It's a little confusing, who wrote what in this post, but I kind of enjoy that tension between the academic analysis of our options, and Sara Robinson's spin on them.  At least I think they are her spin on them.  For me, the takeaways are all toward the end, where she gets to the crux of the matter: do we wait (for or push for) revolution, or nurture an organic evolution toward a new, sustainable economic model. I favor the latter, but I can sure as hell understand the emotions of those who think the former is almost inevitable.  Evolution takes time. We may be running out of that.

Changing the status quo is always a bitch. It just doesn't want to change because we need or want it to. It protects itself, and the people who benefit from it most. The include such people as the Koch brothers, every working hedge fund manager, and the many thousands of rich and aspiring people who work for them and their ilk, directly or indirectly.

All of the above discussions are also being informed by an evolving understanding of how transformative social change happens.

As long as most people assume that market capitalism is sustainable,  they'll focus on reforming it — cleaning it up around the edges, rewriting regulations, making it work in the public interest, and so on. Many Americans, in fact, still hope that this is all it will take– that technology, political reform and market forces, working in some magic combination, will be enough to save us from ourselves.

Robinson then reminds us here that Revolutions are messy, and they have consequences:

Others among us are holding out for a full-on revolution that overthrows the whole system in one massive push, clearing the way for something entirely new. Revolutions are tricky, though: historically, a lot of them have gone sideways when the revolutionaries couldn't hang on through the chaotic aftermath of what they'd wrought. They often get swept away by some other force that's better organized, and thus better equipped to step in and take over. Anything can happen in the wake of a revolution, and all too often, it's not the thing you hoped for.

The alternative ot revolution is evolution. But can people who still think Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church really support anything with that word in it?  Wait…do those people even matter? Yeah, they do. At least until we vote in enough sane politicians who marginalize them by no longer pandering to them, as they have for the past 40 years.

Gar Alperovitz offers "evolutionary reconstruction" as a better alternative to either reform or revolution. Visionaries from Gandhi to Buckminster Fuller have agreed with him. This model focuses our change energy on building new parallel institutions that will, in time, supplant the old ones. Don't fight the existing system, this strategy argues. Instead, just sidestep it entirely and create a new one. As the old system collapses under its own decay, yours will gradually fill in the gaps until it becomes the new dominant paradigm.

My favorite part, where Robinson points out that evolution has already worked. It was just evolved by the wrong people, and for the wrong reasons:

America's right wing has used this model very successfully to take control of our culture over the past 40 years. Starting in the 1970s, they invested in a wide range of parallel education systems, media outlets, professional organizations, government watchdog groups, and so on. These groups groomed a new generation of leaders, while also developing the intellectual, policy and cultural basis for the change they wanted to create. As time passed, they took advantage of opportunities to insert people and ideas from these alternative institutions into the mainstream ones. The result was that 90 percent of the conservative revolution took place almost entirely under the radar of most Americans. One day, we simply looked up to find them in charge of everything that mattered.

 Read the entire post

Related

The Rise of the New Economy Movement, Gar Arperovitz 

 

It’s time to restore corporate power to the people by blasting through the myths about how corporations should be run, and for whom.

This article, by an economist who specializes in corporate wealth, with two talented journalists sitting-in, absolutely destroys one of the most enduring and rapacious myths to be found anywhere: that public corporations are market-driven examples of "free enterprise" at work.

I was planning on doing a kind of explainer site on just this topic this year, so this article landed at just the right time, and in just the right place: my laptop. It's absolutely required reading for anyone who has never fully understood just why "public" corporations behave like private ones, and are so beholden to their shareholders, board members and senior management, many of whom live way up there atop that cherished 1%, and mostly at the expense of all of the rest of us.

