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Published 5 February 2015
Why do our cumulative efforts collectively harp so overwhelmingly on repeating why and how things are bad and give so little attention to what we should desire and how we should achieve it?

I spend part of each morning and evening assembling essays for online publication. This means I see not only what arrives directly in my email but also more online around the world. I should perhaps say, it often feels masochistic, and I am no masochist.

Finding material gives me an anecdotal vantage point on the ebb and flow of progressive, radical, and revolutionary focus. Sadly, with each passing year, I find it harder to endure what this vantage point reveals.

Of course revelations vile injustice and pain are hard to bear, but that is not my topic here. Rather, what is increasingly battering my equilibrium is seeing what we write about. It is some things, but not other things.

Don't get me wrong. No individual is at fault. We collectively generate essays, each one good and warranted. The problem is the collective redundancy. If most energies go to x, it means y and z aren't heavily addressed. If y and z need more attention, but x gets it all, we have a problem.

We seek people controlling their own lives, enjoying equitable circumstances, and living in a welcoming natural and social environment. Mutual aid, equity, self management, and sustainability. We know that to win all this will require huge involvement by  informed, committed, and active people.

If you reject that claim, you may as well stop reading now. The rest of what I offer won't make sense. However, if you agree with the claim, please continue.

Clearly, most people are not currently informed, committed, and sustainably and massively clamoring for social change. Here are three reasons why.

1. People don't accept that current society is horrible. Trying to replace current society rather than enjoy it  makes no sense to them. Why reject a great system?

2. People agree that current society oppresses but believe we have no alternative beyond trying to make do. Seeking change is futile because there is nothing better to change to. Why reject a least bad system?

3. People agree that society oppresses but believe you can't win against its defenders. Trying to replace current society is a flea trying to out weigh an elephant. Why fight a losing battle?

To address reason 1, I think we can all agree it makes senses to explain what is wrong with current society. This is x, earlier, where I said we do tons of x. We now repeatedly show what is wrong, why it is wrong, and how it is wrong.

To address reason 2, I think we can agree it would make sense to describe what a new society could look like, why it would be possible, and why it would be desirable. This is y, earlier, where I said we do little y. Showing what a better society could look like, and its benefits, barely gets addressed at all, now.

To address reason 3, I think we can all agree it would make sense to describe the kinds of activities that we can plausibly connect into possible and viable program and strategy by which a new society could be attained. This is z, earlier, where I said we do little z. Showing a programmatic plan by which a new society might be attained and motivating its components barely gets addressed at all, now.

What I see while finding material is too much material addressing 1, not enough material addressing 2 and 3. More, this ratio is not imposed by coercion from the state, or from any other outside force. It arises from choices by those on the left.

Any individual who desires a new world can personally choose to do more vision and strategy and less cataloging crime, of course, but I think we have a more collective issue to address. Why do our cumulative efforts collectively harp so overwhelmingly on repeating why and how things are bad and give so little attention to what we should desire and how we should achieve it?

  • Is it that we really do think reason 1 for there being a relative lack of mass involvement is the only important reason, so of course we focus on only that?
  • Is it that we do what we have done. We do what we are learned about and know we can do well?
  • Is it we don't want to say things that may prove wrong so we stick to what we are totally sure about instead of trying to become informed and adept about what is needed?
  • Or is it , at bottom, that we don't address what we want or how to get it, because, well, we just don't have a fighting and optimistic mindset, aimed at winning, but more like a tread water mindset, aimed at not losing more?

Whatever combination of factors are at work, the situation needs to change. Without vision and strategy, not just about tomorrow or the next few months, but extending into a fundamentally better future, cataloging ills begins to feel like whining. Without addressing vision and strategy, two bedrock reasons for left weakness persist and, as well, fundamental change isn't even sought, and so certainly fundamental change won't be won.


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