(Note: For those familiar with the Next System Project (NSP), a project of the Democracy Collaborative, the New Paradigm Project (NPP) is a similar concept in that both owe their origin to a felt need to create something new at a systemic level; that the current paradigm/system is beyond repair. The founding of the NSP in 2016 was an auspicious event. It is still in the discussion stage ([August 2018)] to determine what the Next System (NS) should look like. Their values and end goals I see as very compatible though many of their discussions are more inside the current box; a bit too much inside from my perspective, but they have been able to get the Next System notion on the map – a major achievement!)
I started coming to the conclusion that the current system – I called it a paradigm – was dysfunctional and likely beyond repair in 1974; that focusing primarily on specific issues and fixes was unlikely to get us where we want to go; that the powers that be could generate issues far faster than we could possibly deal with them; that we need to create something capable of standing up to them in a more holistic and substantive sense; and that creating a New Paradigm might be the best way to do that. More recently many activists I talk to are claiming that the current system is not dysfunctional or broken, that it is working quite well for the people who created, run, manipulate, and abuse it for their own self-interests. I think they have a point; and I think we need to take that into consideration while building the new one.
How will the New Paradigm be different from the current one? The focus of this paper is not to focus on the ills of the current system. Information on that abounds. But briefly the current system focuses a huge amount of energy on control and suppression. The New Paradigm (NP) will focus on providing everyone, well hopefully almost everyone, a huge amount of freedom, including free time. And just as important, the caring way we would treat the planet, the environment and our fellow creatures. That's how and why it is going to become the New Paradigm.
So how do we manifest a NewParadigm? It appears to me that we have gotten to the point where enough people want something new along the lines of what we are talking about, enough of us have the competency (this was a major problem in the past) to build something viable, and, among us, enough resources and skills to create something of significance and scale.
It is my contention that if we can get enough of the enough of us to focus on and commit to getting very organized, very networked, very coordinated, very cooperative, and very united, we can accomplish something real and amazing. I want to emphasize my belief that, after getting the right people involved, this ability to get very focused and organized etc. is the single most important thing by far to making the NP happen; to making anything significant and long term happen. If we can do this, success may be possible; if we cannot do this, and unfortunately our history is not replete with success at it, we are in serious trouble.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
I'm not so sure about the never but I think the new model idea is a great one!
So I suggest focusing on building a complete, holistic model of the New Paradigm that can operate pretty much independent of the current system. Independent but not separate. We want to operate amongst the general public to showcase who we are and what we are trying to do; and, of course, funnel some of their resources into our coffers. This fits into the category of something we probably can do and is in tune with focusing more of our energy on creating something and less on fighting or destroying something. Building a model is also alligned with Michelle Long's (BALLE) comment about creating a space to experiment in at the New Economics Institute Strategies for a New Economy Conference in 2012.
I want to be clear that this essay focuses on creating the initial phase of the model. This effort can be seen as a four phase project: creating the model, growing it, and adapting it so it will continue to work when more of the general population starts joining (the initial phase will be comprised mostly of folks who are already very focused on making the current system better). The fourth phase starts when we have gotten large and strong enough to be a significant actor on the nation state and international stages. If we can put together a rather large model and get it to function well, a lot more people are going to listen to us when we talk about creating a New Paradigm or Next System.
Though the primary aspect of this approach is to construct a model there will be, already are, many other things going on. So, since we want this alternative to be as holistic as we can make it, I will also address how the model might interact with these other pieces in a highly networked, coordinated and synergistic manner.
WHY BUILD A MODEL
Before getting into the Why, an explanatory comment. A very important philosophical aspect to this is that the New Paradigm is not a prefabricated structure/strategy that participants must fit into, but a very flexible structure/strategy that is able to conform to us. In other words, this approach is designed to accommodate as diverse a range of approaches as possible. I see it as a kind of puzzle: we each contribute a piece or few and then put it together in a way that reflects our cumulative visions and interests. I do not see this as being as complicated or esoteric as many might at first imagine. I do see it as perhaps a necessary path. Many of the folks creating the NP are independent minded, a lot of us anarchistic whether we wear the label or not, and a new system not able to accommodate this is probably going to significantly decrease its chances for success.
