"Whether...a change from the supremacy of natural science to a new social science will take place...depends on one factor:  how many brilliant, learned, disciplined, and caring men and women are attracted by the new challenge...."
-- Erich Fromm, To Have or to Be, 1976, p.161
--  L O V E  --



Introduction

The Brotherhood of Man program for existential change is unique and powerful because it combines two readily complementary ideas, each of which, individually, is powerful and longstanding: (1.) a cooperative society, where everyone works together for the common (and individual) good, expressed in selected portions of the work and teachings of Erich Fromm, Daniel De Leon, Karl Marx, and others, and (2.) the notion of "brotherly love," or the "love ethic," expressed in the work, or selected portions of the work, and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis, Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi, Jesus, Leo Buscaglia, Erich Fromm, Buddha, Pitirim A. Sorokin, Joseph Fletcher, Charles E. Hansen, Morihei Ueshiba (known commonly as "O' Sensei"), Confucious, my own work, and others. The love ethic is also known in Greek as agape  (uh goh' pay). The entire BOMA program is communicated in neutral language people find friendly and accessible, a deliberate outreach methodology comprising a powerful third leg of the program.

Elimination of ownership of industry is a key part of the BOMA program, but might not necessarily create the long-dreamt of "brotherhood of man." Thus, BOMA also seeks a concomitant personal transformation away from the pathological egoism engendered by capitalism, toward this ethic of "brotherly love." This principle, taught from childhood, would comprise the moral and ethical (indeed, the "socio-behavioral") underpinning of the new society.

The moral and ethical infrastructure of a Cooperative System will be based explicitly on the "love ethic."  It will be taught to, and reinforced in, everyone from infancy onward, a kind of "ethico-behavioral" overlay to the new society.


Cooperation + 1

Why have just a Cooperative revolution, when we can have a love revolution? A Cooperative revolution + 1 ?

Put another way, why include the "love ethic" in the Cooperative program? Why not simply work for 1.) the elimination of private ownership of industry, toward a paradigm of no-ownership, common operation (NOCO), and 2.) operation for use not profit?

Because such a revolution could very well be partial, and its results partial, since private ownership of the means of production is not the only root cause of the many problems of humankind. It is, in fact, one of two, the other finding expression in the declaration of Existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre: "Hell is other people." BOMA asserts, in other words, that the other root cause of the problems of humankind is human ego.

If you analyze and examine your problems, you'll likely find that they fall into not one but two categories:  1.) economic, and 2.) social. The former category, economic, includes such problems as poverty, low wages, inadequate or nonexistent benefits, unsafe working conditions, lack of employment, lack of full-time employment, unfulfilling or otherwise unsatisfactory work, oppression by management, and fear of job loss. This category of problems, economic, will disappear completely or almost completely with the start of the new Cooperative Society.

The latter category of problems, social, includes many specific transgressions; a few are:  being lied to, being cheated on by a spouse, and being shown disrespect by one or more persons including neighbors, co-workers, family members, and salespeople. This category of problems seems hardy and persistent, and not necessarily subject to immediate or efficient elimination upon the start of operation of the new Cooperative system. Therefore, a method, strategy, or principle for the immediate and efficient elimination of such behaviors and the problems they cause must be conceived, introduced, and formally included in the Cooperative program.

If we omit this redress, we take a chance and endanger the revolution or its optimal expression (we also violate the BOMA principal of Responsible Revolution, link at left). Why do this, especially when a principle for redress of this source of problems exists?

This principle in Greek philosophy is called Agape. It is more commonly known as "Brotherly love," or simply love.


From Each According to His Abilities, to Each According to His Needs

So wrote Louis Blanc, in a principal later echoed by Karl Marx.

In an obvious conclusion of behavioral logic that the entire movement for economic democracy seems to have missed, anyone who takes Blanc's principal seriously must grapple with the love ethic, for the principle implies the love ethic. I am not going to work as hard as, or perhaps even harder than you, knowing that my remuneration may be the same as, or even less than yours, unless I see you as my brother. Indeed--unless I love you. The BOMA program thus consists not merely in a new political-economic arrangement, but a dramatically new and powerful "socio-behavioral" arrangement, as well, to guide the character of our interpersonal interactions in the new society. This latter arrangement is based on an enhanced set of interpersonal values and principles that are the most elevated ever conceived by the human mind or heart, those of brotherly love. While the entire BOMA program is revolutionary, this latter component, the new socio-behavioral arrangement, in fact comprises a seminal paradigm of personal and social relations, especially when understood as part of a larger comprehensive program for revolutionary social change.

Indeed, how does one have radical social transformation without one of the most radically transformational ideas of all time--love? We would not venture to predict, at this early stage, the exact role the love ethic will play in the new society, but the notion that it must play some kind of substantive role is an official part of the BOMA program, and a key part of what makes BOMA powerful and unique among all groups working for radical social change.


What is It

The love ethic, as conceptualized by BOMA and properly understood, is not a passive, wishy-washy, "turn the other cheek" philosophy, but a strong, enlightened paradigm defined as an active concern for the needs and welfare of others, in approximate proportion to our concern for our own needs and welfare. Implied are active behaviors and attitudes like respect, tolerance, courtesy, patience, charity, generosity, sensitivity, concern, compassion, and empathy.

