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    and water puts the LASMs on the frontline of the struggle that will have to be waged in the 21 st Century against the the Global Monetocracy As long ago as 2002 in an interview with the New Left Review one of the MST s leaders João Pedro Stedile was saying We need to marry theoretical education with political practice It s pitiful to see where our young people end up even those affiliated to the PT Brazilian Workers Party or the CUT Confederation of Trade Unions as if the only thing for young people to do today was hold music festivals or campaign for the legalization of cannabis The Brazilian Left needs to overcome those challenges in order to reconstitute in the not too distant future a great mass movement with the consistent revolutionary aim of an alternative project for our society The snippets below from a report of the MST s 2007 Congress shows that they are still struggling to find ways to resolving the dilemmas that Stedile expressed in 2002 In LASMs and the Gaian Democracy model LINK I try to explain why I think that the ensemble of components that John Jopling and I outline for Gaian Democracies make a useful contribution to the need of the MST and every other LASM to find a basis for its alternative revolutionary project JOÃO PEDRO STEDILE LANDLESS BATTALION For over a hundred years the inspiration for agrarian reform in Latin America was the idea that the land belonged to those who worked it Today we need to go beyond this It s not enough to argue that if you work the land you have proprietary rights over it The Vietnamese and Indian farmers have contributed a lot to our debates on this They have a different view of agriculture and of nature one that we ve tried to synthesize in Via Campesina The Global Movement of Social Movements Nowadays however We want an agrarian practice that transforms farmers into guardians of the land and a different way of farming that ensures an ecological equilibrium and also guarantees that land is not seen as private property NLR What is the position of the MST on the use of violence for social ends including specifically agrarian reform We have a tradition of ideological pluralism within the movement in the sense that we never claim to be the followers of any one thinker we try to treat each one as synthesizing a particular historical experience and to see how we can make use of them As far as violence is concerned we ve learnt a lot from two Asians Ho Chi Minh and Gandhi Ho systematically taught the Vietnamese peasants that their strength lay not in what they held in their hands but in what they carried in their heads The achievements of the Vietnamese soldier a farmer illiterate and poor came from his being conscious of what he was fighting for as a soldier and as a man Everything he

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    its allocation The regional events not only select projects for further consideration within the Regional priorities they also elect Regional Counsellors whose job it will be to oversee the whole process To ensure that the projects chosen for financing meet the needs of the citizens they are weighted according to whether or not they satisfy a set of carefully developed social and technical criteria The first stage is completed when certain projects have been selected for further development For the next stage the proposers start to work with independent specialists and city officials to produce the costings timings technical specifications legal regulatory and human requirements for turning their basic concept into a reality In parallel with the processes for allocating funds to specific local projects other assemblies take decisions on the funding of city wide investments under the following headings or Themes Education Leisure and Cultural Facilities Public Health and Social Welfare Public Transport and Circulation Economic Development and Taxation City Organisation and Urban Development The two processes start to come together between July and September and then in December a final list of local and city wide projects is formally approved and the funds allocated accordingly Initially the process was dominated by the poorest people and the middle classes seemed not to be interested With the introduction of the Thematic processes in 1994 however the interest of the middle classes increased markedly and they are now very adequately represented in the process Moreover in a highly machismo culture it is notable that more than half the participants are women The benefits of the Participative Budget process The Argentine Canadian political scientist Daniel Schugurensky lists the main benefits of the Participative Budget process as follows 1 EQUITY Fairness The PB rules specify that those who need more receive more and thus helps to ensure fairness in the allocation of municipal resources The greater the need the higher the grade assigned to a proposal in the overall ranking Because of this equity principle the PB plays a key role in improving the living conditions of many people especially in poor neighbourhoods Because unlike other experiments of participatory democracy in Porto Alegre the majority of participants are poor the PB makes some connection between political democracy and economic democracy 2 STATE DEMOCRATISATION The PB helps to make the state more transparent accountable efficient and effective in serving local communities It has become a partnership between government and civil society a type of co governance It is more transparent because ordinary citizens have a clear grasp of the budget revenues and expenses and hence there is less room for inflated budgets and other dishonest practices Moreover when transparency increases corruption decreases drastically Accountability increases because people can follow up on the decisions made in the budget process making sure that the quantity and quality of the infrastructure and services delivered are the ones agreed upon Indeed the follow up generates a new culture of accountability in government and civil society Efficiency and effectiveness

