Transform the System Dialog
1. "The System" is a social, economic, and political structure and set of cultural norms that collectively reinforce the following myths:
- capitalism and the myth of the free market;
- individualism and the myth that anyone can succeed with hard work;
- equality and the myth that all people are created equal;
- democracy and the myth of "one person/one vote."
In fact, the economy is heavily weighted in favor of the "haves" and against the "have nots;" the political and social systems are heavily weighted in favor of the rich; the social system is heavily weighted in favor of white anglosaxons; and the political system is heavily weighted in favor of those in power. Moreover, cultural norms, often unstated or subconscious, lead us to tribalism or an us-versus-them mentality, reinforcing and encouraging competition and exclusion, racial and class tensions, and political and economic protectionism.
2. To transform the system we must first see it for what it is, understand how and why it functions, and identify the roles that we and our associates play in perpetuating and reinforcing it. Second, we must work to change our own behavior, individually and (within our circle of associates) collectively. Third, we must reach out to those identified as opponents or competitors, to find common ground and to stress cooperation and community. Fourth, we must become involved in political and economic affairs at every level, to challenge the status quo and to ensure fairness and inclusiveness in public decisions and actions. Finally, we must become active and involved in the issues of the day, but also in crafting a long-term alternative vision for the nation (and perhaps the world) that builds on the principles of fairness, inclusion, and cooperation for the betterment of all.
3. The system as it currently exists benefits a relatively small number at the expense of many who are kept down or are excluded altogether. Transforming the system will provide the opportunity for "the rest of us" to live more fulfilling lives, free of the stress of struggle and the burden of worrying about the legal, political, social, and economic structures that are often stacked against us.
4. I am taking a number of actions to try to help transform the system, including:
- participating in this dialogue and workshop;
- supporting progressive causes with my time and money;
- raising questions and initiating discussions with my friends and associates about these issues;
- educating myself about important issues through research, reading, and listening to all sides and opinions; and
- examining my own motivations and actions for subconscious beliefs or prejudices.
Wade Lee Hudson: I appreciate your thoughtful comments. One question I have is: How do you mean “the myths of capitalism and the free market”?
SG: The system is built on a number of shared beliefs, one of which is the primacy of capitalism and the free market as an economic system. Yet clearly those with power have advantages over those without: in my own state, huge subsidies for Boeing in the form of tax breaks, for example. Lax regulations, favoring of one technology over another (e. g. Trump and coal), no-bid contracts, etc. This is more like an economic oligarchy, in which powerful companies hire lobbyists to gain advantage.
WLH: Do you want to “abolish capitalism”?
SG: I don't want to abolish it, but make it fairer and more "user friendly." Transparency in regulation, equity tax breaks and subsidies, and citizen participation in decision making are some steps to be taken. I'm sure others can come up with more.
WLH: Thanks for the clarification. I agree.
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