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Initiating a Global Citizens Movement for the Great Transition

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Journey to Earthland is a recently released book by the Great Transition Initiative (GTI), a worldwide network of activist scholars with a unique purpose—to advance “a vision and praxis for global transformation”. Few civil society organisations have such a broad focus on transformational strategies towards a new global social-ecological system, as condensed and overviewed in this latest publication by GTI’s director, Paul Raskin. The short and accessible book presents a majestic overview of our historic juncture and expounds the urgent need for systemic change, with a hopeful vision of a flourishing civilisation that has long inspired Share The World’s Resources (STWR) in our complementary proposals for peaceful mass civic engagement.gt_fp_clear.png

The phrase ‘Earthland’ adopted by Raskin relates to the Planetary Phase of civilisation that GTI conceptualise as the coming era, in which humanity embraces its increasing interdependence through a new ethos of global solidarity and a transformed political community of cooperative nations. With the first part of the book summarising the evolving phases in human history since the earliest dawn of man, the Planetary Phase is finally “born of systemic crisis”, requiring a corresponding systemic response that can shape an inclusive and sustainable future for all.

Earthland is the idealised outcome of this great transition, brought to life in the final part of the book where three archetypal regions are explored: Agoria (with its market emphasis and socialised economy, or ‘Sweden Supreme’), Ecodemia (distinguished by its economic democracy and collectivist ethos), and Arcadia (accentuating self-reliant economies and a ‘small-is-beautiful’ enthusiasm). Raskin argues that such a compelling vision of “One World, Many Places” may seem remote, but should not be dismissed out-of-hand—just as sovereign states may have once seemed an implausible dream to eighteenth-century sceptics.

Central to the book’s thesis is the question of collective action, and the need for a “vast cultural and political arising” that can bring this new world into being. The rationale for a new form of global citizens movement is made throughout the book, drawing upon much of the analysis and propositions in GTI’s canon. It is the missing actor on the world stage, an overarching systemic movement that includes all the many struggles for peace, justice and sustainability, yet remains united under a broad umbrella of common concerns and universal values. Raskin and the GTI make a convincing case that such a movement may be our only hope of avoiding a “Fortress World” or “Barberisation” future, as long as a movement for a great transition can fill the vacuum in political leadership and lay the foundations for a “post-growth material era”, and a true “global demos” or “planetary democracy”.

From an STWR perspective, the book hits all the right notes in sketching out a more equal and vibrant civilisation that exists within planetary boundaries. It envisages a new paradigm in which economies are a means for attaining social and environmental ends, not an end in themselves; in which economic equity is the prerequisite in a shift towards post-consumerist societies, while poverty elimination is “a galvanising priority”; and in which continued economic growth is equally shared both within and between regions, until Global North-South disparities have vanished.

In the imagined social dimensions of Earthland, we also find a more leisured society where everyone is guaranteed a basic income, and where the pursuit of money has given way to non-market endeavours that enable genuine “sharing economies” and the art of living to flourish. Raskin even outlines the new modes of trade and global governance for a Commonwealth of Earthland, including world bodies that marshal “solidarity funds” to needy areas, thus ensuring a truly communitarian and interdependent economy.

“The real question is how a global citizens movement can actually emerge in these socially polarised times, when even the prospect of uniting Western societies to welcome refugees is a forlorn challenge.”

What’s most interesting about ‘Journey to Earthland’ is its almost spiritual exhortations for a shared planetary civilisation, often expressed in eloquent passages that variously define the need for an enlarged sense of human identity that extends beyond national boundaries. “Interdependence in the objective realm of political economy cultivates, in the subjective realm of human consciousness, an understanding of people and planet as a single community,” the author writes. Similarly, he states: “This augmented solidarity is the correlative in consciousness of the interdependence in the external world.”

The author also depicts the “three-fold way of transition” in diagrammatic form, illuminating the need for a fundamental change in human consciousness (the “ontological” and “normative” realms), as well as in the social model (or “institutional” realm). Stressing the “longing for wholeness” that distinguishes the values of a Great Transition, he also cites the origin of these universal values that remain the sine qua non of human life: “All along, the tangible political and cultural expressions of the Great Transition were rooted in a parallel transition underway in the intangible realm of the human heart.”