A great historical esteem attaches to the principle of love, or the "love ethic." Deservedly so, for this principle is arguably the most powerful social force available to humankind. Christ taught a variant of it; King taught a variant of it; Gandhi taught a variant of it. It is powerful, elegant, and already widely (if superficially), promulgated. It is strongly associated with the best and most elevated actions of humankind. Love is perhaps our most transformative power and principle. Accordingly, how could one proffer a program of genuine and deeply transformative social change without it?


Before and After the Revolution

The principle of love has important, if not profound, implications for the cooperative project, both before the Social Transformation (i.e. the "revolution"), in working for a cooperative society, and later, once that future society has been established. Here's why:

  • Before the Revolution. Years of previous involvement in the movement for democratic socialism has produced many personal interactions with a cast of persons, and left this writer with the impression that while adherents have the right political  idea, they are generally clueless about how to treat real flesh-and-blood human beings, in the here-and-now, including other adherents. Some of the shabbiest treatment this writer has personally received over the years has come from fellow "believers"--persons presumed to possess something of an elevated moral sensibility.

    From my many and varied conversations and experiences with such persons over the years, I can say that the overwhelming majority are wholly unconcerned with the love ethic, in theory or practice. Mention is sometimes made of this or that humanistic value, but there is little focus on the love ethic, as articulated and taught in selected portions of the writing and teaching of Erich Fromm, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi, and Jesus.

    The fragmentation and diminutive size of the present Cooperative movement, itself, and many of the various parties and other groups that comprise it, is probably due as much to the proffering of personal slights, insults, and insensitivities, deliberate or not, as it is to genuine theoretical or other differences. Were the love ethic adopted, it would inform intra-party and extra-party interpersonal relations, thus preventing or dramatically reducing conflict, enmity, infighting, insult, and undue, ego-based criticism, attack, and insensitivity. The powerfully spiriting result would be a movement of far greater cohesion, unity, and cooperation, which itself would help us clear a path to a Cooperative Society that much faster.

  • After the Revolution. Many people have found inspiration, and were perhaps even drawn to this movement, through the principle of Louis Blanc:

    "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."

    Arguably, this sentiment embodies the most evolved, most idyllic, most moral, and ultimately the most appealing vision of cooperative society, known. It posits a shared, cooperative society where all work in peace, harmony, and love for all, broadly sharing what they have; contributing what they can in good faith, and taking, in equally good faith, what they need or really feel they want.

    However, without the Love Ethic, Blanc's idea, above, cannot work. Blanc's principle implies the love ethic. Such a conceptualization of cooperative society may be nothing more than a hazy pipedream without it:  I am not going to work harder than you, knowing my remuneration may be the same as, or less than, yours, unless my actions and perspective are informed by love; unless my mind and heart are resonating to the sound of an ethic of "brotherly love."  Unless I care about you.  Unless I love you.

    Without love, how else can we maximize the chance that people will adhere to Blanc's essential cooperative principle?

    The failure to address, and apparently even recognize this critical point, appears to represent the great omission in the movement for, and history of, the Cooperative project, at least among those who adhere to the principle of "From Each, To Each." Auspiciously and uniquely, however, the BOMA program is attempting to redress this oversight.


Rosa Luxemburg

Indeed, the remarks below of political revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg reasonably paraphrase the Cooperative argument, that personal transformation and change are required if the revolution is to succeed; a change in ownership is not enough. She makes explicit that the success of the revolution requires "...a complete inner rebirth of the proletarian." Thus does she reject a narrow Marxist materialism or historicity, and affirm the Cooperative program plank calling for personal change:

In a socialist society the industrialist with his whip ceases to exist. The workers are free and equal human beings who work for their own well-being and benefit. That means by themselves, working on their own initiative...and delivering the most reliable and meticulous work. ... In a word: the worker in a socialist economy must show that he can work hard and properly, keep discipline and give his best without the whip of hunger and without the capitalist and his slave-driver behind him. This calls for inner self-discipline, intellectual maturity, moral ardour, a sense of dignity and responsibility, a complete inner rebirth of the proletarian.

One cannot realise socialism with lazy, frivolous, egoistic, thoughtless and indifferent human beings. A socialist society needs human beings from whom each one in his place, is full of passion and enthusiasm for the general well-being, full of self-sacrifice and sympathy for his fellow human beings....

Her point comes through clearly enough, as she ties the motivation of people to work under socialism with their new-found affinity for, and toward, each other. What can the principal and value at the core of this affinity be, if not brotherly love?

Thus does Brotherhood of Man include this notion of brotherly love, or agape, in its political program!


Conclusion

All things considered, then, Brotherhood of Man believes the love ethic must play an important role in any serious attempt at social transformation, whatever the exact nature of that role turns out to be. And thus do we urge everyone to learn about the principle of love. Insofar as said principle resonates, we urge you even to live this principle. This should help improve oneself, present-day society, and the efficacy of the movement for a cooperative society. And it could make the critical difference between the success or failure of the larger revolution, once the formal transition to public ownership is complete.


Note

Brotherhood of Man is an advocacy organization. It has no religious or theological bearing, underpinning, or tendency of any kind, whatever, and no "spiritual" one beyond what is explicitly stated at this website. BOMA and its program draw upon the work of religious figures only insofar as that work speaks to the power and value of the love ethic, or the desirability of a cooperative mode of social organization. Our citation or valuing of this work or these principals in no way accepts or implies any acceptance of any larger metaphysical system.



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