Fostering Deep Morality: Activist Empowerment

sunset's trumpet : plate from the children's story
torbakhopper / Foter / CC BY-ND

By Wade Lee Hudson

The Moral Monday movement that began in North Carolina is extremely promising. My hope is that it evolves into a nationwide movement that nurtures the morality of its own members as well as that of policy makers. If it does, the movement could become an even more effective instrument for changing our society for the better.

Moral Mondays has been applying universal values to concrete issues in a non-ideological, inclusive manner. As Rev. William J. Barber II, Moral Monday’s leader, stated during the closing speech at the February 2014 rally in Raleigh that drew upwards of 100,000 people:

We are black, white, Latino, Native American. We are Democrat, Republican, independent. We are people of all faiths, and people not of faith but who believe in a moral universe. We are natives and immigrants, business leaders and workers and unemployed, doctors and the uninsured, gay and straight, students and parents and retirees. We stand here – a quilt of many colors, faiths, and creeds.

So far the movement has been outer-directed. It talks about what they should do. The movement also needs to talk about what we should do.

We need to be inner-directed as well as outer-directed. We need to examine ourselves, notice our problematic tendencies, acknowledge our mistakes, and resolve to avoid them in the future. We need to support one another in our personal growth, community building, and political action. Doing so will enable us to better develop our personal and collective power.

We activists have done much to help this country live up to its ideals. Yet we often get wrapped up in our activism and fail to consider ways in which we can improve the quality of our work by becoming better human beings. We need to confront ourselves as well as the governing elites.

In a recent essay, Richard Eskow, Senior Fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future, addressed this issue eloquently on that organization’s blog. He quoted the phrase used decades ago by the Brazilian educator Paolo Freire, “internalizing the oppressor consciousness,” to describe what happens “when people identify so deeply with their rulers that they deny themselves the permission to work toward, or even to dream about, a better future for themselves.” Eskow called on activists “to remove those self-imposed limitations William Blake called ‘mind-forg’d manacles’” so they “can unleash [their] own imagination and courage.”

This “internalized oppression” is deeply embedded in our culture and ourselves. It affects all of us and drives away potential collaborators. The forms vary from person to person, but certain tendencies are common.

We tend to be judgmental, self-righteous, arrogant, harsh, and strident. We define leadership as the ability to mobilize others, rather than the ability to facilitate collective problem solving. We assume that some one person must always be in charge, so we rarely collaborate as equals. We’re afraid to be honest because we’re overly concerned about what others think of us. We get trapped in our anger and set aside the understanding and compassion that unites all of us. We forget to love the Universe and fail to enjoy our fellow activists, which leaves us less able to attract new members.

To overcome these and other hurtful propensities, we first of all need to admit them, especially when they shape our actions. This honesty can be difficult. The Swiss psychiatrist Carl G. Jung wrote:

Nothing is more feared than self-confrontation. Whoever looks into the mirror of the water will see first of all his own face…. The mirror does not flatter, it faithfully shows whatever looks into it…. This confrontation is the first test of courage on the inner way, a test sufficient to frighten off most people.

Then we need to admit those weaknesses to our colleagues, if only in small groups of trusted allies. Naming our demons is liberating. The Swiss psychologist P.W. Martin wrote:

Individuation [by which he meant full personal development] is not likely to come of itself. From the very outset anyone undertaking the experiment in depth is well advised to do everything in his power to bring into operation two great integrative factors: the fellowship of a working group; and the contact with the deep center.

Martin called this working group a “fellowship-in-depth,” in which a “mutual kindling of the flame can happen.”

Personal growth, community building, and political action are three sides of the same reality. The personal, the social, and the political are each inherently valuable. Each is both an end and a means. In a positive upward spiral, being more effective in each of these three areas reinforces growth in the other two. In cultivating all three simultaneously, we can build “holistic communities” as did Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Merely voting is not enough. We are also obligated to help improve public policies between elections. Merely taking care of our immediate family is not enough. It takes a community to raise a child well. Merely looking out for number one is not enough. Selfishness ultimately leads to emptiness. We need to follow the nonviolent Gandhi-King path and cultivate caring communities whose members are dedicated to serving one another.

In our modern, hyper-specialized, deeply divided world, trying to cultivate such communities involves swimming against the stream. To move in that direction, two elements could be helpful: 1) a brief written purpose embraced by community members that clearly commits the community to holistic organizing, and 2) a user-friendly method that self-organizing groups can easily employ to provide mutual support, similar to what Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) groups have done.

