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CITIZENSHIP GUIDELINES REVISITED

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GUIDELINES TOWARDS AN ECOLOGICALLY INSPIRED MODEL OF CITIZENSHIP MINDFUL OF "THE EARTHLY NEEDS OF THE BODY AND THE SOUL" (S.WEIL) [1]

I

The model is set forth taking into consideration a basic assumption which is itself the result of an extended process of observation on the part of many philosophers, ecologists,

theologians, sociologists etc...: that the survival of the species and, with it, the physical and spiritual health of earthly beings, will depend upon our ability to "think globally, act locally". To think "globally" as members of a universal or worldwide ecological system that can not be contained by frontiers and by political establishments that appear today as

unnatural as they are historically and socially obsolete; at the same time, that being alert to global realities, and to global interests, demands that one recognize the importance of

restoring to localities a greater margin of control as to what goes on at home.

What is at stake, briefly, is the need to think the integrity of the globe while one acts primarily at the local level. . . Think globally, act locally.

II

Following Simone Weil's reasoning in relation to the "earthly needs of the body and the soul" [see Appendix] and her critique of nationalism for being responsible for the destruction of local traditions, this model seeks to restore to the locality, to the municipality or the county, through the agency of the extended family, schools, churches, trade ‑unions, civil associations, corporations [stripped of their falsely assumed identity as “persons”] etc... the task of recognizing peoples' full status as citizens at their places of temporary and/or permanent residence. (Nationalism, Simone Weil observed, amounted to the negative triumph of the abstract over what is concrete: a city, she says, is thinkable, it has a direct relationship, visceral, tangible with my childhood and with my destiny whereas the "nation" is so all‑ encompassing that it finally becomes little more than its symbols ‑-code of arms, flag, anthem --excuses for those wars destructive of everything that for me is truly precious such as my house, my home, family, friends, field, animals, garden, town square, temples, monuments that stand for experiences shared by successive generations, that pond hidden away, the sea, la mar, my tongue, the tongue that is my mother's tongue, that of my brothers, companions, with whom I can share, fraternize, it is this which is one's patrie, one's homeland (or motherland, “matria”, as we say often now in Spanish --what is fragile and hence, alone, worthy of sacrifice; the nation-state, on the other hand, sacrifices me instead, in exchange for deadening lies ‑‑it is the greatest of frauds, the true demiurge of today, the false god...). The public sphere, nevertheless, in terms of people's movement back and forth, would limit its functions to those of registration and verification of the current status of the person as determined by law, carrying on its tasks with the help of the private sphere and with the most advanced communications technology at our disposal, facilitating instead of obstructing documentation.

Briefly, it is a matter of getting citizenship to act as an instrument for the protection of human beings instead of their disenfranchisement.

III

Membership in a local community would not erase membership that has been acquired in another one; on the contrary, it would be possible throughout an entire lifetime to continue building on a lifelong curriculum of citizenship in a variety of localities throughout a region, continent or the globe as inter-municipal networks develop far and wide: naturally, the principle of reciprocity would have to rule exchanges between and amongst localities. The networks would be multiple and could intercross and intertwine without much conflict (for example, there would be networks of exchange that would emerge from common interests at the level of the bioregion; others emerging from exchanges rooted in linguistic and cultural affinities or complementarities of a certain type; others, still, that would help to coordinate and to regulate the production and distribution of shoes or of artichokes, of medical services, of the fishing industry and/or water sports etc...).

IV

The disorder and chaos generated by population explosion and by monetary bottlenecks, by the waste that results from overproduction unleashing scarcity (as when the farmer is ruined by too plentiful a crop so that he then fails to earn what is required) etc..., while not prone to be eliminated entirely, would still be greatly alleviated as long as our "marvelous machines”[2] are used for the extension of truly useful programs developed with the understanding that nothing positive is to come of a technology for which we are not capable of finding an adequate, alert use oriented towards the satisfaction of the real bodily and spiritual needs of human beings.

Recognizing that any solution to a problem is apt to generate other kinds of problems (a situation referred to by Ivan Illich as the factor of “counterproductivity,” with iatrogenesis constituting its specific case in the field of medicine --so that you are charged first for getting rid of one ailment, then for getting rid of the one generated under such a peculiar brand of “health management” mystification), it is necessary to put into action solutions whose outcome will not make the balance of our misery as a species even worse than it already is but raise the general quality of life throughout our societies, instead, while diminishing the levels of oppression, injustice, of bodily and spiritual hunger. (It is enough to want to diminish them considerably, instead of pretending to eradicate them altogether considering that the latter is hardly possible, either in the long or short run: basically, any kind of “radical fundamentalism” for the sake of “justice” tends to generate more harm than good.)

The required information, concepts, knowledge and wisdom exist, but they are splintered throughout an immense, complex network of electronic brains that are at once biological and manmade: there is no existing political machinery, there is no "second wave" government (see Toffler, appendix), able to handle successfully all the requirements for adequate documentation and identification of individuals and their communities; and, even when the system might seemingly tend towards efficiency instead of chaos, a centralized power appears increasingly capricious and alien to our concrete and circumstantial reality, constantly exposed as we are to sudden and unexpected change. The (supposedly) "efficient" industrial civilization that consolidated the tendencies towards centralization in almost every aspect of our lives must at last give way to another type of social, political, economic organization that has the inherent capacity to "process" the existing information and to create the kinds of programs for which our societies across the globe are clamoring. Those who manage to survive what might befall us within a relatively short period of time will find themselves having to legislate so that the citizenry will be fully protected within a context that is no longer national but supranational: local or municipal, regional and interregional.

The fact is that most of our gadgets are badly used (inefficiently and/or to the wrong purpose ‑‑lacking efficacy) simply because the intelligent programs fail to arrive in time to match the rapid arrival in the market of our dazzling equipment (without going much further into the reasons why: as in other areas, our disastrous habit of putting the cart before the horse, or of turning the means into an end, has led us to favor the proliferation of the means ‑‑ the computers ‑‑ over and above the realization of their legitimate end which is the communication of intelligent programs).

What is needed, then, first and foremost, in order to redress such a dangerous situation as presently obtains, is to become universally conscious of the unsustainability of the nation-state; that this hybrid monster which has grown to unhealthy, life threatening proportions, and which continues to bring forth smaller versions of itself throughout the globe without the slightest regard for human misery, must be clinically and effectively dismantled now that at last we have the technology on hand, as much as the programmatic potential, that will allow us to change "quantity of life" for "quality" as a criterion of health and of well‑being.

A most important aspect of the kind of awareness that is required for our survival, of course, involves not only the realization that our notions of "national sovereignty" are as meaningless as they are dangerous, but that it is not life itself, unqualifiedly, that must be regarded as "sacred" but the values that make a life worth living: the earthly needs of the body must be satisfied, indeed, only in order to allow human beings to nourish their souls so that they may learn to transcend themselves in the very act of fully realizing themselves¼ [3]

V

Following what has so far been set forth: Only a system of interlocking networks throughout our communities, from house to house, from house to agency, to school, from school to school, amongst the different public entities both public and private, will be able to sort out the immense wealth of information that is out there, with the sufficient intelligence, speed, and flexibility to put to test and to revise effectively and efficiently the programs that alone will be able to satisfy our needs as human beings‑‑ needs which proliferate within an ever growing shuffleboard of relationships in constant movement that characterize our human enterprise. We need people, jobs, the product of our labor, services, capital, knowledge, to be able to move with ease so that the maximum utilization of resources may be obtained, understanding that the maximum utilization refers to criteria of global value that goes beyond our own immediacy in both time and space, criteria of quality and not merely of quantity (see, in the Appendices, an appeal to sensible farming beautifully made time and again by Wendell Berry, insisting on the pride of good farming that returns to the land what it has taken, among other things)[4].

We are talking about responsible behavior across national frontiers as much as beyond our own generation.

To stop confusing means and ends entails, in the case of public agencies, recognizing their limited, transitory function. No government can guarantee the happiness of its citizens, or that each one will realize in a complete way his human potential: but a government can and should look after the ability of citizens to organize themselves in order to undertake pertinent initiatives with a view to bettering our chances of satisfying our multiple needs. The latter implies an activity that is of the order of the governor of a ship, as Simone Weil sought, thanks to which a slight pressure here or there will act so as to restore the necessary balance and keep us in course as soon as an imbalance or deviation makes itself felt. No more. Nor less. (See “The Principle of Subsidiarity and the Agrarian Ideal” by Joshua P. Hochschild http://www.institutosimoneweil.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=87:the-principle-of-subsidiarity-and-the-agrarian-ideal&catid=40:english&Itemid=56 ) [5]

This principle assumes that one of the needs of the soul is to participate in a tasks of public utility or of collective interest and to be able to exercise one's personal initiative in the performance of that task. One of the things I believe to be involved here is what Toffler refers to as the tendency towards "adhocization", or that spontaneous emergence of groups "for this" and "for that" ‑‑ ad hoc ‑‑ whose life is briefer, or longer, pending the issue at hand, usually very specific and more or less restricted in time and scope: a characteristically "third wave" trait, indeed. Which, remarkably ‑‑however‑‑ should not entail the kind of corruption presently discernible whereby the private sphere enters into the public and the public into the private with nefarious consequences. It entails, rather, the careful separation ‑‑ to the extent that the latter may appear necessary and possible ‑‑ of what is public from what is private, discarding, once and for all the incomprehensible judicial concept that allows an external authority to rule our lives in things that pertain to persons in their intimacy and consensual relations.

For the public domain, what would not be acceptable is for the personal initiative to deviate from the collective purpose in order to satisfy purely private ones. It would allow for a public agency to intervene, upon request by a private party, within the sphere of private life, but without the ability to impose very easily within this sphere criteria of common consensus concerning matters which, by their very nature, should remain subject to the discretion of private individuals between or amongst themselves or between the individual and his own conscience (or "God"). This is a principle that implies tolerance and an effort to maintain tensions among private entities, among persons and between individuals and society, or different societies, at a tolerable level. It implies discarding altogether the notion of “crime” from the sphere of consensual activity: Where there is no victim there can be no crime (suicide as the assassination of oneself --fallo da se-- was an invention of St. Augustine´s concern with preventing Christians from opting for a better life in the hereafter, forcing them to remain on this side of the divide where their vital existence was required for the sake of Christian imperial expansionism: better slaves than martyrs.

