The Global Community has had work on the global civilization aspects and issues ever since 1985. A short list of our previous work on the global civilization aspects and issues.
For more recent work on the global civilization aspects and issues read the following table.
|| Theme and Author
|| Read contents
| June 10, 2007
|| Global Justice for all life on the planet
by Germain Dufour, with the Global Community
The Global Community Global Justice Movement has many inter-related components: monetary, social, economic, environmental, democracy, and peace. The Global Community Global Justice Movement
promotes new thinking to benefit all economies and societies – the true, fair, democratic and efficient solution to poverty. The Global Community has the productive resources to eliminate poverty and
injustice. Humanity is now in the process of developing the democratic and transparent communications infrastructure which can bring this about.
Our approach transcends left-wing/right-wing designations. We see both conventional capitalism and socialism as being two arms of a philosophy which concentrate power in an elite, to the detriment of society
as a whole. Reforming the current money system, to empower each and every person, is a first step for justice.
| May 30, 2007
|| The Global Community is given the Day of Life in the Harmonious Era Calendar , by Dr. Leo Semashko, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Quality of Social Existence and Future of Children
Global Harmony Day: June 21st
| May 19, 2007
|| Question of Direction , by Mike Nickerson and Donna Dillman,
http://synchronouscity.com/dirq.php Goals are the seeds from which the future grows.
When enough people understand this, the conventional wisdom will shift, moving from: our purpose is to expand production and onsumption to
our purpose is to enjoy living while managing the planet for generations to come. As you know, the Question of Direction program aims to increase the rate at which this realization takes place.
| May 15, 2007
|| One Billion To Be Displaced By 2050 , by Agence France Presse,
At least one billion people risk fleeing their homes over the next four decades because of conflicts and natural disasters that will worsen with global warming, a relief agency warned Monday.
In a report, British-based Christian Aid said countries worldwide, especially the poorest, are now facing the greatest forced migration ever — one that will dwarf those displaced by World War II.
| June 1, 2007
|| The U.S. Social Forum: Our Best Bet to Turn This Country Around
Want justice, peace, a better life for people in this country? Want to show solidarity with international struggles? The best opportunity to do this is about to happen and you're invited.
by Tara Lohan, http://www.alternet.org/authors/8104/, published in AlterNet: The Mix is the Message.
| May 26, 2007
|| Letter sent by Germain Dufour to the Global Community
The Global Community celebrates Life Day on May 26 of each year
The Global Community is defined as being all that exits or occurs at any location at any time between the Ozone layer above and the core of the planet below
| May 4, 2007
|| Le Pacte de la Culture, and La Bannière de la Paix, by Thierry Bécourt, email@example.com
Toutes les institutions éducatives, artistiques, scientifiques et religieuses et tous les sites ayant une valeur et une signification culturelles et historiques doivent être reconnus comme inviolables et respectés par toutes les nations, en temps de guerre comme en temps de paix.
| May 4, 2007
|| Letter sent by Bill Ellis to the Global Community
The Soul of an apathist
To be or not to be -- mortality and immortality
| May 2, 2007
|| Ecovillage Design Education - Training of Trainers 2007, 27 October - 24 November 2007 , by Pracha Hutanuwatr,
http://www.findhorn.org/programmes/programme189.php, published in Findhorn Foundation in partnership with the Global Ecovillage Network and Gaia Education.
Based on the Gaia Education Ecovillage Design Curriculum - an official contribution to the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005-2014
| April 25, 2007
|| 1st Virtual Congress on World Citizenship and democratic Governance
PLANET OF EDUCATION FOR WORLD CITIZENS Letter sent to the Global Community by Nina Goncharova, - Russia;
Co-signed by: Carol Hiltner, Jackie Stratton, Susan Quattrociocchi, Maia Rose, Theresa Fornalski, Carolyn Cilek, Clarice Sieden – USA;
Claude Veziau – Canada; Igor Zinger, David Kaplun – Israel
Our email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our websites: http://www.altaimir.org/2007youthfestival.htm and http://Planet3000.site.voila.fr
| April 21, 2007
|| Human Rights And Globalization, by Dr. Samir Naim-Ahmed, published in Countercurrents.org
Would globalization enhance the implementation of human rights as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ( 1948 ) and the subsequent United Nations agreements , particularly the covenant on civil and political rights ( 1966 ),
the covenant on economic, social and cultural rights (1966 ) and the declaration on the right to development (1986 )?
| March 17, 2007
|| I am the new long awaited prophet to help humanity through this century and beyond
by Germain Dufour, with the Global Community
In order to create a harmonious and compassionate Global Community, there are laws I ask everyone to comply with.
| March 16, 2007
|| Letter sent by Germain Dufour to the Global Community
Nature Law, a fundamental pillar of our social values
| March 17, 2007
|| God Law
Revelations for the 21st Century and beyond
Message sent by God to the Global Community
| March 8, 2007
|| Letter sent by Grassroots Women to the Global Community
Grassroots Women International Women’s Day 2007 Statement
Strengthen Women’s Resistance: Oppose Imperialism’s Intensifying Attacks! Assert Women’s Basic Human Rights!
