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HOW WE CAN REMOVE THE RICH FROM POWER

 

 

Most Americans want an egalitarian revolution [see unedited "on the street" videos that demonstrate this fact here and here and here and here], which is why most sign "This I Believe" when asked to do so. What prevents Americans from making such a revolution? What prevents us from thoroughly shaping our society by our values of equality (no rich and no poor) and mutual aid?

 

Everybody knows that the obstacle to making an egalitarian revolution is the fact that the rich in power have military forces that are overwhelmingly more powerful than we are in terms of raw violence.

 

But what is not as well known is that under the right circumstances military forces go over to the other side and refuse to obey orders to attack the people they are ordered to attack. American GIs did this in Vietnam. Soldiers in Iran did this in 1979, forcing the Shah of Iran to flee the country even though he thought--up to the last moment--that his military force, which he knew was the strongest in the Middle East, would keep him in power. Similarly, the Czar of Russia was forced to abdicate in February of 1917 when his Cossack soldiers decided to defend, instead of follow orders to attack, the workers demonstrating against the Czar in the streets of St. Petersburg.

 

Far more important than the size and power of an army's weapons is the direction that soldiers decide to aim those weapons--at the people opposed to the ruling regime, or at those using violence against foes of the ruling regime!

 

The way we can remove the rich from power is to create the circumstances that will cause a critical mass of soldiers to a) refuse any orders they may get to attack people who want to remove the rich from power and b) use their weapons to help the egalitarian revolutionary movement defend itself against anybody who may attack it violently*. This is how the rich lose power!

 

But in order to persuade substantial numbers of soliders to do this we will need to persuade them that the egalitarian revolutionary movement is so large and determined that, if soldiers support it, it can actually win. If soldiers are not convinced of this then they will not refuse orders to attack the movement, even though most of them support the goal of the movement for the same reasons their civilian friends and neighbors and relatives support it. Why not? Because when a soldier refuses an order to attack "the enemy" he or she risks being severely punished--perhaps even executed--for mutiny or even treason. For substantial numbers of soldiers to take this risk they must be persuaded that the risk is relatively low because, with their support, the revolutionary movement has a good chance of winning, in which case soldiers who refuse to attack it won't be punished.

 

The key to removing the rich from power is, thus, to build a movement of hundreds of millions of Americans (and of people in other countries as well**) that can persuade lots of soldiers to support it because it can actually WIN. This is very possible, because it is already the case that most people would LOVE an egalitarian revolution, even if they presently think it can never happen.

 

The movement needs to be one that explicitly declares its goal to be egalitarian revolution. It needs to involve people in every walk of life in challenging the unequal and undemocratic status quo on the grounds that it violates the values of egalitarianism. And it needs to promote people standing in solidarity with each other for these values and in defense against those who attack them. This kind of movement will be able to gain the support of soldiers that is required to remove the rich from power.

 

One important way to build such a movement is by people forming local assemblies of egalitarians in their communities, as discussed here. These local assemblies at first, when they have only a small number of participants, can inform others in the community about egalitarianism, what it is and why it is both very practical and much better than our status quo. These early assemblies can also explain that local assemblies of egalitarians open to all egalitarians in the community are the only bodies that ought to make laws people in the community must obey. These assemblies can provide a place where people meet to figure out how to involve more and more people in advocating for egalitarianism, challenging the power of the rich, and creating relations of solidarity with other egalitarians near and far.

 

When lots of people are participating in their local assembly of egalitarians, and the assemblies are coordinating with each other by sending delegates to non-local assemblies to craft proposals for the local assemblies to implement if they agree, and when this voluntary federation of local assemblies involves tens or hundreds of millions of Americans, and when similar local and non-local assemblies of egalitarians are formed in workplaces, then something extremely important happens. Then, for the first time, there is an egalitarian government in place, with which egalitarians would have ALMOST everything they need to start shaping society by egalitarian values. The only thing lacking would be the power to prevail against the violence of soldiers and police. This is when soldiers can realistically be expected to side with the revolutionary movement. This is how the rich lose power. Like the Czar. Like the Shah. But unlike in those previous revolutions, when the revolutionaries had anti-democratic goals, this time it will be egalitarianism that replaces the dictatorship of the rich.

 

The main obstacle today in the United States that prevents people from acting together on a large scale to build an egalitarian revolutionary movement is that people feel it is hopeless to even try. Hopelessness comes, for most people, from believing that there is no better alternative to our current society based on class inequality. Even when people discover that there IS a much better alternative--egalitarianism--hopelessness continues to come from feeling virtually alone in having the revolutionary aspirations for an egalitarian society that are expressed in "This I Believe." 

 

THE OBSTACLE TO EGALITARIAN REVOLUTION IS NOT THAT MOST PEOPLE DON'T WANT IT (THEY'D LOVE IT!); THE OBSTACLE IS THAT MOST PEOPLE DON'T KNOW THAT MOST PEOPLE WANT IT.

 

But when most Americans know that most Americans have signed "This I Believe" and know that they are in the majority in wanting an egalitarian revolution they will no longer feel alone. They will have the confidence to start acting like the majority they actually are, by taking concrete steps to build a revolutionary movement with revolutionary organizations. And as we have seen, such a movement can indeed remove the rich from power.

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* Soldiers are more likely than police to refuse orders to attack the revolutionary movement. This is because soldiers see themselves as defenders of Americans against foreign enemies, and it violates their sense of legitimate purpose to attack their fellow Americans, especially if they are ordered to attack a very large movement clearly representative of the majority of Americans. In contrast police are trained to use violent force against their fellow Americans for the purpose of protecting "law and order" (i.e., the wealth, property and privilege of the rich) and routinely do so. It is not unlikely that soldiers will use their weapons to stop the police from attacking us. This is what happened in Russia in February 1917.

 

** Rich people in different nations help each other to stay in power and defeat egalitarian revolutionary movements. This is why we need a world-wide egalitarian revolutionary movement. Otherwise the American rich, when they see American soldiers refusing to obey their orders, could rely for help on an invasion of soldiers from another nation. But if there is an egalitarian revolutionary movement in that other country as well, then there is a good chance those soldiers would refuse to attack egalitarians in the United States, much as American GIs by 1975 were refusing to obey orders to attack Vietnamese peasants fighting foreign occupation.

 

 

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READ THE BOOKS IN THE "NO RICH AND NO POOR" SERIES

 

Articles by Dave Stratman

Articles by John Spritzler

Turn the World Upside Down (John Spritzler's blog #1)

End Class Inequality (John Spritzler's blog #2)

 

Books

We Can Change the World: The Real Meaning of Everyday Life by Dave Stratman

The People as Enemy: The Leaders' Hidden Agenda in World War II by John Spritzler

NO RICH AND NOPOOR: The Populist Goal We CAN and Must Win

DIVIDE AND RULE: The "Left vs. Right" Trap