How do we build a movement?

Politely walking into pens set up by police, shaking our signs and gently dispersing will not build a movement serious about root-and-branch change. Even the more militant demonstrations, in which people — gasp! — actually take the streets in defiance of authorities, both legal and NGO, are far from sufficient.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t demonstrate. Nor is it to say that demonstrations aren’t important and necessary. They are. Demonstrations are important (including the semi-official large-scale walks in which government officials are moved to participate) because they signal popular anger, activate people by showing others that there are millions who think similarly, and serve as a potentially invaluable organizing tool.

Rally on Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg after the February Revolution of 1917 (Source: State museum of political history of Russia)

But demonstrations don’t, and can’t, change anything by themselves. They don’t touch the system and threaten no one in power. This is especially so when they are “one-off” events. Remember that it was only two autumns ago that an estimated 400,000 people marched through the streets of New York City in defense of the environment. There were street actions in the financial district the next day, ones that were permitted to go on for much the day because it would have been too embarrassing for the gentrification mayor, Bill de Blasio, the Obama of New York, to have openly suppressed it one day after he marched in the big Sunday stroll.

But, then — nothing. The energy generated by the march evaporated; it might as well not have happened. It didn’t help that march organizers raised no demands, much less attempted to connect global warming and environmental destruction with economic issues. Organizing a march simply to generate media attention is a dead-end strategy.

A steady crescendo of demonstrations and marches certainly are part of any serious movement. But petitioning leaders to do better for working people yields meager gains. There are structural issues here: When Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Jean Chrétien, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Francois Hollande, Gerhard Schröder, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Matteo Renzi and Alexis Tsipras follow the same path, then a condemnation of personality doesn’t provide explanations.

There are no saviors. We will have to save ourselves. And we won’t save ourselves without organization or commitment.

Fighting on all fronts

An unused tool does nothing. A tool used properly multiplies force. A serious movement needs a full toolbox and not simply one tool.

Such a toolbox can only be wielded by cohesive organizations welding together movements in broad alliances that provide scope for people with specific issues and oppressions to advance their goals simultaneous with rooting these in larger understandings of the structural causes of them and the systemic crises that must be tackled. The days of telling people that you need to wait your turn and, anyway, your oppression will be solved once we have a revolution need to be definitively over. On the other hand, splintering into a myriad of groups working only on specific issues in isolation from one another is a guarantee of ineffectiveness.

Nor is it necessary to choose between “identity politics” and “class politics.” We need to fight on all fronts, using both what is relevant from past struggles and new tactics and strategies reflecting contemporary understandings arising out of current conditions. Nor should it be an obligation to accept or reject organizational structures simply because they are old or new. There are vast gradations between those who believe we should just replicate whatever Vladimir Lenin did and those who believe we should spend three hours a night in open-air assemblies.

Women’s March of January 21, 2017, in Chicago (photo by Jonathan Eyler-Werve)

Practice without theory amounts to running around in circles with no effectiveness. Theory without practice is arm-chair pontificating. Only a synthesis of theory and practice can propel a movement forward to effective action. That synthesis does not fall out of the sky.

Theory derives from examining our experiences, both in our everyday lives and in movement work, and developing ideas out of these in opposition to the dominant propaganda — ideas that can be translated into concrete actions. Effective action, in turn, is impossible without organization.

In her thoughtful paper, “Ideas for the Struggle,” Marta Harnecker writes that the example of successful revolutions demonstrates that a “political instrument” capable of a national struggle and based on current, concrete conditions is essential. She argues that people who believe that strong organizations are something to be avoided because many parties of the past engaged in authoritarian or manipulative political practices should not be trapped in the past. She writes:

“I believe it is fundamental for us to overcome this subjective barrier and understand that when we refer to a political instrument, we are not thinking about any political instrument; we are dealing with a political instrument adjusted to the new times, an instrument that we must build together. … We are talking about understanding politics as the art of constructing a social and political force capable of changing the correlation of force in favor of the popular movement, to make possible in the future what today appears impossible. We have to think of politics as the art of constructing forces. We have to overcome the old and deeply-rooted mistake of trying to build a political force without building a social force.”

Changing the world means taking power

We can ignore the state all we want; the state will not ignore us if we mount any challenge to present-day orthodoxy. Nor will the new age concept of “changing ourselves” lead to any social change. If we want a better world, that entails eventually taking power. As Vivek Chibber recently put it at the “Global Resistance in the Neoliberal University” conference: “A politics that doesn’t try to take power isn’t politics — it’s just talking.”

The task, however, not only is immense but must be conducted on multiple levels, Ms. Harnecker writes:

“[W]e must develop a process of popular construction opposed to capitalism in the territories and spaces won by the left, that seeks to break with the profit logic and the relations this imposes and tries to instill solidarity-based humanist logics. We must promote struggles that are not limited to simple economic demands — although these need to be included — but that advance the development of a more global, social project that encourages authentic levels of power from the grassroots.”

And what form should a “political instrument” take? These need not take any specific form — and in pluralistic societies are likely to encompass multiple forms. Yet if building an effective movement that is sustainable, institutionalizes memory through integrating past experiences and aims toward a transformation of society, a party is necessary, argues Jodi Dean. In her 2016 book Crowds and Party, she argues that Leftists who want to create a better world have to get past their criticisms of the party form, and not become trapped in their own self-critique or allow critiques of specific parties to become a universal rejection of the party form.

This argument is made in the context of analyzing why Occupy so quickly dissipated. The birth of a movement such as Occupy should represent a beginning, not an end. A spontaneous outburst of popular action, such as Occupy, is often seen as an end in itself. Such spontaneity needs a permanent form for meeting the challenge of maintaining a movement. Professor Dean argues that those who mistake an opening for the end,

“treat organization, administration, and legislation as a failure of revolution, a return of impermissible domination and hierarchy rather than as effects and arrangements of power, rather than as attributes of the success of a political intervention. The politics of the beautiful moment is no politics at all. Politics combines the opening with direction, with the insertion of the crowd disruption into a sequence or process that pushes one way or another. There is no politics until a meaning is announced and the struggle over this meaning begins.”

New forms of organization

This does not mean a party is the only organizational form. Nor does it have to mean that a single party will, or can, express the full range of demands of a broad movement or represent all shades of opinion, especially given the divide that will likely persist for some time between those who begin with a goal of fundamental transformation and those who advocate reforms. Given the pluralism of most countries, including all advanced capitalist countries (not to mention the complexity of modern life), the formation of multiple parties should be seen as healthy.

A successful movement will inevitably be a coalition; the political expressions of this should be coalitions as well. Popular-front types of organization, movement coalitions organized to achieve specific goals while allowing participating groups to express their particular perspectives, are forms likely to be necessary to create the sufficient scale of activists needed to effect advances.

A multitude of popular organizations, reflecting not only the differing sites of struggle but the necessarily different types of struggle, will come into being. These need not be permanent, although some will be. Self-organized councils or assemblies of workers sustaining an enterprise occupation or sit-in strike is but one form; neighborhood organizations uniting into bodies representing larger spaces of geography, advocacy groups and the creation of liberated zones are among others.

New types of unions could be still another form. Staughton Lynd, in his recently updated book Solidarity Unionism: Rebuilding the Labor Movement from Below, argues that present-day unions are “institutional dinosaurs, resembling nothing so much as the corporations we are striving to replace.” He advocates shop-floor committees that organize around grievances and problems rather than negotiating contracts and that use direct action, even in opposition to union leaders, and “parallel central labor bodies” that organize workers in a geographic region, across industries. New labor organizations should be built on solidarity, he writes:

“[B]y building organizations based on solidarity, rather than on bureaucratic chain-of-command, we build organizations that by their very existence help to bring a new kind of society into being.”

As with any other organization created to address specific problems, sustaining effectiveness will be impossible without linking the specific problems to other issues and in turn linking related issues to larger structural critiques. The enormous institutional advantages that industrialists and financiers possess through their ability to exert decisive influence over governments, their domination of the mass media, the disposal of police and military forces at their service, and ability to infuse their preferred ideologies through a web of institutions present enormous challenges. This is a hegemony that must be broken, and won’t be broken until a critical mass of people come to understand the excuses that buttress all this for the self-serving ideology that it is.

Breaking hegemony through alternative examples

Laurence Cox and Alf Gunvald Nilsen, in their 2014 book We Make Our Own History: Marxism and Social Movements in the Twilight of Neoliberalism, argue that the work of breaking this hegemony necessitates defeating the state, breaking up at least some power relations and instituting new ones, but doing so through the masses, not a vanguard.

Mural paintings in honor of Jecar Neghme of Chile’s MIR in the place where he was killed by the Pinochet government. (Credit: Ciberprofe)

As no movement, organization or leader has a monopoly of ideas, Professors Cox and Nilsen envision a “movement of movements”: The coming together of independent movements without the intention of submitting to the leadership of any single party or of privileging narrow definitions of working class interests. This necessitates not only learning from one another to increase the body of knowledge that can be drawn upon but also learning from the past. They write:

“These situations share a potential for human self-development to flourish beyond the normal limits set by exploitation, oppression, ignorance and isolation, creating institutions driven by human need rather than by profit and power. … These ‘everyday utopias’ do not need to be installed from above by decree; what they do need is a breaking of power relations within communities, workplaces, state institutions and globally, which stand in their way.”

Nothing of human creation lasts forever. Capitalism, despite the frantic scribblings of apologists for inequality, is no more immune from this than previous forms of economic and social relations. What will replace it is up to all of us. Given that infinite growth is impossible on a finite planet, that hard-won reforms are temporary in a system of massive and pervasive power imbalances, that no permanent solutions are available in a system that is dependent on its most powerful institutions (large corporations) being able to offload all responsibility for pollution and other social problems on society, and that inequality, endless growth, global warming and pollution are necessary byproducts for the system to function at all, limits will be reached.

If this is the last century of capitalism, what will replace it? It could be something worse — some combination of high-tech fascism imposed on feudal arrangements in which a minuscule minority uses extreme force to hoard the world’s dwindling resources for itself is not only not out of the question, but the likely response of a capitalist elite that will stop at nothing to maintain itself. In the continued absence of organized resistance across borders, that may well be the future. Or a better world can be created, through organized struggle, that is based on fulfilling human need within environmentally sustainable practices in which everybody has a say in how their enterprise functions and in larger political and social decisions.

One day, people have had enough

These words are being written on the 100th anniversary of the start of the February Revolution in Russia. Let’s take a moment to reflect on that momentous event, which toppled an absolute monarch who ruled as a direct representative of God and whose every word was indisputable law. A monarchy that had no hesitation in shooting down protestors in the hundreds or thousands, where the overwhelming majority lived in unspeakable poverty and illiteracy.

Women protest in St. Petersburg on International Women’s Day, 1917

More than 300,000 Petrograd workers took part in strikes during the seven weeks immediately preceding the February Revolution, during which time three major demonstrations were planned, and mutinies spread throughout the army. The tsarist régime responded with lockouts of factory workers, shootings of strikers by the police and army, and mass arrests.

But on one day in 1917 (March 8 in the Gregorian calendar not yet in use in Russia), tens of thousands of women textile workers in Petrograd (as St. Petersburg was then called) walked out. The women walked to nearby metal factories, told the men there to join them on strike, and both groups inspired workers in other factories to walk out. More struck the next day. The day after that, a general strike was under way in Petrograd, with demonstrators shouting anti-war and anti-monarchy slogans. Within a week, the tsar abdicated.

Years of tireless work paid off. As I wrote in my book It’s Not Over: Learning From the Socialist Experiment:

“One more strike, one additional action following hundreds of actions, one action that on the day it began did not seem noticeably different from previous actions, put the revolution in motion. Why this one? It is impossible to say. Perhaps all that can be said is that on that particular day, enough Russians, or at least enough Petrograd women and men, were sufficiently exasperated to do something about it. The February Revolution is an excellent example of the necessity of continuing to struggle: It is usually impossible to predict which spark will be the one to catch fire. The revolutionaries were surprised by the revolution, and perhaps that could not have been otherwise. But the revolution would not have happened without their work.”

Russians had ceased to believe the ideologies that kept their society in place. Similarly, our task today is to explode the mythologies that undergird our current world. This is a big task, but one that is indispensable, Henry Giroux writes:

“Central to a viable notion of ideological and structural transformation is a refusal of the mainstream politics of disconnect. In its place is a plea for broader social movements and a more comprehensive understanding of politics in order to connect the dots between, for instance, police brutality and mass incarceration, on the one hand, and the diverse crises producing massive poverty, the destruction of the welfare state, and the assaults on the environment, workers, young people and women. …

[P]rogressives must address the crucial challenge of producing cultural apparatuses such as alternative media, think tanks and social services in order to provide models of education that enhance the ability of individuals to make informed judgments, discriminate between evidence based arguments and opinions, and to provide theoretical and political frameworks for rethinking the relationship between the self and others based on notions of compassion, justice, and solidarity.”

And as a reminder that we need to take care of each other, because struggle is such hard work, it’s appropriate to offer a quote from Mark Fisher, who recently left this world all too prematurely:

“Emancipatory politics must always destroy the appearance of a ‘natural order,’ must reveal what is presented as necessary and inevitable to be a mere contingency, just as it must make what was previously deemed to be impossible seem attainable.”

Good words to remember, even if many of us won’t be around long enough to see a better world come into being. Struggle we must, regardless. I don’t wish for the following words to be reduced to cliché because they are uttered so often (including by me), but the choice for the future remains socialism or barbarism. Let us be worthy of our task.

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43 comments on “How do we build a movement?

