stock exchanges, etc., to enforce the "earth ethics" now needed for human survival. These global standards for reducing pollution, increasing human welfare, health and education may also require new forms of taxation, e.g., on carbon and other pollution, waste, exploitation of virgin resources and the taxation of all cross-border stock and currency transactions. Revenues from such taxes can be collected by all countries and used to reduce income and payroll taxes

Progress toward global standards is being advanced through many agencies of the UN as well as professional and scientific bodies around the world. These include civic society organizations, such as Social Accountability International, the Global Reporting Initiative, the Association for Sustainable & Responsible Investment in Asia, the Instituto Ethos de Empresas e Responsabilidade Social and many other partner organizations of Ethical Markets Media.

Sources

  • Introduce 'Green' Taxes, Christian Science Monitor, 1990.
  • The Foreign Exchange Transaction Reporting System, Futures, Elsevier Scientific, UK, 1996.

See also

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Author: Hazel Henderson

Globalization

Globalization

Governance

Governance

Green-Collar Economy

A green-collar economy is a production economy of goods and services driven by the creation and sustaining of green-collar jobs.

Green-collar jobs, as defined by the Green For All foundation, are well-paid, career track jobs that contribute directly to preserving or enhancing environmental quality. Like traditional blue-collar jobs, green-collar jobs range from low-skill, entry-level positions to high-skill, higher-paid jobs, and include opportunities for advancement in both skills and wages.

Green-collar jobs tend to be local because many involve transforming and upgrading the immediate built and natural environment—work such as retrofitting buildings, installing solar panels, constructing transit lines, and landscaping. Green-collar jobs are in construction, manufacturing, installation, maintenance, agriculture, and many other sectors of the economy. While some green-collar jobs (e.g. wind turbine technician) are in new occupations, most are existing jobs that demand new green economy skills. For example, construction companies building and retrofitting America’s cities need workers with traditional construction skills who also have up-to-date training in energy efficiency. And employers doing solar installation need workers with conventional electrical training, in addition to specialized solar skills.

However, if a job improves the environment, but doesn’t provide a family-supporting wage or a career ladder to move low-income workers into higher-skilled occupations, it is not a green-collar job. Such would be the case with workers installing solar panels without job security or proper training, or young people pushing brooms at a green building site without opportunity for training or advancement.

Most green-collar jobs are and will be middle-skill jobs requiring more than high school, but less than a four-year degree. Clearly many PhDs, financial analysts, and engineers hold green jobs and directly contribute to the building of a green economy. But publicly-funded workforce development projects should promote green-collar jobs accessible to those with less than a university degree. These jobs represent the bulk of employer demand and range from entry-level to high-wage jobs in a multitude of industries, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, and biofuels.

Green jobs thus defined can be significantly affected by state policy and meaningfully supported by established workforce development systems. Given the exploding interest in green jobs, and the real potential for their development, present concerns include the need to consider where the lack of a trained workforce might hinder the regional development of a given industry, where state policies might be effective in shaping related employment and training programs, and where the potential size of the industry merits sustained public efforts to leverage private investment.

In sum, spurring the creation of green-collar jobs in the community means building a sustainable economy, where environmental goals go hand in hand with social and economic goals.

Sources

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Author: Van Jones and Charles Shaw

Green Politics

Green politics, sometimes known as political ecology, is a political ideology which seeks to achieve environmental sustainability, social justice and peace through inclusive and participatory democratic processes. It is informed by progressive thinking on ecology, human rights, feminism, civil liberties, respect for diversity, equality, animal rights and nonviolence. Electoral politics is not the only expression of Green politics (which also sees peaceful direct action as a legitimate tool), but it is a vital element in the process of achieving political change.

Green politics offers a profound critique of conventional economic theory, and a direct challenge to the domination of corporate power. Ecological economics, based on the recognition that a planet of finite resources cannot sustain indefinite economic growth, is at the heart of the Green political approach, together with a commitment to the policies of radical redistribution, both nationally and internationally.

Greens believe an infinitely growing capitalist economy is destroying nature, fuelling injustice and leading to an alienated way of life. Since we threaten our future if we try to live beyond what the Earth can provide, we must build a sustainable society that guarantees our long-term survival. Everyone should be entitled to basic material security. In green politics, basic needs are classed as not only the physiological needs of food, water, and shelter, but also the need for love, respect, autonomy, security, and meaningful activity within communities. The fact that many people's basic needs are not met has far reaching consequences, expressed as anxiety, insecurity, and aggressive behaviour towards others, and exploitation of the environment. These personal factors give rise to, and are perpetuated by, social institutions which actively encourage oppression, pollution, resource depletion, poverty and military conflict.

Diversity, creativity and empowerment are also core Green political values, which find expression in Green support for the promotion of The Commons, as a model for consensus-based sharing and co-operation. Open-source software, for example, can be seen as a stunning example of how both the market and the state can be bypassed by cooperative creativity.

The first Green Parties were founded in the early 1970s. In 1972, the Values Party of New Zealand became the world's first country-wide green party to contest Parliamentary seats nationally. A year later in 1973, Europe's first green party, the UK's Ecology Party, was founded. One of the most electorally successful parties has been the German Green Party, which won its first 27 seats in the Bundestag in the 1983 federal elections. There are now around 90 Green Parties around the world.

Additional resources

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Author: Caroline Lucas

Growth

The word growth, which generally refers to the development process in living things, is also the name of a political and economic ideology that makes continual expansion in the production of goods and services and ever greater material consumption the dominant aim for human society. Though typically associated with capitalism, the quest for economic growth became a universal faith embraced by nationalists, socialists, and communists alike, making it, in the words of historian J.R. McNeill, “easily the most important idea of the twentieth century.”

Over the past two centuries, the growth of the human enterprise has been explosive and utterly unprecedented, increasing ten times faster than the increase in human numbers. Modern industrial civilization brought a new, revolutionary process of self-sustained, more or less automatic growth propelled, according to historian Eric Hobsbawm, “by perpetual technological revolution and social transformation.” But what fundamentally allowed humans recently to break free of the constraints that governed previous societies was the geological legacy of fossil fuels and a new tool, the steam engine, which first unlocked the power to remake the Earth and produce great economic wealth.

Despite now inescapable evidence that the global economy is exceeding the Earth’s physical limits, establishment leaders still assume the growth can and will continue indefinitely. Advocates view growth not as a problem but rather as a panacea that can solve almost all that ails modern societies from unhappiness, poverty, and unemployment to the disruption of Earth’s life support systems. Moreover, growth appears to be necessary, though the question is still debated, for the stability of the current system, because it creates new jobs to replace those eliminated through continuous improvements in manufacturing methods and technology. If growth falters, workers lose jobs, triggering a downward recessionary spiral driven by reduced spending, collapsing consumer confidence, and even less demand. The reverse positive feedback drives a growing economy toward even more growth.

The gross world product which stood at $65 trillion in 2008, could, according to economic forecasts, reach $275 trillion by mid-century. With such a growth rate, it will be difficult if not impossible, according to an analysis by leading climate scientists, to keep heat-trapping carbon dioxide levels low enough to avoid dangerous climate change. Climate experts, therefore, judge it likely the world will face a 4 degrees C warming by 2100 and physical changes so extreme that our civilization may find it difficult, if not impossible, to adapt. Yet in mainstream efforts to find a credible strategy to prevent greenhouse gas emissions from rising to catastrophic levels, policy analysts never question continuing growth. The prominent economist Jeffrey Sachs has made the claim that better technologies will “square the circle of economic growth with sustainability” [60] but there is no credible scenario yet that can justify this belief.

In current circumstances with the existing economic system, growth has become a conundrum which confronts us with two bad choices: continue with business as usual and risk our civilization or halt growth and risk social and economic chaos and collapse.

See also

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Author: Dianne Dumanoski

Health Care

Health Care

Hegel

Hegel

Holistic

Holistic is one of those words that has come to be used as shorthand for a way of looking at the world and engaging with it that acknowledges that all that is is whole and connected; that the old mechanistic view of the world as being like a clock made up of separate parts is flawed; that individuals are a part of, and not apart from, each other and the rest of Nature.

Holistic, whole and holy

Holistic is also a word that has come to be used thoughtlessly – as if the mere use of the word was enough. Indeed, the American poet and farmer Wendell Berry once said: “Holistic is a word used by people who are too proud to say whole and too embarrassed to say holy”

If one wishes to refer to the notion of wholeness, one can use “whole” or possibly “entire”. If one wants to refer to notions of connectedness one can use words such as “interconnected” or “related”, the last of which has the advantage of suggesting “relationships” or preferably “relatingness” – since such relationships are typically dynamic, impermanent and ever in flux.

For those that see the world as divine, there is the word “holy”, which can be used to describe relationships with each other and with Nature that are governed by timeless principles of goodness, beauty and truth; by generosity, reciprocity, patience; simplicity; love and a caring for one another that is selfless. In this sense the word refers not to that which is set apart but to that of which all are a part of a common and everyday holiness.

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Author: David Cadman

Holistic Law

Holistic law is generally defined as an approach or style of practice that focuses on the whole person and the whole of the problem as a way of finding more healthy and sustainable solutions to legal problems. The whole problem or picture to a holistic lawyer would include more than just a focus on the "other side" and their contribution to the problem. It often entails a look at the lawyer's role, the client's role in the problem and solution, and the impact of the problem and solution on the community.

Holistic law practitioners often look inward to become whole themselves to better assist their clients in using the legal process to find wholeness. Often holistic lawyers take a spiritual component, exploring the unity of purpose between the seemingly opposing parties.

Some attorneys who practice in this style view holistic law as the umbrella under which other styles or approaches fit. For example, a holistic lawyer might take a preventive law approach or a collaborative law approach as part of their holistic legal problem-solving. Although this style or approach has been identified as holistic, there are a number of practitioners who practice in this style, but who are not aware of the term that identifies them. Other attorneys practicing as holistic lawyers have self-identified their approach putting holistic law or holistic lawyer on their business cards, letterhead and in their marketing.

Professor David Wexler, director of the International Alliance of Holistic Lawyers notes that holistic law is the antidote to what has become a confrontational culture that resolves little.

Additional resources

See also

  • Comprehensive Law - legal alternatives incorporating procedural justice and personal dynamics

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Author: J Kim Wright

Human Rights

Human rights is the term generally used when seeking to explain why it is right that people should be treated as of equal worth and value regardless of where they have been born, how much money they have, their gender or the colour of their skin. The idea behind the phrase is that each of us has this entitlement in view simply of our humanity. Human rights were a key building block in the construction of the post war world (emblematised in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948) and received a further impetus with the end of the Cold War and the consequent decline of socialism in 1989.

The power of the term lies in its multifaceted nature. It is most easily understood as a bundle of specific entitlements - whether to be found in national, regional or international instruments - which can be acted upon by rights-holders themselves (in litigation to enforce their rights) or on their behalf by independent agencies charged with the protection of human rights (eg, a treaty body established to police a UN treaty). The openness of the language of rights inevitably leaves some leeway as to meaning and this is why the subject is so often thought of as a legal one, with judges either being called upon at the national or regional level to determine whether democratic legislatures have acted consistently with their rights’ charters, or engaging on the international stage in ruling definitively on egregious breaches of rights in the context of an international criminal prosecution.

In the absence of an international court of human rights, however, most of the enforcement of the human rights standards set by the United Nations is done by quasi-judicial committees created by treaty or by oversight bodies established within the UN itself (eg, the Human Rights Council). Inevitably this work is sometimes controversial, with states hostile to being subjected to human rights scrutiny and with allegations of double standards often dogging the way in which such bodies discharge their human rights duties.

Some believe that human rights is not a universal idea at all but rather a creature of ‘First World’ power. This critique drew strength as a result of the United States actions during the second Bush presidency, when the protection of human rights in the world seemed to many to have become one of the rationales for military intervention. Proponents of the idea of human rights continue to wrestle with this question of how far they are prepared to go to assert the rights of others, just as they continue to strive to establish intellectual foundations for the idea that can survive in a secular as well as a religious society. In the absence of any terms as remotely as compelling in their impact on world opinion or as broad in their reach, the idea of human rights is likely to remain for some time as a vital language through which to foester the articulation of progressive ideas.

Additional resources

See also

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Author: Conor Gearty

Humanism

This simple word has been interpreted by philosophers in many ways over time and has become intertwined with the individual philosopher’s philosophical interests.

So the following tries to capture the essence: early 20th Century humanism is the belief that humans are animals driven by the basic cycle of life and needs of every animal: to eat, to sleep securely and procreate; and that within that framework they have no free will, there is no God or supernatural overlord. Paradoxically humanism in the later part of 20th Century developed into the belief that people are masters of their own destiny: humans reign supreme as they have awareness of the self and the ability to think, imagine, express ideas, empathise, take actions.

