Preparing For The Coming Transformation

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The year 2017 has been another active year for people fighting on a wide range of fronts. The Trump administration has brought many issues that have existed for years out into the open where they are more difficult to deny – racism, colonialism, imperialism, capitalism and patriarchy and the crises they create. More people are activated and greater connections between the fronts of struggle are creating a movement of movements. These are positive developments, bright spots in difficult times. They are the seeds of transformative change that we can nurture and grow if we act with intention.

The crises we face have been building for decades. They are reaching a point of extremism that will create an even greater response by people. What that response is, where it goes and what it accomplishes are up to all of us to determine.

The overreach by the plutocrats in power may bring a boomerang effect, energizing the population to take action and demand the changes we desire and need. We may reach a moment, a turning point, when the movements for economic, racial and environmental justice, as well as peace, can win significant changes, beyond the comfort zones of those in power. The boomerang will only occur if we educate and organize for it, and its size will also depend on us.

We have no illusions that this work will be easy. Those in power will do all that they can to derail, misdirect and suppress our efforts. Our tasks are to resist their tactics and maintain our focus on our end goals. This requires understanding how social movements succeed and being clear in our demands for transformative change.

We see several key areas where people are energized to work for changes that are opportunities to expand the current movement of movements into a powerful force that will overcome the stranglehold by the corporate duopoly parties. This is the first of two articles to help prepare us for the work ahead. In the second article, we will describe these key issues in greater depth and what we need to do to create the transformative moment we need.

The Long Development of this Transformative Era

The era of transformation has been developing over many decades. If we view it through presidential administrations, a frame of reference used commonly in the United States, we see that both major parties represent the interests of the wealthy and corporations, not the majority of the population, and that they effectively divide and weaken popular movements.

After Bill Clinton’s administration loosened regulations on finance, setting the stage for the 2008 crash, brought in trade agreements like NAFTA and weakened the social safety net, and George W. Bush’s administration expanded military aggression around the world and the domestic security state, as well as further enriching the wealthy, people were hungry for change. Barack Obama effectively built his ‘hope and change’ campaign around this desire, vaguely but eloquently promising what people wanted. His words allowed people to imagine that a transformation was coming.

Obama raised expectations, but he did not fulfill them. His cabinet was made up of Wall Streeters from Citigroup. He continued and expanded foreign wars, the wealth divide grew and tens of millions went without healthcare even after his private insurance-based Affordable Care Act became law. The frustration that had been building during the Clinton-Bush years burst onto the scene with Occupy, Fight for $15, Black Lives Matter, debt resistance, immigration reform, Idle No More and other fronts of struggle.

After Occupy, the media told us the people’s struggle went away, but, as we show in the daily movement news reporting on Popular Resistance, all of those struggles expanded. The corporate media’s failure to cover the national mass protest movement does not change reality — the resistance movements continue, are growing and are impacting popular opinion and policies.

Where We Are and What We Must Do

In 2013, we wrote a two part series describing the status of the movement and what the movement must do. In the December 2013 article, Closer than We Think, we described the eight stages of social movements, an analysis by long-time civil rights and anti-nuclear activist, Bill Moyer. The movement had gone through the “Take-Off”, Stage Four of the social movement when encampments covered the country, seemingly overnight, and brought the issues of the wealth divide, racist policing, climate change, student debt and other issues to the forefront. The meme of the 99% against the 1% illustrated the conflict between people power and the power holders. We passed through Stage Five, “the Landing,” where the encampments disappeared and people asked, “What happened? Did we accomplish anything?”

Our second article in January 2014 focused on the tasks of the movement and explained that we were now in Stage Six, the final stage before victory. This is a long-term phase that could last years where the goal is to build broad national consensus of 70% to 90% support among the public for the goals of the movement and to mobilize people as effective change agents.

During this phase, the contradictions in the system become more obvious to people. For example, as the United States and world experience the harsh realities of climate change in massive storms, widespread fires, droughts and famine, the government’s response is inadequate. When Obama was president his administration was an anchor on the world, weakening international climate and trade agreements. His secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, used her influence to promote fracking. The Trump administration has gone further, denying climate change, erasing words and phrases that describe it from government reports, silencing scientists and undermining the inadequate steps made to confront climate change that were put in place in the Obama era.

