Sunday, February 25, 2007

Humanist Greens of the Bioregional State, Unite! A Contrast to Anti-Humanist Green Anarchy Solutions

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Here's an excellent article relayed from the NWRage website. It allows a nice short contrast between "green anarchy" and the bioregional state proposals. The bioregional state proposals are completely different in recommendations, though in agreement on the seriousness of the issues of anthropogenic climate change and human pollution.

(First, for intellectual fairness that anthropogenic climate change may be only one of many variables, read about sun variations as well as note with concern the same degradative elites greenwashing themselves to stay in informal power globally under a "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" slogan. Yes, George Hunt, we hear what has been unsaid in many high elite promoted frameworks that they promise are good for everyone--while maintaining the same inequalities of power and economy for themselves. However, it hardly detracts in my view whether pollution is a sole direct cause or one of many indirect causes of global climate change, and one should be aware that simply jumping from one elite led tyrannous form of ecological degradation into another elite pressured tyranny as a proferred strategy of solution is hardly a solution--particularly if as argued in Toward a Bioregional State, overly elite frameworks of managerial power are responsible for environmental degradation instead of involved in solutions for it.)

I suppose it comes down to the point that the bioregional state is humanist, rational, secular, tolerant, and institutional in the Enlightenment tradition against forms of political and economic tyranny, while green anarchists are in their own estimation "anti-civilizational" and even anti-humanist in service of green goals. On the contrary, bioregional state proposals show that to be pro-humanist (i.e., to be concerned with reflecting human concerns on local areas) is a very green proposal given the supermajorities for a 'health, ecological, and economic' change in development policy. In other words, humans are your friends, instead of your enemies, in working toward sustainability. Humans because of local ecological self-interest yield a politics toward environmental amelioration--if it is allowed to be expressed. Typically, this ecological self-interest is shielded from its expression in formal institutions and formal policy by a whole slew of gatekeeping forms of political power that service only informal elite forms of degradative developmentalism. However, the political demographic for a change is indeed "already here though waiting to be organized."

Zim Zam with Zerzan

The above linked article is a nice exploration of green anarchism, particularly touching on Zerzan. The bioregional state for a contrast would be for different recommendations than Zerzan, though agreeing with much of his historical analysis that there has been a systematic environmental degradation for thousands of years.

However, the bioregional state premise, built from a lot of comparative historiography, is that environmental degradation is systemic to organizational and political issues of unrepresentative development, instead of something hardwired to humans themselves.

Since it is organizational, it requires organizational solutions. Zerzan's romanticism leads to radical beliefs that "everything will end". The bioregional state view is that everything will continue--until systematic change is rationally applied institutionally, that recognizes the alignment into state policy of already in sync human and ecological issues for environmental amelioration. From widely reported polls, humans are very in sync with concerns about their health, ecology, and economics. What is out of sync are the old frameworks of humanocentric state institutions, instead of ecocentric state institutions described within Toward a Bioregional State.

Instead of Zerzan's and much of the 'deep ecologist' wing's view of a radical difference in human and ecological concern, the bioregional state has always been a humanist green view, without a zero-sum green anarchist philosophical tenet that aiding one destroys the other. On the contrary, aiding one (humans) abets the other (the environmental amelioration).

On this quote from the article: "Globalization. Capitalism. Greed. Civilization. Call it what you will. It will end, the green anarchists insist,...." I'm skeptical anything ever 'ends,' it's only transformed and struggles on as best or worst it can. I think a better bet is working toward crafting institutional solutions that allow for more ecological feedback into democratic institutions instead of gatekeeping against it which is what we have presently.

As said before:

Bioregional democracy (or the Bioregional State) is a set of electoral reforms and commodity reforms designed to force the political process in a democracy to better represent concerns about the economy, the body, and environmental concerns (e.g. water quality), toward developmental paths that are locally prioritized and tailored to different areas for their own specific interests of sustainability and durability. This movement is variously called bioregional democracy, watershed cooperation, or bioregional representation, or one of various other similar names--all of which denote democratic control of a natural commons and local jurisdictional dominance in any economic developmental path decisions—while not removing more generalized civil rights protections of a larger national state.