  1. Nekto says:

    Dear Pete,

    Building a popular progressive movement requires enormous efforts, favorable social, economic, and political conditions, and some other factors, including education of masses about possible and feasible, at least theoretically, alternatives to the existing social order. Without this education it seems to be highly unlikely that any movement, even if it manages to get organized, can lead to positive and lasting results.

    Three following tasks could be immediately helpful, at least as a subject for consideration and debate, to the entire left community and the majority of socially active population in general. Actually, propagation of these tasks in different forms can greatly enhance social consciousness and make it more receptive to the ideas of socialism and communism as opposed to keynesianism or libertarianism.
    1. Theoretically, but scientifically, demonstrate that capitalism and any other form of social organization based on profit seeking, in principle, is unsustainable within a closed system, such as planet Earth, without periodic destruction of its material wealth and human population. And this destruction becomes increasingly severe and threatening the existence of the entire system as this social organization, such as capitalism, evolves. As a side note, the system that existed in the Soviet Union didn’t belong to this category, but whatever it’s called it lost competition with the version of “traditional” capitalism/imperialism existing at that time.
    2. Explain specific contradictions of the current version of capitalism/imperialism existing in the developed Western countries and show how their development can realistically result in collapse of this form of capitalism itself, the human society at large, and even the entire biosphere on our planet.
    3. Describe hypothetical alternative forms of production and social organization along with specific and theoretically feasible ways of their practical implementation in concrete circumstances of modern capitalist system.

    These three tasks performed in systematic, straightforward, and comprehensive manner at the level of an average Western person (not a scholar, academic, or even a college graduate) with maximum utilization of all possible sources of mass media (at least various on-line left sites, blogs, magazines, etc.) constitute massive theoretical assault on modern bourgeois ideology that dominates the worldviews of absolute majority of the world population. And your blog can certainly make a valuable contribution in such “theoretical actions”.

    All the best,
    Nekto

    • Greetings, Nekto. I agree wholeheartedly with all you have suggested. We really do have to break down the narrative of “there is no alternative.” Once people see concrete examples of something different and better, they are able to lose fear of the unknown.

      To your list, I would add the need to define what we mean by a better world if socialism is to be that better world. In other words, to explain that socialism means democratic control of the economy and politics; that we don’t have a replication of the Soviet Union in mind. Fortunately, for younger people, socialism is not the bogey it is for many older folks.

      We’ll only be able to fulfill the goals you have outlined through discussion and our own education; none of us can have all the answers. Fostering discussion and debate is the goal of this blog, for I can assure one and all that I don’t have all the answers myself.

      • Nekto says:

        Dear Pete,

        Thanks for a prompt reply. This is a reply to your comments. There is no question that these tasks are not trivial, and nobody expects you to give even a tentative answer, with exception of maybe #1, which is more or less straightforward. Actually, complexity and uncertainty increases exponentially from #1 to #3, and all of them are just preliminary theoretical prerequisites or necessary conditions for building a robust mass progressive movement. Actually, even before giving some answers, the importance and necessity of these tasks has to be realized by the left and progressives, which, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to be the case. And it is this that should be, first of all, the subject of progressive discussions and debates, which I don’t see anywhere on the horizon and would greatly appreciate if you dispel my ignorance in this matter. It might seem an overstatement, but IMHO without addressing these tasks any talks about some radical changes of the existing system of capitalism are just talks, which will never have any serious practical implications.

        Going back to your reply, the second paragraph about definition of a “better world”, etc. is included in task #3, which is a way down the road, and only some sketchy ideas can be realistically discussed. As a famous Russian proverb says, “Only a walker will cope with the road”. And we are only talkers so far. In relation to building a movement we, at best, can only talk about a walk. Therefore, building dream castles in the sky that some progressives do might be a rewarding in many respects, but not very helpful or useful business for the future of the humanity.

        Now back to your first paragraph. Actually, the whole purpose of the task #1 is to demonstrate that THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE TO AN ALTERNATIVE TO CAPITALISM. The pan intended. In two words, capitalism is simply not sustainable within a closed system, and it has already exhausted all the ways of expansion on our planet and has become both regressive and destructive. Hopefully, we are on the same page here. This topic has been discussed in great detail by many social activists, scientists, economists, sociologists, etc. This is not a new discovery. What needs to be done is to state it concisely and convincingly (there are certainly many places where it has been done) and literally embed it in the left discourse so it becomes common truth. And then it will be much easier to speak about some specific existing or tentative alternatives, which is task #3.

        Just briefly about task #2, which actually expands, develops, and elaborates #1. The book of David Harvey “17 Contradictions and the End of Capitalism”, even if one disagrees with some of its conclusions and recommendations, is a very good analysis of the modern economic and social system.

        If “people see concrete examples of something different and better”, it is certainly the best way to demonstrate something, but, unfortunately, at the present time they can only hear about some viable alternatives of existing social order, since we don’t have any such examples on the global (national) scale to point to. Even examples of European social democracies used quite successfully by Sanders are insufficient and actually inappropriate to use in conjunction with the Three Tasks. And a few examples of the cooperative movement, which Prof. Wolff is so optimistic about, are too small and immature to present a realistic alternative to capitalist enterprise and infrastructure.

        In conclusion, it seems like at the present time any mass progressive movement in Western developed countries can arise only if task #1 has been accomplished to a large extent by the work of progressive left writers, speakers, activists, and other socially active individuals.

        Best regards,
        Nekto

        • Sky Wanderer says:

          Nekto:

          Further to my former comment, I wish to add, my comment was not meant to contradict you. The way you formulated these tasks are eloquent and precise, maybe much more precise than the answers are, but, my point is, the answers are also there. Imho, no need to reinvent the wheel.

          As for the tasks #1 and #2, Marx himself, and a multitude of contemporary Marxist experts and thinkers, eg Dr. David Harvey, Dr Wolff, Dr Michael Hudson, etc provided ample material. Their work are so renowned by now that we considered them ‘semi-maintream’ by now. The brilliant contribution of Pete’s blog to their work, belongs to this line.

          On question #3, you mentioned prof Wolff’s contrinbution, and I would not dismiss it as immature or marginal. He does provide a detailed account on the Socialist, ie Democratic way to organise production. Pete posted extensively also on this question as well, moreover, as far as I know, he wrote a book.

          The 3 tasks you see as a prerequisite of mobilising society towards a novel direction come down to one single question: if we wish to live in democracy or in a dictatorship – as simple as that.

          There are no other alternatives. Capitalism as an economic system inevitably implies fascism as the political system to protect Capitalism (again, this needs no proof, as it has been proven both by history and the present developments)

          So the task is not to prove that a socialist system would be better than capitalism, since on the one hand Capitalism already amply proved to be a complete failure in economic terms and fascism as its political manifestation, on the other hand Socialism has never been realised in history – it is the only alternative left for mankind.

          The oft-heard argument against Socialism, according to which the ex-communist systems were a complete failure, is NOT an argument, since the Eastern bloc was in fact state Capitalism, NOT Socialism. And the political power to defend state Capitalism, Stalinism, was nothing but a version of fascism. Does this claim need “scientific” and comprehensive proof? I doubt it.

          Another post on my blog when I tackle the topic:
          https://globalpoliticalanalysis.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/rethinking-the-future-we-are-in-trouble-we-all-need-to-pull-together-on-this/

          As Pete pointed out, none of us has ‘the’ answer. But imo, actually we all do have the answer and it is in front of us.

          The premise we need to start from is the fact that yes, we want to live in a free and democratic society, that is in a system where the interests of the majority are observed and realised.

          Such goal requires an economically functional system in which the majority are involved in value-creation and those who are not, due to the given high level of technology, receive a regular basic income that corresponds to a living wage.
          To sustain such system we need a strong, transparent and accountable government to enforce democratic rule of law, to observe human rights as put forth by the UN, equality in front of law, etc, ie to put in practice all conditions of democracy.

          In other words, a functional and free society is possible to realise only through a democratic, that is pro-majority political system, and political democracy can’t exist without an economic system that provides equal opportunity to everyone. Economic democracy can indeed be realised by co-ops (championed by Dr Wolff), and via all the other goals that constitute a Socialist hence democratic system, such as free education, free healthcare and democratically supervised public banking.

          Will there be inequality and unemployment in such system? Certainly, but inequality will be minimal, and only those will be without activity who lack the talent and/or lack the will. In a Socialist system the idle part of society will NOT wreck either the economy or society. This stands in contrast with the Capitalist system, where those who refrain from productive work, the Capitalist parasites, are on the ‘top’, they dictate the majority and they wreck both economy and society. And what is happening at present, they introduce the fascist protection of the criminal system they wish to sustain.

          In the final analysis it is not hard to realise that the system to which there is NO alternative is Socialism.

          In Pete’s words, ‘the choice for the future remains socialism or barbarism.’

    • Sky Wanderer says:

      Nekto:

      Regarding the tasks you listed in above, you may want to notice that all of them have been completed on this blog.

      Maybe the answers are not served on a silver tray, ie not in one structured unit as you seem to require, and maybe they need to be discovered through the individual contribution of many of us. This should be sufficient in an era when we just barely start to realise how shockingly devastating this system is and how devastating it is becoming.

      On another point:
      You claim that “These three tasks performed in systematic, straightforward, and comprehensive manner at the level of an average Western person” and the tasks should be performed via one’s relying on mainstream media.
      As you are probably aware, the mainstream media is nothing but one giant mass of pro-Capitalist and pro-war propaganda (if you are unaware, please watch John Pilger’s documentary and speeches), hence what you demand is clearly impossible.

      Most importantly, contrary to your claims, the burden of proof is not on the side of the critics of Capitalism, but on those who claim that Capitalism is a functional system and that ‘there is no better alternative to such system’.

      The claim that there is no better alternative to the Capitalist system requires an especially strong proof, one that defies the empirical fact that Capitalism is behind the most devastating wars ever in history, and especially at present when Capitalism fails the 99% even in the Western regions, where the neoliberal version of Capitalism has been imposed by the Capitalist class.
      Meanwhile the 1% of course is getting richer and more powerful in the process, but that is a necessary outcome of the processes inherent in Capitalism. The only reasonable goals of anyone on the top of a system the essence of which is profit-making, ie of those who become winners in the profit-making process, is to stabilize their winning position, further maximise their profits, merge with or weaken their competitors and minimise the strength of all potential competition. It requires no further “scientific” proof to grasp this simple fact. This is no rocket-science.

      On the other hand, those who defend Capitalism as ‘the only alternative’, do face the impossible task to solve several other impossible tasks first – inter alia:

      1) How to disprove the very reality that Capitalism is a dysfunctional and destructive system to society, environment, real technological development and morality?
      2) How to disprove the well-founded theory, based on the unbeatable purest logic set forth by Marx, that Capitalism is intrinsically dysfunctional and destructive?
      3) How to overcome the contradiction that Capitalism is believed to be a functional system, whereas it is a system that functioned for the 99% only during a limited time of history, such as FDR’s New Deal, when regulations and heavy taxes for the rich limited the main driver of Capitalism, profit making?
      4) How to overcome the contradiction that Capitalism is believed to be a democratic system, whereas in practice Capitalism, if left to its own devices, is a system that provides opportunity only for a few – for those who own the Capital (hence Capitalism) – an opportunity that is taken away from the 99% by those who concentrate the largest Capital?

      Nevertheless, my blog contains many analyses in support of my comment.
      For example:
      “Rethinking the future beyond Left and Right: Capitalism, the inimical idol”
      https://globalpoliticalanalysis.wordpress.com/2016/02/07/pt2-rethinking-the-future-beyond-left-and-right-socialism-the-actual-road-to-freedom

  2. Ieva Zadina says:

    Pete, I agree with most of what you say but not with two things: that the PCM of 2014 may as well never have happened or that OWS simply dissipated. I constantly work with people who were profoundly moved by both events to go on to participate in numerous groups and organizations that are gradually (whether fast enough I cannot say) building a movement of movements.

    • Good to hear from you, Ieva. To clarify myself, I am grateful that the People’s Climate March happened (and that I participated), nor do I believe the PCM or Occupy had no effects. Certainly, groups that were created or inspired by Occupy continue to do good work. And if the PCM has inspired others to further environmental work, then that can only be a positive.

      My larger point, however, is that large sustainable organizations capable of carrying out work for long periods of time is necessary for us to have effectiveness, and neither a “one-off” event such as a demonstration with no follow-up nor occupations of public spaces with little strategic vision are capable of being the necessary organizations. That does not mean they should be considered a failure.

      They weren’t, not at all. And if the types of permanent organizations that provide a backbone for social movements arise out of the Climate March or Occupy — that is, if we use those experiences as learning opportunities — then they will have become successes and important building blocks in a long historical process. It is of course too early to make any judgment on this. Nonetheless, Jodi Dean’s point (based on her own participation as she recounts in her book) that the energy and inspiration generated by Occupy (or some other similar event) dissipates because there is no sustainable organization created is well worth pondering.

  3. […] Pete Dolack Guest Writer, Dandelion Salad Systemic Disorder March 9, […]

  4. Bob Zavoda says:

    “How do we build a movement?” Yes, with each other, by any loving and caring means! History teaches that ignorance is never rewarded, but we managed somehow to survive and sometimes thrive, until now.Today’s never-ending wars and the corporate experimentation with a greed-based marketplace has brought our 21st century to the brink of extinction. The movements 100 years ago in Petrograd were cake-walks, compared to the dismissed, planet-wide extinctions, that we carry in our collective subconsciousness, today – hardly on the minds of people, until recently, but woefully inadequate! Paraphrasing Neil Young’s lyrics on last year’s “Rebel Content Tour” with “Promise of the Real”: “People just want to hear about love”

    The two worst enemies of life itself today, are both ephemeral – unseeable and unknowable, unless explained. Without personal investigation outside the corporation claims that everything is all right!. The corporate-created “personhoods” have their “fingerprints” all over their smoking guns of Climate Change and of a pending Nuclear Nightmare, both generally known about, but still not frightened and pissed enough to react cogently! The recurring “thousand year” floods, that rotate with ubiquitous and humongous wildfires during severe regional droughts! The future foretells that the 450+ nuclear powerplants will not be decommissioned properly, will be abandoned, will never be properly dry-casked – but will be left, still smoldering, hundreds of millions of tons of spent fuel, left on its own for thousands of years – and YES! Escaping over time into the wild as virtualy immortal radioactive metallic nanoparticles. But I digress.

