Sunday, 25 December 2011

2010 we woke up. 2011 we stood up. 2012 we take over.

From Heather

Optimism is a political act. In fact, these days, cynicism is obedience. -
Alex Steffen

The world is long overdue for a completely new system of governance. The need for political representation or a paternalistic and opaque  authority
has been removed by technology. Governance by nation states is  now as
arbitrary and illogical as city states were earlier found to be. Corporations have the freedom to live in a world without borders or  social
responsibility, to own property no individual can claim and to  control a
one world government and legal system, with insupportable  consequences for
the world's resources and individual rights. To effect  the change we
require in 2012, to give individuals control and  responsibility, to bring
regional systems under regional governance and  protect the heritage of
future generations, we need a new political  model.

Individual Rights

In any system where groups have power, individual rights are always  at
risk. Both pure democracy and communism have brought human rights  horrors
every bit as reprehensible as fascist states; in order to guard  against
genocide, torture, and other persecution of individuals in the  name of the
greater good, a system must safeguard individual rights  above all other

Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights specifies that individual rights are to be applied equally without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.  With
the addition of age, this would prevent discrimination against any  group.
Groups are not individuals and no group is entitled to special  and further
rights or protections under individual rights.

A recognition of individual rights will include life, liberty,  security of
person, access to the basic essentials of life including  knowledge,
privacy and personal autonomy in matters not affecting the  rest of
society, free development of personality and potential, and a  fair legal
system which does not promote wishes of the group over rights  of the

Autonomous peer to peer user groups for systems

Governments up till now have been run by hierarchical groups, which  act as
the final authority on all topics for an entire region for an  arbitrarily
specified length of time or until they are overthrown by  another group.
What these authorities govern is a series of systems,  controlled by the
state or corporations, and run as dictatorships where  workers' individual
rights are exchanged for the basic necessities of  life. These systems have
profit for the top of the hierarchy as their  objective; they are not set
up to provide an efficient or superior  service or product to the users.

If these systems were organized as autonomous, transparent, porous,  peer
to peer user groups, they would be far better governed by  themselves. The
current political structure does not recognize that  every system is not of
concern or interest to everyone in the region, or  that some users have far
greater knowledge and expertise in specific  areas than others. We need a
system where responsibility and control  rests with the entire user group
and expertise is acknowledged and put  to best use.

Autonomous: each user group should consist of all people affected by the
system and no people not affected by the system.

Transparent: all information related to the system must be fully
transparent in order for users to participate in tasks or auditing.

Porous: contribution at all levels of each user group must be open to all
users with acceptance by peer review.

Peer to peer: each user group should consist of users: audit and provide
feedback, contributors: interested users who periodically present work for
acceptance by the members, members: have acquired expertise and been
accepted as full contributing members by the user group, and a core group:
recognized by the group as having the necessary level of expertise to
provide direction for the system.

Meritocracy:  A side effect of these user groups is that they  provide
workers with the three motivators which provide the greatest job satisfaction, autonomy, mastery and purpose. People can work on  anything
they like, they are not required to submit resumes, acquire  accreditation,
seniority, or approval from an individual authority. If  their work is good
enough it will be accepted by the user group.  Everyone can work on the
system that interests them, doing the jobs at  the level they are capable
of, with as much or as little involvement as  they choose.

Systems should be organized by user groups, not by nations or  treaties.
International systems would include things such as the  internet,
telecommunications and knowledge, local systems would include  things such
as transit, food production and social services, and in any  situation
where only one family or an individual is affected, the  responsibility
would rely with only them. Each local user group or  individual would have
access to outside user groups for trade, shared  knowledge, disaster
relief, etc., autonomous but networked.

Global commons
Anything which is not only of global interest but also does not  belong to
any one generation cannot be destroyed and cannot be claimed  as the
property of any individual, group, corporation or government.  Global
commons would include space, the atmosphere and electromagnetic  field,
deep sea ocean, land and water masses of sufficient size to have  global
impact, areas of the biosphere which are rare or important enough  to be of
global concern, and knowledge. Knowledge includes discoveries,  history and
creative works, and excludes personal information regarding  individuals.
There should be no restriction on the use of ideas,  although creativity
needs to be compensated and credited.

Anything belonging to the global commons must be held under  stewardship of
a porous and transparent peer to peer organization set up  for the purpose,
and the mandate for all global commons must include  the protection and
preservation of the commons. All systems which affect  the commons must
work with the commons in their design and  implementation.

2010 we woke up. 2011 we stood up. 2012 we take over.


Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Needed now: A News Commons

Daniel Pink on the surprising science of motivation - TED Talk

Bettermeans: How does an open enterprise work?

P2P Foundation


There are many activities that are carried out now which are not considered work because they are not paid employment, eg child rearing, cooking cleaning, mainly women's work you'll notice. So to start we have to think of all the activities that go to providing the necessities of life for us, as work. This starts in the home with children being nagged to help with the washing up etc. and goes on to growing food, building bridges, setting up alternative energy, driving trains, etc. et

So the question how do you make [or what would make] EVERY job, or work, a path of, and to, fulfillment????  ( is very relevant. We don't need to go back into history to see the importance of work not becoming drudgery. I have experienced washing up in a summer camp as being a delightful experience because it went along with having the opportunity to meet and chat with new people and because it was part of a collective project which was itself worthwhile to me. So it is not as far away as George (above) would seem to think. What applies domestically to taking out the garbage, can apply to social necessities, ie waste disposal. That is both can be performed with joy when they are experienced as part of a project in which I am creatively involved.

What makes work 'alienating' is when it is imposed. So I agree with Jones (idem above) no group, even a People's Assembly, should have the right to impose work on an individual.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Global Strike May 2012

Global Strike May 2012 is not a strike in the way it is usually meant of withdrawing labour in order to pressure bosses for increase in wages or better working conditions. What we are proposing is a continuous strike, a permanent withdrawal from the current system and switching to an alternative one. In order to make this feasible, the alternative system needs to be up and running by May next year. Outrageous! Impossible! Yes. I agree with you. Nevertheless it has to happen if we are serious about moving from this morally bankrupt and physically damaging path we are on, to a sustainable system that puts people before profit.
We need to become aware of our part in maintaining the system. Everytime we use money to make a transaction, but more than that, actually our whole culture is predicated on the system continuing. We are trapped in it and though we know it is leading to our self-destruction, we cannot get out of it, EXCEPT by creating the alternative. We are putting our energy into demos, protests, sit-ins, temporary strikes of 1 day or 3 days, which are supposed to gather momentum, spread the word, show our power to the 1%, and at the same time we are totally comitted to maintaining the system in our daily lives, a system which separates us and disempowers us. If our energies were concentrating on developing a system that serves the people, not in theory, but in actuality we would overcome our isolation and empower ourselves. Very much as Transition Towns have been doing.
GlobalStrike 2012 is not a call to get masses out on the streets, it is a clarion call to stop colluding with the system, while at the same time trying to fight it. That schizophrenia has to be replaced by the singular intention of withdrawing from the present morally bankrupt and physically damaging system, and together building a new one.
Maybe you want to know what it is going to be like – this new system- before you commit yourself. Sorry, the commitment comes first. That’s asking a lot. Yes, it is asking for everything you got. Remember what is at stake here is the continuation of human existence.

Transition/Occupy event in Hebden bridge

People from Occupy Hebden and HebdenTransition will be meeting at the Trades Club to explore whether and how we can work together to achieve our common aims. Having been part of both movements I can see many similarities, but there are also differences which need to be respected. Both groups are aware that the path we are on globally is endangering our very existence as a human society, but whereas Transitioners are not given to delving into the reasons, for they want to concentrate on the solutions, Occupiers often criticise the system as a whole and tend to feel that nothing less than total refurbishment will do. Transitioners are in the main happy to work with what we have, and see that much can be done by empowering local communities to develop alternative systems side by side with what is already existing. They have done much to open people's eyes to the loss of community and what can be achieved by re- investing in it.
Occupiers challenge the status quo with protest marches, camping out in city centres, supporting workers' strikes, even challenging the law in the courts, and focus attention particularly on financial institutions which bend the law to suit themselves. The vast division between those who benefit from the influence that corporations have on government policy, and those who suffer from it, is expressed in the slogan of 'we are the 99%'. The advantage of the Occupy movement is in combining this array of different interests under one umbrella. Both movements see the possibility of a society where joy in working together and sharing resources replaces the competitive system of industrial growth which is destroying the planet. While Occupy is envisaging the possibility of at some point changing the system, Transition is building an alternative system run by local people for the people. Together we can work to make this happen. Come to the Trades Club on Tuesday 20th. If you want to add your voice to those being heard around the world or just want to find out more you will be most welcome. There will be delicious food available between 6 and 8pm, and the presentation starts at 7pm

Monday, 12 December 2011

From Peter Block, Community: The Structure of Belonging

The Distinctions for the Possibility Conversation
The challenge with possibility is it gets confused with goals, prediction,
and optimism. Possibility is not about what we plan to happen, or what we
think will happen, or whether things will get better. Goals, prediction, and
optimism don’t create anything; they just might make things a little better
and cheer us up in the process. Nor is possibility simply a dream. Dreaming
leaves us bystanders or observers of our lives. Possibility creates something
new. It is a declaration of a future that has the quality of being and aliveness
that we choose to live into. It is framed as a declaration of the world that I
want to inhabit. It is a statement of who I am that transcends our history,
our story, our usual demographics. The power is in the act of declaring.
The distinction between possibility and problem solving is worth dwelling
on for a moment. As I have said, surely too many times, we traditionally
start with problem solving and talk about goals, targets, resources, and how
to persuade others. Even the creation of a vision is part of the problem solving
mentality. A vision is something we must wait for to realize and is
most often followed by an effort to make it concrete and practical. Even a
vision, which is a more imaginative form of problem solving, needs to be
postponed and replaced with possibility. The future is created through a
declaration of what is the possibility we stand for. Out of this declaration,
each time we enter a room, the possibility enters with us.
The communal possibility comes into being through individual public
declarations of possibility. Much the same as witnessing in religious gatherings.
Though every possibility begins as an individual declaration, it gains
power and impacts community when made public. The community possibility
is not the aggregation of individual possibilities. Nor is it a negotiation or
agreement on common possibility. The communal possibility is that space
or porous container where a collective exists for the realization of all the possibilities
of its members. This is the real meaning of a restorative community.
It is that place where all possibilities can come alive, and they come alive at
the moment they are announced.
• • •
The possibility conversation gives form to one way the gifts of those in the
margin get brought into the center. Each person’s possibility counts, especially
those whose voices are quieted or marginalized by the drumbeat of
retribution. In fact, what distinguishes those on the margin in communities
is they tragically live without real possibility. For many youth on the
margin, the future is narrow, perhaps death or prison. They have trouble
imagining a future distinct from the past or present. This is the real tragedy:
not only that life is difficult, but that it is a life that holds no possibility for
a different future. (pp.125-6)
Ben Roberts: Occupy cafe
There is, I believe, a purity and simplicity in this kind of a declaration.  It is not a detailed prescription.  It is more like a meme.  The original call to occupy Wall Street had this quality, I believe.  It inspired people all around the world into action around a very basic idea of possibility.  What might we call people into next that would have that universal, meme-like quality?  Something that is tangible and compelling, avoids being prescriptive and powerfully invites people into a place of creativity?  Something that will call them to live into the New Economy?

Friday, 9 December 2011

'Why NOT European Coordination?'

When we make use of our 'common cultural features' we are by definition excluding others. We are picking out those that serve our purposes, that tend to serve the interests of the group identified with those common cultural features, and we will at some point ignore or minimise the interests of those outside this group.

These identifications which seem so 'natural' to us now are part of the divisive processes of the culture we have grown up with..... ie are you male or female? married or unmarried? employed or unemployed? black/white/asian/etc? European is just another division that we have to overcome. If we want face to face meetings we could define the group by those who have time/money to travel, which matters as much as location. If I define myself as European then I begin to think like a European.

This is not a frivolous issue, this is fundamental to seeing the world as one family and all as my brothers and sisters. It may be more convenient organisationally to divide ourselves up into locations, but this is not about convenience. This is about stretching ourselves beyond the borders which have divided us, to see our commonalities as human beings.

