Shifting Power from Federal Government to Bioregions

Salvation for this world will come from shifting power to bioregions rather than the federal government, argues Charlene Spretnak.

| Summer 1984

  • Bioregions Map
    Charlene Spretnak argues that a shift of power is essential for our nation's continued success.
    Image Courtesy of Hey Paul Studios. Licensed under Creative Commons.

  • Bioregions Map

Three of the core principles of the Green Party in West Germany—ecological wisdom, grass-roots democracy, and non violence—were expressly borrowed from the citizens' movements in the United States. In fact, the Greens' symbol, the sunflower, is not native to Europe but to North America. Since Green politics was grown from partially American seeds, the possibility of cultivating it on this side of the "pond" is intriguing.

An American movement would begin with many advantages the European Greens did not have. Scores of holistic and visionary thinkers in the United States have been brainstorming in print for the past decade, each contributing to the evolution of a coherent view that could guide an ecologically wise society free of exploitation and war, one with a sustainable economy and decentralized institutions of appropriate scale. In addition to ample quantities of theory, American activists have had years of experience with various sorts of holistic politics. The ecology and peace movements have discovered their common ground; feminists have held ecological conferences and peace actions. The bioregional movement has spawned dozens of organizations exploring the natural carrying capacity of various areas of the country in order to develop an economy in balance with local ecosystems. Some of those groups are also developing the concept of "political ecology," insisting that our society's laws must operate as an extension of ecological laws.

Countless networks working for comprehensive, nonviolent social change have emerged. Such positive steps, however, fall far short of creating an effective political force.

If Green politics were to take root in this country, it would require not only a coherent world view, but a political analysis (for example, an analysis of the power relationships among corporations, the military, the government, the unions, and the professions), from which would emerge specific programs and strategies. This would have to be convincingly articulated in public and the response mobilized.

Although the power of Green politics lies at the grass-roots level, a national organization would also be necessary to encourage and sustain the people involved, as well as to benefit from the media attention. There would be vital questions to resolve—for example, should the organization be a national political movement, a caucus operating within both the Democratic and Republican parties, or a party?

For reasons Fritjof Capra and I discuss in our book, we believe that the soundest starting point is a well-organized grass-roots national movement that develops a coherent view and comprehensive programs to present to lawmakers at all levels and to the public. It should respect local and regional autonomy and should have only as much national coordination as is necessary to make it a potent element in American politics.

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