Why build a model? Primarily because it is a doable action that, if successful, can have a major impact on manifesting the NP.
Trying to change the current system item by item is just too arduous and complicated a task and it would take forever to get even halfway close to the paradigm we want to live in. Since there is so much going on that we do not want in the NP/NS and since 60-70% of it is waste (more on this later) we would be spending most our time tearing down and cleaning up instead of creating.
If we want the NP to resemble our vision we pretty much have to have a model all set up and running and then welcome folks in. (Of course those wanting to help create the NP would be welcome and encouraged to join us as soon as they are ready.)
The formalized creation of a model gives the NPP a kind of structure or framework that people can see as a tangible entity they can relate to and be a part of. It gives us an alternative, an option, a choice different from the current system. Granted, we would still legally be a part of the current system but in a much different way. Participation in the current system can be minimal because we have access to an alternative that can supply most the needs that what we call the “current system” provides. I see this as a real and significant dynamic. Most the resources, skills and talents of the persons joining the NP are no longer accessible to the people who run the current one. The NP becomes richer and the current system becomes poorer. And this is all done democratically by giving each person a choice.
Having a working model, especially of the type and scale I am visioning, paints a much clearer picture of what we are talking about and greatly enhances our credibility. It will help us showcase what the NP could and might be like. Having such an organized context will make it much easier for us to work together. It will show others, and ourselves, that we can do it, at least on a significant scale (one of the reasons why the model has to be of significant size). Many, probably most, people who would like to live in a NP have some fear of change and are hesitant to walk into the unknown. Having a solid working example that they can visit and see and touch and maybe live in for awhile to see what it feels like, would certainly enhance their probability of participation.
For those of us directly involved it gives a clearer picture of what we are doing and where we are going. The model becomes a laboratory where we can experiment, test our hypotheses and abilities, and the efficacy of what we are attempting to do. And, perhaps sweetest of all, we can live in it even while under construction, live among folks who are inclined towards caring for and helping each other. If you have lived in, or spent time in, an intentional community or ecovillage or even been to a Rainbow gathering, you probably have an idea of what it feels like to be in a community of loving, caring, helpful people.
Given what is going on on the planet these days it seems it would be a very good thing for the PC to have a formidable, independent, working structure and plan together to deal with it effectively.
WHAT WILL THIS MODEL LOOK LIKE?
To answer that lets look at some groups and organizations who have already bought into the next system concept and some others I see as potential partners.
When groups like Intentional Communities, Ecovillages, Transition Network, New Economy Coalition, BALLE, US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, GEO, Bioneers, Occupy, Hippies, Peace, Justice and Environmental Activists and Organizations, bioregionalists, the Democracy Collaborative, Next System Project, and many other progressive entities talk about their vision and mission they are all very similar and thus apparently very compatible. The way I phrase it: Peaceful, Just, Equitable, Harmonious, Sustainable, Ecologically Healthy (PJEHSEH). I call the entities who adhere to these values/principles the PJEHSEH Community (PC)). I doubt that any of the above groups would have a problem with my phraseology to briefly describe it and I have no problem with theirs. I think the progressive community as a whole has a fairly good and common idea of what we want the NP/NS to look like. (Note: When I use the terms “we” or “us” I am usually speaking of the folks whose values and actions are in accordance with the basic values mentioned above, the PC.). So, yes, the model I envision would reflect the progressive values mentioned above. In fact, I see this model as, what I call, a values based entity. That is, judging behavior more in terms of whether it promotes or violates an agreed upon relatively small set of values – similar to those prescribed above – rather than a specific set of laws and rules. I see this as being more flexible, fair, simple, and a whole lot more efficient. The current legal system in the US is a resource gobbling travesty.
I think it would likely be counter productive to get too detailed concerning defining appropriate conduct. As long as we do not violate the above mentioned values/principles we should be able to do pretty much whatever we want. Most people like to feel free and think diversity is a good thing. As they say, variety is the spice of life! I think this sense of freedom and flexibility will attract folks to the NP. This might be one of the experiments worth focusing on while constructing the model.
