How can we fix the system without tearing it down?

I think we can all agree America is… poitically broken. Congress is considered bought and paid for as just another business expense, the democrats are… only marginally less insane than the republicans, who at this point are all but blatantly trumpeting being bigoted assholes.

Then you have gerrymandering, douchbags in local offices, and so on and so on with all the things people normally bitch about.

I don’t want a bandaid. I don’t want ‘oh if this one thing were fixed we would all be farting rainbows and sunshine.’

How do we dig ourselves out of this mess without hitting the ‘bloody revolution that will get attacked and discredited to the point of going nowhere without lots of people dying’ button? Occupy did… nothing. Bernie I think is a modern edition of Carter (Nice guy that will get torn to shreds because nobody wants to back his play politically.)

Given it takes congress to vote on things and congress is not going to limit its own power with term limits or anti lobbying laws… How do we get things to change so that your average suburbanite that’s overworked, underpaid, and is afraid of rocking the boat for fear of losing what little they have, can either contribute or at least agree with enough to not act dismissive?

This country is not one I want my niece to grow up in, nor was it the one I was raised to believe it is. I want to change that but I don’t have the faintest clue how.


I don’t know, work at the local level? Trying to reform governments while trying to free the people from the grips of the corporate elites seems to be an impossible task; but we’re making some sort of progress.


(Then again, I don’t have kids.)


I don’t know. I think if we do get Sander’s presidency, it might be helpful, but then again, the problems we have are so big, it’s hard to imagine just electing a president will fix much.

And I think this is true too. When people are getting together and pushing their local governments for changes they want to see to actively improve their lives and their communities, things can get done. It’s easier to impact the local level and to get through some of the partisan BS that’s been shoved down our throats. It’s harder to dehumanize your neighbors in the same way you can dehumanize someone in a different community. I’d like to see more local activism and more third party candidates working the system.

But then again, the question is whether or not the system we have is so rigged and broken that it can’t be fixed, only tinkered with. I don’t really know the answer to that. I do know the “patch” v. “burn it down” debate has raged for ages now and both sides have important points to make. And as @ActionAbe suggests, it’s easier to advocate for tearing shit down if you’re not invested by having children, etc. And I’d be afeared of the outcome of a revolution here. I don’t think it would go the way of the leftists/progressives/anarchists… the anarcho-capitalists have far too much mindshare and the white power militias have too much organization for them not to take advantage of any sort of revolutionary actions…


I need to re-read Homage to Catalonia now. The left sucks sometimes. In a lot ways I wouldn’t trust us to run a lemonade stand.


Follow it up with Invisible Man, because that’s kind of damning, too.

But the left is only human… born to make mistakes.


IMO you can give up on getting anything meaningful done unless Sanders gets in, or wait for Warren. But we’ve finally reached a point where the average schmoe might be starting to wake up to their civic duty, and realising we’ve been scammed.

Bernie would be a lame duck to start with, but given the presidential bully pulpit, I’m pretty sure he could mobilise enough support to cleanse Congress of many corporatist scumbags by the next election… And with the electorate’s imprimatur under his belt, he could go a long way to moving the political pendulum globally.

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I honestly believe that anything short of an AI revolution where a benign superintelligence takes control will ultimately end in failure and eventually, through the development of and public access to ever more dangerous technology, catastrophe. I think many of us will experience the watershed in our lifetimes and I sincerely fucking hope it’s more benign than destructive because it is for sure going to be both.


I don’t see how you can.

Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas. Why would politicians replace a system that got them elected? They’ll talk about it when they’re out of power/office, sure…
(maybe if they could unite against a President Trump that they all hated?)

The closest I’ve seen was the Lib Dems managing to get a referendum on voting reform, which was sabotaged by the Conservatives, half-arsed and set up to fail by proposing an alternative nobody wanted. And then the idiotic British public voted to keep the current shitty system, and now complain about the Tory government that got into power because of the system they voted to keep, when they finally had a chance to start changing things.

I’ll link this again for relevance.


Are the people who voted for them really complaining? Or do they have their fingers stuck so deep in their ears and their heads buried so deep in the sand that literally nothing the Tories do could possibly penetrate through to whatever sense of betrayal they have left?

At this point, it seems like those same people are clamouring to deepen the failure by abandoning the EU, prop up ever more corrupt foreign money and thumb their noses at human rights whilst encouraging weapons manufacture and the war crimes that accompany the international sales of said weapons.

Heaven forbid Labour should get back into power, have you seen what the papers say about Corbyn!? He’ll ruin the country!


They’re not, but Labour and LibDem (and all other non-Tory) voters who voted to keep FPTP kinda deserve what they get (except it fucks us all over), because they voted to sustain a system that keeps the progressive majority out of government (and, much as I loathe them, UKIP should have more than 1 MP, too)


My bad, I kinda get carried away whenever the tories are mentioned! :smile:


Regarding focusing on local elections, by way of example, there is the Free State Project, (FTA) The Free State Project (FSP) is a political migration, founded in 2001, to recruit at least 20,000 libertarians to move to a single low-population state (New Hampshire, selected in 2003) in order to make the state a stronghold for libertarian ideas. […] As of February 3, 2016, 20,000 people have signed this statement of intent - completing the original goal- and 1,909 people are listed as “early movers” to New Hampshire on the FSP website, saying they had made their move prior to the 20,000-participant trigger.

People aligned with the Free State Project have been elected to two-year terms in the 400-member New Hampshire House of Representatives since 2006.

Approximately a dozen Free Staters were elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives in the 2012 election, and about 18 in the 2014 election.

Bottom line is: it’s still 1:1 of person to votes, so strategies like the FSP are indeed viable.

Don’t blame me, I voted in favour of changing the system, as did most of the rest of Oxford.


As someone who lives in Toronto… I can say for certain the turkeys do indeed vote for Christmas. Or at least they voted for Rob Ford…


Having one system which is supposed to be workable for millions of people is a horribly impractical idea, and always has been. It only ever works if you can convince huge masses of people that they have compatible goals and values, which of course they really don’t. There is no fair The System, what there are are ways to implement many smaller systems.

Likewise, there isn’t any need to tear anything down. What actually happens is that the older over-arching system simply becomes more permeable, and becomes one of many.


How do we dig ourselves out of this mess without hitting the ‘bloody revolution that will get attacked and discredited to the point of going nowhere without lots of people dying’ button?

You need to start wanting different things.
At this point, a fight is only about wrestling control from people who don’t have anyone’s best interest in mind, but after its over, people will still want Iphones and freedom and the only way to give it to them is to… Well, behave like the people in charge now.


I’m British, so my thoughts are general rather than specific to the US. But the UK/European system is equally broken, and the ideas are generally relevant.

The ‘system’ to which I think you are referring is a set of emergent properties arising from the interaction of simpler rules. It stands in relation to those rules in the way that bird flocking stands in relation to their basic (and unconscious) collision avoidance rules.

Some rules we know about e.g. interest rates, capital accumulation, etc. Some we don’t. Some interactions are obvious e.g. a system which permits private capital accumulation and in which power is proportional to capital will always polarise. Others are not.

Since we did not design ‘the system’, asking how it can be redesigned is not a valid question, any more than asking birds to flock in a different way is. The best we can do is ask how we can redesign the lower level operations from which any alternative system would emerge. The emerging and related fields of steady state economics and ecological economics are rich areas of investigation.

Finally, how might we get from ‘here’ to ‘there’ (see: “polarisation” above)? Unruh advances the compelling theory of ‘lock in’ which asserts that resistance to change is itself an emergent and necessary property of any stable complex system. Under these conditions, change is unlikely to come from within - an ‘exogenous’ (‘external to the system’) shock is required - financial, energy, social. We need a ‘goldilocks’ shock - big enough to drive change, not so big as to destroy the possibility of it. 2008 was one. We are in the early stages of the next.

The task of those of us who wish to prepare is to familiarise ourselves with and, to the greatest extent possible, prepare alternative operations from which the new system can emerge when the current one passes. The ‘Transition Movement’ is one such attempt.


We don’t have to wait for anything. We don’t need some magical revolution. We don’t even need anybody else to agree. We just need to create options that are more appealing than discrimination, unemployment, and being hated.

This specific forum is where a half of the conversation on this subject has been, and points to @Kimmo for helping keep things going. There’s a decent summary over at Operation Turning Scum Tide

In a nutshell, all the pieces are already in place, you just need to treat everything like what it can be used for rather than why it was made.

It’s completely feasible to create a scenario where somebody can walk up to a building and join a civilization of choice as easy as getting a job at McDs. If anything the legal rulesets corporations have (think of this as a stack of 3rd party D&D books ripe for exploitation) are abusively powerful and make things too easy. We just always needed either a critical mass of people and a really good presentation/video/article (working on it, but honestly I’m a do-er, not a show-er, though I’ve been looking for help) or else to just start the thing as a Valve+Mondragon+University+Home business and grow from there (Also working on it, I have a guy working on an elevator pitch this week)

Then it’s just a matter of taking a step to the left and getting an ‘awesome job’. No need to make it a big deal, and nobody who isn’t on the same page has to be involved. It’s addition by subtraction at that point.


Restore the House of Representatives to a representative body rather than a second Senate.

10x as many House Districts. That would dilute the money, and give us a good chance to use technology.

Would also give third parties a fighting chance.