cj#1109,rn> David Korten: “Civilizing Society”


Richard Moore


Here's the full text of David's talk, which was discussed in 
cj# 1100-1102.

Hope you find it as inspiring as I did.


The talk, with illustrations: 



       Civilizing Society

       by David C. Korten
       The FEASTA annual lecture.
       Dublin, Ireland - July 4, 2000
       It is a substantial privilege to present the annual FEASTA
       lecture and to be part of your effort here in Ireland to
       challenge the destructive forces of corporate globalization
       and global capitalism. And I want to thank my good friend and
       colleague Richard Douthwaite from whose work I have learned
       so much for his role in arranging this presentation. Since
       you have already had lectures from Herman Daly, Richard
       Douthwaite, and Vandana Shiva, you are already fully familiar
       with the limits of corporate globalization and the ideology
       of economic growth. So I'm going to concentrate on sharing
       some of my most current thinking on understanding the deeper
       roots of our crisis and the nature of the global citizen
       movement that is emerging to counter the destructive forces
       of global capitalism.

       The citizen protests in Seattle the end of last year brought
       the World Trade Organization meeting to a stand still and
       focused world attention on an increasingly visible tension
       between two extraordinarily powerful social forces.

       One is the force of corporate globalization driven by a once
       seemingly invincible alliance between the world's largest
       mega-corporations and most powerful governments. In the eyes
       of its proponents the integration of national economies into
       a seamless global economy is spurring economic growth through
       the expansion of trade to bring material prosperity to all
       the world, spread democracy, and create the financial
       resources and new technologies needed to protect the global
       environment. But most of all it is making many of these
       proponents very rich and powerful, which may have something
       to do with their enthusiasm.

       The second force is the global democracy movement being
       advanced by a planetary citizen alliance known as global
       civil society. Before Seattle '99 this force found expression
       in the national democracy movements that played a critical
       role in the breakup of the Soviet empire and the fall of
       apartheid in South Africa -- and in other great progressive
       social movements of our time, such as the civil rights,
       environmental, peace, and women's movements.

       The corporate force is centrally planned by a well-organized
       and well-funded corporate elite and PR rhetoric not
       withstanding, the driving motive is a competitive drive for
       profits. The citizen force depends largely on voluntary
       energy, is self-organizing, and is grounded in a deep value
       commitment to democracy, community, equity, and the web of
       planetary life. Although it has no identifiable
       organizational or institutional form, it is taking on a
       striking sense of coherence and acquiring the power to at
       least make the corporate elites very nervous. Its impetus
       comes from the awakening of millions of people of every
       nationality, race, and religious affiliation to the
       contradictions of corporate globalization, which contrary to
       its claims is enriching the few at the expense of the many,
       replacing democracy with an elitist and authoritarian
       corporate rule, destroying the environment, and eroding the
       relationships of trust and caring that are the essential
       foundation of a civilized society -- all in the mindless
       pursuit of money to further enrich those who already have
       more money than they could possibly use.

       Let's look more closely at the story of the Seattle WTO
       protests that the corporate media pretty much missed. My home
       is on Bainbridge Island, a 35 minute ferry ride from Seattle,
       so Seattle is rather like my home town. The media portrayed
       the demonstrators as anti-trade. In fact the issue that
       brought 70,000 people from all around the world to Seattle's
       streets was democracy. They were protesting corporate rule --
       of which the WTO is a powerful symbol. The violent response
       of the police with plastic bullets, tear gas, and pepper
       spray dramatically confirmed the demonstrator's worst fears
       about the state of democracy in America and the openness of
       the WTO process to citizen input.

       The Seattle protests also signaled a historic shift in
       progressive politics in America from the politics of identity
       and special interests to a politics of the whole. It gave
       expression to a grand convergence of social movements that is
       giving birth to the global democracy movement. Union workers,
       environmentalists, members of the faith community, feminists,
       gays, human rights and peace activists and many others
       acknowledged the reality that either we work together to
       build true democracy and create a world that works for every
       person, for every living being, or we will have a world that
       works for no one.

