The Cooperation Manifesto (en Español)
June 11, 2004

by Nancy Davies      <nmsdavies@hotmail.com>

this page is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Discus/2004-06-11.htm

1.
      The urge to dominate is, without doubt, part of male genetic biological inheritance; it is built into humanity. But consider: male dominance is mainly the role of maleness – half the animal and human populations don’t practice it at all. Among more thoughtful or weaker nations, it is not an option for international relations.

      Also part of our human biological inheritance as a particular species, is our urge to think, to reason, to solve problems. And that biological imperative applies to 100% of humanity, or could, if it were nurtured and given space. So the USA could, if it chose, join the rest of the world.

      Dominance as a political/military option, of one nation, state, ethnic group, religion, color, culture, peoples – has run its course. Domination can not work, does not work. In the history of mankind one group has never managed to maintain dominance for more than a finite time. Well, you may say, two hundred years for a US Empire would be okay. But no, it would not be okay. The days when the Roman Empire fought are over – they fought with spears. The Ottoman Empire conquered with swords. The British Empire fought with its navy. But the USA fights with dirty bombs, nuclear bombs, hydrogen bombs. The weapons are too murderous. Our own troops, as well as civilians and unborn children, sicken from our use of depleted uranium. The consequences of nuclear wars, biological wars, chemical wars, etc., extend far beyond any perpetrator’s ability to foresee or control. The children in Iraq have been deformed and genetically mutilated since 1991 – knowingly.

      Occupied and conquered people will fight back. Some call it terrorism, some call it freedom fighters. By whatever name the resistance struggles, military control – war, that is, whether overt or covert – no longer is possible. It was never moral. Now it leaves no winners.

      Furthermore, dominance of one human group over another presently plays out against the failure of another dominance entirely – that of Humanity over Nature. That did not work either. The Old Testament claim that God gave man dominion over nature has come to ruin. Literally. It has taken a thousand years, but now we see that Western hubris, comparable to the modern hubris of capitalism, communism, neoliberalism (whatever isms you care to name), has come back to bite us. The global climate change we read about is just one part of the disaster: air and water are polluted, deserts advance, the soil becomes sterile with chemicals, floods increase where rivers have been “controlled”, ocean fish stock vanish, and dams drown whole populations. We have, as a species, compromised the ability of the planet to sustain us. We have done what no good dog will do – shit in our own home.

      Domination must give way to cooperation. Cooperation shines in our biological heritage – we are a social species; we communicate; we live in extended groups. All the science, art, architecture, culture, language, music, leisure and games we enjoy are the result of cooperation. Traffic lights depend on our willing cooperation; bringing food to cities requires cooperative efforts. Schools, charities, laws, all depend on our willing cooperation. And we do cooperate – I believe the percent of Americans who comply with voluntary taxation is over 80% – because to be human is to live in a group.

2.
      In the history of the United States of America, domination played the major role. Our nation has ruthlessly and pervasively committed crimes against other peoples (Native Americans, African Americans, Japanese Americans, Nicaraguans, Haitians, Cubans, Grenadians, Guatemalans, Columbians, Chileans, Venezuelans spring to mind in this hemisphere alone) because economic domination is the goal. Economic domination requires military domination, supported by political and ideological domination. This includes cultural domination, such as our never-ending violence, rock and roll, and the use of English as the world’s current lingua franca. Many people gravitate toward the winner, the dominant group, and take on its characteristics. Not because this group is in any way morally superior. Nor is its fake democracy superior, or even “democracy”, when crowds of hundreds of thousands marching in the streets can so easily be ignored by our so-called “elected” leaders. But because one small group owns more, and power is intrinsically attractive – again, part of the biological heritage – the dominant culture draws adherents like meat draws flies. The elite are permitted free rein and even admired and emulated.

      That’s rich white men we’re talking about.

      Now it’s time to think. Maybe a better model lies in cooperation. Better for several reasons: no more wars, less spending on the military industrial crap, more education, more housing, more health care, nurturance and growth – for everybody on the globe. Competition is fine for the soccer field but as a political-economic ideology it has failed.

