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TOWARD A BIOREGIONAL STATE: People Have Right to Stop Ecological Tyranny & Make Democracy

"Presently we are trapped within these unecological democracies that are underwriting and protecting this process of politically sponsored ecological degradation. How do we instead explain to others that the state has an Ecological Contract with its people, and if such a contract is neglected, they can overthrow it as an ecological tyranny?" . . . ". . .a people's self-interest is geographically specific and protective of a particular geography. . . .Citizen feedback is always in and from particular geographic spaces and human-environmental contexts. To create the additional checks and balances for an ecologically sound developmentalism is merely to latch onto and facilitate an already-existing affirmative feedback from watersheds/bioregions that is ignored though waiting to be formally organized. This is done by aligning political feedback as closely as possible to a direct feedback from particular geographically specific areas into the state. My [first] suggestion is through watershed based vote districting."
-----------------------------------

"Presently we are trapped within these unecological democracies that are underwriting and protecting this process of politically sponsored ecological degradation. How do we instead explain to others that the state has an Ecological Contract with its people, and if such a contract is neglected, they can overthrow it as an ecological tyranny?"

. . .

. . .a people's self-interest is geographically specific and protective of a particular geography, as mentioned above. Citizen feedback is always in and from particular geographic spaces and human-environmental contexts. To create the additional checks and balances for an ecologically sound developmentalism is merely to latch onto and facilitate an already-existing affirmative feedback from watersheds/bioregions that is ignored though waiting to be formally organized. This is done by aligning political feedback as closely as possible to a direct feedback from particular geographically specific areas into the state. My [first] suggestion is through watershed based vote districting."


-----------------------------------

toward a bioregional state:

Toward a Bioregional State: A Series of Letters on Political Theory and Formal Institutional Design as Ecologically Sound Development in the Era of Sustainability


ABSTRACT:

I am offering as a submission my novel democratic political theory ideas and formal institutional design concepts for what formal democracy means in an age of sustainability: the bioregional state. My point is that sustainability requires a different sense of the formal state. The significance of this is that it is the first attempt to plan for sustainability or analyze unsustainability as the outcome of the way formal democratic institutions are organized. Most environmentalists and academics entirely lack the vocabulary to discuss this. There is a complete lack of ecologically sound political economic developmental models as we slouch towards sustainability. It is required to join our sense of formal institutions, environmentalism, and development as interrelated instead of unrelated topics.

The goal of this book is to establish the terms of the debate for a formal democratic theory of sustainability: sustainability as a different formal democratic governmental framework. In the process of discussing why these formal state changes are required, I offer many critiques of the developmental and environmental effects of existing formal political institutions, and discuss the developmental and environmental oversights that were left out when they were instituted which have led to environmental degradation. Throughout, I offer how unsustainable states can be made over piece by piece into sustainable states that support durable localized consumption and fair trade, now.

The bioregional state is organized through formal changes by creating ungerrymandered political districts by using watersheds as voting districts and using other novel checks and balances that assure that informal parties act as representative institutions in a competitive marketplace of ideas, instead of in practice acting as divide and conquer ideological tools funded by the same corporations with the aim of gatekeeping against citizenship pressure. It's worth is that it is a political theory of the origins of unsustainability as caused by multiple and identified informal political corruptions in practice, due to oversights of required formal checks and balances in three additional areas:

one, assuring a competitive marketplace of ideas in informal party politics before elections instead of informal gatekeeping on debate and divide and conquer politics funded by the same corporations;

two, assuring formal state frameworks provide a context after elections for checking or balancing informal parties' desire while they are the governmental incumbents to exclude other parties;

and three, assuring geographic expression of citizenship risk instead of informal parties being allowed to create pocket boroughs.


The bioregional state touches the organization of applied science, consumption, and finance as well. Its worth is that it is an update to Enlightenment democratic theory for an era of sustainability. From this it is useful prescriptively for drawing up a formal institutional praxis for how to organize a sustainable politics.





ELABORATION:

For the past 10 years after the Cold War, and the collapse of the Soviet Union, there has been precious little inventiveness or investment in visionary prescriptive proposals for what do to about global environmental degradation issues or democratic facilitation issues. Whether we are referring to the widening decline of the meaningfulness of democratic procedure or the expansion of externalities effecting human, ecological, and economic health that comes with environmental degradation and corporate led globalization known as "harmonization," it seems that it is a race to the bottom for democratic participation, regulatory arrangements, and environmental standards. Can it be a race to the top instead, based on raising standards through prescriptive adaptations to formal democratic institutions? In other words, we require a model of action instead of simply protest. Typically these issues of environmentalism and formal democracy have been addressed as separate issues. Instead, my argument is that existing democratic theory and formal institutional design inherited from a humanocentric Enlightenment are irredeemably broken for sustainability issues and require many adjustments to make then ecologically and economically sound. This is done by merging our falsely separated concepts of democracy, environmentalism, and development as influenced by the same issue of formal institutions. Because of this, formal institutions have been built on a false premise in its overlooking the durable human-environmental relations. A second false premise about Enlightenment political theory is found in the assumed separation between political institutional design and economics in issues of state developmentalism.

