What Can I Do?

Sat, Mar 17, 2007

Articles, Against Pessimism

What Can I Do?

by Susan Rosenthal

POWER and Powerlessness explains how the majority is kept powerless and how much power we could have if we pulled together. But where do we start? The problems are so big, and we are so divided.

The first step is to recognize that you are not alone and that your problems are not your fault.

Others feel the same

Most people feel the same fear, anger, pain and confusion that you do. And, just like you, they think they are the only ones who feel that way.

Powerful social pressures prevent us from sharing our true thoughts and feelings, so most people suffer in silence, distracting themselves with work, drugs, TV, shopping, etc. Some reveal their secret pain to doctors and other counselors who are sworn to confidentiality, which only re-enforces the shame. If we shared the truth with one another, we would know that we are not alone.

The hardships in your life are not your fault

You’ve been robbed. Thirty years ago, the media declared that automation would provide more leisure time than people would know what to do with. Today, the average person works longer and harder because the benefits of automation have not been shared.

Capitalism is a system of organized thievery, where a few enrich themselves by depriving everyone else. If the height of the Washington Monument (555 feet) represented the average income of the top 500 American CEOs, the average American worker’s income would be 16 inches tall in comparison.

You deserve to have your needs met

People in bad situations often blame themselves. When you can’t make ends meet, when your job makes you sick, when you feel unappreciated and alone, you assume that there must be something wrong with you. The elite who hoard the world’s wealth don’t want you blaming them. Instead of sharing, they insist that it is shameful to be needy.

There’s nothing wrong with being needy. The problem is not getting your needs met.

What is produced by humanity should belong to humanity. What any one deserves, all deserve. Virtually every personal and social problem could be solved by providing people with what they need and deserve. This will never happen until we organize to make it happen.


POWER and Powerlessness can be used as an organizing tool. You can bring the book to work, to school, to a book club, or discuss it with a co-worker, friend or family member. You’ll be surprised at the relief that most people feel when they discover that their problems are not unique and not their fault.

It’s important to find an active organization that you can join. If you can’t find one, build one. Everything has to begin somewhere, and even the mighty river begins as a trickle. Find others to work with, and join forces based on what you can agree on. Aim to find more people every day.

In the past, mass movements have won us civil rights, women’s rights, union rights and every other right worth having. We need to build an even bigger mass movement that can not only stop the war and win universal health care, but will challenge all the inequalities and injustices of the capitalist system.

The ruling elite discourage protests and demonstrations, because they fear our collective power. They want the exclusive right to decide what happens to our world.

Pessimists say that demonstrations don’t do anything. That’s not true. Demonstrations are a public display of mass cooperation. People who come together for a common purpose gain a sense of hope and power.

Of course, organizing is difficult. It’s much easier to give up and remain isolated. But nothing good comes of that. The world just gets sicker, and so do we. We need to turn this around.

We can build a better world.

The people we are supposed to hate want to live and raise their families in peace, just like we do. The real threat to our security comes from those who divide us in order to rule us.

So, let’s work together to get rid of this rotten system and build ourselves a new one that can meet ALL of our needs.

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