HERE IS AN ACCOUNT (UPDATED PERIODICALLY) OF MY ATTEMPT TO BUILD AN EGALITARIAN REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT IN MY LITTLE NEIGHBORHOOD OF BOSTON, MA (USA)

 

 

 

Below are email communications between me, John Spritzler, the editor of this website, and the leaders (Chair and Vice Chair) of the Brighton Allston Community Coalition. For more background information about the BACC and the Allston-Brighton neighborhood click here.

[Click here to read The Boston Bulletin newspaper article about this (it starts at the bottom of page 1)]

I sent the following as an email on May 6th and 7th, 2019 to the BACC steering committee members and founders.

 

Click here to jump below to the email exchanges on and after  May 20, 2019, in which I tell the BACC steering committee Chairperson that I hope the BACC steering committee will promote a robust discussion among the BACC membership about whether the BACC should declare that it is for removing the rich from power to have real, not fake, democracy with no rich and no poor, and in which the BACC Vice Chair (with the approval of the Chair) makes it clear that they absolutely will not allow such a conversation to take place at the present time.

Click here to jump to page 2 to see emails in June, 2019 including from other neighbors about "removing the rich from power."

 

The BACC leadership explicitly admits that it prohibits (and blocks) any speech by BACC members on the organization's email group if it even hints to be about why the BACC should also be for removing the rich from power to have real, not fake, democracy with no rich and no poor. The BACC leadership does this in spite of the fact that 1021 people (two-thirds of the BACC membership) signed a statement saying they wanted the BACC to declare its support for this larger goal. The BACC leadership is absolutely anti-democratic! Such anti-democratic leadership is exactly what the ruling class counts on to protect its great wealthy and privilege and power.

 

DEAR BACC FOUNDERS & STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBERS:

I  recently (February, 2019) began inviting residents of Allston-Brighton to join the BACC by signing the following statement (with their printed name and street address and, in many cases, their email address or telephone number included, on the form that is online here):

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NO RICH AND NO POOR

We the undersigned joined (or are hereby joining) the Brighton Allston Community Coalition (BACC) because its goals, including adequate affordable housing and good public transportation and an end to gentrification, are part of our larger goal: removing the rich from power to have real, not fake, democracy with no rich and no poor. We hope that the BACC will declare that it also aims for this larger goal; that would make us be even more enthusiastic members of it.

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So far, 1021 Allston-Brighton residents have signed this statement (referred to below as "the 'No Rich and No Poor' statement") and have thereby joined the BACC, constituting, I believe, a very large majority of the current BACC membership. I told every person who signed that before they could sign they had to read the entire statement so they would know with what they were signing their agreement. I also gave every signer the BACC mission statement (online here) after they signed, as requested by Joanne D'Alcomo, and I have given the signed statements to her, with an indication of which people said they were already a BACC member (only 6 said so.)

I wish to call your attention to the reasons why I believe it would be both wise for the BACC, in terms of accomplishing its currently stated aims, and wonderful for most people in general, if the BACC did what these new members say they hope it will do and say they would be more enthusiastic members if it did do: declare that the BACC also aims to remove the rich from power to have real, not fake, democracy with no rich and no poor (which is what I call an egalitarian revolution, discussed in more detail here.)

My reasons for believing this are presented in summary form below, with links to supporting articles that I have written and which I hope you will also read. This decision for the BACC is so important that its consideration merits taking the time to read these articles.

I also request that you and I meet together to converse about how to respond to the fact that so many people have signed the 'No Rich and No Poor' statement.

WHO SIGNED THE 'NO RICH AND NO POOR' STATEMENT, AND WHO DID NOT?

The signers are all people whom I encountered while standing in a public place in Allston-Brighton and saying to passers-by, "Hi there. This is about getting more affordable, not just luxury, housing built in Allston and Brighton. If you live there and if you agree with this statement (I show them the sign-up form) then I would like you to sign this."

These public places included the following: The entrance to the Star Market on Western Ave and the Stop & Shop Market on Everett St.; the entrance to the CVS store in Brighton Center and the CVS store at 1266 Commonwealth Ave.; the entrance to the Brighton post office and the Allston post office; the sidewalk in front of the laundromat next to the Brighton post office; the sidewalks of residential streets (in the evening when people were returning home from work) in the area near Cleveland Circle and in the area near Brighton Center.

The signers are a good mix of people both young and old, home owners and renters and also students. A small number also could only speak a non-English language and signed after reading a computer-translated version of the 'No Rich and No Poor' statement (mostly Chinese or Spanish.)

Importantly, about 90% of the people who stopped to read the 'No Rich and No Poor' statement signed it without any persuasion required at all; the typical comment by somebody after reading it (as I always insisted they do) was, "Where do I sign?" For these people, the need to "remove the rich from power" and have "no rich and no poor" is a no-brainer; these people--the ones who stop in response to a greeting about needing more affordable, not just luxury, housing built--are exactly the people whom the BACC is seeking to organize.

