February 17, 2002
The Holistic Decision Making Association
(Australia & New Zealand)
Inaugural Annual General Meeting
Allan Savory Presentation
Professor Kevin Parten, Dean Faculty of Rural Management, University of Sydney, Orange:
Ladies and Gentlemen, friends welcome to this Orange campus of the University of Sydney. Let me offer you a very warm welcome and I hope that your stay here is everything you expect. This will be a great learning experience for you, Iím sure. It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you a most prominent speaker. Indeed, someone of such prominence that wherever he goes the audience already knows him. Iím sure nearly everybody here knows Allan Savory. Many of you will know him from reading his book Holistic Management. As was just mentioned, I first met Allan Savory about ten years ago in Armidale and since then Allanís impact on Australiaís grazing systems has been overwhelming. But his impact of course, is far wider than this.
What Allan Savory has given us is a way of thinking about decisions that impact on decision making in every field of life. This way of thinking, Holistic Management, has impacted on all ways of farming on every continent. Let me give you an example. A week ago I was in India. I visited a place called Swaninathen Research Station. And they have introduced whatís called "bio-villages", based on Holistic Management principles.
It seems to me that wherever I go in this world, I run into the notion of Holistic Management these days. Of course, this way of thinking is just as relevant outside agriculture. I am sure he will discuss those issues today. But it is a way of thinking thatís rather different from other things our textbooks give us. What Holistic Management gives us is a special sort of wisdom to reflect upon, to bear upon the worldís resources.
How is it we should use these resources in the most effective manner? Holistic Management gives us the wisdom a special sort of wisdom to achieve that task.
Allan, welcome to the University of Sydney, Orange. We owe you a great debt of gratitude for sharing your time and your knowledge with us. So, without any further ado, ladies and gentlemen, itís a pleasure to present to you Allan Savory.
Thank you Kevin for those kind words. Thank you Paul, and the University, for inviting me here. Itís a pleasure once again to be in Australia and Iím very glad for the number of New Zealanders whoíve come over as well thank you for making this possible. I congratulate you on the formation of this Association of yours. Weíve watched from Albuquerque and itís been a very long and painful gestation. Itís looking good on paper so I hope itís going to be better than your cricket team is, and will play more like your rugby team!
Most of you in this audience know the history of Holistic Management and how I set out just to try to solve that thousands of years old problem of poor land leading to poor people, social breakdown, violence, rising petty crime, genocide, war and eventually the fall of civilisations. Long ago, I realised that this was the greatest problem facing humanity. Humanity has never had a greater problem and today itís looming as an even greater problem. It was purely my determination to try to find some way forward that lead, almost accidentally, to discovering something as big as the Holistic Decision Making framework is. Daily, Iím learning more and more about it about that decision making framework and its importance.
In this talk today, I want to take you beyond that background with agriculture and land that you know so well. I think your timing is very good in forming this Association. Those of you who are my age and above will remember Pearl Harbour and its significance. That event that day woke up the sleeping giant of the United States and the rest is history. They entered the War.
Now, at that time, Japan and the Nazi Party under Hitler sought world power and dominance. And they were crushed more than anything by the industrial might of the United States. In many ways that democratic giant then went back to sleep. And Americans allowed their own corporations and the corporations of their former allies and the corporations of their former enemies (Germany and Japan) to pursue goals of obscene profit and power, regardless of social and environmental consequence. That profit and power was sought to such an extent that it is now undermining nation states, undermining democracy as well as peopleís cultures worldwide.
Youíre experiencing this in Australia and New Zealand, as are other countries.
September 11 is a notable date and it was a rude awakening for the democracies of the world. And again, that industrial giant has woken up and the effects will be profound on all of our lives. But the differences between Pearl Harbour and September 11 are great and meaningful. They are totally different situations. In this case (September 11) the enemy is everywhere and diffuse and in every nation including America. There is not a nation that can be pinpointed. Itís in almost every nation that the enemy now lies.
