jpg
              Democracy
  and You


    An interview
   with Walter
  Petrovich

     

  Video by Paul Rifkin



 
Stu

 Welcome to    People for a New Society

     

Who we are...

We are a nation of people, different in many ways but alike in so many others. We work hard. We depend on our paychecks to live, feel stressed out by too many hours, or too few. We worry about our future, or the future of our kids. We are in college or in prison; retired or disabled. Young, old, unemployed or overworked. Computer techs and nurses. Delivery drivers and engineers. Teachers and cashiers. Designers and scientists. We are the working class. Without us, nothing could happen, be produced, nothing grown or harvested, nothing fixed or invented. Whether we live in suburban developments or cities; in an apartment or a house; pay rent or owe on a mortgage. Homeless, just making it or worried we might lose all we've gained...we must work for our living or suffer the consequences. As a class, as a community and as a people, we share the same basic needs and basic desires: to live in & be part of a healthy, peaceful and humane society.


Why we are here...

We at PeopleForANewSociety are like so many others, looking for real change and a path to get it. But what's left for us to do? After we've tried 'yes we can' and get 'no you can't'...after voting for the 'lesser of two evils' & get the lesser evil but no solutions, is it hopeless? Unless we look at alternatives to profit and competition and the way industry & society is run today--from 'above' to benefit a few- it is hopeless! We need to look at the entire economic & civic model and find a way to change it.  We need a strategy that can take us from where we are, to where we want to go.

WE DO HAVE OPTIONS

While corporate control of the political arena is strong, the political arena still offers the best means for peaceful and meaningful change. Rigged to protect the existing regime, its 'two parties' are really just one - a duopoly. Both exist solely at the discretion of corporations and to serve their interests. The only 'fight' is for dominance between big & bigger corporations, one capitalist interest or another. Republican or Democrat, either party gains office only by how well it serves to protect capital and profits, not how well it solves our real problems. Why vote? But what if we use our ballot differently? Not to vote for Reform, but for a totally new society? But how?

Until now, change - if it was to be peaceful- required reaching a vast audience
and union halls were often the natural place for issues, and consciousness, to be raised. Jobs lasted for decades, bonds formed, grievances aired. In fact, all reforms in the twentieth century grew out of organized demands from the union movement. Fast forward to today. Workers are 'on their own', mainly non-union, the existing unions weak & broken cartels, bureacracies tied to the Democrats and politicians. Wages stagnant, working conditions & jobs insecure, no sense of identity or what used to be called class solidarity, the typical worker today is more akin to the migrant worker, isolated and alone. Our culture is 'atomized',
fragmented. Religion offers some community, as do clubs or social groups. But
none serve as centers to talk about the serious issues we face. And the issues have become so big, so complex and terrifying - horrible environmental and health hazards, lost jobs and debt, vast inequities between the few and the many- we vote with little or no hope of results. With no single unifying effort- just scattershot, inefffectual complaints- most Americans have become 'the silent majority'. Or become angry and join "The Tea Party" in empty protest.

With no unions left, no sense of class solidarity, no place for social cohesion, with insecurity and threat now built into our daily lives we seem hopelessly divided. We know we have problems, but at best try to attack them one at a time. We can't see the interconnected systemic cause, never mind the solution. We've lost control. So is there hope? Can we come together and really have an affect? We at PFANS believe we can and stand at the beginning of a new movement, embrionic and unnamed but with important potential. At the same time we see reason for apathy and cynacism, there is in fact huge numbers of concerned, active, independent and fragmented groups and political stirrings across the internet. Despite the distractions and stress of modern life it is proof that people's interest in 'changing the way things are' have not declined but have greatly increased. How do we transform all the seperate 'issues' into a unified movement that tackles all of them? Its beginning to happen, but not in ways we've seen before. For now on, with the computer based 'social network'
our new 'town hall',  we have to rethink the whole notion of 'unity' and principal,  & participate in new, broader  connections, respectful dialogue & interchanges  that still allows for independence. Our LinksList is part of that effort. "Private
Property" lines, turf, language, mistrust & old wars are luxuries we can no longer afford. We need new openness on the left if we are to see progress.

The coming decade can only bring more problems, less faith in reform, greater revelations about a system that should no longer be sustained, greater distrust of  the Duopoly and the system it protects. The 'Tea Party' instinct is just to get angry and find scapegoats, but media attention has awakened more interest in organizing & running independent candidates and thats good. The problems and complaints will grow. Eventually independent candidates and independent 'social protests' will -intentionally or not- uncover the economic link between all the ills they address piecemeal and from that will grow a unified movement, stronger and broader than any union, party or theory could ever do. Right now we don't really 'need' third parties, but we do need well-informed candidates. We need to use what we know and help clarify that the goals of our various 'groups' must recognize Capitalism as the fundamental cause of our social ills, and that the institutions it rests on must be replaced by Democracy where we work and where we live. Change can happen, peacefully in the way and at the time it is needed. The idea is nothing new, but is in fact over Two Hundred years old: our heritage and our Constitution made provision for it to happen. In fact, the idea of using the Constitution for the people has already begun to take root (see our LinksList). PFANS knows our best hope is to take it further until we replace the entire unworkable, anti-social capitalist framework that holds us back. While the concept of peacefully legislating to form a new, true CIVIC and ECONOMIC democracy...with a green, humanist agenda of peace & justice... while such an idea may be unfamiliar now, it will eventually start with one or two Representatives being elected. From there, the simple fairness & rationality of it will make it grow & spread. A new society will be born.

