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HOW MODERN MONEY WORKS — Economist Alan Nasser presents a slashing indictment of the vicious nature of finance capitalism; The Bio-Social Facts of American Capitalism: David Price excavates the racist anthropology of Earnest Hooten and his government allies; Is Zero-Tolerance Policing Worth More Chokehold Deaths? Martha Rosenberg and Robert Wilbur assay the deadly legacy of the Broken Windows theory of criminology; Gaming the White Man’s Money: Louis Proyect offers a short history of tribal casinos; Death by Incarceration: Troy Thomas reports from inside prison on the cruelty of life without parole sentences. Plus: Jeffrey St. Clair on how the murder of Michael Brown got lost in the media coverage; JoAnn Wypijewski on class warfare from Martinsburg to Ferguson; Mike Whitney on the coming stock market crash; Chris Floyd on DC’s Insane Clown Posse; Lee Ballinger on the warped nostalgia for the Alamo; and Nathaniel St. Clair on “Boyhood.”
We, The People Are…

Demanding a New Political Agenda

by ANDREW SMOLSKI

We, the people, need to take a hold of the American working class idea of “Fuck ‘em” when someone wants to tell us that we just can’t do something. In this brief and vulgar remark is the belief that of course this is how it is, but we will not succumb to it, that we will not be defeatist. It maintains the idea that of course we can, because ain’t nobody gonna keep us down. We will look them in the eye and tell ‘em “Kiss my ass, I ain’t your damn slave”.

I was writing this piece, littering it with quips about expropriation, to demand from the system things it could only give us if it was ready to commit suicide and hand over all its power. What is this alternative we speak of? Many of our great thinkers leave this hanging out in the ether. Typically this is because the most democratic form of legitimate authority does not permit us to dictate the future narrative. If it is fear, it is a fear of our own micro-fascisms, the fear that our beautiful plans for a brighter future will all end in totalitarian nightmares. And so we do not pronounce a positive political project and yet, we continuously denounce the massive injustice and cruelty this world produces. It can begin to sound like whining, as if we are the nihilistic crew who is just never satisfied and will always be contrarian. This is definitively not the case, but appearances in the age of representation mean a lot.

When we do not demand a political project, a political party like the Democrats can pretend to be representative of the people and their demands. As the party of the “left”, it falsely portrays its political project as a project of the people. The Democrats have nothing to do with the people’s political agenda; they are a paternalistic party who does not believe in the people. The same goes for the Republicans, who do not represent individual freedom, but instead represent corporate freedom to reduce individual freedom to the ability to sell oneself for a job. They do not represent the people, but instead represent a reactionary neo-feudal agenda, forcing everyone to obey the strictures of the market, as the market is what they believe should control human freedom. Both political parties comport themselves as if they represent us, and they never could. Only we can represent ‘we’; only we, through democratic consensus, can be our representatives; only we can represent our dreams and aspirations.

So, we must be able to demand, as our right, a set of policies; to break free from the paranoid fear rotting solidarity; to move beyond righteous populist anger and go towards a positive and affirmative project. We want to reinvigorate our own proper ideology outside the limits of our current institutions. In many respects it would be an ideology of true individualism and collectivism operating symbiotically, instead of either subordinate to the other. This is to push our new ideology beyond liberalism or socialism to anarchism. In many respects the majority of the population carries within them these beliefs already. From this perspective, we already have the power and if we don’t, then let’s “fake it till we make it”. I’ve always been a fan of this attitude, being that where I come from this is how you got along to get along. You always needed a certain bravado and self-confidence to build from nothing and this always meant faking it to some degree. I certainly would like a people that was faking it, at least until they made it. Because we want to win dammit!

I want to outline my proposal for a shared revolutionary political project. It will not be definitive; it can be and must be debated, re-written, developed, and finally implemented. And the best way I can think of is as a set of possible policy descriptions. It’s the academic in me. So, here are 15 policies to begin pursuing and developing as we the people. Each person with their own individual reason must begin to ponder some similar type of project.

Revolutionary Policy Demands of the People of the United States of America

I. Economic Policy

1.) All businesses (except for family operated businesses where every person is a part of the extended family unit) should be cooperatively owned and operated to establish economic democracy in the workplace. Profits should be shared throughout the business, as well as responsibility.

a. Economic policy should be directed at subsidizing and protecting these businesses as they start in order to create a base level of competition.

b. Economic policy should be restrictive of large, hierarchical businesses.

c. Economic policy should be supportive of community-based work-share programs for the sharing of skills and thereby increasing the internal potential of communities.

d. The system proposed should operate from the bottom-up, organized on federalist lines, utilizing the resources we have at our disposal as an open-source commons.

d.i. This means a cultural redirection needs to happen towards community support of local businesses as an act of solidarity.

d.ii. It also needs to happen that workers recognize their ability to own and operate businesses collectively and expropriate where necessary from the bosses.