The enemy does not seek world power and domination. It doesnít seek to crush democracy. It doesnít seek to crush the United States. Itís a totally different pattern this time. This time we do not have leaders of the caliber of Churchill and Roosevelt leading enraged democracies. We this time have well-meaning pawns of limited intellect heading corporate parties of corporate governments the very cause of such global anger. Itís a totally different picture now. Soon after September 11, I wrote my views just to our members on our email site and it was spread all over the world. I was surprised how far it went. In that message I mentioned that it was dťjŗ vu for me. I just saw the past coming before my eyes as I watched the television and things unfolding. I was thinking back to the late days of Rhodesia when I was struggling as the Leader of the Opposition to fight the racialism and the stupidities of the Smith Government where we had political leaders and generals of limited intellect who could not understand the war we were in. But, in terms of the relative strengths of the opponents we had around us, we had (without question) the best army for that type of warfare in Africa at that time. So, we were able to go on and never lose a single battle no matter what the odds but guaranteed our loss of the war. Our very strength was our greatest weakness because our limited intellectual leaders could not look to the deeper causes of the war and what was in peopleís hearts and minds. So, we were guaranteeing our defeat every day as we proceeded. And, I could see the same thing unfolding before my eyes immediately following September 11th.
Now throughout my public life, I have always had it as a rule that I have never ever come out and publicly criticised anybody or anything unless I had a constructive alternative, because itís very easy to be critical in opposition but itís very difficult when the buck stops with you as I found out when I was President of a political party. So I didnít criticise that day what I saw developing in America. Rather I tried to provide a constructive alternative. Those whoíve seen that message will have seen that I suggested that they get beyond military advisors and corporate advisors (which I know dominate the National Security Council) and start to bring in advisors who would understand the ramifications and the connections between the agricultural policies of the United States and the European Community the connections between those corporate policies and of education and training at the universities, the policies of the IMF, the World Bank and their effects on the cultures and society of peoples around the world. Now, that doesnít exist in the National Security Council today. Weíve got the most brilliant of military minds but itís not a military problem.
So itís all playing out as I feared and expressed that day, Bush and Blair are, in my opinion, showing an inability to even understand the situation let alone be the leaders the democratic world is crying out for.
I was given a booklet by Paul as we traveled over here, and thereís a nice comment in it originally said in 1973 by a long-time Canadian television commentator, Gordon Sinclair, and itís re-emerged on the emails and spread everywhere. I quote: "This Canadian thinks itís time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous and possibly the least appreciated people on all the earth. I can name you five thousand times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble. Can you name me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble?" Itís very true theyíre the most kind-hearted, generous people imaginable in the world. Why then this global anger against a most kind-hearted and generous people?
Because there is a vast difference between the people in a country, and the government in a country and the corporations in a country. A world of difference and that is not being recognised.
In that same booklet, they quote George Bush and Iíll just quote the end of a remark he made: "I will not forget the wound to our country and those who inflicted it. I will not yield, I will not rest, I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people." How much better would that statement have read if he had said: "I will not forget the wound to our democracies and those who inflicted it. I will not yield, I will not rest, I will not relent in waging this struggle for global prosperity, peace and justice and security for all." Who could have mounted a jihad against that?
I hope you see the difference between petty politics and global leadership, which are totally different things.
Let me explain why your timing is good, and where Holistic Management comes into play. For many years, those of you whoíve followed it closely have seen that Americaís governments have had a track record of destroying fledgling democracies and supporting dictators supporting dictators who would favour corporate profits and interests. Theyíve stood by and watched genocide, but reacted immediately when their oil was threatened.
If youíd just look at the policy of the U.S. government today and its investments in Africa, which is a trouble spot of the world (in a big way), nearly all of the investment is going into Nigeria and South Africa. Why? Could it have anything to do with Nigeria being a major oil producer? Could it have anything to do with South Africa being their biggest trading partner? Africa is crying out yet being ignored. That is the sort of thing Iím talking about with "corporate" governments.
Benjamin Barbour wrote a book some years ago, Jihad versus MacWorld. I strongly urge you all to read it, because he expresses some of what I am saying in words much better than mine. Itís extremely well written, thought out, documented. Itís an extremely good book and itís come out again, since September 11. He explains how corporate economic might and muscle seeking short terms profits and goals is unwittingly damaging and undermining nation states, democracies and cultures worldwide. Itís not even in their own enlightened self-interest. It ultimately will destroy those corporate profits, but theyíve not realised what theyíre doing.