The real question, however, is how a global citizens movement can actually emerge in these socially polarised times, when even the prospect of uniting Western societies to welcome refugees is a forlorn challenge. Raskin provides a cogent theoretical perspective on how a mass movement can be galvanized, built on cultural or “normative solidarity” and a sense of “emotive unity”. Emphasis is placed on the need for proactive organising strategies, as well as an “integrated strategic and intellectual framework” that can connect the full spectrum of global issues. The times cry out, writes Raskin, for large-scale campaigns with the explicit purpose of catalysing a transformative social movement along these lines. But still we await a truly international effort of this nature to emerge, while most single-issue movements are increasingly entrenched in local or regional struggles as the trends of inequality, conflict and environmental degradation generally worsen.

This is where STWR’s advocacy position departs from the GTI, despite fundamentally agreeing with their broad analysis and vision for a consciousness shift towards a Planetary Phase of civilisation. To be sure, the greatest hope for the future rests with new solidarities being forged on the global stage, with the welfare of the collective whole being prioritised above the welfare of any one particular group, class or nation. But what does this actually mean in the present moment, when discrepancies in global living standards are so extreme that millions of people are currently at risk from dying of hunger or other poverty-related causes, while 8 billionaires own more wealth than the poorest half of the world? Furthermore, is it realistic to expect the 4.3 billion people who subsist on less than $5-a-day to join a global citizens movement, if their basic socioeconomic rights are not at the forefront of any such planetary endeavour?

From this immediate perspective of a starkly divided world, the answer for how to catalyse a united voice of ordinary people may be unexpected in the end. For perhaps what’s missing from most Western-led campaigning initiatives and protest actions is not the right intellectual strategy, but a sufficient focus on the hardships and suffering experienced by the very poorest citizens within the world population. Perhaps the spark that will initiate an unprecedented demonstration of global unity is not to be found in the human mind at all, but in the simple attributes of the human heart—as Raskin himself appears to intuitively recognise. He writes: “As connectivity globalizes in the external world, so might empathy globalise in the human heart.” The question that remains is: how can that collective empathy be initially catalysed, and on what basis—given the fact that tens of thousands of people are needlessly dying each day without sufficient help from governments or the public-at-large?

This is the starting point for STWR’s understanding of how to unify citizens of the richest and poorest nations on a common platform, based on the awareness of an international humanitarian emergency that our mainstream Western culture tends to largely ignore. Hence our proposal for enormous, continuous and truly global demonstrations that call upon the United Nations to guarantee Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—for adequate food, housing, healthcare and social security for all—until governments finally commit to an emergency redistribution programme in line with the Brandt Commission proposals in 1980.

As STWR’s founder Mohammed Mesbahi has explicated in a different kind of political treatise titled ‘Heralding Article 25: A people’s strategy for world transformation’, such unprecedented protests across the world may be the last chance we have of influencing governments to redistribute resources and restructure the global economy. It may also be the only hope for initiating a global citizens movement, bringing together millions of people for a shared planetary cause—and ultimately paving the way for all the social, economic and political transformations that are inspiringly promoted by the GTI.

Common Dreams

20 Comments on "Initiating a Global Citizens Movement for the Great Transition"

  1. Apneaman on Tue, 28th Feb 2017 2:52 pm 

    Now there’s some over privileged and coddled Ivory Tower retards with their heads up their asses.

    Journey to Earthland? How about a Journey to the US?

    Not so much.

    US tourism experiences a ‘Trump slump’

    Analysts estimate that President Trump has cost the US travel industry $185m in lost revenue, with significant drop in flight searches and bookings

    “Data released this week by travel search engine Kayak reported a 58% decline in searches for flights to Tampa and Orlando from the UK, and a 52% decline in searches for Miami. Searches for San Diego were also down 43%, Las Vegas by 36% and Los Angeles 32%.”

    “It is the latest in a string of reports from the travel industry that suggests a “Trump slump”, with the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) estimating that since being elected President Trump has cost the US travel industry $185m in lost revenue.”

    Soft Blowback

  2. onlooker on Tue, 28th Feb 2017 2:54 pm 

    I do applaud this article and the movement it refers too for highlighting the essential need to change not just in the economic/social/political arena but in the heart. If a chance exists to somehow go through the now inevitable bottleneck we have created for ourselves with a cohesive and functioning society it would be because humans decided to unite in a profound sense. I do not know if this can happen now considering the degree in which we have altered the Biosphere and also considering that our history does not bode well for a peaceful united coexistence among each other.

