"When shall we learn that we are related one to the other, that we are members of one body.... Until the spirit of love for our fellow-workers, regardless of race, color, creed or sex, shall fill the world, until the great mass of the people shall be filled with a sense of responsibility for each other's welfare, social justice cannot be attained, and there can never be lasting peace upon earth."
-- Helen Keller
FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
Do you really want to change the world?
Q. I'm a very idealistic young person! I feel like I want to save or change the world! I'm attracted to groups like GreenPeace, Amnesty International, PETA, the Sierra Club, AmeriCorp, and the Peace Corp. But I don't understand why we have to change our entire system, as your group advocates.
A. We have to change our entire system because it is the normal and regular operation of that system that is the cause of all the various problems that our many reform groups, like the ones mentioned above, are trying to solve. We call them "reform" groups because they are trying, each in its particular way, to reform our (capitalist) system, rather than actually replace the entire system with something fundamentally better.
Dr. King, in his Beyond Vietnam speech, said: "True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."
Whether pollution, global warming, hunger, poverty, low wages, high prices, unemployment, lack of health care, homelessness, school shootings, political corruption, a tainted food supply, human rights abuses, or just about any other problem you can name, the root causes are all readily traceable back to the fact that our present society operates on the principle of the accumulation of money and profit, not the satisfaction of the wants and needs of human beings.
This flaw or imbalance in the core purpose of capitalism skews every dimension of society; this is why it is responsible for just about all of our problems, though widely diverse.
To put it another way: the cause of just about all our social and economic problems is structural in nature, meaning the fundamental problem is with the structure of the system, itself; the basic way it was designed and the principal way it therefore functions; so, a solution that is also structural in nature is required--such as a complete shiftover to a completely different kind of society: a Cooperative Society.
If you hire someone to build you a house, and after completion it is discovered that they mis-assembled the entire frame, they're going to have to raze and re-build the entire house; simply tearing down an isolated window or wall won't solve the problem, since the problem runs throughout the entire house; indeed, the frame is the very backbone of the house.
Thus, a structural problem requires a structural solution; half-measures just won't do.
In exactly the same fashion, passing this or that law to attempt a small-scale solution to one or more big problems, whether hunger, homelessness, lack of health care, addiction, mental illness, poverty, crime, pollution, discrimination, or anything else, is exactly the same as trying to fix the crooked house frame by replacing only a window or door--the small, peripheral nature of the fix is just not adequate to the large, fundamental nature of the problem.
Corporate rule and control has produced a strained society, of stressed-out, miserable people, serving a money machine they could care less about, that is killing them economically, psychologically, and spiritually, as well as ruining the environment and food supply, causing or contributing to wars for oil and other natural resources, and turning our beautiful human family into a zillion little pieces, consisting of people and corporations all at each other's throats, as everyone tries to out-compete everyone else. It's a dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-fittest system predicated on the worst that humankind is, instead of the best that we can be.
Thus are predictably produced an army of stressed-out, miserable, angry, and economically-squeezed human beings, frequently manifesting their suffering and alienation in various forms of maladaptive behavior, such as violence, discourtesy, insensitivity, various kinds of addiction, mental illness, and stress-induced compulsions like overeating.
It's not that difficult to understand that, were our society structured and operating in a Cooperative manner, our lives, our society, and our world would all be dramatically different in just about every important respect, relative to our present capitalist society.
In other words, all of our many and varied social and economic problems happen to have a single cause--capitalism. This is because, for all it real and perceived benefits, capitalism is also characterized by a number of extremely pernicious flaws, as a system. As a system it possesses a "dark underbelly." Thus, changing capitalism will automatically solve or dramatically improve most of our problems, in one fell swoop.
Suppose, for example, that you visit New York City, or any of our major metropolitan centers, and you become upset observing homeless people living in doorways or under bridges. Your impulse might be to join a group fighting homelessness. And perhaps they are trying to conduct this fight by working to have legislation enacted that will help homeless people.
The problem is, however, that the objective economic reality is that whatever legislation is passed, if any, will be ineffective because it does not get to the root cause--the normal operation of capitalism. We already have many houses and apartments available for people, and many more that could be built--providing employment to many unemployed workers to do it, by the way--but homeless people do not, and will not, get those homes because under the rules of capitalism, products and services--including housing--are generally and overwhelmingly obtainable only on the basis of ability to pay--not on need (a need-based system requires the Brotherhood of Man).In other words, under our capitalist system, if you have the money to buy a house or rent an apartment you'll get one, and if you don't--you won't.