In Canada, a patriarchal resurgence and ever-more entrenched systemic racism are intensifying the exploitation, oppression, and economic exclusion of working class, (im)migrant, refugee and Indigenous women. We are hard hit by
the neo-liberal policies of the Canadian government of liberalization, deregulation and privatization which leave working class women unable to earn a decent income or to access affordable housing, health, and other services. Amidst
rising corporate profiteering, government corruption, and military spending, government funding for childcare and women’s programs have been slashed. The insultingly paltry and unjustly distributed $100/month childcare benefit
has been a slap in the face for women demanding a genuinely universal national childcare program. (Im)migrant and refugee women face the punitive and exploitative nature of immigration policies such as the Live-in Caregiver
Program and unjust deportations. Indigenous women face the ongoing colonization of their land and resources.
| March 9, 2007
|| The Crime of War in Iraq , by DR. Charles Mercieca , International Association of Educators for World Peace,
Professor Emeritus, Alabama A and M University,
Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament
What is the purpose of having rules and regulations when we can disregard them at will at any moment we like? Since the early days of human existence, those that transgressed rules and regulations to the detriment of others always tended to be punished, sooner or later. In order for us to understand the seriousness of such violations, we need to understand properly the significance
of laws. In order to do that, we must have a clear concept of the four hierarchical laws of which ascetical writers spoke over the past several centuries.
| March 10, 2007
|| GREAT SHIFT OF POWER, by Triaka Smith,
The CONSTITUTION of UNITED DIVERSITY, The New Earth Cooperative
To explain, since "Justice" is the principle of Moral
Rightness, its a rational view that to force a human being
into submission when that person has neither threatened
nor caused harm to others, is both Irrational Enslavement
and Morally Unjust. In this connection, it's worth noting
that while civilized people have voluntarily agreed to make
illegal the Initiation of Physical Force by one human upon
another, as in murder, rape, and robbery, no government
on earth has yet been held to the same Moral Standard.
| March 6, 2007
|| Poem: Our only ennemy is a military culture by Thom Woodruff, Voices in Wartime News, Khe Sanh Address 3-5-07 email@example.com
Peace is a culture of life affirmation
| March 2, 2007
|| The Criminality of War, by DR. Charles Mercieca , International Association of Educators for World Peace,
Professor Emeritus, Alabama A and M University,
Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament
| February 26, 2007
|| Is towards a totally spiritually ethical politics possible? Letter sent by Livia Varju, Universal Alliance Servitor for Switzerland, to the Global Community
| February 13, 2007
|| Is the Deadly Crash of Our Civilization Inevitable?
An interview with author Thomas Homer-Dixon about the social, political, economic and technological crises we face and how long we can sustain the lifestyle that brought them about. , by Terrence McNally, http://www.alternet.org/authors/5358/, published in AlterNet: The Mix is the Message
It's unlikely that the future is going to be a linear extrapolation of the present, but I've pretty well arrived at the conclusion that the diversity and power of the stresses that we're encountering are going to cause some major volatility. I expect social, political, economic and technological crises and breakdowns. It's hard to say what they're going to look like, but the probability of some major problems developing is rising.
| February 7, 2007
|| POÈME À MON FRÈRE, l’humain du XXIème siècle, by Guy CRÉQUIE, firstname.lastname@example.org
A l'origine dote du seul certificat d'etudes, je suis devenu a 40 ans, diplome de 3ieme cycle universitaire. Je sui message du Manifeste 2000 de l'UNESCO, ambassadeur universel de la paix, laureat des Academies
Europeenne et mondiale de la culture et des arts. http://www2.blogger.com/profile/16097917629603014188
| February 1, 2007
|| The compatibility of collapse and resistance.
In this time of more discussion about climate, war, peak oil and other major issues, debate almost rages about the relevance of resistance and activism versus accepting or encouraging total collapse,
by Jan Lundberg , with Culture Change Culture Change was founded by Sustainable Energy Institute
Will peak oil save the climate, or shall we first embrace a new culture?
| February 2, 2007
|| Which Will It Be America, Empire or Democracy? The dream of the Bush administration -– eternal global domination -- disappeared in Iraq. But it remains to be seen if the American people will choose to keep their empire or return to a constitutional democracy, by Chalmers Johnson, Tomdispatch.com, published in AlterNet: The Mix is the Message
| January 24, 2007
|| Land of Enchantment and Impeachment: NEW MEXICO CAN IMPEACH BUSH AND CHENEY, by David Swanson http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/resolutions
Resolutions Supporting Impeachment - A Kit for Political Activism
| January 22, 2007
|| Planet Earth in Peril: ALERT EVERYONE! Time for Radical Change, by Bravo Z. Bywydd with http://Bombshelter.org I’m contstantly astonishing at the lack of response by society, with all of its specializations & preoccupations — to the growing planetary SURVIVAL crisis.
| January 15, 2007
|| Help Mobilize for Jan. 27-29! MARCH ON WASHINGTON TO END THE WAR!, by United for Peace and Justice UnitedforPeace.org To send the strongest, clearest message to the new Congress
| January 10, 2007
|| EU: Climate change will transform the face of the continent , by Michael McCarthy and Stephen Castle ,
Independent News and Media Limited The Independent Europe, the richest and most fertile continent and the model for the modern
world, will be devastated by climate change, the European Union predicts today.
| January 9, 2007
|| Israel Has Plans For Nuclear Attack On Iran, by Peter Symonds , with World Socialist Web published in Countercurrents.org
| January 8, 2007
|| Saving Mother Earth. Participants at this year’s Science Congress call for earnest measures for conservation of India’s natural resources, by ASHOK B SHARMA,
Indian Society For Sustainable Agriculture Indian Express Newspapers (Mumbai) Ltd.
