visser_logo_small.gif (1783 bytes)Work in a SustainabIe Society:
Values for New Economic Relationships
Miller, page 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6

Section headings:

dot.gif (101 bytes) I. Values underlying current economic relationships dot.gif (101 bytes)

III.a   Mondragon's Society of Cooperatives

dot.gif (101 bytes) II. Values for new economic relationships in a sustainable society dot.gif (101 bytes)

III.b   Korten's People-Centered Economy

dot.gif (101 bytes) II.a  Basic Moral Presumptions dot.gif (101 bytes)

III.c   Daly and Cobb's Wholistic Community of Communities

dot.gif (101 bytes) II.b Moral Priorities dot.gif (101 bytes)

III.d   Theobald's Economic Security Plan

dot.gif (101 bytes) II.c   Applying the Moral Presumptions and Priorities dot.gif (101 bytes) IV. Actions for transformation
dot.gif (101 bytes) III. Some visions of what could be


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 IV. Action for transformation

What does it mean to be an agent of systemic change in this context? Progressive economist, Gar Alperovitz, author of a seminal l990 article, suggested that revolution is unlikely in the West to achieve results in accord with the basic values of equality, liberty, democracy, ecological responsibility, and community. He argues that this plan could be financed by effectively rearranging current resources. Putting purchasing power in the hands of those presently denied it would make possible the use of presently unused capacity. Government expenditures to restrict production, advertising expenditures to stimulate consumption, for example could be redirected. Reform of the current system is necessary to reduce human suffering and environmental damage, but it is not enough. What is needed is reconstruction according to a new vision -- "the difficult path of slowly building new ways, and as these gather force, adding to them both institutionally and through political demands oriented to new institutional goals."  ["Building A Living Democracy: A Whole New Way of Thinking About Politics and Economics," Sojourners (June, 1990), 11-23.]

In practical terms this kind of reconstruction involves developing a clear vision of a transformed society, and sustained, committed multifaceted action shaped by a new intentionality rooted in the values of that emerging vision. This type of systemic change requires a critical mass of people acting out of this new intentionality in various roles according to their talents. Committed individuals and institutions acting in each of eight roles are essential for systemic change:

  1. Some must be about studying, researching and teaching the various elements of a new vision, and the institutions needed; doing the social analysis and building the case for change -- as the Ecumenical Leadership Foundation is doing.
  2. Some must focus on building the value base, the spirituality for the vision - developing new attitudes, new preferences, the affect around new values of community, equality, real freedom, co-responsibility; helping develop social conscience among people. This will be the work of poets, storytellers, musicians, artists, dramatists, preachers, video producers.
  3. All must commit to choosing individual and corporate lifestyles that are consistent with a world in which all people have opportunity to live in dignity, and in which we live in harmony with the natural world.
  4. Some have to be about creating the alternative patterns and institutions that will embody the new vision - as the people of Mondragon and other cooperatives around the world are doing.
  5. All of us have to be involved in transforming existing institutions from within according to the new values -- our families, our churches, our educational institutions, the organizations of which we are members, the corporations in which we are shareholders and or employees.
  6. Some must focus on strategizing and organizing to work for political change and all of us have to participate as active citizens to make public policy on all levels more just, humane and ecologically responsible.
  7. All of us have to be involved in standing in opposition to all that goes in the wrong direction -- participating in boycotts, civil disobedience, using our influence to speak the truth to power. [This listing builds on the paradigm suggested by economist, James Robertson in his book The Sane Alternative: A Choice of Futures (St. Paul, MN: River Basin Publishing Co., l978)]
  8. All of us have to strive toward living out of an integrated kin[g]dom centered spirituality which resists harmful dualisms that isolate the economic aspect of our lives from the influence of the full moral presumptions of our faith.

No one of these actions is sufficient; all are necessary for transformational social change.

The power of this integrated paradigm of action for systemic transformation is twofold: 1) it does not let anyone claim there is nothing s/he can do for systemic change; it demystifies it and enables everyone to take responsibility for some part of the necessary action; 2) it gives a glimpse of the power of a committed group of people to effect change; it makes it possible to grasp how it can happen. It gives credence to Margaret Mead's familiar words: "Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that ever has."

Being agents of systemic change in our time calls us to keep our eyes clearly on the vision of a transformed world shaped by the moral presumptions of our faith and to participate actively in the reform of current systems as part of moving toward that transformed world of sustainable societies where all people can live and work in dignity.

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