Transform the System: A Work in Progress
by Wade Lee Hudson


From Penn Garvin:

I really appreciate all the work you have done to bring this book out.  There is a lot of really good history, perspective on how it relates to where we are now and analysis of the present movement and its problems.  You are a very good writer and it all flows really well.  Thanks for your ideas and love and care for the movement.  All of that comes out really clearly in what you have written. You refer to a number of movements towards integration of thinking which I have been following and really glad that you incorporated. Your proposal for a new mission is really good and one I applaud and think it would be a good move on the part of the movement to start discussing and thinking about this mission. 

My work right now keeps me so busy and involved that all I can really offer is how I would integrate all of this into the hands- on work I'm doing. I founded a trainers group ( in which I really have tried to incorporate how we treat each other as an integral part of our work -- more or less successfully but it's there and we talk about it. I am working locally to bring groups together and am also working with the Poor People's Campaign to bring those agencies working on the front lines with the poor and marginalized together with political progressive organizations who are demanding change. Neither of us can do it alone and we need each other. I'm also working with the local community center where I was staff person years ago and now on the Board to look at issues of toxic trauma which leads to ACEs which leads to the need to teach resiliency and strengthen bystander actions and how this relates to leadership and citizenship.  Much of what you speak about we try to incorporate but from a very "middle of the road" perspective given that we are in the middle of Trumpland.  

My suggestions for your book are basically two:

(1) I believe that until this nation deals with the history and legacy of white privilege which has distorted our democracy from the beginning, we will never have a truly democratic nation. I am beginning to talk about these issues with progressives I work with and truly believe that we as a movement have not taken this issue seriously in terms of structural changes needed. There are many who are writing about this-- Carol Anderson in White Rage, Ta Ne-hisi Coates in his many Atlantic articles, Black Lives Matter, Glaudy Jr. etc. It would be good if you could incorporate some of this into what you have written.

(2) I would give ideas of how to help activists who are already doing so much to integrate what you have suggested into the work they are already doing rather than suggesting they form new circles to study and talk about this.  That's really not going to happen among those I know who are out in the field and overwhelmed already. There are some who may want to and yet there are many who could integrate the new mission and some of your perspectives into the work they are already doing. This would be more practical for them and would give you some hands-on ideas of how to integrate your ideas into the social change movements and activities that are already going on.

Not sure any of this is helpful but hope it is!  I truly support you in your work and appreciate so much how consistently over  the years you have focused on how to make our progressive social movement the best it can be and the most effective!  I send you my greetings, my approval and my love,  Penn 


From Roma Guy:

Yes, I know Penn, like her comments too. I have been trying to figure out if I can host a small discussion at my house. Not sure still today. I am stilling helping [personal] ...On Sunday Diane and I review scheduling and I will discuss your suggestion. Clearly though I can't organize another outreach and agenda at the moment. ... I am [also] trying to close out (University of Oregon) an archive project for another activist, Norma Hotaling and we are in final negotiations and I am still trying (but not on-top of) jail reform—in the middle of budget with Mayor and Board of Sups including Sharon Johnson who is working with Sup Jeff Sheehy. Just being honest about my situation. I am [personal] will try to call you later if you are around. Let’s see if I can find time and focus to at least comment on some of the writing you forward.


From Robert Anschuetz:
Thanks so much for sending along this update on your booklet, along with the access to it. I've read the first three sections, and find both the flow of your argument and the writing itself quite terrific. I honestly wish I had time to do as you suggest and post specific comments at the end of each chapter, but, at the moment, I just don't have the time to do it. I'm involved now with an international anti-war organization called "World Beyond War" and already committed to writing chores that consume much more of my retirement life than I might have wished. However, from my previous involvements with progressive stages in the writing of your book, I have a pretty good grasp of at least many of your ideas for reforming "the system." I know already that you make a convincing case for that reform and also that I myself am on board with it. I even buy into your idea that, in order to build "a compassionate community dedicated to the common good of all humanity," we Americans must ourselves first "become better human beings." In my own case, though, I'm just more comfortable pursuing that goal by my own efforts than through participation in a support group. What I do intend to do in response to your book is to read it through as soon as possible. Congratulations on completing it, and best of luck in transitioning now from what I believe is sound (and realistic) theory to the reality of at least its beginning implementation in the flesh.


From Bruce Schuman:
I really like this, Wade – it’s very good.  I just sent you a little note from your web site about it, and I bought the booklet on Amazon.  Right now I am printing chapter on Mission – 21 pages of Big Print..

