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Forum Post: Fresh Start For the Left: What Activists Would Do If They Took the Social Sciences Seriously

Posted 12 years ago on Oct. 29, 2011, 7:27 p.m. EST by derek (302)
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From: http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/change/science_freshstart.html

"Fresh Start For the Left: What Activists Would Do If They Took the Social Sciences Seriously

by G. William Domhoff

March 2005

The failures of the American left are not in its egalitarian values, but in the means it uses to realize those values. This document suggests the strategies the left could follow in the United States if it took the findings of the social sciences more seriously than it currently does. There are links throughout to other documents on this site that provide greater depth on specific topics, and an annotated bibliography at the end.

  1. The People Are Not Bamboozled

  2. Third Parties Are Not Structurally Viable

  3. Create a Separate Identity Within the Party

  4. Social Movements Yes, Property Destruction or Violence No

  5. Planning Through the Market, Not Non-Market Planning

  6. Redefining Who Is Us and Who Is Them

  7. Keeping Leaders Accountable

  8. Foreign Policy

  9. A More Open Stance on Religion

  10. Three Needed Commitments



Transform the Democratic Party through the creation of Egalitarian Democratic Clubs. Build social movements that use strategic nonviolence in a creative fashion to win over neutrals, divide the opposition, discredit government authorities, and reassure police officers about their personal safety. Advocate extensive economic planning through a reconstructed market system that aims for greater economic equality, worker rights, and environmental protection. No one of these points is original or earthshaking. Taken together, however, they add up to a package that never has been tried. They unite the electoral and non-electoral. They by-pass the structural impossibilities of third parties and non-market central planning, and they eliminate the self-defeating resort to violence. They are the central pieces that would make it possible for a new egalitarian movement to create alliances with mainstream liberals and work with elected liberal politicians on some issues."

To take in account some changes over the last decade that go beyond Domhoff's otherwise excellent point on market planning, here are some other broader ideas on strengthening the local subsistence economy through advanced technology like 3D printing, strengthening the gift economy through free media like Wikipedia by having shorter copyrights, and improving the planned economy and its ability to regulate the market well through better participatory transparent government at all levels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vK-M_e0JoY



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[-] 1 points by derek (302) 12 years ago

The fastest way to get to that sort of list of demands is probably for OWS to occupy the Democratic party and run candidates for 2012 to occupy the House like G. William Domhoff suggests.

[-] 1 points by BonaFidePublius (93) 12 years ago

The idea of a 2 party system itself though inhibits productive thought and creativity on issues. Either way, these demands can be used in various ways, but the important issue is getting it spread in any way possible.

[-] 1 points by gestopomilly (497) 12 years ago

there is only one issue. JOBS

[-] 1 points by derek (302) 12 years ago

Well, as long as there is an income-through-jobs link, like we have now, then you are right. http://educationanddemocracy.org/FSCfiles/C_CC2a_TripleRevolution.htm

Still, many jobs are going away due to things like automation and robotics, AI, better design, and voluntary social networks. They are not going to come back in a big way. The USA went from 90% workers in agriculture to 2% over the last two centuries. Manufacturing work is following a similar trend (but was never as high). Services will follow the same trend however much some mainstream economist protest -- if only given how much money the military is pouring into autonomous robots for the battlefield (which is ultimately a tougher job than most jobs working in a structured factory or office). Google already has cars that drive themselves -- what is that going to do to the trucking industry and so on?

So, the big issue is having enough money to live and be able to take care of family and do interesting things in the long term, not having a "job". Jobs as wage labor are a fairly recent invention, anyway. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wage_slavery If one has enough to live on, then whether one has a boss or formal paying job is a different issue. A "basic income" could take care of having enough money (essentially, social security from birth for all). People could then decide if they want more than that, and if so could either offer goods and services on their own or join a bigger company.

Related: http://www.marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm

And: http://econfuture.wordpress.com/

If we gave out half the current GDP through a basic income, for US$2000 a month per person, that would leave an amount of money the size of about the USA's 1995's GDP to motivate those who wanted more to work. If everyone got the basic income, then it could replace welfare, unemployment insurance, and even the idea of a minimum wage. And part of it could pay for universal health care.

Something in that direction passed the US House in 1970 under Nixon, but it did not pass the Senate. http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/10/04/specials/moynihan-income.html


One justification for a basic income is as compensation for all the land being enclosed and so not accessible for basic subsistence like it used to be. Another is just as a human right. http://www.basicincome.org/bien/aboutbasicincome.html

The good thing about a basic income is that it fits well with a capitalist market driven system.

Still, until then, of course, yes, people need jobs. One way suggested here by someone else who says he was with the IRS is to enforce the "Accumulated Earnings Tax" against corporations to get them to spend the cash they are hoarding: http://www.cbiz.com/page.asp?pid=8438

And there are lots of other proposals on this site (like the government investing in the future of the country by rebuilding infrastructure). But, it would seem that following Domhoff's advice to take over the Democratic party by something like OWS might be the best way to realize that.

[-] 1 points by gestopomilly (497) 12 years ago

no we must pass laws that force banks an corporations to create jobs. not give them an easy pass to outsource or do business out of country. here is one way.

Banks should be reqired to 'Suspend" payments and interest accumulation during an economic downturn until the unemployment rate is less than 5% or the person can find a comparable paying job.

this would force banks to do business with corporations that are creating jobs in order to avoid the losses due to foreclosure. and the bank still gets their money back.

[-] 1 points by pissedoffconstructionworker (602) 12 years ago

Good stuff. Thanks.