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Is the Enlightenment Dead?

David Brooks, in his New York Times column dated February 28, 2017, “The Enlightenment Project” (http://nyti.ms/2mtuCt2) raises the issue of whether the 18th-Century Enlightenment ideals which have conditioned our society for centuries are coming to an end. He calls for a new group of leaders to come forward to combat the attacks on the fundamentals of the Enlightenment project.

 

 The populist “revolt” globally crippling liberal democracy; rejecting reason and science in policymaking and governance; and rejecting globalism, tolerance, and diversity is a major regression of the Enlightenment goal of steadily improving society and governance.

 

 Many fair and right-minded people will agree with this.

 

 But who are these new leaders? What ideas do they have to reverse this fundamental regression? How do they do it? And what should we have in place in terms of governance and social relations when they are done?

 

 Brooks has no answers, much less a theoretically-sound vision or practical plan. Nor does anyone else in a position of influence, either.

 

 

 However, answers to ALL of these questions (and more) are articulated in The Action Manual. Seriously! Give it an honest read. You will be provoked and intrigued, unquestionably.

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Move Left, Democrats? Forget it! Move up!

Steve Phillips, in his New York Times article of February 21, 2017 (http://nyti.ms/2mhT2px) argues that the Democratic Party needs to make just a few adjustments in its "politics as usual" strategy and efforts to regain the White House in 2020.

 

For what! It will still be a minority in the two houses of Congress, in the state governorships and legislatures, and have nearly 1/2 of the adult population still rabidly anti--progressive, deliberately obstructionist in governance and policymaking, and newly-enabled in intolerance.

 

  Why would millions of people (or anyone) want to work hard for that result? Is it because they don't know what else to do? Does anyone in the position of influence have any good perspectives on why American governance and social relations is so dysfunctional and divided? It is beyond foolish to think that "politics as usual”will fix any of this accepted such minor ways as to be nearly insignificant.

 

The existing system is more than just broken. It is obsolete. When nearly every other element of modern society like communications, transportation, management, science, etc. is so modern our political principles and institutions are still 18th-Century!

 

How can a nation of so many smart people that see that there has to be "smartness" in governance, as well. Smartness includes a collective Interest and fairness, rationality in policymaking, a balance of private and public interests, a greater respect for reason and science, tolerance for trivial differences, and more. 

 

Our existing system is not smart; it is based on factual circumstances of an entirely different era of individualism, parochialism, limited interactivity, minimal governmental needs, and the like. That is certainly not our situation now!

 

Let's modernize! Let's create new governmental institutions for our present situation. Let's add a "brain"to governance and social relations institutions. Let's identify correctly what it is that divides us into socially invalid categories like so-called "conservative/liberal" and red/blue etc. 

 

These are archaic, invalid, and invidious characterizations of social life. The more accurate characterization of Americans is into two categories: private citizens who exercise self-interest, competitiveness, and individualism, and public citizens who recognize a balance of private and public interests.

 

How to see anything correctly about social organization and quality of governance requires a new paradigm. What that paradigm is and how it will work is what The Action Manual is all about. he recognizes that we need a new social ethos and set of public values. It emphasizes that public citizens (a large majority of Americans) need to assert themselves against the private ones.

 

 

If anyone is truly serious and open-minded enough to work hard for social change, they will make the efforts to become enlightened with new ideas and plans. Take a look at The Action Manual.

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Workers in Another Big Industry again Reject a Union! Surprise! Surprise!

Union organizers again fail to organize workers in a major industry. Surprise! Surprise! (See the New York Times article of February 16, 2017 ( http://nyti.ms/2lSFqkz).

 

Despite being, in theory, the most potent tactic that the "little people" (as are most workers in America—blue, pink, white collar, and even professionals) can have to actually achieve goals which would benefit them, their families and communities, and the society as a whole, they persistently reject the siren calls of union organizers.

 

Why is this? What is wrong with Kansas? Why do the little people persistently vote and act against their best interests?

 

Firstly, they are presented with no good options to act for themselves. The present governance and social relations system offers no effective and useful ways to assert their interests. Voting? For the same rotating elites who are mostly responsible for keeping them down? – No. Throwing monkey wrenches in the system like voting in seriously unqualified candidates (we know who they are!) or obstructing governance in crude and counterproductive ways (the Tea Party, Brexit-like activities) – No. What then?

 

The present system is deliberately designed to keep the little people in their place by the existing political-economic elite. The recent populist eruptions are, at best, only temporary, are definitely not going to achieve real benefits for the little people, and eventually will be managed and rendered impotent soon enough by this elite class. Unions have been tamed and/or crushed since the mid-1980s and have lost their ability to pushback the elite except for a very small segment of the populace and only in minor special interest fashion.

 

Secondly, the union concept has become toxic. Potential members almost cannot be rational about the benefits of collective bargaining and worker rights. The capitalist ideology imposed upon the society by the might of the media and other propaganda sources owned by the elite has been extremely effective. Worse, the grand unions of the past have self-destructed. In the past they were "collectively-oriented,” fighting for universal values like economic justice in fairness, diversity, humanity in the workplace and communities, and the like. They were obvious tools and allies of the little people. That no longer is the case.

 

Over the decades since the 1930s they evolved into more special-interest organizations looking only for goodies for themselves. That strategy in many ways put them at odds with their communities and nations. Taxpayers objected to double dipping pensions, underfunded pension systems, mobsterism, cronyism, and worse. The great goodwill of the grand unions of the 1930s-1960s has been squandered.

 

Unions still are a major component of any approach to improving the lives the little people. But, they have to reformulate themselves. They have to become general interests (not special interests), they have to become “holy” and redeem their role as part of a generalized humanistic, progressive movement.

 

 

See Chapter 9 of The Actual Manual on how "reformulated, unions can regain their credibility and again be the best friends of the little people.

 

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Angry Democrats Study the Tea Party Playbook. Good start but not enough!

The tables have turned! The intense rage, resentment, and frustration which characterizes much of the Tea Party advocates over the past decade or so are now becoming part of the scorned American left and liberals. (See 1-23-2017 NY Times article: http://nyti.ms/2iYlwaJ )

 

The newly-disaffected advocates on the other side of the political spectrum are now engaging in protests, public venting, irate critiques and mockery of the new winning class of conservatives, evangelicals, and abused working classes.

 

That tactical response and emotional approach is a great waste of time and energy!

 

Only given the limited options provided by our existing political system does it make sense to resist ‘ politics as usual” the policy changes and the corrosive attitudinal changes  and behaviors of zealots, haters, and worse, among the newly-enabled populist groups . That kind of fight-back is not enough for fixing what is broken about American governance and social relations.

 

All of that activity, even if successful, is merely likely to restore, at best, an uneasy persistent tension in American society between the absurdly partisan population segments. We have the (very invalid) dichotomy of social categories of conservative/liberal, red/blue, and the like, which categories don't really reflect the underlying realities of why the "little people,” including most progressives are frustrated and will remain so.

 

Which one of these disparate population segments is really in favor of higher taxes (instead of smarter taxation?) Which of them is really against regulation (except that which furthers their own interests?)  All of those people, left and right, are fighting in 18th-century war with 18th-century ideas and weapons. They see and act with 18th-century within governance principles and institutions almost totally incapable of bringing people and the America nation UP! We are going sideways into more and more dysfunction and division.

 

The 18th-Century ideas and institutions need to be modernized. We need to understand that the true and important social categories are those of private (self-interested) citizens and public (self and collectively-oriented) ones.  What we commonly think of as conservative versus liberal, etc., are outdated, useless categories.

 

The "bad guys" are not the big corporations and the wealthy, necessarily, but the individualist, competitive social ethos which dominates are political-economic system. The logic of that ethos emphasizes self-interest, individualism, and competitiveness at the expense of collective interest and fairness. 

 

We need to smarten our governance with more emphasis on collective interest and fairness. We need institutions to increase rationality in policymaking (i. e., a “brain”), trustworthiness and professionalism in government, and easy ways for the little people, empowered by new technological means, to be truly effective in matters of governance (e.g., a set of informal oversight institutions we can call the "shadow government.”)

 

How can this happen? We need to see and think about governance and social relations with the filter of a new, 21st-Century paradigm. We need to create a new story of how the little people pushback upon the elite group which has dominated them for generations. We need a new social  category called “Team America" whereby Americans see themselves as part of a public citizen attitude instead of the tired, invalid categories of conservative/liberal, etc.

 

 

See Chapter 1 of The Action Manual for an overview of a Smarter, modernized America.

 

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Marchers Map out Next Steps? What a Waste!

The million or more people who turned out for the protests on January 21, 2017 (http://nyti.ms/2iSB4wx) are futilely mapping out their next steps to restore the Democratic Party to electoral and policy prominence. You can't really blame them for espousing protests against Trumpism, reenergizing identity groups to be more active in electoral politics, and other “politics as usual activities.” Most clear-eyed, clear-headed people would see America as regressing to levels shockingly disturbing to those believing in human learning and advancement.

 

But if the strategy is to play the same (serious) game of incremental politics – “just do it better!” then they better be prepared to stay frustrated.

 

What a waste of time, effort, and resources! At the very best the strategy will end up with a roughly 51-49% "victory" in the political sphere for the Democrats/liberals. They may elect one of their own again as president.

 

To what end? The same political and governance stalemates and dysfunction? The same (or even higher levels) of hate, resentments, and frustrations characterizing both camps! The same ineffective, incremental, and modest policy and budget shifts one way or the other?

 

Wake up! These people need a new way!

 

The problem is not that they don't know any better way. Or, they have a habit of acting in conventional ways regardless of effectiveness. They have no vision of a theoretically-sound alternative but maintain 18th-century conceptions of American governance and social relations.

 

They need a fresh, modern version of an American society emphasizing a new set of public values and a new social ethos – collective interest and fairness, a “brain” in government (i. e. rationality in policymaking), enhanced professionalism and trustworthiness in governance, more reliance on science and technology in policymaking, inclusiveness, and a new set of informal institutions which the “little people” operate themselves to pushback upon the elite class.

 

In essence, we need smart governance and social relations together with a leveling of the political-economic disparity between the elite and the little people.

 

This means adopting a new paradigm of governance and social relations more relevant to modern life. After all, we don't communicate, manage, work, live, etc. as we did in the 18th-century when most people lived relatively isolated lives on small farms and had little to do with anyone else elsewhere. Our reality is diverse mega-cities, global interconnectedness, and collective interests (whether recognized or not. (E.g., climate change.)

