Mon dialog re: dialog and transformation


Richard Moore

From: Bill Blum
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2004 23:39:02 EDT
Subject: Re: A promising new movement!
To: •••@••.•••

Richard, my friend,

I never cease to be surprised at how you can be so brilliant
in your historical and political knowledge and analysis and at
the same time be such a mushy minded new-ageist.  This stuff
is beyond satire, it's just plain simple-minded feel-good
cliches and platitudes, apolitical, anti-ideological, no
mention or even hint of the corporate context which envelops
and smothers everything worthwhile.

      "We all share the same 'boat' called the United States of
      America. It is more essential now than ever [that we] begin to
      learn how to row with, rather than against, each other. . . .

And on and on ... embarrassing.  Sorry.


Dear Bill,

Many thanks.. I imagine many other readers have similar
sentiments, which you express with particular clarity.

Let's start with the issue of "corporate context". OK, I agree
that mega corporations are THE PROBLEM. Their development
destroys the world, their influence corrupts democracy, their
money controls our lives. They are the evolved robots of
capitalism, money machines, amoral evil all-consuming

So, what do we do about them? Do we seek to re-impose stronger
regulations? My understanding, based on the relationship
between capitalism and 'growth', is that we cannot turn the
clock back on globalization and neoliberalism and continue
with the capitalist system. If you disagree with this, I'd be
happy to discuss it further. But as I see it for now, with my
analytical hat on, if we believe that corporations are the
problem then we must accept that getting rid of capitalism is
a mandatory part of the answer.

This implies that any political initiative that criticizes
corporate power, but does not take an anti-capitalist stance,
is a total waste of time. Worse than that, it wastes the
energy of people who might be doing something useful. I'm not
saying this would be your initiative, I'm simply tracing one
of the branches of thinking that comes out of the question,
"What do we do about corporate power?".

What this means to me is that an issue-based political
movement has very little chance of dealing with the issues
that really matter. How many people do you think would support
a movement whose agenda called for ending capitalism? In
Europe you might get a sizable number, but in the U.S. I don't
think you'd get enough to fill a stadium. Well, maybe a
stadium or two, but you know what I mean. More than that, an
anti-capitalist movement would be an easy target of
condescending ridicule across the whole spectrum of the media,
particularly the liberal media.

And what's the point of an issue-based movement that avoids
the real issues? By that path, we have already accepted the
dominance of The Beast before we even enter the games. We go
into the arena armed only with petitions to The Beast to
moderate its own behavior; our swords have been checked at the

And capitalism is only one issue. There's also sustainability,
which means, among other things, an end to automobiles as a
primary transport system. No issue-based movement that ran
under a banner of "Ban the Cars" would ever leave the fringe.
And then there's militarism, and nuclear power, and
bioengineering, ad infinitum. Each of these issues soon
becomes unpopular, once you point out what would really need to
be done to deal with it.

If we try to build a movement by identifying what is bad about
the current system, we aren't going to get anywhere. We've
been there, we've done that, and things have only gotten
drastically worse. And we can't build a movement around an
agenda for a new utopia either. Even if we had a sound utopian
articulation to offer, the interested constituency would be
only about the same as the current Greens, augmented perhaps
by science fiction enthusiasts. On the other hand, such a
movement would undoubtedly create a dramatic majority
reaction, fueled not only by mainstream media, but also by
understandable popular distrust of grandiose schemes coming
down from ivory towers.

Consider again this quote I used in the previous posting:

      So the real problem, according to Madison, was a majority
      faction, and there the solution have an "extensive
      republic", that is, a large nation ranging over thirteen
      states, for then "it will be more difficult for all who feel
      it to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with
      each other...

Madison has hit the nail on the head. What we need is to find
a way for "all who feel it to discover their own strength, and
to act in unison with each other". The "it" being in our case
"the desire to create a better world".

Is it mushy for a movement's agenda to be "Let's create a
better world"? Well yes, it is definitely mushy if you are
evaluating it within the context of liberal democracy. But the
agenda becomes less mushy if you think of the movement as a
way to escape from the trap of adversarial politics. If you
consider the idea of escaping to be already mushy, then I must
plead guilty. But if escaping makes sense at all, then I think
there's some solid thinking behind the kind of initiative
described in the posting, "A promising new movement!"

It is important to understand that the conference described in
that posting was only a beginning. It demonstrated that a deep
kind of dialog was possible among a radically diverse group of
people with strong ideas. The participants were not
mushy-minded "new ageists" and yet they came away believing
they could work together and that it was important to do so.
That was quite a bit to accomplish in one meeting. Remember
that the participants included many who devote their full time
to their various causes. If they get together again, they
would be motivated to get beyond the "mutual admiration
society" stage. They'd want to talk about how their diversity
could enable them to address issues in ways they've never been
addressed before.

The success of this meeting was not unexpected. It took some
very special people to pull of the logistics, and the
facilitators were top rank, but the basic dynamics of these
kinds of sessions follow a known pattern. In a facilitated
space where people are able to really listen to one another,
amazing things happen. People get beyond defending their
"positions" and learn to share their ideas openly in what
becomes an exercise in group creativity. It is not unusual for
breakthrough solutions to be found for very difficult
problems. In such a situation, the greater the diversity of
the group, then the more perspectives are brought to bear, and
the better the solutions. It's a "two heads are better than
one" kind of thing.

Before We the People can talk about corporate power or
anything else, We the People needs to exist. We need to exist
in the very form that Madison feared: discovering our own
strength and acting in unison. Again, it may be mushy to think
about We the People being a real possibility, and again I'd
plead guilty. But if the pursuit is sensible at all, then I
believe this kind of listening-based dialog is the basic tool
that can get us there. It's a tool that for millennia was used
by all of humanity.

The organizers of this conference are part of a leading edge
of democracy-through-dialog activists, who are seeking ways to
bring dialog into the culture. In my own limited way, I count
myself among them. All of us, I believe, are motivated in this
direction not by the new-age, feel-good-in-groups factor, but
rather by an understanding that the political processes of our
society are failing us. Most of us have engaged in other forms
of political activism, and have found that every road has been
systematically blocked. The motivation of the movement is not
apolitical, but ironically the movement itself must be in some
sense apolitical. Its activists are not without ideologies,
but their ideologies are not part of their activism. What
these people have learned, through experience with dialog, is
that The People can be trusted. There is no need to try to
pre-program them with an agenda, and to attempt that would be

I can see how these words might seem mushy. It might be the
case that these kinds of ideas can only seem real to someone
after they've experienced this kind of dialog for themselves.
People report that they experience a change of consciousness.
I experienced that change of consciousness inadvertently, when
I invited a group of activists and writers to a session in
Berkeley a few years back. I had some half-baked process in
mind, and thought that I was going to lead this group through
some ideas in a certain way. It wasn't too long before the
whole thing went horribly wrong. I found myself at loggerheads
with one of the participants, and the whole tone of the
meeting evaporated, such as it was. It was that kind of
embarrassing silence when someone says totally the wrong thing
at the wrong time, which is more or less what did happen. 

And then a woman stepped in and created a whole different
space, a gentle space, and suddenly the meeting was moved to a
higher level. She defused the immediate conflict but that was
the least of it. As I looked around the room, everyone was
somehow more present, and I felt more present as well. The
political topics I had in mind no longer seemed relevant. A
spirit of mutual support was somehow permeating the room.  I
had used the slogan, "We are all in this together" in my
writing, but I had never felt what that really meant in a
face-to-face gathering. That particular set of circumstance,
for me personally, led to a kind of satori about what is
possible in a group of people. The events themselves were not
particularly profound, but they opened me to looking at that
kind of phenomenon with a more open mind, and with a
"knowledge" that there was real gold at the end of the
rainbow, because I had
tasted it.

Hope some of this makes sense,

Date: Fri, 23 Jul 2004 13:31:07 +0600
Subject: Re: GLOBAL TRANSFORMATION: The Harmonization Imperative
From: thomas brinson <>
To: <•••@••.•••>

Thank you, Richard. I have been an avid "lurker" on your list
for several years, learning much from your work, which
crystallizes most effectively much of what I have intuited and
believed about "American" politics and the domination of
corporate elites since I became an avid peace activist on
April 4, 1968, when I flew back from a year's duty in the
illegal, illegitimate, ignoble war of our generation, Vietnam,
landing in National (It shall never be Reagan for me) Airport
in Washington, D.C., much of which was burning, about three
hours after Martin Luther King had been assassinated.

