October 24

A Capital Idea Part 89: This Could be the Best Revolution Ever

This is my special message to all the 99%er revolutionaries among us. I really believe this could be a positively transformational period in human history. It could be, but that depends -- on us. I suffer no delusion that 99% of the population is on our side, although it should be. However, I am sure that it is the large majority of us.

Who is not on our side? For one, and most importantly, the oligarchy and their massive wealth is not. For another, the banksters are not. We all know that Republican politicians are not on our side, and many Democratic ones are not either. The right-wing pundits are not, either, of course. And of course, there are the Archie Bunkers and ditto-heads of the world who act against their own self-interest. But all of these put together, probably amount to 20-25% of the American population.

Let me give you my perspective on what we are up against, that is, what these wealthy people who oppose the 99%ers really want and don't want of the American public.

Don't be delusional about these people. They don't want you to be rich -- they want little obedient wage slaves instead. As long as you are too busy trying to "make a living" to pay attention to politics or complain too much, the system they put into motion can keep churning along.

They don't want us to be educated, really -- they want us to know just enough to make good wage slaves. People such as myself are what they think of as anomalies, no matter how many of us there are. There must be institutions of higher education, so people such as myself slip through the cracks and get PH.Ds in what they refer to derogatorily with such language as "pinko commie liberal institutions" such as the University of California, where our advisors rage against the military industrial complex and the corruptness of the Republican party. I was supposed to hate affirmative action, and be a conservative champion of the power of the individual over collective action. I was supposed to love the private sector and hate big government, but something went wrong; actually, something went wrong with probably over 90% of us. I have yet to meet an openly conservative psychologist, despite the omni-present bald pate of Dr. Phil, Texas conservative clinical psychologist (or some such) on the television. What went wrong? We were educated! By the way, I think the same holds true for my two older PH.D brothers (a geneticist and a water quality specialist). No wonder these people want to privatize the educational system, make it the domain of the wealthy, and dictate its agenda and curriculum!

They don't want a low unemployment rate either. No, they want many of you to be unemployed and struggling to find work. Why? When their is a shortage of jobs, people get desperate for them, so they will work for just about any wage, no matter how low. What do they do about the unemployed? Social Darwinism, basically. If you are unemployed, so they say, you must be an Unworthy One. The rich deserve their wealth, they say; it is proof of their worthiness. The poor are like lost sheep which deserve nothing better than to be victims of the wolves of the world. Meanwhile, Republican politicians circle Obama like a school of sharks on the hunt.

They don't want you to vote either. They say they believe in democracy, and as proof, they are willing to export what they call "democracy" from the barrel of a gun. But they don't want democracy; they want an oligarchy of the wealthy. The less the people vote, the better for them. They assuage us with mindless entertainment -- sports for men, soap operas for women, idiotic sitcoms for both genders, etc. And they let us have computer games and other high tech toys, hoping to distract us from our growing problems.

What do they want? Well, that's easy -- money, power, prestige, comfort, security, self-esteem-- the more the better. How do they get what they want? By rigging the system so that a constant flow of money comes their way, and using that money to buy the rest, except for self-esteem, which cannot be bought. How do they get self-esteem? They rig their own personal belief systems to make their actions worthy of only the best among us. They believe in Social Darwinism, and place themselves at the top. They convince themselves that they are the "job creators" without which society cannot function. They even adjust their religious belief systems to reflect their privileged reality.

What do we want? We want economic fairness, an unrigged system, education for all, widely available employment, and true democracy in which money plays no part. In other words, we want all the things they don't, and I believe, we are going to get it, sooner or later.

How will we get there? By being persistent, by all pitching in and helping, and by all understanding the current situation and how we need to transform society.

In the previous two blog posts, I described the Social Contract and some ways to enforce it. This is my way of framing the new revolution. This revolution is about forming a new Social Contract and making sure that it cannot be undone by a small minority of greedy (in any way) individuals. I described how "the other side" -- namely the corporate oligarchs, many bankers, and many of those in government and the miliatary -- have broken the Social Contract. However, we, the 99%ers, have our own social obligations to fulfill if we are to form a new, much better Social Contract and succeed in making it a reality.

This must remain a peaceful movement, even if the opposition becomes violent. Never let them have the social ammunition to make the case that they have the higher moral ground.

This movement must be focused and disciplined, something which is often difficult for the young and angry to succeed at. We, especially those in the public eye, must be on our best behavior as much as possible. Have fun, but don't turn protests into parties! Don't take drugs, don't engage in sexual promiscuity, don't act like jerks, and don't blame clean living people such as me when people do so and we all suffer the consequences. This is a moral movement; thus, it must act morally.

