New Internationalist

Give Us Your Dreams

Issue 342

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Another world is possible / DREAMS

Give us your dreams
We asked NI readers for their own visions of a better world, from practical
suggestions to utopian grand schemes. Here are some of the responses...

Another world is possible.

 

Common heritage
The answer to global warming and world poverty and the other problems caused by capitalism can only be found within a world framework. So we are talking about a united world without frontiers, no longer divided into separate and competing states. This will save all the resources currently wasted on armed forces and arms – and actual wars – that could be redirected into satisfying basic human needs.

Second, all the productive resources of the world should become the common heritage of all the people of the world. They must no longer be owned by corporations, rich private individuals or states. There are already treaties saying that Antarctica and the moon cannot be appropriated by individuals or states. The same principle should apply to the whole planet, not just to its natural resources but also to the industrial plants and means of transport and communication that humans have built up by their collective labour over the centuries.

Third, appropriate democratic institutions will need to be set up to control the use of this common heritage – at world, regional and local levels.

Fourth, goods will have to be produced solely and directly to satisfy people’s needs, not as at present to make a profit: the whole market system of buying and selling, and the whole wasteful structure of financial and commercial institutions that arises from it, must go.

Adam Buick Brussels, Belgium

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Fear and faith
We have always known what it takes for equality, justice, peace and freedom to exist for every human. Over history our collective subconscious has invented a basic code for humanity to live by, in the form of religion. Individually, our conscience is that part of us that was inherited to make sure we lived in all the ways proven to work for the human species. It contains our predisposition to co-operation, love, non-violence and selflessness.

The real question is not how to change but why we won’t. Fear of our own hunger and sadness, of slavery, of all the injustices we’ve inflicted on others? Fear of ourselves? Faith was supposed to release us from fear of the short term so we could live the way we need to and succeed in the long term. How much faith do you have in our species to survive?

Kelly Watt Brisbane, Australia

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The amber beacon
The ideal world, as it stands in our current understanding of the term, is simply unreachable. It stands like a small, amber beacon glowing feebly amidst a frustratingly imperfect planet. The alternative state of global perfection, and an eminently achievable one, consists of not having everything we want, but being totally satisfied with everything we have. A world in which our individual goals, our greatest and most idiosyncratic fantasies, are thrust aside so that we might achieve a common good.

If we continue to pursue our own good in our own way, as we have done for countless centuries, we will not be presented with one utopia: we will have two billion, the preserve of the wealthy, the ignorant, the blindfolded writer, the deaf musician. As for the remaining billions, they will remain the world’s eternal wanderers, searching and losing their way in the mire of contemporary society. Utopia must come from the people, not the person; from the heart, not the head.

Benjamin Brooker Happy Valley, South Australia

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Preliminary potpourri
I offer the following potpourri of proposals for a ‘transitional’ state – reforms that would be necessary as preliminary measures before more radical programs could be considered.

  • Basing the economy primarily on renewable resources. Abolishing the commercial as well as the military use of nuclear power.

  • Requiring corporations that do business nationally to receive charters of incorporation, and to revoke those charters on their conviction for environmental crimes.

  • Renegotiating trade agreements to provide for minimum labor and environmental standards, and establishing a Tobin Tax on speculative transactions to provide a fund for the countries of the South.

  • Cancelling structural-adjustment approaches of the IMF/World Bank and permitting countries to develop their own distinctive economic paths toward self-sufficiency.

  • Requiring corporations to dedicate a minimum percentage of shares to consumer/worker groups and to the communities where they do business – so that profitability is not their only concern.

  • Encouraging the formation of consumer and producer co-operatives through tax incentives.

  • Divesting corporations of the same ‘citizenship’ rights as people and returning to the original idea of the corporation as a kind of joint-stock association formed temporarily to accomplish a specific purpose.

Josh Blume Washington DC, US

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The way home
A world based on satisfying the needs of all instead of providing profits for the few; where there are no countries or nations but many different cultures living in harmony. There will be no wars, crusades or fatwas. All these, whatever we are told at the time, are fought for the advantage of capitalists who grow fat on profits they make from sale of war materials and then from the ‘enemy’ who has been subdued. We will need no leaders to try to fill our heads with notions of patriotism and ‘our’ just cause. From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs – socialism, the true meaning of which escapes or is anathema to the world’s leaders. To achieve it we must understand what it means and want it. If you know the way home, you do not need anyone to lead you up the wrong road.

Eva Tenner Market Harborough, England

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Supernatural solution
No human system, no matter how carefully and idealistically crafted, will create a better world. All in the end are corrupted by self-interest or greed. Eliminating poverty is impossible and in any case, as anyone who has observed Third World people knows, relatively low levels of income enhance rather than hinder happiness.

