For 200,000 years we were hunter-gatherers, and teamwork was essential for survival. We shared everything of importance, and cooperated without hierarchy. With no private advantage, there was no incentive for corruption; one could only “get ahead” if the whole community got ahead. Genetically that’s still who we are: We’re still capable of sharing without hierarchy.
But 12,000 years ago, when we started farming, we also began separateness, hierarchy, and property, which I’ll discuss. Those have caused essentially all our problems. Have we any chance of fixing things, after all this time? Yes – first, because we’re now more aware of and more articulate about these evils, and secondly, because we must fix things: Nuclear war or ecosystem collapse may soon kill us all.
By “separateness” I mean the delusion that my well being doesn’t depend on yours. But in truth, we are social animals. From cradle to grave, we see our lives in terms of our relationships with others. Even a hermit lives with the memory of his mother – and hermits are rare.
Hierarchies, in our workplaces and our so-called “representative” government, concentrate power. Power corrupts: Authoritarians beat their families, bosses bully workers, guards torture prisoners, police shoot the poor, politicians lie to start wars, and the corporate news repeats the lies. We should replace hierarchy with horizontal networking.
Property is so deeply a part of our culture that we can hardly imagine life without it. We don’t share, so we must trade – for food, rent, labor, everything. But trade increases inequality, because it gives greater profit to the trader who was already in the stronger bargaining position. Inequality in our society has grown enormous, creating poverty and plutocracy. Trade also produces externalities, unmeasured side effects not paid for by the traders; those include war, poverty, and ecocide.
Property separates us from one another. Privately owned workplaces are dictatorships; that’s why we hate Mondays. Competition makes us all commodities to be exploited or discarded. It kills empathy, leaving racists, sexists, and other bullies. Homeless beggars on street corners remind us that no one cares for them, or for us. Every week some loner shoots up a school. But we don’t shoot our friends. Why can’t we all be friends? Let’s create a culture that leaves no one behind.
Having more than you need won’t make you happy or secure, but being part of a caring community will. We can no longer afford the rich, who always want more.
Money IS influence, so the wealthy class rules, and the only way to end that is to not have a wealthy class. That requires an economic system not based on trade and profit. Changing the economic system so fundamentally requires a mass movement – not to persuade our rulers, but to overthrow them.
And that, in turn, requires lots of leaflets like this one. Culture change can’t be forced; the first step is to get more people talking about it.
2018 Oct 23, version 5.01. The leaflet takes two sides of 1/2 page.