       The churches mobilized around the call of Jubilee 2000 --
       debt forgiveness for low income countries -- giving
       expression to a growing awareness among people of faith that
       the call for economic and social justice is a foundation of
       Christian teaching. Labor unions reached out in solidarity
       with all the world's workers in a call to guarantee basic
       rights and living wages for all working people everywhere in
       a realization that in a global economy unless all workers
       have rights and living wages, none will have them.
       Environmentalists and union leaders joined in common alliance
       out of a realization that there will be no jobs without a
       healthy environment. And that without secure jobs and labor
       rights the environment will be destroyed in the struggle for

       Then there were the real heroes of Seattle, the youth who put
       their bodies on the line in the face of brutal police
       violence to bring the WTO meeting to a stand still. Tired of
       being manipulated and lied to by a system that is stealing
       their future, they spent months training one another in the
       principles and methods of nonviolent direct action, preparing
       themselves for a highly decentralized consensus based mode of
       organizing that modeled the radically democratic societies
       they intend to build. They proved that radical democracy can
       be highly effective, even under violent assault by the brutal
       forces of a police state.

       Similar demonstrations against corporate globalization of
       comparable or even larger scale have become common place
       around the world, with notable examples in Geneva, the U.K.
       France, Brazil, India, Thailand, and many others. We are
       witness to the emergence of an epic struggle between
       corporate globalization and popular democracy. Though it most
       certainly involves issues of class, it is more than a class
       struggle. It is a struggle between humanity and its
       institutions -- between life and money -- between two
       cultural belief systems that stand in stark and
       irreconcilable conflict.

       Catholic theologian Thomas Berry traces the underlying
       problem to the false premises of an obsolete scientific story
       that has diminished our image of ourselves and deprived our
       lives of meaning. He makes the case that our survival as a
       species may depend as much as anything on discovering a new
       story that gives us a reason to live -- a story that helps us
       ask one of the most basic of questions: why? It is the story
       of a living cosmos and the human search for our place of
       service to life's epic journey. The easiest way to
       demonstrate the significance of Berry's insight is to recite
       to you a version of the new story grounded in discoveries
       from the cutting edge of contemporary science that places our
       current dilemma in its larger context.

       This story begins a very, very long time ago -- perhaps as
       much as 15 billion years ago -- when a new universe flared
       into being with a great flash -- dispersing tiny energy
       particles, the stuff of creation, across the vastness of
       space. With the passing of time these particles
       self-organized into atoms, which swirled into great clouds
       that coalesced into galaxies of countless stars that grew,
       died, and were reborn as new stars, star systems, and
       planets. The cataclysmic energies unleashed by the births and
       deaths of billions of suns converted simple atoms into more
       complex atoms and melded atoms into even more complex
       molecules -- each step opening new possibilities for the
       growth and evolution of the whole.

       Each stage transcended the stage before in order, definition,
       and capacity as the drama of creation unfolded. It seemed
       that a great intelligence had embarked on a grand quest to
       know itself through the discovery and realization of the
       possibilities of its being.

       More than eleven billion years after the quest began there
       was an extraordinary breakthrough on a planet latter to be
       known as Earth. Here the cosmos gave birth to the first
       living beings -- microscopic in size, they were the simplest
       of single-celled bacteria. Inconsequential though they
       seemed, they embodied an enormous creative potential and with
       time created the building blocks of living knowledge that
       made possible the incredible accomplishments to follow. They
       discovered in turn the arts of fermentation, photosynthesis,
       and respiration fundamental to all life. They learned to
       exchange genetic material through their cell walls to share
       their discoveries with one another in a grand cooperative
       enterprise that created the planet's first global
       communication system -- billions of years before the
       Internet. And they transformed and stabilized the chemical
       composition of the entire planet's atmosphere. As the fruits
       of life's learning multiplied, individual cells evolved to
       become more complex and diverse.

       In due course individual cells discovered the advantages of
       joining with one another in clusters to create complex
       multi-celled organisms -- converting the matter of the planet
       into the splendid web of living plants and animal with
       capacities far beyond those of any individual cell. Those
       among the new creatures that found a niche in which they
       could at once sustain themselves and contribute to the life
       of the whole survived. Those that proved unable to find or
       create their niche of service expired. Continuously
       experimenting, interrelating, creating, building, the
       evolving web of life unfolded into a living tapestry of
       astonishing variety, beauty, awareness, and capacity for
       intelligent choice.

       Then, a mere 2.6 million years ago, quite near the end of our
       15 billion year story, there came the most extraordinary
       achievement of all, the creation of a being with a capacity
       far beyond that of any creature that had come before to
       reflect on its own consciousness, to experience with awe the
       beauty and mystery of creation, to articulate, communicate
       and share learning, to reshape the material world to its own
       ends, and to anticipate and intentionally chose its own
       future. It was the living spirit's most daring experiment and
       a stunning cooperative achievement.

       Each of these creatures, humans they were called, was
       comprised of from 30 to 70 trillion individual living,
       self-regulating, self-reproducing cells. More than half the
       dry weight of each human consisted of the individual
       micro-organisms required to metabolize its food and create
       the vitamins essential to its survival. All together it took
       more than a 100 trillion individual living entities joined in
       an exquisitely balanced cooperative union to create each of
       these extraordinary creatures. These new beings -- these
       humans -- had such potential to contribute to the journey of
       the whole. Yet their freedom to chose their own destiny
       carried a risk. Failing to recognize and embrace their
       responsibility to the whole they turned their extraordinary
       abilities to ends ultimately destructive of the whole of
       life, destroying in a mere 100 years much of the living
       natural capital it had taken billions of years of evolution
       to create.

       Some attribute this tragedy to a genetic flaw that doomed
       humans to the blind pursuit of greed and violence. Yet the
       vast majority of humans were generous and caring. More
       compelling is the argument that the ideology of what humans
       called their Scientific Revolution stripped humans of their
       sense of meaning, called forth their greed and violence, and
       made generosity and caring seem somehow naive. This ideology
       taught that matter is the only reality and that the universe
       is best thought of as a giant clockwork set in motion at the
       beginning of creation and left to run down as the tension in
       its spring expires. It further taught that life is only an
       accidental outcome of material complexity, consciousness an
       illusion. Though such beliefs defied logic, denied the human
       experience, stripped life of meaning, and were contrary to
       reality they became a foundation of the dominant Western

       Thomas Hobbes, a noted philosopher of the Scientific
       Revolution, elaborated on these flawed beliefs to articulate
       a theory of human behavior and a moral philosophy that
       ultimately became the theoretical and philosophical
       foundation of humanity's dominant economic system. He argued
       that since life has no meaning and human behavior is
       determined solely by appetites and aversions, good is merely
       that which gives oneself pleasure; evil that which brings
       pain. The rational person seeks a life of material indulgence
       unburdened by concern for others. These beliefs became the
       foundation of a cultural system known as modernism and an
       economic system known as capitalism.

       Though there was much ado about a conflict between scientists
       and theologians, they actually arrived at a mutual
       accommodation in many of their core views. In an act
       revealing of human hubris, Western theologians had long
       before created their God in their own image, an elder male
       with a white beard who ruled a kingdom called heaven. This
       God was so powerful that by the estimate of the Western
       religions, he created the cosmos, the earth and all its
       living beings in a mere six days -- presumably for the sole
       benefit of the humans he created on the sixth day. On the
       seventh day, his work thus done, he took a rest.

       The main issue on which scientists and theologians were
       inclined to consequential differences centered on whether or
       not God returned after his vacation to tend to the needs of
       those humans he chose to favor. The theologians generally
       believed that he returned to keep a book on who by his rules
       was naughty or nice, reward the worthy with material
       abundance, and punish the unworthy with sickness and poverty.
       Some noted that by this characterization God bore a striking
       resemblance to a mythical figure human's called Santa Claus.

       Those with wealth and power were by definition worthy in
       God's eyes and the poor and powerless were unworthy. Thus it
       was that Western theology affirmed the righteousness of both
       materialism and political oppression and absolved humans of
       responsibility either for one another or for the earth.
       Furthermore, since humans were the end product of creation,
       not an instrument of its continued unfolding it followed that
       what ever the deficiencies of the world as any individual
       might find it, it was to be accepted as God's will.

