Monthly Archives: October 2011

Who Will occupy Whom? A Warning for OWS

Where is the occupy movement headed? This is a question that needs to be a continuous part of our discussion. One observer that I regard as particularly astute is Richard K. Moore, visionary, activist, and author of Escaping the Matrix. Richard’s preoccupation is very similar to my own, i.e., to find answers to such fundamental questions as these: How does the world really work? What could a better world look like? How can we bring about the necessary transformation?

Here below is Richard’s very insightful  expression (slightly abridged) of what is likely to happen UNLESS the Occupy movement can be informed of truly transformative options, motivated to share, cooperate and organize to implement them, and empowered enough to carry through to full realization of what I’m calling the Butterfly society.

In my view, that will mean a massive devolution of power, and herein lies the importance of the transition, relocalization, decentralization, and community self-reliance initiatives. But a necessary part of that is also a shift in values and ideals that motivate people to change their orientation from pursuing their narrow self-interest to acting for the common good.

Richard’s scenario is a pessimistic one, but it seems all too plausible. As he points out, there is always the risk with any movement, that it will be manipulated and co-opted to serve the interests of some particular group, most notably the existing power hierarchy. This may be the case with the recent regime changes in North Africa and the Middle-east, particularly Libya, where the change was achieved only by the massive intervention of NATO in a civil war that was waged against the government of Muammar Gaddafi by some pretty dubious characters. Now I make no apology for Gaddafi, but the avowed purpose of the NATO intervention just does not hold up to any reasonably close scrutiny. What will be the ultimate outcomes there and in Tunisia and Egypt remains to be seen.

Alvin Toffler, in his book, The Third Wave observed that the power of the nation state is on the wane, that it is being assailed both from ABOVE and from BELOW. The New World Order of the global elite is the “from above” part of that picture. Over the years, we’ve gotten a pretty good glimpse of what that looks like—ever greater centralization of power and concentration of wealth, and control of the many by the few who view themselves as “special” and destined to rule over the world. Carroll Quigley’s book, Tragedy and Hope is perhaps the most useful source on this because it includes a description of HOW their plans are being carried out. That is by their control over the entire machinery of MONEY—credit, currencies and exchange mechanisms; banking and finance; and markets. (The blocking of funds transfers, as in the case of Wiki Leaks, is only small weaponry in this “money war.”).

In Quigley’s words:

”The powers of financial capitalism had a far-reaching plan, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole… Their secret is that they have annexed from governments, monarchies, and republics the power to create the world’s money…”

Popular demands for change will, at best, end up changing nothing, and, at worst, put the masses of people in even deeper bondage than before UNLESS, the people carry through with the more difficult tasks that I mentioned above. Changes in leadership will not suffice. Our problems are structural, and nothing short of a thoroughgoing restructuring will suffice.

I’ve added some emphasis (bold type) to Richard’s essay below as a way of alerting the reader to some of the points I consider to be especially pertinent. The most important parts are toward the end, so please read it in its entirety.

I’m hoping that this and my other posts on the OWS can stimulate more such visioning and scenario planning that can lead to effective strategies for preventing manipulation and cooptation, and lead us to a truly free and compassionate New Civilization..–t.h.g.

On 10/25/2011 6:12 AM, Richard Moore wrote:

My concern, when I examine any movement or initiative, is to understand what its outcomes are likely to be, all things considered. Where is the OWS movement headed? If it’s headed somewhere I want to go, then I’d be likely to support it, even if I was uncomfortable with some aspects of the movement. And vice versa.

The OWS movement is based on two things, a critique and a process. The critique is a radical anti-establishment perspective. The process is about direct democracy in large groups, based on consensus. OWS is succeeding very well in communicating and promulgating its radical perspective. And the success of the OWS process, in maintaining movement harmony and avoiding divisiveness, has been impressive.

The success of the process offers hope that a better society is possible, based on direct democracy. Through participation in Occupations, that hope is reinforced by direct experience of ‘how things might be’. The enthusiasm of the Occupiers is communicated effectively to followers of the movement, and it’s a contagious enthusiasm. The hope becomes almost a confidence that a better world is coming, and the Occupations become almost proofs-of-concept of the new-world principles.