So the points left out of Enlightenment democratic theory are: (1) the empirically durable human-environmental contexts of all governmental arrangements, (2) ideas about the state as an economic developmentalist organization, (3) the issue of the innate geographical particularities of citizenship, and (4) ways to check and balance the gatekeeping powers of informal political parties on the state.

To organize democracy formally as an expression of sustainable politics is to create a bioregional state by importing into democratic theories of institutional design an awareness of these durable human-environmental interactions in state politics that have been ignored in the past, and the one large oversight about corruptions in the formal state due to informal political power. To design formal institutions that represent a sustainable politics is to merge the separated threads of developmentalism, political science, economic geography, and ecology—by understanding their empirical interactions and feedback upon one another they always have had.

I suppose you could call me an ecological Montesquieu, an ecologically minded political scientist interested in the failings of existing political and institutional theories of the democratic state when we turn to issues of environmental sustainability. However, I am rejecting this artificial separation between political science, economics, and the environment as an unempirical way to proceed. Existing ideas on democracy in the West are inherited from an Enlightenment that was only interested in how to facilitate an abstract democracy from posited abstract individualized citizens, and interested only in checking and balancing an absolute monarchy and its tyranny as the only danger to democratic durability. The argument here is that there should be subsequent formal additions of checks and balances to institutional democratic theory which would take us away from an informally managed state developmentalism that has unwittingly established an ecological tyranny.

The previous theoretical proposals and institutional designs of the 19th century had huge oversights about human-environmental interactions, and about considerations of how to check and balance or understand the power of informal political groups. When the Enlightenment ideas of formal checks and balances were invented, there was nothing called a party politics in sight to worry about. After parties became the basic mainspring of formally democratic states, a whole different level of informal corruption dynamics of the formal state became involved in practice that was sold as "natural democratic politics," and the lack of experience with what the difficulties would be or were becoming were ignored in legitimations of the formal state.

The issues around environmentalism are typically framed in the media, in academic work and even in activist circles as an issue of technocratic or economic management. The issues around democracy are seen in terms of social protest movements or informal political parties. The whole idea of another route of influence is the formal state and how it constructs, constrains, and designs the contexts of these situations themselves. Typically, the idea of changing the formal state as a mechanism of political change is effectively shielded from elite and popular awareness as a route towards sustainability. Instead ideas are constrained and guided within existing informal ideas of what to do, letting existing party frameworks maintain the informal gatekeeping upon political agendas, stopping any progress towards sustainability. However, to add other checks and balances on informal parties interacting in the state is perhaps the only solution to sustainability, if I am understood in what I mean when I say that these informal corruptions at root in a democratic state create environmental degradation and gatekeep and ignore citizen feedback about it. Corruption—and the gatekeeping and demoting of citizen pressure attempting to alleviate it—leads to environmental degradation.

Four summary points of the principles of the bioregional state that make it different from all other democratic institutional designs can be discussed in this short review.

Any additions to formal democratic theory that would make it a formal ecological democratic theory would first remove the false sense that the state is only a 'social' organization. An ecologically democratic state is instead more empirically described as a formal facilitation framework for economic developmental issues and a feedback mechanism against unrepresentative and unsustainable ones. Second, to keep this developmentalism on track for sustainability, it is important to consider that a state is always situated either within a particular ecology or more typically includes multiple and varied ecologies, with the state manipulating them for good or ill. When a state's informal politics contributes to its own ecological demise through expanding and underwriting externalities in human, ecological and economic health, it can hardly be called a ecological democratic framework or a sustainable democratic framework in all senses of the word sustainable, because this leads to a form of unsustainable ecological tyranny built equally from political economic corruption and informal socio-political repression against attempts to alter this ecological tyranny. This is the process that is maintained perversely and sadly in the name of 'formal democracy,' as if there is nothing to improve upon.

I argue that unless additional checks and balances are added that address from the beginning these biased interactive effects, nothing called democracy can ever be achieved or sustainable—socially or environmentally. Without the bioregional state, all that democracy will ever become is a repetition of aristocratic-royalty states under different symbolic legitimations and under an ecological tyranny.

Environmental degradation as a process of informal corruption expansion is innately wound around expanding this ecological and social tyranny in politics as much as in economics. The issue becomes the formal illegitimacy of these existing democratic institutions when it comes to sustainability.

