Our Causes Are Connected, Our Movements Should Be Too

Global corporations and international government alliances are pushing war, environmental destruction, economic exploitation, defunding of schools and housing, hateful divisive ideologies, and reductions in rights and liberties as a package wrapped in shiny foil, tied with a bow, and advertised in hundreds of different advertising media.

. . . and in this corner we have local and national organizations, segregated by race and other demographics, raising pitiable sums to fund nonprofit work, each to work against one or another particular item out of the package. Occasionally a movement will propose to take on two or three items at once but be shouted down with cries of “WHAT IS YOUR ONE DEMAND!?”

In my view, not only was Thomas Jefferson right to list all of King George’s wrongs, not only was Martin Luther King Jr. right to propose taking on militarism, racism, and extreme materialism all together, but the way to an effective movement — not just a larger movement, but a coherent movement with a vision for a better future — is to go multi-issue, big-tent, cross-border, and otherwise “intersectional.”

We’re facing environmental disaster. It might be mitigated by a massive investment in clean energy. The only possible source of the kind of money needed is in the institution that is currently doing the most environmental damage — so, taking its funding away serves a double purpose. I’m talking, of course, about the military, to which Trump’s budget would give over 60% of discretionary spending. For what? For “stealing their oil” and “killing their families.” Once you start opposing killing families, the remaining purpose for the military stands out as rather anti-environmental.

But that 60% of discretionary spending is also why the quality of life, life expectancy, health, and happiness of people in the United States doesn’t match up with its level of wealth. You’ve heard all about the wealth hoarded by the billionaires. It’s a drop in the bucket. Throwing the military $700 billion a year, year after year, explains not having free college, free clean energy, free fast trains, beautiful parks, wonderful arts, a basic income guarantee, and why the U.S. isn’t leading the world in actual foreign aid rather then begrudging it a stingy token. I don’t mean that we could choose one of these other things instead of military spending. I mean that we could choose all of them. I’d gladly give Donald Trump the leftover billions too just to shut up. Who cares? The world would be a wonderful place.

I usually don’t include healthcare in the list of things we could fund because we’re already over-funding it. We’re just funding a corrupt system of private insurance companies that wastes a lot of it. This corrupt system is the result of a corrupt system of government defended by increasingly militarized police cracking down on the use of the First Amendment. Failing to connect these issues leaves us fumbling in the dark. Refugees from U.S. wars are blamed for their suffering and then used as justification for more wars.

The wars are fueled by racism and in turn fuel greater racism and bigotry, which does its damage within the United States and at the locations of its wars and its bases around the world. Part of the bigotry fueled by war for centuries is sexism. Part of what keeps the wars going is perverse machismo. We should trace the roots of these fears, as many of those roots can be found in military spending to just the same extent that the lack of funds for teachers can.

Yet we try to address the erosion of civil liberties as though it stands alone. What would be the justification for spying on everyone, for example, if there were no enemies? It sounds fantastic, I suppose, but numerous nations that are not at war do not have enemies. The United States should try it sometime, if only for the novelty.

There is another serious result of putting our resources into wars, though, and that is the generation of so many enemies, so much hatred, such widespread hostility and resentment. There is, of course, a way to overcome the fear of terrorism, and that is to stop engaging in the terrorism that produces blowback.

There is no divide between foreign and domestic. There is no pro-war environmentalism, or crony capitalist human rights work, or racist peacemaking. If the absence of The One Single Demand troubles someone, give them the single demand that they go read a book.

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  • paul

    God yes – this is the answer – the path to a truly populist movement that can change things

  • “Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe,”

    https://unitedresistance911.wordpress.com/nanothermite/

    http://benthamopen.com/contents/pdf/TOCPJ/TOCPJ-2-7.pdf

  • It’s difficult to get people from diverse information ghettos, coming from diverse backgrounds to agree and coordinate. Having different issues of interest and agendas further complicates the matter. But from a logical POV, there is at least one area where they should find common cause: reforming the elements in US politics which lock out third parties and shut out public opinion on most of the key issues of the day.

    Things I would change to that end:

    1) Require Instant Runoff Voting/Condorcet Voting – Third parties can greatly benefit from this. Why? It ends the problem of people feeling they would “waste” their vote by picking the candidates of their choice. That problem does not only manifest itself at election time. It manifests itself a long time prior when relatively unknown candidates are winnowed out so that they do not distract attention or resources from those “with a chance to win”. With runoff voting in place, that issue goes away. Voters rank their candidates in order; their ranking still represents their preference when it comes down to the last two standing.

    2) National exposure for political platforms – We do not need to be limited by the issue of how many people can talk on tv in an hour, fielding softball questions from the networks, making “good television”. We should have familiar public formats for every race – web pages, fliers in libraries, etc. – so that people can quickly research where each candidate stands, in detail, on a wide range of issue questions. We should also be able to easily look up whether or not elected officials kept their word from past elections.

    3) End most forms of government secrecy – These include “exec sessions” – debating the real issues behind closed doors…These include the insertion of riders into bills at the last minute before the elected reps at large have even read the insert, much less debated the attached issue…These include the practice of routinely lying to the public about the actual motivations for warfare, Our leaders routinely hide and lie about where the US is fighting, how, and why, etc. It is not only the size of our military budget that is absurd but also the fact that the actual use of that budget is entirely misrepresented and lied about on a routine basis. That is not a democracy of any kind. That is tyranny. BS artists in Washington should be called out by default for naming that “national security” and expecting all the sheeple to treat their nonsense with fawning respect…as they destroy millions of lives all around the planet, decade after decade.

    4) Make a formal process for the public not in office to weigh in on legislation with position papers. This should not be the privilege of lobbyists and think tanks. Issues will be announced ahead of time, position papers submitted, and independent bodies, similar to those that approve research grants, can select the most outstanding papers/arguments for legislators to read and hear in public session. The elected leaders should be asked to address the most significant points raised by the public, and not vote without awareness of them.

    • diogenes

      Instead of tinkering with the system, or trying to, or wasting time trying to, we need to use the system as it stands by taking control of our specific congressmen for our specific agenda items, and do it directly without getting distracted by the “two” party hoax and all the rest of it. Congressmen are up for election every 2-years. Ten or twelve years of concerted activist attention directed to specific policy results can totally alter the face of Congress and its acts. Wasting time tinkering with the machine is exactly that — wasting time. The Constitution provides us the means (and it says nothing about parties — against which Washington specifically warns us). We just need to use the means provided, without letting ourselves be misled by misleaders.

  • diogenes

    Yes, genuine progressives should organize around multiple issues and focus pressure for legislation on those with greatest support first — pressure that focuses directly on individual legislators of specific congressional districts, without getting diverted into the maze of partisan politics. The most striking issue, and one that is going to be under discussion in the immediate future, is health care. 67% of Americans supported single-payer health care when the “two” parties got together in Congress and sold us out again to the same old 0.1% of Wall Street oligarchs. We can either learn from that or we can go on as we have and watch America continue down the drain.

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