The Coastal Post - January 2000

Changing the Future

By Frank Scott

"The country is governed for the rich, the corporations, the bankers, the speculators, and the exploiters."

She may have been blind, mute and deaf, but she was certainly not dumb. That is more than can be said for many still ignorant of the system Helen Keller was talking about, long ago. Those who made their last payment of the 20th century to the forces she identified can draw little comfort from the fact that their next payment will be to those same forces, in the 21st century. The corporate rich cited by Helen Keller are still in control of government, and that is true not only of this country but most of the globe.

The new year opens with some hopeful signs that this old order may be passing, under the pressure of a democratic coalition working to push it into the dustbin of history, where it belongs.

The WTO demonstrations in Seattle were only one example of a critique being made that is larger than single issue outrages. Activists working for social change have long been occupied with specific wars and particular cases of people defiled or land despoiled . Now, a larger number of involved citizens have begun to address the general system responsible for those specific outrages, and more .

It may take time to completely rid ourselves of the need for single issues and special bad guys, but we seem closer to understanding that change for the betterment of humanity means change in how humanity is organized to produce and distribute the resources of the earth.

The beginning of a new millennium is as good a time as any to organize for achieving solutions by better understanding the major cause of our problems.

Whether seen from the narrow perspective of individual groups or from the broader focus of a human race, the present system is the greatest threat to our future. All of our problems are not the creation of capitalism, but most of our problems cannot be solved with the global market remaining under the control of private capital.

Material and moral poverty help to create war, bigotry , pollution and countless other problems that confront humanity. And capitalism, while it generates fantastic wealth and progress for some, guarantees that the majority will suffer that material and moral poverty.

This system, not an individual CEO, sucks the earth dry and burns its fossil fuels to move people in the most destructive and wasteful manner. This system, not an individual developer or real estate merchant, treats the earth under which the fuel lies as infinitely more valuable than billions of human beings, for whom it shows complete disregard, if not murderous disrespect.

Individuals are the basis for social life, but individualism is the enemy of a humane organization of that life. And the power of global capital is sustained, in part, by people believing its propaganda about individuals being free only as consumers in a market place. Just as bad is the acceptance of the myth that any national or global organization attempting to share the wealth with more than a few at the top is a socialist horror, worse than death. Such "horror" has been supported by famous people like Albert Einstein, as well as the very wise woman quoted at the top. Did you know that?

Blaming the contradictions of life on a foreign menace, or on our own personal shortcomings, are what help sustain miserable outcomes that are the realities of our political economics. A new criticism of the global system, being made by the largest coalition of modern times, offers tremendous hope for the next period in history.

That hope depends on continued growth in a movement directed toward democratic control of policies that affect more than a handful of people, and the creation of a democracy able to cross borders of geography and culture. Some will resist, seeing any control, whether autocratic or democratic, as a sacrifice of individual rights. They believe the religious dogma of metaphysical free markets that mean lifelong struggle for the working masses, and material wealth for the privileged few. But they are only a symptom, not the source of the problem.

If we mean to change things for the best, we need to confront realities about the worst. Especially regarding an alleged stock market boom that is really a working force bust, and the myths of debt and deficit spending that confuse, rather than clarify reality.

The Reagan era was about sustaining an economy by increasing government debt. The Clinton era has been about sustaining an economy by increasing personal debt. Big difference. We pay both ways. Things that were social responsibilities have become personal responsibilities, in a revival of 19th century political economics accepted by people whose minds are clouded by political fables, media fairy tales and historical fantasy.

We need to understand that it is anti-democratic and dangerous to our survival to allow continued corporate domination of just about everything. That means confronting capitalism, a system analyzed long ago, but kept far away from the consciousness of its subjects. We remain locked into pursuit of personal success that guarantees social failure. Changing the system means a far more social focus that could bring about personal fulfillment through democratic community.

If we have truly started on the path towards that democracy, the millennium may really turn out to be new. The great woman few of us really know about, quoted at the top, advised the following about activism:

"Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction. Be heroes in an army of construction." -Helen Keller

Follow her advice, and have a really happy new year.

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