The participants addressed the central question of each Infoset, "How can we, sovereign world citizens, govern our world?"
Many conference participants expressed an interest in being part of future Infosets.
The organizers wish to thank Mohammed Yimer [coordinator] for his financial donation that was used to cover many expenses, including travel and food. Mr. Mohammed also provided the Infoset with camera and film, other WSP documents, and the World Flag. He attended the Infoset and answered many questions about it.
Following the general team meetings, a concluding statement declared: "This historic collection contains our recommendations as a base to formulating one just world law, in common through the World Government of World Citizens, on human rights, natural resources, administration, health, agriculture, education, the environment, economics, food, biodiversity, science and technology policies. Let us use these ideas towards constructing and developing one world that lives in harmony."
The following 12 Statements of Importance were developed:
Millions of our poor brothers and sisters are found in villages and rural areas begging to buy medicine for diseases like TB. This shows that there are no good free health services protecting the world's citizens.
1. Design free health services throughout the world.
2. Extend health training centers with free medical supplies for all human beings and animals.
3. Adopt stricter measures to control corruption in health services and to encourage special health workers in each area.
4. Encourage people to eat healthy foods and provide them at low cost.
5. Support educational programs for personal hygiene and proper care of environmental health.
6. Protect human life and avoid pollution by removing all nuclear reactors as well as other harmful chemicals from the earth.
In order to increase food production for the world, it is clear that world agricultural systems need to be improved.
1. Support modern techniques of cultivation for world agro-industry improvement.
2. Support research for biological insecticides with proper education to all farmers in their field use.
3. Encourage farming worldwide by providing free fertilizers and selected seed supplies.
4. Design special communication between agricultural offices of the World Government of World Citizens (WGWC) and agricultural agents throughout the world.
Topic: Natural Resources
Natural resources are shared by all human beings as a gift from God. Therefore, practical measures should be taken to share them on a global level.
1. Set up a world bank to gather all income derived by natural resources from the world market and to distribute it to all the world's communities.
2. Expand the availability of work opportunities in the area of extracting natural resources so that people may derive improved incomes.
3. Introduce special courses to educate farmers not to destroy forests without critical need and substitution of species.
4. Educate all citizens so there is a common knowledge of the importance of natural resources.
Any product has its own manual from the producer; trying to use that product without consulting its manual is sure to result in a clear danger. Considering this fact, every person has to give great care to manuals of materials he or she bought.
Giving careless attention to humanity and one perfect human administration is producing heartbreak for most of us world citizens; therefore, the WGWC is expected to explore and investigate special reforms to design one impartial administration on a global level.
We leave it to each human being's daily duties by inviting all cruel individuals to give up their bad feelings of superiority.
1. Provide free education for all grade levels.
2. Remove weapons production science from world educational policies and substitute beneficial research.
3. Coordinate citizens to support school construction in each community.
4. Encourage agricultural and medical education, starting in the younger grades.
Topic: Human Rights
1. Practice and respect the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
2. Develop all concepts of WGWC and apply them in local practice.
3. Organize all dynamic citizens for global responsibilities.
4. Encourage and promote fundamental civic rights towards a one-world democratic ideology.
Living organisms in nature are referred to as biodiversity. We know that human survival and continued development could be in danger if these organisms continue to disappear.
1. Develop global models for conserving valued biodiversity, increasing the common benefits that derive from these resources.
2. Support research that promotes sustainable use of natural resources by local communities.
3. Develop sustainable environmental management strategies and practices through the integration of traditional and popular knowledge with scientific evidence.
The world could grow enough food for all its inhabitants, yet millions starve, because, as we find it, most science of the world focuses on weapons research instead of food systems development.
1. Redirect research towards breaking the poverty cycle in the world. Develop globally-owned farm land for common production services.
2. Provide the rural poor with long-term mortgages so that they may farm and meet their immediate need for food.
3. Design vital research into the impacts and problems of urban agriculture.
4. Focus on providing sustainable livelihoods for the people most directly affected by the degradation of local natural resources.
Topic: Information and Communication
Common world communication services are needed to facilitate information exchange and to close gaps between information needs and information resources.
1. Set up a world office for communication services.
2. Improve technological networks to enable world partners to be informed and to communicate actively.
3. Examine how information and communication technology impacts upon the social development of human societies.
4. Support road construction to link rural areas and towns with international airports.
5. Include communications skills and information technology in learning systems so that they can be utilized throughout the world.
