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We Can Reimagine and Reinvent Our Society in 2018


#1

We Can Reimagine and Reinvent Our Society in 2018

Sarah van Gelder

Let’s say goodbye to top-down revolutions and embrace grassroots action.

“Leaving behind the illusion that we can fix a broken system frees us to work for genuine change.” (Photo: Jakob Owens/Unsplash)

#2

This country and its laws are set up to protect property owners and commerce, not citizens nor the environment. As more and more people become aware of the need for sustainability and protection of the ecosystem, they are finding that the current legal system works against them. The people of this country have fought for a single payer health care system, for accountability by the perpetrators of fraud such as the 2008 banking fiasco, and a myriad of other issues. To no avail. Cities have voted to ban fracking and oil pipelines, states have voted to require GMO labeling and curb political spending only to be told that they do not have the right to do so.

As our Declaration of Independence states, it is therefore time to act. We must enact laws that mirror the interests of the people. This can only be done at the local level. The first step is to enact laws stating our rights and the rights of the environment – or our right to a healthy environment, if you prefer to word it that way. When higher levels of government claim that we do not have the right to do so, we must insist that we do indeed have that right, especially since they, the higher governments, have failed to protect those rights.

Then the dispute ends up in court where corporations believe they will always win because they have the money. Money to hire a myriad of lawyers. Money to stall the process. Money to use the system to make it too expensive for us. We will need to raise funds, join forces, find solutions. The good thing is that as they battle us and claim that they have more rights than we do and more rights than the environment, then the one sided nature of the entire system becomes more and more evident. They do not have fundamental rights to back up their claims, only a house of cards of laws and legal interpretations. When one comes back to basic rights, those belong to ‘we, the people.’

First, we must declare those rights, re-affirm them, and then defend them. This work is currently taking place in communities across the nation, much of it with help from Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.

I recommend looking into this group and supporting them and asking for their help in joining this group of self affirming communities.


#3

Actually I believe we could do this at the federal level at the same time. Our democracy is broken. Even the amendment process is one which asks the corrupt government to fix the corruption. Ain’t gonna happen. Congress won’t pass any amendment that reduces their power. A Constitutional Convention is also not an option since it would be commandeered by the powerful, held behind closed doors, and destroy more than it would improve (if anything.) It could be ratified by state legislators against the wishes of the people.

We need to tackle the corruption itself, which is at the root of all our problems, not just the thousands upon thousands of injustices that are symptomatic of it.

So, imho, we need to emulate our founding fathers and redeclare that WE have the right to have the government of OUR choice. Then write a bunch of amendments to end corruption, gather signatures, hold a vote, present the results to the Congress and force them to certify those passed amendments as a legitimate part of the Constitution. Or use some other brainstormed route. This would require massive activism, but people on all sides are fed up with the corruption, I don’t see a problem doing this. Leastways, not once a group of experienced organizers push for it.

Does anyone want to join me in pursuing this idea?


#4

The business mantra is that capitalism must be competitive for it to work. I believe this is a lie and is intentionally misleading in order to limit access to resources, justify the raping of resources, and exacerbate wealth inequality. I think what we need is a cooperative economy. There are historical examples of cooperative economies. Of course though, they tend to get bludgeoned to death by the practitioners of competitive capitalism because cheaters never play fair. We need everyone to play fair and cooperate. Just leaving it to the free market has created the problems we now face. We need democratic discourse to develop and maintain a cooperative economy.


#5

The commonality that We the People must coalesce around is a complete rejection of Corporate Rule, which is and has been accomplished by the parties of the Duopoly for many decades.

As is most abundantly clear now, both parties Establishment are pathological liars and thieves.

Unless this one simple fact isn’t embraced by the people of America soon, the battle for our independence from Corporate Rule may be much more bloody.


#6

Yes but the only problems with this is that the majority of 99% is oblivious to the fact that rights are being taken away daily. Many of them have semi comfortable lives and the ones that don’t are working 2 or 3 jobs to keep a roof over head and food on the table for the family which allows them not time to get involved.

I am 71 years old and fought some of these battles in mid 60’s and early 70’s and made a lot of good change that has been torn up and discarded by Reagan, Bush, Clinton, GWB and Obama.