Of the approximately 10% of people who did stop to read the 'No Rich and No Poor' statement but then did not sign it, the reasons for not signing included, in the great majority of cases, things that were not a disagreement with it's goal, such as: "I'm afraid my landlord will see my name" and "I'm afraid of identity theft if I give my address and name together," "I need to research it more," "I never sign anything" and "I don't want to join an organization." One person said, "I'm afraid if I sign I will not be accepted into the bar (to be a lawyer)." Only rarely did people express actual disagreement. Two people said, essentially, that  they wanted some rich and some poor. One person said, "I'm too much a Republican to sign this." One person said, "Capitalism with some rich and some poor  is good because it made us the wealthiest nation." I replied that he was in the minority in having that view. He replied, "Yes, I know."

What about the people who didn't read the statement?

While many people did not stop to read the 'No Rich and No Poor' statement, there is no reason to think the reason they didn't stop was necessarily disagreement with it; the reason was fairly obvious in most cases, that they were in a hurry or focused on personal issues [often totally absorbed in what they were hearing with the headphones they wore], or assumed I was asking for money, or--as a fair number told me--felt that it was hopeless to try to win more affordable housing. It is safe to say that the vast majority of people in Allston-Brighton want more affordable, not just luxury, housing built.

Some people didn't read the statement (quite a few, actually) because they didn't speak English or didn't live in Allston-Brighton; many just walked by and ignored me. Some said "I'm all set," [I replied by saying, "this is to help people who are not all set," and occasionally the person then signed].

Some (now and then) said they didn't want more housing to be built--affordable or otherwise; one person said that affordable housing is a bad idea because it just means letting people live for free. One person said he opposed affordable housing because he "didn't want those kind of people living here." One person told me that the free market works perfectly and we shouldn't interfere with it. One person said whether there was affordable housing or not made no difference to him. There is for sure a small but very real minority of people who are essentially anti-egalitarian. The point is that they are a small minority.

What about people who said, "I voted for Trump"?

A handful of people told me very proudly, "I voted for Trump." Interestingly, however, about half of these pro-Trump people signed the 'No Rich and No Poor' statement.

Those who signed represent thousands more like them in Allston-Brighton.

The only thing required to recruit LOTS more members to the BACC who agree with the 'No Rich and No Poor' statement is simply the time and effort to do it. The fact that I, by myself, could easily find more than a thousand Allston-Brighton residents who wanted to sign the "No Rich and No Poor" statement means that such people are extremely plentiful. We are literally surrounded by Allston-Brighton residents who want an egalitarian revolution and who hope that the BACC will declare that this is part of its goal too--i.e., who hope that the BACC will become an explicitly egalitarian revolutionary organization, not just a reform organization as it is currently. (The egalitarian revolutionary aspiration shared by the vast majority of ordinary people is censored by the rich owners of the mass media; this aspiration is NEVER expressed on T.V. or the radio or in newspapers and magazines that create the mental image we have of the general public's views about our society. This is why the tremendously positive response of Allston-Brighton residents to the 'No Rich and No Poor' statement may seem hard for some to believe. I therefore urge skeptics to do what I did and find out for themselves how people respond to the 'No Rich and No Poor' statement.)

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

 

If the BACC does what these new members are asking it to do--declare that it is also for removing the rich from power to have real, not fake, democracy with no rich and no poor--and thus becomes an explicitly egalitarian revolutionary organization it will be--as far as I know--the first organization in the United States with a large (relative to the size of the population it recruits members from) membership to do this in at least one hundred years. The BACC leadership will have thus given historically momentous and praiseworthy leadership to all Americans.

WHY IT WOULD BE BOTH VERY WISE AND WONDERFUL FOR THE BACC TO DO WHAT SO MANY BACC MEMBERS HOPE IT WILL DO

1.

 

The great response to the 'No Rich and No Poor' statement shows that the BACC would GAIN, not lose, support from the general public if it became an egalitarian revolutionary organization. Most people in the general public know full well that we live in a fake democracy that is actually a dictatorship of the rich. They know that this is why "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" and why even winning modest reforms such as more affordable housing is nigh on impossible as long as the rich remain in power. (Indeed this pessimism is the very reason that many of those who didn't stop to read the 'No Rich and No Poor' statement didn't do so and why some who did read it didn't sign it.) And people know that whatever we may win one day the rich somehow take away the next (Amazon owner, Jeff Bezos, just did this as reported here.) This is why many people are less than enthusiastic in their support for a reform organization that ignores rather than aims to seriously address the problem at its root: that we live in a fake democracy in which the rich have the real power.

 

By advocating not only for good reforms (such as more affordable housing) but for egalitarian revolution as well, the BACC would, in contrast to merely reform organizations, be seen by people as an inspiring organization that was serious about winning what people really want and not afraid to say what the real obstacle is that needs to be overcome.

2

As an egalitarian revolutionary organization the BACC would be far more persuasive than a merely reform BACC in refuting the arguments that Big Money uses to oppose what the BACC is fighting for. (Read more about this here and here.)

