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Are you still trapped in the matrix?

6:16 pm in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

We are trapped by a self-perpetuating cycle of concentrated wealth and concentrated power. As wealth concentrates, power concentrates. As power concentrates, wealth concentrates.

To quote the eminently quotable Mr. Chomsky:

Concentration of wealth yields concentration of political power. And concentration of political power gives rise to legislation that increases and accelerates the cycle. The legislation, essentially bipartisan, drives new fiscal policies and tax changes, as well as the rules of corporate governance and deregulation. Alongside this began a sharp rise in the costs of elections, which drove the political parties even deeper into the pockets of the corporate sector.

We waste our days highlighting the latest injustice… the latest madness. We are skilled observers and see most of them all too clearly. In the beginning, perhaps, labeling these symptoms could boast a small degree of educational value. Perhaps, even today, it helps build our community. The payback for such pursuits is small at best.

The risk is that we see these outrages as ends in themselves. We see them as requiring case-by-case solutions.

So, we speak about Obama’s crimes. We speak about the injustice of war and the lies and the money and the greed and the broken electoral promises.

We skewer the religious right and the Republicans or the corporatized media who do their bidding.

We align ourselves with a parade of identity groups… blacks, women, the elderly.

We speak of the need for third parties and we throw our support to one candidate or another.

We cannot get there from here… not with this approach.

To build the world we seek, power must be democratically distributed. And to achieve that, wealth, not just income, must also be democratically distributed. Any electoral success you might seek that fails to honor that vision is no electoral success at all. If you are campaigning for candidates or parties, they must, at their core, ascribe to the view that concentrated wealth, whether earned “legally” or otherwise, cannot be allowed to stand. Absent that, all other electoral activity is bankrupt. It is utter folly to believe you can effect change electorally without this prerequisite firmly ingrained in the population.

The mission also must not be to defend at any and all costs the ever-more-necessary social safety net. To be sure, until we are able to install a just government, such pursuits are honorable… and necessary. Charity, though, is best when the need for charity is least. If wealth were less concentrated, more of us would have more wealth to begin with. If power were less concentrated, we could build a society that serves all instead of serving just a few. Don’t make the safety net the ultimate goal. As wealth and power become more concentrated, as they have, the demands on the safety net coupled with decreased funding create an unsustainable situation. You cannot prevent the coming “austerity measures” until you democratize wealth and power. For those who would counter with the very recent elections in Greece and France, allow me to say that the jury is still out. You can win elections and still lose the game.

The first sparkle in a very, very long time was Occupy. Although news coverage was painfully slow in the beginning, there were a few months last year where Occupy was in the news almost everyday. That is clearly not the case now. While many are still deeply committed and very active, the level of activity, and press coverage, is nothing like it had been. Perhaps the “spring offensive” has yet to take off. Perhaps the flashy occupations have settled into a more mature form of movement building. Or perhaps the kindling burned up before it caught the big logs.

Some seem to believe that when things get really bad, the public will join together to topple the power structure. It often seems this is more likely to happen in countries outside the US. In the US, i.e. inside the heart of the beast, perhaps we have grown too soft and lazy or fearful of losing our creature comforts. Or perhaps we face the most sophisticated propaganda machine the world has ever known. Or perhaps, burning in each one of us is a passion for justice that will sooner or later take to the streets to demand change. Things still look painfully quiet inside my crystal ball.

You cannot regulate the undemocratic abuses of highly concentrated wealth and power because you have neither wealth nor power. You cannot swim against the tide of media indoctrination because you do not control the media… but someone does. There are certainly no easy answers here. The path to change can only occur through massive public education and, eventually, through revolution… hopefully peaceful. Such change is nowhere on the horizon.

I wonder how many of you would ascribe to the view that we must directly confiscate wealth to begin the process of building a truly egalitarian society. I see no other viable path to change. For those who agree, I wonder exactly how you think we should go about it.

The Arab Spring Reawakens with a Vengeance

10:39 am in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

After the street protests in Cairo last February and March that toppled the Mubarek regime, the Egyptian revolution seemed to go quiet. The military seized control of the Egyptian government and promised elections would soon be forthcoming. But tensions over Egypt’s future, highlighted by a distrust of the military’s control of the government, have erupted again.

