Boggs Center – Living for Change NewsLetter – October 16th, 2017

  Jimmy and Grace  

James Boggs, “The American Revolution: Putting Politics in Command” 1970 

The first question that has to be answered, therefore, is whether there is any arena in which the United States urgently needs revolutionary—that is to say, rapid and fundamental—development and reorganization. The answer is unequivocally yes. But, unlike the nations of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the arena in which this country needs revolutionary change is not in the economic but in the political, not the material but the social. The essential, the key, contradiction in the United States that must be resolved if this country is to survive is the contradiction between economic overdevelopment and political underdevelopment.

James Boggs, “The American Revolution: Putting Politics in Command” 1970

Living for Change News
October 16th, 2017

(A message from our friends at  Mujer Montuna, a Social-Agricultural-Healing Justice project)

After Hurricane María, in Mujer Montuna we are trying really hard not to “lose it” in these hard times and to be more than patient until we get more news and reports back from our families and neighbors, as well as the loss and major needs in our rural communities, in Sector Lorenzo del Valle, Cerro Gordo and Quebrada Arenas, both in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico.

Our agricultural communities in the mountains have been hardly impacted by the center of the hurricane and communication these days has been hard. These communities are also very well known for their community/neighbors solidarity and hard work on a daily basis, and we have no doubt that they are making an excellent work caring for each other (you could see its beauty in some of our pictures and at our page).

In the meantime, while we are still working on the logistics of a possible construction brigade, a fundraiser and a collection of other major items, we decided to start collecting seeds to send to our communities back home to support restore our agricultural system which is so important.

Our communities in the mountains still rely a lot in the agricultural system, more in these hard times where rural communities are historically mostly the last ones to be served with post hurricane help and resources.

Help us sending seeds that can make justice for our people and help us rise. Write us for more info and address. We appreciate your solidarity!#FoodJusticeIsSocialJustice

NOTE: No GMO vegetable, fruits and flowers (for bees) zone 8,9 and 10 (tropical) seeds.

Mujer Montuna is Social-Agricultural-Healing Justice project from San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico and will distribute the seeds around community members in these two communities and will report back with pictures of the process in our page

UPDATE!

We are also slowly collecting info from our communities, little by little, and new items are highly needed like:

  1. Water filters (not for sink water but for water that is collected) and water quality testers
  2. Solar power operated chargers or lights
  3. Solar or manual energy operated radios
Donations can be send in two ways:
-Either straight to San Lorenzo leaders as soon as Post Office opens up. You can track  Post Office service to these areas here.
Send to:
Manuel Cruz/ Jellyka Cruz (Centro Comunitario Lorenzo del Valle) HC 20 Box 26431 San Lorenzo PR 00754
(My family are community organizers and will distribute seeds and donations to the community center that has been organizing community meals, brigades and collections)

-To us in Chicago to collect and resend:
Jacoba/ Mujer Montuna 1025 W Sunnyside Ave Suite 201 Chicago IL 60640
Don’t hesitate to ask/ call. Please! I will update on fundraisers, some building brigades I have been organizing, collections and more to come

In Eternal Appreciation and Love,
Mujer Montuna.

“The first question that has to be answered, therefore, is whether there is any arena in which the United States urgently needs revolutionary—that is to say, rapid and fundamental—development and reorganization. The answer is unequivocally yes. But, unlike the nations of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the arena in which this country needs revolutionary change is not in the economic but in the political, not the material but the social. The essential, the key, contradiction in the United States that must be resolved if this country is to survive is the contradiction between economic overdevelopment and political underdevelopment.”

James Boggs, “The American Revolution: Putting Politics in Command” 1970

Thinking for Ourselves

Expanding the Circle
Shea Howell

 Charity Hicks has been on my mind this week. She was killed in the early summer of 2014 while waiting for a bus in New York City. She was on her way to the Left Forum to make a presentation about the water crisis in Detroit. Charity left us many gifts as she worked to create deep local resilience and global connections. She moved easily between landless activists in Brazil and emerging youth leadership in Detroit, inspiring us all to see connections and expand our consciousness. In her last speech to us that sparked the UN investigation of human rights abuses in Detroit, she challenged us to “Wage Love.” It is that challenge that has been echoing with me this week.

Everywhere we look, people are suffering the most unimaginable pain. Drought and flood. Earthquakes and firestorms. Wind and water. Fragile human constructions are toppling in the face of the power of Nature. Life as we once knew it is coming to an end.