This belief relies primarily upon humankind’s capacity for reason and understanding of life through science, and the ability to take actions to shape life as we wish it to be. At an ethical level it embraces compassion and mutual respect between humans, and respect for all sentient beings.

Beyond this simple definition, there are an array of groups who have taken on board the idea of human supremacy and have included humanism in their title. These groups includes:- Religious, Educational, Secular, Liberal, Marxist and Humanist Ecology.

The latter embraces the idea of a symbiotic relationship with the natural environment: pro-actively putting human thinking, decisions, actions in the context of this relationship.

See also

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Author: Peter Marcham

Humanitarian Law

Humanitarian Law

Humanizing Legal Education

For many lawyers, the memory of law school is not a pleasant one. Professor Kingsfield in The Paper Chase and the book One L by Scott Turow set the stage for a boot camp-like experience in law school. Most endured it and escaped. Others flourished in law school. Many studies have shown that entering law students have average rates of depression but that somewhere after the second year, the incidence of depression increases drastically. What makes the difference? A new movement dedicated to humanizing law school is growing among law professors, deans and clinical instructors, answering that question and creating more humane approaches to legal education.

Daisy Floyd, Dean of Mercer Law School, found that law students seem to be going through a grief process. She and her students have noticed that all of the stages of grief, ending with resignation, are expressed in law school. Perhaps, says Steve Keeva, this is a result of loss of self and what is important to the individual. In the quest for "thinking like a lawyer," students lose the ideals that called them to law school in the first place.

Research has documented the deleterious effects of law school on students’ well-being and on their values. A study completed by psychologist Ken Sheldon and Larry Krieger tracks and correlates changes well being, values, and motivation of among students from orientation through the third year of law school. The findings suggest that new law students are quite well adjusted and service oriented, but that their well-being drops dramatically and their values shift toward less adaptive, 'extrinsic' pursuits, during law school. A second, diverse law school was studied through the first year, and the results confirmed those of the initial study, suggesting that these results may be generalizable to other law schools. Further follow up research is also being conducted by Professor Krieger. For further information or to participate, contact Professor Krieger at Florida State University.

Resources

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Author: J Kim Wright

Ideology

Ideology---literally the "science of ideas"--- is a sort of modern term for religion (usually seen from the outside rather than from the perspective of the practitioner). It was coined during the French revolution to refer to the beliefs, values, meanings, interpretations and stories that could contribute to making a secular State "a cohesive republican nation".

Sources

Integrative Law

Integrative law is a term some have used to describe a movement in the law which is also known as transformational law, comprehensive law and holistic law. Proponents of this term compare it to the medical model which went from traditional medicine to holistic medicine to integrated or integrative medicine.

See also Comprehensive Law.

Interdependence

Interdependence is the mutual dependency of many beings upon one another for their well-being. In the ecological realm, it refers to the dependency of each life form on the others within its food web, its local ecosystem, and indeed the totality of life on earth. In spiritual or religious thought, it extends beyond well-being to include one's existence: people exist through relationships to other people, to nature, and to the universe.

Before biological interdependence was understood, scientists assumed that "pests" -- the weeds, the pathogenic bacteria, the crop-destroying insects -- could safely be eliminated with impunity. What use were they? Today mankind is learning, often the hard way, that all are poorer and sicker when any species is eliminated.

This is true in the ecosystem: for example, when the wolves and mountain lions were eliminated from the forests of the Eastern United States, the deer population exploded. The deer stripped the bark off trees and devoured certain plant species entirely, changing and reducing the composition of the flora. Each change produces a cascade of other changes, with highly unpredictable results. Who knows why our forests today are overrun with ticks and poison ivy?

In the human body, the elimination of species has a similarly debilitating effect. The depopulation of intestinal bacteria through antibiotics, chlorinated water, and sterile diets causes all kinds of problems: yeast overgrowth, immune system disorders, and so on. One depends on the community of life, within and outside, for its well-being. As the increasingly dire effects of deforestation, extinction, and global warming become more evident, it becomes clear that truly, what one does unto the other, he or she does unto themselves. That is because self and other are not ultimately separate.

Ancient cultures had a living intuition of the connection among all life, referring to other species as, for example, "All my relations". TBC

See also

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Author: Charles Eisenstein

International Justice

International Justice

Intervention

Intervention

Intrinsic Value

Intrinsic value is the value of an existent thing (physical, mental, informational or otherwise) manifested by virtue of its very existence. That is, it is independent of its value or utility to any other existent being (such as humans) or thing. It is necessarily a metaphysical, and indeed biblical, concept, and is conceived as being derived from and reflecting the glory of God.

Intrinsic value is an essential concept in human affairs from philosophy to economics, and has been of critical importance in biological conservation, in which the intrinsic value of life, living systems and processes is presented as a fundamental ground for conservation action. For many involved in conservation, it is the key motivation, although other more tangible motivations, such as utility (food, medicine etc.), are often cited because practitioners may feel uncomfortable about the metaphysical basis of their motivation (Gosler 2009). Recent developments in biology, such as the Selfish Gene hypothesis undermine the concept of intrinsic value, thereby undermining a key philosophical basis for conservation and environmental ethics.

Is there a link between intrinsic value and the information content of reality? Claude E. Shannon’s information theory suggests that both information and value are related to ‘surprise’ and the probability of an event (Aleksander 2002). Improbable events or existent things (like rarity and the value of objects) are more valuable intrinsically than certain events. Therefore, the improbability of existence grants it intrinsic value, the improbability of life grants it greater intrinsic value than non-life, and so on. He warns that from this perspective, it is essential not to confuse intrinsic value, which reflects God’s Grace (see reciprocity), with contingent value, which reflects the utility of something to humans.

Sources

  • Aleksander, I. (2002) Understanding information, bit by bit: Shannon’s equations. In Farmelo, G. (Ed.) It Must be Beautiful: Great Equations of Modern Science. Pp. 213–230. Granta Books, London.
  • Gosler, A.G. (2009) Surprise and the Value of Life. In Berry, R.J. (Ed.) Real Scientists, Real Faith. Monarch Books, Oxford.

See also

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Author: Andrew Gosler

Justice

Justice, by James O'Dea

The time has passed when justice could be conveyed as a solitary blind figure holding a devise representing a simple up or down relationship between cause and effect. Justice cannot be served without a deeper understanding of causality or an appreciation for the complex relationship between personal and collective responsibility or conditions which are the direct by-product of systems design and structural realities.

A justice system bound by strict orthodoxy to rules, procedures, historical precedents and the language and intention of forbears and whose judiciary is reduced to higher clerical functions in meting out punishments and mandatory sentences is anachronistic and incapable of meeting the complex needs of 21st century citizens.

Inclusion and interdependence

Justice must be designed to reflect not an ancient ideal but the capacity to integrate an ever evolving morality based on inclusion and interdependence rather than the right and privilege to exclude based on outdated norms of the past. Rather than selectively ignoring our scientific, cognitive, social, psychological or moral development as a species, justice must always seek the most comprehensive and reliable synthesis of contemporary knowledge.

This task cannot be accomplished as long as justice is regulated to the status of bureaucracy, or subsumed under narrow ideological and political purposes or the interests of corporations. Justice can only be accomplished through the cultivation of wise judges, laws and legal institutions which are based not on unscientific notions of punishment and retribution but on notions of healing, contrition, making amends, restorative action where damage is caused and, where possible, rehabilitating offenders into healthy citizens. Justice must always be vigilant to systemic inequities and the interrelatedness of systems: rights held within economic systems need to be matched with rights within ecological systems.

Administering justice

Thus those who administer justice must be qualified to make judgments that are informed by psychological insight, emotional intelligence and an ability to demonstrate creativity in problem solving. The 20th century will be remembered for the reintegration of the subjective component of consciousness and the end of the myth created by scientific materialism of a reality consisting of purely objective laws. We now know that our subjective witnessing conscience is entangled in everything it perceives in the objective realm. There are objective laws and there is powerful subjective meaning making. Justice too has its principles and may be informed by an evolving body of law, but it also resides in the unique capacity of the human to discern unobvious truths and forge uniquely creative solutions.

Justice therefore must seek to be comprehensive, restorative, distributive, ever evolving in its inclusiveness, psychological penetration, and humanizing dimensions. Rather than symbolized by the blind person with a scales, its modern symbol is the community in all its diversity standing open-eyed, vigilantly encircling the planet, held together in mutual responsibility for the emergence of the highest good.

See also

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Author: James O'Dea

Justice: How the environment changes traditional conceptions, by Niki Seth-Smith

A fundamental distinction between theories of justice lies in their understanding of its source – either as a creation of man, or as derived from the discovery of a higher order, such as the divine will, or natural law. A second distinction pertains to application. Theories of justice have historically been applied to groups of people, determined by factors such as territorial boundaries, religious affiliation, or race. In the late 20th century, however, a sustained effort began to develop ethical analyses of international politics, drawing upon the traditional concerns of domestic justice. The need for a theory of international justice necessitates an analysis of the extent to which traditional theories of justice can be internationalised or universalised. Furthermore, from the perspective of environmental ethics, a theory of justice is insufficient if it fails to take into account the moral relationship of human beings to the environment, as well as the environment’s own moral status.

Justice derived from a social contract

Theories of justice based on the concept of a social contract posit man as the source of justice. Contractarianism, which stems from the Hobbesian line of social contract thought, is both a moral theory, setting out the origins of justice, and a political theory of the legitimacy of authority. Contractarians hold that people are primarily self-interested, and that self-interest leads people to act morally, where the moral norms maximise joint interest, and to consent to governmental authority. The most important recent contractarian was John Rawls, whose theory of justice proposes a hypothetical situation in which persons in "the original position" - a state of equality and lack of bias - agree to the provisions of a contract that defines the basic rights and duties of citizens in a civil society.

Social contract theory has traditionally referred to a nation state. It relies on the possibility of a meaningful, if hypothetical, agreement between citizens in a civil society. For a global contract to be plausible, then, we must assume that there is a certain degree of shared self-interest between people, whatever there nationality and wherever they may live.

From an environmental perspective, Contractrianism holds further difficulties. It may be argued that protecting the environment is in the collective interest of people on the level of the nation-state, as well as on the international level. However, within this framework, the environment is given only extrinsic value, as a means to the end of fulfilling other aspects of the social contract. Environmentalists have argued against the anthropocentric view, which has traditionally dominated Western ethical perspectives, that only human beings have intrinsic value. Arne Naess is a leading thinker in this field, and has made the distinction between the ‘shallow ecology movement’, which he has summarized as “the fight against pollution and resource depletion” and his own ‘deep ecology movement’, which endorses “biospheric egalitarianism” – the view that all living things have value in their own right, independent of their usefulness to others.

Social contract theory appears to only be able to recognise the environment as having an intrinsic value by including ‘the environment’ as privy to the contract, which, if any sense can be made of it at all, throws up questions as to the relevance of ideas around self-interest to the environment.

Theological theories of justice

Theological theories of justice are derived from an understanding of God or Gods. Thus, according to divine command theory, ethical sentences express propositions, some of which are true, about the attitudes of God. Sentences such as ‘to forgive is good’ are thus identical in meaning with sentences such as ‘God commands forgiveness’. It is often claimed that divine command theory is refuted by the Euthyphro dilemma, which asks: ‘Is an action morally good because God commands it, or does God command it because it is morally good?’ In the first formulation, it is claimed, justice must be arbitrary; in the second, God must be subordinate to a higher truth. Theologians who seek to refute this dilemma propose that God is by nature good, and thus God's actions are necessarily just.

Through proclaiming a universal God (or Gods) as the source, religions posit their systems of justice as universally true. However, the extent to which a theological theory of justice can be internationalised or universalised is restricted where the rules laid down by these systems are applicable only to members of the faith in question. Being rule-based, religious systems of justice enshrine the duty to protect the environment where they recognise its intrinsic value. While the Judeo-Christian tradition contains ideas of humans as ‘stewards’ or ‘perfectors’ of God’s creation, environmentalists have criticised the major Western faiths for their shared hierarchical notion of man as having dominion over all other life on Earth.

Natural law, human rights and the rights of the environment

Natural law theory makes the distinction between particular laws, created by human beings, and the common law that is according to nature and unalterable. While Aristotle is often named as the father of natural law, Aquinas is credited with having set out the central case for a natural law position: first, that the precepts of natural law are universally binding by nature; second, that the precepts of natural law are universally knowable by nature. The idea of natural rights, developed in the Enlightenment by figures such as John Locke and Immanuel Kant, is closely related to natural law theory. These rights are proposed as inalienable, self-evident and universal and are not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs or any particular culture or government.