    So, it was severe, unsustainable working conditions for the people of Petrograd, Russia, that led to the critical mass for a mass rebellion. Today’s “house of corporate horrors”, is not so innocent. Yesteryear, we had one group enslaving another by lying, cheating, stealing and raping. Today we face extinction. This must be taught very soon, to as many as possible on every march, in all talks andallpolitical discussions and blogs. Knowing this horrific truth will compel a critical mass – my take anyway. Thanks Pete for your time last night on our “National People’s Agenda” conference call.

    Bob, editor of The Indy River Journal

    • Greetings, Bob. I wish I could disagree with your analysis of the magnitude of the problems humanity has created for itself, but I’d have to close my eyes to all the evidence around us. Yes, 100 years ago, the environment was sustaining damage, but nowhere the planetary emergency we face today. Not least is the nuclear waste you rightly bring up: How can it be possible to safely store ever rising amount of radioactive waste that will remain inimical to life for tens of thousands of years? What insanity.

  5. rzwarich says:

    Mr. Dolack:

    Thank you for this thoughtful essay. You present many interesting ideas, but I don’t think you really get to the root of it.

    The means of communication are the means of power. We can juggle all the jargon we want, in our discussions of ‘building a movement’, but if we do not address our relative lack of ability to communicate with the citizenry, our Adversary, who controls our nation’s mass media, will always prevail.

    Politics is a numbers game, and the numbers are VERY large. Playing by the ‘democracy’ version of the rules of this game, the object of the game is to get the most people on our side. In order to get people on our side, we must be able to communicate with them.

    Our Adversary communicates with virtually the entire population of the citizenry, for an average of almost 5 hours every single day.

    The power that these mass media impart to our Adversary is not merely the ability to foment propaganda and lies, (which is an IMMENSE degree of power in itself), it is the power to shape who people are. Their power lies in the programming they choose to present. In the commercial messages. Etc. Etc. They have the power to not merely control what people think, they control what people think about. They control not merely what people think about, they control what people WANT.

    Our task is no less daunting than to develop some means to compete successfully with the immense power of these mass media.

    If we fail in that task, we will simply fail, period. We will remain perpetually under the power of our Adversary, under the power of our nation’s Ruling Elites.

    I have been circulating an introduction to a plan for addressing this daunting task. I will copy the text of the introduction into a separate comment below. It is a proposal for building more than a mere ‘movement’. It is a proposal for building a truly democratic ORGANIZATION.

    I don’t have any way to post the organizational chart I ordinarily post with the introduction to the plan. If you (or anyone) would like to see it, please email me and I’ll send it along.

    Thank you again for this deeply thoughtful and eminently well-written essay.

    Raymond Zwarich
    Bent Birch Farm
    63 Webber Rd
    Brookfield, MA 01506
    774 449-8030
    rzwarich@gmail.com

    • Greetings, Mr. Zwarich. Your belief that learning to communicate with the general public is entirely justified. Indeed, learning how to do that effectively, in counter to the corporate media, is essential if we are to go anywhere. People have to believe there is a better alternative, one that speaks to their needs, before they will act.

      • rzwarich says:

        I do appreciate your sharing these thoughts, but it involves much more than ‘learning how’. In order to communicate with masses of people, you have to have channels through which to do so.

        We don’t have any such channels. Building them is the daunting task I mention above.

        Again, if you, (or anyone) is interested in seeing an introduction of a plan for doing so, please email me and I will send it along. I tried to post it, but the formatting got all screwy in the copy-paste transfer.

        RZ

        • Nekto says:

          The recent events in this country, such as Climate March, OWS, anti-Trump demonstrations, etc. show that whoever organized them did have the ways to communicate to tens and even hundreds of thousands. Take, for example, the regular speeches of Prof. Wolff (http://www.democracyatwork.info/). He’s been able to reach huge audience via YouTube. So, these days people in developed countries, if they are willing to, can be communicated to bypassing standard TV and radio channels. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to match the influence of MSM on the national level, but this should not be required for building a successful mass movement. Actually, as the history shows, only a few percent of active population is sufficient for any radical social transformation.

          Perhaps, the most important task for progressive left in this country is not HOW, but WHAT to communicate (please, see Three Tasks in the comment of Nekto above). It is very important to work out a shared agenda, strategy, and tactics of the progressive left movement that does have realistic short and long term objectives. A zillion of alternative websites and blogs does play some role in “alternative popular education”, but most of them don’t go beyond satisfying general curiosity and certainly don’t touch the fundamentals of the existing society in serious and systematic way.

          • rzwarich says:

            Many thanks to Netko, and to others, for their very thoughtful comments here. To respond first to Mr. Netko’s reply to me:

            Politics is a numbers game, and the numbers are VERY large. The object of the game is to get the most people on our side. To do that, we must communicate with them.

            Our efforts to communicate must compete with our Adversary’s efforts to do the same. If we think that communicating from time to time, sporadically, with “tens and even hundreds of thousands” is going to be adequate to ‘win the game’, when our Adversary communicates for several hours every day, with hundreds of millions, we are only fooling ourselves.

            The means of communications are the means of power.

            Your comment that “Actually, as the history shows, only a few percent of active population is sufficient for any radical social transformation” does not recognize the immense power of modern mass media. Such power has never before existed. I’m not really even sure what these historical examples you cite might be. It sure appears to me that many attempts at “social transformation” by a small vanguard have only resulted in temporary improvements in the short term, followed by dismal failures of varying degrees in the longer term..

            But I don’t think that arguing the particulars of these historical examples is very relevant to our current day predicament. The power of the mass media, as it has been developed since WW2, particularly since the advent of TV in the early 1950s, especially in the advanced capitalist nations, and most especially in he US, has put a degree of power in the hands of Ruling elites that has simply never before existed in all of History.

            The seductive power of HD TV, on a wide screen, in virtually every living room, has simply never before existed on Earth. The constant excited tone of the sound, the mesmerizing swirl of brilliant color and flashing lights, the glitter, the glamour, the promise of sexual gratification, the seductive passage of time in constant sensory stimulation. This is a degree of raw power that we are foolish not to recognize.

            This power does not merely consist of the ability to get masses of people to believe things, to believe a narrative of events, that are not true, (although that aspect of power is immense enough). It consists of the power to actually mold and shape people into willing compliance. The people who own and control these media not only have the power to control what people think and believe, they control what people think about. Worst of all they control what people WANT. In controlling human desire, they control who people ARE.

            I just don’t think historical examples, (which strike me as dubious in and of themselves), of a vanguard leading the masses to social transformation, is relevant to our predicament, with our Adversary in such firm control of our means of mass communications.

            This Adversary holds a degree of power that has never before existed. To defeat these Ruling Elites, we MUST attain an overpowering mandate. We must win not just a majority to our side, we must win an overwhelming majority to our side, (on the order of 70%, or even 80%, or more).

            In order to accomplish that, we MUST build channels through which we can communicate with the masses of the citizenry, with hundreds of millions of people.

            Your statement: “Of course, it’s nearly impossible to match the influence of MSM on the national level” strikes me as almost a statement of the complete futility of our cause. (I say “almost” in the same vein that you use the word “nearly”).

            If we do not find and/or build clear channels of direct communication with hundreds of millions of people, to compete with the mass media, then our cause will simply fail. If we are satisfied to occasionally communicate with “tens and even hundreds of thousands”, while our Adversary communicates EVERY day, for an average of five hours each day, with EVERY citizen, then we are just condemning ourselves to perpetual frustration and failure.

            Politics is a numbers game, and the numbers are VERY large.

            I would like to address Netko’s other very thoughtful remarks as well, and those of others, too, but will have to do so later. Another task is pressing. Until then….

            RZ

  6. rzwarich says:

    I have a few minutes to address some of the other important ideas which have been expressed by others here. It may not be enough time to adequately treat these subjects at hand, but I’ll cover whatever ground I can.

    I don’t believe that it is wise to use the terms ‘socialism’ and ‘capitalism’ unduly, (any more than we have to), in our own advocacy. Both are amorphous terms that even people who use them often do not seem to really understand. I believe that these words have been charged with so much highly emotionalized meaning, heavy with nuance and connotation, which does not necessarily coincide with their actual meaning, that they often engender miscommunication when we use them.

    I believe that we should rather present and confront various specific policies, both those we favor, and those we are against, without ascribing them as either ‘capitalist’ or ‘socialist’.

    Among the major policies to confront in our current system, for example, are the systems of capitalization and ownership, how our money is created, and by whom, how our banking system should be constructed, operated, and regulated, etc, etc.

    Perhaps the most important issue that must be confronted in our own current system is the legal nature, the rights, (and limits thereto), and the social responsibilities, of ‘the corporation’. Beyond even the crucially important issue of ‘corporate personhood’, are many other also crucially important issues related to corporations.

    Corporations, the amalgamation of capital, facilitate enormous degrees of creative human energy. The primary problem with corporations as they currently exist, is that they are actually required to be amoral. Their only concern is profit, because that is the way they are constructed. They could be constructed differently.

    Corporations are legal entities, created by government charter. It is already established that these entities are properly controlled by government. Government charters them, thus granting them the right to exist at all. Government can thus withhold, or take back, that right to exist. It is inherent in the legal logic of our current system that corporations are under direct government control, else they cannot exist at all.

    If we win control of government, we can therefore affect changes to the rules by which corporations are granted charters.

    A major aspect would be the manner in which corporations are currently allowed to own other corporations, with little restraint at all. (Our anti-trust laws are a joke). Webs of ownership are currently allowed to be created whose effect is to mystify ownership into indecipherable complexities, which serves corporate profits by evading what few social responsibilities are currently imposed.

    To give a concrete example, if one saw an abandoned property that one was interested in acquiring, and set about to find out who owns it, if the owner is a part of a corporate web, that task might be impossible without legal assistance, and even then the effort of doing so might require so much effort that it would be too expensive, in legal fees, to even do at all.

    Elevate that scenario to a taxing authority wanting to find out who is responsible for delinquent taxes, or other arrears, on that property. The taxing authority might be required to notify the owner before a property could be seized for back taxes, for example, but the task of finding out who owns the property might be more expensive than the taxes in arrears.

    There is no reason that corporations should be allowed to weave these webs of ownership, which they use to evade even the minimal social responsibilities that are placed on them. The rights of corporations to own other corporations can be strictly regulated and limited.

    Another area in which corporations can be affected is in the alteration of the terms and rules of corporate governance. Corporations are already at least quasi-democracies. The terms of corporate bylaws can be affected in such a way to make them more genuinely democratic.

    The terms could be altered, for example, to grant democratic rights to a corporations’ employees, not just to its owners (stockholders).

    The so-called ‘labor movement’ has been reduced to a dinosaur of history, largely by the vagaries of human nature in the people who gained power in unions. Unions became anti-democratic fiefdoms in the service of their officers and bureaucrats, rather than organizations guarding the rights of union members. This has steadily brought about an erosion in union power, to the point where union bureaucracies are now widely regarded as agents of corporate management whose responsibilities are to keep workers in line, under unfavorable contracts, (favorable to the corporations), and therefore under control.

    Rather than trying to rebuild this moribund ‘movement’, better to politically address the rights of workers at the source, in the corporate charter itself.

    Corporate charters could be required to stipulate specific democratic rights of employees. For example, let’s never mind the mere ‘right to unionize’, let’s require that every corporation with more than a set number of employees, (whether 10, 25, 100 or whatever), be required to grant the rights to their employees to bargain collectively for wages, working conditions, and ALSO any corporate decisions that affect their welfare, (such as proposed plant closings, etc).

    Corporations could be required to provide meeting space for employee deliberations, and to provide salaries for the people who conduct the employees’ business as their representative.

    I’m just going through these things briefly, to give concrete examples of what I mean by dealing with specific policies, rather than presenting ourselves as “anti-capitalist”, a term that is essentially meaningless to most citizens. What does it even mean to be “anti-capitalist”?

    I believe that many of Nekto’s comments, although meaningful to me, and perhaps to others here, would essentially be meaningless to most citizens.

    When he writes:

    “….capitalism and any other form of social organization based on profit seeking, in principle, is unsustainable……”

    …it is not even clear to me how that relates to the specifics of human experience.

    People are motivated by self-interest. How does Nekto separate the concept of ‘self-interest’ from that of ‘profit’?

    People’s most powerful motivation is Desire. The desire in a young man’s heart to win the favor of the fairest lady that will have him, (and vice versa) is a force of nature, like gravity. There are few natural forces more powerful.

    People ‘want’ to ‘profit’ in a way that serves their opportunities to fulfill their desires.

    The major failure in ‘socialism’ is the erroneous assumption by socialists that they have the power to alter human nature.

    Marx’s famous edict, “From each according to her or his ability, to each according to her or his need”, is the very root of socialism’s failures. For those who are willing to ‘see’ the fallacy, it is easily understandable how such a poetically noble concept, as ‘socialism’, has always quickly devolved into totalitarianism. Is there a single exception in all of History?