VI

Such a model of citizenship assumes a drastically different approach to what constitutes our "security" and puts into question the innumerable fallacies of the very notion of "national security". There can be no "national security", nor local, nor global, that is not rooted in an awareness of the realities confronting us in terms of planetary safety and which concern everyone in an equal measure; similarly, the "nation" (to the extent such a term can signify anything that is very concrete) will not survive unless local communities cease to be thwarted in their efforts to control their own destinies within a framework of interactions respectful of the peculiarities of each ‑‑cultural, linguistic, historical, natural, bioregional-- perceived as part of a whole that transcends the particular but that at the same time is, necessarily --and healthfully so-- composed of particularities. What has been said in relation to the sphere of the private and of the public may be applied to the laws that are to govern the exchanges between the locality ‑‑the municipality ‑‑ and that which is to govern inter-local or inter-municipal relations at the level of the multiple continental and intercontinental regions. An experimental period of transition could include the possibility of a dual track for citizenship that will allow us to be citizens of an entire country at the same time that one creates a curriculum of citizenship in one or several local communities beyond present national frontiers.

These dual‑track (and multi-track) citizens would be exempt from military service in the traditional sense but might accept duties in conformity with the morality of a single planet for all earthly beings: to be able to nourish several homelands at the local level across existing national frontiers is something that is in conformity with the possibilities and requirements of our advanced communications technology just as it is in conformity with our already well-established concern regarding the solution of the extraordinary ecological problems confronting us. It is also something that is in perfect agreement with the need to establish roots in several natural environments, in the wider sense suggested by Simone Weil and, also, one way to begin to resolve the problems of "minority" ethnic groups (“racial,” religious, linguistic) in many "nations" or "republics" whose efforts to function as centralized “powers” have been unleashing explosive tensions in so many places. Think of Ireland and of Great Britain, of the complex culture of Mexico, of the (former) Soviet Union, of recent events in Iraq, of Israel and the Palestinians, of Canada vis à vis Quebec, Spain vis à vis the Basque movement for independence etc...not to mention Yugoslavia or the Balkans. [Unless we tend to these problems soon, we will see more and more countries torn asunder by inner conflicts of just such a nature emerging everywhere [as we have seen and are unfortunately, increasingly seeing¼the Ukraine!] An interim arrangement that could be of some help is for multi‑national couples and their children to be able to entertain full citizenship in at least two countries. Stop separating families!

Rather than burning all of our national flags, it would be very good if we could agree to confine them, respectfully so, to a new kind of museum dedicated to preserving the relics of "unnatural history".

VII

In keeping with the model of citizenship envisioned is the principle, generally accepted, that a type of investment that tends to act in a most harmful sort of way for the health and

stability of the community is defined by absenteeism, these days increasingly in the form of free-floating investments, one day here the other gone. Absentee landlords and entrepreneurs (the state included) tend by nature to be less careful and less respectful than those who think of themselves as destined to reside in a place for a long time or from generation to generation; when the principal proprietors of the land, house, enterprise, feel themselves destined to reside with full obligations and rights in the community, their

actions would tend to be guided or motivated in such a way as to yield substantially more positive results, at least in principle!

The other side of the coin is residence lacking any kind of rootedness because of a lack of proprietary bonds or feelings of belonging when one is deprived as much of private as of public property. Granting municipal citizenship to the investor at the same time that a commitment is expected towards the physical and moral wellbeing of that community is something entirely congruent with ecological and humanist principles, as it is with the philosophy of "small is beautiful" (Schumacker). What is big may be “beautiful” too, undoubtedly; but, when dealing with the consequences of one's errors, generally the small ones are a lot easier to repair than the bigger ones. A big "transnational" enterprise could, just the same, channel its investments through small partnerships rooted in their own localities, attentive to a great variety of opportunities that would include the real needs of the communities within which such enterprises and their partners would reside in full exercise of civic rights and obligations. Such residence could be periodic, or cyclic, but in any case it is important that the allegiance be authentic and not merely formal; that it tend towards preservation and sustainability of the community and that it provide continuity. Consider that the value of innovation, necessary for survival, can be catastrophic if it is disconnected from a certain tradition --that the value of innovation is fortified by the value of continuity. The Solari model proposed by Catherine Austin Fitts proposes that only the locals should be allowed to make decisions, and I would agree; the other angle is to make the “global” community more congruent with place and to facilitate the process whereby one becomes a recognized citizen in a certain locality.

VIII

Thus, as a corollary to the general improvement that would come about with regard to human rights --in view of the greater protection of the laws likely to be enjoyed by those who today find themselves suffering from what amounts to a new form of slavery that results from the humiliating condition of "alienhood", legal or illegal-- but, also, to the extent that “rootedness” in various "natural environments" (S. Weil) would facilitate population movement while, concomitantly, the most desperate conditions generating the need to migrate begin to experience some relief, the society as a whole would be protecting itself from business practices that depend most nefariously upon relative "advantages" offered, within certain localities, as a result of the lack of protection from which people and nature presently suffer, including the privileged handling of information by certain entities.

