Fresh Shoots from a Dead Tree: The Bioregional State Compared and Contrasted to Green and Libertarian Ideologies, Pt. 1/4
The dead tree referenced in this post is the current ill-equipped and corrupt form of formal democracy. The fresh shoots are the novel ecological checks and balances of the bioregional state. These fresh shoots are required to allow further growth toward sustainability and sound democracy instead of passively allowing the dead tree to topple and destroy democracy with it which is the direction it is leaning.
Arguably, it is the direction that all territorial state societies historically have leaned—their predictable self-destruction—without the institutional adaptions of the bioregional state.
This is the first of a four part post. I summarize (via quotes, follow links for more) much of the blog's commentary on the bioregional state in the process of addressing this novel topic. I’ll compare the bioregional state to sentiments of green and libertarian thought--and even green libertarian thought which is described as:
"...[b]ased upon a mixture of political third party values, such as the environmental platform from the U.S. Green Party and the civil liberties platform of the U.S. Libertarian Party, the green libertarian philosophy attempts to consolidate socially progressive values with economic conservatism. A green libertarian would be an individual who adheres to libertarian political philosophy as well as to green ideology. While these are not traditionally seen going hand-in-hand, the two are not necessarily incompatible. For example, free market economics and environmentalism are combined in the concept of free market environmentalism."Another mixed area of green libertarianism is geolibertarianism, described as:
"a libertarian political philosophy that holds, like other forms of libertarian individualism, that each individual has an exclusive right to the fruits of his or her labor, as opposed to this product being owned collectively by society or the community. In other words, geolibertarians support private property. However, unlike "royalist" forms of libertarianism, geolibertarianism holds that all land is a common asset to which all individuals have an equal right to access, and therefore if individuals claim the land as their property they must pay rent to the community for doing so. Geolibertarians generally advocate distributing the land rent to the community via a land value tax, as proposed by Henry George and others before him….Geolibertarians are generally influenced by Georgism, but the ideas behind it pre-date Henry George, and can be found in different forms in the writings of John Locke, the French Physiocrats, Thomas Jefferson, Adam Smith, Thomas Paine, James Mill (John Stuart Mill's father), David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, and Herbert Spencer. Perhaps the best summary of geolibertarianism is Thomas Paine's assertion that "Men did not make the earth. It is the value of the improvements only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property. Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds." On the other hand, Locke wrote that private land ownership should be praised, as long as its product was not left to spoil and there was "enough, and as good left in common for others"…A third intersection is left-libertarianism:
“Left-libertarianism combines the libertarian premise that each person possesses a natural right of self-ownership with the egalitarian premise that natural resources should be shared equally. Left-libertarianism holds that unappropriated natural resources are either unowned or owned in common, believing that private appropriation is only legitimate if everyone can appropriate an equal amount, or if private appropriation is taxed to compensate those who are excluded from natural resources. This contrasts with right libertarians who argue for a right to appropriate unequal parts of the external world,…”So a theme I will touch on is that green and libertarian ideologies represent analytical tools that are approaching from different historical discourses, the same common ecological self-interest.
This ecological self-interest is a common theme in societies past and present: our desire to formulate a sustainable life and politics. This sustainable life and politics is constructed against a corrupt, unlocalized, state-elite edifice forcing them to experience externalities in health, ecology, and economic unsustainability—the latter typically by forms of forced clientelism and forced lack of choices in consumer items and political choices, particularly the lack of sustainable ones. (Examples of that  )
However, instead of an ideological position, the bioregional state is a formal institutional apparatus. It is designed to maintain social and ecological diversity.
