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Peace from Harmony
François Houtart: Alternative of Harmony and Harmony of Alternatives

Francois Houtart

GHA Highest Honorary Title: 
WORLD HARMONY CREATOR
(http://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=513)




Founder and President of the Centre Tricontinental,

Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the Université Catholique de Louvain,

Special Representative of the UN General Assembly President
Coathor of "The ABC of Harmony":
http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=478
and "Global Peace Science":
http://peacefromharmony.org/docs/global-peace-science-2016.pdf


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François Houtart: A Unique Extraordinary Human Being

The death of François Houtart, intellectual, priest, sociologist, practitioner of liberation theology, tireless fighter and friend, has taken us by surprise.

We have always seen him standing o­n the side of the excluded, of the marginalized, whether they were indigenous peoples, displaced peasants or unemployed youth. He was always concerned about the South and its people o­n how to help build that possible and necessary better world. In Viet Nam, Mexico, Colombia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Haiti, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Syria, or by the side of the Cuban people. There was no just cause that was alien to him.

Francois was the founder of the Tricontinental Centre, the magazine Alternatives South, the Alternative World Forum, where he dedicated his critical reflection and action to the defense of peace with social justice and the creation of alternatives involving deep social transformations that leave behind the predatory capitalist model that produces inequalities. François worked in recent years in what he called a new paradigm: The Common Well of Humanity, that discussed, reported, and incessantly defended different scenarios. He leaves with us more than 70 published books that hold the essence of his fruitful work.

A member of the Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements in Defense of Humanity, since its birth in Mexico in 2003, Francois has been an admirable companion of struggles and was intelligent and sensitive in his actions. It is for this that we are dismayed today with the loss of this critical, loyal and wise man.

REDH-Cuba
 
https://libya360.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/francois-houtart-a-unique-extraordinary-human-being/


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From Mad to Madness: Pentagon's Fascist Madness. o­nly Trump is able to save America and world from it.

 

My dear Belgian friend François,

Many thanks for your valuable information about the next critical book. It continues and develops the great critical anti Pentagon tradition of Chomsky, Corrigan, Galtung, Avery, Engdahl, Bloom, Chossudovsky, Giroux, Burrowes and many other Western thinkers, who are wide presented in the unique, the first in the history "Global Peace Science" (http://peacefromharmony.org/docs/global-peace-science-2016.pdf). I was happy to publish o­n our site "Peace from Harmony" here: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=736, sent you a note o­n this brilliant book by Paul Johnstone, nuclear Pentagon analyst, revealing the criminal plans of a nuclear war, which is preparing the American elite. He witnesses that Pentagon planned the possibility of totally destroying another nation. It is Pentagon fascism.

Pentagon nuclear fascism, nurtured by the democrats Obama, Clinton and other American hawks with the support of the zombie militaristic society part can be stopped and overcome o­nly elected president Donald Trump. His paradigm of global peace (1 page) in comparison with Putins similar paradigm is compiled and published here: http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=685. His quest for nuclear disarmament with Russia Trump said yesterday in an interview with the British and German journalists.

In this regard, we will send to Putin and Trump, immediately after his inauguration, the GHA antinuclear project RUSAP (http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=710). Salvation from Pentagons nuclear plague can o­nly bring peacefulness of Trump jointly with Putin, as we wrote in our article "Trump: Peacemaking Revolution of the US Aggressive Geopolitics (http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=685).

To this article is now joined the great US religious scholar Professor Rudolf Siebert, World Harmony Creator, who took the mission: "GHAAmbassador of Peace and Disarmament from Harmony for the US" in the Trump administration (http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=51).
We, GHA and the true peacemakers, will do everything possible to support the Trumps peacefulness. o­nly the blind, foolish and hawks in spirit cannot see it. We invite all interested in nuclear disarmament and prevention of nuclear war through peacefulness of Trump-Putin to join our projects, send me your "YES". Thank you.

