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Political Dharma

Author: Alan Zundel

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Alan Z on politics from a theoretical, historical, ethical, spiritual, and activist standpoint. He presents a non-sectarian socialist perspective with a role for electoral politics, and connects personal spiritual development to political activism. Alan has been a political science professor, a meditation teacher, and a mental health counselor as well as a political activist. Political Dharma is also available in a video version on YouTube. (This channel was previously named Alan on Politics.) Opening and closing music courtesy of composers Joey Helpish and Patty Rose; check out
52 Episodes
To address skepticism that a socialist vision is realistic, Alan delves into the the question of whether human beings are capable of living together cooperatively without the need of coercion from government. He ties modern insights into spirituality to the possibilities of developing capacities such as empathy and intuition, and discusses how this would require revision of Marxist ideas of the relation of economics to a cultural "superstructure" of ideas, ethics, religion and the like. He ends by contrasting the views of human nature and democracy held by American founders James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. In Part 2 he will trace these threads into the beginnings of the socialist movement and how the understanding of religion and spirituality has changed since the days of Marx.
Alan explains why the profit-seeking incentive of businesses in a capitalist economic system is socially destructive. He discusses Marx's ideas about the exploitation of labor in his critique of classical economics, and then he makes the case that profits are mostly obtained by unequal bargaining power and the use of political power to back it up. He finishes by talking about the culture of a political movement, using Gandhi as an example.
Alan goes through the basic ideas of Karl Marx as presented in Engels' "Socialism: Utopian and Scientific." At the same time he critiques these ideas, pointing out their strong and weak areas.
Alan talks about his encounters with Marx's ideas over the decades, his  attitudes toward them, and some ways he would revise them going forward.
Alan gives simplified pictures of neo-liberal capitalism, progressive democratic socialism, state socialism, and market socialism, comparing who decides where resources will be invested for what purposes, who controls the work enterprise, and how basic necessities of life are distributed. He makes the case that a form of market socialism is better than the other two forms of socialism in solving problems of capitalism.
Alan reviews Bernie Sanders' new book, "Its Okay To Be Angry About Capitalism."
Alan discusses the development of socialism, focusing on ideas of  democracy, an intelligensia creating a science of social engineering,  and workers' resistance to early industrial capitalism. These all came  together in the clashing ideas of Karl Marx and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon,  including their views of the value of religion. In closing Alan lists  some of the problems that socialism later encountered in the same areas  of democracy, science, and workers as the prime movers of socialism.
Alan addresses three aspects of building a political party: beginning  it, creating a functional organizational core, and reaching a mass  public.
Alan outlines a program for his proposal to create a new political party. He talks about why a new party is necessary and possible, what the strategic orientation of organizing could be, and four essentials elements to be included in this program.
Alan explains his reasons for changing strategy to the creation of a new  political party. He discusses a strategy for establishing a new party  within our two-party system and his preference for an ideological  position between Marxist democratic socialism and anarchist socialism.
Alan wraps up the show for 2022 and gives a preview of his plan for it in 2023.
Alan discusses a new political strategy encompassing electoral politics,  the need for a unifying vision on the left, what spirituality can offer  socialism, and why this may be his final episode of the show.
Alan discusses the push to get progressives to adopt a New Economic Bill  of Rights as a rallying cry, and some of the pros and cons of this.
Alan reflects on ditching the libertarian socialist label, dogmatic Marxism, political activities he's been involved in lately, the fecklessness of the national Democratic Party, optimism about political change, and other random topics.
Alan continues his comparison of progressivism and socialism. He discusses the effects of the neo-liberal turn of the 1980s on the Nordic nations such as Norway, Denmark and Sweden and draws some lessons for a model of socialism in the U.S.
Alan differentiates progressivism and socialism in the stories they tell about how we got here and how how fundamentally capitalism needs to be changed. He discusses how the profit motive has affected international financial arrangements and the turn toward conservative politics since the 1980s.
Alan discusses the problems of trying to advance a political agenda through political parties in the United States. He then suggest some ways to deal with these problems.
Alan discusses the problems of electoral politics and some ways to address them. He explains that tactics are dependent on each state's electoral rules, and that the counterweight to money in politics is to have independent electoral organizations not tied to particular candidates.
Alan explains the new title of the show, "Political Dharma," and  discusses his five-point agenda for social reconstruction. He also gives  a preview of his ideas about how to actually bring the agenda into  being.
Alan discusses the ethical organization of social relations, focusing on the political and economic aspects of social life. For governance he defends the creation of a true democracy with limits on government protect individual rights. For economic organizations he defends the right of workers to act collectively without government permission and the restriction of corporate privileges only to organizations that are non-profit or worker-controlled.
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