cj#596> re: “What can we do about it all??”

1996-11-02

Richard Moore

Dear XXX,

>Well, to our common interest. I have read your attached paper. I agree with
>many of your findings. I find your analysis in many respects insightful but
>find your discussion of the 'plan of action' less convincing. This needs of
>course detailed elaboration on my part and I will attempt, within the
>confines of the time I dispose of, attempt to give you my humble opinion.

        It is true that I've emphasized First-World organizing, and I will
endeavor to defend the importance of that, but you're not the first person
who's responded by arging for a focus on the Third World, and I can see the
wisdom of combining the approaches.  Let me offer the following Agenda 3.1,
for your consideration, before speaking to your main points.

________________________________________________________________
Progressive Agenda, version 3.1
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

        Effective promotion of democracy, which naturally must include a
heavy emphasis on reforming corporations and curbing their power, can only
be achieved by a global movement.  Corporate power itself is a global
phenomenon, and it must be opposed everywhere its tentacles have reached.

        True democracy starts at the grass-roots, and this means that a
global progessive democratic movement must be based in hundreds of
grass-roots organizations of all kinds all over the world -- labor unions,
peasant organizations, minority groups, Greens, enviromentalists, churches,
civil libertarians, progressive political parties, leftists, socialists,
etc.

        Global solidarity, international cooperation, mutual information
exchange, and the evolving of common comprehensive agendas is essential to
making the smaller movements effective.  Indeed, some actions and
intitiatives may properly be the domain of a global progressive
organization, yet to be formed.

        But it would be a mistake to rely on a single organization to be
the organ of progressive change.  Not only are local conditions and
democratic goals different in different places, but popular participation
is more readily accomplished by locally-based movements than by some
all-encompassing umbrella organization.  Furthermore, it is easier for the
elite to infiltrate, demonize, subvert, terrorize, and destroy a single
organization than lots of independent ones.

        Therefore, I envision an umbrella coalition -- with independent
organizations as constituents -- as being the best approach to global
solidarity.  Indeed, a progressive movement should be internally
democratic, and this means it should strive to represent and support the
constituent organizations, not dictate policy to them from some central
committee.

        The First and Third Worlds (is there a Second World?) each have
important roles to play, but from very different contexts, and with
different kinds of advantages and disadvantages, in terms of their ability
to contribute effectively to changing "the system".

        In the Third World, corporate power is more naked, more
totalitarian, and less successful in brainwashing the population -- the
population is suffering greatly due to capitalism and knows it.  For this
reason, the "soil of revolution", if you will, is more fertile than in the
First World.

        In some sense, then, one might expect the Third World to become the
vanguard of change, and it would make sense to encourage it to be so.  To
some extent it has been just that -- witness Cuba, the Sandinistas, and
Chiapas.  Even Eastern Block "Communism" has included many elements of
genuine popular-benefit socialism, and has done much to contain the
hegemony of capitalism, despite being captured by a totalitarian mentality
(with the help of Western elites -- it was German Intelligence that
transported Lenin to St. Petersburg).

        But if the Third World has the organizational "advantage" of being
more blatantly exploited, it also suffers from having in place powerful and
systematic means of suppression.  With secret police, torture, killing, and
mass imprisonment (all corporate sponsored and First-World subsidized)
commonplace, and with the U.S. military ready and willing to step in to
back up local militaries -- or to destabilize and attack whole countries --
when necessary, it may not be possible for the Third World to make
significant progress on its own.

        First World populations, admittedly, suffer from being brainwashed
into the perception that they benefit from the current regime.  But the
First World has the advantage that open communication and organizing are
(still) possible, and that the electoral systems can (still) be used to
install progressive governments.  The First World is the "heart of the
beast", and my belief is that the beast can only be finally and completely
killed in its home lair.

        The primary initial problem to be faced in the First World, I
believe, is education, and my writing has been humbly devoted to saying
what I believe the First World needs to hear, although getting much "air
time" is difficult.  The fact is that the capitalist regime is not to the
benefit of the First World, and that is becoming more apparent daily,
witnessed by loud protests in Germany, France, Australia, and elsewhere.

        With growing unemployment, reduced social services, and the
increasing uresponsiveness of government to popular cocerns, more and more
First-World people are moving into the dissatisfied camp.  That is why the
elite is rapidly building police states and re-writing "criminal justice"
laws to eliminate civil-rights guarantees.  The elite knows that First
World populations will become uppity, even if we don't, and is preparing to
deal with that evenuality.

        Our job, as educators, is to help First-World people see that
"objective conditions" are indeed not to their benefit, and that those
conditions are being rapidly and systematically worsened.  Democratic
institutions are being dismantled, even as economic welfare is being
downgraded.  This is a "clear and present danger" to First World
populations, and they need to be made aware of it.