Al Jazeera is reporting that more than 100,000 Egyptians from all walks of life are currently filling Tahrir Square. Protests in Tahrir Square, Cairo

The head of Egypt’s military, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, just spoke to the nation. He promised that the military was totally committed to civilian elections. He said that Parliamentary elections will be held starting on November 28 of this year and that presidential elections would be held in July, 2012. He tried to make a case that the country was still too unstable to hold elections now. In spite of the fact that at least 33 protesters have been killed and more than 1700 injured since Saturday, he said that the military “will never kill a single civilian.” Tantawi made absolutely no reference to earlier statements that the military, even after a democratically elected government was put in place, would remain totally independent of any civilian oversight. This issue, perhaps more than any other, coupled with the violence against protesters, has inflamed the current protests.

The speech was broadcast live to the sea of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square. The reaction was overwhelmingly negative. It was characterized by an Al Jazeera reporter on the scene as “deafening”. The protesters shouted over and over and over “Go, go, go” demanding that Tantawi and his military end their control of the Egyptian government. If the intent of the speech was to provide reassurance to the protesters, it failed miserably.

When protesters arrive in such large numbers even in the face of killings by a corrupt regime, it is hard to see how that regime can survive for long.

Comparisons to the fledgling Occupy movement in the US are inevitable. Are we seeing the early stages of a growing revolution in the US? Will Occupy be able to turn out the same numbers with the same “no cost too high” commitment? Will it be harder to replace the corrupt US government with a new regime than it will be to topple Egyptian military rule?

I’m concerned that we Americans have a much more difficult task ahead of us. For Egyptians, the difference between an unelected military dictatorship and a democratically elected government is very clear. In the US, though, the undemocratic corruption is less clear to many citizens. Too many believe we have the freedom to “just vote them out.” Too many still believe that government can adequately regulate corporations even though most elected officials are heavily dependent on corporate cash to retain their positions in office. You can’t just “throw the bumbs out” when only bumbs make it to the ballot.

Other critical differences exist. The US mass media have shown little or no sensitivity to the Occupy movement. Too many Americans get all their news from corporatized media. While opinions vary about Al Jazeera, the network seems to side with those fighting for democracy. In the US, the media focuses on “private property” rights of park owners; they focus on “smells and hygiene”; they focus on “tents”; they focus on one or two violent actors instead of the overall non-violence essence of the movement. In short, they lie. It is no small task to overcome this pervasive system of propaganda. Americans are not stupid but a steady diet of lies, regardless of what TV newscast they tune into, is a highly effective tool to repress revolution.

Many of us are hopeful that Occupy will continue to grow. We are encouraged by the wisdom the movement has exhibited in its infancy. We know that as more and more of us are brought to the brink of economic and social disaster, the movement will grow. But, we stand in opposition to the greatest concentration of wealth and power the world has ever known. We stand in opposition to a system that has indoctrinated the masses with the belief that the US is a democracy controlled by its citizens in the voting booth. We stand in opposition to a system that stifles and distorts our message.

It was inspiring to watch today’s massive street demonstrations in Cairo. They give us hope that ordinary people doing extraordinary things can be replicated here in the US. Occupy is off to a great start. It emerged from a darkness so profound that perhaps, to some, it seemed like even the smallest seeds of protest could never sprout again in the US. Now, the revolutionary energies of the Occupy movement seem like our last real chance for change. For that to become reality, though, many more of us will need to do much more than we’ve done. As we watch the Arab street put it on the line for their beliefs, perhaps we will gain the inspiration to do what is necessary. The alternative is far too dark to contemplate.

“The most important thing we can do is vote”?

10:38 am in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

A couple of weeks ago, I attended my first Occupy meeting. To be more specific, it was a meeting of a new group formed in the suburbs of Boston to lend support to the Occupy Boston movement. They talked about naming themselves “Occupy the Burbs”. A few people who had spent some time camping at the Occupy Boston site were in attendance but most, like myself, were newcomers.