| January 4, 2007
|| The Great Charter of Harmony for an Information Civilization: Positive Alternative to a Leaving Civilization, by Leo Semashko , Published on:
| December 10, 2006
|| Teaching peace, by David Krieger , Founder and President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and TFF Associate http://www.transnational.org/
The Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research
| December 2, 2006
|| China’s Transition into a Society of Social Harmony, by DR. Charles Mercieca , International Association of Educators for World Peace,
Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University,
Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament
| December 23, 2006
|| The Gain Paradigm Part 8 - Sociial Revolutions, by Bill Ellis, EzineArticles.com
| December 16, 2006
|| The Trap Of Recognising Israel, by Jonathan Cook , Countercurrents.org
| November 24, 2006
|| Quebec is a nation, Israel is not, by Germain Dufour
| November 24, 2006
|| The status of nation versus a global community, by Germain Dufour
| November 25, 2006
|| Concerning Louise Arbour, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, ending visit to Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territory, by Germain Dufour
| November 21, 2006
|| IN SEARCH OF AN EVOLVING UNIVERSAL-VALUES COMMON DENOMINATOR, by David Allen Stringer, International Coordinator – The Universal Alliance,
Vision Quester News Agency & Universal Alliance, email@example.com
| November 16, 2006
|| Interview: Tariq Ali (Development of Islamic civilisation), by Talat Ahmed , with Countercurrents.org
| November 16, 2006
|| Question of Direction Launched: Sustainability and Economic Expansion, by Mike Nickerson, with Sustainability Project/7th Generation Initiative firstname.lastname@example.org
| November 3, 2006
|| A model ecological community, by Ren email@example.com
| October 19, 2006
|| WORLD MOVEMENT for GLOBAL DEMOCRACY (WMGD), by Shishir Srivastava, with GLOBAL DEMOCRACY NEWSLETTER
| October 19, 2006
|| 10 REASONS WHY THE USA IS NOW THE MOST DANGEROUS NATION ON EARTH, AND 3 REASONS FOR HOPE, by www.richardneville.com.au Journal of a Futurist
sent by David Allen Stringer, Vision Quester News Agency & Universal Alliance, firstname.lastname@example.org
| October 19, 2006
|| THE PARADIGM SHIFT HAS ARRIVED! COMMUNITIES OF THE FUTURE, by www.richardneville.com.au Journal of a Futurist
| November 7, 2006
|| Community Networks and Global Community, by William N. Ellis
| October 26, 2006
|| Coalition of Peaceful Nations: Their Strength and Asset to the World, by DR. Charles Mercieca
| October 20, 2006
|| What a Revitalized United Nations Could do for the Entire World by DR. Charles Mercieca
| November 18, 2006
|| Civilization and a sustainble future, by Dave Ewoldt, email@example.com
| November 17, 2006
|| Civilization and a sustainble future, by Derrick Jensen, firstname.lastname@example.org
| October 20, 2006
|| Fundamentalist Paganism and Green Libertarianism, by Dr. Glen Barry, with Earth Meanders GlenBarry@EcologicalInternet.org
Subject: Re: [gwcc] Civilization and a sustainble future
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2006 11:27:26 -0800
From: Derrick Jensen, email@example.com
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
References: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4
Industrial civilization--yes. But even this I think should be more accurately
described as the project of industrialism, and its particularly destructive
manifestation in the Industrial Growth Society. But civilization itself does
not rest on the necessity of industrialism's existence.
I think we need to either come up with a new word, or clearly define what it is
we're talking about when we casually toss into a conversation the term
civilization, and especially a rejection of it as the root of all evil.
I have defined it rigorously. That's one reason I keep suggesting people read Endgame. I've covered all this ground again and again there and elsewhere. I can't keep recapitulating it here.
Here's the definition I use.
If I’m going to contemplate the collapse of civilization, I need to define what it is. I looked in some dictionaries. Webster’s calls civilization “a high stage of social and cultural development.”[i] The
Oxford English Dictionary describes it as “a developed or advanced state of human society.”[ii] All the other dictionaries I checked were similarly laudatory. These definitions, no matter how broadly
shared, helped me not in the slightest. They seemed to me hopelessly sloppy. After reading them, I still had no idea what the hell a civilization is: define high, developed, or advanced, please. The
definitions, it struck me, are also extremely self-serving: can you imagine writers of dictionaries willingly classifying themselves as members of “a low, undeveloped, or backward state of human society”?
I suddenly remembered that all writers, including writers of dictionaries, are propagandists, and realized that these definitions are, in fact, bite-sized chunks of propaganda, concise articulations of the
arrogance that has led those who believe they are living in the most advancedand bestculture to attempt to impose by force this way of being on all others.
I would define a civilization much more precisely, and I believe more usefully, as a culturethat is, a complex of stories, institutions, and artifactsthat both leads to and emerges from the growth of
cities (civilization, see civil: from civis, meaning citizen, from latin civitatis, meaning city-state), with cities being definedso as to distinguish them from camps, villages, and so onas people living more
or less permanently in one place in densities high enough to require the routine importation of food and other necessities of life. Thus a Tolowa village five hundred years ago where I live in Tu’nes
(meadow long in the Tolowa tongue), now called Crescent City, California, would not have been a city, since the Tolowa ate native salmon, clams, deer, huckleberries, and so on, and had no need to
bring in food from outside. Thus, under my definition, the Tolowa, because their way of living was not characterized by the growth of city-states, would not have been civilized. On the other hand, the
Aztecs were. Their social structure led inevitably to great city-states like Iztapalapa and Tenochtitlán, the latter of which was, when Europeans first encountered it, far larger than any city in Europe, with a
population five times that of London or Seville.[iii] Shortly before razing Tenochtitlán and slaughtering or enslaving its inhabitants, the explorer and conquistador Hernando Cortés remarked that it was
easily the most beautiful city on earth.[iv] Beautiful or not, Tenochtitlán required, as do all cities, the (often forced) importation of food and other resources. The story of any civilization is the story of the
rise of city-states, which means it is the story of the funneling of resources toward these centers (in order to sustain them and cause them to grow), which means it is the story of an increasing region of
unsustainability surrounded by an increasingly exploited countryside.
