Transforming the World: A Scenario

Transforming the World: A Scenario

Dedicated to humanity, the environment, and life itself, the Purple Alliance pushes for new national policies supported by a majority of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.

As part of the Earth Community, the Alliance promotes democracy, respects the rights of individuals, opposes the tyranny of the majority, and pushes political parties to back proposals that have supermajority backing while also pursuing their other principles.

The Alliance affirms the value of compassionate personal identities based on political party, ideology, theology, nation, race, gender, geography, or other factors. At the same time, the Alliance encourages strong identification as a member of the human family.

From this perspective, the Alliance promotes the nonviolent transform-the-world movement, opposes one group disrespecting or dominating another group based on that group’s superficial characteristics, and supports the use of force to restrain people who violate the rights of others.

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Comment on "Question: How Activists Operate"

The fifteen responses to “How should political activists improve how they operate?” were rich and diverse. As one correspondent commented:

Wow!  My first learning from reading all of your responses is this:  How very _different_ all our concerns /seem/ to be! :open_mouth:  Are we even "on the same page"?

I agree the responses cover a wide range. Thus far, however, it seems to me they’re largely compatible, though they may reflect a serious divergence in terms of priorities.

The response that had the strongest impact on me was Shariff’s. In the piece I’m writing now, a scenario that presents a narrative for how we might move toward systemic transformation, I was beginning with a focus on narrow short-term goals and concluding with an affirmation of fundamental long-term goals. His call to be clearer about ultimate goals led me to be more upfront at the outset about the ultimate goals being proposed there. Carolyn’s call for long-range goals moves in that direction, but Shariff seems to be talking about something more fundamental.

The Four-Fold Practice suggested by Jeff has merit. Though I disagree with the (anti-political) statements about “judgment” (we can make judgments without being judgmental), I like the essay’s four simple suggestions and the brief elaborations presented in italics. But the paragraphs on each point that follow often lose me. They seem too complicated and raise too many red flags. And the essay seems to be part of a much more complicated training process that includes elements like “the seven helpers.” As such, it feels like “disabling professionalism.” I believe we need simpler methods that empower more easily.

Jeff’s “The Four Roles of Change” fruitfully identifies different roles activists can play, affirms the value of each, and argues they ideally complement each other. But I’m uncomfortable with the notion that rebels “force” power holders to make a change and the suggestion that if a campaign “settles for less,” it has necessarily been “co-opted.” The reluctance to seek reconciliation through negotiation and compromise and instead try to impose one’s will by force strikes me as problematic. As Camus analyzed so incisively, it’s easy for rebels to let their anger lead them to internalizing the values of the oppressor against whom they originally rebelled. It seems this essay crosses that line. Steve’s recommendation to avoid demonizing and seek compromise is more convincing.

I like Yahya’s proposal to “listen as much as they speak” (if not more!), Deetje imploring activists to sing, Ronnie and Michael’s call for more nonviolent action, and Justice’s reminder that “peaceful ends require peaceful means.” Mike’s reference to Smucker’s book seems worth investigation. I think Bob’s complaint about abstract ideology is well taken. I hope Nancy has success with her appeal to scholars to be activists as well. And I like Thomas and Lenin’s point about sharing the lives of those being organized, but the emphasis on “explaining” seems too Leninist.

My main reservation about others’ responses, however, is that they all seem to focus on thinking and behavior, and do not address feelings. They neglect the need for deep personal change, constant self-improvement, and mutual support for that effort, which can change how activists operate.

In “Letter from a Region in My Mind,” in 1962 James Baldwin wrote:

Something very sinister happens to the people of a country when they begin to distrust their own reactions as deeply as they do here, and become as joyless as they have become. It is this individual uncertainty on the part of white American men and women, this inability to renew themselves at the fountain of their own lives, that makes the discussion, let alone elucidation, of any conundrum—that is, any reality—so supremely difficult. The person who distrusts himself has no touchstone for reality—for this touchstone can be only oneself. Such a person interposes between himself and reality nothing less than a labyrinth of attitudes. And these attitudes, furthermore, though the person is usually unaware of it (is unaware of so much!), are historical and public attitudes. They do not relate to the present any more than they relate to the person. Therefore, whatever white people do not know about Negroes reveals, precisely and inexorably, what they do not know about themselves.

Baldwin also said:

The day will come when you will trust you more than you do now, and you will trust me more than you do now.  And we can trust each other. I do believe, I really do believe in the New Jerusalem, I really do believe that we can all become better than we are.  I know we can. But the price is enormous, and people are not yet willing to pay it.

That’s why my response to the focus question was: “Cultivate more humility and engage in more honest self-evaluation to nurture more self-improvement.”


Report on "Question: How Activists Operate"

Following are responses to the question that I circulated earlier this month: “How should political activists improve how they operate?”