I suggest that we make this as perfect and idealistic as we can. Some folks will look at this and think “well duh” and others will scoff at this proclaiming it to be unrealistic. I know the obstacles can be formidable but I think the attempt can also be inspirational, exhilarating and valuable. At the same time we want to be careful not to extend our reach beyond our grasp. I believe that we need to be realistic but do not want our notions of realism to prevent us from achieving what we otherwise could. Being a bit conservative may be helpful at times but I wouldn't want it to define our limits. The idea is to make it as attractive and alluring as we can; something we would love to live in and others would love to join; something that excites people. I like to look at building the model as an opportunity to do something really cool and showcase it to the world. And Remember:
“The viability of idealism depends a lot upon how realistically we pursue it”
Down the road apiece the NP in its more completed form will have to deal with pretty much everything, a lot of it not very idealistic. So lets put our best on display and deal with these things from a position of strength.
The author acknowledges that adapting the model to the larger population is going to be a somewhat different dynamic. The idea here being that a good, strong, idealistic model composed of healthy happy people will heighten our public image, make the next phases easier to deal with, increase our chances for success and be much easier and fun to build in the first place.
Very importantly this model is not just something to look at and say “that's cool!” or be just a representation of what the Next Paradigm can be, but an actual functioning foundation upon which the NP can be built. It begins as a model but is intended to have the functions and properties such that it can grow into something much larger that can encompass much if not all the world. Of course there will be cultural differences but the root values would be very similar. The intention and hope is for it to be replicated around the world; that similar entities could exist all over the planet and be at the same time independent and very networked, coordinated, cooperative, united, and growing!
So what about size? A little story might help with that. Let's say someone comes to us now and says, “I'm tired of making GMOs for Monsanto and I look at what your group is doing and it looks really cool. I would like to join you. Do you have a job for me?” Uhh... no. Housing for my family? Uhh… no. Health care and education for my kids? Uhh... no. “Boy! Am I glad I didn't hand in that resignation I wrote up. Oh, well, I guess I'll have to go back to Monsanto. I got a family to support.”
If we want the NP to happen, I believe we have to create an alternative (New) economy that is sufficiently large and robust to answer those questions with a resounding “yes!”; and not just for a few people but for however many want to join. My educated intuition estimates 60-80,000 as a minimal critical mass for the model to be able to do that on a useful scale and cover all the necessary bases including energy, transportation, some manufacturing, etc.
Very little while building the model as in this phase nearly all members would be a part of the PC. This will change somewhat as our population grows. We want to limit rules to the minimum possible and still get the job done. Ad hoc Councils can be formed to resolve conflicts and administer justice when needed and be made up of folks with credibility and solid reputations, most often picked by those directly involved, not a bureaucratic process. It is perceived that those involved in building phase one of the model won't need a lot of governance, that we will happily abide by the basic values mentioned above. But even as the NP grows I would like it to continue to be a values based system similar to the Green Party and its 10 Key Values rather than a rules based system. I believe a set of good clear values and a council of peers is far better than thousands of pages of incomprehensible rules and regulations with lawyers and judges. A competitive system in which justice is often secondary.
The idea is to start with a clean slate and only add rules and regulations when deemed necessary after careful consideration. To be clear, there would be no top down rule making in the phase one model as there would be no top to come down from. It is expected that folks will come together to form groups and they could agree on some rules much like intentional communities. Groups could also come together and form larger groups and adopt rules for the larger group but which could not be imposed on the model as a whole. Again much like an intentional community in the sense that an IC will generally have its own internal rules but cannot impose rules on another. Of course we can do whatever we want as long as we don't violate the basic tenets talked about earlier.
Part of this mild form of governance early in the process is to minimize the obstacles to getting independent minded, free thinking, non-hierarchical people involved. The dynamic I'm suggesting and would like to see experimented with is Free Association. My choice of interaction when in a PC based environment. In this scenario it would mean folks could freely associate with the model when it fit their purposes and not when it didn't. The thinking here is that most folks seriously interested in creating the NP would associate most of the time but would have the option not to. Of course, if you say you are going to do something, you are expected do it! The notion being that free thinking, non-hierarchical folks would feel more comfortable in this kind of environment.