After we went around the room introducing ourselves to the roughly sixty people who were there, issue discussions ensued. Why were we there? What would we do? What views did we hold on the issues? It got pretty heated pretty quickly because the guy sitting next to me identified himself as a conservative Republican and he was, to say the least, very hostile to what he believed the Occupy movement was all about. His last statement was that if people really wanted to change things, they should get out and vote. He complained that turn-out rates were very low and that non-voters have no one to blame but themselves. The person who organized the meeting, seeking conciliation, said that she was sure everyone there agreed voting was important. “Can I get a show of hands from those who believe the most important thing we can do is vote?” Everyone raised their hand… except me.

I told them that voting was the opiate of the people. I told them that more than 90% of the discretionary budget is spent on the military. “Which party do I vote for to change that?” I told them that the Occupy movement offered the only path to change and that electoral politics has brought us to the brink of destruction no matter which party holds power. I told them that the 99% are clearly in decline while government for the rich, by the rich and of the rich has never held more power. It got very, very quiet until someone changed the subject.

Liberal Democrats probably don’t see themselves as revolutionaries. They see themselves as reformers. They think they can legislate their way out of the problems we face. They think they can control the abuses of wealth with legislation. They think with the right slate of candidates they can impose campaign finance reforms and lobbying reforms. They think they can elect anti-war candidates who will dismantle the military industrial complex. They think they can regulate corporations that are chartered for one purpose and one purpose only: to make money for their shareholders.

Can they not see what’s going on? Do they not understand that military spending now comprises 90% or more of the discretionary budget? Do they not know that in spite of a doubling of worker productivity, real wages for the average American worker have not increased since 1973? Was this any less true when Democrats controlled the White House and the Congress than when Republicans did?

We are mired in a rich-get-richer malaise and these naive liberals comfort themselves fighting for 10 cents an hour more in the minimum wage or celebrating “great” victories over the Family Leave Act while more and more Americans join the ranks of the working poor every year. Corporations and their shareholders hold all the power and workers get weaker and weaker. Liberal Democrats hand out trinkets to the downtrodden instead of attacking the underlying, systemic injustices. Worse, even within their own party, liberal Democrats have absolutely no voice. The party they naively pledge allegiance to knows that it will benefit by moving closer and closer to right-wing positions and further and further from progressive positions. The political logic is that holding on to one of your own voters gets you one vote but winning over one of your opponent’s voters gets you a two vote swing.

I understand the desperation liberal Democrats must feel. I, too, look at the mental dwarfs, the evil mental dwarfs, offered by the Republican Party and realize all too well the incredible damage they will do. But that just isn’t a justification to vote for Democrats who refuse to challenge the utter moral bankruptcy of capitalism and the exploitation it inevitably causes.

With Democrats, the military-industrial complex will remain intact. With Democrats, the rich will continue to get richer and the poor will continue to get poorer… and more in the middle will get poorer too. With Democrats, quality health care will continue to become less and less affordable for most people. With Democrats, the endless wars will continue. With Democrats, the totally corporatized mass media will go unchallenged. It’s all about wealth and power.

Democrats, perhaps, are more compassionate and offer small comforts to those butchered by the abuses of big money; they will do nothing, however, absolutely nothing, to make the real changes we need. When liberal Democrats come to realize this, and as the tragic condition of the American people grows worse and worse they will, perhaps then they will finally awaken and join the revolution.

The OWS 99PercentDeclaration: Preliminary Thoughts

9:38 am in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

OccupyWallSt (OWS) recently released the 99PercentDeclaration that outlines the process they envision to bring about meaningful change. While far from finalized, the document lays out a very specific agenda for the changes they hope to see. The following comments reflect my preliminary thoughts on the OWS agenda.

I read the OWS Declaration and think it’s a good start but it still has some very serious weaknesses. Worst among these is that it seems to do very little to assert sufficient public power over corporations.

Without question, reversing Citizens United and banning corporations from spending political capital are both critically important. But, and I see this as a failing mostly of Democratic Party progressives, the Declaration is too heavily invested in the campaign finance reform mantra as an ultimate solution to corporate abuses. It’s just not enough.

Corporate charters must be revised to mandate that corporations serve the public will. Nothing I read, for example, would prevent corporations from spending billions on lobbyists. They couldn’t directly give money or other remuneration to the political class but they can still hire a million lobbyists to swarm all over Washington. They could even “bribe” elected officials by offering to open a factory or office in their district. Nothing I read precludes that.