”The bioregional state is a framework of protecting preexisting forms of ethnobotany and human diversity. Species die for lack of diversity, including humans. Species as well die because of ignorance of the destructions of their environment--because bodily their environment is themselves. However, the bioregional state is more than wistfully or sentimentally protecting pre-existing forms of ethnobotany and human diversity. It is a manner for such frameworks to be the developmental and political economic program itself--expanded as much as protected, institutionally.”And it is designed to demote the crony raw material regimes of corrupt state elites that have criminally curtailed--by biased forms of unrepresentative legislation, unrepresentative formal institutional designs, and biased informal party gatekeeping--locally optimal choices in various materials:
“[T]he bioregional state argues that with so many solutions already in evidence though simply unapplied, it is unable to be said that there is a lack of solutions that is keeping sustainability from occurring. On the contrary, it is political, economic, and technological corruption and gatekeeping against the massive supermajorities of the world that is keeping us from sustainability. Corruption is keeping us from living in representative democracies and maintaining a representative developmentalism. This corruption keeps us living within crony raw material regimes instead of arrangements more democratic and consumer-choice driven that would look closer to the commodity ecology arrangement instead of commodity arrangements that destroy the planet. In existing democracies many conflicts of interest keep unsustainability in place. Only by creating additional formal 'ecological checks and balances' can we address these conflicts of interest and innately allow our political economies to be more directly 'in sync' with this global support for environmentalism, sound economics, and sound health practices."To maintain and enhance biological and social diversity, a series of optimized institutions help local populations formulate the priorities of their own local ecological self-interest:
http://biostate.blogspot.com/2006/06/section-three-commodity-ecology.html http://biostate.blogspot.com/2006/04/multiple-states-work-toward-universal.html http://biostate.blogspot.com/2006/03/local-states-win-to-stop-bush-desire.html http://biostate.blogspot.com/2006/02/labelling-and-localism-local-is.html http://biostate.blogspot.com/2006/02/local-wing-of-politics-progressivism.html http://biostate.blogspot.com/2006/02/report-voter-owned-elections-in-maine.html http://biostate.blogspot.com/2006/01/genetic-engineers-or-genetic.html
Anyone can populate a watershed and run it sustainably on their own democratic designs with these facilitating institutions as long as the watershed avoids polluting other linked watersheds nearby and as long as universalistic human rights are protected in the watershed. In both these cases, a bioregional commonwealth of institutions becomes ironically more preserving of the realities of local sustainability than direct autonomy. Mere autarky unfortunately in the minds of some greens and libertarians is a valid way to support localism. However, it is a poor manner in which to protect localism because it leaves open the possibility of unfortunately poorly representative watersheds ‘autonomously’ polluting nearby more representative watersheds or even repressing the civil rights of its local population minorities.
First, since pollution is a flow and transboundary issue--instead of only a site or source pollution issue--the bioregional state is required to formulate the conflict resolution arrangements across linked watersheds in the interest of maintaining wider social and ecological diversity. Second, since universalistic human rights being maintained is an important check and balance against ignoring categorically those who experience more externalities, these bioregional commonwealth institutions of the bioregional state follow this definition:
"Bioregional democracy (or the bioregional state) is a series 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."These additional ecological checks and balances provide solutions for the formal, informal, and ecological corruption interactions generating the ongoing developmental cronyism of consumptive consolidation and environmental degradation. From the book:
“This is a wholly novel ecological approach to democratic political theory and the purposes and responsibilities of democratic states. It is a wholly novel formal institutional design concept for how to achieve sustainability. It involves asking what was unfortunately left out of Enlightenment democratic theorizations, and it involves asking what are the other formal prerequisites for an age of sustainability. It means joining our sense of formal institutions and environmentalism as interrelated instead of unrelated topics. The significance of the bioregional state is that it is the first attempt to analyze sustainability or unsustainability as the outcome of the way formal democratic institutions are organized. Most environmentalists and academics entirely lack the vocabulary to discuss this.The bioregional state would bring the state institutions ‘in sync’ with such an ecological self-interest:
First, in terms of what Enlightenment theorists neglected, different formal institutions of democracy always are involved in different informal political and environmental contexts which have been left under-theorized as to their interactions with the formal institutional frameworks. These three factors of formal institutions, informal politics, and environmental contexts should instead be considered holistically as one piece in the bioregional state, instead of simply concentrating on a biased approach that only analyzes formal institutions by themselves. Otherwise, only formally degradative states which facilitate and underwrite informal politics of environmental degradation can result because existing formal institutions are based on ignoring and denying these innate interconnections.
Second, following from this, I would argue that on these informal political and environmental factors that influence all formal states, existing democracies are innately biased on levels of formal design by informal political interests toward expanding environmental degradation and ignoring citizen input from particular geographic areas that aim to re-prioritize state politics toward more sustainable developmental paths. Formal institutional biases are what are maintaining an informal politics of environmental degradation.”[p. xi, Toward a Bioregional State]
"Toward A Bioregional State is a novel approach to development and to sustainability. [The bioregional state] proposes that instead of sustainability being an issue of population scale, managerial economics, or technocratic planning, an overhaul of formal democratic institutions is required. This is because environmental degradation has more to do with the biased interactions of formal institutions and informal corruption. Because of corruption, we have environmental degradation. Current formal democratic institutions of states are forms of informal gatekeeping, and as such, intentionally maintain democracy 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. Sustainability is a politics that is already here—only waiting to be formally organized."The sustainability politics of the ecological self-interest of people is indeed already here, as seen in the previous polls showing supermajorities worldwide supporting such a plan, based on the huge scale of whether they think their states are currently performing legitimately in the face of environmental challenges:
“[S]upermajorities of the world are in agreement already on environmental issues, and…a supermajority of the world considers their current forms of state doing poorly on getting to sustainability. This would be a good basis to achieve what the bioregional state promotes: green constitutional engineering to get to sustainability.”Returning to the libertarian and green ideologies theme, is that like libertarian ideological history having quite a touch of green (ecological self-interest) to it even from the 1800s? Like it, green sentiment comes from across the political spectrum as well. Greens have always drawn from across the political spectrum of right and left--instead of tied to a particular left wing sentiment. For instance:
“The majority [of the U.S.] (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 source of green support from across the political spectrum from left to right is evident enough from the early Green party movement in Germany (read the excellent book: Green Politics (1986)) which ‘split’ into left and right green factions over social ascriptive issues.
This is the issue once more that many of the people who 'vote right' (may be more interpersonally conservative) can have the same common, local, ecological self-interest in social policies and weigh in 'on the left' on the health, ecology, and economy issues for their communities."
“The Ecological Democratic Party (German: Ökologisch-Demokratische Partei, ÖDP) is an environmentalist political party in Germany. It was founded in 1982 by former members of the German Green Party. The ÖDP combines issues which are not often found together: a focus on state financial support for families and childrearing, and a belief in the right to life (that is, opposition to abortion, euthanasia and the death penalty). The latter positions and the differences listed below – have led some, including political scientist Joachim Raschke, to characterize the party as "conservative," but the party feels that all these positions are a consistent response to injustice. In most of those issues which it emphasizes, such as the environment and trade, it is similar to the Green party. It differs from the Green party by being less supportive of immigration and restrictions on state powers in criminal justice issues, not focusing on gay and lesbian rights, and having a differing view of feminism.”Sounds like the green libertarian wing, eh? It is in some sense. The point is that green is a much larger spectrum of support hitting globally approximately 75% of the planet’s population though it can be divided on ascriptive issues of differences in interpersonal politics. What do I mean by ‘social’ and ‘interpersonal’ and why do I make a difference in this? From a previous post:
“Instead of 'left/right' I would offer the analysis of the 'interpersonal/social' issues, which break out into many different variants--four mostly--discussed below.
Ascriptive is defined as:
1. to credit or assign, as to a cause or source; attribute; impute: The alphabet is usually ascribed to the Phoenicians.
2. to attribute or think of as belonging, as a quality or characteristic: They ascribed courage to me for something I did out of sheer panic.
Typical ascriptive interpersonal things range from gender, ethnicity, sexuality, handicapped status, age, religion, etc….
I'm saying that what we're talking about is, I would argue, in the popular mind, an observable 'wedge’ separation between interpersonal politics and social politics which are treated entirely differently. People split more on this issue than the current fake 'left/right' arrangement assumptions of purism would want to allow.
Instead, we are handed a rigged plate due to lots of historical things where expectations are:
means liberal interpersonal
means liberal social
means conservative interpersonal
means conservative social
When you can get such additional admixtures as:
For the "conservative interpersonal/liberal social" variant, some are very interpersonally conservative like Wisconsinites though who would be 'non-conservative' (liberal social) in their social politics (like their state history of support of banning margarine and running their state like Frederich List instead of Adam Smith.)
And inverting it once more, to "liberal interpersonal/conservative social", you have gay activists within the Republican party—liberal interpersonally, though conservative socially (using "social" here in terms of public institutional policies about economics and establishing institutions, etc.)….
So with both the 'left' and 'right' being socially conservative now in the U.S. (neoliberalist corporate fascist), the only hat peg that both residual parties calling themselves 'left' and 'right' in the United States have to hang their threadbare identities on is ascriptive interpersonal issues.
The residual 'left' and 'right' institutionally in the U.S. achingly pretend they are different and "pick a staged fight" of fake issues…to disguise their common silence on social political issues that they have both sold the United States down the river on with their conservative social policies for global privatization which is without any majority support….
As for the U.S. 'left', so while mouthing interpersonal freedom (though doing nothing about it), the 'left' is socially conservative as the 'right'.
And while mouthing interpersonal repression (though hypocritically being a party of high powered, rich, libidinous, libertine, pedophiles (watch that U.S. censored video Conspiracy of Silence [50 minutes]), the 'right' is socially conservative as well.
However for support for social politics instead of the difference of opinion on interpersonal politics, there are super-majorities wanting health, ecology, and national economics. The basis of common support is built from these—worldwide. The example is from polls in the U.S. though:
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 Americans...54%...now 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.
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' and may be more interpersonally conservative, have the same social policies and weigh in 'on the left' on the health, ecology, and economy issues.]
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.
So while the U.S. is a supra-majority place that does have a social politics that is common and strong on these three areas, its two French aristocracy parties play at dividing this up and ignoring that base, and reaching for any distraction available to keep people knowing that WHAT IS ABOVE IS THE MAJORITY.”