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The European Dream

A book by Jeremy Rifkin published in September 2004. The importance of 'The European Dream' to the carfree movement is that it describes the broader effects and background of a person-centric environment. In 'The European Dream', carfreeness can be understood in relation to a larger vision encompassing individual, social, economic, and political development.

Added by colin #442 on 2005-03-13. Last modified 2005-04-03 22:29. Originally created 2005-03-13. F0 License: Attribution
Location: World
Topics: agriculture, bioregionalism, elders, fun, governance, immigration issues, Our Culture, philosophy, philosophy-integral, policy development, recommended reading, spirit, Vision, worldviews

Update 2005-04-01

Where I first read about it, thanks to planetizen.

The European Dream on:

In a few months I've gone from feeling there was no compelling widely-shared vision of where we should be going, to finding Monbiot's big dream, to now finding a vision based in present trends, one that is already in place and being implemented. I've only read through the book quickly, and there is a lot I don't understand, including how European secularism will transform middle-eastern and other fundamentalism, and how any worldview that leads to declining birthrates can compete with worldviews associated with cancerous birthrates. Nor do I understand the network approaches to governance and economy that Rifkin suggests are being implemented in the EU.

Some points I remember from my quick read include:

  • Acceptance of a Steady State Economy as a desirable goal
  • The idiocy of the GDP as a measure of progress, and past and present attempts to do away with that statistic
  • The cold evil of SUV use (he does not go so far as to include all car/airplane use) or purchase of sweatshop products
  • The precautionary principle as something actually being a part of European public policy since the 1970s
  • Systems of governance that create networks across political and cultural boundaries, and that somehow mitigate corporate influence
  • Some sort of network market system that recognizes and addresses shortcomings of free-market ideology
  • The European intolerance for giving governments the ability to kill their own citizens (the death penalty), and the broader ramifications of this respect for human and animal life
  • An emphasis on empathy, reminding me of Monbiot

From an integral perspective, what Rifkin describes appears to be very high-level green-meme... though I feel foolish for mentioning that because from what I've read from the integral crowd (which I do not follow carefully), none of the visions or dreams I've found there do what Rifkin has done in The European Dream.

Namely, this isn't pie in the sky. Like the "American Dream" it has already been implemented on a large scale. Rifkin is clear about what the dream involves in different individual and social domains, what challenges it faces, and what further progress will look like. The effect of the vision can be felt and seen in Europe and Europeans, people say.

We know a lot of that difference in feel is due to the reduced amount of social space devoted to the automobile in Europe. The importance of The European Dream to the carfree movement is that it describes the broader effects and background of a person-centric environment. In The European Dream, "carfreeness" can be seen in relation to a larger vision encompassing individual, social, economic, and political development.

Thank you Jeremy Rifkin.

Update 2005-04-01

I've finished reading the whole book. It is long, a bit redundant, but worth reading as it spoke nearly directly to question after question that I have.

Below are some of my notes. In particular the note from page 378 I find the most helpful. Sometimes I go around meditating on death, aware I am dying and in a death culture. Maybe by finding ways of empathizing more (in person, with others), I will love living more...

the biosphere envelope is only 40 miles thick -sea floor to space?

p 338 Carrying out that responsibility means living out our individual lives in our neighborhoods and communities in ways that promote the general well-being of the larger biosphere in which we dwell.

p340 Still, the European Union is the first political unit to seriously entertain the new vision of the Earth as an indivisible living community deserving of respect.

p341- a clean hydrogen economy by mid-century.

22% of electricity and 12% of all energy by renewable sources by 2010.

p342- clearly non-nuclear-- not enough space to dispose of them.

p343- transition to organic agriculture a critical component of their economic development plans. germany p 344 20% of ag output into organic production by 2020.

denmark, sweden- 10 % of domestic consumption.

p346 - animals as sentient beings.

germany: the state takes responsibility for protecting the natural foundations of life and animals in the interest of future generations.

weigh animal rights against research and religious rights.

p345- gandhi: "the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

p347- pigs crave affection and are easily depressed if isolated or denied playtime with one another.

p347- crow makes tool

p349-"If you believe in evolution by natural selection, how can you believe that feelings suddenly appeared, out of the blue, with human beings?

p349- learning , trial and error, continued experimentation

p350- egg layers in battery cages.

p352 - food production: quality rather than quantity.

p355 - transboundary peace parks.

cso civil service organization

p356 nature has a right to be recognized and to exist, just like every other human being.

p363 confucian thought- no "me" in isolation, to be considered abstractly: I am the totality of roles i live in relation to specific others....

making me a different person.

p363 de Nisbett - The Geography of Thought "to understand and appreciate one state of affairs requires the experience of its opposite."

p366- the meta-narrative- because of universal human rights.

p368- food for animals, not people.

p370- owen barfield

p370 - oceanic oneness.

p371 - the life instinct

p371 "a sense of being part of a larger, loving, immortal whole"

ideological bubble

p371 psych Normon O Brown:

"sequestration of the life of the body into dead things" in the name of technological and material progress only draws humanity further into the realm of the death instinct."

p372- cocoon

p373- The few remaining hunter-gatherer tribes in the Amazon rain forests, .. still enjoy a kind of unrepressed bond with the natural world.

p374- Barfield- the stage where we make a self-aware choice to re-participate with the body of nature. Owen Barfield is not in the bibliography.

P377- the younger generation is more likely to think of its life as a continually changing process operating in a myriad of network relationships.

p377 the new notion of the self as an unfolding story whose plot lines and substance are totally dependent on the various characters and events with whom one enters into a relationship.

"one ceases to believe in a self independent of the relationships in which he or she is embedded... (Gergen)

p378 intimate face-to-face participation.

p378 We are reminded of our own death in every destructive act we engage in.

"How do we experience life if continually surrounded by death and consumed with the thought of death?"

"By choosing deep re-participation with nature, by stewarding the many relationships that nurture life, we surround ourselves with a life-affirming environment. We are constantly reminded of the intrinsic value of life by every empathetic experience we pursue.



p379 "We have become a death culture."

we are the most voracious consumers in the world.

p380 - personal ethics of accountability.

redirect deeply held sense of personal responsibility to a more expansive commitment of advancing a global ethics

p381- christianity etc. --

"since G-d created the heavens and the Earth, all of his creation is imbued with intrinsic value. G-d also gave purpose and order to hir creation. Therefore, when human beings attempt to undermine the intrinsic value of nature, or manipulate and redirect its purpose and order to suit their own self-interests, they are acting with hubris and in rebellion against G-d hirself."

p382- were this to become a centerpiece of American religious life.

p385 "The New European Dream is worth living for."

Colin Leath <>    

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