 

Briefly, Big Money arguments rest on the premise that our capitalist profit-driven system is the "only game in town." Big Money admits it's not an ideal system, but asserts that it's the one we have, and if an enterprise isn't maximally profitable then investors won't invest in it. When the BACC makes demands (such as for more affordable units in a new development) and the developer can show that this conflicts with making the maximum profit, how can the BACC respond?

 

The BACC can argue that the developer really can make maximum profit with more affordable units, but this is a weak argument that is often hard to make. The far more persuasive argument--for the people we are trying to mobilize, that is--is to boldly reject the premise that profitability matters by advocating for an egalitarian society that is not based on money and profit but rather on the egalitarian economic principle of "From each according to reasonable ability, to each according to need or reasonable desire with scarce things equitably rationed according to need" (a principle that the vast majority of the public already thinks is the morally right principle.)

 

An egalitarian society can work wonderfully economically this way. I discuss here how it did so in half of Spain in 1936-9. I discuss here how such a society can easily function in a thoroughly democratic and desirable way. If the BACC advanced such an argument and mobilized all of its members and the general public this way, Big Money would lose its current ability to make people grudgingly accept the logic of profit, as so many feel obliged to do today.

3.

As an egalitarian revolutionary organization the BACC would be far more able to unify different groups of residents, such as renters and home-owners and students. To see why in some detail, click here and  here and here. Briefly, the conflicts (some of which are indeed very real) between renters and owners and between students and long term residents result from the fact that our society is not an egalitarian one. Only in the context of aiming for an egalitarian society can these conflicts be prevented from undermining our unity. The ruling class is very skilled at dividing us against each other on the basis of the real conflict of interests that exist in society as it now is structured. For example, rent control pits small owners against tenants and, because it doesn't replace our for-profit economy with an egalitarian one, it doesn't actually result in adequate affordable housing, as the comments on Jeff Jacoby's Boston Globe column on that subject make quite evident.

4.

By telling the wider general public (beyond even Brighton & Allston) that an egalitarian revolutionary aspiration is the REASON the BACC is fighting for adequate affordable housing and good public transportation and an end to gentrification, the BACC would gain enormous support from people elsewhere who may not even have any particular concern about affordable housing, etc., in Brighton and Allston. Why? Because it would let everybody in the wider general public who also has this egalitarian revolutionary aspiration see that they have a strong reason to support the BACC because it is fighting for what they too so dearly want--an egalitarian society with real, not fake, democracy and no rich and no poor.

 

The BACC would thus gain more enthusiastic support from people everywhere if it explained in its outreach that the REASON it wants to win its modest reform demands for things such as adequate affordable housing is because these reforms, as limited as they are, will make society be at least a little bit closer to the thoroughly egalitarian (no-rich-and-no-poorgenuinely democratic, mutual-aid-based) way it ought to be. 

WE CAN SOLVE THE PROBLEM AT ITS ROOT, NOT JUST AIM FOR BAND AID REFORMS

5.

 

Once organizations such as the BACC become openly egalitarian revolutionary organizations, people will start to see that not only do  LOTS of people want such a revolution but that growing numbers of people are so determined to make it happen that they are organizing for that very purpose. As awareness of this determination spreads, the egalitarian revolutionary movement will be on the road to gaining strength and confidence. People will see that egalitarian revolution is not just a nice but impossible pipe dream but something that is truly POSSIBLE and worth devoting time and energy to building the movement for it. This, and only this, makes it possible to one day abolish class inequality and thereby make our society truly equal and democratic.

Egalitarian revolutionary organizations--unlike all others!--can do things to make the vision of an egalitarian society clear, persuasive, exciting and inspiring. They can promote a grand public conversation about how society can and ought to be so much better than it is today, and not anti-democratic like Communist or Socialist nations (read here why Marxist regimes are so anti-democratic). They can create venues and opportunities for people to talk with each other about the wonderful changes they will make once they have removed the rich from power and have genuine democracy.

 

An inspiring vision shared by LOTS of people will emerge, a vision of a world in which the big social decisions are made by the vast majority of people who value no-rich-and-no-poor equality and mutual aid. (Read about some of the things this visionary conversation might include here. For example, here's an egalitarian "Notice" (pdf) about how and why squatting would be legal and small landlords would be better off than they are today.) This widely shared and openly discussed egalitarian revolutionary vision will make it clear that egalitarianism is not some impossible Utopia that could never exist until all humans become saints. No! It is simply the way the vast majority of people can make society be when they, not a small minority of greedy domineering a**holes, have the real power for a change.

 

This vision makes the goal of egalitarian revolution stop seeming "nice but impossible" and start seeming like the  no-brainer goal to aim for that it truly is. When lots of people start to see see it that way, it becomes possible to build a truly massive and determined egalitarian revolutionary movement that can actually remove the rich from power, as discussed here.