Thoughts on a Global General Strike

What does this general strike mean to me? Not just for the collectivity, but for me personally? How do I support my wife and family? What alternatives are there for me?
These are the questions that people will be asking of themselves. For some of us in the movement we have already worked out our answers. We are doing what we want to be doing. For other people this represents a huge jump, to be doing what I really want to do in my life, instead of having to go to some boring, soul destroying work in order to survive. The risks - of self-indulgance, selfishness, of letting myself follw my heart, my passionate impulse to enjoy my every moment, isn't this childish? We have been taught such a cynical view of life that for most people these are unattainable ideals. We can see that it is wrong the way the system serves the few, and we can see the need for a fairer share-out of wealth. But for me, personally, what does it mean to 'live to my full potential'? What is required of me to be able to support this global transformation?
For each person this question will have a different meaning. For me it means being able to welcome change, rather than resisting it, while nevertheless going at my own pace, knowing I am a sensitive human being who needs care and tenderness. It means trusting that what is happening is OK even though I cannot see where it is going. It means being able to see this whole global process of crisis, messy and unpredictable as it is, as the birth pangs of a new creativity, like the birth of a baby.  It means being able to see my identity as universal, rathr than tied to one particular location or role.
These personal aspects of the new world we are building also need attention. They tend to be seen as your own private business not something to be discussed openly. But they are basic to understanding how much we cling to familiar ways, however outdated, in order to stay within our comfort zone, and it is helpful to acknowledge the courage that is needed to break out of them.

Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri: What to expect in 2012

Some of the most inspiring social struggles of 2011 have placed democracy at the top of the agenda.
Although they emerge from very different conditions, these movements – from the insurrections of the Arab Spring to the union battles in Wisconsin, from the student protests in Chile to those in the US and Europe, from the UK riots to the occupations of the Spanish indignados and the Greeks in Syntagma Square, and from Occupy Wall Street to the innumerable local forms of refusal across the world – share, first of all, a negative demand: Enough with the structures of neoliberalism! This common cry is not only an economic protest but also immediately a political one, against the false claims of representation. Neither Mubarak and Ben Ali nor Wall Street bankers, neither media elites nor even presidents, governors, members of parliament, and other elected officials – none of them represent us. The extraordinary force of refusal is very important, of course, but we should be careful not to lose track in the din of the demonstrations and conflicts of a central element that goes beyond protest and resistance. These movements also share the aspiration for a new kind of democracy, expressed in tentative and uncertain voices in some cases but explicitly and forcefully in others. The development of this aspiration is one of the threads we are most anxious to follow in 2012.
One source of antagonism that all of these movements will have to confront, even those that have just toppled dictators, is the insufficiency of modern democratic constitutions, particularly their regimes of labor, property, and representation. In these constitutions, first of all, waged labor is key to having access to income and the basic rights of citizenship, a relationship that has long functioned poorly for those outside the regular labor market, including the poor, the unemployed, unwaged female workers, immigrants, and others, but today all forms of labor are ever more precarious and insecure. Labor continues to be the source of wealth in capitalist society, of course, but increasingly outside the relationship with capital and often outside the stable wage relation. As a result, our social constitution continues to require waged labor for full rights and access in a society where such labor is less and less available.
Private property is a second fundamental pillar of the democratic constitutions, and social movements today contest not only national and global regimes of neoliberal governance but also the rule of property more generally. Property not only maintains social divisions and hierarchies but also generates some of the most powerful bonds (often perverse connections) that we share with each other and our societies. And yet contemporary social and economic production has an increasingly common character, which defies and exceeds the bounds of property. Capital’s ability to generate profit is declining since it is losing its entrepreneurial capacity and its power to administer social discipline and cooperation. Instead capital increasingly accumulates wealth primarily via forms of rent, most often organized through financial instruments, through which it captures value that is produced socially and relatively independent of its power. But every instance of private accumulation reduces the power and productivity of the common. Private property is thus becoming ever more not only a parasite but also an obstacle to social production and social welfare.
Finally, a third pillar of democratic constitutions, and object of increasing antagonism, as we said earlier, rests on the systems of representation and their false claims to establish democratic governance. Putting an end to the power of professional political representatives is one of the few slogans from the socialist tradition that we can affirm wholeheartedly in our contemporary condition. Professional politicians, along with corporate leaders and the media elite, operate only the weakest sort of representative function. The problem is not so much that politicians are corrupt (although in many cases this is also true) but rather that the constitutional structure isolates the mechanisms of political decision-making from the powers and desires of the multitude. Any real process of democratization in our societies has to attack the lack of representation and the false pretenses of representation at the core of the constitution.
Recognizing the rationality and necessity of revolt along these three axes and many others, which animate many struggles today, is, however, really only the first step, the point of departure. The heat of indignation and the spontaneity of revolt have to be organized in order to last over time and to construct new forms of life, alternative social formations.
The secrets to this next step are as rare as they are precious.
On the economic terrain we need to discover new social technologies for freely producing in common and for equitably distributing shared wealth. How can our productive energies and desires be engaged and increased in an economy not founded on private property? How can welfare and basic social resources be provided to all in a social structure not regulated and dominated by state property? We must construct the relations of production and exchange as well as the structures of social welfare that are composed of and adequate to the common.
The challenges on the political terrain are equally thorny. Some of the most inspiring and innovative events and revolts in the last decade have radicalized democratic thinking and practice by occupying and organizing a space, such as a public square, with open, participatory structures or assemblies, maintaining these new democratic forms for weeks or months. Indeed the internal organization of the movements themselves has been constantly subjected to processes of democratization, striving to create horizontal participatory network structures. The revolts against the dominant political system, its professional politicians, and its illegitimate structures of representation are thus not aimed at restoring some imagined legitimate representational system of the past but rather at experimenting with new democratic forms of expression: democracia real ya. How can we transform indignation and rebellion into a lasting constituent process? How can experiments in democracy become a constituent power, not only democratizing a public square or a neighborhood but also inventing an alternative society that is really democratic?
To confront these issues, we, along with many others, have proposed possible initial steps, such as establishing a guaranteed income, the right to global citizenship, and a process of the democratic reappropriation of the common. But we are under no illusion that we have all the answers. Instead we are encouraged by the fact that we are not alone asking the questions. We are confident, in fact, that those who are dissatisfied with the life offered by our contemporary neoliberal society, indignant about its injustices, rebellious against its powers of command and exploitation, and yearning for an alternative democratic form of life based on the common wealth we share – they, by posing these questions and pursuing their desires, will invent new solutions we cannot yet even imagine. Those are some of our best wishes for 2012.
Michael Hardt is an American political philosopher and literary theorist. Antonio Negri is an Italian Marxist philosopher. In the late 1970s Negri was accused of being the mastermind behind the left-wing terrorist group the Red Brigades. Negri emigrated to France where he taught in Paris along with Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze. Hardt and Negri have published four important critiques of late capitalism and globalization: Labor of Dionysus: A Critique of the State-Form (1994), Empire(2000), Multitude (2004) and Commonwealth (2009). These four works have been highly praised by contemporary activists. Empire, for example, has been hailed as “nothing less than a rewriting of The Communist Manifesto for our time” by the Lacanian philosopher Slavoj Žižek.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