Shariff Adbullah
The question is meaningless, without a prior question/identification:  "What is the Vision/Goal of your political activism?"

Without this question, asking how one can improve political activity is like asking how one can improve the way you put on your pants in the morning.  SO WHAT?  And: putting on your running shorts may be the easiest activity, but is pretty useless during a blizzard.

Recently, I was talking to a couple of people who think of themselves as political activists.  They were telling me that their goal was to "Get rid of Trump".  I asked, "Why?"  They looked dumbfounded.  I then reflined my question: "Assume I can wave my pen and "get rid of Trump".  What do you think would happen then?"

They launched into the usual litany of anti-Trump statements, disguised as benefits.  "Protect immigrant rights", "Protect the environment", "Bring us together".

My response: "And then what?"  And again the dumbfounded look.  I said, "Suicide is at an alarming rate.  The use of dangerous drugs, especially heroin, is at an all-time high.  Depression and despair are epidemic.  We have tens of thousands of people existing in tents on the streets of all of our cities.  WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?"

So, the short answer to your short question.  Until the "political activists" are ready to answer the real questions of our society, they should stay home and meditate.  And, when they have answers that will benefit ALL BEINGS (not just their own political clique or their pet issues), they will know the actions that are most effective.

BIG HINT:  They can start their meditations by focusing on the statement: "What would it take to create a world that works for all beings?"

Jeff Aitken
A couple things that might help:

The Fourfold Practice, which scales from self care, and hosting important conversations, into growing affinity groups and networks around a campaign.
http://aositoronto.weebly.com/four-fold-practice.html

The Four Roles of Change, which helps us identify four key roles in a movement and how to play them well.
https://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/bill-moyer-four-roles-of-social-change/

Yahya Abdal-Aziz
Listen as much as they speak.

Deetje Boler
SiNG!

The strong effect on activists of singing together of relevant songs is too often forgotten by organizers. There is really no stronger bonding than the sensation of singing together with others. It can make a lasting and profound impact on an individual's feeling of connection and optimism regarding shared goals that contributes to continuing motivation to work to achieve a shared goal. (And I don't mean just listening to people's songs -- labor, folk, work, spiritual, anthems, etc; I mean singing them together with others.) The experience simply does something unique to the heart and soul! --a feeling of belonging to something larger than oneself? shifts the power away from the 'other' into the social group singing, with a sense of being part of a larger 'being' than just oneself.

Ronnie Dugger
I suggest; by enforcing their ethical actions and lessons with nonviolent civil disobedience. I may write along this line but do name me as the source as if a mere sentence deserves to be credited

Steve Gerritson
It seems to me that most political activists operate within an organization - either a campaign or an NGO dedicated to some good purpose. (Full disclosure: I went through the Sierra Club's activist training.) in pursuit of their objective, often the first thing they do is demonize the opposition. This makes it virtually impossible to compromise, and often precludes an objective discussion of the issue. My main suggestion would be to stop doing that.

Patricia Gray
I think we have to urge people NOT TO VOTE BY POLITICAL PARTIES-----They should demand that their 'represetatives' truly REPRESENT THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE, and not vote as directed by their 'major donors' --- we all know these 'donations' are just bribes.  Candidates should promise to vote as directed by the registered voters who live in the district.  They can promise that if elected they will put up information on all the bills coming up for a vote.  On their web site they can have the whole bill, a condensed version of the bill, arguments both for and against the bill and then as for the advice of the constituent as to how they should vote IN THEIR NAME.

Carolyn Reuben Green
Have long range plans! Last night Rachel Maddow showed the disgusting charts of multiple states where gerrymandering by Republican legislatures retains Republican control of the statehouse even though Democrats won dramatically higher numbers of popular votes in every case. Republican strategists planned years ahead for this, district by district. 

Wade Hudson
Cultivate more humility and engage in more honest self-evaluation to nurture more self-improvement.

Mike Miller www.organizetrainingcenter.org
I'm only about 50 pages into Hegemony How-To:  a Roadmap for Radicals by Jonathan Matthew Smucker.  In these pages, he asks activists to critically evaluate what they have been doing.  He raises the question based on his own experience as an OCCUPY WALL STREET activist.  His questions deserve serious consideration.  I don't yet know how he answers them because I haven't read that far.  

Michael Nagler
They could be more in touch with others doing complementary work.  They should have an awareness of the Big Picture (to even recognize who's doing comp. work -- which is almost all of us).  They should be familiar with the basic dynamics of nonviolence.  They should be ware of being 'ideological' and looking to call other people out -- even our opponents!

Bob Planthold
|Look at where are the values and concerns of the people around them.  
From that, look where there are inconsistencies.

STOP working from abstract  & remote political values & history.
Too often the wording is high-falutin and, figuratively, foreign to 
the people & groups that polit. activists are trying to work WITH.

Justice St. Rain
I have no idea. 
All I know is that peaceful ends require peaceful means.
When they go low, we go high.
etc.

Nancy Scheper-Hughes
Scholars have to get their noses out of their books and put theory, indispensable but useless until put  into action, by which I mean,
 putting their bodies as well as their minds, on the line - in the streets and highways and  byways of our divided America…

Thomas Schegel
Back in the 1970s someone on KPFA quoted Lenin as below. I can’t give a cite. I have never found the quote in writing so it may have been made up, or from someone else, but it has suited me. “The first duty of a revolutionary is to share the life of the workers, the second is, patiently, to explain.” Sounds like early Lenin, who’s father was a school teacher/administrator after all. The revolution came along and things got urgent. But until I find myself involved in revolutionary government I will stick with that statement of doctrine.

A Vision

The transform-the-world movement serves humanity, the environment, and life itself. In each country, movements attend to the interests of their country -- and cooperate with movements in other countries to pursue global interests. To protect themselves from powerful, selfish, global financial forces, they support strong nation-states.

In the United States, the movement promotes the general welfare and aims to more fully realize America’s highest ideals -- political equality, human rights, and popular rule.

The movement encourages identifying as a member of the human family, affirms other compassionate identities,…


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Mobilizing the Compassionate Supermajority: A Declaration for Global Transformation

Mobilizing the Compassionate Supermajority: A Declaration for Global Transformation

By improving ourselves, our culture, and our institutions, we, the compassionate supermajority of the American people, can help the United States honor its highest ideals: political equality, human rights, popular rule, and, as affirmed in the Constitution, “promote the general welfare.”

With this effort, we can help transform the world into a caring community dedicated to the common good of all humanity, ourselves, the environment, and life itself. In each nation, individuals and communities can pressure their leaders to cooperate with other nations on shared humanitarian concerns.

We can nurture mutual respect, moral commitment, and spiritual development. We can learn steadily how to set aside negative tendencies and do what we really want to do: be more compassionate. Rooted in powerful grassroots movements, we can overcome polarized gridlock by building new structures to give the supermajority a greater voice.

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In recent studies, two-thirds or more of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats, said elected officials lose touch with their constituents, don’t care “what people like me think,” put their own interests first, and fail to give Americans a voice. They said the wealthy have too much power and agreed that the amount of money individuals contribute to political campaigns should be limited….

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Why Launch a “Transform the System Network”

Why Launch a “Transform the System Network”

NOTE: Following are some arguments in favor of “A Suggestion.”

Personal, social, cultural, and political transformation are all needed to transform our global society, which is a coherent, self-perpetuating social system, the System.

Agreeing on the broad understanding of the System articulated in “A Suggestion” could help unify a community of various forces who see how their primary issue is connected to other issues.

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Proposed: A Global Transformation Call to Action Prize

Proposed: A Global Transformation Call to Action Prize

[We, identify sponsor and partners] invite individuals and teams of individuals to submit proposals for how to help transform our global social system, improve the quality of life, and protect the environment.

Cash awards totalling [$xxxx] will be granted to one or more submissions judged to hold the greatest potential for nurturing widespread effective action.

Proposals should be no more than 1500 words…

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Transform the World: Let Compassion Be Our Guide

Transform the World: Let Compassion Be Our Guide

The world is being torn apart by a struggle between love and hate. If hate prevails, life as we know it will perish. If love wins, humanity can transform the world into a compassionate community. This draft strategy offers a way to move in that direction.

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As proposed here, the first step toward global transformation is to develop widespread agreement on the nature of our situation, based on an honest evaluation of our personal and collective strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

At present, hateful tribes -- driven by deep fear, grounded in arrogance and rigid ideologies, focused on winner-take-all competition, led by autocratic “saviors,” convinced they’re right and unable or unwilling to understand opponents, refusing to compromise, and inclined toward selfish individualism -- are trying to defeat “enemies” by any means necessary, regardless of consequences.

Fear and anger have their place. Awareness of danger and outrage at injustice are valuable. But when fear and anger are inflamed and distorted, they become counter-productive.

At the same time, compassionate communities are working  with pragmatic idealism to improve lives and protect the environment with new policies, structures, and procedures. …

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Possible Mutual Support Methods

On the site, under Proposals there's a new page title "Group Methods." It begins: 

Possible Mutual Support Methods

Members of existing organizations -- such as activist organizations, human service agencies, book clubs, and other similar groups -- might use the following methods to support each other with their self-development. New groups, both informal and informal, might also form and use these methods.

That list will occasionally be updated. Suggested additions (or deletions!) can be posted on that page or as a comment here.