The above discussion is not to be confused with regulating dirty industries. Such entities would not be part of the model because they would not be in compliance with being ecologically healthy. Down the road we will have to deal with these things but by then we will have developed clean ways to take care of our needs and be able to deal with the dirty ones from a position of strength.
Of course, until the model paradigm becomes the full blown New Paradigm, we will have to deal with the rules existent in the current one. We can do that. Since these rules were made to give big money a lot of flexibility and freedom to do what they want, a lot of loopholes, we can use them too.
Finally, as more people join and we start transitioning out of phase one, circumstances will change and adjustments will be made. The those of us living the dream will have our experience to help figure out what they will be.
How Do We Create the Model?
To me it's a matter of priorities, of focus and commitment, of our ability to get very organized, networked, coordinated, cooperative and united. These are the primary things we need to be focused on and committed to. I can't see how any plan or vision can go anywhere without the ability to do these things. Having a vision that folks see as viable would certainly help with this focus.
The idea is working together in a very integrated way. The first step to figuring out what needs to be done is to get a clear idea of where we are at Now. I propose establishing a data base. Who is interested in creating the NP in general and the model in particular; who is ready to act now or in the near future. We need to know who is doing what and who needs what; who is willing to do what, to contribute what and much more. Fortunately a lot of the information needed to get this happening is already in the hands of kindred groups like those mentioned early on. Of course appropriate steps would be taken to carefully protect privacy where requested.
The Data Base will need to be very extensive. I see it as a central aspect of the NP structure and dynamic. This is the information age and we will have a lot of it. This will make decision-making much easier and less contentious and our efforts in general more efficient and effective.
I suggest we put together a core group to start putting this information together. This core group could facilitate putting together a document to be promulgated throughout our many networks and start processing responses. When we have processed enough positive responses to warrant putting together a face to face, we can put together a convention. A major part of this will be for people to get to know each other a bit. In the early stages the model will be a lot digital and it would be nice to have a face at the other end ot the email sometimes.
The reader will run across this notion of a core group again in this treatise. It is the means by which I envision participants in the model and beyond who have a diverse array of views, ideas, activities, methodologies and locations, being able to function together in a tight, united way synergistically without giving up any more of their freedom, independence, sovereignty, and time than they feel comfortable with.
This core group, and any others that may be created, would be totally transparent and have no intrinsic authority. Its role would be much like that of a consultant providing services. A core group could have some authority but only when given it by the participating parties usually for a particular situation like helping to enforce an agreement or contract or set up a structure for some activity. The core group would be set up to provide a wide variety of services and often that would be simply a link to another entity in the NP community that provides the requested service. It would likely consist of folks already engaged in this kind of work such as members of those groups mentioned early in this essay and who have stellar reputations.
However, even though they have no intrinsic authority, information can be power, and even though the folks occupying these positions will have a long history of integrity, they will be monitored and probably alternated.
The fundamental notion is to get all (as close to all as we can get) groups, organizations and individuals who are working towards creating the NP/NS – or doing very good things in general – working together efficiently and effectively. As mentioned earlier there are many other folks doing good work who fit into the PC. The core group would keep in touch with and work with them as well. This model includes any entity doing good work who fits into the PC whether or not there is a formal attachment. However those whose focus is at least significantly on creating the NP would have priority. Another major function of the core group would be to locate more folks and groups doing good things.
Working together is not a new concept. Essentially all the entities mentioned above mention in their literature the need/desire to work together. It's a very common theme but the execution, though getting better, is far from adequate. A major reason for this is that most these groups and organizations are already having a hard time keeping up with things. When asked why they are not working more closely with other groups a common refrain is: “I'm too busy. I haven't got the time”. To which I often respond: “We need to find it because if we don't, our visions, missions and goals are in serious jeopardy”. As Benjamin Franklin is reputed to have said at the signing of the Declaration of Independence: “We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately”. Perhaps an even more appropriate quote than at first it may appear.
I suggest that if we want the NP model to move forward at a decent pace, we assemble a core group of folks whose primary focus is to assist us in our quest to work together effectively and efficiently. I want to emphasize that this is an extremely important function! I look at it as kinda the missing link. This could be a function of the core group mentioned earlier or a new one assembled for that purpose and would use our extensive data base extensively. (Note: For those who question my assertion that we do not work adequately well together, I respectfully and humbly request that you pause for a moment and attempt to visualize what our world might look like if we did!)