Unfortunately, while chock full of important facts and historical sound bites,like so many other articles of its type, it is fatally flawed in the remedy department. Such works do a reasonably good job of diagnosing a problem, but any attempt at even guessing about remedies is relegated to afterthought; something left to those mysterious "other voices" we never seem to hear much from.  The authors toss in a smattering of events or movements like May Day and Occupy Wall Street as things we can do to fight back against this contemptible state of corporate hegemony run amok. All of them romantic, perhaps, but ridiculously timid when not already proven to be woefully ineffectual. Perhaps the authors are writing a book and saving the juice for later.

Since authors of their caliber can't afford to spend too much time truthtelling, we really need to find a way to crowd-source intelligent discourse about our problems.The cost of producing human knowledge is high, and the cost of distributing that knowledge is even higher. All the free Internet in the world won't provide the promotion and awareness of the important words and ideas that need widespread exposure.

And so long as nothing is doing that, the people who profit from our collective ignorance and inaction will thrive. At least until the entire system breaks down completely. And that, I fear, is a day not too long in coming if we don't find ways to channel our anger into effective social action that can do even the simplest of complicated things. Things like regulating about 900 massive Public corporations to reduce their self-serving ways as they are so well described in this article. It would be a nice start. And we need a nice start. No, I mean we really need a nice start.

Please retweet this post. It's a story we all need to be telling and talking about. Thanks

It is our eternal shame as country that such intellectually weak sauce as Ayn Rand should attain an almost mythical status among the very people who should revile her the most. But attain it, she has, and it’s got to be pushed back on. Vigorously.

I have shrieked for years that if something wasn’t done to disembowel the mystique of this legendary mistanthrope, her fast food fascism would nourish future generations of video game addicts who are more far comfortable reacting to ideas than having or ever questioning them.

While many a social writer has taken stabs at her over the years, George Monboit has carved up this phony icon with a economical precision in a all-too-brief essay entitled:

How Ayn Rand’s Bizarre Philosophy Made the New Right so Toxic
Rand’s psychopathic ideas made billionaires feel like victims and turned millions of followers into their doormats.

Without mincing any words, George gets to the point straightaway:

It has a fair claim to be the ugliest philosophy the post-war world has produced. Selfishness, it contends, is good, altruism evil, empathy and compassion are irrational and destructive. The poor deserve to die; the rich deserve unmediated power. It has already been tested, and has failed spectacularly and catastrophically. Yet the belief system constructed by Ayn Rand, who died 30 years ago today, has never been more popular or influential.

Of course, no discussion of Ayn Rand can even begin without mention of her most famous manifesto, the ponderously overwrought, yet absolutely seminal work for the “Only Job Creators Matter” Tea party crowd:

Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, depicts a United States crippled by government intervention in which heroic millionaires struggle against a nation of spongers. The millionaires, whom she portrays as Atlas holding the world aloft, withdraw their labour, with the result that the nation collapses. It is rescued, through unregulated greed and selfishness, by one of the heroic plutocrats, John Galt.

If you never really knew this, it is from her wretched political screeds that too much of the churlish partisan drivel emanating from Fox News, Redstate.com, TheBlaze, Rush Limbaugh, and most other celebrated wingnut emporiums of hate and mindless greed is so often derived.

And turning a blind eye toward its appeal to the uneducated and culturally embittered has helped lead us down a path of pure evil. And the trail guide on this trip into an ahistorical black hole, from which a healthy American middle class may never emerge? Why none other than that pied piper of objectivist voodoo economics, Mr. Alan Greespan:

There is no need for the regulation of business – even builders or Big Pharma – he argued, as “the ‘greed’ of the businessman or, more appropriately, his profit-seeking … is the unexcelled protector of the consumer”. As for bankers, their need to win the trust of their clients guarantees that they will act with honour and integrity. Unregulated capitalism, he maintains, is a “superlatively moral system”.

While Monboit gets right to the core of this cancerous legend very efficiently,  one essay can’t counteract the impact of her screeds on our culture, if not our planet. Recognizing the power that this seducative pap has had with people who get their world history from cereal boxes, I’d like to create a site that helps educators teach high school students why her rancid polemical fiction is not reasoned political philosophy, nor even valuable social commentary.