 

But, our current political and governance principles and institutions are very much the same as when George Washington was president.

 

How lame is that? Intelligent people of good faith need to see with a new vision of what are society can be like complemented by a practical plan to advance America into a 21st-Century nation.

 

 

That is what will make America great again. See Chapter 1 of The Action Manual for an overview of this new paradigm.

 

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A Return to National Greatness? Not so Fast!

The estimable David Brooks has a rare blend of historical, political, sociological, and psychological savvy which makes his columns in the New York Times so pertinent and enjoyable to read.

 

Making a reasoned plan for “A Return to National Greatness” in a February 3, 2017 column (http://nyti.ms/2jL7O6B) he describes the role of "myths" which create and animate excellence in leadership in culture and nations. A myth is much like a story. The story gives identity to people, communities, and culture. It encapsules values and morality. It inspires progress and innovation.

 

He describes a historical America where it once was animated by a myth of democracy, balance of private and public interest, personal dignity, inclusiveness, and more. That myth is weakened and a new one is competing for prominence among Americans – ragefull populism. That myth is much more regressive, intolerant, and emphasizes private over public interest. It characterizes Trumpism, nationalism, counterproductive  populism, and individualism at the expense of a sense of a collective America.

 

While the "little people" have good reason to be ragefull about an elite class which is primarily responsible for them losing their homes, jobs, pensions, health insurance, and more, the irrational efforts to disrupt American governance and culture is counterproductive. This is not an approach that is going to fix things for them. This is not the American myth which made America great. It is not the myth which will “Make America Great Again", as some espouse. It is almost guaranteed to return America to a belittled nation while pulling down much of the advancements and progressive rationality of other places, especially the European Union (the most progressive, rational culture on earth.)

 

We need a new myth, as Brooks suggests, but he doesn't have a vision of one or plan to get there. Nor does anyone else in a position to influence the culture.

 

That's where The Action Manual comes in. It does have a new paradigmatic vision of an advanced America and a practical plan to achieve it. It espouses a new social ethos and set of public values. They include collective interest and fairness, rationality in policymaking (a cultural “brain”), a balance of private and public interest, humanity elements built into the economic system, trustworthiness and professionalism in governance, tolerance and inclusiveness, and a new set of informal institutions called the “shadow government” run by the little people themselves.

 

The little people, like the ragefull populace now, actually can obtain what they need and want – balance in their lives, meaningfulness, and respect in the political-economic realm. They actually can "pushback" (via the shadow government and more) the dominance of the elite group which has kept them down for so long.

 

 

The Action Manual describes a myth that can work. It is the story of how the little people obtain Balance, Meaning and Respect, together with Smartness in governance and social relations.

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Predictions from nearly 20 years ago about the rise of American populism!

Philosopher, Richard Rorty, in 1998 described with great prescience the elements which have led to the populist "uprising" which has electrified our American political sphere.  (See the commentary on the book by New York Time's critic, Jennifer Senior, dated November 21, 2016.  http://nyti.ms/2fjlHdk) The "little people" have been misunderstood and/or ignored by the political elite, progressives, and the "rational" political analysts who have promulgated strategies which indeed would have 9or might have) objectively helped the little people but which have not been appreciated or understood by the very people meant to be helped.

 

 The American left has evolved into a morass of political elements: identity politics, mere tinkerers with the political mechanics of elections and the like, ill-conceived incremental redistributions, and more without understanding the psychological element which seems to be primarily motivating the populists. That element ought to be understood as including a need for a balancing between private and public interest, a quest for meaning in one's life other than as a mere consumer or worker, and respect for living the "small life" well.

 

 While predicting the rise of populism, Rorty hass not articulated any program by which the more "rational" political actors can make sense of the populists nor anything which can address their particular needs. There is no vision anywhere about a society which can bridge and incorporate the interests of the populists, the political economic elite, and everyone else.

 

 That's because nearly everyone is working with a 18th-Century perspective about governance and social relations. What is needed is a new paradigm of what a 21st-Century America ought to look like in terms of governance and social relations.  That paradigm is articulated comprehensively and clearly in the book, "An Action Manual."  Do yourself a favor and study its new concepts and the pragmatic plan to implement a new social ethos involving a collective interest and rationality and more.

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What do the Populists want?

Liberals and other political analysts, have been perplexed for years about the political attitudes and behaviors of the American working class, especially those white and populating the so-called Red states. From Thomas Frank's book, "What's Wrong with Kansas?," to Paul Krugman's latest column in the New York Times dated November 25, 201, (http://nyti.ms/2gcRpr9), These people have wondered deeply about why so many Americans seem to be acting against their own interests regarding political and economic policy matters.

 

 What these pundits are missing is a sense of the humanity and dignity of people which goes beyond and deeper than rational decision-making and public policy preferences. While these people do not articulate well or even accurately what really ails or concerns them you can make a good argument that do not like the bare-knuckled competition of contemporary capitalism, they want meaning in their lives beyond being mere workers and consumers, and they want respect for living the "small life" well, or at least as well as they can do it.

 

 To get these people on their side, in a sense, liberals and progressives need to address the deep psychological attitude which mostly motivates these people and to appeal to their wish for a balance in their lives between private and public interests, their quest for meaning, and their insistence on respect. 

 

 The book, "An Action Manual," refers to this addressing of the psychological attitude as BMR-- Balance, Meaning, and Respect.  Until this psychological attitude is properly recognized and addressed, you can forget about detailed policy proposals and tinkering with the mere mechanics of the governmental processes.

 

 What is really needed is an understanding of a new paradigm of American governance and how we socially relate to one another. There is no way of ultimately bridging the perspectives of the populists and the more "rational"  political actors other than seeing and thinking about American political elements with a new perspective. That perspective involves moving America from its 18th-Century institutions and principles to a  21st-Century level involving being Smart about governance and social relations. 

 

 Being smart means updating our political institutions to more modern, professional, and rational ones. It means creating a new social "tribe" including nearly all Americans (i.e., an American Team.) It means imposing a collective interest and rationality alongside of our individualist/capitalist ones. (See the book for more discussion of these topics.)

 

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The liberal democratic mindset is crushed! Woe is me!

Not very many people thought it would happen – the "little people" actually upsetting the traditional political process especially as manifested in the Trump election to the US presidency.

 

 Rational, fair-minded, and intellectually honest people can't stand Trump personally and are chagrined at the level of support he has garnered among American voters.

 

 The political elite, for different reasons, feel as if they have lost serious control of the political-economic process which they have dominated for generations.

 

 Even though it was clear, or should have been clear, that the little people were growing more and more resentful of being dominated in nearly all ways by the political elite and misunderstood by even intelligent observers who support liberal/progressive change in American society which would include objective benefits for the "little people."

 

 The little people saw an opportunity to express their rage, resentment, frustration, and feelings of lack of respect and have "circled the wagons" so to speak and elected the most incompetent and dangerous person we have ever seen in Trump's position now. The little people will suffer an enormous consequences way more than the political elite will.  The situation is as lose-lose as one can imagine in American political history.

 

 The little people will suffer long-term losses in the rollback of international trade agreements and will see the elite class get enormous tax breaks greatly raising the public debt which they so viscerally dislike. There will be rollback in energy and environmental policies which will negatively impact nearly everyone on the globe (except for certain special interests, in the short term.)

 

 They will not get their manufacturing jobs back, either.

 

 The truth is, there was no option for the little people to express their feelings except for  poking the elite in the eye, so to speak, in the existing political process. That gives them the psychological benefit that there situation needs. Perhaps this is not much different than the terrorist suicide bombers who also are not going to obtain objective benefits but the psychological benefit is better than living under the circumstances which have deprived them of nearly everything of value. Pushing people too far is bound to result in an  irrational explosion sometime

 

 The political elite, as well as those in favor of good governance need to wake up. The elite are going to have to work especially hard to develop new tactics to deal with the global populist revolt. They may do so in the medium-term and restore the hierarchy they cherish. Then they will become content again.

 

Good government folks, on the other hand, are never going to garner the support of the little people until they start thinking about new ways of thinking and seeing political-economic elements.

 

  Many of the shocked political pundits are already proposing tired and obsolete ideas like that of a third party and wimpy tweaks to the political processes involving redistricting and the like. These are guaranteed to be failures.

 

What is necessary is a new paradigm where our 18th-Century concepts of left versus right, liberal versus conservative, little people versus elite, etc. are replaced with new categories of analysis and a new framework of governance is worked out which can accommodate the interests of the separate classes and identity groups.

 

 We need something new. We need 21st-Century ideas of governance and social relations.

 

 These people need to do themselves a favor and read "An Action Manual" which provides a roadmap to a smarter America. That America will include a collective interest, collective fairness, rationalized governance emphasizing professionalism and science, inclusivity, and a balance of private and public interests.

 

In sum, it represents a new social ethos way more suitable than  the 18th-Century one which has resulted in Trumpism. Do we still have the gall to consider ourselves the "World's Greatest Nation?"

 

Nothing less than new changes in governance ideas will overcome the divisiveness and dysfunction and the embarrassment we have now.

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Yet another plea for a third American party?

Political columnist, David Brooks,  in a column in the New York Times on November 8, 2016 (http://nyti.ms/2fXfPI9) argues for a new third-party to bridge the divisiveness between the existing major parties, Democrats and Republicans.

 

 We have heard this so many times before. Given the structural impediments and the practical problems with forming any new major political party this is a worthless proposal. 

 

  Working within the concepts of an 18th-Century political system with 18th-Century political institutions is not going to be worthwhile in a 21st century America.

 

 What is needed is a new paradigm going above the 18th-Century political and economic principles which guide our thinking now. Without a new way of looking at thinking about political and economic elements and designing a program suitable for 21st-Century America all the squawking and chest beating about our present state of affairs is worthless.

 

 That's where a book like the "An Action Manual" becomes vitally important. It goes beyond critique and articulates a new paradigm.That paradigm includes a new vision of society and a practical plan to accomplish significant progressive change.

 

When are people going to stop offering up old, theoretically-unsound, practically unworkable, and historically ineffective proposals and learn how to really fix the problems they are so unhappy about?

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Begin the Healing? How?

Political analyst, Frank Luntz,  in a op-ed column in the New York Times on November 8, 2016 (http://nyti.ms/2fdplFU) pleas for a return to a more civilized American society where people find a common ground and move forward together.