I expect the folks initially involved in this project will be somewhat scattered throughout the country so it might resemble a digital community, but the people on the ground will be real. I assume there will be a lot of consolidation over time. Some of it may happen when someone learns from the database that a neighbor they know little about is working on a related project. Maybe some folks will get together and form or move into an ecovillage or intentional community (IC). Many well functioning Ecovillages, ICs and Transition groups already exist. Some folks may sell their house and buy one in a neighborhood where several of their associates already live. Lots of ways to do this.
My thinking is that by providing appropriate tools to the right people, they will become more productive and the community will grow and my suggested alternative model will evolve in part from this process.
If we can get a significant number of us working effectively together in a very organized and coordinated manner, what could we do? I suggest focusing on constructing the infrastructure needed to become largely independent of the current system.
My preference is to keep our reliance on entities outside the PC to a minimum. I think working with folks on the same page is easier, more fun, more efficient and more pure. After all, we are trying to create something together. The outside entity would normally be reaping benefits, benefits that could be going to an entity helping to construct the NP. Of course, sometimes there will be no entity within the PC able to provide the necessary service or product, but even then some energy could be spent to discern whether it would be viable to create it. Once one gets entangled with entities outside the PC it is not always easy to get disentangled. We can get in over our heads and sometimes open doors that, for the good of the NP/NS, should have remained closed. And we would be naive to disregard the real and likely possibility of infiltration. I like what W.E.B. Duboise, a leading black scholar/activist of the late 1800s to mid 1900s, said about the Black movement, as quoted/paraphrased by Jessica Gordon Nembhard (highly respected figure in the coop movement) in her interview with Keane Bhatt (who works with the NSP): ”Look to ourselves for the things that we need, use our own resources, create our own power, create our own economic systems. And then if we want to then integrate, we can integrate from a position of power”. It was a different situation but some strong similarities.
The primary focus would likely be creating the new economy. After all, we gotta eat and if we are reliant on people we don't know or trust for our daily bread we certainly ain't free. The first step, as previously suggested, would be to figure out what is already happening and focus on getting those activities working together as efficiently and effectively as we can. As mentioned throughout this essay, a lot of this information is already readily available. If BALLE (Business Association of Local Living Economies) and the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives join the effort and bring along a significant number of their members, the number of businesses already happening could be in the thousands, even tens of thousands. I want to emphasize that our movement has a large amount of already existing potential. We need to get it effectively networked, organized, coordinated, united, and focused etc. Put another way, the new model could get off to a significant start with what is already happening if we could just figure out how to put it all together. Like the puzzle mentioned earlier, many of the pieces are already there; we just need to start fitting them together. If we all got into the cooperative spirit, this may not be as complicated and difficult as it may at first appear.
I'm not going to go into a lot of detail at this time. There will be a lot of discussion on this before the project gets this far and of course we want to hear what others like the New Economy folks have to say. But, as usual, I do have a few suggestions and some considerations.
In planning the new economy lets start kinda from scratch, not look at the current economy and try to figure out what to keep and what to throw away; way too messy, arduous and tedious. Let's start with what we need like food, water, shelter, healthcare and build from there. Again, a lot of what we need already exists within the PC.
We need to demonstrate how wasteful the current economy is and how much of it we can do without. In my opinion the current economy has just too much baggage/garbage in it to create a new economy within it that interacts with it extensively and relies on it significantly to keep afloat. We do want to be amongst it physically so we can showcase to the public what a fair, just and cool economy looks like and funnel mainstream resources into our coffers. We do not want to funnel our resources into their coffers where it is reasonably avoidable – keeping our resources in our communities is very crucial to our success – or rely on them in situations where the loss of their support would be a significant problem. We would obviously be reliant on the current economy to varying degrees while the new one is under construction. [A good reason to begin putting the new one together before the current one falls apart as many think it will and want to wait for.
I sometimes think the book “The World's Wasted Wealth” by J W Smith should be required reading for anyone planning to assemble a new economy. He does an excellent job of documenting that 60 to 70% of the resources used to maintain the current system are wasted. I would add that much of the current system is unnecessary no matter how efficiently manifested.
