Section I. The Threatening Catastrophe: Responding Now
Track 6: Political Collapse
Evidence confirms that multiple catastrophes are upon us. Responding to that crisis requires more than passive acceptance or agitated confrontation. Part of an adequate response involves careful analysis of what led to our current catastrophes so that responses are more than reactions to the crises. And yet, analysis of the various factors leading to the crises by themselves will not bring constructive change. Proposals for action based upon analysis of the sources of the problems are especially crucial. While the Political Collapse track in the “Threatening Catastrophe: Responding Now” section seeks to identify the political structures that have contributed to the catastrophes, it also seeks to identify ways in which those political structures can be changed to bring about a constructive response to the ecological crisis.
Our sessions will involve consideration of the way economic practices have contributed to the destruction of well-being by reducing the effectiveness of democratic structures that enabled more creative responses to ecological problems. The first three sessions will discuss the general problem of the collapse of political structures making a constructive response to the ecological crisis difficult. The following four sessions will be devoted to discussing what we can now do to reduce the suffering resulting from collapse and to lay the foundations for an ecological civilization.
The specific sessions of the track will be primarily devoted to discussion although there will be some presentations. Different individuals will play important roles, but all participants will be vital for the discussions of each session. The specific topics may change, but the general structure of the individual sessions of the track are:
Session One: John B. Cobb will lead our discussion of the impact of recent events upon political structures throughout the world.
Session Two: The focus will be on the undermining of African nations by imperial, corporate, and financial powers drawing on the films and expertise of Andre Vltchek.
Session Three: Joe Hough will present Chris Hedges’ ideas about the control of Wall Street upon the United States. Ellen Brown will provide valuable information about the role of the banking industry.
Session Four: At various levels of government, positive actions are occurring and citizen action can influence the United Nations and national and state governments. 350.org has changed Obama’s position on the pipeline and the Climate Lobby may have a chance to get the U.S. government to enact a carbon tax.
Session Five: Nevertheless, indications are that there will be continuing erosion of constructive response at the national and international levels. Bottom-up change has the best chance to bring about ecological civilization. The Transition Town movement is in the lead globally in encouraging local developments. The city of Claremont can be a case study of what a committed city council can do.
Session Six: The likelihood of the collapse of larger structures upon which towns depend requires identifying ways to promote local autonomy and self-sufficiency for needs such as food and energy.
Session Seven: The economic dependence of local communities upon distant centers often results in the collapse of those communities. Of special importance is the possibility of local communities creating their own money in independence of national and global financial systems.
Session Eight: This session will consider what we have learned that is worth sharing widely and how such sharing can be conducted.
Preliminary conversations are beginning though an exchange of resources and discussions among participants. These occur through 1) posting of documents on Dropbox, 2) on-line discussions through a Google group, and 3) occasional face-to-face conversations via the internet. For additional information about these conversations, contact John Culp at email@example.com
Herman Daly and John B. Cobb, For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Towards Community, the Environment and a Sustainable Future (1994)
Carroll Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time (1966), free download
Chris Hedges, Death of the Liberal Class (2010) and columns on Truthdig
Thomas Greco, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization (2009). Also See Reinventing Money
E.C. Riegel’s, Private Enterprise Money, free download
Ellen Brown, The Web of Debt (2012)
Bill McKibbens, eearth (2010) and newsletter
A Partial List Specific Resources:
A New Paradigm in Exchange and Finance: A pathway to peace, justice, freedom, and a dignified life for all. Presentation at the Public Banking Institute conference 2012.
Brief 2013 Interview by Community Currencies in Action.
Interview by Talkin’ Business of the School of Business and Economics at Maastricht University (2013).
“America’s New Spiritual Pioneers An Unfolding Political Story About Emotions Lost and Found”, Tikkun, Oct. 28, 2014.
“African Ideological Ebola for Imperialists,” CounterPunch, Dec. 2014.
Additional specific resources will be available by contacting John Culp at <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Ellen Brown-lawyer, founder of Public Banking Institute
Kevin Clark-teacher, lecturer on Transition Towns movement
Tina Clarke-consultant, trainer, blogger for Transition Network
John Cobb-organizer of Searching for An Alternative, director of the Center for Process Studies
Sheila Collins-social worker, professor, director of Wing & a Prayer Pittsburgh Players
John Culp-professor of philosophy, coordinator of Political Collapse track
Thomas Greco-economist, independent scholar, writer, consultant
Michael Hogue-professor of theology, author, activist
Joe Hough-professor of social ethics, 15th president of Union Theological Seminary, New York
Gábor Karsai-philosopher, linguist, director of The Spirit of Humanity Forum
Carl Herman-teacher, journalist
Joseph Lyons-mayor of Claremont CA, medical researcher
Stephanie Price, associate pastor, theologian, participant in the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union in Denver
Olav Bryant Smith-philosopher, teacher, publisher
Yoshihiko Wada-ecological economist, professor