The closest manifestation of this approach that I’ve discovered so far is Mujeres Unidas y Activas, a grassroots organization of Latina immigrant women in San Francisco, which has “a double mission of promoting personal transformation and building community power for social and economic justice.” They are striving to fulfill their mission by:

  • Creating an environment of understanding and confidentiality
  • Empowering and educating our members to provide mutual support
  • Offering trainings to build economic security and leadership
  • Working in diverse alliances on the local, regional, national, and international levels
  • Organizing campaigns to win immigrant, workers’ and women’s rights.

Their methods include “mutual support meetings that provide a space for women to tell their own stories in a safe and confidential environment and receive support from other women who have had similar life experiences.”

The “Gift Circle” as practiced by the Gift Culture movement illustrates more concretely the kind of user-friendly tool that a grassroots holistic movement will need. As they describe it:

We always begin with some social time, hold hands around the table, everyone checks-in very briefly around the theme of the month, then we share a pot-luck meal for more connection and camaraderie. Eventually we circle up and begin the process. Going around the circle one at a time, each says what he or she needs. It always ignites a wonderful abundance of exchange. The riches of time and services offered range from window washing to book editing, from singing lessons to bereavement counseling. Someone acts as a scribe to record the wants and gifts, usually posting it later via e-mail.

Mujeres Unidas y Activas and the Gift Circle suggest how we could deepen and strengthen the growing populist movement and shift power away from the elites who dominate our society. Being an activist in the United States of America provides a “similar life experience.” If we develop a brief statement of purpose and agree on a user-friendly tool for conducting meetings, this commonality could be the foundation for a community of “activist empowerment” peer-support clubs across the country.

The time is ripe to create a more just and democratic society with the peaceful transfer of power and a compassionate populism rooted in deep morality.

The No Name Project

By Wade Lee Hudson

My hope is to help build a nationwide network of small, local communities based on the strategy outlined here that is large and unified enough to contribute significantly to positive social change. Some groups already do this kind of work. If they affiliated in a loose network, they could more easily compare notes, support one another, and encourage others to adopt this approach. In these ways, they could expand the network.

Others already do this work to a considerable degree. After making some slight modifications in their methods, they could affiliate with such a network.

This essay presents some ideas concerning how this network might coalesce. But I’m not sure what to call it, so I call it the No Name Project. If this community develops, the members could decide later how to describe it.

Words are necessary. They enable individuals to identify with a particular community. But words also tend to exclude. Individuals who don’t relate to the language that a particular community uses to describe itself tend to shy away from that community. Since my hope is to nurture the growth of a community that is broad, diverse, and inclusive, I envision the members finalizing key language, including the community’s mission, its general method, a specific method, and its name.

For the mission, which every member of the community would embrace, I propose: to grow communities dedicated to the common good of the entire human family. That focus seems to address our most essential, deepest need as human beings.

Concerning the general method used to achieve the mission, it seems that if every member utilizes similar methodology, it will provide us with shared experiences that deepen our sense of community and enable us to more easily compare notes in order to improve our work. I propose that our general method be: to provide one another with mutual support for our personal growth, community building, and political action efforts.

Efforts in each of these areas reinforce efforts in the other two areas in a positive upward spiral. In our hyper-specialized modern world, most communities focus on only one of those three areas. But communities whose members engage in all three can ultimately be more effective.

By “personal growth,” I refer to efforts to steadily become a better human being. For some people, this includes spiritual development. For others, it simply involves paying attention, noticing mistakes, and resolving not to repeat them. Regardless, each member would define their own self-development goals.

By “community building,” I refer to efforts to create or improve social institutions, whether formal or informal. It might involve volunteering at a childcare cooperative or a food bank, getting involved in your child’s school, being active in a spiritual community, or forming a small group affiliated with the network envisioned here. In either case, the intent would be to help develop models that could point the way to an improved society.

By “political action,” I mean efforts to impact public policy in the near term, like with lobbying and demonstrations. Many people use the word “political” to refer to other kinds of relationships that involve the exercise of power. These concerns are important. But that’s not the principal definition of the word political, which refers to the government. If an effort is not focused on achievable near terms goals, it is cultural work, not political as defined here. Most people feel a moral obligation to vote. I also feel a moral obligation to do at least my fair share between elections to make my voice heard as much as I can to improve public policies.