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    the allegations have yet been fully substantiated they have led to the resignation or sacking of Two dozen leading government officials On 30 November 2005 Congress voted to expel from Congress Lula s top aide José Dirceu for running the monthly payment scheme Earlier the president of the PT José Genoino had stepped down The revelations came as an enormous shock to the vast majority of petistas who had spent more than 20 years of their lives building up the party and had had no idea that such schemes were in operation As Fernando Gabeira a former member of the PT and now federal deputy for the Partido Verde put it when there is such an overwhelming disaster and you see yourself as a part of this disaster you begin to question your whole life Why so many years of sacrifice and struggle In the municipal elections of 2004 the party had already lost control of many cities where it had been in power for some years One of its leading members the much respected Minister of Justice Tarsoe Genro is on record as saying it s the end of a cycle in the evolution of the PT We need to rebuild a strategic project So far however that need seems to remain unfulfilled However despite its current travails from its foundation in 1979 at local level the PT has in many ways remained a genuinely different kind of popular political movement At local and state level it had shown itself to be not only unusually honest and open but also uniquely competent By the end of the 1990s the PT had won power in over 150 Brazilian cities The PT s success in the government of over 150 Brazilian cities was and still is in major cities like Fortaleza based on putting into action one of PT s founding principles the concept of the democratisation of The best known example of the democratisation of power in action is the now famous Participatory Budget process that was initiated in Porto Alegre and Sao Paulo in 1989 Now every year in city of Porto Alegre for example around 50 000 citizens and over 1000 local organisations and business take part in a nine month process that determines how the city should spend the money it has available for new projects in education transport social welfare economic development and health Perfect democracy it is not but it is a vast advance on what happened before and what happens in most major cities in the world outside Brazil In Brazil upwardly mobile middle class functionaries professionals labor lawyers and trade union bureaucrats took over the Workers Party PT led by Lula da Silva With 75 of the delegates they supported an electoral alliance with the big business Liberal Party and the financial sector Once in power they moved from social democratic to neo liberal politicians The social movements including the Landless Rural Workers Movement MST and the Urban Homeless Peoples Movement MSC supported

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    interests with the complicity of national governments They are designed to ensure that globalization in solidarity will prevail as a new stage in world history This will respect universal human rights and those of all citizens men and women of all nations and the environment and will rest on democratic international systems and institutions at the service of social justice equality and the sovereignty of peoples 5 The World Social Forum brings together and interlinks only organizations and movements of civil society from all the countries in the world but intends neither to be a body representing world civil society 6 The meetings of the World Social Forum do not deliberate on behalf of the World Social Forum as a body No one therefore will be authorized on behalf of any of the editions of the Forum to express positions claiming to be those of all its participants The participants in the Forum shall not be called on to take decisions as a body whether by vote or acclamation on declarations or proposals for action that would commit all or the majority of them and that propose to be taken as establishing positions of the Forum as a body It thus does not constitute a locus of power to be disputed by the paarticipants in its meetings nor does it intend to constitute the only option for interrelation and action by the organizations and movements that participate in it 7 Nonetheless organizations or groups of organizations that participate in the Forums meetings must be assured the right during such meetings to deliberate on declarations or actions they may decide on whether singly or in coordination with other participants The World Social Forum undertakes to circulate such decisions widely by the means at its disposal without directing hierarchizing censuring or restricting them but as deliberations of the organizations or groups of organizations that made the decisions 8 The World Social Forum is a plural diversified non confessional non governmental and non party context that in a decentralized fashion interrelates organizations and movements engaged in concrete action at levels from the local to the international to built another world 9 The World Social Forum will always be a forum open to pluralism and to the diversity of activities and ways of engaging of the organizations and movements that decide to participate in it as well as the diversity of genders ethnicities cultures generations and physical capacities providing they abide by this Charter of Principles Neither party representations nor military organizations shall participate in the Forum Government leaders and members of legislatures who accept the commitments of this Charter may be invited to participate in a personal capacity 10 The World Social Forum is opposed to all totalitarian and reductionist views of economy development and history and to the use of violence as a means of social control by the State It upholds respect for Human Rights the practices of real democracy participatory democracy peaceful relations in equality and solidarity among people ethnicities