With love and best wishes of peace from harmony for the USA and Russia,
Dr. Leo Semashko,
GHA Honorary President,
http://peacefromharmony.org
16/01/17


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The ABC Review

The ABC of Harmony is an interesting theoretical production to express in a coherent way and to show a holistic approach to the complex situation of reality. At the same time it is an important practical world textbook for harmonious education. The methodological approach is inspired by the great currents of philosophical thinking, especially of the Greek tradition. In our civilization which has fragmented reality, it is important attempt to produce a harmonious thinking trying to show the social harmony in its global whole. It tends to overcome disharmony coming from the ignorance of integral interdependence, especially in the economic field. Therefore the ABC coincides with the reestablishment of public interest and is for the promotion of Common Good of Humanity. The ABC as holistic theory and thinking is useful to meet the process of globalization. International organizations, like the UN and its specialized organizations could be inspired by it to find harmonious solution to world problems. As a sociologist, I am interested in the social conditions of harmony, which are not a supernatural gift but a social construction unfolded in the ABC.

François Houtart

November, 2011

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Biography François Houtart

 

Born in Brussels in 1925, Dr in sociology of the Catholic University of Louvain, catholic priest, postgraduate studies at the University of Chicago and graduated in city planning of the International Institute of City Planning in Brussels. Professor emeritus of the Catholic University of Louvain; founder of the Research Centre of Sociology of Religion and director of the International Review of Sociology of Religion, Social Compass. Founder of the Tricontinental Centre at Louvain-la-Neuve and of the Journal Alternatives Sud. Dr h.c. of Notre Dame University (USA) and La Habana University (Cuba). PhD o­n Religion and Ideology in Sri Lanka. Research in sociology of religion and of sociology of globalization in Europe, the USA, Latin America, Asia and Africa. Invited professors in various universities: Birmingham, Buenos-Aires, Universidad centroamericana (Nicaragua), University of Hanoi, Universidad central (Quito), Universidad de Puebla (Mexico). Chairman of the Vietnam-Belgium Association, member of the International Council of the World Social Forum, executivesecretary of the World Forum for Alternatives. Personal representative of the President of the General Assembly of the UN in the Stiglitz Commisssion o­n the Financial Crisis. Author of more than 50 books and numerous articles. Among the books: Aspects sociologiques du Catholicisme américain (Paris, 1957), Iglesia y Revolución en América latina (Madrid, 1963), Religion and Ideology in Sri Lanka (Colombo, 1973), The Eleventh Hour Explosion of a Church (New York, 1965), Religion et Sociétés precapitalistes (Paris, 2006), Hai Van: la double transition dans une Commune vietnamienne (Paris,2007), Sociologia de la Religion (La Havana, 2008), The Other Davos (London, 2000), Agrofuel (London, 2010).

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With Adolfo Perez Esquivel
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General Assembly of the United Nations

Panel o­n the Financial Crisis

by

Francois Houtart

Founder and President of the Centre Tricontinental and Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the Université Catholique de Louvain

 

30 October 2008

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Delegates, and Dear Friends:

 

The world needs alternatives and not merely regulation. It is not enough to rearrange the system; we need to transform it. This is a moral duty. In order to understand why, we must adopt the point of view of the victims of this system. Adopting this point of view will allow us to confront reality and to express a conviction, the reality that the whole ensemble of crises which currently afflict us finances, food supply, water, energy, climate, social are the result of a common cause, and the conviction that we can change the course of history.

 

Confronting Reality

 

When 850 million human beings live below poverty level, and their number increases, when every twenty-four hours tens of thousands of human being die of hunger, when day after day entire peoples, whole cultures and ways of life simply disappear, putting in peril humanitys patrimony, when the climate deteriorates to the point that o­ne wonders whether or not it is worth the trouble to live in New Orleans, the Sahel, the islands of the Pacific, Central Asia, or along the coasts of our continents, we cannot content ourselves with speaking about the financial crisis.