        One of the most effective suppressive tools used by the elite is to
channel discontent into movements that they control, or that are divisive
and ultimately ineffective.  The former category includes the Militia, the
Christian Coalition, and the Promise Keepers, while the latter includes
most single-cause movements, such as pro-choice, animal rights,
enviromentalism, feminism, consumer rights, etc.  This a divide-and-conquer
strategy, and allows the different movements to be played off against one
another.

        Our gargantuan task is to make it clear that the enemy is unbridled
capitalism, not immigrants, minorities, atheists, government, or anyone
else.  And we need to make it clear that our democratic institutions are
our main hope for salvation -- the problem with government is primarily the
fact that it has been thoroughly taken over by corporate interests --
that's what corruption is.

        Downsizing of government is simply giving corporations direct
control, so they don't have to spend money corrupting politicians.
Government is the hen house whose rightful job is to protect the people
from the wolves of capitalism.  That hen house is full of holes, but
tearing it down entirely simply leaves us fully vulnerable to the wolves.
Government may not currently represent us, but who else is there that can?

        We need to unmask the Big Lie that says "less government" is good.
We need to make it perfectly clear that when the elite say "less
government", what they mean is more freedom for corporate exploitation (not
less control over the individual), and lower corporate taxes (not lower
personal taxes).  We need to point out the obvious fact that government is
the most effective means available to the people to express their will, if
they can only understand what's really going on and get themselves
organized.

        Such an educational task is formidable, but I believe that if the
First World remains mesmerized, there is no hope for mankind.  The First
World has the military power, covert capability, and economic resources to
control the Third World, and the First World's devious machinations to that
end grow more sophisticated daily.

        Only an awakened First World, acting in concert with a strident
Third World, can kill the beast, avoid Dark Ages II, and begin the age of
prosperity and brotherhood that technology could have long ago provided,
and which is long overdue.

-rkm

________________________________________________________________


>There are trends
>working for further polarisation. But where they will lead I don't know.
>There is the real possibility that through indoctrination a process similar
>to that of the Third Reich could take place, where large segments of the
>unemployed and the Lumpenproletariat will embrace a fascist ideology and
>fight for the supremacy of the 'White Man' against the Third World. This
>possibility is real and I am extremly worried about it.

        Agreed.  The elite acts strategically and with historical insight.
Fascism is being prepared in time to take over before polarization forces
some other response.  Hence the urgency of education.  It's a race between
freedom and slavery.  To me _that_ is an objective condition.

>Marxist theory correctly asserts that objective conditions are
>required for the development of a perception.

        I disagree with the thrust of this statement.  "Objective
conditions" themselves are perceived through various lenses, primarily the
mass media.  No matter how bad objective conditions might be, elite
propaganda has the power to direct resentment in precisely the wrong
directions.  Waiting for objective conditions to get worse is a trap.

        And progressive propaganda, or education, has the power to leapfrog
ahead of objective conditions and force change earlier than "conditions"
might warrant.  The American colonies, for example, didn't really have a
bad deal under Britain -- with all the hoopla about "taxation without
representation", the colonists paid less taxes than did folks in Britain.
The American Revolution was brought about by successful
propaganda/education, not by objective conditions per se.

>I therefore believe that the primary approach to the formation of a global
>movement is to increase the effectiveness of Third World grass root
>solidarity in all possible areas, including trade unions, human rights work
>and economics. In this respect active solidarity from individuals and
>organisations in the First World can and should be provided.

        Perhaps "Agenda 3.1" moves toward harmonizing our perspectives,
here.  I would only change "the primary" to "a primary" in the above
paragraph.

>Thus, when choosing issues on which to fight, I think that one must be
>careful to select in the first place issues that create a 'revoluationary
>awareness', that is issues that expose the fundamental modus operandi of
>capitalist society (as distinct from the superficially visible rules and
>precepts of capitalist society). Any issue which either does not lead to
>such exposure or hides it even more, is to be avoided.

        I'd like to see more details & examples of what you mean here.  I'm
not sure what you mean.

>Only through actual
>struggle you get the feeling where power is located. A revoluationary
>conscience cannot be raised artifically by discussion or indoctrination. It
>is based on the synthesis which people make themselves between their
>experience of struggle and reflection (including discussion and
>refinement).

        I certainly agree that if a massive movement begins to come
together, that its own experiences will form it more than any of our
before-the-fact theorizing or educating.  But when things get moving,
existing manifestoes are often grabbed and promoted in the haste of action,
and so anything that can be done to formulate/select "good" progressive
ideology can be beneficial in the long run, as well as helpful in getting
movements underway.

