Culture Change
14 July 2024
From the Middle Class to the Mutual Class PDF Print E-mail
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by Paul Glover   
16 November 2014
Image Americans have the tools and money to create an America where all workers are employed, whose every square mile is beautiful; whose cities are safe playgrounds for children; whose food is fresh and affordable; whose waters are clean from sea to crystal sea. An America run by Americans for Americans is fully capable of rebuilding all homes so they're earthquake-proof, hurricane-proof, tornado-proof, flood-proof, drought-proof, fireproof, and bank-proof. When Americans take control of money, we are wealthy enough to build an America where it's easy to stay healthy and to get healed; where costs of living get smaller and our lives get bigger.

What blocks these goals? Both Us and Them.

On the one hand, all of America's institutions have become too big to change. Like sumo wrestlers in a basketball game, they move too slow. Big Government, Big Oil, Big Insurance, Big Finance, Big Agriculture, Big Highway, Big Education, Big Military, Big Prison, Big Police, Big Poverty--these feed on disaster and control. They no longer exist primarily to fix problems, but to grow.

Then on the other hand, millions of us are employed by these institutions to enforce the past. Millions of us depend on their stocks. Many of us watch their commercials and obey their laws. Many prefer dull safety to risky action, even to save America. We drive straight, even when the road curves.

Therefore the American economy wallows like a car stuck deep in mud with an elephant sitting on the roof, dragged by a lazy donkey, going nowhere but deeper.

As a result, the Middle Class dream has become a burden sinking millions through mortgage, insurance, utilities, tuition, credit card fees, cars and fashion. Consumerism by liberals and conservatives alike has depleted America's essential resources and our national sovereignty.

The next American generations will never achieve Middle Class excess. That standard merely rubs it in. Fortunately, though, Millennials can become a prosperous Mutual Class by starting genuinely nonprofit mutual aid systems that enable them to live well by sharing resources. Such programs were widespread and successful one hundred years ago.

Through them we create millions of jobs that revive our neighborhoods. We give ourselves raises by lowering prices. And all our current skills are employed while we enjoy new talents. Young and old, we will become the government as we create these regional food systems and regional stock exchanges, establish green co-housing programs and green labor administrations, reduce dependence on fossil fuels toward zero, replace automobile space with train and bike space, convert vacant urban land into greenhouses and orchards, develop co-operative health plans and clinics, issue our own education credentials and our own community money.

Such local systems prepare us to take power by creating parallel authority. By taking power together we regain time for creative individuality. We move from dependence to ownership.

The Mutual Class will also pioneer Mutual Enterprise--local businesses committed to community, ecology, and social justice.

Let's look at a sample Mutual Day. We start with sex and music, then breakfast. We walk or bike to work, four days per week. After three hours work, we return home for a long lunch and sex, or we eat with co-workers: we discuss work plans, utility and durability of product, marketing, sales, prices and wages. Then two more hours of work. We have time and energy for an afternoon stroll or game, then prepare dinner, make music, make love (Why so much sex? Because we're relaxed). We finish with an evening stroll in our beautiful neighborhood.

To achieve such better dreams, Americans must at the same time confront anti-American institutions. Laws that forbid urgent change are a cage for us to die in. Regulations must be broken when they block American liberation from debt, layoffs, foreclosure and bankruptcy, earthquakes, tornados, floods, heat waves, cold snaps, blackouts and traffic jams.

This is merely the revolutionary American tradition that ended slavery, gained votes for women, won the eight-hour workday, secured civil rights, and started this nation. By contrast, conferences and elections are powerless displays.

Yet the most direct path to deflate bad authority is to withdraw personal dependence. Time to leave the car in the mud and get back on track. Use train, bike or feet rather than car. Shop less and shop local. Move your money into a local bank or credit union. Insulate your housing. Be a creator, not a consumer. Eat less meat or none. Have one or fewer children.

The next America will look entirely different than the one we know. We'll have fun building it and our grandchildren will thank us. America went to the moon. Now America will go to the future.

* * * * *

Paul Glover

Paul Glover is founder of Ithaca HOURS local currency, Philadelphia Orchard Project (POP), League of Uninsured Voters (LUV), Citizen Planners of Los Angeles , Patch Adams Free Clinic, Ithaca Health Alliance and a dozen more groups that transfer power to America's grassroots. He is author of Health Democracy, Green Jobs Philly, Hometown Money, A Crime Not a Crisis. Contact him: paul5glover "at"
The above essay appeared originally on Paul's webpage on November 16, 2014.

Comments (5)Add Comment
What a fabulous article. I appreciate your brilliant metaphors. The stalled car, elephant and donkey, hokey smokes. And the optimism. "Yet the most direct path to deflate bad authority is to withdraw personal dependence." Yes.
Kathy McKinney
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Very good article, From the Middle Class to the Mutual Class. Despite denial, it's quite possible
to end poverty and misery in America and develop sustainable societies. In the third paragraph,
I would like to see 3 words added: BIG FOREIGN WARS, alongside Big Military.
These wars sure are messing up the world! - Kay Weir
Editor, Pacific Ecologist
The Pacific Institute of Resource Management
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"To the BIG list you can add Food, Pharma, Energy, and my "favorite:" Technology (yuck), the juggernaut bandwagon upon which even the so-called progressives among us have jumped aboard and embraced with unquestioning passion and allegiance. It is now not considered un-American but rather insane to even utter a questioning word about the downside of what now seems to dominate much of everyone's daily life.
"I applaud the ambitious and optimistic vision that Paul Glover puts forward and would embrace such a world with open arms. I just have to wonder if the vast majority of humans (esp. Americans) are ready for such a radical yet sane and necessary, if not altogether inevitable, shift. Or is that just little 'ole cynical me who has lived so long as to have witnessed humanity's unfailing folly?"
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Yes there is optimism and humor in this article. The words create jobs. We are very trained individuals. We are trained very well to conform, comply, obey and so on. I think we need to be careful that we simply don't recreate what we already have but with new terminology. I think we need to look at human relations and the lack of truly quality human relations. We have been functioning from the small intellect for a very too long. How to transcend this condition ? I think we might remain automatons walking in place in quick-sand.

I think we need to transcend the concepts of competition and truly understand real cooperation. We need to hang up our hatred and animosities and so many forms of violence small and large. I to think we can get beyond this wretched state we've been in for over 600 years. I have no answers. If I did, I might be viewed as a leader or an authority and I think we need to transcend the concepts of leaders and followers; perhaps more than any form of behavior we have practiced for too long which includes traditional religious concepts that are nothing more than desperation, fear, guilt and of course business. There is so much more that is necessary to become conscious, to become human. We must learn responsibility for ourselves and all living things. We must learn how to respond as well. Too many people are left hanging out to dry because people do not know how to respond. And so on and so forth. j
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All this is a real "pick me up", after the contemporary daily grind. It gives me Hope, to see such ideas and feelings still alive in this increasingly insane world.

But Donkeys and Elephants are wonderful Creatures and I dislike seeing them used as symbols for the two political sides of the vile capitalist coin. I feel the same about the words "Democracy" and "Republic" being used, as as betrayed concepts, by these two abominations too. Things monstrous and poisonous should be their imagery.

I will do what I can, to be of the sweet and fine New America. I thank "Crea" for Human Endeavors like "Culture Change".
Dan 1 (Scolos Narbarson)
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