If you got a minute, take a look at something quick that is emerging for me.  I think the concept will resonate for you – kinda like the Charter for Compassion by Karen Armstrong – but this the Charter for Co-creation

You probably have some great insights and ideas on these themes and I am sure I will absorb a bunch from the booklet… I bought the booklet on Amazon -- the price was right! I want to read all that stuff you put in there -- a lot -- and see what i can learn and maybe assimilate into a somewhat related project that is starting to emerge for me, that I call "The Charter for Cocreation". I've been reading your blog posts for a long time. If you got a minute, take a glance at this thing. I want to learn from you. ...Thank you so much.

Web  message. Subject: Masterpiece. Just -- passing thru, Schuman-the-Human -- but you are onto something great here, Wade. I want to hang out with this and keep breathing and see what I can absorb. I think we're on a resonant wave.

Wade's reply: Bruce, I like the direction you're headed, though the emphasis on the economy on your Welcome page seems a bit exaggerated. Very interesting list of like-minded organizations. I look forward to more communication.

Bruce's reply:

Good to hear from you, Wade, thanks.  Yes, on that statement about the economy, you are right – it’s a bit one-sided.  The actual creative energy that was driving this project as it started to emerge involved this group called “WE-All” – led by Stewart Wallis, who was formerly the head of Oxfam and is determined to do something about what he is calling the wellbeing economy.  There’s another small discussion going on that includes him and some people from the Great Transition Initiative – – including Paul Raskin.

That conversation is pretty quiet now – but Stewart Wallis is out there doing things like signing up entire nations to something like this agenda.  A lot of this originally emerged from the King of Bhutan saying that we ought to replace the concept of gross national product with “gross national happiness”.  This notion of “wellbeing” came into my world from that angle – and it seems a pretty good fit for a universal standard – though as I think you suggest – it’s not just the economy we need to work on.  I think Wallis is in the process of converting to something more universal – the kind of thing your book is about.

Here’s a link on WE-All:

And your book – yes, very charming and nicely done.  It arrived promptly on time, in perfect condition and beautifully printed, with a little date on the very last page,   “Made in the USA.  San Bernardino CA 30 March 2018”  Very elegant.

I’ve been influenced by many of the sources you cite in your notes and bibliography.  I’ve read many of those books.  No doubt I will go through those sections looking for connections I can list here:

Blessings, thanks

Wade's reply:
Yes, I too was inspired by Bhutan's call for Gross National Happiness.



From Susan Quinlan:
Nice work and nice website! Though I enjoyed perusing your site, I don't currently have time to read and comment with care. Best of luck getting the feedback you request and moving your project forward.


From Roger Marsden:

Re "Preface" --  nice humble tone - is inviting.

Re "Introduction" -- 

I like the humility in your introductory comments about your experiences; what has worked; what hasn't; seeking collaboration, etc. stated in a way that invites collaboration.
The sections are nicely organized - feedback to click to next section.
"Fear is essential." hmmm? I always understood the opposite of love is not hate - it's fear. (?)
In that part with William James and James Baldwin there could be some CG Jung shadow work.
America needs to transform itself into a compassionate country...etc., there are points made as to how to do it but more about people who don't just "disagree" but hold VERY different values. Negotiation requires desire on all sides.
America's major problems - more about how we evolve with more people and less jobs.
Freedom without connection becomes alienation, etc... I like that.

Wade's reply:
Thanks for the kind words. I agree that Jung's shadow work is relevant, given my limited understanding. Given that dangers are real, yes, I believe some degree of fear is essential -- if it is balanced with realistic trust.... The thesis is that fear can lead to hate, and trust can lead to love. It's an effort to get to the root causes of the love/hate tension. Thoughts?

Re "The System" -- self breeding for cooperation -- basic human values - lush environment = peaceful -- cycle of expansion to domination to dependence to resentment to rebellion to revenge to victory to... expansion, etc. twists and turns through history as external factors change - not innate human qualities which is why I would question that "in all developed societies males dominate - See the work of Maria Gimbutas: 

Wade'e reply:
According to the wikipedia, "The Civilization of the Goddess articulated what Gimbutas saw as the differences between the Old European system, which she considered goddess- and woman-centered (gynocentric), and the Bronze Age Indo-European patriarchal ("androcratic") culture which supplanted it. According to her interpretations, gynocentric (or matristic) societies were peaceful, honored women, and espoused economic equality. The androcratic, or male-dominated, Kurgan peoples, on the other hand, invaded Europe and imposed upon its natives the hierarchical rule of male warriors." Though her analysis is disputed, if it's correct, the period she studied seems to be referred to as "pre-history." So I wonder how "developed" it was. It seems to have been about the same time, 5000 BCE, that I describe as the transition to male-dominated stratified societies. So her thesis seems consistent with mine.