Only one thing works – the inner change for the better in individuals who have had some kind of illumination from a supernatural entity. NI readers won’t like it, but it works. I call the entity God, and I have experienced in myself and seen in many others radical changes towards beneficial behaviour, which have significantly improved the social units in which they occur. If enough people were to have the same experience, the world would be a very much better place than it is.

Stewart Lane Limbe, Malawi

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Renting the future
If civilization is to survive we will have to change to a co-operative system.

The idea of not owning personal property may seem unthinkable but it would be quite possible to live on a rental basis – a kind of pay-for-use system. As soon as a thing was no longer needed, it would be returned to the community. Normal wear and tear would be included in the rent. This concept operates today for leased apartments, automobiles, computers, furniture and for utilities (telephone, electricity, cable TV).

What I envision is a society where the concept of exchange is non-existent. Everyone would work for the community and everyone would receive the same income from the community, not as a reward for working, but for being a citizen. Income would consist of share units issued on a regular basis. They would be used only for purchase of consumables (such as food) and for rent, but could not be exchanged or even given away.

EP Wilson Gabriola, BC, Canada

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After oil, silence
I believe that when the oil is exhausted (present predictions, about 20 years), the Western world will change dramatically. The present tired old saying that ‘we must live in the real world of technological gadgetry’ will disappear, and with it the frenetic, ridiculously complicated world brought about by the old money. Once the oil is gone, the old order will crumble. Living will begin again.

Without oil, the world will be silent once more. Travel will be restricted, and people will quickly learn to live without it. By pooling their skills and knowledge they will build only that which is necessary to maintain healthy, vibrant, sustainable communities. There will be no waste, because everything will be reused. Many people will return to the land, working side by side with nature, in blissful harmony. They will begin to live and work in a way that many on the Earth have already chosen to do.

David Harvey Chippenham, England

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The only hope we have
My hope is that, once informed, people will get involved with local networks working for peaceful change. In many Western societies, communities need to be rebuilt to determine their shared and essential needs. If communities cannot provide their own agriculture, they cannot guarantee food security. Sustainable agriculture is the only hope we have of properly feeding the world’s population now and in the future. I am convinced that when communities are rebuilt around agriculture organized locally and sustainably, then economies will naturally re-localize and people can reclaim a stake in their future health and happiness.

Buy locally and buy certified organic (especially meat). Grow some of your own food (it’s so easy). Provide an example of sustainable principles in your life.

Brett Ryan Queensland, Australia

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Production councils
I would like to see a system where wealth production and distribution were in the hands of the people and subject to real democracy. Production would be to fulfil the self-determined needs of individuals and not subject to the ability to pay or the need to realize profits. In fact, such a system would have to abolish money and institute a system of free access to be truly viable. What to produce, how and by whom would be decided by local councils elected street by street and instantly recallable. What couldn’t be produced locally would be produced regionally, organized by representatives from local councils. What couldn’t be produced regionally would be directed by a world council similar to the United Nations (but one that actually carried out its charter). Internationally, this system would obviate present-day states, their arbitrary boundaries and their unresponsive and undemocratic governments.

Sounds like Utopia? I think not. It would only take the awareness of the working class to realize their own potential considering their overwhelming majority. Is it not much more utopian to expect our present system to bring forth such a world considering they’ve had 200 years to do so?

John Ayers Cobourg, Ontario, Canada

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Forest gardening utopia
Four important visionaries have perceived a progressive utopia in recent times – Gandhi, William Morris, Aldous Huxley and Bill Mollison.

Gandhi spoke in terms of widening circles of self-sufficient home craft villages. If we include in this vision the traditional forest gardening that Robert Hart revived then, bearing in mind the broader permaculture scheme of holistic integral living, we add some of the spiritual socialism of Huxley’s Island, we might be getting there. Bill Mollison provides all the practical blueprints for environmental design, including garden cities.

The problem lies in how we are to effect the transition. It needs will and intention that come from the heart and soul to renounce what we have in the West and work together at grassroots level for a simpler, better society. But culture based on cottage industry and gardening has been a satisfactory way of life for many through much of our history. Whether this change comes about through catastrophe, revolution, or more desirably evolution (a global leap of awareness), come about it must if we are to reverse the wrongs of our civilization and survive on this planet.

Carlo Davis Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

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Liberating the human spirit
Our collective path towards a just future must be one of comprehensive and profound revolution, from the personal to the communal.

I can imagine a global community with no private property beyond immediate possessions, no need for money, no racism or sexism, no enslavement of children, no profit motive to drive the oppression of working people, no battles over personal interpretation of spirituality, and no disrespect for the ‘other’. If I can imagine it, so can you. If we can imagine it, then we can build it. The most spectacular beauty inherent in humanity is our creative process. Let us engage that creativity in liberating the human spirit and treading forward toward justice for all.

Samantha George Smart Minneapolis, US


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