The inadequate response to the climate crisis is one example of many multiple crisis situations that exist in which the government does not respond, responds inadequately or even takes actions that make these crises worse. In some cases, the power holders go too far, as we see in the recently passed tax bill, designed to protect the donor class, and in abusive police practices as the racism and violence of our society are exposed. The overreaction, in the end helps build the national consensus we need to achieve our objectives.

The contradictions arise because there are obvious solutions to each crisis we face, but those in power refuse to put them in place. National consensus for these solutions grows during this phase, and the failures of the money-dominated political system become more obvious.

As a result, a transformative moment is building now. It can be seen in the 2016 presidential campaigns where people showed frustration with both corporate parties. Electoral challenges inside the parties showed populist anger based on hundreds of millions of people struggling every day to survive in an unfair economy. Donald Trump built his campaign around economic insecurity from the right and Senator Bernie Sanders did the same from the left. Now, Trump is betraying conservative populists with economic and healthcare policies that add to their insecurity and with the wealthiest cabinet in US history, serving the interests of Wall Street, the self-interest of elected officials and adding to the distrust of the DC duopoly. The realization of Trump’s betrayal is only beginning to show itself in the lives of those who supported him.

The Democrats have been struggling to come to grips with how they lost to Donald Trump. A large part of the party is in denial, blaming their failures on the fiction of Russiagate — claiming the Russians were responsible for their loss rather than a widely-disliked candidate who represented Wall Street and war for her entire career. The Democrats continue their internal divide: the divide between Wall Street donors who want the party to serve their interests and voters who want the party to represent their interests. Invariably the Democrats will be unable to turn their backs on their donors and will nominate a fake change agent who will spout popular progressive rhetoric and dash those hopes when in office.

It is critical for us to step out of the limitations of two and four year election cycles and recognize that social transformation does not arise by electing the perceived least evil. Social transformation occurs through a people-powered movement of movements that arises over decades of struggle and shifts the political reality so that the power holders must respond.

Issues Driving the Backlash 

There will be a backlash. It will look to the Democrats like a backlash against Trump’s extremism, but it will be broader. It will be a backlash against the extremism of the corporate duopoly. Their bi-partisan policies always put the wealthy and big business interests first. The boomerang will be built on the conflict between the necessities of the people and the planet vs. the greed of the wealthy.

There are a number of fundamental issues that are priorities for large majorities of the population, around which people are mobilizing and where national consensus is developing. They have the potential to connect our movements into a powerful force.

One of our tasks is to develop clear demands so that we cannot be side-tracked by false or partial solutions. If these fundamental issues are addressed through bold and transformative solutions, they will shift the political culture and our political system in a significant way towards the people-powered future we need. They will create change at the root causes of the crises we face.

These transformative issues include economic inequality, lack of access to health care, ensuring Internet freedom and a people’s media, confronting climate change and environmental disasters, ending US Empire and militarism at home, and addressing domestic human rights abuses, whether it is exploitation of workers, mass incarceration, racism or disrespect for Indigenous sovereignty. Throughout all of these issues there is a thread of racial injustice so our struggles must not just solidify around class issues, but must also solidify around the necessity of ending systemic racism.

We will address these issues and next steps in greater depth in the first newsletter of the new year. We wish all of you a peaceful week and hope you are able to spend time with loved ones. We are committed to being with you through the struggle and to doing all we can to stop the machine and create a new world.

  • Al

    “Fundamental issues”? Interestingly, I see no mention of this corrupt and inadequate national political system as a fundamental issue or the root cause.
    That’s very similar to Occupy, which came up with a bunch of demands that never addressed the root cause of the ruling class power, this unrepresentative political system. If your demands are nothing but a wish list to our unrepresentatives to make changes, nothing will change. We need a political system that gives the people the power. That’s what has to be changed first, then the people can decide the other fundamental issues.

