Strategy Notes

On 7 May 2019, I started sending weekly email notes on strategy for creating the society we deserve.

Here you can read the strategy notes I've already sent and see some of the topics scheduled to come. Please recognize the list of not-yet-sent topics as tentative. I'll feel free to change them.

To add your email address so you get future strategy notes as they appear, please click on the "Subscribe" button in the menu bar above.

Contents

   

2019-05-07, Strategy Note 1:
What strengths do we have in the United States?

We people of the United States benefit from many strengths.

We have a large country with many kinds of land -- from semi-tropical in Florida to arctic in Alaska.

We have a large population with many kinds of people representing most of the ethnicities and cultures of the world.

We live in many ways -- from piled on top of each other in our coastal cities to scattered miles from each other on our interior plains.

Some of us descended from ancestors who originally settled this land thousands of years ago. Some of our people arrived more recently -- in many different conditions and from many homelands.

We have a wide range of attitudes and beliefs. Most of us have a capacity for cooperativeness and for orneriness.

In short, we have the strengths of humanity in general.

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2019-05-14, Strategy Note 2:
Four big problems face the United States

The people of the United States face many problems at the moment. Four of them seem the most dangerous.

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2019-05-21, Strategy Note 3:
Our four big problems violate widely held values

Our country's four biggest problems all violate widely held values, including teachings of most religions.

So given that these four problems violate deeply held values that most people share, why do they persist?

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2019-05-28, Strategy Note 4:
What causes our biggest problems?

Our biggest problems (climate change, oppression of certain groups, governments out of control of the people, inequality) result from the capitalist market.

Capitalism began a few hundred years ago in Europe. Its unsustainable need for growth spread it worldwide. Capitalism also pressures businesses to do four dangerous things:

Capitalist competition pressures businesses to do these things.

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2019-06-04, Strategy Note 5:
What can we do about capitalism?

Assuming we don't want to take our chances enduring it in whatever forms it mutates into, we have two options:

To regulate capitalism, we need to organize sufficient power to overcome the power of capital and maintain that power advantage while we wage an ongoing struggle to keep capital under democratic control.

To replace capitalism, we need to organize sufficient power to overcome the power of capital and maintain that power advantage while we wage a struggle through the transition period to a more humane economy.

I prefer replacement because I expect to like the results better and because it requires a shorter struggle (possibly only a generation or two instead of forever).

We don't have to choose between these two options immediately. In their early stages (organize sufficient power) both options have much in common.

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2019-06-11, Strategy Note 6:
What might regulating capitalism mean?

As we organize power to overcome capital's anti-democratic opposition to regulation, we might want policies like these:

These things theoretically could happen within regulated capitalism. They would require a continual struggle.

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2019-06-18, Strategy Note 7:
What might replacing capitalism mean?

We shouldn't think of our task as just replacing capitalism. Some replacements could have worse results than even capitalism does.

Instead, we have the goal of creating a healthy, humane society. That society won't have capitalist characteristics, but that freedom doesn't define the new society.

Most of us find it very difficult to imagine a society fundamentally different from the ones we have experienced. Capitalism doesn't encourage us to think outside its box.

The fact that we have trouble imagining the details of something doesn't make that something impossible. My grandparents could not have described how to build the Internet, but it exists.

Like any long-lasting human society, our new society must have ways to do certain things:

The current capitalist system produces enormous amounts of goods and services, allocates them in extremely unequal ways, matches supplies with desires incompletely, and totally fails on sustainability. So our new society doesn't need to offer perfection; it just needs to offer enough improvement to make the transition effort worthwhile.

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2019-06-25, Strategy Note 8:
How might our new economy function?

Those of us who can work and want to, do whatever work we want. We make the goods we produce and the services we offer freely available. We help ourselves to the freely available goods and services. We communicate widely to match supplies with desires and to recruit for multi-person tasks.

For work that we agree needs done but too few people want to do, we take turns. This practice likely will result in less efficient production in some cases. For example, if I annually work a three-hour turn collecting trash, I won't get as good at it as people who now do it 40 hours per week for years. I prefer that inefficiency to forcing people to spend large portions of their lives on unhealthy or unpleasant tasks.

We can afford such inefficiency because our new society will not need some of our largest current industries (advertising, financial institutions, real estate, insurance, militaries, most police and prisons, and much lawyering and accounting).

Replacing capitalism this way would create a bigger change than did the Industrial Revolution. It would approximate the scale of the invention of agriculture.

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2019-07-02, Strategy Note 9:
Can elections regulate or replace capitalism?

Capitalism has bipartisan support within our country's establishment. Let me restate that, in case you missed its implication. Both of the main political parties in this country support the cause of our biggest problems. (The minor parties generally do also, but the two major parties have arranged things to keep them insignificant.)

Big money (capital, to use a slightly technical term) has captured both major political parties in the United States, all three branches of the federal government, most state governments, and the minds of many of our people.

These facts mean we cannot realistically expect to save ourselves via elections. We certainly cannot solve our problems quickly via elections.

Elections still matter. We should accomplish as much as we can through them. In some places, local elections have valuable possibilities. At this point in our country's development, however, we cannot expect elections to make the major changes we require.

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2019-07-09, Strategy Note 10:
How we can move forward

What should we do when big money blocks progress through elections? Obviously, we turn to non-electoral methods of making change.

Nonviolent action campaigns --if waged smartly-- can build enough power to break through the barriers that big money has created. (For examples of how the Scandinavian countries used nonviolent action campaigns when the wealthy blocked progress in their countries in the last century, see George Lakey's book Viking Economics.)

By launching lots of nonviolent action campaigns each aimed at achieving some winnable goal that will attract the support of people who do not currently think of themselves as activists, we can greatly expand the active portion of our people and build our movement.

Nonviolent action campaigns can begin small. It probably will work best that way. Some will fail; some will win. Many small campaigns on a wide range of topics let many people from many parts of society get experience waging campaigns. This trains the pool of people who will lead the big upsurge.

To overcome big money in this country, we will need to develop much larger and more strategic campaigns than we have generally seen here.

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