This is in contrast to the present situation in which there are virtually no organizations of a substantial size in the United States that call for egalitarian revolution, and the rich who own or control the mass media censor any expression of egalitarian revolutionary aspiration on TV or radio and in newspapers and magazines. This censorship of, and silence about, the egalitarian revolutionary aspirations of people makes people assume that hardly anybody else wants an egalitarian revolution. It makes people believe that therefore it is futile to even think about making such a revolution happen. It makes people believe that anybody who advocates egalitarian revolution will be perceived by most other people as crazy--or worse--so it's better to keep one's mouth shut on this topic.

The BACC could make it so that imagining a better and totally possible world and talking with neighbors about it would be fun, unifying, exciting and inspirational--no longer viewed as a taboo activity that one should never be caught doing. This is what can make it possible to build the kind of truly massive movement that can one day truly and thoroughly win the reforms we're fighting for such as affordable housing for all--by removing the rich from power.

​6.

 

The existence of even a single egalitarian revolutionary organization of any substantial size--as the BACC might become--gives enormous encouragement to people elsewhere to create another egalitarian revolutionary organization in their own town or neighborhood. Allston-Brighton happens to be a mostly white and mostly white collar demographic--not the demographic particularly associated with revolutionary discontent. This means that people elsewhere will know that if we could create a large egalitarian revolutionary organization here then they can probably do it where they live too. This is what can lead to LOTS of egalitarian revolutionary organizations coming into existence.

This in turn will result in hundreds of millions of people in the United States (and other nations too!) discovering that they are in the vast majority in wanting an egalitarian revolution and being organized to act on a large scale for that goal. No longer will people be isolated individuals or at best members of non-revolutionary organizations that the rulers have no reason to fear and no reason to give in to their demands. This is how people can act in solidarity on a large scale in defense of the egalitarian values of no-rich-and-no-poor equality and mutual aid.

 

This is how an egalitarian revolutionary movement can grow large enough and determined enough to win over to its side a critical mass of the members of the military and police forces and thereby actually remove the rich from power (i.e., solve the problem at its root), as discussed here and begin making our society truly equal and democratic the way most people want it to be, and the way the billionaire ruling class works so hard to prevent it from being.

ADDRESSING THE ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE BACC BECOMING AN EGALITARIAN REVOLUTIONARY ORGANIZATION

Argument #1. If the BACC becomes an explicitly egalitarian revolutionary organization it will anger powerful people, such as the mayor and/or Big Money donors, who otherwise might help us gain our reform goals.

Yes, it is undeniably true that rich (and hence powerful) people do not befriend or support (financially or otherwise) explicitly egalitarian revolutionary organizations (which by definition aim to remove the rich from power and have no rich and no poor.) The question is, What conclusion should we draw from this fact?

Here is why I think the BACC should become an explicitly egalitarian revolutionary organization despite this fact.

If the BACC decides not to become an explicitly egalitarian revolutionary organization in order to successfully gain the support of rich and powerful people, then it will commit itself to being an organization that a) never seriously makes the ruling elite fear it and thus never wins substantial long-term reforms AND b) keeps people busy NOT aiming to solve our problems at the root (by removing the rich from power) and instead focused forever on mere band aid solutions for a cancerous problem.

A good nearby example of this is the otherwise very good reform organization in Jamaica Plain called City Life/Vida Urbana, which focuses on fighting gentrification by helping poor people resist being evicted from their apartments. City Life uses a combination of lawyers in court and occasional demonstrations during a forced eviction to prevent evictions. It succeeds sometimes and fails other times. It has been doing this since the 1970s. City Life/Vida Urbana has two "Our Vision" paragraphs on its website that say:

"We at City Life/Vida Urbana embrace a vision of a society and world where there is: peace among nations and peoples; respect for our cultural, racial and sexual diversity; cooperation rather than competition; no extremes of wealth or poverty; respect for nature and the condition of the environment for ourselves and future generations; production that serves the needs of the many rather than the greed of the few; as well as a guarantee that each person has the right to food, housing, health care, education, meaningful employment, and the right to exist in freedom without fear of displacement or deportation. 

"We understand that these changes will not happen spontaneously. We hope to be part of a city, state, national, and international movement that believes in a similar vision and is prepared to build organizations and leadership that it will take to create this new world."

Unfortunately, however, while this vision could be construed to mean no rich and no poor it could also be construed to mean simply reducing the gap between the rich and poor ("no extremes of wealth or poverty"). Also, the phrase "meaningful employment" suggests that some people will still be employers and others (most people) their employees, in a society still based on wage labor and the inherent unequal status of employers and their "hired help" in that kind of society--the same as today. This vision is hardly a clear and inspiring vision of an egalitarian society with genuine democracy in the workplace and in society overall, but rather an ambiguous vision that is consistent with simply a reformed capitalist society with an upper class of employers and a lower class of employees just like today.