There is a direct relationship between the hope the movement generates, and the radicalness of the OWS perspective. People normally have a resistance to totally rejecting the current system. When I’ve offered those kind of radical critiques in my postings, many of you have objected to my over-negativity. The OWS perspective, and the hard-hitting viral OWS videos, make my negativity look like child’s play, but people can respond to the perspective, because there is also a branch of hope on offer. If one is in a lifeboat, one can stop pretending the ship isn’t sinking.

And the ship is sinking. The system, as we’ve known it, is totally corrupt and is in a process of collapse. The OWS radical perspective is right on the mark. As people suffer under debt burdens and austerity, they resonate on a personal level with these radical truths. And when they see the enthusiasm and hope generated by the movement, they are drawn to it. If they actually participate in an Occupation, or experience it vicariously on YouTube, they tend to become enthusiastic, promoting the movement in their own networks. It’s not surprising the movement has grown so quickly and on such a large global canvas.

There seems to be nothing standing in the way of the movement growing to its own natural maximum extent. The victory against eviction by Bloomberg stands as a kind precedent, that the on-the-ground Occupiers can expect to be reasonably tolerated by the powers that be. In some cases municipalities are officially endorsing their own local Occupations.

This is all leading up to a kind of Global Tahrir-Square Moment: everyone, so to speak, in the streets, everyone wanting radical regime change, and a sense of inevitable success in the air. In Egypt, the original Tahrir Square, the ‘success’ was the ouster of Mubarak, and the outcome was a military regime whose fundamental orientation is probably not much different from that of Mubarak. 

The OWS movement is more sophisticated than that, and has avoided being limited by specific demands. Nonetheless, this later Tahrir Square scenario is highly vulnerable to co-option. The OWS process keeps people harmonized and motivated, while specifically avoiding anything that smacks of organization-building or goal setting. The focus is on demonizing the existing regime, and on encouraging the expectation that change is inevitable: just keep doing what you’re doing.

The hope of movement participants is that out of this scenario a viable direct-democracy process will emerge. The fact, however, is that the movement has grown exponentially in the horizontal direction – greater numbers and more locations – while remaining relatively static as regards its process. The process has been mainly about managing the Occupations and promulgating the movement. It has not been about developing a consciousness about how a direct-democracy / anarchist process can deal with the practical issues faced by a global society in crisis.

So when we reach our Global Tahrir-Square Moment we will be in a volatile situation. We’ll have all that global energy expecting the regime to fall, and no more real direction or vision than in the original Egyptian Tahrir Square. It’s basically a crowd waiting for something to happen.

Meanwhile there is the current regime itself. Is it asleep to all these happenings? Why is the mainstream media being so supportive? Why hasn’t the movement been suppressed in the way the anti-globalization movement was suppressed? Why aren’t there any black-block infiltrators, providing an excuse for suppression, as there was with the anti-globalization movement. Could it be because the regime is not upset with where the movement is heading?

Consider these quotations, which reflect something about how the current masters of the universe think about regime change:

“We shall have World Government whether or not we like it. The only question is whether World Government will be achieved by Conquest or Consent” – Paul Warburg, author of the Federal Reserve Act, speaking before the US Senate

“Today Americans would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow they will be grateful. This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will plead with world leaders to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well being granted to them by their world government.” – Henry Kissinger speaking at Evian, France, May 21, 1992 Bilderburgers meeting.

“We are on the verge of a global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order.” – David Rockefeller

The people at the top of the current regime want regime change. They want to eliminate those messy nations that interfere with their direct control of global affairs. How convenient it is that the demonization material from OWS focuses on nations, their political corruption, their exploitive corporations, their deadly wars, and their greedy banks. The revelations of evil stop short of talking about the regime’s own plans for regime change. From the OWS perspective, the old regime is incapable of adapting and will simply crumble under the weight of the global movement.

In my article about elite plans, cited at the top of this posting, I suggested that a new regime – a new global government – will need to have its own mythology, and that part of that mythology will need to be a thorough demonization of the old regime. The primary concrete output of the OWS movement thus far is precisely such a demonization, very persuasive, and with high production values. When the old regime is swept away, it will be clear to everyone that the people themselves demanded it. The new regime, whatever it is, will have a strong claim to democratic legitimacy.

