As the year draws to a close, it's worth noting a handful of progressive gains that people-power made possible:
Encrypted online voting could be the modern alternative to hitting the streets
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As there were great strides made in 2015, the journey yet to be undertaken is long and difficult.
I think it is important to recognize the importance of organized protests with a well-defined and communicated objective. Please refer the following rather long, but very enlightening article regarding the failures of the Occupy Wall St. movement:
To learn about conducting a productive protest, please refer to the Popular Resistance website.
I also think it would be a big mistake to ignore the power of personal relationships and how influential each one of can be over time if we are patient and respectful of others.
I have a very close friend who is well-educated, very political, and a die-hard Libertarian. Since I am a Socialist, you can imagine some of the very animated debates that occur between us. Let’s face it, we both subscribe to opposing political (and economic) ideals that are quite radical to existing norms.
We both made a commitment to each other very early in our friendship. We promised to learn the facts of the political and economic platforms of each others parties … the Libertarian Party and the Socialist Party - USA. We would base our arguments around the the facts of the political platforms … not rhetoric or hearsay. Both of us have always kept in mind that our friendship was/is far more important than our personal opinions and politics.
This was an absolute chore for both of us. It took me three days to get through and attempt to rationally understand the platform of the Libertarian Party. I would get so pissed off that I couldn’t proceed without a cooling-off period. On his part, he spent 28 straight hours learning and digesting the platform of the Socialist Party - USA.
Before we began seriously debating issues we did not agree on, we discussed a common component of both platforms – antiwar and anti-imperialism.
Over the course of over a year, we have had many opposing views that led to rather active and heated debates. However, we each present our opinions and positions with supporting documentation from reputable sources.
Over the last month, he made two comments that acknowledged the accuracy and truth of socialist positions regarding the tyrannical abuses of capitalism. In fact, he was victimized by capitalism’s inherent exploitative nature a few days ago that served a “moment of truth”.
The moral of this story (if there really is one) is that each one of us can make a difference on a personal level. A personalized influential action and discussion can have as much affect on one individual as an in-your-face, radical protest.
The important thing is be active and involved. Contrary to what some of us may believe, posting on Internet websites is not the type of involvement and activity that will affect change.
Perhaps socialists should post on libertarian websites and vis. Otherwise it’s preaching to the choir
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wonderful post, brother/sister. wish you an excellent new year upcoming and one step closer to liberation.
I agree about relationships, tho. Most of my friends are old friends, and we’ve all changed a bit over the years as is natural. They’re still largely liberal Democrats, and I still have some absolutely reactionary friends that are dear to me. If I had a political litmus test for my relationships, I’d be in deep sh*t!
except that it’s not. the volume of red-baiting here has increased considerably since full election mode was entered. It would appear that we’re still very much needed here to reach left-liberals who are still shakily committed to capitalism. They lose that, they become us. So no, we’re where we need to be online wise.
Please refer to the article below that clearly presents the global destruction caused by capitalism in 2015 and projections for 2016. The ugly facts should convince all that there has to be a better political and economic system!
Happy New Year! I wish all of you a prosperous and peaceful 2016.
it’s a hard sell as you know. our conditioning is stronger in capitalism as Americans (and most Europeans) than anything else, including democracy etc. A student once asked me why I “converted” (they used that word! lol) to socialism, and I told them that it was, interestingly enough, my experience as a soldier in the US Army for over a decade that did it. they looked really confused!
So I explained: well, of all the institutions and organizations I’ve worked for (up until that point) the Army was by far the most socialist of them all. And it was also the most efficient, even with the standard procurement graft taken into account. Equipment was pooled and distributed on an as needed basis. Health care was available at all times. Shelter, food, etc. all taken care of. And the result of that system allowed the rest of us to not devote any time to worrying about anything other than our missions and our jobs. Imagine if that were writ large! How creative we could be. How amazing this species would be without the constant fear and distraction of just securing the basics of life itself. To instead use all of that time, without fear, to get better and improve. To create and dream and inspire! What a world we could have, and the saddest part is, that the basic model is right beneath the nose of an entire country.
Does it matter if it’s capitalism or socialism as long as it is democracy?
The operative word is “ACTING like a member of the modern human species”.
His first phone call with Obama was to assure him that Trudeau was gunning for TPP, an action that will hurt Canadians even more than it will hurt Murkins.
Perhaps he is as good an actor as Raygun and Trump ?
Are you serious? Of course it matters! Democracy has material requirements in order to function, and near-equality is one of them. You cannot have political equality with people who are essentially your masters in every other area of life. In fact, ultimately, the only large system that can be compatible with democracy is socialism. That’s why I eventually embraced it after beginning life as a Nixonian republican!
There’s lots of good reading you may want to consider doing on these subjects before trying to discuss them. It’s you choice, obviously, but it will dramatically improve your knowledge base and hence your contributions here or anywhere else you communicate. This is stuff you probably should know.
One of the biggest ways we can fight global warming and becoming a sustainable planet and society is by implementing the principles of a “steady state” economy as presented by the World Socialist Movement.
