The Root Problem (leaflet)
Alienation and private property are the inside and outside of our culture of separateness, which has tormented us for 10,000 years with sexism, racism, war, poverty, and other cruelties, and more recently with ecocide. We’re heading toward extinction soon if we continue living separately, or paradise if we finally learn to live together.
It’s not just in our rulers. It’s in all of us, in our culture, in the so-called “American dream”: You keep your stuff in your house, I keep my stuff in my house, I don’t need to care about you, and I can’t afford to care about you. No wonder public shootings are common. But in addition to our souls, separateness also crushes our material lives:
If we don’t share everything, then we must trade some of it. Each of us gives up what she wants less for what she wants more, so we both profit. But the trader in the stronger bargaining position gets most of the profit, and becomes stronger still. As Piketty’s data shows, increasing inequality is normal in capitalism, not an aberration. The game Monopoly ends with all the players but one totally impoverished – even if no one cheats, so it’s in the game’s principles, not just “corruption.”
Gilens and Page showed quantitatively that the USA is a plutocracy now, not a democracy. Just a few people own and control nearly everything. They control our workplaces, so we hate Mondays, and progress brings us layoffs, not leisure. They control government, so we can’t repair the rules, and power corrupts. They control the news media, so we’re deceived by lies, and even more by omissions: People can’t imagine another life, as they’ve never seen any hint of it.
A market transaction negotiated by buyer and seller has adverse effects on other parties. These externalized costs – poverty, war, ecocide, etc. – are not reflected in market prices, which therefore are far from true costs; this inefficiency is disastrous.
We’re nearing a climate cliff; we must choose between extinction and caring. “Imagine all the people sharing all the world,” John Lennon sang. Join the conversation.
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7 June 2015, version 4.01. Underlined blue phrases are links to related material. The pdf version fits on two sides of 1/3 page, making it suitable for a leaflet.