Of course we keep the good stuff like worker owned cooperatives, ecovillages, etc.. If the wheel has already been invented and is working fine, no need to reinvent it. I look at all the cool things that are already happening as solid contributors to the new economy. It's a large portion of what makes the model idea feasible Building the new economy does not have to be all that difficult, or complicated, or even all that costly or take that long to build if we focus on keeping it simple.
If we keep it reasonably simple and cut out the waste I estimate we could live comfortably working in the vicinity of 6 hours a day, 4 days a week, 6 months a year, probably less. If the 60-70% waste estimate is in the ball park, and I believe it is, this seems very doable.
My feeling is that we will not have truly shown our ability to create a new paradigm unless we are able to create something largely independent of the current one. If we really want to live in a world we can feel good about then I firmly believe we gotta do that.
As mentioned above, businesses associated with the NP model could potentially number in the many thousands fairly quickly. BALLE alone has tens of thousands of affiliated businesses. Though I don't know how many would satisfy our basic PJEHSEH value guidelines, I suspect most, given BALLE'S goals and mission statement. These businesses would be included in the data base where they could include a significant amount of information about themselves. My vision is that we would put together a national, maybe international, trademark/label so people wanting to support the NP, or who just want to feel comfortable and secure that they would be treated well, fair and honestly, would have a way to find us. How many people shudder at the thought of going to a mechanic, plumber, electrician, lawyer, etc. Businesses affiliated with the NP would gain a reputation for being fair, friendly and helpful; for treating customers like we would family and friends. This will require some monitoring and a way for customers to submit reviews. We would not want anyone using our trademark who we would not feel comfortable patronizing ourselves.
We also have a natural constituency who have not been effectively tapped: the PC. Imagine all of us primarily patronizing NP enterprises helping keep them viable and keeping our money and other resources in our NP community. This is a very big deal and would play an important role in the success of the .model. We could often start businesses confident that we would have a significant customer base from day one.
For instance the PC spends upwards of a billion dollars in coffee shops per year (I actually suspect a lot more than that). How much of that do we think goes toward creating the NP? What if we owned them? What if the local PC committed to spending their coffee shop money in a cafe a group of them wanted to open? Having the NP label and access to the data base would also help steer others like supportive out of towners there.
Although I strongly encourage the PC to keep their spending inside the PC where possible, selling outside the PC is good. This combination of buying and selling is a significant part of the process to build wealth in the PC and eventually decrease the wealth gap between the current system and the NS.
I'm very interested in Project Equity's baby boomer project to help keep their businesses going after retirement and trying to turn them into worker owned coops. I very much want to see that effort supported and have a suggestion. At least some of the baby boomers owning businesses, maybe a significant amout, were the flower children of the 60s and 70s and we had a vision of a better world very similar to our current vision. I suspect these folks would be easier to work with than the average baby boomer and more likely to want to do it in a way that supported worker coops and the NP. I believe most of us still want to see that 60s vision come true. Of course I feel it very important to support the worker owned cooperative movement in general.
<I believe the most important thing we need to do, perhaps after housing, is to get our food act together and we would probably do both at the same time. Food is the only thing we absolutely need to live besides air and water and I feel we need to be in control of our food supply if we want to be mostly free and independent of the current Paradigm; and though it is a lot of labor, many enjoy doing it, it's good exercise and is a relatively straightforward project that pretty much anyone can do. We can work with food coops, local organic gardening clubs, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), our yards, and many others. What if nearly all NP kindred spirits bought nearly all our food from fellow kindred spirits? How many community jobs would that create? This is a very doable situation to bring about as the growing success of CSAs makes very clear.
I am hoping that Intentional Communities (ICs) will participate in a big way and the current Fellowship of Intentional Communities (FICs) executive director is very into promoting these types of things. Many young folks in the Ecovillage movement are also into getting the Ecovillage network more organized and coordinated along these lines; and I'm sure many of the older members as well.