And everywhere we look, people are turning to one another to survive and to protect life. Men and women risk their own lives to go into piles of rubble in search of children. People in one city give water to their neighbors who have less. People share what they have so everyone can get through another day. Others are finding ways to offer aid and support. Prayers and pallets of water and food are sent, often by private efforts as government proves incapable or unwilling to help.

Love after all is not an abstract emotion. It manifests in our actions. It seems obvious, that if we are to make it to the next century, humans will have to change. Our cultures built on extracting life from the earth and each other can no longer survive. They are dying from their own excess. Not easily. Not willingly. Not without a lot of pain and protest. But it is clear the earth can no longer bear the abuses we have caused in the pursuit of personal wealth and power.

As Grace Lee Boggs and Immanuel Wallerstein reminded us, the current world system is collapsing. Something new is being born. The only question is, “Will it be better or worse than the one we have now?

If it is to be a better world, it is emerging in the places where people are facing basic questions of how to create ways of living that value each other and protect the earth that sustains us. Charity’s call to Wage Love is more than a slogan. It begins with our capacity to remain open hearted in the face of such continued pain, to find our way to embrace the moments that make life meaningful.

In just a few short weeks many people are drifting away from acknowledging the catastrophes our way of life is creating. Houston is a memory, rarely mentioned as other disasters catch our attention. Puerto Rico is in danger of being completely abandoned by those responsible for providing the most basic emergency support, reduced to a political tweet in an effort to bolster the worst in us.

In such moments our task it to find our way toward “expanding the circle of human concerns.” As John Powell has often reminded us, this responsibility, to develop ways of being that embrace all life, is the challenge of the 21st Century. It is the only way we will make it to the next one.

What We’re Reading

 

In her new essay for TheNextSystem.org, Laura Flanders, creator and host of the Laura Flanders Show, explores how new media models grounded in cooperation, community, and robust public support are needed to fight back against the corporate concentration that is strangling the public sphere. As she writes:

“To shift the culture and impact policy in a systematic way, however, this next system media needs a new system of media ownership. A people-owned, public media system is possible. Other countries have one. You can see glimpses of it in the US in the media cooperatives and municipally-owned internet systems that are popping up across the country, and in the reporting collaborations that emerge whenever critical stories break that the corporate media ignore, like the uprising at Standing Rock, the movement for Black Lives, and before that, Occupy Wall Street.”

KEEP READING


Detroiters Speak flyer


Our Communities are up to us
Rich Feldman

On Saturday, 60-70 folks gathering in Ferndale, Michigan, outside Detroit, for a discussion based upon the theme: Our Communities and Our Humanity are up to US, New Thinking on Race: What it is? Where it came from and What we Can do About it.

William Copeland, Detroit artist, thinker and activist shared the important work of “Breathe Free Detroit” and challenged the gathering of suburban folks to engage in the emerging campaign to stop dumping garbage in Detroit. He did not mean illegal dumping. He made it very clear that more than 60% of the garbage burned in Detroit’s polluting incinerator comes from Oakland County. This poisoning of our air and our children in Detroit is a major health crisis and a clear example of white supremacy, racism and silence by those in the suburbs.

Detroit water activist, Monica Lewis Patrick and Will Copeland were clear, that no-one is waiting for the politicians or the corporations to end these policies. Policies which keep the polluting incinerator operating and policies that shut-off people’s water.  Mayor Duggan, Dan Gilbert, Mike Illich and Governor Snyder have declared war on the majority of long term residents of Detroit. Monica and Will shared ways for folks to get involved NOW.

After a few moments of small group conversation, Frank Joyce, lifelong Detroiter, contributor to Riverwise magazine and co-editor of the book: The People Make the Peace- Lessons from Vietnam Anti-war Movement took the audience on a long historical journey of “white thinking”.   Frank clearly demonstrated that we live in a moment of great change with tremendous opportunities to change 500 years of thinking and actions we have created.  He reminded us that race-capitalism (the historical emergence of racism and capitalism together 500 years ago) is not inevitable because just as people created it, people can change and tear it down, resist it and change into something that is more human and respects all life.  Frank brought to the conversation the courage of the Abolitionists from the 19th century, the courage of people to challenge science or myth like Copernicus and Galileo (15-16 Century).  Eugenics created in the US was established by scientists and now we have science totally challenging the barbarism of Eugenics as well as scientists across the globe informing us of global climate crises and the need to end the world of resource extraction.  DNA testing and ancestry.com have made a national and global conversation to destroy biological thinking & white supremacy identity thinking as the basis political, economic, social policies and norms. The values and outlooks and thinking of “white supremacy” are in chaos and collapsing and this is a moment of great transition. The future is up to us.