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    processes of authentic cultural regeneration to the level of conscious awareness and intentional choice The guiding purpose of global civil society is not to capture power by replacing the present power holders in an inherently violent and unjust system added emphasis Nor is it to advance or impose an ideological agenda It is to replace the fabricated culture and dominator power relationships of empire with the authentic emergent cultures and power sharing relations of community as the foundation of a new planetary civilization The moral power of an authentic culture that flows from the authentic spiritual and social experience of people is the ultimate social power the power of the people because it is the power to grant to or withhold legitimacy from the ruling institutions of the political and economic spheres Defending community against empire s political military cultural and economic assault on the rights and sovereignty of people and community means resisting the institutions and agendas of empire and demanding a rollback of unjust and undemocratic rules and programs that serve elite interests at the expense of community interests Resistance can be assertive and may involve principled civil disobedience but it must always adhere to the principles of nonviolent direct action The discipline of nonviolence underscores community s moral authority and the illegitimacy of the violence of empire and it breaks the cycle of violence that violent resistance including terrorist violence perpetuates and legitimates To create local zones of freedom in which people engage with one another in creating the new relationships institutions and authentic cultures of living societies Freedom zones are a local study group a farmer s market a school to develop inquiring minds or a course on voluntary simplicity It might a socially responsible local business a community currency scheme or a holistic health clinic

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  • dollar franc mark peso or yen that a customer puts into his or her account the bank can then lend seven eight ten times that amount to another customer simply by making the required entries in their accounts Borrowers have to pay interest on the loans that the banks have created out of thin air and if they fail to meet their repayments the banks foreclose on their real assets their stocks and shares their houses cars farms businesses cash and jewellery Thus for lending the money that they have created by an entry in their accounts banks can obtain real assets from the customers who fail to make the required repayments For most people it comes as a shock to learn that the banks don t have to own anything tangible to back the money they have created People are even more puzzled when they understand that almost all the money that they and everybody else uses in the form of cheques credit cards or bank transfers has been called into existence out of thin air Banks can conjure money out of thin air because governments allow them to do so and moreover allow them to charge interest on

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    revolution The revolution will begin to take shape when popular and respected men and women in many countries publicly challenge the business as usual paradigm and propose a radically different alternative They will offer detailed explanations of why the business as usual paradigm is not a viable basis for government in the 21 st Century and argue for replacing it with more effective and democratic forms of government based on very different ways of thinking In short they will be making the case for replacing what in 2003 John Jopling and I called the Global Monetocracies with a global network of Gaian Democracies Shortly after the publication of Gaian Democracies a leading neo conservative theorist Robert Kagan wrote a paper for the influential journal Policy Review iii that led me to conclude that the monetocracies should be labelled Neo Martian rather than simply Global because they behave more like inhuman invaders of the earth than fully human beings The Neo Martians Invaders not Inhabitants Robert Kagan entitled his paper POWER AND WEAKNESS and described the values perspectives aims and strategies of President G W Bush s administration as from Mars while those of leading european politicians and government were from Venus He drew his Martian analogy from the classic of pop psychology Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus iv In Kagan s paper those who questioned the right of a US government to over ride international law ignore the United Nations and scrap collective agreements were from Venus i e soft caring and feminised By being ruthless and indifferent to the needs the rights and the opinions of others the US power elites were showing that they were from Mars of course To buttress his argument Kagan helpfully pointed out that the USA s imperial Martians were merely following the example of British French and Spanish Martians in earlier times However in linking the Martian nature of the USA s global insatiability with that of earlier Martians Dr Kagan was also laying bare the basic values aims myths and operational strategies of the elites who have been herding the human family towards species suicide for the past four or five hundred years From his extreme neo conservative perspective Dr Kagan could not see that a better analogy for Washington s Martians and their European predecessors was not the ancient Greek God of War but the inhuman invaders who arrived from another planet in H G Wells novella and the many radio dramas and films it inspired The War of the Worlds As a gesture to Dr Kagan s amour propre however and to reflect the more wide ranging application I shall be making of his analogy I have modified MARTIAN to NEO MARTIAN Over the centuries whatever their nationality Dr Kagan s Martians my Neo Martians have acted with more or less the same pitiless indifference to the health of the human and the natural worlds as did the H G Wells Martians in The War of

