[Editor’s note: this is the most lucid and forward-thinking article I’ve read by Kalle Lasn, founder and editor of Adbusters Magazine and former Zen priest.]
Every Country is a Living Organism
There are 200 countries in the world today, and if you think of each of them as a living, breathing organism, the questions become very basic.
How do you keep them alive — fed, secure, self-sustaining? How do you keep them happy? How do you encourage them to play nice with each other, and empower them to make wise decisions?
Up till now most nations have been acting like babies.
Look at how the US handled the pandemic and Trump’s Big Lie. It seems incapable of applying simple logic to the challenges it faces and coming up with commonsense solutions. It doesn’t have the tools.
Look at Europe, South America, Africa. Same thing.
Most democracies today are barely functioning. They’re pale versions of the vibrant organisms they couldso easily become.
(The only country that seems to be up on its hind legs, with a plan and purpose, is China. And if it’s the role model we’re in trouble. China’s rigidity and relentless suppression of freedom can’t possibly be the way forward.)
A new science of social evolution will give us a glimpse of what’s possible. Whatever form it ultimately takes, this new discipline is sure to be a more beautiful guide to the future than the lifeless “political science” taught in universities today.
Call it “biopolitics.”
It starts with the proposition that every country is a living body and We the People are her life force. Everything must always flow uninterrupted from the ground up. This is Article 1 of the constitution of every thriving democracy.
And constitutions must be living documents, flexible and nimble — not rigid screeds written in stone long ago and worshipped like holy writ. Constitutions are embodiments of a nation’s ideals and aspirations, its sacred beliefs and values. They are blueprints for a future that is always changing, and so they must be constantly recalibrated, reinvented, fought over and born anew with every generation.
What’s happening in Chile may be the blueprint for the rest of us.
The country is sitting on a goldmine. It’s the world’s second largest producer of lithium and stands to make substantial economic gains as the price for this key component in electric-vehicle batteries climbs. Yet during the corrupt Pinochet regime of the ‘80s, the country made a devil’s bargain — signing over to corporate mining interests the rights to its water and other resources — and wrote the terms of that money-grab right into their constitution.
But now Chileans are asking: Who are we if we’re willing to cash in everything to enrich a small group of people? And so a supercharged people’s movement is spearheading a constitutional reassessment. It’s happening through a democratically elected panel that’s aiming to scrap the old document and replace it with one that, in light of the “climate and ecological emergency,” prioritizes the environment, sustainability, and the people’s ongoing right to own their live-giving resources and frame their own destiny. It is a grassroots reinvention of a whole country driven by the people themselves. And it’s a total re-think of the way political power works — not top down, with special interests shaping policy — but inside-out, with the core values of the citizens radiating out into the body politic.
And so these are the questions all of us should be asking:
• What power should local communities have in development decisions?
• Who owns the water?
• Should nature have rights?
• Do future generations have rights?
• Is our democracy working?
Chile’s experiment in national reinvention points the way. The organic processes of personal, social, economic, and cultural renewal must start happening in every country in the world if we’re going to have any kind of future on this planet.