We need a new governance model to put we, the people, in charge of corporations. We also need to look at empowering workers instead of continuing the current system that allows “profit above all” investors from controlling what corporations do. The Declaration leaves in place a corporate system that will still do all it can to lessen regulation and pollute the environment. It is a self-serving system that puts the interests of corporations ahead of the public interest. This cat and mouse regulatory model needs to be changed because, at least to some degree, it will be ineffective. Cats will never catch every single mouse. Instead, the people and the workers need to hold positions of power from WITHIN each corporation so that the best interests of citizens, not investors, are a core part of each corporation’s mission.

Also, more needs to be done with the issue of outsourcing jobs. Subsidizing companies that don’t outsource and / or penalizing companies that do is a good start. Still, this is not sufficient to protect workers. We need to look at the effect on jobs of our various “free trade” treaties. If we’re losing jobs, end the treaties. We also need to take a very careful look at the impact of NAFTA and the WTO. It’s hard to see how either of these organizations is benefiting workers in the US.

And, finally, I think far more discussion needs to be held about term limits (which the OWS Declaration recommends). The idea of a citizen government, i.e. one that is not staffed by “lifers”, sounds good on the surface. Maybe it’s true that “long-term” is not good for democracy. I worry, though, that we will be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Perhaps there’s something to be said for an experienced legislator. In some ways, term limits is just plain undemocratic. Shouldn’t we, the people, be able to return to the Congress someone who has done very well for us? As I said, more discussion is needed on this issue.

I’m very glad to see that this process has been initiated. I’m concerned, however, that its proponents may be constrained to some degree by current governance architectures and that they may thus fall prey to seeking reforms rather than revolutionary change. Many of the evils we now face have evolved from the core systems put in place at the founding of the Republic. Perhaps, rather than remediation of the damage, the core systems themselves contain cancerous cells that have multiplied over time. Perhaps instead of treating the symptoms we need to treat the disease.

In my view, we simply cannot allow a system where excessive wealth, i.e. excessive concentration of wealth, can be amassed to the perverse degree we see today. The idea that we can create safeguards such that those with massive wealth cannot abuse our political system is, in my view, extremely naive. Until we learn that even the best regulations will ultimately not be able to overturn the “money is power” paradigm, we will return to corrupted governance time after time after time. Ultimately, the solution is to cap wealth. All other approaches are little more than pretense. We’ve been there and done that too many times.

The Ingredients of Revolution: Four essential changes

9:22 am in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

Revolutions do not succeed merely because the current government has been toppled. The full cycle of revolution includes not just the tearing down phase but the rebuilding phase as well. Revolutions succeed only when the values they are seeking have been realized. And, even when those values have been realized, revolutions, in the long run, can only be deemed successful if those values are sufficiently protected and sustained by the new societal institutions they create.

We often hear the expression “be the change you want to see.” If citizens are not well-formed, if they see only their rights but not their obligations in a democracy, if they don’t understand the need for eternal vigilance to protect the greater citizenry from tyranny, democracy becomes impossible. The first essential change needed to bring about real democracy in the US is to awaken all citizens to the role they must play and the skills and motivations needed to do so effectively. We need our fellow citizens to see themselves as empowered. We need them to understand that envisioning new ways of thinking and new societal structures that lead to fundamental human empowerment sits at the core of the tasks that lie before us.

While we can cheerlead for these changes, each of us needs to make these changes within ourselves. We need to see ourselves as empowered with voices that have not only the right but the obligation to speak out for social justice. We need to work together to envision new institutions of democracy that fairly distribute power to everyone.

But, beyond the grassroots social structures we build and the changes we make to our own thinking, it is critical to recognize that real democracy has other components that need to be properly architected if we hope to succeed.

Critical among these is a system of education that contributes to life-long learning. Schools, for young and old alike, must instill in each citizen an understanding that democracy depends on their well-informed participation. Teaching “respect for authority” without teaching that “we, the people, are the authorities” leads only to totalitarianism. Without a well-informed electorate, democracy is a pretense.