Everything about the OWS movement, whether by design or accident, is playing directly into the hands of those who have long been yearning to create a one-world government. Notice, in Rockefeller’s quote above, that his concern is about nations accepting a global government, rather than being concerned with the people themselves accepting it. Meanwhile Kissinger talks about UN troops being called in to restore order. And both talk about the importance of an appropriate crisis, to help usher in the new regime. One can’t anticipate a particular scenario from such statements, but they give us a sense of the ‘range of options’, that are ‘on the table’, as regards bringing about the regime’s own plans for regime change.

Taken altogether, I see the following as the ‘most likely outcome scenario’. The OWS movement will continue to grow, generating a general consensus that the existing system is illegitimate and failing. The ‘establishment’ – that is the police and the national governments – will continue to show themselves to be incapable of responding to the aspirations of the movement. In some cases, as we’ve seen in Greece, there will be violence. In other cases, things will stay peaceful. Meanwhile economic conditions will continue to rapidly deteriorate, nations will go bankrupt, and basic infrastructures will be threatened with breakdown. So we’ll have lots of people in the streets demanding regime change, conditions getting desperate, and governments unable to resolve the situation.

This scenario fits the definition of a ‘failed state’, a society that has become ‘ungovernable’. We’ve been conditioned over the past few years to accept the notion of a ‘failed state’, and to expect some kind of ‘humanitarian intervention’ as a ‘solution’. This is the formula that is likely to be employed to usher in a global takeover. Just as our corrupt leaders gave in to the banks when bailouts were demanded, so will our corrupt leaders ‘invite’ outside intervention, when they are told to do so by the same folks who told them to go along with the banks.

Outside intervention is not necessarily about UN troops on street corners, although that might be likely where violence has erupted, and the UN would then be seen as a ‘neutral buffer’ between the people and the hostile security forces of the state. Intervention is also about yielding sovereignty, of one kind or another, to global entities. Permitting external troops on your soil is one kind of yielding sovereignty. Submitting to some new financial regime, controlled globally, would be another form of yielding sovereignty. Agreeing to conform – on penalty of severe sanctions – to some global charter or constitution, would be another form of yielding sovereignty.

Behind the scenes, there will be an architecture for a global governance system, and you can be sure that despite what promises might be made, or whatever democratic-input mechanisms are established, this architecture will guarantee the continued dominance, openly or covertly, of the current masters of the universe. Lots of intermediate heads may roll; those are all expendable, and their demise will be counted as ‘victories’ for the movement, ‘proving’ that the movement is creating the changes that are occurring.

In the public arena, a ‘solution paradigm’ will emerge, and it will seem to be a product of the OWC process. We can expect breakthroughs in communication, where OWC leaders (non leaders?) are invited to participate in some kind of dialog with ‘important world leaders’, discussing the ‘great problems facing us all’.A vision of a participative global society will be developed, and it will be presented as an outcome of the OWC process, in collaboration with those enlightened ‘important world leaders’.

You may wonder how I come up with these scenarios, and whether there is any way to determine whether they have any validity. I come up with these scenarios by looking at things from the point of view of the masters of the universe, taking into account the means at their disposal, their typical modus operandi, their candidly stated goals, and the current actions they are taking or not taking.

By both their actions and their inactions – expressed as favorable media and a lack of suppression – they are encouraging the OWS phenomenon. By disempowering nations via austerity measures and privatization they are ensuring that nations will not be able to respond to the aspirations of OWS. A crisis is thereby created that is crying out for a solution. It’s the classic paradigm of manipulated change: failed system, crisis, handy solution being offered – by those who have the power to implement it. 

And the masters of the universe do indeed have the power to offer a solution. As I suggested above, that solution is likely to be perceived as a vision of a participative global society, emerging out of the OWC process. But when push comes to shove, and it’s time to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, it will be the behind-the-scenes architecture that actually gets implemented. It’s like with the American Revolution, where the Declaration of Independence promised everything, but when the Constitution came along lots of the promises had gone missing. And somehow the old colonial elites continued to run things.

In the case of the Constitution, it was necessary to tack on the Bill of Rights, before the people would accept it. In the case of the charter of the new global government, given the OWC link, it will be necessary to include what we might call a Rights of Participation – some mechanism of direct popular input to governance, most likely modeled on the OWS process.

We end up with a situation where the masters of the universe establish their long-desired global governance system, where sellout national leaders relinquish sovereignty on cue as requested, and where we the people are left with a process that some of us participate in, and which the new regime has promised to ‘listen to’. We can expect some immediate and significant benefits to be doled out, involving the forgiveness of debts, the establishment of a new financial system, and some kind of revival of economic activity and employment.

In this way OWC will perceive that it ‘has achieved victory’, and people will leave the streets and enthusiastically seek to play their roles in the promising new system ‘they have created’ – and which is already showing concrete, positive results. OWC then no longer exists as a massive grassroots uprising, and anyone who takes to the streets after that will be seen as a counter-revolutionary, someone who ‘wants to destroy’ what ‘OWC has created’, namely, the ‘enlightened new global regime’. With an apparently credible claim to democratic mandate, the new regime will not tolerate opposition outside the framework of the designated participatory process.

The details in these scenarios have obviously been speculative. They are ‘one possible way things might unfold’, that I offer as a ‘plausible possibility’, given the power relationship between the masters of the universe and OWS movement, and given each of their methods and goals. I put in details so that we (both reader and writer) can think in concrete terms about what these power relationships might lead to in various situations, and at various stages as things unfold.

I think it is clear that the masters of the universe have a global architecture in the wings, and we can already see lots of it already operating in the various global institutions that have been set up, none of them so far interested in grassroots input. I also think it is clear that the rapid growth of the OWS movement, combined with the principled lack of attention to articulating a practical future vision, is speeding the movement to a situation where it will be highly vulnerable to co-option: a situation where the offering of significant carrots, in terms of material benefits and participatory opportunities, will be eagerly embraced by the masses in the streets, when we reach our Global Tahrir-Square Moment.

To the extent these basic perspectives are valid – what seem to me to be ‘clear observations’ – I have a hard time imagining a realistic scenario that has any final outcome other than the very one desired by the masters of the universe.

If anyone out there would like to articulate a more positive scenario, and say why it is plausible, I’d be very happy to see it. I’d be quite pleased if my current conclusions turn out to be wildly pessimistic. But so far, unfortunately, the evidence seems to suggest the contrary.


rkm website:

Previous posting:

dialog, ‘Occupy Wall Street’, misc

Related article:

The Elite      Plan for a New World Social Order

#     #     #

What’s the “Occupy” movement all about?—Part 4

Nobody can speak for a movement that is as inclusive and diverse as the Occupy Wall Street movement. We each speak for ourselves, but out of that can come shared values and ideals and, eventually, coherent action that will result in significant improvement in the situation for everyone.

But catch this—Fox News was out doing man-in-the street interviews about the Occupy Wall Street movement when they happened upon Jesse LaGreca who turned out to be a knowledgeable and articulate unofficial working class spokesperson. Fox never aired the interview but it has found its way onto the internet and is causing quite a stir. Here it is:

And watch this follow-up interview with Jesse on KIRO-FM:

Occupy Together and Bring in the Butterfly Society

Things are happening so fast now that it is impossible for me to keep up with even a small part of it. Fortunately there are a few of us who are tied into many information sources and are able to follow some of the main currents. Tom Atlee is one of those. Here below is part of his latest, which comes from his newsletter and website. I encourage you to visit his site and follow the many source links provided there.

As I’ve said before, my own view is that society is going through a metamorphic change. The new emerging Butterfly Society will look nothing like the disintegrating caterpillar society. Perhaps the Occupy movement is a manifestation of that process by which the previously dormant “imaginal cells” become active and begin to form the organs of the Imago (the butterfly). The transition will challenge our adaptability, our strength, our courage, and our imaginations. Let us resolve to make it an opportunity to bring out the best that is in us.

From Tom Atlee:; Short URL:

Dear friends,

Things are still wildly bubbling in and around the Occupy movement, which is still radically expanding and evolving.  Despite many growing pains, the co-creative, committed engagement of the participants is inspiring.  So many among them are using the disturbances in and around them as a motivation for personal growth and collective innovation.