    Other than in circumstances of great danger or deprivation, such as famine and/or warfare, people are just not primarily motivated by need. We are MUCH more powerfully motivated by Desire, by what we WANT.

    Socialists say they are going to be both democratic, and socialists. But when people vote, they vote for what they WANT, not what they need. Well….socialists can’t have that….that screws up the whole theory.

    So…immediately….out goes democracy. If the people insist on voting for what they want, rather than what they need, socialism can’t work. A choice must be made. Who makes it? The socialists. They do not come down on the side of democracy. If people insist on voting g for what they want, they must then be forced to accept what they need.

    I believe that the concept of True Democracy, a concept that promotes the concept that the function of democratic government is to guard and protect the Common Good, is all we need to accomplish the same ground that adherents to socialism advocate for.

    If poverty exists in a nation at all, then clearly that nation is not truly democratic, (assuming that prosperity is enjoyed by some), because clearly thre common good is not being properly guarded and protected.

    Where socialization best serves the Common Good, in health care, in infrastructure creation and maintenance, in many aspects of banking, in education, defense, law enforcement, food and energy distribution, etc, etc, then these functions should be socialized.

    Where free enterprise best serves the common Good, we should have free enterprise. Free enterprise must be well regulated, but there is nothing that serves human motivation more powerfully than the opportunity to run and ‘profit’ from one’s own energies in one’s own business.

    True Democracy is the vital key. Free enterprise cannot even exist without governance for the Common Good.

    In the Paradox of the Free Market, which Marx explained so well, every market is a competitive system. Thus there are winners and losers. The winners become stronger the losers weaker. The winners then win more, and so on.

    Soon every ‘free’ market becomes dominated by a small number of winners, an oligopoly. At that point the various winners begin to make deals with each other. Merging is more profitable than competing. So every ‘free market’ inevitably ends up dominated by monopolies. Free enterprise can no longer compete with the monopolies.

    Thus…every truly ‘free’ market soon destroys itself. To remain ‘free’, a market must be regulated. There lies the paradox.

    So….even ‘free enterprise’ must be ‘socialized’. It must be regulated to ameliorate competition in ways that serve the Common Good, to control value and prices through the natural competitive forces of supply and demand, while preventing the formation of stifling oligopolies and monopolies.

    True Democracy is the key. People MUST be able to vote for what they WANT. In order for True Democracy to exist, citizens must be enlightened to understand the entire system. They must be able to understand that voting for enlightened self-interest will ‘profit’ them more than voting selfishly for only their most selfish immediate gain.

    The problem is essentially the same as that faced by socialists. If the voters vote unwisely, then how shall True Democracy prevail? It’s our Gordian knot to unravel. Can a democracy consisting of a system of communications between citizens, through modern digital communications technology, facilitate True Democracy?

    ‘Profit’ will always remain a key element, however. What people WANT remains our most powerful motivation. We want to profit from our own energies.

    Anyway…..I’m sure I’ve bitten off far more here than I’ve been able to ‘chew’ with any meaningful success.

    There’s just so much ground to try to cover here…….

    Zwarich

  7. Kalvin says:

    As soon as you start choosing “leadership”, it marks the beginning of the end of any movement. People defer to leadership, the leadership is co-opted, bought off, assassinated etc. and your back to square one. Unfortunately, the masses are meant to be lead. This has been true going back for millennia.
    In any event, as long as bread and circuses are plentiful, there will be no revolution, collapse perhaps(likely).

    • No, people are not “meant to be led.” Leadership is a necessity, at the same time is must be accountable and arise organically from movements. Often people find themselves becoming leaders who had never conceived of themselves in such a way.

      There are no guarantees for the future, but throwing up our hands in despair is a guarantee of nothing getting better and likely worse.

      • Kalvin says:

        Ok, so the great unwashed aren’t meant to be led. Thousands of years of human history disagree with that premise. Let’s assume your correct though, who and what are these accountable leaders and mass movements that will change everything, bringing “sanity” back to a world gone bonkers? Some names if you please. Has there ever been a revolution that didn’t have a dictatorship or some form of authoritarianism as the end of the tunnel? Are you arguing that somehow the Russian Revolution would have turned out rosy if only Stalin hadn’t messed things up? It’s easy to make the leap from the frying pan into the fire, if one flies on the wings of hope.

    • rzwarich says:

      It is sad to see a fellow citizen’s heart owned by such a pall of hopelessness. We’ve surely all been there at one time or another. It seems that Hope and Despair constantly compete to dominate our spirits.

      It’s true that our human need for leadership makes us vulnerable. There’s no magic “cure” for our human nature. Are we too flawed to survive as a species? I suppose time will give us an answer.

      Surely we all understand the threat. If we do not find a way to prevail, our children and grandchildren will see their dreams crushed not long after being dreamt. Will their children even have a chance to dream at all? How many generations will be born at all, let alone harbor hope or dreams?

      Humans need leadership. When a leader rises, people rise to follow.

      Senator Sanders stoked people’s hopes for awhile, but unfortunately, like many who pick up this mantle, he was not up to the task. He had options he shrunk from. We need a Gandhi, a Dr. King. All we had was a rather ordinary old man from Vermont. He had some gumption, but not the depth of spirit to meet this challenge.

      But while he was still on his feet and running, Senator Sanders galvanized people’s spirits. He could still be standing at the head of a powerful movement, but he chose otherwise. His cowardice in the end doomed his efforts to futility. I suppose that points to our human vulnerability. If a leader shrinks and falls, (to any of the foibles that the good citizen Kalvin mentions), her or his followers fall as well.

      But we simply have no choice. We cannot be more than humans. Without leadership we will never mount a credible challenge. That is just our human nature.

      Will a leader arise whose spirit will be equal to the challenge?

      Where is Aragorn? Is there a leader out there somewhere, even now? Is Strider still sitting in a dark corner of some dingy tavern, eyes watching cautiously from under a hood pulled low, waiting for opportunity, wary of the danger?

      Does mythology reflect our yearning any more than do fairy tales?

      Anyway…..I do hope the good citizen Kalvin can find reason for new hope. Spring will be here soon. It has great power to lift our spirits.

      • Kalvin says:

        rzwarich, You misread me, sir. A lack of “hope” for things one deems hopeless, doesn’t in and of itself lead to despair. I’m firmly in the camp of “life goes on”, for as long as that remains possible. I make no long term plans, and assume no tomorrow, but take each day as it comes and find enjoyment where and whenever I can.

        “Are we too flawed to survive as a species?” Probably, it’s only by the slimmest of margins that humanity( civilization certainly) has survived this long. At some point luck does run out, and it’s unlikely we’ll colonize other planets before we wreck this one.

        “Humans need leadership. When a leader rises, people rise to follow.”

        At one time, this may have been possible. Today, no “leader” who can make a real difference will get the chance to make, let alone survive the attempt. Point to any country of any size or importance, where that has not been the case. Ghandi and King were both assassinated and their efforts either led to abysmal results ( religious civil war leading to the nuclear hair trigger that is India/Pakistan) or were of limited success ( the generally poor lot of most blacks in America today).

        “Does mythology reflect our yearning any more than do fairy tales?”

        Maybe, but only a fairy tale can paint a happy resolution to this mess IMO. That said, I have no crystal ball, only my personal readings and observations. YMMV

        • R Zwarich says:

          Thanks to our good citizen Kalvin for these comments. Clearly he has no children. I sometimes think I could inhabit the very outlook he describes if I did not have children, and now grandchildren, of my own.

          But then I think that as a ‘member’ of the human race, I might be just as committed to all children, even if I had none of my own, We are imprinted with these biological imperatives, programmed into our DNA. One generation feels the legacy of their ancestors, and honors that legacy when honor is due, or curses and shames it, when shame is due. And we feel our responsibility to fashion our own legacy into one that will be honored by our children, and their children after.

          You’re making a space for yourself, good citizen, outside these terms of human ‘membership’. Perhaps that will work for you, but I rather think you will find that as time passes it will take its inevitable toll.

          I don’t know how old you are. My guess would be late twenties, or thirty-something. If you are strong and handsome, perhaps you can pass your time enjoying the sexual pleasures of youth, while they last. And then there’s drink, and smoke, and food, and other pleasures of the flesh to savor. But as the years mount up behind you, those pleasures take their toll on the very flesh they they once entertained.

          The years do pass, and the biological fires of youth wane. And many years are left to live yet. Those are the years that I think are going to be very difficult for a person who inhabits your cynical, and perhaps even nihilistic, outlook. It will be harder then for you to find any meaning in life at all.

          Many in that situation feel their lack of any sense of responsibility to others as self-loathing. Perhaps you will find, (or have found, if you are older than you sound), some meaning to sustain you, but for many who inhabit this brave and self-involved cynicism, the self-loathing they earn by it is far worse than mere despair.

          Pointing to examples of human futility and failure is certainly easy. There is no shortage of examples we could examine.

          Indeed, any who would rise to lead must know the risk, and be prepared to make a sacrifice. Thus the wariness of Strider, watching from under his hood, (in the mythology).

          Human hope is a foolish thing. You’ll get no argument from me on that. Here’s a little ditty I wrote about it a few years ago, as the bombs rained down on the long suffering and innocent:

          Mourning Rubble
          For Gaza

          When darkness overcomes us
          And Hope lies in the past
          What in our hearts sustains us?
          How do we make love last?

          When our weakness overwhelms us,
          And we watch as children die,
          How can we breathe this still foul air?
          What makes us even try?

          We see grief upon a father’s face.
          We hear a mother’s scream.
          How do we find another place
          For tortured hearts to dream?

          With darkness all around us
          Where do we find a light?
          What makes us wake another day
          To strive to set things right?

          What makes us dare to toil and sweat?
          What makes us try again?
          What fools are we as we forget?
          Is darkness some strange friend?

          What fools has this God made us
          To believe in spite of all
          That we can build a city
          On this rubble of Hope’s fall?

          What fools has this God made us
          To hold this foolish thought
          When Hope is but a memory
          Ere yesterday’s battle was fought?

          What fools has this God made us
          To wake another day
          To greet the sun with gritted teeth
          To hold our pain this way?

          Where comes this courage to curse us
          To strive when Hope is gone
          To place tired step and then again
          Make empty hearts march on?

          Yet this is how God made us
          As woman and man and friend
          To hold each to each in darkness
          To await this foul night’s end.

          Morning’s light reveals the rubble
          And darkness fills our soul
          And Hope is scarce remembered
          As a diamond gone back to coal

          Dark misery fills the rubble
          Pain crushes every heart
          Evil grabs with rage-honed claws
          To tear our souls apart.

          How look we on this horrid scene?
          How do we breathe again?
          How will we own this bitterness?
          And ever love again?

          But in this morning’s glaring darkness
          We hear a baby’s cry
          Love pours again from foolish hearts
          Like sweet rain from empty sky.

          And thus has this God made us
          Like fools who have no choice
          And innocence melts the darkness
          And we hear Love’s fatal voice.

          And Love will own our hearts again
          And from it Hope is born
          In the face of death and tragedy
          We smile bravely and face this morn.

          When darkness overcomes us
          And Hope lies in the past
          It is Love itself that saves us
          And Hope ever follows fast.

          It is Love itself that saves us
          ‘Tween woman and man and friend
          Love that gives us courage
          And Hope that will not end.

          • Kalvin says:

            R Zwarich ( as he now elevates in formality and stature),

            I make no claim to being what in your eyes passes for a “good citizen”. I pay my taxes, I’ve voted for 40 years now( although the exercise is thoroughly uninspiring and frankly pointless), and I follow at least the spirit if not the letter of the creaky edifice that is the law. I have no illusions that any of this will give me any security or bring me a tomorrow. I do appreciate that I don’t live in Gaza or some other hell hole. I also appreciate that I do not have the power to eliminate hell on earth, there always has been and always will be such hells. Poetry( yours is very nice BTW) is fine, but it won’t stop human suffering. Human life is suffering, all one can hope ( that word… ) for is to leaven it with some pleasant experiences.

            It’s nice to chat here ( and elsewhere ) about changing the world, but when push comes to shove, those who have it good ( as I dare say most chatting here likely do ) are loath to risk that to any real degree by charging to the front lines to make themselves targets. The “brain trust” must always remain out of range behind the scenes(it’s the poor slobs with nothing to lose who wind up as front line cannon fodder). And that my friend is the crux of it. As long as there are enough resources to support a reasonably comfortable life for the lucky millions who have one, and a massive military ( and para military)to keep those who don’t( have one) in line, the impetuous for a realistic shot at significant change will be simply not be there. Cue the line from Grapes of Wrath(“Tonight we had meat, not much, but we had it. You think Pa’s gonna give up his meat on account of some other fellas?”). Oh there are a few who might, but in the main…

            Re: a couple of your earlier statements:

            “In order for True Democracy to exist, citizens must be enlightened to understand the entire system. “

            Sure, but in what pipe dream world is this going to exist?

            If the voters vote unwisely, then how shall True Democracy prevail? 

            The voters vote on what is placed before them, it’s usually too late by then.

            Personally, I see nothing wrong with flying on the wings of hope if that’s your gig, as I see nothing wrong with simply living life as the cards are dealt. Humanity will sink,swim or dog-paddle regardless. There are far too many of us humans, and that will need to be rectified at some point. I suppose if one really were a “planetary patriot”, he might simply “off” himself and reduce his carbon and consumptive footprints to a glorious “zero”. But that would take all the fun out of it, would it not?