       Some believed that God would return, in his own good time, to
       establish peace and justice for all. Others looked to the
       afterlife for perfection and considered their time on Earth
       as something akin to a short layover in a cheap hotel on
       their way to paradise. Either way it was in the hands of a
       God who resided apart in a far place.

       No where was the rejection of human responsibility for the
       lot of society greater than in the economic system human's
       called capitalism. One of capitalism's defining features was
       a consumer culture cultivated by saturating the media with an
       endlessly repeated message that consumption of whatever
       product was advertised would bring meaning and love to the
       empty and lonely lives of the otherwise unworthy. When
       consumption inevitably failed to substitute for meaning, more
       consumption was prescribed as the solution.

       Increasingly the creative energies of the species turned to
       building institutions dedicated to endlessly increasing
       consumption through a process called economic growth. Growth
       became such an obsession that no one seemed to care what was
       consumed. Nor did they seem to notice that the basic
       livelihood needs of the many went unmet while a fortunate few
       gorged themselves on luxuries. Indeed, a privileged minority
       became so obsessed with the futile attempt to fill their
       empty lives with stuff they failed to notice that the growth
       they so prized was destroying the life support system of the
       planet and the social fabric of the society, and the lives of
       billions of people.

       Even more perverse was the role of what humans called money
       -- a mysterious kind of sacred number that was created out of
       nothing by banks by loaning it into existence. Though most
       humans had little idea were money came from, they were
       socially conditioned to accept it in exchange for things of
       real value like their labor, food, land, and shelter. Since
       money was the ticket that allowed people to accumulate stuff,
       those who already had so much stuff they didn't know what to
       do with it, turned their attention to accumulating sacred
       numbers called money that banks happily stored for them in
       computers. As this accumulation served no evident purpose,
       its practitioners turned it into a competitive game in which
       the winner was the one with the most financial assets. The
       top players were called billionaires. A well-known magazine
       called Forbes regularly published their current scores and

       This game became life's purpose for those few who had the
       means to play. The most dedicated redesigned human
       institutions to allow them to achieve ever more inflated
       scores. Any human with extra cash was encouraged to join in
       by placing it in the hands of professional gamblers called
       money managers who traded currencies, bonds, and corporate
       shares in a great cyberspace casino called a financial
       market. In the course of their play, the money managers moved
       trillions of dollars around the world at the speed of light,
       trashing the currencies and economies of hapless countries
       whose policies displeased them and the share prices of
       corporations that produced less than the profits they
       expected. In the wake of their moves whole governments fell
       and hundreds of thousands lost their jobs.

       These corporations were a frightfully perverse sort of legal
       entity designed to allow the accumulation of massive
       financial power with little or no accountability for the
       consequences of its use. Some corporations were served by the
       labor of hundreds of thousands of people and received
       millions of dollars in subsidies from government. Yet the law
       stipulated that only shareholders were entitled to share in
       its profits. Employees were expected to leave their personal
       values at the door when they reported for work. Workers could
       be fired without notice or recourse. Whole communities were
       abandoned when a corporation found it more profitable to move
       its factories elsewhere.

       To satisfy the money managers, corporations gave politicians
       huge sums of money in return for which the politicians voted
       corporations subsidies and special privileges. Tiring of the
       inconvenience involved in doing deals with politicians one
       country at a time the major players created something called
       the World Trade Organization -- or WTO. Here unelected trade
       representatives loyal to the corporate interest established
       international rules that obliged all countries to extend
       special rights and privileges to global corporations.
       Incredibly, the WTO could require any country to change its
       laws to conform to WTO rules, even though such action might
       be contrary to the interests and preferences of its own
       citizens. Invariably the rules of the WTO gave corporations
       ever-greater freedom to roam the world converting the living
       wealth of society and planet into money. They turned the
       natural living capital of the earth into money by
       strip-mining forests, fisheries and mineral deposits,
       producing toxic chemicals and dumping hazardous wastes. But
       it isn't just natural capital they placed at risk. They also
       turned human capital into money by employing workers under
       substandard working conditions that left them physically
       handicapped. They turned the social capital of society into
       money when they paid substandard wages that destroyed workers
       emotionally, leading to family and community breakdown and
       violence. They turned the living trust of public institutions
       into money by bribing politicians with campaign contributions
       to convert the taxes of working people into inflated
       corporate profits through public subsidies, bailouts and tax