 

Already this latter crisis has had consequences which are more than merely financial: unemployment, rising prices, exclusion of the poor, vulnerability of the middle classes. The list of victims grows ever longer. Let us be clear. This crisis is not the product of some bad turn taken by o­ne economic actor of another, nor is it just the result of an abuse which must be punished. We are witnessing the result of a logic which defines the economic history of the past two centuries. From crisis to regulation and from regulation to crisis, the unfolding of the facts always reflects the dynamics of the rate of profit. When it rises we deregulate; when it falls we regulate, but always in service to the accumulation of capital, which is understood as the engine of growth. What we are seeing today is, therefore, far from new. It is not the first crisis of the financial system and it will not be the last.

 

Nevertheless, the financial bubble, created over the course of the past few decades, thanks, among other things, to the development of new information and communication technologies, has added fundamentally new dimensions to the problem. The economy has become more and more virtual and differences in income have exploded. To accelerate growth in the rate of profit, a whole new architecture of derivatives was put in place and speculation became the modus operandi of the economic system. The result has been a convergence in the logic governing the disorders which characterize the current situation.

 

The food crisis is an example. The increase in food prices was not the result of declining production, but rather of a combination of reduced stocks, speculation, and the increased production of agro fuels. Human lives were, in other words, subordinated to profit taking.The behavior of the Chicago Commodity Exchange demonstrates this.

 

The energy crisis, meanwhile, goes well beyond a conjunctural explosion in the price of petroleum. It marks the end of cheap fossil fuels, which encouraged profligate use of energy, making possible accelerated economic growth and the rapid accumulation of capital in the middle term. The superexploitation of natural resources and the liberalization of trade, especially since the 1970s, expanded the transport of commodities around the world and encouraged the use of automobiles rather than public transportation, without consideration of either the climatic or the social consequences. The use of petroleum derivatives as fertilizers became widespread in a productivist agriculture. The lifestyle of the upper and middle classes was built o­n this squandering of energy resources. In this domain as well exchange value took precedence over use value.

 

Today, with this crisis threatening gravely the accumulation of capital, there is a sudden urgency about finding solutions. They will, however, respect the underlying logic of the system: to maintain the rate of profit, without taking into account externalities that is to say what does not enter into the accounting of capital and the cost of which must be born by individuals and communities. That is the case with agrofuels and their ecological and social consequences: destruction by monoculture of biodiversity, of the soil and of underground water and the expulsion of millions of small peasants who then go o­n to populate the shantytowns and aggravate the pressures to emigrate.

 

The climate crisis, the gravity of which global public opinion has yet to take the full measure, is, according to the International Group of Climate Experts, the result of human activity. Nicolas Stern, formerly of the World Bank, does not hesitate to say that climate change is the biggest setback in the history of the market economy. In effect, here as before, the logic of capital does not taken into account externalities except when it reduces the rate of profit.

 

The neoliberal era, which led to the increase of the later, coincided as well with growing emissions of greenhouse gases and accelerated global warming. The growth in the utilization of raw materials and in transportation, as well as deregulation in the ecological sphere, augmented the devastation of our climate and diminished the regenerative capacity of nature. If nothing is done in the near future, 20%-30% of all living species could disappear in the next quarter century. The acidity of the oceans is rising and we can expect between 150 and 200 million climate refugees by the middle of this century.

 

It is in this context that we must understand the social crisis. Developing spectacularly the 20% of the worlds population capable of consuming high value added goods and services, is more interesting from the standpoint of private accumulation in the short and middle term than responding to the basic needs ofthose whose purchasing power has been reduced to nothing. Indeed, incapable of producing value added and having o­nly a feeble capacity to consume, they are nothing but a useless mob, or at best the of object welfare policies. This phenomenon is accentuated with the predominance of finance capital. Once more the logic of accumulation has prevailed over the needs of human beings.

 

This whole ensemble of malfunctions opens up the possibility of a crisis of civilization and the risk that the planet itself will be purged of living things, something which also signifies a real crisis of meaning. Regulation, then? Yes, if they constitute steps towards a radical and permanent transformation and point towards an exit from the crisis other than war. No, if they merely prolong a logic which is destructive of life. A humanity which renounces reason and abandons ethics loses the right to exist.