  3. Davy on Tue, 28th Feb 2017 2:55 pm 

    Its too late baby now its too late but we really did try to make it.

    The scale and timing of this hopium is not valid. What may be valid is a transition or a lessor transformation for some lucky and enlightened locals. Maybe if efforts get started soon enough small regions can adapt.

    What is going to play out is a rebalance on multiple levels converging in an narrow window of time making the effects overwhelming. It may be the case that a beneficial crisis results that changes behaviors. A beneficial crisis does not mean without pain. No one will be able to hide from what is coming because it is at a planetary level and encompasses the entire global economy. We are all exposed to both and that is rich and poor alike.

    Do not expect the top to adapt. The top will collapse like a house of cards at an undetermined systematic minimum. It will be those areas with grass roots of sustainability and resilience that have a chance.

    If you survive the first round more will be coming. There will be no rest until society has adapted to a much smaller population and consumption foot print. This is a paradigm shift comparable to man’s move to agriculture. Prepare now while you have time. If nothing else live and love life now if you are blessed with a good life.

  4. rockman on Tue, 28th Feb 2017 3:17 pm 

    Apeman – What’s wrong with you, buddy? Can’t you enjoy a well crafted SciFi work of fiction like the rest of us? LOL.

    “praxis”: OK some honesty…who besides Rockman had to look up its meaning? Yeah, J6P could really appreciate such a word smith. LOL.

    From wiki: Praxis (Ancient Greek) is the process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted, embodied, or realized. “Praxis” may also refer to the act of engaging, applying, exercising, realizing, or practising ideas.

    Used in a sentence: “There ain’t no f*cking praxis that will get us to where we need to get.”

  5. penury on Tue, 28th Feb 2017 4:40 pm 

    I will second what rockman said.

  6. makati1 on Tue, 28th Feb 2017 7:17 pm 

    The snowflakes and their gurus are really out there these days. Read the headline and the last paragraph. The only ‘movement’ millions are going to have is in their bowels. Enough time wasted.

  7. Apneaman on Tue, 28th Feb 2017 7:41 pm 

    As global food demand rises, climate change is hitting our staple crops

  8. Apneaman on Tue, 28th Feb 2017 7:42 pm 


    “The Dadaab camps–the largest in the world–are reported to receive as many as 1,300 refugees a day, the majority fleeing war-torn Somalia. These camps house almost 400,000 displaced people in three camps originally designated for 90,000.

    Other countries in the Horn of Africa are being severely affected by drought. Successive seasons of failed rains—combined with increasing food prices, conflict and limited humanitarian access—have resulted in food and water shortages, acute malnutrition and mass displacement throughout the region. The lack of rain has also contributed to massive livestock deaths undermining the livelihoods of those who depend on them for economic and food security. Estimates are that there are at least 1.5 million displaced people—and 10 million people in need of immediate food assistance as a result of this crisis.”

  9. Apneaman on Tue, 28th Feb 2017 8:00 pm 

    At least Canadian diabetes juice is getting a bump from AGW.

    ‘Disturbingly warm’ temperatures bring early maple syrup season

    “Record-setting weather over the weekend has paved the way for an early maple syrup season in New Brunswick.

    Heather Fraser, natural resource program co-ordinator for the City of Moncton, said the sap has already been running for three days at the Moncton maple sugar camp.”

    “On Saturday the mercury rose to 11 C, breaking the previous record of 8.9 C set in 1915. On Sunday the high reached 10.2 C, which beat the record from 1916 of 7.2 C.

    “It’s not like you’re just beating these records by a few tenths of a degree,” Allen said. You’re beating them by two or three degrees and these records have stood for over 100 years.

    “That is almost disturbingly warm for this time of the year.”

  10. Apneaman on Tue, 28th Feb 2017 8:02 pm 

    Dear Geebus, please let Nony be alright.

    San Diego under water thanks to heavy flooding

    Heavy rainfall in southern California has caused severe flooding in San Diego. Even Petco Park, the city’s baseball stadium, found itself under a few inches of water. Click through the slideshow to see the astounding images from around the city.

  11. makati1 on Tue, 28th Feb 2017 8:21 pm 

    Warming? What warming?

    “2017, 10:39 am ET
    No Snow Chicago: Windy City Having Non-White Winter for First Time in Nearly 150 Years”

    And the heat goes on….

