What if sustainability turns out
to be unsustainable?

by Allan Hunt Badiner

All my life, false and real, right and wrong, tangled; Playing with the moon, ridiculing the wind, listening to the birds. Many years wasted seeing the mountain covered with snow. This winter I suddenly realized that snow makes a mountain. --Dogen Zenji

Is globalization an inevitable part of a larger planetary process of
increasing connection and complexity?  Are there distinctions to be
made about what serves us and what doesn't?  What about the
globalization of democratic ideals; of Buddhist ethics; of the ritual
use of psychedelics; or new cultural hybridizations in music, art, and
literature?  Can indigenous cultures survive, or even prosper in the
globalization of markets?  Can the dissemination of these cultural
forms possibly be outside of the globalization of commerce and

Will our economies, much like other aspects of our lives, be synchronously more global and more local? Could the same forces that weave us into structures of instantaneous communication with the far reaches of the globe, also make locally based organizations and structures more integrated and dynamically related to us? In this shift from an industrial to a global information service economy, what opportunities are created for a revolution in values?

Can business find a new language that gives voice to the creative expression of long suppressed archaic and nurturing impulses? Will this new approach of business address the linkage between environmental deterioration and social oppression and violence? How do we avoid creating a culture of technopeasants exploited by the new information robber barons?

Does sustainability require making sacrifices? If so, how can they be made acceptable or even negotiable? How do we deal with the political hurdles and the resistance of entrenched interests? What is strategic consumption? Aren't market choices ultimately political acts? How useful is it to build on efforts long underway such as getting corporations to sign on to the CERES principles? Is there a new vision for environmental organizations in the context of a greater ecological movement that is both global and grassroots?

Can energy by renewables, recyclable hypercars, low energy public transport systems, green washing machines, mercury-free batteries, and the like, be enough to stave off ecological collapse? Can we expect business leaders to stop being mercenaries to the next quarter's earnings and practice pursuit of a more enlightened self-interest, with a real future focus?

Is it conceivable that the restoration of species diversity, or the redistribution of land and wealth will become attractive outcomes to the multinational business community? How do we leverage our power in the system collectively and in appropriate scale to achieve systemic improvement? Could a hi-tech, tribal, diverse but highly integrated and ethical culture emerge from the World Wide Web?

Please send questions or comments to suscon@well.com