This movement must not become a showcase for personalities. The cult of personality can be a dangerous thing. That is why it being a "leaderless movement," at least in the beginning, is a good thing. I believe that the movement will eventually need leaders, but based on rational reasons, not based on the "Need for Power" (as psychologist Henry Murray would call it).

We must be persistent, and not get discouraged when things don't go as we hope. Things we rarely go exactly as we hope, but as long as we make our point and keep moving forward, we will succeed.

We must all do what we can to help. This is not a movement merely of disgruntled, mostly out of work people protesting against corporate power. In fact, the seeds of this revolution were planted long ago, and all of us who are not on the side of the oligarchs, are revolutionaries. Make no mistake: There will ultimately be no such thing as neutral in this revolution. This is a populist revolution, with the large majority against a relatively small minority. All of us will take part in it. Those of us who are not out in the streets, may do as much or more for this movement in many cases, as those in the streets. Those who write, talk, or take action in favor of the 99%ers are all effective revolutionaries. Those who love humanity are 99%ers too, as are the people who buy Pizzas or Port-a-Potties for the protesters and otherwise support them. Holding protest signs and walking around in large city downtown financial and government centers is only the more out-in-the-open, attention catching side of the revolution. Ultimately, most of this revolution will take place at the ballot box, the Whitehouse.gov email box, and the halls of Congress and the White House, when we find representative who finally represent us! But those of us who do go out and protest, keep on protesting. We need you. You have gotten their attention. And if you support the revolution in some other way, keep on doing that as well. This generation has a chance to transform the world in a positive way, to advance human cultural evolution to a point where we at last, put the era of financial capitalism dominance behind us, but we must all participate. Don't ever think of political participation as merely an optional right. It is not only a right, but really, an obligation!

I have been hearing a relevant quote attributed to Ghandi recently in relation to the Occupy Wall Street movement. However, when I looked it up on the internet, I found that this quote was disputed, but there is a verified similar quote from a Union activist named Nicholas Klein in 1918. Here it is:

And, my friends, in this story you have a history of this entire movement. First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you.

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Mohandas_Karamchand_Gandhi

We have gotten past the "ignore" stage, and reached the stage of being ridiculed. Please be prepared for the real attacks on the movement and those involved in it, in the coming years. Be brave, but be careful and self-controlled.

Finally, we must understand the world pretty much as it is. Live life with an open mind, a rational mind, a caring mind. Believe in fairness and work for it, always. Most of all, live a life of good conscience. The growing revolution we now find ourselves in asks nothing less of us, and nothing more.

Comments

Roberta Hackett's picture
Roberta Hackett 8 years 3 weeks ago
#1

I am learning not to press the enter button until I finish my comment. We have failed our children with this teach to the test policy. Many of us understand the concept of holistic learning, holistic business plans, holistic problem solving. Democracy is a holistic government system. This is what I want to learn/teach the youth of our movement, if they want to learn/teach. There is structure, mechanics, and dynamics to democracy. There is a way to solve problems within that structure. In fact that is the only way we will solve all the problems we face. Using Maximizing profits for the few as the sole strategy will solve no problems. It will only maximize profits for the few. Last I looked that is not a problem.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 8 years 3 weeks ago
#2

Roberta? How sweet. My name is Robert.

I agree with the holistic approach to learning. I am a community college professor, so I know the realities of teaching these days. We do need to give evaluations, which means giving tests and teaching content, but we can also teach holistic concepts, which is basically what I do, and show the students the larger picture and how to conceptualize it. By the way, the realities of teaching nowadays include schools cutting classes and laying off teachers, reduced pay and work for those who don't lose their jobs, overcrowded classes when we can get them, disgruntled students who really get that they are being royally screwed by the oligarchy (and I am grateful that they underestand that), and of course, being blamed by right wing miseducated idiots for the budget problems of states and communities.

Of course, these oligiarchs want us to teach everybodyexcept their privileged children to a minimum level of competency regarding the 3 Rs and not much else, such as civics, government and critical thinking, so they can have their worker bees. I was privileged enough to be the youngest son of a doctor, an upper middle class upbringing, and go to private college. I think I was always a progressive by nature, but my education and experience only made me more so. The oligarchs consider education and communication among the people their enemies.

I agree too that democratic government is a holistic system. Yet our government is filled with analytical thinkers who cannot see the forest for the trees. People here know how to analyze and maximize profits, but are clueless regarding the dysfunctionality of the larger system of which they are a part.