 

 Like so many people and pundits, Luntz diagnosis a major ill of American society and states what should be done about it but has no plan or program.

 

 The unfortunate reality is that no one has articulated a theoretically-sound and practical plan to address this divisiveness.

 

 What is needed is a new paradigm going above the 18th-Century political and economic principles which guide our thinking now. Without a new way of looking at thinking about political and economic elements and designing a program suitable for 21st-Century America all the squawking and chest beating about our present state of affairs is worthless.

 

 That's where a book like the "An Action Manual" becomes vitally important. It goes beyond critique and articulates a new paradigm.That paradigm includes a new vision of society and a practical plan to accomplish significant progressive change.

 

When are people going to stop mere squawking and learn how to fix the problems they are so unhappy about?

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Pirate parties all over the place--what gives?

So-called "pirate" parties have sprouted up in nearly every developed nation in the world. These parties are looking for a more inclusive and transparent government, a balance between the interests of the elite group and everyone else, and implicitly, some respect for the status and contributions of being a so-called "little person."

 

 These parties have a great deal in common with the American "Tea Party," the Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump supporters, and populists all over the world who feel empowered for the first time in a long time in combating the long-felt exploitation of them by the elite class. 

 

 These people are highly motivated for change and have an abundance of energy and goodwill. However, they are spinning their wheels and basically wasting their time and energies.

 

While they will give the elite class a "poke in the eye," so to speak, by  opposing even rational policies which might benefit them but sponsored by the elite and by throwing monkey wrenches, so to speak, in the mechanisms of government, ultimately they will be frustrated and disillusioned. Beyond that, the consequences of their actions will end up harming them way beyond any psychological benefits received by the "poking of elite eyes."

 

 The basic problem is that they are still operating within the 18th-Century paradigm of liberal democracy. That paradigm includes  rigged processes of democracy, dominant economic imperatives of capitalism, and outdated institutions and principles of governance and social relations.

 

 While these parties may get psychological benefits from throwing "hissy fits" they will end up, like little children, spanked and sent to their corner.  The elite is too smart and has fine-tuned strategies to counteract even the most boisterous pirate-type behaviors.

 

  These people need a new vision of governance and social relations. They need a new way of looking and thinking about political and economic elements. They need to get beyond the 18th Century concepts and processes which are so effective in allowing the elite to maintain their dominance.

 

 What they need is a new paradigm. A theoretically sound vision and practical plan is articulated in the book "An Action Manual." If these people really want to see substantive change they've got to wake-up and realize that the processes available inside the existing paradigm will not work. They need a new vision and plan. They need to wake up!  They need to stop squawking and learn how to be effective in positive ways using smarter strategies and new, technological resources.

A new way of looking and thinking about political and economic elements. A new paradigm for major social change. And updating of our 18th-Century structures and principles of governance and social relations.

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Being Needed, Having Meaning in Life

The Dalai Lama and Arthur C. Brooks in a op-ed column in the New York Times on November 4, 2016 (http://nyti.ms/2fiQt4h) explain the underlying anger and fear of so many Americans living in the social world. That anger and fear goes beyond mere objective deprivations and exploitation.

 

 Human beings need a subjective sense of meaning, of being valued in the social world, and contributing something positive to that world before they die.

 

 That sense of meaning and value can mean a lot of different things to different people but most people want to feel as being part of a community and living a meaningful life life beyond being  little more than a mere consumer/laborer.

 

 Our liberal democracy ethos values individualism, competitiveness, consumerism, and self-interest. This ethos is derivative of capitalist imperatives. The reality is that it doesn't work for most people and never has both objectively and subjectively.

 

 That ethos is an 18th-Century one and no longer fits well at all with our current times and situations.  We can change that ethos to one where people can balance both public and private citizen interests. They can reorganize their conceptions of themselves from mere individuals/consumers/laborers to public citizens who have a collective interest and are members of what can be called "Team America." (Think of how something like this developed during the 9/11 events and aftermath.)

 

 Just the rethinking and reframing of the concept of competitive individualist to public citizen and implementing a plan to reward objectively and subjectively those  having a collective orientation and interest can work to change the culture we have now of alienation, dysfunction, distrust, and hatred of nearly everyone else.

 

 The book, "An Action Manual, articulates a new paradigm of what this updated society would look like and how we get there.

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We Need New Leaders who have Quality Character

 Why are good, hard-working, moral people supporting political candidates with some of the worst character and personality traits imaginable for those purporting to be our leaders  including running for president of the World’s Greatest Nation?  Consider Trump, Palin, and numerous others who express divisiveness, intolerance, hate, ignorance, arrogance, emotion over reason, and other horrible attributes.

 

 While many Americans are appalled by this state of affairs, numerous others find these characters attractive, perhaps not really because of these traits but because they represent merely a loud, enthusiastic challenge to an existing political-economic system which has dominated them and caused them loss of jobs, homes, medical insurance, pensions, and trust and respect for nearly all of our authority institutions.

 

Instead of steadily improving our moral character and becoming better people and citizens we are regressing. The worst of human traits are trumping the better of them (no pun intended.)  Our society deserves better than this.

 

 We need a major program to emphasize a value set that reflects the quality of our nation and of our citizens.  That means a new set of public values including collective fairness; trustworthiness in governance, business, and society; pride in oneself regardless of status; enhanced respect for reason and science; consideration of multiple perspectives; insistence on quality of character; tolerance for trivial differences; and inclusiveness, among others.

 

 We are not going to overcome the extreme cultural divisiveness which characterizes American now without a new paradigm of society. Beyond encouraging a new set of leaders having the quality of character we need, we need a new social ethos emphasizing new public values.

 

 

 That’s what the National Character Program is all about. It is a comprehensive program of a new social ethos together with an updating of our 18th-Century institutions and principles of governance.

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Will the Presidential Election Change Anything?

 Except for those millions of Americans who are so  sickened and disillusioned with the present political system, nearly everyone else is paying literal attention to the 2016 electoral process, voting projections, party alignments, and the antics of Mr. Trump.

 

 Many of these people believe that their lives will change for the better if one or the other of the major party candidates wins. Ha! 

 

 Sadly, all this literalness towards this election and our 18th-Century governance principles and institutions is a huge waste of attention.

 

 For everyone but the political-economic elite, elections have nearly always been a waste of attention and a delusion about potential change in the form of better lives, governance, and expectations for the future.

 

 The reality is that our system is a paradigm which doesn’t work for most people and perhaps never has worked for them.  Regardless if any of the “little people” have benefited from it, it is a paradigm which is horribly inadequate for our 21st-Century realities.

 

 In sum, millions of Americans are wasting their time giving any attention at all to this election.

 

 New leaders need to come forward and educate the public about real change in governance. That comes from having a NEW paradigm where there is a balance of private and public interests, human interests rather than system ones become paramount, and our governance  becomes “Smart.”  That means being more collectively rational and fair; relying much more upon science, reason, and professionalism than about petty politics; and more.

 

 Those serious about significant change need to have a theoretically-sound and practical program. They need to forget about this stupid election and the (many) stupid participants in it.

 

 

 They should read “An Action Manual” and implement its National Character Program.

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Repairing our Moral Capital?

 What is the cause of the extreme divisiveness in American society? New York Times columnist, David Brooks, in his October 21, 2016 column “Repairing Moral Capital” (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/21/opinion/how-to-repair-moral-capital.html) has a good explanation. It is the lack of shared habits, norms, institutions and values, that make common life possible.

 

 I would describe that characterization as generally accurate but would substitute the conflict between “private citizens” and “public citizens”  as a more theoretically-sound and practical concept. Private citizens are self interested only and follow the logic of the capitalist imperative. Public citizens, on the other hand, find a balance between the necessities of the capitalist imperative and human values and needs. They see themselves not as mere individuals competing in a system of self interest only (like private citizens do) but as both individuals and members of communities.

 

 It is the dominance of the private citizens and the capitalist imperative which has become so extreme that our society has been riven in such a way that we cannot govern ourselves in any competent matter, we radiate hate instead of shared experience and values, and have created an extreme economic and political separation of the elite and the “little people.”  lThe lttle people have become sick of it and are doing the only thing they can do, given our political system, “poking the elite in the eye” (Trump, Brexit, etc) in highly ineffective efforts having serious negative consequences for everyone.

 

 The situation is a paradigm of the excesses of self-interest and capitalism. There is no way out of this paradigm without a substitute paradigm. That would be a comprehensive program of balancing private and public interests together with an updating of American institutions and governance principles and how we relate to each other socially.

 

 

 Nearly everyone has a diagnosis of the various problems of the excesses of self interest but no one has a way out of it. That’s where “An Action Manual” comes in. It is a theoretically-sound vision and practical plan to balance private and public interests and to repair the moral capital which is necessary for any worthwhile society.

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Why Should Americans trust the elections or their government?

Many voters have no trust in the election nor in their government.  Why should they? They have been dominated by a political-economic elite for generations. They know the system is rigged. They have been promised “Change!” for nearly forever.

 

 The “change” they has received has been in the form of lost jobs, homes, pensions, medical insurance, and trust in nearly every one of their authority institutions.

 

 While they are sick of things and are fighting back, the only legal and practical options they have now are to try to gum up the system (the Tea Party attempts to shut down government  financing, for example) or to “poke the elite in the eye”, so to speak. That explains the grossly irrational support for people like Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, and the like which makes these people seem foolish to the more rational and would have greatly more negative consequences for their lives if those people actually were enabled.

 

 What a horrible state of affairs for the “little people!”

 

 No elections will make any difference. The little people have no good options except a new paradigm of governance which would not only even the playing field for them with the elite but also bring American governance into the 21st-Century.

 

 The reality is there is no credible option except for that presented by  The National Character Program, as articulated in the book  “An Action Manual.”

 

 

 Instead of rage,  irrational ranting, and wasting time on foolish election hopes, new leaders need to read that book and learn what can truly change things for the better for the little people and how to articulate the new vision to everyone else.

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Five Reasons Socialism has to be MODERNIZED!

 

 

We can thank Bernie Sanders for making the “s” word (i. e., socialism) into a term relatively acceptable for mainstream dialogue. And we can give credit to the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) folks for popularizing a sort of class consciousness (i.e., the1%/99%), a concept which has been consistently suppressed by a controlling elite class or made mostly invisible to most middle and lower class Americans for generations. While their tactics vary, at a minimum Sander’s supporters and OWS share socialist-type values of collective perspective and fairness, human considerations in addition to system ones in political/economic affairs, and a flattening of the political/economic status hierarchy.

