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Positive News    H2'ed 3/17/22

Bringing our Socialist Baby to Life: History of Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

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The Dialectical Spiral
The Dialectical Spiral
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Part I - Pre-History of Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

Waking Up

In 2001 Barbara had her awakening to the disasters that capitalism caused. This started as part of the 9/11 events, beginning after the response to the supposed attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. It became immediately clear the US would respond to the attacks with military action against whatever country seemed most vulnerable and had access or proximity to resources, in this case oil. The attacks were supposedly coordinated by al-Qaeda, a radical Islamic group founded by Osama bin Laden and headquartered in Afghanistan. We firmly believed, with documented evidence, that the US attacked Iraq instead even though Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with the attacks. The US wanted control of Iraq because of their large reserves of oil. In fact, they were the second-largest oil exporting state at that time.

As soon as the news came of the World Trade Towers being hit, Bruce said that something was fishy. From that time forward Barbara's political life began. Watching the news was surreal and terrifying. Over and over again, images of the towers collapsing were televised. Talk of war began almost immediately, with George "W" Bush putting the blame on Iraq - with absolutely no proof. What was even more alarming was watching how people reacted to it. So many of them jumped on the bandwagon of war.

Making signs

Shortly after the attack Bruce - who had been a socialist for 30 years - talked Barbara into going to her first demonstration. Together we made signs to bring with us - "No War on Iraq", "War is not the Answer". Making the signs was so much fun. We got old cardboard cartons from the grocery stores along with some long lightweight sticks from lumber stores to hold them up. We brainstormed ideas for what to write. Bruce's signs always had much more content than Barbara's. Barbara went for the fewer words, the better.

First demonstration

The gathering, or demonstration, was held in Palo Alto, CA, just outside the Stanford University Campus. We had to park our car some distance from the crowd, and Barbara felt self-conscious carrying our signs. A radical political science faculty member, Joel Benin, who was pro-Palestinian, gave an impassioned speech. It was so sane, so true. People around us began chanting and we joined with them - NO WAR - NO WAR. This wasn't a big demonstration, only a couple of hundred people, but everyone was in agreement that we could see where this drive to war was going, and we wanted to try to stop it. Barbara didn't fully grasp the full implications of where the US was headed or what would be her involvement in the fight to stop it. Ultimately, that was the beginning of her journey to socialism.

Barbara has already written about much of this in My Journey to Socialism, some of which we've quoted here, which began after these attacks. Bruce was so happy to see her waking up.

Attending anti-war demonstrations

We went to anti-war demonstrations in San Francisco and Oakland, chanting "No Blood for Oil". Many of the demonstrations and meetings were organized by San Francisco ANSWER, an anti-war group formed in San Francisco shortly after 9/11. On March 20, 2003, we marched with tens of thousands of people to protest the war on Iraq that Bush started that very day. We shut down the city. Aside from ANSWER, there seemed to be no large, unified movement to take action against the existing paradigm of US imperialism and capitalism. That is, there was no large movement until the Occupy Wall Street Movement in 2011 which was designed to protest income inequality and the use of influence of money in politics by occupying public spaces.

2004 - 2011 Looking for a Foothold

During this time period, we were searching for the best place for us to fit in and work towards changing the existing capitalist system. We had a book club together, just the two of us. We read and discussed The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Gregg Palast, Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins, The Powers That Be, and Who Rules America, both by G. William Domhoff. We met every other week on the weekends for 2 hours. This helped to develop Barbara's understanding of capitalism.

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Barbara MacLean and Bruce Lerro are co-founders and organizers for Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter. http://planningbeyondcapitalism.org/

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