December 10 Human Rights Day

The 11th of January 2012 is the tenth anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay black hole, a place that has incarcerated 22 children, the centrepiece for the Bush regime's reinstatement of torture, and an anti-judicial experiment that has culminated this month in a bill before the US senate which proposes that US citizens should be subjected to trial by army and indefinite preventive detainment; in other words, a bill which proposes that the US military be permitted to treat US citizens as it treats the rest of the world.
Thanks to Wikileaks' release of the US state cables, we have seen the complicity of almost every country in the world in the human rights abuses of which Guantanamo has become a symbol. We have seen Canada refuse its obligation to demand the release of a Canadian child from Bagram and Guantanamo, refuse to demand that his torture and ill treatment end, and even participate in violating his human rights. We have seen Australia refuse to make an inquiry on behalf of an Australian citizen and torture victim. We have seen Ireland allowing secret rendition flights to use its airport, and we have seen Poland, Lithuania and Romania host "black site" CIA prisons. We have seen Yemen imprison truthful journalists on order from Obama, Armenian officials enable sex trafficers, and Bulgarian PM Borisov linked to oil-siphoning scandals, illegal deals involving LUKoil and major traffic in methamphetamines. We have seen known thugs as ruling politicians and citizens imprisoned for political speech. We have seen humanitarian organizations conceal human rights abuses and corporations that kill their workers.
Throughout this momentous year we have seen almost every country in the world expose themselves as military industrial regimes in which freedom of speech and assembly are met with armed violence by security forces employed to provide protection from the people, not to the people. We have seen court systems which assist banks and other corporations to violate our rights and freedoms and do not work to defend individuals. We have seen a global industry of prisons which work on a system of profit and expansion, not justice. We have seen governments which create laws in response to the needs of corporations, not individuals. This week, we have seen the vast industry of spying on individuals by corporations, in violation of our right to privacy. Throughout this year of mass arrests, we have yet to see the arrest of any of the individuals responsible for these attacks on our human rights.
On January 7, 2012, we demand the return of our justice systems to the people. We demand the release of all untried or unjustly tried prisoners and an end to the abuses of our prison systems. We join London Guantánamo Campaign, Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, Stop the War Coalition, and CND in calling for an immediate end to the illegal detention of people in Guantánamo. And we demand the arrest and trial of all those responsible for violating our human rights.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Naked and Afraid

Many of us find ourselves in situations where we feel we have nothing to offer, because of personal circumstances, we're really stretched in one way or another. And at the same time we see the suffering of humanity, see conflict and wars and destruction, and feel compelled to come forward. Yet we are naked and afraid.
We don't come full of promise, bursting with proclamations of what we will achieve. We come because we must. Because we have to respond, and we know we are being asked to give everything. Not materially, but to give up everything we have been holding on to, the familiar which keeps us in our comfort zone. And rise to heights we have not dreamed of. That is what is required. We sense that.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Terry Patten - Beyond Awakening, The Future of Spritual Practice

Research is teaching us that the most important creative new ideas come not from remarkable individuals but from the interactions of highly creative and collaborative communities.
We keep encountering fresh evidence that, in the famous phrase, "we are smarter than me." Meanwhile, many of us are discovering that "my" creativity is an expression of something larger, the inherent creativity of the Kosmos itself. We're realizing that we don't have to "try" to be creative, but that, when we get out of the way, we already are creative. In fact, we're an expression of creativity itself!

Greece and Italy - Bankers Rule OK!

