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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ocupy World Street

Book report
by Olga  L. Miranda


     This book offers a global vision about the current American political system from a critical and prospective analysis. Moreover, this documented essay proposes a strategy for a substantive change oriented to create a better world system based on a real democracy for all countries, and demanding a more rational leadership from the political institutions of the Unite States of America.  As an additional value, this study is based on the most revolutionary and strong concepts from the philosophical, economic, and socio-political contemporary theories.
     This report is aimed to point out the central thesis developed on this wise social essay, mainly, those related to the foreign policy as important function of the political American system and one of the most essential powers of the president.  For instance, this report will pay attention to the connection between political priorities in the USA government’s agenda and global problems; the interaction between democracy and economy and its impacts on the other nations’ interests; the role of some social beliefs and cultural values on the emergency of a new political paradigm; and the essential reasons that explain why it is necessary a political reform.
     Ross Jackson, author of this “courageous piece of work” was born in Canada in 1938, and educated in Canada and the USA. He has been an influential thinker as well a successful business man since it is counting on his favor a very intense and active life not only in the economic and political field but also in the theoretical area so he has published many other works and earned a PhD in the theory and practice of problem solving. Also, he has been one of the United Nations experts. For instance, in 1995, he helped organized the Global Commission to Fund the UN and coedited its report, The UN: Policy and Financing Alternatives. From this remarkable professional experience the author gives us, in his last book, a complete framework about the main ideological trends of the modern capitalism with the United States of America at its head.
     "Occupy World Street; a global roadmap for radical economic and political reform" has a very good explanatory introduction about the goals of the whole book, and its 6 main parts.
     The first part is an explanation about how the limits of the natural resources, ecological stress, and peak oil are demanding urgent solutions to the traditional political systems. The author claims that environmental issues must be a priority in political agendas. He mentions those warnings were given in the historical report Limits of Growth published by the Club of Rome in 1972. In particular, he recommends that states must include measures of environmental statistic as important economic data. In addition, he makes note that the USA has to turn to use GPI as a measure of progress instead GDP due to growth is not more indicator of a real national and individual progress neither it is a proof of a good political administration.
     Second part, called “The Drivers of Destruction” is the biggest one and central in the book. Ross Jackson takes the Thomas Kuhn’s idea about shift of paradigm as method of analysis and kept focused on targeting the dominant world-view and the traditional political systems as responsible for the collapse of the civilization. He brings updated concepts of capitalism, and very interesting questions about diverse forms of capitalism based on different cultural and social values. So thus, he asked,  “What if we focused on cooperation rather than completion?  And “Why are some nations rich and some poor?” Furthermore, in the chapter about the American experience, Jackson argued how the foreign policy of the USA during twentieth century shows the clear pattern of protectionism. He points out that Latin America was earmarked as the United States “colony” to supply cheap raw materials- a key component in its economy strategy, ensuring that the value added was strong enough to prevent Latin America from developing competitive industries”. Part 2 includes as well, an exposition about the neoliberal project and its myths such as, “growth is good”, “free markets benefits all”, “markets are self correcting”. But the realities and negative consequences came soon to deny this postulates. The neoliberal model was mostly encouraged during early 80’s by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher administrations, and particularly designed and applied by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization.
     At the end of this part is reveled the real relation between democracy and free market. The writer cites to David Held, professor of political science at the London School of Economics, when he stated,  “Inequality undermines or artificially limits the pursuit of democratic decision-making”. Democracy is swelled by a socio-economic order controlled by business interests. ’Free market’ and democracy are simply incompatibles”, concludes Jackson.
     In part 3, called “The Empire”, are developed arguments that present the USA as a corporatocracy, where the financial institutions, the military, and the medias control the political institutions, the society is dominated by the culture of money, and the democracy was gone. According Jackson, the prime drafter of the US Constitution, James Madison put in clear clear the main function of the state is to protect the rich ones, the property owners against the poorest one. Also, Jackson cites the current inefficient system of registration to vote, which makes the USA one of the nations with less registered voters in elections. But the strongest argument is offered when the author provides examples about the power of corporations over the political institutions. In fact, argues Jackson, the power of American corporations has been even supported by the Supreme Court such as happened on January 2010. Seemly, in a CBS News, and New York Times poll on 2004, and 2006, respectively, was showed that members of the Congress were financially corrupt. Finally, it is shocking to know from this book that according to a CIA agent Ralph McGhee, misinforming the citizens is one of the CIA missions.
     Part 4 is about the new social and political values that the human beings have to create to save their civilization. The most important idea of this part is about a new segment of American population labeled by Jackson “the Cultural Creatives”, who represents the 26 % now, and are creating new point of views and social values based on the principle that all things can’t be valued in a monetary measure.
Paul Ray, who has noted an increase in the number of so-called "cultural creatives" in the USA from 4% in the mid 1970s to 24% in the mid 1990’s. The latest number is 29% and growing, both in the USA and abroad. These individuals, mostly women incidentally, are characterized by their primary values being non-commercial. These are precisely the people who are making Civil Society a power to be reckoned with in the 21st century.
     Another crucial argument in this part is related to the concept of Civil Society and its growing role and importance on international and national scenery. The members of the civil society represent a significant potential for bringing changes into the socio-political system.
      Part 5 “Toward a Gaian World Order” provide a bunch of arguments about how to create a new world order based on an economic and politic system that would not destroy the environment neither sacrifice the democratic institutions.
     Part 6 is about how to get there. Basically is giving a strategy to breaking away from dysfunctional systems and create a new political order based on equality and fair relations between the nations.
     Occupy World Street is, definitely, a book to be read by those who want to know the main weakness of the America political system from a global view, as well to be aware about the main objective trends that are defining the future of the USA nation and the world in general. It is a documented work based on updated data and the most revolutionary and critical theories, and aimed to create a new paradigmatic world-view as a base for more democratic, and sustainable societies.

     Jackson, Ross. Occupy World Street. A Global Roadmap for Radical Economic and Political Reform. Foreword by Hazel Henderson. Chelsea Green publishing White River junction, Vermont, 2012.

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