German Reichskanzler Paul von Hindenberg described the relationship perfectly: “Without colonies no security regarding the acquisition of raw materials, without raw materials no industry, without
industry no adequate standard of living and wealth. Therefore, Germans, do we need colonies.”[v]
Of course someone already lives in the colonies, but that is evidently not of any importance.
But there’s more. Cities don’t arise in political, social, and ecological vacuums. Lewis Mumford, in the second book of his extraordinary two-volume Myth of the Machine, uses the term
civilization “to denote the group of institutions that first took form under kingship. Its chief features, constant in varying proportions throughout history, are the centralization of political power, the
separation of classes, the lifetime division of labor, the mechanization of production, the magnification of military power, the economic exploitation of the weak, and the universal introduction of slavery and
forced labor for both industrial and military purposes.”[vi] (The anthropologist and philosopher Stanley Diamond put this a bit more succinctly when he noted, “Civilization originates in conquest abroad
and repression at home.”[vii]) These attributes, which inhere not just in this culture but in all civilizations, make civilization sound pretty bad. But, according to Mumford, civilization has another, more
benign face as well. He continues, “These institutions would have completely discredited both the primal myth of divine kingship and the derivative myth of the machine had they not been accompanied by
another set of collective traits that deservedly claim admiration: the invention and keeping of the written record, the growth of visual and musical arts, the effort to widen the circle of communication and
economic intercourse far beyond the range of any local community: ultimately the purpose to make available to all men [sic] the discoveries and inventions and creations, the works of art and thought, the
values and purposes that any single group has discovered.”[viii]
Much as I admire and have been influenced by Mumford’s work, I fear that when he began discussing civilization’s admirable face he fell under the spell to the same propaganda promulgated by the
lexicographers whose work I consulted: that this culture really is “advanced,” or “higher.” But if we dig beneath this second, smiling mask of civilizationthe belief that civilization’s visual or musical arts, for
example, are more developed than those of noncivilized peopleswe find a mirror image of civilization’s other face, that of power. For example, it wouldn’t be the whole truth to say that visual and musical
arts have simply grown or become more highly advanced under this system; it’s also true that they have long ago succumbed to the same division of labor that characterizes this culture’s economics and
politics. Where among traditional indigenous peoplethe “uncivilized’songs are sung by everyone as a means to bond members of the community and celebrate each other and their landbase, within
civilization songs are written and performed by experts, those with “talent,” those whose lives are devoted to the production of these arts. There’s no reason for me to listen to my neighbor sing (probably
off-key) some amateurish song of her own invention when I can pop in a CD of Beethoven, Mozart, or Lou Reed (okay, so Lou Reed sings off-key, too, but I like it). I’m not certain I’d characterize the
conversion of human beings from participants in the ongoing creation of communal arts to more passive consumers of artistic products manufactured by distant expertseven if these distant experts are
really talentedas a good thing.
I could make a similar argument about writing, but Stanley Diamond beat me to it: “Writing was one of the original mysteries of civilization, and it reduced the complexities of experience to the
written word. Moreover, writing provides the ruling classes with an ideological instrument of incalculable power. The word of God becomes an invincible law, mediated by priests; therefore, respond the
Iroquois, confronting the European: ‘Scripture was written by the Devil.’ With the advent of writing, symbols became explicit; they lost a certain richness. Man’s word was no longer an endless exploration
of reality, but a sign that could be used against him. . . . For writing splits consciousness in two waysit becomes more authoritative than talking, thus degrading the meaning of speech and eroding oral
tradition; and it makes it possible to use words for the political manipulation and control of others. Written signs supplant memory; an official, fixed and permanent version of events can be made. If it is
written, in early civilizations [and I would suggest, now], it is bound to be true.”[ix]
I have two problems, also, with Mumford’s claim that the widening of communication and economic intercourse under civilization benefits people as a whole. The first is that it presumes that
uncivilized people do not communicate or participate in economic transactions beyond their local communities. Many do. Shells from the Northwest Coast found their way into the hands of Plains Indians,
and buffalo robes often ended up on the coast. (And let’s not even talk about noncivilized people communicating with their nonhuman neighbors, something rarely practiced by the civilized: talk about
restricting yourself to your own community!) In any case, I’m not certain that the ability to send emails back and forth to Spain or to watch television programs beamed out of Los Angeles makes my life
particularly richer. It’s far more important, useful, and enriching, I think, to get to know my neighbors. I’m frequently amazed to find myself sitting in a room full of fellow human beings, all of us staring at a
box watching and listening to a story concocted and enacted by people far away. I have friends who know Seinfeld’s neighbors better than their own. I, too, can get lost in valuing the unreality of the
distant over that which surrounds me every day. I have to confess I can navigate the mazes of the computer game Doom2: Hell on Earth far better than I can find my way along the labyrinthine game trails
beneath the trees outside my window, and I understand the intricacies of Word for Windows far better than I do the complex dance of rain, sun, predators, prey, scavengers, plants, and soil in the creek a
hundred yards away. The other night, I wrote till late, and finally turned off my computer to step outside and say goodnight to the dogs. I realized, then, that the wind was blowing hard through the tops of
the redwood trees, and the trees were sighing and whispering. Branches were clashing, and in the distance I heard them cracking. Until that moment I had not realized such a symphony was taking place so
near, much less had I gone out to participate in it, to feel the wind blow my hair and to feel the tossed rain hit me in the face. All of the sounds of the night had been drowned out by the monotone whine of
my computer’s fan. Just yesterday I saw a pair of hooded mergansers playing on the pond outside my bedroom. Then last night I saw a television program in which yet another lion chased yet another
zebra. Which of those two scenes makes me richer? This perceived widening of communication is just another replication of the problem of the visual and musical arts, because given the impulse for
centralized control that motivates civilization, widening communication in this case really means reducing us from active participants in our own lives and in the lives of those around us to consumers sucking
words and images from some distant sugar tit.
