Why the NSP Version?
The Network of Spiritual Progressives believes that the Global Marshall Plan is the best way to get out of Iraq and empower the progressive forces all over the world. How? By adopting a strategy of Generosity to secure homeland security, instead of the current strategy of Domination. Why? Because the current strategy has only led us into endless wars, and promoted the fantasy of a “War on Terrorism”-a fantasy that will justify every future war dreamt up by the fearful and the violent.
We offer our version of this plan in a spirit of humility and recognize that there are many areas of legitimate concern we have not yet addressed. We also realize that some of the specifics proposed in our Plan may not generate as much enthusiasm as the larger concept of the Global Marshall Plan.
We welcome your input at this stage to help us address the questions you think should be addressed. We also know that the process of getting a Global Marshall Plan adopted by the U.S. and the advanced industrial countries will be a long one, and along the way we must build many coalitions to advance and support our ideas. Through that process, many more ideas will evolve that ensure genuine participation by the many potential stakeholders in this plan … stakeholders whose thinking will be vital to the success of the plan.
The More Unrealistic, the Better?
We are aware that many people may view us as “unrealistic” because we propose something as visionary and sweeping as this Plan. However, it is precisely our goal to reject current visions of what is realistic. Why? Because those visions have produced a world where war and military spending consume huge amounts of the wealth of the planet, tens of millions of people die each year from malnutrition, diseases and inadequate health care, and the earth’s environment has been severely damaged.
People have a tremendous thirst for a life of meaning and purpose, and for supportive communities and loving human relationships. Unfortunately, this thirst remains unquenched for many, , causing people to turn to irrational or destructive paths to find meaning or community. We need an alternative vision to satisfy this thirst, a vision that challenges the dominant notions of what is or is not realistic.
It is precisely this kind of challenging alternate vision that drives any successful social change movement. Looking back, we can see the “unrealistic” visions of “Freedom now” by African Americans, “End to patriarchy and sexist practices now” by the early women’s movement, and “Save the Earth” by the environmental movement. These were all visions that propelled society to transcend the realities of “politics as usual,” and move beyond what the masses thought was possible.
Think about it. It was precisely visionary and unrealistic formulations that broke through the manipulated consciousness, despair, and disinterest that so many people felt about politics. It was those visions that generated the kind of movements necessary to get some radical ideas taken seriously.
The Negative Results of “Half-Measures”
In reality, the great failures of liberal politics have occurred, NOT because they were unrealistic, but because they were too realistic, settling for realities that were ultimately unsatisfying. For example, let’s look at the efforts since 1945 to eliminate poverty in the U.S. These efforts have generated a huge backlash of anger and desire for “tax cuts,” by the rich and many working class people. These people would probably feel very proud if their taxes had actually wiped out poverty, but instead, they feel angry because their taxes go into what seems like a bottomless pit. And what is that bottomless pit? It’s nothing more than the various social support programs devised by liberals that never eliminate poverty, and only give enough money to prevent the poor from starving to death (except when they do).
It’s bad enough that these half-measures feel perfunctory, rather than caring to those who receive “benefits. Worse, these measures contribute to a culture where people try to cheat the system and get more from it-something they wouldn’t do if they felt the benefits were genuine expressions of care. The anti-government attitudes we see today are very human responses to these half-measures that result from staying within the limits of what the media and the powerful say is “realistic.”
Giving Power to our Fullest Vision
So, for real change to occur, it is essential that our vision be as evolutionary as possible. First comes the vision, and then comes the steps necessary to achieve that vision. Putting forward our fullest vision does not mean that we avoid partial steps in the right direction. After all, the NSP has been a solid partner in support of Jubilee USA, the Millennium Development Goals, and the One Campaign. However, we believe that these partial steps stand a much better chance of success if they are articulated within the framework of the much larger vision put forward by the NSP version of the Global Marshall Plan. We can work on both levels at the same time.
NSP Version Goes a Step Further
We emphasize that this is the “NSP version” of the Global Marshall Plan because we are aware there are other versions that differ in various ways from our version. In particular, those versions under development in Europe tend to have a more social democratic and economic focus. However, the NSP version has a more serious spiritual dimension. Additionally, it frames its ideas within a larger notion: Generosity can replace Domination as the best path toward national and individual safety and security.
Moreover, the NSP version insists on the centrality of The New Bottom Line to measure the Plan’s success. We’re going to judge the entire process by far more than the “standard” criteria: how the Plan raises the income levels or calorie consumption or successful health interventions in a given country. Indeed, we are going to look at how much the Plan succeeds in undermining cynicism and despair by increasing the amount of love and caring, kindness and generosity, ethical and ecological sensitivity in that society. We are going to look at how much it enables people to respond to each other as embodiments of the sacred rather than instruments to “be of use.” We are going to look at how much a society advances toward responding to the universe with awe, wonder and radical amazement at the grandeur of all that is.
Of course, once we start using the criteria of The New Bottom Line, it becomes obvious that the U.S. and European Union cannot approach this project thinking that we are “advanced societies.” The reason is simple. Based on these criteria, the U.S. and European Union may be societies that are actually far less advanced than other societies who will benefit economically from the Global Marshall Plan.
How Can We Afford It Now, With Our Economy in Meltdown?
April 2009: Some people have objected that we could think about the GMP in good times, but now that we need every penny we have to help our own economy recover. But in fact the global economic meltdown presents a unique opportunity for fundamental rethinking of how we’ve arranged our economic and political systems.
Whereas a year ago talk about the Global Marshall Plan involving trillions of dollars seemed to be utopian and fanciful, today with government pouring trillions into the pockets of bankers and stock traders and corporate profiteers, the GMP is much more plausible.
Particularly since the GMP is aimed at the world’s poor, it would create global demand that would re-stimulate the global economy, but do so in ways far less likely to accelerate the previous environmentally destructive spending of the past fifty years. Give poor people more micro-loans to start small businesses and they are most likely to use the profits they make to buy food, health care, housing, and education. Give more to the rich and they are more likely to spend it on diamonds, casinos, the sex trade, SUVs and Hummers or on a second or third home, yacht, or personal airplane.
Flexibility is a Virtue
We are aware that these ideas will evolve with time to become more specific and detailed. In fact, they may even be reframed at some point in the future. We must be flexible and keep a welcoming attitude toward those who can help us further refine these ideas. We know that at each stage of a social change movement, there will be more than one vision of what this Global Marshall Plan should look like in theory and in practice.
Yet, for the moment, our most important goal is to help introduce this discussion into the public arena. And to do this, we need some levels of specificity-levels that are present in our downloadable version of the Global Marshall Plan. So we’ll be sticking with this version for the time being, even as we seek your input to further refine it. This way there is a concrete version you can reference when you provide your support or criticisms.
If you do want to support the NSP version, even with some detailed changes, you can sign and donate to our campaign for the Global Marshall Plan.
Note: You do not have to donate anything to sign your name as one of the many co-sponsors of this campaign.