But even if one chooses to construe this vision in the most egalitarian way, the problem is that City Life/Vida Urbana does not make this vision, construed as egalitarian, the focus of its day-to-day activity; it just buries it (in an ambiguous form) on its web site. It doesn't use this vision to mobilize people and to challenge the legitimacy of the "capitalism/realism" arguments that are used against people denied affordable housing and evicted when they can't pay a high rent. It doesn't engage in activities to make the vision widely understood (for example by showing concretely how it would change specific aspects of society such as housing and medical care, etc.) and perceived as totally practical and desirable. It doesn't explain why the vision is different from Communism, which is well known to be extremely anti-democratic. The absence of such vision-focused activity reflects the fact that the vision is not taken seriously and is on the website mainly just  to make leftists happy.

Has City Life/Vida Urbana stopped gentrification or even slowed down gentrification in Jamaica Plain? No.

A 2017 news article about Jamaica Plain reports, "However, gentrification seems to have sped up in the past decade. According to the Boston Planning and Development Agency, rent in Jamaica Plain has increased by 15-percent between 2014 and 2016."

An earlier 2011 article about gentrification in Jamaica Plain reports on a community meeting to oppose it. The speakers included Steve Meacham, the Organizing Coordinator of City Life. Some of the speakers pointed out that capitalism is the root of the problem, but none of them advocated ending capitalism or, equivalently, removing the rich from power. Instead they only spoke of band aid solutions such as a "speculation tax."

Organizations such as City Life that refuse to clearly and explicitly and boldly advocate removing the rich from power to have real, not fake, democracy with no rich and no poor, get big funding from Big Money, as I wrote about here in 2014. Specifically, City Life/Vida Urbana, in addition to other Big Money funding, also received $150,000 in 2013 from billionaire George Soros's (personally worth $8.3 billion) Open Society Foundation, whose website states the following:

"To provide a tie-off to solidify the gains made from the replication of the CityLife/Vida Urbana’s Bank Tenant Association (BTA) organizing model. In the two years since OSF originally funded CL/VU to expand its organizing model to other communities in the Boston region and train organizers in other cities across the country on post-foreclosure defense strategies, CL/VU’s BTA campaign has become a national model for community-led responses to the foreclosure crisis."

 

By one measure, City Life's refusal to be an egalitarian revolutionary organization has paid off big time. It now has a lot of paid staff and can afford to rent an office for them at 284 Amory St. This is great for people who have turned the problem of gentrification into a solution to their personal problem of how to get a job that pays one to "fight the good fight." But there is a huge downside:

City Life/Vida Urbana, in order to keep its Big Money funding, must keep people--the very ones who are most oppressed in our society and most likely to start thinking about building an egalitarian revolutionary movement--busy NOT building an explicitly egalitarian revolutionary movement. It thus keeps people on the treadmill of defeat, where they will be fighting unjust evictions--winning sometimes and losing others--forever and ever and ever, and never solving the Big Problem--that we live in a dictatorship of the rich--at its root with the Big Solution of egalitarian revolution. As I discuss in my article, "Why Be Openly Revolutionary?," history shows that when it comes to anti-establishment movements, they can win what they explicitly aim to win, but no more than that. If they don't explicitly aim to remove the rich from power, then the rich remain in power and the consequent suffering persists. If the BACC, like City Life/Vida Urbana, chose to leave the rich in power it would make the rich very happy.

But would it make us happy?

Argument #2. If the BACC becomes an egalitarian revolutionary organization then we increase the risk that powerful people (the rich) will use violent repression against us and there may be bloodshed and innocent people killed or injured.

Yes, it is true that building an egalitarian revolutionary movement increases the risk of violent repression. The question is, again, what conclusion should we draw from this fact.

The first point to consider is this. It is extremely unlikely that the ruling elite would use violent repression against the BACC if the BACC declares it is for "removing the rich from power to have real, not fake, democracy with no rich and no poor." Making such a declaration is a perfectly legal thing to do, just as it was legal for people to sign the 'No Rich and No Poor' statement. If the BACC did this and the rulers then used violence against the BACC the rulers would be viewed by the general public as totally in the wrong; this is something the rulers want to avoid at all costs because it would severely undermine what remains of the legitimacy they require to stay in power.

The next KEY point to consider is this. Nothing makes the rulers more willing to grant our short term demands--for things such as adequate affordable housing--than a growing egalitarian revolutionary movement that makes them fear there will one day be revolution unless they grant such demands. (Read here how this is what made FDR implement the New Deal, and read here why this--and only this!--is what made LBJ force through the 1964 Civil Rights Act.)

 

When the rulers see the BACC gaining members and enthusiastic support on the basis of being an openly egalitarian revolutionary organization, they will start to fear what will happen if they continue to ignore the BACC and refuse to grant its demands the way they do today. Until then, the rich will continue to treat us like dirt, the way they treat all ordinary people that way--to make us "know our place" at the bottom of a very unequal society (read more about this here.)

Making the rulers fear us, fear what will happen if they don't grant our demands, is the only way, historically, that people have gained substantial improvements such as Social Security and unemployment compensation (in FDR's New Deal.)

 

Some people, however, say that it's a big mistake to try to make the rulers fear us. They say that doing this, even if we stay within the law, might still cause the rulers to use violent repression, and we should not do anything that increases this risk, no matter how minimally it may do so. This point requires serious consideration.

As I discuss in great detail in my article, "WHAT DID IT TAKE TO MAKE FDR'S NEW DEAL HAPPEN, AND WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO MAKE BERNIE SANDERS'S NEW NEW DEAL HAPPEN?", FDR implemented the New Deal ONLY because he and the ruling upper class he represented feared what would happen if he didn't. This fear was caused by the fact that in the 1930s there were enormous and increasingly revolutionary labor strikes all across the country, so large (some were general strikes in a region) that National Guardsmen were given "shoot to kill" orders and federal troops were also called in to violently repress the rebellious workers. At least twenty-four workers were killed and many more wounded in strike actions that had been declared illegal.

All of us who enjoy the benefit of having Social Security (for ourselves or our parents) and unemployment compensation and the right to form a labor union must acknowledge that we only have these things because workers in the 1930s frightened the rulers with the very real threat of revolution. And yes, when workers did illegal things some were killed or wounded by the consequent violent repression.

So, what is the moral of this story? Was it a mistake for the workers in the 1930s to have frightened the rulers? Should they instead have avoided frightening the rulers and accepted their consequent impoverishment and starvation?

If one says the workers in the 1930s made a big mistake then one must also say that one agrees to give up Social Security and unemployment compensation and the right to form a labor union today, not just for oneself but for the entire United States population. This is the actual choice. It is wishful thinking to deny it.

The actual choice we in the BACC face today is to win affordable housing by frightening the rulers with our explicit and legal support for egalitarian revolution, which is unlikely to meet with violent repression, or accept that working class people who have lived in Allston-Brighton for generations will continue to be evicted (violently by the police if they don't move out on their own) from our neighborhood because they can't afford their high rent or property tax. This is the actual choice we face. It is wishful thinking to deny it.

The ruling upper class (the billionaire plutocracy, three individual members of which own more wealth than the bottom 50% of the entire United States population) treats us ordinary people like dirt to maintain class inequality, as discussed in some detail here. Because this upper class is not sufficiently frightened of us, many people in the United States today are homeless or living in tents, as you can see in this video and this video and  this video and this video. This is the future of our "affordable housing" if we fail to make the rulers fear being removed from power by a huge egalitarian revolutionary movement. 

I look forward to conversing with you about these matters.

John Spritzler

114 Strathmore Rd. #101

Brighton MA 02135

spritzler@comcast.net

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On May 20, 2019 I received a very friendly reply from the chairperson of the BACC, Kevin Carragee. Kevin said he would be happy to meet with me to discuss this issue. He thanked me on behalf of the steering committee for my work in influencing many people to join the BACC and for other past work I had done for the BACC. After our face-to-face meeting I will post more about Kevin's email content. My email reply is below.

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From: JOHN SPRITZLER <spritzler@comcast.net>
To: "Kevin M. Carragee" <*****>
Date: May 20, 2019 at 11:32 PM
Subject: RE: Dear BACC Founders & Steering Committee Members

 

Kevin,

 

Thank you for your thoughtful response to the email I sent to the BACC founders and steering committee members. I assume that as Chairperson of the BACC your reply speaks for the BACC leadership. Thank you also very much for your expression of appreciation for the work I have done for the BACC; it is much appreciated. At the same time I want you and the other founders and steering committee members to know that I am extremely thankful to you all for creating the BACC as an organization open to, and aiming to unite, all the residents of Brighton and Allston--renters and owners and students--for our common goal of making our community better for all of us.

 

I am very pleased that you will be happy to discuss the issue at hand with me when mutually convenient. Please let me know when would be a good time for you, and where. Since I am retired my schedule is very flexible and I will most likely be able to meet you at that time. It would also be nice if some other members of the steering committee could join us for this conversation.

 

I understand and agree with your point that the BACC has a stated mission that does not presently include the larger goal of removing the rich from power to have real, not fake, democracy with no rich and no poor; and I agree that to expand the BACC's mission to include this larger goal would properly require a democratic decision by the membership to do so, not simply a decision by the steering committee.

 

In light of this fact, I hope that the BACC steering committee will promote a robust discussion among the BACC membership about whether or not the BACC should--as more than 1000 BACC members say they hope it will--expand its mission to include the larger goal. I also hope that the steering committee will, after this discussion has taken place adequately, implement a procedure for the members to make this decision democratically, and will also then promote a continuation of the discussion about whether (or how, as the case may be) to pursue the larger goal. Promoting such a discussion among the BACC membership is one of the topics I'd like to discuss with you when we find a good time to meet.

 

As you may know I posted my email to the BACC founders and steering committee members online here. Do I have your permission to post your reply (below) and our exchange online on the same webpage? Since what we're discussing concerns the general public I wish to keep the general public fully informed about it.

 

All the best,

 

John

--------------------------

From: JOHN SPRITZLER <spritzler@comcast.net>
To: Joanne D'Alcomo <>, "Kevin M. Carragee" <>
Date: May 31, 2019 at 9:26 AM
Subject: RE: [Brighton Allston Community Coalition] Stop & Shop project: What next?

 

Hi Joanne and Kevin,

 

I take it from Joanne's email to me below, in which she says, "Please do not use the BACC listserv to promote 'no rich, no poor'” (and clearly she wants to prevent there even being a  discussion on the BACC listserve about whether or not it is appropriate to discuss 'no rich, no poor' on it), that you (the Co-Chair and Chair of the BACC steering committee) have made a  decision to exclude any discussion on the BACC email group (listserve) about the larger  goal  that more than 1000 new members of the BACC  have explicitly embraced and explicitly said they hope the BACC will also embrace and explicitly said that they would be more enthusiastic members of the BACC if it did embrace that larger goal.

 

Here, to refresh your memory, is the statement that 1021 members (virtually all new members) signed:

 

NO RICH AND NO POOR

We the undersigned joined (or are hereby joining) the Brighton Allston Community Coalition (BACC) because its goals, including adequate affordable housing and good public transportation and an end to gentrification, are part of our larger goal: removing the rich from power to have real, not fake, democracy with no rich and no poor. We hope that the BACC will declare that it also aims for this larger goal; that would make us be even more enthusiastic members of it.

 

Do you  really intend to tell these new members of the BACC that you prohibit discussion of their larger goal on the BACC email group? Really?

 

Of these 1021 members, 483 provided their email addresses, which I have. These 483 people are about as many as the entire previous membership of the BACC. They are also representative (because they were random people on the street who signed the statement, not self-selected activists) of the thousands more people who have not yet joined the BACC but who would if  asked to do so. They thus represent the as-yet untapped potential strength of the BACC, the people who would be more enthusiastic members of the BACC if it embraced the larger goal that you are prohibiting people even to discuss! They are not going to be happy to hear that you are prohibiting even discussion of the larger goal they hope the BACC will embrace. And they will hear it! (This email is blind cc'd to many of them.)

 

I believe you are thinking about this issue in a sincere but very mistaken way. I have written something to help you re-think it. I strongly encourage you to read what I have written online here and reconsider your decision to suppress discussion within the BACC. At the very least I would like to hear your response to my article and your reasons for disagreeing with it if that is the case, OK? I think you owe me and 1021 other people at least that much.

 

Sincerely,

 

John Spritzler

On May 30, 2019 at 10:25 PM Joanne D'Alcomo <> wrote:
 

Hi John,

   I’m writing because of this exchange below.  You know we appreciate your work as a volunteer and value your involvement. But we are striving in this listserv to stay roughly on-topic with the issues in the mission statement and the related quality of life issues in the neighborhood. . While the issues you raise are important, they are broader in scope than we deal with on the BACC listserv and broader than we strive to deal with.  Please use other more general listservs like Cleveland Circle one that we both are on, or AB2006 to pursue that topic. Please do not use the BACC listserv to promote “no rich, no poor” . You may use it a tag line under your name or something when you do a post,  as people sometimes do with favorite savings or themes on their emails, but do not use the BACC listserv to proselytize about this. We can’t permit this any more than we would permit on the listserv a campaign for gender equality or wage parity, etc.

 

  

      Regards,

   Joanne

 

From: bacommunitycoalition@googlegroups.com [mailto:bacommunitycoalition@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of JOHN SPRITZLER
Sent: Thursday, May 30, 2019 8:33 PM
To: bacommunitycoalition@googlegroups.com; cleveland-circle-community <cleveland-circle-community@googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: [Brighton Allston Community Coalition] Stop & Shop project: What next?

 

Eileen,

 

Do you think it is appropriate, or inappropriate, for members of the BACC to discuss among ourselves the question of whether it is possible to achieve all that we want within, as you put it, "the system we have now"? What I mean by these words in quotation marks, and what I assume you meant, is the social system based on profit and having some rich and some poor that characterizes our current social system.

 

If you think it is inappropriate for BACC members to discuss this question, please say why you believe so. Then we can have a fruitful conversation about whether your reason is persuasive. Please also keep in mind that more than 1000 Allston Brighton members have signed the following statement:

 

NO RICH AND NO POOR

We the undersigned joined (or are hereby joining) the Brighton Allston Community Coalition (BACC) because its goals, including adequate affordable housing and good public transportation and an end to gentrification, are part of our larger goal: removing the rich from power to have real, not fake, democracy with no rich and no poor. We hope that the BACC will declare that it also aims for this larger goal; that would make us be even more enthusiastic members of it.

 

Thanks.

 

John Spritzler

On May 30, 2019 at 8:04 PM Eileen Houben <> wrote:

         I'm sure all BACC members appreciate your description of last nt's meeting,and are unified on the goals of less density, less height, more family friendly housing, more ownership opportunities and housing residents can afford.

           However, AB residents and BACC members represent a spectrum of political philosophies - yet isn't it wonderful that we can all join together on quality of life issues.  Achieving this outside the system we have now is for a forum other than BACC.

BACC has a hope of bringing pressure because we are unified on these development issues and these local issues should remain its scope.

Eileen Houben

-----------------

Then this exchange took place, in which Joanne told me I was prevented from posting even a mention of an article of mine online about how to actually win what the BACC says it is for:

 

From: Joanne D'Alcomo <>
To: JOHN SPRITZLER
Date: May 31, 2019 at 12:01 PM
Subject: on your recent message to the listserv

 

John,

  We had to reject your email just sent for the listserv because it’s just a variation on the same thing, with a link to the same proselytizing.  Please use the  general interest listservs for this effort, not the BACC’s listserv. As I explained, the Steering Committee values tremendously your work as a volunteer and your interest and your attendance at meetings, but we are striving to keep the BACC more narrowly focused.

     Thank you, John.

Joanne

---------- Original Message ----------
From: JOHN SPRITZLER <spritzler@comcast.net>
To: bacommunitycoalition@googlegroups.com
Date: May 31, 2019 at 10:55 AM
Subject: Re: [Brighton Allston Community Coalition] Chance to speak to the Mayor, Wed. June 5, 9:30-10:30 am on Stop & Shop's project and other development issues

 

I wrote an article relating to what Tony here calls "the BACC’s image as a constructive and credible presence in the community." My article is titled, "Credibility, But In Whose Eyes?" and is online here. I think you will find it extremely relevant to this discussion and quite interesting; it includes a personal story of mine that illustrates its point.

John Spritzler

 

On May 31, 2019 at 10:46 AM Anthony D'Isidoro <> wrote:
 

Hello Everyone,

 

I want to emphasize “Obviously, in keeping with our mission statement, we encourage BACC members to be civil in advancing their views to Mayor Walsh”.

 

I know for a fact the Mayor left early last year because he was probably overwhelmed and unprepared to respond regarding development issues.

 

I believe that demonstrations and confrontations will not only make the Mayor and his security staff uneasy, but it will leave a bad taste and not enhance the BACC’s image as a constructive and credible presence in the community.

 

Also, the Mayor usually brings his senior staff to these events therefore seek out the following individuals, if they attend, to express your views as well.

 

Brian Golden, Director, Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA)

Lauren Shurtleff, Acting Director of Planning, BPDA

Jonathan Greeley, Director of Development Review, BPDA

Tim Davis, Housing Policy Manager, BPDA

Tad Read, Senior Planner, BPDA, Allston Brighton Mobility Study

 

Chris Osgood, Chief of Streets

Greg Rooney, Acting Commissioner, Boston Transportation Department

Bill Conroy, Senior Transportation Planner, Boston Transportation Department

 

Chris Cook, Chief, Environment, Energy, and Open Space; Commissioner, Parks and Recreation

Carl Spector, Commissioner, Environment

 

Shelia Dillion, Chief of Housing & Director of the Department of Neighborhood Development

 

Finally, remember to efficiently use your time with the Mayor, he is not in the "weeds" on local issues like his senior staff would be.

 

Tony

------------------------------

Note: In recent days a handful of individuals in the BACC posted in its email group that they think the BACC should only talk about its narrowly defined demands, and not talk about removing the rich from power or about no rich and no poor or about real, not fake, democracy. I think it would be interesting to know how many of these individuals have no post graduate degree (i.e., not a masters degree or higher) and have a household income of less than $56,000. Why would this be interesting to know? Because more than half of Allston-Brighton residents have no post graduate degree and have a household income less than $56,000. These are the more working class people in Allston Brighton. I suspect that the people active presently in the BACC email group are not from this working class part of the population, and that their "Don't talk about removing the rich from power, etc." views are not shared by the working class people in Allston Brighton. This is why it was so easy for me to collect more than 1000 signatures for the NO RICH AND NO POOR statement by talking to random people on the street (as opposed to self-selected activist type people now over-represented in the BACC email group.)

-------------------------------

On June 3, 2019 I, John Spritzler, met with the BACC Chair, Kevin Carragee, for a bit more than one hour at Athan's restaurant in Brighton. The key thing he told me was that he would ask the BACC Steering Committee to allow discussion on the BACC email group of the larger goal (removing the rich from power to have real, not fake democracy with no rich and no poor) and whether the BACC should expand its mission to include it, but that he would not do this until after the Stop & Shop development issue "is settled" and that that could take "two or three months or even longer" and that he could not guarantee that he would be able to persuade a majority of the Steering Committee to agree to do this.

 

Kevin Carragee also told me, in response to my question, that every person who signed the NO RICH AND NO POOR statement and whose printed name was legible (almost all are) is a member of the BACC even if they did not provide an email address. This means that more than 1000 members (more than two thirds of the entire membership) of the BACC have formally stated with their signature that they hope the BACC will expand its mission to include the larger goal.

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