But what kind of politics? I suggest a “compassionate populism” focused on taking power away from the “crony capitalism” that dominates our society. This unholy alliance between Big Government and Big Business undermines democracy. We need to develop nationwide mechanisms that will mobilize the kind of unified, popular pressure that is needed to persuade our elected officials to respect the will of the people.

This approach is not a matter of “left” and “right.” As I argued in “Building Compassionate Populism,” I believe the so-called “political spectrum” is a myth that serves to divide and conquer. Most individuals cannot be placed on that spectrum. Neither can every opinion. It is an oversimplification that distorts reality. Increasingly, people on the “left” and those on the “right” are setting aside abstract ideology and finding common ground on specific issues.

If the network avoids labelling itself with those conventional terms, it could more easily attract people who hold a variety of opinions. Individual groups affiliated with the network might well describe themselves with any number of usual categories, like libertarian or progressive. But the network itself could be a “big tent.”

Some groups might consist of members with widely varied political perspectives who would take different positions on specific issues. The common commitment would be to ask: How can we best fulfill our mission to serve “the common good of the entire human family”? When people tap their deep compassion, truly appreciate the various points of view involved, set aside their anger and resentment, and carefully consider what is the best way forward, they can usually achieve an understanding. At the least, they can respect their differences. Regardless, the network could affirm that groups could support individual decisions about their course of action, if the group so defined itself.

Some groups might affirm a long-term goal of “systemic reform,” aiming to restructure our society fundamentally. Others might relate to that goal as a possible outcome, but choose to focus on immediate reforms while hoping those changes would eventually lead to some yet-to-be-determined “evolutionary revolution.” Yet others might refrain from speculating about the long-term future, preferring to focus on the present. Regardless, each type of group could respect the others without trying to “convert” them.

All groups affiliated with the network could also utilize one specific method. The members would gather at least once a month to share a meal, socialize informally, and report to one another on their personal growth, community building, and political action efforts. Those reports might lead to discussion, or they might not. Merely putting such thoughts and feelings into words can be beneficial, especially if others are listening carefully.

How to structure these gatherings could become a focus of experimentation. By sharing the results of these experiments, a consensus about the best approach might emerge. But with newly forming groups, it would probably be best to start small with close, trusted friends and grow slowly. Sharing intimate feelings openly can be a delicate matter. It helps to have a safe haven. Meetings could be held in members’ homes, or a familiar community center. In a future essay, I’ll report on my research into what formats groups are currently using and share some ideas about other possible formats

What to call these groups is open for discussion. Terms that have been suggested so far include club, support group, support circle, and growth ring.

Each group would be free to do more than this monthly gathering. Members of some groups might engage together in social, recreational, cultural, political, or other activities. Network members could also gather occasionally for regional and national gatherings to share information and provide mutual support. But they would all have in common this one specific method: gathering at least monthly to share a meal, socialize informally, and report on their efforts. This shared experience could help build a sense of community across the network.

How to describe this network is a dilemma. The word “holistic” seems most accurate, but it carries New Age connotations that are restrictive. And many groups use “transformation,” both personal and social. But transformation implies to change completely, and it seems to me that we become more who we really are, rather than becoming totally new. We may from time to time feel “like a new person,” but the use of that word “like” implies a metaphor, not the reality. And I believe it’s important to be precise. Moreover, defining transformation as our goal may drive away people who consider that goal to be too utopian. So “evolutionary growth” seems more accurate to me.

But that’s merely my opinion at the moment. I’m open to persuasion. If folks who affirm “transformation” form a national network or organization of the sort proposed here, I’ll likely be more than willing to support it. My bottom line is merely that any such effort clearly foster mutual support for personal growth, community building, and political action. To do that, it seems to me that such an effort needs to be explicit about its intent and offer members one or more specific user-friendly tools that they can easily use (without extensive training) to nurture personal and social change.

Until I discover a project of this sort that I can join, I’ll continue to discuss these ideas with people who are interested and experiment with methods that might help put these ideas into practice.