For radical & fundamental 'change politics' to begin in this country, of course, will require a broad base of citizen awareness, consistency and principals, but the dialogue must begin. And it is. For the first time in decades, dire economic and environmental conditions call into question the old assumptions about Capitalism's ability to redeem or 'reform itself' . Coupled with that, for the first time in decades political activity on the right and left is burgeoning. Yes, there is plenty of apathy & lethargy, but that's not from 'contentedness'. Its from distrust of the old politics that haven't worked: The Promise of Reforms up to and including those from Obama. But not only from within the plutocratic Democrat or Republican Party. Reforms from a 'third' party - typically based on one or two issues of gender, race, environment- have no broader goal or deeper vision and therefore have limited mass appeal. Reform agendas have increasingly become suspect as ineffectual because its known they're dependent on big money and/or big compromise, and trying to work within Capitalis, are bound to fail. Other than the option of earlier 'revolutionary
theory' parties which seemed remote & alien, rebuilding society democratically thru the political arena in this country has never had much opportunity for success.Til now. Now 'lack of organization' doesn't mean 'lack of participation'.

How Can We Really Change?

With the advent of new ways of communicating and getting together 'on-line', we at PFANS believe that we may be at the start of a new era, an era based on freer access that give advocates for fundamental change as well as meaningful incremental change, a new chance to be heard. Small no longer means what it once did. That will even get better. Independently pursuing our own projects, we can also hear from other voices who call for fundamental changes in our civic and economic relationships thru social ownership & grassroots decision- making. So many of us are not that far apart; we should start to talk about our similarities not just our differences. But most importantly we need to get political power and we can. Using social-networking, blogs and websites, 'Independent candidates' can now run without the need for a party, can require only local support and use internet organizing to run & get on the ballot. Political action is still vital. WE need to recognize that bkkesides limited message appeal & a generational belief in reforms, previous 'grassroots' or minor party attempts also failed because they depended on labor-intensive, costly efforts. Now with almost universal access to sophisticated approaches, organizing & dialoguing is easy thru websites, blogs and social networks. While grassroots, ad hoc & independent activity is in its infancy right now (See LinksList) it appears to offer the antedote to previous isolated, small, labor-intensive attempts that struggled to have any ripple-effect or impact. Of course, new technology, communication and networking tools are not the inevitable or automatic panacea to solve our complex problems...And raising consciousness & understanding will take time.  But its important to recognize the potential of independent action and initiative -
especially those of us who have seen other approaches to deep change fail. Just as our forefathers & mothers did when they conceived of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, we must be grounded in the present but with a basic vision of what a new, better, humane society could look like. Within this decade, we need people who want real change, run for office, are ready & excited to face the challenges and the possibilities. And, importantly, we need to vote for them!


WORKING FROM WITHIN, WHERE IT REALLY MATTERS

Forget working with the Duopoly. Working within Congress itself holds the best access to re-frame the Consitution, our economy & society itself. Once elected, our  Representatives will not be only 'place-holders' for a new agenda, they will be ADVOCATES of it thru Constitutional change. While serving in Congress, how would our 'new society' representatives behave? Not like others: Yes, ours would support & vote for the highest standards of Reform measures proposed
...but  they would be clear on this ONE fundamental principal:  REFORMS ARE NOT GOALS they are steps. So how would their candidacies & representation differ from other progressives, liberals, reformers? Everyday, their GOAL would be: to use our Constitutional right to replace destructive laws and institutions with new ones that benefit and protect The People. Not profit, not corporations, not private gain. How is this our right? Two hundred years ago, our forefathers and mothers recognized the need to change with the times would happen again to others in the future. In explaining Article Five, they wrote that when old laws and institutions no longer work to make the people healthy, safe or happy, they must be replaced. Therefore, because of our unique history & our revolutionary heritage, the Constitution gives us not only the right but also the responsibility to create a new society better suited to the needs and aspirations & capacities of our people. (Check out our cooperative model at "New Democracy" visuals)

So, why are 'WE' here?  Because we're ready to stop repeating the failures of reform & ready for a new, positive direction. We know we need a New Society & a realistic strategy to get there. That it will not be quick, but rewarding. This website is a place to start and we're ready to begin. We offer Links & a Forum for dialogue, Videos,  Reading & Archive materials. Together, let's get started.