September 5, 2008

What if?

My friend sent my Obama piece to a friend of his who I do not know, and for reasons I don’t understand this friend sent a response via email to my friend rather than leave it on the blog. I don’t understand why people don’t leave comments on the blog itself; the point of the blog, really, is to stimulate conversations. Perhaps this person didn’t want to engage in an argument, and honestly I don’t blame him. I am as tired of political arguments as the next guy. I have been involved with differing levels of political discourse for the last eight years or so with little success of ever compromising or getting through to anybody. I am sure I am as guilty as anybody else, when it comes to shifting my political ideology.

However, this person did raise some great points, so I would like to address them here in hopes that he may come back and continue the conversation. I have a horrible habit of taking arguments apart point-by-point thus making me sound overly smug or didactic. Let me state that I only break down each point to help clarify it for myself; I hope that this system of deconstruction doesn’t offend readers, or the person who made the point initially.
I agree with a lot of his points....but sometimes lose him on his conclusions...

For one, he never really suggests an alternative to Capitalisms....while I would suggest a change in our kind of Capitalisms is in NEED....this guy has no alternative other than to say he is not a Marxist....WELL, what are you then? What is your suggestion?
Great questions! The honest answer to all the questions raised is- I have no idea. I have done my share of working with Socialist organizations, and I have read my share of Marx. Like I said in my post, I think a more socialist answer may be the answer, but experience has taught me that people get caught up in ideological discourse when ever the big “C” words are presented. I don’t see our next move as a continuation of economic/political dichotomies. The words socialism and communism are simply too divisive to be effective in America. We must move beyond the titles, but not the ideas.

I see change being planted within our schools, our families, and local communities. We are in need of cultural changes. It is like Bob Doppalt says in his article here:
Attempts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions will fail unless people first alter their thinking and behavior.

Earth is warming because humans, primarily in industrialized nations, suffer from systems blindness. We have failed to recognize the effects of our insatiable use of fossil fuels, massive resource consumption, and huge emission of waste, including greenhouse gasses, on the ecological and social systems we depend on for life. That blindness threatens all life forms today and in the future.
Altering the way an entire society behaves and thinks about themselves and their roles as a society is no easy task. Add to the equation the fact that our nation has been in the grip of a hyper-capitalism since its conception, and the task becomes more difficult. We are now reaching a cross-roads were people are being forced to see the ill effects of the system they were taught to worship. As natural resources dwindle further, people will be forced to reassess their relationship to a system built on cheap resources and labor.

So what are my suggestions for a world without capitalism? I guess I have to say that first we need to admit there is a problem. We must be able to look around and see the true state of the world. The state of the world beyond what the corporate media shows us. Travel, volunteer, read, interact with people online and face-to-face. We must be able to realize that war, poverty, and social injustice are not flaws in the system, but rather factors that make the system function. I see no alternative until larger groups of people are able to understand what the key factors (e.g. Privatization of resources, IMF &World Bank policies) are that are causing so much destruction in the world today.

I feel I am rambling and losing my train of thought. The short answer is I do not know what the solution is. I think and meditate on it daily, but answers are rarely forthcoming. What has been working in varying degrees of success for me, has been to start with myself and the choices I make. I am the first to admit that I make many poor choices in regards to my interaction with the global economy, but being able to see the choices I make and the effects they have on the world has been an eye-opening experience for me. I hope that by sharing my lessons, others will help me find solutions.
He is largely on point about the fact that many people are given this false hope of an American dream....but he disregards the fact that in many cases even the poor or middle class of this country are living a dream in compared to where they came from.
I suppose one can argue that a mother of four from El Salvador cleaning hotels in Los Angels is living a far better life than one she would lead in her native country, but I refuse to make that assumption. One should follow the reasons why some classes in the US seem to stagnate on the American Dream ladder. It would also behoove us to understand that many of the immigrant laborers living the dream picking our fruit, cleaning our houses, and driving our taxi cabs are in the US most likely for some imperialist action perpetuated to their homeland by Uncle Sam. Policies of the IMF and World Bank have forced millions of people to leave their homelands in search of better lives in the US and increasingly in Europe.