From Steve Love:
Good to hear from’s been a long time, but see you are still pursuing a better world. I think you are right regarding the importance of unity.  The problem is that we have a mission statement at the beginning of our Constitution, but there is no effort by either political party to use it as a guide to policies. 


From Karolyn Lee:
although I'm not sure that I will have time to read and help edit your whole book, I just wanted to commend you for writing it, as I also believe that the system has to be changed for the better. There's so much potential in the American people, it's just that the system has been "gamed" and is not working correctly anymore.... 


From Conny Ford:
thanks for sending me this....  I want to red this booklet but probably will not be able to for a while.... Thanks for your patience.  


From John Cloud:
You may not realize it, but I have been reviewing and meditating on your work for years now. I look forward to further pondering of your current ideas and notions and have purchased your book on Amazon.

Myth making is what makes Homo Sapien different from all other species.

Unless we harness that “skill” and use it “skillfully” I am afraid that the current paradigm will continue cause much more suffering.

Powerful myths that are deeply ingrained in our psyche and reveal themselves in our actions took a long time to grow and become the force they are today. Why some succeeded and others didn’t is a mystery. Many powerful truths were destroyed  by barbaric behavior.

Perhaps your proposed myths of much better aligned and nobler truths will plant itself and grow strong. In comparison, the weeds are having a field day!

These are simple ramblings and musings and I simply wanted to share the best email answer and let you know I bought your book....


From Genevieve Marcus:
You write:

If the American people unite, we can transform the United States into a compassionate community dedicated to the common good of all humanity, our own people, the environment, and life itself.

If we build massive movements that focus on proposals supported by strong majorities of the American people, we can achieve that goal.  

Wade, I'll read your pamphlet when I get a moment.  Right now, getting the American people to unite around anything is problematic.  Even gun control. 

I've been thinking about forming massive movements, myself.  Today I sent a letter to a organization that would be helpful, but first I must struggle with the contemporary obstacle of actually getting my letter through to someone there.  We'll see. So we agree on the goal.  I just see how hard it will be because I've been exploring it for awhile.


From David Marshall:
Thanks for your outreach, and congratulations on publishing your new booklet, Transform the System: A Work in Progress.  I look forward to reading it and giving you my feedback.  Boy, does the world ever need whole system Thanks for your outreach, and congratulations on publishing your new booklet, Transform the System: A Work in Progress.  I look forward to reading it and giving you my feedback.  Boy, does the world ever need whole system transformation!  It reminds me somewhat of a longer book my dad published several years ago: The Road from Empire to Eco-Democracy. 


From April Hurley:
Hi Wade! I've been following your work and admire your dedication. These are all good ideas. Please include World Beyond War's pledge (David Swanson) and Democracy at Work ideas (Marxist Richard Wolff) in your resources. I believe that a series of Constitutional Conventions (on-line, live, beloved leaders brainstorming all diverse views, perhaps interactive) could be convened and a parallel country created that people would support and engage in, while disempowering the Prison-Military-Industrial-Capitalist cabal that you call The System. Best wishes for all you do. All Good! 

Wade's response: Good to hear from you. Glad you like those ideas. Best of luck in NJ. I added Beyond War's pledge (David Swanson) and Democracy at Work to my Resources: Possible Additions list.


From Lisa Rankow:

Thank you for the invitation to participate. Unfortunately, i am not even keeping up with the work already on my plate and don't have the bandwith to join you.

I do, however, appreciate your commitment and wish you all the best.


From Loren Goldner:

Hi Wade, Perhaps you remember me from the Summer Resident College, Cloyne Court, 1967?
Glad to see you're still in the trenches. So am I (see below). I'll take a look at your stuff
and let you know my thoughts. Best Loren (Goldner) Break Their Haughty Power


From David Smith:

Here’s my take on how to Transform The System: “Occupy Theaters: A New Political Process to Reorient Government to Serve the People” Kindle edition $0.99.

Most Americans know their democracy has been hijacked by Big Money; that politicians are working for their rich contributors and leaving We The People in the lurch. The Tea Party knows it, and so too does the Occupy movement and both want to get out of the hole. The problem is the Tea Party wants to dig deeper, and the Occupy movement doesn’t where to find a ladder. 