  • DHFabian

    We spent the past quarter-century avoiding the work of building a massive People’s movement, centered on the common good — the very thing that was most needed at this point, to push back against fascism. We didn’t learn from our own history. We’re more deeply divided, pitted against each other by class and race, than we were 25 years ago.

  • John Schoonover

    We will change the political system as a result of winning on the fundamental issues. The capitalists didn’t wait to stage the French Revolution until they had the right political system in place to overthrow the monarchy.

  • Will Cooper

    The article cited capitalism as if it were a social problem on an equal footing with health care, global warming, racism, worker exploitation, indigenous rights, empire, and militarism. It is not. Capitalism is the root cause of these problems. Wealth inequality, empiricism, racism, environmental pollution, etc., derive almost exclusively from the economics of capitalism. They’re symptoms of a systemic problem. The solution to this underlying problem is system change. History shows us that reforms don’t work. There must be a revolutionary transformation of the economic system to socialism, wherein productive workers themselves own the major means of production and financial institutions and manage them democratically, sharing equally in decision-making and wealth distribution. Many of our social problems would resolve themselves organically over time as egalitarian and cooperative models of human relationships entered the mainstream.

  • kevinzeese

    It is about people being organized and mobilized so that no matter who is elected those in office must meet the people-powered demands. Nixon did not want to start the EPA or OSHA, LBJ did not want to go against Southern Democrats on civil rights and FDR went further on the New Deal than he wanted to go, being elected with concern for government debt. Elections are not the answer, a people’s movement is the determining factor of where the country goes. Politiians will take credit, but the people must force them to do what is necessary.

  • kevinzeese

    Good points. When we discuss these issues in depth next week, you will see that each of the issues we are talking about changes fundamentals including the economic system as well as the relationship between people power and corporate power.

  • Will Cooper

    Looking forward to it.

  • chetdude

    Who’s this guy “we”, DH?

  • kevinzeese

    The duopoly will never serve the people but there have been important times when the people were militant enough that members in the duopoly had no choice to give the people what they demanded, as I pointed out in my previous comment.

  • kevinzeese

    The “D” in DH stands for Diane. She is almost always negative in her comments and very focused on the poor and unemployable — issues with which we are also concerned with. Unfortunately, for her the issues seem to blind her to depression where she cannot see any hope. It is not a very useful thought process.

  • I offer the following, which though sometimes apparently critical, is fully supportive of the efforts by Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese.

    For those of us who dare look at it, the last 84 years of our history contain several indications that demonstrate the power, duration and success of our Capitalist overlords’ moral imbecility, specifically their drive to impose on our nation the uniquely USian brand of fascism.I call JesuNazism. These indications include the federal government’s refusal in 1934 to prosecute the pro-Nazi treason of the nation’s most powerful bankers; the genocidal atomic bombing of Japan in 1945 (the purpose of which was to terrorize by instantaneous mass murder the Soviet Union and the world socialist movement); the parallel-purposed absorption of innumerable Nazi war criminals by the government and the private sector c. 1945-1947; the purge of Communists, socialists and humanitarian intellectuals c. 1945-1963; the 11 years of political murders that began with the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1963, ended with the slaying of Karen Silkwood in 1974 and proved the notion of “our democracy” to be naught but a Big Lie; and finally the brutal climax of this long and bloody process in the absolute victory of the Trump/Pence Regime. What we see here beyond the smokescreen of propagandistic distractions is the unmitigated triumph of fascism the multi-generational One Percent — grandfathers, fathers and sons — has sought since its agenda of perpetual Evil was challenged, ultimately unsuccessfully, by the advent of the ill-fated New Deal in 1933.

    The message so conveyed, denied only by those who are ignorant or clinically delusional, is that the Imperial United States is the de facto Fourth Reich — in its own way as much a fascist despotism as its German Third Reich predecessor and Nazi Germany’s Italian and Spanish counterparts.

    What this means in terms of USian prospects for humanitarian* transformation is that reform is impossible, chiefly because the functional reality of “democratic process” is as dead here as it was the nations conquered by Nazi Germany before its defeat by the Soviet Union.