The simple though ugly reality is that no group fighting homelessness can change this basic economic law of capitalism. Thus, no group fighting homelessness can ever completely and permanently eradicate the homelessness problem--in fact they can't even come close.
Moreover, the reason so many people are homeless in the first place is that wages are so low, or jobs have moved elsewhere--usually to other cities, states, or countries where wages are even lower; this reflects yet another economic law of capitalism: keep wages as low as possible, since wages are the most expensive "cost" of doing business. This is why companies are continually 1.) relocating to other countries, where wages are lower, usually a lot lower; 2.) adopting new, labor-saving technologies such as computers and robots; and 3. attempting to cut wages, benefits, and working conditions "to the bone." Again, this is simply a law of capitalism, that no group fighting homelessness can address.
Some homeless persons are mentally ill, without proper and regular treatment. This, too, reflects the way capitalism works: psychological counseling is also a commodity, obtainable generally and most optimally to those who can pay, which homeless people can't do. In general, the money-and-profit system of capitalism is a cruel, law-of-the-jungle system with little respect, in practice, for human dignity.
Here's another example. Many idealistic persons are interested in the Peace Corp. But what is ultimately required for peace is not a "corp," but a transition away from global capitalism, which, through its instruments and bodies of control such as the World Bank, forces poor countries to adopt socially and economically strict, even punitive, policies that really squeeze and hurt their populations, producing results such as low wages, poverty, homelessness, and despair, which themselves often produce a secondary wave or cascade of pernicious side-effects, like violent resistance movements, often followed by brutal government suppression of rights and freedoms, government-created death squads, and even civil war. It's the oldest story in the book.
Please don't be depressed at our analysis--be happy and encouraged that you are finally receiving a hard-nosed and accurate analysis of the actual causes of the world's ills, and equally hardnosed, and well-conceived plan to effect real solutions.
We're not saying that groups like GreenPeace, Human Rights Watch, or the Peace Corp do no good whatsoever. But we are saying--and this is the reality--that relative to the colossal size of most of the problems we're talking about, and the fact that all such problems have a root cause, capitalism, the improvements these groups effect are very small, and often impermanent. As political administrations change, for example, laws change; sometimes even the small gains these groups struggle to achieve are actually reversed--again, because the changes and improvements were not structural.
For structural change, you must come to a group like Brotherhood of Man.
You see, Brotherhood of Man, and the libertarian Socialist movement, itself, is for people who want to do more than just tinker around the edges of a problem to perhaps improve it slightly--it is for people who want to get right to root causes, and solve problems permanently. It is for people who don't mind thinking long-term, if that is what is necessary to fully and permanently solve a given problem.
And it just so happens, and is a lucky coincidence, that because capitalism is the root cause of essentially all our problems, when that long-term solution--a Cooperative system--finally does happen, just about all our social and economic problems will be solved!
First of all, bear in mind that the new Cooperative system we advocate would incorporate all the best elements of the old system, such as democracy, technological progress, civil liberties, and individual initiative. But it would also improve, enhance, or add those elements that have been socially necessary for a long time now, but neglected, such as economic democracy, meaning control of our economy by we, the people, instead of control by impersonal, money-and-profit-driven corporations.
With even a modicum of intellect and information, it's not hard to understand, and indeed, this entire website constitutes, in effect, an extended discussion of the answer to that question. The more of this Internet resource you examine, the better and more deeply you will understand why we require a new mode of social organization, i.e. a new "system," if we are to properly, completely, and permanently solve our many problems.
In conclusion, we commend you greatly on your noble impulse to "save the world"! We know exactly how you feel, because it is a desire we share, and we're trying to do just that, ourselves! At the same time, however, let us urge you to put your noble impulse to work in the most realistic and effective way possible, the only way that our problems will find their permanent solution; in other words, let us urge you to put your intellect, talents, and noble impulse to work in the only way that, objectively, actually can save the world: please join us in the movement to build a beautiful, logical, love-centered Cooperative Society!
Q. Is Capitalism really that bad? I'm sort of doing OK. My friends are sort of doing OK. And there are a lot of people around who are doing well.
A. Capitalism really is that bad. As you learn more about it and experience it further over your lifetime, you'll realize this more and more.