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    about whether space represented a revolution in military affairs or a strategic center of gravity It turned out that it didn t matter Either way we clearly had to seize it and dominate it first since space as the ultimate high ground was going to be critical in future wars Several enthusiasts called for a new separate and independent space force a fifth service with its own unique doctrine an idea the Air Force has so far fought off valiantly Among my notes from the occasion was a statement by General Howell M Estes III then Commander in Chief U S Space Command that the Air Force simply couldn t afford to lose the space mission not just to the enemy but to the dreaded U S Navy and U S Army both of which were he claimed already exploiting space assets more skillfully than the Air Force Dominating space and again the other services certainly sounds seductive Having worked in the Space Surveillance Center in Cheyenne Mountain however I can tell you that near earth orbital space is already overcrowded with satellites and space junk and the delicate sensors on these satellites are highly vulnerable to space shrapnel traveling at 17 000 miles per hour Explosive battles in space would degrade rather than enhance any existing advantage in space based intelligence and communication the U S Does have Demilitarizing space is the only sensible strategy yet it s the one that promises few lucrative contracts for aerospace firms and no new command billets for an Air Force seeking global and supra global dominance Closing the Empathy Gap As the Air Force flexes its earth space and cyber muscles we rarely stop to think of the asymmetrical advantages enjoyed by the military the overwhelming advantage in firepower mobility and technology This has created what can only be called an empathy gap Fortunately Americans have never been on the receiving end of a sustained bombing campaign in this country Two shocking days excepted December 7 1941 at Pearl Harbor where my uncle dodged aerial strafing at Schofield barracks and September 11 2001 in New York City and Washington the skies have always been friendly to us even the repository of our hopes and dreams When fighter jets scream overhead our first thought isn t death it s display We look up in curiosity or wonder we don t panic and run for our lives We expect the opening of a sporting event or aerial acrobatics not the arrival of precision guided munitions As a result we have trouble realizing that our ability to soar above all and rain death from the skies generates resistance and revenge rather than awe and retreat or submission and rapprochement We marvel that our enemies just don t get the message but our signals are mixed and our receivers flawed Flying and fighting so far above it all has proven deceptive indeed It leaves us with little idea of the new realities we are creating down below and blind to the disturbing inequities and resentments generated by our global galactic cyber power It turns out that the higher you soar the more above all you perceive yourself to be the less likely it is that you ll understand the little people beneath you and the more likely it is that those same little people will resent being dominated And the solution to that problem lies not in dominating the stars or some other higher physical realm but in looking within to a higher moral realm Above All in moral courage now there s a slogan toward which I d willingly soar William J Astore a retired lieutenant colonel USAF has taught at the Air Force Academy and the Naval Postgraduate School He currently teaches at the Pennsylvania College of Technology He is the author of Hindenburg Icon of German Militarism Potomac Press 2005 Copyright 2008 William Astore From http www tomdispatch com post 174972 being in base denial Going on an Imperial Bender How the US Garrisons the Planet and Doesn t Even Notice Thursday 04 September 2008 by Tom Engelhardt At the height of the Roman Empire the Romans had an estimated 37 major military bases scattered around their dominions At the height of the British Empire the British had 36 of them planetwide Depending on just who you listen to and how you count we have hundreds of bases According to Pentagon records in fact there are 761 active military sites abroad The fact is We garrison the planet north to south east to west and even on the seven seas thanks to our various fleets and our massive aircraft carriers which with 5 000 6 000 personnel aboard that is the population of an American town are functionally floating bases And here s the other half of that simple truth We don t care to know about it We the American people aided and abetted by our politicians the Pentagon and the mainstream media are knee deep in base denial Now that s the gist of it If like most Americans that s more than you care to know stop here Where the Sun Never Sets Let s face it we re on an imperial bender and it s been a long long night Even now in the wee hours the Pentagon continues its massive expansion of recent years we spend militarily as if there were no tomorrow we re still building bases as if the world were our oyster and we re still in denial Someone should phone the imperial equivalent of Alcoholics Anonymous But let s start in a sunnier time less than two decades ago when it seemed that there would be many tomorrows all painted red white and blue Remember the 1990s when the U S Was hailed or perhaps more accurately Washington hailed itself not just as the planet s sole superpower or even its unique hyperpower but as its global policeman the only cop on the block

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