My question is are poor and middle class people really living the dream? Sure they may be yearning to have the goods that will make them visible to the Capitalists radar of success, but would they not be better served working for their own communities? Spending their money within their own communities to improve their lives instead of on foreign wars that only make the ruling class richer?
I agree that there is too much corporate welfare....but the idea that most people are being hoodwinked misses the point that some people (in fact quite a lot of people) want to be able to earn an honest buck through capitalism (even those who are not rich).
There is a difference between earning an honest buck and exploitation. And even a perfunctory examination of the principles of Capitalism will show that it is the exploitation of labor that creates profit. I feel we must alter this need to earn a buck that should to be examined. Most Americans want to be rich. Being rich means having what rich people have: cars, gadgets, homes, boats, and ultimately freedom and power. They want these things because that is what they have been taught since birth from their schools systems, their media, and their government. What if we were taught not to want to be rich but to be sustainable, compassionate, and loving? What if we were taught that peace at all costs is better than war all the time, that sharing is better than hoarding? That it is more prestigious to be a caring middle class member of a society than to be rich? I am rambling again, please do let us move on.
He dismisses people that disagree with him as "already part of the ellite" but then says people who are not the ellite cannot see that they are being is as though he is the only one with the answer....BUT HE OFFERS NO ANSWER.
I apologize for my self-righteous tone. It is one that I am becoming more and more familiar with and trying to ameliorate. I am here to admit that I am not a know-it-all, on the contrary I know very little. I write these posts in order to find like minded people so we can work together to bring about change.
I think the writer is spot on about the two part system....the fact that people can get duped into believing in an American dream they are not a part of....and that we are too much of a consumer culture......there are ways, I think, to fight that. And I think grass
roots is great....

But how about some fucking tangible IDEAS......he has none.
I hope you will become a regular reader and commenter so I can hear your ideas on how to fight consumer culture. My ideas right now are as follows:
  • Educate myself further.
  • Teach my daughter the values I want to see in the world
  • Work in education to advance more just, peaceful, and sustainable social values.
  • Try to change my own habits, before I cast stones
  • Write, communicate, share and stay open to new ideas
  • In short be the change no matter how clichéd a sentiment that may have become.
If you are reading this post, please leave a comment and/or share it with as many other peopel as you can. The point of these posts is to connect us and help us move forward.

As always peace.


  1. We are now reaching a cross-roads were people are being forced to see the ill effects of the system they were taught to worship.!

  2. You say peace at all costs, but what if the cost if freedom? What if the cost is knowledge?

    Perhaps you should first define your idea of peace.


  3. I suppose peace is freedom and the true knowledge of what that means. That is my initial answer, I will put some thought into it and write a post, but here are some ideas:

  4. A lot of people would probably say "no" to peace at the cost of their freedom. Excellent writing. I'll come back for a more comprehensive read.

  5. A comment about comments and the encouragement thereof...

    I have a blog also, and I notice that people are a lot more likely to return and comment again if I respond to the initial comment from them. Even if it's just a few words acknowledging that I heard them.

    I definitely experience a sense of inclusion, as a commenter on others' blogs, when they respond to what I've said, even if it's just a "thanks for your thoughts" sort of response. Of course, it's better when I get some more detailed response. But when I've left comments here before, and got no response at all, it makes me feel unheard and less likely to comment in the future.

  6. Yes Deanna,

    You are absolutely right! It is imperative that I comment back when people decide to leave a few words if I want to engage them in a further conversations and help build relationship. I will try harder to comment every time someone leaves one.

    In the meantime, I have added your blog to my reader, and I hope we can touch base at your blog. "thanks for your thoughts" and for reading and coming back for more.

    I am sorry you ever felt unheard. That will not happen again.