I have another problem with Mumford’s statement. In claiming that the widening of communication and economic intercourse are admirable, he seems to have forgottenand this is strange,
considering the normal sophistication of his analysisthat this widening can only be universally beneficial when all parties act voluntarily and under circumstances of relatively equivalent power. I’d hate to
have to make the case, for example, that the people of Africaperhaps 100 million of whom died because of the slave trade, and many more of whom find themselves dispossessed and/or impoverished
todayhave benefitted from their “economic intercourse” with Europeans. The same can be said for Aborigines, Indians, the people of pre-contact India, and so on.
I want to re-examine one other thing Mumford wrote, in part because he makes an argument for civilization I’ve seen replicated so many times elsewhere, and that actually leads, I think, to some of
the very serious problems we face today. He concluded the section I quoted above, and I reproduce it here just so you don’t have to flip back a couple of pages: “ultimately the purpose [is] to make
available to all men [sic] the discoveries and inventions and creations, the works of art and thought, the values and purposes that any single group has discovered.” But just as a widening of economic
intercourse is only beneficial to everyone when all exchanges are voluntary, so, too, the imposition of one group’s values and purposes onto another, or its appropriation of the other’s discoveries, can lead
only to the exploitation and diminution of the latter in favor of the former. That this “exchange” helps all was commonly argued by early Europeans in America, as when Captain John Chester wrote that the
Indians were to gain “the knowledge of our faith,” while the Europeans would harvest “such ritches as the country hath.”[x] It was argued as well by American slaveowners in the nineteenth century:
philosopher George Fitzhugh stated that “slavery educates, refines, and moralizes the masses by bringing them into continual intercourse with masters of superior minds, information, and morality.”[xi] And
it’s just as commonly argued today by those who would teach the virtues of blue jeans, Big Macs™, Coca-Cola™, Capitalism™, and Jesus Christ™ to the world’s poor in exchange for dispossessing
them of their landbases and forcing them to work in sweatshops.
Another problem is that Mumford’s statement reinforces a mindset that leads inevitably to unsustainability, because it presumes that discoveries, inventions, creations, works of art and thought, and values
and purposes are transposable over space, that is, that they are separable from both the human context and landbase that created them. Mumford’s statement unintentionally reveals perhaps more than
anything else the power of the stories that hold us in thrall to the machine, as he put it, that is civilization: even in brilliantly dissecting the myth of this machine, Mumford fell back into that very same myth by
seeming to implicitly accept the notion that ideas or works of art or discoveries are like tools in a toolbox, and can be meaningfully and without negative consequence used out of their original context:
thoughts, ideas, and art as tools rather than as tapestries inextricably woven from and into a community of human and nonhuman neighbors. But discoveries, works of thought, and purposes that may work
very well in the Great Plains may be harmful in the Pacific Northwest, and even moreso in Hawai’i. To believe that this potential transposition is positive is the same old substitution of what is distant for
what is near: if I really want to know how to live in Tu’nes, I should pay attention to Tu’nes.
There’s another problem, though, that trumps all of these others. It has to do with a characteristic of this civilization unshared even by other civilizations. It is the deeply- and most-often-invisibly-held
beliefs that there is really only one way to live, and that we are the one-and-only possessors of that way. It becomes our job then to propagate this way, by force when necessary, until there are no other
ways to be. Far from being a loss, the eradication of these other ways to be, these other cultures, is instead an actual gain, since Western Civilization is the only way worth being anyway: we’re doing
ourselves a favor by getting rid of not only obstacles blocking our access to resources but reminders that other ways to be exist, allowing our fantasy to sidle that much closer to reality; and we’re doing the
heathens a favor when we raise them from their degraded state to join the highest, most advanced, most developed state of society. If they don’t want to join us, simple: we kill them. Another way to say
all of this is that something grimly alchemical happens when we combine the arrogance of the dictionary definition, which holds this civilization superior to all other cultural forms; hypermilitarism, which
allows civilization to expand and exploit essentially at will; and a belief, held even by such powerful and relentless critics of civilization as Lewis Mumford, in the desirability of cosmopolitanism, that is, the
transposability of discoveries, values, modes of thought, and so on over time and space. The twentieth-century name for that grimly alchemical transmutation is genocide: the eradication of cultural
difference, its sacrifice on the altar of the one true way, on the altar of the centralization of perception, the conversion of a multiplicity of moralities all dependent on location and circumstance to one
morality based on the precepts of the ever-expanding machine, the surrender of individual perception (as through writing and through the conversion of that and other arts to consumables) to predigested
perceptions, ideas, and values imposed by external authorities who with all their heartswhat’s left of thembelieve in, and who benefit by, the centralization of power. Ultimately, then, the story of this
civilization is the story of the reduction of the world’s tapestry of stories to only one story, the best story, the real story, the most advanced story, the most developed story, the story of the power and the
glory that is Western Civilization.
[iii] Stannard, 4.
[iv] Stannard, 4.
[v] Mies, 98.
[vi] Mumford, Technics, 186.
[vii] Diamond, 1.
[viii] Mumford, Technics, 186; awkwardness in original, even though Mumford is normally an exquisite stylist.
[ix] Diamond, 4.
[x] Turner, 182.
[xi] Faust, 293.
term's literal etymological sense is to make citified.
Obviously I am aware of this.
As has been pointed out, most articulately I think by Riane Eisler,
civilization in cities was doing just fine until the dominator detour of social
I disagree on any number of levels. First, if you _require_ the importation of resources, by definition your way of life will not be sustainable. Never. No matter how much people may wish, and no matter
how strong a feminist one may be.
