CHANGE AND THE RATIONALE FOR SOCIAL OWNERSHIP...

    A simple reflection on what is at the core of our social problems - the huge economic crisis, poverty, increasing
joblessness, the insecurity, crime and racism, unequal and inadequate educational opportunities, the lack of even
basic healthcare for all, lost homes, the environmental devastation & inadequate safeguards to our families and
communities, the corruption of government on all levels - can all be narrowed to one basic cause: the economy,
who controls it and how it is being run. We are the wealthiest nation on earth, yet our economic system and its
political institutions have failed to sustain a peaceful, healthy, equitable and harmonious society. And now the
very future well-being of the planet itself is threatened. We are beginning to wonder 'Can anything be done?'
   
     So while the big social question facing us in this 21st Century ought to be how to
best share
our potential bounty, now with the stakes higher than ever, we are no better off than we were as we
entered the last century. Or worse. Now we face true global disaster, war, famines & genocides, poisoned air & food,
threats to our political freedoms, strife between low-wage working people and lower-waged 'illegal' immigrants, the
continuing loss of jobs to even cheaper over-seas labor. We are being pauperized at ever greater rates & increasingly
behind in our credit & mortgage debts. Just when our Economy has become destabilized & threatens to collapse, we
find Government is failing us as well. At a time when everything feels possible, it seems nothing works. Why?
What has gone wrong?
      To answer those questions, we have to begin by looking closely at our society, how it works, what its goals are.
And who makes the decisions? That really brings us to the most basic question of all: who owns our society? The
answer may seem axiomatic: We do! We've come to accept that when we say 'our society' we mean its 'ours', we own it.
But do we? Do we own our government, our jobs,our future? Who decides what the problems are & how to solve them?
Who decides priorties? Wall Street vs Main Street; Jobs vs Bottom-Line; Safety vs Profit. In all these real-life situations,
who has the POWER? If you answer 'Ah! The Government'. Think again. The real answer to all those questions all hinge
on one thing: ownership. And this is where our old assumptions break down. Because 'our' society really doesn't belong
to us, The People. As we've learned from the mortgage crisis, credit card debacle, lost jobs & lost pensions, escalating
wars, the Bank and Wall Street bailouts, we now see we pretty much own nothing & have no control over any critical
decisions. Government? Not so fast. We voted, but Elections sure didn't help did they. Neither did rallies or protests.
      Looking around, the world seems to have grown so out of control, the problems immense. While we have made so
many great advances, we also face so many new, difficult and complicated challenges. The question has become "Can
anything be done in a world that has grown so complex, dynamic, diverse? Could a different society actually do better?
Could it really work? We at PFANS thinks the answer is Yes, of course. It means re-thinking alot of things we take for
granted. It means changing. But isn't that what we've always done? But again, can we still do it? Is there a way out?


  
HOW DO SOCIETIES WORK? THEY CHANGE.   
    
      We should first remember, Societies are man-made which means they can be 'undone'.They're not 'divine', perfect
nor static. Technically, they are ways people organize themselves to benefit the group & the individual, based on the
prevailing conditions. Although each is unique, they all are made up of two, basic components: the Economic (the way
we create & distribute wealth - you might say the 'how') and the Civic (the way we provide for the health & well-being
of the people, deliver, decide & administer our laws - you might say the 'why'). Together they create a society's Culture,
Identity and Beliefs. While both realms have the same, basic goal which remains constant (group and individual survival),
the specifics change. On the Economic side, tools and technology will change. On the Civic side, values and attitudes will
change. Historically, the longevity & success of any Society has depended on how well it can absorb and adapt - but
eventually, each has grown less satisfactory for whatever reason.....and always given way to the next.