Rand’s works are little more than the angry ravings of a cold-war era, anti-collectivist relic who knew how to make mean-spirited cliches into compelling narratives for people who have rarely read more than one book. It’s the perfect propaganda for a dumbed down electorate that values feelings over facts, and will alway high-five some plutocratic diatribe, while being outwardly dismissive and hostile toward anything bordering on mature pluralism and dialectic process.

Progressives cannot laugh at this kind of thing any longer. It has much too much traction already, and it’s only growing. If you want to help me discuss how we might make tools that can mitigate some of her ruinous impact on younger—or just vulnerable—minds, if not our entire culture, please post a comment, or contact me on Twitter.

Related

 

 

Remember all that hysteria from the pro-left

…about how the Supercommittee would be the end of social security and medicare as we know it? Well, many pragmatists (like me) were trying to explain that the entire concept came about because Obama totally outmaneuvered the Republicans, forcing a deal that would result in precisely nothing, or at worse, massive cuts to defense tied to token cuts to the very wasteful medicare provider payments that no one likes anyway (and which are the source of most fraud and abuse), and some COLA tweaks that would get offset by many ACA provisions anyway.  And that’s precisely what seems likely to happen.

Don’t take my word for it. These folks say it better, and they have some credibility with the same people who spent the past 6 months telling you the world as your grandma knew it was about to end in a supercommittee apocalypse.

From EJ Dionne:

Here is a surefire way to cut $7.1 trillion from the deficit over the next decade. Do nothing.

That’s right. If Congress simply fails to act between now and Jan. 1, 2013, the tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush expire, $1.2 trillion in additional budget cuts go through under the terms of last summer’s debt-ceiling deal, and a variety of other tax cuts also go away.

Read more 

New York Time’s Economist, Paul Krugman

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a complete turkey! It’s the supercommittee!

By next Wednesday, the so-called supercommittee, a bipartisan group of legislators, is supposed to reach an agreement on how to reduce future deficits. Barring an evil miracle — I’ll explain the evil part later — the committee will fail to meet that deadline.

If this news surprises you, you haven’t been paying attention. If it depresses you, cheer up: In this case, failure is good.

Read more

Or maybe they make a deal. That TOO will be a win…

@ThePeoplesView explains:

Just as We Thought: Debt Deal Forcing Tax Revenue Increases

You might have noticed that lately, the Supercommittee in Congress, charged with reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion or face the country with huge automatic cuts to defense and entitlement provider payments, has been a subject of buzz. That’s because the deadline for the supercommittee to reach a deal and vote on it is exactly one week away. Something interesting is happening: Republicans are still by and large opposed to tax revenue increases in any significant way, but they offered, as the opening offer, a $300 billion increase in tax revenue by closing some loopholes for the top income earners. Sen. Pat Toomey, the super anti-tax, anti-government Republican even suggested a similar plan while lowering the overall top rate from 35 to 28 percent.

From Ezra Klein

In the past, I’ve talked about the “do-nothing plan” for deficit reduction: Congress heads home to spend more time with their campaign contributors, and the Bush tax cuts automatically expire, the 1997 Balanced Budget Act’s scheduled Medicare cuts kick in, the Affordable Care Act is implemented, and the budget moves roughly into balance. It’s not an ideal way to balance the budget, but it helps clarify that the deficit is the result of votes Congress expects to cast over the next few years. If, instead of casting those votes, they do nothing, or pay for the things they choose to do, the deficit mostly disappears.

Read more

So in closing…

Can we please remember that some liberals are sincere in wanting to “push Obama and Democrats to the Left.” But far more of them have been dedicated to stylish shredding of this administration, no matter how shrewdly they calculate or negotiate.

The left is its own worst enemy. We’ve allowed the same minority of perpetual Democrat-haters who have pissed on every Democratic president since FDR to poison the national progressive mood at precisely the time we need it to be most hopeful and engaged. It was a big factor in losing the House in 2010, and may well cost us the Senate and White House in 2012. And that would be a calamity on a global scale.