Topic: Technology, Environment, and Society
Appropriate technologies must be used to safeguard the world environment and meet the needs of its growing population.
1. Curb environmental degradation by providing employment in appropriate technologies.
2. Promote the development and application of technologies in special areas to lessen and eradicate poverty.
3. Create global policies that substitute chemical weapons research for agricultural and biotechnical research that benefits human beings and the environment.
4. Focus on how to improve the environment, human health and people's needs through public intervention programs.
Topic: Integration of Environment, Social and Economic Policies
Poverty and environmental damage are two of the largest problems facing our world today. World citizens are among the few recognizing the close links between these two problems.
1. Provide better information to policymakers on the relationship between environmental, social and economic policies.
2. Support one-world government for good governance and common development.
3. Introduce new research into low-cost methods for determining the impact of social policy reforms.
4. Foster equitable, inclusive and enduring democratic rule with positive social change in all states of the world.
5. Distribute incomes from natural resources to be used for housing and health improvement purposes.
Dark Blue Team
We believe that one absolute God has given this world to humankind and all other species to be used as a natural home.
Therefore, it is unjust to limit and deny the world citizenship rights of human beings by any artificial laws.
1. Respect the world citizenship of any person, anywhere.
2. Develop deeper understandings of the oneness of God and the sisterhood and brotherhood of all human beings.
3. Practice world government and its policy in all human endeavors.
4. Develop a global culture for sharing problems without any forms of discrimination and working towards common solutions.
At the end of the conference, there were many questions asked by observers and participants and answered by our coordinator Mohammed Yimer. Here are some examples:
Question: How can we get a WSA passport and other documents?
Answer: You can contact WSA through mail to request forms. Sending in the completed form with correct fee is the fastest way to receive a reply.
Question: Is there another similar meeting in which I could participate?
Answer: Yes, many more Infosets are being planned in Ethiopia. In this way, many people will be able to contribute their vital voice to the development of a democratic world constitution.
Question: What is the origin of the idea of national citizenship and of the term "foreigner"?
Answer: National citizenship is the fabrication of nation-states themselves, and the term foreigner is designed to discriminate against certain people, resulting in violations of human rights.
Question: What is the difference between the traditional idea of nationalism and the WGWC's principle of personal sovereignty?
Answer: Basically, the ideologies of the WGWC are not compatible with any nation-state ideology on the sovereignty of the private and social life of the human being. WGWC's philosophy of sovereignty goes beyond cultural boundaries, frontiers, race, tribe, linguistics, and any other aspects of limited national boundaries. Because WGWC is designed to embrace all mankind, its ultimate goal is the establishment of a one-world human community.
Nationalism, too, has its own social and political ideologies. However, the criteria are different for one humankind. That is why in many nation-states countries cannot resolve the question of how to deal with minorities and aliens.
This report was compiled by Infoset organizer Wondwossen Negussie and facilitator Seyoum Mengesha.
More Infosets are scheduled in various communities in Ethiopia over the next few months. An Infoset is scheduled in Freetown, Sierra Leone, for January 29-31, 1997, to be attended by the country's Vice President, Dr. Albert Joe Demby, in addition to paramount chiefs and tribal authorities.
By Robin Lloyd
I am an Infoset graduate--double graduate, in fact, as I attended the first trial-run Infoset in Toronto, facilitated by Stafford Beer, and the "launch Infoset" in Burlington, Vermont.
I've been reading in World Citizen News about the tremendous proliferation of Infosets in Africa--dozens of people taking part in face-to-face deliberation on the topic: "How can we, as sovereign world citizens, govern our world?" (This is the official question of all the World Syntegrity Project Infosets.)
Although I share the excitement of the writers of these articles, I wonder, how does the Infoset process translate from the United States and English to other cultures and other languages? Can it be applied in societies with a high degree of illiteracy?
As all readers of this newsletter know, the unique quality of a three-day Infoset is that it is structured on the form of an icosahedron, a twelve-pointed sphere made famous by Buckminster Fuller. During the duration of an Infoset, each of the 30 participants chooses to represent one of the struts connecting two points of the icosahedron. Each of the 12 points represents one of 12 general ideas developed during the preliminary "problem jostle," which will eventually be refined into 12 "Statements of Importance."
Each of the 30 players assumes a unique position depending on where his or her strut is located. A player is both a member of the two-team topics that his/her strut connects and, at the same time, a critic or polar opposite of that idea, represented on the opposite side of the icosahedron.