People who advocate capitalism make several errors in analyzing it. First of all--they don't analyze it: their opinions are usually based on the limited view of capitalism they acquire based only on their own experiences, or those of their family, friends, or immediate social group. When you really take a "big picture" view, when you look at how it is affecting all the people of a nation, or better yet, the world, you get a different impression. This larger view is what Cooperationists try and see.
Capitalism is so big, so sprawling, so ubiquitous, and affects so many things in society and in our lives, people, understandably, are not generally aware of its effects. It's like gravity, or death--because it's so common, and because it is all around us, all the time, we take it for granted, we don't really think about it or even notice it--though its effects are powerful and profound.
Another typical error is to assume that because you found economic success, everyone else necessarily can, too. This is simply factually incorrect. Capitalism is like a lottery, or a big game of "musical chairs"--yes, there will be a few "winners," but because the prizes are limited, there will always be far more losers.
The real powerholders in our society generally understand how the system actually works, though this information is not usually for public consumption. For example, Smith, Carroll, Kefalas and Watson in Management: Making Organizations Perform (1980), a business management textbook, reveal their open knowledge of the truth in this matter. They explain, on p.318, how the free-enterprise system is based on the same psychology and probability as a lottery:
"…lottery here does not mean luck and chance gain; it means rather, winners and losers. Observe how this works in the case of the Irish Sweepstakes. The success of the sweepstakes depends upon all participants believing they have a chance to win, with no one feeling assured of winning. This is how many of the higher-level awards are allocated in a merit society such as ours. We widely advertise that handsome pay-offs - powers, status and money - will be available to those who are capable enough to merit them. Having spread that word, we leave it to the "rat race" to determine which few will win. Of course, some will be disappointed. We need only remind the losers, however, that no promises were made and that if they had been "good enough" they would have received one of the most desirable prizes. As a result, society has received the benefit of the valuable efforts of people who do not have to be paid off in proportion to their contribution."
Amazing. This passage openly admits that only a few can achieve "success" and one notices that this reality is in utter contradistinction to our popular ideas about how the system of rewards under free-enterprise operates. Since this information is presented and explained quite clearly in a management textbook, but is rarely if ever promulgated for the public ear, one can construe it as "inside information" about the real nature of capitalist operations.
Additionally, it is important to note that many people who think they're "doing OK" are actually just several paychecks away from not doing ok; i.e. from unemployment, poverty, or homelessness. Many people have, and will continue to, receive just this kind of nasty little surprise, through depression, recession, job loss, expensive major illness, or shifts in consumer buying habits or preferences that can cause discontinuation of product lines within a company, company relocation, or even company bankruptcy. Any of these changes can mean job loss or wage declines, leading to poverty or homelessness. It's a lot closer for most of us than we think, or want to admit to ourselves.
Last, consider that all of us, even most of us who feel we are "doing well" financially, must pay for all our large purchases--car, house, vacation, college--with credit, either in the form of a credit card, or a bank loan; they both constitute credit. This fact alone is a tip-off that we are not doing as well as we think--if we had to live our lives using only the money we actually had--our standard of living would be far lower, and would much more clearly and accurately reflect our actual financial condition. The availability of credit obscures our true financial state, and makes us think we are "better off" than we actually are. It's all part of the big deception of the modern-day class system--the game we are all forced to play, whether we want to, or not.
No, under capitalism the warm-and-fuzzy feeling that you are "doing well," or even "doing OK," should be approached with great caution.
Q. I'm a young person--barely out of the starting gate in life. And already you're trying to paint a bleak picture of the world. I want to be hopeful for my future!
A. The basic psychological, intellectual, and programmatic orientation of One Human Family is one of hope. In other words, we do see the world through the basic lens of hope.
Yet, we can't stick our heads in the sand about the problems that exist. The fact is, our society is based on money and profit, not people and their needs, and this state of affairs causes problems which are many in number, and great in severity. There is no objective basis for hope if we're not working to change things, and solve the serious problems that exist.
Suppose you were very ill. And suppose a cure was available. Would you have a reason to hope? Yes--if you were taking the cure! If you weren't, your hope would be misplaced or simply foolish, because you wouldn't be doing what was necessary to provide the possibility for improvement; you wouldn't be taking the action needed to become healthy. So where would your hope come from? What would you base it on?
Similarly, if we are working to change the money-and-profit based society of today, into the cooperative and love-centered society of tomorrow, then we have a real, concrete basis for hope, because we are taking the steps necessary to permanently solve problems and make things better.