Italy and Greece: rule by the bankers

By michael roberts It looks as though, by Monday, both Greece and Italy will be ruled by so-called ‘technocratic’ governments.  Even though both Greek prime minister George Papandreou and Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi were elected comfortably in parliamentary polls and were never defeated in any vote of confidence in parliament, they have been ousted – to be replaced by unelected ex-central bankers and former executives of hedge funds and investment banks.  From now on, financial markets will rule directly over the lives of the Italian and Greek people.
Democracy should be put above markets, said Papandreou.  Berlusconi said that the appointment of a government of technocrats would be “an undemocratic coup” that ignored the 2008 election result.  But it is still happening.  In Greece, Lucas Papademos will become prime minister.  He was head of the Greek central bank when Greece joined the euro and boasts of his leading role in achieving that.  Now he takes over in order to keep Greece in the euro, a decision that now President Sarkozi says was “a mistake”.  Papademos was in charge when Greek officials lied about their fiscal position to the EU authorities and he presided over the failure of the Greek government to collect taxes from rich Greeks (like himself).  But he is now the financial markets’ own man.  Greece is to be run by the very man most responsible for getting them into this mess.  It’s like Alan Greenspan taking over as President after Wall Street demanded President Obama step down for failing to cut entitlement spending enough to balance the budget!
In Italy, Mario Monti and  Giuliano Amato are to take over.  Monti is a mainstream economics professor who briefly worked for (guess who?) Goldman Sachs and then became EU competition commissioner for many years, where he insisted on  ‘liberalising and deregulating’ markets.  He is a close friend of the new ECB chief, ‘Super Mario’ Draghi, another Italian banker.  In the 1990s, when a number of countries, including Italy and Greece, engaged deliberately in credit swap transactions to take part of government debt and deficits off the official accounts with the connivance and help of Goldman Sachs in particular, Draghi was director general of the Italian Treasury and then joined Goldman Sachs (2002-2005).  Draghi and Papademos both got their doctorates in economics at MIT in 1978.  Amato is a ‘centre left’ ex prime minister who was close to the corrupt social democrat premier Craxi of the 1990s.  He was head of the Italian anti-trust commission which tried to deregulate the economy especially in financial services.
Now Silvio Berlusconi is like the Rupert Murdoch of Italy, only worse.  He is Italy’s media mogul who dominated politics there for 15 years through a range of trickery, bribery and corruption (he is facing up to 15 charges in the courts once he resigns), alongside his penchant for parties and young women.  His denial of any euro crisis was staggering.  He told the press only last week : “The life in Italy is the life of a wealthy country: consumptions haven’t diminished, it’s hard to find seats on planes, our restaurants are full of people.”  Speaking earlier at the NYSE, he said  “Italy is now a great country to invest in… today we have fewer communists and those who are still there deny having been one.   Another reason to invest in Italy is that we have beautiful secretaries… superb girls.”   In the earthquake that hit central Italy in 2009, he told homeless survivors that they should see their plight “like a weekend of camping.”  And so it went on.
But at least Berlusconi was elected.  Now he is to replaced not by new elected leader but by central bankers and investment bankers.  They will take orders from the EU, the ECB, and the IMF, the dread Troika.  The IMF is led by ex-French finance minister Christine Lagarde.  Lagarde used to head up a global law firm that advised on ‘creative accounting’ schemes for government debt and her deputy David Lipton used to work at Moore Capital, a global hedge fund.  The EU  body that will oversee the Greek bailout package and may buy Italian debt is the EFSF.  Its headed by Klaus Regling, who worked at hedge fund Moore Capital!   In 2009 he lectured: ” The monetary union will work better in the next ten years than in the last ten years, considering the overall scheme of things”.  Fees from EFSF bond issuance will be worth 1% of a likely $100bn of issuance to the big European banks and the likes of Goldman Sachs.   So they will be making good money out of the ‘bailout’ funding.
These bankers are now in charge because the elected leaders of the Greek and Italian people were unable to satisfy the demands of investors in their government bonds.  Europe’s banks, pension and insurance companies and hedge funds stopped buying government debt in Greece and Italy.  It’s not that the elected leaders did not try to meet the demands of the financial sector.  The social democrat leaders in Greece were prepared to face riots, strikes and opposition in their party to do the bidding of finance capital.  Italy’s centre left opposition is now allowing yet another draconian budget in to go through parliament on the nod this week.  But all their efforts were not enough to assuage the needs of their creditors.  Now the bankers prefer to have their own people directly in charge.
And what is the plan?  The bankers will insist on introducing more public sector spending cuts, higher taxes. massive privatisation of state assets and other measures to ensure that all the bonds held by the European financial sector are paid back in full and there is no default.  The Greeks have been allowed to default partially on 50% of the debts held by the private sector, but so that the average Greek still suffers a 30% reduction in living standards over the next decade.  Even that will not relieve Greece of its burden.  Government debt will still be at 120% of GDP by the end of the decade at best (probably more like 140%), keeping the burden of repayment on the backs of a whole generation of Greeks.  The Italians are facing the same treatment.  As one Italian citizen, Pietro Pappagallo, a 58 year-old from Bari, put it: “Im worried about my savings that could become waste paper.  All the efforts to put something aside and I won’t get anything for it.   I’ve already faced four changes of my pension.  I had planned my life out and now they say I have to work more.  As a father, I worry for my children, who will probably never have a pension.”
Finance capital wants to be paid in full (with the least amount of default on their investment).  But the Euro leaders also want what they see as profligate states like Greece and Italy to toe the line on fiscal prudence and run balanced budgets and get their debt down so that the burden of taxation on the profits of the capitalist sector can be reduced.  And they want the Eurozone to survive as the core of Europe’s prominence in world affairs.  The breakup of the euro would be disastrous for that.  But after the traumatic events of the last few months, they are now prepared to countenance the ousting of Greece from the euro unless they meet their fiscal targets and slash living standards for the Greek people.   But if Italy fails, then the euro would break up.  That is why the bankers have taken over.
The reality is that, despite all the efforts of the social democrat leaders in adopting ‘neo-liberal’ policies of fiscal austerity, privatisation, reduction in pension benefits and the destruction of the labour protection laws, Greece will still not meet the targets set by the Troika.  They are set to default outright in 2012.  Italy is different.  Although its government debt ratio is high by European levels, most of that debt is owed to Italian banks and not to foreigners; the government is already ‘balancing its books’ (if you exclude interest payments on the debt) and Italian capitalist industry can still sell things overseas.  So Italy can avoid default – at the expense of living standards, jobs and public services.
There is an alternative to this misery.  I have outlined it in previous posts (see An alternative programme for Europe, 11 September 2011).  Democratically elected governments in both countries should announce together that they are defaulting on all public sector debt held by the private sector.  If that busts their banks (as it would), they should be taken over with customer deposits protected and then run as public enterprises directed to lend to industry and households to boost investment and consumption.  Instead of slipping into a debt spiral that leads to economic recession (or continued depression as much of Europe is already in), recovery could be kickstarted by state-led investment.  Of course, this is anathema to Europe’s capitalist leaders and capitalist sectors because it would threaten the profit-based economy they preside over.  So instead, we shall have the bankers rule.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Tony Porter: A call to men | Video on

Tony Porter: A call to men | Video on

Jeremy Rifkin

The democratization of the economy goes hand and hand with the democratization of governance. The internet generation is driven by a new political agenda. Their politics has little in common with the right/ left dichotomy that characterized the ideological politics of the First and Second Industrial Revolutions. The young activists of the October 15th movement judge institutional behavior from a new lens. They ask whether the institutions of society -- be they political, economic, educational or social -- behave in a centralized manner and exercise power from the top down in a closed and proprietary fashion, or whether they function in a distributed and collaborative way, and are open and transparent in their dealings. The new political thinking is a game changer that has the potential to re-make the political process and re-shape political institutions in every country.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Re-occupying Trust - Lynne McTaggart

Trivializing the movement
Last week, the New York Post provided front page space for a rant about how these ne’er do wells were getting fed by a former cordon bleu chef of the Sheraton midtown hotel, as if their true purpose was to freeload off the kindness of strangers.

