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The future is in our hands

Young people at bus stops, welfare mothers, union members, school teachers, homeless people, people from all sectors of society are wondering about the current state and future of this country. Recent talks of privatization of Social Security and Medicaid threaten the livelihoods of the elderly of this country who have spent their lives contributing to society. The ongoing attacks on the poor, whether it is ruthless welfare reform or the criminalization of children sleeping on sidewalks in San Francisco speaks to a deterioration of human principles. The rampant xenophobia in Arizona against immigrants, such as raids of churches and schools, indicates the trend towards fascism in this country. The actions of the government and corporations defy human compassion.

We see a marriage between the country's political rulers and the country's economic and financial rulers. There is nothing to distinguish congressmen, judges and presidents from former corporate lobbyists and former businessmen and CEOs of the world's wealthiest corporations that are actively destroying the planet. It is absurd that former Enron executives fill the roles of our nation's highest offices while innocent people on death row are regularly put to death, charged with crimes they didn't commit.

Corporate lobbyists appeal to the government all the time, pushing through measures that increase the prices of prescription drugs and winning billions of dollars of government contracts, but when millions of the world's poor, working, and middle class people pour into the streets denouncing the illegal war on Iraq, our policy makers look away, dismissing us simply as a "special interest group." We are not a special interest group. We are the constituency that our government is charged with serving.

The only interests that our government plans on serving are those of the very rich. The elites who run this country have not only turned their backs on their constituents, but are actively persecuting the people hurting most. It is war when a homeless family sleeps on the streets in front of an empty building. It is war when you see riot cops standing in formation defending Nike Town and Gap from legal and peaceful demonstrations. It is war when we send the poor youth of this country to fight and die in an illegitimate bloodbath, killing and torturing the youth of other countries, most notably of Iraq.

All boundaries between corporations and politicians are gone. In this so called democracy, the poor and middle classes, who make up the vast majority of the population, are left with few options. What can we do against a system that pumps billions of dollars into controlling the media and skewing legal battles to work in favor of the ruling class? Who can we turn to, to make the structural transformation that will guarantee that the needs of those most hurt are met? Can we rely on the very same politicians who are supposed to represent us and, at the same time, are lining their pockets through criminal means?

It is up to all of us to build a movement to gain political power and place control of our great country in the hands of the people. We are seeing whispers of the creative possibilities in the homeless taking over buildings in Philadelphia, in peasants in Bolivia fighting with sticks and their bodies against guns and steel for the right to drink water. No politician under our current system, regardless of good looks and appealing promises, is going to relieve us of the responsibility of taking the future into our own hands.

The League of Revolutionaries for a New America stands with the poor to envision an alternative to this inhumanity, a vision of a cooperative society where the major means of production would belong to the people rather than the individual hands of the ruling class. In other words, the League understands that a cooperative society -- where people would have enough to eat, adequate shelter, open access to education, just healthcare, and the means to contribute to society meaningfully -- is the practical solution to the crisis we face. Corporations, the market, and puppet politicians wouldn't determine who would get to eat and who would get to go to school because this society would be based on the complete interest of humanity -- not profit. A cooperative society would create the conditions for true human happiness, not the manufactured happiness of a society based on advertisements and over-consumption.

We need to keep re-envisioning the kind of world we want to live in. Do we want a world where we will continue to fight wars for profit? Where the gap between the rich and the poor will continue to grow? Where people will not be able to have meaningful work? Or do we want to live in a world where everyone's needs will be met, and humanity will reach its true potential? Through building a political movement independent of the ruling class, through making our own rules instead of modifying rules that have never been ours, the world we want and the world we need will become possible.

Pablo Neruda wrote masterful poetry that often captured the struggles and suffering of Chileans. He wrote about revolution and vision, words that we can all take to heart:

Enough now of gray men in chains!
Enough of the pale souls who have disappeared!
Not another man should pass except as a ruler.
Not one woman without her diadem.
Gloves of gold for every hand.

- Pablo Neruda from "The People"

This article originated in the People's Tribune (Online Edition), Vol. 31 No. 8 / August, 2004; P.O. Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, For free electronic subscription, email [log in to unmask]. Feel free to reproduce unless marked as copyrighted; please include this message with reproductions of the article.