In other words, if a lot of "green anarchists" (or anyone) wanted to get together and run their watershed they way they wanted, that's fine because that's the way it would work--as long as externalities to other watersheds are demoted. It would be up to the people involved in a particular watershed, of which there would be many different variations--as long as externalities to other watersheds are demoted.

The supermajorities supporting such a 'health, ecology, and local economy' developmentalism are already there, that is the issue. So the main issue is aligning the existing formal institutions of democracy to this, instead of allowing unrepresentative elites to gatekeep against 'The Three Pink Elephants in the Room: Health, Ecology, Economy.'

It's Green Vs. Gray, instead of Green Vs. Humans-or Even Instead of Left vs. Right

The policies of the U.S.'s version of the unsustainable developmental party (otherwise known as the Janus Party--two faced Democrats and Republicans linked together) are merely an avoidance of the social politics supported by super-majorities in polls on health care, environment, and sustainability.

These three issues of health care, ecology, and economic sustainability are the true core of U.S. grass roots social politics regardless.

Even those who typically 'vote right-wing' (on conservative interpersonal politics) are actually pro-environment socially in the U.S.

See polls above at the link, or quickly reposted below:

"polls health

Majority (65%) of Americans want single-payer health care; willing to pay more taxes to get it. --- In ABCNEWS/Washington Post poll, 3 point margin, Americans by a 2-1 margin, 62-32 percent, prefer universal health insurance program over current employer-based system. 78% dissatisfied with cost of nation's health care, including 54% "very" dissatisfied. Most dissatisfied with overall quality of health care in U.S.--first majority in 3 polls since 1993, up 10 points since 2000. --- Public wants government to play leading role in providing health care for all. In the same poll, by almost a two-to-one margin (62% to 33%), Americans said that they preferred a universal system that would provide coverage to everyone under a government program, as opposed to current employer-based system. Slightly different question asked by Kaiser, June '03: more than 7 in 10 ten adults (72%) agreed government should guarantee health insurance for all citizens even if it means repealing most tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush--less than one-quarter (24%) disagreed with this. --- Americans overwhelmingly agree access to health care should be a right. In 2000, as in 1993, 8 in 10 agreed health care be provided equally to citizens; over half agreed “strongly” or “completely.” In 2004, 76% agreed strongly or somewhat that health care should be a right.

polls ecology

The majority (77%) think we should do "whatever it takes" to protect environment. --- In another poll, reported in The Ecologist, upwards of 80% of the U.S. with little difference between left or right want their environmental laws seriously enforced, as well as strengthened. This is the issue once more that many of the people who 'vote right wing' and may be interpersonally conservative, have the same social policies and weigh in 'on the left' on the health, ecology, and economy issues.

polls economy

The majority (86 percent) favor raising the minimum wage. The majority (60%) favor repealing Bush's tax cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. --- The majority (87%) think big oil companies are gouging consumers and would support a windfall profits tax. --- The majority (66%) want to reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes."

That is the center--and huge center it is. The 'left/right' thing has totally broken down when left and right PARTY elites both have moved toward globalized privatization support. It has left this super-majority of social politics--for health, ecology, and economy issues--festering WORLDWIDE across all nations.

Greening the Phrygian Cap

For sustainability, there's not going to be a "new totalitarian ideology" that is globally implemented as a 'one size fits all development' plan--whether engineered distantly around an anti-humanistic WTO conference table on the one hand, or even around an equally distant anti-humanistic intellectuals' corner diner coffee table of green anarchists on the other hand. It's not going to come from intellectuals all getting on the same page. It's going to come from people actually introducing themselves collectively to their own common local geographic concerns, finding ways of durably institutionalizing such local concern in the ongoing policy process, and taking that jurisdiction away from unsustainable developmentalist politics.

Who is anyone to decide for anyone else? The bioregional state is an implementation framework for letting people decide for themselves in their own areas, within a larger geopolitical context of their wider-collective choosing as well. It's going to come from allowing more people to decide by giving those geographically situated anywhere in the world the institutional oversight in their own watersheds to affect developmentalism policies in their own particular areas--under the caveat of other watersheds having rights to stop another 'rogue watershed's' pollution through larger state structures. It's the only way that sustainability has been seen to work so far, so extrapolate from that.