ICs can be perceived as kinda miniature new paradigms. IC members have in a very real sense stepped out of one paradigm and created a new one. Many have achieved a fairly high level of independence and sustainability so have on the ground experience on how to do many of the things that would be useful to the construction of a NP. They can serve as examples, models, hubs and training centers and have a lot of experience in how to help community members get along and work together, and most have the kind of values most us PCers appreciate. Many ICs have folks highly skilled in gardening, permaculture, construction, medicine, business etc. and have been offering courses and workshops in such things for many years. These are the kinds of things members of a NP need to know how to do if we are to be self-sufficient, sustainable and independent.
Also, a lot of New Economy and NS oriented folks talk a lot about worker cooperatives and the commons. I think that ICs often have a similar worker dynamic to worker cooperatives and the land they live on can often be seen as a commons and this adds greatly to the information and experience that could be shared.
Then there is the land base, tools and other resources on which, and with which to grow food, build houses, place businesses etc. Many communities in the FIC directory have significant land holdings, tools and other resources which are under utilized because of a lack of members. NP members could work something out with some, or a lot, of these communities.
Something I see as very important but rarely mentioned is the Global Footprint Network which was founded in 2003 to measure human impact on the Earth. Earth Overshoot day [2018 landed on August 1], marking the date when humanity exhausted nature's budget for the year. This obviously can't go on. So we have to consider this dynamic when constructing our alternatives. I suppose that to be truly egalitarian we would take what nature is able to provide and divide it by the number of people on the planet to get our individual fair share. Other considerations may apply. At first glance, if we want the NP to be truly equitable, it may appear that a lot of folks are going to have to take a significant cut to their consumption including some in the PC. I suspect a lot of people are not going to be anxious to do this, including many who are otherwise into equitable and ecological, and this could have – I think maybe already has had – significant impact on attaining the NP. I think this is something that merits a lot of attention.
Maybe we could take a look at getting into more things of lesser impact. Actually a lot of people are already working on this because of climate change and maybe this won't be as difficult as one could imagine and it offers the opportunity to exercise our creativity. I came from a middle class family and as a kid in the late 40s and early 50s didn't have anywhere near the toys many kids have today. I didn't miss it, didn't know what I was missing and had a very happy, fun-filled childhood.
On the other hand, for most us PCers, this cut may not have to be as big as one at first might think. There are a variety of mitigating circumstances. As pointed out earlier, 60-70% of the resources we use to maintain our lifestyle are wasted, and that's a lot to play with. And most all us PCers are very much into permaculture and isn't the primary idea behind that a way to live healthy and comfortably and still nourish the Earth? There are so many creative things happening that living in abundance in harmony with Mother Earth is not at all far-fetched. Even for those who want to explore far off lands we could bring back the Clipper Ships, they were pretty quick. And, I think, the biggest factor of all is that in the New Paradigm the average person would likely get 6 months vacation, not 2-3 weeks. Plenty of time to sail around.
Also we can take a look at what makes us happy. Went to a conference at Twinoaks Intentional Community to present a workshop on the “Role of IC's in the New Paradigm”. Twinoaks is an egalitarian IC which means everyone receives the same amount of income, around five to seven thousand dollars per year from internal businesses. Yet they generally seemed a lot more happy then most folks I run into with some saying they felt they were living a middle class life style – certainly not meaning their pattern of consumption. Of course much of their day to day expenses like housing, much of their food, and some medical are taken care of by the community so do not require much monetary expenditure.
Although I heartily prefer the model approach, in my broader picture vision I recognize that there are many potential ways to approach our NP goal and that not everyone will buy into the model version at least initially. I believe most, if not all, are complimentary and could be employed simultaneously. A core group in the NP network would monitor and keep in touch with entities doing NP compatible activities with a primary focus on increasing the synergy between our networks. Of course members of the NP would be encouraged to interact with them as well and the information on how to do that would be in our database.
It would be useful to consider which venue would inspire the most folks getting involved. The Bernie campaign demonstrated that there is a growing number of folks looking for something different, something more idealistic and creative and a lot of them were young people. Just the kind of folks we want to attract.