            • rzwarich says:

              Addressing our good citizen Kalvin:

              Thank you for this deeply thoughtful reply. Please forgive me for misjudging your age and experience by such a long shot. If you’ve voted for 40 years, that would make you almost as old as me, (and I often feel as old as dirt…LOL…though I realize that with any luck, this age thing may yet get even worse).

              The obvious question surfaces, however. No kids? No one to whom you feel responsible for their future?

              My kids are all grown adults, two of the three with kids of their own. My oldest grandson is 9. He clearly has the spark of true genius in him. He’s been reading long novels since he was 5. He read the entire Tolkien Ring Trilogy at 7. His writing, both prose and poetry is mind boggling. I gave him his first guitar this past Christmas, and he’s already written whole songs. “I want to be everywhere. I want to do everything. I want to climb every mountain and tree. I want to be everywhere. And I want to be nowhere. I want to be me”, with a haunting melody. This kid just “blows me away”, (as we used to say in the 60s).

              It’s so painful to watch him begin to discover how insane this world is. (He asked me one day, out of the blue, to tell him about Viet Nam). But my love for him always renews my determination, (“like sweet rain from empty sky”). The power of my desire that he, (and my other beloved progeny, of course), will have a future is very intense, and very serious. My eyes narrow and my nose flares open when I think of those who threaten us, and threaten them.

              I am a serious man, and a serious foe to some. They, of course, already know who I am.

              Perhaps I will fall before I can have any effect. We will see. But if I fall, it will be knowing that I tried my best until the very end.

              And you? No kids? And if not, no concern for mine? Just fatal acceptance that there is no hope for any of us?And it sounds like you’ve managed to avoid the self-loathing I mentioned. You seem to like and respect yourself well enough.

              Yet here you are, compelled to communicate with us. Does that belie your posture as ‘above the fray’? Surely you aren’t here to serve ‘the enemy’ by sowing discouragement? You don’t sound at all like that.

              But what is your purpose here then? What is your motive for sharing your determination that it is futile to fight back, to resist, (and, above all, to ORGANIZE). Do you perhaps have motives that you do not even recognize yourself?

              Why are you here to tell us we are foolish?

              I had a dear friend in college (UCLA) whose family lived the Grapes of Wrath saga. They migrated to California, from Arkansas, with all their belongings and kids piled onto the back of an old Ford pickup truck. not Betty herself, of course. She was too young, but she was the youngest of 13, and heard the stories of the long bumpy ride from her older siblings.

              It was Betty who first introduced me to Steinbeck’s classic. “This is like my bible”, she said as she handed my the hardback. I stood with Betty at her father’s funeral, in Armona, CA. She gave me his sweat-stained red bandana.

              Did you know that a recent film came out of Steinbeck’s ‘In Dubious Battle’? That book had a profound effect on me, perhaps even more so than Grapes of Wrath.

              Betty had an uncle, RC, who lived that story, and whom I had the honor to meet. He was passing through town when I was visiting Betty’s family in Armona. He sized me up and down through narrowed eyes. Didn’t say much. He was in one evening to sleep over. Off somewhere the next morning.

              The movie did a decent job. James Franco as Mac. Vincent D’Onofrio as London. Sam Shepard. Robert Duvall. Ed Harris. Bryon Cranston. Zach Braff. Franco directed, and I think he produced it as well. He has more depth than I ever realized.

              Like many movies from great books, it fell well short. They changed the ending. so many things in the book that had affected me so deeply, were left out entirely. They did the best they could. They did pretty good. You can watch ‘In Dubious Battle’ free online, (if you know how), or for $3.99 on Amazon.

              A ‘dubious battle’ lies ahead, good citizen. Where and how will you pass your time while it rages around you?

              Anyway……As for your specific questions, please allow me to take them up later. They are excellent questions, to which I’ve long given much thought.

              Best to all

              • Kalvin says:

                A lot of people don’t believe that I’m as old as I am( a whisker shy of three score), I have the looks of someone who’s perhaps 40ish, and I have the constitution of the average 20’something. Part of that I attribute to genetics, part to eating healthy/exercise and another part to simply not taking this “stuff” too seriously. We’re nothing, really…in a cosmic sense, or even in our own solar system. We live a pathetically short time, and then we’re off to oblivion. If we all vanished tomorrow, it would amount to … nothing. And it could happen, anytime. Eat,drink and be merry for tomorrow we’re most certainly a goner.

                All that preamble out of the way, yes I have a adult kid. On mutual agreement we have as little contact as possible. I wish him well, but my job is done there. No, I don’t feel responsible for his future, that’s on him and the fates. Likewise I had no expectation for my father to go of flailing at windmills to make the world safe for me to step through. He was a WWII vet(draftee), a good Democrat and reliably voted the party line. He’d often rail about the injustice of the world, the Mexican peasants, the Vietnamese paddy farmer, but outside maybe a few letters to his congressman if he did anything else it was in secret. Should I hate him because he didn’t wind up in jail or dead attempting to start a revolution to bring world peace? Hardly. I’ve been under threat of vaporization since birth courtesy of MAD. But I live with it, because I know that barring a total collapse, it’s as unlikely to change as the sun is not to rise tomorrow. It used to bother me some, now I just accept it as another risk factor to being alive.

                Insanity is a staple of humanity. A perusal of human history will confirm that. What makes life today different from times past, is man’s technology and it’s capability to destroy at a vastly more rapid rate and our ability to communicate(via mass media) that destruction on an instantaneous and personal level. And not to belabor the point, but it’s too many people in the damned boat that is at the root of much of today’s problems. That will be addressed at some point.

                “Yet here you are, compelled to communicate with us.”

                Us, as in some kind of club? Perhaps you should just have a members only restriction? I made a comment, I really wasn’t looking for a drawn out discussion and I certainly wasn’t looking to intrude on a private domain. I’m neither enemy nor friend, not that I would even know what would constitute those descriptors here. I just happened along, call me an observer/commenter. The problem with clubs is the walls that erect themselves to shut out competing ideas, and the consuming nature of them, which is one reason I tend to resist joining. I’ll accept the title of outlier/outcast/independent with no reservation whatsoever.

                I wish you well in your quest to fight back, resist, ORGANIZE or whatever. Thanks for the tip on “Dubious Battle”, I can always find time to check out a good flick, and one with Duvall and Harris in it has to have some viewing worth to it.

              • rzwarich says:

                “Us” refers to the people here, reading this blog. I don’t know anybody here, and I can’t really even remember why I happened by here. I read a lot of material every day, and much of it leads here and there, to more material. I think I read a piece a few days ago that was republished somewhere from off this blog. I always like to go to the original source, just to check it out.

                It’s not any kind of “club” that I know of. And you are welcome here as far as I’m concerned, (I don’t know who runs or owns this blog). I’m interested in hearing what you have to say. I wasn’t meaning in any way to make you feel unwelcome.

                But still, speculating about your possible motives is interesting. You just enjoy ‘cruising’ sites on which we hopeful fools are searching for solutions, to tell us what fools we are? You are eager to expose your superior wisdom by telling us our task is futile, that there are no solutions?

                But why? That’s what’s interesting.

                What is your pay-off for this activity? What do you get out of it? It is just a sense of feeding your cynicism/nihilism? You feel superior to us fools, and are compelled to tell us so?

                I’m just speculating, here, not accusing. I don’t know what you motives are. But I do know that doing this must serve your own needs somehow, or else you wouldn’t do it.

                I think you’re a very interesting person. I not only know, and have known, a lot of people like you, but as I mentioned previously, I can feel the spirit that inhabits you, (or that you inhabit, whichever way we want to look at it), within myself. Sometimes it becomes quite strong. Usually I manage to keep it at bay. Once in a while it overwhelms me.

                We all have the entire panoply of spirits within us. They constantly compete to own us. The stronger we become in inhabiting better spirits, (or letting them inhabit us), the more jealous the others are to own us. Human motivations are very complex. Human nature has as many ugly facets as noble and beautiful. We’re all just poor dumb humans, doing the best we can, or, as John Lennon put it, “You’re just a human, a victim of the insane”.

                Some of us consciously choose to be fools who care about our children, and are thus determined to fight for their future. We make this choice with full knowledge of the ‘impossibility’ of the task before us. Corny old maxims inspire us. “The difficult is easy. The impossible takes a little longer”.

                Some of us choose to allow ourselves to be cynical and/or nihilistic old men, preaching an “eat, drink, and be merry” philosophy as the word goes up in flames around us, pretending that we like ourselves a great deal in spite of this spiritual impoverishment that owns us.

                I know that you are just a poor dumb human, and are no doubt doing the best you can.

  8. Alcuin says:

    After reading your essay and digesting the comments, I’d like to venture the opinion that the fundamental issue has not been addressed: how do we build a movement? All that I’ve read is focused on how to build a progressive movement, not on building a movement that will address the fundamental issue of replacing capitalism with a more just economic system. Building a movement on the Left in opposition to the established movement on the Right is a fool’s game — it will get us nowhere besides more divisiveness, hatred and stasis. To put that in Marxist dialectic terms, we on the Left are the self-described holy water pouring over the granitic stone of the Right. We need to become another stone to shatter the granitic hardness of the Right so that a new economic order can arise out of the rubble.

    After pondering the issue for some time (which is why I didn’t comment earlier), I’d like to suggest that everyone listen to this podcast by Michael Sandler, a political philosopher whom I had not previously been aware of. It is 38 minutes long but is full of insights that we on the Left should carefully consider.

    The bottom line is that capitalism will not be destroyed without the cooperation of those who identify themselves as Trump supporters. We need to understand where the Trump supporters are coming from so that we can reach out to them – we need their cooperation. I am aware that this is heresy but a movement is about creating an all-encompassing community, one that confronts the fear that is driving right-wing populism and strengthening the power of capitalism. It is also critical that we on the Left become very familiar with Robert Altemeyer’s theory of Right Wing Authoritarianism. Trump’s hard-core supporters are very often Right Wing Authoritarians.

    • Alcuin, you are completely correct that we have to build a movement, and that a movement must reach out to those not already with us.

      The Trump supporters who are hard-core white supremacists and tea-party hardliners are beyond reaching. But Trump supporters who voted out of fear, hatred of Hillary Clinton or just being mad at what’s happening and voting for anything different can all be reached. There are Trump voters who voted for Obama — and these folks tipped the balance of the 2016 election.

      Then there are those who didn’t vote at all out of frustration or being fed up with the dismal choices the Republicans and Democrats put up. We had better learn to speak to these folks, because if we are serious about building a social movement with sufficient scale and strength to overturn our economic structures it’ll have to be far bigger than the present-day Left and bigger than those who call themselves liberal (the North American version of the word), social democrats and/or progressive. And, crucially, a movement seeking a better world must be international.

      • Alcuin says:

        I will submit that “[h]ard-core white supremacists and tea-party hardliners” are voting out of fear also. Fear is a powerful motivator and one that is not well understood by those who are not leaders. Trump used fear to great effect but he is no leader. Michael Sandel (I spelled his name wrong) addresses this and many other topics that are most interesting. He has written a book entitled What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets which sounds most interesting.

    • rzwarich says:

      It’s very late in the day, and I’m an old man. At this time of day my energy stores are just about exhausted. Let me second what our good citizen Systemic Disorder has said supporting your contention that we must reach out to people who now oppose us, to win more people to our side.

      This is a crucially important state of consciousness that many of us lack. Many thanks for expressing this crucial need we must focus on. I hope to hear you express more of your thinking. It seems to be very sound.

      I just don’t have enough energy left to express this very well, but I think we need to begin to think in terms of going beyond the “we need to build a movement” meme.

      We need to build an ORGANIZATION. A mere movement is not going to get us where we want to go.

      • Kalvin says:

        “Yet here you are, compelled to communicate with us. Does that belie your posture as ‘above the fray’? Surely you aren’t here to serve ‘the enemy’ by sowing discouragement? “

        I read( I believe accurately) the preceding as sort of a “why are you here raining on our parade/peeing in our ricebowl?”, clubby, circlejerk kind of statement.

        What exactly is the “enemy” your referring to anyway? If it’s the “elites”, good luck with that. Replaced elites are always replaced with …elites. It’s a cold hard rule of nature. I guess you could start with somewhat nicer, humbler elites, but eventually you’ll wind up in the same place , more or less. Nobody likes bosses, but most they appear to be a necessity for those who crave leadership, which appears to be a large majority of the populace.

        I have no particular motive for being here, likewise many of the other sites I pass through(often leaving no comment whatsoever). It’s more of an information gathering and sifting kind of thing as I form and modify opinions of my own based on what I read. Some of it is for confirmation. I guess I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a bit “superior”, but I think that’s a common human failing. Most of us do feel our beliefs to be superior, if only for ourselves, can you honestly deny you’ve ever had such thoughts? I think I can separate that minor failing from a more gross one, namely a “superiority complex”.

        Let’s take you for example. I come here make a couple of statements you don’t agree with and your make all sorts of implied generalizations about me:

        “What is your pay-off for this activity? “ ( I get paid for every word read by the internet mafia)
        “It is just a sense of feeding your cynicism/nihilism? “ ( born pure but corrupted by the world, what can I say)
        “You feel superior to us fools, and are compelled to tell us so? “ (I think I addressed that above)

        “I’m just speculating, here, not accusing. I don’t know what you motives are. “ ( your tone is accusatory)

        “But I do know that doing this must serve your own needs somehow, or else you wouldn’t do it. “ ( as you or anyone else here is doing same)

        “I can feel the spirit that inhabits you “ ( can you tell the color of my eyes as well?)