One of our goals is to create Democracy Circles across the suburbs of Wayne, Macomb and Wayne Counties to Break our Silence and to create the Beloved Community. The hosting church, The First United Methodist Church of Ferndale, announced that they will create on-going discussions and a Democracy Circle and the Mayor of Ferndale announced that they will investigate the destination of their suburban garbage. Many individuals sign up and a few plan to create discussions in their neighborhood, church or union hall.


 

Please Support the Boggs Center

With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.

Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:
($10,000)

You can contribute directly at our website:  –
www.boggscenter.org  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boggs Center – Living For Change News Letter – Oct 9th, 2017

Jimmy and Grace  

Saturday Oct. 14, 2017 3:30 to 6 pm

New thinking on race a conversation     Frank Joyce

22331 Woodward Ave Ferndale MI         248 545-4467 ___________________________

Grace Lee Boggs, “I Must Love the Questions Themselves” 1985

Loving your people and loving questions are, I believe, the two most important qualities that an individual needs today to help create the new kind of politics we need to bring about fundamental social change in our country. Even if the people of our respective communities or of our country are acting in ways that we believe are unworthy of human beings, we must still care enough for them so that their lives and ours, their questions and ours, become inseparable. At the same time we must love the questions themselves, first, because every time we act on our convictions, we create new contradictions or new questions; and secondly, because we have no models for revolutionary social change in a country as technologically advanced and politically backwards as ours.

 

 

.

Living for Change News
October 9th, 2017

october 14


Thinking for Ourselves

Truth Telling Days
Shea Howell

 What we choose to honor in our past shapes our future. That is why efforts to rethink Columbus Day and establish Indigenous Peoples Day are welcome. Across the country this year, the first holiday since the massive resistance to the Dakota Pipeline, people are reflecting on how we look at our history, whose voices we care about, and whose lives matter.

Detroit joined a number of cities creating new ways to think about who we are, where we come from, and where we need to go.  Activists, artists, and community groups gathered for an Indigenous and African solidarity feast featuring Hip Hop, poetry, drumming and a potluck. Donations were collected for people in the Caribbean struggling after the recent hurricanes.

This week the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 14 to 1 to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. Supervisor Hilda Solis, who introduced the motion along with Sheila Kuehl said, “The motion, let me be clear, is not about erasing history. This is about understanding that for centuries, America’s ancestors oppressed certain groups of people. And while we can’t change the past, we can acknowledge and make that history right today.”

Since 1991 there has been a strong national effort to rethink how we talk about the European invasion of this Continent. This rethinking was motivated by right wing efforts to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s first voyage to these shores uncritically. In response, often lead by Indigenous scholars, artists and activists, cities, schools, universities, towns and states have begun to question what the myth of Columbus means and why we continue to perpetuate it.

Bill Bigelow of Rethinking Schools and the Zinn Education Project noted recently that in spite of nearly 30 years of scholarship, organizing, and expanding consciousness, many people continue to embrace the images of Columbus as positive.  He observed that in the wake of a national discussion about Confederate statutes and the murder in Charlottesville, the New York Times described how removing statues of confederate generals raised fears in some people that it would expand to those where  “the symbolism is far murkier, like Christopher Columbus.”

There is nothing “murky” about Columbus. He brought to this land the ethos of exploitation, lust for personal wealth at any cost, and the practices of genocide and slavery. Most historians acknowledge that Columbus launched the Atlantic slave trade when he enslaved Tainos and shipped more than two dozen men, women and children to Spain in 1494. A year later, with dreams of increasing riches, he ordered his men to round up nearly 2000 people, sending over 500 of them to Spain and giving those left behind to his men as slaves.

The resistance to this brutality by the Tainos is well documented, as is the absolute savage violence of Columbus to destroy them.

Reality is not self-evident. It is shaped by the stories we tell, the dreams we share, the lives we honor, and the values we hold.  

Today, we are living in a country where those who live for freedom and dignity are labeled terrorists. Recently, FBI documents leaked to the press warn of “Black Identity Extremists” whose “perception of police brutality “ is unfounded. They are accused of spurring violence against police officers.  This kind of twisting of reality, so essential for the maintenance of white power, has to be met at every level.  Resistance requires telling the truths of our past, even as we acknowledge the pain of our present. There is no other way to a just future.