 

Nevertheless, neither Bernie Sanders nor his supporters are going to do anything significant to achieve their goals or to incorporate their values into American governance.  Winning a presidential election (or even just influencing the Democratic Party platform) will be nearly inconsequential in changing our 18th-Century-based American governance principles, institutions, and habits, much less prevail over elite class opposition.

 

And while the Occupy Wall Street characterization of class consciousness as the wealthiest 1% versus the rest of us has energized public discourse and more about political-economic injustice (even as that characterization is theoretically-invalid–see below), it has not been proven much helpful in advancing socialist values. OWS doesn't have a “roadmap,” so to speak, to advance beyond mere critique and agitation.

 

The sorry truth is that, other than motivating emotional reactions and some sympathy (and optimism) for progressive change in America, neither Sanders nor OWS will lead any significant change in liberal democracy. In other words, capturing a mostly figurehead role in an archaic political system and pointing fingers at the "bad guys” and raising hell in the streets and in alternative media sources provides for some (harmless) venting only.

 

As of spring 2016, it appears as if the dust has already pretty much settled and the little people will still continue to be subjected to the logic of the individualist and capitalist ideologies and the elite will still dominate. The system will still be rigged against the little people with all of the consequent negative outcomes for them.

 

Perhaps worse, after realizing failure, the hopes and inspirations of these purported change agents (especially youths) who have admirable high-minded values and willingness to sacrifice to advance them will turn into crushed expectations, deep frustration, and even despair. A lot of formerly energized supporters might just give up to cynicism (like so many Americans have already done.) This is the most likely outcome in the medium-long-term. What a huge waste of potential!

 

Some would like to think that the broadly-shared values of the Sanders/OWS and other social change activists (even some Tea Party supporters and populist conservatives) together with the enormous heart they bring to public policy debates and activism ought to amount to something important. But, that understanding is wrong. Mere angry and frustrated expressions of values (no matter how heartfelt and morally compelling) and unfocused, undisciplined, and incoherent protests and critique have almost always been too little. They have been trumped by overpowering capital, elite-dominated political and military forces, and immensely effective ideological manipulation powered by elite-controlled media and cultural institutions.

 

Except for a distressingly small number of historical events like the overthrow of the monarchical system and rise of democracy in the 18th-Century and the worker-friendly and social safety net legislation of the New Deal era in the early 20th-Century (resulting in the development of the American middle class), a tiny established elite class has almost always dominated the vastly more numerical little people, even in a majority-rule political system.

 

Social scientists, for the most part, understand how the logic of individualism/capitalism—incentivizing self-interest, competition, aggressiveness, and status—naturally results over time in a very tall social hierarchy with a tiny elite controlling the economic, political, and even cultural sectors of the society. This is so even though the elite class since the late 18th-Century has (reluctantly) accepted democratic principles which theoretically offer the multi-millions of little people an opportunity, at least, to outvote the much smaller set of elite members in matters of public policy and governance. 

 

Yet, voting out the “bums" in favor of "new blood" has proven over centuries to be a worthless strategy for the little people (and a clear manipulation strategy for the elite.) The contemporary elite is enjoying a Golden Age lifestyle while the little people lose jobs, homes, pensions, health insurance, upward mobility, and trust in their authority institutions. Despite the rage of the general citizenry and the efforts of thousands of progressive activist and change organizations, things have actually worsened for the little people.

 

Why is this? Is the extreme status hierarchy the natural state of human society? Is (plutocratic) liberal democracy the ultimate form of governance (as many have argued?) Is the society we have now the best we can expect in governance and social relations in the 21st-Century?

 

The quick answers to these questions are No! No! And No!

 

There are five major reasons why “socialism”(or socialist values) in America are missing. (But, each of those problem areas can be fixed. The fix includes a new, theoretically-sound vision of society and a unique practical plan to unify the little people, focus them, and make it easy for them to support a significant social change movement in America based upon socialist-type values. See more below.)

 

1.  There is no clear, shared understanding of what socialism actually means.

 

There is no definitive concept what socialism is, none theoretically sound anyway, and dozens of “soft” ones. That softness means vagueness, incoherence, centuries-old ideas unsuitable to contemporary society, etc. For some, it means new governance structures like Soviet-style authoritarianism, Mao-inspired Cultural Revolution, or a state-dominated political-economic system. Typical idealistic concepts of “worker" states, small communities with localized governance schemes, or anarchic social interaction among the little people freed from elite control, are either theoretically unsound, incomplete or incoherent, or operationally impractical, as well as vastly outside of our American experience.

 

If even the intellectuals and activists can’t agree on what socialism means, what can we expect among the multi-millions of little people who will have to support and achieve it? (What the hell is "socialism" anyway?) No one can design an effective program to obtain what is not clearly thought out (and theoretically valid.) No one can plan to implement what is not clearly articulated (and practical.) 

 

Since significant social change will require the support and participation of millions of the little people, no solidarity will occur among them without a unified, accessible conception of what they will be asked to believe in and strive for. They need to know why it makes sense for them to ally with millions of strangers. They need to feel that a socialist change project is worth doing and is in conformity with their values. They need to know what specific benefits there may be for them. And, crucially for implementation, they need easy access into participation.

 

Without a clear concept of what socialism ought to mean: theoretically sound and practical, (relatively) simple to communicate and understand, values-based and broadly-targeted, and generally harmonious with historical and psychological American experience and habits—forget significant social change!

 

For the most part, the little people just want some semblance of economic security and fairness; space for human meanings like family, community, and the like; and respect for being the best that they can be where their lives matter in both the personal and social spheres.  While it is not obvious to most, a smarter, more modern system of governance needs to be a part of a successful social change movement, too. 

 

That set of elements is a sort of socialism that can make sense to most people. In other words, Balance, Meaning, Respect, and Smarter governance is what a modern, effective version of socialism ought to mean. Notably, this sense of socialism is essentially an alternative social ethos—a new set of public values—and not any alternative structural governance scheme. It is an attitude, not a regime concept. (See more below.)

 

In one sense, an effective socialist change program has to be a plausible, relatively straight-forward story outline of why and how the little people achieve private-public interest balances, human meanings, and respect. (People love good stories!) They need the complexities of economics and governance framed into a relatively simple but compelling story outline with themselves as characters in the story. They have to be inspired with the potential to shape the change narratives and to (hopefully) frame a realistic happy ending for themselves.

 

In sum, socialism ought to mean a value-based vision of modernized principles of governance and social relations in the form of an attitude based on a balance of private/public interests, space for the humanity of people, and respect for living the “small life” well. (We don't even have to call it socialism. How about something like the National Character Program?)

 

2.  Class consciousness defined as the wealthy elite class versus the rest of us is theoretically unsound.

 

Since at least 19th-Century Marx and Engels, class consciousness has been conceived of as the wealthy elite class versus the rest of us. Those with the wealth aggressively dominate economics, politics, culture, and social outcomes. This concept, however, has never really caught on much (with American citizens, at least.) It has way too much unfavorable history and connotative baggage and has become toxic for much of public discourse.

 

More importantly, traditional Marxist-inspired class consciousness is mostly wrong, anyway; it is theoretically invalid. It doesn't explain well enough how and why wealth disparities alone equate to economic injustice and unfairness. It doesn't explain why some wealthy are not morally responsible for economic injustice and unfairness. It doesn't explain why some (many?) of the so-called 99% would have the same self-interested attitude and behaviors of that elite if they could make it happen.

 

There are, for example, large numbers of the wealthy (the 1%?) who do not exploit the little people, have earned their wealth honestly and honorably, and/or who share the values of the little people yet themselves are helplessly constrained by the imperatives of the individualist/capitalist system which dominates nearly all of us.

 

It's not fair to point an accusatory finger at them, for one. Secondly, doing so just alienates them from allying with the little people with whom they could be effective in facilitating progressive social change if there was a feasible program to facilitate that. (See more on this below.) More contemporaneously, OWS’ 1%/99% characterization of class is wrong, too, for many of the same reasons. While having some experiential appeal, correlating wealth and political power with exploitation and injustice is both unfair and inaccurate and operationally impractical for influencing public policy and social outcomes. 

 

The conception doesn't explain why some members of the 99%—some labor unions, government officials, and even ordinary folks—for example, act as special interests and/or self-interested at the expense of the collective good little different than the openly self-interested elite class. They contribute in various ways to the individualist/capitalist logic which produces unfair social outcomes, makes our governance incompetent, and makes our social relations corrosive (all from a collective perspective.) Some of the 99% are just as self-interested, competitive, aggressive, and status-driven as the demonized 1%.

 

Although there may be a pretty high correlation between the sorry status and outcomes of the little people and the higher status and positive outcomes of a political-economic elite (the 1%?), in this regard, we are “slicing” the demographics incorrectly. It is not the positioning of people on a wealth/power scale which is valid and useful to illustrate economic-political injustices and hierarchies but the attitudes of people in taking either a private citizen or public citizen approach to social affairs. The better, more theoretically-sound class distinction is of those aggressively and righteously self-interested and those who morally and practically balance private and public interests.

 

Private citizens are aggressively selfish. They include, especially, special interests of all sorts, among both the elite and the little people. These people reject moral or practical responsibility for the good of the collective, the nation, the planet, and future generations. They are playing seriously and aggressively by the individualist/capitalist "rules of the game.”

 

"Socialist" people, on the other hand (perhaps a large plurality of Americans) are public citizens, meaning that they balance private interests with those of the collective. They see themselves as members of families, teams, communities, “Team Americans”, global citizens even, and stewards of the environment and of future generations. They do not need or want to exploit anyone. They believe in a national, collective interest and collective fairness, among other public-oriented values.

 

They have a separate track outside of the existing rules of the game which makes them (partially) independent of system needs, openly sympathetic to human needs, and comfortable with statuses and outcomes which are "middle ground” localized. In other words, they reject the private citizen focus on being the absolute best, the richest, etc. They are comfortable being the best that they can be, considering their set of traits and values. In other words, success for them is not the wealth/power standard of the existing system but in living the small life well.

 

The proper targets of socialist disapproval are those people who act as private citizens aggressively and righteously pursuing an individualist attitude ignoring or rejecting the most important values of socialism—collective perspective and fairness. 

 

In sum, sound class consciousness involves a rejection of the wealth/power-based differentiation of Americans and an embrace of the private versus public citizen attitude instead. Thinking wrongly about these demographic traits means acting wrongly. We need to look at demographics that way so we can properly and more fairly target our attention and remedies.

 

3. Socialism is a mere set of values and not an organizing scheme for government institutions and processes.

 

While some people see socialism as some kind of formal alternative for society with its own economic and political structural and procedural elements, it is not a clearly-defined way to structurally organize society economically or politically. It is better thought of as a social ethos and attitude based on collective interests, rationality, and fairness. (A society imbued with such a social ethos will, however, eventually work out some new structural and procedural aspects in an organic, incremental manner.)

 

This sense of socialism doesn't have to reorganize economic production or activity; it doesn't have to offer a radically new political system; it doesn’t have to formally flatten social hierarchy in any legal way. It has no distinct organizational or managerial style and it doesn't set out a distinctive way of governance.

 

Try to conceive (with some sense of credibility and common sense) what a socialist “replacement” of individualism/capitalism could/should? look like. If you're thinking of a large set of self-governing localized communes or multiple self-sustaining communities, you are a dreamer. If you conceive of an overweening authoritative government run by good-hearted, incorruptible, principled officials with the interest of the little people a priority, you are not only a dreamer, but seriously risking an authoritarian dictatorship on top of that. The Russian Stalinist experience, as well as dozens of similar failures elsewhere, ought to have extinguished that way of thinking.

 

Even if we tried to come up with a set of new business structures, a reformed political system offering more access and leverage to the little people, and a large set of competent, incorruptible, principled leaders, we will come up short and disappointed. The richness and complexity of economic and political affairs, a multi-cultural citizenry, mass society, global relationships, change of all sorts in most areas of social life, and other elements, precludes effective and democratic management of it all by any programmatic regime. 

 

We simply don’t have the managerial competence to control most of social life. Nor do we really want to, for good reasons. People—Americans especially—like their individualism and personal space and would object to a significantly revised set of governmental structures and processes regardless of the objective benefits such an overweening management system could provide to the vast majority of people.

 

In other words, we can’t easily alter much of our existing structures of economics or government. We can’t come close to effectively managing our vast scope and breath of economic activity and we don't want to excise the virtues of individualism/capitalism. Yes, there are virtues–individualism has inspired personal esteem and innovation and creativity, among other things. Capitalism has a relatively self-managing nature, a useful pricing system, an openness to innovation and creativity, some benign incentives, and the like. 

 

Nor do we need to attempt to alter these elements in major ways. Instead of re-orienting the basic structures and principles of an entire nation with a long, deep history, we merely need to impose a new set of public (collective) values along side of what we have and flip the primacy of the private citizen attitude with that of the public one. Think, for example, how non-smokers have flipped the “rights” and interests of smokers who now subordinate their interests to those of non-smokers. This happened simply from a change in attitude

 

Flipping, in other words, we make the public citizen attitude the primary one. That means that it's the private citizens who "go outside," so to speak, who pay more for their activities, who compensate for their negative impacts upon society, who are subjected to conditioning schemes to change their wants and behaviors, and who accommodate to the rest of us instead of the other way around, as it has been for generations.

 

We don’t have to manage the whole economy, political system, or cultural worlds–we simply condition citizens’ attitudes towards the values and attitude we want them to have instead. That means incentivizing, encouraging, and rewarding people to be public citizens rather than private ones.

 

The nice thing about this approach is that we don't need any radical new structural regime to obtain socialism in America. The change in citizen attitude alone will make the mantras of “Business is business!” and "Every man for himself” not only obsolete but detestable. They will be replaced, perhaps, by new mantras emphasizing collective interests, rationality, and fairness. We don't have to put a heavy management hand on Big Business, for example, we can significantly alter social outcomes just by cleverly designed modifications of our existing tax system (among other changes. See below.)

 

Nonetheless, objective changes in business and governance structures and processes will evolve naturally and positively by the change in attitude alone. Businesses will act for the benefit of stakeholders instead of only shareholders. The little people will maintain a class consciousness (and new political-economic leverage) based on a new set of collective values. Existing governance will be complemented by informal, collectively-oriented, professional institutions dedicated to collectively-smart policy, implementation, and planning standards.

 

In other words, updated socialism, as implemented, will be seen not as a formal political-economic structural system but as the complementary overlay of a set of values (and attitude) alongside of what we have.

 

The attitude change, all by itself, can make all the difference. Think of how the civil rights movement, feminism, sexual orientation accommodation, non-smokers rights, and even recent developments in marijuana policy derived from changes in attitude alone.

 

In sum, we ought to understand socialism as a set of values (a new social ethos) overlaid alongside of existing formal structures and processes where the public citizen attitude is the primary one.

 

4. Liberal democracy–that is, individualism/capitalism as a basis for a governance system—is not going to go away or be replaced.

 

The ideologies of individualism and capitalism are not going away. Historical philosophers, like conservative Edmond Burke, understood that big social facts (like those) exist for good and sufficient reasons. They are, perhaps, in conformity with human nature; they fit the needs of their times; they are deliberately shaped and maintained by powerful human actors (e.g., an elite) via ideology, economic compulsion, and/or physical force; etc. Those ideologies, in reality, also have virtues (as noted above) which we would want to retain (mostly) in any case.

 

In years past, some have recognized the abuses of these ideologies and described placement of a “human face" on capitalism to tone down its individualism, aggressiveness, self-interest reward structures, and the like. That might happen via governmental regulation and whatever (modest) social mores can be implemented system-wide to informally condition it's dynamics of self-interested, aggressive behavior.

 

In historical practice, this approach has proven to be way too ineffective as the system is dominated by a powerful logic which resists “softening" or balance. Bending, a bit, the "rules of the game" is a flawed strategy as the competitive dynamics impel the elite to resist much loss of focus and/or control over their “rights." 

 

It is the elite which controls the statutory/regulatory processes, holds most of the world’s capital, conditions culture via ideology and the like. The competitive, aggressive logic fits them morally and practically. They will tolerate only enough of the human face to obviate outright rebellion by the little people. In other words, the logical imperatives of individualism/capitalism are too strong to tolerate much inhibition of the aggressiveness and system values which makes these ideologies what they are.

 

Beyond that, no one has come up with a sound vision of what a replacement system would look like, thereby making hopes for revolution, for example, irrelevant. Even major political regime changes, as in the Arab Spring uprisings in the early part of this century, have not worked to help the little people much at all as there was no realistic vision of an alternative society, much less any socialist system.

 

If individualism/capitalism is not going away (and it is not) there has to be a strong, comprehensive, complementary social ethos which can flip the primacy of private and public citizen attitudes. As stated above, this kind of change of attitude can make all the difference. The "flip mechanisms" have to be outside of the control of the elite. That implies an active role of the little people in political-economic-social affairs in as in some systematic form of “pushback." (See below for more on this.)

 

In sum, we are not going to replace liberal democracy as a governance system so we must condition it with a complementary, public value system instead. Any objective structural changes will likely evolve naturally from the value primacy change.

 

5. Activating the little people to support significant change requires a single, unifying theme, focus, and accessibility. We have to MAKE IT EASY for the little people to participate.

 

Nearly every proposed remedy for the dominance of the elite envisions the uniting of the little people in some way. Given their lack of capital, political access, and other similar resources they have to leverage the only advantages they have–their numbers and their consumer power.

 

Trying to unify the little people has a long history. That includes attempts at development of old-school economic class consciousness, populist reform movements meant to poke at existing institutions and processes, large and noisy (but gentle) protests in the parks, third-party electoral organizations, rageful rallying behind populist leaders who promise “CHANGE” (but can’t and don’t), and the efforts of thousands of activist organizations each pushing separate missions to address some complaint with the existing system.

 

Well, we know how well those efforts have done! All have been/are failures. (Some battles have been won but the war has long been taken by the elite.) 

 

It is hard for anyone to organize any substantial number of people for nearly any cause, especially on a “volunteer" basis. Maybe war-time patriotism and natural disaster philanthropic reactions have been exceptions. However, even as exceptions, they prove that motivating citizens into a sort of "Team America" can work, given the right circumstances and approach.

 

Given the low amount of time most people have to devote to even consideration of civic affairs; the priorities of work, family, chores, etc.; a baked-in cynical attitude about social change; etc., if anyone is to engage the little people they will have to MAKE IT EASY!!

 

Organizing the little people effectively into a socialist movement requires a new, smart approach leveraging a realistic vision and plan with new technology (like the Internet, online databases, social media, mobile devices, and the like) which provide vastly more efficient and effective ways to communicate, organize, and mobilize.

 

MAKING IT EASY entails at least the following elements:

 

a.  an easy to understand agenda/program which addresses their needs and wants (an American governance system suitable for the 21st-Century and the flattening of the elite/little people hierarchy.)

 

b.  an agenda/program based on values important to them (e.g., Balance, Meaning, Respect (BMR) and Smart governance.)

 

c.  a single agenda/program providing a focus, preferably in the form of a “Brand”  representing their values

 

d.  elimination of distractions from the single Brand focus, like appeals from multiple activist organizations for money, membership, or commitments. (This means that these entities must subsume themselves in significant ways under the Brand.)

 

e.  an identity in a primary new demographic unit–the “American Team”—to help them feel connected and wanted, and also to minimize other, less benign, tribal identifications (and discriminations) such, as race, gender, region, liberal-conservative affiliations, etc.

 

f.  accessibility into the program in the form of a variety of roles and duties, from simple to complex, at their choice, facilitated by new technological tools.

 

g.  a minimal demand on the time/effort of most people, offering participation in the form of digital/virtual world access as in a program-dedicated computer “Dashboard” or mobile app. We will need to inspire people with rewards and benefits to give at least minimal habitual attention to an interface/app allowing participation with a mere couple of mouse clicks per week.

 

h.  a story outline of how they participate as characters in a unique, grand program of social change worthwhile just in the adventure even if the results are in the future and for junior generations.

 

In sum, make it easy for the little people to participate in a social change program emphasizing a simple values theme, focus, accessibility, and inclusiveness all supported by modern technological tools of communication, organization, and mobilization.