       Then, as the year 2000 dawned, a remarkable thing happened.
       Millions of humans started waking up, as if from a deep
       trance, to the beauty, joy, and meaning of life. They began
       to reject consumerism and took to the streets by the hundreds
       of thousands demanding a restoration of democracy, an end to
       corporate rule, and respect for the needs of all people and
       other living things. The process of building a new politics
       and a new consciousness was set in motion. It was, however,
       yet a tiny spark of hope in comparison to the forces of
       corporate capitalism that were consuming the Earth.

       There are indications that humans may be on the threshold of
       a new intellectual and social maturity as new scientific
       findings continue to demonstrate the fallacies of the old
       story and its underlying belief systems. Yet so far they
       still resist coming to terms with the social implications of
       their scientific understanding that matter exists only as a
       continuing dance of flowing energies, that creation is an
       ongoing self-organizing process, that life is fundamentally a
       cooperative process, and that earth's successful species are
       those that learn to meet their own needs in ways that serve
       the larger web of life.

       Perhaps with time they will come to grasp the deeper
       philosophical implications of these findings. For example
       that the material world is largely illusion, conscious
       intelligence is the ground from which all else is manifest,
       and humans are an instrument of creation's continued
       unfolding -- not its end accomplishment. Though embodied in
       ancient human wisdom, human's largely dismiss these and other
       truths as superstition. Perhaps their rediscovery will bring
       them a renewed sense of life's profound meaning, inspire a
       search for their own place in service to life's incredible
       journey, and lead them to transform their values and
       institutions in ways that unleash potentials within their
       being beyond their current imagining.

       This story, of course, is our story, the choices are our
       choices. The challenge before us is to transform a global
       society dedicated to the love of money into a global society
       dedicated to the love of life and the continuing exploration
       of its possibilities.

       To help us better understand the nature of this challenge, I
       want to establish a framework that may help us understand the
       ideal of a civil society and the larger possibilities of the
       global democracy movement. This framework divides society
       into three primary spheres of collective life: polity,
       economy, and culture.

       [ Image - "Three Spheres of Collective Life" (on website) ]

            * Polity is the sphere in which rules are
            formalized and enforced regarding the rights and
            obligations that govern relationships among members
            of the society. It holds the threat power inherent
            in its monopoly over police and military power.

            * Economy is the sphere that organizes the
            production and exchange of valued goods and
            services. It holds the exclusionary power inherent
            in the ability to control access to the means of
            living, as well as to material luxuries.

            * Culture is the sphere in which the society
            defines the values, symbols, and beliefs that are
            its sources of meaning and identity. It holds the
            normative power to determine what is valued and to
            legitimate institutions and the uses of the power
            resources of polity and economy. Though cultural
            power may seem weak compared to the powers of
            coercion and exclusion, it is ultimately the
            decisive power in any society, as it is the
            foundation on which all else rests, including the
            powers vested in the formal institutions of the
            polity and the economy.

       To complete our framework setting, let's turn to the
       question: What is the meaning of the term Òcivil societyÓ? Is
       it simply another term for the institutions of the
       nongovernmental, nonprofit sector as implied by its customary
       use? Or is it something more? Jean Cohen and Andrew Arato, in
       their classic study of Civil Society and Political Theory
       trace the idea of a civil society back to ancient Greece and
       Aristotle's concept of a politike koinonia or political
       community, later translated into Latin as Societas civilis,
       or a civil society. For Aristotle the civil society is an
       ethical-political community of free and equal citizens who by
       mutual consent agree to live under a system of law that
       expresses the norms and values they share. The law thus
       becomes a codification of the values and practices of the
       shared culture and is largely self-enforcing. The requirement
       for coercive intervention by the state to maintain order is
       minimized because the necessary coherence of society is
       achieved primarily through self-organizing processes that
       maximize the freedom of the individual in return for
       voluntary self-restraint that flows from a sense of shared
       values and civic responsibility.