  12. GregT on Tue, 28th Feb 2017 11:26 pm 

    I was so completely mesmerized by the artist’s rendition of techno-utopia, that I missed reading the entire article.

    (the C-130 bringing in a fresh supply of batteries was an especially nice touch)

  13. onlooker on Tue, 28th Feb 2017 11:40 pm 

    “and in which continued economic growth is equally shared both within and between regions, ”
    Sorry even my wishful thinking has limits

  14. makati1 on Wed, 1st Mar 2017 1:48 am 

    Wasn’t this place described in some book? Oh, yeah! The Bible! But you had to die to go there.

  15. onlooker on Wed, 1st Mar 2017 3:12 am 

    Supposed to go up to 70 today then down to the 30’s Friday here in NY ,friggin weird

  16. GregT on Wed, 1st Mar 2017 10:44 am 

    We’ve now had snow on the ground here for 3 entire months onlooker. We normally get a deluge of rain all winter long, with a couple of snowfalls mixed in. When it does snow, it seldom lasts for longer than one or two days at the most. The temperatures overall have actually been warmer than normal. I know, it doesn’t make any sense. The forecast is for more snow Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. We are expected to get another 30 to 50 cm. Everyone around these parts is completely fed up with all of the snow. Everybody is talking about how fucked up this is.

  17. Cloggie on Wed, 1st Mar 2017 3:40 pm 

    China Will Replace All 67,000 Fossil-Fueled Taxis In Beijing With Electric Cars

  18. Apneaman on Wed, 1st Mar 2017 5:22 pm 

    clog, remember before what I was saying about Wikipedia?

    Investigation Reveals That Wikipedia’s Bots Are in a Silent, Never-Ending War With Each Other

    “Wikipedia, the fifth most popular website on the internet – according to Wikipedia – has amassed an amazing 40 million entries since its launch in 2001, but underneath all that free information, a cold cyber war has been waging.

    A new analysis of the first 10 years of Wikipedia has found that huge numbers of automated software ‘bots’ – editing algorithms powered by artificial intelligence (AI) – are embroiled in epic, ongoing disputes over articles, continually reverting each others’ edits in a desperate bid to have the last word.

    “The fights between bots can be far more persistent than the ones we see between people,” researcher Taha Yasseri from the University of Oxford in the UK told The Guardian.

    “Humans usually cool down after a few days, but the bots might continue for years.”

    ‘it was the Jews damn it! no it wasn’t, yes it was no it wasn’t, yes it was no it wasn’t, yes it was no it wasn’t, yes it was no it wasn’t, yes it was no it wasn’t, yes it was no it wasn’t, yes it was….’

  19. makati1 on Wed, 1st Mar 2017 7:23 pm 

    Ap, you are so correct. WIKI is suspect in any area. So are most other info sites that are either selling something or an idea. It is the readers’ problem to decide how much is fact and how much is fiction. I maintain that the only way to get a clear(er) idea is to read many sources and see what picture forms out of your own experience, intelligence and common sense.

    Many of us see that climate change is real because we have read a lot of different source articles and observe our own surroundings. Those in denial either cheery pick their facts, are stupid, or just in deep denial because the answer is not the one they want to see. Snowflakes.

    For instance: Which major city is the most polluted? If you relied on U$ sources… Beijing. But you would be wrong. India is the Empires friend, although the most dirty cities are located there. Several times worse than Beijing. But China is on the Empire’s propaganda shit list so…

    Again, many “different” source if you want a clear picture.

  20. Apneaman on Wed, 1st Mar 2017 9:33 pm 

    mak, I currently working on my own info site.


    Mak, I don’t think it matters all that much which city one lives in. It’s a toxic planet.

    Scientists categorize Earth as a ‘toxic planet’

    “Humans emit more than 250 billion tonnes of chemical substances a year, in a toxic avalanche that is harming people and life everywhere on the planet.

    “Earth, and all life on it, are being saturated with man-made chemicals in an event unlike anything in the planet’s entire history,” says Julian Cribb, author of ‘Surviving the 21st Century’ (Springer International 2017).

    “Every moment of our lives we are exposed to thousands of these substances. They enter our bodies with each breath, meal or drink we take, the clothes and cosmetics we wear, the things we encounter every day in our homes, workplaces and travel.

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