Robindell's picture
Robindell 8 years 3 weeks ago
#3

In cities such as one in your state of California, namely Oakland, the police are making it impossible for citizens to remain overnight in public parks so they can readily continue with their protesting the following day. I am not sure if in every case the protesters have applied for permits to stay overnight in parks. Permits in some cases may have been issued just to be able to have a gathering on the street. The park in the financial district of New York where many of the Occupy Wall St. protesters have stayed is privately owned, but in other cities, the parks are usually owned by the city and thus by the public.

The logistics of the situation is a kind of property dispute. The city governments are implying that there are people who want to enter a park but are encounter difficulty in doing so because of all of the protesters who are camping out there. No doubt, there have been some complaints about noise or about the condition of a certain park, but to say that there are citizens not involved with the protests who are claiming to be denied access and/or reasonably clean and quiet conditions in these parks seems dubvious. Maybe the police are afraid of problems that might occur as a result of having a long-term gathering of people. Public parks seem to have closing hours and rules not allowing overnight occupancy.

The protesters don't have a party or candidate they are endorsing, and they are only indirectly directing their disagreement and criticisms against the more conservative of the two major parties. The movement could result in a third party being born, and in fact I have heard that a future convention is planned along those lines. Getting third party candidates elected in this country is quite difficult, but with the degree of political alienation and anger, it may be more feasible than ever before.

Regarding psychology, I have read several books which are critical of the practice of psychotherapy which is provided not only by clinical psychologists but by those with a master's in social work, marriage and family counseling, or psychogical counseling. One of the main criticisms, which I agree with, is that therapy tends to ignore the needs of clients that can only be met if social and economic systems are in place to ensure that we have jobs or income support, housing, education, health care, etc. for all. Most therapists may be in favor of a strong economy and of some kind of social insurance programs, but their counseling doesn't emphasize the need to reform society or to take political action. As you no doubt know, Abraham Maslow thought that most personality theories were based on observations of emotionally troubled or even mentally ill human beings instead of trying to describe what a normal, self-actualized person is like. Maslow once met Freud and didn't like a question that Freud asked Maslow. Even neo-psychoanalysts had disagreements with Freudian theory. The emphasis on emotional distress and individual pathology justifies psychotherapists submitting a bill for their services to a health insurance company or program. The client may need advice and social services or a job rather than correction of a behavioral problem.

The Occupy Wall St. protesters have been described in less than flattering terms by some Republicans. Some conservative individuals have given the occupiers rather condescending advice such as to look for a job. In psychology and in counseling, I have found that there is a kind of sociological ambivalence, to use Robert K. Merton's phrase, between being emphathetic or at least showing what Rogers called "positive unconditonal regard," versus having the therapist challenge and even disagree with the views or behavior of the client, kind of like cognitive therapy, where you try and challenge the client's thinking as being unrealistic or harmful. Some people may be disappointed in life, but their disappointment may not be unrealistic. Some may be not be personally depressed, but may have reached some rather depressing conclusions about our economic policies and corporate conduct.

You give a very good description of the attitudes which many Americans, rich, middle class and even, in some cases, working class, subscribe to regarding the wealthy versus those who are low-income or poor. I am not sure that many therapists would be discussing these kinds of opinions with clients, and even if the subject of economic valuation of people and social class came up, I am not sure that most therapists would be comfortable expressing a contrary opinion to a client. People who think this way, i.e., conservatives, I would imagine, are not likely to seek out psychotherapy, or if they do, they may not be interested in changing their attitudes or in having their ideological beliefs challenged.

The rich often want to go backward in time to eliminate protections and safeguards. Why average citizens would think that this would be to their advantage is more difficult to understand.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 8 years 3 weeks ago
#4

"The rich often want to go backward in time to eliminate protections and safeguards. Why average citizens would think that this would be to their advantage is more difficult to understand."

Spot on, Robindell!

I have heard about what happened in Oakland. One protester from there, who is an Iraq War/Occupation Vet, is in intensive care from the police attack on him. Your discussion of the legality of protesting brings up the question, if people gathering in public or private places is not legal, when is it legal? Yet, we have a Constitutional guarantee of the right to assemble. Something is very haywire here, with these contradictions.Of course, I believe that the Constitutional guarantee of protesting important issues, prevails over whether the police or people wishing to walk their dogs in the park get pissed off.