Instead of exploiting such disadvantages, enterprises would be forced to consider other profit enhancing, relative advantages for both the short and long run: their chances of obtaining a reasonable gain (not an outrageous one) would then depend more on their capacity to respond to the emergence of new markets resulting from a general rise in the levels of income and of the standard of living of the population; they would need to depend more upon the proximity of raw materials and find justification for their investments in social and economic factors issuing from the decentralizing tendencies characteristic of the civilization of the third wave described byToffler; thus, the advantage of a more diversified, de-massified (or individualized) production would come to the fore, as would the many positive aspects to be derived from reuniting producers and consumers or of bringing them closer together, at least.[6]

One healthy trend would be the general acceptance of the soundness of "labor intensive" methods in agricultural policy as prescribed by soil conservationists. Such policies would require of legal innovations allowing for greater flexibility in land tenure arrangements; the new laws would have to take into consideration psychological, economic, social and cultural factors that bear upon ecologically acceptable practices, granting to localities a wide margin of self‑determination necessary so that the measures will obtain more positive rather than negative results, within a framework of inevitable interdependence that would nevertheless gear itself towards the greatest desirable self‑sufficiency ‑‑ especially, as pertains to that crucial factor upon which all else depends : nutrition (of body and soul, we might add). In conjunction with the latter, extraordinary benefits would accrue to us from the reinsertion of economically productive activity into the home, as Simone Weil clearly sensed (Oppression and Freedom) and as Toffler has envisioned on the basis of more recent developments that are conspiring to keep more and more people working at home (the new technology, the price of gas, sprawling urban areas, greater and greater distance to be traveled at greater and greater expense --monetarily, psychologically and ecologically).

Such a development could become a great boon towards the spiritual or psychological recovery of societies devastated by the splintering off of the last remnants of the "nuclear" family at a time when the re‑emerging "extended family" has been unable to

secure any kind of stability as a result of legal insufficiencies of our systems of law and politics and in view of the turmoil (and under-toe) created by the shock and power shifts of the "three waves of civilization." [7]

The malaise and the psychosis of individuals battered by a civilization that has split them apart through prolonged, unrelenting unemployment and‑‑among other things‑‑ through an excess of contradictory demands (directed at producers against consumers and vice‑versa, when the same individuals are both) cannot be resolved with self‑serving, unrealistic methods such as the "war on drugs for a drug free America" happens to be; the problems of childhood, of youth, maturity and of old age can be resolved only by paying the fullest attention to the real needs of human beings in this world –needs which, as we can see, are not exactly the ones created by the vested interests of a system of massive production and distribution of products and “services” --not those “needs” at least that Ivan Illich has judiciously questioned as he analyzes all that “development” oriented politics promoting an unreachable “future” has really meant.[8]

Thirty years before the advent of the micro‑chip, Simone Weil dreamed of another civilization in which work would be so organized as to contribute greatly to the spiritual realization of human beings, in which the play of children would not be divorced from their parents daily toil but could, in many cases, become a part of mutually enriching activities, learning, joyful, productive, rewarding activities. She imagined a mode of production that would decentralize industry and relocate it in the countryside throughout thousands of smaller, cooperative efforts recombining the family hearth with the workshop in a much closer association with nature: a thrifty enterprise of human proportions, mindful of sustainability in every sense, reuniting producer and consumer in many ways. Part of what Illich refers to as a “convivial society.” Cybernetic programs such as the one invented by Catherine Austin Fitts, Community Wizzard, would allow communities, in their place, to find out what is really going on within their own sphere, at their own center –in their very heart (which is the reason why such a program along with its intrepid, persistent creator have been persecuted, prosecuted, and forced to fight bitterly for their very life).[9]

IX

The struggle for dominion has led to the systematic uprooting of entire populations that accompanies the imposition of one language over another. To be deprived of one's language amounts to a mutilation of the soul. It is one thing to encourage people to acquire a second or third language that will allow them to integrate effectively into an additional socio‑cultural space, and another very different one to pressure on all sides so that one's mother tongue be abandoned. No government should be licensed to force human beings to become so devastatingly uprooted. One's native tongue is, in effect, one's socio‑cultural womb and it is not possible to divorce ourselves from it without serious spiritual harm overcoming us, our families, our entire society. Linguistic imperialism not only harms us morally but economically as well.[10] (Of course, it is an important aspect of the struggle for markets within the mass‑minded mentality of the civilization of the “second wave,” rabidly holding on to its ways even at the expense of destroying all life.) [11]

Here we face a situation that is analogous to that of the famous "mega‑seeds" meant to bring about the "mega‑crops" of the "green revolution", so effective in propitiating the more recent calamities of much of the ´´developing´´ world and putting so many farmers of the advanced countries also at a disadvantage: the great genetic "banks" that a vast variety of seeds used to offer has been greatly decimated as a result of the insistence upon concentrating on a much smaller number of super‑crops; consequently, farmers have tended as much to over‑produce as to have to increase their dependence upon chemicals as a way of controlling the greater incidence of plagues that tend to accompany vast extensions of single crop, single strain cultures‑‑ the ruin of farmers through loss of income, of soil depletion and of the poisoning of water resources affecting everyone sooner or later.

