Here are the rules I thought of overnight about structure. Actually, it was more like remembering them from a hundred workshops, including one with Starhawk. (www.starhawk.org):
1. Structure should be based on real experience and natural structure as much as possible. (This is where the Neocons go badly wrong. George Bush has less experience of reality than Louis the Fourteenth.)
2. Structure should be enabling, not suppressing. Of course, one person’s suppression (dams) is another’s enabling (irrigation). But de-struction is a form of con-struction. (Knocking out the dams to let the salmon through.)
3. Structure IS, whether we like it or not, fluid, time-bound, going somewhere. Rivers, power lines, the land, ecologies, households -- no matter how well organized and maintained they are, they are deteriorating, flowering, bringing forth, interacting. (I’m thinking about my little old house. Gutters are the structures to be addressed today. The rain is coming.) Even the Rockies are wearing away. Animal skeletons are not permanent: the structure is there, but the cells are constantly dying and being replaced and in that process, slight changes to the whole skeleton develop.
4. All structure is part of a larger structure, right on out into space and through the cosmos. When considering the impact of a structure, this must be considered or one risks creating changes never intended at all. (CRP, the payment of farmers not to grow any crops in order to avoid surpluses, has wiped out many small towns because the farmers took their money someplace else.)
5. Every structure must have feedback corrections in it. In our democracy, the main feedback loop is elections. When we have gone one direction too long, the next election should restore balance. At present it appears that some people have managed to abort and subvert elections here in the US (consider the controversy over the Ohio presidential election), on the reservation (That old lady I mentioned yesterday maintains that the ballots they count are all marked up before the election, and then switched with the ones the people actually vote on, so the previously prepared ones can be counted publicly, creating the illusion of honesty. “It’s because they know who will be on the ballot,” she suggested. “If no one knew who was going to be on the ballot, then they couldn’t mark those ballots in advance.”), and in Iraq. Someone needs to do some very serious systems analysis about elections, and I think someone probably is. The old Blackfeet way was simply to vote with feet by walking off. Won’t work now.
Reservations have a very hard time with elections, laws, and all the paraphenalia of government structure, because in their case so much is constructed and so little comes out of the natural order that was so recent. Just setting up a reservation is a fiction. It’s only a legal category, though the mountains and rivers help to set borders.
Once the legal category is created, people start sliding it around to their own advantage. If you look at a map of Glacier County and check the eastern edge, you’ll see that all the oil wells are just barely over on county side -- that’s because they quietly moved that border as soon as oil was suspected. Recently the City of Cut Bank built two large, expensive reservoirs on reservation land which had been patented and therefore could be bought and sold. However, it was still on the reservation and therefore subject to tribal law, which included a requirement that all big construction projects hire a certain percentage of Indians. The tribe shut Cut Bank’s project down while this was sorted out.
Cut Bank claimed ignorance, which is equivalent to arguing that a law is not a law unless you know it’s a law. (Do you know all the laws there are? I don’t. But lawyers are supposed to know how to find out.) They did not argue that when land is owned by non-Indians, it is no longer part of the reservation, but that HAS been argued. Also, no one defined Indian. (The problem is not that there is no definition, but that there are too many.) Cynics interpreted the situation as a ploy to get bribes. Others felt it was due to Cut Bank failing to see Tribal constructed laws as “real.”
Many people have been assailing one of the biggest and most powerful constructs of our modern society: the multi-national corporation. Corporations are organizations (constructs) that we pretend are people (corporate has the same root as corpse) and treat in law that way. But corporations are NOT people and have now used their definitional privileges to reach back and control the governments that granted them this fantasy status, because they can see that otherwise they will be limited. After all, nothing about this is natural -- it’s all invented on paper.
And the results are now beginning to be deeply destructive. If the alternative media is correct, our own internal citizen army -- the national guard -- was kept away from New Orleans while Blackwater soldiers of fortune, hired guns, were sent in to keep order. They are a private army with no allegiance except to whomever meets the payroll. Think about it. (Not TOO much or you won’t be able to sleep.)
In fact, some observers think that the multi-national corporations that control governments have abandoned their own checks and balances and grown to such proportions that they will destroy themselves. One example was Dell, which doesn’t make computers but only assembles them from parts for which they contract. They hadn’t realized that one small SE Asia supplier was the only source of a vital chip they had to have. That little supplier hit problems and SMASH falls Dell. Sounds like our war effort in Iraq to me. Except the tiny vital part of the construct that they assume is in endless supply is the soldiers.
Davidson Loehr’s book is “America, Fascism, and God: Sermons from a Heretical Preacher.” (Copyright 2005. Chelsea Green Publishing Co., White River Junction, Vermont. www.chelseagreen.com) He recommends “The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power” by Joel Bakan. (Copyright 2004 by the Free Press.)
David is the senior minister at the Austin Unitarian Universalist Church in Texas. Their website is down: either it is swept up in the storm chaos or overwhelmed by something else.