2.) There should only be minimal inequality of profit share, wages and stock dividends; not to exceed a 10:1 ratio or other small ratio (maybe slightly larger, all up to democratic debate and empirical/rational inquiry based on ethical principles).

a. Economic policy should be set to have a maximum yearly income (including wages, capital gains, and other forms of rent).

b. Economic policy should be set whereby companies get tax cuts or credits for implementing programs that brings their ratio down to this number and increases worker ownership.

c. Communities will need to push for a cultural set of values that place more importance on interaction with persons, rather than things.

c.i. Move away from consumerist forms of living towards forms of living deriving happiness from interacting with your peers (family, friends, acquaintances, and the random stranger).

3.) Following from this, taxation should be restructured progressively, where those firms who make the most pay the most, same with the individuals, and those who make the least pay least if anything at all.

a. Tax policy should be directed at getting the tax burden off the workers back and onto large companies backs who can shoulder it.

b. Tax policy should be directed away from sin taxes and other regressive taxes that penalize the poor.

c. People must develop a set of cultural values that connect taxation with roads, research, and wellbeing, rather than as a system of robbery.

c.i. More democratic control over the budget is necessary for this shift.

c.ii. A marked increase in benefits derived from solid tax and fiscal policy.

4.) Research and development money for engineering should directed towards producing technology that can reduce labor hours needed and reduce individual transportation; thereby reducing labor and travel, and increasing leisure for the general population.

a. We want policy that focuses less on bombs and surveillance technology and more on technology beneficial to communities; reducing working hours, aiding in daily life, and increasing wellbeing.

b. We want policy directed towards updated public transit, instead of more cars, roads, and traffic.

c. A change in cultural attitudes away from work as the pinnacle of life, and away from individual transportation (except, when necessary).

5.) A move away from an infinite growth economy and towards a steady-state economy that is ecologically responsible, and begins pushing us towards an alternative energy framework. This will also means beginning to move away from consumer driven joy and rebuilding community-based creative forms of joy.

a. The economic system should be based on the idea that we live on a planet, and on this planet we share an eco-system that can be depleted and harmed.

b. Economic research and development should be focused on alternative technologies and subsidizing the building of infrastructure that best enables the use of those technologies to power our economic system.

c. A shift in cultural values will be necessary that views humans as a part of the system instead of above it.

c.i. Programs promoting nature, the study of nature, and increasing the awareness of our connectedness to nature.

c.ii. The increase in parks and reserving areas as beneficial the way they naturally are to the functioning of the biosphere.

6.) The repeal of all corporate free trade agreements, cancellation of all IMF/World Bank debt in the world, and the reorganization of these organizations to be responsive to communities and the need for projects that are beneficial to communities, not corrupt governments and/or transnational corporations.

a. Loans should be structured to emphasize community economic, political, and cultural development as being more important than the system of profit.

b. Trade agreements should privilege the increase of wellbeing over and beyond the increase of economic growth, increased trade, and profit.

c. Debt should not be a noose around the neck of people, but instead merely a way to register reciprocity and the need for increased credit and sharing.

d. Integration of the world-economy based on the needs of communities and their autonomy.

II. Political Policy

7.) The two-party system of elections should be dismantled, making the way for a bottom-up version of direct democracy.
a. A system of immediate recall should be set-up, so that if a politician is not representing the interests of his base he/she can be removed from their position.

b. An end to a private system of campaign contributions that permits the buying of elections.

c. The construction of an information system allowing all people to participate in the construction of legislation and how it will be executed.

d. The construction of a value system of participatory democracy.

d.i. Educational programs discussing critically democracy and the responsibility of the individual and the collective in democracy to utilize reason and empirical evidence in decision-making.

8.) The reconstruction of the organization of political power, so that communities are the main determinant of their own destiny. Therefore, the federal level should be merely a receptacle of resources to be used in common by communities and aid in coordination of public projects between communities.

a. Local policy that constructs communities as political units, whereby community members discuss, debate, and arrive at consensus over what is happening in their communities; policies they want to adopt and projects they want to complete.

b. Debate amongst all of us on how this could be best accomplished with input from those who have studied the possibilities of community-based democracy.

c. The creation of cultural values that reinforce community-based democracy.

c.i. Programs geared towards discussing prior efforts at community-based democracy, what they did right, what they did wrong, and always ways to improve.

9.) We demand a political system that makes it so an individual is able to most fully realize their creative human potential.

a. Respect for the individual as a person with their own set of dreams and desires and working to allow them their fullest expression.

b. Each individual must have enough social power to always voice and act within the community space as someone who matters and can make change happen when it is necessary.

III. Social Policy

10.) Social policy should be based on the necessity of building a base level of wellbeing into society, thereby increasing happiness, creativity, and knowledge.

a. Social policy should be directed to providing education up to the doctoral level freely, with students working as researchers becoming part of the educational experience.

b. Social policy should be directed towards providing universal access to healthcare.

c. Social policy should be directed away from prisons and towards community rehabilitation centers, where we as a community develop forms of justice.

d. Social policy should be directed towards funding the arts in every possible facet and bringing them to every community.

e. Social policy should be seen by the community as a place where we decide on the necessities for a dignified life.

e.i. We must include in the word neighbor, everyone, so that love thy neighbor, becomes love thy fellow human being whomever he/she may be.

e.ii. The more wellbeing people have, the more joy we will have in life.

