rn:Helen Keller saw corporate globalization’s threat, can we?


Jan Slakov

Dear RN,

Here is the January column by Frank Scott, a regular contributor to our
list. I have a special reason to connect to this piece as he quotes Helen
Keller, who is someone I have always admired, all the more so when I learned
of her political and spiritual convictions. It was in a marvellous book that
is, I believe, out of print now, called _Women Against the Iron Fist_
(Alternatives to Militarism 1900 - 1989) by Sybil Oldfield, that I learned
of this side of Helen Keller, a side that is kept nicely hidden from view in
any of the many books I've seen telling the story of Helen Keller, who we
are to admire for her persistence in overcoming her handicaps, while
remaining ignorant of her deep wisdom and radical ideas.

all the best, Jan
Date: Fri, 07 Jan 2000 16:46:29 -0800
From: frank scott <•••@••.•••>

Changing the Future

"The country is governed for the rich,  the corporations, the bankers,
the speculators, and  the exploiters."

She may have been blind, mute and deaf, but she was certainly not
dumb.That is more than can be said for many  still ignorant of the
system Helen Keller was talking about, long ago. Those who made their
last   payment of the 20th century to the forces she identified can draw
little comfort from the fact that  their next  payment will be to those
same forces,  in the 21st century. The corporate rich cited by Helen
Keller  are still in control of government, and that is true not only of
this country but most of the globe.

The new year opens with some hopeful signs that this old order may be
passing, under the pressure of a democratic coalition working  to push
it into the dustbin of history, where it belongs.

The WTO demonstrations in Seattle were only one example of a critique
being made that is larger than single issue outrages. Activists working
for social change have been occupied with  specific wars and particular
cases of people defiled or land despoiled . Now, a larger number of
involved citizens have begun to  address the general system responsible
for those specific outrages, and more .

 It may take  time to completely rid ourselves  of the need for single
issues and special  bad guys, but we seem  closer to understanding that
change for the betterment of humanity  means  change in how humanity is
organized to produce and distribute the resources of the earth.

The beginning of a new millennium  is as good a time as any  to
organize for achieving solutions by better understanding the major
cause of our problems.

Whether seen from the narrow perspective of individual groups or from
the broader focus of a human race, the present system is the greatest
threat to our future . All of our problems are not the creation of
capitalism, but most of our problems cannot be solved  with the global
market  remaining under the  control of private capital.

Material  and moral poverty help to create war, bigotry , pollution and
countless other problems that confront humanity. And capitalism, while
it generates fantastic wealth and progress for some, guarantees that the
majority will suffer that material and moral poverty.

This system , not an individual CEO, sucks the earth dry and burns its
fossil fuels to move people  in the most destructive and wasteful
manner. This system, not an individual developer or real estate merchant,
treats the earth under which the fuel lies as infinitely more valuable
than billions of human beings, for whom it shows complete disregard, if
not  murderous disrespect.

Individuals are the basis for  social life, but individualism is the
enemy of  a humane organization of that  life. And  the power of global
capital is sustained, in part, by people believing its propaganda about
individuals being free only as consumers in a  market place. Just as bad
is the acceptance of the myth that  any national or global organization
attempting to share the wealth with more than a few at the top is a
socialist horror, worse than death. Such "horror" has been supported by
famous  people like Albert Einstein, as well as the very wise woman
quoted at the top.  Did you know that?

Blaming the contradictions of life on a foreign menace, or on our own
personal shortcomings, are what help  sustain  miserable outcomes that
are the realities of our political  economics. A new criticism of the
global  system, being made by the largest  coalition of modern times,
offers tremendous hope for the next period in history.

That hope depends on continued growth in a movement directed toward
democratic control of policies that affect more than a handful of
people, and the creation of a   democracy able to cross borders of
geography and culture. Some will resist,  seeing any  control, whether
autocratic or democratic,  as a sacrifice of individual rights. They
believe the religious dogma of metaphysical  free markets that mean
lifelong struggle for the working masses, and  material  wealth  for the
privileged few. But they are only a symptom , not the source of the

If we mean to change things for the best, we need to confront realities
about  the worst. Especially regarding an alleged stock market  boom
that is really a working force bust, and the myths of debt and deficit
spending that confuse, rather than clarify reality.

The Reagan era was  about sustaining an economy by increasing
government  debt. The Clinton era has been  about sustaining an economy
by increasing personal  debt. Big difference? We pay both ways. Things
that were social responsibilities have become  personal
responsibilities, in a revival of 19th century political economics
accepted by people whose minds are clouded by political fables, media
fairy tales and historical fantasy.

We need to understand that it is anti-democratic and dangerous to our
survival  to allow  continued corporate domination of just about
everything. That means confronting capitalism, a system analyzed long
ago ,  but kept far away from the consciousness of its subjects. We
remain locked into pursuit of  personal success  that guarantees social
failure . Changing the system means a far more social focus that could
bring about personal fulfillment through democratic community.

 If we  have truly started on the path towards that democracy, the
millennium may really turn out to be  new. The great woman few of us
really know about, quoted at the top ,  advised the following  about
"Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army  of destruction. Be heroes in
an army of  construction." -Helen Keller

Follow her advice, and have a  really happy new year.

Copyright (c) 2000 by Frank Scott. All rights reserved.

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frank scott
email: •••@••.•••
225 laurel place, san rafael ca. 94901
(415)457 2415   fax(415)457 4791
Note from Jan: I feel compelled to comment on this sentence: 
 "This system, not an individual developer or real estate merchant,  treats
the earth under which the fuel lies as infinitely more valuable
than billions of human beings, for whom it shows complete disregard, if
not  murderous disrespect."
I see the point Frank is making, that capitalism puts more value in real
estate than in people's well-being. However, when I use the word "earth", I
mean the planet that is home, Gaia, an entity that some are seeing as a huge
living system or being. The word has taken on nearly sacred qualitites for
me and I certainly would never say that capitalism respects or values the Earth!