Enron is not unique. There have been many films and documentaries about the behaviour of some of the large corporations what I sometimes call the "ugly" side of capitalism. Thereís nothing wrong with capitalism. Thereís everything wrong with its ugly side that Barbour exposes and that is causing such global anger.
Youíll read many examples of this type of thing if you subscribe to The Ecologist. Iíd urge many of you to subscribe to The Ecologist magazine, coming out of the UK, because itís not political itís nothing to do with politics. Itís just recounting whatís happening where corporations are trying to control the genes of the worldís plants and crops and building great dams, roads, development schemes and just riding roughshod over social issues, environmental issues, governments. There are corporations now with budgets far larger than most countries, and the market which they are leading never ever looks at anything but the dollar bottom line. It never looks at the social and environmental consequences and there is no global electorate that can vote against it or in any way control what is happening.
This power over democracy I believe weíre seeing in the United States as much as anywhere, because people there often talk to me about politics and democracy and I say, "What democracy?" I donít even bother to vote most of the time. Why should I? Because I donít really agree with either the left wing or the right wing of the corporate party, neither of which provides any basis for good governance. They have something called Democrats thatís the left wing of the corporate party. And they have something called Republicans thatís he right wing of the corporate party. Youíve got to have millions to even stand for Congress. Where do you get millions other than support from the corporate world? So, you have the left and right wings of the corporate party and very little sign of democracy. Many, many Americans are voting by abstaining. Thatís telling people something.
Do you remember Seattle and the World Trade Congress and how that was brought to a hard halt by those masses of people who were so well organised? Those werenít people from the Middle East. Those were good, highly intelligent Americans who did that, who brought that whole conference to an end. They werenít religious fundamentalists, either.
Now Barbour, and another author, who wrote "The Lexus and the Olive Tree," both of which are particularly good, that describe this globalisation of markets. Both describe what is happening as corporations see profit above social and environmental considerations. As those social and environmental considerations are over-ridden, the corporations are protected by battalions of lawyers and the fear of litigation is just holding people up, small people who are just trying to protect their families, their lives, their environment.
Barbour and others use terms like "spiraling out of control" when they describe globalisation and what is happening. And I stress this "spiraling out of control" nobody at the helm, nobody steering it. These corporations are destroying their own resource base, their own businesses, and they canít see it. There is nobody at the helm.
If there were somebody at the helm, trying to steer that globalisation, please believe me, it would only be worse. Now, why would I say something like that? Hereís where some of you come in, and those of you who are ahead of me already realise that. Do you remember, in the book, "Holistic Management," when I used that comparison between Africa and Texas, and I said to look at the global expert opinion on what is causing this degradation in Africa, which is leading to genocide and all these things. And, according to all the worldís experts it was over-population, over-stocking, over-grazing, common tenure of land, inadequate access to capital, etc. And then, I said to look at a part of the United States with a similar climate, and I took West Texas, where you have a low and falling population, no over-stocking (theyíve been de-stocking for a hundred years, consistently, until thereís almost no more animals left on the land theyíre all in feed lots now), thereís private ownership of land, West Texans love their land, thereís massive availability of capital, extension services, etc. So, as we see, we have the exact opposites of all the things the worldís experts attribute Africaís land degradation and poverty to. But, if you go to West Texas and look at whatís happening, sand dunes are blowing, whole towns are completely deserted, people are flooding into cities, into slums, whatever. So, everything thatís happening in Africa is happening there, in West Texas. So much for our worldís experts on land degradation, poverty, violence, etc. They have no idea what really is causing it. It is, as I said at the outset, the greatest problem facing humans. Yet few are even aware it is a problem because people were so sure they knew what was causing environmental degradation.
Some of you have heard me talk, as I did in Christchurch some years ago at the IFOAM Conference, where I got people in the sustainable agriculture movement to define "sustainable agriculture" as returning to natural nitrogen with the use of legumes, getting away from vast monocultures and petrochemical farming, getting livestock off arid and semi-arid lands, gradually moving towards polycultures, etc., and everybody was agreed and all sustainable agriculture people were agreed. Then I asked, now please tell me how that is different from the agriculture which has already destroyed more than 20 civilisations worldwide in all climates. So, the problem is much deeper than people realise.
