cj#1100,rn> Two outstanding revolutionaries: Korten & Fresia


Richard Moore

Dear friends,

On Tuesday night, in Dublin, I had the pleasure of joining
David Korten for dinner and then attending his lecture,
sponsored by FEASTA (Foundation for the Economics of
Sustainability).  Upon return to Wexford, I took up a book
by Jerry Fresia, "Toward an American Revolution, Exposing
the Constitution and other Illusions".  Both of these
experiences were eye-opening and inspiring.


Around the dinner table, besides David and myself, were
Richard Douthwaite (author: "The Growth Illusion"), John
Jopling (Project Manager: Sustainable London Trust) and some
FEASTA organizers whose names unfortunately I did not
record.  (:<)  When it came my turn to introduce myself, I
said the topic that interests me is _strategy -- How do we
get from here to there?  How can we succeed in overthrowing
capitalist domination?  People kept coming back to that
theme during the discussion, and expressed an interest in
further dialog.  

The lecture itself was at a deeper level than I had
anticipated.  David (author of "When Corporations Rule the
World" and "The Post-Corporate World: Life After
Capitalism") started off by talking about the meaning of the
Seattle demonstrations.  They were about "democracy vs.
corporate rule", he said, and they signalled a transition
"from separate movements to a movement of the whole".  This
movement, he said, represents "an epic struggle between
humanity and its institutions, between life and money".  I
like the way he gets to the heart of the matter.

He talked about some research which identifies three basic
types of people in the US population: 'modernists',
'traditionalists', and 'cultural creatives'.  'Modernists'
are more or less what we'd call yuppies -- their attention
centered on themselves and getting ahead.  'Traditionalists'
care about family and traditional values, are often
religious, and may have xenophobic or racist tendencies. 
'Cultural creatives' tend to be more flexible in their
beliefs, may have a spritual orientation, and are generally
the ones organizing the current movement.  David was
optimistic, because the trends seem to show a steady
increase in the percentage of cultural creatives.


I find this to be a useful categorization, more useful than
'left' vs 'right'.  But I disagree with an interpretation
that puts cultural creatives in the role of 'good guys', and
the rest as a 'problem to be overcome'.  It is 'cultural
creatives' like Adam Smith, for example, who invented
capitalism in the first place, and many of those (eg,
Kissinger & Huntington) shaping current global policy also
fall into that category.  Shiva, Hindu god of creation, is
also the god of destruction.  Innovation is a multi-edged

In fact it is the _traditionalists whose world view is most
aligned with the principles of sustainability, community,
local sovereignty, and a stable world.  Republicans have
managed to control the traditionalist vote, not because of
an alignment of interests, but because of lying politicians
who _pretend to be religious and to hold traditionalist
values, and who paint a liberal bogeyman to arouse
traditionalist fears.  Racism is not inbred in
traditionalists, rather American culture has historically
stirred up racism, so as to divide the people against
themselves.  Politically speaking, traditionalists are a
sleeping giant -- when they awake the revolution will begin
in earnest.  And after the revolution, they will be the ones
who contribute most to societal stability.

Modernists are poltically neutral -- their attention is
focused on adapting to whatever system prevails.  They won't
help the revolution much, and they won't hinder it much

So what about us cultural creatives who want to end
capitalism and achieve a livable world?  What is our best
revolutionary strategy?  I suggest that one of the most
important things we can work on is building alliances and
building community with traditionalists. In the process of
building alliances, people learn to listen to one another
and to identify their underlying common objectives, and this
leads to a sense of community.  This kind of community
building is the seed out of which can grow a revolutionary
movement, a civil society, and a democratic process. 
Traditionalists are all around you, you don't need to go off
to a demonstration to meet them.

This is one area where PGA (People's Global Action) has it
all wrong. In order to 'join' PGA, one must subscribe to a
litmus test of liberal beliefs.  I don't object to PGA's
list of beliefs, in fact I share them.  But they are
designed to exclude traditionalists.  By insisting on
ideological purity, PGA is cutting itself off from the
mainstream of revolution.