Occupy Together is, as they say, a phenomenon.  It is such a passionate, complex, self-organizing initiative that even chaos and complexity theories have a hard time adequately explaining it.  It is ALIVE!

The word “occupy” – as a connotation-rich idea or meme – is itself a fascinating part of the movement’s impact.  It invites everyone who wants a new and better world, to claim a space where they can work together to co-create that world.  So far, that space is usually a public park.  But that’s expanding and morphing:  More people are talking about occupying a school, a workplace, a bank, a heart, a profession, an industry, a government office, the airwaves, our minds – any “place” where some piece of the new world needs to evolve and replicate itself to become the actual New World.  And the word “occupy” suggests commitment to that place, persistence in it, putting down some roots, claiming and owning and taking responsibility for holding it and making it good.  That’s why, as Chris Hedges notes in the video below, that when one occupier is removed, ten more show up.  That’s why I hear someone has bought or rented a large indoor space near OWS for use by the protesters during the winter.  We all know that this is our new world these folks are holding space for and carving out under rain and billy clubs.  They are working on our behalf and so many of us naturally feel called to work on theirs.  We kinda know we’re all in the same boat now.

In communities of practice that use Open Space and World Cafe, facilitators speak of “holding space for conversations that matter”, and of the importance of having a clear intention or focus or powerful questions into and around which such conversation can flow as it makes its way to its not-yet-seen sea – the future outcome that is “wanting to emerge” in and from the group’s passionate explorations.  They speak of self-organization being driven by “passion and responsibility”.  I see OWS and its kindred occupations providing a passionate focus that resonates with millions of people of all types, in all sectors and strata of society, and holding space for a whole-society conversation about what’s going on in our world, about where we’re headed, about where we want to go.  It doesn’t matter who we are or what our place is in the society.  OWS asks us to look around us, see what needs to be done, and to occupy the space needed to make it happen.  “Take responsibility for what you love.”  A far better future is waiting for us to occupy it.

I hope you find the many articles and videos below as inspiring, fascinating and useful as I’ve found them.

Blessings on the Journey.



Newsletter-Fall 2011


Hi all,

As you know, I’ve been residing in Thailand since the middle of June, but I’m sensing a call to get to where the action is, and right now that seems to be North America. So, I’ll be returning to the U.S. soon.

First on my agenda is to collect my mail and gather some warm clothing, then I’ll head for Michigan to participate in the International Conference on Sustainability, Transition and Culture Change, near Traverse City, Thursday, Nov. 10 – Monday, Nov. 14, 2011 at the Shanty Creek Resorts, Bellaire, Michigan.

That conference could be the initiating event for an ongoing process of design, strategy planning, and implementation of alternative systems, especially systems of exchange and finance. I’m encouraging all who are able to attend and to pass the word to your networks. Notable participates will be Australian economist Steve Keen and Nicole Foss of Automatic Earth.

Over the coming weeks or months I’ll be available and open to invitations to speak, confer, and collaborate. [Contact me by entering a comment to this post]. You can view/hear many of my presentations and interviews by scanning the sidebar on this website. Some of my most notable recent presentations are on my Vimeo site:

I’ve been watching with great interest the OWS movement and am encouraged to see that so many people are no longer willing to tolerate the status quo. I’ve posted a few items about it recently on this site and will post more in the future. This may be the surge that begins the kind of real change that people have been looking for.

Demonstrations and other expressions of discontent can help to inspire people and encourage them to act, but that energy must be applied in ways that can effect real change. I’m generally optimistic about the prospects for a successful metamorphic change in civilization, but it will require us to learn radical ways of sharing, cooperation, and organization.

If we are to make the necessary shift of power away from Wall Street and Washington, we will need to reduce our dependence upon their systems and structures (like political money and banks) and organize new structures that empower people. Let’s work together to provide the direction this movement needs.

Just Released

Pertinent to that is the release a new book from EVOLVER EDITIONS/North Atlantic Books. Edited by Daniel Pinchbeck and Ken Jordan, and titled, What Comes After Money: Essays from Reality Sandwich on Transforming Currency & Commerce, this anthology includes “thoughtful, provocative essays from economist Bernard Lietaer, media theorist Douglas Rushkoff, Sacred Economics author Charles Eisenstein, musician Paul D. Miller (a.k.a. DJ Spooky), theoretical physicist Amit Goswami, Larry Harvey (founder of Burning Man), alternative historian Peter Lamborn Wilson,” and yours truly, Thomas Greco. My essay is titled, Local Control of Credit: The Foundation of Economic Democracy (p. 191).