Reformers today are confronted by the following uncomfortable reality: No reform is possible until Big Money’s stranglehold on the democratic process is broken. All present attempts to “get money out of politics” suffer from the same fatal flaw, namely they require the cooperation of lawmakers who owe their offices to Big Money. Little Money can’t outspend Big Money. Big Money can only be outflanked.

In “Occupy Theaters,” Dartmouth- and Stanford-trained economist David L. Smith provides the ladder, proposing a new political process to break the Big Money’s stranglehold on American Democracy, thereby reorienting government to serve the People. 

In this new democratic process, the current dominant political medium, television, would be replaced by Internet social media, through which large numbers of people would be persuaded to gather from time to time in a nationwide network of Internet-linked multiplex movie theaters. Multiplex theaters would become the dominant political venue, replacing the couch in front of the television in which passive, solitary voters are force-fed Big Money’s propaganda. A portion of ticket sales to these Assemblies and of food concession sales would replace Big Money as the dominant source of funding. Thus liberated from the corrupting influence of Big Money, candidates nominated and elected through the new process would serve the interests of their constituencies. 

Occupy Theaters represents the next logical step in political organization: local, city, county, state and, ultimately, national town meetings taking place in Internet-linked theaters at times when they would otherwise remain unused. High-tech meets high-touch -- all well within today’s technical capabilities, lacking only the vision and the popular will to make it happen. “Occupy Theaters” provides the vision; readers must supply the popular will.

Good luck,
David L. Smith
Author: The Predicament
Click here to order.

Wade's reply: I like the idea of using movie theaters for civic events. Thanks. I'd be interested in your comments on my booklet.

David's reply: I think a marriage of your set of humanistic organizing principles with my Internet/theater-based organization would achieve the desired result.


From Mike Miller:
I'm in the midst of three book projects plus a number of articles, so can't say if I'll get to your book anytime soon.  But I do have this quick response to these questions that you raise in your letter,

From my perspective:

If the American people unite, we can transform the United States into a compassionate community dedicated to the common good of all humanity, our own people, the environment, and life itself.
If we build massive movements that focus on proposals supported by strong majorities of the American people, we can achieve that goal.  
If we learn how to treat each other and ourselves with more respect, we can encourage inactive individuals to become active.   
If we support one another to become better human beings, we can be more effective.
If we clarify how the issues we face are interwoven, we can nurture a systemic worldview that holds us together over time.

To use an analogy--which I know is a bit of a stretch--your "if" questions are something like this:  "If elephants had wings they could fly."  But they don't.

You can't get to what you identify as the "key question" (What is “the system” and how should we change it?") without overcoming each of these "if" problems: we aren't united; we don't have a massive movement to support these proposals; we don't treat each other with the kind of respect required, or to become better human beings; we don't have the commonly held clarity you indicate is needed.

Wade's response:
Precisely. Point well taken. The "Evolutionary Revolution" chapter addresses your concern. The four methods delineated can reinforce one another and help achieve the goal one-step at a time. Perhaps future communications should address this issue more clearly. Thanks.


Bill Kruse:
Ok, I will look at this and give you some feedback over the next couple of days.  Since it is Easter I have other things that I must do but I will follow up after Sunday.  I hope you are well. 


Jed Riffe:
Thanks for sending. I will check it out as soon as I get a minute and respond to your questions. 


Kristen Walsh:
great; we'll get a copy and read it

Carol Lopez:
I will view the links below and respond ASAP. I’m also going to ask my son Michael to check it out and provide feedback as well.


Mary Kay Magistad:
Congratulations on publishing your booklet!

I'd be happy to read it again and provide feedback, as long as you don't mind waiting for it until late May. I've got a cascading series of deadlines between now and then, and coincidentally, I was literally just sitting down to figure out what I need to do when to meet all of them when your email came through.

I admire the spirit behind what you're doing, very similar to the spirit I saw in the "March for Our Lives" rally I attended last Saturday in San Francisco. I'm still not sure how many people are going to want to meet regularly in the kinds of small groups you propose, but see that many people will come together organically around an issue or set of issues they care about, and long may that continue to happen.

Let me know if feedback several weeks hence will still be useful to you. If so, I'll send it.


From Dan Nissenbaum:
Wade! I'm glad you decided to keep me on this list and again wish I had more time.  I have put off looking at this email for more than a week because I'm in another slog of 80-hour work weeks.  I don't like being so often in these phases of overwork and I've been in them before when you've corresponded, but I'd rather send a note than postpone.  When you send valuable work I want to be in a decent emotional headspace when I consider them, and when that headspace isn't present, I postpone. I still haven't taken the time to consider this.  I hope you continue working and that I have time to respond next time.