I do appreciate reminder it all starts locally and even though my state and city is pretty progressive there remains work to be done to keep it that way and better.


#7

As stated in my post below I am 71 and was lucky enough to work for decent corporations that treated me well, good wages, some retirement. And many people in my age group feel the same and don’t see into the corruption/tax evasion of these corporate crooks. I’ve been out of corporate world for over 25 years but went into real estate when it was still a good investment for we the people but then in 80’s the Wall Streeters/investors took over the American Dream and resulted in 2008 crash. I did not like what Wall Street did to the American dream of owning their own home which beginning in 2000’s making homes really unaffordable. I retired.
So don’t count on my friends, acquaintences; they are wearing blinders.


#8

I heartily agree with the author and comments to the effect that the only way to now effectively realize change is though strong local movements. Our pay-to-play political system makes change at the state or federal level beyond the reach of most of us. It’s time to acknowledge the truth of what Chis Hedges says, namely, that this is a nation in terminal decline. It’s not sustainable.

I see the rise of the sanctuary cities in the future, city states and local enclaves that defy the rule of both state and federal control. It’s already begun. I probably won’t live to see the total collapse of the system, but my children or grandchildren likely will. A very uncertain and likely dangerous future, to be sure, given that those in power never surrender it without a fight, but but it’s coming.


#9

I get it, I do, I really do, as per the philosophy of “local” action, and community building.

However…

The cat is so far out of the bag, that distance renders such notions quaint. Where is the accounting for the sad FACT that the US has in place RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE a system of surveillance that builds a database on each and every citizen. That database, in combination with live surveillance capabilities from a federal level down to the “local” level, gives the Corporate State and it’s local militarized police branch unassailable power to map such “community building”, and thus counter it.

That countering can be in the form of tipping off corporate spies, capturing every cell phone for surveillance at any planned meeting by the local grown police force hooked up to a fusion center coordinated by Corporate State owned DHS,etc. Why be paranoid?

The personal bonds, the community building of “natural” people with their “natural” causes are no threat whatsoever to the Corporate State. Zip, zilch, nada.

As soon as any movement seriously challenges the Corporate State, any “local” individual, determined to possess leadership qualities and truly revolutionary ideas calling for activism will be tracked and ultimately countered by the Corporate State.

It is also quaint to on the one hand take solace in the local community and imagine that such action is “grassroots revolutionary” yet on the other hand not even acknowledge that globalist capitalism doesn’t give a flying cluck about such tiny blips of activism.

I’m talking scale and the perspective of a Corporate State. I’m not criticizing the author’s ideas and philosophy for the long run. I’m just saying that for the long run perspective you better acknowledge just how long the run is and acknowledge that mountain between what you envision and what is actually possible.

Ignoring the FACT that this country is already in full blown fascism doesn’t help any cause that would seek to upend it. But maybe this author doesn’t yet realize the currently unassailable power arrayed against any movement that goes against the Corporate State which has been FIRMLY established in this country.

I commend the author for her suggestions of getting involved in the community, and to affect change at a local level. I get it and agree.

I just don’t share the optimism. It is not justified. I’m not embracing nihilism here as I very much believe in such local action, community building, etc.

But at the same time, there is that elephant standing in the room and blocking the door.


#10

Saltyr, you put in words the commonly held viewpoint very well. But like Gelder’s article, completely miss centrally important elements that can rein in corporate business interests enough to direct their resources toward environmental conservation and sustainable economies. In the process, they can be held accountable for past abuse of power. Consider the following:

Among the best reasons to justify fleet conversion to EVs are their ability to serve as back-up household power supply in emergency grid failure, their suitable match to rooftop solar energy storage, this combined compatibility with regional utility grids, their means to more closely monitor and reduce household energy consumption, the choice they offer to use energy for household or for driving, whereby more trips become possible without having to drive, and alternate travel modes (mass transit, walking, bicycling) receive due investment. That’s 7 major reasons to convert to EVs that don’t get the least consideration.

Meanwhile, self-driving car technology will 1) will not be safe, 2) will not reduce traffic congestion, 3) will not reduce travel-related costs, 4) will not reduce fuel/energy consumption nor, 5) CO2 emission sufficient to deter the impact of catastrophic climate change. This short list of motor vehicle technology advancement can suffice but could go on at length detailing many important advantages and benefits that dispel the dubious notion of self-driving cars ever becoming reality. I’ll finish with one seemingly contradictory point: Plug-in hybrid PHEVs have more potential to reduce fuel/energy consumption and traffic congestion than all-battery BEVs.

This treatise on EVs and self-driving cars pulls the rug out from under corporate interests who are deceitfully delaying wholesale conversion to EVs and requires their cooperation to make a giant step forward happen.


#11

Let’s start with proposing higher taxes on the very wealthy to pay for a “big-time” increase in the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (as proposed by Warren Buffett) to give working Americans a living wage.

And, then, a revenue-neutral carbon tax to price carbon fuels appropriately to spur conservation and the move to sustainable fuels.


#12

One thing that states and localities can do is to improve our democracy by turning to a better voting system. You can see how this can work in this series of short articles.


#13

I agree, Mossonarock!
And I’m a student of one such cooperative economy - the Mormons in the 1860s and 1870s made phenomenal progress on creating a cooperative economy. One community, Brigham City, achieved “85% self-sufficiency”, 100% employment, and even built homes for all the widows in their community. Every worker in the town worked for one of 40+ local co-ops. During the 1872 world-wide depression, they had their best year ever!

The Mormon leaders also created the Zion Central Board of Trade which used the wisdom of successful businessmen to help assess unmet economic needs in their respective communities, then establish cooperatives to fill those needs and provide honorable work for their less economically-gifted neighbors.

Sadly, because of economic, religious, and political pressure groups, the Mormons were forced by the US Government to shut it all down in the mid-1880s. :frowning:

I’m working to revive that cooperative economy among the LDS (ie. Mormon) community.
Here’s my website: http://ZionBuilders.org (“Zion” is the Mormon word for the egalitarian, cooperative society that God wants his children to enjoy here on Earth, but which we all prevent by our greed and materialism).


#14

I for the most part felt this article was honest but much too murky with the recourse required for change. As a long time supporter here I am an unabashed egalitarian communist. I am a 48 year member of the Progressive Labor Party. All my life experience in the trenches of class struggle from my days as a university student at Stony Brook during the Vietnam War, to my many arrests and imprisonment for 214 day stretch, to many community battles against racist police terror, and my 30 year class struggle as a leader of hospital workers in a large community New York hospital have shaped my conviction that only a bloody violent revolution of the working class both here and internationally will affect the changes to save humanity from the genocidal capitalist system…It would be nice if it could be otherwise, but history suggests that non-violent struggles always lose. Everyone points to Gandhi and MLK but they failed. India is still a morass of extreme poverty for 1 billion of Indias 1.4 billion population and racist exploitation of Black, Latin, and Asian workers is worse today than it was in 1964. As a matter of fact the average white worker also is worse off today than in 1964. The oil-dominated US imperialists have put us at war for 16 consecutive years and the wars for oil and the resultant militarized state have bankrupted our class, stealing most of the wealth we have produced and put us in a state of environmental genocide. The genocide in Yemen is the worst humanitarian crisis of the century.The support by both the Democratic and Republican Parties of the racist Zionist regime in Israel has unleashed unbridled fascism on Palestinian workers both in the occupied territories and created a within Israel second and third class citizens of African Jews and Palestinians alike. Most of us with a moral compass know the problems. But the solution means all of us must take personal responsibility to be effective agents of change. There is little we can do as isolated individuals but a whole lot we can do when we work collectively to rebuild the labor and anti-racist movements with a revolutionary outlook. This is building a base for revolution in our workplaces and communities. It is a daunting task and can NOT be accomplished overnight. But as sure as if you continue to heat water on the stove it will eventually reach a qualitative state of change from water to steam, if we do the groundwork quantity will change into quality. That is what dialectical materialism is about. We do not go out and throw bombs like the Weatherman and other terrorists have done. No we organize the masses as they are the force that changes history. Crisis, world war, and fascism are on the rise. Capitalism is always good breeding ground for these trends. We must not make the same mistake as the Left did in the great depression and WWII. We can NOT ally with the capitalist class as the reds in this country did with Roosevelt and Stalin did on an international level. We can turn the coming global war into a funeral for capitalism. That is because it is workers who fight their wars, and their families and comrades who suffer the consequences. Reform can not change the world it can only put a bandaid on a cancer. Have faith in our class. Trust your coworkers and fellow community members. Above all, build a base for egalitarian revolution and intensified class struggle among those who work beside you and it will pay off over time. This is the essence of what resistance means. That is what the partisanos in Italy did under the yolk of Mussolini and Hitler. That is what the revolutionaries did in Russia for 25 years until the victory of the October Revolution. We have been disarmed in this country and elsewhere by the notion that that revolution should not been made. In spite of all the failures of the first communists in Russia it was a beacon for change in the world. That revolution brought full employment, free education that was superior to anything we have today in the US, free healthcare . It did NOT go far enough. Privilege was not abolished and that led to communist party officials making significantly more than the average worker. Wages should have been abolished from day one and a system based on distribution based on need alone should have been implemented. That we can learn from hindsight or what some call historical materialism. So we, as a class, can not afford to throw the baby out with the dirty bath water. Communism is what we need and we should learn from both the accomplishments and failures of the first workers revolution in the history of the world how to construct an egalitarian world. Please feel free to see www.plp.org for more information. I wish you all a great year ahead for construction of the movement for positive change for the international working class.


