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Aug 30, 2016

How to Enslave a Planet in One Easy Lesson

One aspect of predatory capitalism that I'm just beginning to understand is unfolding courtesy of
huge, complex trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership, TPP.  As certain news reports are beginning to indicate, treaties that were designed to protect corporations from having their assets seized by greedy nations are being used to flip the tables. Now wealthy investors can overcome entire nations through litigation to recover lost profits when those nations try to protect their people (like through limits on smoking, or rejecting damaging projects like the XL Pipeline.)

"Looking Forward", charcoal by Tim Holmes
It's not really that hard to turn nations into cash machines through legal extortion if you have money and no scruples! Democracies depend on open debate between various parties, a long, messy and public process and are financed only through taxes. But corporations have no such scruples and can not only use draconian, secret, sophisticated tools to dupe democratic nations, they have the endless resources to do so. Through secret negotiations they can position themselves to charge governments for putting people before profits and there is no recourse. With huge resources, a corporation like Phillip Morris ($80 B) can extort money out of a nation like Uruguay ($50 B) without much trouble if it tries to protect its people. Furthermore, once investors hear about the money to be made by extorting taxpayers, such corporate resources become nearly bottomless. Then they can hit even the U.S.!


Once wealthy players have a grip on treaties, then infiltrating courts, governments and even educational systems are just a matter of details. Without some means of limiting the power of pirates through some sort of human-based international law, the strong will win, just like in any competative system. What is being created is a world of slavery. (We can already see this in the worldwide explosion in income inequality. I see much concern about this and no action! Even Obama, mysteriously, is touting the TPP, though he's being sued through it. Is that suspicious or is it just me?)

Can we stop it? Yes, that is what universal human rights is about, constructing intstitutions based on human beings' needs. But once we lose the human as the center of value and raise money or even efficiency to prominence, all bets are off and the strong (criminal greed) will ultimately win. One idea to build a system that allows humans to survive. That's what my vision of a Democratic Globe is meant to answer. Any others out there?
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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.