A third point is that there is nothing called an abstract or individualized citizen in practice. We live in different bioregional arrangements which have to a large degree of their own history that makes them very durable human-environmental contexts of politics. If citizenship is only a particular arrangement dealing with formal rules and prescriptions, then we require a kind of post-Rousseau Social Contract, or "Ecological Contract," for understanding how citizenship is changed and how the responsibilities of the democratic state are changed in an era of sustainability. Toward this Ecological Contract, the bioregional state is a formal facilitation framework that checks and balances against informal corruptions and informal gatekeeping in formal democratic states when such informal parties attempt to demote instead of represent the politics of particular geographies that want to influence state development by removing the human, ecological, and economic externalities they are experiencing.

Any informal gatekeeping by political parties against sustainable politics is an ecological tyranny, as it is against an environmental feedback from citizens who personally experience the externalities in state developmentalism.

Without additional formal checks and balances on informal politics in the bioregional state, it is argued, the process of this expansion of informal corruption creates informally guided state developmentalism. This will always be an ecological tyranny which is self-destructive of a state's own ecology, the health of its people, and the health of its own economy.

Presently we are trapped within these unecological democracies that are underwriting and protecting this process of politically sponsored ecological degradation. How do we instead explain to others that the state has an Ecological Contract with its people, or they can overthrow it?

The French Prime Minister mentioned last year publicly something to the effect, and French elites generally demurred. How do we instead of facilitating informal corruption of our formal democracy, facilitate a democratic politics as a seamless form of ecological feedback? Fourth, this is done by understanding that a people's self-interest is geographically specific and protective of a particular geography, as mentioned above. Citizen feedback is always in and from particular geographic spaces and human-environmental contexts. To create the additional checks and balances for an ecologically sound developmentalism is merely to latch onto and facilitate an already-existing affirmative feedback from watersheds/bioregions that is ignored though waiting to be formally organized. This is done by aligning political feedback as closely as possible to a direct feedback from particular geographically specific areas into the state. My suggestion is through watershed based vote districting.

As discussed in the early 20th century by Frederick Jackson Turner and others though overlooked in democratic political theory, there is a history of an innate geographic specificity to the political pressures of "sections," as he called the phenomenon. He researched this for decades and found that environmental-social "sections" were the underlying rationale that explained much of the United States' political movements and patterns of political alliances and protests. Using similar terms in the bioregional state, particular geographies are catchments basins for human, ecological, and economic risk. Geographies have an influence on people's citizenship pressures through their durable and lifelong concerns of avoiding expansions of ill health, ecological destruction, and economic immiseration in their particular geographies.

Political feedback against expanding risk is therefore rather geographically specific and shared by particular areas. Instead of party based, or ideologically based exclusively, it is shared by all within particular areas with all these various areas within an overarching abstract state. All of us socially and ecologically share our experiences of human health, ecological, and economic externalities based upon the watersheds in which we live. Typically, we mobilize accordingly, then, we come up against unsustainable state frameworks run by corrupt informal parties that attempt to stop our sustainable feedback. Changing the formal state toward the bioregional state is the manner in which informal corruptions are removed through more checks and balances to faciliatate the already existing feedback against ecological tyranny.

The state's Ecological Contract requires it to facilitate the civil and environmental pressure against informal corruption in the state that expands externalities upon peoples, ecologies, and economies.

However, in unsustainable states our feedback is registered into the state in "out of phase" ways that keeps this geographically specific expression from registering directly against any informally managed state developmentalism. On the other hand, in the frameworks of the bioregional state that support the Ecological Contract, this direct geographic citizenship pressure is merged with many additional checks and balances that remove many existing informal party conflicts of interests when in power.

Historically, original Enlightenment democratic theory along with Rousseau's Social Contract overlooked in its formal institutional design this later essence of democracy: competitive informal factions and parties. The formal institutions we have been raised within were designed without informal parties in mind. Some issues that had yet to be historically raised should be raised presently in terms of prescriptive adaptations to make a sustainable state politics. The famous critique of informal power by Robert Michels was that instead of parties being representative institutions, parties are innately self-serving entities that desire to keep others out of power and desire to strangle debate and perpetuate themselves more than they want to facilitate democracy. However, Michaels left out of his analysis how formal institutional contexts have influenced the informal dynamics of such parties, considering Duverger's and Sartori's work for instance. So the question becomes in facilitating sustainability and the state's Ecological Contract with its people, how to change this formal context, to assure that informal parties in the state compete for the full electorate (instead of compete for the partial electorate, agreeing to exclude the rest) and have incentives to do so, and can be punished by other parties when they decide to fail to be as representative as possible.