One potential flaw in your mostly flawless work let me point
out -- I wonder how complete a fascist takeover of the media
could be in the event of a Code Red condition, which I fully
expect to happen if the Bushites believe there is any way that
Kerry is likely to repeat what Clinton did to Daddy Bush in
'92, with the Internet and digital means of communication as
alternative, independent work arounds to mainstream media.
Much reliable information, even today, is occurring through
blogs and email lists such as your own. Though I suppose it is
theoretically possible, I don't belief the federal government
would be able to shut down completely the Internet and other
means of digital communication. Or, am I being naively
optimistic? What do you think?

In peace, love, light & forgiveness for all,


Dear Thomas,

Suppose we go into Code Red conditions, and we get the
equivalent of marshal law, whether or not it's called that.
One can imagine many kinds of scenarios. Perhaps our Internet
dialog would continue unmolested, and we'd compare notes about
horrendous events, as we did after each of the
anti-globalization protests. Perhaps they won't give a damn
about our exchanges of gripes and ideas, just as our leaders
don't seem to give a damn now. But if the Internet was
actually causing problems for them, then you better believe
that they can shut it down, as far as we're concerned.

There are two obvious approaches, one technological and one
legalistic, and both rapidly effective. Technologically, you
simply close down all the domains you don't like, prune all
the yahoo-type email lists you don't like, and delete email
addresses of folks you don't like. They have agencies devoted
to tracking what's happening on the net, and they probably
already have a database of targets prepared, in case of

More likely perhaps, would be the legalistic approach. As part
of the Code Red, you announce that the Internet is being used
to spread "ideological terrorism". "People are trying to
destroy everything we believe in by attacking capitalism and
our political system. They're worse than Bin Laden because our
youth are listening to them!  And besides that, there are bomb
recipes on line!"  This is followed by a few dramatic arrests
of well-known on line voices, and we never hear from them
again. Our ISPs send us all-cap messages announcing that the
terms of our license do not allow us to publish
anti-establishment terrorist "incitements". The technological
approach would presumably be used in parallel, but
demonization and criminalization prior to annihilation is the
trademark of  our neo-fascist, sorry neocon, regime.

Another reason to move toward face-to-face dialog.

all the best,

From: Tony 
To: •••@••.•••
Subject: Re: The Harmonization Imperative
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 2004 16:37:26 +0100


Really enjoyed this chapter, it's great. It's the best chapter
so far, I think.

You say 'We are all human beings who want a better and saner
world'. How true. I can see that I want a better and saner
world. 'We' can see that WE want a better and saner world.

The problem, as you point out, is the 'them and us' attitude.

'We' can't see that 'THEY' want a better and saner world. In
fact, 'we' think THEY are insane and THEY want to destroy us!

Again, it comes back to the word trust. Trust in humanity.
Trust in people, trust in strangers.

Keep up the fabulous work.



Tony - thanks and nice to hear from you - rkm

From: "Brian Hill" <>
To: <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: GLOBAL TRANSFORMATION: The Harmonization Imperative
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 2004 07:12:33 -0700
Organization: Institute  for Cultural Ecology


This is good.  If you don't plan to use footnotes and you
would like educated people to participate in these efforts, I
would suggest that you at least list the book references you
have used for each chapter.

And, I hope you include means for joining diverse interests
which have formerly polarized grass roots groups in your
dialog chapter, e.g., industries which are good for the
environment and the local community like restoration forestry,
ecological mining and organic agriculture, because these are
real things diverse people are doing to unite diverse life
styles into new common efforts.


Dear Brian,

I suppose I'll footnote quotations and append an annotated
reading list, and an annotated list of links.

Suggestions welcome.



If you find this material useful, you might want to check out our website
( or try out our low-traffic, moderated email 
list by sending a message to:

You are encouraged to forward any material from the lists or the website,
provided it is for non-commercial use and you include the source and
this disclaimer.

Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland
    "...the Patriot Act followed 9-11 as smoothly as the
      suspension of the Weimar constitution followed the
      Reichstag fire."  
      - Srdja Trifkovic

    There is not a problem with the system.
    The system is the problem.

    Faith in ourselves - not gods, ideologies, leaders, or programs.
"Zen of Global Transformation" home page:

QuayLargo discussion forum:

cj list archives:

newslog list archives:
Informative links: