Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Refuse to Cooperate Platform - Part 1


The Problem and the Solution

We, the members of Refuse to Cooperate, are determined to direct our resistance towards the central underlying problem of the capitalist mode of production. We point out the following problems:

1. Capitalism is inherently environmentally destructive. The chaotic and unrelenting competition for profits and the need for a continuous supply of new markets that is a defining characteristic of capitalism is ruining the life support system that is our planet. Capitalist governments and charities have shown themselves utterly incapable of stopping this process. The best that they can do is slow things down or fix them on a very small scale. We do not have time to wait for failing institutions to rescue the world from the very system of production those institutions depend upon.

2. Capitalism favors the few at the expense of the many. A system based on competition inevitably produces, like any game, winners and losers. The winners become the rulers and the losers become their subjects. As the game continues, the divide worsens and deepens. Such is the nature of competitive markets. In this way, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, and even starvation are inevitable byproducts of the system and are integral to its day to day functioning. Such a system that allows the wealth of the whole of society to pool in the hands of an ever dwindling elite class at the top, wile the many increasingly suffer, is inherently unjust.

3. Capitalism turns its subjects into slaves. Inherent to this system that we as a society have designed, is an exploitative relationship whereby the value produced by workers is taken from them for the benefit of a private owner with only a fraction of that value returned to workers as a wage. The degree the worker is dependent upon that wage is the degree to which that worker is enslaved. They are enslaved not by any one owner, as workers may occasionally choose a new one, but rest assured the owners make quite sure they are not usurped. At the same time, there remains, even today, large numbers of people forced into prison labor for maximum exploitation.

4. Capitalism is inefficient. A system dictated by profits rather than by projected needs leads to chaos in production. Huge surpluses of commodities are produced in some areas, whereas, massive shortages of those same goods are produced in other areas, with little regard to actual need or even the ultimate usefulness of the product. A system operating this way cannot never hope to meet the needs of its people.

5. Capitalism is bigoted. A system built upon inequality from the ground up will produce ideologies which are then institutionalized to rationalize conquest and exploitation. The ruling class will use these ideologies based on a variety of human differences, from national origin, to skin color, to sexuality, to physical and mental capability, as a means of maintaining control and keeping the masses divided. It is thus that capitalism either reshapes existing bigotries from previous systems (i.e. sexism) or creates bigotries to fit its needs (i.e. racism). These forms of oppression often interact and interlock, reinforcing each other.

Our solution to the question of human liberation is the Marxist mode of production, a society without classes, money, private property, and exploitation, where resources are produced and distributed based on need. The practical means of attaining communism is via socialist revolution and the building of a socialist society.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Frederick Engels', On Authority - Part 2


If man, by dint of his knowledge and inventive genius, has subdued the forces of nature, the latter avenge themselves upon him by subjecting him, in so far as he employs them, to a veritable despotism independent of all social organisation. Wanting to abolish authority in large-scale industry is tantamount to wanting to abolish industry itself, to destroy the power loom in order to return to the spinning wheel.

Destroying authority in industry is close to completely destroying industry itself. Man has conquered nature, only to subject himself to the rules of industry. Destroy the authority in industry and you risk displacing man into a lesser period of human technological development. Destroy the power loom to return to the spinning wheel.

Let us take another example, the railway. Here too the co-operation of an infinite number of individuals is absolutely necessary, and this co-operation must be practiced during precisely fixed hours so that no accidents may happen. Here, too, the first condition of the job is a dominant will that settles all subordinate questions, whether this will is represented by a single delegate or a committee charged with the execution of the resolutions of the majority of persona interested. In either case there is a very pronounced authority. Moreover, what would happen to the first train dispatched if the authority of the railway employees over the Hon. passengers were abolished?

In industry, the cooperation of a great deal of individuals is required during a precisely fixed period of time so that no accidents occur, whether it be in a factory or on a railway. Whether there is a single delegate or a committee serving as the will controlling this cooperation, authority is present. This authority is very strongly present and must be to ensure the safety of the workers and the proper operation of the machinery. Imagine what would happen to a train if the worker's authority over the railway's operation was not present. What would become of the train's passengers?

But the necessity of authority, and of imperious authority at that, will nowhere be found more evident than on board a ship on the high seas. There, in time of danger, the lives of all depend on the instantaneous and absolute obedience of all to the will of one.

On the sea, in a sailing vessel, the authority relationship is at its strongest. In times of danger their can be nothing but instant obedience to orders if the ship and its crew are too survive.

When I submitted arguments like these to the most rabid anti-authoritarians, the only answer they were able to give me was the following: Yes, that's true, but there it is not the case of authority which we confer on our delegates, but of a commission entrusted! These gentlemen think that when they have changed the names of things they have changed the things themselves. This is how these profound thinkers mock at the whole world.

Anti-authoritarians think that granting power to a commission of workers eliminates authority, when really all they have done is change the name of authority. The commission controls other worker's actions and the movements of the machinery. Call it whatever you want, this is still authority.

We have thus seen that, on the one hand, a certain authority, no matter how delegated, and, on the other hand, a certain subordination, are things which, independently of all social organisation, are imposed upon us together with the material conditions under which we produce and make products circulate.

Authority and subordination are things that work together to manipulate the material conditions under which we produce and make products circulate.

We have seen, besides, that the material conditions of production and circulation inevitably develop with large-scale industry and large-scale agriculture, and increasingly tend to enlarge the scope of this authority. Hence it is absurd to speak of the principle of authority as being absolutely evil, and of the principle of autonomy as being absolutely good. Authority and autonomy are relative things whose spheres vary with the various phases of the development of society. If the autonomists confined themselves to saying that the social organisation of the future would restrict authority solely to the limits within which the conditions of production render it inevitable, we could understand each other; but they are blind to all facts that make the thing necessary and they passionately fight the world.

The material conditions of production and circulation inevitably develop with large-scale industry and agriculture and grow in scope as industry and agriculture grow. It is absurd to consider the principle of authority an absolutely evil concept and the principle of autonomy as solely good. These principles are relative things whose spheres vary with the the development of the material conditions in a given society. Anti-authoritarians, by changing words, blind themselves to the reality of the material conditions that create authority and subordination.

Why do the anti-authoritarians not confine themselves to crying out against political authority, the state? All Socialists are agreed that the political state, and with it political authority, will disappear as a result of the coming social revolution, that is, that public functions will lose their political character and will be transformed into the simple administrative functions of watching over the true interests of society. But the anti-authoritarians demand that the political state be abolished at one stroke, even before the social conditions that gave birth to it have been destroyed. They demand that the first act of the social revolution shall be the abolition of authority. Have these gentlemen ever seen a revolution? A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon — authoritarian means, if such there be at all; and if the victorious party does not want to have fought in vain, it must maintain this rule by means of the terror which its arms inspire in the reactionists. Would the Paris Commune have lasted a single day if it had not made use of this authority of the armed people against the bourgeois? Should we not, on the contrary, reproach it for not having used it freely enough?

All socialists agree that, in time, the state's authoritative position will slowly dissipate from a political function to a purely administrative function, but anti-authoritarians believe that this transfer should happen immediately, even if the social conditions for such a drastic change are not yet ripe. Their first demand is to eliminate all authority, even though a revolution is one of the most authoritarian things that can exist, as one portion of the people imposes their will over another by means of rifles, cannons, and bayonets. Further, the revolutionary force must maintain their position with authoritarian measures, which rob some people of their rights. How long would the Paris Commune have lasted if it lacked an authoritarian power? Further, why were they not more authoritarian?

Therefore, either one of two things: either the anti-authoritarians don't know what they're talking about, in which case they are creating nothing but confusion; or they do know, and in that case they are betraying the movement of the proletariat. In either case they serve the reaction.

So, two conditions exist. Either anti-authoritarians don't know what they are talking about and are, thus, confusing everyone, or they do know what they are talking about, and are, thus, betraying the movement of the proletariat.

For further reading on this topic visit.....https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1872/10/authority.htm.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Frederick Engels', On Authority - Part 1


A number of Socialists have latterly launched a regular crusade against what they call the 'principle of authority.' It suffices to tell them that this or that act is authoritarian for it to be condemned. This summary mode of procedure is being abused to such an extent that it has become necessary to look into the matter somewhat more closely.

Mr. Engels noticed in his reading of socialist academic works, during his time, that people were sometimes much to quick to call something authoritarian; thus, he felt it necessary to clarify the meaning of the term authority.

Authority, in the sense in which the word is used here, means: the imposition of the will of another upon ours; on the other hand, authority presupposes subordination. Now, since these two words sound bad, and the relationship which they represent is disagreeable to the subordinated party, the question is to ascertain whether there is any way of dispensing with it, whether — given the conditions of present-day society — we could not create another social system, in which this authority would be given no scope any longer, and would consequently have to disappear.

Authority is the imposition of one's will over another person, and this presupposes subordination, in that one person is subject to the will of another. The question that Engels presents is here, is can this negative nature of authority be somehow changed or replaced with something better?

On examining the economic, industrial and agricultural conditions which form the basis of present-day bourgeois society, we find that they tend more and more to replace isolated action by combined action of individuals. Modern industry, with its big factories and mills, where hundreds of workers supervise complicated machines driven by steam, has superseded the small workshops of the separate producers; the carriages and wagons of the highways have become substituted by railway trains, just as the small schooners and sailing feluccas have been by steam-boats. Even agriculture falls increasingly under the dominion of the machine and of steam, which slowly but relentlessly put in the place of the small proprietors big capitalists, who with the aid of hired workers cultivate vast stretches of land.

Everywhere, combined action, the complication of processes dependent upon each other, displaces independent action by individuals. Now, whoever mentions combined action speaks of organization; now, is it possible to have organization without authority?

Supposing a social revolution dethroned the capitalists, who now exercise their authority over the production and circulation of wealth. Supposing, to adopt entirely the point of view of the anti-authoritarians, that the land and the instruments of labour had become the collective property of the workers who use them. Will authority have disappeared, or will it only have changed its form? Let us see.

Given then that a social revolution overthrows capitalism, who is to exercise authority over the production and circulation of wealth? Will collective ownership have eliminated the need for authority, or will it have just changed form?

Let us take by way if example a cotton spinning mill. The cotton must pass through at least six successive operations before it is reduced to the state of thread, and these operations take place for the most part in different rooms. Furthermore, keeping the machines going requires an engineer to look after the steam engine, mechanics to make the current repairs, and many other labourers whose business it is to transfer the products from one room to another, and so forth. All these workers, men, women and children, are obliged to begin and finish their work at the hours fixed by the authority of the steam, which cares nothing for individual autonomy. The workers must, therefore, first come to an understanding on the hours of work; and these hours, once they are fixed, must be observed by all, without any exception. Thereafter particular questions arise in each room and at every moment concerning the mode of production, distribution of material, etc., which must be settled by decision of a delegate placed at the head of each branch of labour or, if possible, by a majority vote, the will of the single individual will always have to subordinate itself, which means that questions are settled in an authoritarian way. The automatic machinery of the big factory is much more despotic than the small capitalists who employ workers ever have been. At least with regard to the hours of work one may write upon the portals of these factories: Lasciate ogni autonomia, voi che entrate! [Leave, ye that enter in, all autonomy behind!]

If no authority is to be exercised by the workers in a factory, then the workers must submit to the will of the machinery that produces the products in that factory. The machinery must move at a specific pace, produce a specific amount of product, and prepare that product for a specific distribution time. Either way, there is some form of authority being exercised.

For further reading on this topic visit.....https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1872/10/authority.htm.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Mao's, Combat Liberalism - Part 5


When conversing with just about anyone on any number of subjects, they always assume that the position that I am taking on the given topic of discussion is the liberal stance. Those from the right will call me a bleeding heart liberal in need of a good dose of fortitude, or something to that effect, and those on the left will mistake me for a liberal democrat or something similar, sometimes too liberal for their tastes. Whichever it may be, I always tell them that in order for me to be liberal, I would have to be a capitalist, which, I am not. I am a Marxist and cannot, thus, be a liberal, lest I betray the ideology that I have chosen to defend with much rigor. One of the best definitions of liberalism from a Marxist perspective is given by Mao in his brief work Combat Liberalism (September 7, 1937).

Mao then outlines several ways in which Liberalism can manifest itself. This is what liberalism is and Marxism is not.

Liberalism is a manifestation of opportunism and conflicts fundamentally with Marxism. It is negative and objectively has the effect of helping the enemy; that is why the enemy welcomes its preservation in our midst. Such being its nature, there should be no place for it in the ranks of the revolution.

Liberalism is opportunism and directly conflicts with Marxism. It is negative and works only to help the enemy; that is why the enemy hopes that liberalism will live on in society. Such being the nature of liberalism, Marxists cannot allow it to survive.

We must use Marxism, which is positive in spirit, to overcome liberalism, which is negative. A Communist should have largeness of mind and he should be staunch and active, looking upon the interests of the revolution as his very life and subordinating his personal interests to those of the revolution; always and everywhere he should adhere to principle and wage a tireless struggle against all incorrect ideas and actions, so as to consolidate the collective life of the Party and strengthen the ties between the Party and the masses; he should be more concerned about the Party and the masses than about any private person, and more concerned about others than about himself. Only thus can he be considered a Communist.

Marxism, positive in its nature, must be used to destroy the negative nature of liberalism. A Marxist should keep a large mind and remain active in the struggle against liberalism. The interests of the revolution are worth more than their life. They must wage a tireless struggle against liberalism, to the expense of their own interests. The purpose is to consolidate the collective life of the party and strengthen the ties between the party and the masses. The party and the masses are more important to them than their own life. When this is so, they will then be considered a Marxist.

All loyal, honest, active and upright Communists must unite to oppose the liberal tendencies shown by certain people among us, and set them on the right path. This is one of the tasks on our ideological front.

It is the duty of all good Marxists to oppose liberalism in all its forms. They must work to set all who practice liberalism correct.

If you want to read the rest of the piece that is the source for this commentary, visit https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-2/mswv2_03.htm.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mao's, Combat Liberalism - Part 4


When conversing with just about anyone on any number of subjects, they always assume that the position that I am taking on the given topic of discussion is the liberal stance. Those from the right will call me a bleeding heart liberal in need of a good dose of fortitude, or something to that effect, and those on the left will mistake me for a liberal democrat or something similar, sometimes too liberal for their tastes. Whichever it may be, I always tell them that in order for me to be liberal, I would have to be a capitalist, which, I am not. I am a Marxist and cannot, thus, be a liberal, lest I betray the ideology that I have chosen to defend with much rigor. One of the best definitions of liberalism from a Marxist perspective is given by Mao in his brief work Combat Liberalism (September 7, 1937).

Mao then outlines several ways in which Liberalism can manifest itself. This is what liberalism is and Marxism is not.

Liberalism is extremely harmful in a revolutionary collective. It is a corrosive which eats away unity, undermines cohesion, causes apathy and creates dissension. It robs the revolutionary ranks of compact organization and strict discipline, prevents policies from being carried through and alienates the Party organizations from the masses which the Party leads. It is an extremely bad tendency.

This basically means that liberalism is destructive to the collective in a revolution. It eats away at and destroys unity, creates neglect, and causes the people to give up on caring. It damages discipline, loosens order in the ranks, weakens the chain of command, and alienates leadership form the masses, which is very bad for overall cohesion.

Liberalism stems from petty-bourgeois selfishness, it places personal interests first and the interests of the revolution second, and this gives rise to ideological, political and organizational liberalism.

Liberalism stems from the selfishness of the petty bourgeois. It places the people's personal interests above those of the revolution, which gives rise to ideological, political, and organizational liberalism.

People who are liberals look upon the principles of Marxism as abstract dogma. They approve of Marxism, but are not prepared to practice it or to practice it in full; they are not prepared to replace their liberalism by Marxism. These people have their Marxism, but they have their liberalism as well--they talk Marxism but practice liberalism; they apply Marxism to others but liberalism to themselves. They keep both kinds of goods in stock and find a use for each. This is how the minds of certain people work.

Liberals look upon the the principles of Marxism as abstract dogma. They approve of the concept but are are not prepared to practice it in full. They are not prepared to replace their liberalism with full Marxism. The have both concepts, taking Marxism while practicing liberalism. They apply Marxism to others but liberalism to themselves. They keep both concepts together and use them when the situation sits, but they never commit to Marxism in full.

To be Continued…..If you want keep reading the piece that is the source for this commentary, visit https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-2/mswv2_03.htm.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Arrg, Our Ability to Choose has Been Hijacked for an Hourly Wage!




"You and your dad are two different people." - Anonymous

There is a process I have observed as we are growing up. We are our kids best parent, our genes that get transferred determine this, which mean our kids are exactly like us, when it comes to what motivates them. We as Parents are responsible for motivating our kids anyway. We should understand what motivates us, so we can motivate them to give us less crap and still try to raise them to think for themselves. This may seem futile as we have been conditioned that it is Moral to Obey, not to question. So when do we get to grow up and make our own choices?

When we get to a certain age, puberty, we struggle with 'who' we are, as parents we want to guide our children through this 'transition' phase, to make it easier for them, but the very act of helping pushes them farther away from us, making us feel like failures, as though we are unable to help our own children succeed.

In this context, our kids do not distance themselves from us because they do not love us, they distance themselves so they can separate who they are, from who we are, to be able to distinguish between what their parents think of as right/wrong and what they think of as right/wrong. This is an attempt to 'Own' their own Morality.....

This process gets confounded, confused, hijacked, imposed, bullied, etc, etc, by the people who try to get you to act like them, so they can feel good about who they are. We struggle with the difference between what we were taught was 'right' and what we 'feel' is right.

Also, this process gets hijacked because this is around the same age as when we have to start working, so the 'obey' narrative from our childhood, gets reinforced by the Workplace. 'Do as you're told' is justifiable in the workplace because we don't know what we are doing starting out, so we accept 'do as you're told' and transfer this onto our sense of moral right and wrong because we can't pay the rent if we don't 'obey.'

We still are not allowed to determine what is right and what is wrong for ourselves. We have been conditioned by the Workplace to let others do it for us. We have sold our ability to choose for ourselves for an hourly wage.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Refuse to Cooperate - Foriegn Wars



In this brief video, I posit some questions in relation to Foreign Wars. Should they? Can They? Will They? and How will they?

Follow the Refuse to Cooperate blog at www.refusetocooperate3@blogspot.com

Sen. Warren Shutdown by Fascist Republicans


"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like trying to administer medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

A few days ago, on February 7, 2017, Senator Elizabeth Warren was testifying against the nomination of Jeff sessions for Attorney General of the United States. Her speech was only one of many that night, all testifying against Jeff Sessions’ nomination.

Part of her speech was an excerpt from a letter written by the now late, Coretta Scott King. Mrs. King testified in 1986 against the nomination of Jeff Sessions as a Federal Judge. Part of the speech was “Not appealing” to Republican ears, so they decided to basically shut Senator Warren's speech down.

It started off with a warning as she was reading from the letter. The Senator was told to not impugned another Senator. The warning was over with quickly and she was allowed to continue reading. It wasn’t until the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, decided to shut her down completely, saying she broke senate rule 19 that her speech became an issue. The Senate then quickly took a vote, and she was asked to sit down.

My opinion on this?

BULLSHIT! What is the point of having a Senate hearing if you can’t present facts that support your idea! Poor Republicans, they couldn’t stand to hear that the Senator from Alabama was being exposed by not only the late Coretta Scott King, but by “Pocahontas,” the nickname for Senator Warren.

See, these are just the kind of things that really tick me off about American politics. When a party has the majority, either of the House or the Senate, they act as if rules only apply to the minority party, in some cases making up rules as they go along! Both Democrats and Republicans have a tendency of striping hearings of the rules when they testify only to apply them with excessive force when their rival party is prepared to speak.

This is complete and utter fascism. They are overstepping their power to force their agenda on others. I made a video where I talk more of this situation. See the link below. - Lexa Moon

Mao's, Combat Liberalism - Part 3


When conversing with just about anyone on any number of subjects, they always assume that the position that I am taking on the given topic of discussion is the liberal stance. Those from the right will call me a bleeding heart liberal in need of a good dose of fortitude, or something to that effect, and those on the left will mistake me for a liberal democrat or something similar, sometimes too liberal for their tastes. Whichever it may be, I always tell them that in order for me to be liberal, I would have to be a capitalist, which, I am not. I am a Marxist and cannot, thus, be a liberal, lest I betray the ideology that I have chosen to defend with much rigor. One of the best definitions of liberalism from a Marxist perspective is given by Mao in his brief work Combat Liberalism (September 7, 1937).

Mao then outlines several ways in which Liberalism can manifest itself. This is what liberalism is and Marxism is not.

To see someone harming the interests of the masses and yet not feel indignant, or dissuade or stop him or reason with him, but to allow him to continue. This is an eighth type.

This basically means that if you see someone actively harming the movement, and you do nothing to stop them, you are harming the movement just the same as they are.

To work half-halfheartedly without a definite plan or direction; to work perfunctorily and muddle along, "So long as one remains a monk, one goes on tolling the bell." This is a ninth type.

This basically mean that it you do work that is of no purpose to the movement and continue to do it, even though you have been corrected, you are harming the movement.

To regard oneself as having rendered great service to the revolution, to pride oneself on being a veteran, to disdain minor assignments while being quite unequal to major tasks, to be slipshod in work and slack in study. This is a tenth type.

This basically means that if you are given an assignment to do, but in your pride, refuse to do it because you consider yourself to be above such work, then you are damaging the movement.

To be aware of one's own mistakes and yet make no attempt to correct them, taking a liberal attitude towards oneself. This is an eleventh type.

This basically means that if you know that you have committed an error, but refuse to correct it, you doing damage to the movement.

We could name more. But these eleven are the principal types. They are all manifestations of liberalism.

Mao expands on much more in many other works. He expounds greatly upon the meaning of socialism and communism. Like others, he defines them, most basically, as being the common ownership of the means of production by the working class.

To be Continued…..If you want keep reading the piece that is the source for this commentary, visit https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-2/mswv2_03.htm.

Friday, February 10, 2017

RTC Basic Reading List


This is a basic reading list for all new members of Refuse to Cooperate. It should get you up to speed on political ideology and analysis.

The Marxism Made Easy series:

http://refusetocooperate3.blogspot.com/…/marxism-made-easy-…
http://refusetocooperate3.blogspot.com/…/marxism-made-easy-…
http://refusetocooperate3.blogspot.com/…/marxism-made-easy-…
http://refusetocooperate3.blogspot.com/…/marxism-made-easy-…
http://refusetocooperate3.blogspot.com/…/marxism-made-easy-…
http://refusetocooperate3.blogspot.com/…/marxism-made-easy-…

Some basic Marxist texts:

Engels - "Principles of Communism" 1847
https://www.marxists.org/archi…/…/works/1847/11/prin-com.htm

Marx & Engels - "The Communist Manifesto" 1848
https://www.marxists.org/…/…/works/1848/communist-manifesto/

Lenin - "3 Sources and 3 Component Parts of Marxism" 1913
https://www.marxists.org/archi…/lenin/works/1913/mar/x01.htm

Stalin - "Foundations of Leninism" 1953
http://www.marx2mao.com/Stalin/FL24.html

Mao - "On Contradiction" 1937
https://www.marxists.org/…/selected-w…/volume-1/mswv1_17.htm

Against Liberalism

http://refusetocooperate3.blogspot.com/…/liberalism-ideolog…

Mao - "Combat Liberalism" 1937
https://www.marxists.org/…/selected-w…/volume-2/mswv2_03.htm


And heres a useful resource for arguing with anti-communists:
https://www.reddit.com/r/communism/wiki/debunk

What to read next when you're done with this stuff:
https://www.reddit.com/…/…/basic_marxismleninism_study_plan/

Mao's, Combat Liberalism - Part 2


When conversing with just about anyone on any number of subjects, they always assume that the position that I am taking on the given topic of discussion is the liberal stance. Those from the right will call me a bleeding heart liberal in need of a good dose of fortitude, or something to that effect, and those on the left will mistake me for a liberal democrat or something similar, sometimes too liberal for their tastes. Whichever it may be, I always tell them that in order for me to be liberal, I would have to be a capitalist, which, I am not. I am a Marxist and cannot, thus, be a liberal, lest I betray the ideology that I have chosen to defend with much rigor. One of the best definitions of liberalism from a Marxist perspective is given by Mao in his brief work Combat Liberalism (September 7, 1937).

Mao then outlines several ways in which Liberalism can manifest itself. This is what liberalism is and Marxism is not.

Not to obey orders but to give pride of place to one's own opinions. To demand special consideration from the organization but to reject its discipline. This is a fourth type.

This basically means that if you consider your own opinion to be more important than that of the movement, you are risking doing damage to the movement. When an order is passed down, you are obligated to obey it for the good of the movement.

To indulge in personal attacks, pick quarrels, vent personal spite or seek revenge instead of entering into an argument and struggling against incorrect views for the sake of unity or progress or getting the work done properly. This is a fifth type.

This basically means that if you are prideful and attack someone personally with emotion, rather than working out any problem that you may have with them by using reason and logic, you are running the risk of doing damage to the movement. You are creating unnecessary discord.

To hear incorrect views without rebutting them and even to hear counter-revolutionary remarks without reporting them, but instead to take them calmly as if nothing had happened. This is a sixth type.

This basically means that if you hear or see someone spreading disinformation or anything else that challenges the movement's ideology and you do nothing to correct it, you are doing damage to the movement. You essentially become and accomplice.

To be among the masses and fail to conduct propaganda and agitation or speak at meetings or conduct investigations and inquiries among them, and instead to be indifferent to them and show no concern for their well-being, forgetting that one is a Communist and behaving as if one were an ordinary non-Communist. This is a seventh type.

This basically means that if you are in a position to spread the movement's ideology to the masses, and you fail do so, you are doing damage to the movement because there is no telling how many people you could have brought along with you. After all, there is always power in numbers.

To be Continued…..If you want keep reading the piece that is the source for this commentary, visit https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-2/mswv2_03.htm.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Mao's, Combat Liberalism - Part 1


When conversing with just about anyone on any number of subjects, they always assume that the position that I am taking on the given topic of discussion is the liberal stance. Those from the right will call me a bleeding heart liberal in need of a good dose of fortitude, or something to that effect, and those on the left will mistake me for a liberal democrat or something similar, sometimes too liberal for their tastes. Whichever it may be, I always tell them that in order for me to be liberal, I would have to be a capitalist, which, I am not. I am a Marxist and cannot, thus, be a liberal, lest I betray the ideology that I have chosen to defend with much rigor. One of the best definitions of liberalism from a Marxist perspective is given by Mao in his brief work Combat Liberalism (September 7, 1937).

We stand for active ideological struggle because it is the weapon for ensuring unity within the Party and the revolutionary organizations in the interest of our fight. Every Communist and revolutionary should take up this weapon.

But liberalism rejects ideological struggle and stands for unprincipled peace, thus giving rise to a decadent, Philistine attitude and bringing about political degeneration in certain units and individuals in the Party and the revolutionary organizations.


In these two brief statements, Mao argues that in order to be a Marxist one must stick to the strong central ideology that defines themselves, the movement, and their actions in that movement. He also argues that liberalism rejects ideological struggle which allows for a peace without principle, which can lead to an attitude that puts the individual over the community, and thus, creates the opportunity for the rise of inequality and the rise of individuals who are able to amass wealth. This can then allow them to damage the community’s cohesion and create political instability.

Mao then outlines several ways in which Liberalism can manifest itself. This is what liberalism is and Marxism is not.

To let things slide for the sake of peace and friendship when a person has clearly gone wrong, and refrain from principled argument because he is an old acquaintance, a fellow townsman, a schoolmate, a close friend, a loved one, an old colleague or old subordinate. Or to touch on the matter lightly instead of going into it thoroughly, so as to keep on good terms. The result is that both the organization and the individual are harmed. This is one type of liberalism.

This basically means that there is no one free from the principles of ideological struggle. Further, it means that if you hold back from correcting your fellow comrade because of old social bonds, you are doing the movement a disservice.

To indulge in irresponsible criticism in private instead of actively putting forward one's suggestions to the organization. To say nothing to people to their faces but to gossip behind their backs, or to say nothing at a meeting but to gossip afterwards. To show no regard at all for the principles of collective life but to follow one's own inclination. This is a second type.

This basically means that if you feel someone is in need of criticism and you criticize them behind their back, rather than facing them down personally, you damage the stability of the movement.

To let things drift if they do not affect one personally; to say as little as possible while knowing perfectly well what is wrong, to be worldly wise and play safe and seek only to avoid blame. This is a third type.

This basically means that if you avoid bringing up something of importance to the community simply because it does not affect you personally, you weaken the movement.

To be Continued…..If you want keep reading the piece that is the source for this commentary, visit https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-2/mswv2_03.htm.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Fort Worth, Texas: Modern Urban Planning and Growth Policy


"Fort Worth: Where the West Begins." - Fort Worth Cultural Axiom

"Go anywhere in Texas, and you won't find anyone more proud to call themselves Texans than you will in Fort Worth." - Kent Allen Halliburton

"When I was on the touring circuit, I always had to make a stop in Fort Worth." - Willie Nelson

Introduction

What is Urban Planning? What is Urban Growth Policy? How long have they existed? Assuming they have been around for a while, how have they changed over time? Does the city of Fort Worth, Texas practice Urban Planning? Does it have an Urban Growth Policy? When did the city first begin an organized effort at Urban Planning and Growth Policy? What are its policies now? Is the city actually following these policies? What does the future look like for Fort Worth? To answer these questions, a review of the dominant theories of urban planning is in order. Next, a review of the theory, or lack thereof, of urban growth policy will be conducted. The history of urban planning, from its earliest incarnations to the present day, will then be briefly considered. The discussion will then move on, more specifically, to the city of Fort Worth. First, the history of Fort Worth and its first use of urban planning will be briefly reviewed. Second, evidence that the city of Fort Worth does, in fact, practice urban planning and does actually have a formal urban growth policy will be looked at. Next, using its Comprehensive Plan, the city’s policies for growth management will be outlined. The city’s track record will then be assessed, using things like impact fees and business practices, to determine if it is actually following the policies that it has set out for itself. The article will conclude with a few observations and then a set of recommendations that might better secure the future of the city of Fort Worth, Texas in a rapidly changing world.

The Theory of Urban Planning

There are two theories of Urban Planning, Systems Theory and Structural Theory. These theories, generally, apply only to Europe. Unfortunately, this is because the development of a comprehensive urban planning theory in the United States has been severely lacking. The Systems Theory of urban planning was born out of the scientific advancements of the nineteenth century. If the scientific method developed during the Scientific Revolution could be applied to applied sciences like engineering, with its use of physics and advanced mathematics, and biology, with the advancement of evolutionary theory and the use of the taxonomic system, why not urban planning? The idea was that just like in a complex mechanism, like a construction machine, or an evolutionary chain, like in biology, every department in a city was a moving and vital part of the city’s overall functionality. If one part of the system broke down, the whole system would stop functioning. This theory also extended to the national level. Every city in a nation was a moving and vital part of the nation. Thus, during this period, there were a lot of plans for urban development made, almost exclusively, at the national level.

The systems theory of urban planning was given a boost by the destruction of World War II; however, by the late 1960s, this theory of planning began to fade away. It was having a hard time meeting the direct local needs of urban centers that were not necessarily in line with the national policy. This gave rise to the Structural Theory. This theory was designed to more appropriately respond to the dramatic increase in population after the war, as well as, increased levels of wealth, personal aspirations, and economic opportunity among the working class members of the post-war welfare state. More so, however, it was designed to meet the needs of these people from a more local perspective. This was more of an ad hoc approach to planning, in that individual urban centers were able to plan for individual needs that might pop up at a time that would normally have been inconvenient for a system operating according to the systems theory. Not everything that had been done on the national level before, would now take place at the local level; however, some of the simpler things like road maintenance, local public transportation, water delivery services, waste management, electricity delivery, and the like, could now be adjusted to the local needs of individual urban centers. After all, the daily needs of an international industrial center, like London, were not likely to ever be the same as the daily needs of a much smaller town, like Exeter in western England, who would never really have to worry about the increased traffic that happens in such a busy city as London (Batty, Michael, “Planning Systems and Systems Planning,” Built Environment, Vol. 8, No. 4 (1982), 252-257).

The United States does not have any form of national comprehensive Urban Growth Policy. A brief attempt was made at such a possibility in the 1930s, as a part of the New Deal, but the plan was just as quickly set aside. It was not thought that such a plan would survive the wrath of the Supreme Court, which at the time, was benched by conservative Republicans. Urban Growth Policy is, basically, any plan, law, regulation, ordinance, or policy that is designed to control, regulate, restrain, encourage, or manage the growth, development, or expansion of a municipality (Loewenstein, Louis K, and Dorn C. McGrath, Jr., “The Planning Imperative in America's Future,” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 405 (January, 1973), 15-24). In the United States, this realm of public policy has been left to the discretion of the states who, for the most part, have all left the specifics to the discretion of the individual urban centers within their borders. States have, in many cases, outlined for cities certain rules on transportation, water delivery, electricity, road maintenance and quality, annexation and land use, retention of growth management plans, and many more policies, but for the most part, the development of urban growth policy in the United States is left to the individual urban centers themselves, where there is no single unified policy (Brubaker, Charles William, “Urban Growth Policy,” Art Education, Vol. 23, No. 7 (October, 1970), 16-17).

The History of Urban Planning

Traditionally, the Greek philosopher Hippodamus, who lived in the fifth century BCE, is regarded as the first town planner and the inventor of the orthogonal urban layout. The Hippodamian, which was name directly for Hippodamus, is this orthogonal urban layout. It is laid out with, more or less, equal square street blocks. This does not fail to accept that earlier civilizations planned cities, like the Egyptians. It does, however, make note that this is the first person who can be historically documented. From about the late 8th century on, Greek city states started to found colonies along the coasts of the Mediterranean, which were centered on newly created towns and cities with more or less regular orthogonal plans (Morris, A.E.J, History of Urban Form: Before the Industrial Revolutions, 3rd Edition (New York: Routledge Unviersity Press, 1994), 35-540. The ancient Romans also employed regular orthogonal planning sites on which they molded their colonies. These were generally inspired by the Greek examples, but the Romans also took lessons from regularly planned cities that were built by the Etruscans in Italy (Anderson, Helle Damgaard, Helle W. Horsnaes, Sanne Houby Neilson, and Annette Rathje, Eds., Urbanization in the Mediterranean in the Ninth to Sixth Centuries BC (New York: Collegium Hyperboreum, 1997), 111-142). The Romans also used a consolidated scheme for city planning, developed for military defense and civil convenience. The basic plan consisted of a central forum with city services, surrounded by a compact, rectilinear grid of streets, and wrapped in a wall for defense. To reduce travel times, two diagonal streets crossed the square grid, passing through the central square. A river usually flowed through the city, which provided water, transport, and sewage disposal (Morgan, Morris Hicky, Ed., Vitruvius: The Ten Books of Architecture (London: Oxford University Press, 1914), 5-34).

Urban development in Europe during the early Middle Ages, characteristically, focused on a fortress, a fortified abbey, or a sometimes abandoned Roman nucleus, and it usually developed like the annular rings of a tree, whether in an extended village or the center of a larger city. Since the new center was often on high, defensible ground, the city plan took on an organic character, following the irregularities of elevation contours like the shapes that result from agricultural terracing. The new cities of the era, essentially, developed in concentric circles (Bartlett, Robert, The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change, 950-1350 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993), 5-60). During the Renaissance, Florence was an early model of urban planning, which was developed to adapt to advances in military technology. It took on a star-shaped layout adapted from the new star fort, designed to resist cannon fire. This model was widely imitated, reflecting the enormous cultural power of Florence in this age. Renaissance Europe was overtaken by this city type for a century and a half. The idea of a star shaped city impressed a utopian scheme upon cities, where radial streets extended outward from a defined center that served as the loci for military, communal, and spiritual power (Giedion, Siegfried, Space, Time, and Architecture: The Growth of a New Tradition, 5th Ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1967), 37-46).

During the Enlightenment period of European history, rulers often embarked on ambitious attempts at redesigning their capital cities as a showpiece for the grandeur and wealth of their nations. Disasters were often a major catalyst for such planned reconstructions. For example, after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, King Joseph I of Portugal, and his ministers, immediately launched efforts to rebuild the city. The architect they employed, Manuel da Maia, dramatically proposed razing entire sections of the city and laying out entirely new city blocks and streets without restraint. There were several options, but ultimately, this option was chosen by the king and his ministers. Keen to have a new and perfectly ordered city, the King commissioned the construction of the big squares, large avenues, and widened streets recommended by Maia. The King referred to this designed strategy as the New Lisbon. It is interesting to note that while the poor residents of Lisbon did not fare well in this plan, the King of Portugal did listen to good council, and he exercised amazing foresight. The Pombaline Buildings, some of Maia’s specially designed buildings from this era, were among the earliest seismically protected buildings in Europe (Shrady, Nicholas, The Last Day: Wrath, Ruin & Reason in The Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755, (New York: Penguin, 2008), 147-168).

In the early twentieth century, urban planning had to take a break and rethink its strategies. The 19th century and the massive urbanization caused by the Industrial Revolution had put a lot people in the planning field into overload. Urban development, by the late 19th century was mostly under the control of big industrialists, who were planning developments that met the needs of their businesses, rather than paying attention to the needs of the people occupying their structures. This made urban crowding, filth, and poverty a visible part of life all over the industrial world. The first major urban planning theorist was Sir Ebeneezer Howard, of Great Britain, who, in 1898, initiated the Garden City Movement. This was inspired by earlier planned communities built by industrial philanthropists in the countryside outside of major cities, such as W.H. Lever's, Port Sunlight and George Pullman's, Pullman Town. All these settlements decentralized the working environment from the center of the cities, and provided a healthy living space for the factory workers. These new garden cities provided for the worker’s welfare and the companies need to have its labor supply nearby. These garden cities would also give rise to the modern urban planning theories, Systems Theory and Structural Theory, which arose out of the Depression, an economic downturn felt around the world, and the post-World War II recovery and population boom (Hall, Peter, Dennis Hardy & Colin Ward, Eds., of Howard, Ebenezer, To-morrow: A Peaceful Path to Reform, 1898 (New York: Routledge Unviersity Press, 2003), 20-75).

The History of Fort Worth, Texas

In January of 1849, U.S. Army General William Jenkins Worth, a veteran of the Mexican American War, proposed building ten forts to mark where the west Texas frontier began, from Eagle Pass, on the Rio Grande River, to the confluence of the West Fork and the Clear Fork of the Trinity River. General Worth died from cholera on May 7, 1849. His position was assumed General William S. Harney, who then ordered Major Ripley A. Arnold to find a new fort site near the confluence of the West and Clear Forks. On June 6, 1849, Arnold established a post on the banks of the Trinity River and named it Camp Worth, in honor of the late General Worth. In August of 1849, Arnold moved the camp to a north-facing bluff that overlooked the mouth of the Clear Fork. The US War Department officially granted the name, Fort Worth, to the post on November 14, 1849. Later, the Civil War nearly wiped the city off the map; however, in 1876, the Texas and Pacific Railway arrived in Fort Worth. This caused an economic boom and transformed the city into the regional center for the cattle trade. The arrival of the railroad ushered in an era of tremendous growth in other industries, as well. As migrants from other areas of the post-Civil War South continued to swell the population, the city became a major regional center for trade and industry and grew exponentially. It also came to serve as the portal for all destinations further west.

In 1902, the Swift and Armour meat packing companies came to Fort Worth. Their arrival meant employment for thousands of workers, greatly increasing the prosperity of the city. As a result, the city's population nearly tripled in size from 26,600 people to over 73,000. The Fort Worth Gas Company was established in 1909 and began serving almost 4,000 homes and businesses in the downtown area. In 1917, W.K. Gordon of the Texas Pacific Coal Company, believed there was oil in the town of Ranger, which was not more than ninety miles from Fort Worth. He was very correct. Oil was also discovered in the towns of Desdemona, Breckenridge, and Burkburnett. Fort Worth was strategically located between also of these towns. Its economy received an immense boost. Even before the boom, the city had three oil refineries. By the summer of 1920, five more had been built, with four more still under construction. In 1918, George E. Kessler oversaw construction of a new boulevard style street that went through the Arlington Heights neighborhood. Originally named Arlington Heights Boulevard, it was renamed Camp Bowie Boulevard in 1919, in honor of the soldiers who trained in Fort Worth and fought in World War I. This also involved a repurposing of all the buildings left over from the former military installation. Kessler, however, was more than just a road designer. He was a city planner, and a fan of the Garden City Movement, who had been hired by the city to put together a design for a Fort Worth of the future. This plan came to be known as the Kessler Plan, and it was the city’s first Comprehensive Plan. Before this plan, aside from the original square plat, the city’s growth pattern had no organized plan to it, at all. Ultimately, the Camp Bowie development was one of the only parts of the plan that was executed immediately. Many other conceptions, like a brand new public arena, an outdoor dinner theater, and a new fair grounds for the cattle industry, would come later (Selcer, Richard F., Fort Worth: A Texas Original (Austin, Texas: The Texas State Historical Association, 2004), 3-30, 55-71).

Fort Worth Does Practice Urban Planning

So, now that the twenty first century has dawned upon the great city of Fort Worth, does the city actually actively practice urban planning? It most certainly does, and here is some evidence to that effect. In fiscal year 2010, the City of Fort Worth collected over 295,500 tons of residential garbage, recycling, brush, and bulky waste from an average of 195,500 households. Waste Management, a private collection company under contract with the City, collected the residential waste from Fort Worth single-family households. Several private collection firms under grant of privilege agreements issued by the City collected the waste produced by multifamily complexes and commercial and industrial activities. The Fort Worth Water Department provides retail water service to the citizens and businesses of Fort Worth. In 2010, there were approximately 228,400 retail water accounts. They also manage waste water. Currently, the City provides service to 211,883 wastewater accounts generally located within the city limits. The city treats waste water at three existing facilities, the Village Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, Denton Creek Regional Wastewater System, and the Central Regional Wastewater System. There are also two additional facilities slated for construction at different points in the future (Price, Betsy and Charles Rand, 2015 Comprehensive Plan: Fort Worth, Texas (City Planning Commission, 2015), 173-194).

The city of Fort Worth is also part of an extensive public health system. The public health system consists of a network of agencies as diverse as the population they serve. These agencies include city and county government and nonprofit agencies, hospitals, educational institutions, and others. Together they protect and serve the community. The mission of Tarrant County Public Health is to safeguard the community’s health. TCPH does this through prevention of disease and injury, promotion of health, and protection from disease and injury. Following the elimination of the Fort Worth Public Health Department in 2010, an action that was hotly contested, many functions of the department were combined with similar functions of TCPH. Other functions were transferred to the Fort Worth Code Compliance Department. Public health activities are based on a foundational framework that emphasizes three main areas; assessment, monitor, diagnose and investigate; policy development, inform and educate people, mobilize partnerships, and develop policies; and assurance, link people to needed services, assure a competent workforce, and evaluate health services (Ibid, 195-202). The JPS Health Network is also a part of this system with Fort Worth, and it helps to fulfill TCPH’s mission. The network’s central facility is located on South Main Street just south of the center of Downtown Fort Worth. JPS is a publicly funded system of hospitals, clinics, and emergency care facilities. Its primary clientele are those people in Tarrant County who cannot afford private health services. JPS serves the population from nearly thirty additional locations throughout the county (John Peter Smith Health Network, “Locations,” About JPS).

The city of Fort Worth also provides for the education needs of its citizens and their children, from pre-kindergarten to college. The City of Fort Worth is served primarily by the Fort Worth Independent School District. The Fort Worth ISD serves slightly less than half, forty-seven percent, of the city’s land area and, based on Planning and Development Department estimates, sixty-eight percent of the city’s school-aged population. In the 2010-2011 school year, more than 81,000 students were served by the Fort Worth ISD in eighty elementary schools, twenty-four middle schools and sixth grade centers, thirteen high schools, and twenty-seven special campuses. Due to the geographic layout of Fort Worth, fifteen additional independent school districts provide educational facilities and services to portions of the city. Private schools have also become a major provider of education for Fort Worth residents. In addition to primary and secondary schools, Fort Worth offers residents many opportunities for higher education, including Tarrant County College, with five campuses, including a nearly brand new Downtown facility; Texas Wesleyan University; Texas Christian University; Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and the University of North Texas Health Science Center (2015 Comprehensive Plan: Fort Worth, Texas, 121-128).

The city of Fort Worth provides police protection to residents within the city limits through five patrol divisions, and it works collaboratively with multiple agencies to reduce crime and increase the overall safety of residents and visitors to Fort Worth. Anyone living in Fort Worth’s ETJ is provided policing services by the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department. The Police Department’s mission is to provide quality service in partnership with the community to create a safe environment for all. On July 31, 2010, the Police Department implemented a patrol realignment, which created four zones within each of the five patrol divisions. The zones have approximately 3 to 5 beats each. The realignment is designed to provide supervision and accountability in patrol by using a team based approach. Consequently, the Department’s availability to address questions and concerns about service has more than doubled by providing command level personnel to cover the city twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. In 2009, the Information Management Division was created to facilitate the ushering in of the next era of policing known as Intelligence-Led Policing. Intelligence-Led Policing is the effective utilization of collected data, focusing heavily on prolific offenders and groups of criminals, in order to make responsible decisions regarding resource deployments. Through the creation of the Information Management Division, the Department’s Crime Analysts were centralized. This has allowed information to be analyzed by one work group without geographical restraints or limitations on the accessibility of information on criminals and the crimes they commit. Intelligence-Led tactical strategies are then developed and implemented by Patrol or Specialized Units, greatly increasing the efficiency of special units on the ground (Ibid, 161-166).

The mission of the City’s Fire Department is to serve and protect the Fort Worth community through education, prevention, preparedness, and rapid response. The department’s service area covers 350 square miles and over 741,200 residents. The Fire Department provides fire suppression and rescue, first-responder emergency medical services, hazardous materials emergency mitigation, fire code enforcement, fire safety education, and explosive containment and disposal as detailed in the Fire Department business plan. The Fire Department monitors new residential and commercial development since growth typically creates the need for new fire stations to be strategically located within these growing areas. Managing the expansion of fire services is currently the department’s greatest challenge. One new fire station opened in the Spring of 2010. Station 34 is located at 14101 Sendera Ranch Boulevard. Station 42, located at Spinks Airport, began construction in 2011 and was completed in 2012. The Fire Department also plays a major role in the City’s overall Emergency Medical Services, EMS, system. It works under the medical direction of the Area Metropolitan Ambulance Authority to provide first-responder emergency medical response services. All firefighters are trained, at minimum, as State-certified emergency medical technicians, or EMTs (Ibid, 167-172).

Fort Worth’s Growth Management Policy

So, having shown that the city of Fort Worth does actually engage in urban planning, it is time to outline the city’s Urban Growth Policy, or Growth Management Policy, as is the technical term. In the introduction of its Comprehensive Plan, the city set’s out five goals that are designed to make the city meet its common vision, which is also outlined in this section. The vision is stated as such, “By the year 2020, Fort Worth will be commonly recognized as the most livable city in Texas. Residents will be able to enjoy Fort Worth’s friendly atmosphere and the opportunities that are associated with a growing economy and diverse community. Fort Worth’s public schools will produce well-rounded citizens and a skilled workforce to fill high-paying jobs in local businesses. Fort Worth’s environmental quality will also be superior, meeting the highest national standards.” The city’s five stated goals, which they hope will help to make this vision of Fort Worth’s future come to pass, are to sustain and promote new economic growth, to meet the needs of their constantly expanding population, to revitalize the inner city, to develop multiple growth centers, and to celebrate the Trinity River by reducing the city’s environmental impact on the river and its tributaries. This, in brief, is the city of Fort Worth’s Growth Management Policy, but is the city actually complying with this plan? (2015 Comprehensive Plan: Fort Worth, Texas, Ibid, vi-ix).

How is Fort Worth Performing?

So, let the real assessment of Fort Worth’s adherence to its plan begin. First, the somewhat redundant nature of the goals should be addressed. If they are not redundant, then they are at the least, out of order. The second stated goal, to meet the needs of their constantly expanding population, should be an overarching theme, rather than one of the city’s five main goals. The other four goals, when reading them and listening to the way they sound, seem more like sub-goals of the second goal, rather than full goals in their own right. If nothing else, some more thought could have been put into their wording, or their order, at the very least. That aside, the first goal, to sustain and promote economic growth, is being addressed by the city. They have tax incentives, financing incentives, grants and loan incentives, real estate, regulatory, and infrastructure incentives, and relocation incentives, as well as, state and federal grant and loan programs. All of these incentives are designed to encourage businesses to come to Fort Worth, where they will, then, provide jobs and boost the city’s economy.