    Contrary to those who cling frantically to the Big Lie of “our democracy,” the death of USian democratic process is proven beyond any possibility of rational rebuttal by how Capitalist governance now functions in sneering defiance of the popular will. Elections are meaningless contests that merely determine which Capitalist-anointed despot will serve as figurehead in our subjugation to serfdom and slavery. Petition and protest are repeatedly proven to meaningless save as a method to ensure our names are included on the already endless mass-arrest rosters maintained by the empire’s 17 (known) secret police agencies. Judicial activism, which formerly achieved certain humanitarian successes, is doomed by the emergence of the Gorsuch Court and its lower-level counterparts.

    In this context, the slaying of any and all semblance of Internet neutrality, which will soon mean the end of social media as anything other than an extension of the Capitalist propaganda machine, is but the most recent example of the electronic barbed wire within which we are all held captive. And that example, vexing as it is, dwindles to near meaninglessness in comparison to the millions of actual murders mandated by the wildly escalated program of genocide implicit in the nullification of the Affordable Care Act, the termination of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the impending destruction of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and any other program that provides life-sustaining stipends and services to the “surplus” population of people who are elderly, disabled, chronically impoverished and/or otherwise not exploitable for Capitalist profit.

    The portrait of the United States that emerges from these facts if one dares study them without the blinders imposed by decades of Capitalist, nationalist and imperialist propaganda is of a nation no more amenable to humanitarian transformation than was Nazi Germany — which let us not forget reigned supreme until its innumerable atrocities in Eastern Europe provoked the entirely justified vengeance of the Red Army. Anyone who believes the Fourth Reich is likely to be more merciful toward its adversaries than was its Third Reich ancestor is at best a moron, at worst an advocate of mass suicide. And this Fourth Reich, having defeated the Soviet Union and now operating in a world without any effective rival, has achieved an apocalyptic global omnipotence that has no precedent in our species’ entire history.

    With the death of democratic process seemingly disempowering the 99 Percent beyond any hope of recovery, what then — if anything — might we the people do to reverse our subjugation?

    First we must abandon the spurious notions of “reform” and “resistance” and replace them with the realization that our only alternative is revolution — that either we rise up, overthrow Capitalism and replace it with socialism or we die, whether as individuals or a species. Secondly we need to recognize that history proves all successful revolutions have four prerequisites. These are (1)-unifying ideology and supportive ideological discipline; (2)-organization and leadership able to elude nullification by the surveillance and death-squad apparatuses of the Capitalist state; (3)-access to and ability to employ the latest technologies, especially including those of the military; and (4)-the assistance, both clandestine and overt, of a major foreign power. Thirdly we must recognize that none of these prerequisites exist in today’s USian Empire, which at least since 1945 has been deliberately (and successfully) structured to exclude them. Indeed it was their absence — particularly the absence of items (1) and (2) — that nullified the Occupy Movement’s revolutionary potential. It was a nullification all the more tragic because Occupy fervently acknowledged our desperate need for revolution — that revolution is in fact the only way we will ever save ourselves from Capitalism’s inevitable and nearly complete metamorphosis into fascism and its inevitably apocalyptic consequences — but without the ideology and guidance that might have been provided by the Soviet Union, it had absolutely no idea how to go about making revolution happen.

    Which brings us back to the question first asked by V. I. Lenin amidst the Tsarist Russian tyranny of 1902, Что делать? — Shto delat, or “what is to be done?”

    Despite the obvious national failure of the Occupy Movement, it also scored a number of lesser-known but nevertheless notable local successes. One of these is the ongoing campaign for a $15 minimum wage, which will undoubtedly be overturned nationally once it reaches the Gorsuch Court and is already being undermined by legislative sleight-of-hand in any number of individual states. Again we see the utter uselessness of “democratic process” in a struggle against a regime that is as hostile to the popular will as are the conquerors depicted in Harry Turtledove’s alternative-history short story, “The Last Article,” in which the victorious Nazis respond to India’s demand for independence by murdering Gandhi and his followers. But — and this is a truly pivotal but — the value of the $15 Now struggle (and every other struggle like it) is not in any momentary, ultimately doomed improvement under Capitalism but rather in the lessons it teaches us about the zero-tolerance reality of Capitalist governance and the methodology of agitation and organization.