Peace Freedom School Fam!
Today is #IndigenousPeoplesDay 

Yesterday at ONE MILE we celebrated our Collaborative Spirit of Resistance + Resilience thanx to Antonio Rafael of The Raiz Up bringing us all together to #WageLove. Photos courtest of Valerie Jean.

one mile
one mile 2
What We’re Reading

The Detroit Black Community Food Security Network is creating other ways for Black people to circulate healthy food—and wealth.
J. Gabriel Ware
yes! magazine

A decade ago, researchers reported that more than half of Detroit residents live in a food desert—an area where access to fresh and affordable healthy foods is limited because grocery stores are too far away. Efforts since then to bring more grocery stores—and food security—to predominantly Black neighborhoods haven’t worked.

But that’s looking to change.

Malik Yakini is executive director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, a coalition of people and groups that promotes urban agriculture, co-operative buying, and healthy eating. His organization is helping Black people in the city take matters into their own hands by creating their own grocery store, The Detroit People’s Co-op. The grocery will sit in the city’s North End neighborhood, where about 92 percent of residents are Black and nearly 40 percent have a household income less than $15,000.

“This new store will give the people more control over the food they eat and its production and preparation.”

“We found that a co-op grocery store was imperative,” says Yakini, adding that the members began to conceptualize the co-op in 2010 after they surveyed hundreds of Detroiters on their dietary eating habits, wants, and needs. “This new store will give the people more control over the food they eat and its production and preparation,” he says…

KEEP READING


AMC


 

Please Support the Boggs Center

With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.
Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:
($10,000)

You can contribute directly at our website:  –
www.boggscenter.org  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

In commemoration of the two year anniversary of Grace’s transition, we will be sharing wisdom from James and Grace Lee Boggs throughout October: #boggstober #graceleetaughtme

In commemoration of the two year anniversary of Grace’s transition, we will be sharing wisdom from James and Grace Lee Boggs throughout October: #boggstober #graceleetaughtme

October 6
Every revolution is a struggle to resolve the particular contradictions which have evolved out of a particular past. Every country’s past is particular, but America’s past is so particular that it seems to have evolved on another planet. Except for the Native Americans, whom Europeans named Indians, everyone in this country is a descendant of someone who came here from another continent and another culture less than four hundred years ago—in most cases much less. The economic, social, and political institutions of this country have been shaped by very real and very different people, mostly of humble origin and all seeking to make a new and prosperous life for themselves here, on this earth, as quickly as possible, regardless of the cost to other peoples, especially those of different ethnic backgrounds, and to future generations. They have thus made it inevitable that at some future time the American people would be compelled to face with sober senses the real, i.e., historical, conditions of their lives and their relations with their kind.

James and Grace Lee Boggs, Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century, 1974

Boggs Center – Living For Change Newsletter – October 2nd, 2017

  Jimmy and Grace  
 Grace Lee Boggs 6-27-1915 – 10-5-2015
____________________________
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
October 2nd, 2017

3

Thinking for Ourselves

Democracy and States?
Shea Howell

This week, as much of the nation’s attention has been riveted to the devastation of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, the Michigan Legislature is quietly continuing its efforts to destroy local democracy.  

This time the Republican controlled house passed two new gun bills, aimed not at guns, but local city councils. The first bill shifted the legislation around carrying concealed pistols. Instead of classifying carrying a gun after a permit has expired a felony, the bill makes the action a civil offense, subject to a fine. It seems republicans want to “make sure a normally law-abiding citizen doesn’t lose their right to carry a concealed firearm because of an expired permit.”  This action raises interesting questions about other felonies that we should consider reclassifying and for whose benefit.

But it is the second piece of legislation that is most troubling. It is intended to stop local governments from enacting any ordinances to control the use of guns. Representative Gary Howell’s proposed legislation would impose a $500 to $2,500 fine on any local government official who knowingly adopts “a gun ordinance out of line with state gun laws and does not repeal the ordinance within 90 days after a formal complaint is brought against the official over the matter.” One way to think about this effort is right wing republicans want to prosecute local officials for attempting to protect children from guns while protecting state officials or emergency managers from law suits for poisoning cities and destroying schools.

This effort is referred to as a “super pre-emption.”

What is pre-empted of course is the ability of local councils to respond to local constituents and local needs. The effort to destroy local decision making is part of a broader effort by right wing republicans to reduce the capacity of people in cities and towns to control our own lives.

