Re: Globalization book / Riesz’s comments; “magic bullets”


Richard Moore

8/12/98, Paul Riesz wrote to me and social-movements:
  >Though you speak of a revolutionary change, you do not spell out, how to
 >effect this change in political power, which, in a democracy, are the
  >people's elected representatives.

Dear Paul,

The strategy is simple; the logistics challenging.

*-> Strategy *-> massive movement arises; trusted write-in candidates are
selected; they win overwhelmingly at all levels of government through
peaceful elections; they remain connected to the movement; government and
civil society collaborate in building new world.

*-> Logistics *-> Among the most formidable of the logistical problems is
avoiding the temptation to be seduced by the inevitable attempt of the
Democratic Party (using the US as our example) to put forward a
talks-the-talk candidate (ala FDR) who ultimately walks-the-walk of
preserving capitalism through the "difficult times".

Related to that is another formidable logistics problem: building an
alternative-mass-media infrastructure by means of which the movement can be
aware of itself and dialog with itself.  The Internet can help with this,
as a backbone shall we say, but it must be extended, via thousands of
newsletters or whatever, to the more general population (such as third
world where most people don't even have phones).

And we must face the problem that if things get serious, the net will be
taken away as an effective tool.  There are so many means by which this can
be accomplished that it seems silly to bother enumerating them, but I'll
offer two immanently practical scenarios for any skeptics.
        (1) Through misuse of conspiracy / terrorism laws, aided perhaps by
agent-provateur violent incidents, all of our sites are shut down by the
Feds, who will have no problem obtaining international and industry
        (2) "Spontaneous hackers" close us down with various kinds of
mechanized spamming, similar to what happened recently with IGC vis a vis
the Basque separatist site; arranging such spontaneous events is a
childs-play exercise for US intelligence services, and there are any number
of cultish groups who would be thrilled to be recruited for such an
adventure.  (I did _not suggest net libertarians!)

  >In my opinion a REFORM movement, focused on changing the rules for campaign-
 >financing and facilitating the election of public spirited men or women, who
>lack the backing of wealth. I do not pretend to know in detail how to
>achieve this, but firmly believe that there lies the root of most of the
 >contemporary evils you describe, with the immense advantage, that such a
  >reform would probably enjoy an immediate majority support.

This is an example of the "magic bullet" approach to systemic change.  _If
_only we could have `genuine election reform', or _if _only we could
`outlaw wealth over a certain amount', or _if _only we could `force
corporations to pay the true societal and ecological costs of their
ventures'... the list is endless, and more such ideas appear daily on the

My friend Henry Volken, a seventy-six year old Jesuit missionary who has
been an effective activist in India most of his life, says:  "To understand
reality, try to change it."  Go ahead, try to get genuine election reform,
see where it gets you.  The closer you get to succes, the more formidable
will be the forces arrayed against you.  If you get _really close, then
suddenly the government will proclaim the need for reform, and will
advertise and implement its own wonderful program which _sounds close
enough to the real thing to defuse the movement, but which will only make
things worse when the dust from the fine print settles.

The jewel is Sovereignty.  It is held in the castle of Capitalism and it is
guarded by the dragon called State.  With a magic bullet, one hopes to
creep into the castle and steal the jewel while the dragon sleeps.  That is
the stuff of myth, fable, and childhood stories, and it refers in fact to
an internal quest, not one in the real world.

In the real adult world one must study the terrain, prepare for the siege,
and launch a coordinated assault, so to speak, if one wants to take the
castle and inherit the jewel.  There are no magic bullets.  The jewel is
not lightly guarded, and the dragon does not sleep, nor is what passes over
Internet unknown to him.

  >While organizing your wheelshaped, world-wide web would be a gigantic, long
 >range project, concentrating on what I suggest would be much easier...

I'm reminded of the Nasrudin story, you know, the one about the keys...

    It seems our man Nasrudin was looking around the ground under
    a street lamp late one night.  A passerby inquired and Nasrudin
    said he was looking for his keys.  The passerby helped for a while,
    could see there were no keys, and asked Nasrudin where he lost them.
    "Over there by the door," he said, "but the light's better here."

Yes a magic bullet _would be easier, _if one were available.  And if wishes
were horses, beggars would ride.

The keys are by the door, not near the easier lighted path.  The jewel is
in the castle.  The dragon is powerful, alert, and a veteran of previous
popular rebellions, some difficult, but all eventually won.

I've proposed a strategy.  If you think it's flawed, let's talk about it.
If there's a better strategy, I'd like to see it.  Once we have a strategy
we agree on, then we can think about how long it might take to carry out.

Ultimately it takes as long as it takes - that's reality - Rome wasn't
built in a day.  We must face the dragon openly and do what is required.
The sooner we start the better chance we have.



        To join the discussion on bringing about a movement
        for a democratic renaissance, send any message to:
        To subscribe to the the cj list, which is a larger list
        and a more general political discussion, send any message to: