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Those who want significant change have to fight every day in the short run. We fight for things like democracy, better wages, more rights, and fair treatment. Incidentally, nearly all of those battles are defensive. We rarely pick a fight. The bosses initiate nearly all battles.

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In all these short run battles, we have had victories in the past. But as long as the bosses remain in power, we can lose everything we have gained.

What we have to do is win the long-run battle as to who is in charge. We have to overcome the bosses if any of our gains, short or long run, are to last.

So the short term is our battles, nearly always defensive battles, on immediate problems. The long term fight is for power.

How Are Long-term and Short-term Battles Related?

Most people don’t see the long term, and you can’t blame them. The short-term problems are too pressing. Union organizers like to joke that “When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s hard to remember that your original intention was to drain the swamp.”

But nearly everybody nowadays is painfully aware of their particular part of the short-term battles. Those who hope to win in the long-term have to join everybody else in the short term battles.

Think about it. If some radical person or organization won’t help you with your pressing immediate problem, will you trust them enough to join them on something else? Thinking activists have to take the progressive side of every short-term battle.

Losing Doesn’t Motivate, Only Winning Motivates

Another important reason for joining short-term battles is to win them. Contrary to what a lot of people may think, people are not motivated by losing. The school of “hard knocks” may have academic value, but it doesn’t encourage people to “try, try again.” People are motivated by winning, and all the statistics in history prove it.

By winning smaller, short term battles, we educate and inspire people to win further battles. If we can do this long enough, everybody will be ready for bigger battles, and we can win them!

–Gene Lantz

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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:

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  1. People will gather their torches and pitchforks and force the misleaders out
  2. We’ll elect better and better candidates until we actually have a set of good ones
  3. 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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Did you receive separate fund appeals from “Our Revolution” and from “Brand New Congress” today? I did.

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The Bernie Sanders presidential campaign was a wonderful, mighty force and pulled millions of people together. If it stayed together, it had the potential to make significant changes in our democracy.

But the chances of its staying together began to diminish as soon as the formal campaign ended. Some of the Bernie-ites split because they didn’t want to pull for Hillary Clinton. Others, including most of the working people, agreed with Senator Sanders that the Clinton campaign was the best we could do in 2016. The split didn’t seem too bad.

Then “Brand New Congress” appeared and claimed to be the heirs of the Bernie movement. A short time later, Bernie himself announced “Our Revolution” to carry on the proud banners of the progressive Bernie movement. On his live-stream presentation, he didn’t mention “Brand New Congress” nor any other organization that might come forward and claim the Bernie mantle. Today, they each hit me up for money. Practically simultaneously. That’s not cooperation, it’s competition between fund raising organizations.

I had heard rumors that some Bernie-ite leaders had split immediately before the live-stream presentation. If the rumors are true, I don’t know why they left. But if they did, it’s fragmentation that the progressive movement can ill-afford.

A movement is more than fund raising

I was very pleased to hear Bernie Sanders mention forms of struggle beyond electoral work. So far, I haven’t seen any of it, but I think a national march or a series of regional marches might help pull people together. Activists aren’t going to participate forever with organizations that only raise money for electoral campaigns.

Unity doesn’t come easy

Even a great reform program like Bernie’s isn’t magnetic enough to hold a large, diverse political group together. Even a great charismatic leader like Bernie isn’t enough. People need understanding and theory that can lead us to victory, not just terrific slogans and terrific leaders.

How do you think the change you want can come about? Think it through and let your conclusions be your guide.

–Gene Lantz

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The whole point of this blog is to help people work out our strategies for a better world. In any battle against any enemy, it’s wise to try to figure out how things look from their point of view.

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Suppose you were a wealthy capitalist intent on hanging on to your vast wealth and adding to it.What problems would you see and how would you over come them?

Here are some problems for big capital:

  • Other nations are under-selling our products and pushing us out of markets
  • Some of the under-developed countries are slipping out from under our domination
  • Environmentalists are gaining the initiative in proposals that might cost us money
  • Another financial crisis would really undermine people’s confidence in us
  • More and more, people seem eager to organize, and they are finding new ways to do it
  • There’s a growing level of activism among the people
  • The internet has improve communications among individual people & groups
  • There is a trend toward growing international solidarity
  • A number of our secret methods are being exposed to the people
  • There’s a real danger that our political system could be reformed

Whatever shall we rich people do?

Our biggest problem, new since the 1970s, is that other industrial nations are competing with us more and more successfully. More of our “free trade” agreements would put us in a better competitive position. Also, they would help us tighten the screws on the underdeveloped world. We can spare no resources to make sure that these bills get through Congress.

Print money

Being able to print money and make sure it stays in our own hands is a big help. The people are starting to catch on, but so far they haven’t figured out anything they can do about it. Most of them still think that some of the wealth is going to trickle down to them, and we have to do everything we can to keep them thinking that way.