Second, I interviewed Riane Eisler years ago, and even though she's done good work, she explicitly didn't extend her "partnership model" to the natural world, even when I (gently) pushed her. She was
pro high technology, and at that point at least in no way saw the natural world as being a part of her understanding.
Force, fear, and a separation from nature--including our
own and others inner nature--lead to the eventual worship of autonomy and
accumulation of capital through the enclosure of the commons to make up for the
loss of natural fulfillment and unmet community needs. Forgetting that we're an
intimate part of an interconnected system, as well as a denial of the need to
adhere to today's scientific knowledge of what it takes to stay within the
carrying capacity of a bioregion
How did the Tolowa live here for 12500 years without "scientific knowledge of what it takes to stay within the carrying capacity of a bioregion"? There are other ways to know a place that don't include
science. Science and its boosters have co-opted the word knowledge. That's incredibly dangerous.
As I've shown in my book Welcome to the Machine, science is part of the problem (and my first degree was in physics, so I say this as someone on the inside). Of course that doesn't mean we shouldn't
use data gained by scientific methods. It's just that we need to be clear that one does not "need" to have science to live sustainably. In fact on the main, of course, science and high technology have caused
far more damage than they have alleviated.
is indeed pathological, but the blame for this
cannot by lain at the door of civilization.
Obviously I disagree, with several thousand pages (including my other works) of supporting analysis and facts. I can't recapitulate them all here. That's why I keep suggesting people just read the books.
Aspects of the term civilization I think must go away include it's supposed
reliance on organizing principles based on hierarchies to maintain a sense of
order, and its strict adherence to being citified--which leads to the
derogatory use of the perceived opposite of civilization which is to exist in a
primitive or savage state--without honestly admitting that modern "civilized"
man is really little more than a cannibal with a fork.
Of course civilized people are cannibals. Many of the indigenous have recognized this for a long long time. The book to read about this is Jack Forbes' absolutely extraordinary Columbus and other
Cannibals. Wonderful book. Mumford's Myth of the Machine explores this as well. So does Deborah Roots Cannibal Culture. David Stannard's American Holocaust explores it very well also. So does
Richard Drinnon's Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian Hating and Empire Building; and Frederick Turner's Beyond Geography.
Finally, there is an aspect of civilization that conveys the evolution of
social systems. I think if we can better refine our arguments,
Do you think maybe in several thousand pages of analysis, I might have done just a teensy bit of refining? Please.
we'll also be
better able to gain more support from a wider base of people who don't see
returning to caves as moving forward.
I was just in Portland. The line to come hear my talk filled a sidewalk and snaked down and around the block. The place was packed. Endgame is the second best seller from Seven Stories, only behind
Vonnegut's latest. The message is being received. People routinely drive 8 and 10 hours one way to hear these talks. The point is not me. The point is that lots of people recognize that civilization was a
very bad idea, and that there have been (and for now continue to be) many other social organizations that make a lot more sense.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with
this type of lifestyle for people who are attracted to it, and we all need to
spend much more time both playing in the dirt and playing with our own inner
I'm not talking about "playing in the dirt" and "playing with our own inner wildnerness." I'm talking about a way of life that has been killing the planet for the past 6000 years (the first written myth of this
culture is Gilgamish deforesting the plains and hillsides of what is now Iraq (they were cedar forests so thick the sunlight never touched the ground) to make the great cities of the region. This isn't about
"playing in the dirt and playing with our own inner wildnerness." This is about life on the planet. This is about the salmon. This is about the polar bears. This is about the amphibians. This is about little girls
starting puberty earlier: one percent of three-year-old girls have begun to develop breasts or pubic hair, and in only the last six years, the percentage of girls under eight with swollen breasts or pubic hair
has gone from one percent to 6.7 percent for white girls, and 27.2 percent for black girls. This is about the murder of the planet.
It behooves us all to find ways to better articulate that sustainability does
not entail austerity; that "being more" is a more advanced and civilized state
than "having more."
I've been working on this for far more than a decade now, and have produced a body of work that already does this. Of course I continue to work on it (I've got two and maybe three more books coming
out next year), continue to refine and push forward the analyses.
Subject: Re: [gwcc] Civilization and a sustainble future
Date: Sat, 18 Nov 2006 12:15:59 -0700
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dave Ewoldt)
Organization: Attraction Retreat
References: 1 , 2 , 3
On 17 Nov 2006 at 11:27, Derrick Jensen wrote:
> >I think we need to either come up with a new word, or clearly define what it is
> >we're talking about when we casually toss into a conversation the term
> >civilization, and especially a rejection of it as the root of all evil.
> I have defined it rigorously. That's one reason I keep suggesting people
> read Endgame. I've covered all this ground again and again there and
> elsewhere. I can't keep recapitulating it here.
Ok, all you had to say is that's the way you use it, as explained in length in
Endgame. All I was looking for is the core commonalities that we can start
moving forward from. As you can see, people have a bit of a problem with
throwing the concept, or their conception of the concept, of civilization out
As you say, define "higher" and "advanced." What we can say is that
civilization has moved culture along an evolutionary scale. As is apparent to
most of us here, this has not been an entirely positive direction as far as the
experiment of life goes.
One of the things that confuses me is that you seem to make an assumption that
the division of labor is inherently negative, as in your critique of the arts.
I mean, I can't carry a tune in a handbasket, so I really enjoy listening to
someone who is an "expert," and even though I can hold my own on pedal steel
guitar, listening to a true master like Buddy Cage inspires me to keep
practising. But I don't see this as either vicarious living, or that it's
decreasing community relationships. And, as always, the fact that we're
overpopulated tends to muddy the waters on this and most other issues.
