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  •                                  NETFUTURE
                        Technology and Human Responsibility
    Issue #120     A Publication of The Nature Institute        April 24, 2001
                Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (stevet@netfuture.org)
                      On the Web: http://www.netfuture.org/
         You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes.
    NetFuture is a reader-supported publication.
    Editor's Note
    Quotes and Provocations
       Branding the Branders: Turnabout Is Fair Play
    Beyond Elite Globalization (Stephen L. Talbott)
       The case for a tripartite society
    Announcements and Resources
       The Recovery of Meaning:  A Lecture and Workshop
    About this newsletter
                                  EDITOR'S NOTE
    I've gotten into that too-familiar state again where I'm hopelessly
    backlogged on email -- so much so that much of the time I haven't even had
    the heart to sift through my mail box to see what might demand attention.
    And I'll be taking off for a couple of weeks starting about May 8.
    So I'm afraid there are no short-term prospects for my catching up with
    the backlog.  If there's urgent business, try giving me a call at
    I worked for someone once who periodically managed to have an accident
    that wiped out all his email, following which he would send around a note
    saying, "if you sent something urgent to me, please re-send".  The system
    worked wonderfully well to keep things under control.  The problem for me
    is that NetFuture is an opinion publication, and it naturally leads --
    should lead -- to the urge for follow-up discussion, as well as to
    requests for interviews, articles, and all the rest.  That's part of what
    it's all about, and the benefit for me is at least as great as for others;
    it's hardly something I can gracefully complain about.  But I've just
    never figured out how to manage it all without slighting some people, and
    that doesn't come easy.  The stress can eventually take the joy out of the
    But there's always the thought:  If I can just get a little better
    Goto table of contents
                             QUOTES AND PROVOCATIONS
    Branding the Branders: Turnabout Is Fair Play
    Cyberspatial pundits have been telling us for some time that the world is
    dissolving into information ("from atoms to bits"), and entrepreneurs now
    echo this by dismissing mere products as passe.  "The world is filled with
    made-for-export factories filled with cheap labor.  Competing based on the
    value of your product is a loser's game, a sucker's game".
    The quotation is Naomi Klein's way of summarizing the conventional wisdom,
    a wisdom that leads directly to an emphasis upon branding.  "The goal of
    the successful brand", she says, "is nothing short of transcendence from
    the world of products and things".  Further, "brands, not intellectuals or
    activists or religious leaders, are the true meaning brokers of our
    corporate age, helping us look with awe and wonder at lattes and running
    shoes and laptop computers.
    Klein, who is a columnist for the Toronto Globe and Mail, goes on
    to explain how branding is parasitic upon all that is highest in our
    culture.  It is "a giant meaning vacuum" that, having sucked up old and
    revered meanings, "must project its story onto as many cultural surfaces
    as possible" -- even if this means invading previously sacrosanct spaces
    such as schools and libraries.
    There's an important qualification, however:
       Part of the reason these companies have become so successful at
       becoming meaning brokers is because we have left many of these powerful
       ideas unattended.  Who else was speaking to young people in a language
       of ideas and inspiration besides Nike?
    But, of course,
       There is a gaping dichotomy between the brands' spiritual
       transcendental meaning -- what they have promised us -- and the reality
       of their products and the way those products were produced.
    In other words, it would be truer to say that the wizards of Madison
    Avenue are meaning destroyers than that they are meaning brokers.  In my
    radio listening I have lately been beset by the main choral theme of
    Beethoven's ninth symphony in advertisements for used cars and mall
    experiences and, unhappily, even a political talk show on Albany's
    National Public Radio.  There may be no more effective way to trivialize a
    noble work of art.  I am always amazed that such outrages are met by no
    public protest.  The shattering dissonance between what the work of art is
    striving to express and what it is actually being used to express suggests
    that we simply do not attend to the world's expressive qualities any
    longer -- which in turn makes understandable the irrelevance of art in our
    But there is also a more hopeful way to view the transcendental
    aspirations of the corporation.  The branders are correct in saying that
    businesses need to realize they are selling more than a narrowly defined
    product.  They most certainly are selling a great deal more.  But this is
    a dangerous thing to admit, since the meaning game is one that everyone
    can play.  Once you teach your customers to care about the meaning of your
    brand, you can't necessarily stop them from looking a little further, a
    little deeper, to find the real meaning of what you produce and how you
    produce it.  Then they will realize that every purchase does indeed buy a
    great deal beside the product, and that much of the meaning they have been
    investing in all this time is degrading to both people and environment.