And, I addressed a major conference of The Natural Step, which is a wonderful organisation based on some work out of Sweden where theyíre trying to help companies try to achieve what they call the "triple bottom line" not only economic audit, but social and environmental, as well. There, nearly all the focus is on the social and environmental aspects, including pollutants. That was all the discussion the whole time, and I praised that, since we all wish to address that because itís absolutely right and Iím not knocking the organisation, just as Iím not knocking sustainable agriculture in any way. Iím just trying to get us to think deeper. I pointed out to them that all of those businesses and those many civilisations that failed hadnít discovered coal and oil. They didnít have any of todayís pollutants. So, if our corporations tomorrow were 100% successful in stopping all pollutants totally we still would fail, because we donít address the cause of those past civilisations that failed.
Now, you know that we discovered what was the cause through looking for the common denominator in all of these situations worldwide. It wasnít greed, because even wilderness areas have been deteriorating and in such national parks nobodyís been greedy. It wasnít our systems of government, because we have experienced all manner of systems of government. It wasnít our levels of technology, because weíve had all levels of technology from the Stone Age till now.
There was only one common denominator we could find, and every one of these problems of mankind was flowing from one common source. And that was how you and I and all humans, of all time, were making decisions and forming policies. And all decisions, all policies are made towards an objective, a goal, a vision or a mission. There lay the problem. That is linear. The problem is being caused by us daily in our homes, corporations and governments.
You know that we discovered that long after we had already started to pioneer and develop a different way of making decisions the holistic decision-making framework.
So we have two frameworks for making decisions, as far as we know in the world today. One, the conventional human framework, which we all use and have always used; and the new one recently developed and still developing an ongoing process the holistic decision-making framework. And we can use either of these frameworks.
Now, when we use the holistic one, we get totally different results, as many of you are already beginning to experience. Just to give you some examples in the policy realm, because the main role of governments is to formulate policies (whether they know it or not), in the United States, when the Carter administration was in, they had engaged me to put many people through training. We put about ten thousand people through training, including about two thousand who were professional people from universities, land-grant colleges, government agencies, World Bank, etc. And you know that there is (in the book) a sentence that I quoted verbatim which came from one of those groups Iíd been training. They, having gone through a week of learning how to use a different framework to look at policies, made the statement that I think is the most profound in the book: "We now recognise that unsound resource management is universal in the United States." I think that is very significant that people could do that after just a week!
Now, what of the Australian government and the New Zealand government? What of desalination problems? What framework are they using to formulate desalination policies? Is it working? What of the various policies to deal with noxious plants? I loved what Christine said yesterday: "There arenít any weeds." I loved the way she put it. What of those policies? Are they working in any country of the world? No, they are not. What framework is being used by all of those governments to formulate those policies? Theyíre using the conventional framework. Thatís where the problem lies. Not that we donít have brilliant people. Not that we donít have caring people. We just have a faulty framework for formulating policies and making decisions and we hadnít yet discovered that.
What of foreign policies? What is the policy in Australia about the boat people? What framework is being used to formulate that policy? You know. Are these likely to succeed or are they likely to generate anger and many nasty consequences? I donít need to answer you know.
So, what is happening and why are things spiraling out of control? Really, what I think I see here is that what is happening and spiraling out of control is the net result of many good, caring people making decisions with the conventional sub-conscious framework. There is nobody who doesnít want more peace, more prosperity, more stable families, more health, etc. people like you and me, who are daily making trillions of decisions in their lives using that conventional framework and in governments at all levels, local community, corporations etc., using that same framework to formulate policies. The net result of those trillions of decisions and millions of policies is what weíre seeing as "spiraling out of control."
The biggest surprise (once you understand these two frameworks for decision-making) would have been, if it wasnít happening, that things were spiraling out of control. That would have been the biggest surprise.
Now, these things that are spiraling out of control are like a flood (Iím going to come back to the flood analogy which I use so many times because I think itís such a wonderful one to help us understand) those little drops of rain that become floods eventually. As we try to address these enormous national and global problems, we need to understand that neither you nor I have the answers. There isnít an answer and I think itís arrogant if anybody thinks theyíve got the answers to this. But, what we do have is a new framework, a different framework that will empower people and governments to begin to find those answers for themselves and to address, when they do so, the root cause of the problem which was goals, missions and objectives, etc. You can call it goals and objectives, because vision and missions flow from the actions youíve taken to achieve goals and objectives.