As is the case with the seeds of agriculture, languages contain in them the accumulated memory of millenniums of experience, of knowledge ‑‑that is to say, the power to adapt to new circumstances. For example: the precious medical knowledge of peoples who have studied nature, and who understand and have a name for the medicinal use of thousands of plants, disappears with the passing away of these populations. It is not even necessary for the ethnic groups to disappear as such; it is enough that they abandon their language in favor of another one, for that precious knowledge accumulated in the course of hundreds of generations to simply evaporate from one generation to the next. As with the "genetic banks" wiped out as a result of concentrating on a few strands of super seeds, it is hardly possible for the "phonemic banks" through which our knowledge of nature across the globe has been encoded to disappear without considerable hunks of the memory of our species getting wiped out as well.

More than a simple analogy, between those two kinds of reservoirs, we see indeed a profound interdependence. The future of our adaptability as a species demands a greater respect for diversity: bridges need to be extended amongst the separate islands of our diversity, instead of a single, solid, identical mass of wasteland becoming our lot.

Multilingual education must be encouraged and no one should be forced to sacrifice his original lineage. [12]

X

Among the political changes most apt to benefit the coming into existence of a viable inter-municipal system would be the introduction of mechanisms for the selection of legislators, judges and administrators that would cease to rely upon the corrupt, ferocious and very destructive system of selection provided by competing political parties. I would recommend an alternative for the very same reasons expressed by Simone Weil ("Note concerning the general suppression of political parties."[13]) In Cuba, a Popular Assembly freed from the ideological entrapment of a manipulative, repressive, “hero”-worshipping Communist Party ‑‑political organ of the Cuban army under the rule of that classical caudillo that Fidel Castro has always been‑‑ could result in a government intimately connected with the hopes and real needs of the population. But one must believe in miracles without counting too much on them. I do not know what hope can be entertained that the army will withdraw from the selection process so that the latter will be able to proceed without the pressures of brute force, in a mood allowing for public dialogue to develop without the corrupting effects of partisan debate poisoning the atmosphere. Such a miracle would be just as overwhelming were it to come about in Washington as in Havana, indeed. It is political parties that corrupt dialogue (or the free circulation of ideas) and turn it into “debate” (the forced, unwholesome “confrontation” of ideas). If it is unanimously recognized that the best results for a country as a whole issue from a decision making process in which legislators skirt partisanship and act in solidarity with what appears to be the best course of action, how is one then to pretend that for a country to become "democratic" it must, of necessity, base its political life upon the manifestly inadequate procedure of parties competing for supremacy. (Such an absurd belief is based on what Simone Weil termed "illegitimate contradictions"; "legitimate contradictions" exist in the form of the paradox, since the absence of contradiction is not necessarily a criterion for truth... but, to recognize that partisanship is bad and to pretend that any good can possibly come from the activity of political parties is simply pure and unadulterated nonsense...]

Contrary to the notion generally promoted by those who claim that the existence of political parties, in open competition, is the hallmark of a democracy worthy of the name, their existence in fact guarantees little more than the deliberate distortion of important issues as a result of bad faith on the part of candidates who, in the midst of a campaign, agree to disagree on what it is safe to disagree on, even when basically they might be in agreement. Those horny questions, on which much public passion has already been invested, no one will tackle squarely for fear of losing precious votes, even when society would be well served to have an opportunity to clarify the issues dispassionately and, then, to be able to exercise a legitimate choice more in keeping with the foremost objective of attaining to some level of social wellbeing: Caught between the “lead” (or bullet) and the “silver”, most prefer to accept the latter, even if it´s only “dough”… .

Thanks to the unrelenting, corrupting influence of political parties, propaganda has a field day and elections continue to be decided by the force of money. The reason why the proponents of "law and order" have taken us such a long way along the road to lawlessness and disorder is that practically no one wishes to obey a government that is legitimately perceived as illegitimate, and it is pretty obvious that an electoral system that relies increasingly upon the buying power of dirty money will fail dismally to command respect outside of the arenas that it effectively controls (but, of course, nothing like a war of some kind or another to alienate in just the proper measure reasonable thoughts in the public's mind and to promote the visceral reactions of a rather cheap brand of patriotism).

Over half of the American people shrink from voting mostly because, a long time ago they became aware of the sham and do not want to lend credibility to the process. The rest choose to remain confused; a few, or not so few, act with complete cynicism and that is all. (In the coming years we shall see whether the recently created Occupy Movement is able to evacuate the plague corroding Washington by way of legitimate, non-partisan elections, or whether it will be best to wait unti the government has collapsed under its own weight –peso, in Spanish—or along with the dollar, something that may occur or not. No doubt, we are “en situation” –remembering Sartre once again—and in expectancy of the unimaginable.) [14]

If the existence of political parties subverts the very process upon which we claim to base the legitimacy of our democratic kind of government, it does so, not only by corrupting the possibilities for legitimate choice, but also (and greatly as a result of the latter) by compromising to a large extent the efficacy of our system of checks and balances amongst the three branches of government, the latter truly the hallmark of a “democratic” system worthy of the name, in her view and as most people would agree (see, especially, her proposals for a new Constitution[15]).