#15

I recommend looking to the 9th Amendment for a constitutional basis for officially recognizing citizens’ rights beyond the eight listed in the BoR and the following amendments. We need to press forward on every front, utilizing the 9th as one of our main springboards. Until now the 9th has languished in relative obscurity. On the legal front, we need to bombard the courts with 9th Amendment challenges/rationales for recognizing our rights.

Since serious change of a democratic sort seems to be closed off from us in DC, I agree that we must start locally, but start locally with national issues. The old trope about “Think nationally but act locally” told too many of us to ignore the national scene. The 1% thought and acted nationally in the vacuum our absence created. Yeah, we still acted socially on the national stage. But economically we were mostly a dim memory. Only a very few of us tried to keep the economic issues front and center, and we were way too few. Pres. Clinton was a disaster. Leaders O’Neil, Gephart and Pelosi have been disasters. Leader Reid was and Schumer will be a disaster. Way too many of us were satisfied that they were not Republicans We cannot repeat that.

It’s time to talk to our neighbors. It’s time to mobilize our neighbors. We have a few hot button issues, and the right-wing puppets are determined to give us more. The movement, for national change and renewal has to start at home. Onward!

It’s Time, NOW!


#16

We can look to the Spanish co-op network, Mondragon, and the Italian co-ops as well as those that thrived in the former Yugoslavia for successful examples.

Capitalism claims that it thrives because of internal competition. But that is not what capitalism creates. Capitalism despises competition and constantly works to eliminate it. Once it achieves that, it arrives at its logical conclusions: First, monopoly, and Second corporatism, AKA fascism.


#17

Welcome to the real world, Sarah. The woo-woo Polyana bilge cost us a lot of years and a lot of the life system. Nonetheless, it’s wonderful to have you on this side of reality, real reality. You are iconic to the woo-woo Polyana crowd, and, with any luck at all, people can stop acting like those who want to kill the life system have the right to do that. That’s not real reality.

This is not an enemy we can show compassion for. That’s the camel’s nose under the tent. At bottom, the enemy is an ideology, capitalism, and an entity, the corporation, both sociopathic lapdogs of the “rich and well-born,” as James Madison, a slave owner and sole author of the Constitution, called himself and his cohort. The Constitiution was written while the intelligentsia was still in love with the new ideology of capitalism, so we got legal slavery and corporate oppression all at once, in the most regressive governing document on this planet, perhaps this universe.

If we finally stomp these misanthropic poop-heads next time we get them down instead of letting them up again, we can strip corporations of the rights of corporations and stop the rich from hiding their evil deeds behind a creation of the state.

After the Nixons and Reagans of the country started shooting us in 1970 for exercising our Constitutional rights, we got out of their way and handed a corporatist hyper-minority the keys to the country, and this is where that goes. As some smart person said, it’s not rocket science. It’s the willingness to see what’s before our eyes rather than buying into someone else’s propaganda.