Thus, sustainability is going to come from wider institutional input from actual geographies ["...democratic control of a natural commons and local jurisdictional dominance in any economic developmental path decisions--while not removing more generalized civil rights protections of a larger national state."], as well as finding ways around elite gatekeeping collusion via more checks and balances on their ecological tyranny. As said in the book summary:

"Toward A Bioregional State is a novel approach to development and to sustainability. He proposes that instead of sustainability being an issue of population scale, managerial economics, or technocratic planning, an overhaul of formal democratic institutions and commodity choices to be more locally sustainable are required. This is because environmental degradation has more to do with the biased interactions of formal institutions and informal corruption. Because of corruption, and unrepresentative choices of materials associated with it, we have environmental degradation. Current formal democratic institutions of states are forms of informal gatekeeping in politics as well as materials, and as such, intentionally maintain democracy and commodities as ecologically “out of sync”. He argues that we are unable to reach sustainability without a host of additional ecological checks and balances. These ecological checks and balances would demote corrupt uses of formal institutions by removing capacities for gatekeeping against democratic feedback and more democratic material choices. Sustainability is a politics that is already here—only waiting to be formally organized."

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Kermit says: "How did I get on this guy's hand?"
(Rocky says: "Where's Zerzan? We think a lot a like.")

The irony is that the green anarchy solutions are as quite anti-humanist as groups of corporate globalizers, Nazi-eugenic fellow travelers in the Rockefeller filled Club of Rome, or the vigilante corporate sponsored terrorism of the 'Wise Use Movement'.

The argument of the bioregional state is that pro-humanist views are solutions to environmental degradation, because it is in human ecological self-interest to reflect a sound ecology--as it is all bound up in their human health and durable economies.

Just for a quick example from the bioregional state, current formal institutions that attempt to register local self-interest are all gerrymandered across the states of the world. If electoral districts were were more aligned 'in sync' with the pro-human pro-ecological self-interest instead of gerrymandered to support gatekeeping for unsustainability against against voter choice, then what Frederick Jackson Turner noticed over 80 years ago, the 'significance of [bioregional] sections' in state political histories instead of political parties or ideologies, might be dusted off for a read once more.

A politics for environmental amelioration, pro-human and pro-ecological, is already there and has always been there: "already there--only waiting to be organized."

Here's a great film about ecological self-interest versus a corrupt governmental developmentalism endlessly gerrymandering and utilizing corrupt informal uses of formal institutions to finagle more anti-human and anti-ecological policies. Only the corrupt informal developmentalism is the cause of environmental degradation, instead of the former. Enjoy. Don't hate people. Help them. They are your friends.

Pickaxe - The Cascadia Free State Story
1 hr 34 min

Pickaxe documents efforts to halt logging at Warner Creek, a federally protected forest in Oregon. Following a suspicious fire in 1991 that cleared the land, Congress suspended environmental regulations to allow logging in the area. Since arson was determined to be the cause of the fire, however, environmental activists argued that allowing logging at Warner Creek would set a bad example and possibly lead to similarly motivated forest fires. What followed was an 11-month battle complete with a 79-day hunger strike and an amazing blockade of a remote mountain logging road. This inspiring documentary shows the power of direct action, determination and good leadership.


Blogger ericswan said...

You definitely have your shit together. Here is my take on how to achieve your goals. Prolly the hardest thing facing mankind today. Know your neighbour. My suggestion is based on your watershed concept. The problem here is that most of us don't have water in or about the field of sustainability. We live in cities. If it were technologically possible, shouldn't we organize ourselves by situational happenstance? I'm talking here, about neighbourhoods. Why don't we organize ourselves and recognize each other by the neighbourhoods we live in? Take back our green spaces to support food production. Take back our communications systems by offering an intranet system that ties neighbourhoods together in real time. You need your yard raked. I need compost.
You need a ride to work. I'm going that way anyway. Your apple tree is in overabundance. My family loves apples.

Bridging to the future based on what is already in every home. In my not-so-utopic vision, the neighbourhood solves their problems of food, warmth and shelter by sharing our resources and labour toward a common goal. No money exchanges hands. Ever. Consumption and provision are both on the same side of the ledger

3/08/2007 7:43 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Thanks, Eric. You said:

"My suggestion is based on your watershed concept. The problem here is that most of us don't have water in or about the field of sustainability. We live in cities. If it were technologically possible, shouldn't we organize ourselves by situational happenstance? I'm talking here, about neighbourhoods. Why don't we organize ourselves and recognize each other by the neighbourhoods we live in?"

Oh yes. Chapter 21 of the book addresses both urban and rural, with a civic democratic institution that is non-governmental, as just a way of networking people on the local level regardless of location, recognizing people who are widely admired already instead of based on promises of what they will (fail to) do in the future. :-) It was actually an urban idea like you suggest, before it became teamed with the bioregional state prescriptions as well.

Let's see if I can find you a pithy quote about it:



Featured in Article I. of the Constitution of Sustainability (bioregional letter #20), is a framework that provides checks and balances between informal, local, geographically specific coalition and leadership building--and external, clientelistic, ideological, party politics.

The CDI thus provides a check and balance between informal and formal politics, by making sure that formal politics, through despatialized informal parties, is unable to gatekeep against more geographically locused and specific political agendas of citizens of local, state, and/or federal governments due to lack of organization.



Cultural discourses are inherently political, which is shown in much of the political sociology of culture literature. It can either make or break a successful mobilization to have a widely shared sense of activities and interpretations of the world.

Especially in nation-states, political parties tend to be the reifying structures with the widest political identity participation, and thus these nation-state political parties both aid in defining nation-state culture, as well as prescribing certain cultural motifs and identities and demoting others to suit systemic interests. This can leave local areas shortchanged culturally speaking and without voice or variation of voice to represent their particular geo-specific interests and concerns on the national level. Crenson’s understanding of a lot of politics as “non-politics” (or ignoring, dropping, and selectively appropriating citizen concerns) is readily witnessed in the selectivity or triage of national-political parties in discussing local issues. This “non-politics” is particularly seen in the United States when it comes to the Republican and Democratic parties with a host of common environmental and social issues from: environmental sustainability, environmental risk, pollution, pesticides, herbicides, genetically modified crops, cancer clusters, food safety, industrial pollution, food access, transportation choices, voting security, corporate subsidies, and media consolidation. The CDI aids in local area formulation of an area’s own political cultural frames and discourses, based on their community interests which are created out of their local political processes. The Civic Democratic Institution form (CDI) is a structure for defensibly maintaining and registering local sentiment in a form of a ‘living poll,’ if you will, recognizing any individuals who are admired or culturally trusted in any degree in social relations.

The CDI conception is so webbed into social feedback effects it’s rather germane to discuss it in terms of what it does, than what it ‘is.’ The CDI ‘grounds’ coalition building into existing cultural networks. It uses existing thoughts and feelings towards other citizens, pools them together and delivers a tally to the people of whom they find representative or admire, as a group. This brings local politics into integration with local cultural forms. As a consequence, it makes state elites work to maintain their power. instead of local actors working to get the state’s or a political party’s attention, the latter groups have to acquiesce more when there is a stronger and more vocal local cultural milieu which is less dependent and more resistant to external ideas about what is ‘good policy.’

The CDI makes sure they are:

(1) popular amongst various groups instead of merely their own ‘political machine,’
(2) with a cultural sense of creating an intermediary and facilitating role in cultural sense, instead of creating an ideological reactionary influence,
(3) and in addition, the CDI makes sure they are personally motivated to fulfill this role without any incentives besides the status recognition which becomes a symbolic rallying frame for them being framed in a social and political capacity by the CDI recognition.

The CDI aims at popularizing local political coalitional development as a cultural process, within already existing cultural networks. The CDI, per se, has nothing to do with changing government structure, or changing voting law, etc. The cultural winnowing aspects of the CDI are effected by its dual-tier voting structure, and that the turnover period of one CDI is short enough (one year) to allow for issues to develop as soon as they become widely pertinent, instead of growing unobserved and unaddressed by government and exploding into violent conflict. The CDI voting mechanism is described in Article I of the Constitution of Sustainability, and I turn the reader to examine it further there.