The Problem with Activists

DSC01563By Wade Lee Hudson

Like the rest of our society, most activist organizations get wrapped up in facts and figures and policy prescriptions, and fail to affirm underlying moral values. They rely on tapping anger and fear, and neglect deeper feelings of love and faith. They aim to score victories by defeating opponents, rather than seeking win-win solutions. They focus on the outer world and ignore the inner world. They operate too much in the head, not enough in the heart. They become excessively task-oriented, and forget to evaluate their process and how their members relate to each other. They overlook the need to empower people. They primarily rely on mobilizing people to take some specific action, rather than collective problem solving. They often have hidden agendas. They spend too much time calculating what is “political,” rather than speaking honestly. They may “listen” to people when they first recruit them, but then stop really listening. They lecture, often with a shrill tone, and try to “educate,” rather than engaging in authentic dialog. They aim to persuade, and stop learning. They are too arrogant and judgmental, rather than humble and understanding. They function like an impersonal machine that uses people until they use them up. They manipulate people by stroking their egos. They are afflicted with self-centered power struggles. They tend to believe that some one person must always be in charge, that each person must either dominate or submit, rather than collaborate as equals. They have too many boring meetings. They don’t sing and dance enough. They don’t enjoy enough cultural experiences together. They don’t just hang out and socialize informally enough. They are too serious. They don’t have enough fun. They forget to love the universe and the life force that energizes and structures it.

Guarantee Living-Wage Jobs: A Call for Action

CBPP2By Wade Lee Hudson

Driving taxi in San Francisco helped me see why everyone will benefit when we see to it that everyone who wants to work can find a living-wage job. While earning an adequate, reliable income with part-time cab driving, I discovered firsthand the value of middle-class comforts and realized more clearly how a foundation of economic security will greatly improve the quality of life in the United States.

My family was working poor. In college, I wrote checks not knowing if my mother had deposited enough money to cover them. As an adult, I dedicated my life to community organizing, worked on poverty-level wages, and lived in low-income communities. I got to know that most poor people are good people who will work hard if given the chance. From direct experience, I came to better understand the frustration, resentment, anger, and social discord that results from lack of economic opportunity.

Eventually it got to me. I felt I was hitting my head against the wall, making little progress, and decided to save some money, get rid of most of my possessions, and take a long break to wander on my motorcycle. I ended up on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, living in a thatch hut with a dirt poor family with nine children.

Several other extremely poor families lived within earshot. One day I realized I rarely heard anger or crying. The contrast with San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood where I had been living was dramatic. It struck me that the problem is not poverty. The problem is the lack of economic opportunity in the midst of tremendous wealth.

So long as federal policies continue to cause massive unemployment, stagnant wages, and widespread poverty while enabling the wealthy to enhance their wealth, people trying to alleviate suffering in neighborhoods like the Tenderloin will be flooded with human misery. These reflections led me to Washington, DC to work on national economic policy in order to address root causes.

My first step was to walk into the social action office of the national Methodist Church, where I offered my services as a volunteer. The director suggested that I research how to end poverty. I presented the results of my research in an article in Christian Social Action and at a seminar at the Institute for Policy Studies. These reports were well received and praised from the pulpit by Bill Holmes, my minister at Metropolitan Memorial, the national Methodist Church, with Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun in the congregation.

Heartened by this response, I returned to San Francisco, initiated the year-long Solutions to Poverty Workshop. We then convened the Antipoverty Congress to consider the ten-point program we developed, which detailed how to end poverty and how to pay for it. The Congress adopted our program and formed the Campaign to Abolish Poverty, which persuaded Congressman Ron Dellums to introduce the Living Wage Jobs For All Act. I then withdrew from activism to write Economic Security for All: How to End Poverty in the United States, a 320-page book.

But the time was not ripe. The results were meager. Soon thereafter I decided to take a break from activism and convened a series of “strategy workshops” to evaluate how the progressive movement might be more effective. Nevertheless, I continued to monitor developments concerning the economic-security issue, hoping that opportunities would emerge.

Then a few weeks ago I read “Democracy and the Policy Preferences of Wealthy Americans,” which reported that 68% of the general public in the United States believe “the government in Washington ought to see to it that everyone who wants to work can find a job” and 78% believe the minimum wage should be “high enough so that no family with a full-time worker falls below [the] official poverty line.”

This report was not news to me. I already knew that.

But two things were different. First, the authors used terms that were especially well chosen. They asked respondents if they believe that “the government in Washington ought to see to it that everyone who wants to work can find a job,” That phrase, “see to it,” affirms alternatives to government-funded jobs. If private businesses created enough jobs, then there would be less need for publicly funded jobs. But when that doesn’t happen, as a last resort the “government in Washington” is obligated to ramp up funding for meaningful, living-wage public-service jobs. That way of framing the issue is both more precise and more likely to meet with public approval.

