I’m an old hippie boomer and never really stopped being a hippie. Nor did many of my friends. And everywhere I’ve lived I’ve pretty much wound up with a bunch of friends who were hippies in the day and/or live like hippies now. So many of the slurs the millenials keep tossing about boomers feel like they’re talking about some other group.
From that time forward I’ve been left of democrats in my leanings. Never particularly identified with another party like Socialist or Green, but my political sensibilities were shaped by the protest days and, most especially, Oscar Lange’s On the Economic Theory of Socialism. So my perspective favors the systems places like Denmark and Sweden have created. And I delight that in millenials we finally have a group that gets the political/economic ideas we embraced so long ago.
Voting for me through all these years has been just kind of practical, vote for the least bad kind of thing. My evaluation through all the years has been that corporate influence is too strong to really “revolutionize” the government and too large a portion of the populace has not understood the more liberal viewpoints, so it has long seemed the best we could do was not to have the Republican — and indeed it has proved to be true that Republicans have always made inequality, climate issues, etc. worse and Democrats have always improved those some but never beyond what corporate overlords could accept.
I like the push for Democratic Socialism but I still see too many in government controlled by corporate sponsors (and let’s save discussion of corporate lobbyists controlling way too many watchdog agencies that are supposed to be regulating them for a whole other post). I’m encouraged by the many Democrats running without corporate help and with more Democratic Socialist platforms. This change is heartening and we need to give it momentum. But it’s also time to get outside the box and quit thinking that changing some officeholders will change the fundamentals.
Unlike much of what I read from the millenials, I don’t see it as likely we can shift the government as radically as we need to in the short time frame we have to turn climate change around. For some time I’ve been questioning the degree to which most of us in America have fallen into the habit of expecting government to “save” us and assuming if we just change some people in Congress or change the President, we will be delivered from harm. I think we need to be more rad.
Many years of study and observation lead me to believe that government will not change sufficiently or fast enough to save us. We need People Power. I’ve laid a lot of this out in the People Power series but want to include some thoughts again here.
In much of the world corporations are really running governments like puppet masters. While there’s increasing awareness of this truth, most people still want government to save us from this power. Right now, government works for corporations and throws enough sops to the rest of us to get the votes they need. GOVERNMENT IS NOT GOING TO SAVE US. Take that in. It’s time we understand this truth.
While we also need to work on voting in people who haven’t taken corporate money, the two main things I see as grass roots necessities: (1) massive boycotts and (2) a huge wave of going local; starting co-ops for banking, manufacturing, food production, etc. that are run by the people for the people and employing the people.
Two percent of the people are hoarding vast amounts of wealth and acting as though the other 98% are expendable. It’s a very weird way of looking at us when our buying dollars provide the bulk of their profits. Without us buying their stuff, booking their hotel rooms, eating their food products, etc. they can’t make a profit. The truth of this is finally hitting now in the Covid-19 pandemic and the government still can’t get it that it’s not the 2 percent they need to save. Without us out there buying, businesses are feeling the pinch (though the super rich owners and CEOs are untouched so far).
I’ve been calling for massive consumer boycotts for a long time and running around talking about how we really vote with our dollars and few have really been listening. I find it kind of funny that the Universe has basically ordered up a massive consumer boycott without anybody actually deciding to have one. Now we need to keep it up when we’re allowed to get out again.
Thirty-four years ago when I started practicing yoga and taking the Yoga Journal, then becoming interested in metaphysics and flipping through magazines like New Age Journal (now Body and Soul), etc. I began to notice a whole secondary economy in their pages. Health foods, yoga props, meditation retreats, herbal supplements, etc. Companies you never heard about nor, in those days, ever saw on the shelves of a mainstream grocery or drugstore. Companies with healthier products and often a healthier way of doing business.
Over the years those companies have often become more known. Some went down the dark path — Whole Foods, for instance became a corporate monster long before Amazon took over. And many more companies have been added to the list. For the most part all these places still advertise in magazines and on web sites that cater to those who are into healthy and/or spiritual lifestyles and this other economy is still under the radar.
More recently I’ve been following a more recent and quietly grown trend for forming local co-ops. From neighborhoods taking back an old shuttered business district and supporting small local enterprises, to co-op banks owned by and serving Blacks or women or poor neighborhoods to farming co-ops, etc. across the world a movement of creating local businesses that operate for local people has been spreading.
It’s been going on for long enough there are now studies showing they are making good profits, employing lots of people and paying them better in both wages and benefits. Again, mostly under the radar though if you hunt for it you can find scattered articles. (I’ve listed the People Power posts below — many links to articles and sources there) A Thrive Economy serves better than a Growth Economy.
I see this quiet growth of a whole tier of businesses operating differently, quietly in the background as our best answer and hope. We need more of it. We need the younger progressives who are excited about change to leap on the bandwagon of going local. We need to have so many products, supplies, banking opportunities, supply chains, etc. that are both supplying consumer needs and providing jobs that we can increasingly do business only with local outfits and stop buying from corporations.
We have to be the ones to break corporate power because government is not going to do it.
I love seeing lots of enthusiasm for progressive candidates and causes from the younger generations and I hope they keep working on those things. But I also hope a huge number can be persuaded to launch themselves into a local movement. While I know plenty of older hippies who are participating in local co-op type efforts and pushing for buying local, we’re kind of old for being the founders of banking co-ops and small manufacturing plants, etc. We need you. And I know I can speak not only for myself but for so many people I know, we’ll do anything we can to help you.
It’s time for a quiet, under-the-radar revolution in which we seize power by taking our dollars away from the global corporate giants and put them into businesses that serve us and the needs of our communities. It isn’t just getting “them” to pass progressive policies. We have to seize the reins and create the progressive roads.
The People Power posts — in these posts you’ll find many links to articles and studies:
@ProudResister @davidhogg111 @WilliamMMcKee @OurProgressive @eve_levenson @EdwardJDavey @marwilliamson @ewarren