    Klein cites the activists in Seattle and elsewhere:  "Clearly these people
    don't believe they can change the world through shopping".  I know what
    she means:  not through "just shopping", and not through more and more
    shopping.  But, in a fuller sense, changing the world through shopping --
    through their choices about what to buy and not to buy -- is exactly what
    the activists are struggling to do.  And when it finally dawns on the
    population at large that, with every buying decision, we nudge the world a
    little bit in this direction or that, then the branders will have been
    transcended at their own game.
    Naomi Klein is author of No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies.
    The quotations above were taken from Lapis magazine #13 (Spring,
    2001), which contains the abridged text of a talk she gave at a May, 2000
    conference, Re-imagining Politics and Society at the Millennium.
    Goto table of contents
                            BEYOND ELITE GLOBALIZATION
                        The Case for a Tripartite Society
                                Stephen L. Talbott
    Notes concerning Shaping Globalization: Civil Society, Cultural Power
    and Threefolding, by Nicanor Perlas (Quezon City, Philippines: Center
    for Alternative Development Initiatives, 1999).  Paperback, 145 pages.
    Note:  This article was written with the first (1999) edition of Perlas'
    book in view.  A second edition, greatly expanded, is now available.  See
    below for ordering information.
    The 1999 World Trade Organization protesters in Seattle were, on one view,
    a bunch of aging hippies looking to get high on a nostalgic reprise of
    their glory days.  This may be a minuscule fragment of the truth, but
    there is, I think, a much more profound reading of the Seattle
    demonstrations and their aftermath:  they are symptoms of a significant
    social awakening whereby civil society is becoming conscious of its own
    powers and opportunities.  As Nicanor Perlas puts the matter in Shaping
       In its contemporary form, civil society is the most important social
       innovation of the twentieth century.  It ranks in importance with the
       invention of the nation-state beginning in the seventeenth century and
       the creation of the modern market starting in the eighteenth century.
    This is a breathtaking statement, and certainly counterintuitive for many
    people today.  Perlas makes it the task of his book to justify the
    statement.  I think he succeeds.
    Gatherings of Power
    That an awakening of some sort is going on can hardly be disputed.
    Writing in the New York Times last December, Alan Cowell remarks on
    how the nonprofit Global Witness, employing fourteen people on a budget of
    $800,000, confronted the international diamond giant, DeBeers, employing
    twenty thousand people on a budget of $3.4 billion.  The result?  DeBeers
    reversed its corporate policy and began certifying the provenance of its
    diamonds to ensure that they are not helping to underwrite local or
    regional conflicts.  Increasingly, Cowell observes,
       with multinational corporations gathering unparalleled power as the
       standard-bearers of freewheeling capitalism -- in many countries, more
       powerful than the governments themselves -- they are being held to
       account by shoestring advocacy groups like Global Witness....
    The holding to account may not seem very significant in the overall scale
    of things at this point.  Yet, clearly something is afoot.  NGOs (non-
    governmental organizations) have been given a greater role in both the
    U.N. and the World Economic Forum (the latter held annually in Davos,
    Switzerland).  Last July more than fifty corporations committed themselves
    to high labor, environmental, and human rights standards by joining NGOs
    in signing a U.N. compact.  So-called "sustainable development investment"
    in the U.S. topped $1 trillion in 1997, up by 85 percent from the 1995
    figure.  For many companies, Cowell writes, the clamor of NGO demands for
    corporate responsibility "can seem almost deafening".  These demands,
    according to DeBeers spokesman Andrew Lamont, "are part of the twenty-
    first century economic landscape".
    Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
    Most institutions of global governance were designed for representatives
    of sovereign states -- a fact noted by last September's State of the World
    Forum in New York, chaired by Mikhail Gorbachev.  A Forum announcement
    suggested that
       Successful global governance must include not only governments but the
       private [commercial] sector and civil society as peers in a co-creative
       process of discernment and cooperation.  Only when these three major
       sectors of society are included in the deliberations concerning the
       human future will the answers we seek begin to emerge.
    Again, a radical statement.  Contrary to the thought expressed here, most
    commentators have vested their hopes for the future in just two social
    sectors.  As the standard view goes:  if you multiply the number of
    democratic political states, and if you then let these states flourish
    economically under a liberal capitalist trade and investment regime, you
    will be bound to find the world a more harmonious and productive place.
    Yet, as Perlas reminds us, "civil society was behind the collapse of the
    Berlin Wall and the subsequent demise of communism".  Attempts to aid the
    former Soviet Union have also given us ample opportunity to see what
    happens when you undertake the fiat creation of a democracy and capitalist
    economy without the necessary cultural foundation to support it.  Perlas
    cites a World Bank statistic attributing sixty-four percent of the world's
    wealth production to "social capital" and only sixteen percent to business
    But are there really grounds for considering civil society a co-equal
    participant with governments and commercial entities in shaping our social
    future -- and, if so, what are the principles by which these three estates
    can come into a constructive relationship?  In his book, Perlas cites a
    number of theorists who have analyzed an emerging threefold character of
    society.  Among them are:
    ** Michael Mann, The Sources of Social Power (Cambridge: Cambridge
       University Press, 1986).
    ** Jean Cohen and Andrew Arato, Civil Society and Political Theory
       (Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 1994).
    ** Leslie Sklair, Sociology of the Global System (Baltimore: Johns
       Hopkins University Press, 1995).
    ** Rudolf Steiner, The Renewal of the Social Organism (Spring
       Valley NY: Anthroposophic Press, 1985).
    I am not familiar with most of these works, and have only a casual
    acquaintance with Steiner's notion of "the threefold society", which goes
    back to the second decade of the twentieth century.  But a certain way of
    conceiving the three sectors of society, derived from Steiner, has for
    some time seemed decisively important to me.  It's a matter of grounding
    our understanding of each sector in an aspect of human nature.  The French
    revolutionary slogan, "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity", can point us in the
    right direction.
    The social sphere of equality is that of the political and legal system,
    in a narrow sense.  It is the sphere where there must be no respecting of
    persons, the sphere where we are all equal before the law, seeking the
    same justice.  It is rooted in the fundamental, inalienable dignity of
    every individual simply as a human being.
    Second, there is what Perlas calls "culture" (overlapping, but not
    precisely equivalent to "civil society").  It's law is freedom, and its
    accomplishments arise from the abilities of individuals whose
    contributions must not at all be regarded as equal.  The great
    achievements of science, art, and religion, the institutions of education,
    everything creative, everything aimed at truth and beauty, everything
    value-driven -- all this constitutes culture.  The values and insights of
    culture cannot be legislated or coerced; they can be achieved and
    recognized only through the freedom of the individual.  They are what
    prevent a society from descending into political totalitarianism or
    economic slavery.
    In the third place, we have the economic sphere, whose central principle
    is "fraternity" -- brotherhood and altruism.  Here is where, engaging the
    stuff of the world, one person works to satisfy the needs of another, and
    in turn receives from the other the material to satisfy his own needs.
    You may think it strange to characterize the "cutthroat, greed-is-good"
    world of commerce as essentially altruistic.  But I am pointing only to
    the inescapable and defining principle of the matter:  we do in fact work
    for each other, and if we do not choose within ourselves to work in that
    spirit, then we are adopting a schizophrenic stance.  It may be that the
    widespread occurrence of such a stance results from our failure, so far,
    to bring economics into proper relationship with the other two domains --
    as opposed to letting economics co-opt and degrade them.