And I've heard this critique of writing, "reduced the complexities of
experience to the written word," as expressed here by Stanley
Diamond, many times over the years, and in every case I come to the same
conclusion: they are couching their critique within the framework of the
dominator paradigm. It is to mistake cause with effect. As with so much else
today, it is in the application of the technology, as well as the stories we
tell about it, that determines whether or not it supports the Global Life
Anyway, I basically agree with the _gist_ of what you're saying in your
expanded definition of civilization, as well as the thinking behind why you're
saying it, but I also think some of the details are important, because it will
affect how it is received. You do have a tendency to conflate predatory
capitalism/economic cannibalism with civilization, or to present them as a
necessary condition to civilization. That they are amongst the uglier aspects
of Western Civilization is not being questioned.
I have a tendency to do similar things, and I've found it makes it difficult to
argue persuasively, especially with well educated and articulate defenders of
the dominator/capitalist status quo. This is what I'm talking about when I
mention the need to refine the arguments.
> >As has been pointed out, most articulately I think by Riane Eisler,
> >civilization in cities was doing just fine until the dominator detour of
> >social evolution occurred.
> I disagree on any number of levels. First, if you _require_ the importation of
> resources, by definition your way of life will not be sustainable. Never. No
> matter how much people may wish, and no matter how strong a feminist one may be.
I didn't say anything about requiring the importation of resources, at least
any farther away than bioregional boundaries. As Richard Register points out in
"Ecocities" doing so isn't necessary, and as you point out would not be
sustainable. This is probably the only area we have any _real_ disagreement on,
and I'd be perfectly happy to find another term, or an agreement on the size
that makes a permanent accumulation of people and their structures
unsustainable, and to call this a city.
I think the size would max out at about 100,000 but this would depend on the
bioregion, and the size and number of other villages in the surrounding
Further compounding the problem is the move to city-states and then nations for
governance. As Bookchin and others have pointed out, this was not an historical
necessity, and moves in the opposite direction of a decentralized partnership,
or a system of bioregional autonomous but interdependent governments.
> Second, I interviewed Riane Eisler years ago, and even though she's done
> good work, she explicitly didn't extend her "partnership model" to the
> natural world, even when I (gently) pushed her. She was pro high
> technology, and at that point at least in no way saw the natural world as
> being a part of her understanding.
Well, if she's gone back on her _explicitly_ nature based formulation for a
partnership culture, that's too bad, but I'd also like a bit more evidence than
this. The foundation of the partnership way has always been that nature is one
of the partners. It won't work any other way. I hope you're not confusing her
work on domestic violence and other social issues as meaning that nature
doesn't play a foundational role in helping us understand the roots of
And, even so, it doesn't mean that the work she did, especially in "The Chalice
and The Blade" must now be ignored for the insight it can give us into creating
a way of being in the world that would be equitable for all life and thus
I think it also might be important to distinguish between thinking that
technology can save us, and realizing that technology can be used sustainably
in ways that benefit humans and society and don't detract or damage the
planetary resources life depends on. When I use the word sustainable, I'm using
it from a very broad based systems view, and inherent in all of my arguments is
the need to reduce global population levels by about two-thirds and not
introduce unnatural substances for which there is no evolutionary defense
mechanism except death.
I can't see any of it working any other way.
I'd argue, just to touch briefly on another point you made, and also as a
former engineer who's done grad work in high energy particle physics, that the
scientific methods of quantification and reductionism are the main problems,
but not the only ones. Something else that must occur, especially within
applied science, is the replacement of risk analysis with the precautionary
> >we're an
> >intimate part of an interconnected system, as well as a denial of the need to
> >adhere to today's scientific knowledge of what it takes to stay within the
> >carrying capacity of a bioregion
> How did the Tolowa live here for 12500 years without "scientific knowledge of
> what it takes to stay within the carrying capacity of a bioregion"? There are
> other ways to know a place that don't include science. Science and its boosters
> have co-opted the word knowledge. That's incredibly dangerous.
But, I'm not talking about the Tolowa, I'm talking about what we have today.
How people are living and thinking today. Americans specifically, but Euro-
Americans generally, have overcompensated their loss of the majority of their
dozens of natural senses by relying almost exclusively on just two--rationality
and language. My core work is based on there being _many_ other ways of
The point I'm trying to make is that in order to shift from where we are today
to where most of us on this list agree we need to be, and do it as quickly as
possible, let's benefit from what we have learned over the centuries that will
_support_ this shift, and put the indigenous wisdom of cultures like the Tolowa
into an _additional_ framework people are comfortable with and can relate to--
where people can readily see that the height of rationality would be to return
to a harmonious way of being in mutually supportive relationships with each
other and the rest of the natural world.
> > I think if we can better refine our arguments, we'll also be
> >better able to gain more support from a wider base of people who don't see
> >returning to caves as moving forward.
> I was just in Portland. The line to come hear my talk filled a sidewalk and
> snaked down and around the block. The place was packed. Endgame is the second
> best seller from Seven Stories, only behind Vonnegut's latest. The message is
> being received. People routinely drive 8 and 10 hours one way to hear these
> talks. The point is not me. The point is that lots of people recognize that
> civilization was a very bad idea, and that there have been (and for now continue
> to be) many other social organizations that make a lot more sense.
Derrick, I like your work, and respect you as one of the better social critics
around today. But there's still a long way to go. Even with the size of the
crowd in Portland, that represented, what? about .001% of the population?
As you say later in this message, you're still working on refining, and have a
whole lot more to write. I'm just offering what I see and trying to make
suggestions that might make fruitful avenues of investigation to make your work
both more powerful and more accepted. You're sounding a bit defensive, which
can be expected when one's work revolves around challenging the power structure
(I get it all the time, even from so-called progressives), but I think you're
amongst friends here who have the same core goal.