The unfortunate reality is that this money-and-profit system of ours, called capitalism, does create bleak conditions for all of us. The older you get, and the more experience you have living under capitalism, the more clearly you'll see and feel this. However, our wonderful message of hope is that we have the power, all of us working together, to create a world where cooperation and love are real, and are strong. In this kind of world, hope and optimism would define every aspect of our existence...how could they not? In this kind of world, our outlook would not be bleak, and in fact, could not be bleak, because, to put it simply--everything would be great!
The answer, then, for young people, and everyone else, is not to run away from the problems, or allow yourself to be discouraged--just work in a determined and methodical way to solve them, through the power of the Cooperative program. You will find great solace, community, and love as you work together with other people of every age, gender, and ethnicity, to build the Cooperative Society!
And we will assist you!
Q. I know exactly what you mean about building a new society--that's why I'm into Lenin, Mao, and Che Guevara.
A. If you are a young person or someone otherwise new to the movement for a Cooperative Society, you may find yourself intellectually stimulated or inspired by images such as these:
Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong
These four iconic individuals have acquired a cache amongst some in the broad radical left.
In fact, however, the thought or actions of three of these four individuals is not to be admired or emulated: Lenin, Mao, and Guevara. Depending on the figure specified, either their thought, activity, or both, ultimately represents a distortion of the notion of a Cooperative society ("democratic socialism"), the means necessary or desirable to establish such a society, or both.
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov
Vladimir Ilyich "Lenin"
Unlike Karl Marx, Lenin did not believe that the level of political awareness of the working class could develop beyond a "trade-union consciousness," and thus the revolution would have to occur by a small, focused group of revolutionaries acting "on behalf of" the people. Simply put, this is an anti-democratic philosophy that BOMA rejects.
A key part of the revolutionary worldview of Lenin can probably be summarized by the following quotations of his. Each is at conflict, for one or another reason, with the BOMA perspective or program. I have tried to select quotes with a clear or singular meaning, that are not context-dependent, to try and avoid quoting this man out of context.
"The supersession of the bourgeois state by the proletarian state is impossible without a violent revolution."
BOMA rejects this notion, as did Karl Marx himself near the end of his life, as he saw the possibilities for change implicit in the democratic mechanisms of nations like the United States of America.
"Our program necessarily includes the propaganda of atheism."
"There are no morals in politics; there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel."
No morals in politics? I'd say if one could reduce the entire fundamental difference between BOMA and the CP, and similar organizations, to one sentiment or principle, it would be this. BOMA maintains that, in fact, it is this very lack of morals in politics that is at the heart of the problem.
Were the moral sensibility of people to rise to a high enough level, were the level of moral elevation amongst the great mass of people to rise sufficiently, we would probably no longer allow the ruling class to do most or many of the things it does in the first place, and the first real, substantive, and lasting seeds of revolution would be born.
Without rejecting the notion of class-consciousness, BOMA asserts and briefly and in-context describes here the concept of Moral Consciousness (our expanded discussion for later review is here).
Perhaps the driver and facilitator of revolution will prove to be this latter concept, or both, in combination.
Thus, re-engineering and re-attaching politics to morals, is a key part of what the revolution is all about, BOMA holds.
Denying bread to the hungry is a moral issue.
Denying shelter to the homeless is a moral issue.
Denying health care to the sick is a moral issue.
Making the sick ill in the first place to enrich oneself is a moral issue.
Keeping people fearful, obsequious slaves at their workplace is a moral issue.
Depriving people of work by exporting their job, when the company is already earning huge profits is a moral issue.
The social question is nothing BUT one huge moral issue.
Young people and others new to this movement must grasp a critical point: a moral consideration does not pertain only to our critique of present-day capitalist society, and our proposed alternative. Crucially, it also pertains to the means--to the way we intend to get to the new society. To our method of revolution. Is our method of bringing about social change strictly moral?
Brothers and sisters, read some history, and you will learn unequivocally that it is precisely here (and in ends, too) that Lenin, Mao, and the like fall flat on their collective totalitarian faces, with a resounding and unmistakable THUD. The numerous lives that were ruined and the murders committed by these men or their proxies in the name of "socialism," "communism," or "revolution" is loathsome and unacceptable and must not be forgotten. This is partially why the immoral entered the method of governance of the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba so easily--it simply carried over immediately and organically from their method of revolution. Morality was never properly and fully present in the first place. Lenin, Mao, and Guevara were all men of "the ends justifies the means" principle of social change. You can see that quite easily in their statements and "revolutionary" actions.