But perhaps this new development will discredit a few more of the left’s own version of Safire’s nattering nabobs of negativity, and we can get back to finding ways to save those institutions and keep the Republican criminals from driving America further into this very deep and depressing ditch.

See Also

 

 

People are using Flat Tax vs Fair Tax interchangeably. And as usual, our congenitally lazy media is happy to oblige any and all misunderstandings by virtue of not understanding it themselves. So here’s a few links that will help you have this annoying discussion with anyone, especially wingnuts who won’t understand any definition you give them until Fox News tells them what they think they understand.

I am only going to rough this in, for now. If you have good debunkers or definitions to add, please post them as a comment, and/or Tweet them to @shoq. If you have time for this now, just read this, and help stamp out moronic tax propaganda and gimmicks from the radical right.

Flat Tax vs. FairTax

Neither the flat tax nor the FairTax plans are radically new ideas. The U.S. implemented a flat income tax for a short time after the Civil War. Many states and countries use a flat tax today, but the specific plan for the FairTax is relatively new and dates back to the mid-1990s. Read more from Marshall Brain’s “How Things Work.”

Tax Definitions and Debunkers

  • Definitions

 Demagoguing Those Flat and Fair Taxes

See Also”

 

Occupy Wall Street, The 30 Second Commercial

Over ten days ago on Twitter, I was saying that the criticism that the #OccupyWallStreet protest “needed a message” in its early days was nonsense. Americans, nay, most citizens of the world already knew what the message was.  And that message was this:

“The 99% have a very big problem, and the 1% better address that problem soon, or things are going to get pretty ugly for everyone.”

Nope, the problem was definitely not the message. Not then, and not now. This Occupy Wall Street wake-up call to America is really so very clear and simple, this just-released video shows just how easy it is to get that message out. (I  continue below the fold after you’ve watched it.)

See? Messages are easy!

Blog posts, tweets, and videos like this are a snap for anyone who knows the problem.  And there’s a lot of those around, and soon they will be making hundreds if not thousands of such expressive message pieces all over the world. In fact, they probably made 100 of them as I typed this sentence.

And they should. But messaging about the problem is merely messaging about the problem.

Messages about the problem are not messages about the solution

The much bigger hurdle #OWS (and all of us) face is the problem of building bridges between the expressions of the message, and the policies and laws that can be enacted to respond to the messages in a free and still modestly democratic society.  And that is an outcome that most mature citizens that I know still value highly, and would like to see evolve to respond to this challenge. They don’t want to toss the baby of civilization out with the bathwater of global corporatism.

Change is good. Too much change is a Mad Max movie, and not everyone looks good in rich dystopian leather.

The long term solution (and even if the short term, if you get off your asses and drag people to vote-in some real change candidates), is to @OccupyCongress.  Unless you have a better near-term legislative body with it’s own military that we need to hear about, it remains our most immediate path to building a new tomorrow with the tools which our ancestors died building for us yesterday.

And if you think just @OccupyWallSt or even an @OccupyCongress movement can produce lasting revolution and social justice on a broad scale? Well, you might want to look into present day Egypt  for another kind of wake up call.

It’s all pretty easy on paper and via Twitter and Facebook. But making civilization work using actual civilizations is a whole lot trickier.

See Also

Flashback #1

   Well,well, well.. here's a "Dutch" treat.

After all the moronic and self-serving blather that conservatives have spewed about Ronald Reagan and unions in the past month, look at what turns up.  Now just imagine how they will twist themselves into balloon animals trying to spin this little historical artifact.  Wait for it.

In the meantime, please retweet the living crap outta this gem, willya?  Hit that tweet button below. 

Thanks to @wajobu for find and passing this bit of magic on to me.

Partial Transcript

But restoring the American dream requires more than restoring a sound, productive economy, vitally important as that is.  It requires a return to spiritual and moral values, values so deeply held by those who came here to build a new life.  We need to restore those values in our daily life, in our neighborhoods and in our government’s dealings with the other nations of the world.