    Perlas poses the problem of "threefolding" this way:
       We are having a massive global disagreement over dozens of issues
       because the key institutions representing culture (civil society),
       polity (the state), and the economy (the market) have no clear idea of
       how society is constituted and what are their respective legitimate
       roles and tasks within society.  Lacking this understanding, they all
       engage in trying to dominate social life when, in fact, each depends on
       the very vitality of each of the other major subsystems of society they
       are trying to dominate.
    Keeping the Three Domains Distinct
    Once you begin reflecting on the three aspects of the human being -- and
    therefore also on the three aspects of our life in society -- you begin to
    recognize how a great deal of social conflict arises from a confusion of
    spheres.  To take a rather minor case:  every year or so in the U.S.
    there is impassioned controversy over the worth of grants awarded by the
    National Endowment for the Arts.  "How can they spend my tax dollars for
    such trash?"
    Of course, one person's trash is another person's sublimity, and the point
    is that people must choose their trash and sublimity for themselves, in
    freedom.  When the state makes these choices for us, it employs the power
    of the political-legal sphere, where we must all be treated as equal, to
    support a few selected projects of the human spirit, about which the
    judgments of the rest of us will radically differ.  There will never be
    any way to avoid the socially divisive effects of such an overreaching by
    the state.
    We see similar issues more gravely at work in the Balkans and wherever
    culturally engendered ethnic clashes are tearing societies apart.  When
    the political state impinges upon cultural freedom, leaving minorities
    feeling that state control is essential in order for their own cultures to
    find "breathing room" within the society, then ugly clashes for control
    become inevitable.
    Likewise, I have previously mentioned how bizarre it is for Americans, so
    obsessive about freedom of thought and speech, to accept government
    attempts to shape the development of our very powers of thought and
    speech.  These attempts, of course, take the form of government control
    over the educational curriculum -- which is quite different from the
    state's proper role in simply assuring equal access to the education of
    one's choice.
    There are many other failures to respect the differing requirements of the
    three social spheres.  What happens when economic and political
    institutions enter an unholy marriage is all too evident today in the
    susceptibility of politicians to corporate influence and in the lack of a
    legal counterweight that can preserve human dignity against compromise by
    economic forces.
    More positively, there is widespread and growing acceptance that at least
    some strictly economic decisions should not be placed in the hands
    of the state.  The Federal Reserve's independence illustrates the benefits
    of leaving such decisions ("What interest rate is demanded by current
    economic conditions?") out of the hands of political officials, whose
    self-interest could hardly help distorting their economic judgment.
    As a final example, problems also arise when economics and culture are not
    properly differentiated.  Perlas brings the matter down to the immediately
    recognizable, personal level when he cites an economist who was enamoured
    of the notion of "opportunity cost" (the value of a foregone alternative
       One day this economist decided not to go to a concert with his wife.
       Since he was a consultant, he argued that he would experience an
       opportunity cost of $200 per hour if he went to the concert with his
       wife because that would be time away from his consultancy work.
    To view our cultural life as a trading in commodities is to destroy it.
    Cultural values and economic values are by no means exchangeable.  The
    attempt to subject culture to economics is, Perlas suggests, reflected in
    such things as elevated divorce rates, crime, drug use, and other social
    ailments -- none of which, incidentally, is without its economic cost!
    Threefold Interpenetration
    The easiest mistake to make in thinking about social threefolding is to
    picture the three aspects of society in a wooden, either-or sort of way.
    One needs to bring a more flexible, imaginative mindset to the issues so
    as to recognize interpenetrating realities rather than neat antitheses.
    For example, no business is strictly and absolutely economic in nature.
    There are matters of right in which every employee should be treated
    equally (and the state will doubtless play a role in articulating some of
    these matters).  Similarly, there is a crucial place in every business for
    the kind of culturally sponsored individual achievement that is a matter
    of radical inequality among employees.  Intel would not survive long if it
    decided on proposed chip layouts by conducting a democratic vote instead
    of by recognizing the unmatched achievements of its most capable chip
    The interweaving of the three spheres is also evident in the fact that "a
    spiritual culture is the ultimate source of political justice and an
    essential prerequisite to the creation of a truly dynamic and productive
    and ecologically sound economy" (Perlas).  Each sphere, then, is rather
    like an organ system of the human body.  The circulatory system, for
    example, needs to be recognized for its own particular character, and yet
    the blood's fluid passes out through the capillaries to bathe all our
    cells, and is continually exchanging substance through the cell walls.
    You cannot say where the circulation ends and other systems begin, but you
    can recognize that the principles of the circulatory system are
    quite other than, say, the principles of bone formation.  A thinking that
    can distinguish without rigidly dividing is, I'm convinced, essential to
    any productive understanding of society (and is opposed by the much-too-
    brittle habits of thought encouraged by our engagement with technology).
    There is probably no place you can look in society where you will not see
    all three aspects of human nature at work.  The human being is, after all,
    a unity.  But this should not lead us to ignore all distinctions.  It is
    certainly true that, when you look at a school, you will see, among other
    things, an economic entity subject to the constraints and realities of
    commerce.  This is trivial.  But the central mission of the school -- to
    educate the student -- is not an economic one.  The attempt to place an
    economic value upon the student's educational achievement leaves aside all
    of our highest striving, which has little to do with our earning
    potential.  Only those who fail to see this could make the disastrous
    mistake of urging school privatization.  Education should be neither
    government-controlled nor commodified; it requires the independence and
    freedom so necessary to every undertaking of the human spirit.
    Different Forms of Power
    How can the educational, scientific, religious, and artistic activities of
    the civil, or cultural, sector effectively hold the balance against
    globally triumphant, state-reinforced commerce?  It is vital, I think for
    the civil sector to remain true to its own character.  While it will
    certainly draw on the political and legal apparatus of the state, and
    while it will doubtless engage in some forms of commerce, its own peculiar
    power hinges on nothing more than its appeal, in freedom, to what is
    highest in others.  It's strength, you might say, lies in its weakness.
    Possessing no great wealth and no power of the sword, it holds up ideals
    that, throughout history, men have been willing to die for.  "Ultimately",
    says Perlas, "all forms of power struggles are struggles for meaning" --
    so don't discount those whose primary trade is the trade in meaning.
    Referring to the persecuted Chinese sect and its leader, Perlas notes that
       Li Hongzli and the members of the Falun Gong movement are very quiet
       and modest people.  Yet they trigger flashes of fear and hatred in the
       hearts of the highest political and economic powers in China.  Why?
       Because the communist leaders realize that they no longer control the
       minds of tens of millions of Chinese.  Li Hongzli has created a new and
       more powerful meaning for many Chinese than Maoism.
    In his New York Times article, Alan Cowell writes,
       While corporations are generally able to deploy vastly greater
       resources in public relations, litigation, lobbying and advertising and
       are often skilled at co-opting adversaries, "it's not such an unequal
       power relationship," an executive from a London-based mining
       corporation said.
       "You can be an $8 billion company or whatever," he continued.  "But in
       the court of public opinion the nongovernmental organizations start
       with more credibility than businesses."
    In an era when branding is thought by many corporations to be nearly
    everything, a smudge on the brand counts for a great deal.  "Consumer
    tastes and preferences", Perlas notes, "are primarily formed in the
    cultural realm".  The opportunity exists, therefore, for an organization
    such as Adbusters "to sow `symbolic pollution' on manipulative corporate
    advertising to induce a critical attitude in the consciousness of
    Perlas vividly illustrates the power for change emanating from the
    cultural sphere.  This power is increasingly acknowledged even in the
    boardrooms of the largest corporations.  He cites, for example, a talk by
    Stephen Schmidheiny, who is director of the heavyweight World Business
    Council for Sustainable Development.  The Achilles heel of the
    corporation, according to Schmidheiny, is demand, since without demand
    there are no products to sell.  The "new consumers", who are immune to
    advertising, hold the corporation's fate in their hands.
    Schmidheiny goes on to describe the emerging and unprecedented role of
    employee conscience and family conscience.  In Perlas' summary:
       For the first time an increasing number of employees are asserting
       their disrespect for dubious practices of corporations.  Management at
       TNCs [transnational corporations] are increasingly becoming concerned
       that their top corporate secrets may end up in nameless brown envelopes
       handed over to media or the corporation's government regulator.  In
       addition, the children of CEOs are increasingly becoming concerned
       about the public conduct and image of the corporations that their
       father[s] or mother[s] run.  When the CEOs come home from work, they
       find that civil society concerns are now part of their family dinner
       table conversations.