        Rather than try to convince me of the righteousness and validity of your cause, you subtly( and not so subtly) attempt to denigrate me. In fact I don’t see anything posted here ( by you ) of any real substance whatsoever in relation to a concrete plan of actions that should be taken in fighting, resisting or otherwise. Just more of that “hopey changey” kinda thing…

        There’s a reason why these micro “movements” rarely amount to much, it’s the clubby, echo-chamber atmosphere that persists. The average person isn’t even going to bother reading page one of your manifesto. I’d read it, I might disagree with some or even all of it, but I’d read it.

        Well, I’ve said my piece, and that is enough. Good luck.

        • rzwarich says:

          Well….Thank you for “saying your piece”. It’s certainly no surprise that observations about your ‘superior’ behavior sound like accusations to you, when coming, as they do here, from your inferiors.

          Do you really think the human psychology behind your trite attitude is not transparent to others? I know that you are very clearly superior to us, but really, cowboy, you’re just not all that ‘clever’. You sound like a walking, talking, (or rather ‘writing’), caricature of Nihilism.

          Nihilists always think they are linked to the gods themselves, and that other mere mortals are all fools. Through this self-aggrandizing ideology, they laugh along with the gods at the foolishness and futility of mere mortals, as we grovel in our stupid hopes, and our idiotic and futile dreams for our children.

          Do you REALLY think that this creepy self-serving ideology will impress others? (LOL….) (Perhaps you might find a place where fellow nihilists impress each other by competing in presenting their ever more hopeless degrees of nihilism).

          Of COURSE an examination of your motives makes you squirm. Do you think that is hard for we run-of-the-mill humans to understand?

          In this exclusive “club”, made up from us stupid humans who have hopes and dreams for our children’s future, there’s only a few of us, right? Not many humans meet our standards for membership. Only those who have hopes and dreams for the future are eligible. People like us are so hard to find.

          And we’re such snobs as we search for ways to keep out the riff-raff. Right? (LOL….). Ahhh…The victim card well played….LOL…. Poor little you. Everybody picks on you? LOL….Is that it?

          You’re just better than us stupid fools. We can all see that now.

          Thank you for letting us know.

      • Raymond, I’d like to follow up on your statement: “We need to build an ORGANIZATION. A mere movement is not going to get us where we want to go.

        Organization is precisely what I am talking about when I write about movements. There is no movement without organization, and given the high number of problems we face, we’ll need many organizations. I like the concept of “movement of movements” suggested by Laurence Cox and Alf Gunvald Nilsen. To repeat my summary of their formulation: “The coming together of independent movements without the intention of submitting to the leadership of any single party or of privileging narrow definitions of working class interests.

        We’ll have to figure out how to make such a concept work in the doing; none of us, certainly not me, possess a blueprint. We each have our own way of dealing with our inhumane world. Kalvin has his way, and a part of me has an admiration for someone who has reached his level of serenity. But that is no way for me, as I can only deal with it by trying to find a way to make it better. If I thought this was it, there was no possibility of life being any better, I’d suppose I’d want to shoot myself.

        If we decide nothing can change, then nothing will. Social movements are the primary reason that changes for the better happen and always will be the primary reason. An earlier comment wondered about who runs this blog, It’s just me, trying to use my skills as a writer to maybe help make the world a bit better. My writings are an extension of my movement work.

        • rzwarich says:

          Thank you for sharing these thoughts, good citizen, SysD. I do remember now that it was an essay of yours that I read somewhere else, which I admired a lot, that brought me here. (As I mentioned, I always try to find time to seek out the source of every artesian spring that quenches our thirst).

          I personally doubt that our good citizen Kalvin has achieved the “serenity” that his posture suggests, but I could be wrong. At any rate, you and I, and presumably others here, are in the same ‘exclusive club’ that Kalvin complained about. We comprise the Club of Fools, who dare to hold to hope in spite of all.

          For me, that was the essence of the power in Tolkien’s mythology. The small band ignoring the hopelessness of their task, the immensity of their enemy’s power, believing in spite of all that they could prevail, and determined to hold to that belief as long as they remained alive.

          Many don’t know that Tolkien wrote this epic legend as the winds of war were gathering strength, as the storm of WW2 was blowing in. Hitler was rising. The power of evil was growing. Sauron, and his deputy, Saruman, were merely allegorical figures, and yet, do we not all now see that they yet live and prosper, and that surely their power is ominously growing. Our desire to respond to these ominous developments is surely that’s why most of us are here, (people like our good citizen Kalvin excepted).

          Anyway…..Mythologies and fairy tales. LOL…Is one worth more than the other?

          Well…Yes…..One is largely cautionary, conveying the cautionary tales that children need to know. They other seeks to inspire. What is ‘inspiration’ worth as we undertake an ‘impossible’ task?

          Many thanks to SysD for offering up his or her (?) own ideas. It takes courage to step forward, especially into the hostile environment of the American Left, still largely dominated by competing sectarian ideologies.

          I personally doubt that the coalition model, the movement of movements, which SysD is suggesting, is going to be adequate, (but I sure could be wrong). I think that the very elements that you point to as its strengths are also its fatal weaknesses.

          It’s true enough that the coalition model provides “The coming together of independent movements without the intention of submitting to the leadership of any single party”.
          But this presents a fundamental paradox. We can’t be both ‘independent’ and still partake of the benefits of being ‘united’. We cannot be on both sides of this fence. It seems to me that the ‘trick’ facing us is to build some kind of crossover ladder that allows us to ‘deal with’ the fence, (a rather crude metaphor, but will have to do for now).

          Democracy requires surrendering our independent power. Democracy is a moral agreement. It posits that “I will consider your interests as equal to mine, if you will consider mine as equal to yours”. (This basic moral agreement is derived from the mythical Golden Rule that is the root of all human morality).

          But in entering this agreement, each relinquishes a degree of power. Each must relinquish some measure of independence, some consideration of one’s own interests alone.

          Without “submitting to” a common leadership, there is no ‘organization’. There is only coalition, a much looser bond, which does not offer nearly the strength and power as does true ‘unity’.

          E pluribus unum is an ancient concept. It is represented in the ancient symbol of the Roman Republic, the fasces, the bundle of weak sticks united into a powerful axe. (This ancient symbol is displayed in the US Congress).

          The Paradox of Independence and Unity is a puzzle that the fundamentally flawed Occupy Movement failed to solve. Worse that that even, they proudly declared a solution that anyone with sense could see was unrealistic and unworkable.

          The Occupy concept of ‘organization’ always fundamentally flawed, and eventually, (though far too late to affect that movement itself), this seemed to become obvious to all. In hindsight, many of the people involved in Occupy seem to have recognized their fatal errors.

          I tried to get these people to recognize their errors before it was too late, but was not successful. Here is an article that I addressed to them while they were still in their tents https://www.laprogressive.com/ows-authority/ .

          ‘They’, meaning the hidden de facto leaders of this ostensibly ‘leaderless’ group, were not able to recover in time, in the heat of the battle as it was raging, from their commitment to a highly flawed and self-contradictory model of “de-centralized organizing”. The absurdity of ‘organizing by not creating an organization’ could not penetrate their zeal until it destroyed them, but in retrospect, many of them now ‘see’ the glaring contradictions and errors in their thinking.

          By pretending that it didn’t exist at all, the Occupy leadership ‘structure’ was running a classic ‘Tyranny of Structurelessness”, (a term that comes from Jo Freeman’s classic essay dating from the 1970s http://www.jofreeman.com/joreen/tyranny.htm ).

          By pretending that it didn’t exist at all, Occupy’s power structure was tyrannical. It was beyond the democratic reach or control of ‘the people’, even as these people ‘behind the scenes’ held all the real levers of power and control over this ‘movement’. Despite their ‘general assemblies’, the real decision making power was in the hands of an elite clique that everybody could se, but which stubbornly denied that it existed at all. The general assemblies were little more than exercises into getting ‘the masses’ to adopt the decisions that the elite clique had already made.

          Occupy while putting up this elaborate ruse of ‘direct democracy’, in reality was just about as anti-democratic as it could possibly be.

          Their ideas of de-centralized organizing, (which called for organizing without creating actual organization, a fundamental and fatal contradiction), were rooted in the theories of the benefits of Anarchy, as promoted by Yale anthropologist, (sooned fired for his activism), David Graeber. These ideas were, are, and always will be unworkable in the real world.

          Their absurd premise, that we can organize without creating organization, (structure), was their way of confronting the Paradox. It just didn’t (and could never) work.

          A coalition model, which is what our good citizen SysD is suggesting, is a limited form of organization. It appears to me that SysD is attracted to it for some of the same reasons that the Occupy people were attracted to their fundamentally flawed concept.

          The attraction seems to be rooted in a basic distrust of submitting to leaders, and/or surrendering any portion of power.

          This deep seated distrust mirrors the basic process of the evolution of civilization itself. In order to enhance survival in a hostile environment, families merged in to clans, then clans merged into tribes, and then tribes merged into nations. Each step required a surrender of a portion of power. The head of a family had to submit to the head of a clan, the head of the clan to the chief of the tribe, and all the chieftains to a king.

          Well….A wise and benevolent monarch is still the best form of government, but the problem is that the wise monarch always grows old and dies, and those who follow her or him are almost never as wise, or even wise at all. So a few years of peace and prosperity are followed by chaos and violence.

          The idea of Democracy was born thousands of years ago, but although we all now subscribe to this ideal, we have yet to figure out how to actually make it work. True Democracy does not yet exist on Earth.

          The coalition model withholds complete commitment to democracy. It mirrors the ‘states rights’ model of federalism: a federation of independent states, which form themselves into a nation, while retaining and reserving for themselves degrees of power. Each state retains its own locus of power, while each surrenders a limited degree of power to a federal authority.

          The problem with that model is that the more power that is withheld by the states, the weaker is the federation, so the less that each (and/or any) state benefits from surrendering whatever power they do give up.

          This is a logical Paradox. The jealousy to retain power results in obtaining LESS power.

          [In the form of the logical geometric structure of this Paradox, it imitates a moibus strip. It makes it’s own existence impossible. It negates itself. In trying to be both sides, it becomes neither].

          In the coalition model, the movement of movements, the benefits obtained are limited by, and directly proportional to, the degree to which each ‘independent’ entity withholds itself from surrendering any degree of power to the whole. The whole will grow more powerful as more ‘independence’ is surrendered.

          Thus the Paradox: the more is given up, the greater the return. The more power withheld, the less power gained.

          People are right to be cautious about surrendering independent power. But, only the other hand, we realize that independently we have little power. Only by UNITING, only by surrendering some significant portion of our independent power to UNITE, (“to make one”), can we gain more power.

          I am positing a concept I’m calling True Democracy as the best workable, (or at least possible), resolution of this basic paradox.

          I highly value Systemic Disorder’s thinking here. Our most deeply thoughtful people, (a group among which SysD clearly belongs), must think their own way through this.

          I have done this. I have confronted the Paradox, and I think I have found a solution. But who am I? Nobody. I am nobody. I’m just me. I’m just an old man, an old retired carpenter. Is what I think I’ve found a true solution to The Paradox? Not unless others can think their way through to it as well.

          Others have to confront this Paradox for themselves, and think their way through it. We can only adopt a common course of action if our independent hinking processes lead us to common conclusions.

          This is already way too long…… Sorry…. My kids and grandkids know that Papa/Grampa is always purty durn blabbery. At least in person I know to shut up when I see their eyes start to roll….LOL….When writing, overt clues are lacking.

          I’ll cut this off and hope for response. I’m also going to reformat the document I have been presenting as an introduction to my True Democracy Project, so I can post it here.

          There is no more important subject, nor discussion taking place, ANYWHERE, than THIS one. We all owe people like SysD our gratitude for building channels through which this discussion can take place. Hopefully it is taking place among many people, through far-flung channels of communication, across the nation, and, indeed, around the world.

          Best to all,

          Zwarich

          • I’d like to follow up on this statement of yours:

            “We can’t be both ‘independent’ and still partake of the benefits of being ‘united’. We cannot be on both sides of this fence. It seems to me that the ‘trick’ facing us is to build some kind of crossover ladder that allows us to ‘deal with’ the fence, (a rather crude metaphor, but will have to do for now).”

            Independent and united are not two sides of any fence; they are dialetically interconnected. A “united front” is a structure designed for groups with different perspectives and long-term goals to work together on a specific issue or specific connected issues whereby each maintains its separate identity, continues to promote its ideas and reserves the right to critique the platforms of other member groups of the united front. Freedom of action and tactics remain, and no single group or leader dominates.

            United-front tactics can be scaled to larger movements, and are one form of creating effective coalitions. There is never going to be one organization or party that everybody joins that will lead us to a shining future. Coalitions working toward concrete goals is how differences can be breached.

            Some of us already grasp that capitalism will doom us to a bitter future; most others of course today do not share this perspective and still believe they can make permanent changes for the better within the current system. Part of our mutual struggle will be the winning of hearts and minds. Our ability to communicate to people in understandable language is critical, as will cogent analyses of material conditions. For most people, it’s their everyday experiences that will count most, and as capitalism fails more people, more people will be open to alternatives.

            There is no blueprint possible. We’ll have to create a better world in the process of doing.

            • rzwarich says:

              I’m sorry to be so slow responding to these very thoughtful comments. I’ve been impossibly busy with other work. Today is not looking good either, but I do want to respond, and will as soon as I can find time.

              My wife and I own and run a small organic farmstead, and spring can be a very busy time. Our 150 spring chicks arrived a couple of weeks ago. They’re quickly outgrowing their brooding space in the cellar, and I have to complete the finishing touches on a brooding section out in the new coop I built last fall.

              A major snowstorm is forecast to be moving in tomorrow, however, so maybe I’ll have more computer time then.