David Korten then went on to present two diagrams, 'The
Civil Society' and 'The Capitalist Society'.  They were
brilliant; I hope I can remember them correctly.  The
Capitalist Society has an elite oligarchy at the top, with
power going downward, through bought-off politicians and
corporate-serving institutions, with powerless individuals
at the bottom.  The value-system is monetary and the state
is the agency maintaining order, by virtue of its monopoly
on the legitimate use of coercive power.

The civil society diagram is quite different.  Power starts
at the bottom, based on a spirtitual connection with the
Earth, and with place.  The heart of civil society is the
_culture, which is neither individual nor state, but rather
a community asset passed on from one generation to the next.
 Economics are an extension of culture, and the model is one
of mutual-benefit exchange rather than accumulation of
money.  Order is part of the culture, not something forced
from above.

In Ireland it is easy to see such an organic culture, and it
is easy to see as well the corrosive power of capitalism at
work undermining that culture, with its pokeymans,
playstations, and overpriced logo clothing.  How a sense of
culture is to be revived in a melting-pot nation such as the
USA is a bit more problematic, but the civil-society model
nonetheless seems a good starting point for characterizing
the kind of democratic, sustainable society we are seeking.

Social change comes about when three factors exist in the
right proportions in the population: (1) discomfort with
what exists, (2) vision of what can be, and (3) a means to
get from here to there.  David has articulated (1) and (2)
brilliantly.  I suggest that rethinking the role of
traditionalists will be his key to getting a handle on (3).


Mike Townsend, a teacher of social work at the University of
Illinois, sent me a copy of Jerry Fresia's "Toward an
American Revolution, Exposing the Constitution and other
Illusions" -- and I'll be eternally grateful.  This is a
'must read' for Americans of all persuasions.  I've seen
some of the same themes in Chomsky, and in Zinn, but never
have I seen the truth of American history told so directly
and with such authority -- and in only 230 pages.

Fresia lists the 35 primary framers of the Constitution,
devoting a short paragraph to each, revealing that nearly
all were speculators, bankers, or large landowners.  Their
stated intent was to ensure that power would reside with the
wealthy, and that popular will would not be allowed to
interfere.  A few of the 35 wanted more real democracy, and
most of them left the Constitutional Convention early in

Fresia quotes Francis Jennings, who captures the real
meaning of the first American Revolution better than I've
ever seen it expressed:

    "When England invaded America -- what we usually call
    'settling' it -- the Crown lawyers had consulted their only
    precedents to rationalize the position of the new American
    outposts in the structure of the empire.  Each colony became
    in legal theory a collective lord analogous to the barons
    who had marched into Ireland.  When the Americans turned
    against the Crown they continued an ancient tradition of
    lords who have marched too far and grown too powerful to
    accept royal orders gladly.  In this pespective the American
    Revolution was a barons' revolt."

Fresia explains that there were two separate movements to
overcome Royal rule.  On the one hand there was this
elite-sponsored revolt, whose goal was to get rid of the
Crown, but retain elite domination in the new republic.  On
the other hand there was a popular movement -- more in tune
with general public opinion -- whose goal was to end elite
domination altogether, the local variety as well as the
Royal.  The barons' revolt was based in the coastal trading
cities, where the power structure resembled Kortens
'capitalist society' model.  The popular revolt was based in
the inland rural areas, where Korten's 'civil society' model

Thus the struggle between the civil society (democracy,
community, local control) and the capitalist society (elite
domination, materialism, hierarchical control) began in
America at least two centuries ago.  It is time to rejoin
the struggle.



Mike Townsend tells me that Fresia's book has received almost no public 
attention.  Fearing it might be unavailable, I checked amazon.com and got the 
following entries:

        1.  Toward an American Revolution : Exposing the Constitution 
            and Other Illusions
        by Jerry Fresia. Paperback (September 1988) 
        Our Price:$15.20
        You Save: $3.80 (20%) - Back Ordered
        2.  Toward an American Revolution : Exposing the Constitution 
            and Other Illusions
        by Jerry Fresia. Hardcover (September 1988) 
        Our Price:$35.00 - Special Order