In his introduction to the book, Daniel talks about the emergence of a conscious culture to challenge Wall Street’s consumerist paradigm. You can read it here: More information about the book can be found at, which is offering the book at a discounted price.

Thailand Floods

Many people have been asking about the flooding in Thailand that has been widely reported in the news. Monsoon rains are normal for this part of the world, but this has been one of the rainiest years on record. A large amount of farmland has been inundated and some crops destroyed, but the biggest problems are in the urban and industrial areas that are built along the major rivers. As is the case everywhere, land is quite valuable in such areas and attempts are made to fill in marshland and restrict waterways to narrow channels. Nature has no regard for such activities. One of the worst effects of flooding is the increase in illnesses from water-borne microbes as floodwater is contaminated with sewage, which can also cause food supplies to be contaminated.

Fortunately, Chiang Mai, where I spent most of my time, experienced only a small amount of flooding along the Ping River for a few days a couple weeks ago, but fresh food markets in that area had water standing a foot or two deep, which might have caused some bacterial transfer to food supplies here. There are reports of increased numbers of people visiting emergency clinics and I myself was sick for a while with what seemed like a bad head cold and respiratory congestion. I don’t know if that was flood related but whatever the case I’m better now.

The main problems seem now to be in the south around Bangkok and Ayutthaya where severe flooding continues and has affected a great many people, plus manufacturing facilities, so you may feel some effect as well. Here’s an excerpt from some news reports about that:

Disk manufacturing sites in Thailand — notably including the largest Western Digital plant — were shut down due to floods around Bangkok last week and are expected to remain shut for at least several more days. The end to flooding is not in sight, and Western Digital now says it could take five to eight months to bring its plants back online. Thailand is a major manufacturer of hard drives, and the shutdowns have reduced the industry’s output by 25 percent.


Inner Bangkok has so far escaped major flooding as the authorities divert water to areas outside the main capital in a bid to prevent the Chao Phraya River bursting its banks and flooding the political and economic heartland.

But efforts to keep the city of 12 million people dry have been complicated by a seasonal high tide.

Read more here:

The airports seem to be OK for now—if the dikes hold. I fly out of Bangkok next week.


What’s the “Occupy” movement all about?—Part 3

Tom Atlee, founder and director of the Co-intelligence Institute, is one of the most insightful observers of human behavior and creative process. I’m on his list to receive his regular  mailings. Here are a few brief excerpts from his recent letter that struck me a particularly pertinent.–t.h.g. 

Dawning realizations re Occupy Wall Street

To think of Occupation Wall Street as primarily a demonstration or protest misses the profound novelty and power of what they are doing.  All of us – they and we – are figuring out what it is they are doing as they do it.  They are kinda building their road as they travel.

That the whole thing wasn’t consciously built according to any plan – that it EMERGED – is both its power and its limitation.  We would do well to think about how to combine such powerful spontaneity with transformational processes (like Open Space and World Cafe) that use self-organization to help spread evocative energy from a dynamic center like Occupy Wall Street out into the society, transmuting that society’s latent frustrations and longings into a force that can shift the energy of the whole System towards Life.  I sense a new form of activism, of citizenship, of aliveness being born here.  Each of us gets to ask what role we want to play in that flowing, creative Mystery.

I strongly recommend that you read Tom’s entire message here,


What’s the “Occupy” movement all about?—Part 2

Here is an article I came across that provides some further insights about the current mood of the people and the Occupy movement.—t.h.g.

The Re-Greening of Our Hearts (Part 1)

By Jack Adam Weber – Guest Writer for Wake Up World. 14th October 2011

Here we are in the thick of Occupy Wall Street, with the movement and its message spreading worldwide, loud and clear: No more collusion by government and Big Business. No more tax cuts for the already rich and dirty. No more destruction of our planet for the bad habit of bullying-billionaire-ism, an epidemic disease attacking the weak of heart and low morale.