These are the values inspiring those brave workers in Poland. The values that have inspired other dissidents under Communist domination.  They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.  They remind us that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.  You and I must protect and preserve freedom here or it will not be passed on to our children.  Today the workers in Poland are showing a new generation not how high is the price of freedom but how much it is worth that price.

Labor Day Speech at Liberty State Park, Jersey City, New Jersey,  September 1, 1980
Full Transcript

Flashback #2

Labor Movement History

The labor movement in the United States grew out of the need to protect the common interest of workers. For those in the industrial sector, organized labor unions fought for better wages, reasonable hours and safer working conditions. The labor movement led efforts to stop child labor, give health benefits and provide aid to workers who were injured or retired.

Related

 
 

This video will tell you just about everything you need to know about what Wisconsin is all about.

If the left doesn't rise to this challenge, this nation is a lost cause. Just book a flight to Australia, New Zealand, or some other nation where there is still a shred of decency left in their cultural plasma.

"If you break the public unions in Wisconsin you can break them everywhere." — Rachel Maddow

 

 

Related

BREAKING: Julian Assange Parachutes Into Wisconsin Union Protests

Wisconsin Is a Battleground Against the Billionaire Kochs' Plan to Break Labor's Back

The baby boomers and the price of personal freedom

As the postwar baby boomer generation begins to enter comfortable retirement, their children face a future of massive debt and uncertainty

Yet the big question of our time, after the financial crisis and the prospect of years of low growth and high unemployment, remains what it was in 1968. Capitalism cannot continue as it has at home and abroad. There needs to be a countervailing force to hold it to account and keep it honest. CEOs cannot enrich themselves for ever, without limit, with no wider economic and social consequences. If today's market economies cannot create jobs and prosperity for the mass of the working population, the restiveness will grow.

Although written in August…

this essay didn't get nearly enough play in America.  While it focuses on the cultural sea changes in Britain since the 1950s, its central premises use American counter-cultural events, memes and movements as the defining frames of almost every substantial change that has affected both of our nations since the end of World War II.

The bottom line? Despite some social changes which have unquestionably been good, our dismantling of the old cultural and political regimes have not seen a corresponding rise of new ones that can govern, or govern well. And the consequence of that will now be seen as the conservative lunatics in both countries have taken the reigns of power, with far less knowledge of, nor interest in, the goals of social justice that defined (at least our popular conception of) ourselves for decades.

While the American left, armed with ever scarcer charity dollars to produce the advocacy efforts we desperately need, progressive billionaires seem disinterested in the struggle, and a social networking/media revolution appears far more centered on selling corporate entertainment products and the technology and journalism celebrities who help them to pimp those products to an ever shrinking proportion of the electorate that still has any disposable income at all.

It the wake of this new digital ship of fate,  the principles of  social justice which defined the aspirations of western culture for two generations now seem to be regarded by too many as quaint relics. Like so many of the defining words, images and ideals of the Woodstock generation, they feel to be vectored toward the deep six of history. And when they're gone, I fear that the weight of whatever ghost ship remains on the surface—a lifeboat carrying only the very wealthiest of survivors, for as long as it can stay afloat—will ultimately capsize and sink us all.

We'd better find a better boat,  or learn how to swim under water.


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Those Dirty Fucking Hippies Were Right

Last week, I had suggested to the Punk that he make a series of shorter, more focused explainer videos, and find a background a bit nicer than this laundry. I'm elated by his choices here. The Concorporative™ Flag is absolutely brilliant. All Corpizens™ should have one.

I think the Punk is on his way to being a viral web standard, but I think this format can also be matured into something that might easily be a regular 2 minute featurette tacked onto someone's cable show (hint hint).  I also feel a few of those derivative bloggers are sure to start copying the concept any minute now, and that's fine, provided the content is solid. Competition, like capitalism itself, can be a good. When it's Rational.