I heard about the proposed convention and also have read the OWS list of demands, which sounds like something straight out of Thom Hartmann and we Hartmannites for the most part. The only part I think is ill-considered is the demand that if things don't happen as they want within a year of an election, they will demand another election immediately. Elections are every two years anyway, and every four years for President. I do wish there were a recall mechanism for federal positions, but I don't think there is. I really have no idea whether an attempt to form a third party will come out of the convention or not. My advice again, would be that this idea is inadvisable until the Republicans really implode. Otherwise, the Republicans could have a disastrously successful election next year by splitting their opposition. I have heard pundits say that it is more likely that any third Presidential candidate is more likely to come from the conservative, Tea Party side, though. Perhaps there will be one of each. Tea Party, OWS, Democrat and Republican Presidential candidates. Eventually, I would like to see reforms that lead to a multi-party system in the U.S. as works in many other nations, but with the current, winner take all system, having a third candidate works to sabotage the party from which the third candidate draws votes.

You make a great point about psychotherapy ignoring the social context. That may have something to do with the individualistic emphasis of our society. (It is one of the most individualistic societies, to no one's surprise, according to research.) Also, I think that people who are worried about how the system is hurting people, tend to be drawn to academic areas such as Social Psychology or Developmental Psychology, while people drawn to Clinical Psychology tend not to think in those terms. As you probably know, I am a big fan of Maslow, Rogers and other Humanistic Psychologists. As you mention, they do emphasize the normal and even the positive things such as what leads to happiness. Unfortunately, much of psychology has been influenced by people such as Freud, who overgeneralized from disturbed people to all of us.

I think we should train psychotherapists to be more sensitive to cultural conditions affecting their clients. Perhaps Clinical Psych. programs could learn from Social Workers or from therapies as practiced in more collectivistic cultures such as in Asia, where the social context is taken much more into account in therapy, I think, than it is in the U.S.

Robindell's picture
Robindell 8 years 3 weeks ago
#5

Thank you for replying. I checked a book of mine and found that I was slightly in error in that I should have said that Gordon Allport, not Maslow, was the one who had a disappointing experience in meeting Freud. Maslow did base his theory on the idea of a healthy, self-actualized person, and as you know, moved to California and was on the faculty of the Esalen Institute and studied the lives of some famous people to better understand what made them live their lives on an idealistic level. So you will have to take out your red pencil and take some points away from me for my error, for which I apologize. Unless I have notes or a book right in front of me, I sometimes get a little mixed up. Allport was also an interesting thinker and was the author of the well-known book, The Nature of Prejudice.

Most psychologists I have gone to see are big on saying that I can't change society and that if I am unhappy, I should change myself. If in your own career, if you could somehow steer psychology more to a political and economic fairness perspective, and away from such a strictly medical model of psychiatric pathology, I think that would be in keeping with what these protests are attempting to convey.

I don't like to be judgmental of others, but some of the protesters in some locations seem to be more interested in using the situation as an excuse for causing trouble through confrontation with police or sprawling grafatti on the walls of buildings than on making a constructive statement about the existing conditons. Also, even before I was introduced to your writings on the blog pages here, I was of the opinion that there is something neurotic or developmentally amiss with many, if not all, conservatives. But since having visited Thom's site, I can now see that there are some progressives who appear to be obsessive-compulsive in criticizing President Obama and blaming him for practically all the world's evils, to the exclusion of mentioning the unprecedented right-wing Congress which refuses to pass any bills submitted by the White House or by the Democratic Congressional leadership. The president is now going to use some executive orders, but there may be some legal limitations to that procedure.

Regarding our educational system, I have previously read of the argument that much of the pedogogy and curriculum were designed to facilitate the industrial revolution by turning out compliant "busy bees," as you put it above. I would diverge slightly from this view by pointing out that there are a lot of creative people in various businesses. Scientists working for drug companies and engineers at health care product manufacturers, all kinds of computer information systems and software development departments, Web or game designers, even dishonest accounts and aggresive stock market or commodities futures traders and investment bankers who put together multi-million dollar mergers, they all have some degree of creativity within the corporate sphere, even if people don't always like what it is they are creating. I am not a social psychologist, but my theory is that conservatives and even some progressives may be too creative with their assertions about reality. They believe what they believe rather than what they have gleaned through extensive reading and research in an attempt at empiricism. Epistomology I think has a lot to due with how people reason and reach conclusions, sometimes confusing speculation or hypothesis with established fact. In some ways, our educational system is not disciplined enough, and kids need to learn discipline to master a field of endeavor. Somehow, people are learning to respect the wrong kinds of authorities, monied interests instead of intellectuals and academics, such as yourself. The average worker certainly is not given much of a voice in many work organizations. Allport if I recall discussed how frustration can lead to people lashing out against others. The Spanish-born celloist Pablo Casals used to say, "liberty with order."