     Societies are also 'organic', that is they have 'life-cycles' based on change - Birth, Aging, Death. Like all organisms,
there are times of balance and health- in Societies that would be a good relationship between the Economic and the Civic
Goals, when they have met the needs & expectations of the majority. In a sense, each society is a specific thing: "They
are What they are". They have intrinsic characteristics based on how they've developed and these characteristics in turn
give rise to ever action & outcome. Like the color of our eyes, they can't change their inherent 'nature'. But if the changes
are minor adjustments, like reforms, they may work for awhile until contradictions crop up. It happened prior to the French,
English and American Revolutions. So, up to a point, societies may be 'adapted'...or reformed to create a hybrid...but
only in so far as they remain basically as they were structured originally. They can't be 'What They're Not'. Once real
change is made, they 'become' something new. They are transformed, like a moth to a butterfly & can't go back to what
they had been. So, again the principal of transformative CHANGE is the definitive mode of progress in societies, not
reforms - altho they can sometimes can lead to Change. When & Why do any of these reforms or transformations, take
place? Is it bloody or peaceful? That can be partially answered by the old truism: 'Necessity is the Mother Of Invention'.
The better prepared for the change, however - the more it represents the will of the majority who are convinced of the
need & clear on what form it should take - the more 'natural' and peaceful it is...(See our New Democracy model). So
basically, change happens 'logically', organically, slowly over time - when new conditions and circumstances push us
in new directions.The idea that ALL change is painful or violent isn't true. But like birth, it isn't pain-free either.The more
prepared we are to think about the future, the better; the more defined our goal, the better the outcome. But once inner
pressures begin and the old society starts to get rigid and no longer can adapt, the end of that society is coming and a
new one develops to take its place.

     What provokes these 'inner pressures' vary but it usually is changed by our tools, how we use them, and what
those tools do to our quality of life. Looking back to our earliest societies, the invention of the spear and axe (think
of these tools as early technology, the basis for our first 'Economies') dramatically affected the form society took in
those early days, its quality of life & basic survival. So did the observation, recording and use of seasonal weather
patterns (think of these as the 'science and engineering' of those first 'Economies') which gave rise to larger group
populations. Transforming early kinship groups from smaller, transient 'hunter-gatherers' to a more settled, complex
& 'specialized' agrarian model required something new: more cooperative, interdependent, law & rule based and
dependent on communication. Generally, whatever point in human history we study & whatever the specific dynamics
that bring them on, changes to societies happen when they are needed, when tools and conditions change & new
opportunities arise. Or when a grave imbalance occurs. But they all require co-operation & balance to function well.
When new dynamics alter the old equilibrium, putting things 'out of balance', new modes & models begin to take shape. 
Take the heirarchical, top-down, static systems of our early history. When the Pharoahs, Romans, Feudal masters &
Kings became too powerful & enriched, impoverishing the majority beneath them beyond toleration, each system, each
model collapsed. A new one arose based on dynamic, expansionist, free-wheeling growth and opportunity & produced
great gains for the majority. The two classes that emerged (Owners & Workers), the new Economic (Capitalism) & Civic
(Representational, limited Democracy) model would satisfy each others needs; an imperfect but workable, class-divided
but balanced Society took shape that has lasted about Four Hundred years. But what is happening today shows us we
are at the end of what reforms, tweaks and small measures of change can accomplish.  The inequities of class-division
and the result of ever-decreasing Democracy has made that 'workable balance' spin out of control.
    But deep Change, even a model that re-envisions a better Society, is always met with skepticism. That is 'natural':
being thwarted by the status quo, by reluctance to change, can be a 'survival mechanism' preventing changes that might
fail. 'Replacing the Devil we know for the Devil we don't know' has some logic if the majority holds to it.  But if it is thwarted
by the minority thru violence or force (armies, secret police, lies) while many have come to see these changes as necessary,
these change-periods can be punctuated by violent episodes on both sides, as in Revolutions. Most often, however, if the
changes are minor, they can be retrofitted into the old society and make their way more slowly, shifting society, its attitudes
and beliefs into a new 'paradigm' or mindset. But as we have seen throughout history, even slight changes to the Civic or
the Economic, technological advances or reforms of one sort or another, like dominoes, these alterations affect everything.
New relationships lead to others until eventually, they cannot be adjusted within the existing framework and a new social
order is born.

     So whether
'evolutionary' (like reforms) & the more complete ones that thoroughly alter both the Economic and Civic,
both lead to CHANGE. And these forces are constantly at work, not consciously contrived but natural. They can be stalled
but not stopped. (Short of a catastrophe that is, such as our present Ecological Crisis has us headed toward!). Throughout
History then, each Society, with its underlying Economic (the way we create wealth & well-being) and Civic ( the way we
distribute it) may differ, but the underlying process of change is at work in every epoch:  from the earliest societies (Tribal,
communal, class-less, property-less and based on the Family)... thru the more complex (Feudal, based on land, barter &
trade, serfdom & hierarchies)... and on into the latest one (Capitalism, based on profit & private property, industrialization,
class division with one class, the working class, creating the wealth & the wage system to keep it going). So 'old economic
systems and the civic forms they encompass have always given way to the new. And while they seldom attain 'a fair 50-50
split', the balance works as long as generally it equals 'the greater good for the greater number'. In addition, Change, while
constant, has always "taken its time" : first seen as 'impossible!!'.. next fought against by the forces of 'status quo'...then
finally arriving when the old ways & old paradigms are seen 'as just not worth saving anymore', and the new promises so
much opportunity and a better life as to make change 'irresistible'. If our present Economic and Civic society doesn't change,
it would indeed be the first time in human history & contradict everything we've come to know about being human 'til now.