No matter what we do, the planet now rejects our species, because it’s smarter than we give it credit for, but it’s rejecting our entire species instead of rejecting only The Problem: western culture, the one that holds itself above nature and attempts to control nature, like Descartes said we could. Well, Descartes could dissect a live and fully conscious animal and swear it felt no pain. That’s the intellectual foundation of western culture, but it’s clever enough to hide among the innocent, so the life system has to take down all of humanity. Western culture provides zero ecological usefulness. It fits the dictionary definition of a parasite. It’s killing the host, but the host is now fighting back, and I’m on the host’s side. Nonetheless, it will be Hell on Earth because the fossil fuel industries, who knew about global warming in 1958 when none other than William Teller, the father of the atomic bomb, told the API about it. 18th century physicists told the inventors of capitalism that it ended up here because the ideology said infinite growth was possible on a finite planet.

“Rock the Cradle,” a Susan Sarandon movie, showed Nelson Rockefeller, J. Randolf Hearst, and some steel baron financing Mussolini and getting priceless Italian art (that now hangs in NYC museums) in return. They believed in Mussolini’s corporatism (he invented the term, I suspect), and, combined with wanting the Gilded Age back, the propaganda war was on, with evangelical preachers leading the people into depravity. A Wall Street financier hatched up a plot to assassinate FDR and impose dictatorship in the US, but the General who he tried to hire told FDR and the thing was dropped. So it came around again and again, damaging the collective consciousness of the people each time.

White supremacy is what this corporatist dictatorship labeled the Trump administration hides behind. It’s clever, and it’s backed by a handful of billionaires, and it will take a helluva thing to pry their cold, dead hands off the people’s governments. It must be done, if we are to walk through the Hell on Earth these guys gave us in order to advance capital growth to the future the democracy of the Articles of Confederation promised.

Because slavery and genocide thrive today, in this best of all possible worlds, and they will get some of us who want to walk through what it takes to get to true democracy and regenerate common decency. More and more people are accepting the ascendance of slavery and genocide and calling the immoral unacceptable.

In case I need to say this, violence won’t work. The enemy has all the weapons and soldiers of the US government, and the soldier follow orders, just as they did in Nazi Germany.

I, too, favor local economies that feed our souls, and our common Soul, so we can get to what the people wanted in this country to begin with - but they didn’t want to protect slavery, so democracy became endangered and we got the Constitution.

Confucius said the first step in restoring the right was to call things by their right names. I believe that’s what I’ve just done. We’re in a helluva shape, worse than most know, but if we start telling the truth, as Sarah has done in her work, we can change our consciousness.

New College of California, where I got 3 degrees, said the 5-fold Path forward was healing, changing consciousness, resistance, alternatives, and building community. Richard Heinberg told the truth at New College and continues to do so. I’ve carried the knowledge of how screwed we are since 2001. If we can ignore how screwed we are and walk toward joining the life system as plain members half as good as we ignored our captivity by the corporatist hijack of the people’s government, we can get a decent start on a future worth living for our posterity. I believe that has to be our intention.


#18

 
DANGER!  DANGER, Will Robinson!!

Right wing Funny-Dementalists like Sessions, Pence & DeVos would LOVE a Constitutional Convention — Good-Bye First Amendment, Hello “Christian” Theocracy TOMORROW!   And the RePooplicans already control almost enough state legislatures to call one . . .

What we need is a new Magna Carta — not one that protects the Fat Cats from the Corruption of the King, but one that protects ‘We the People’ from the corruption of Fat Cats and their Korporations, a law with teeth
in it that can be enforced.


#19

We are in a gilded age fueled by slavery and genocide. The gilded age of the 18th century was followed by the sometime violent French Revolution which replaced absolute monarchies with republics and liberal democracies. The Russian and Spanish Revolutions resulted in fascistic regimes. I can not think of an example of a democratic result evolving from a violent revolution. The future is in the hands of the youth. It is unfortunate that they may need to restart the building of a co-operative world but I do wish that some lessons can learned from the study of history and mistakes.


#20

If DeVos & Co. get their wish – to destroy public education and turn our kids over to “christian” schools for brainwashing – the only history our youth will learn will be of the right-wing revisionist variety . . .