A whole different series of checks and balances on informal power and how it biases the formal state is required. This huge oversight about the gatekeeping power of informal parties in politics has led in practice to very clientelistic, selective, and exclusive corrupt informal politics that has created social and environmental degradation from the foundation of this "formal democracy" in the 18th-19th centuries.

To summarize, the bioregional state is built from this political theory of the origins of unsustainability as caused by informal corruptions in practice in the formal state. Capable of being solved, these informal corruptions are due to the original design oversights of failing to institutionalize required formal checks and balances in three additional areas:

one, assuring a competitive marketplace of ideas in informal party politics before elections instead of informal gatekeeping on debate and divide and conquer politics funded by the same corporations;

two, assuring formal state frameworks provide a context after elections for checking or balancing informal parties' desire while they are the governmental incumbents to exclude other parties;

and three, assuring geographic expression of citizenship risk instead of informal parties creating pocket boroughs.


In the past 20 years, European sociologist Ulrich Beck has noted our whole political outlook has moved into a 'risk society' framework. He describes a nexus of politics that has moved from merely fighting for a distribution of material goods, into one more and more fighting to get rid of 'environmental bads.' Even though from comparative historical analysis, I would disagree that there is something novel or modern about this type of citizen pressure for environmental amelioration, I believe I am the first to take these ideas and apply them to formal institutional democratic theory by asking what kinds of additions to democracy would be required to facilitate an ecologically sound democracy, in order to let democracy as a process get rid of these 'environmental bads' through facilitating an ecologically sound democratic politics.

In conclusion, I believe that in this short letter I have described something worthy of consideration—both because it is a novel idea and because it has a prescriptive intent even to the level of offering ideas for slow strategic implementation.

I believe this will be a gauntlet for the next millennium that will define the existing issues of formal democratic political theory as innately flawed and politically illegitimate without addressing the three main issues raised in the bioregional state: how to establish checks and balances on the informal gatekeeping organizational contexts of parties, how to create a competitive marketplace of ideas in the party context, and how to align the state with the innately geographic specific issues of citizenship expression.

A formal green political framework innately comes about once there are checks and balances in operation which change the incentive contexts of informal power to be more fluid, competitive, and representative. So, onward: toward the bioregional state.

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 http://www.sit.wisc.edu/~mrkdwhit/bioregionEC.htm
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Toward a Bioregional State:

This is a site of letters similar to the Federalist Papers, though it is written by a bioregional "Publius."

Publius was the pen name adopted by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, as they made their arguments in popular newspapers for their popularizing of the United States Constitution, in the 1780s.

However, unlike them, this is a bioregional Publius who wants democracy in practice instead of democracy in the abstract, and one who wants sustainabilty instead of unsustainability.

We are facing a similar project presently, I am arguing--how can we achive a democracy that is environmentally sustainable, when the present frameworks of democracy are what are leading us into environmental degradation? The following is a list of requirements, as well as arguments for why these requirements should be adopted, and why the present forms of government in the United States are leading us toward environmental degradation, low voter turnouts, and unrepresentative parties.

However, what I am arguing is that these are general structural requirements for all states as they move towards sustainability, instead of talking only about the United States. The United States can be considered the running example in these letters though. Structurally, the state in general requires changing, instead of only a change on the the level of political party ideas for instance.

These bioregional letters propose how existing unsustainable states could be 'made over' into sustainable states: typically, a different topic is addressed in each letter.

There are 27 bioregional Publius letters--so far. State structures are far from the only aspect of importance, though they are a formal requirement. (I am working on other issues beside the state--science, finance, and consumption . . . .[R]ead them in the order they were created by following the pages below for continuity, since they build upon themselves instead of represent separate topics.)

The 20th letter is a petition that 'ecologizes' the U.S. Constitution, compiling into a single document all the formal framework ideas for working towards sustainability. See the link from the list of all letters, above.

This site is devoted to the formal state, and what kind of formal state is required for sustainability.

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 http://www.sit.wisc.edu/~mrkdwhit/bioregionEC.htm
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little editing 08.Jun.2004 23:05

same

TOWARD A BIOREGIONAL STATE: People Have Right to Stop Ecological Tyranny & Make Democracy
author: web

"Presently we are trapped within these unecological democracies that are underwriting and protecting this process of politically sponsored ecological degradation. How do we instead explain to others that the state has an Ecological Contract with its people, and if such a contract is neglected, they can overthrow it as an ecological tyranny?" . . . ". . .a people's self-interest is geographically specific and protective of a particular geography. . . .Citizen feedback is always in and from particular geographic spaces and human-environmental contexts. To create the additional checks and balances for an ecologically sound developmentalism is merely to latch onto and facilitate an already-existing affirmative feedback from watersheds/bioregions that is ignored though waiting to be formally organized. This is done by aligning political feedback as closely as possible to a direct feedback from particular geographically specific areas into the state. My [first] suggestion is through watershed based vote districting."

-----------------------------------

"Presently we are trapped within these unecological democracies that are underwriting and protecting this process of politically sponsored ecological degradation. How do we instead explain to others that the state has an Ecological Contract with its people, and if such a contract is neglected, they can overthrow it as an ecological tyranny?"

. . .

. . .a people's self-interest is geographically specific and protective of a particular geography, as mentioned above. Citizen feedback is always in and from particular geographic spaces and human-environmental contexts. To create the additional checks and balances for an ecologically sound developmentalism is merely to latch onto and facilitate an already-existing affirmative feedback from watersheds/bioregions that is ignored though waiting to be formally organized. This is done by aligning political feedback as closely as possible to a direct feedback from geographically defined areas into the state. My [first] suggestion is through watershed based vote districting."


-----------------------------------

toward a bioregional state:

Toward a Bioregional State: A Series of Letters on Political Theory and Formal Institutional Design as Ecologically Sound Development in the Era of Sustainability


ABSTRACT:

I am offering as a submission my novel democratic political theory ideas and formal institutional design concepts for what formal democracy means in an age of sustainability: the bioregional state. My point is that sustainability requires a different sense of the formal state to remove lots of unrepresentative elite gatekeeping that leads to environmental degradation. The significance of this is that it is the first attempt to plan for sustainability or analyze unsustainability as the outcome of the way formal democratic institutions are organized. Most environmentalists and academics entirely lack the vocabulary to discuss this. There is a complete lack of ecologically sound political economic developmental models as we slouch towards sustainability. It is required to join our sense of formal institutions, environmentalism, and development as interrelated instead of unrelated topics.

The goal of this book is to establish the terms of the debate for a formal democratic theory of sustainability: sustainability as a different formal democratic governmental framework. In the process of discussing why these formal state changes are required for sustainability, I offer many critiques of the developmental and environmental effects of existing formal political institutions. I discuss the developmental and environmental oversights of existing theorizations of democracy from the Enlightenment that were left out when instituted, which have led to environmental degradation. Throughout, I offer how unsustainable states can be made over piece by piece into sustainable states that support durable localized consumption and fair trade, now.

The bioregional state is organized through removing informal gatekeeping around sustainable feedback, through formal changes. For instance, some frameworks of sustainable democracy shall be creating ungerrymandered political districts by using watersheds as voting districts and using other novel checks and balances that assure that informal parties act as representative institutions in a competitive marketplace of ideas, instead of in practice acting as divide and conquer ideological tools funded by the same corporations with the aim of gatekeeping against citizenship pressure. Its worth is that it is a political theory of the origins of unsustainability as caused by multiple and identified informal political corruptions in practice, due to original oversights that require formal checks and balances in three additional areas:

one, before elections, assuring a competitive marketplace of ideas in informal party politics instead of informal gatekeeping on debate and divide and conquer politics funded by the same corporations;

two, after elections, assuring formal state frameworks provide a context for checking or balancing informal parties' desire while they are the governmental incumbents to exclude other parties;

and three, assuring throughout an accurate direct geographic expression of citizenship risk instead of informal parties being allowed to draw their own districts and create pocket boroughs.


The bioregional state touches the organization of applied science, consumption, and finance as well. Its worth is that it is an update to Enlightenment democratic theory on the topic of checking and balancing informal power in an era of sustainability. From this it is useful prescriptively for drawing up a formal institutional praxis for how to organize a sustainable politics.





ELABORATION:

For the past 10 years after the Cold War, and the collapse of the Soviet Union, there has been precious little inventiveness or investment in visionary prescriptive proposals for what do to about global environmental degradation issues or democratic facilitation issues. Whether we are referring to the widening decline of the meaningfulness of democratic procedure or the expansion of externalities effecting human, ecological, and economic health that comes with environmental degradation and corporate led globalization known as "harmonization," it seems that it is a race to the bottom for democratic participation, regulatory arrangements, and environmental standards. Can it be a race to the top instead, based on raising standards through prescriptive adaptations to formal democratic institutions that remove informal unrepresentative gatekeeping? In other words, we require a model of action instead of simply protest. Typically these issues of environmentalism and formal democracy have been addressed as separate issues. Instead, my argument is that existing democratic theory and formal institutional design inherited from a humanocentric Enlightenment are irredeemably broken for sustainability issues and require many adjustments to make then ecologically and economically sound. This is done by merging our falsely separated concepts of democracy, environmentalism, and development as influenced by the same issue of formal institutions. Because of this, formal institutions have been built on a false premise in their overlooking of durable human-environmental relations. A second false premise about Enlightenment political theory is found in the assumed separation between political institutional design and economics in issues of state developmentalism, regarding the degree that people can check and balance against unrepresentative elite power in development strategies to minimize local externalities to human health, the ecology, and local economies, while as well aiding in formulation of developmental policy that is facilitative of local sustainability.

So the points left out of Enlightenment democratic theory are: (1) the empirically durable human-environmental contexts of all governmental arrangements, (2) ideas about the state as an economic developmentalist organization, (3) the issue of the innate geographical particularities of citizenship, (4) ways to check and balance the gatekeeping powers of informal political parties on the state, and (5) that political power is more than the formal state—it is exercized in conjunction with scientific, financial, and consumptive organizational power as well. Sustainability would integrate and understand the required checks and balances in informal power in all four of these areas, because each is an organizational site either enforcing unsustainability or maintaining sustainability through political feedback into them.

To organize democracy formally as an expression of sustainable politics is to create a bioregional state by importing into democratic theories of institutional design an awareness of these durable human-environmental interactions in state politics and citizenship in practice that have been ignored in the past, and the one large oversight about corruptions in the formal state due to informal political power. To design formal institutions that represent a sustainable politics is to merge the separated threads of developmentalism, political science, economic geography, and ecology—by understanding their empirical interactions and feedback upon one another they always have had.

I suppose you could call me an ecological Montesquieu, an ecologically minded political scientist interested in the failings of existing political and institutional theories of the democratic state when we turn to issues of environmental sustainability. However, I am rejecting this artificial separation between political science, economics, and the environment as an unempirical way to proceed. Existing ideas on democracy in the West are inherited from an Enlightenment that was only interested in how to facilitate an abstract democracy from posited abstract individualized citizens, and interested only in checking and balancing an absolute monarchy and its tyranny as the only danger to democratic durability. The argument here is that there should be subsequent formal additions of checks and balances to institutional democratic theory which would take us away from an informally managed unrepresentative state developmentalism that has unwittingly established an ecological tyranny.

The previous theoretical proposals and institutional designs of the 19th century had huge oversights about human-environmental interactions, and about considerations of how to check and balance or understand the power of informal political groups. When the Enlightenment ideas of formal checks and balances were invented, there was nothing called a party politics in sight to worry about. After parties became the basic mainspring of formally democratic states, a whole different level of informal corruption dynamics of the formal state, gatekeeping against citizenship pressure, became involved in practice that was sold as "natural democratic politics," and the lack of experience with what the difficulties would be or were becoming were ignored in legitimations of the formal state.

The issues around environmentalism are typically framed in the media, in academic work and even in activist circles as an issue of technocratic, economic or environmental management. The issues around democracy are seen in terms of social protest movements or informal political parties. The whole idea of another route of influence is the formal state: how it constructs, constrains, and designs the contexts of these situations themselves. Typically, the idea of changing the formal state as a mechanism of political change is effectively shielded from elite and popular awareness as a route towards sustainability. Instead ideas are constrained and guided within existing informal ideas of what to do, letting existing party frameworks maintain the informal gatekeeping upon political agendas, stopping any progress towards sustainability. However, to add other checks and balances on informal parties interacting in the state is perhaps the only solution to sustainability, if I am understood in what I mean when I say that these informal corruptions at root in a democratic state create environmental degradation and gatekeep and ignore citizen feedback about it. Corruption—and the gatekeeping and demoting of citizen pressure attempting to alleviate it—leads to environmental degradation.

Four summary points of the principles of the bioregional state that make it different from all other democratic institutional designs can be discussed in this short review.

Any additions to formal democratic theory that would make it a formal ecological democratic theory would first remove the false sense that the state is only a 'social' organization. An ecologically democratic state is instead more empirically described as a formal facilitation framework for economic developmental issues and a feedback mechanism against unrepresentative and unsustainable ones. Second, to keep this geographically representative developmentalism on track for sustainability, it is important to consider that a state is always situated either within a particular ecology, or more typically, includes multiple and varied ecologies with the state manipulating them for good or ill. When a state's informal politics contributes to its own ecological demise through expanding and underwriting externalities in human, ecological and economic health, it can hardly be called a ecological democratic framework or a sustainable democratic framework in all senses of the word sustainable, because this leads to a form of unsustainable ecological tyranny built equally from political economic corruption and informal socio-political repression against attempts to alter this ecological tyranny. This is the environmentally degradative process that is maintained perversely and sadly in the name of 'formal democracy,' as if there is nothing to improve upon.

I argue that unless additional checks and balances are added that address from the beginning these biased interactive effects, nothing called democracy can ever be achieved or sustainable—socially or environmentally. Without the bioregional state, all that democracy will ever become is a repetition of aristocratic-royalty states under different symbolic legitimations and under an ecological tyranny.