In the CDI, legitimacy comes from their personal vote totals, and no one is actually running against anyone else which minimizes the mass psychological issues of manipulation. After the group individual recognitions, organizational politics take a very different geographically local and more complex systemic base than gatekept elite public power structures in society. The CDI is designed with the external effect of it as much as the organizational qualities. But what about the lump of centrists? Isn’t that the definition of politically inert? Moderation? Doesn’t that maintain the status quo? I have had this argument before. Presently, we are not living in an epoch of centrist led status quo. We are living in an era of extremist led status quo— allowed due to co-opting of local cultural frames for un-cultural interests. The present status quo is not actively maintained by centrists. It is maintained by the
continuing successful appeals to extremists—from the age of Greek tyranny to the present ‘wrapping oneself in the flag’ of the Republicans and/or the Democrats. It would seem that centrism is intentionally and structurally avoided and deselected against in the present organization of the nation-state, and unrepresentative political ecologies develop which maintain this process.

And back at Letter #20:

Article I.

Section 1.

...To further secure the blessing of sustainability, and to assure that the roots of democracy and sustainability thrive, check, and balance any nascent semblances of a corrupt governmental apparatus, a council of citizens shall be established in all watersheds as a monitoring and civic appreciation body along the following lines and for the following rationales: the framework of the citizen councils shall be a facilitation tool for coalitional building, for the prioritizing of political interests in particular geographies, for environmental monitoring, and for political party agenda formation. To whit, this is summarized in six sections, as follows.

Section 2.
There shall be two stages of voting for the council members, in accordance with two tiers, or procedures and levels, of voting. This is to avoid political party clientelism and to assure the representation of a wide variety of groups and interests. These council members are informal and external to the governmental apparatus, though their existence has a great influence upon later formal politics, grounding and adhering to a particular geography of interests, instead of being manipulated from afar by ideological interests.

There shall be a long first tier followed by a short second tier of voting. All voters with the below qualification can vote once for any persons who have resided in their watershed for at least 10 years. The candidates are the pool of all people who have lived in the watershed for 10 years or shall have been born within a particular watershed and reached ten years of age. The voters for these candidates shall be all citizens over the age of five, though with these residency and/or watershed naturalization requirements. The voters can vote for as many candidates as they want who fulfill their qualification. This is to be a culturally representative body, designed to be comprised of those whom a society of voters in aggregate feels worthy of recognition.

The accumulated social totals will reveal who and where the potentially admired leaders are, without requiring them to ‘run’ for an office—which draws a different caliber of people. This procedure simply ‘spots’ in an informal capacity any citizens
in society, in whatever capacities in which they are already being successful or widely admired. It’s a recognition for what they are doing already, instead of related to how well they can convince people of their future good intentions.

The first tier of voting shall be a nine month period. It is so long as to allow for a slow accumulation of voting totals, instead of only the rush of one day’s voting. This allows time for reflection, discussion, and even withdrawal of one’s vote later if this person does something within the nine month period which warrants poorly on their potential recognition and representation role. Votes can be withdrawn in this nine month period, as well as cast, by submitting another vote, a negative vote, for the previous person in question. The second tier of voting begins after the publication of the first tier’s totals. This list of everyone in the first tier shall become the billet for the second tier of voting.

The second tier is short. It lasts for only a month, in which people can vote for or against anyone on this billet of potential candidates (just like the first nine months, except without one’s vote going to the same person’s total twice). This allows a ‘whittling down’ of vote totals, so that the people who would prefer to avoid seeing this candidate as a cultural representative (and want to vote against them to show it) can do something about it. While this is occurring, citizens can simultaneously can be chipping in’ as well for other candidates, if there is someone whom the first tier of voting has recognized that was forgotten about or who the public was unaware of and whom they feel would be a good cultural representative for the watershed.


Section 3.

These Civic Democratic Institutions in the watershed shall exhibit equality of sex representation. To avoid the ungainliness of the body of potential cultural representatives in terms of sheer size, and to avoid the potentiality that these watershed representatives’ will have incredibly low vote totals for the entire ten month period of voting and will ‘squeeze by’ and be accorded the same public recognition and role as those with larger vote totals, the least common multiple of the sex with the least overall votes (or a multiple the CDI decides themselves) after the second voting tier completion, shall be the determining equal number of the other sex. That addresses the potential ungainly size as well as addresses the equity of gender representation publicly. The ‘trimming’ occurs
from both the top and the bottom of the other group because this addresses a potential ‘stacking’ of the vote totals for any one gender group when the process of creating a public parity is the purpose of the civic democratic institution. This additionally is a means to avoid vote ‘stacking’ because it is counterproductive and it avoids people with large numbers of votes which may result in polarizing a populace. Why explicitly address sex/gender in coalition facilitation? This assures that the CDI is a representative body which can deal equitably with the very different lives and experiences that men and women lead, and it assures that typically patriarchal (or even matriarchal) forms of localized socialization will be checked and balanced against. Different genders have different economic and social positionalities taken as a group, and neglecting this would leave certain social
issues innately covered over if this was unaddressed. If a transsexual person is elected to the CDI, they shall determine whether they are counted as a female, a male, or both (which would leave the male and female total numbers unchanged, thus a neutral effect), in the trimming that achieves the watershed council.

The CDI is designed to widen the cultural discourse upon which politics is based, allowing for more potential for coalition building. In this capacity, the CDI can be a place of developing leadership and speaking skills in a public venue as well.


Section 4.

After the voting totals and sexual parity have been achieved, the CDI is responsible for creating its own procedures of voting, meeting, visiting, investigating—whatever they feel capable of doing as individuals or groups.

Section 5.

In another two months after this process is completed, a first tier of voting commences once more for the subsequent year and the cycle repeats. Thus, each watershed cultural council lasts at least one full year. Beginning with the second year’s watershed council, the previous watershed council shall be body with jurisdiction and conflict resolution within the voting process, and shall
vacate the CDI in the next year.

Section 6.

Particular members of the previous year of course are capable of being reelected to the subsequent year’s CDI, given Section 2. The previous year's CDI shall be the majority ruling body for passing judgment on cases of questionable voting or vote fraud in the next year's tallies, personally recusing themselves from the CDI if they are personally affected with potential reelection.

Section 7.

All watersheds within the Constitution of Sustainability shall have a watershed council inclusive of border regions that occasionally will likely be inclusive of multiple local political jurisdictions, states, or even countries. The watershed is the basis for accurate local representation of a people’s geographic interest, and thus is a foundational principle of the Constitution of Sustainability.

(The young ages help accustom children to participate and ponder their democratic place in a locality, as well as a primer for later life in more formal democratic situations. It sort of sets up two rites of passage at five and ten years of age, when they can become voters and when they can become candidates by acclimation, themselves.)

3/08/2007 10:24 AM  
Blogger ericswan said...

There is a bit of high tech developed by a Calgarian and featured in a group called C.A.W.S.T. Here's a link to the work they are doing.

Here is a link to their high tech

Mark..I'm in survival mode. We may be able to save a few but there is no way we can save the many.

My advice to you is compost, save seeds, find some zeolite in your area and think on your feet.

Again, let me say that you have made some amazing posts. Your synopsis of 911 is very close to the whole ball of wax. I could add a few details, but what you have done already is enough to sustain anyone's intuition (going forward).

3/12/2007 8:47 AM  
Blogger ericswan said...

Mark.. I really feel a kinship with your openminded and obviously well read intelligent posts. Contact me sometime. I would like to send you a few files that aren't available on the net.

3/14/2007 9:06 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

The article I wrote above was based on a segway off differences with Zerzan.

At the link below is someone else's little review providing insight into anarchist Zerzan (who has nothing to do with the bioregional state, though of course, like anyone, would be welcome to work out his ideas with fellow like minds of his in a watershed of their choice as long as they keep externalities down from other areas within the bioregional commonwealth).

Zerzan's misleading polemic against Chomsky, where Zerzan looks the ignorant fool.:

8/01/2007 8:13 AM  

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