Launching ‘positive themes’…


Richard Moore

To: <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: draft : Ch 1 : The Matrix
Date: Fri, 21 Oct 2005 08:11:45 -0400

Dear Mr. Moore:

Permit me to introduce myself to you.  I am part of an
international network called THE NEW GLOBAL FREEDOM MOVEMENT.

If you send me a reply with your postal address, I will send
you our literature.

We will be happy to collaborate with your efforts.  I have
been distributing your information to my friends for over one
year now.

With warm regards,
Shrikumar Poddar, for
New Global Freedom Movement


Dear Shrikumar,

Thanks for your message. I look forward to reviewing your
literature. Could you please say more regarding what kind of
collaboration you have in mind, and which kinds of information
you have found most useful?

I couldn't find your organization described on the web, but I
must say I like the name you've chosen: global freedom is
certainly the right idea!

best regards,

    Quay Largo
    Selskar Street
    Wexford, Ireland


I received a message from Larry Victor in response to the
announcement of Jim Bell's book, "Creating a Sustainable
Economy and Future On Our Planet". Larry's comments, along
with information about his "NU" project, are available on

I wrote back to Larry, and some useful dialog has followed. In
particular, he read through my Chapter 7: "Envisioning a
liberated global society", and raised some very pertinent
questions. I'd like to share excerpts from our most recent

    LV: Your proposal is one of many alternatives of  "people
    participatory" systems beyond the "community".  Although we
    have long inherited propensities to organize in communities,
    the study of even isolated communities shows that success is
    only statistical.

Dear Larry,

There are two equally important parts to my governance model.
Community is one, and Harmonization is the other. The chapter
you read assumed that harmonization had already been explained.

I started a blog a while back, and haven't maintained it, but
it gives a concise summary of 'Community + Harmonization',
better than my book chapters for our purposes. You might give
it a look. The postings are in reverse chron order, so it
might be best to scroll to the bottom:

re/harmonization - I spent a few weeks visiting some very
interesting facilitation people on the west coast last year,
after reading books and articles they had published, and
learned a lot about what groups of people can accomplish,
under the right circumstances, and with the right kind of
facilitation. It's pretty amazing stuff, and it really does

The process goes more or less like this, with variations: you
take a group of people, say around a dozen, and they devote a
weekend, or better four days, in facilitated 'sessions'. The
facilitator's job is only to help people 'hear' one another,
and to make sure people know they are being 'heard'; the group
goes wherever it wants to go in its dialog. What happens in
such sessions is that the group tends to go through a
predictable sequence of phases. The process can jump around,
but it's easiest to explain in sequential order.

At first people might be shy,  or argumentative, or fixed in
their positions, or divided into factions, etc. People may
have a hard time listening, and they may feel perhaps
'attacked' by what other people are saying. We all know how
this kind of thing can lead to a total waste of time. But by
making sure each person really is 'heard', and knows they were
heard,  a breakthrough happens.

Knowing you've been heard takes the urgency out of your
expression, and makes you more open to hearing what others
have to say. A shift of perspective occurs: instead of seeing
'others' who have 'wrong positions', you begin to see 'some of
us' who have 'different concerns'. You begin to accept the
other participants as being equally valid, caring people, but
with their own viewpoints and concerns, just like yourself.

Once people accept one another, as being equally valid, then
they begin to see their dialog, and their 'problem', in  a
different light. Rather than 'debating' competing ideas and
proposals, people begin to see their 'problem' as follows:
"How can we come up with solutions that satisfy all of our

When the sessions reach this phase, that is what I call the
'space of harmonization'. Not only are people working
together, cooperatively, but a great deal of energy, synergy,
and creativity is released. Former adversaries begin to say:
"Hey, if we took this part of my idea, and that part of your
idea, we could get the best of both worlds."

In the end, the typical outcomes are: solutions, or at least
mutual understandings, that were unanticipated, and which all
the participants are enthusiastic about. Tom Atlee uses the
phrase 'co-intelligence' to describe the quality of the group
outcomes that can be expected; Jim Rough talks about 'choice
creating', I prefer to emphasize 'collective wisdom'.

We can debate whether these conclusions might be excessive, if
you like, but for now I'll proceed on the assumption that
'harmonization' refers to a range of facilitation & group
scenarios that have the kind of outcomes I've described, and
which are practically achievable. More about this at the end.

    LV: In your model, it is representative in terms of councils and I
    personally doubt whether it would work. If the representatives
    to councils are truly representative with the allegiance to
    their community, the kind of harmonization needed WITHIN  the
    council is not possible, as that would require a dual
    allegiance, with the council as community - if only
    temporarily. Council members are not free to adapt and learn,
    without always consulting back to the community.

You point out a very central problem in the domain of
'representation'; I concur that it must be considered
carefully. I believe you are being unnecessarily pessimistic,
however, in your assessment of how a council would be likely
to operate, using the kind of harmonization processes I have

First of all, I do not think there would be any question of
competing 'allegiances'. Let's step through the scenario: Each
delegation would be 'in touch'  with the depth and breadth of
sentiment, and concerns, of their constituency, and they would
be in agreement with the 'harmonized' perspectives that had
emerged. They would then express these perspectives in
council, and 'hear' the perspectives of the other delegations.
At first, as with any group, we might see conflict and
factionalism, but as the process proceeds, we'd get to the
point where the participants were collaborating: seeking
'solutions' that satisfy the concerns of all the

In many cases, they might succeed. But even then, the outcomes
would be passed back 'down the line', and ratified all the way
down to each community.

In other cases, the council might find that irreconcilable
perspectives had emerged in different constituencies. But in
the process of discovering this, a great many concerns would
have been put on the table. Those concerns would be passed
back 'down the line', and 'lower level' holons (?) would have
that broader information to take into account.

Some iteration might be required, but given the qualities of
harmonization, I believe that we would be looking at a rapidly
converging iterative process. In the end, we'd have
system-wide consensus on 'best approach' solutions - not just
'the greatest good for the greatest number', but approaches
that respect each and every community equally.

    LV: You are also entrapping persons in their space based
    community, whereas we can live in multiple communities, some
    space based and some virtual. Indeed, the local space
    community may well become only one of a variety of
    "communities" a person could be a member of.

This is a deep issue. I anticipate some back and forth.
Personally, I think there is something sacred about 'place'.
It is in our genes. Indigenous societies are very much
intermeshed with 'place'. Upon retirement, I moved to a small
town in Ireland, and I've come to love the sense of 'place'
and 'history' and  'uniqueness', and 'belonging', and
word-of-mouth instead of newspapers, what city people imagine
as 'gossip'. I knew something was missing in my suburban
California life, and this town is what it was.

From a political perspective, and considering how
harmonization works, the face-to-face issue is central.
Harmonization seems to require face-to-face sessions. You
point out that face-to-face brings in more dimensions of the
participants, and you raise the concern that this can lead to
various kinds of manipulation. I know just what you mean, as
regards meetings where strong, assertive personalities can
dominate the agenda. But in a space of harmonization, that
'extra presence' becomes a source of convergence and synergy.

In a community it is possible to have regular face-to-face
sessions, of ordinary citizens, publicized, and achieve, over
time, and maintain, a community consensus regarding local
governance, and perspectives on wider issues. This is
reinforced by the face-to-face nature of the community itself.
The informal word-of-mouth possible in a physical community,
in its various dimensions of mutual relationship and
understanding, becomes an important part of the consensus
process. Particularly significant are the cross-faction
communications that become possible as people begin to see
other citizens as being 'equally valid', despite having
differing beliefs and concerns.

In addition, there is the issue of 'shared concerns'. People
who share a physical community share certain very important
concerns in common. Since they live there, they all would
benefit from a good 'quality of life', generally speaking -
good places for the kids to play, good schools, safe streets,
attractive surroundings, reliable services, sound fiscal
management, etc. We see this being realized in places like
Brazil and Venezuela, not to mention Cuba.

Furthermore, there is the concept of 'localism', which makes
sense in ecological and economic terms, as we hear from the
'new biologists', and the counter-globalization,
sustainability-minded, economic thinkers.

Finally, there is the issue of 'evolutionary heritage', which
you pointed out: the individual-tribe co-evolution. It is
'natural' for us to live in a mutually-supportive, cooperative
community, where we feel 'we belong', and we are 'equal

For all these reasons, I see the physical community as the
appropriate focus for essential political sovereignty and

This in no way inhibits networking, as between, for example,
scientists investigating the same domain, or citizens sharing
certain concerns. These kinds of things go on all the time
today, and then we go home and vote in our own local and
national elections. There's no contradiction here.

But in fact there's a danger in over-emphasizing non-physical
communities, as objects of primary loyalty or political
weight. Particularly when you get into mass communications,
including the Internet: you lose the ability to participate
simply because of the mass-ness of the medium. The more
'popular' the channel, the less chance your personal
contributions will be given voice there. If you begin to vest
'governance inputs' to 'virtual communities', you open the
door to faction manipulation by means of mass-media
techniques. You get cults, basically, as you can tell if you
sign up for a random sampling of email lists, or browse
popular websites.

The face-to-face nature of physical communities - in a context
where bonds of mutual respect, trust, and reliance are
encouraged by the harmonization culture - is much more
resistant to manipulation, whether from inside or outside,
than are other kinds of 'communities'.

    LV: I don't have a clear substitute, and if we could have council
    representatives selected by means vastly different from
    current methods - to filter out power seekers - your model may
    work for councils where members are of closely related
    cultures. Certainly better than the system of today.

Power-seekers are bred in a culture which has positions of
power. Our cultures today are cluttered with power positions,
everything being hierarchically managed. If you have any
motivation toward 'career', which is not entirely a bad thing
in life, then seeking promotion becomes a kind of power
seeking, and only a fool would ignore the inevitable
sociological aspects and opportunities (e.g., old-boyism,
mentorism, nepotism, and deal-making). In a culture focused
more on collaboration, and exchange for mutual benefit, and
without authoritative structures, the energy of 'power seeker'
personalities would find its outlet in more productive avenues
of expression and contribution.

As regards selecting delegates, I imagine most of us would
prefer people who were level-headed, reliable, reasonably
articulate, and who had a good understanding of the community
perspective. As regards different cultures, that is grist for
the mill of harmonization processes. In fact, the greater the
divergence incoming, the greater the potential for synergistic
breakthrough outcomes. There can be emotional releases, tears
even. I'll never forget an AFSC conference I went to, back in
the 70s, where there was a mixed panel of Jewish Israelis and
Palestinians. I couldn't believe how positive the dialog was.
There was one of these kinds of sessions (the 'Maclean event')
where the 'big breakthrough' occurred between a
native-American woman, and a Quebec woman, and that then
spread to the rest of the group.

    LV: Richard, the model you propose is one for serious
    consideration. The issue of creating such systems in the midst
    of our contemporary system raises many issues. My work to
    create NU is to experiment with better models NOW, but not in
    any attempt to reform or fix the larger system.  That comes
    later when we are competent to succeed, and for me it would be
    by replacement not transformation.

I appreciate the respect you are giving to 'my' ideas (very
few of them, if any, being individually original!). I fully
support your and any other initiatives that actually get out
there an experiment and learn. My own belief is that
small-scale successes, in the realm of self-governance, will
naturally spread, meme-like, and become transformative -
regardless of their initial objectives or visions. Democracy
is its own source of inspiration.

I'm not sure what you intend by the distinction between
replacement and transformation. If you mean to emphasize that
the change-of-system must be total - a complete redesign -
then I agree, and that's what I mean by transformation.  I use
this term partly because we need to face the challenges of
transition: we can't close down society for repairs. We need
to emulate a crysalis, and keep life going while the new is
created, transforming the old into the new.

    LV: Finally, I feel that the process you call "harmonization" 
    (but I have not read all the earlier chapters) has yet to be
    discovered in sufficient complexity to make it viable given
    the vast diversity of human cognitive competencies.

A few years ago, I would have either agreed with you, or at
least would have had no useful response. But since then I've
been exposed to certain personal experiences and certain
reliable reports, from people I've 'bonded' with face-to-face,
enough to know what is real in what they say. In a scientific
debate, empirical observation always trumps theoretical
models, although you wouldn't necessarily be able to tell that
from the refereed literature, which is often like the bishop
who refused to look through Galileo's telescope.

The empirical fact is that this harmonization process is very
much within the 'state of the art'. Indeed, it is the
rediscovery of a primordial way of relating, tracing its
recent roots to the Quakers. Indigenous cultures typically
work on a consensus basis, and often have a ritualized
harmonization process,where an elder takes the role of
facilitator, and rules of dialog have evolved that enable
everyone to be 'heard'. In the Hawaiian culture,the process is
called 'h'o pono pono', and there the elder simply listens, to
each in turn, until eventually the 'right answer' emerges,
seen clearly by all present.

One particular process, 'Dynamic Facilitation' (DF), is
particularly well-suited to the situations we've been
discussing. It was invented by Jim Rough, and it has a growing
following, although not nearly as wide as I would like to see.
Rosa Zubizarreta uses it in her facilitation practice and is
perhaps the biggest proponent of its potential, after Jim
himself. She calls it the 'come as you are process'. No need
to have a 'cooperative attitude', no need to be 'sensitive' or
a 'good listener', no need to sign up for any dialog ground

In DF, the facilitator 'goes where the energy is'. Instead of
'taking turns', as a primary mechanism, the floor is generally
given to the one who has the most urgent need to speak: they
are given a chance to 'be heard'. A DF session often seems
chaotic, compared to other techniques, but that chaos tends to
converge to a deep level of harmonization, in a comparatively
short period of time. The "vast diversity of human cognitive
competencies" turns out to be a source of creativity and

over to you,



"Apocalypse Now and the Brave New World"

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