Environmental degradation as a process of informal corruption expansion is innately wound around expanding this ecological and social tyranny in informal and formal politics as much as in economics. The issue becomes the formal illegitimacy of existing democratic institutions when it comes to sustainability.

A third point is that there is nothing called an abstract or individualized citizen in practice. We live in different bioregional arrangements which have to a large degree their own history that makes them very durable human-environmental contexts of politics. If citizenship is only a particular arrangement dealing with formal rules and prescriptions, then we require a kind of post-Rousseau Social Contract, or "Ecological Contract," for understanding how citizenship is changed and for understanding how the responsibilities of the democratic state are changed in an era of sustainability. Toward this Ecological Contract, the bioregional state is a formal facilitation framework that checks and balances against informal corruptions and informal gatekeeping in formal democratic states when such informal parties attempt to demote instead of represent the politics of particular geographies that want to influence state development by removing the human, ecological, and economic externalities they are experiencing.

Any informal gatekeeping by political parties against sustainable politics is an ecological tyranny, as it is against an environmental feedback from citizens who personally experience the externalities in state developmentalism.

Without additional formal checks and balances on informal politics in the bioregional state, it is argued, the process of this expansion of informal corruption creates informally guided state developmentalism. This will always be an ecological tyranny which is self-destructive of the state itself, a state's own ecology, the health of its people, and the health of its own economy.

Presently we are trapped within these unecological democracies that are underwriting and protecting this process of politically sponsored ecological degradation. How do we instead explain to others that the state has an Ecological Contract with its people, or they can overthrow it?

The French Prime Minister mentioned last year publicly something to the effect, and French elites generally demurred. How do we instead of facilitating informal corruption of our formal democracy, facilitate a democratic politics as a seamless form of ecological feedback? Fourth, this is done by understanding that a people's self-interest is geographically specific and protective of a particular geography, as mentioned above. Citizen feedback is always in and from particular geographic spaces and human-environmental contexts. To create the additional checks and balances for an ecologically sound developmentalism is merely to latch onto and facilitate an already-existing affirmative feedback from watersheds/bioregions that is ignored though waiting to be formally organized. This is done by aligning political feedback as closely as possible to a direct feedback from particular geographically specific areas into the state. My suggestion is through watershed based vote districting.

As discussed in the early 20th century by Frederick Jackson Turner and others though overlooked in democratic political theory, there is a history of an innate geographic specificity to the political pressures of "sections," as he called the phenomenon. He researched this for decades and found that environmental-social "sections" were the underlying rationale that explained much of the United States' political movements and patterns of political alliances and protests. Using similar terms in the bioregional state, particular geographies are catchments basins for human, ecological, and economic risk. Geographies have an influence on people's citizenship pressures through their durable and lifelong concerns of avoiding expansions of ill health, ecological destruction, and economic immiseration in their particular geographies.

Political feedback against expanding risk is therefore rather geographically specific and shared by particular areas. Instead of party based, or ideologically based exclusively, it is shared by all within particular areas with all these various areas within an overarching abstract state. All of us socially and ecologically share our experiences of human health, ecological, and economic externalities based upon the watersheds in which we live. Typically, we mobilize accordingly, then, we come up against unsustainable state frameworks run by corrupt informal parties that attempt to stop our sustainable feedback. Changing the formal state toward the bioregional state is the manner in which informal corruptions are removed through more checks and balances to faciliatate the already existing feedback against ecological tyranny.

The state's Ecological Contract requires it to facilitate the civil and environmental pressure against informal corruption in the state that expands externalities upon peoples, ecologies, and economies.

However, in unsustainable states our geographical feedback is registered only in informal gatekeeping into the state in "out of phase" ways that keeps this geographically specific expression from registering directly against any informally managed state developmentalism. On the other hand, in the frameworks of the bioregional state that support the Ecological Contract, this direct geographic citizenship pressure is merged with many additional checks and balances that remove many existing informal party conflicts of interest when in power.

Historically, original Enlightenment democratic theory along with Rousseau's Social Contract overlooked in its formal institutional design this later essence of democracy: competitive informal factions and parties. The formal institutions we have been raised within were designed without informal parties in mind. Some issues that had yet to be historically raised should be raised presently in terms of prescriptive adaptations to make a sustainable state politics. The famous critique of informal power by Robert Michels was that instead of parties being representative institutions, parties are innately self-serving entities that desire to keep others out of power and desire to strangle debate and perpetuate themselves more than they want to facilitate democracy. However, Michaels left out of his analysis how formal institutional contexts have influenced the maintenance or removal of unrepresentative informal dynamics of such blocking parties, considering Duverger's and Sartori's work for instance. So the question becomes in facilitating sustainability and the state's Ecological Contract with its people, how to change this formal context, to assure that informal parties in the state compete for the full electorate (instead of compete for the partial electorate, agreeing to exclude the rest) and have incentives to do so, and can be punished by other parties when they decide to fail to be as representative as possible.