In the first weeks of the ongoing Fukushima disaster I read too many editorials describing the choice between a nuclear or more sustainable future as hinging on the monetary cost to multinational companies, government, and taxpayers. Does it also make you squirm in your skin to hear our world fixated on economic gain at any cost, with the real possibility of environmental collapse as well as species and human extinction from toxic waste streams given secondary concern? Do you care more about remaining “competitive” in the international marketplace above the survival and health of your children and family?

I have reached my limit of political puppet talk to distract attention from and justify the destruction of life on Earth. I could give a crap about the International Marketplace, whatever it is. Come to think of it, I think we should downsize the mythic International Marketplace by 90% (I’d still like to have curry powder to cook with) and replace it with hundreds of regional festivals where we all camp out and envision a new, locally-based future. Camp Headquarters will be biking distance from your home!

We need a new paradigm for living and doing business on Earth, not just an adjustment of the current system. We need a modus operandi that is eco-centric not solely human-centric. This orientation forms the crux of Deep Ecology, which perceives nature as sacred, not primarily a commodity for human progress and development. By granting Nature a right to live and thrive, we grant the same to humanity. We can no longer pretend as though nature is forever indispensable [sic.] and able to re-grow itself no matter the pace at which we use it up. Or that some fantastic messianic miracle of technology is going to save us and regenerate what we have denigrated. Even if there were such a technology, what kind of world would remain in the aftermath?


What’s the “Occupy” movement all about?

Occupy Wall Street and the many related offshoot occupations are raising a lot of questions. These will not be quickly answered, but one thing is clear–increasing numbers of people are fed up with the political and economic status quo. They are not only expressing their dissatisfaction and disgust, but they are looking  for ways to make positive changes that will benefit everyone, not just the few who are presently in control.

Michael Hudson is one of the few university economists who understands the systemic nature of our global economic malaise, and is willing to speak frankly about it. The following is a recent interview that is worth watching.–t.h.g.

Can we afford our social programs?

As Bill Hicks says, “It’s just a ride.”

“The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.” — Bill Hicks

Its just a ride.


An Update on the Iceland Financial Crisis

Because of the way in which its people have responded to the financial crisis, tiny Iceland has drawn a lot of attention lately. Some pertinent information about this was provided in a previous post. Prof. Margrit Kennedy, author of Interest and Inflation Free Money, traveled to Iceland recently on a fact-finding tour. Her report below provides some additional insights. –t.h.g.

A Visit in Iceland

Margrit Kennedy. 23 September 2011

[English translation by Prof. Philip Beard, Ph.D.]

When I read an article two months ago about the state bankruptcy in Iceland and the public’s refusal to accept the government’s debt retirement plan, as a result of which the three largest banks became insolvent, I decided to travel to Iceland.  I wanted to find out whether the new, popularly-elected 25-member  Council, whose job was to formulate proposals for a new constitution, had made any statements regarding the monetary or financial system.  No such news had shown up in the several reports and English translations I’d gathered.

So a week ago, off I flew, after having received a few contact addresses from friends and having made three appointments with “Constitutional Council” members via email.  I stayed in Reykjavik from 9/13 till 9/19 and then went for a day to Solheimar, Iceland’s only eco-village, whose director had supplied me with these council members’ addresses.

Hardly had I arrived at my Reykjavik hotel when the first of my interlocutors showed up: Salvör Nordal.  A professor of ethics at Reykjavik University, she answered my questions patiently, and in about the first half hour filled me in on what all my later conversations would confirm: No, no one had said anything about the systemic monetary roots of the crash.  The Council’s discussions revolved around laying new groundwork for their democracy, environmental protection and protection of the commons, more transparency in governmental affairs and thereby better regulatory capacities.  She was glad to hear and watch my short presentation on the topic “Money rules the world!  — But who rules the money?”, and immediately said, “You must meet my friend in the finance ministry.  For sure, she’ll be fascinated by what you’ve got to say.”  Then she departed.  It was Tuesday evening.

The next day I met the man who had been elected to the Council with the most votes, the economist Prof. Sylfarson.  We had a short, congenial conversation of about an hour in which I learned that from where he stood, the situation in Iceland had returned to “normal”.  Before the crash everything had been more or less exaggerated: salaries, the value of the Icelandic crown, housing prices, the standard of living.  In his opinion his countryfolk were still doing well (which corresponded to my own first impressions), and Iceland was now catching up to the rules that every other European democracy had been practicing for decades, e.g. universal suffrage, transparency of public budgets, environmental laws, etc.

And no, the monetary system had not come under discussion.  Monetary matters remained pretty much as they had been, except that an index was now being applied to loans in order to reduce excessive credit demands.

He had never heard of complementary currencies, though he was very interested in the couple of examples I described to him and asked me to send him more information.

My third conversation partner was the young singer Svarvar, a friend of friends who had witnessed the so-called “revolution” but hadn’t taken part in it.  His opinion was that people had just been venting their fury at having all gotten poorer again, but he hadn’t seen much in the way of new values being adopted.

I could see, though, that the money theme fascinated him.  He brought a few of his friends to my talk at Reykjavik University that I had been invited to give by the dean of the engineering and natural sciences faculty, Kristin Vala Ragnarsdottir, and some of her colleagues.  They were all astonished that the room they’d chosen for the lecture turned out much too small.  But the concierge had already figured from the many phone calls he’d received that we would need a larger room, and had arranged for it.

It took a little time to get the crowd moved to the new room, but an atmosphere of high spirits and goodwill prevailed.  Obviously the 150-200 guests, many overflowing into the hallways, expected I’d be talking to them about something important.  And I later learned that two translators had already published parts of my first book in Icelandic; they proudly showed me their published articles, replete with graphs.  They didn’t know each other, but had each motivated a sizeable number of people to come to the talk.  I could tell from their questions how deeply concerned they were about this topic, and I agreed to meet with the “hard core” of a few grassroots groups on Sunday evening at one of their gathering places to discuss action strategies.

That evening at dinner I had the pleasure of a conversation with the personal adviser of the Economics Minister about the drama that had led up to the near-total collapse of Iceland’s financial and economic system.  This evening was the preparation for my discussion with the minister and the government’s chief economic adviser on Monday, shortly before leaving Reykjavik.

It was an important meeting for me, and for these two leading specialists as well.  As it turned out, they had never before so clearly perceived the role of interest and compound interest in the lead-up to the collapse, even though they’d been confronted with it practically every day since 2006.  And their serious countenances showed that they were taking it to heart.  Their comments indicated however that it would take considerable time before these new insights could be applied to political practice.  Germany, they said with mild regret, had no doubt been among the hardest hit by the whole matter.  [Translator’s note: It’s unclear how this last sentence relates to the preceding line of thought.]

But I did have the feeling that they were open to new solutions.  Most impressive for me was the evening I spent with representatives of perhaps seven grassroots initiatives, of whom at least three had been trying for years to get the money topic on people’s radar screens, with little prior but now greater success, to judge by their growing membership figures and the fact that they’re now “being heard” in the media.

The main topic was action strategies.  Lots of concrete questions: How can we change this and that?  What’s the best way to introduce complementary currencies?  How can we reduce the debt burden that’s been forced upon our poorer citizens?

I told of our experiences with barter circles, regional currencies, and the WIR system, and described our successes in the Chiemgau and Vorarlberg regions.  And I promised to send them written summaries of the key ingredients.

In any event we shall stay in contact, exchanging news of problems and successes.  As I left I had the feeling of having sown some seeds – having nourished the hope and the knowledge that new pathways lie before us, and what they might look like.

Overall a newcomer to this country notices little of its bout with bankruptcy.  You do see several unfinished skyscraper projects, especially near the seacoast and on the way to the airport.  But very few people or neighborhoods look genuinely poor.

With the help of the 2.1-billion euro credit from the IMF, the country has once again just barely avoided total breakdown.  Now people are rolling up their sleeves and saying, “We’ll make it back.”  I certainly hope they will, because I have become very fond of the Icelanders in the week I spent with them.

The best, most concrete outcome of this trip would be for the grassroots groups to enjoy a new level of attention, understanding, and perhaps even active support for their efforts at introducing new systems – systems that prove that we can run our monetary affairs without interest.

#     #     #

Here is a link to a tv interview of Prof. Kennedy by Egill Helgason, which was aired on Icelandic television on Sunday the 25th of September 2011: