Saving America from Ourselves
(list of videos will be found below)

I've been writing on American Politics for several decades.   The below is a bit like an
archaeological dig, with the newer stuff tending to be on the top and the older stuff on the bottom

Saving America from Ourselves - the real burdens and tasks of Citizenship (see the original essay, following the list of videos)

The Nature of a Renewal Group: (some considerations concerning the future of the Art of Citizenship (see the original essay, following the list of videos)

Celebration and Theater: A People's Art of Statecraft  (link to web-essay)

links to other essays

Basic Conceptions: fundamentals of a new social view

Civil Society: its potential and its mystery

Beyond Columbine: appreciating the patterns of social meaning hidden in the Columbine tragedy

The Future

The Coming Collapse - civilization at the brink

Important material on money, from Richard Kotlarz Follow this link (for essays on money)

Introducing Barbara Gardner: Barbara is a Scottish visionary thinker, very interested in social life, especially politics and economics.  Here is an outstanding, though small, book of her's  Aesthetics of Economics and The Scottish Masonic Tradition  and, a remarkable essay that won an award in Scotland:  The Constitutional Question: Conscience Politics

a small meditation on the spiritual path  pioneered by Ralph Waldo Emerson, including a report of some practical applications - this was an address given on the occasion of the 200th aniversary of Emerson's birth, at the Concord School of Philosophy - May 25th, 2003, under the auspices of the Center for America Studies at Concord MA.

older materials:

Greenville Millenium Gazette:

Essays and Comments on Current Affairs;

Some Thoughts on the Nature of Public Life, and an offer of Service:

even more ancient stuff ...

Pragmatic Populist Politics or, It's Not Easy Being Green: I've recently spent some time with Green political folks, and its prettly clear that, while they have a holistic agenda, they don't yet realize that the practice of politics itself needs to be holistic as well. Here is a brief introduction to those ideas.

the Shadow Warrior Society: direct political action by the most marginalized in our society (the homeless) will only come about, and be effective, if, at its root, this action grounds itself in a fundamental cultural change of meaning. The SWS essay is an imagination of these possiblities and psycho-cultural realites (see Strange Fire: the Death, and the Resurrection, of Modern Civilization, for the fundamental reasons for this).

Letters to the Alliance for Democracy: I have been slowly coming more deeply acquainted with the Alliance for Democracy, a new political impulse which arose in America following the publication in the magazine, The Nation, of an article by Ronnie Dugger: A Call to Citizens: Real Populists Please Stand Up!. As part of being associated with this work, I have become a member of various on-line chapters of the AfD. As a support of this impulse, and its quite needed work in America, I have begun writing long letters to be posted on-line with the various on-line chapters and list serves. These letters, as they are written, will also be placed on this part of my cyber-home.

"there is no true self government, in a political sense, if there is not
an equal proportion of 'self-governing', by the individual of himself, in a moral sense"*

*from my essay: Song of the Grandfathers: Unconventional Wisdom (real
wealth) and the redemption of Social and Political Existence (civilization)


- the links below are to free reading that can be found on my website,
Shapes in the Fire,

if you want a physical book to hold in your hand,
those can be purchased at my bookstore
Joel Wendt's Theory of Everything Emporium

Uncommon Sense: the Degeneration and the Redemption of Political Life in America {concerns the failure of both parties to protect the Republic, and how through Citizen Governance We the People can move our public life forward by considering a 2nd Declaration of Independence and the creation of a new Constitution }
On the Nature of Public Life is a collection of older essays on politics and social existence (except for a couple original to the book) that also can be found elsewhere on this website
Hermit's Weblog: everything your mother never told you about how the world really works.  The link here is to the blog.
Counter-Moves: Finding victory in the war the rich are making upon the poor (also contained in the appendix to Uncommon Sense).

Sign a Second Declaration of Independence here

list of videos on this theme

#1 Obnoxious Rants About American Citizenship: #1:
#2 Obnoxious Rants About American Citizenship: #2:
#3 Obnoxious Rants About American Citizenship: #3:
#4 Obnoxious Rants About American Citizenship: #4:
#5 Obnoxious Rants About American Citizenship: #5:
#6 Obnoxious Rants About American Citizenship: #6:

#7 Rants about presidential leadership: #1
#8 Rants about presidential leadership: #2
#9 Rants about presidential leadership: #3
#10 Rants about presidential leadership: #4
#11 Rants about presidential leadership: #5

# 12 What's at stake in the TSA controversy: #1
# 13 What's at stake in the TSA controversy: #2
# 14 What's at stake in the TSA controversy: #3
# 15 What's at stake in the TSA controversy: #4

Saving American From Ourselves

the real burdens and tasks of citizenship

The future waits for our creation.  What will we do?   Will we be mere creatures of habit, following blindly our appetites and prejudices, or will we be more?  Will we awake enough to see and to rise to the true demands of our Age, or will we sleep and find in fantasy the better world for which we wish?  What will we risk?  What price will we pay?  What sacrifice make?

For about a year, from just after Easter 2002 to just after Easter 2003, I ran for President of the United States of America, aiming for the 2004 election.  It was not a mistake for me to do this, although many thought it foolish. It was really the only way to discover certain matters - including, but not limited to, several concerning myself. In the end, I realized that what I conceived as the most important work to try to achieve, would be better served in another way.

I am basically a writer and a thinker by avocation, not a politician.  The clothes I tried to wear didn't fit too well, and people were frequently confused by my activities.  I had thought I was going to have a certain freedom of expression by running for President - what I found was that people reacted with unanticipated expectations and preconceptions.  As a consequence of this reaction, I found myself less free in a social sense.  It was mostly due to this loss of freedom that I changed my mind about running for president.

Now this might seem an odd way to start an essay, by reporting something about my experience, but the fact is that  these expectations and preconceptions that I experienced are themselves acts of citizenship.  All the candidates not only experience these expectations, but are confined by them.  We, as citizens and as the electorate, impose on the electoral process, and upon the candidates much that limits them, and in turn, what might be achieved.  This is an important matter, so please indulge me while I come at it from another direction.

Our form of government is a kind of very complicated partnership.  On a foundational level, what power the government has comes from us - from the People.  It is a grant of power, and neither a sitting government or any political party holds any power except in the most temporary sense.  We the People say to our goverment - we need someone to do certain tasks, and to accomplish those tasks while keeping within these rules and limits. That's what the Constitution does - it apportions tasks and sets limits on power.

Under these rules, certain people only acquire this temporary grant of power through being elected.  It is a kind of trust.  We retain to ourselves the power of the vote - no one is elected who cannot command our trust through the ballot.  We also retain to ourselves, through the rights of free speech and association, the power to participate beyond just voting, by creating political parties and other associations to put forward our own agendas.  Even so, we also, being human and having flaws, do other acts.

We want and hope and dream.  We tolerate.  We expect.  We sometimes don't listen, or don't care.  We forget that citizenship is not just about rights, but also responsibilities.  Mostly we become creatures of habits, and habits lose their original value and meaning after a time.  Our electoral process is mostly habits now, and as habits go a lot of them are bad.

The money and ambition we know about.  As citizens it is quite clear what failures our politicians have become. But what about us?  Have we failed as well?

Who can doubt it.

They, the ones in power, aren't doing their jobs very well, but then neither are we.

One of the things which we do that is a bad habit is to expect politicians to be of a certain mold.  For example, we expect them to wear suits, and look good on television.  It is really only habit that makes us think this way.  Most of the people in this country don't wear suits and look good on television.  But we expect a certain type, and don't respond well to what is not the type.

We also expect politicians to tell us things we like to hear.  We are more interested in  that, than in the truth.  So we don't read much, or listen much, or work at understanding much.  Here we tend to a great passivity.  We let the politicians, their operatives, and the rich, set the tone of the campaign - that is determine the fundamental nature of the dialog.  We wait for them to bring the dialog to us, as long as it is comforting and doesn't require that we think.

I mean, who would want to watch politicians have a debate on the fundamental theories of government in our time, when we can watch Friends instead?

There is a terrible price that has been paid for our passivity, habits and failures.

I don't know about you, but I'm not going to do that anymore, which is why I ran for president, and why, though I dropped out of the campaign, that I am going to make a profession of being a Citizen.  The good part is that I am not the only one - if you start to pay attention you'll find a lot of us out there.  The times demand it.  The future of our Country is at risk, and the bad guys are winning.

The Nature of a Renewal Group

- some considerations concerning the future of the art of citizenship -

In this paper I wanted to expressly address certain matters connected to the Idea of "renewal groups", as that is a potential aspect of the emerging citizen governance movement.

In another paper, Citizen Governance and the Future of the Republic, the observation is made that if one wants to reform our political life, the gentlest and most sure means is through taking hold of the public conversation.  Up to our time, the content of this conversation has been dominated by elite groups through their control of media, and the superficial ways in which serious political questions  are routinely addressed in television commercials.   In effect, there is no real conversation during our electoral processes, but only a lot of money spent on trying to bend the voters emotions in particular directions.

For a Nation with a constitutional government that is based upon profound ideas, this means, of addressing the serious issues of our time, is basically irrational.  Outright lies, half truths, purposely confused media images, falsifaction of a candidates true feelings, and the obscuring of the real reasons various groups advocate their causes - all these are the norm.   This must be overcome, which is certainly the point of those who advocate for various campaign reforms.  My contribution is that we are not dependent upon Congress fixing these problems, but rather have in our own hands the means to bring about the necessary changes.

We do this by  changing the depth and nature of our polticial conversations among We the People.

No one can stop us from doing this.  Nor can anyone really stop the long term effect of such a permanent change at the fundamental levels of our democratic Republic.  An informed and enlightened electorate forces politicians to deal with matters in a whole new way.  What could be manipulated because it was hidden, is now brought by our conversations into the light, where it then becomes no longer subject to spin and half truths.  The Idea of what America is to be, and what is right for all within our civic life - this is determined in the conversations of the renewal groups, not in smoke filled back rooms.

So what is a renewal group?

Really anywhere two or more citizens are gathered with the idea of seeking, through mutually open conversation, the root Ideas of what we are about - that is a renewal group.  This can be formal and regular, or informal and spontaneous.   The group doesn't even have to think of itself as a renewal group.

People riding in a car pool to work can have a renewal group.  Someone can invite neighbors over for discussion and have a renewal group.   People meeting for lunch can have a renewal group.  A church can have a renewal group.

The real question is what do we do that makes a gathering for political conversation not a renewal group, because this is really the norm today.  Most political conversation is not a renewal group.

Why is this?

It basically has to do first with the intention we as individuals bring to the process of conversation.  And secondly, with the effort we place at listening.  Then finally, to what extent we exclude certain views.

If our intention is only to give forth on our opinions (don't bother me with facts, my mind is already made up), then nothing can be renewed, because no view makes itself available to growth and change.   If we don't increase our listening skills, nothing can be renewed,  because renewal also is a kind of "exchange", the same way that new life requires the co-mingling of genetic material, so new life in our political conversation requires the co-mingling of ideas.  And finally, by walling ourselves up into groups that judge each other as somehow less than we, because they don't hold to our views and opinions, we limit the potential for new thought, by how much of what is different that we keep away.

Being a citizen is a responsibility, not just a right.  Just having an opinion is an exercise of that right, but to exercise the responsibility, we need to allow for our views to grow.

A good way to foster growth is to hear and genuinely consider other views, or to add to our factual understanding, or (and this is most important) to carefully think critically about all the ideas out there, not only the ideas of politicians and those with something to gain, but also our own.   In a sense, by critical thinking (not criticism, as in you think like a jerk - but by analysing the factual basis and the logic) we make a kind of idea-compost, a place where a kind of fermenting process comes into being, which then leads naturally to new thinking.

This is what a renewal group does.  It brings new life to the Ideal of what the United States of America is as a Nation, and who we are as a People.   What could be more important as a future act of citizenship?