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Capitalism Is Not The Problem

By Seth Wilpan

The opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect opinions or positions held by Indivisible Northampton.

It has become commonplace in left and liberal circles to rail against the rapacity, cruelty and destructiveness of capitalism. But capitalism is not the problem and we’re scaring people away from our cause.

At the most rudimentary level, capitalism is defined as a system in which the means of production and distribution are privately owned. In the popular imagination this means that anyone is free to start a business, take the risks and reap the rewards. That’s in contrast to everything being run by a nanny state. In other words, when we rail against capitalism, many people think we are threatening their entrepreneurial freedom and it conjures up the bleak. dreary images of long lines and commodity shortages in Soviet Russia.

In fact, it’s not capitalism that’s the problem, it’s the implementation.

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News Magic

We’re excited to announce that we have joined the NEWS-MAGIC  (News of MA Grassroots Information Center). It works through a Slack workspace where we can enter our news, upcoming events, etc, which then gets organized into an online calendar that we can then filter as we see fit (by activities, by groups, etc). The News-MAGIC.org calendar is then accessible to us and all the other groups involved.  It works to  publicize our work to other progressives across the state, keep us and our members informed about what other groups are doing, and to help provide content/info for our own newsletters, etc.

News-MAGIC was designed by activists for activists. It is, of course, completely free. The steering committee includes Susan Labandibar (Swing Blue Alliance), Christine Brown and Shaw Yang (Indivisible Acton Area), Lisa Baci (Minuteman Indivisible) and Larry Pareles (Indivisible Northampton) 

GETTING STARTED:
Join the Slack workspace where Susan, Christine, and the rest of the team will give you a warm welcome. Or attend the weekly intro session, which is held every Wednesday at noon.

Join the Slack workspace
RSVP for the intro session

Here are links to calendars that list upcoming events filtered by
Sponsoring Groups (i.e. Swing Left, Swing Blue Alliance)
Type of Activity (i.e., texting, phonebanking, etc.)
All the information you need to plug in and get busy, all in one place!

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Thank You Leaders

by Seth Wilpan

The opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect opinions or positions held by Indivisible Northampton.

In the morning email another plea to call my senators and contact the White House to egg them on to pass the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. After at least 20 years of obvious sabotage of voting rights by the Republican Party it takes a steady outcry from the public to motivate our elected officials to vigorously oppose them. That is a statement about the level of consciousness at which our existential situation is being considered. It goes without saying that it bespeaks a frighteningly low level of awareness, not to mention moral corruption.

It is evident, and has been empirically demonstrated, that at the national level neither elected officials nor government institutions are responsive to the will of the people. Why do we continue to fervently clamor for their support despite a history of, at best, tepid results?

I have to admit that I am susceptible to hopeful scenarios. Let’s say that the voting bills pass and they are able to forestall the most egregious assaults on voting rights. A substantial infrastructure bill passes and enough projects get off the ground to convince most people that their lot is improving. Anti-trust measures begin to reign in the ruthless power of corporations enabling  better working conditions and creating space for small businesses to thrive. If enough of these impacts are felt quickly enough, the Republicans, whose support is already faltering, may fail to gain control of even one of the chambers of Congress, which would allow the policies of the Biden administration to take root. That could lead to years of greenish prosperity and a long reign for the Democratic party while the Republican party goes through the process of recovering its sanity.

This scenario is, unfortunately, as fragile as it is hopeful. Every one of the elements would have to fall into place in order for it to become true. Not only that, but it does not take into account any of the possible external shocks that could throw things out of whack. How long before the extended drought in the west and the climatic disruptions of the Midwest cause food shortages and price increases? What if, as is not unlikely, pandemic conditions persist unrelentingly for years? The arsenal of weapons in the hands of Americans is a tinderbox on the verge of exploding into civil war. Cyber warriors have already demonstrated the capacity to wreak havoc.

On the one hand I feel that I must give all my effort to enable the hopeful scenario to prevail. On the other hand, I feel that I need to have a Plan B. Or is the need to have a plan B a matter of indulging, as Thomas Chatterton Williams recently put it, “…a certain intellectual and moral prestige in wallowing in our dissatisfaction…”.

There will always be a tension between the need to act and the need to strategize. What is constant is that we will always need each other; for the resistance, for mutual aid, for the never-ending work of human evolution.

So, regardless of the outcome of this particular struggle, I’m grateful to the leaders of our various organizations who do the hard work of keeping us focused, energized, and most of all, together.

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Eutopia

The opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect opinions or positions held by Indivisible Northampton.