Natural law theory, and the theory of natural rights, has informed our modern concept of human rights. These rights exist in morality and in law at the national and international levels. The main contemporary sources are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the many human rights documents and treaties that followed in international organizations such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the Organization of American States, and the African Union.

While there is a substantial body of international environmental agreements, the essential concern of these treaties, protocols and conventions is the common good and future of humanity, drawing upon ideas of sustainable development, the common heritage, and the precautionary principle. There are no recognised legal or moral international norms regarding environmental rights, therefore. Furthermore, from the perspective of environmental philosophy, there are fundamental difficulties in attempting to apply the concept of equal rights for individuals to different species, or to organic wholes, such as ecosystems. Proponents of Naess’ deep ecology, for example, may reject the individualist logic of human rights, arguing that the world should instead be conceptualized in relational terms, with an emphasis on the ecological relationship between organisms, whether human or otherwise.

Consequentalist theories of justice - Jeremy Bentham and Peter Singer

Consequentalist theories of justice determine whether an act is just based on the consequences of that act – or of something related to that act, such as the motive. Utilitarianism is a paradigm consequentialist theory. Classic utilitarians, such as Jeremy Bentham, view the moral worth of an action as determined solely by its usefulness in maximizing ‘the good’ and minimizing ‘the bad’, where pleasure is the only intrinsic good and pain the sole intrinsic bad.

While Bentham’s ‘felicific calculus’ has been applied in practice to determine the greatest pleasure for the greatest number of people, Bentham himself believed that all beings capable of pleasure and pain should be taken into equal consideration when assessing an action. Peter Singer, a modern utilitarian, has adopted this position to argue that the privileging of humans above other sentient beings is a kind of “speciesism”, as unjustifiable as racism and sexism. Whether a utilitarian ethic can be considered an environmental ethic is a point of contention, as the protection of non-sentient beings is only justified to a utilitarian where to do so would maximize the pleasure of sentient beings.

See also

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Author: Niki Seth-Smith

Liberty

Such has been the nature of government throughout history that liberty has most often been defined by its absence. In the most extreme cases, it is sought by slaves, by an occupied or colonised people or by the subjects of a totalitarian dictator or of an absolute monarch. Under constitutional monarchies parliaments have sought to defend their liberties against the Sovereign and under parliamentary democracies citizens have struggled to defend or extend their liberties in the face of parliamentary opposition. In various forms all of those struggles continue today.

More recently a different struggle has developed between governments elected by universal suffrage and their citizens, who see their liberties being threatened or eroded by technological and legislative means. This is the battle over i.d. cards, police databases, surveillance, detention without trial and limits to trial by jury; the battle against an intrusive, arrogant and overbearing state, willing and able to crush the helpless individual in a Kafkaesque nightmare. In a broader sense, liberties can also be seen as threatened by electoral systems which deliver victory on a minority of the votes cast and privilege a few marginal swing seats, by ineffective legislatures which routinely fail to hold the executive to account and by numerous less than democratic constitutional anomalies.

History of liberty

Historically speaking, liberty has been the rallying cry of all who have sought to throw off oppressive authority; among them, Boadicea, Cromwell, Garibaldi, Simon Bolivar and, most famously, the revolutionaries of 1789. However, people have meant many things by their use of the word. The mythical figure of Robin Hood invoked images of Anglo-Saxon liberty crushed and turned to serfdom by Norman invasion and aristocratic oppression. When the Parliamentarians of the English Civil War spoke of the liberty of the subject, they principally meant regular meetings of Parliament and security of property, while some of them also meant freedom of conscience to worship as they wished. Charles the First, however, thought that liberty meant only the rule of law and not a share in government.

Liberty after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 had a sense of privilege and exclusivity. It was principally concerned with the interests of the ruling class. During the reign of George the Third, his political enemies presented the King as a threat to the liberty of Parliament through his excessive use of patronage and control of ministers.

Thus in Britain, where the fight against absolutism and arbitrary rule was won earlier than on almost all of the Continent, questions of liberty were primarily concerned with strengthening an existing parliamentary system against royal encroachments and subsequently with extending the franchise. On the Continent, where absolutism remained dominant until 1789 and beyond, the quest for political liberty and the Enlightenment project of which it was a central part faced a greater challenge and a more complicated outcome. When the bankrupt French monarchy was overthrown, “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” led to the Reign of Terror, the Napoleonic Wars, the Bourbon restoration and further uprisings during the 19th century. In North America, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” were proclaimed as rights but were not open to all. Throughout the 19th century, liberty often entailed a volatile mixture of constitutional government and aggressive nationalism, while for much of the 20th century absolute monarchies were replaced by totalitarian dictatorships.

Use and misuse of the term liberty

There is sometimes an element of Orwellian doublespeak about the word liberty. People from very different political perspectives use it to suit their own ends and to disguise their selfish intentions. In America in 1776, as we have seen, the rights of liberty, magnificently conceived though they may have been, were limited essentially to white males and would encompass slavery, suppression and slaughter on a vast scale. During the American Civil War, it still meant to Confederates the right of the South to maintain its slave economy. Despite the failure of Secession, some Americans today might use liberty to mean in part the primacy of states’ rights over federal rights. In America and elsewhere, some would use it to mean the liberty of the Wild West: small government, low taxes, minimal bureaucratic interference in business and devil take the hindmost. Others assert that liberty can only have true meaning and value in the context of a government which uses higher taxes to provide adequate social security and to support the public good.

Contemporary assaults on liberty

Meanwhile, liberties are continuously assaulted around the world by the destructive activities of corporations, which, because of their multinational structure, are largely unaccountable and often substantially unregulated or actively abetted by corrupt governments and international trade agreements, which are weighted in favour of the rich world. There can be no meaningful liberty without the means to support a decent livelihood and so for Indian farmers or indigenous peoples of the Amazon, driven from their land by the forces of globalization, liberty can only be an empty word. Although many colonial empires and totalitarian dictatorships have been swept away and replaced by democratic rule, poorer and weaker countries and populations continue to be exploited, manipulated and ravaged by the military and economic power of other states or of their own governments, while conventions and binding agreements on human rights are routinely ignored and so liberty continues often to be denied.

Additional resources

  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • Liberty - British campaigning organization to protect basic rights and freedoms through the courts, in Parliament and in the wider community
  • Liberty!- PBS documentary on the American Revolutionary War

See also

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Author: James Sainsbury

Liddism

Liddism was a term coined in the late 1990s to identify a post-Cold War trend by western states to control threats to international security by military means, rather than understanding the nature of the threats and countering them at source. The analogy is with a cooking pot in which every attempt is made to keep the lid on rather than turn down the heat, implying that liddism is ultimately self-defeating. Thus:

Attempting to keep the lid on insecurity – liddism – without addressing the core reasons for dissent, will not work. It is more likely to make western elite societies more vulnerable.” 1

Liddism - before 9/11

Prior to the 9/11 attacks the liddism analysis identified four potential drivers of global insecurity:

  • The widening socio-economic divide, with a transnational elite of one-fifth of the world’s population having around 85% of the wealth.
  • Huge improvements in education, literacy and communications across the world, ensuring that the marginalised majority was increasingly aware of it own marginalisation.
  • The prospect of environmental constraints, especially climate change, having a massive impact on the marginalised majority.
  • A western security paradigm, largely shared by elites across the world, that the status quo must be maintained.

Liddism - after 9/11

Since 9/11, the war on terror is seen as a prime example of the old control paradigm or liddism in that it has concentrated on military control rather than countering the factors which have given the al-Qaida movement its support in many quarters. The failure of the war on terror to achieve its results gives scope to argue for a rethinking of approaches to international security. This may also be aided by two other factors. One, the severe economic downturn that evolved in 2007-08, is likely to have an impact for at least a decade and is recognised as having potential for social unrest. The other is the rapidly growing awareness of the security implications of climate change.

The idea of sustainable security, as developed by a UK think tank, Oxford Research Group, is therefore attracting interest. This is rooted in a common security approach focused primarily on individuals and communities, but with an emphasis on long-term sustainability. It thus requires recognition that any security policy must embrace an understanding of any negative long-term impacts and must seek to avoid those. In relation to global trends the main emphasis would therefore be on closing the socio-economic divide together with a radical response to climate change and other environmental constraints.

Note: The term liddism also gave rise to the liddite conversations, series of meetings in London that started shortly before 9/11, and are hosted by Gabrielle Rifkind to provide a forum for discussing global security issues from a liddite perspective.

Sources

1 Paul Rogers, Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century, Pluto Press, 2000 (3rd edition due in 2010)

Additonal resources

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Author: Paul Rogers

Living Democracy

Living democracy is democracy understood as a way of life, not simply a structure of government; not something done to us or for us but democracy as the rewarding practice of engaged citizens; not a set system but a set of system values – inclusion, fairness and mutual accountability – infusing all arenas of public life, including but far beyond political life; not the burden a free people must bear but a rewarding way of living that meets deep human need for efficacy in community.

Additional resources

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Author: Frances Moore Lappe

Local / Locality

This term will be defined by Jim Gabour.

Locality

Locality derives from the Old Latin concept of locus, or place. In its basic state, the word defines the elemental human perception: “Where am I?” But the qualities of the place itself in the end have a profound effect on the makeup and disposition of the human tribe that becomes its population.

Basically, this approach lets the place define itself, accommodating humans only as a secondary function. This is a farming community, or a manufacturing town based on its proximity to coal, or a fishing village that sits on an ocean filled with aquatic life. In each case there is food and land and resources enough to support a certain number of people. The locality is delineated by its function of keeping humans alive and reproducing.

Locality and politics

The simple nature of the word’s origin, however, decries the modern usage, which escalates exponentially in complexity and amorphously in shape once it touches the unnatural system called politics. Within the political realm, locality is used as a systemic tool, designed by administrative bureaucrats especially for administrative and bureaucratic governmental manipulations.

Locality in the political system inevitably derives from its ultimate distillation: the connection and/or disconnection between two human beings. Politics can see its genesis there but many factors enter into what is deemed local within this interpersonal system.

This grassroots concept of locality becomes even more important in an age of world stock market crashes and international bank meltdowns. The sense of a complete loss of empowerment permeates the morning paper and the evening news. And thus, local politics becomes more relevant by the day.

Defining what is local

At a very basic level, the people involved may themselves define what is local. “The center of the universe is where I am” was a concept which Galileo had a great deal of trouble contradicting in sixteenth-century papally-dominated physics. Oddly enough, the same orientation has come back to the fore with the re-ascendance of more highly strictured ideologies.

This is a legitimate system for describing one’s intellectual roots, defining that base locale simply as the people associated within a certain mental confine, whether secular or religious, familial or social. The power of these groups is diffused within the workings of elemental government – they can influence, and they can vote, but that vote is spread across the political landscape, in a system which demands concentrations in physical locales for there to be an effect. A numerical vote happens in the physical rather than the philosophical realm.

So the “Where am I?” becomes attached with “Who is with me?” and inevitably “Can I bend them to my will?”. This manipulated concept is often inconsistent with objective reality. For instance, the gerrymander in the US is a political mechanism designed to harness such a definition to a politician’s own ends. Gerrymander encompasses the shaping of a district to gain political advantage as well as a direct reference to a representative elected from such a district. The ill-shaped locality, forged as an entity by political ambitions, in return comes alive to find its way to define the politician that now theoretically controls all within its confines.

Locality and international politics

It can be argued that, as president, George W. Bush looked at everything solely in terms of how it would affect himself and those within his local dominion. In contrast, half a century before, another Republican president, well-versed in the practical realities of war and its effects on the smaller world, stated:

"In most communities it is illegal to cry ‘fire’ in a crowded assembly. Should it not be considered serious international misconduct to manufacture a general war scare in an effort to achieve local political aims?"

- Dwight D. Eisenhower

See also

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Author: Jim Gabour

Localization

Localization is a set of policies that actively discriminate in favour of the more local whenever it is, in the words of John Maynard Keynes, "reasonable and conveniently possible". It is a process of gradually bringing aspects of economic activity and global commerce closer to home, thereby reducing our dependence on fossil fuels for transport, supporting local economies, and minimizing the risk of instability which can arise from conflict, natural disasters or increasing scarcity of resources.

Localization - a response to globalization

Localization is a practical response to the widely held concern that economic globalization, which prioritizes international competitiveness and maximum economic growth – often at the expense of social and cultural justice – has taken power away from national governments and put it in the hands of huge corporations and financiers.

Advantages of localization

A major advantage of localization is that it brings power back, shifting the balance of economic control towards a level where democratic institutions enjoy greater prospects of imposing socially and environmentally sensitive regulations on the market, and it offers the potential, at least, for the benefits of the economy to be shared more equally.

Localization can therefore play a crucial role in the promotion of greater social justice, more equitable distribution of resources and greater environmental sustainability. It is about supporting local producers and businesses, developing a better sense of shared communities, enabling these communities to retain their own capital, encouraging ethical investment in community bonds and mutual banks, and encouraging democratic participation to give people a real stake in their future.

Citizen initiatives

A number of citizens' initiatives which have grown up in response to the threats of climate change and peak oil, like the Transition Town Movement, or Carbon Reduction Action Groups, actively promote localization as a key tool in reducing carbon emissions. Local food groups are particularly popular, and offer a way of promoting the local economy, boosting local farmers' incomes, reducing the environmental impacts associated with industrialized agriculture, and maximizing the availability of affordable and healthy local food.

What localization is not

It is also important to state what localization is not. It is not parochial and inward-looking. Far from leading to a "fortress Europe" approach, as some have claimed, it is about "protecting the local, globally". While localization has developed as part of a critique of economic globalization, it is entirely compatible with, and supportive of, internationalism - the positive flow of technology, ideas, and information, together with growing international understanding and co-operation.

See also

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Author: Caroline Lucas

Love

Love and politics are usually seen as opposites (especially in Hannah Arendt’s influential work), yet ethical-political leaders from Gandhi to Aung San Suu Kyi have based their philosophy and actions on the marriage of these two forces. Martin Luther King called this “the love that does justice,” signifying the mutually-reinforcing cycles of personal and social transformation that eventually produce the “beloved community” of which he dreamed.

“Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice,” he said, “and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

Ethical politics enjoins us to develop both the personal qualities that are required to practice politics in new ways, and the political institutions that nurture the values that underpin a successful, collective future. This may be the only way to liberate ourselves from the constraints of conventional politics and the use of democracy to impose majority views.

Unlimited love

Of course, King and others were not talking about romantic love, or love of and for our children. They were talking of unconditional or unlimited love (or agape in the Greek and Christian traditions), that knows no boundaries of kin or affiliation, expressed through non-violent moral action, radical equality, and a profound respect for others. In this sense, love can sustain political action without internalizing the fear and insecurity that underpins oppression in all its forms, and so starting the self-defeating cycle afresh – the source of a new form of politics that does not try to bury or distance its opponents but looks for opportunities to welcome and engage with those who have a different view, and to struggle with them towards some form of imperfect, continually-evolving consensus.

Love underpins equality-consciousness, breaks down hierarchies, and respects the self-empowerment of others. Love eschews paternalism for relationships of truth and authenticity, even when they move through phases of conflict and disagreement. Love releases us from our diminished sense of self and gives us hope, optimism, openness instead of closure. As Paul Tillich reminds us, the first duty of love is simply to listen, and deep listening would transform the practice of politics as we know it.

Spiritual activism

Gandhi, King and others were practicing ethical politics every day, and their legacy has been taken up by a new generation of ‘spiritual activists’ who know that they can ‘win with love’ as they put it, without sacrificing their goals or principles, a love that seeks not to accumulate power, even in the face of oppression, but to transform it so that ‘victory’ means more than a game of revolving chairs among narrow political interests. In their eyes therefore, love is the wellspring of ethical politics.

Those interested in ‘spiritual activism’ may want to visit Seasons Fund for Social Transformation. The speeches of Martin Luther King are also essential reading, particularly his last address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as its President in 1967, from which the above quotation is taken.

See also

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Author: Michael Edwards

Luddite

Popularly, the word Luddite means someone who reflexively and thoughtlessly opposes broad categories of technology. But the original Luddites opposed a few specialized technologies for practical reasons. They were skilled textile artisans who were accustomed to working autonomously, making high-quality products, and earning good money. They saw that new machinery was destroying their trade and replacing it with the manufacture of low-quality textiles, by unskilled workers, for low wages, in oppressive factories, enabling a concentration of wealth in the hands of the factory owners.

Ironically, the actual Luddites had a more sophisticated understanding of the social effects of new technologies than modern technophiles who use the term to imply simple-mindedness. Although they failed to halt industrialization, the Luddites drew strong popular support, and they forced the ruling powers to make some economic concessions. Their example suggests that opposition to technology is effective when it is precisely focused and linked to concrete needs.

Sources

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Author: Ran Prieur

Matthew Atwood



Responsible for defining :-

Mediation

Mediation is simply defined as: The attempt to settle a dispute through a neutral party. (dictionary.com) That is a broad definition and covers a lot of ground -- as does the field of mediation.

Settlement vs reparation

On one end of the spectrum, settlement is the goal to be achieved. At this far end, retired judges act as evaluators and convince litigants to agree to a settlement that has been developed by the mediator. At that far end of the spectrum, the parties usually meet in separate rooms and never talk with each other.

On the other end of the spectrum, repairing the relationship is the primary goal and the issue is seen as an underlying break in the relationship. Transform the relationship and the issue won't be so important. Emotions are brought to the table and expressed face to face.

Between those poles, there are many different models of mediation and applications for the models.

Interest-based mediation

Facilitative, interest-based mediation is widely used in community, family and commercial mediation. The classic story which illustrates interest-based mediation is this one:

Billy and Bobby are arguing in the kitchen when Mom comes in. I have to have this orange, each exclaims to Mom. There is only one orange and Mom offers to cut it in half. They each scream in protest. I must have the whole orange says Billy. No, I must have the whole orange, says Bobby. Mom is perplexed. Billy, why do you need the orange, she asks. Because I must have the peel of one whole orange to make Grandma's birthday cake. And why do you need the whole orange, Bobby? she asks. Because I must have the juice of one whole orange for my cold.

When each interest was known, the answer was simple. One orange was enough that both of them could meet their needs. The interest-based mediation is resolved.

Additional resources

Videos

See also

  • Comprehensive Law - legal alternatives incorporating procedural justice and personal dynamics

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Author: J Kim Wright

Meritocracy

Meritocracy

Modern Worldview

The modern worldview, which emerged between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, represented a radical departure from the way most previous human cultures had understood the world and the place of humans within it. This revolutionary change involved two distinct steps: the demotion of Nature from a vast, living organism to a passive, predictable mechanism and the bold elevation of humanity vis a vis the world––moves that shattered the typical premodern conviction that humans and the natural world were both part of a unified cosmos or larger scheme of things. The upshot was a dualistic vision in which emancipated humans stand starkly opposed to a Nature reduced to a storehouse of raw materials.

This dramatic shift was a response to growing tension between the organic image of nature and accelerating social, intellectual, and economic changes. The Renaissance world picture proved increasingly at odds with an expanding commercial society and with the desire, shared by early capitalists and the pioneers of the Scientific Revolution, to exploit, manipulate, and transform nature. “The new commercial empires began to demand an ideology that presented Nature only as a material system,” according to historian of science Peter Bowler. “If people were to feel comfortable when they used the earth for their own selfish ends…, Nature has to be despirtualized.”

The image of world as machine is the deep metaphor at the heart of modern culture. In the seventeenth century the French mathematician René Descartes, described the world as a giant clock, which suggests it is simple, orderly, predictable, fully comprehensible through studying its parts, and open to manipulation. Since machines are by design under human control, this metaphor made the enterprise of science and the dream of human control seem possible. Francis Bacon, a prophet of the dawning of the Scientific Revolution, advocated new technologies to give men power “not only to bend nature gently, but to conquer and subdue, even shake her to her foundations.” Guided by this overweening ambition, modern civilization has sought an extreme, aggressive, grandiose notion of dominion––Dominion with a capital D.

The narrative of progress, a dominant and pervasive faith that history is moving inevitably toward complete human mastery of Nature, has propelled the modern era onward toward this desired dominion. This modern myth has supported the ideas and institutions that have shaped our current civilization: science, technology, industrial capitalism, the imperative of economic growth, the pursuit of ever greater material wealth and comfort, freedom, and radical individualism. If medieval Europeans were obsessed with sin and salvation, their modern descendants have been obsessed with power and autonomy. They have pursued the intoxicating dream of emancipation––a revolt that began against kings and hierarchy but grew into an ever expanding rejection of constraints of every kind. Over recent centuries, moderns have yearned to be free of tradition, free of society, free as individuals of shared purposes and obligations, free of physical limits and natural constraints, free of history, and ultimately free of Earth.

Additional resources

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'Author: Dianne Dumanoski

Money

Money

Morphic field

In the field of biology, researchers such as Rupert Sheldrake have suggested that the organization of complex organ systems, composed of a multiplicity of discrete, relatively independent parts, is difficult to account for purely on the basis of gene expression. Proposed instead is the notion of a "morphogenetic field" (form-generating field) to account for such structures.

Beyond physiology, Sheldrake further proposes that a similar principle is active in social contexts, pertaining to collective thought, feeling, and behavior. In essence, the theory is that, in addition to individual subjective consciousness, all creatures also dwell in a general "morphic" or "morphogenic" field of consciousness; one that both informs and is informed by individual and collective thought, feeling, and action.

The latter phenomenon is popularly known as the 100th Monkey Effect, though that particular account has largely been established as myth. However, in scientifically controlled experiments, Sheldrake and other have shown weak but statistically significant transpersonal effects for the sharing of knowledge, perception, and autonomic response. One of the more quaint studies for example, found that crossword puzzles are easier to solve on the day following their publication, presumably as the solution becomes more imprinted in the morphic field. [citation needed]

To the extent that this phenomenon is validated, the implications for collective thought, choice, and action are great.

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Author: Bill Miller

Multinational Corporation

The term multinational corporation is commonly and incorrectly used to refer to any corporation that engages in business in more than one country. In its more precise meaning a multinational corporation is one that has independent operations in multiple countries, each acting as if it were a national corporation loyal to the interests of the host country and its people. The term is best understood as an artful term of choice of corporate PR because it implies a commitment to good citizenship everywhere. In fact it is nearly impossible to find any corporation that is truly multinational in this technically correct sense.

Most corporations referred to as multinational, are more accurately referred to as global or transnational corporations that accept no obligation or loyalty to the interests of any nation, place, or people other than their top managers and largest shareholders. It is unfortunate that even citizens engaged in challenging corporate rule often use the term multinational corporation, which plays into the corporate PR fiction of corporations that are loyal to local people and interests everywhere, thus undermining their own case.

See also

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Author: David Korten

Neo-Tribalism

Neo-Tribalism is a modern sociological phenomenon that has developed in response to civilization, or the modern corporation/state society, wherein smaller social groupings of like-minded or themed communities are formed. These smaller groupings, loosely referred to as tribes, are bound by common practices, values, beliefs or goals, with varying degrees of adherence to traditional tribal practices ranging from the purely aesthetic to the radically orthodox. The key delineating factor of Neo-Tribalism is the commonality that binds the tribe together.

Urban tribes

The most casual form of Neo-Tribalism is the urban tribe, a term first coined in 1985 by French sociologist Michel Maffesoli in Le temps des tribus: le déclin de l'individualisme dans les sociétés postmodernes. According to Maffesoli, urban tribes are microgroups of people who share common interests in metropolitan areas. The members of these relatively small groups tend to have similar worldviews, dress styles and behavioral patterns. Their social interactions are largely informal and emotionally-laden, which stands in sharp contrast to the formalized Machiavellian constructs of corporate culture. The term was expanded upon by author Ethan Watters in Urban Tribes: A Generation Redefines Friendship, Family, and Commitment as “an intricate community of young people who live and work together in various combinations, form regular rituals, and provide the support of an extended family.”

The premise of Watters' book was to explore the “tight-knit groups of friends [that] fill the increasingly wide stretch between college and married life” in the social phenomenon he calls “never-marrieds”—unmarried urbanites in their 30s and beyond. The urban tribe is one of the outcroppings of the so-called “Creative Class”, the class of young, mobile, educated professionals--first identified by sociologist Richard Florida in his book, The Rise of the Creative Class--who agglomerate in major urban centers where social, cultural and economic opportunities exist in greater numbers. Traditionally, urban tribes were commonly found in the gay and lesbian community, where members often find themselves estranged from their birth families and communities.

Other forms of Neo-Tribes

Moderate forms of Neo-Tribalism believe that a tribal social structure can co-exist within modern society, and often, take advantage of the products of civilization, such as technology, to support their Neo-Tribal associations. Examples include countercultural groupings like punks and those that grew out of the Burning Man and Rainbow subcultures.

The yearly Burning Man festival, built in opposition to the social and commercial structures of modern civilization, refers to itself as “a gathering of the tribes”, and incorporates tribal motifs in its organizational structure, in the layout of Black Rock City, and in many of the practices and pastimes associated with Burner culture, such as art, ceremonial rituals, fire dancing, lexicon, and the costume aesthetic characterized by bones, feathers, long hair often dreadlocked, leather, piercings, tattoos, and earth toned fabrics. This whole milieu is meant to pay homage to traditional tribal culture, even though many do not engage in orthodox practices in their lifestyles.