The UK press has chosen to both trivialize and demonize the movement by focusing on the fact that as the nights grow cold and draw in, most of the protesters are actually abandoning their tents at night and sleeping in of the comfort of their own beds – evidence, the papers claim, that they must not be truly serious.

Many columnists accuse the protesters of ‘forcing’ the temporary closure of the City of London’s landmark, St Paul’s cathedral, around which they are camped, even though the church itself made the decision to shut its doors and lose vital church income.

And now, in Oakland, California the spotlight has moved from the protesters to the police, after they attempted to disband marching protesters with tear gas, and Scott Olson, two-time Iraqi war veteran and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, landed in Highland Hospital with a fractured skull after a jittery Oakland policeman shot him in the head at close range with a police projectile.

Emergent purpose
To my mind, the most interesting aspect of this movement is twofold. The first is that the purpose of it is not declared – not even yet formed -  but expected to be emergent as time goes on. Many of the protesters themselves are having difficulty articulating anything more than an inchoate rage against the machine and a sense that something fundamentally human is now missing from their lives.

#Occupy Wall Street offers up some general goals in its self-proclaimed ‘modest’ Call to Action; it would like to see the money taken out of politics, freedom to be universal, the election process to undergo a complete overhaul and the corporation to separated from the state.

At this point, the specific call to action largely focuses on feeding the revolt itself  – among workers, the unemployed and anyone else – as well as the formation of ‘general assemblies’ wedded to true consensus decision-making and a new way of communicating, based on dialogue, rather than debate.

The goal of #Occupy, as Daniel Zetah, a 35-year-old builder and environmental educator from Minnesota, sees it, is ‘to create a new system of governance that allows for true democracy where corporation voices are not seen as people and we have direct control over our government.

‘We want corporations and the government to completely split.  We want to cleave this relationship that is so toxic.  That is probably the largest goal we have today.’

Nevertheless, the way this is all to come to pass has yet to be mapped out – a topic to be explored in the new participatory way.

Transcends politics
The second fascinating aspect is that as far as is possible in this extraordinarily polarized time, this is a movement that appears to transcend politics, judging from its enormous and growing support – a kind of global Arab Spring. In an October Time magazine poll, 45 per cent of Americans claimed to agree and support the #Occupy movement, a percentage that is climbing every day.

Several members of #Occupy Wall Street have even been identified as originating from the Tea Party.  Although commonly believed to be #Occupy’s polar opposite in many regards, the Tea Party agrees broadly with the Occupiers in their massive distrust of government and their desire for back-to-basics liberty.

This movement is not about economic revolution as we presently understand it, in the sense of any alternative system to capitalism we now have, such as socialism or communism.  It is not even about the haves against the have nots.

The fledging manifestos of the movement do not focus on economic redistribution or anything overtly Marxist.  They emphasize the fact that we are all united in our desire to work and use ‘the sweat of our brow.’  They ask for fairness, equality, fundamental freedoms, equal representation and community consensus – all basic American values, indeed, all basic platforms upon which my country was founded.

Collapse of trust
Something more fundamental to the human experience is going on here than the sense of unfairness about bankers and their bonuses or the current recession, the lobbying system or paralysis of government, in the US or the rest of the world.

This movement is all about the utter collapse of that most basic of qualities in any society – that its citizens have faith and trust in an entity designed for the public good  - both by those in Zucotti Park and those who pass them on the way to their high-rise offices on Wall Street.

I thought of this when examining a recent study by Eileen Bjornstrom, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Missouri College of Arts and Science.  Bjornstrom came up with an ingenious piece of research:  to examine the ‘relative position’ of people in a community – that is, where one fits into the income distribution in their neighborhood - and how this affects both your ability to trust your neighbors and also your health.

After applying this to the 2001 Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey, Bjornstrom’s results utterly confounded everything she thought that she would find.

The wealthiest in the community were worse off than the poorer ones in many regards.  Those with a higher income, compared to the rest of their community, were more likely to be distrustful of their neighbors and consequently more isolated. They also reported poorer health than people who declared that their neighbors could be trusted.

In other words, those who’d achieved the American Dream most acutely felt the current American nightmare of isolation, distrust and consequent poor health. Our current measure of ‘success’ had led them to a physical and emotional cul-de-sac.

Bjornstrom did not find a direct link between low relative position on the economic scale and good or poor health.  In fact, money per se was not the decisive factor.

The only key to a healthy life had to do with whether or not you trusted those around you. And those who had money felt the need to develop a fortress mentality, which made them miserable and eventually ill.

Bjornstrom’s prescription for the more affluent individuals was to get to know and trust their neighbors through ‘shared community resources that promote interactions, such as sidewalks and parks’ and other ways to increase community cohesion.

Starting over
This study offers a number of ideas that can be valuable to #Occupy.  It shows that the extreme individualism of the West doesn’t work on any level.  In their own way, the rich are also miserable.  Separation and unfairness, even when in your favor, not only is contrary to your makeup, which always seeks fairness, but could even kill you.

The study also underscores the necessity of trust in any society.  As Eric Uslaner, a political scientist at the University of Maryland discovered that the more unequal any society, the more distrustful its citizens.

The most powerful aspect of the #Occupy movement is its desire to raze the hash we’ve made of our political and economic structures, with their emphasis on competition above all else, and to start over from America’s basic ideals.

As I wrote once in The Field, “We have to imagine another way to live, an entirely new way to ‘be.’ We have to blow up all of our societal creations and begin again, building over scorched ground.”

The #Occupy Movement initiators have intuitively understood that the most important place to start is to re-establish trust and to work on building community, from the bottom up.

