A Political Primer


1. Beginners sometimes join us in great numbers — for instance, when the three World Trade Center towers fell, when the first Zeitgeist film appeared, when the banks crashed, and when Trump got elected. The new political activists give themselves bold names like “patriots,” “resistance,” etc. They’re wrong about nearly everything, but in 2006 I was too. Even now, I probably still haven’t figured out a few things.

The crises are growing, so we need more people talking about what is really going on. Beginners may not listen to me, because my view is so different from what they’ve previously heard. Still, it’s worth a try:


2. Lies are everywhere. Beginners see past one or two lies, and call themselves “woke,” and stop looking. Different factions call each other liars, and beginners often believe one of these factions. Politicians and the “mainstream” news are owned by the same people who sell weapons, oil, and drugs, and they lie about everything. We all have different trusted sources for what we believe to be facts, and trust can’t be won through debate. In my own opinion, it would be best to get away from the corporate news media (FOX, NYT, MSNBC, NPR, WaPo, etc.) and start reading alternative media. My favorites are Counterpunch, OffGuardian, RTIntercept, Greanville Post, Truthdig, Black Agenda Report, DemocracyNow, Common Dreams, WSWS, Caitlin Johnstone, Richard Wolff, Lee Camp, Charles Eisenstein, Howard Zinn.


3. Ecocide is everywhere – plastic in the ocean, oil in the rivers, and most of all carbon in the air raising the temperature. It’s warming faster than people realize, due to tipping points and feedback loops are about to send us over a cliff. Ecosystem collapse has already begun: Other species are disappearing faster than any time since the dinosaurs. To survive, we’ll need huge changes in government and market. Governments are doing too little to fix things, because politicians (of both major parties) are owned by businesses that profit as things are. Mere reforms won’t fix this – markets are inherently ecocidal, because they have externalized costs, unmeasured side effects that neither the buyer nor the seller pay for. Thus markets are not “efficient.”


4. The economy may collapse even before the ecosystem. Trade – for money, labor, rent, food, interest, etc. – gives greater profit to the trader in the stronger bargaining position, making him stronger still, increasing inequality. That’s inherent in markets; it will continue until we share.

Inequality has grown enormous, creating poverty and plutocracy. The world has resources enough to end poverty, but that won’t happen because our rulers wouldn’t profit from it.

Our “democracy” is a sham: The tiny wealthy class gets the public policies it wants, and the rest of us don’t. We can’t end plutocracy by electing better plutocrats. And power corrupts; our rulers grow greedy and cruel. We should replace all hierarchies, even so-called “representative” democracy, with horizontal networking.

It’s not just the rulers. We’re all corrupted by this economic system: Competition kills empathy, producing racism, sexism, austerity, imperialism, and random shootings. Sharing would help.


5. Wars get 60% of the federal budget, but they’re all based on lies for profit. Russia is not attacking us, Saddam Hussein didn’t have WMDs, North Vietnam didn’t shoot first, nuking Japan didn’t save lives, the attack on Pearl Harbor was provoked, and so on. Real reasons for wars include extorting cheap labor and materials, perpetuating the petrodollar, selling weapons at high profit, and distracting from domestic issues.

In the dystopian novel 1984, the military branch of government is called the “Ministry of Peace.” Shortly after that novel was published, the US War Department was renamed the “Defense” Department, but it was never about defense. The USA, founded on genocide and slavery, has always been an imperialist plutocracy disguised as a democracy; the USA starts more wars and imprisons more people than anyone else in history. And the mass murder is all bipartisan.


6. Human nature is misrepresented too. To justify our economy of separateness, we’re told that humans are naturally selfish and greedy. But really, we’re social animals. Most of us prefer to live and work together in community and cooperation when we can. We can’t, under our current economic system. Let’s replace it.


7. Reforms are not enough. Reformists say that we have good institutions run badly, that our society is based on freedom and democracy from which we’ve strayed into corruption. But really our society is based on bad institutions: hierarchy, property, and separateness. We must replace those with something better – but not “freedom” and “democracy,” which actually can’t work as claimed:

  • “Freedom” is independence from others. But we are social animals. Rather than separateness, what we need is harmony: to get along in comfortable relationships of respect, understanding, caring, sharing, and cooperating.
  • And “democracy” is a misinformed and uncaring 51% overruling the other 49%. “Representative” democracy is even worse, as the 1% end up representing themselves. What we need is consensus, but for that we must understand each other and care about each other.

Judgment is at hand: paradise if we find each other, extinction if we don’t. The first step is talking about it.


2019 April 30, version 5.11. The printed version fits on two sides of a “letter” (8.5 x 11 inch) piece of paper. Here are links that go directly to sections 2 red pill, 3 ecocide, 4 economics, 5 wars, 6 human nature, 7 reforms. (Original version 2018 June 8.)