Additional information on a steady state society.
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Lots of folks revisiting steady state theory and trying to reconcile the old theory with the flux of technological innovation, which was a huge thorn in the original theory. Since the core of a steady state is an incredibly precise understanding of carrying capacity, anything that changes that capacity messes up the formula. And to keep up, you’d need a vast bureaucracy of technocrats rivaling that of Seldon’s psychohistorian bureau in his Foundation series.
I’m old enough to remember when this theory popped up as a result of the Club of Rome report(s) and was promptly trounced, and rightfully so at the time. It was essentially warmed-over Malthusianism.
But clearly we have a growth problem and no real economic system we can transition to from the industrial age right now without overreacting and going full luddite or full throttle destroy the planet and hope technology saves the day.
So I’m taking the long way to say there’s some new intriguing approaches to an old idea but I’m not sold yet. Until the ‘power problem’ is solved in the theory, it’s unlikely this would work. (power problem in the human sense, not the literal energy sense)
Some form of eco-socialism is our best bet as far as I can see but what form that should ultimately take is going to be hotly contested for awhile. So many good ideas out there! RIght now, we just need to get into position for those discussions to actually matter.
Both socialism and libertarianism are based on idealism. Libertarians are laissez-faire capitalists who think that when people act out of rational self-interest, the invisible hand of the free market will produce the best results. But when humans act out of rational self-interest, the result is “selfishness is a virtue” (Ayn Rand, the high priestess of laissez-faire capitalism) and “greed is good” (Gordon Gekko in the movie “Wall Street”).
Socialists are as idealistic as the first Christians. “All whose faith had drawn them together held everything in common: they would sell their property and possessions and make a general distribution as the need of each required.” (Acts 2: 44-45) The American Socialist Eugene Debs thought he could overthrow capitalism by a vote of the people. He never got more than a million votes when he ran for president many times.
Shakespeare said it best: “A plague on both your houses.”
I think the pragmatic approach of two conservatives works best.
Otto von Bismarck, the very conservative Chancellor of Germany said: “Either the government will produce social welfare programs or the socialists will take over the government.” The social democrats (what Bernie Sanders calls himself) produced all kinds of social welfare programs 50 years before FDR came up with Social Security and we didn’t get Medicare in this country until LBJ was president,
The Republican President Teddy Roosevelt was so outraged by the concentration of wealth in a few hands that results from laissez-faire capitalism, that he proposed steeply graduated income and inheritance taxes to redistribute the wealth.
Did you read the article? It is hardly a criticism of capitalism (a market-based economy instead of a planned economy). Capitalism is an idea. If global destruction is going to happen, then it will happen because of how humans behave.
“While the IMF chose not to make the connection, this figure points to a basic feature of the global capitalist crisis—the enormous growth of speculation and parasitism.”
The crisis of capitalism is a crisis of human behavior. Capitalism doesn’t produce speculation and parasitism, humans are quite capable of this behavior in any economic system.
The problem with capitalism is that it is predicated on humans acting out of rational self-interest and the market producing the best outcomes.
Behavioral economists have actually tested this hypothesis (that humans are rational economic actors) and found that when it comes to money, humans are as irrational as they are when it comes to sex. There is even a biological basis for this observation. The same pleasure centers in the brain that motivate humans to seek out sexual partners also motivate humans to seek out money.
With regard to the notion that the invisible hand of the market always produces good outcomes, Alan Greenspan testified before Congress after the economic debacle in 2008. He was asked why the invisible hand of the market did not prevent the irrational greed on Wall Street that caused the housing bubble in the first place. His answer: “There must be a flaw in the theory.” A FLAW! Is the pope Catholic?
We know that capitalism results in the concentration of wealth in a few hands. This is because capitalism is based on selfishness (“selfishness is a virtue,” Ayn Rand, the high priestess of laissez-faire capitalism).
The problem with wealth concentration in a few hands is that it destroys democracy. “You can either have concentration of wealth in a few hands or you can have democracy, but you can’t have both.” (Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis)
Before the Industrial Revolution, the carbon cycle was a steady state. This means that the carbon dioxide concentration of the atmosphere neither increased nor decreased because the amount of carbon dioxide removed by photosynthesis was equal to the amount of carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by respiration. The Industrial Revolution upset this steady state because humans discovered they could dig up fossil fuels and burn them as a source of energy. This added carbon dioxide to the atmosphere that should not be there (the carbon in fossil fuels is not cycling because it is sequestered deep in the earth).
This was a good news/bad news scenario. Fossil fuels resulted in industrialization and economic growth. Industrialization and the emancipation of women resulted in decreased birth rates, meaning Malthus was wrong about exponential population growth. But Industrialization caused global warming by adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
All those third world countries would benefit from industrialization, but the whole world is negatively affected by global warming.
When I used to be employed (I am now retired), I loved to get a raise every year because this would improve my standard of living. But to do this there has to be economic growth. So, it is easy to say we should have a steady state economy just as it is easy to say we should have a steady state carbon cycle, but the problem is that industrialization and economic growth provide many benefits that many people are not willing to part with.