Although many Neo-Tribalists live in shared communities like art collectives--defined by sociologist Sue Heath as “peer-shared households consisting of unrelated individuals living in self-contained houses and apartments”—this version as well is more homage to traditional tribalism than it is a return to it. Little binds these groups together for extended periods of time, as they tend to be more transient and the bonds they form temporary.

Radical to orthodox forms of Neo-Tribalism include intentional communities, eco-collectives and communes, anarcho-primitivism, the “back-to-the-land” movement, and various "off-the-grid" survivalist sects. Most of these belief systems view modern civilization—which includes the nuclear family at the micro level and the corporation/state at the macro—as inherently detrimental and unsustainable, and see tribal structures as the natural state of humanity and the form we will return to following any crash of civilization.

Optimal Neo-Tribe numbers

Neo-Tribalists see the optimal living arrangement and social grouping as being no more than 150 people in a “clan”, broken into “bands” or working groups of 30-50. This they believe was the dominant human ordering principle for hundreds of thousands of years, as 150 people is the maximum number of individuals any one person can get to know well enough for meaningful social interaction. Tribes then consist of several clans comprising 1000-2000 individuals. As environmentalist Dave Pollard writes, “bands were the optimal size for short-term collective action, clans for mutual knowledge and learning, and tribes for buffering (to optimize inter-tribal physical and cultural diversity and to minimize inter-tribal conflict, both Darwinian advantages).”

The modern equivalent of a clan, such as an intentional community, should ideally replicate 150 people comprising several bands, who, according to Pollard, “love each other (you can't spend 15-20% of your life physically grooming people you don't love) and live together, their society cemented by rites and shared principles.”

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Author: Charles Shaw

Net Neutrality

Net neutrality is a key underling principle that supports the free flow of information on the Internet. It means that the middle of the network is neutral so that no companies charge extra to move different bits of information through the middle.

Citizens and businesses pay to access the network paying a fee to an Internet Service Provider (ISP). On the other end those who have web pages (citizens and businesses) pay for the amount of traffic that accesses that website. This payment on both sides is what covers the cost of running the network. In the middle, network services are provided under best effort.

Those who seek to end net neutrality would charge access fees or toll fees in the middle of the network. Those who provide internet services like Verizon and Comcast are seeking to end net neutrality by seeking payment from large content providers like Yahoo! and Google to access their subscribers (or better service to their subscribers for a fee). These large providers can afford to pay these fees but chose not to end net neutrality but paying these fees they have chosen not not agree these fees and stand with the end to end principle the internet is built on.

The Save the Internet Coalition, formed in 2007, has produced a video on how net neutrality works.

Additional Resources

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Author: Kaliya Hamlin New Economy New economy is a general label applied to an actual, anticipated, or proposed restructuring of economic institutions. It is neutral with regard to the actual nature of the restructuring. Those who use the term agree only that the economy of the future will be, or should be, different from the economy of the past.

The term new economy has been used to refer to the service economy that has replaced the industrial economy in many high-income countries. Many have used it to refer to the transition to a high tech information economy. Some pundits made the claim prior to the Wall Street meltdown of 2008 that a new economy of financial innovation would make old approaches to wealth creation based on material production obsolete, eliminate business cycles, and usher in a new era of perpetual growth in material prosperity free from environmental constraints. Most new economy visions are focused primarily on institutional restructuring driven by advances in technology.

New economy - a progressive perspective

More recently, the term new economy has come into use by progressive groups concerned with the need to bring human consumption into balance with Earth’s regenerative capacity while eliminating economic deprivation through a reallocation of economic resources to increase equality and eliminate wasteful and destructive uses. These groups generally oppose the model of a global economy that concentrates power in global corporations accountable only to the short-term financial interests of their own shareholders and top managers. They generally favor economic models that root economic power equitably in people and communities of place, support local self-reliance in food, energy, and other necessities, and serve the needs of all for essential goods, services, and a meaningful source of livelihood. By their reckoning, any economic model that concentrates power in the hands of unaccountable decision makers and measures economic performance primarily in terms of financial return is merely a variation on an old economy model that fails to distinguish between the interests of a ruling financial elite and the real wealth needs of the rest of society.

Additional resources

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Author: David Korten

News

  • January 2010 - Phase Two, the open source "Wiktionary," begins with the publication of "Does environmentalism destroy the world? - openDemocracy and Resurgence launch the Dictionary of Ethical Politics to explore how our political concepts can cope with the end of the limitless" by Tony Curzon-Price.
  • July-Dec 2009 - The first round of definition editing was implemented by the core team of editors.
  • The writing phase of the project got underway on 12.01.08 as the first 50 potential authors were contacted.

Non-violence

This will be defined by Satish Kumar

Offence

This term will be defined by Ursula Owen.

Oligarchy

Oligarchy

Online Identity

In physical space we have bodies that anchor our identities. When we go online we have the freedom create different identities.

Our online identities are anchored with an identifier on the network. An example would be a MySpace URL or Twitter URL http://www.twitter.com/myname or a 2nd level domain name - mydomainname.com

Open standards for online identity are important to avoid the enclosure of citizen’s identities and their “ownership” by the companies where they are hosted. Open technical standards are needed to make this possible along with legal agreements that give people the rights to the information about them.

OpenID is a standard that gives people the freedom to create their own online identifier and use it around the web (just like we walk around the physical world in our body). There are several other standards that build on top of OpenID known as the Open Stack; these are still being innovated at the Internet Identity Workshop.

To create a free open network of progressive communities and organizations adoption of these open standards is essential.

See also

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Author: Kaliya Hamlin

Open Standard

Open standards are what helps industry work both in the physical world but more importantly in the digital world. Open means that anyone is free to use the standard without payment or royalty. Standard means that in using it it works across many systems and forms.

Examples of open standards in the physical world include, rail road track gauges, container ships for shipping, electric plugs, light bulb sockets.

Open standards for the internet

On the internet open standards are different networks that link together and help different networks talk to each other to inter-operate - to create an inter-net. There are three main standards bodies for the internet:

  • Core operations of the network, including the physical layer: IETF, SMTP - email and others.
  • The display layer of the web: W3C, HTML and others.

Online open standards are key to supporting a free, open and neutral internet.

See also

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Author: Kaliya Hamlin

Pacifism

Pacifism, in the narrow sense of the rejection of war by an individual, is little more than 2000 years old. Before the Christians, there is no record of a soldier refusing to take part in war on grounds of conscience. And right up until the early 18th century, Western pacifism was a concern only of those who belonged firmly within the Christian teachings.

But pacifism has far broader meanings. It can equally stem from a non-religious belief in the sanctity of life and from a more practical belief that war is wasteful and ineffective. Many believe that pacifism is more than opposition to war, and that it must embrace action to promote justice and human rights. At its most extreme, pacifism can mean complete dissociation from society and all its violent tenets, like the Hutterite communities of the 16th century. It can mean refusing to kill animals as well as men, and rejecting, like the Anabaptists, the whole structure of government, along with the machinery of war, as inherently violent; it can mean absolute non-violence for oneself, but no strictures on those who have not seen the light, as for many Buddhists. It can also mean the refusal to condone or be involved in one war, but not all wars, as in the case of the American pacificists in the war between the States. There are equally those who protest against war, in whatever form it takes, but not against self-defense; and those who refuse to fight, not because they are against fighting, but because they do not believe that the state has any right to order them to do so.

20th century pacifism

Most common in the 20th century pacifists in Western countries have been those who opposed war from rationalist, humanitarian reasons, rather than purely religious ones, and who have wished to integrate pacificism into the world order. Many have seen themselves as disciples of the great teachers of non-violence - Thoreau, Garrison, Tolstoy and Gandhi - all of whom argued that the techniques of non-resistance are ultimately more effective than, and ethically superior to, violence.

Pacifism became widespread as a reaction to the scale of killing in WW1. In Britain, some 16 000 conscientious objectors refused to fight and many were sentenced to repeated terms of hard labour. After the passing of the Military Service Act of 1916, the No-Conscription Fellowship, voicing the concerns of men like Bertrand Russell, Clifford Allen and Fenner Brockway, mounted a vigorous campaign against such punishments, and some went to jail themselves for their outspokenness.

During the Vietnam war, the US introduced conscription and between 1963-1973, more than 9000 men were prosecuted for refusing to be drafted into the army. It was in the US that the poet and pacificist, Edna St Vincent Millay, wrote:

"I shall die/ That is all that I shall do for Death./I hear him leading his horse out of the stall/...He is in haste; he has business in Cuba, business in the Balkans, many calls to make this morning./ But I will not hold the bridle/...And he may mount by himself:/ I will not give him a leg up"

Additional resources

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Author: Caroline Moorehead

Paradigm

Paradigm, from the Latin and Greek meaning “to show side by side”, first appeared in English in the 15th century with the meaning of a typical example, a pattern, a model, or an archetype. Until the 1960s, use of the word was largely limited to the fields of grammar and rhetoric. Today, a quick Google search of the term paradigm reveals the word being applied to everything from diplomacy, trade, education and journalism to cell phones, fast food, shopping malls and charter fishing. The word paradigm has been adopted by many fields to refer to a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind: the prevailing view of things, the worldview, the mindset, the cultural stories, the cosmology, the box outside of which we so often try to think.

History of the term paradigm

In 1962 historian of science Thomas Kuhn published The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in which he used the word paradigm to refer to the generally accepted conceptual, philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific discipline or community.[61] A scientific paradigm includes theories, laws, rules, models, concepts, practices, assumptions, values and knowledge. It shapes and determines what can/will be observed, what experiments should/will be performed and how they should be conducted, what sorts of questions can/will be asked, and how results can/will be interpreted.

Kuhn argued that the history of science could best be described as a series of scientific revolutions, during which old paradigms give way to new ones. Paradigms are strongly resistant to change, with its adherents holding confidence that the paradigm will eventually answer all questions and solve all problems. To believe otherwise would be to admit that the current paradigm is partial and incomplete, leaving its adherents feeling the discomfort of uncertainty. Because of that intense discomfort, people will not abandon one paradigm until a credible alternative is available; this is known as paradigm shift.

Kuhn also argued that it is not possible to understand one paradigm through the concepts, standards, measures or terminology of a second paradigm, or to make meaningful comparisons between the two. Different paradigms represent radically different worldviews. An average member of the current dominant American culture may experience quantum mechanics as incomprehensible, or any speculation regarding intelligent beings from other planets as silly notions held by the mentally ill, or faith healers as merely scam artists. Standing in one paradigm, other paradigms can look absurd or insane.

See also

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Authors: Tim Bennett & Sally Erickson

Paradigm Shift

Historian of science Thomas Kuhn (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 1962 [62]) argued that the history of science could best be described as a series of scientific revolutions, during which old paradigms give way to new ones. He wished to counter the notion that science progressed in a slow, linear fashion toward ever-greater truths and the accumulation of facts. Instead, he observed, science tends to stay fixed on a particular paradigm, a story, dogma or orthodoxy to which it clings until enough anomalous information arises which cannot be explained by that paradigm.

The accumulation of anomalies calls into question the assumptions of the current paradigm, and stretches it beyond its ability to explain the observed world. But, because the current paradigm has been so successful, and because of the discomfort of not knowing, people will not abandon an old paradigm until a credible alternative exists. Even then there is huge resistance and, as Max Planck observed, often "a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." In other words, the Stone Age did not end for a lack of stones.

As explored in the documentary film, What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire, the present-day confluence of seemingly insoluble problems (including oil depletion, economic meltdown, political upheaval, climate destabilization, mass extinction and population overshoot) can be seen as anomalies that call into question the current cultural paradigm of growth, separation, domination and control. Contemporary culture tends to cling to old-paradigm stories that reinforce that things have never been better.

In the face of this collective predicament, many point to the famous quote from Albert Einstein, “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Humanity, with all of the best intentions, labors to engineer a mass consciousness change, a shift to some new paradigm from which it can solve its collective problems. Sadly this approach fails to notice that the whole notion of problem solving - seeing the world as a series of problems to be solved by humans - is likely an aspect of the paradigm or kind of thinking that created this predicament in the first place. And attempts to engineer, or in any way force, mass consciousness change may, unwittingly, be firmly rooted in that same paradigm.

New paradigms are not linear progressions from the old (cell phones instead of landlines), but represent radically new world views (let’s communicate telepathically) that are barely comprehensible to an older one. Given that, attempts to create or engineer a paradigm shift as a matter of design, intellect or will may be in vain.