Also critical is a mass media that serves the public’s interests and not the interests of those who “own” the media outlets. Even a good education cannot always overcome the persistent pounding of the paid propaganda peddlers. If the grassroots is not well-represented in the daily spewing of “news and information” programming, consent of the public, against their own best interests, is often too easy to obtain. As the saying goes “garbage in; garbage out”. An electorate without grassroots news sources cannot make well-informed choices. When the sources of news and information are controlled by the moneyed elite, democracy is no longer possible. We can no longer allow the perverse paradigm of equating money with “free” speech to continue. When “extra speech” can be bought by the wealthiest citizens for a price most cannot afford, democracy dies. There can be no free speech if there is not equal speech. Mass media must be publicly owned. When private owners control the message, they control the country. Which brings us, yet again, to the great debate of reform versus revolution.

Campaign finance reform, while an admirable goal, cannot be achieved while the wealth gap remains perversely disproportionate. How do we purport to pass laws to regulate the abuses of money while living under the tyrannical thumb of the moneyed elite? Even in the rare circumstances where progressive, though ineffective, legislation like McCain-Feingold is passed, we’ve seen that in time the “courts of the moneyed elite” are able to neuter the laws.

So, what then is the solution to the tyranny that excessive wealth enables? Does anyone believe that we can really use the corrupt electoral system to bring about the reforms we seek? Who gets elected? Worse, who gets to even run? How many millionaires are there in the Congress? Who controls the media and the electoral debate process? Who can afford the lobbyists? No, I don’t believe we can use “the system” to reform the system. What we need is revolutionary change; not reform.

And exactly what change is needed? What is your solution to build a society where the inevitable “wealth equals power” paradigm no longer perverts our democracy? That is your goal, isn’t it? How do we get there from here? Too many cling to the belief that the answers lie within our current institutions of government. We will vote in the good guys and have them do good stuff. The good guys we support will never be influenced by the abuses of money. They will not concern themselves with raising the massive mountains of moolah needed to get elected and to remain in office. They will never “accept the deal” from corporate America that tells them they can keep their seats to do all the good stuff if they will just compromise a little on certain pro-corporate issues. Such beliefs clearly have learned nothing from history. We’ve been making that same damned mistake over and over and over and over for hundreds of years. Wake up already, will ya?

Government is not evil. We can have a government that represents us. We have far too large a population to make “direct democracy” work on every single issue. On most issues, we need our form of government to be a “representative democracy”. But we cannot solve the problems we face with our current “representative democracy” because it is not representative. We cannot make the changes we need if we leave in place the corrupt system of excessive wealth that will always pervert any attempt at real democracy and real representative government. The ultimate change we need, and this is where too many liberals turn into libertarians, is to cap wealth. The wealth gap cannot be allowed to be as great as it is if we are sincere in seeking “equality of citizenship”. It just can’t. Money, i.e. wildy excessive wealth, will corrupt democracy every single time no matter what laws you might pass. The goal is not to punish the wealthy; the goal is to strip them of their excess wealth such that they no longer have sufficient resources to pervert the will of the citizenry.

At the core of the revolution, beyond all the social issues and government policies, lies one critical ingredient that must never be compromised. All citizens should have an equal voice in shaping what their government does. Until there is economic justice such that no citizen can have so much wealth that they are able to purchase a greater share of influence over the government, democracy will remain a distant dream. Cap wealth, empower citizens by teaching them their obligations to democracy, educate them and provide a grassroots-based news and information media and then, and only then, can the people’s revolution bring about the society we all deserve.

On Selfishness and Solidarity – A Knot in the Revolutionary Lifeline

12:13 pm in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

Here thousands of metres of pipes are stacked in a field southwest of Morden, Manitoba Canada, waiting to be installed. (Photo: loozrboy, on flickr)

Here thousands of metres of pipes are stacked in a field southwest of Morden, Manitoba Canada, waiting to be installed. (Photo: loozrboy, on flickr)

It was painful hearing many of them speak. A mother and daughter, ranchers from Nebraska, broke down in tears. There was a veritable parade of tribal chiefs from the indigenous tribes in Northern Alberta. Each one was more articulate than his predecessor as they almost poetically described their people’s reverence for the natural world. There were all the “usual suspects” from the National Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and many other environmental groups I’d never heard of. It was especially great to see the uncompromising opposition to the pipeline from the Transit Workers Union. They all understand, all too well, what was happening here.

