WE NEED CHANGE, NOT REFORM!
So far, We, The People have been hoodwinked into thinking we are incapable of any fundamental change, that we have reached the end of progress, of history. This is the last, the very best, the final stage – the ‘natural order’ of things preached by Pharoahs & Kings as well.
To that I say, BULLSHIT!
A simple reflection on what is at the core of our social problems – the huge economic crisis, poverty, increasing joblessness, the insecurity, crime and racism, unequal and inadequate educational opportunities, the lack of even basic healthcare for all, lost homes, the environmental devastation & inadequate safeguards to our families and communities, the corruption of government on all levels – can all be narrowed to one basic cause: the economy, who controls it and how it is being run. We are the wealthiest nation on earth, yet our economic system and its political institutions have failed to sustain a peaceful, healthy, equitable and harmonious society. And now the very future well-being of the planet itself is threatened.
We are beginning to wonder ‘Can anything be done?’
So while the big social question facing us in this 21st Century ought to be how to best share our potential bounty, now with the stakes higher than ever, we are no better off than we were as we entered the last century. Or worse. Now we face true global disaster, perpetual war, famines & genocides, poisoned air & food, threats to our political freedoms, strife between low-wage working people and lower-waged ‘illegal’ immigrants, the continuing loss of jobs to even cheaper over-seas labor. We are being pauperized at ever greater rates & increasingly behind in our credit & mortgage debts. Just when our Economy has become destabilized & threatens to collapse, we find Government is failing us as well. At a time when everything feels possible, it seems nothing works. Why? What has gone wrong?
To answer those questions, we have to begin by looking closely at our society, how it works, what its goals are. And who makes the decisions?
This really brings us to the most basic question of all: Who owns our society?
The answer may seem axiomatic: We do! We’ve come to accept that when we say ‘our society’ we mean its ‘ours’, we own it. But do we? Do we own our government, our jobs,our future? Who decides what the problems are & how to solve them? Who decides priorties? Wall Street vs Main Street; Jobs vs Bottom-Line; Safety vs Profit. In all these real-life situations, who has the POWER?
If you answer ‘Ah! The Government’. Think again.
The real answer to all those questions all hinge on one thing: Ownership. And this is where our old assumptions break down. Because ‘our’ society really doesn’t belong to us, The People. As we’ve learned from the mortgage crisis, credit card debacle, lost jobs & lost pensions, escalating wars, the Bank and Wall Street bailouts, we now see we pretty much own nothing & have no control over any critical decisions. Government? Not so fast. We voted, but Elections sure didn’t help, did they? Neither did rallies or protests.Looking around, the world seems to have grown so out of control, the problems so immense. While we have made so many great advances, we also face so many new, difficult and complicated challenges. The question has become “Can anything be done in a world that has grown so complex, dynamic, diverse? Could a different society actually do better? Could it really work?” The answer is Yes, of course. It means re-thinking alot of things we take for granted. It means changing. But isn’t that what we’ve always done? But again, can we still do it? Is there a way out?
Societies are man-made which means they can be ‘undone’.
They’re not ‘divine’, perfect nor static. Technically, they are ways people organize themselves to benefit the group & the individual, based on the prevailing conditions. Although each is unique, they all are made up of two, basic components: the Economic (the way we create & distribute wealth – you might say the ‘how’) and the Civic (the way we provide for the health & well-being of the people, deliver, decide & administer our laws – you might say the ‘why’). Together they create a society’s Culture, Identity and Beliefs. While both realms have the same, basic goal which remains constant (group and individual survival), the specifics change. On the Economic side, tools and technology will change. On the Civic side, values and attitudes will change. Historically, the longevity & success of any Society has depended on how well it can absorb and adapt – but eventually, each has grown less satisfactory for whatever reason…..and always given way to the next.
What we need now is co-operation not competition…for sustainability not unbridled growth…for the long-term benefit not the short-term ‘bubble’…for planning not rampant waste…for seeing the interconnectedness of national and international policies…the well-being of Nature & the well-being of all Mankind.
We need to recognize a simple fact: The imperatives of these needs and goals…these HOPES…are contrary to the values, goals & paradigms of Capitalism.
We have been told over and over again that Without Capitalism and Capitalist ‘selfishness’, competition, fear or greed to motivate us, we will be lost, ruined! Everyday while we work together, we credit it to the ‘system’, not ourselves. Without thinking, we believe the current Big Lie. But 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln said:
“YOU CAN FOOL SOME OF THE PEOPLE ALL OF THE TIME, AND ALL OF THE PEOPLE SOME OF THE TIME, BUT YOU CAN’T FOOL ALL OF THE PEOPLE ALL OF THE TIME’.
Corporate control of government and media aside, he is still right. We have been hoodwinked long enough, convinced into thinking we have no right to control our economy, no right to interfere with profit-margins & those who market dangerous products & environmental pollution, out-sourcing & job-losses, outrageous inequalities & Wall Street bailouts… that our economy is rightfully owned and ruled by Capitalists because they are the best at making the ‘right decisions’ or fearlessly following the ‘free-market system’, taking chances, taking risk. They are best at creating profit & incentives & thereby ensure our society’s success. Yet it has been long recognized that the real wealth, power and creative energy belongs to those who produce it: the majority, the plain ‘ordinary’ people who do the work everyday, create the wealth we enjoy and from whom flow all the benefits that our society offers: From growing food to building laptops, from fixing roadways to teaching our kids in the classroom. Its not the Capitalist who is necessary, it is we who do the work. What we do at work is ours in a way that we feel deeply about and take pride in.
Understanding who creates the wealth, and the complete dependence of the Capitalist on the people who do the work, and not vice-versa, once again it was Abraham Lincoln who recognized what should be self-evident:
“LABOR IS PRIOR TO CAPITAL. LABOR CAN EXIST WITHOUT CAPITAL; BUT CAPITAL CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT LABOR”
So rather than no choice, we now have little choice: a new society, a new paradigm. To repeat: the good news is History is on our side. We have the tools and talents. Like our forefathers & mothers, we can envision a new way to live in harmony with nature & with others, for the benefit of the majority, with equal rights for all. We can meet as they did, ‘at the grassroots’ in our neighborhoods, but also electronically. Organized, we can start our own new party & vote for social cooperation & social ownership.
Economic Social Democracy is not only possible, right and just. It is required.
Here are three abbreviated visuals of how a true social/economic democracy could work. Let this be the “green print” to begin a national discussion: