I’m completely optimistic in believing that fundamental change will come to world societies. Further, I believe it will happen before the present rulers destroy us and the planet. It’s because I realize that I’m not any smarter than others, and I’m not stupid. So they’re not stupid either, so we’ll get together and win some day.
Once I was sure that we will be victorious, I began to speculate as to how our victory might come about.
I think there are basically three versions:
- People will gather their torches and pitchforks and force the misleaders out
- We’ll elect better and better candidates until we actually have a set of good ones
- We’ll carry out a worldwide general strike
Torches and Pitchforks
Probably the idea of some kind of violent overthrow of the existing powers is the oldest scenario. It sounds the easiest and the fastest. It’s also the most dangerous, because it’s easy to start thinking that the rest of the world’s villagers only need some kind of a “spark,” — one heroic act of an individual or small group — and then they’ll grab their weapons.
So they try one ultraleftist act of terrorism after another, hoping to get the right “spark.” But it never happens and they just get a lot of people killed or jailed.
Electing Our Way to Power
When President Obama was elected, some people thought we had done all we had to do. He would take care of the rest. Other people thought electing Obama was good and that he could take us part way, then we’d elect somebody even better the next time. In the course of a few elections, we would end up with Judges, Legislators, and Administrators who would save us.
I imagine they felt the same way in 1931 when they elected Franklin Roosevelt. Maybe also in 1859 when Abraham Lincoln took the White House. George Washington?
I think it’s the most popular idea because one doesn’t really have to do much besides vote and a little bit, maybe, of phone banking or neighborhood canvassing. No risk in any of that, and it’s not too hard. If it doesn’t work, then they’ve still earned the right to gripe about everything until the next election.
Stopping the Economy Until We Get What We Want
The idea of a worldwide general strike isn’t as un-historical as it might sound. Workers actually tried it, with considerable success, in 1886. Railroad workers practically shut the nation down in 1877. They might have won their strike if the soldiers hadn’t started killing them. There have been successful city-wide general strikes in several cities, including Seattle and even Houston!
The Industrial Workers of the World was once a big organization that terrified the bosses. Their idea was to organize all workers at their worksites — in every industry — and then shut down the economy. Hundreds of them were deported, arrested, or killed in the bosses’ backlash.
I don’t want to pretend to know more than they did, but they might have done better if they had gone in for organizing communities, civil rights organizations, church groups, and other kinds of affinity groups instead of just workers at worksites. They might also have done better if they hadn’t been so hell-bent on not participating in politics and not forming alliances with other progressives.
The downside of this “stop the economy” idea is that a substantial number of workers and working families would have to be organized. There would have to be unions in critical work places, plus community groups and a lot of other kinds of organizations. And they’d have to work toward co-ordination with the others. It would take political work as well as organizing. That’s a tremendous amount of hard work.
The upside to all that hard work is that leadership would develop. Leadership would also be tested along the way, and we’d end up with the kind of leaders who could actually run a new, better society. Neither of the other two scenarios has that advantage.
What’s the Catch?
There are players on the other side.
It’s easy to think that everybody wants social progress just because we do and almost everybody we know does. But we don’t hang around with the Koch brothers, do we? We don’t hold memberships in the National Chamber of Commerce or the National Association of Manufacturers or the National Right to Work Committee. We’re not listed in the Forbes 500, but other people are, and they don’t want change just as much as we do want it.
If we were to grab our pitchforks, they’d grab their bombs and drones.
If we were to elect good candidates, they’d pour billions into electing bad ones.
The wealthy people clinging to the status quo know what they’re doing. Do we?
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