Wednesday, October 19

Occupy the Aftermath

Worst case scenario: Occupy Wall Street results in a post-apocalyptic Mad-Maxian world where only those wearing leather chaps, riding motorcycles and sporting mohawks will prevail, and the weak and timid will be ground underfoot.

Best case scenario: utopia.

Reality: somewhere in between. But closer to one than the other most likely.

So what do we do after the revolution? If Occupy Wall Street is a rousing success and can help us into a new era of socio-politico-economic thinking, if the movement can oust the robber barons from their glass towers...what then?

When we go beating our proverbial swords into the plowshares of our future, what will we be plowing? What new form will, or should, our new world look like? I'm talking fundamental change that creates strength where there was weakness, resilience where there was dangerous rigidity, hope where there was uncertainty and truth where there were lies.

We instinctively move toward sustainability. Sustainable methods are not some left-wing conspiracy to keep everyone in the cities, or in the country, or on the dole. No, sustainability is an innate survival instinct in us all. It has only been eclipsed and suppressed for so long by advertising propaganda and the subliminal capitalistic terrorism that surrounds us each day that we doubt our own inner wisdom and the natural sense God has blessed us all with.

Sustainability is about scale. Humans need to live in a human-scaled world. Human development should have followed the natural course it began with, that of centering around geographic and geologic regions that support human life and society. Kate Hormel writes: "...supporting the farmers who live near us means living within the local, or at least regional, productive capacity of your area." Carrying capacity. It's a terribly simple concept to understand. And at the same time no one seems to acknowledge that we are far exceeding our local carrying capacities.

What this means is instead of focusing on national or global growth, we as citizens of planet earth should be focusing on building (not growing) locally strong communities. Growth will come. That's a given. We need to build communities that can handle new organic growth and maintain healthy local economic activity (not necessarily indefinite GROWTH).

So what can we do? How can we re-conceptualize our world in a meaningful way? The measuring stick should always be that of a human scale. Corporations can exist, but they should remain localized, non-global, delving only into the affairs of the local, or at most regional, business they preside over. They should cease to have the same rights as living beings. Their power should be decimated down to only the scope of the individual business which they control.

Businesses should be owned by citizens of the community, not faceless CEOs in some distant glass tower with no local interests, no ties to the community and no regard for the rampant negative externalities committed against community and nature.

Laws should protect workers as well as employers. Even the most minimum of wages should allow a person the purchasing power to live within the community where they work. A day's work should provide wealth enough for a day's needs within the community.

The market WILL police itself if it is kept at a local level or on a regional level where people are bargaining with people, not faceless money shops. So we need to localize: our food, water supplies, utilities and energy needs...these things need to be under the control and oversight of the citizens who directly benefit or are harmed by the practices related to them.

"Human scaled" does not mean "rugged individualism." Mad Max is the rugged individual. And he is totally fantastical. Human scaled is community. "Human scaled" is a community that does not overextend its resources but which has enough human capital to make civilization work.

In the aftermath of Occupy Wall Street I hope we can have a widely held vision that can move us toward reasonable expectations and plans for our world. This is not about Left or Right, but about humanity and civility.

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