Regarding the article “Labor and Environmental Leaders Move Beyond Differences to a Common Vision” by James Gustave Speth and Joe Uehlein, the authors acknowledge that leaders in the two movements have found little common ground over the past several decades. The authors acknowledge the need to build common ground between these movements, and they cite progress made. They also list a set of goals that require solidarity between the two groups.
But I will describe here why there should be such a movement of these groups to a common vision, why it hadn’t happened in the past, how to predict their rate of progress, how members may or may not actually benefit from it, and how the movement could be springboarded to achieve a kind of people’s nirvana rarely conceived.
The labor and environmental movements in America over the past several decades existed in a socio-economic culture, like citizens always have, like other movements and organizations did. Socio-economic culture greatly influences people and organizations. Culture may be described as a set of prominent, popular, prevailing ideas. Ideas may prevail without being the best ideas for the people. Ideas are propagated by people with agendas, which may or may not be the best agendas for the people. Those movements were severely limited by a culture of greed in America over the past several decades.
But what is the best agenda for the people? Individualism, collectivism, or some hybrid of the two? We see that individualism breeds competition which discounts the contribution of all but the most talented, or motivated individuals. So as it marginalizes the great majority, we see that individualism doesn’t really stand by itself. Collectivism, on the other hand, is more easily lost on people because it requires more thought, and is easily diminished by primitive gratifications. This suggests that in the idea space, collectivism should be subsidized, if we presume that thoughtfuness will yield more than primitive gratifications.
Having established collectivism as the higher ideal, we now ask how the labor and environmental movements have supported this ideal. And we find both have extremely narrow agendas that barely start to reinforce collectivism. Organized labor is concerned almost exclusively with the primitive gratification of economic power. We will see that economic power is fundamental to the people but only as an integral element of a greater whole. Environmentalism accomplishes little at all toward any collectivist agenda.
Collectivism unites people around all of their better interests. There is little chance for error in this pursuit. Collectivism includes localism, because collectivism is concerned with the people’s collective interests, which localism addresses. Localism is a philosophy that much more clearly articulates the way the people can achieve their nirvana, so we will use the dichotomy of localism versus elitism in the rest of this article, in place of collectivism versus individualism.
To achieve their nirvana, the people need sustained fulfillment and this requires integration with nature, and it requires a culture of personal empowerment. Universal enlightenment, solidarity, equity and justice are the four pillars of the people’s nirvana, and integration with nature and personal empowerment are the means toward these. For example, a group of personally empowered people who can appreciate their vital connection with nature will naturally seek solidarity with each other, and the rest of the four pillars as well.
So when the labor and environmental movements collapse into the People’s Movement as they naturally should, nature will be taken care of automatically, as the people will appreciate nature for its vital role in their lives. And economic power will be the people’s, naturally, because the definition of a whole life, for everyone, will include active participation, by everyone, in nurturing the local economy. This is the People’s Movement, and environmental and labor leaders should yield wholly to the people, and get behind the people, and make sure they do not any longer distract the people, or hold the people back. There is no more excuse for infighting on the left. Infighting cannot be on the left. It amounts to elite sabotage of the people’s agenda. The people are coming to know this and a lot more, these days. Exciting times for the people ahead.