 OURS: A SOCIETY NO LONGER IN BALANCE

     Remember, Society has always been a wholistic mechanism: it is meant to function smoothly if imperfectly & organized
to protect & promote the well-being of the group and the members of the group. It does that thru a balance between  its
two parts, the Economic (wealth producing, tools) and the Civic (the laws, values). The Society is healthy as long as those
two are doing their job. The balance can hold until internal pressures prevent it.
     TODAY we live within a hyper-competitive Economic system which has become capable of creating nearly unbelievable
wealth. Sounds good. But it is not set up to Distribute that wealth to all. That goal- 'the greater good' - is the Civic role of
Government. That goal, while encoded in our laws, our institutions, our religious and ethical mores, our deepest traditions
and finally embedded in our Constitution, has become just 'talk'. What about the basic safeguards to prserve the balance
and protect the people, our political system and our voice in 'Representational Democracy'? The Supreme Court has already
taken care of that: in the 19th century, it ruled that Corporations are 'people'! And now in 2010, it has doubled up on that'
'people power' by giving Corporations 'free speech' and loopholes that allow unfettered donations to all candidates. Money,
by Constitutional law, now rules; the Economic now OWNS the Civic. Of the two classes created by Capitalism (Owners and
Workers), the Owners now control how wealth is created AND who shall benefit from it. The constant and motivating goal
of Society has always been Protecting The People; it has now become Protecting The System and Private Profit.                                 
      From Tea Partiers to Progressives, it's becoming clear something is definitely wrong. While 'Reformers, Right and Less
Right)' call it by other names ( the wrong candidates, immorality, Big Government or greedy human nature) what is TRUE
is a SIMPLE FACT: we're trapped. Why? Because of an Economic system that no longer is in balance and under our
control. CAPITALISM'S GOALS ARE IN DIRECT CONFLICT WITH SOCIETY'S GOAL. Look around: Intervention in the
Civic Government, corrupt Lobbying and corrosive campaign funding, corporate control of the airwaves, the political dialogue
and democratic processes. Capitalism as a SYSTEM now controls and sways the legislative, judicial & executive branches
and all levers of power. On the civic side, the people are disorganized, demoralized, divided, confused as to the cause of our
problems but this is far more than a 'political' problem where we can vote in the right 'party', the 'best man'. We think we've
done that!! Unfortunately, many have now become convinced that nothing can really be done, we've come to the end of
History, unlike any other Economic & Civic model, Capitalism fits our 'human nature'. Maybe not perfect like the Universe
but endless because we've been told we just can't do any better! That unlike Feudalism or all previous systems this one
really is too complex,'too big to fail!'. There seems no way out. Some may choose not to vote, to wait and sit it out. Tend our
own gardens.  But is that reasonable? Is it really possible we have no choice left? The answer is No, if we just stop falling
for cynicism & powerless.The answer is real democracy is more possible than ever & we do have a choice. What's more,
we have the right & the responsibility to exercise it. We can own our society. And the good news is, History is on our side.



  A NEW OWNERSHIP SOCIETY
      
        IN THE REALM OF ETHICAL MORALITY AND IN MANKIND'S HISTORY, SOCIAL OWNERSHIP OF
 SOCIETY & THE ECONOMIC COMPLEX IS NOTHING NEW and especially today it's natural, right & just. Natural
because all of it - the socially operated industrial tools and technology, our knowledge and achievements- all are the
product of every human being who has historically come before us. Right, because what is created belongs to those
who create it. And it is just, because our technologies, industries, our interdependence reaches beyond the individual
or small interest group, because the entire complex of contemporary affects us all and has become the foremost
instrument for survival in the modern industrialized world - as well as the most potentially hazardous to the entire planet.
Therefore, SOCIETY AS A WHOLE needs to control it. By virtue of its critical place in modern times, it is now imperative
that our economy and the way we produce, consume, dispose and distribute - not be misused for narrow, short term or
private gain, and especially not manipulated by a tiny fraction of the larger social body that it encompasses. True Social
ownership is the natural & just outgrowth of our constant universal historic struggle for a better life, greater self-fulfillment,
greater personal & societal freedom. It is the ultimate recognition of the fundamental equality of all people and mankind's
UNIVERSAL 'inalienable right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness'.
      