      Competition and domination have led us to murder our own young, and countless others in the victim nations. They led us to impoverish where we could have enriched. They led us to despoil where we might nurture. What is the point of inflicting suffering on helpless or out-gunned peoples? What do we gain as human beings? “I’ll get mine, and screw you” is hardly an edifying goal. Furthermore, it can’t last. Further furthermore, we – meaning the majority of us – don’t even gain the wealth the “leaders” seek – they gain it, and the rich inherit the earth. That is globally documented: 2% own 80%. I myself am one of the 80%, and I don’t much care for the situation. Why not? Because I’m not a true believer in the American Dream, which was already inoperative before the Great Depression when the internal Expansionist era ended. And of course even then it was only for the fortunate whites.

      I don’t believe the myth and fantasy, that by some miracle of hard work and good fortune I, or my grandchildren, will acquire wealth, happiness and a four-car garage. It was a con, and I don’t buy it. All over the world, among the urban and rural poor alike, among peoples of every color and persuasion, most often poor people raise poor children; badly nourished people raise stunted children; uneducated people raise ignorant youngsters. Upward mobility happens, but to travel from poverty to wealth is as common as being struck by lightening.
      Do you think you will get rich?
      Did your parents pay for your university education?
      Did you inherit your parents’ house?

      In reality, it’s mostly the wealthy with their clubs and connections who stay ahead. Most people run their asses off just to stay in place. 40% of the US population never get past high school. Competition has been enshrined as a social good although obviously it is not, since the competition is not between equals.

      Why don’t we opt to change the reliance on the myth of “beneficial” capítalist competition? Why don’t we adopt a policy of allowing nations to alleviate their poverty by enacting whatever tariffs or home industry protections they need – just as the USA did? Why don’t we adopt a policy of encouraging food self-sufficiency wherever it’s possible, while limiting environmentally ruinous agribusiness? Why don’t we abolish those killer national debts whose dollars are owed to the already rich? Why don’t we oppose the elites and thugs who prey on their impoverished countrymen? Why don’t we have free cradle-to-grave education and decent health care for everybody in this our own wealthy nation? Why don’t we strive to lower the infant mortality rate in all countries, including the USA which falls below other industrial nations in this aspect of health care? Why don’t we phase out militarism and phase in cooperation?

      Why don’t we? Is it because we focus on power to the exclusion of the rest of our humanity?

      Is it because you like the power you wield? Wait a minute – do you really have any power? Can you make key decisions at work? Do you have a voice on your local city council? Or do you fear that some foreign nation will grab the US’s power which you vicariously enjoy, like watching a football game on TV? Is your pride in a winning sports team because you live in their franchise city?

      We all like to root for winners, don’t we. That’s human, too. But not useful when applied to international politics and economics. Winners and losers is a anachronistic concept.

      In fact, it’s certain that if we continue playing the domination sole-superpower game, some other group or nation will eventually grab the power. That’s the nature of sports and empire – victory doesn’t last.

      Financially, physically and morally, domination exhausts the nation which embarks on it. Read history. Look at our national debt. We are already riding on borrowed money, and borrowed time.

      But if we relinquish dominance now, willingly, and voluntarily turn toward cooperation, we might still save ourselves. I am hopeful, despite the harvest of hatred we already reap. This millennium could become the dreamed-of golden age.

      At the very least, chances for survival of the human species will improve.

3.
      Okay, White Lady, who is this “we” to whom you allude so freely? Me and John Kerry? More than me and my possible president, let’s identify “we” as white, male, human, Americans. I’m a white, human American, so although I persist somewhat foolishly in considering myself “innocent” of the wrongs perpetrated in the name of America, nevertheless I am “we”. I include under the term “male” the women who have been co-opted to believe that competition is better than cooperation, although I doubt many mothers say to their children, “If that kid takes your toy, kill him.” On the contrary, didn’t your mother tell you, “It’s nice to share”? Share doesn’t mean surrender or give away or be a wimp. Share means cooperate, because if you share – money, tools, know-how – whatever you possess, your friend will share what he has. Most human children understand this proposition.