    The list of major civil sector campaigns to reign in transnational
    corporations continues to lengthen.  It extends from the long and
    eventually successful boycott of Nestle to PepsiCo's withdrawal from Burma
    to more recent actions against Mitsubishi (to prevent its encouragement of
    illegal rainforest logging) and Monsanto (to shut down its "Terminator"
    seed technology and keep unlabeled, genetically engineered products out of
    the food supply).  Perlas concludes that
       CSOs [civil society organizations] can ... enter the halls of political
       and economic power without feeling intimidated.  They can enter the
       vortex of transformation confident that their advocacy is steeped in
       meaning, that central pivot of human existence and social life, without
       which the world would rapidly descend into chaos.
    Perlas, by the way, has been a significant actor in the "threefolding of
    society" movement.  He is head of the Center for Alternative Development
    Initiatives in the Philippines, and has played a major part in successful
    national and Asia-wide efforts to secure high-level recognition of the
    role of civil society.  He has received the Outstanding Filipino award, as
    well as the U.N. Environmental Program Global 500 Award for Sustainable
    Agriculture.  He pursued farming in the Philippines until he realized that
    he would have no future in farming if current globalization trends were
    allowed to continue.
    A Few Additional Observations
    There are many aspects of Perlas' valuable book I have not touched on.  I
    conclude with a few miscellaneous notes:
    ** Nothing I have said here suggests that the views or actions of civil
    society organizations should automatically be taken as correct or well-
    advised.  The requirement is only that society find a way to bring the
    civil sector to the table, so that it can wield its particular sort of
    influence based on the strength of its insight and wisdom.
    ** How the three spheres of society should be institutionalized is far
    beyond me to suggest.  The main thing is to avoid artificial, schematic
    proposals, to watch what is actually happening, and to bring to these
    developments a flexible, refined ability to reckon with the different
    principles at work in the various social spheres.  This sensitivity can
    enable us to recognize, for example, whether a civil society initiative is
    being true to its own nature.
    ** Healthy functioning within the economic sphere depends thoroughly upon
    the vitality of continual, dynamic exchange.  There are no political or
    scientific principles that would enable one to specify, a priori, the true
    economic price of a commodity.  The price must emerge from the complex
    givings and takings of myriad transactions.  Even if, in special
    circumstances, it were deemed necessary to impose prices from outside this
    system, one would have to reckon with the inevitable distortions resulting
    from the imposition.
    This distortion, by the way, is quite a different matter from the
    political system setting a minimum wage consistent with the basic
    requirements for life in the society.  Such an action will affect prices
    without dictating them, much as a severe or lush climate will affect the
    prices of agricultural products.  There is no intrusion in the economic
    sphere here, but a setting of background conditions that the economic
    system must then factor into its prices.
    ** Referring to recent social science work, Perlas identifies "Cultural
    Creatives" as the force behind the emergence of global civil society.
    This group is said to uphold a distinctive set of values:
       Ecological Sustainability (rebuilding communities, limits to growth,
       stopping corporate polluters), Globalism (acceptance of cultural
       differences), Women's Issues (against abuse of women and children),
       Altruism, Self-Actualization, and Spirituality (forging a new sense of
       the sacred that incorporates personal growth, the spiritual realm, and
       service to others), and Social Conscience and Optimism.
    Perlas mentions a massive social survey in 1990-91 purporting to have
    uncovered a "postmodern shift" in North America, Britain, and various
    Scandinavian and European countries.  The shift includes "loss of
    confidence in all hierarchical institutions; declining trust in science
    and technology to solve problems; decline in traditional religious
    involvement; greater search for inner meaning and development;
    subordination of economic growth to environmental sustainability; cultural
    pluralism; greater freedom for women".