A “democracy” worthy of its name, of our respect and support, would be one in which the three branches of government remained truly independent from one another, in which those elected to office would have to think first and foremost about the public interest: in such a way that power would serve as a means for the pursuit of the public good instead of as the end in itself of all action, against the public good. Those who love power for power's sake, or who are put into a situation of not being able to think about the public good because their need to retain that very same power overrides all serious consideration of just about everything else, will never be able to grasp fully what their real obligations are; they will lie to themselves and to others and will contribute only their share of our final harvest of infectious lies.

We allow ourselves to pretend that we have something that can be called democracy because we are able to point to its histrionic side: political "debate", whereas the task of analyzing the mechanisms through which "the will of the people" actually might exert itself is a far more difficult thing to do (and for some, more dangerous); to the extent, however, that such a vague notion means anything at all, it is apt to refer primarily to a sense of justice and of truth that can surface in public life only in the absence of public passion instilled in the masses by political parties for their own devious ends. And yet, the common man in the street knows¼ even those who have been cheated out of the most elementary tools of analysis and who find themselves in a situation that prevents them from articulating their understanding with any measure of clarity, those very same people, in spite of everything, know --since they are in contact with reality-- that there is indeed a difference between the “map” and the “territory”.

In essence, then, a democracy worthy of its name would not be defined by how many political parties compete to confuse the issues but by how many people are able to participate in a vast, complex, ongoing, decision-making-process from the bottom up and in the absence of "public passion" that has been created around certain issues (or non‑issues) with the intended purpose of maintaining in power certain interest groups whose ultimate concern for the wellbeing of humanity or for the "public good", in the sense that most citizens would want to see it defined, can hardly be said to exist. (That these forces at work manage their information in highly deceptive ways and are not even able to tell what their own real –i.e., human-- interests are, in the long run, is not the least of the problems that we are facing.)

A democracy worthy of its name would maintain a careful, real, balance of powers so as to prevent, among other things, that a transient majority, instinctively pushed by momentary passions, will be able to impose upon any minority ‑‑ or upon itself – decisions that to the conscience of those not poisoned by the same social "bug" (affecting the "social beast"[16]) would find repugnant. It would rely more, instead, on people's real knowledge of real people when it comes to selecting individuals who are to find themselves in the difficult situation of having to think about, and decide, certain very important matters for us. It would elicit educated responses from voters on clear issues that would be open to intelligent discussion ‑‑ to dialogue, over “debate”, rather than forcing voters to have to decide between competing "images," à la Hollywood or Madison Avenue, that have been concocted with the support of massive funding from highly suspect regions of our economic activity, increasingly dominated by organized crime.

A decent democracy worthy of its name, would safeguard us, at the very least, from having to choose what seems right along with what we definitely do not want to have to swallow, after some execrable Chef and his scullions have taken the liberty to decide for us, in some filthy, uninspected kitchen, what it is that goes with what. It would leave the greatest number possible of decisions in the hands of those who must live with its consequences by decentralizing government truly and effectively as contemplated here, instead of just playing lip service to local autonomy for demagogic reasons while rapidly moving to suffocate it as soon as an effort is put in place to exercise such autonomy. It would use our most innovative technology, as well, in such a way as to allow the masses of illiterates or semi‑literate people throughout much of the world, to express themselves effectively on a variety of matters most directly related to their interests.

What is more, such a democracy would make that very “stability” that the proponents of "law and order" claim to seek, a much more likely outcome of our political activity. And, with that greater over‑all stability across present day borders and sectors of our societies, we would find ourselves in a situation less conducive to the disruptive effects of massive capital flights from one region to another (geographic, economic) which have so contributed to putting our world in its present, sorry state. Above all, it would give each one the opportunity of acting within the context of a great number of legitimate hierarchies. For, if the younger generations reject increasingly the very notion of “hierarchy” it is only because we have become, finally, the only species universally led by illegitimate hierarchies (and thanks, for the most part, to that most undemocratic aberration that we refer to as the “democratic competition” among political parties¼)[17].

Among the aspirations of the human soul are those of equality and of consented obedience, as Simone Weil observed with extraordinary insight. And only a legitimate hierarchy preserves equality and allows us at the same time the opportunity of exercising a consented obedience, quite as this blessed “Red Virgin” pointed out (“The Martian” being the other loving nickname her great teacher, Alain, bestowed upon her).

Such developments, call them what you may, would be far more apt to satisfy ‑‑ both in the long run as in the short‑‑ the earthly needs as much of those who own a great deal as of those who have been left with virtually nothing: an improvement in nearly every sense imaginable. AMEN!

REVISED: April/September 2002 in Valle de Bravo, Mexico, and re-edited to conform to the text as it appears in the Madrid publication of 2013, Necesidades terrenales del cuerpo y del alma. Inspiración práctica de la vida social, La Caída, Colección Tina Modotti. This synopsis of what ecological citizenship would be like was presented on June 22, 1991, at the International Social Studies Conference on the Caribbean gathered in the Intercontinental Hotel in Miami June 21-23. I have made a number of stylistic adjustments, adding a few notes and references (especially as concerns Ivan Illich and also in relation to Catherine Austin Fitts whose “solari” ideas I am now very happy to be able to integrate within the matrix of this increasingly “sustainable” conception. After the “mega-seed hoax” referred to below, we are now getting bombarded with “seedless” plants, whose “seedless buds” fail to germinate (triumphantly so, one might say, for those devilish pranksters whose business it is to sell them and who belong to an ersatz divinity that will offer nothing but pain for free¼). Applying the metaphor about languages/phonemes and seeds (Point IX) we might say we are now facing the prospect of the imposition of a quasi total speechlessness, or of the programmatic death of agriculture.