 

v 1.2

 

—New Ideas, author   June, 2016

 

 

(Authors Note: A full description of the vision and plan mentioned in this essay can be found at www.theactionmanual.com)

 

 

© 2016   The small life company, inc. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why do American citizens distrust their government and their society?

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen articulates why Americans are in an "Age of Distrust."(See link below.) He knows that many Americans see the current system as rigged in favor of a political elite. Their role as participants in a democracy is bogus.

 

 The political elite no longer has the trust of the general public but that distrust has evolved now into revulsion and opposition, even if that opposition is irrational and counterproductive. This is true, not only in America, but in much of the developed world. (Think of Brexit, as an example.)

 

 The graphic here articulates what the non-elite members of society would want and respect if the set of elements were part of a comprehensive program of progressive change. The book, "An Action Manual," articulates that program.

 

Although there is no shortage of critique among so many people almost no one has a theoretically sound and practical program of change. Without that, forget trust in government, in our traditional authority institutions, in the future, and in ourselves as a putative society.  There is, indeed, a new way of seeing and thinking about  updating our 18th Century principles of governance and social relations.

 

NY Times 9-19-2016   (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/opinion/the-age-of-distrust.html)

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Don't take Donald Trump literally!

Nearly every sentient human being has been exposed to the quirks, defects, limitations, and ugly personality traits of Donald Trump. By all reasonable measures he is one of the most unfit persons in the world to be elected president of the world's greatest nation.

 

 Nevertheless, he is supported by millions of Americans and has a good chance to be elected.

 

 This concept sounds as crazy as anything but only because most people are acting and thinking on a literal level. They can't understand how anyone could support such a character for the presidency.

 

 A better perspective is one which realizes that those multi million supporters of Mr. Trump have been dumped on for all of their lives by a political elite which has taken for granted its ability to dominate them--the "little people."  They feel the pain and humiliation intensely and despite a lot of efforts (as itemized in the graphic here)  nothing good has happened for them  in the political-economic sphere in America, and they have no good reason to think that anything good will ever happen to them.  And, they are right.

 

 So, they have two options: 1. Continue to accept pain, humiliation, and degradation without a realistic chance of change or, 2.  Give the political elite a "poke in the eye." That's where Mr. Trump comes in – he is simply giving a poke to the establishment.

 

 That "poke in the eye" ultimately will not fix their political-economic status and electing Trump almost certainly will make their lives very much worse. Nevertheless, giving a poke in the eye to the political elite has an overwhelming appeal. That's their motivation. Forget about the literal, rational level of analysis. It is irrelevant.

 

 But, the "little people" can have a positive option. That option is the Cational character Program articulated in An Action Manual. They need a new set of influencers, cue-givers, and leaders who understand what they need and want, and what most Americans want, to guide them in a new direction.

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Is there something for Americans to believe in?

The estimable, David Brooks, columnist of the New York Times, again points out an important defect in American society. He calls it the "Death of Idealism." (See link below.)

 

 As usual, his diagnosis is good but he rarely has much in the way of solutions. Of course, he is only a journalist and nobody else has articulated sound solutions either.

 

 That's where "An Action Manual" becomes the only theoretically sound and practical articulation of a program to fix this defect in America. The the book announces the National Character Program and it is responsive to Brooks's diagnosis in a lot of ways but especially when it comes to articulating a new set of American values.

 

 That set of values is set out in the image here.  The lack of idealism which Brooks laments  cannot be addressed by our existing 18th-Century political and governance concepts. A new paradigm has to be imposed providing a new way of looking and thinking of those things which will bring Americans together as a team, establish a public interest attitude, embrace inclusivity, and smarten the way we govern and deal with each other.

 

It is easy to diagnose defects and to critique; we have no shortage of people doing that. An Action manual provides a roadmap to actually achieving  a better, smarter America.

 

NY Times 9-30-2016   (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/30/opinion/the-death-of-idealism.html?_r=0)

 

 

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ME people versus WE people!

New York Times columnist, David Brooks, in his July 15, 2016 column "We Take Care Of Our Own"(http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/15/opinion/we-take-care-of-our-own.html?_r=0) analyzes American society has having two competing factions in terms of their attitudes towards their society. There are those who are parochial nationalists and moral particularists and those who are globalists and moral universalists.

 

 The first group is parochially  tribal and subscribes to a type of us versus them philosophy where they "circle the wagons," so to speak, to protect themselves against outsiders. The second group are sort of global citizens and have a universalism which allows them to empathize and feel part of a global community.

 

 America is torn between these two attitudes,  Brooks argues. He would like to see some kind of balance between these attitudes (without giving any plan to achieve that.)

 

 The attitudes that Brooks describes are very similar to the private versus public citizen attitude which is a key concept for "An Action Manual." This concept takes a psychological/economic perspective on people different from the most popular differentiations, like the 1% versus 99%, liberal versus conservative, red state versus blue state, Republican versus Democrat, and the like

 

 The book explains how those categories are mostly 18th-Century ones and that the most relevant category to understand American society (at least)  is the private versus public citizen attitude.

 

 The private citizen attitude underlies our individualist/capitalist social ethos. The public citizen ethos represents a balancing of individual and collective interests and perspectives.

 

 Brooks is right that  the parochial nationalist/moral particularist attitude represents division, conflict, and the status quo. The combination of attitudes which he discusses is not much different than the public citizen attitude of "An Action Manual."  That's the attitude that will allow America to become a 21st-Century nation, unified into a Team America, minimize identity/tribal conflicts, and facilitate collective identity and fairness and rational governance.

 

 See Chapter 2, particularly, of "An Action Manual" for an extensive analysis of these two types of citizen attitudes.

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The United States on a path to ruin!

New York Times columnist, David Brooks, almost always has trenchent, lucid, and sober analyses of American society.  His July 12, 2016 column laments the collapse of the "American ideal" and the failure of leadership throughout our country. (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/12/opinion/are-we-on-the-path-to-national-ruin.html?_r=0)

 

 While almost always optimistic about even the most dire events Mr. Brooks shows some concern that American society may become even much worse than he had imagined.

 

 He is right to be concerned. There is nothing in the logic of the individualist/capitalist system which has become so overwhelmingly powerful (driving elements of severe economic injustice, severe political institutional dysfunction, severe distrust of nearly all institutions, and more) to think that change for the better will occur.

 

 Imagining that things could change for the better if only some elements of this system would reform, be more courageous, or have magic occur doesn't make sense. The logic of the system dominates.

 

 Clear thinking about change has to include changing or "pushing back" that logic. There has to be a major change in the social ethos which characterizes our society. There has to be elements of collective identity and rationality, new  public values, and some institutional leverage on the part of the little people to force significant social change to improve their lives objectively and subjectively.

 

 That clear thinking means a new social vision and a practical plan to alter the American social ethos. That's what "An Action Manual" is all about.  It is a comprehensive, theoretically-sound vision and practical plan to update our 18th-Century governance principles and institutions and level the playing field between the elite and the rest of us.

 

 Please give it a good look. You won't regret it.

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Bernie gives it up, as he must.

Bernie Sander's endorsement of Hillary Clinton today was inevitable. His program of public values and collective good, among other elements, while morally admirable, was always doomed to failure. That failure was to be either a complete collapse into irrelevancy or co-optation by the existing political processes.

 

 The ugly reality is that values and ideas outside of the conventional mainstream political processes have no real path to accomplishment. The existing political system is too entrenched and powerful and frames so that the major political parties and our 18-Century electoral processes continue. Of course, this state of affairs favors the elite class  and the status quo.

 

 The truth is that significant social change as sincerely desired by Bernie Sanders and his followers and by most Americans on the left and right has no chance unless it is based in a program which works outside of the existing processes. That doesn't mean revolution or replacement of our individualist/capitalism social ethos. It can mean the assertion by the little people of a complementary social ethos and an informal shadow government guided by a theoretically sound vision and plan for progressive change.

 

 That vision and plan his what "An Action Manual" is all about. Implementing the ideas of An Action Manual needs people like Bernie Sanders and his followers and all the little people who recognize that they are being exploited by a small elite.

 

 However, Bernie Sanders and all those other people need  An Action Manual.  The collapse or co-optation of the Sander's program is evidence of that.

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Another supporter of reason and science in American governance?

Like Farhad Manjoo in his July 7, 2016 column in the New York Times (ow.ly/prsT100dEeu) Neil deGrasse Tyson laments the state of reason and science in the way Americans govern themselves. Although he doesn't state it as such, we do indeed govern ourselves by 18th-Century principles and institutions. Other nations, especially the European Community, have progressed way beyond what we do in America.

 

 However, they, too, have not come close to reaching their potential. What is needed is a new social ethos and set of public values in which an enhanced respect for reason and science is a component.

 

 The Action Manual lays out the role of reason and science in a 21st-Century America. Check out Chapter 6, especially, for a detailed explanation.

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What is the role of reason and technology in governance?

Farhad Manjoo in his July 7, 2016 column in the New York Times (ow.ly/prsT100dEeu)  laments the state of reason and science in the way Americans govern themselves. Although he doesn't state it as such, we do indeed govern ourselves by 18th-Century principles and institutions. Other nations, especially the European Community, have progressed way beyond what we do in America.

 

 However, they, too, have not come close to reaching their potential. What is needed is a new social ethos and set of public values in which an enhanced respect for reason and science is a component.

 

 The Action Manual lays out the role of reason and science in a 21st-Century America. Check out Chapter 6, especially, for a detailed explanation.

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Selecting new leaders?

David Brooks in his July 5, 2016 column in the New York Times Clueless or Crazy" (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/05/opinion/choosing-leaders-clueless-or-crazy.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fdavid-brooks&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=collection) laments the American electoral processes, the decline of quality among our prospective leaders, and calls for better quality leadership.

 

 As noted in the Action Manual, especially Chapter 4 "The Back Story," no personalities, no matter how qualified, have any chance of  offering significant social change in American society.

 

 We need a new CULTURE of public values and a collective consciousness. It is the new social ethos which will guide behavior.  Individuals and leaders are both subject to conditioning processes of the underlying ethos.  Change the ethos and individuals and leadership will evolve for the better.

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The Power of Altruism?

David Brooks of the New York Times in his column of July 8, 2016 "The Power of Altruism" (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/08/opinion/the-power-of-altruism.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fdavid-brooks&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection&_r=0) suggests that it's time to upend classical economics and political science to build collective institutions that counter the logic of individualism/capitalism which has  created all kinds of problems for American society.