Hillary Clinton’s State Department was holding a public hearing on the proposed Keystone oil pipeline. If approved, a pipeline will be built that will cut the US in half, from Alberta to Texas, passing through one sensitive environmental area after another. We all the know the risks of oil spills and pipeline leaks: cancers, polluted aquifers, species extinction, crop damage and more. We all watched the BP geyser. Some are aware of the recent pipeline rupture in Yellowstone National Park. I’m afraid to say I think the fix is in. Until the revolution gets underway, the corporate government we all disdain is still in full charge and their agenda is not your agenda. On this one, Big Oil is calling the tune. The pipeline is likely to be approved.

But the Keystone project goes beyond the risks of oil spills; way beyond. Read the rest of this entry →

“In Solidarity”, Mr. Trumka?

1:22 pm in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

What’s the deal, man? I read all that stuff you send me. You talk to me about the plight of workers. You talk to me about anti-worker trade policies. You talk to me about health care and other benefits. You even, once, talked to me about how Democrats who don’t support workers cannot expect your help in the future.

You asked me to call Congress. I called. You asked me to write Congress. I wrote.

Truthfully, I didn’t think it would do a damned bit of good. I was right.

Now you’re trying to convince me that Obama’s jobs bill is a big step in the right direction. Will you ever learn?

Until Big Labor stands up to the two-party corporate machine and stands with the activists in the streets against global corporate tyranny, nothing is going to change.

You sign your emails “In Solidarity” but where are you while OccupyWallSt protesters are being arrested in droves? Where is Big Labor, Mr. Trumka? Where is the AFL-CIO? Where is this “solidarity” you claim in your signature?

You need to stand with the 99%, Mr. Trumka. You need to follow the example of the Transit Workers who voted unanimously to join the OccupyWallSt protests. But you don’t do that sir, do you? Instead, you still cast your lot with the Democrats; instead, you still think you’re “playing it safe”. It’s inconceivable that you continue to beat that same old, dead horse. American unions are nearly extinct and still you cling to your naive belief that the Democrats will save you if you show them some loyalty.

So, no Mr. Trumka, I will not join you. You join us. Until then, you are doing little more than obstructing the revolution. Get your people into the streets and then drop me a line. Show me some of this “solidarity” you speak of and I’ll be glad to join your cause.

In solidarity with enlightened labor,


Wisconsin: It Ain’t No Revolution… Yet

12:51 pm in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

There comes to each revolutionary a “eureka” moment.  The light is off; the light goes on.  When enough of us turn our lights on, the revolution will happen.

Wisconsin labor and its supporters have been demonstrating (pun intended) a key ingredient for revolution.  They are in the streets day after day and they’ve sustained their numbers and their energy.

But, why are they in the streets? Who are the marquee speakers who have come to address them? What is the nature and purpose of their uprising? If Governor Walker backed down, would they just disband and go home? I’m afraid the answer is that they would.

When we look at a building, we see its structure above the ground.  But no building can stand for long without a solid foundation. The Wisconsin “revolution” is reactive.  The Governor did this; the demonstrators did that. From an organizing and activism perspective, that’s great. For revolution, a sustainable revolution, there’s no “there” there… yet.

If demonstrators take to the streets to fight for collective bargaining rights, their cause is just but far too narrow.  If they organize politically into a “Dump the Governor” campaign, their cause offers minimal single-election progress. The vision and purpose of each and every demonstrator must be informed and energized by something greater. I haven’t seen or heard that emanating from Wisconsin… yet. They are not going to hear the necessary message from speakers like Jesse Jackson or Russ Feingold.  These men both have integrity; they are darlings of the liberals and the progressives; they are not revolutionaries. Liberals may win a battle or two; they will never win the war.

Former labor leader, James P. Cannon, said of strikes that took place in 1934:  “It has been the lack of precisely this element, which only a Marxist party can supply, that condemned the insurgent labor movement of the past to futility and defeat. Lacking a class theory of its own, which can come into the labor movement in no other way than through the Marxist party, the American workers, with all their militancy and capacity for sacrifice, fell victim to all kinds of quackery and treason and landed in a blind alley every time.”