       The common contemporary practice of treating civil society as
       synonymous with all the varied organizations that are both
       nongovernmental and nonprofit -- essentially the residual
       institutional space not occupied by the institutions of
       government and business -- captures nothing of the more
       profound idealism embodied in the classical Aristotelian
       concept of a civil society. I think it also significant that
       our use of the term civil society is most often evoked by
       groups and individuals engaged in a struggle to reclaim
       social spaces for democratic engagement by free and equal
       citizens. This suggests we might properly use the term civil
       society in two ways. The first is to refer to a society that
       has achieved the ideal of democratic civility. The second, is
       to refer to those elements of a society that are actively
       engaged in expanding the social spaces in which the practice
       of democratic civility is both practiced and valued as a step
       toward the creation of a civil society in the larger sense.

       Now let's put the pieces of this puzzle together to see more
       clearly how the ideal of a civil society contrasts with the
       existing global capitalist economy. This schematic
       representation of a civil society, which is adapted from a
       book on Shaping Globalization by my Philippine colleague
       Nicanor Perlas, incorporates the underlying premise of the
       cosmic story I shared with you earlier that all being is a
       manifestation of a spiritual energy or intelligence. I
       realize that there will surely be some among you who find
       this premise in conflict with your own belief system. I honor
       that and ask only that you consider with me the ways in which
       our views of society and human possibilities may ultimately
       depend on our spiritual beliefs. One of the tragedies of our
       time is that we rarely discuss such issues with one another,
       even in private, and thus rarely subject our deepest beliefs
       to critical examination.

       [ Image - "Civil or Capitalist?" (on website) ]

       As a Hobbesian denial of the existence of spirit leads
       logically to a rejection of individual responsibility for
       anything other than one's personal material gratification, a
       recognition of the spiritual foundation of all existence
       leads naturally to a profound and freely embraced sense of
       responsibility for the whole and the mindful personal
       engagement individual in community, political, and economic
       life that is the necessary foundation of a truly civil

       An authentic culture is the product of the active community
       life of individuals who are in contact with the spiritual
       energy that expresses itself through them. The shared values,
       symbols, and beliefs of an authentic culture are in turn the
       foundation on which the civil society's more formalized
       institutions of polity and economy are built. The life
       affirming values of an authentic culture lead naturally to
       the creation of an authentically democratic polity based on a
       deep commitment to openness, active participation in
       political discourse, and to one person, one voice, one vote
       equality and the kind of consensus based decision making that
       our youth were practicing in the streets of Seattle and in
       other equally sophisticated protest actions around the world.
       They also lead naturally to the creation of an authentic
       market economy comprised of local enterprises that provide
       productive and satisfying livelihoods for all, and vest in
       each individual a share in the ownership of the productive
       assets on which their livelihood depends. Such a society
       would be radically self-organizing and predominantly
       cooperative in the manner of all healthy living systems, and
       would maximize the opportunity for each individual to develop
       and express their full creative potential in service to the
       life of the whole.

       The contrast between a civil society so defined and our
       contemporary capitalist society is stark indeed. In the
       capitalist society denial of the spirit results in a
       self-aggrandizing materialism that looks to money as the
       defining value. Global financial markets that value life only
       for its liquidation price become the ruling institution. The
       control of productive resources becomes consolidated in
       global mega-corporations answerable only to the managers of
       huge investment funds who in turn are answerable only for the
       financial returns produced on their portfolios. The wages of
       working people are suppressed to increase the returns to
       those who already command vast financial holdings. Economic
       affairs are centrally planned by the heads of corporations
       that command internal economies larger than those of most
       states. Through ownership of mass media, influence over
       school curricula, commercialization of the arts, and mass
       advertising corporations dominate the processes of cultural
       regeneration -- reinforcing the values of materialism and
       consumerism that strengthen corporate legitimacy, lead us to
       accept corporate logos as the sources of our identity and
       meaning, and alienate us all from our sense of connection to
       both our inner spirit and to the web of planetary and
       community life.