This may be disconcerting to those steeped in a paradigm of separation, domination and control. A helpful construct may be that of ego. For these purposes, ego means that sense of separate self that most are familiar with; the collective ego is the widely shared stories about separation and the resultant need for control or domination of the world, and all of the cultural, economic and political ramifications of that. Ego, individual and collective, is by definition conservative and defensive. It defends a set of stories because its life depends on those stories. Ego is closed to any shift of paradigm that threatens that basic notion of separation, or any other notions that hinge on the idea of separation, like the unquestioned benefits of competition.

Interrupting ego, then, is likely necessary to further the movement into a new paradigm. When uncomfortable ego feelings that arise in the presence of different ways of thinking, experiences, and concepts, are identified, they can be used to inform and alter behavior or perception. An example of this is if an encounter leaves one feeling confused, afraid, angry, appalled, shocked, dismissive, or agitated, ego may have bumped into another paradigm. Or, if the notion of moving into a gift economy feels silly, impossible, or stupid, those reactions, paradoxically, could indicate a direction in which to head.

The ability to shift the paradigm may be aided by practices that help to break up ego and support openness to unfamiliar experiences. Dialogue, spiritual practices like meditation, chanting, vision quest, sacred use of experience-altering substances, or even falling in love with someone of a different paradigm may be useful in this venture.

Sources

See also

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Authors: Tim Bennett & Sally Erickson

Pay-it-Forward

Virtually all forms of commerce are based upon some form of transactional exchange of value - whether the goods or services are exchanged directly, as in the case of barter, or whether some component of the transaction involves monetary tokens of value. In the first case, valuation of the items exchanged can be established by convention, but is often simply determined in the moment, based on the relative needs of the parties. In a money-based economy, the items exchanged generally have a relatively fixed, broadly agreed upon monetary valuation, which may evolve over time based on market forces.

Such transactional exchanges may be equitable, exchanging value for perceived equal value, but especially in money-based economies, parties commonly seek a relative economic advantage in an exchange, known as profit. In an economy like capitalism, the profit-seeking aspect often becomes the primary purpose of a transaction rather than the utility of the goods or services or the quality of relationship between the parties.

In contrast, in a Pay-It-Forward transaction, a good or service is offered without the expectation of a direct, quid pro quo (pay-it-back) return of value. Rather, the beneficiary is encouraged (or morally mandated) to perform a similar, counterpart transfer of value at some point in the future. The nature of this future transaction however, is generally left to the discretion of the performing party. Whereas the impetus for a traditional value exchange transaction lies in satisfying personal need or gaining personal advantage, the goal of pay-it-forward is primarily to benefit the recipient and/or the greater community.

While pay-it-forward is somewhat related the notion of a gift economy, there is a greater implication that the transacted value will continue to circulate in some form through the general economy. Gifts are commonly intended to remain with the original recipient.

Viability of pay-it-forward economies

The long-term viability of a pay-it-forward economy generally depends upon a cohesive sense of community among the participants. In addition to attending to personal need, members must also appreciate the needs and health of the greater social and ecological system in which they dwell. This often involves an ability to defer immediate gratification on the faith that the benefits of aiding and supporting others and the community will ultimately redound in a way that elevates the lot of all.

Individualistic, competitive economies like capitalism tend to involve zero-sum transactions - that is, the gains of one must be offset by the losses of others. This is an artifact of an economy where value is largely stored in material goods or in money as a coupon for material goods. In contrast, pay-it-forward economies place additional value in more abstract social and ecological benefits - happiness, community, beauty, nature, artistic and intellectual pursuits, and other quality of life issues that are difficult to quantify and monetize in a capitalistic system. These latter qualities are generally open-ended and non-zero sum in that having more for the one does not diminish the supply for others.

In a world with a relatively small population and a large supply of resources, competitive economies can flourish with relative comfort for all. However, as worldwide resources and carrying capacity become stretched, the economic security and quality of life becomes increasingly uncertain for those less able to compete. Alternative, or complementary, economies may be needed as growing numbers of people become disenfranchised from the mainstream economy.

Additional resources

  • Pay it Forward Movement - real-life success stories of people practicing pay-it-forward
  • Pay It Forward Foundation - set up to educate and inspire students to realize that they can change the world, and provide them with opportunities to do so
  • Video from the theatrical release of Pay It Forward (2000, Warner Bros.)

See also

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Author: Bill Miller

Peace

Peace is not merely an absence of war, it is a positive state of harmony, balance and justice. In other words, peace is a way of life where good relationships among people, and between people and nature are established. The seeds of peace are rooted in the hearts and minds of every individual; there cannot be peace in the world unless individuals are at peace with themselves. Before we make peace in the world we have to make peace with ourselves, then peaceful relationships will unfold among people. To achieve this we have to celebrate the diversity of cultures, religions, political systems and philosophies. There can be no peace if there is no justice. Poverty, exploitation, subjugation, domination and institutionalised violence of discrimination and inequality results in conflicts, therefore social justice is a prerequisite for peace.

Peace among people is not complete unless we make peace with nature. Respecting the rights of nature is as essential as respecting the rights of people. Treating animals cruelly, treating land disrespectfully and poisoning the rivers, oceans and atmosphere is as much a form of war as going to combat with other nations.

In order to establish comprehensive peace we need to have peace in our hearts, peace among people and peace with nature.

Sources & Additional Resources

See also

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Author: Satish Kumar

Peak Oil

The term peak oil refers to the point after which the amount of oil that can be extracted from the earth in a given year, begins to decline. The phrase was first coined by the American geophysicist Dr. M. King Hubbert in 1956. Hubbert was the first person to predict that US oil production would peak in 1970, which has since been proven to be correct. Hubbert also predicted a world-wide peak in oil production around the year 2000.

Peak oil does not mean that there is no oil left, rather it means that the quantity that is produced each year has reached its maximum rate and future production rates will decline. Before this point, extra production could be brought on line to satisfy growing demand. As long as demand continues to rise or is static, the pattern of peak of production, followed by a plateau and then contraction will result in ever higher prices. A large part of economic activity depends on oil so a recession can have the effect of reducing the oil price temporarily as demand dips, but ultimately, oil is a finite resource made millions of years ago, and so the remaining reserves are increasingly difficult and expensive to extract.

Prospectors and producers around the world first tapped into the easiest oil fields to find and exploit. Large scale oil extraction began in the mid 1850s and since then oil fields have been prospected around the world, but many of these resources are now reaching depletion, such as the North Sea supply off the coast of Britain. Eventually the amount of energy available from the oil extracted gets ever closer to the amount of energy needed to extract the oil in the first place. This ratio is often termed the Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI).

The closer EROEI is to one, the less economically viable is the extraction, no matter how much oil may be left in the ground. Oil producers have begun to exploit alternative sources of oil, such as the tar sands in North America, to try to meet the expanding markets of the growing global economy. But such sources have much lower returns on investment than conventional oil fields and require the price of oil to be far higher to be worth extracting. The catch is that these higher prices may stall the world's energy dependent industrial economy, leading to recession and a periodic collapse in oil prices. This makes it far harder to maintain the investment needed to exploit non-conventional sources of oil.

The physics of peak oil can be further understood on a well-by-well or field-by-field basis. When oil is first extracted it is often under great pressure and it is therefore easier to extract. When oil wells begin to run down, what remains is under less pressure and is further down in the earth’s core. Such reserves may be large but the oil is harder to extract. Current commentators and energy insiders are now suggesting that we are at peak oil now, or that we will reach it sometime before 2018.

"Our ignorance is not so vast as our failure to use what we know." - M. King Hubbert

Additional resources

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Author: Julia Forster

Person

Person

Phantom Wealth

Phantom wealth, or illusory wealth, is wealth that appears or disappears as if by magic. The term generally denotes money created by accounting entries or the inflation of asset bubbles unrelated to the creation of real wealth. The high-tech-stock bubble and the housing bubble are examples.

Phantom wealth also includes financial assets created by debt pyramids in which financial institutions engage in complex trading and lending schemes based on fictitious or overvalued assets in order to generate phantom profits and justify outsized management fees. Debt pyramids may be used as a device to feed financial bubbles, as in the subprime mortgage scam.

As during the boom and bust phantom wealth housing bubble that began to collapse in 2007 and led to economic crisis in 2008, those engaged in creating phantom wealth collect handsome performance fees for their services during the phantom wealth boom and then walk away with their gains when their schemes inevitably collapse.

Those who had no part in creating or profiting from the phantom wealth scams are then left to absorb the losses and to sort out the phantom-wealth claims still held by the perpetrators against the marketable real wealth of the larger society. It is all legal, which makes phantom wealth creation a perfect crime.

Phantom wealth vs real wealth

The acceptance and success of most phantom wealth financial scams rests on the illusion that money is wealth and those who create money are engaging in creating real wealth. In fact money is nothing but a number, an accounting chit created out of nothing when a bank issues a loan. It has no reality outside the human mind and has value only because we agree to accept it in return for things of real value.

According to Kurt Richebacher, the ridiculous idea that financial bubbles create real wealth was given undeserved intellectual respectability by a 1996 article titled Securities: The New Wealth Machine published in the respected Foreign Policy journal [63]. Thornton Parker warned in 2001 that the retirement portfolios of baby boomers are comprised largely of phantom wealth assets likely to disappear when they begin withdrawing funds to meet retirement needs [64].

Additional resources

See also

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Author: David Korten

Philanthrocapitalism

Philanthrocapitalism is a word that was invented by Mathew Bishop of The Economist magazine to describe the use of business thinking and market mechanisms to achieve social and environmental goals – to use capitalism, in other words, for philanthropic ends. This word is sometimes used to describe the activities of mega-wealthy philanthropists like Bill Gates and his foundation, and at other times it is used to indicate a general attitude of mind among social entrepreneurs, venture philanthropists and others who may not be personally wealthy, but who still see value in deploying the lessons and methods of the market to the social challenges of their day.

Arguments for and against philanthrocapitalism

For its proponents, philanthrocapitalism is a boundary-breaking movement that promises to provide new solutions to global poverty, health, agriculture and environmental degradation. The market can be used to get innovations to a scale and level of sustainability that is impossible for conventional foreign-aid projects or privately-funded NGOs, and because they face fewer political constraints, the philanthrocapitalists can act as ‘hyper-agents’ in taking bigger risks, and getting things done more quickly and efficiently.

For its critics, this movement is another ‘emperor with no clothes’, at best a way of getting useful goods and services to lower-income groups and at worst a self-serving attempt to preserve an unjust economic system by giving a little more back to social causes. There is no evidence that philanthrocapitalism can tackle entrenched social problems more effectively than government and civil society activism, in part because it ignores or eschews support for politics, social movements and other essential components of social transformation.

In terms of ethical politics, philanthrocapitalism poses a particular challenge for democratic accountability and public policy formation, because rich donors may have undue influence over debates and decision-making in crucial areas like health and the reform of public education. In these areas, the hyper-agency of the philanthrocapitalists must be balanced by the agency of ordinary people, expressed through their elected representatives and through the civil society associations to which they belong.

The best argument in favor of this movement is Philanthrocapitalism: How the Rich Can Save the World by Mathew Bishop and Michael Green (Bloomsbury 2008). The counter-arguments are explored in Just Another Emperor? The Myths and Realities of Philanthrocapitalism by Michael Edwards (Demos/Young Foundation, 2008).

Additional resources

See also

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Author: Michael Edwards

Plain Language Law Movement

The Plain Language (or Plain English) Movement is an international movement toward writing documents that are free of unnecessary legal jargon and easier for readers to comprehend. Plain language has the goal of being understood by the widest possible audience, often the public. It encourages writers to prepare well-written, clear, simple, well-organized documents that meet the needs of the audience. Rather than jargon like "the party of the first part," a plain language document actually refers to people by their names or by simple identifiers that are understandable to the reader.

Plain language drafting seeks to limit legalese and repetition of synonyms. Rather than prohibiting someone to "cut, mutilate, slash, tear up or shred," a plain language document might say "you can't destroy this." According to a leading proponent of plain legal language, Cheryl Stephens, "Legalese is a block to communication with clients; it has made lawyers the butt of jokes for centuries."

In 2008, the Federal Government of the US passed a plain language law, the Plain Language in Government Communications Act of 2008 which requires agencies to rely on the Federal Plain Language Guidelines or the SEC's Plain English Handbook.

Additional resources

From the Plain Language Network:

From the Law and Justice Foundation:

Cheryl Stephens

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Author: J Kim Wright

Plutonomy

Plutonomy, a term that combines plutocracy and economy, refers to an economy in which growth is confined to people at the very top of the wealth pyramid. The term was coined by investment and marketing advisers to characterize the U.S. economy, as an ostensible guide to framing profitable investment and marketing strategies. Critics assert that this usage is one of the many indicators of the moral corruption of the system.