There is no reason to believe that either a Marxist party nor Marxism itself is the only path to revolution.  But, unlike what we’ve seen from the major labor unions, there is no escaping the need to build a movement on a solid foundation of class warfare. This doesn’t mean unions should abandon the issue-by-issue battles they’ve been fighting but, rather, that they need to shape the “gestalt of their resistance” under the umbrella of class warfare. They also need to rethink their robotic support for the Democratic Party. To do otherwise leaves them, and all workers, powerless in the halls of government. Because government is controlled by the corporations and the wealthy elite, the unions will ultimately fail if they seek remedies through this corrupt political process.

To succeed, unions must set a new course… a revolutionary course.  They must seek to go beyond the employee grievance model and the collective bargaining negotiating process. They must wage a campaign beyond the corrupt two-party political process. Until unions build a revolutionary movement and negotiate from strength rather than from weakness, they, and all workers, will grow weaker and weaker. That’s exactly what’s been happening for the last fifty years or more.

To win the class war, workers must have more power in their places of employment than investors have.  Clearly, that is not the case today. Workers must “control the means of production.”  In my view, investors should not be able to vote at shareholder meetings.  Only the workers, perhaps including past workers, should have a vote. With worker-owned cooperatives, we might just see fewer plant closings and fewer jobs being exported overseas. We might just see corporate political contributions being made to pro-worker candidates instead of corporatist candidates.  We might just see economic and political justice in America. Unions need to place this vision at the core of their mission.  They also need to fight on behalf of all workers and not just their own memberships.

In a recent communique, the SEIU announced that they are going to change the tactics they’ve been using.  They stated:

“Unless SEIU and the labor movement jettison the service model of unionism, there will be no unions left.

•  We are in a class war.
•  The Democrats and the Republicans stab us in the back. We need our own labor candidates to run.
•  We don’t get anything that we don’t organize and fight for in the political arena.  Politics is secondary to organizing.
•  Our job is to find new ways to create a movement and to use non-traditional methods of struggle. (i.e. to go beyond the grievance process and help members organize themselves and put themselves in motion.)
•  We represent the working class, not just our members.”

This is exactly what unions need to do.

Starting this Monday, you can do something to bring the Wisconsin battle closer to home.  You can broaden your resume by moving from online activism to street activism. Solidarity demonstrations to support workers in Wisconsin are being scheduled all over the country. Here’s a link to help you find a rally near where you live. Get out there and make it happen.

The Obama Mutiny

10:29 am in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

Perhaps it is time for another parable of the high seas.

As we make our way across the great ocean, the wealthiest remain on deck enjoying the salt sea air, the puffy white clouds floating by and the finest food and drink.

Below deck, the serfs are made to pull the oars. First, eight hours a day. Then ten. Soon, twelve. Their hands rubbed raw, they grow weaker and weaker.

Rations are severely limited. At first, the rule is that after most of the day’s rations have been consumed on deck by the wealthy, a minimal allocation will be given to those who have rowed well.

Captain Obama quickly saw the flaw. Those who grew too weak to row needed more food; not less. If starvation was the punishment, too much burden would be placed on those who continued to row and soon, they too would fail. The top-deckers would have his head for that.

To keep the great ship moving forward, Captain Obama offered a compromise.

“We will ensure that none go hungry; even those who cannot row.”

The top-deckers refused to feed the laggards. “All this will do is encourage more laziness! Surely he doesn’t expect us to row; we’re not suited for it. If they can’t survive on our generosity, let them die. The others will learn a valuable lesson.”

Captain Obama, master negotiator, saw the resolution. “We will give a greater share of rations to the wealthy. The good rowers will share their rations with those who can’t row.”

The top-deckers agreed. The wealthy would get a larger share of the overall rations while the serfs would share their dwindling rations with their weakened comrades. Of course, with overall rations reduced, more and more rowers collapsed. The wealthy grew very fat atop the deck, unaware of their peril.

You see, until the fat fools understand that we’re all in the same boat, the great ship will first slow, then stop, then sink.  Captain Obama, blind to the overwhelming evidence, still failed to see that rich-get-richer governance is ultimately unsustainable. In time, the serfs came to see what had to be done.

Can There Be Unity Between Progressive Democrats And The Left?