       Similarly, the concentration of financial power in the
       corporate ruled economy, combine with media control to allow
       corporate dominate of the institutions of polity. The result
       is a one dollar one vote democracy that concentrates control
       over the rule making system in the hands of a wealthy elite
       and a persistent bias toward the passage of laws that favor
       yet further concentration of financial wealth at the expense
       of life. The excluded majority become increasingly alienated
       from political participation -- lose interest even in voting,
       and by default yield even more power to big money.

       As dependence on money for access to the necessities of life
       and the sources of identity increases, individual attention
       comes to center on making money at the expense of spiritual
       and community life. Spiritually impoverished and dependent on
       corporations for money and what it will buy, individuals face
       enormous pressure to embrace the values of the corporate
       culture. Ideals of equity are out the window and individual
       freedom becomes largely illusory as the majority of people
       find themselves deeper in debt and giving ever more of their
       life energies over to the imperatives of the money machine.
       Those for whom the corporate system finds no use are simply
       discarded like so much trash.

       Because it is destructive of life and spirit, the capitalist
       economy must be considered a social pathology. Even its
       apparent capacity to create vast wealth is largely illusory,
       because though it is producing ever more sophisticated
       gadgets and diversions, it is destroying the life support
       systems of the planet and the social fabric of society. It is
       therefore destroying our most important wealth. Its
       institutions function as cancers that forget they are part of
       a larger whole and seek their own unlimited growth without
       regard to the consequences.

       It is a powerful testimony to the reality and power of
       humanity's spiritual nature that millions of people all
       around the world are waking up from the cultural trance into
       which they have been lulled by capitalism's relentless siren
       song of material indulgence. Their resistence is not confined
       to street protests. They are also engaged proactively in
       creating civil alternatives, protecting nature, democratizing
       the polity, rebuilding local market economies, and applying
       the values of civility in their own organizations. The
       resulting enclaves of civility are both expanding and
       melding. We call it globalizing civil society, but we could
       as well call it the civilizing of global society. Either way
       it is an extraordinary and increasingly powerful
       self-organizing, bottom-up process of cultural and
       institutional transformation only partially understood even
       by its leaders.

       One key to understanding the nature and significance of what
       is happening is to realize that though it has its political
       dimension, what is becoming manifest is predominantly a
       cultural movement that draws its increasingly powerful energy
       from a deep, yet still largely unrecognized global-scale
       culture shift toward the values of an authentic or integral
       culture. This values shift is creating the cultural
       foundations of a truly civil society. Paul Ray, a values
       researcher tracing cultural change in the United States
       provides a compelling framework for documenting and
       understanding this shift, which of course is happening not
       only in the United States, but as well all around the world.
       Ray identifies three major cultural groupings.

       [ Image - "Culture Shift in America" (on website) ]

            * The Modernists -- who are still the largest
            cultural group in America -- actively prize
            materialism and the drive to acquire money and
            property. They tend to spend beyond their means,
            take a cynical view of idealism and caring
            relations, and value winners. Their numbers are
            relatively stable.

            * The Traditionals want to return to traditional
            ways of life and traditional gender roles. They
            tend toward religious conservatism and
            fundamentalism. They also believe in helping
            others, volunteering, creating and maintaining
            caring relationships, and working to create a
            better society. Their numbers are in rapid decline.

            * The third group -- Ray calls them the Cultural
            Creatives -- is a product of the reaction against
            modernism's lack of authenticity. Its members are
            distinguished by the embrace of the values of an
            integral culture that honors life in all its
            dimensions, both in their inner spiritual
            experience and in their outward commitment to
            family, community, the environment,
            internationalism and feminism. They have a
            well-developed social consciousness and are
            generally optimistic about the possibilities of
            humankind. They are interested in alternative
            health-care practices, personal growth and
            spiritual development, and they are careful,
            thoughtful consumers. Most significant in terms of
            our present discussion, as Ray documents in his
            forthcoming book, The Cultural Creatives, most
            Cultural Creatives are activists. The typical
            Cultural Creative is likely to be involved in
            several groups working for social change.
            Furthermore, most social change initiatives in the
            United States, including those involved in the
            Seattle protests, are headed by Cultural Creatives.
            Cultural Creatives are the vanguard of the global
            democracy movement -- and their numbers are growing
            fast. Now 50 million in number in America alone,
            they are 26% of the adult American population. As
            recently as the early 60s they were less than 5%.