Monday, 31 October 2011

List of Mininum Demands

Posted on | 

In Barcelona, collecting the wisdom and contributions of hundreds of people who are collectively writing several papers that discuss the various levels at which we operate to achieve change. They are all open documents in constant modification and improvement.
This is just one of them. With the intention of adding more specific and specialized documents to this subcommittees have been created for editing content.
We are changing the world. Absolutely.
Meanwhile politicians who represent us are still there vomiting and lurching legislating about our lives. This is why I write here are some steps you can easily understand and apply now. We will be in the street to get it.
Ojo! This document is a minimum. In fact, what we want is much larger.
So we’ll know the mayors and full to be elected the next day, the 22nd.  demand of them point by point as follows, starting from point 1.

1 – No more privileges for politicians, starting in Barcelona:

  • Drastic cuts in the pay of politicians and comparing it to the salary of the average population
  • Removing privileges on tax payments, allowances, and pension during contribution years (only in Barcelona this would save half a million euros per month minimum).
  • Prohibition of pension exceeding the maximum pension provided for other citizens.
  • Abolition of his legal immunity and limitations for cases concerning corruption. Cessation of this and corrupt politicians.

2 – No more privileges for bankers:

  • Prohibition of any kind of bailout or capital injection to banks and savings banks: those institutions in difficulty should fail or be nationalized to form a public bank under social control.
  • Return immediately to transparency concerning public funds from banks all provided with public capital.
  • Regulation of speculation and penalties to the bank guilty of malpractice. Ban on investment in tax havens.
  • All the properties acquired by foreclosure stay in socially rented to families evicted.

3. No more privileges for the super-rich:

[This is to implicate the 5% tax cut that was applied for by the officials in the 50 largest fortunes to solve the deficit problem of the Spanish State]
  • Increase the tax rate on large fortunes and banks. Elimination of the Investment Company Capital Variable (SICAV).
  • No to the elimination of inheritance tax. Recovery of property tax.
  • Real and effective control of tax evasion and capital flight to tax havens.
  • Promoting international adoption of a tax on financial transactions (Tobin tax).
With the application of these 3 points we obtain the budget to address the next four. Because they do not need money, it is clear that there is economic availability.

4. Living wages and quality of life for everyone:

  • The economy in the service of people and not vice versa
  • Establishment of a maximum wage as well as a minimum.
  • Reduction of the day so that everyone can enjoy, think and reconcile their personal and working life, no reduction in pay. This reduction in day-length will allow a sharing of tasks that end with structural unemployment.
  • Withdrawal of pension reform.
  • Job security: the impossibility of collective dismissals for objective reasons in large companies while there are benefits; large audit of companies to ensure that temporary workers are not working jobs that could be permenant.
  • Considering pay for domestic, reproductive and care work.


  • Expropriation of disused houses that have not been sold the market to increase public housing in socially rented spaces.
  • Declaration that cities are free of foreclosures and evictions of occupied or unoccupied and unused houses.
  • Penalty for mobbing practices.
  • Foreclosed homes to cancel mortgages. Retroactively pay from the beginning of the crisis.
  • Prohibition of speculation.


  • Withdrawal of the cuts proposed by the Government of the Generalitat. Withdrawal austerity plans and cuts that affect the public services at a national, European and global level.
  • Reinstatement of the services have been cut in health and education
  • Increased health personnel and infrastructure to eliminate waiting lists.
  • Increase in faculty and infrastructure to ensure the ratio of students per classroom, more transition groups and support groups.
  • To ensure truly equal opportunities for access to all levels of education, regardless of socio-economic background. Allocate public resources to public education only. Secular and quality education.
  • Public funding of research to ensure its independence.
  • Economically affordable, quality public transportation that is environmentally sustainable  to all people (this point has not been agreed. MISSING DISCUSSION / DEBATE)
  • Utilities and free child care for people with special health care needs
  • Prohibition of privatization of public services
  • Submit our NATO membership referendum


  • Stop controling the Internet. Sinde Abolition Act.
  • Protection of freedom of information and investigative journalism and its independence. Removing legal barriers preventing the exercise of the right of issuing free and non-profit community media. Elimination of de facto monopolies airwaves.
  • Using free software in public institutions to adapt to the digital age with sustainable costs.
  • Withdrawal of the ordinance of citizenship: the removal of any ordinance that restricts freedoms of movement and expression.
  • Mandatory referendums in binding the wide-ranging issues (including organic laws and European directives).
  • Elimination of the raids on migrants, removal of the immigration law and closing the detention centers for foreigners (CIE). Full rights for migrants.
  • Amendment of Electoral Act …. (This point has not been agreed. MISSING DISCUSSION / DEBATE)
  • Establishment of effective mechanisms to ensure internal democracy in political parties: open lists, direct election of the council … (This point has not been agreed. MISSING DISCUSSION / DEBATE)
  • Participatory budgeting approved by citizenship.
The following will be referred to as the closure of some industries and professional bodies. We call the resulting relocation of these professionals or the conversion of industrial activity in those sectors.

8. Environment

  • The economic system can not be based on unlimited growth. This is not sustainable.
  • Food sovereignty, development of agriculture for the farmers, not corporations. Promotion of agro-ecological agriculture. Suspension of GMO based on the precautionary principle, to resolve uncertainties about the impacts on the environment and health. For agrarian reform.
  • Responsible consumption and fair trade. Prevent monopolies in the distribution ensuring access for all producers.
  • With all these measures and others, to achieve reduction targets for CO2 emissions that go beyond the Kyoto Protocol. For a real climate justice.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011


LETS LINK 15.O GLOBAL REVOLUTION TO 11.11.11 GLOBAL STRIKE FOR LIFE | Mapping Social Network Unionism Worldwide |

For a social structure free from classes, states, borders, work, money, war and based on the commons we share… Join the world wide strike and global demo on 11.11.11... We are reclaiming life, now!

Join assemblies, join forces, join us,in our facebook group: 

Monday, 24 October 2011


Next step for dignity!

After our participation in the Ágora and 15th of Octuber global manifestation in Brussels, we have decided that our march can't be stopped. And since our desire is to continue spreading our message and to connect with the other assemblies of the world, the International March to Athens is borned, as an open project to all who wants to support and participate in it.

