Lesson 7: Vision
“Where there is no vision, the people perish”
Key concepts in this lesson:
- We have to grab the future, not the past.
- We have the economic foundation today to give everyone in the U. S. the fundamentals for a cultured, orderly, decent existence.
- The only way we can transfer the necessaries of life to those who need them is to do so without money.
Since capitalism is incapable of providing for our most basic needs, we need something new and better. We envision a world where all life is cared for and nurtured. Is this utopian? When one form of human society reaches the end of its development, objective conditions are set for a leap to another. We are undergoing such a leap. Capitalism has reached its limit of development and is in the process of destruction. Conditions now exist to restructure society on a new basis, with the means of production owned in common and everyone’s needs provided for.
Visionaries portray a future made possible through an examination of objective forces in the real world. Dreamers create impossible images and are unable to understand the forces at play in the real world. Yesterday’s dreamers were the destitute, the exploited, the downtrodden. The visionaries were the owners of the new industrial means of production. Today, that world stands on its feet. The visionaries are those who have been driven from the factory and from society by the more efficient electronic means of production. They visualize their social liberation, the happy, prosperous future if only they could collectively own and direct the instruments that are destroying them. The dreamers are those wallowing in increasingly valueless wealth, still believing that wageless production can be circulated with money.
What the American people have lost has been lost forever. We have to grab the future, not the past.
Discussion Question 1: Why do people seek to return to the past? How can we get them to “grab the future?”
What happened to our country? The dull and leaden mind of America is the harvest of anti-communism planted during the McCarthy era; it is the harvest of greed planted by Ronald Reagan. As they planted their poisonous crop, every lofty vision, condemned as communism, was forsaken. Equality for the minorities and women, peace, and finally democracy itself, was branded “communist” and forbidden. There was nothing left save consumerism and greed. Reagan elevated this malignancy to the level of a national program. America lost its way as it lost its vision.
Vision is a statement of where we are striving to go. Clarity of vision by the people is the ultimate defense against misleaders. Any tyrant can take a nation that doesn’t know where it’s going down any path. Now, more than any time since World War II, our country desperately needs a clear vision. Vision arises from actual possibilities. Anyone can see that we have, in the new electronic production, the possibility of doing away with poverty and privilege. We can create a world of love and peace. First we must take these marvelous means of production away from those who use them only to create poverty for the many and privilege for the few. We must convert them to public property and for public welfare.
We concentrate too much upon trying to build with people who are only angry with the system. We don’t need malcontents, we need thinkers with a vision of the kind of world that is possible.
Discussion Question 2: Discuss the difference between visionaries, dreamers, and malcontents.
The time of social reconstruction is the real revolution. This time it is going to be different because the economic foundations of this new society are already laid to such a great extent within the old society. In every previous revolution there has been a severe drop in the standard of living of the people as they organize the new society. But we won’t have to hold back the aspirations for a new society while we build the factories and roads. In all other revolutions, it was necessary to accumulate the capital to do it. That meant taking it out of the backs of the people who made the revolution. We aren’t going to go through that. Everything we need for a paradise on earth is already here, or at least in formation.
Already, practically all the manual labor is done by machines, and a huge section of the intellectual labor is done by machines that add up four columns of figures and program other computers and robots. The Soviet Union had to go through and China is still going through an economic stage very dependent on the low productivity of manual labor. That will not apply in the United States. We are already past that. We have the economic foundation today to give everyone in the U. S. prosperous, peaceful existence where everyone’s needs are met.
Everybody tonight could go into a nice home; tonight everybody could eat a sumptuous, healthy meal; tonight everybody could go to a concert. We have the ability to make this happen right now. It will be expanded and made better, but we don’t have to create it. The Soviet Union was organized to industrialize the country. This country is already industrialized. We don’t need a state that is the owner of all the means of production in order to guarantee their development. The state as we know it today will collapse almost immediately. We need a government that regulates things, but not people. We will need, for instance, an agency that determines that if there will be ten million babies born this year, we will need so many million diapers this year. Somebody has to do that.
That’s the kind of government that we are going to have, a government that organizes the distribution of the necessities of life, but is not ordering people around. What are you going to order people to do? Order them to go to the movies? The questions of the cultural development of the people will most likely be left in the hand of the locals. The local people will figure out how to ensure their education, their recreation. Some work will need to be done, of course, but the allocation of human resources for that work could be done on a local level. Reconstruction will be so much easier to organize because of the tremendous productivity of the machinery that we have.
It is often said that in any new society some people will take over the government and use their positions for their own selfish ends. This is what we are used to. But the corruption and discrimination we have come to expect from government is a result of a society built on the control of scarcity—some will get, most will not. The new society we will create won’t be built on trying to fairly manage scarcity—history has proven that is impossible. Instead it will be built on unleashing unlimited abundance, creating a society that will sweep away the possibilities for corruption that come from either selfishness or corporate domination.
Discussion Question 3: Compare the vision of “We need a government that regulates things, but not people” to conventional wisdom such as “You can’t fight city hall” or “Power corrupts.”
The only way we can transfer the necessities of life to those who need them is to do so without money. The American people are basically willing to listen to this.
The major question in the world today is peace. Peace in the streets, peace between different ethnic groups, peace between nations. What is the basis for strife if it’s not the division and redivision of scarcity? Today scarcity can be eliminated. We’re talking about a world where the electronic means of production are cranking twenty four hours a day. We’re talking about a world where everyone becomes involved in the development of society.
The foundation of happiness is contentment and its foundation is the elimination of strife. Our troubles arise from material scarcity. When we do away with that, we can begin to build the positive thing, happiness. Happiness is an emotion that arises with contribution. This contribution can be in the form of raising a child, of painting a picture, of building an organization or a neighborhood. Happiness is a social thing. The idea is to have as full a life as humanly possible.
Up to this point all we’ve really been is animals. Reacting to scarcity, struggling to get food, struggling to get clothing, struggling to get a house, struggling to get an education, struggling for all these things. If these necessaries are in abundance then we can turn to the real matters of life, the intellectual, cultural and interactive well being.
“Some people say this heaven sounds a little dull. But if things were dull in heaven, so many people wouldn’t spend so much time and effort trying to get there. We are still going to be boogying and falling in love and raising our babies. We are going to do all the things that make us happy. What’s going to be dull about it? The only dull thing that we’ll get rid of is groping along for a living. Piling those bricks two on one, one on two. That’s the dull part of my life. Dancing and reading books has never been dull to me.”
— Nelson Peery
Discussion Question 4: What would you do with yourself if you no longer had to worry about getting your food, shelter, and clothing?