Got it? We're dealing here with an extremely intellectual game, made accessible by the fact that all players are given some gum drops and toothpicks to create an icosahedron with their own hands. They have a visual model right in front of them; that helps.
Obviously this game is very democratic--all players are equal in importance. It's also very mechanistic. Garry Davis calls it a feminist process because of its lack of hierarchy, but I would call it nonfeminist in its rigidity and in the necessity for each player to adhere to a particular place in a conceptual game for three days.
It's also very verbal; much time is spent hammering out statements. Anyone who has attempted to create statements by committee knows how tedious that can become.
I don't mean to sound negative about this process; there are steps in it that are wonderful to experience, especially the problem jostle where one sees 12 major concepts rise up out of the complexities and contradictions of 30 people's ideas of what is important to discuss.
My question is, how does this work in the field? The 63-page guidebook (with additional appendices and support material) is in English: what a task it must have been to translate it into Amharic! Phrases like "problem jostle" and "hexadic reduction" are not in most dictionaries. Although the participants can be "grassroots" people, the organizers are most likely college graduates or even Ph.D's.
Can a game so highly structured be played by people who have never seen an icosahedron before? Maybe I'm sounding patronizing--if so, please tell me where I'm wrong--but it may also be that the Infoset is a first-world novelty that does not have a universal application, and to assume that it does is presumptuous.
Finally, I think Infosetters north and south need to exchange ideas on how to keep the icosahedron rolling. Are there ways to make the process more user-friendly? What can the World Citizen Foundation, with its extremely limited budget, do to help Infosetters spread their new knowledge to their communities? What kind of follow-up is possible, or important? I hope readers in Sierra Leone and Ethiopia, and Infosetters everywhere, will take part in a dialogue on these important issues.
By Dianne Tangel-Cate
Robin Lloyd raises several important questions about the World Syntegrity Project (WSP). It is always wise to look critically at issues of importance, and I commend Robin for doing so. At the same time, as the director of the project, I do have some comments in response to her questions.
Since the launch of the WSP in July 1993, hundreds of people around the world have participated in this global "town meeting," lending their voices to the foundation of a democratic world constitution. The 23 Infosets, or Syntegration meetings, held to date have taken place in various countries, nearly half of them in Africa. So the project has taken on a slightly different format with each new Infoset.
How does the process translate into other cultures? The translation is culturally determined and, therefore, distinct in accordance with each culture touched by Syntegrity.
Although it is interesting to contemplate how it translates, that question has little more than philosophical significance, in my opinion. We at the World Citizen Foundation, who have been helping to develop the project for a few years now, have come to realize that the world's people must have the flexibility to interpret the project--and take subsequent action--the best way they are able.
The specifics of the process are less important than the heightened awareness that is created through participation, the sense of self-empowerment that develops, the questions asked and the solutions generated.
People around the world can only understand, utilize, and benefit from the project if they approach it from their own cultural viewpoint. The WSP is not intended to homogenize cultures; on the contrary, one of its aims is to facilitate cultural survival while promoting other human rights. As a grassroots, egalitarian project, it is designed to highlight the free will of those involved as they explore ways to better our world.
With regard to the question about the project's application in largely illiterate societies, a single literate participant is all that is needed to explain the process to others who may not be able to read or write, thus enabling everyone to participate fully through discussion and debate.
The fact that the process is mostly verbal is a good thing. Participants can speak in their native tongue, and those who may be illiterate benefit from the emphasis on the verbal.
Although it is designed in the form of a game--in order to be an entertaining as well a productive experience--an Infoset is a serious undertaking that does become taxing at times. But anything worth doing is not always easy or fun.
Former Infosetters attest to the fact that the results are well worth the work involved. And the results are not limited to the "Statements of Importance." As they exercise their innate sovereignty on the world level by addressing issues concerning the evolution of world government, World Citizens increase their awareness of global and local problems and are empowered both individually and collectively. The feelings of accomplishment Infosetters experience are recognized through the Certificates of Achievement that the Foundation presents to all participants after an event.
Most people have never taken the time to really think about what we should and can do to improve the world, but it can be a very enlightening experience to actually do so. And because participants have access to all the previous Statements of Importance, they know that their work will be building on others' before them, with each Infoset contributing further to the success of the project.
There is also greater flexibility in the game than may first appear. The Organizer's Guide is a blueprint that players should try to adhere to. While remaining aligned with the general shape of the icosahedron, Infosetters are not prevented from revising the internal regimen where they see fit, and some have indeed done so. We do not have the capability to send field agents around the world to coach organizers and facilitators and to monitor their Infosets; the process is completely in their own hands. What is most important is what participants take from the experience of having generated the Statements of Importance through a democratic and inclusive process.
The Organizer's Guide, as Robin points out, can definitely benefit from some terminology changes; some of the jargon is not easy to understand. And those changes are going to be made. But in the meantime, the "game" can be made more approachable in any number of ways. Again, this is where cultural particulars play a role.
As long as the Infoset facilitator understands the purpose of the game, s/he can describe it in a way that the players will best appreciate. As Stafford Beer himself remarks, "It is easier done than said." In other words, the process itself is much less complicated than the terms used to describe it.
Not all 23 organizers have been college graduates or Ph.D's. Some in Ethiopia, for example, have no more than a 10th-grade education.
Although many Infosetters have not previously seen an icosahedron, as a geometric structure it is universally comprehensible. Different cultures may have different preconceptions or perceptions of a given structure, but the nature of the icosahedron implies universality or, in political terms, democracy as well as synergy, as Buckminster Fuller himself maintained. And I believe that all people are capable of learning its new applications.
How does all this work in the field?
Well, it does work; we have proof of that. But specifically, the answer may be that it works differently in different places. Yes, the Guide's current availability only in English is a potential problem. But the Foundation presently lacks the resources to offer it in a variety of languages. Even if it could, Amharic, an Ethiopian language used in recent Infosets (generously translated by one of the Ethiopian organizers), would not likely be one of the languages in which the Guide would be printed. (The seven languages on the World Passport would probably be the first choices.)
To date, the language problem has been solved by those involved. Obviously, however, that should be changed; and as soon as possible, it will be.
If the Infoset is a "first-world novelty" without universal application, as Robin suggests, why have there been more Infosets in the third world than in the first? If cultural adaptations are accepted, then the Infoset does have universal application, and we have seen the evidence of this already.
Moreover, we think that the very nature of the question posed to Infostters is highly relevant to the portion of humanity most oppressed by the current geopolitical system.
We agree that it is imperative that Infosetters around the world should exchange ideas about their experiences. The World Citizen Foundation maintains a complete data base pertaining to previous Infosets, enabling participants to communicate with one another.
The role of the World Citizen Foundation is to introduce this amazing project to the people of the world. In the process, it provides assistance where and when it can. Because the WSP is a project of the people, it is up to the people themselves to take the project to the next level, whatever that may be. (See Garry Davis' "Letter to World Citizens," on page 2 of this issue.)
In my article "We've Syntegrated... Now What?" in Volume 9, No. 6, of World Citizen News, I have suggested ways in which Infosetters can carry on with their mission following a Syntegration. For example, holding further Infosets in a community, to involve those who have not yet had the opportunity to contribute to World Syntegrity, is one way of continuing the process of positive global political change. If one person or group has already been through the process, they can help others in their organizing, publicity, and fundraising efforts.
Following a Syntegration, Infosetters also can distribute the Statements of Importance generated by their group. Local officials, schools, community groups, and the media would be interested to know about the results of the Infosetters' efforts; regional and national leaders should get copies as well. (The Collated Statements of Importance, containing the results of all Infosets held to date, is available for $9.95 through the World Citizen Foundation and is also updated on the World Citizen Web.)
Registering as a World Citizen is a crucial act that should be carried out by every Infosetter, preferably before an Infoset. A World Citizen Registration Card can then be displayed as a symbol of sovereign status (local fundraising may help cover registration costs).
Another important step Infosetters can take following their Syntegration is "mundialization." This is the process of formally declaring one's community a world city or world town, thus affirming its connection to and responsibility for the rest of the world. The number of mundialized communities worldwide is in the hundreds. A mundialization packet is available through the World Citizen Foundation.
For those with access to the Internet, the World Referendum is on-line on the World Citizen Web. Individuals everywhere can vote on common global issues. (The address of the World Citizen Web is https://worldcitizen.org.)
In nurturing popular sovereignty in one's community, a little imagination goes a long way!
I hope that I have offered some insight into the issues Robin Lloyd has raised. Of course, we welcome additional criticisms and responses--especially from other Infosetters. In the meantime, keep syntegrating!
Dianne Tangel-Cate is director of the World Syntegrity Project.