{This is the first of two letters. (2nd at: http://davd.tripod.com/visualising-2.html#top)

My letter to the Positive Futures list, at 08:54 4/12/2000 +1300 :-

This is an attempt to bring people's attention to the goal of visualising and discussing how to work towards a future NOT dominated by current US culture.

This morning (Monday 4 Dec. 2000) I was making some points about my general views on recent history, to my wife who's coming home late after attending a Greens policy meeting this evening. (I'll walk to meet her off the bus that brings her within a 50-minute-walk of home.)

In my opinion (and since I was there in the 1950s and '60s and remember how it went, I think I have some basis for this opinion), people in the developed or OECD countries were seduced into accepting greed, constantly having more, as a worthwhile goal in life.

It didn't have to be that way; everyone had some greed, though usually under various levels of restraint, but the general attitude was to frown on it, to make comment like "you aren't being greedy, are you?" and people would frequently back off.

So we, the people who had the choice in our hands, could easily have chosen to continue attempting to draw a balance between one's momentary individual desires and the general good.

Many readers will dispute this, saying I'm describing some more utopian way of life, saying I'm looking at the past through rose-tinted glasses; I don't think so. I think such readers have been indoctrinated into the current view by its being the current view. They've grown up not knowing anything different.

So IMO we could very easily have chosen a route to the year 2000 that would have left us with a lower material standard of living, though still quite comfortable, and a world much less ripped apart (for the extraction of the resources used in the current excess) and messed-up, a year-2000 world that would have quite a good chance of making the much more modest changes required to work towards living sustainably.

I can defend what I've said so far; the next bit is more speculative.

I would guess that in the alternative year-2000 that we nearly had, TV, computers, cell-phones and many other developments would not be a lot different from what we've got now; there might have been somewhat slower development of technological advances with a restrained capitalism driving it. At a rough guess, the USA would be not greatly different from Europe in the early 1990s: much greater reliance on rail for transport, air travel easily available but more expensive (and less fuel used overall), TV etc virtually up-to-date (that was the early pentium CPUs), and in the US, probably but not certainly a monetary support system for the "disadvantaged" which would have kept social strains reduced and people more willing to work together than Americans are now.

The usual criticism of such philosophy is: "Yes, but we're here now; we can't change the past, we have to start with what we've got!"

While my main point is that people should start seriously criticising the way things are currently done (and have been done for some decades), I'm also saying that we still have a chance of working towards a nearly-visible goal: what the USA (and the rest of the world) would have been like in 2010-2015 if the alternate route had been taken.

{This is the first of two letters. (The second is at: http://davd.tripod.com/visualising-2.html#top)

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