Plutonomy stands at the opposite end of the continuum from economic democracy, a system in which every person has an ownership stake in the means of production on which their livelihood depends. Economic democracy is an essential foundation of political democracy. Plutonomy and political democracy are mutually exclusive, as the current U.S. experience demonstrates so clearly.

Additional resources

See also

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Author: David Korten

Popper,Karl

In the political sphere Karl Popper is best known for his seminal work The Open Society and Its Enemies, published in two parts over the period 1947-49. The book provides an analysis and critique of the philosophy of Plato, Aristotle, Hegel and not least Marx within a context of historicism. It was written for the everyday person, or at least Popper’s perception of such. It was a popular underground book with the intelligentsia in Eastern Europe and Russia before the collapse of communist rule.

Historicism

Popper was primarily concerned with the influence of historicism on society and its development. Historicism simply put is the idea that history predicts or determines the future. He saw historicism as an underlying threat to the open society, that is one where man is free to use his critical powers. He believed that our civilization has not yet made the transition from a closed society (one based on tribalism, submission to magical forces and collective tradition) to an open one.

Historicism, for him, was the primary threat to democracy in part because it encourages those who believe themselves to be on the side of history to show contempt for alternative points of view and those who hold them, thus undermining the possible development or evolution of an open society towards a meaningful democracy.

Additional Resources

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Author: Peter Marcham

Popper, Karl

In the political sphere Karl Popper is best known for his seminal work The Open Society and Its Enemies, published in two parts over the period 1947-49. The book provides an analysis and critique of the philosophy of Plato, Aristotle, Hegel and not least Marx within a context of historicism. It was written for the everyday person, or at least Popper’s perception of such. It was a popular underground book with the intelligentsia in Eastern Europe and Russia before the collapse of communist rule.

Historicism

Popper was primarily concerned with the influence of historicism on society and its development. Historicism simply put is the idea that history predicts or determines the future. He saw historicism as an underlying threat to the open society, that is one where man is free to use his critical powers. He believed that our civilization has not yet made the transition from a closed society (one based on tribalism, submission to magical forces and collective tradition) to an open one.

Historicism, for him, was the primary threat to democracy in part because it encourages those who believe themselves to be on the side of history to show contempt for alternative points of view and those who hold them, thus undermining the possible development or evolution of an open society towards a meaningful democracy.

Additional resources

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Author: Peter Marcham

Poverty

The World Bank has one definition of poverty as those living on less than $1.25 per day: "1.4 billion people in the developing world (one in four) were living on less than $1.25 a day in 2005, down from 1.9 billion (one in two) in 1981".[65] It seems like a miniscule change over 24 years, but, says the Rawlsian, it goes in the right direction.

However, a Rawlsian might be concerned with the inefficiency of a world which had to increase incomes overall by xx% in order to reduce extreme poverty by 500 million people. The hope that growth would relieve poverty is referred to as trickle-down economics, and the broad statistics of poverty discredit it. An ecological Rawlsian would wonder whether that reduction in poverty was achieved under conditions of sustainability.

While many ecologists, such as Mike Hulme, want a more inclusive definition of poverty---one that would count the excessive consumerism of the over-developed West as being in some sense "poor" ---many progressives would want the legitimate material aspirations of the poor not to be overlooked. Thomas Aquinas, the medieval theologian, distinguished between poverty and misery. The first can be chosen, and can be a virtue, while the second necessarily stunts human potential. A revival of this Thomist distinction might be useful in an age of ecological priorities.

Poverty in a world of limited resources

A finite world has to make equitable distributions a priority over growth. The Rawlsian temptation has been to grow our way out of misery: emphasise making the cake bigger to grow everyone's slice rather than sharing it more equally. For ecologists, humankind is already living beyond the earth's means. This is the logic of the World Wildlife Fund's well-branded One Planet Living program. Growth cannot therefore be a solution to misery.

Progressives---liberals, Rawlsians as well as Marxists---have not been used to thinking of the kingdom of ends as being materially constrained. The ecological perspective therefore introduces a new challenge: how can the ideals of human self-realisation be made compatible with constrained distributions. Here is the moment when politics asks for a change of consciousness: to maintain the humanist ideals of enlightenment as well as a genuine concern for earth and others.

Additional resources

See also

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Author: Tony Curzon Price

Precautionary Principle

The precautionary principle, as defined by the Precautionary Principle Project, is a
"response to uncertainty, in the face of risks to health or the environment. In general, it involves acting to avoid serious or irreversible potential harm, despite lack of scientific certainty as to the likelihood, magnitude, or causation of that harm."

The precautionary principle has been a false friend to environmentalists. Caution is a political virtue, without a doubt. Its opposite is foolhardiness, and no one would want to be accused of that. But elevating virtues into principles leads to trouble.

As an example, Bjorn Lomborg delights in using the language of caution against the climate change agenda. He argues that the cost of cutting warming by using renewable energy sources in the UK may result in far worse outcomes than a small rise in temperatures---for example, those resources could otherwise be used to alleviate poverty whose consequences are also possibly very grave. [66]

Turning the virtue into the principle forces one to think about morality only as consequentialists. There is no future in that.

Additional resources

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Author: Tony Curzon Price

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Pro-Conscience

Pro-conscience is the position that every woman be allowed to follow her conscience as to whether to terminate a pregnancy.

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Author: Frances Moore Lappe

Problem-solving Courts

In our complex society, courts are increasingly being asked to address social problems that are not compatible with the traditional system of adversarial justice and punishment. Recurring problems - such as drugs, homelessness, domestic violence, child neglect and abuse, mental illness, driving while intoxicated - come before courts every day. Veterans returning from war zones return traumatized and often can't fit into society. Problem-solving courts attempt to address the root causes of crime by addressing the recurring problems which lead to the criminal offense.

In 1989, the first drug court was started in Miami, Florida and since then, thousands of problem-solving courts have sprung up across the United States and around the world. Problem-solving courts focus on treatment of the underlying issue rather than incarceration. For example, if someone writes bad checks to pay for drugs and is arrested, the drug court approach would be to create a structure of support to get the defendant off drugs. The defendant would likely be regularly drug-tested, required to attend a program such as Narcotics Anonymous, obtain housing and employment, etc. The support structure might include drug treatment, social services, and a whole team of resources. The defendant must comply with the case plan set out for him or her, often over a period of up to three years, or the case reverts to the punishment system.

Judges in problem-solving courts generally take a therapeutic jurisprudence approach whereby they see each defendant as a human being and recognize the role of the court as having opportunity for impacting lasting change. Many such judges become parental figures, meting out advice, enforcing consequences and cheering for success.

Proponents of problem-solving courts argue that there is a significant cost savings. Providing the support for rehabilitation increases the probability that the defendant will become a productive, tax-paying citizen. Opponents of problem-solving courts generally argue that they are soft on crime.

Mental health courts

The problem-solving approach is particularly poignant in the case of mentally ill defendants who may just need the proper medical care to live normal and productive lives. Studies have shown that a large percentage of incarcerated individuals have issues with mental illness. Shannon Murphy in The Flint Journal noted that, "Statewide, it costs more than $130 a day to house someone with a mental health illness in a state prison, according to Michigan budget information." and quoted a local offical as saying, "There are so many in the jail that when they are on their medications can be out in the community as productive members of society." [67]

Mental health courts versus incarceration
The Flint Journal article on mental health courts went on to note:

  • It can cost about $33 per day to send someone through a mental health court.
  • It can cost about $125 per day to house someone with a mental illness in a local jail.
  • It can cost about $130 a day to house someone in a state prison who has a mental illness.
  • It can cost between $500 to $1,000 a day in a psychiatric hospital.
  • On average, it costs about $5,500 annually per adult for treatment of a mental illness.
  • Nationally about 56 percent of state prisoners and 64 percent of jail inmates had a mental health problem.

Additional resources

See also

  • Comprehensive Law - legal alternatives incorporating procedural justice and personal dynamics

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Author: J Kim Wright

Progressive

To be progressive is to believe that history moves in a direction of improvement. From the European Enlightenment onwards, this had usually meant that material conditions for all of humanity were assumed to be ameliorable, even if the actual movements of history were never actually quite so clear.

A particularly attractive and eloquent version of the ideal of progress is Gottfried Leibniz's at the end of his essay ‘On the Ultimate Origination of Things’ (1697):

… there is a perpetual and a most free progress of the whole universe towards a consummation of the universal beauty and perfection of the works of God, so that it is always advancing towards a greater development. Thus, even now a great part of our earth has received cultivation, and will receive it more and more. And though it is true that there are times when some parts of it go back again to virgin forest, or are destroyed again and oppressed, this must be understood in the same sense as I just now interpreted the meaning of affliction, namely, that this very destruction and oppression contributes to achieve something greater, so that in some way we receive profit from our very loss.

To the objection that may perhaps be offered that if this were so the world long ago would have become a paradise, the answer is at hand: although many substances have already come to great perfection, yet owing to the infinite divisibility of what is continuous, there always remain in the abyss of things parts that are asleep, and these need to be awakened and to be driven forward into something greater and better — in a word, to a better state of development. Hence this progress does not ever come to an end. (G. VII; Everyman, trans. Morris and Parkinson, p. 308.)

The idea of progress in history has been criticised by conservatives and "realists". But it has also come to be criticised by progressives themselves. So, for example, Michel Foucault sees as itself pathological the Enlightenment's need to discover a truth in history as tending towards some desirable end-point.

The ecological critique of progress is first a critique of the measure of progress as being material conditions. More is not better. However, a more radical critique, of the sort proposed by Michel Foucault, is also attractive to some ecological perspectives: the search for progress is in itself destructive.

See also

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Author: XXXX

Prometheus

Prometheus, a primitive, pre-Olympian Greek god, was punished for giving humanity fire. Prometheus is chained to a rock where his eyes are picked by vultures. Fire, worried Zeus, would give humans the sort of power over nature that should be reserved to Gods.

Prometheus thus becomes a symbol of the power we seek over nature through the harnessing of energy. Prometheus can be seen as a liberator or as a symbol of the ultimately destructive need of humanity to dominate nature. Marx, in comparing his philosophy to what has come before it, says: "Philosophies have tried to understand the world before now. What we need is a philosophy that will transform the world." This desire for transformation can also be seen as the Promethean, _productivist_ bias in progressive thought. Environmentalism, in contrast, might seek a philosophy that precisely abstains from transformation of the world, that seeks to preserve the world.

Eco-Marxism thus seems to be bound in this contradiction: it brings a history of opposition to domination; but it seeks the domination of man over his environment. Environmentalism therefore often feels closer to the non-Marxist left, to liberalism and to conservatism.

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Author: Tony Curzon Price

Propaganda

Propaganda

Property

Property covers a vast range of rights and relations, from a single person owning a hammer, to a government and its citizens owning part of a bank's right to collect debt, to a copyright holder owning the right to prevent the transfer of information.

In political arguments, the word property is often used to set up a frame in which private property owners are threatened by the government. This story puts the owner of a small house on the same side as a giant corporation that owns the right to tear down that house to extract minerals, and it makes no distinction between democratically elected governments, repressive authoritarian governments, and governments that are run by the largest private property owners.

Direct occupation and use of property

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, in his 1840 book What Is Property?, set up a completely different frame.[68] He noticed that our word property blurs together two different concepts. On one hand there is the right of someone who occupies or uses a piece of property, to make decisions related to that occupation or use. On the other hand there is the legal right of someone who does not directly use or occupy a piece of property, to command and profit from those who do. Proudhon argued that only occupying ownership is legitimate, and he opposed both rent and interest, as payments made by those who actually work with a piece of land or money to those who do not.

Sustaining and extractive ownership

But even if property rights could be restricted to direct occupiers and users, those users can and do exploit and damage both ecosystems and human artifacts. Yet another way to think about property is to make a distinction between sustaining ownership and extractive ownership. Through much of history, human systems of all sizes have had extractive relationships with land: depleting wood, topsoil, and minerals and moving on. In the consumerist phase of industrial civilization, we even have extractive relationships with our tools. But as the extractable resources get used up, more and more people and systems will have to shift to sustaining ownership.

Additional resources

See also

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Author: Ran Prieur

Quantitative Easing

Quantitative easing is a central bankers' euphemism for printing money. Since the financial collapse of 2008-2009, US, British, European and other central bankers have printed trillions worth of their currencies to try to pay off the mountains of debt accumulated by financial speculators in credit derivatives and other illusory financial products. These illusory financial gains and losses must simply be wiped off the slate. Printing money for this purpose just ends up sparking inflation.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with printing money, as long as it is done constitutionally by democratic governments to support the creation of new productive assets, e.g., investing in creating new green energy-based economies. Thus, using models like the US Bank of North Dakota, which is owned by the state and issues bonds and loans for taxpayer-approved public works without charging interest, is the correct way to print money. But when such quantitative easing floods our un-reformed global casino, it immediately flows into the hands of speculators and today's unstable financial system.