       Politically and socially active, the Cultural Creatives are
       crafting a new ecological and spiritual world view, a new
       literature of social concerns and a new problem agenda for
       humanity. At the same time they are pioneering psychological
       development techniques, restoring the centrality of spiritual
       practice to daily living, and elevating the importance of the
       feminine -- all building blocks of a civil society.

       Yet Cultural Creatives remain invisible to the corporate
       media, which is dominated by modernist values. And their
       values are unrepresented by a political system that is still
       defined by the struggles between moderns and traditionals.
       Unaware of their own numbers and potential power, most
       Cultural Creatives feel culturally isolated, out of step with
       the mainstream, and politically disempowered. To actualize
       their true potential as a force for change, they must first
       become visible to one another and to the larger society. For
       this reason, perhaps the most important consequence of the
       Seattle WTO protests was the message it sent to Cultural
       Creatives everywhere in the world that they are not alone in
       their discomfort with the cultural, economic and political
       forces of modernism and corporate globalization and their
       belief in the possibility of creating a better world for all
       -- even in America, the world center of materialism and
       corporate arrogance. Most cultural creatives I know found it
       to be a powerfully energizing moment. A variety of
       international surveys reveal that the patterns identified in
       America by Ray are part of a generalized global trend toward
       an embrace of the values of an authentic or integral culture.
       The pattern includes a loss of confidence in hierarchical
       institutions -- including those of government, business, and
       religion -- and a growing trust in their inner sense of the
       appropriate. Interest in economic gain is decreasing, while
       desire for meaningful work and interest in discovering
       personal meaning and purpose in life is increasing.

       Beyond the struggle to resist the destruction being wrought
       by the global corporate juggernaut, the civilizing citizen
       movements are awakening to two critical priorities. One is to
       articulate and demonstrate alternatives to corporate
       globalization in order to counter the fatalistic modernist
       mantra that ÒThere is no alternative.Ó The second is to
       recognize that the movement's greatest strength is cultural
       power and to devote serious attention to helping Cultural
       Creatives recognize that they are part of a large and
       increasingly powerful cultural group, find one another, and
       strengthen the alliances that are linking them into a global
       mega-movement. The greater the visibility of this new
       cultural formation the greater its power and the more rapidly
       disaffected moderns and traditionals will be drawn to its

       A great deal of my own energy is going into an organization
       called The Positive Futures Network, publisher of YES! A
       Journal of Positive Futures, which is working on both of
       these agendas by telling the stories of those who are working
       for the deep changes required to create a world that works
       for all and by providing people with the information
       resources they need to connect with one another and to link
       the movement's many elements. It just happens that I've
       brought some sample copies of YES!, along with subscription
       forms for those who are interested. Or check it out on the
       web .

       Overall, the goal of claiming the cultural mainstream may be
       more nearly within the reach of the civil society movements
       than even the most optimistic of us may imagine. Once this
       happens, transformation of the institutions of polity and
       economy to complete the civilizing of society will follow.

       I believe we live at one of the most critical and exciting
       moments in all of human history. The ability to chose is one
       of the defining characteristics of life. As a species we find
       ourselves confronted with a profound choice -- to take the
       step to a new level of understanding and function in service
       to the whole of life or to risk our own extinction. We face
       both the necessity and the opportunity to reinvent human
       society. I find the creative possibilities incredibly
       exciting. Though the optimistic thrust of my comments may
       suggest I consider the outcome to be foreordained, that is
       far from the actual case. I am in fact only presenting what I
       consider to be possibilities to sharpen our understanding of
       the options. The great struggle between humanity and its
       institutions -- between a culture of life and a culture of
       money -- is far from resolved. But let us hope that
       Aristotle's dream of a truly civil society -- a dream shared
       by countless millions throughout human history -- is an idea
       whose time has finally come. It's in our hands.

Richard K Moore
Wexford, Ireland
Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance 
email: •••@••.••• 
CDR website: http://cyberjournal.org
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book in progress: http://cyberjournal.org/cdr/gri.html

                A community will evolve only when
                the people control their means of communication.
                        -- Frantz Fanon

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