A whole different series of checks and balances on informal power and how it biases the formal state is required. This huge oversight about the gatekeeping power of informal parties in politics has led in practice to very clientelistic, selective, and exclusive corrupt informal politics that has created social and environmental degradation from the foundation of this "formal democracy" in the 18th-19th centuries.

To summarize, the bioregional state is built from this political theory of the origins of unsustainability as caused by informal corruptions in practice in the formal state. Capable of being solved, these informal corruptions are due to the original design oversights of failing to institutionalize required formal checks and balances in three additional areas:

one, assuring a competitive marketplace of ideas in informal party politics before elections instead of informal gatekeeping on debate and divide and conquer politics funded by the same corporations;

two, assuring formal state frameworks provide a context after elections for checking or balancing informal parties' desire while they are the governmental incumbents to exclude other parties;

and three, assuring geographic expression of citizenship risk instead of informal parties creating pocket boroughs.


In the past 20 years, European sociologist Ulrich Beck has noted our whole political outlook has moved into a 'risk society' framework. He describes a nexus of politics that has moved from merely fighting for a distribution of material goods, into one more and more fighting to get rid of 'environmental bads.' Even though from comparative historical analysis, I would disagree that there is something novel or modern about this type of citizen pressure for environmental amelioration, I believe I am the first to take these ideas and apply them to formal institutional democratic theory by asking what kinds of additions to democracy would be required to facilitate an ecologically sound democracy, in order to let democracy as a process get rid of these 'environmental bads' through facilitating an ecologically sound democratic politics.

In conclusion, I believe that in this short letter I have described something worthy of consideration—both because it is a novel idea and because it has a prescriptive intent even to the level of offering ideas for slow strategic implementation.

I believe this will be a gauntlet for the next millennium that will define the existing issues of formal democratic political theory as innately flawed and totally politically illegitimate without addressing the three main issues raised in the bioregional state: how to establish checks and balances on the competitive informal gatekeeping organizational contexts of parties, how to create a competitive marketplace of ideas in the party context, how to make parties compete instead of collude, and how to align the state with the innately geographic specific issues of citizenship expression.

A formal green political framework—sustainable and durable, instead of unsustainable and self-destructive—innately comes about once further checks and balances are in operation that change the incentive contexts of informal power to be more fluid, more competitive, and more representative. Presently, informal power is a form of gatekeeping, collusive, and unrepresentative.
Enlightenment democratic theory and democratic institutional design requires an update in order to check and balance informal power and the part it plays in warping the state and developmentalism towards unsustanable goals. So, onward: toward the bioregional state.

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 http://www.sit.wisc.edu/~mrkdwhit/bioregionEC.htm
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Toward a Bioregional State:

This is a site of letters similar to the Federalist Papers, though it is written by a bioregional "Publius."

Publius was the pen name adopted by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, as they made their arguments in popular newspapers for their popularizing of the United States Constitution, in the 1780s.

However, unlike them, this is a bioregional Publius who wants democracy in practice instead of democracy in the abstract, and one who wants sustainabilty instead of unsustainability.

We are facing a similar project presently, I am arguing--how can we achive a democracy that is environmentally sustainable, when the present frameworks of democracy are what are leading us into environmental degradation? The following is a list of requirements, as well as arguments for why these requirements should be adopted, and why the present forms of government in the United States are leading us toward environmental degradation, low voter turnouts, and unrepresentative parties.

However, what I am arguing is that these are general structural requirements for all states as they move towards sustainability, instead of talking only about the United States. The United States can be considered the running example in these letters though. Structurally, the state in general requires changing, instead of only a change on the the level of political party ideas for instance.

These bioregional letters propose how existing unsustainable states could be 'made over' into sustainable states: typically, a different topic is addressed in each letter.

There are 27 bioregional Publius letters--so far. State structures are far from the only aspect of importance, though they are a formal requirement. (I am working on other issues beside the state--science, finance, and consumption . . . .[R]ead them in the order they were created by following the pages below for continuity, since they build upon themselves instead of represent separate topics.)

The 20th letter is a petition that 'ecologizes' the U.S. Constitution, compiling into a single document all the formal framework ideas for working towards sustainability. See the link from the list of all letters, above.

This site is devoted to the formal state, and what kind of formal state is required for sustainability.

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 http://www.sit.wisc.edu/~mrkdwhit/bioregionEC.htm
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updated link 16.Nov.2004 10:23

web

The current link is now:

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 http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~mwhitake/bioregionEC.htm
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 http://www.bioregionalstate.org soon active...

link update 22.Oct.2006 12:48

.

current link is

 http://biostate.blogspot.com/