We will meet in Niza on the 5th of Novembre 2011 after the G20 Summit (30th Octubre - 4th Novembre) to organize ourselves and go few days afterwards. We will pass by different villages and cities of Italy. We will cross the Adriatic Sea from Bari to reach Greece, then we will walk to Athens as final destiny. In both of Rome and Athens, we will participate in the Global Agoras the will be organized at the arrival of the marches.

The march will be formed by small groups of walkers and cyclists (12 to 25 person aprox.), that will advance by parallel routes to reach out more people on the way. The idea is to reunite in cities then to walk part of the distance together. Everytime that the number of the group reaches about 25 person, the main group will be divided in to two independent groups. And in every village the march will call for asemblies and will exchange experiance, problems and ideas.

The values that unite the different marches are the horizontality, the active participation, the no-violence, and the inclusivity of the members. We propose to continue the asambleary work and the decision making through consensus by practicing direct democracy. We will also work to reach the sustainability of the march and to convey a message of respect to the environment.

We make this march to to animate people to take the public space and meet, to talk about politics and decide for their own lives. We make this march to propose and learn, to inspire and το be enriched, to speak and listen, to give and receive. We want to reach Rome and Athens to bring a message of hope and unity. Most of all, we want to participate in the Global Agoras to in order to coordinate at international level, to prepare projects in common, to confront together the problems and create a just society for everybody.

We walk for dignity. Together we can reach the Utopia.

    To enter our mailing list send a message to:

              Spread it out!

March to Athens

Sunday, 23 October 2011


A thousand thanks to the people in Liberty Plaza and places like it who are giving voice to much that is destructive and painful about our social structures and what lies beyond them.  Your presence and courage and commitment are water to the great tree of awareness and freedom that will grow if it is tended carefully.  Fortunately, each of us is responsible for tending it.  Freedom from fear is the only freedom that now unlocks the prisons of hatred, violence, prejudice, and greed.  The kindness of some police officers in NYC is on display to the world and so is the brutality of others.  The greed of banks that engorge themselves on the losses of millions of people are on display around the world, and so also are the alternative social structures that will replace them.  A thousand thanks are not enough for the glimpses of these emerging structures you are giving us.

You are showing us new forms of cocreation that are built on harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life and contrasting them with old forms that are built on manipulation and control.  These new social structures are taking root in Liberty Plaza and places like it and in millions of us as we watch and hold the vision of a new world, a world without victims and without villains, a world where heinous policies are relentlessly uprooted and destroyed and where the people who create and execute them are not hated but constrained appropriately (think of handcuffs and bars).  In short, a world of love, growing out of awareness and responsibility, consciously constructed with intentions of love, a world with the courage to experience fear fully – such as anger, vengefulness, and righteousness – challenge it by not acting on it, and cultivate love instead.

This new world will emerge strong and healthy from the decay of the old world not because the dying world is supported by a wealthy few while billions of us are eager for the new world.  It will replace the old world because billions of us will tend the tree daily, even in difficult times – challenging hatred, anger, greed, and revenge in ourselves by choosing awareness and love instead.  In short, the new world will grow strong and healthy while the old world dies because the old world is based on fear and the new world is built on love – clear, conscious, responsible, courageous, and capable.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Debt solutions

Campaign for an International Debt Court

One thing we can do is sign our support for this:

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Occupy Manchester UK

Today I made contact with the guys at Occupy Manchester. They are camped in a small garden called the Peace gardens, near the Town Hall (M60 2LA) -in the area of the Peterloo Massacre which occurred in 1819, when cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000–80,000 that had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation. There are about 16 tents with around 25 people, and more people arriving during the day. Quite a lot of support from local people, food being provided, and some donations. A couple of policemen came through and we chatted to them about the restrictions on them expressing any political opinions. While I was there we set up a  gazebo with a table to give info to passers by about the public meeting happenng tomorrow 1.0'clock at the gardens, everyone welcome. There is quite a buzz of excitement around, and it feels like a  good beginning.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Message from GARY ZUKAV : Seat of the Soul Institute

The salvage of America’s largest banks and most inefficient industries with tax-payer money and the enormous reductions in care to young, old, poor, ill, handicapped, and frail Americans at the same time has focused rage and ridicule on Congress. In simpler times, electing better representatives might have solved these problems, but our times are different. A few people and corporations have quickly come to own huge portions of American wealth while millions of Americans (and people in other countries, too) plummet from middle class into poverty. In simpler times, regulating (taxing) greed might have solved these problems, but our times are different.
We are evolving in a new way. Relationships and institutions that are built on the perception of power as external have become dysfunctional, and this is impossible to ignore. Competition, discord, hoarding, and exploitation have become counterproductive to our evolution. New relationships and institutions that are built on the perception of power as authentic are emerging. They create harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life, which our evolution now requires. In other words, rage and ridicule – at Congress or elsewhere – have become destructive because they are attempts to impose one will upon another, and that now prevents our evolution.
If we have no compassion for those who have no compassion – such as self-serving members of Congress – we become like them. Our self-importance, self-benefit, and self-righteousness fuel theirs. They become our proxies, acting out on national and international stages the same energy that we act out in our own ways. A new requirement for social activism is emerging – the creation of compassion in myself instead of demanding that others become compassionate; developing the ability think, speak, and act without seeing others as villains, because we no longer want to see ourselves as victims.
Developing compassion is the only way to become a spiritual activist. It relieves you of the burden of judgment and frees your creativity to find new, untried, and constructive solutions that are invisible to those who lack compassion.
Our evolution now requires each of us to become a spiritual activist.

Monday, 5 September 2011

My First Blog Post

This is me introducing myself to whoever is interested.

Why do I want to do this? This is a time when we human beings are at the forefront of change, that is a conscious change in the way we live and the way we relate to each other, our earth, and the universe. So it is important that we get clear about what we want to see happening, and express it in a way that others can comment on, or criticise, which helps me to develop and clarify my ideas.

What will I include in this blog? Any experience I have that seems significant in the wider order of things, videos, poems, thoughts, feelings. book reviews

What do I mean by the 'wider order of things'?  Linking my personal experience with a more unified perspective, which sees every human being contributing to a new phase in the evolution of humanity, towards a more cooperative, just and sustainable way of life, in which people find joy in being in charge of their own activities.