Additional reources

See also

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Author: Hazel Henderson

Race

Race

Real Wealth

Real wealth has intrinsic value, in contrast to phantom wealth, which has only exchange value. Life, not money, is the measure of real-wealth value.[69]

The most important forms of real wealth are beyond price and are unavailable for market purchase. These include healthy, happy children, loving families, caring communities, and a beautiful, healthy, natural environment. Real wealth also includes all the many things of intrinsic artistic, spiritual, or utilitarian value essential to maintaining the various forms of living wealth that may or may not have a market price They include healthful food, fertile land, pure water, clean air, caring relationships and loving parents, education, health care, fulfilling opportunities for service, and time for meditation and spiritual reflection.

Because of the essential role of caring relationships, the monetization or commodification of real wealth, which generally translates into the monetization or commodification of relationships, tends to diminish its real value. Examples include replacing parental caregivers with paid child care workers.

A phantom-wealth economy seeks to monetize and commodify relationships to increase dependence on money; a real-wealth economy favors relationships based on mutual caring that reduce dependence on money. In contrast to a phantom-wealth economy, money in a real-wealth economy is not used as a measure or a storehouse of value, but solely as a convenient medium of exchange.

Sources

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Author: David Korten

Reciprocity

The foundation for human relationships, upon which the human ethical sense, the sense of justice and injustice, and consequently law, and trade (payment for goods and services) are based, is the powerful human awareness of reciprocity; that is that actions deserve reactions. Such actions may be positive (known as tit for tat) in the case of a favour returned, or negative as in the case of a reprisal, but, as implied by the eye-for-an-eye text (Exodus 21:23-27), it should be measured precisely in proportion to the nature of the hurt.

So strong is the sense of reciprocity to humans that its measure directs responses at all scales of human operation, from the nature of relationships between individuals, to military reprisals between nation states, even if leading to what became known as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) during the Cold War. At the level of individuals, failure to return a favour, or even a smile or simple gesture of friendship (to say good morning, or return a welcome, for example) between individuals who meet regularly (or are colleagues) leaves the donor party feeling cheated and uneasy, and can be misread as hostility or arrogance. This can be a significant basis for tensions between individuals.

Reciprocity - a natural response

Frans de Waal (2006) describes experiments showing how the awareness of reciprocity as a moral force can be seen developing through the lower primates up through the apes, so that a sense of fairness is well developed in chimpanzees. These observations give the lie to the suggestion that ethics are merely cultural constructions. The recognition of significant ethical constructions, such as hypocrisy, whose condemnation is expressed in many of the world’s great faiths, also have their roots in the recognition of reciprocity – since hypocrisy is the expectation of others beyond that which one would have oneself done. As Christ put it, you see the splinter in your brother’s eye, but not the plank in your own (Matthew 7:3-5). In the appearance of reciprocal awareness through primate evolution, and through the deep sense of injustice that humans are capable of feeling and in feeling the need that justice be done and seen to be done, one can say that ethics based on the sense of reciprocity are natural and not cultural constructs.

Reciprocity and evolution

However, the importance of reciprocity for humans may be even yet more significant than this: indeed it may have contributed significantly for mankind's evolution, and especially the rapid evolution of human brain size (cranial volume) that took place from about 2 million years ago up to 200,000 years ago. Robin Dunbar (2004) has argued that the very need to remember previous social encounters with fellow humans in small but growing groups, and to account for who had paid back and who not, might have been one of the very drivers of human brain size, so that today most people can keep track of such encounters with some 150 individuals (Dunbar's number).

The anthropologist Nurit Bird-David (1990, 1992) reported how hunter-gatherers inhabiting natural forests in several regions of the world regarded the forest as 'mother' or 'father', because they felt that in providing for all their needs (food, medicine etc.) the forest loved them and cared for them unconditionally. This sense of unconditional care, i.e. of gifts given without the need or expectation of repayment, is known in Christianity as Grace; see also gift economy. Bird-David (1992) further described how primitive cultivators living near to these hunter-gatherers had a different relation to the Earth, since it did not always yield a crop in proportion to the effort expended in its sowing. In transferring the assumption of the reciprocity principle to underlie their relationship with the Earth, this resulted in beliefs that great sacrifice might be necessary to appease the gods.

Reciprocity can be seen to underlie the principles of trust, respect and the sense, deserved or undeserved, of right and wrong. However, the significance of the human ability to rise beyond the simple demands of reciprocity, as recognized in religious traditions, can be seen in the fact that the greatest respect in human societies is earned by those who give their time, knowledge, wisdom or service without expecting payment.

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Author: Andrew Gosler

Redemption

Redemption in politics is the progression of an individual or entity from a negative public image, brought on by an actual or perceived transgression, to a renewed positive status among that individual’s peers. The payment for that renewed standing may by overt act, finance, and/or intellectual/emotional discharge.

Redemption implies a lesser state prior to its invocation, and the greater state afterwards.

Redemption in 21st century politics

While the need for redemption has plagued ruling bodies since the first days of civilization required a structured tribe, the twenty-first century has seen the required exercise of this act on an almost daily basis, in every government worldwide, without exception. The higher state, that of “innocence”, integrity or good faith, exists prior to the transgression. The lesser state for an elected official is inevitably the result of a perceived wrongdoing against the electorate or its value systems.

A politician or political entity with the liability of this lesser state will often attempt redemption, the restoration or deliverance to the previous higher state, via an act of public cleansing or atonement. Often, when the repentance is interpreted by the public as incomplete or insincere – ie, not enough visible emotional involvement, not enough familial or peer support, or the blatant refusal to say “This will not happen again” -- this single performance may burgeon into multiple or serial media phenomena, each appearance featuring an evolving, purposely self-deprecating public statement of misconduct.

The less comfortable, more lengthy process of political redemption is known as the prison term.

See also

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Author: Jim Gabour

Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation

Restorative Justice

Restorative justice acknowledges that crime affects the persons directly involved as well as the community. This is in contrast to the traditional punitive justice system, where crime is treated as an offense against the state.

A restorative justice approach has traditionally been used by indigenous communities to maintain a unified community, while holding standards of conduct and addressing harms done to its community members and the community as a whole.

Principles of restorative justice

Restorative justice helps victims, survivors, offenders, and communities to take a pro-active approach to crime and engages all parties involved in the healing process after a crime has been committed.

  • Restorative justice can be utilized in crimes of severe violence or non-violent crimes as well as with juvenile offenders.
  • Restorative justice is an approach to crime which puts the victim or the victim’s family first and fully acknowledges the harm caused by the offender.
  • The restorative justice process facilitates the offender in taking full responsibility for their actions by creating a direct or indirect dialogue with the victim, the victim’s family and/or the community.
  • A restorative justice approach seeks to support the victim and/or their family in expressing the harm done and fulfilling their needs as a result of the crime.
  • Restorative justice is an approach that supports the community in healing from the crime.
  • Restorative justice expects the offender to take full responsibility for their actions and assists them in taking steps to find solutions to help heal the harm they have caused.

Restorative justice approaches

Restorative justice is not a particular program but is an approach to justice. Some common restorative justice programs include:

  • Restorative school discipline & anti-bullying programs
  • Truth and reconciliation commissions
  • Peace-making circles
  • Community justice programs
  • Family-group conferencing
  • Sentencing circles
  • Restorative community service
  • Victim-offender conferencing
  • Victim-offender mediation and dialog

Sources

Videos

See also

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Author: J Kim Wright

Reverence

Reverence

Rights

The concept of rights confers upon an individual or a group of individuals a kind of permission to act and/or a permission to be in terms of one’s identity or association – these are classically referred to as liberty rights or liberties. There are also permissions to have access to something, or entitlements. In this sense a right is conferred by a social construct inherently conjoined to an ontological premise; i.e., rights reflect belief systems.

In terms of permission to act, some societies, for example, value the individual's right to speech or to congregate in public while other societies view these kinds of actions as deleterious to the society at large and thus delimit individual liberties in deference to a preferred moral picture of society. Permissions to act can be diversely ascribed to genders, e.g., heterosexuals are more often given the right to marry than homosexuals in many societies around the world. In terms of identity and attempting to create a baseline for a shared framework of human rights, the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights (1948) is the most well-known model.

Because rights are inherently conjoined to values, they are representational of morality frames and simultaneously people’s personal identity. Rights, in modern times, tend to follow class hierarchy. Thus liberties have been awarded following power positions and related preferences. The right to vote, for example, in the United States was at first relegated only to white males that were also landowners. The ruling class tends to reify power and the act of conferring rights can be in direct opposition to their power position.

Because humans tend to cling to their individual cultural beliefs with a particularly fierce tenacity, attempts to create a universal standard of rights continually run into obstacles. It is worth noting that while the United States holds itself up as the global defender of liberty and human rights, it imprisons and/or disenfranchises more of its citizens than any other nation, and has not itself ratified the UDHR.

Water - a human right or need?

Some of the more interesting contemporary rights issues today are related to the commons and associate entitlement rights related to access and use. In relationship to water, the fundamental building block of nature and all life, there is a fascinating back end debate on whether water is a human need or a human right. If water is a need, than ownership of water and the distribution of water can be privatized and corporatized. Whereas, if water is considered a fundamental human right and part of the global ecological commons, radically different approaches to access and distribution – and most notably disallowing ownership of water must be pursued. There are obvious ethical concerns if global corporations own the world’s water resources – essentially they would be directly controlling life.

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Author: Karri Winn'

Sacred Activism

Sacred activism, also known as spiritual activism, is the practice of fomenting social, cultural, or political change through the combined use of activist organizing techniques and spiritual principles.

Sacred activism is "a transforming force of compassion-in-action that is born of a fusion of deep spiritual knowledge, courage, love, and passion, with wise radical action in the world." It is built around the "two sacred fires": the passion and love for both God and justice. When these two fires are combined--the mystics' fire for God and the activists' fire for justice--they engender a third fire, which is "divine love and wisdom in action," which has a far greater transforming power then either force individually.

The fundamental basis of sacred activism is as follows: a spirituality that is only private and self-absorbed, one devoid of an authentic political and social consciousness, does little to halt the suicidal juggernaut of history. On the other hand, an activism that is not purified by profound spiritual and psychological self-awareness and rooted in divine truth, wisdom, and compassion will only perpetuate the problem it is trying to solve, however righteous its intentions. When, however, the deepest and most grounded spiritual vision is married to a practical and pragmatic drive to transform all existing political, economic, and social institutions, a holy force - the power of wisdom and love in action - is born. This force is defined as sacred activism.

Practitioners of sacred activism

Sacred activism was practiced by people like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks and Desmond Tutu. Each of these individuals rose up to meet the challenges of their time with great spiritual grace and integrated inner contemplation with decisive action. The work of Paul Ray and Paul Hawken reveals to us that there is in our contemporary world an arising of different groups of concerned people anxious for change. Sacred activism provides these people with a system of thought and traditional wisdom practices to help support the kind of transformative change that is necessary for the world to be preserved.

Both contemporary spiritual seekers, and activists have traditionally not been connected to a vision of action that is inspiring, hopeful and rooted in deep spiritual wisdom and compassion. Some spiritual seekers, for instance, use spiritual knowledge as a subtle way of dissociating from hands-on realistic social, economic, and political engagement in the world, thereby ensuring that the world and its people will be abandoned in its hour of extreme need.

Activists, on the other hand, are prone to complete exhaustion, burn out, and debilitating and divisive rage and are often cut off from the healing and transforming wisdom of the spiritual traditions and the simple techniques, prayers, and practices that could sustain, inspire, and nourish them in their heroic endeavors.

Proponents of sacred activism believe that the large-scale implementation of this practice can become an essential force for preserving and healing the planet and its inhabitants, and for contributing to the evolution of the species, helping to give birth to the next level of humanity, which is a spiritually-integrated being known as the "Divine Human."

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Author: Andrew Harvey and Charles Shaw

Schumacher, E.F.

Dr Ernst Friedrich Schumacher, more commonly known as Fritz Schumacher, is an economist-philosopher and progressive entrepreneur from the twentieth century. Schumacher was an early prophet of the current ecological crisis and although he was a talented academic he became frustrated by theorising and so became a practical exponent of his theories in business, agriculture and journalism.

Fritz Schumacher was born in Bonn in 1911 and died in Caux, Switzerland after a speaking engagement there, in September 1977. He remained an atheist until the age of 44, when he began to read widely around comparative religions and he was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1971.

Schumacher left his native Germany in 1937 to live in London after having established himself as an ascendant academic in economics in Germany, Britain and the USA. During the second world war, Schumacher worked as a farm labourer in Northamptonshire, and then joined the Oxford Institute of Statistics. In 1950, he was invited to b