My point is that more and more people are recognizing that things aren't just
not working, but are about to bring the universal experiment of life on Earth
to a rather ignominious end. Whether this is inherent in civilization or our
current application of it may turn out to be less important than the underlying
psychology--which will of course lend itself to the definition of the terms we
Based primarily on the work of ecopsychologist Michael Cohen and on Eisler, but
others say the same thing in different ways, I see the primary problem as the
psychological feeling of separation from nature, the concept of otherness, and
the availability of addictive substitutes for natural fulfillment. This milieu
is created by the force based ranking hierarchies of the dominator paradigm. If
civilization is based exclusively on this way of thinking, it will cause
I see the systemic solution as reconnecting with nature and building a culture
based on partnership principles which itself is based on the natural systems
principles of mutual support and reciprocity, no waste, no greed, and
increasing diversity. But I'm fine with dropping the term civilization if it's
truly irredeemable and just using culture instead. I do think the educational
process of raising awareness would be more difficult, however, because I do see
positive values in what many people understand civilization to be and what it
can offer to the common good.
> >There is absolutely nothing wrong with
> >this type of lifestyle for people who are attracted to it, and we all need to
> >spend much more time both playing in the dirt and playing with our own inner
> I'm not talking about "playing in the dirt" and "playing with our own inner
> wildnerness." I'm talking about a way of life that has been killing the planet
Ahh, the difficulty of getting subtlety across in e-mail. The point is there
are many ways to live sustainably, and if the diversity of doing so doesn't
reflect the diversity in a healthy ecosystem, it won't be sustainable. One of
the reasons we're killing our planet with our adherence to dominator control
hierarchies is because we don't get out in the dirt, either for play or to
responsibly contribute to our community. We also buy into the story that our
inner nature is flawed and to be subjugated.
> for the past 6000 years (the first written myth of this culture is Gilgamish
> deforesting the plains and hillsides of what is now Iraq (they were cedar
> forests so thick the sunlight never touched the ground) to make the great cities
> of the region. This isn't about "playing in the dirt and playing with our own
> inner wildnerness." This is about life on the planet. This is about the salmon.
This could just be a matter of semantics, but to me that is what life on this
planet is about at a very fundamental level. The core of our disconnection
keeps us from this. This is where the problems you speak of spring from.
> This is about the polar bears. This is about the amphibians. This is about
> little girls starting puberty earlier: one percent of three-year-old girls have
> begun to develop breasts or pubic hair, and in only the last six years, the
> percentage of girls under eight with swollen breasts or pubic hair has gone from
> one percent to 6.7 percent for white girls, and 27.2 percent for black girls.
> This is about the murder of the planet.
Exactly. I'm not disagreeing with any of that.
> >It behooves us all to find ways to better articulate that sustainability does
> >not entail austerity; that "being more" is a more advanced and civilized state
> >than "having more."
> I've been working on this for far more than a decade now, and have produced a
> body of work that already does this. Of course I continue to work on it (I've
> got two and maybe three more books coming out next year), continue to refine and
> push forward the analyses.
Yeah, I know, I've been working on it seriously for about as long, although as
I look back I see I've been heading in this direction since the late '60s. I
haven't been as prolific in writing about it, though, at least until recently.
More of my time has been spend as an activist and now as a healer--getting
people reconnected with nature on the assumption that they won't fight to save
what they don't love. I believe this love comes from both a rational and
sensual understanding and experience of our interconnected role within the web
All in all, though, I think I'll continue to use the modifier "industrial" for
the form of civilization we're creating an alternative to, at least until more
people are aware of the dominator propaganda that informs the frames triggered
by this word, especially its implicit enforcement of an inferior "other."
I'll put Endgame toward the top of my reading list. I''ve just recently
finished Rifkin's 1992 "Biosphere Politics" and am almost done with Bookchin's
1990 "Remaking Society" (and, man, is that one some dense reading, and I've
heard his intent with it was to make his academic work more widely accessible.)
I'm also working on ways to refine this message to reach as many people as
possible, and especially to help them connect the dots.This is probably my
consuming drive at the moment.
The thing about people, though, is that they're all different :-)
For the Earth...
_dave_(this entire message is composed of recycled electrons)
Natural Systems Solutions
Sustainable lifestyles, organizations, and communities
Subbject: Re: Re: Portal of the Global Civilization activated
Date: Fri, 3 Nov 2006 18:14:41 -0500
To: Global Information Media email@example.com
I propose we establish a model ecological community. We can request help from people like Amory Lovins and others like him. It would differ from the back to the land movement in the sixties in that it would have no leaders or politicians, only good examples to follow. All decisions would be made in a decentralized way by direct democracy in a system similar to the Swiss system with no professional politicians that has given them the highest per capita income in the world, a healthy environment, low unemployment, no wars, little crime, no boom and bust economy and a lasting democracy. Direct democracy and later, Global Online Democracy (G.O.D.) is here waiting for the corruptible representative democracy system to sink by its own weight. It will also make taxes obsolete as we decide where each of us wants to put our money directly.
Members would be screened by a Board of Directors, similar to those of condominiums. We would give priority to Green Party members and experienced artists, scientists and environmentalists that we will need to create our community as an example to the world of what can be done.
Ideas like collective capitalism can be tried. Or to prevent extreme power concentration, a yearly cap on personal wealth can be instituted direct democratically. It can be made inversely proportional to population growth in order to give people an economic incentive to have smaller families to combat overpopulation, resource depletion, pollution, environmental deterioration and it's refugees and so on.