Earlier this summer, a similar effort was launched against sanctuary cities to prohibit local communities from limiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Local officials, including law enforcement officials testified against such bills. Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton said that the bill would discourage immigrants from cooperating with police when they investigate crime.

“Most of the police service leaders recognize that fighting crime occurs with strong and trusting relationships with community members, who work as witnesses and help develop solutions to neighborhood problems,” he said. “The trust and strong relationships that I speak of is often a very fragile thing.”

These latest efforts are part of a broad pattern of actions by right wing state legislatures to undermine democracy at the local level. From gun control to protections of basic human rights, and emergency managers, state level legislators are pre-empting or overturning the judgments of local cities about the values and policies we want to define our shared lives.

These efforts diminish all of us. They are raising fundamental questions about whether or not representative level state government is compatible with developing a vibrant democracy. Each time the state legislature moves to restrict, control or overturn local decision making it attacks the basic capacities that enables us to define our civic life. Creating sovereign cities and towns is an essential part of developing a human future. State level legislation is increasingly at odds with what we need to develop our region and our people.


AMC

What We’re Reading

Visionary organizing, not protest, brings change
Fran Salone-Pelletier

Grace Lee Boggs, a life-long activist who died in 2015 at the age of 100, believed and lived as a visionary woman. As stated in an article from The Daily Good, “She lived and breathed her truth and believed that tending gardens, caring for the self, and caring for others were ways to nourish activism. In a sometimes harsh world, these simple acts of kindness end up restoring the energy needed to carry on the hard work of social change.”

Those were, and are, life-saving actions for me to contemplate. My computer is inundated with emails requesting support for innumerable issues. Daily, I receive multiple surveys to complete and return — with personal comments, if possible. I’m asked my opinion, whether or not I am knowledgeable about the stated concerns. Obediently and loyally, as a person dedicated to the pursuit of truth, justice, mercy, and peace, I have complied. I am now depleted, drained by the effort to protest what I believe to be lacking in authenticity and discouraged with the apparent failure to be effective.

KEEP READING


 

october 14


 

How does the State take over our schools 3

2How does the State take over our schools


 

Please Support the Boggs Center

With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.
Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:
($10,000)

You can contribute directly at our website:  –
www.boggscenter.org  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace Lee Boggs – June 27, 1915 – 10-5-2015 100 years and 100 Days

At almost 100 years old.

By Grace Lee Boggs  –  June 27, 1915 – 10-5-2015 100 years and 100 Days

August 2014

At almost 100 years old, I experience falls, new levels of pain, and difficulties moving. I also feel the need to record the most important influences in my life over the years. When I started college I had no idea what I was going to study. Japan had just invaded Manchuria so I thought international relations and political science should be my field of study. But in the middle of my sophomore year, the great depression started and I dropped all of my classes and decided to take philosophy even though, at the time, I could not tell you what it meant to study philosophy. Somehow, in my late teens, I was beginning to ask what life was all about, and that has been the question that has shaped the more than 80 years that have transpired since then. That’s where philosophy begins.

What is life about? How do we know reality?

Philosophy begins with conversation. We ask ourselves what it means to be human, how do we know reality.   What a wonderful gift to be able to talk with one another.

Conversation is a wonderful gift and not to be replaced with speakerphones or emails that are so unilateral and not mutual.

Socrates believed in dialogue and he was afraid that the new technology of writing would replace dialogue, where human beings actually interact with one another and through this they discover what they truly think.

In my living room I have a hundred books that I have selected from the thousands of books in my library. I am going to record why each of these books is important to me. They are about education, they are about philosophy, they are about this city.

 

On the first shelf are the books of philosophy. There are books from Socrates, who created the topic of philosophy, all the way to Lenin and Mao and Hegel. And then on the second shelf are books on the history of cities, including the history of Detroit. These are the books that I share with the people who visit.

As I think about my nearly 100 years and these 100 hundred books, I want my life to challenge people to think philosophically. I want people to ask themselves and each other what time it is on the clock of the world.

Naming the Enemy

By Grace Lee Boggs

 A spectre is haunting the American people– the spectre of destruction by capitalism. In its limitless quest for profits capitalism has defiled our human relationships by turning them into money relationships. It has transformed Work from a precious human activity into Jobs which are done only for a paycheck and which have become increasingly meaningless and increasingly scarce as the profits from our labor are invested in increasingly complex machines. It has undermined the Family ties by which human beings down through the ages have absorbed naturally and normally the elementary standards of conduct and the sense of continuity with the human race which make us human. By encouraging us to value material things more than social ties, it has turned us into a society of selfish individualists and materialists, seeking to compensate for the spiritual emptiness of our lives by the endless pursuit of distractions.It has despoiled the Land, Waters and Air on which our lives depend.