 

 That concept is one of the pillars of The Action Manual. Refer to Chapter 8 of the Manual where it talks about building the informal shadow government and a set of national councils.

No where else can you find such an elaborate, fresh set of ideas of a system of collective institutions.

 

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Activist groups must be credible and not doctrinaire!

107 Nobel laureates sign letter blasting Greenpeace over GMOs

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/06/29/more-than-100-nobel-laureates-take-on-greenpeace-over-gmo-stance/

 

Maintaining Credibility!

 

p 332 of "An Action Manual":

 

Fitting into the Program, of course, requires each entity to accept Program values and to play nice with everyone else. It also means, among other things, that each component of the structure has adapted to the Program's approach–facts and data based; rational; science and technology respectful; and humble in its assertion of policy and planning positions. Every organization must follow quality "best internal practices" templates just like we want everyone on the outside to follow. Affiliation with the Program necessarily implies a duty to protect its Credibility. 

 

We have to recognize that not every social activist change position (even though generally in harmony with Program principles) has been clearly thought out or has appropriately balanced multiple perspectives. We can't have that. There have been, for example, efforts among activists (of all parts of the political spectrum) which are too narrowly focused, lacking in perspectives, and stubbornly rigid in principles (and therefore not Credible, by Program standards.) 

 

Some examples of non-credible positions include environmentalists reflexively opposed to economic development who espouse a high-principled hierarchy of holding even the most minor of species (e. g., the snail darter) over people, jobs, and development no matter what. Some environmentalists prematurely and intensely oppose hydraulic shale oil extraction even before sufficient evidence has been developed regarding its negative effects upon the environment and an assessment made of overall benefits and detriments. Some are not open to rational compromises which might be made between economic production and human and environmental needs. A pretty good consensus exists that genetically-modified foods are safe and offer a tremendous overall benefit to society but many well-meaning but wrong-minded folks act as if they represent a sci-fi type catastrophe. 

 

Even worse, the activists lobbying hard against incandescent light bulb improvements (apparently out of reflexive resistance to "government intrusion") regardless of any objective merits or balancing of interests are making outright fools of themselves and killing their own credibility among fair-minded people. The most extreme example (and irony) of lack of good judgment is that of pro-life zealots killing physicians (with spouses and families) in order to save the lives of fetuses (cellular organisms with no social history.).

 

For the most part, normally well-meaning folks get off the right track because of distortive psychological attitudes, limited thinking, and bad habits which diminish credibility and can be counterproductive. There are also cynical, hardened haters of nearly everything and everyone except those sharing their parochial attitudes. They have little credibility outside of their own group. The most ideologically strident have been contrarian almost out of principle, picking fights (which should not be fought) perhaps from habitual or irrational psychological motivations, or just reflexively opposed to anyone not surrendering completely to their way of thinking (i.e., zealots.) 

 

It is surely understandable for anybody in our cynical cultural environment to start with a jaundiced view of private citizen activities or partisan positions. The point, however, is that the Program supporters need to earn and protect their Credibility. That's done by adhering to the Program's approach to issues and problem solving. But the necessary next steps of a credible approach are: 1) acquiring all the relevant facts, 2) understanding all the relevant perspectives, and 3) using good judgment (a balancing of multiple perspectives) in taking a position. When the Program speaks, it wants people to know that what it says contains truth, seriousness, deliberation, and good judgment. In so many things, Credibility is nearly everything! It should not be compromised or squandered.

 

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Brexit: The elite have pushed the little people too hard!

All of the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the Brexit by those opposed to it (as well as many who voted for it) provides a lesson for both the political elite which created the EU (and elites in all liberal democracies) and the ordinary folks who felt alienated or betrayed by it. An elite will almost always have the upper hand in managing social affairs but when it pushes the little people too hard by taking away their economic security, their belief in authority structures, and even disrespecting their values of family, community, and self worth those little people will become rageful and strike back in whatever ways they can.

 

 What the little people really want is a new vision of society where there is a balance of private and public interests, where their humanity is part of the political economic equation, and they are respected and rewarded for doing the best they can. 

 

 Since there is no existing, feasible vision or plan for a new form of society, the little people use the only strategies they know and have – protests, irrational disruption of existing political processes, and spiteful activities which poke the elite even while causing significant harm to themselves and their society.

 

 Rage and destructive behavior, from their perspective, at least satisfies emotional and psychological needs. It  is better than accepting crushing disrespect.

 

 For many thoughtful people, the EU represents the historical apex of governance, albeit flawed in ways. It is still  a mighty achievement which has bridged archaic differences among nations, ethnic groups, and political systems. It has facilitated peace in a historically volatile region. It has elevated reason and professionalism in governance and balanced efficiencies in economics and finance. 

 

Brexit, with its negative consequences and the precedent it has set for other populist movements, is a real setback for advanced governance suitable for 21st-Century societies.

 Both the elites and the little people will suffer needlessly. (The elite, of course, will eventually adapt and reestablish the order which they like.)

 

 An intelligent, fair-minded vision for a 21st-Century society bridges the interests of the elite and the little people.  It will be a new paradigm of balancing of interests, insistence upon human meanings being part of the individualist/capitalist ideology which dominates nearly all liberal democracies, and provides new forms of respect for the little people living their small lives well relying upon a set of public values which can serve the collective good.

 

 Our leadership and public intellectuals need to go well beyond mere critique and piecemeal  adaptations to pluralist uprisings. Someone has to recognize a new vision and plan for a modernized society and ought to take a look at a new vision like the National Character Program, articulated in the book “An Action Manual.” 

 

 www.theactionmanual.com

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Beyond Bernie Sanders?

Mark Schmidt of the New America organization and Robert Reich, former United States Sec. of Labor, in an article and letter ( respectively) in the New York Times  last week (June 13-19, 2016) discuss the progressive agenda after the Bernie’s Sanders campaign ends.  Schmidt argues that Sander’s agenda proposals are out of line with the thinking of new progressives who  propose a large set of reform ideas in the form of pushing harder against conservative elements in America which has consistently opposed them.  Sanders ideas, he says, are too limited.  We need to push harder, according to Schmidt,  with more ambitious programs. Reich proposes modest, incremental reforms to end the power of big money in politics.

 

 What is most remarkable about these proposals is that they have been reiterated time and time again in some form by many progressively-minded people. They all consistently imply working incrementally within the current political-economic system.  No one has really raised the idea that the current system, unlike every other component of American society – transportation, communications, management, administration, etc. – has radically moved beyond its 18th-Century version. However, American governance and social relations have not moved much at all beyond 18th-Century principles and institutions.

 

 No one has presented a theoretically-sound and  feasible, proposal to rework the underlying substructure of policymaking, implementation, and governance in general.  in other words we need both 21st-Century American governance and social relations and a flattening of the social hierarchy to benefit the so-called “little people.”

 

While Schmidt proposes to think (a bit) “bigger” and Reich proposes to think “incrementally,” none of these approaches, or others simil do) anything significant to change our present economic-political situation of an extreme hierarchy representing economic injustice and our  archaic governance system representing dysfunction, and stupidity, as viewed from a modern, collective perspective.

.

 That’s why we need a theoretically sound and prprogram like the National Character Program articulated in the book An Action Manual.

 Not only does the book spec speak “big,” but also “new” and “smart.”

 

 

  People ought to give it a read.

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We need a new way of thinking about class differences, per the National Review

Yes we do and here is a start:

It's Not Just the Haves Versus the Have-Nots, or Conservatives versus Liberals, etc.

  The 2008 worldwide financial collapse was a major historical crisis and hurt multi-millions of innocent people. Sadly, the same essential underlying economic and political circumstances have existed in America (and elsewhere) for generations and continue to exist. A small minority of self-interested, aggressive people referred to as a private citizen elite (see Chapter 2, "Characters,” for a detailed discussion of private versus public citizens) have regularly imposed their wills and satisfied their private interests at the expense of the vast majority of us. Not only that but they've shown a self-satisfied disregard for any sense of a public interest and a common good. (Those who believe in and support a public interest and a common good are considered public citizens.)

The distinction of private versus public citizen attitude in specific situations is not always simple and clear cut. Some of the examples given above may entail mixed motivations and competing values. Others can be considered simplifications of a complex reality but the essential attitudinal distinction should be clear. Also, private citizens do not equate necessarily to wealthy businessmen or even capitalists or the financial elite. Members of each of those groups may be either private or public depending on their intentions, their decisions and actions, and the outcomes they are responsible for. The Wall Street traders, for example, who made high commissions for themselves knowingly selling flawed and doomed investment products are clearly private citizens. A wealthy businessman, on the other hand, who markets quality products or services honestly, treats his employees fairly, and doesn't exploit the environment or other public resources (including regulatory and tax policies) may well be a public citizen.  

 Neither is the private–public distinction intended to reflect the popular notions of conservative-liberal, Red State-Blue State, Republican-Democratic, rich-poor, or upper versus middle/lower classes. Although, for example, there may very well be some high correlations between conservatives, establishment Republicans, the rich and the financial elite class and the private citizen type noted here, there are both private and public citizen types in all classes, parties, and groups. There are Blue State residents who lobby government for special interest benefits for themselves. There are working-class union members who fight to protect even socially worthless jobs to maintain their own positions, etc. All of these people are acting as private citizens (although they may not be rich, part of the elite class, etc.) Throughout this book the group referred to as the “elite" means the high concentration of upper-class citizens who are private citizens. The philosophically valid and practically important distinction is not wealth or position but attitude.

 Occupy Wall Street's distinction of the 1% versus the 99%, while highly popular and enduring, is flawed, too. It reflects disparities of wealth and income only without including the multitude of other elements necessary for fair and accurate characterizations. For example, it is important to know if a rich person made his money fairly or whether he deceived or exploited to get it. A wealthy 1% er businessman (a Warren Buffett or such?) who has never harmed the collective interest and has done things in the “right way,” so to speak, may be a public citizen. Surely, it's not fair or intellectually sound to lump him with the wealthy Wall Street heavyweights--private citizens--who deliberately exploited multimillions of lower-class innocents.

 In any case, many of the conventional social labels noted above are (given our current poisonous partisan environment) emotionally-laden to an excess. They are firmly fixed in irrational ways in much of the public consciousness. Too many people latch onto these labels as either matters of identity or of disdain rather than intellectually-sound categories of analysis. They are, therefore, not suitable for a new way of looking at social matters emphasizing reason and clear thinking. We want to step out of that problem by setting out our own, more valid categories of social organization. The private-public citizen distinction is one of them. Others will be noted later, including the ideas of an underclass and an “American Team.”