As mentioned, President Bushís war on terrorism is not the answer. It is wrong and it is doomed. Why? Because it has a goal to win a War on Terrorism. Right there, itís doomed.
Right away, ex-President Mandela made the statement, "Youíd better very carefully define terrorism. I was jailed for most of my life as a terrorist and then they gave me a Nobel Peace Prize. Youíd better think about this much more carefully."
The recent economic summit in New York I donít know if you followed it but, while that was taking place with all those major nations that Iím talking about, Koffi Annan, the Secretary General of the UN, went on television and gave a talk saying, "Gentlemen, youíre a little bit out of touch with reality. You need to be aware that thereís a much bigger conference taking place in Brazil with many more people represented." Thatís what corporate America need to be taking heed of and wasnít.
Itís unfortunate that America takes the rap for this, because these things that are being done are being done by Germany, Japan, England, France, all of these developed countries. America happens to have had those two towers, the World Trade Center, and is seen as the central focus of it and hence catches the consequences more than the other contributing nations.
Now, if weíre going to correct this, I believe there has to be a flood just like things out of control today are the net result of decisions we make today. It has to be a flood in that same way but in reverse. It canít be any other way the way humans are and how we all make decisions in our own self-interest, etc. And this flood has to start with little drops of rain hitting dry ground, then hitting damp ground, then hitting wet ground, then trickling until it becomes a flood of people making enlightened self-interest decisions.
A few years ago when we were here in Australia, talking about holistic management, it was little drops of rain hitting dry ground and spattering dust. Now, those drops of rain are hitting damper ground. Itís up to you and us to make sure that those drops of rain hit wet ground and begin to trickle until it becomes a flood. And thatís the only way I can see that weíre going to save ourselves, our families and humanity. Itíll flow from there to governments of all levels making decisions holistically once thereís enough groundswell that institutions can grab onto.
Churchill said something of another September day one I know well, since itís my birthday, September 15. Do you remember what day that was? The Battle of Britain. And he said, "Never in history (in the field of human conflict) have so many owed so much to so few." I believe that to be true of you. One day, people will say that. And now, we face even darker days than Britain did in the Battle of Britain. Why do I say that we face even darker days? Because now weíre lead by corporations and corporate governments, who are pushing us into global conflict more terrifying than anything our technology was capable of pushing us into during World War II. Today, there are very many ordinary but intelligent people in the world who are angered and being offended at seeing their cultures and the lives of their families destroyed. Theyíre perfectly capable of producing the most horrific biological, chemical or nuclear devices, just in their garages.
So, itís a far darker period we face than even that dark period of World War II.
Some people are concerned in trying to address this situation, due to the rise in religious fundamentalism. I was very pleased to see a writer, Robert Kaplan, who has spent many years working in 60 countries in Europe and the Middle East, saying essentially the same thing that Iíve been saying for years that as you see resource depletion and populations increasing, one of the symptoms is the rise of fundamentalism. I believe that to be true. Now, I was recently reading another book that I would encourage you to read, "Seven Words That Can Change the World," by Joe Simonetta. Itís only a hundred pages. I read it as I was flying here between Albuquerque and L.A. Very simple, yet very profound. He spent many years studying in the theological Schools of Yale and Harvard. He puts science and religion in a wonderfully simple way that ordinary people like me can relate to and understand. I think one day that that book might be seen as profoundly simple as the words Gandhi once uttered that contained so much wisdom: "Be the change you expect."
If you love your family, friends, community, nation you will do what you have to do to make this new organization the most meaningful and vibrant in Australia and New Zealand. And you will begin to lead and collaborate with all organizations addressing issues and problems. You have a decision-making framework that is working and evolving that can help all organisations and institutions. Almost all of them have good meaning, good intent and motive but are unwittingly using that framework which is faulty, and you have one different to offer. Good luck to you. Good hunting!
This is (as Iíve often expressed) the greatest battle and the last battle humankind will ever fight the battle to learn to live with ourselves and our environment. If we lose this one, weíre gone as a species. If we win this one, itís a wonderful future. Thank you.
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