    Personally, I am never sure what this kind of survey data (or, rather,
    interpretation of survey data) really tells us.  Such collections of data
    fracture reality so severely that they become a kind of Rorschach blot in
    which the observer can see whatever he is looking for.  Perhaps their
    greatest significance lies in the way they can be used plastically to
    frame a view of the future regardless of the current realities they point
    to.  And we will quite rightly embrace or reject such a view in terms of
    its intrinsic worth, not in terms of the survey data -- which in any case
    can tell us little about the direction we ought to move in, as opposed to
    the directions we have previously moved in.
    On his part, Perlas offers a wonderfully fitting vision of the future when
    he concludes his discussion of Cultural Creatives by paraphrasing a
    Filipino hero:  in the end, there will be no tyrants because there will be
    no slaves.
    ** Perlas sees the fundamental conflict between cultural creatives and
    elite globalization as reflecting a disavowal of the "materialistic
    framework" shaping globalization today.  Many activists in the civil
    sector share this rejection of materialism, whereby the cultural sphere is
    dominated by a shallow consumerism.  And as the cultural creatives enter
    not only civil society but also business and government, a powerful,
    threefold alliance will emerge "that is destined to change the course of
    world history".
    ** My saying above that political-legal organs of the state should not
    patronize the arts does not mean I believe the arts (and other cultural
    activities) should remain unfunded.  It's just that the funding must be a
    matter of free giving by those who are convinced of the healthy creative
    powers of the people and organizations they support.
    One hopes that, in a properly threefolded society, there would be much
    more support for culture.  Our economic system is currently distorted
    by the moral falsehood that gives the owners of corporations unlimited
    claim to profits.  (See "Who Owns Microsoft's Profits?" in NF #106.)  The
    "excess" profits can be viewed as the portion accruing, not from
    individual efforts of the entrepreneurs, but from the educational,
    scientific, and spiritual resources they have been able to capitalize on
    from the larger society.  If you place limits on the personal claim to
    profits accordingly, then a fair share of these profits will more
    naturally find their way into the civil sector.  This will happen, not
    because a central bureaucracy takes the funds and redistributes them, but
    rather because every business owner is made, to one degree or another,
    into a trustee for a philanthropic effort.
    You can order Shaping Globalization by sending US$20 to the Center
    for Alternative Development, 110 Scout Rallos Street, Timog, Quezon City,
    1103, Philippines.  For further information, send email to
    Related articles:
    ** "The World Trade Organization: Economics as Technology" in NF #106.
    ** "Do We Really Want a Global Village?" a chapter in The Future Does
       Not Compute: Transcending the Machines in Our Midst.
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                           ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESOURCES
    The Recovery of Meaning:  A Lecture and Workshop
    On April 27 Andrew Kimbrell, director of the International Center for
    Technology Assessment in Washington, D.C., will deliver a 7:30 lecture at
    the First Congregational Church on Main Street in Great Barrington,
    Massachusetts.  The lecture will be followed by a Saturday workshop in
    Ghent, New York (a half hour from Great Barrington), at the Hawthorne
    Valley School.  The school happens to be across the street from The Nature
    Institute, publisher of NetFuture.
    Kimbrell's lecture will outline the shift away from technological
    imagination toward a sacramental imagination, whereby we design
    technologies to fit the requirements of life rather than manipulating life
    to suit available technologies.  The lecture is sponsored by several
    organizations, including the E.F. Schumacher Society, the Orion Society,
    and The Nature Institute.
    Saturday's workshop, running from 9:15 a.m. (registration beginning at
    8:30) until 4, will focus on agricultural sustainability, biotechnology
    and the globalization of the food supply.  The afternoon session will deal
    with educational and environmental issues.  There will be several
    respondents to Kimbrell, including Craig Holdrege and Stephen L. Talbott
    of The Nature Institute.
    The suggested donation for the evening lecture is $7; for the Saturday
    workshop, $20 ($15 for seniors and students).  For further information,
    contact Jim Cashen at 518-851-7021.
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                              ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER
    Copyright 2001 by The Nature Institute.  You may redistribute this
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    Steve Talbott :: NetFuture #120 :: April 24, 2001
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