BOMA does not hold these views. Nor are they compatible with the present and evolving global standard of democracy. Morality is a critical issue in assessing our present society, our proposed society, and our method of transition, thereto.
One more disgusting Lenin quote:
"We need the real, nation-wide terror which reinvigorates the country and through which the Great French Revolution achieved glory"
Compare statements like these, and the point-of-view they represent, with those of someone like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or social theorist Dr. Erich Fromm.
For discussion of the present-day American Communist Party, descendant organization of Lenin, please see our section discussing CP troubling language.
And an absolute must-read is this at once informative and troubling essay on Lenin by David Remnick. Here is one crucial paragraph from that piece:
Since the Soviet archives became public, we have been able to read the extent of Lenin's cruelty, the depths of its vehemence. Here he is in 1918, in a letter instructing Bolshevik leaders to attack peasant leaders who did not accept the revolution: "Comrades! ... Hang (hang without fail, so that people will see) no fewer than one hundred known kulaks, rich men, bloodsuckers ... Do it in such a way that ... for hundreds of versts around, the people will see, tremble, know, shout: 'They are strangling and will strangle to death the sucker kulaks' ... Yours, Lenin."
BOMA asserts that a new society, cooperative, peaceful, and loving to its bones, simply cannot result from this kind of murderous a priori vitriol.
Further discussion of Lenin pending.
Ernesto Rafael Guevara de la Serna
The legacy of this Argentinian revolutionary is mixed and troubling. He appears to have genuinely desired a better life for the oppressed and exploited in South America and elsewhere, and devoted his life and blood to the achievement of this goal. Moreover, he was educated, and an intellectual, capable of displaying sensitivity of thought; he even speaks of the role of love in the revolutionary process. Yet, warfare and violence seemed to be his consistent and principal methods of choice to bring about revolution. Moreover, it is not clear that Che Guevara advocated a system of genuine democratic socialism.
Wikipedia states: "In 2005, after musician Carlos Santana wore a Che shirt to the Academy Awards Ceremony, Cuban-born musician Paquito D'Rivera wrote an open letter castigating Santana for supporting "The Butcher of the Cabaña." The Cabaña is the name of a prison where Guevara oversaw the execution of many dissidents, including D'Rivera's own cousin, who, according to D'Rivera, was imprisoned there for being a Christian...."
“Hatred as an element of the struggle; a relentless hatred of the enemy, impelling us over and beyond the natural limitations that man is heir to and transforming him into an effective, violent, selective and cold killing machine. Our soldiers must be thus; a people without hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy.”
-- Che Guevara (message to the Tricontinental; 1967)
The violent means Guevara employed consistently throughout his revolutionary life are at odds utterly with the worldview and recommended methodology for revolution of BOMA.
Further discussion on Guevara pending.
Can't We all Just Get Along
In assessing the lives and actions of these figures, what about the notion that "there is good and bad in everyone"? An acquaintance with sympathy for these individuals actually so remarked to me.
BOMA is in general agreement with this charitable and magnanimous personal and social philosophy. However, it is inappropriately and injudiciously applied in the case of major historical personages such as those discussed above, whose lives and actions exert a powerful and widespread influence on millions of people. Including, of course, many impressionable young people.In these cases, "bad" is held and absorbed by a large expanse of humanity, who then propagate it, themselves. Thus can the original "bad" expand geometrically over generations.
Moreover, in the case of the figures, above, their "bad" was grossly, odiously, and intolerably bad. We're not talking here about people whose worst crime was kicking the cat on a bad day. No, these individuals were directly responsible for the oppression and murder of thousands, indeed millions of people in some cases. And in conceiving and propagating philosophies that adversely affected humankind for generations--and still do.
There is some measure of good in every individual, and we should seek, and seek to cultivate, the good even in individuals such as this. In the largest human and existential terms we accept these people, their crimes and misadventures notwithstanding. But in political terms, in building a movement or seeking those persons through history to whom we can look for inspiration or to assist us in the calibration of our moral compass--we must reject these individuals fairly wholesale. Thus does BOMA--and so should you.
~ Advocating Economic & Personal Change ~
One Human Family