Peace Based Approach to Collective Action

Peace based approach to collective action on climate change and other big challenges

For hundreds of years, forward thinking people have worked to make governments more responsive to collective challenges. The current state of climate change, extinction, pollution, and so many other issues of concern to vegans and the broader society sadly highlights the limits to this approach.

I spent a decade in Washington D.C. attempting to move government to step up and end deforestation in the U.S.. Like most successful activists working in this realm, we did some good, but clearly didn't achieve the level of transformation needed to decisively change course on issues of critical importance to all life on earth.

By the end of the 1990's, I realized there was something inherent in government that limits its potential. Governments are always “conflict based”. Underpinning all government power is military power. Some governments are more violent, some are more peaceful, but at the end of the day, governments always have the option of using force to create compliance and collective action.

The punitive approach can lead to gum free sidewalks in Singapore, but can it really be used to address today's existential challenges such as climate change, animal persecution, and the many other issues of deep concern to vegans, environmentalists, and the public at large?

Pondering these questions, by 2001 I committed to finding only peace based solutions for the big issues that mattered to me. I could see that even in the non-profit organization we built from the ground up, we were using our words like weapons inside what in retrospect was little more than a fantasy of one day having the power to force our will on everybody else.

There is not a single person on earth that enjoys being on the wrong side of a power struggle with government leaders. The warlike framework of every government is exactly why larger collective agreements can't be reached.

Oddly, business and finance offer a peaceful alternative. We can see that in a future where these big issues are solved, there would be many large businesses working inside the new economy.

The time to launch those businesses is now. Fortunately, thanks to worldwide unwinding of restrictive financial laws, now more than at any moment since 1933, people at every economic level of society have the freedom to come together and make peaceful financial agreements that can achieve solutions that are utterly outside of the domain and function of government.

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