Stop the unions

Unionization is not compatible with good business practices. We have to keep up the pressure on all political and legal entities under our control to discredit and ruin American unions before they cause us some real damage!

Tame the internet

We have to extend our grip over the internet. “Net neutrality” has to be overcome with a strong campaign claiming that it’s un-American. Maybe we can get some of our religious spokespersons to come out against it.

Invade, baby, invade!

The only sure thing that works when our underdeveloped markets begin to rebel against us is invasion. We overcame a lot of the domestic opposition to our wars by switching to a professional army with maximum use of substitute soldiers and deadly machinery, but more and more propaganda is needed to convince the people to allow us to continue. We already have troops on extended missions in three countries, but there will likely be need for more in the near future.

Control information

We can continue beating the environmentalists with our control over the information sources. We can continue characterizing them as kooks and malcontents as long as we keep the “high ground” with our purchased army of intellectuals and professional spin doctors. Even at that, it may be necessary before long to take the gloves off and start some serious repression.

Divide and conquer

Our biggest domestic problem is the minorities. They won’t stay sidelined and they won’t remain isolated. Isolating them and discrediting them is our best defense, only we need a lot more of it. Our efforts to undermine democracy have only had modest success, and a backlash is already underway. Unfettered police and military forces may be needed.

–Gene Lantz

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Ultraleftism: Although it sounds “more left,” ultraleftism actually means making a fetish of being “more radical” on every question and activity, whether the proposed tactics would have a good result or not. That’s what it means.

Unfortunately, what people think it means is “more left” or even “more progressive.” They’re wrong.

Michael X Johnson made a serious ultraleft error on July 7 when he shot Dallas police officers downtown. He may have thought he was somehow contributing positively to the fight to end police shootings of African Americans. Instead, he set off a storm of support for anything the police might want to do while the civil rights movement was simply swept under the rug.

Several new funds have been set up so that people can give money to the police. Here is what the Dallas newspaper announced just today:

“Groups that announced donations: › RBC Wealth Management-U.S. gave $10,000 to the Assist the Officer Foundation. › American Airlines is helping fly in families affected by the shootings and donating $50,000 to the Assist the Officer Foundation. › Southwest Airlines is offering travel assistance to families and donating $75,000 to the Assist the Officer Foundation. › Through the Texas Bankers Association, member banks are making donations to the Assist the Officer Foundation. PlainsCapital Bank, based in Dallas, made a $25,000 donation. Dallas-based NexBank is also donating funds.

‘The Texas Instruments Foundation board of directors approved two grants to provide immediate assistance to the Dallas police and DART victims and their families, and to support long-term relief and efforts to unify and strengthen our community. These contributions have been pledged to two organizations: ª $25,000 to the Assist the Officer Foundation, which will provide immediate assistance to the injured/slain Dallas police and Dallas Area Rapid Transit officers and their families. ª $100,000 to the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas United Dallas Relief Fund, which has been set up to provide supportive services, including mental health resources for victims and families of both first responders and civilians, and helping long-term through the difficult time ahead.

‘Empire Baking Co. raised $4,200, which was donated to the Assist the Officer Foundation.

‘The Capps family in the Devonshire neighborhood of Dallas raised $600 from a lemonade stand to donate to the Dallas Police Association’s officer assistance fund.

‘Restaurants and breweries across the Dallas area are offering free food and drink to uniformed police officers. Some are donating a portion or all of their proceeds to groups supporting the Dallas and DART police departments.”

Another article goes over some of the things that are expected of the City Council, including getting more police officers and raising their pay. On Facebook, someone is selling T-shirts promoting Mayor Rawlings and Chief Brown for President and Vice President!

Funerals and memorial services are drawing crowds of 5,000 or more. I think the 800 on the night of the shooting was the biggest demonstration we’d seen to stop police killings.

Mothers Against Police Brutality, which started in Dallas well before anybody ever heard of “Black Lives Matter,” had steadily built their support with good, well thought-out tactics. Ultraleftism has given us all a setback.

–Gene Lantz

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me-knonWhat a time we live in! People are asking questions! People are broadening the range of answers that they will consider! I want to be involved with as many seekers as possible through this new blog, my 9AM Saturday radio show on knon.org, my union local’s newspaper, my labordallas.org site on workers’ issues (which includes my labor history collection), my work on texasretiredamericans.org, my work on tx.aflcio.org/dallasclc, and my personal site with my biography, life lessons, and educational materials.

I’ll be meeting with union members, the AFL-CIO members, retiree organizations, and a group of deep-thinking general activists. I’ll be learning as I go along, and I hope you’ll join in.

Just for starters, here are some of my recent posts:

Environmentalists Call for End of Capitalism!

Us and Them, What Needs to be Said but Isn’t

What To Do — Long Term and Short Term

I have written a lot and will write a lot more. Let’s synthesize our thoughts together!

_Gene Lantz 5/30/16