    The summation of these lessons is a single word: patience — which of course for most revolutionaries, especially USians accustomed to instant gratification, is a hard rede, perhaps the hardest rede of all. But the advent of the Russian Revolution, which provides us with our most complete and therefore best, most teachable example of revolutionary strengths and weaknesses, achievements and mistakes, took more than half a century and — as anyone who knows Russian folklore knows — evolved as much from the grassroots consciousness of the peasantry and urban proletariat as it did from the formal ideology of Marx, Engels and Lenin. While,the looming environmental apocalypse tells us we may not have nearly that much time to develop our own revolutionary consciousness, the Soviet lesson also tells us that if in haste we gloss over the essentials, we doom ourselves to the fate suffered by the Ghost Dancers or at the very least by Occupy or the Revolution in Consciousness that promised so much in the 1960s but was doomed and destroyed by the tyrannies of the 1970s and all subsequent decades.

    What is to be done then is to recognize that nothing short of the absolute and permanent overthrow of Capitalism will suffice to save ourselves, our species and our planet; to coalesce around that recognition; to organize locally as best we can (focusing especially on projects such as feeding those whom the Capitalists have condemned to starvation, which enable us to erect functional structures beyond Capitalist hegemony [i.e., dual power]); all the while studying the strategic and tactical lessons taught us by our revolutionary forebears, chiefly Marx, Engels, Trotsky, Lenin, Mao, Che Guevara, etc. Admittedly this curriculum is exclusively Marxist, but that is because only Marxism and its dialectical materialism embodies the clear-eyed recognition of reality, the discipline and ultimately the humanitarian goodness essential to topple the absolute Evil of Capitalism.

    That said, I eagerly await — with profound gratitude for their present efforts — the subsequent essays by Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese.

  • kevinzeese

    So much truth in your comment, Loren. We really appreciate it.

    A couple of differences. On Occupy, we do not see it as a failure. Very few imagined that sleeping outside in urban encampents across the country was going to bring the transformaton the United States needs. We see Occupy more accurately described as a phase in the development of the movement. In Bill Moyer’s Eight Stages of Successful Social Movement’s it would be Phase Four – the Take Off. This is always followed by the Landing and then begins the long phase we are in, Stage Six, Developing National Consensus, the stage before Success or Stage Seven. This seems to be happening more quickly than normal and the reaction from the power structure is more insecure as shown by their extremism — which will just create a more solid national consensus opposing them and demanding transformation.

    While the 2011 Occupy cwas the Take Off the movement has longer roots. The anti-Globalization Movement of the late 1990s and early 2000’s could also be seen as part of this movement as it raises similar issues and the anti-Iraq War protests of the Bush era could as well. So, when you call for patience, you are correct, but a lot more has come before us and it is hard to tell how close we are to winning important battles. When historians look back on our ulimate victory, we could be in about year 25 of the movement by now.

    Combine all of this with the end of US empire which also seems to be rapidly approaching, predicted for the 2020’s as well. The world is beginning to turn against US economic and military domination, the reality of this is shown by multiple recent examples. And, the reality of climate change bearing down on the US and the world as well is a variable that could escalte change rapidly. All this is occurring as implosions occurring within the ruling corporate duopoly because of the contradictions of failed government and economic greed. All of this makes it hard to predict how close we are to success and indicates we may be closer than we realize.

    One commonality of all the issues we see achieving national consensus and where people are mobilized is they all challenge the fundamentals of the United States and its capitalist, corporatist econmy and government. In each of the issues if we succeed, people power will be ruling, not the elitisit power structure. Power will be shifting to the people from the one percent.

    It is impossible to see how close we are as it is like we are banging on a wall and until the cracks breakthrough no sunlight can get in. How close are those cracks to occuring? Once they breakthrough, the light does shine through and the wall crumbles quickly. We know this has been a marathon with hurdles, but a sprint may be coming.

    Thanks for your thoughtful commentary.

  • Thank you, Kevin, for your thoughtful response.