 

A conviction

 

To be sure, apocalyptic language is by itself a sufficient catalyst for action. o­n the contrary, a radical confrontation with reality like that suggested above can lead to reaction. Finding and acting o­n alternatives is possible, but not without conditions. It presupposes a long term vision, a necessary utopia, concrete measures spaced out over time, and social actors who can carry these projects and who are capable of carrying o­n a struggle the violence of which will be proportional to the resistance to change.

 

This long term vision can be articulated along several major axes. In the first place, a rational and renewable use of natural resources, which presupposes a new understanding of our relationship with nature: no longer an exploitation without limits of matter, with the aim of unlimited profits, but rather a respect for what forms the very source of life. Actually existing socialist societies made no real innovations in this domain.

 

Second, we will privilege use value over exchange value, something which implies a new understanding of economics, no longer as the science of producing value added as a way of encouraging private accumulation but rather as an activity which assures the basis for human life, material, cultural, and spiritual, for everyone everywhere. The logical consequences of this change are considerable. From this moment forward, the market must serve as a regulator between supply and demand instead of increasing the rate of profit for a minority. The squandering of raw materials and of energy, the destruction of biodiversity and of the atmosphere, are combated by taking into account ecological and social externalities.The logic governing the production of goods and services must change.

 

Finally, the principle of multiculturalism must complement these others. It is a question of permitting all forms of knowledge, including traditional forms, all philosophies and cultures, all moral and spiritual forces capable of promoting the necessary ethic, to participate in the construction of alternatives, in breaking the monopoly of westernization. Among the religions, the wisdom of Hinduism in relationship to nature, the compassion of Buddhism in human relations, the permanent quest for utopia in Judaism, the thirst for justice which defines the prophetic current in Islam, the emancipatory power of the theology of liberation in Christianity, the respect for the sources of life in the concept of the land itself among the indigenous peoples of the Americas, the sense of solidarity expressed in the religions of Africa, can all make important contributions in the context of mutual tolerance guaranteed by the impartiality of political society.

 

All of this is utopian, to be sure. But the world needs utopias, o­n the condition that they have concrete, practical results. Each of the principles evoked above is susceptible to concrete applications which have already been the object of propositions o­n the part of numerous social movements and political organizations.A new relationship with nature means, among other things, the recovery by states of their sovereignty over their natural resources and an end to their private appropriation, the end of monocultures and a revaluation of peasant agriculture, and the ratification and deepening of the measures called for by the Kyoto and Bali protocols o­n climate change.

 

Privileging use value requires the decommodification of the indispensible elements of life: seeds, water, health, and education, the re-establishment of public services, the abolition of tax havens, the suppression of banking secrecy, the cancelation of the odious debts of the States of the global South, the establishment of regional alliances o­n the basis not of competition by of complementarity and solidarity, the creation or regional currencies, the establishment of multipolarity, and many other measures as well. The financial crisis simply gives us a unique opportunity to apply these measures.

 

Democratizing societies begins with fostering local participation, includes the democratic management of the economy, and extends to the reform of the United Nations.Multiculturalism means the abolition of patents o­n knowledge, the liberation of science from the stranglehold of economic power, the suppression of monopolies o­n information and the establishment of religious liberty.

 

But who will carry this project? The genius of capitalism is to transform its own contradictions into opportunities. How global warming can make you wealthy! reads an ad in US Today from the beginning of 2007. Can capitalism renounce its own principles? Obviously not.Only a new set of power relations can get us where we need to be, something which does not exclude the engagement of some contemporary economic actors. But o­ne thing is clear: the new historic actor which will carry the alternative projects outlined above is plural. There are the workers, the landless peasants, the indigenous peoples, women (who are always the first victims of privatization) the urban poor, environmentalists, migrants, and intellectuals linked to social movements. Their consciousness of being a collective actor is beginning to emerge. The convergence of their organizations is o­nly in its early stages. Real political relationships are often lacking. Some states, notably in Latin America, have already created the conditions for these alternative projects to see the light of day. The duration and intensity of the struggles to come depends o­n the rigidity of the system in place and the intransigence of the protagonists.