            • rzwarich says:

              Many thanks to SysD for these deeply thoughtful comments. I do clearly understand what the good citizen is saying. I’m not sure that he understand what I have tried to say.

              When SysD writes:

              “Independent and united are not two sides of any fence; they are dialetically (sic) interconnected”, I think he is merely creating an argument over semantics. Sure, they are “dialectically interconnected”. What that means however, is that they push against each other. (Merriam-Webster defines ‘dialectic’ as “the tension or opposition between two interacting forces”).

              Cleary in the context of a coalition, of a “united front”, independent parties are reaching an agreement that connects them together, and in entering into the terms of this agreement, they must give up some of their ability to act independently, or else the agreement will have no practical effect or meaning.

              If a number of groups come together, announce the formation of a United Front, then leave and just continue to act as independently as they did before they came together, clearly the United front will not amount to much of anything in practical terms.

              Surely it’s obvious that if a number of groups would enter a contract that comprises a ‘coalition’, then turn around and act with complete independence, which disregards the common ground, the agreement, the contract, which provided the basis for the coalition, the coalition itself will not have much substance.

              Surely it’s obvious that the degree to which the independent groups are connected into a united entity is defined by the degree to which they remain independent. Being independent and being connected are obviously two different things, as distinctly different as being married and being single. Sure, we want to maintain our own independent identity within a marriage, but we must give up some degree of our independence or else what does a ‘marriage’ even consist of?

              Before the coalition/united front exists, the constituent groups are completely independent. When they come together to form the united entity, they must give up some degree of their independence to become a part of that entity. If they remain 100% independent, then what does it mean, in practical terms, that they are part of a coalition?

              Where the line between this independence and unity is established determines the degree of power of the united entity. A loose coalition, in which independent groups give up little of their independent power to the united entity, will not be as powerful as a strongly bound coalition, in which the independent groups give up a greater degree of their independent power to the united entity.

              I tried to point out that this is a ‘classic’ discussion, with a long history. The ancient Greek city-states dealt with it, as they faced external threats. Jefferson argued with Hamilton and the Federalists over it. Many examples could be cited.

              The Paradox is very clear. The more independence is surrendered, the more powerful the United Entity becomes. Fearful of the very power they seek to gain, independent entities are reluctant to surrender their independence to it. But then they cannot gain the power they sought in forming the union.

              The more they are jealous to retain their own independent power, the less power they gain from the union. Thus the more vulnerable they remain to united entities formed by others, who ARE willing to surrender more independent power to augment the power of a united entity.

              Is SysD arguing that this is not true?

              For the sake of useful discussion, I hope we would not get caught up in ‘which side of the fence’ semantics. I’m sure a much better metaphor could have been chosen. But the principle remains the same.

              I would rather look at the bigger picture, and seek understanding from that perspective.

              The Big Picture question(s) I would pose to SysD would be what does he envision that the United Front he proposes would actually do? What specific activities would they engage in, and how, specifically would engaging in these activities develop political power?

              We, (meaning the American Left), have been engaging in the same old (same old) activities for a very long time. We have developed very good skills at ‘organizing’ certain activities. We are very good at organizing mass demonstrations, for example. We now have people who are very deeply experienced at doing so.

              You want to get a couple million or so (or more) people to ‘march on Washington’? We can do that. We have people who have a lot of experience, in terms of all the specific logistics involved, in organizing mass demonstrations. Whenever we want those people to do it again, they can.

              You want to ‘occupy’ small bits of ‘turf’, and stay until we’re kicked out, and thus gain publicity for doing that? After Occupy, and Dakota Access, we now have a deep experience base in doing that. Shall we do it more to gain even more experience?

              You want to have local marches? Vigils? Symbolic acts of civil disobedience? We’ve been doing those things since the 1960s, (to limit our discussion to our modern era).

              None of these activities have proven to be effective, however, in acquiring political power. Do we think that if we just keep doing them, that ‘any day now’ they will start to be effective in terms of gaining political power? (Surely we’re all familiar with Einstein’s classic definition of ‘insanity’).

              What other activities does SysD envision that the United Front he proposes should pursue in order to acquire political power?

              Or…How will the United Front overcome this history of futility and cause these various activities we’ve engaged in for so long to become effective in acquiring political power?

              What will a United Front be able to do that all the independent groups cannot do independently? Isn’t that THE most relevant question?

              What degree of power can we acquire if we could find the way to unite our efforts? What could we do as a United Entity that we cannot as independent groups?

              What, specifically, about being united will augment our quest to acquire political power?

              And whatever answer is presented, how does it relate to the characteristics of the bonds that unite us? How does our willingness to either surrender a greater degree of our independence, or else to withhold it, affect the ability of the United Entity to augment our quest for power?

              I had a lot more to say to respond to SysD’s comments, but will cut this off here and await response and further discussion.

              • Forgive me if I sound harsh here, Mr. Zwarich, but you haven’t read much of what I’ve written over the past few years. If you think I advocate park occupations and other Occupy tactics, you haven’t. I’m not sure you’ve even understood the above article we’re discussing. Without delving too much into philosophical terms, dialectics in the hands of Marxism is built upon, and goes beyond, Hegel. (Remember that Marx and Engels began their careers as “Young Hegelians.”)

                To quote myself from my book: “Marxist materialism posits that anything of human creation contains its opposite, that a contradiction inevitably arises from the tensions between the opposites, and in the process of resolving the contradiction a new, higher form develops. But the new form, although it contains elements of its precursors, is not permanently stable, either, and contradictions will arise here, too, continuing the process.” In simplified form, that is the basis of dialectics; it is not a simple “tension or opposition between two interacting forces” no matter what your dictionary might say.

                A united front coalition does not necessitate participating groups giving up their independence; in fact a healthy coalition does not do that. When communist parties entered united fronts in the 1930s in the fight against fascism, they made the mistake of subsuming themselves (“tailing”) the social democratic, liberal and centrist parties they previous denigrated as “social fascist.” They went from one extreme to another without ever stopping in between. This is the wrong approach, as Trotskyists corrected argued at the time.

                An effective united front allow scope for differences of opinion and freedom of action at the same time the participating groups work together in pursuit of a specific goal. People joining can see for themselves which group(s) have the better argument and tactics, and that helps work out the most effective tactics or strategy. At the same time, everybody’s work is more effective because the bloc of organizations working on this issue is much bigger, more diverse and contains more perspectives, and signals to authorities that issue is being taken seriously by a sufficiently large number that concessions are more likely to come.

                Of course, whether the concessions should be accepted or whether they are only a beginning toward a more thoroughgoing struggle is part of what has to be thrashed out. The united front will likely break down on this issue, but a new united front, or a new coalition, can be founded on this higher ground, helping advance to the next goal. Separate groupings, blocs or fronts will work on different issues, but these must communicate with each other, assist when possible and learn how these different issues are interconnected and consequences of the same larger forces. A “movement of movements” is what I am sketching out here in broad strokes, to recycle a quote from the original article.

                We’ll have to learn how to do this in the process of doing. Learning from the past is essential — we re-use what was useful in the past and is still relevant, and discard what isn’t, at the same time developing new methods of struggle. As I wrote a book hundreds of pages long explicating the past so we can learn from it and develop new ideas, it is puzzling, to say the least, that you would suggest I advocate simply redoing the same tactics.

                Finally, you win points for me for being an organic farmer. I hope the late snows up in New England have not set you back too severely. Alcuin has also joined the conversation, and I politely suggest any response to me be made underneath his April 1 comment below (and of course you can respond to him as well).

  9. rzwarich says:

    I am cautious about being perceived as wanting to, or trying to, “dominate the rap, jack”, (from the Grateful Dead’s ‘New Speedway Boogie’, and I know that I just posted a fairly lengthy comment, but I did compete the reformatting on the document that I mentioned, which introduces the concept of the True Democracy Project, which I offer up for people’s consideration. Feedback, criticism, discussion, etc, is, of course, very eagerly anticipated and welcomed.

    I hope that I am not being presumptuous in posting this much material on SysD’s, (Mr. Dolack’s) blog, but I do think that I “got something new to say” (ibid). I would greatly value Mr. Dolack’s own feedback, as well as that of others.

    I also have an organizational chart, which I think is very helpful in trying to imagine what I am trying to describe in words would look like, as far as how responsibility would flow through the organization. I don’t see any way to post that org chart here, however. If anyone wants to see it, they can email me at rzwarich@gmail.com, and I’ll send it along.

    This document I’m going to post is a bit over 3500 words, so if anyone is interested at all, they should save it for when they have time, (an average 300+ wpm reader can read 3500 words in 10-15 minutes).

    The doc:

    The True Democracy Project.

    This is a beginning introduction of a grandiose and far reaching plan for the US Progressive Movement to acquire REAL political power.

    A comprehensive plan such as this is VERY difficult to present succinctly. I thought that to get the ball rolling, I’d use the popular ‘frequently asked questions’ format, (even though no one has yet
    asked these questions, and I am actually making them up just in order to ‘frame’ the answers).

    Please note that this document does not comprise the actual plan. It only seeks to introduce and describe the plan.

    FAQs

    You said you had a plan. OK…so what is it? What’s the plan?

    The plan is to build a fully functioning democracy among progressive people, through the power of
    digital communications technology, (which we all have at our fingertips), through which progressive people can acquire and exert political power.

    If we want to create a democratic nation we must begin to practice true democracy in our own efforts and affairs.

    How will we define “progressive people”?

    Progressive people will be defined as anyone who believes that the function of democratic government is to provide for, protect, and preserve the nation’s Common Good by serving the best interests of the nation’s citizenry.

    Democratic government, truly democratic government, is the social agency of The People. Its function is to provide the citizenry with the means to work together, in cooperation at every level of the nation’s social, economic, and political structure, to guard ourselves against all threats to our general welfare, both foreign and domestic, and to provide ourselves with the opportunity to pursue our natural human aspirations, within and according to the natural parameters of moral social intercourse.

    This definition divides us from self-styled ‘conservatives’, who think that the only functions of government are to 1) heavily tax the common people in order to build the basic infrastructure through which a nation’s economy functions, for the primary benefit of the Wealthy Elite who control both the
    economy and the government, and 2) to heavily tax the common people to fund war making around the
    world to protect the word-wide interests of the nation’s Wealthy Elite.

    Other than those two primary functions, ‘conservatives’ want to “drown all other functions of government in the bathtub”.

    There is an ‘old political adage’ that holds that “the common people may rail against bad government, but The Rich do not want to be governed at ALL”.

    A truly democratic government is the ONLY social agency that can protect the interests of the common people against the greed and power of a rapacious Wealthy Elite.

    What is ‘true’ Democracy?

    All democratic systems are systems of rules. Some are better than others, but currently none of them actually put any existing nation’s real governing power in the hands of its people. All are controlled by these nations’ Elites. The Elites are able, by hook or by crook, (primarily through bribery and other forms of corruption), to manipulate the established rules to their advantage. Adequate safeguards against corruption by the Elites do not yet exist in any current democratic system.

    ‘True’ Democracy is rooted in the same moral code that is the root of all human morality. I will respect your interests and your rights, and I would have you respect my interests and my rights in return.

    True Democracy is inherently a system in which the interests and rights of ALL are thus respected, and its overarching function is to promote and protect the Common Good, the interests of all the citizens.

    What will we call this democracy we build?

    The project of building it will be called the True Democracy Project. People who join it to become citizen-members will be called True Democrats, and the whole organization will be called The True Democrats.

    What will it do? What will its purpose be?

    The True Democracy Project will initially provide two primary functions.

    1) It will provide a tiered and scalable system of communications through which True Democrats can remain in communication with one another, and through which they can make democratic decisions for the purpose of advancing their own interests in the nation’s political affairs.

    2) It will be a dues-based organization, and thus will provide a means of providing a constant stream of funds that will be applied to building networks of communication to other citizens, in order to:

    a) Advance our powerful political message , which is that building true democracy in our nation will provide the citizenry with the best means to build a prosperous nation in which all citizens have a clear and present opportunity to apply our talents and energies to earn a prosperous and dignified life that provides us with ample means to pursue our natural human aspirations.

    b) Recruit other citizens to become and participate as True Democrats.

    How much will dues be?

    Dues will initially be set by agreement of the project’s initiators. They will be in the range of 25 cents per day, or $7.50 per month. Once the organization is fully functional as a democracy, the dues will, of course, be set democratically by the citizen-members.

    What if people can’t afford to pay dues, but want to participate?

    There will be a class of membership that will allow for most privileges of citizenship in the organization, within parameters as shall be set by the citizen-members. But in order to have voting rights in the organization, a citizen-member MUST be current on her or his dues.

    In an age in which empty soda cans are redeemable for 5 cents each, if a person does not have enough
    commitment to the purpose and cause of the organization, and/or the general wherewithal, to contribute dues of 25 cents per day, then it is not likely that such a person would have anything of real substance and value to contribute in any other way.

    Why are dues so important?

    Having funds available for political activities is the most crucial determinant of any political organization’s success in achieving its goals.

    Let’s crunch some numbers:

    If 10 million citizens can be organized into a truly democratic organization, paying dues of $7.50 per month, that organization would have a steady stream of available operating funds of $75 million dollars per month.

    Major polls have reported that currently [written early 2016] 16% of the voting age population in the US identify themselves as progressives. There are about 235 million people of voting age in the US, which means that there are almost 38 million progressives.

    If even half of them (19 million) could be organized as True Democrats, the True Democrat organization
    would have a monthly income of almost $143 million dollars per MONTH, or $1.7 BILLION dollars per year.

    Double those figures if the organization reached its full potential, and organized al 38 million Progressives. And/or adjust them if it is discovered that True Democrats are willing and able to pay higher dues. (In some labor unions, dues can be as high as $30-$40/month, and more, but that level of dues might indeed be burdensome to people living in degrees of poverty).