By Seth Wilpan

It’s difficult to construct a narrative in which good prevails. It seems to require a long time scale, time enough for things to fall apart and for a new order to arise from the chaos. What if instead, like restoring a home, we could skillfully dismantle the rotted pillars of our civilization and build a new one in place, without the whole thing collapsing?

The Green New Deal is potentially the most powerful vehicle of transformation that we have. It can explode the current monetary system that’s based on dominance and enslavement. The system of money is currently organized in such a way that banks are in control. This system is not the result of any natural law, despite the edifice of words that has been built to convince us of that. Money can be generated and used as a means of facilitating cooperation, sharing and the common good. Trillions of dollars will have to be created to support a Green New Deal, and the banks will fight tooth and nail to insert themselves into that process. They will insist that we have to borrow the money from them and they will point to various laws and institutions that they themselves established to support that claim. We’ll need to supply enough pressure for a new administration and a new Congress to have the courage to ride roughshod over those claims.

Cutting the bankers out of their role in creating money will further weaken the already tottering petro-dollar’s position as the world currency. The GND’s massive investments in infrastructure will weaken the economic leverage of weapons manufacturers.  This will expose the role of the military in propping up both the dollar and the weapons industry, making it easier to dispose of both.

We can’t allow the GND to be bent to the purpose of refueling the industrial capitalist state. It must be engaged in establishing a new relationship between humanity and the rest of creation. It must immediately engage in the restoration and rehabilitation of the land and water. Part of that process is the reintegration of people with the natural world, which entails returning land from Big Ag to farmers. It means re-organizing the topology of the built environment to accommodate living more lightly on the land.

These are just a few of the most obvious transformations that can be accomplished under the aegis of a GND. The ripple effects are uncountable, though we can delight in imagining them. We may actually come to live life with less stuff and more art.

What about the 40% of the country who are white supremacists? They have been taught to be that way to serve the purposes of their masters. That learned hatred can quickly be dissolved in the flow of prosperity As Lao Tzu said:

It is better not to make merit a matter of reward
Lest people conspire and contend,
Not to pile up rich belongings
Lest they rob,
Not to excite by display
Lest they covet.
A sound leader’s aim
Is to open people’s hearts,
Fill their stomachs,
Calm their wills,
Brace their bones
And so to clarify their thoughts and cleanse their needs
That no cunning meddler could touch them:
Without being forced, without strain or constraint,
Good government comes of itself.

– Tao Te Ching translated by Witter Bynner

And as Wendell Berry concludes his poem “A Vision”:

The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is its possibility.

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THE GOLF RESORT PUTSCH

By Seth Wilpan

The opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect opinions or positions held by Indivisible Northampton.

Most of the pundits and politicians I hear from are flabbergasted by the actions of the Trump administration.

How could they be so incompetent in dealing with the pandemic and stand behind policies that are unpopular with their own constituencies? Trump doesn’t want to admit he’s wrong they say. Trump is using his federal enforcement henchman, they say, to stage confrontations that make him look tough, which will appeal to his supporters.  As for the Post Office, to their credit, no one any longer acknowledges the fig leaf of conservative principle to explain its dismantling.

It’s time to apply Occam’s razor and acknowledge the simpler explanation of how the pieces fit together. Trump and his cronies are planning to take over the country in November. The government’s inaction on the pandemic is tantamount to genocide, serving to kill off a good portion of Trump’s natural opposition keep the survivors too fearful to risk voting in person. (Oh, you think that’s a bridge too far, that the U.S. government is incapable of genocide?)

The Post Office will have been sufficiently crippled that vote-by-mail will be disrupted, providing a basis for claiming that the election results are illegitimate. Rampant economic privation and homelessness will create unrest which will simultaneously be stirred up and quelled by Trumps private brown-shirted polizei. That will provide the cover to declare a national emergency.  Barr will cook up some kind of document to legitimize the putsch, and the Supreme Court will do what it has been hired to do.

While not everyone acknowledges the depth of the plot, everyone knows there’s a good possibility that Trump will not willingly transfer power to a new administration. Some democratic members of Congress have raised an alarm, but in reality there’s nothing they can do to stop it. They can’t pass any laws through the Republican senate, and even if they could, who would enforce them? The people may rise up, but our leader’s private militia will already be in place to gun them down. The only way out I can see is if the military steps in to enforce the transfer of power. I’m not holding my breath.

This November’s vote may be our last to preserve what vestiges of democracy remain in this republic. Massive voter turnout is important not just for the sake of a decisive result. It’s important that plenty of people have a stake in their vote being counted and would be upset if their vote is ignored.

Otherwise, we’d better start preparing for a new order in America. An America in which the depredations of the powerful against the weak are even more extreme, in which writing such as this will guarantee a prison term. Think East Germany.