 

Offer them, therefore, a platform in the General Assembly of the United Nations, where they can express themselves and present their alternatives. This will be your contribution to changing the course of history something which is must happen if humanity is to recover the space to live and o­nce again find reason to hope in the future.

 

(It is underlined by Leo Semashko)

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Dear Dr. Semashko,

 

Thank you for your letter and the very interesting documents: two the GHA alternative projects: Anti-nuke and Reserve Currency.

 

Of course I partake the objectives proposed. I will send you the intervention I made in the UN General assembly last October and also a project of a Universal Declaration of Mankind's Common Good.

Very best regards.

 

François Houtart

 

Avenue Sainte Gertrude 5,

1348 Louvain-la-Neuve

Tél : 32.476 31 50 53

Fax : 010/48.95.68

email : francoishoutart@yahoo.fr

web : www.cetri.be

May 31, 2009

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UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE o­n THE FINANCIAL CRISIS AND ITS IMPACT o­n DEVELOPMENT 
NEW YORK, JUNE 24 -26, 2009

 

PRESENT AND FUTURE IMPACT OF THE CRISIS

 

François Houtart

 

Special Representative of the UN General Assembly President to the UN Commission
on the World Financial and Monetary System Reform

Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium

 

Much has been said o­n the impacts of the crisis o­n the fundamentals of the economy and its social consequences, because of the artificial and unequal character of the growth and its proved vulnerability, affecting developed and developing countries. However what specifies the present situation, if compared with other financial crises, in particular the o­ne of the 1930, is the convergence of various crises, food, energy, climatic with combined social consequences o­n employment, poverty and migrations

 

Such a coincidence is not accidental. There is a basic historical logic linking all of them. The financial crisis, recurrent in the prevailing economic system is a mechanism of rectification, has been aggravated by the uncontrolled global development of financial capital, allowing a high and rapid rate of profit. Food crisis has been accentuated conjecturally by speculative investments and structurally by the fact that agriculture has become a new frontier for capital accumulation, with the development of monoculture. Energy crisis has been linked with the increase of petroleum prices, partly for speculative reasons, and necessary investments for a structural solution for a change of energy cycle (from fossil to other sources) has been seriously hindered by the huge injection of money to save the financial system. Climatic changes have been accelerated by an irrational use of natural resources, in particular fossil energy due to the model of growth of the post Second World War period. This o­ne has been also at the origin of increasing inequalities, combining spectacular growth for about 20% of the world population and inhuman poverty for more that o­ne billion people o­n the planet.

 

Facing such effects which are related to a common logic of increasing rates of profit and ignorance of ecological and social externalities, two main questions can be raised: to regulate for how long and to repair the financial and monetary system for what?

 

The first interrogation is in relation with the great crisis of the end of the 20th. At that time also, the solution has been to going a new set of rules to tape the market, recognizing the illusion of its auto regulation. It has been the New Deal and its various applications. But when the economic system begun to recover (including thanks to the reconstruction after a world war), pressure to deregulate increased up to the point of establishing what has been named the Washington Consensus, which means the neoliberal era of the capitalist system. Will the same logic prevail, as it seems to be the case in many declarations? In this case, in a few years we will face the same consequences again. A first logic for the short and middle term is thus to propose permanent regulations and not just provisional medicines.

 

The second question is much more serious. Efficient measure is proposed to allow the financial and monetary system to function anew o­n sound bases, in order to restore growth, development and prosperity. But what does this mean? To begin again like before, with the same logic which provoked the present situation?

 

Shall mankind continue to exploit natural resources destroying the ecological system? Will the financial institutions promote the automobile industry (even a little greener) help to extend monocultures destroying biodiversity, soils, water, especially for agro fuel? The Copenhagen Conference o­n climate, initiative of the United Nations, if it wants to be efficient, will have to propose very strong measures to save the planet, in direct contradiction with some powerful economic interests, already lobbying to mitigate the resolutions.

 

Will the restoration of the financial system be based again o­n a logic of unequal growth, eventually with important assistant policies for poor sections of the world population, but without challenging the main philosophy of the world economic organization? Will it serve to finance wars for the control of scarce natural resources and energy supplies ? In other words will it mean: business as usual?

 

It has been repeatedly affirmed that the Objectives of the Millennium will be affected by the crisis, but such Objectives are already in themselves an admission of failure: in spite of the unprecedented riches of the world, some half a billion people will still suffer of hunger and poverty in 2015. Such an approach is well illustrated by the fact that Africa is supposed to get an international aid, smaller than the intervention of the United States of America Government to save General Motor.

 

Hence the necessity of raising the question of paradygms: we do not o­nly need regulations, but alternatives. We need another definition of growth, of development, of prosperity, of civilization. This affects the fundamental aspects of human life in the planet: relation with nature, production of goods and services for life, socio-political organization and meanings of life and ethics.

 

It is around these four themes that new paradigms could be developed for the Common Good of mankind. First a renewable and rerate application possible way of using,-natural resources, in a relation with nature, not of exploitation as a commodity, but of respect, because it is the source of life. Second, priority given to use value o­n exchange value, the economy being the human activity to produce the basis of the physical, cultural and spiritual life of all human beings in the world. Third, generalized democracy to all institutions and human relations, including gender and finally multiculturality, to assure the participation of all cultures, knowledge, philosophies and religions to the meaning and the ethics of human life in the planet.

 

It may appear utopian, but all those principles have direct and concrete applications, which already exist in many parts of the world. They are experimented locally by social movements, translated in political forms by governments, theoretically systematized by intellectuals. It could become o­ne day a Universal declaration of Mankinds Common Good by the United Nations, parallel to the o­ne o­n Human Rights.

 

Such a perspective is the kind of utopia the world needs to motivate collective action, to encourage social commitments, to realize political projects. Many signs are existing in the world of a collective vitality, such as the appeal of the social movements to the African Heads of State, the proposed chart of the peasants rights and so many initiatives, fruit sometimes of very hard struggles for justice. They are sources of hope for the future of mankind.

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PROPOSAL FOR A

 

UNIVERSAL DECLARATION o­n THE

COMMON WELL-BEING OF HUMANITY

 

By François Houtart4 May, 2009

 

Confronted as we are by a financial crisis which is affecting the world economy and which combines with a food, energy and climate crisis that is leading to a social and humanitarian catastrophe, various reactions are being expressed.Some suggest that the actors be changed and punished (the chicken stealers, as Michel Camdessus, former IMF director, calls them) in order to continue as before.Others, like George Soros, stress the need to regulate the system, but without changing the parameters.And then there are those who believe that it is the logic of the contemporary economic system itself that is in question and alternative solutions have to be found.

 

The urgency of solutions is the greatest challenge.There is not much time left to act effectively o­n climate change.According to FAO, during the last two years, 100 million people have fallen below the poverty threshold and the necessity to change the energy cycle has become imperative.There are a multitude of alternative solutions in every field but they need to be coherent with each other if they are to be effective: they require, not a new dogma, but an articulation between them.

 

In the same way that the Universal Declaration o­n Human Rights was proclaimed by the United Nations, a Universal Declaration o­n the Common Well-being of Humanity could play this role.It is true that human rights had a long way to go between the French and American revolutions and their adoption by the international community.The process was also gradual before the third generation of rights, including a social dimension, was proclaimed. It was very Western in its perspective andthe document was completed by an African Declaration, while a similar initiative was taken in the Arab world.Of course the Declaration has often been manipulated for political interests, particularly by the Western powers.But it is still a basic reference that is indispensable for all political legitimacy and the protection of persons.

 

The time has come for the process to be completed because the survival of humanity and of the planet is at stake.Four founding principles could give coherence to new initiatives that seek to construct alternatives and guide all new practices.

 

1.A sustainable and responsible use of natural resources.This means another approach to the relationships between human beings and nature, moving from exploitation to respect for nature, the source of all life.

 

2. To give priority to the use value rather than to exchange value.Thus, the economy as an activity should create, while respecting social and ecological norms, the bases of the physical, cultural and spiritual life of all human beings o­n the planet.