>On the OTHER HAND, I strongly believe that we must by all means create the
>awareness about the necessity of strong networking and prepare popular
>organisations for the need of resisting a fascist onslaught. I believe that
>conditions exist for the creation of a wide consensus against racism and
>fascism. While the foundations for the elaboration of a future, more just,
>global soceity, are not yet perceptible and many questions seem yet open
>(regarding the status of nation-states, individiual vs. collective rights,
>cultural identity vs. globalism, control of resources), a wide consensus
>can be sensed in the West against racism and fascism. And this consensus
>includes even segments of the corporate community. Such a consensus can in
>my opinion yield a more effective defense for the ominous threat of
>totalitarianism in the West and give breathing space to those who fight for
>justice in the Third World.

        The rapid onslaught of fascism is indeed one of the trump cards in
our educational hand, but I believe it would be fatal to focus exclusively
on that.  That would be "reactive thinking", and has been generally shown
to be a cul-de-sac.  An anti-fascist movement would only be fueled by the
successes of a fascist movement, and the former's organizational successes
would fritter away as a result of its own success against its adversary.

        Successful movements must have positive agendas, and keep their
"eye on the prize": _taking_ power for positive ends, not at _moderating_
some aspects of elite power.

>...For such a discussion to take place, people should at least agree on the
>basic premise, that EFFECTIVE public control of economic entities such as
>corporations is required for democracy to function. I don't think that the
>Stalinist model is viable. I don't think however that the alternative to
>state control is only private control (by shareholders). Other alternatives
>can certainly be developed and should be.

        Agreed, and let us proceed.  I keep coming back to the post-war
Scandanavian model as deserving attention.

---

>The party system, which needs overhauling, is another issue. You rightly
>wish to see a more fair electoral system, ensuring the voice of small
>parties. What I would wish to see is a more fundamental change in the
>functioning of democracy. I wish to see people enabled to make their voting
>decisions on the base of specific issues rather than giving some people or
>parties a blank check to carry out policies on their behalf for a number of
>years.

>...I find that the Swiss system of direct democracy is much more promising and
>can and should be refined, especially now that electronic networks can be
>used. Many questions are still open in this respect and cannnot be solved
>easily, especially regarding the control of the electronic networks
>themselves against misuse.

        Here we have perhaps fundamentally different perspectives.  I do
not believe in direct democracy, taken to extremes, for several reasons.
For one thing, direct democracy atomizes the population into a bunch of
individuals, each voting on some issue.  This is an ideal scenario for
mass-media manipulation, and indeed experience with the initiative process
often shows that it is more easily manipulated by the elite than even
legislatures are.

        My belief is that the sinew of democracy is not the individual, but
varous kinds of non-governmental organizations and institutions.  Things
like churches, unions, parents organizations, associations of all kinds,
etc.  I recall how much the anti-Vietnam-war movement was strengthened by
the participation of liberal churches.  Such organizations give people a
chance to come together and discover their common agendas, and they provide
a platform for turning those agendas into collective action.

        I believe "representative democracy", viewed generally, doesn't
mean only elected representatives, but also refers to orgnanizations which
represent the will of their members collectively in the political and
economic arenas.

        We should take note that the elite itself has guided the American
electoral system toward being more "direct", and we might ask ourselves why
they've done so.  Instead of the political horse trading that used to go on
at political conventions, for example, and which allowed local and regional
concerns to receive attention in the process, we now have a system which is
totally controlled by television propaganda, with the help of more-direct
elections, and in the end no one (excepting corporations) is represented.

        One element of democracy which often gets overlooked is the
critical contribution made by leaders.  It isn't the case that "the people"
are sitting there in divine wisdom, just waiting for their voices to be
heard.  Most people don't have a clue as to what's going on, and even less
of what to do about it. Mob rule would not be democracy.  I'm not saying
they're stupid, or incapable of wising up, but some people catch on
quicker, and leadership is one of essential ingredients in any democratic
process -- it collects the good ideas and spreads them back to the
constituency at large.

        The organizations I'm referring to provide an opportunity for
concerns to be discussed on the scale of face-to-face gatherings, for
popular education to occur, and for leaders to emerge.  We need lots of
leaders, at all levels, not one big leader who rides a white horse and
solves all problems.  That's why I'm not that excited by the Nader
campaign.  He hasn't arisen from an organization or coalition, but is
floating up there all by himself, supported only by the thin pillars of the
minisucule Green Party and his own consumer organization, and bolstered by
a vague popular dissatisfaction.

        Perhaps I've gone on too long here... await your thoughts.

-rkm


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    Posted by Richard K. Moore  -  •••@••.•••  -  Wexford, Ireland
     Cyberlib:  www | ftp --> ftp://ftp.iol.ie/users/rkmoore/cyberlib
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