3:01 pm in Uncategorized by welshTerrier2

I do not consider anyone who is a Democrat as “the American Left.”

The line I draw, admittedly arbitrarily, is based on capitalism/socialism, incrementalism/radical change (i.e. reform versus revolution) and electoral “pragmatism”/principles.

Most Democrats appear willing to accept the colossal inequities of capitalism and merely apply bandages to the wounded. Democrats are the band-aid party. You are poor; that’s sad; here’s a hand-out. You are powerless; that’s sad; here, I’ll make sure I throw you a few bones. You have no hope; here, have a little of my audacity.

It’s all very compassionate and humane but none of this changes the underlying inequities. None of this restores power to its rightful owners. None of this even recognizes that excessive wealth, as a concept, even exists. Most Democrats are economic libertarians who refuse to put caps and controls on excessive wealth. When the disparity between rich and poor becomes too great, the very idea that each citizen should have an equal voice in the direction of the nation is shattered beyond repair. FDR seemed to understand it. He said: “For too many of us the political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality.” Stand with the Left, Democrats, and call the exporting of American jobs “TREASON.” Let’s ban these bastards from receiving any federal contracts. Let’s go to war against them if that’s what it takes. Let’s take away lower capital gains rates when investors sell stock at a profit in companies that have exploited cheaper foreign labor and screwed American workers. Why should we reward these traitors with tax discounts?

The ultimate goal is “equality of citizenship” or, as FDR called it, “political equality.” To believe that the financial elite haven’t had a stranglehold on the levers of power fails to recognize the core problem we face. The wealthy should not be stripped of their wealth merely to punish them or merely to redistribute wealth. We should confiscate excessive wealth, defined as an amount of wealth that does, or could, translate to an undemocratic abuse of power. We’ve seen all too clearly for far too long that regulatory restraints on the corrupting influence of cash in the political process ultimately will fail. McCain-Feingold, the liberals’ darling, was weak at the outset and has now been trashed by the elites’ appointees. Lobby “reform” was a joke. It still costs millions to run for office. We are granted “free speech” but only the super-wealthy or those they finance can afford the staggering costs of “free” speech. It has been rightly said that we have the best democracy money can buy. We watch passively, our bones picked clean, as corporations and their investors cut our wages, cut our benefits, poison our environment and export our jobs with no regard at all for the well-being of the country or its working men and women.

In the end, democracy and capitalism cannot co-exist. Any system that fails to put reasonable limits on the gap between rich and poor poisons the soil in which democracy tries to grow. How have we come to a place in America where seeking political equity for the common man and woman is seen by so many as an affront to the freedom of the individual? It truly is madness and we will pay a devastating price for our blunderings. Wealth is not inherently evil but it becomes evil when it empowers the greedy to pervert the will of the masses.

Numerous essays have discussed 2012 plans for Democratic Party progressives. Long lists of candidates have been proposed to lead the charge against Obama or other appointees of the party’s hierarchy. Is there any possibility that any candidate running as a Democrat could win substantial support from the American Left? The clear answer is no. If unity between progressive Democrats and the American Left is valued, it needs to happen outside the Democratic Party. If unity is valued, it will have to be built on a platform whose guiding vision tears down the fundamental exploitations of capitalism. Capitalism will have to be seen as a disease that cannot be cured by handing out safety net band-aids to its victims. If unity is valued, no rule or law or tradition can be spared if it weakens the imperative of political equality, people before profits and workers before capital.

Democrats, even progressive Democrats, and I would more than welcome hearing I’m wrong about this, seem unwilling to cross the line. You cannot legislate your way, from inside a corrupt system, to the revolutionary changes needed to achieve social justice, political equality, and economic and environmental sustainability. Progressive Democrats have been neutered inside their party and the American Left is not politically viable today and will not be anytime soon.

If unity is the goal, it seems impossible, regardless of the candidate chosen, to build it inside the Democratic Party. A new movement, built on the principles described above, comprised of progressive Democrats, workers, students and all of the oppressed constituencies that comprise the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, is the only path to unity and the only path to progress. Whether such unity is possible, given the chasm between competing beliefs, seems dubious in the near-term. If unity can be built, that chasm will first have to be bridged.