 

3. To generalize democracy in all social relationships and in all institutions. It should not o­nly be applied and strengthened in the political field, together with a new definition of the State and international organizations, but extended to include the economy, culture and men-women relationships.

 

4. Multiculturalism, in order to make it possible for all knowledge, all cultures, all philosophical and religious traditions to participate in the definition of the common good of humanity and in the elaboration of its ethics.

 

The adoption of these principles would make it possible to start up a genuine alternative process as opposed to the rules that currently dominate the capitalist economy, the world political organization and the Western cultural hegemony which have brought about the social and natural consequences that we know today.The above principles could lead to general orientations that can be sketched out.

 

Clearly, respect for nature requires the collective control of resources.It also requires the essential constituents of human life, such as water and seeds, to be considered as the heritage of humanity, with all the juridical consequences that this entails.It also means taking into account the ecological externalities in economic calculations.

 

Preference must be given to use value which means a transformation of the production system, at present based mainly o­n exchange value to contribute to the accumulation of capital considered as the engine of the economy.This means restoring public services, including health and education that is, they would not be treated as merchandise.

 

The generalization of democracy, particularly in the organization of the economy, mean the end of the monopoly over decision-making linked to the ownership of capital, but also the starting up of new forms of participation in which citizens becomes their own subjects.

 

Accepting multiculturalism in the building of these principles means not reducing culture to o­ne of its components but allowing the wealth of the human cultural heritage to express itself, putting an end to the patents that monopolize knowledge

and enabling a social ethic to be expressed in different languages.

 

Utopia?Yes, because it does not exist today, but it could tomorrow.It is a necessary Utopia, because it is a synonym of inspiration and the creator of coherence between collective and personal efforts.But it is also of very practical application, recognizing that changing a development model does not happen in a day and that it is constructed by an ensemble of actions which require different periods of time to come to fruition.How, then, to propose measures that form part of this logic and could be the objective of popular mobilizations and political decisions?Many proposals have already been made, but others could be added.

 

At the level of natural resources, an international pact o­n water that envisages its collective management (not exclusively by the State) would reflect an existing consciousness of the problem.Some other orientations could be proposed:the sovereignty of nations over their energy resources; the prohibition of speculation o­n food products; the regulation of agro-fuels so that they respect biodiversity, the conservation of soil and water quality and the principle of peasant agriculture; the adoption of measures necessary to limit the increase of the earths temperature to 1ºC during the 21st century; public control over oil and minerals through an international code of exploitation, verified and authorized, concerning the ecological and social effects (including, inter alia the rights of indigenous peoples).

 

As for use value, some practical examples would include re-establishing the common good of water, electricity, the post, telephones, internet, public transport, health, education, in function of the specifics of each sector.It will be necessary to demand a guarantee of five years o­n all manufactured goods, which would prolong the life of products and diminish the use of raw materials and energy.A tax should be levied o­n manufactured goods that travel over 1,000 kms between their place of production and the consumer (to be adapted according to the products), the proceeds of which would be used for the local development of the most fragile countries.The norms for working conditions established by the ILO should be reinforced, with a reduction of working hours and an improvement in their quality.The parameters of the GNP should be changed, with the introduction of qualitative elements that express the idea of living well.

 

The application of generalized democracy are without number and could concern all institutions that require a publicly recognized status, both for their internal function and for the equality in gender relationships:businesses, unions, religious, cultural and sports organizations.At the level of the United Nations, a rule could be proposed of two-thirds agreement for major decisions and absolute majority for measures that are to apply them.

 

As for multiculturalism, it would include, among other things, the prohibition of patenting traditional knowledge, putting discoveries linked to human life (medical and pharmaceutical) at the disposal of the public and establishing the material bases necessary for the survival of specific cultures (territoriality).

 

This is an appeal for concrete proposals that can be put together to form a coherent ensemble of alternatives and which would constitute the collective objective of humanity and the applications of a Universal Declaration of the Common Well-Being of Humanity by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

 

 

 

A collection of proposals is being organized o­n the web site of the World Forum of Alternatives.Theycanbecommunicatedto:Houtart@hotmail.com

 

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