BEGINNERS in political activism generally focus on one crime, one politician, one party. But that’s just one symptom.
TRUTH is elusive; we’ve all been fooled. Whistle-blowers, not war criminals, are locked up; censorship is increasing. The public’s short memory lets plutocrats lie about everything. We’ll know the truth when we end the profit system, which is the incentive for lies. The biggest lie is one of omission: The corporate press never discusses the real basis of our society, nor the very different world that is possible. My own favorite non-corporate sources are: Black Agenda Report, Common Dreams, Counterpunch, Dandelion Salad, Greanville Post, Popular Resistance, Rad Indie Media, Truthout, Brian Becker, Lee Camp, Jimmy Dore, Umair Haque, Caitlin Johnstone, Peter Joseph, Ted Rall, Richard Wolff (links in the online copy of this leaflet).
HIERARCHY is how we’ve arranged government and business. But that concentrates power; we’d be better off with a horizontal network. Power corrupts, as we see in workplace bullying, prison torture, police murder, corporate ecocide, and unending wars of empire based on lies to make a few rich men richer.
PROPERTY concentrates power too. If we don’t share, we must trade. That brings profit to both traders, but generally more to the trader in the stronger bargaining position, making him stronger still. So inequality increases, creating poverty and plutocracy. Rents rise faster than wages. Money is created as interest-bearing debt – but debt grows and money doesn’t, so there’s never enough, like in “Musical Chairs.” Externalities trash the ecosystem, so we’re headed for extinction. That’s the opposite of the market’s claimed “wisdom” and “efficiency.” These problems are inherent in not sharing, and can’t be fixed by mere reforms.
GLOBAL WARMING is even worse than the IPCC says. It’s about to increase explosively, due to feedback loops and tipping points. Little time remains – we’re in the endgame now. Crop failures will starve us; albedo loss and methane release will end us. Big, fast changes might still save us, but that’s impossible in our present system: Plutocrats are focused on competing for short-term private profits that keep them in power one more day.
DEMOCRACY is fake. Gilens and Page proved statistically that, regardless of elections, our public policies favor the rich. Our taxes subsidize oil and arms companies that kill the world for profit. The USA has been a plutocracy ever since its founding in land theft, genocide, slavery, and indentured servitude. True democracy wouldn’t be much improvement: Misled by corporate lies, we can’t vote wisely, and 51% ride roughshod over 49%. And so-called “representative” democracy is hierarchy, which inevitably corrupts. Money is influence; we’ll only end rule by the wealthy class when we no longer have a wealthy class. What we really need is caring, sharing, understanding, and consensus.
ALIENATION makes us crazy: Our workplaces are dictatorships that objectify, exploit, and discard us; that’s why we hate Mondays. Property separates us despite shared threats such as warming and pandemic. Dog-eat-dog competition kills empathy, leaving fear, lies, greed, hate, racism, sexism, random shootings.
Hierarchy and property have been the real basis of society for 12,000 years. But for the previous 200,000 years we shared as friends and equals. That’s still what we teach our kids, still where we turn in crisis, still who we are genetically. That’s what we must resume to survive – but it will bring us far more than just survival.
AWAKENING is bigger than revolution, more than just changing laws and leaders. We must see the world and each other in a new way. In our hearts and in our institutions we need a culture of caring and sharing that leaves no one behind. Climate change leaves no time for gradualism; we need abrupt understanding to spread like wildfire. The first step is to get more people talking about it. Call a meeting, carry a sign, post a video, write a song or a leaflet, or copy this leaflet if you like it.
30 July 2022; links at LeftyMathProf.wordpress.com /primer
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Version 8.62. Underlined words and phrases are links to related materials. The leaflet fits on two sides of a half page. The video is based on version 8.50. Here are direct links to sections after the first: Truth, Hierarchy, Property, Warming, Democracy, Alienation, Awakening.
The original version of this essay was in Sept 2020. This essay has gone through many revisions, including several name changes. I think that the original title may have been “A Political Primer”; some other names were “Waking From Capitalism,” “Bigger Than Revolution,” and “Reasons to End Capitalism.”