Many folks in the PJEHSEH movement speak highly of public banking and see it as a possible answer to our banking needs. They usually point to the North Dakota State Bank as a prime example of that, maybe the only example. At first glance it seems like a good thing. It has a good reputation for doing good things for the people of North Dakota. But if one digs a little deeper, it has problems. The North Dakota governor appoints the people who run the bank. The same governor who raised at least 15 million dollars, possibly some of it bank income, to harrass indigenous sacred water and land protectors and their supporters. I don't want people like that running my bank and I don't know of any way to insure against such things happening in a public banking system. By their very nature their policies and practices are influenced by the political climate which is subject to change without our consent. I agree that it would be an improvement over most banking systems but certainly not up to the standards I expect of the NP. And … banks make money and in whose pockets would public sector banks proceeds go? Not in the pockets of those trying to create a NP/NS.
I feel very strongly that we have to create our own banking system and it's doable, probably as credit unions. The Drylands Permaculture folks in New Mexico got one running. Maybe we could do that as a worker owned cooperative. The jobs would be in the community and we could do some cool stuff with the proceeds. I also strongly feel we should put together an alternative currency or few which could be a big help in our fiduciary activities.
Also, those who seem to be the most knowledgeable and do the most research into who wields the most power over this country and the planet pretty much agree that a small number, maybe as few as 6 or 7, banking families, including those who run the (non-federal) Federal Reserve, the IMF, the World bank and the international monetary exchange bank, sit at the top of this hierarchy. There is little doubt that they could strongly influence the behavior of public banks and other banks, even credit unions. My thinking is that only an independent financial institution with a large focused constituency who would strongly support it could withstand such an assault; and, of course, that would be us.
Unfortunately the level of crises will likely play a significant role in what people will be willing to do. Like people sometimes tell me when I approach them with the New Paradigm Project, “Great idea Jack, but nobody's going to do anything untill they absolutely have to”. A widely held belief/observation. It is not nonsensical to think we may have already waited too long.
Some Closing Remarks
My thinking is that it might be a little early to forecast what the NP will look like in detail. I'm open to pretty much anything that adheres to the PJEHSEH basic values and I assume there will be a lot of diversity.
Keep in mind that the idea here is not to just improve things a little, or even a lot, but to create a reality we will love to live in.
Public Sector: When dealing with the public sector there are some caveats to keep in mind. Even if there are a lot of good people in the public sector in a given place at a given time we can't count on it remaining that way. A regime change could change the whole game and we could have a lot invested in it. If we want to use public money or other forms of public support -- I agree, it can be helpful when used appropriately -- then we need to proceed with the above and below caveats in mind and be very careful not to put ourselves in situations where losing that support would be devastating to our projects. Very importantly we need to keep in mind that the public sector is very tied into the current system and absolutely cannot be relied upon when the chips are down; and, of course, the powers that be (ptb) have much more influence over the public sector than we do. Hopefully we will be able to turn that around down the road apiece. Some day we will deal more up front with the public sector, some day we might be the public sector, but that day is very likely not today.
The NP is intended to be as transparent, open, and inclusive as reasonably possible. The desire is to be 100% transparent, open, and inclusive but those who essentially run the current system make that impossible. If we are serious about creating a better world then we need to be very knowledgeable about what we are up against. We have given an inordinate amount of control over what goes on on this planet to a handful of very nasty, ruthless and very organized individuals. Unfortunately we must be very wary of this and act accordingly.
Nearing the end here, I want to reiterate something mentioned near the beginning because it is so important: I feel strongly that by far the most important thing in manifesting the New Paradigm is our ability to get very organized, networked, coordinated, cooperative and united. If we can do that then a variety of alternatives become possible. If we can't, and unfortunately our history is not replete with success at that, then the outlook is a bit dreary; possibly -- and I feel compelled to say it -- likely very dreary.
Another important thing to give thought and reflection to is my strong felt belief that who is involved is much more important than the plan. Like who we purchase from being more important than local (actually by purchasing from the right folks the longer term localness will generally be much superior) though both are very important. I coined a saying awhile back: “The right people can make any system work. No system can overcome “bad” people.” The right folks (those who are in tune with PJEHSEH basic values) will make the system better; “bad” people (those with much different values) will manipulate the system to their advantage.
Those of us who want to live in a different, more peaceful, more just, more environmentally friendly reality need to create it! Then see who wants to join us.