      Other nations also understand it. The governments as well as the peoples of Europe and Russia, which have endured hideous wars on their own soil, oppose military adventures. Europe now espouses cooperation, in the form of the European Union, with cooperative laws and money, as their political foundation. Nations are literally lined up to join. It’s a better deal to cooperate than to go it alone. The fault line in Europe, as here, lies in two areas: capitalism, which in Europe is modestly controlled by government social programs; and oil. Europe of course needs oil also, although their gasoline already prudently costs much more than ours to limit usage, and, they are linking up to Russia’s resources. The Europeans, being no dummies, know that if the USA controls the global oil supply the USA controls the global economy – at least until the oil runs out or, more likely, the USA economy collapses from the weight of the imperial adventure.

      And don’t let’s talk about Britain, which opted for the USA’s position, power, oil and the job of assistant dominator.

      We are waging war for oil. When one measures the expense of doing so – in billions of dollars and perhaps as many as 50,000 dead in Iraq – wouldn’t it be all around better and cheaper to work toward alternative energy sources? And who is this “we” who objects because the scenery off the coast of their island is “marred” by wind generators? Apparently “we” would prefer murder, mutilation (of others) and ruin (of our own nation) to the view of a wind generator. (Actually, for those who have seen wind farms, they are quite lovely.) To put matters in a bigger basket, we are waging war for control of the area where the oil is. We are not (except for religious visionaries) in support of Israel, we maintain it as a proxy military base from which we can dominate the area where the oil is. Those who believe we hold Israel precious ought to think again. Israel, like us, is a militarist occupier nation. The Jewish vote, which in Florida largely went Democratic, is not a significant factor for those who have their eyes on oil. A thinking person can easily figure out that we are not trying to overthrow Hugo Chavez in Venezuela because he isn’t “democratic”, c’mon guys, Venezuela has oil. We are not occupying Colombia only to ensure a stream of illegal drug money; we are occupying a base adjacent to the oil of Venezuela. And why the brutal suppression of Haiti and Cuba? They have no oil – but, god forbid, they promoted the idea of social equity. Social equity is not supportable in our back yard, we want capitalist and imperial dominance. Who’s this “we”?

      If “we” is not you, what are you to do? Marching in the streets is a powerful symbol, but as we know, it’s not effective because “we” control the police who beat us over the head, and arrest us, and “we” control the media who misreports these and other events.

      When do we clearly and finally separate “we” the people from “we” the rulers and corporate leaders of the American policy of the United States?

4.
      Here’s an idea: let’s overthrow competition and establish cooperation. Let’s do it by cooperating.

      By that I mean look at your neighbor and your street and your community, with an idea to establishing common goals on which you can work together. This is not a new idea. Many local groups have formed, to successfully protest destruction of their neighborhoods or improve their schools or protect and clean their parks. So I’m suggesting that this process needs to be promoted, examined, and exalted, and taught to our young people as something infinitely more beneficial than competition.

      And then when you go to listen to your local politicians, the question to ask is, what are you doing to further cooperation – between our city and the one down the road, between our lives and the lives of others? What are you doing not to grab a bigger slice but to grow the pie? And what are federal politicians – whom you elect, who represent you – doing to further national cooperation, and global cooperation?

      I recall very well the non-existence of a Communist threat, and the McCarthyism that resulted in loss of civil rights and fear. Is the terrorism threat another swindle to keep us in line? Why do we need an unending war to capture criminals?

      When do we sign the Kyoto Treaty? When do we demand higher gas mileage? When do we demand that the environment be protected? That the wars be halted? The course the USA is presently following in Iraq leads over a cliff; why should we stay on it? Asks yourself whose “course” it really is – it benefits Bechtel and Halliburton, clearly – does it benefit you? In what way? Can it immortalize the superpower status of the USA? Or does it give the oil companies a foot in the Iraqi door? And if so, is that what you believe is the best “course” for you? Certainly stealing the Iraqis’ oil is not best for the Iraqis, and certainly if we manage to do it, can the Saudis and the Nigerians be far behind? But is it best for you to wage a war of occupation in order to steal from others?

      Who are you? Who are we? Who are the criminals? The list of crimes committed in our name is infinite.

      Competition is an outdated, outworn, dangerous idea promoted by the wealthy to protect the interests of the wealthy. It depends on, and is on a par with, deregulation. That’s lawlessness. Global competition by definition implies preemptive war and decimation of civilian populations. “Bringing democracy” to Iraq is military occupation.

      Domination is no longer possible, and it’s dangerous. Locally, and globally. Let’s get together and get rid of it. Demand cooperation.


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