 Furthermore, those same social labels are not conceptually rigorous or nuanced enough anyway for the purposes of the new paradigm being articulated here. What does it mean, for example, for a "Red State conservative" to be for limited government but also for highly-regulated cultural affairs--educational curriculums, abortion and sexuality matters, etc.? How do we understand Red State conservatives being in favor of robust national security apparatus and law and order yet demanding of a high degree of individual freedom and privacy? Conservatives highlight their emphasis on low taxes but is anyone philosophically in favor of high taxes? (Clear-minded people will not focus on mere tax levels but on the value received from governmental expenditures.) 

  These examples suggest that many of our conventional political categories are contradictory, incoherent, and too ambiguous to be fathomed in any meaningful sense. (Some might point out that this is the point! Would someone/group—e.g., the elite?—find value in promoting these specific categories to confuse the American public and to obscure the most relevant category in society--that of a private elite versus the collective lower classes? That would be a devious but clever strategy. What do you think?)

 There is a lot of philosophically-muddled categorization throughout our public discourse making it hard for clear-headed and fair analysis and even quality communication among groups. The public–private attitude distinction, however, is conceptually clear and, most importantly, it is philosophically grounded in the two fundamental, inescapable attitudes that citizens present as members of society–their own interests and the interests of the group. This not only is a classic philosophical dichotomy but it is key to aligning interests correctly in a program for major social change. Agents for change do not want to target the wrong group of people. That would be unfair as well as wasteful of an opportunity to correctly fix things. They also do not want to unnecessarily alienate potential supporters or squander any leverage we can obtain from those who may merely look like bad guys but are not. We've got to get the analysis right before we can act right.

 

 

 

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A way for Libertarians to be effective and more relevant

Eli Watkins of CNN reports in a May 29, 2016 column (http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/27/politics/libertarian-party-convention/index.html) of the Libertarian Party's newest effort to be relevant to American politics in an effective sense.  Voting in a candidate for President is NOT going to be successful OR effective.  

 

  There probably is no high degree of correlation between those people who tend to favor personal "liberty” (as the libertarians do to a greater degree than most people) and private citizens, as defined here. There is a conceptual difference between being self-interested and aggressive as private citizens are (i.e., having no problem exploiting the collective) and libertarians who, in principle, don't want to take anything away from anyone. They merely want to be themselves, let live, and be left alone by government and others. Of course, there is an overlap between the Alpha Dog libertarians (like the Ayn Rand novel protagonists) and private citizens where both types don't understand or care if their liberty tramples the liberty of anyone or everyone else. Whether some libertarians want to concede the point or not there is an inescapable trade off in principle of one person's liberty and another's constraints. (Chapter 9 has more discussion of this point and of libertarianism in general.)

 

At first consideration, most libertarians may be somewhat threatened by the activist program contemplated here. They probably will object to much of it, especially to the ideas of the common good, the collective perspective, and the social fabric. But they may want to think twice about that as even libertarians are part of a collective as members of families, teams, communities, and the nation. All but the most isolationist types are inescapably part of these and other social communities and draw value from them in many ways. They may take for granted much of the value in these relationships. 

 

Nevertheless, asserting due consideration of the common good and the collective does not necessarily impinge upon libertarian ideals. The program will have no beefs with those self-focused individuals who do not negatively impact the public by their personal choices and actions. The program only will pushback on those who impinge on the “rights” of public citizens. It also has no intention to compel anyone to support it or be a part of it. It doesn't care much what individuals do who just cherish personal space and just carves out new complementary room for those more socially and community-oriented.

 

The realty is that many libertarians are publicly-minded. Consider the Internet gurus who pioneered the free and open network concept of the Internet, worked in collaboration to develop open source software, engage in all sorts of knowledge sharing, and the like. Many of them are sharing and helpful folks who like membership in social (or virtual) communities even if still protective of their own spaces. There is no essential philosophical conflict in those types of voluntary associations and community activities and the voluntary activities of the many components of the program. 

 

There are other harmonies, too, between libertarianism and the program. The program is principled and essentially humanist supporting many of the personal liberty values libertarians respect. The program will rely heavily on grassroots levels of development and participation; emphasize reason, science, and technology; and intends to be a populist counterforce to what many libertarians see as their enemies–stupid and incompetent governance and overbearing Big Business. 

 

The project, of course, conceives of limited but smarter and more valuable government, new checks on both government and Big Business, and more rational public policymaking steered in large part by scientific and technological experts and professionals. Personal liberty interests may be rather facilitated by the rational and scientific essence of the program, too. By implication that might mean, for example, discouragement of irrational governmental or social restrictions on lifestyle choices, more rational regulation of guns and recreational drugs, and smarter choices in military and foreign relations (meaning collectively-based and not driven by special interests.).

 

Even the most doctrinaire but intellectually honest libertarian-types have to concede the need to accept a middle ground (or multiple perspectives) on a lot of the major contemporary social issues important to them. The official position of the Libertarian Party of America, for example, opposes any taxes at all, yet concedes that government (presumably with revenue from somewhere) is necessary for certain societal functions–national defense, criminal law enforcement, etc. What's up with that? Are we to have private-pay national defense? Law enforcement on an individual pay-as-you-go basis? Where is the bright-line principle anywhere separating the individual from the various collectives? 

 

 

In actuality, the hard-edged principles of the libertarians break down when applied to a lot of real life issues. Analyzed properly, they manifest in ranges of compromise or implying acceptance of multiple mixed perspectives. Disputes regarding these kinds of issues presumably will have to come down to good judgment line drawing between individual and collective interests. For that, we have the seemingly acceptable processes of the rule of law and majority rights (supplemented by the rationality processes of the program) to work them out. On balance, it would seem that the program's emphasis on smart, rational governance would be, to most libertarians, superior to lesser, but still bad, governance.

 

 

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Something real and meaningful for our young people

 David Brook's column of  May 27, 2016 (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/27/opinion/inside-student-radicalism.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fdavid-brooks&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection&_r=1) raises the question of what young people can realistically believe in in today's world.

 

Millions of youths, especially college-aged people, are entering into an increasingly negative adult society and facing (for many) dismal futures in which both the economic and political spheres are growing more unwelcome and unattractive. A chance to be part of an enlightened and constructive generation (or two) could be very appealing. Participating in a broad-based positive social program may be one of the better options they have. The potential benefits obtained from the program--economic and political advancements, and Balance, Meaning, And Respect–will fall primarily to them and their descendants. And, the subjective benefits of engaging in a grand collective adventure may be almost as rewarding. For all of those who find Teach for America, the Peace Corps, Volunteers In Service to America, the One World Youth Project, etc., stimulating this movement should be even more so, as well as being bigger, more ambitious, and more rewarding.

 

 

Historically, it has often been youths who have instigated social change and reform efforts as they have a good amount of leverage with their ideas, energy, availability, and enthusiasm. Think of the 1960’s-70’s counterculture, the Vietnam war opposition, the U.S. civil rights movement, and the Arab Spring events, as examples. If this program turns out to be a success these young people could be the next “Greatest Generation.”

 

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What do the people REALLY want?

Eduardo Porter's May 24, 2006 column in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/25/business/economy/weve-seen-the-trump-phenomenon-before.html?_r=0)  raises again the issue of why lower and middle class Americans of both the right and left parts of the political spectrum are expressing their rage and frustration with their situations and our authority structures.

 

 They have great reasons to be unhappy but, unfortunately, they have no clear understanding of why things are as they are and what they want or need to have changed or fixed to make things better for themselves and for the country, as a whole.

 

 The Action Manual provides clarity and theoretical soundness to explain why things are as they are for these people, what specifically they really want if they thought clearly about things, and what elements it would take to fix things for them.

 

 In essence, what most people want is a balance in their life between personal and collective needs, a sense of human meaning in the economic sphere, and respect for living and doing the small life well.

 

 The Trump and Sanders supporters ( and many populists worldwide) have way more in common than has been articulated by nearly anyone. Much of this can be explained by the "American Team" concept of the Action Manual.  Forming a collective consciousness against a political economic elite as an American Team, together with the other elements noted in the book, provide a roadmap for major social change.

 

 Read it! Live it! Spread the word!

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Thousands of critiques of our American political-economic system--no good remedies?!

1000 to zero! 

 

That's roughly the ratio of recent (post-Great Recession) calls from all kinds of prominent people for significant change of our economic-political system to new, practical programs to make those changes happen. That’s too bad, but when we have an increasingly dysfunctional society for most of us and a very long history of disappointments, it’s understandable that new ideas are rare. Some people are still proposing tweaks to the system like simplifying voter registration rules, increasing the minimum wage, repealing the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision which cut down most limits on campaign contributions, and other rather wimpy and ultimately futile ideas. You can’t, one might say, give vitamins to a cancer patient and expect a recovery. The agenda of the hyper-active Tea Party, essentially, is to stonewall policymaking and to tear down the government to spite parties unlike themselves who may or may not be really responsible for their frustrations. They seem not to have thought out clearly the consequences to other citizens, to the United States’s financial credibility, and even to themselves of this willfully destructive approach, as weakening the government further will leave the elite class to completely dominate. 

 

Most people wanting significant change don't know if anything can be done. Positioned as they are in an unbalanced, inhumane, and disrespectful environment where they see themselves as mostly helpless they look at our present state of affairs as:

 

-“Could be worse.”

-“It's God's way.”

-“I'll be rewarded in heaven.”

-“I don't even want to think about it!”

-"Maybe our children will come up with something better."

 

- “Well, what can you do?”

 

That's what The Action Manual is about--a comprehensive vision and practical plan to fix the system for the benefit of most people and advancing the country into a 21st-Century nation.

 

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Paper copies of the book have been submitted to Amazon

Paper editions of the book are being processed now by the Amazon.com system. They will be available for purchase at slightly above costs. (That's to help subsidize shipping costs for free reviewer copies.) Watch soon for availability.

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The Action Manual blog goes live today!

May 11, 2016 marks the introduction of The Action Manual to the public. Hopefully, the reaction will be positive and the ultimate result will be an advanced 21st-Century America where everyone receives balance, meaning, and respect in their lives together with smart governance.

 It will be about time!

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