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Forum Post: Stories from history, and why I'm inspired by OWS

Posted 2 years ago on April 1, 2012, 1:56 p.m. EST by francismjenkins (3713)
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In 1936 George Orwell traveled to Spain to report on its Civil War, and instead joined the fight against fascism. Ernest Hemingway also joined the fight, and it was the subject of his book, "For Whom the Bell Tolls." Maybe back then they were considered foolish idealists, whatever the equivalent of long haired smelly hippies was back in those days, etc., but I think this history deserves more thoughtful consideration. Why did people from all over Europe and intellectuals like Orwell and Hemingway gravitate to this fight? They were the first to fight European fascists, and the fight was (from a tactical standpoint) somewhat hopeless. I mean, lightly armed anarchists versus bombers and tanks doesn't seem like the wisest approach, so why did they fight against such insurmountable odds? Maybe they drew inspiration from the American Revolution, but of course the red coats didn't have bombers and tanks, so maybe it was a misguided approach, but certainly no less noble in spirit. I think the revolutionaries in history deserve our gratitude. From Martin Luther, the reformer, to Martin Luther King, the Civil Rights leader, from all the idealists who failed, to all the ones who succeeded (like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson). If it wasn't for them we'd be indentured servants, or under the thumb of brutal theocracy, or begging our feudal masters for scraps off the table.

Another inspiring story from history:

This guide is intended to spark discussion of and reflection on Triangle Fire, an AMERICAN EXPERIENCE documentary that tells the story of the deadliest workplace accident in New York history. One hundred years after the fire that claimed 146 lives at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, the release of this film provides an opportunity for viewers to gain a deeper understanding of the brutal and unregulated working conditions that immigrant workers faced in the early 20th century, along with an awareness of the growing demands for unionization and the fierce resistance that these demands elicited among factory owners. The film also introduces viewers to the pioneering women activists who spearheaded the movement for garment workers' rights and illuminates the dramatic shifts that occurred in the relationship between labor and government as a result of the cataclysmic blaze that swept through the Triangle factory on March 25, 1911.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/teachers-resources/triangle-guide/

But is it really true that empowering people enhances quality of life?

In the largest and most significant study to date of the performance of ESOPs in closely held companies, in 2000 Douglas Kruse and Joseph Blasi of Rutgers University found that ESOPs increase sales, employment, and sales/employee by about 2.3% to 2.4% per year over what would have been expected absent an ESOP. ESOP companies are also somewhat more likely to still be in business several years later. This is despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that ESOP companies are substantially more likely than comparable companies to offer other retirement benefit plans along with their ESOP.

http://www.nceo.org/main/article.php/id/3/

As it turns out, trusting people to manage themselves results in higher productively, better performance, and overall improvement using all the standard metrics. Who would have thought?

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Why not more direct democracy? We don't need to scour the history books or travel to distant lands to understand how it works:

In addition to providing for voting[5][6] the people of Colorado have reserved initiative of laws and referendum of laws enacted by the legislature to themselves[7][8]

...the people reserve to themselves the power to propose laws and amendments to the constitution and to enact or reject the same at the polls independent of the general assembly and also reserve power at their own option to approve or reject at the polls any act or item, section, or part of any act of the general assembly.[9]

and provided for recall of office holders.[10]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_and_government_of_Colorado#Initiative.2C_referendum.2C_and_recall

Wow, some states trust their own citizens with something that actually resembles genuine democracy, and they haven't devolved into the abyss of chaos. Some food for thought naysayers!

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