[1] Revised Feb-March, 2012, in Valle de Bravo, Mexico. This text was originally presented in Miami, June 22nd, 1991, within the framework of the International Social Studies Conference on the Caribbean. This is the English original with additional remarks and references, particularly in relation to Ivan Illich’s insights with which I was not sufficiently acquainted at the time of my original presentation --also to Catherine Austin Fitts, whose original idea concerning her proposed “solaris” I am pleased to integrate into the framework of this ecological model of citizenship. The changes are meant to bring this English version as close as possible to the Spanish edition of same in the book published in Madrid, La Caída, 2013, Las necesidades terrenales del cuerpo y del alma. Inspiración práctica de la vida social, by Mailer Mattié and Sylvia María Valls.

[2] Which also make us sick and isolate us nonetheless, just as they could serve in the opposite direction. The future relies on them but also we find ourselves counting far too much on a technology that, at the most unexpected moment, could fail us altogether, precipitating us into a total chaos. Using it now to make sure that we will be able to survive in its absence seems, at present, the most advisable.

[3] At the same time, the "dichotomy" body/soul may be seen to function only half/way; sexual union ‑-which in Simone Weil's list of "needs" shone by its absence‑‑ would seem to mark that crucial point of intersection between the two dimensions. Similarly, the experience of sacred communion consists of a marvelous state thanks to which the body/spirit inverts its polarity, so to speak: the body empties itself in the spirit, and the spirit in the body, so that "the opposites coincide" (noting, with Simone Weil, that the "coincidentia oppositorum" occurs at a higher level of understanding and realization, "not on the same plane, somewhere in between the two"). The joy of the mystic would then appear like the joy of a supremely accomplished sensualist (“St.” Paul, not necessarily what you would be inclined to call a mystic, once acknowledged that "the paradox of the spirit is that it must manifest itself through the flesh "); thus, for Simone Weil, "Beauty is the smile of tenderness that Christ sends to the creature through the material world").

[4] In this segment particularly I get the feeling, upon revision, of opening the door more than may be advisable to aspects of capitalism that include the proliferation of what Ivan Illich has called “shadow work” and its companion, “economic sex.” His analyses have shown the incompatibility of the world of “resources” and of “commodities” with freedom, justice and equality. [Lately, as we strive to see more clearly in the midst of so much “blinding light,” some of us have begun to consider the notion of “free enterprise without capitalism,” as per Charles Eisenstein’s Sacred Economics, espousing Silvio Gesell’s proposals of nearly a century ago for free money and free land in his three volumes on The Natural Economic Order which caught the eye of Lord Meynard Keynes no less.] Women’s loss of prestige within the salaried regime has been demonstrated in spite of a long struggle for equality. The “second sex” has found itself evermore run over and this as a consequence not of a natural or biological inferiority but of a gradual loss of equilibrium that always prevailed between men and women at the heart of societies throughout which the “ambiguous complementarity” of genders guaranteed the success of an autonomous subsistence. The relative equality of both genders inside the regime of “vernacular gender” is what succumbed in the process. While a universal debacle of our current systems of communication would most likely eliminate the possibility of carrying on with gradual readjustments within a transitional period as I am addressing in this segment, such a transition would open the way to the expedite reduction of the levels of repression and misery presently in force: we would be, in effect, bringing about a lowering of the overall misery afflicting great portions of humanity in favor of the reestablishment of what we might call a “sustainable poverty.” Neither the excesses of accumulation, nor the misery that such excesses elicit, are sustainable in the long run. The poverty against which so many cynical tricksters rebel, on the other hand, is not, by a longshot, comparable to the misery that their sacrosanct “remedies” against “underdevelopment” have managed to produce.

[5] Silvio Gesell, who called himself a Communist, understood that the state had a place in the overall societal scheme he advances. I consider his proposal in keeping with Simone Weil’s notion of the state as a “governor” –gouvernacle or “helm”-- designed to keep things in balance. My way of putting it is: the state (low case s) as a means for guaranteeing the proper amount of currency in circulation that will secure steady prices for all merchandise, thereby avoiding the devastating consequences of repeated depressions. The State (high case) as an end-in-itself would thereby be “dissolved.”

[6] Brief synthesis of the civilization of the “three waves” :

Civilization of the "1rst wave" : Agriculture its dominant trait, home based or local production ‑‑ rural life rather than

urban; the producer blends with the consumer (prosumer) or they remain within each other's proximity. More individualized consumption as pertains to manufactures; a predominance of the extended family and of a renewable energy system.

Civilization of the “2nd wave”: Heavy industry and its requirements dominate the era ‑‑ urbanization and centralization in just about everything, "massification" of products and of culture and separation of the producer and the consumer; weakened local government, nuclear family (not extended) and breakdown of the family, workplace away from home, school created to support factory regime (compartmentalization, rigid work schedules, uniformity). A predominance of non‑renewable energy resources prevails.