If our society assured every American the means to live decently, government action would not be needed. If Pope Francis prompts a widespread moral renewal and the rich and powerful become less greedy and power hungry, our situation will be much different. But most Americans either struggle to make ends meet or live in poverty, and no relief is in sight. Given this reality, our government must help us fulfill our moral responsibility to prevent needless suffering. The American people must unite and insist that the federal government take effective action.

Second, our situation has changed. The middle class is shrinking and average wages are stagnant. It’s no longer just a matter of “helping the poor.” Most of us are in the same boat now. The only solution is to pull together. And considerable “populist” pressure seems to be building.

These factors prompted me to explore re-engaging directly with the economic-security issue. Soon, with valuable assistance and encouragement from first the Internet strategist Michael Stein and then the economist Dean Baker, I decided to initiate the Guarantee Living-Wage Jobs Campaign.

Though necessary as stop-gap measures, unemployment insurance and food stamps are no real solution. A better approach is to see to it that anyone who wants to work can find a living-wage job.

When we achieve full employment, those who are worried about food stamps fostering dependency can rest assured that we are supporting self-determination.

Business owners will benefit from a more prosperous economy.

Most workers will benefit from:
• Higher wages (because employers will pay more to keep trained employees).
• Being treated with more respect by employers (because workers will have more choices).
• Having more leisure time to relax with their families and enjoy their lives.
• Being able to engage more in their community.

Everyone will benefit from living in a more harmonious, safer society.

And people living in poverty will lift themselves out of poverty, which will greatly improve the quality of their lives.

In short, everyone will be better able to enjoy life, fulfill their potential, be true to who they really are, and participate fully in society.

Fortunately, assuring everyone a living-wage job opportunity is a simple matter. We can do it easily, and there is no good reason not to do it.

As citizens, we need not prescribe precisely how the federal government should achieve full employment. The experts and the policy makers can do that. They managed to save Wall Street. Surely they can figure out how to assure every American a living-wage job opportunity. Our job is to determine if Congress has accomplished that goal and keep pushing until it does.

We can, however, outline some options. The federal government could:
• Require paid sick time, paid family leave, and four weeks of paid vacation, as do all wealthy countries except the United States, which would lead businesses to hire more workers.
• Enable the working poor to lift themselves out of poverty by increasing the minimum wage and the Earned Income Tax Credit as necessary to assure that households earn a living wage.
• Send funds to local governments to hire public-service workers to meet needs that are currently being neglected. Those needs include teachers’ assistants, in-home caregiving, nursing home staff, child care workers, park and recreation staff, substance abuse counselors, neighborhood center staff, cultural enrichment, conservation measures, park improvements, and environmental cleanup. By steadily increasing such funding as needed, we could achieve full employment.

By relying on revenue sharing with local governments, we could minimize problems associated with “big government.” Citizens can impact City Hall more easily than they can the federal government.

Without increasing income and payroll tax rates, we could initially fund a jobs program with deficit-neutral options such as:
• A small tax on financial transactions that would discourage unproductive, destabilizing speculation and generate $100 billion or more.
• Reducing wasteful military spending that could free up $60 billion per year or more. •

If more funds were still needed, we could fund more public jobs with: 1) revenues generated by the boost to the economy that would result from this jobs program, and; 2) money that would be available from reduced spending on unemployment insurance and food stamps. Those measures would likely be sufficient to generate enough funding, but another option would be to increase taxes on the top 1%.

Clearly lack of revenue is no reason to back away from guaranteeing living-wage job opportunities. We have more than enough money.

The standard argument against full employment has been that it would cause excessive inflation. But partly due to global competition, it’s unclear how much inflationary pressure would result. Since 1997 inflation has not been a problem, even when the unemployment rate was below 5%.

Steadily increasing federal revenue-sharing for public jobs would enable the whole country to monitor this issue. Policies about inflation need to be made openly following full discussion. What is worse? Stagnant wages for the middle class, severe poverty, and widespread unemployment? Or modest inflation?

In Getting Back to Full Employment, Baker and his co-author Jared Bernstein argue that if and when inflation became a serious problem, we could deal with it then. They write, “‘It seems far better to take the risk of a short period with rising inflation than maintaining a higher-than-necessary level of unemployment…. Few would agree that it is appropriate to keep millions out of work and deny wage growth to tens of millions simply to reduce the risk of modestly higher inflation.”