11.) The recognition of the rights of all people to express their sexuality how they see fit.

a. Developmental educational programs on sex and sexuality that create spaces for expression and understanding.

b. Policy that respects the rights of all regardless of sexuality.

c. Cultural value shift away from privileging certain sexualities over others and instead focusing on equality of opportunity to express sexuality.

12.) Education reform that is not standardized testing and privatization, but instead develops schools where the desire to learn is of the utmost importance.

a. Grading should not be our focus, but instead providing students with the materials to pursue questions they find interesting, whether in a group or individually.

b. School should provide artistic and athletic outlets for students, not as a means for competition, but instead for self and collective expression and developing creativity.

c. The defense of the need for a common education system that everyone has access too.

13.) Educational programs that increase our awareness, interaction, and critical understanding of other cultures and histories, giving them their space for expression and to enact their cultural values as part of our social fabric.

a. Educational policy should be directed towards critical reflection on the history of our social system to avoid repeating the immoral and unethical acts we have committed prior.

b. The autonomy and self-determination of every cultural community must be respected and given the liberty to develop.

IV. Military Policy

14.) The budget of the military should be drastically reduced (by say 50% or more, so from 700 billion to 350 billion or less), our bases around the world should be shut-down, and the structure of going to war should be changed to a direct vote by the population.

a. Military policy should be directed towards defense and not war.

b. Military policy should be a last resort in all cases.

c. Americans will need to learn history more fully and understand how we can diplomatically avoid war and the horrors and atrocities it brings.

c.i. Learn all sides of history from the bottom-up to the top-down.

c.ii. Be empathetic towards other people and understanding of their positions.

15.) Increased utilization of diplomacy as a means to resolve conflicts throughout the world.

a. Increasing the importance of international law and strengthening its strictures against war.

b. Expanding nuclear and chemical non-proliferation areas, thereby reducing stockpiles of these weapons of mass destruction.

c. Outlaw all mercenary forces in the world.

d. A cultural shift in the population, so that war is never perceived as an option, except when directly attacked.

d.i. Educational programs directed towards understanding the geopolitical, economic, and political reasons that underlay war typically.

d.ii. Discussing war as immoral, instead of as a patriotic, honorable, or humanitarian option.

The driving trajectory of this platform is towards community-based democracy working in a bottom-up federalist format to increase the freedom of the population in every sphere of life and re-integrating humans socio-psychologically back into the ecological assemblage of Earth through new forms of creative endeavors arriving at human fulfillment, wellbeing and enjoyment. Remember, democracy is not just a concept, but an action, a thing we do. We are democratic when we act to expand the boundaries of democracy, and therefore freedom and liberty. We are democratic when our purpose is the increase of human wellbeing.

Further, here is a group of people who could be able to start the demolition and reconstruction process working with communities on the proper course of action. They would be and must be directly responsive to the people. In no uncertain terms, it becomes partially a matter of the vote. But, this vote must be considered as a radical act to “throw the bastards out” and restore we, the people, as the sovereign power of our country. It must be seen as a way to return the commons back its proper owners. I took this list from Paul Craig Roberts (with slight modification):

Nomi Prins would be Secretary of the Treasury, and Pam Martens would be Deputy Secretary of the Treasury.
Lew Rockwell would be the chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Michael Hudson would be chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors.
Harvey Silverglate would be Attorney General.
Glenn Greenwald would be Deputy Attorney General.
Dean Booth and Larry Stratton would be White House legal counsels.
Willie Nelson would be Secretary of Agriculture.
Jeffrey St. Clair would be head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Elizabeth Warren would be director of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Cynthia McKinney would be Secretary of State.
The CIA would be headed by Ray McGovern and Philip Giraldi.
The FBI would be headed by Sibel Edmonds.
Julian Assange and John Pilger would be heads of the Public Broadcasting Corporation.
Gerald Celente would be White House Press Secretary.
John Williams would be in charge of federal statistics.
Brooksley Born would be in charge of all federal financial regulatory agencies.
Major General Antonio Mario Taguba would be Secretary of Defense.
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson would be Deputy Secretary of State.
Ron Unz would be chief of staff of the White House.
Norman Finkelstein would be US Ambassador to Israel.
Noam Chomsky would be US Ambassador to the UN.
Margaret Flowers would be Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Nancy Krieger would be director of the Center for Disease Control.
David M. Walker would be Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Well, I figure I have said all I can say here. I have laid out what I could. Nowhere near definitive, but on course for making a radical political project a reality. Our slogan should amount to “Be Realistic, Demand the Impossible”. We must recognize that we exist in a world of possibilities and that the human promise is we can be different from what we are and that alternative can be better than what we have now. So, discuss, debate, and arrive at consensus. Draw out these ideas; make concrete policy proposals for them; call your neighbors and begin organizing; let’s get this going. Remember there are already organizations out there. Join them, connect them with other organizations, and recognize our common political project. And always remember, we want to win dammit!

Andrew Smolski is building his own micro-politics of desire little by little and brick by brick doing his part to rebuild the dreams of the oppressed, such as himself, for multiple better worlds. He can be reached at andrew.smolski@gmail.com