     So far, we have been hoodwinked into thinking we are incapable of any fundamental change, that we have
reached the end of progress, of history. This is the last, the very best, the final stage - the 'natural order' of things
preached by Pharoahs & Kings as well. We have been told over and over again that Without Capitalism and
Capitalist 'selfishness', competition, fear or greed to motivate us, we will be lost, ruined! Everyday while we work
together, we credit it to the 'system', not ourselves. Without thinking, we believe the current Big Lie. But 150 years ago,
Abraham Lincoln said:
                  
"YOU CAN FOOL SOME OF THE PEOPLE ALL OF THE TIME, AND ALL OF THE PEOPLE
                     SOME OF
THE TIME,  BUT YOU CAN'T FOOL ALL OF THE PEOPLE ALL OF THE TIME'.

    Corporate control of government and media aside, he is still right.
We have been hoodwinked long enough..
convinced into thinking we have no right to control our economy, no right to interfere with profit-margins & the market
dangerous products & environmental pollution, out-sourcing & job-losses, outrageous inequalities & Wall Street bailouts...
that our economy is rightfully owned and ruled by Capitalists because they are the best at making the 'right decisions'
or fearlessly following the 'free-market system', taking chances, taking risk. They are best at creating profit & incentives
& thereby ensure our society's success. Yet it has been long recognized that the real wealth, power and creative energy
belongs to those who produce it:  the majority, the  plain 'ordinary' people who do the work everyday, create the wealth
we enjoy and from whom flow all the benefits that our society offers...From growing food to building laptops, from fixing
roadways to teaching our kids in the classroom, its not the Capitalist who is necessary, it is we who do the work. What
we do at work is ours in a way that we feel deeply about and take pride in. Understanding who creates the wealth, and
the complete dependence of  the Capitalist on the people who do the work, and not vice-versa, once again it was
Abraham Lincoln who recognized what should be self-evident:

                    "LABOR IS PRIOR TO CAPITAL.   LABOR CAN EXIST WITHOUT CAPITAL;  BUT CAPITAL
                     CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT LABOR''


   
WHAT'S TO BE DONE NOW?

    It is true, the existence of a 'super-class' of Owners...outside the realm of actual production...with often ruthless drive
and zeal did open up tremendous new opportunities to expand, consolidate and eventually controlled economies around
the globe. It created a dynamic, hugely successful new system of maximized profit and growth and progress for a growing
number. Based on Materialism and competition, it worked especially well when there were fewer players, and it's need for
constant growth and constant expansion was limited by inner and outer restrictions on what could be undertaken & achieved.
When consumption was based largely on 'feeding and clothing and healing the world' and the threat of pollution, war and
totalitarianism wasn't as well-understood nor accomplished on the vast and deadly scale as it is today. In the real world,
Scale changes everything and 'small' problems accumulate into 'big' ones. We are now facing the accumulation of huge
problems, and those problems must be attended to before it is too late. But that need can't be met thru the unending Goal of
Profit or a system based on 'more & more'. What we need now is co-operation not competition...for sustainability not unbridled
growth...for the long-term benefit not the short-term 'bubble'...for planning not rampant waste...for seeing the interconnectedness
of national and international policies...the well-being of Nature & the well-being of all Mankind. We need to recognize a simple
fact: The imperatives of these needs and goals...these HOPES...are contrary to the values, goals & paradigms of Capitalism.

    So rather than no choice, we now have little choice: a new society, a new paradigm.To repeat: the good news is History
is on our side. We have the tools and talents. Like our forefathers & mothers, we can envision a new way to live in harmony
with nature & with others, for the benefit of the majority, with equal rights for all. We can meet as they did, 'at the grassroots'
in our neighborhoods, but also electronically. Organized, we can start our own new party & vote for social cooperation &
social ownership. (see New Democracy).  Economic Social Democracy is not only possible, right and just. It is required.