The issues are clear. We need a grassroots movement to mobilize powerful, popular pressure on Washington to honor the will of the people and establish fundamental economic security. So please consider signing the Guarantee Living-Wage Jobs Petition that is addressed to “activist organizations” and reads “We urge you to work together to persuade the government in Washington to see to it that everyone who wants to work can find a living-wage job.”

Let’s build on the support we already have, develop a grassroots movement to guarantee living-wage job opportunities, and enable the United States to finally live up to its stated ideals, truly “promote the general welfare,” and support “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Please sign our petition and we’ll keep you informed about efforts to see to it that everyone who wants to work can find a living-wage job.


Wade Lee Hudson has been an activist, community organizer, and writer in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he has lived since 1962. He can be reached at wade[AT]wadehudson[DOT]net. On Twitter: @LivingWageJobs An Evaluation

popularresistanceA recent email from prompted me to look more closely at their work and consider what I think of it. I concluded their approach reflects much of what is wrong with left-wing politics.

There’s much in their philosophy with which I agree, including the following:

• Forming real democratic organizations to empower local communities.
• We need to build economic democracy including worker-owned cooperatives, community supported agriculture, farmers markets, community banks and credit unions…. Of course, national policies need to be changed as well….
• People need to build their own non-hierarchical democratic institutions that bring people together to solve community problems, pool talents, resources and energy and allow real democracy to be practiced.

And in their newsletter, the authors affirm the value of certain incremental victories:

Already, the movement is seeing success from its protests, not just in changing the conversation, but in affecting policy. Medea Benjamin points out ten good things that happened in 2013 including stopping the war in Syria, negotiations with Iran, push back on Obama’s drone murders and opposition to the NSA spying program, among other things. While these victories do not constitute our ultimate goals, they show that organized people power is making a difference….

But elsewhere they reject such reforms with all-too-familiar empty rhetoric This abstract ideology contradicts their acceptance of the all-too-obvious need for reform and undermines their potential effectiveness.

In summarizing Bill Moyer’s manual, “Eight Stages of Successful Social Movements,” which they praise uncritically, they assert:

The movement must avoid becoming a mainstream group working for ‘achievable’ reforms…; instead they must remain “principled dissent groups” advocating for what is right, not what is possible….

Any reform within the current system of rule by wealth will ultimately default to a position of serving the wealthy.

Contradicting their affirmation of non-hierarchical approaches, they come down of on the side of elitism: “The primary goals are educating, converting, and involving all segments of the population.”

Toward what end? That’s left very unclear. Their definition of success is extremely ambiguous, but one option listed, “the social, economic and political machinery slowly evolve to new polices and conditions,” sounds like a series of “reforms” to me. And they speak favorably of the rise in protests in recent years, many of which are “reformist.” This inconsistency leaves a sense of incoherence.

In terms of longer term goals, though I could quibble with some of the language, I can relate to affirmations such as the following:

We need to understand that we are not a fringe movement, but a movement in the center of the best ideals of the United States. That is, we believe in a government that is truly run by the people, not by elite corporate and wealthy interests; we believe in equality under the law not special treatment for those who are politically connected and abusive enforcement against certain communities; we believe in a fair economy not one rigged for the wealthiest. This is what the majority of American people believe, but those in power violate these principles.

But if they want to align themselves with the majority, they should drop their opposition to “reform.”

And to my mind, they need to deepen the understanding of “the system,” which involves all of us who reinforce the system in countless ways. Without the consent and the participation of the overwhelming majority of Americans, our society would collapse. It is therefore overly simplistic and inaccurate to say:

Large transnational corporations currently control the political process, the judicial system, the major media outlets and education. The national security state, from the local police to the military, protect the interests of transnational corporations, both overtly through fear and physical repression, and covertly through spying and infiltration.

To try to scapegoat large international corporations simply makes no sense to me. Our situation is far more complicated than that. “Control” is not the right word to describe the enormous power exercised by those corporations, which don’t always agree with each other.

And solutions will involve much more than attacking that “enemy” and replacing those corporations with local currencies and local stock markets.

Real progress in this era of the Internet will require something other than the top-down “mobilizing” that recommends. These days, such leaders “die with their mouths open,” as Ronald Heifetz put it.

Rather, we need open, transparent, collaborative problem-solving among peers who truly respect each other. A good first step would be for the administrators of the to identify who they are on their website.