MAI & PC campaigning

Paul Osmond paul at
Mon Apr 6 07:50:20 EDT 1998

Spot on Stefania, the multinationals ARE getting more vicious. Here in
Australia, where some 60% of the economy is controlled by foreign big
business, the trade union movement is facing unprecedented attack, hard-won
Aboriginal land rights are under threat and "green" groups are gearing up
against toxic waste dump proposals, new uranium mines etc. There's an old
saying here, "If you don't fight, you lose!", and that's exactly what's
starting to happen (the fighting, not the losing - we have lost too much

Re. the MAI, the campaign in Australia against this obnoxious "treaty" is
gathering momentum. Rather than repeat what has already been said, I suggest
interested subscribers to this list check out the following sites:  [Australian anti-MAI site]  [Peoples' Global Action Against "Free" Trade]

A key strategy to deal with the viciousness of the multinationals is a
concrete, obtimistic but eminently achievable vision for the future. I'd
suggest that permaculturists have no shortage of the above! Knowing where
you are going (and why) helps to focus the mind on the job in hand, and
helps to avoid the disillusionment and burn-out you speak of.

Even more important, I think, is a faith in one's fellow human beings. A
belief that the "activists" (who were, are and always will be a minority)
can on their own bring about fundamental change is a recipe for isolation
and irrelevance. Change will come when the great majority of ordinary people
demand it, based on their OWN experience. There is no substitute for that
experience. The role of the activist is to be there amongst them, learning
as well as teaching (activists have no monopoly on wisdom), acting as a
catalyst and helping to nurture the seeds of the new society in the compost
of the old.

What do others out there think?

Paul Osmond

At 08:55 AM 5/04/98 +0100, you wrote:
>hi I'm new on the list.
>I'd love some help on this one thing I'm struggling with right now:
>I've been avoiding getting too involved in political / campaigning work for
ages now, whilst thinking where I can best utilise my energy and limiting
myself to supporting others who are hard at it + a bit of work on the fringes.
>Mostly what has put me off is noticing what crap design there is around
much campaigning work - meetings are structured badly, people spend loads of
energy fighting each other, irrelevant angers get mixed up in the soup, etc,
and the end result is far too many wonderful visionaries ending up
burned-out & disillusioned.
>I'd like some help in thinking how to design this stuff better.
>I set up and now run a permaculture charity and we are very hard at work
building the alternative (lots of community projects reclaiming land,
building LETS, eco-buildings, recycling projects, box schemes etc.), I've
done all the stuff about my own home and lifestyle (and the work continues),
but it's bugging me that I increasingly feel that it may be time to fight
too - am I just noticing more, or are the multinationals really getting
vicious now?
>I was at the Rome youth food summit a couple of years back, which was a
real eye-opener for me, and we are giving support to the Save Our Standards
campaign and to the genetic engineering thing through our box schemes, but I
feel I should be doing a lot more.
>I re-read  "Woman at the Edge of Time" (Eileen Morgan -  I think) recently
and I'm amazed by what a visionary book it was/is - I think it should become
a standard Permaculture text-book (alongside Door into Ocean).  There's a
really scary vision about multinationals actually owning people in one of
the alternate futures and it's looking more and more to me like it's not
that far-fetched anymore.
>anyway, if anyone out there has useful thoughts / leads on this please let
me know.
>................. suff about MAI  if you're interested ..................
>E, a Canadian friend, wrote:
>TNCs are the large transnational corporations that are set to run most
>of the world's governments these days.  The genersl belief is that there
>is too much democracy.  The MAI is the Multinational Agreement on
>Investment, a sort of Charter of Rights and Freedoms for the
>corporations that for us is the step that completes the job started in
>NAFTA.  It is less harmful for the USA because most of the TNCs are US
>based.  For Canada and most other countries it gives corporations so
>much power that Parliaments won't matter.  It gives corporations the
>right to conduct business and move their operations wherever and
>whenever they like without any government regulation.
>They will have no obligation to create jobs locally, or pay taxes
>there.  Here in Canada it would ban our cultural protections. leaving
>our artists and creators at the mercy of US entertainment giants (hard
>enough now, when we live next door).  It would free corporations from
>environmental protections.  Furthermore, it would allow foreign
>corporations to sue governents for billions of dollars in lost future
>earnings if they want to create new environmental or citizen-protection
>Sounds strange, doesn't it, but it is true.  Furthermore, it has been
>negotiated in secret, without public discussion or debate.  This is true
>all over, and France, for one country, is fighting it.  That's what I
>meant by educating people on this issue.  We are already seeing what
>globalization and privatization are doing to our country, and the major
>brainwashing that has been perpetrated on us about the reasons for the
>debt and deficit.  You can read up about the MAI and its possible impact
>on Canada on
>And anyone else interested.  There is  a writeup in Ralph Nader's  "Public
>Citizen" for Jan/Feb, on MAI and WTO.
>Also at: or specifically:  
><A HREF="">mai.html at

More information about the permaculture mailing list