    An organization with these kinds of funds at its disposal would quickly become one of the most powerful organizations in the nation, and would soon become THE most powerful organization in the nation.

    What would all that money be used for?

    The most basic principle of politics in a democracy is that politics is a numbers game, and the numbers are VERY large. The object of the game is to get the most people on our side. In order to do that, we must be able to communicate with them.

    The means of communication are the means of power.

    Since all our mass media are under the control of people who oppose democracy, and oppose the best interests of the Common Good of all the citizens, if we want to win this ‘politics game’ we must create our own channels of communication to use to communicate our message to the nation’s citizenry.

    With the kinds of sums this organization will have available, we can build effective and powerful means to communicate our message to the entire citizenry.

    You mean like our own TV network?

    Well…sure…That is one possibility, especially with the manner of distribution of TV programming now
    in a state of flux, with digital streaming distribution making steady inroads into the long dominant cable distribution systems.

    But we need to expand our thinking to imagine the many kinds of things we could do with these kinds of funds to communicate with the citizenry and win citizens to our side.

    We can fund and publish children’s books, and comic books, that impart messages of social cooperation, and teach and emphasize concepts crucial to true democracy, like the concept of the Common Good itself.

    We can fund and publish young adult novels that do the same, by telling stories in which the characters benefit from helping each other, and accomplishing important goals through cooperation.

    We can finance major motion pictures, with top actors, that will deliver these same kinds of powerful messages, promoting the pursuit of human happiness through healthy human love of family and friends, service to others, human compassion, and achievement of shared goals through cooperation.

    We could patronize and promote artists of all kinds, including popular musicians producing songs that promote these kinds of messages. We can patronize painters, poets, novelists, etc, in order to build and promote a moral democratic culture that is rooted in human cooperation and interactive support of each of us for every other, for each individual’s commitment to the whole society, and the whole society’s commitment to each individual.

    Many of these activities, which would require the provision of finance capital by the organization, have the potential to themselves be revenue-producing (profitable) enterprises.

    We can publish magazines, daily news reporting organizations, (web sites, blogs, think tanks, etc,
    Etc).

    We can put up billboards across the nation.

    We can create programs to work with school districts across the nation to involve children and youth in cooperative social projects of every kind.

    We can organize groups of citizens with writing skills to participate in the public comments sections of newspapers and magazines.

    And let’s remember that our True Democracy organization itself is going to be a vibrant communications network connecting millions of people and empowering us to make democratic decisions, to set and achieve our goals through democratic cooperation.

    All these kinds of activities are the basic building blocks of political power.

    To win the ‘politics game’, we have to get the most people on our side. To do that we must have the means to communicate with them.

    The means of communication are the means of power.

    Who will control all that money?

    All funds will be under the democratic control of the citizen-members, to be administered by them as
    they decide through democratic process.
    Making democratic decisions concerning how to apply this money to political purposes, and to plan, organize, and participate in activities that apply those funds, will be the primary activity of the organization.

    Every unit at each tier of the organization will be a legal entity, and will have its own bank account in
    which to store its funds, as it administers those funds democratically for whatever purpose its citizen-members choose.

    A significant percentage of dues funds will be retained under the direct democratic control of local
    groups. A percentage will accrue to each higher democratic tier of the organization.

    So how will the organization be structured?

    The organization will be a tiered network based on small groups of citizen-members at the local level.

    It will be structured around existing US Congressional Districts, in order to be fully prepared for the obvious inevitability of the organization developing into a powerful political party.

    This will not be a ‘third party’, but rather will supplant the weakest party in our current two-party system.

    When we gain political power we almost certainly will choose to alter our nation’s political system, to make it more truly democratic, but during the process of ascending to power we must operate
    within the existing two-party system. It should be obvious to all that being a third party in a two-party system is a losing strategy.

    All the organization’s daily communications and business will be conducted online, using two way digital communications technology, enabled by a powerful software platform that will allow citizens to propose, discuss, and vote on all business that the groups conduct, right from their home computers.

    The software platform will be built on something similar to a simple email list-serve, only with an elaborate and highly developed system of powerful tools that allow groups to function democratically.

    At the basic level will be groups of citizen-members, of an optimal number to be determined, guided by the realities of scalability, together with the optimal number that provides the best opportunity for each citizen-member’s voice to be heard.

    Since there are about 935k people in each US Congressional District, and of those about 650k are
    of voting age, and since we are hoping to organize the 16% of the voting age population who self
    identify as progressives, (and since our purpose will be to use our powerful message to expand from
    there), what we build must be scalable to accommodate up to 104,000 citizen-members in each District.

    If it is determined that each basic local group can accommodate 1000 citizen-members, there would then be as many as 104 distinctly functioning local citizens groups in each Congressional District, (assuming we attracted every progressive in the District to join, and more, as we expand). If smaller groups are determined to be more conducive to creating and maintaining more vibrant discussion and participation,
    (whereby each citizen-member’s voice can be better heard, and can therefore have more impact), then
    (obviously) more groups in each District would be required.

    The entire network of local citizens groups will be joined together into a tiered, representative system, consisting of District legislatures, State legislatures, and a national governing structure.

    The entire organization will be comprised of the three basic component functions of democracy.

    It will have a legislative component, comprised of the local citizens groups, the District groups, the State groups, and a national legislature.

    The executive function will be fulfilled by elected officials functioning through a tiered system of
    Councils to direct and facilitate communications at every level.

    The judicial function will be crucial to the success of the entire organization. The basic tier of the
    judicial system will consist of the Moderators of the local citizens groups. It will be their MISSION
    CRITICAL function to encourage, and enforce when necessary, a proper degree of civility in all communications between citizen members.

    The line between moderation and censorship is often difficult to define, but it must be defined for the groups to function, and it will be up to the moderators to do that at every level. They will be backed up by tiered judicial panels at the state and national levels.

    Every citizen-member, at every level, will have access to a defined process of appeal through this judicial hierarchy if she or he has a grievance concerning her or his own rights having being violated.

    This sounds really complicated. Is there an organizational chart so that a person can see how
    authority and responsibility would flow throughout the organization?

    Yes a prototype organizational chart exists, and is attached as a .pdf with this document. A prototype written constitution also exists, and will be distributed at the opportune time.

    We must keep in mind that once the organization begins to form up, it will be up to the citizen-members
    to ratify the initial form of the organization, or to alter it as they see fit, using the democratic tools they will have to do so.

    So this organization will be sort of like a “shadow government”?

    More that ‘sort of like’, this organization will be EXACTLY a shadow government that will provide
    Progressive citizens with the means to acquire political power in the actual government. It will be a
    means for using the full power of true democracy to work to acquire political power and create true
    democracy in our nation.

    And this organization has the potential to become a political party?

    It not only has that potential, it is inevitable that it will as it develops.

    And it will become one of the two major parties in our two party system?

    To achieve our goals, it MUST become one of the two major parties. A third party strategy in a two party political system is a LOSING proposition.

    How will it do that? How will it supplant one of the current major parties?

    The sheer force of our moral position will elevate us to that status.

    Look at it this way:

    There are two basic ‘parties’ in every human society. There is an ‘Elite’, (an ‘aristocracy’), and there is the common people.

    Leaving out consideration of the failed attempts to create socialism and/or communism in some nations, these two basic ‘parties’ have existed in every human society since tribal groups, (which were socialist/communistic for the most part), joined together into what we call ‘civilizations’.

    We all can see that these two basic parties exist in our own nation, but virtually the entire population of our nation’s citizenry has become aware that due to the corruption of our political system into a system of legalized bribery, BOTH of our political parties have come to represent the interests of the ‘Elites’ exclusively.

    The common people have NO representation in our political system.

    “No taxation without representation” was a major ‘battle cry’ in building support for the American Revolution. Yet that is EXACTLY what we have now, and virtually the entire population of the citizenry know it.

    Since we will promote True Democracy, and since true democracy inherently promotes and protects the interests of the common citizenry, (the Common Good), supplanting the current Democratic Party, and becoming the major party genuinely representing the interests of the common people, is just going to naturally happen.

    It will not even be a particularly difficult task.

    If we can build this organization, (which will be an IMMENSELY difficult task), becoming one of the two major parties in our two party system will just naturally follow from the course of events.

    The Democratic Party has made itself irrelevant to the common people. Virtually the entire citizenry know that despite its history and legacy, the Democratic Party no longer represents the interests of ‘The People’.

    What will be our new major party’s basic credo?

    Easy one:

    “If you don’t believe in TRUE Democracy, then DON’T call yourself a True Democrat”.

    Is that it? Is that the whole plan?

    No, not hardly. In fact, this is not even the actual ‘plan’ at all. This is just a presentation of a bare bones
    outline of the idea. The plan itself consists of a series of concrete step-by-step actions we need to take, properly prioritized so that each one paves the way for the next, encompassing everything from initial promotion and raising seed money, to critical software development, to legal consultation to create a proper legal structure, to the MISSION CRITICAL task of properly training Moderators, to the details of introduction and rollout, and to anticipated problems that must have contingent solutions in place BEFORE rollout is even undertaken.

    Even just listing the detailed tasks involved, let alone describing and further elaborating on them, would
    comprise a long document. The plan itself could only be presented in a book length paper, which will be done at the appropriate time.

    At this time the various components of the plan only exist in prototype form, such as the prototype written constitution. These components require the attention of experts, such as political scientists, scholars, experienced political operatives, etc, applying their energies to analyze the organizational
    chart, and the prototype constitution, long before they would be ready to be presented to the initial
    population of citizen-members for ratification.

    Is this just going to happen in the US?

    As a US citizen I am not familiar with the intimate details of grass roots political conditions in other nations. In my own nation, I believe that the time for this idea has come. Has it come in other nations? I just don’t know.

    The most crucial aspect of this project, (among many ‘most crucial aspects’), is the creation of the
    software platform through which the organization will function. This software will be very
    expensive to create, but once it exists, it will be ‘open source’. It will be freely available for anyone
    to use anywhere.

    Aren’t you afraid that it will fall into the wrong hands, and be used for some nefarious
    purpose?

    No. That is not a concern.

    We must understand that we have a crucial advantage in the use of True Democracy, in that our own objective is to serve it truly. We will strive, above all else, to serve the truth.

    The truth has its own unique power, and it will lend that power to those who truly serve it.

    The truth cannot be possessed. It cannot be controlled. It cannot be taken under the command of anyone. The truth only serves itself, but it is an IMMENSELY powerful ally to anyone who would serve it.

    We will have the truth in our camp as long as we remember that the ONLY way to have it in our camp is to seek it out and pitch our own tent close by.

    If we EVER forget that, all will be lost. We will fail.

    One cannot march behind THIS banner without a GENUINE life-blood commitment to the truth. To hold forth this banner as we march, and to serve any other purpose than truth, will only make us immediately appear to all as the clownish fools we indeed would be.

    Failure, complete and utter failure, will then quickly be our ‘reward’.

    We cannot camp wherever we want, and think the truth will follow us. It will NOT! If ever the truth is not in our camp, then in its absence complete and utter failure will quickly take root and overwhelm us.

    Zwarich
    Bent Birch Farm
    63 Webber Rd
    Brookfield, MA 01506
    774 449-8030
    rzwarich@gmail.com

  10. Alcuin says:

    Zwarich, I know that your comment of April 1 was directed to Pete but I’d like to take the opportunity to respond, too. I find your thoughts on dialectics interesting but rather blinkered. Capitalism, as you know, is based on the alienation of man from nature, emphasizing the importance of human labor (from which all capitalist profit is derived) over sustainability. In capitalism, everything flows from this core reality. When you write of dialectics, you are focusing on capitalist dialectics, not natural dialectics. That is a fools errand and is akin to a dog chasing its tail. I’m a pessimist about the future, as Pete knows, because I see nothing on the horizon to unite homo sapiens in a campaign to eradicate capitalism. Capitalism is a scorched-earth economic system and the evidence for that statement daily mounts. What is being done? Nothing. Zip. Gullible Americans elected the biggest capitalist of them all, Donald Trump, to the presidency and what passes for the Left in this country is consumed with anger and identity politics while the world burns.

    In my mind, we need to come to a much different understanding of dialectics in order to move forward. I’d suggest reading John Bellamy Foster’s Marxism and the Dialectics of Ecology as a starting point.

    Dialectics is an immutable law of nature and we humans, who have burned through several million years worth of fossilized energy in two centuries, will soon enough pay the price of ignoring that law.

  11. Sky Wanderer says:

    Reblogged this on Global Political Analysis and commented:
    “If this is the last century of capitalism, what will replace it? It could be something worse — some combination of high-tech fascism imposed on feudal arrangements in which a minuscule minority uses extreme force to hoard the world’s dwindling resources for itself is not only not out of the question, but the likely response of a capitalist elite that will stop at nothing to maintain itself. In the continued absence of organized resistance across borders, that may well be the future. Or a better world can be created, through organized struggle, that is based on fulfilling human need within environmentally sustainable practices in which everybody has a say in how their enterprise functions and in larger political and social decisions.”

    ‘the choice for the future remains socialism or barbarism.’

  12. Alcuin says:

    I’m still contemplating the topic … I found this interesting blog and thought I’d share its existence with the readers of this blog: Rethinking Prosperity. The first article promises to be interesting reading, in that it is an exchange between Foster and the eco-socialist Saral Sakar. It is not a revolutionary blog, but I do think it offers an insight into how our ideas are slowly spreading. One of the articles, for example, was published in Forbes magazine. Building a movement takes a long time.

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