Global Revolution and the Healing of Love

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* Book: Terra Nova: Global Revolution and the Healing of Love, by Dr. Dieter Duhm. Verlag Meiga: 2015



Alnoor Ladha:

"Dr. Duhm is one of the founders of Tamera, a research center and alternative community based in southern Portugal. The community was founded in 1978 in Germany and then moved to its current location in Portugal in 1995. For almost 40 years, Tamera has been a pioneer in a wide range of solutions for solar energy, permaculture, water use and retention, and many aspects of community and social relations, up to and including ‘open love’.

These last two words might strike fear at the heart of the scientific materialists among us. What does love have to do with our current convergence of global crises?

There are three critical lessons that Duhm imparts by way of answering this question.

1) There is no liberation of society without liberation of the self

Terra Nova lays out a vision for both the transition phase to the post-capitalist world, and a beautiful description of what it could look like. Terra Nova does this in a non-prescriptive sense. It’s more Buckminster Fuller than Noam Chomsky, in that it is based on values rather than policy prescriptions. More importantly it is deeply rooted in the social, spiritual and psychological underpinnings of our current crisis. Duhm’s background in psychoanalysis and sociology guides him as he dives deep into the assemblage point of our collective fears and repressions; the real foundation, he argues, of neoliberal capitalism.

It would be easy to dismiss Duhm’s philosophy as relevant to only limited experiments or for those with a penchant for the Kibbutz lifestyle. But Duhm’s structural analysis and application of ideas are not so easily dismissed. He was one of the leaders of the German Left in the Student Movement of 1968. He was on the coalface of the war against imperialism and capitalism. He organized protests against the Vietnam War and, during the German students’ revolution, he coined the phrase, “Revolution without emancipation is counterrevolution.”

Duhm started to realize that the destruction wrought within human relationships was stronger than external constraints. At that time he wrote, “Why was it so far impossible to establish an ideal human society? Because it is not only the outer conditions which are at fault, but particularly inner structures and patterns of thinking. It is impossible to form a free society from people who are structured by authoritarianism. It is not possible to create a non-violent society when the impulses of hate and violence within are suppressed but not dissolved. A revolution that has not taken place inside cannot succeed outside. This is what we learn from history” .

This is a very different place to start than thinking about failures of communication, rigid scientific methodologies, or even the corporate capture of democratic processes. Scientists like Oreskes and Conway do not traditionally think about how the first surpluses from the Neolithic Revolution affected the human psyche; how hoarding and protecting material goods created a culture of violence; how excess food supply set the stage for city-states that required constant war, hierarchy, oppression and exploitation to feed their construction and maintenance; how patriarchy has created a world where one in five women will be raped in their lifetime; how the callous and abstract market logic requires that we all engage in a form distributed fascism where we are all incentivized to be short-termist, covetous, extractive, selfish and often violent.

According to Duhm, if we dare to hope for achieving an anarchist utopia with strong local and bio-regional economies, direct democracy and symbiosis with the natural world, we need women and men to be sovereign, to understand how power works, to consent to rules they themselves have legitimized, and to consciously choose to live according to their shared principles and values. In other words, his argument is that in order to know what we want, we must first know who we are. What are our deepest desires? Why do we think we are here? Where do we think we are going, as individuals and as a civilization?

As Duhm argues, “It is the inner workings of humanity that steer the external processes in politics and economics. Changes within the human being will determine whether a social revolution will be successful or not.”

2) The revolution will be spiritual, not just materialist

Having dealt with the necessary preconditions for a successful drive towards revolution, Duhm moves on to what the revolution may look like. He is clear that we have to speak to the human soul; to create a vision of the world that resonates at our deepest core, and not just a description of what the rules of law will be.

His plan centers around “Healing Biotopes”, which is what he describes as the archetypal communities that exemplify the values embodied within the Tamera model. Borrowing from Cambridge biochemist Rupert Sheldrake’s concept of morphic resonance – i.e. the idea that self-organising systems inherit the collective memory from previous similar systems – Duhm says, “the image of a Healing Biotope came from an intention to create a morphogenetic field for a new humane world. Evolution moves forward through creating morphogenetic fields.”[2] Essentially, this means that the contribution of every new idea or model creates a corresponding resonance or field that every human can then access.

The new morphogenetic field Duhm describes includes autonomous individuals, fully realized in their spiritual truths; a well functioning community based on open-love and non-ownership; and symbiosis with the natural world (Duhm even discusses the possibility of communing with plants, animals and the natural environment). In order for the resonance of this new field to spread, these alternative communities would ideally be connected with each other and embedded in a greater political and social context.

3) We need both resistance and renewal

Duhm finishes with an appeal that will surely resonate in the heart of anyone caught in the frustrations and aspirations of activism. There are immediate struggles, he says, that must be won and reforms that must be enacted. Both resistance and renewal are necessary preconditions for the post-capitalist world. In other words, although it is true that we must remove the noose of capitalism from the neck of humanity, we must also create the infrastructure for transition simultaneously while engaging in the struggle. Climate change is going to force us to into smaller, more autonomous communities.

We either have the option to start building the infrastructure now, with the necessary intention and ingenuity, or we will find ourselves in a deep and dangerous dystopia, forced to build a new world as the remnants of the old edifice crumble between our desperate hands.

The newly built “cultural crystals”, as Duhm describes this model for new communities, have the ability to scale and replicate at a rate that could actually address the deep destruction of late-stage capitalism. As more and more people realize that the current system cannot be reformed, there will, concurrently, be an increasing flux into existing communities, and the creation of new ones. The pre-existing models for Healing Biotopes may play a crucial role in the knowledge transfer and modeling the new modes-of-being. They also have the ability to capture the imagination of a new generation awaiting hope and transcendence on a planet headed towards a Great Collapse of some kind.

Whether one agrees with the vision of Terra Nova or not, it is clear that this is not just a story of utopia versus dystopia. The Western academic tradition and the Progressive movement (especially the climate change movement) have not been able to connect the deep truths about psychological motivations, community, love and our relationship with nature. As a result, they have been fighting a rationalistic, descriptive, Cartesian battle for the most falsifiable facts. They have not been able to articulate a holistic worldview, one that is both materialist and spiritual, which speaks to the hearts and ambitions of an increasingly apathetic majority." (