  • jim

    “They want a tax cut for the rich because they want a tax cut for themselves.”
    Creating jobs cannot be done if you do not have a demand for

    products. People must have an income higher than just survival in order to buy the products of the new jobs. Universal basic income seems to be the answer to a lot of problems.

    We need a big change in this government for this country to survive.

    There will be less jobs in the future, due to robots.

    Companies are closing because people don’t have money to spend for their products.

    I am a vet whose birthday is the day that WW2 started. I survived a number of close calls including getting close enough to see Russian nuclear Rockets.

    I have learned two things about the military, when the generals have an army they have a tendency to want to use them and when they made the military all volunteer, that they’re not sending their kids to get killed.

    The Republicans are in charge right now and they want to destroy all social programs.

    What if the Democrats offered to the Republicans a trade;


    1) SS
    ——————————————————————–$916 billion

    2) unemployment cost——————————-$1.98 billion dollars

    3) min wage

    4) snap——————————————————–$76.1 billion in 2013

    5) homeless money

    6) unions dues

    7) All charities tax deductions (5O1c’s) maybe all tax deductions, they

    don’t help the poor.———————–$1 trillion in uncollected taxes

    8) All benefits by companies, just pay wages employer-provided health care benefits will cost the U.S. Treasury $659 billion.

    9) Earned income tax credit——————————-$56 billion in 2012

    10) Federal funding for programs addressing homelessness

    –————————————————————–$4.5 billion

    The above and many others would go a long way in paying for the following.

    The only way that you can have a stable economy is for the consumers to be able to buy products.

    Trade for;

    $500 a week per person (paid weekly) over 18, $100 a week for each kid up to 18, for people making under a $100,000 a year, no income tax on it.

    Free pub school

    Free Medicare for all +drugs

    Transaction tax of 20% ????

    If people were to receive $500 a week per person over 18 ,$100 a week each

    kid, Free pub school, Free Medicare for all +drugs, There would be no need

    for Social Security ,unemployment payments ,minimum wage ,food stamps

    ,money for homeless ,unions and many other things.

    Workers would not need unions or minimum wages, because they could tell the company to shove it if the company was not fair.

    There would be no need for workman’s comp because free Medicare for all.

    Vets could go to any hospital. Make the politicians use the same Free

    Medicare as the people..

    Do away with all tax deduction, they don’t help the poor people.

    Set a max of 40% of GDP, for the military…..

    There must be a transaction tax on Wall Street to take the control of

    companies away from Wall Street.

    Thinks, Jim-

  • Bob Beal

    “Throughout all of these issues there is a thread of racial injustice so our struggles must not just solidify around class issues, but must also solidify around the necessity of ending systemic racism.”

    The fight is to liberate the potential of all humans–and of other beings and of planetary systems. We’re liberatarians.

  • Rudya

    While I agree with Will Cooper that we need a cooperative model of relationships to replace the current competitive model, I have to strongly disagree with Will Cooper that Capitalism is the root cause of these problems. Capitalism, as well as poverty, militarism, debt, are all symptoms. The root cause is the debt based monetary system where money is privately created and lent out with interest. Since only the principal is created and not the interest, there is never enough money to pay back the loans resulting in an ever increasing debt overhang. This debt overhang benefits those closest to the money spigots and of course the bankers that create this money out of thin air. Ultimately these bankers can take real property and production from those unable to pay, while having produced nothing themselves.

    Until we change the monetary system, we change nothing. Changing an economic system without changing the monetary system will end up having the same result.

    For more information on how such a monetary system used to exist in the US, do research on Colonial Scrip and Benjamin Franklin.

    An excellent book for all to read is “The Web of Debt”, by Ellen Brown. Once you have read and understood this book, you will never think the same again.

    Disclosure: I receive no financial remuneration from endorsing this book, however, I reap the HUGE benefit that more people will awaken and as a result will hopefully help to bring about the transformational change that Kevin and Margaret are writing about in this article.

  • Great article, people! You manage to gather the farthest reaches of the struggle for peace and justice in this country into a coherent and hopeful space, where the national political discourse can enlighten–not just discourage and deceive.