One final thing. Another blogger posted a reply on the jobs bill from Arizona Senator John Kyl. Kyl made the claim which I have already heard that each job created by the government would cost something like $200,000, more than would be the case in the private sector. I am not sure how the Republicans arrive at this kind of a figure, what they are basing it on. Of course the government as it now exists is not always the most efficient vehicle, but they certainly have cost controls and auditors. An infrastructure project, by its very nature, is expensive. In your state, they tried to save money on a bridge by buying prefabricated components from China I think it was. This point would make for an interesting debate. I don't recall hearing a response to this cost-per-job thing from Thom. Kyl also says that the first stimulus bill, if it had been successful, would have created thousands of jobs, and he says that unemployment has not improved and has probably gotten worse since then. He doesn't mention all the jobs that were saved for public servants and all the unemployed people who did get work from the first stimulus. To meet with political success, these arguments I think need to be answered in an effective way.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 8 years 3 weeks ago
#6

Hello Robindell. I had better respond now, because I won't have much chance to later on or tomorrow. As you know, I have been very busy.

One thing I probably didn't make clear about the educational system, is that I don't think the results have been all that negative. I said they "they" (the oligarchs) want to create a work force of obedient worker bees, but I really believe that they have never succeeded and never will succeed. The oligarchs just cannot exert that level of control over the educational system, and the nature of education is going to result in a lot of smart, creative people graduating from it. My family is an example of that -- and all of us were primarliy educated in public schools -- if I may say so myself.

I know of Gordon Allport, but I didn't know about his meeting with Freud. There are some strong advocates of his personality theory as well as his other work at U.C. Riverside where I went to graduate school, people such as Dr. David Funder. I also know a lot about Abraham Maslow, but didn't know he went to the Esalen Institute. It doesn't surprise me that he went there, though. The Esalen Institute is a very well-known humanistic, progressive place. Since I am a Social Psychologist, I am on the side that typically does want to restructure society, as I mentioned last time, while Clinical Psychologists typically say we can't change society, only ourselves. I think that is one of the fundamental differences between these two professions. Maybe someday soon, we Social Psychologists can convince the Clinical Psychologists that they should be talking about structural changes in society instead of always focusing on the individual. As I mentioned in my previous reply, I have seen and read that Clinical Psychologists in more collectivistic cultures actually take the social context more into account and often work with government to change the way society works. This seems to be the case in Taiwan where I spent almost all of August in my wife's hometown, for instance. They have massive government campaigns which involve psychology and psychologists (I think) to get people to quit smoking, for example, among other things. I also know something about how the psychiatric community works there, being married to "Chairwoman Chu" the fomer head psychiatric nurse presiding over quite a few of her colleagues and running her own mental hospital in the past. They may do many things the same way as here in the U.S., but they put much more emphasis on the social context it seems to me. For instance, Eunice always trained patients herself or with others, in cooperative behaviors as a group, doing yardwork, growing food, etc. on the grounds of Tung Hong Hospital. (No wonder she so loves to grow yummies organically in the yard, or catch our own fish, as do I.)

What can I say about your Obama comments other than how refreshing it is to hear that from someone on this site? That sort of negativity also exists in some circles on Facebook, but it is not nearly as prevalent there. I am sure you have heard Thom tell of all the (200+?) good, consequential bills that Nancy Pelosi's Congress passed, only to be blocked by the Senate. Now, with a Republican majority, even the House of Representatives is obstinately obstructionist, refusing to pass any of Obama's agenda no matter how uncontroversial it should be. It's a horrible situation.

I read the post about John Kyl's reply, and I did not respond, which I sort of feel badly about, but to do so would have been time consuming, so I was hoping someone with more spare time would reply. Incidentally, I drove through Snowflake Arizona in early July, which was named after a Mr. Snow and a Mr. Flake who founded it. One of Mr. Flake's descendants, is (or was, not sure) a Repubilcan Congressman from Arizona, not that it has anything to do with John Kyl.

Finally, to get back to being more on topic, you will notice how much I emphasized that the protestors need to behave themselves throughout the span of the movement. This is crucial to our success i believe. The misbehaviors of the "hippies" gave conservatives all the excuses they needed to not take the 1960s protesters seriously, although they did accomplish some things, and their antics were enough to convince probably most Americans in fact, not to take them that seriously, and their movement subsequently petered out. There will always be some people in a large group who make trouble, but that needs to be the exception, and something that they self-police. Also, they should -- and i believe many have -- take vows of pacifism and resolving not to riot or engage in behaviors which will get them into trouble. I believe that to the extent that we can keep the moral high ground, this movement should be a massive success.

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