Civilization of the "3rd wave" : Knowledge factor and speed of communication dominant force ‑‑ heading towards decentralization and demassification, work finding its way back to the home front, towards more appropriate scales of production, consumer goods more individualized, with consumers and producers coming closer again (greater participation of the consumer in the production of what he consumes), a falling away from the great urban conglomerates ; a greater reliance on the extended family, moving towards the strengthening of local government and away from compartmentalization (greater integration of separate units that make up an enterprise), more flexible schedules and more individualized products. It seeks to substitute renewable energy sources for the un-renewable ones.

[7] See Alvin and Heidi Toffler, Power Shift, Bantam Books, Nov. 1990.

[8] See, in this regard, my essay on “Wendell Berry, Ivan Illich and Simone Weil, a Political Alternative for Our Times.” Also, Jarring Metaphores of the Great Ecological Disarray.”] and, in Spanish only, Mailer Mattié’s La sociedad inédita. Los límites del marxismo y del progreso (Polanyi-Weil-Illich-Berry)

[9] For rigorous information concerning the framework that maintains us all ignorant of much of what goes on, visit the site of this courageous “cybernetic guerrillera,” some of whose articles I have been translating into Spanish: “Narco-Dollars for Beginners” and “The Myth of the Rule of Law, or How the Money Works: The Destruction of Hamilton Securities Group” --both available in English and Spanish through www.institutosimoneweil.net .

[10] Illich explains (in Deschooling Society and elsewhere) that in reality this business about “maternal tongue” was an invention by the first grammatologist of the Castilian language, Nebrija, who rapidly realized the uses that his work could be put to as part of the Spanish Crown´s efforts to impose its empire over the many communities that were just beginning to awaken, 500 years ago, to the possibilities of the printing press. The drive to disqualify vernacular languages thus becomes the means of appropriating the instruments of communication by some over others –in that specific historical juncture, by those who had the knowledge of Castilian, the ´´official, mother´´ tongue, over those who did not.

[11] Going back again to what Ivan Illich has called the “intellectual collapse of the frontier between cosmic process and substance and its mythical incarnation in the fetish ‘life’ ( . . . ) [that] tends to empty the legal notion of person from its original content.” My translation from the Spanish version, Obras reunidas. Vol. II; pp. 618 and following.

[12] One's lineage should be considered not so much a matter of "pride" as an important component of one's ability to survive both physically and spiritually, indissolubly bound to one's instinct of self‑preservation, that continuity may be maintained as part of our strategy of survival and of family cohesion across generations and across present day national frontiers. Victor Zuñiga, of the Colegio de la Frontera Norte, found that Mexican migration to the United States is more highly conditioned by cultural factors related to ascendancy ‑‑to lineage‑‑ than by economic factors (without, of course, pretending that the latter do not weigh). It was very touching to me to discover thanks to his fascinating data how adolescent Mexicans who planned eventually to migrate had already, by their early teens, developed a kind of compensatory psychological mechanism that allowed them to remain faithful to both their homelands: those whose family relations would eventually take them to live in Houston thought Houston to be the most beautiful city in the world; but, unlike their fellow students who did not have very definite plans to move across the border and who spoke of a marked preference for hamburgers, those who were certain they would sooner or later be living in "the most beautiful city in the world" demonstrated disdain for hamburgers and the greatest appreciation for Mexican food over all the others. 55% considered Spanish "the most beautiful language" and 35% considered that language to be English; 10% went for other languages, especially French and Italian (thus, close to two thirds remained faithful to Romance). The traditions that mediate the Mexican migrant's insertion into life in the United States go back for at least four generations and have their origin in four Mexican States primarily (Jalisco, Zacatecas, Michoacán and Chihuahua). Thus, it is parental networks clearly that provide the mechanisms of adaptation through a refined knowledge of labor market behavior, of migratory laws and how to use them advantageously and, of course, through economic and psychological support. The speed with which all kinds of news travel by way of these networks is truly amazing [though I, for one, would be thankful to hear a serious study documenting present levels of e-mail counterproductivity´´]. This is precisely what I am referring to when I say that "the programs" exist and that they are scattered throughout millions of "electronic brains" that are as much biological as manmade.

[13] For a recent translation of this fundamental text: http://www.nybooks.com/books/imprints/classics/on-the-abolition-of-all-political-parties/

[14] I have put between parentheses this comment from a more recent historical context than the original writing. A great surge of collaboration among “Martians” will become necessary, be they “weilian” ones or from another world, altogether!

[15] It appears among her last writings in London, 1943 the year of her untimely death, Écrits de Londres et dernières lettres. http://www.americanweilsociety.org/bibliography

[16] E. Gabarielli in particular has written about this theme in Simone Weil’s work concerning our “beastly” (un)social manners.

[17] Of course, “capital flight” would be altogether obviated as a result of the implementation of what Silvio Gesell called the Natural Economic Order… i.e., provided we “the people” were able to enforce such a “natural” system as proposed by this German-Argentinian back in 1920. This work of his may have been behind Hitler’s initial popularity. More on this soon, I hope!

Last Updated on Sunday, 24 August 2014 15:44