Up to now, most Americans have been able to evade facing this destructiveness because it was primarily other peoples, other races, other cultures which were being destroyed. For the sake of westward expansion the Native Americans were massacred and their survivors driven into the world’s first concentration camps. To clear the land and build the agricultural infrastructure necessary for industrial development, millions of Africans were enslaved and the ideology of racism created. Convinced that it was our destiny to rule the entire continent, Americans seized the Southwest from Mexico. When we came to the end of the American frontier, we reached out to Latin America and the Pacific. When capitalist expansion and centralization created the Great Depression, we got our economy moving again by producing for World War II. After the war we used our economic power and monopoly of nuclear weapons to protect capitalism in Europe from socialist revolution and to crush revolutionary struggles in the Third World by supporting and installing military dictatorships.

Ever since World War II it has been able to keep going only by producing weapons of destruction and by turning us into mindless consumers, unable to distinguish between our Needs and our Want, utilizing the mass media with the same cunning with which Hitler turned the German people into collaborators in their own destruction. New shiny cars and appliances have been pushed as sure ways to win love for ourselves. Women (and men) have been turned into sex objects. Credit cards have been promoted as badges of status.

As this brainwashing process has gained momentum over the last few decades, the moral and social fabric of our society has been steadily undermined. Our small towns and communities, in which neighborliness and character were more important than money, have been replaced by suburbs. Our judgment has been so distorted that we now consider “square” those who still value self-reliance and hard work, while we admire the “big spender.” Banks and loan sharks, whom we once viewed with suspicion, we now consider our friends, while more and more we fear those closest to us, our families, co-workers, and neighbors. Crime, mental illness, drug addiction, alcoholism, teen-age pregnancy and venereal disease have reached near epidemic proportions because, instead of depending upon each other for company and comfort (as human beings have done down through the ages), we look to more colorful goods and new, more exciting experiences to make us feel good.

Pursuing private happiness in the form of material goods, we did not care that we were passing on these materialistic and individualistic values to our children. Instead of recognizing that we were breeding criminals by the supreme value we had put on material things, we tried to project the blame for crime onto others. We ignored the growing threat to our health from the Love Canals that were being created by the dumping of industrial waste in our waters and our earth. We closed our eyes to the degrading lives being lived by the millions whom capitalism had already cast onto the Welfare rolls, little dreaming that the same fate was being prepared for us

But now the chickens have come home to roost. While we were collaborating with capitalism by accepting its dehumanizing values, capitalism itself was moving to a new stage, the stage of multinational capitalism. Big capitalists have been swallowing up smaller ones, creating giant corporations who buy and sell other giant corporations all over the world. A few hundred multi-national corporations now move capital and goods everywhere and anywhere, according to where they can make the most profit.

These multinational corporations have no loyalty to the United States or to any American community. They have no commitment to the reforms that Americans have won through hard struggle. Instead of giving more each year, they demand that we accept less or else.

If American workers do not accept wages and benefits competitive with those of Japanese or Mexican or Filipino workers, they do not hesitate to shut down a plant that has been the heart of the economic life of a city or region.. City workers and school teachers find that they are no longer needed; small businesses go bankrupt. So millions of workers, skilled and unskilled, blue collar and white collar, have already been laid off . Whole cities have been turned into wastelands by corporate takeovers and by runaway corporations. Yet our city and state officials, conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican, white or black, continue to compete with one another to offer tax breaks and reduced worker benefits to these corporations, knowing full well they will pick up and leave when they can make more profit elsewhere.

Meanwhile, because American capitalism no longer dominates the world market, our government can no longer afford the reforms with which all administrations since the Great Depression have tried to make capitalism more palatable. So social and Welfare programs are being ruthlessly dismantled; unions are being busted or immobilized; the moral, environmental and civilized restraints on capitalist expansion which have been won only after decades of struggle are being abandoned.

That is why we must now make a second American revolution to rid ourselves of the capitalist values and institutions which have brought us to this state of powerlessness or suffer the same mutilation, the same destruction of our families and our communities, the same loss of national independence as over the years we have visited upon other peoples and other nations.