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My better half and I were watching Warren Beatty’s Reds on Netflix the other night, and as our marvelous wireless society so often tempts us, we downloaded Ten Days That Shook The World by John Reed free on kindle, and Lenin’s A Letter To American Workingmen, also free. Here are the two money quotes that practically lept off the screen at me:

By developing the productive forces of organized human labor, by utilizing machines and all the wonders of technique America has taken the first place among free and civilized nations. But at the same time America, like a few other nations, has become characteristic for the depth of the abyss that divide a handful of brutal millionaires who are stagnating in a mire of luxury, and millions of laboring starving men and women who are always staring want in the face.    - Lenin
The speculators took advantage of the universal disorganization to pile up fortunes, and to spend them in fantastic revelry or the corruption of government officials. Foodstuffs and fuel were hoarded, or secretly sent out of the country to Sweden.    - John Reed
So 100 years and nothing’s changed in political theory, or political reality, for that matter. The gulf is still there, and no one doubts for a moment that the wealthy would hoard and keep medicine and food from the poor.

Which brings me to the dreaded the S word:  sustainability. Some claim it is a meaningless term, in that it simplifies many compound and complex problems. Be that as it may, just like the Russian revolution, nothing will happen until we’re forced into dismantling the old industrial complex and build an ecologically sustainable economy. To begin, I suggest buckling down and securing basic human rights to access to water and locally produced food stuffs, and then embracing a new minimalism by removing the demand for consumption of useless products. Ah, yes, it all sounds so simple. The ramblings of an old man shouting revolutionary slogans. But the old, see, have little left to lose, and will be the first to be cast aside.

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