One of the tax incentives is the Tax Abatement, or a relief of required municipal property tax payments. Texas law permits a city to grant property tax abatements to projects located within an investment zone for up to ten years if the project meets the economic goals and objectives as outlined in the City’s Tax Abatement Policy (Ibid, Appendix H, 1-8). The tax abatement, in conjunction with the other incentive categories, are meant to simply reduce the cost, for new and existing businesses, of doing business in Fort Worth, so that the city’s tax base and employment rate can be kept at respectable and sustainable levels (Ibid, 225-232). A look at the data of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that they are doing quite well. Unemployment in Tarrant County, of which Fort Worth is the Seat, is at a national low, 3.8 percent, down from last year’s national low of 4.1 percent (U.S, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Dallas-Fort Worth Area Economic Summary (April 6, 2016).

The second goal, when taken by itself, is also being addressed by the city. As has already been noted, the city works to provide for trash collection, water delivery and clean up, police protection, fire suppression education and services, public health services, public and higher education, and employment for its citizens. The city also makes an effort to provide for the housing needs of its citizens. In 2000, Fort Worth had 211,035 housing units, of which 32 percent were multifamily units. By 2010, the total number of housing units grew 39.9 percent to 295,283 and the multifamily percentage had fallen to 28.7 percent. From 2008 to 2010, the growth rate for single-family and duplex housing was almost 7.1 percent, with the addition of 13,660 units. While some of this growth can be attributed to annexations, much of it was from new construction (2015 Comprehensive Plan: Fort Worth, Texas, 41-52) In October of 2006, the Fort Worth City Council adopted a resolution creating a Fort Worth Mayor’s Advisory Task Force on Quality Affordable Housing. The purpose of the task force was to seek ongoing input and recommendations of experts in the fields of housing development, affordable housing finance, and the housing needs of low to moderate income families. This city has not been perfect, however, as it does, and admits so, have a lot of work to do on properties that need refurbishment to meet modern living standards (City Council, “Resolution of Appointment,” Mayor’s Taskforce on Affordable Housing). The city needs to do a better job in these areas, however. Fort Worth’s 2014 homelessness rate was up sixty percent from its rate the year before (Hirst, Caty, “Number of Chronically Homeless Up Sixty Percent in Tarrant County,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (February 26, 2014).[24] The numbers have since improved, but only slightly. This continues to be a serious humanitarian problem that Fort Worth is struggling to resolve (Tarrant County Homeless Coalition, “State of the Homeless Report” (January, 2016).

In addition to this, the city makes a big effort to attend to the transportation needs of its citizens. It maintains over seven thousand miles of public access roadways. It also provides bike lanes and paths for citizens on bicycles. It also provides thousands of miles of sidewalks and paths for it citizens that move around on foot. The city also has a public transit system. It has The T, which provides bus service in certain parts of the city, Downtown being the biggest service area, and it has the Trinity Railways Express, which it operates in cooperation with the city of Dallas. The TRE provides rail service from Downtown up into the Mid Cities area and into Dallas county. The city also has several means by which to provide for the ariel travel needs of its citizens. It has Spinks Airport, mainly a training facility, in the far south of the city near Burleson. It has Meacham Field, a former regional airport, on the north side of the Downtown area. It also has Alliance Airport, mainly an industrial facility, in the far northern reaches of the city, and it has its largest airport, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the main airport for public travel in the region and another joint venture with the city of Dallas. The city also has the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, formerly Carswell Air Force Base, the local military air facility (2015 Comprehensive Plan: Fort Worth, Texas101-120). In the past, Fort Worth also had Carter Field, the ruins of which remain visible, in the form of a single abandoned runway, just to the south of DFW Airport, at the intersection of State Highways 183 and 360 (Selcer, 99-109).

Up to this point, the assessment has remained somewhat near the surface. It is now time to get deeper into some of the specifics. How is the city of Fort Worth backing up its third and fourth goals, which have been identified as the need to revitalize the inner core of the city and the need to develop multiple growth centers, what they call mini-downtowns? The city identifies the updating of its transportation infrastructure in the inner core of the city, as well as, in these other growth centers as one of the top goals of its future growth plan. The goal is to make the center of the city more accessible and navigable for people that live in the center of the city and for people that come to work and play in the center of the city. They also want to do this for the Cowtown Cultural district in North Fort Worth, the growing business district along Camp Bowie Blvd, and the growing business districts around their two busiest airports, DFW International and Alliance. If one looks at Ordinance No. 20605-02-2013, which is an addendum to their Chapter 30, Streets and Sidewalks, of their City Code, (City of Fort Worth, Texas, “Chapter 30: Streets and Sidewalks,” Code of Ordinances (May, 2008), 1-53). the map of the fees assessed to the construction of new roads or the improvement of old roads will clearly show that the city is promoting the construction or improvement of roads more in these specific areas than it is in other areas. The city has chosen to wave certain impact fees in these areas to promote the needed construction. One will also see that the city has been divided into service districts. The service districts that encompass the areas where new or improvement construction is desired are the districts that have had their impact fees waved (Ibid, Addendum: Ordinance No. 20605-02-2013, Code of Ordinances (January, 2013).

Going back to tax abatements, the city of Fort Worth offers special tax abatements for the inner core of the city and the multiple growth centers that it is seeking to encourage growth in, namely, for the businesses that it hopes will provide the tax base, and more, the employment opportunities mentioned in the city’s Comprehensive Plan. One incentive of particular interest is the Historic Site Tax Exemption. The City freezes the assessed value of Historic and Cultural Landmark designated property for ten years for owners who spend an amount equal to thirty percent or more of the pre-renovation assessed value of the improvement or rehabilitation. Owners of Highly Significant Endangered designated property, who similarly rehabilitate their property, also qualify for an exemption from City taxes on the improvement. They also qualify for a freeze of the land value for ten to fifteen years, depending on the property. The inner core of the city of Fort Worth is littered with such historical sites. For the multiple growth centers, the city is making big use of the TIF. A TIF is a financing tool that uses revenues from tax increments to pay for improvements that stimulate future development or redevelopment in designated investment zones. The amount by which future total value exceeds the tax increment base is the captured appraised value, from which tax increment revenues are generated for improvement projects. Thirteen TIFs have been designated by the City Council. They are also using Industrial Revenue Bonds, Private Activity Bonds, and Public Improvement Districts (Price and Rand, 225-232). How is Fort Worth holding up?

So far, the city’s transportation impact fee and tax policies are showing that the city of Fort Worth is working to comply with the goals for the city’s growth, as stated by goals three and four that have been outlined its Comprehensive Plan. What do their water infrastructure impact fees say? The city’s water impact fees tend to reveal somewhat of a competition between the inner core of the city and the outlying growth centers. Common sense knows that the center of a city is going to have a denser population than the outer portions of a city. This also means that inner city developments are going to need higher density water piping. If the city of Fort Worth wanted to encourage growth in both regions, of these two regions, one would expect that the water impact fees would be equal to one another. They are not, however. The city charges higher impact fees for construction in the inner city and lower impact fees for construction in its outlying growth centers (City of Fort Worth, Wholesale Water Customer Impact Fees). This sense of competition also shows up in the city’s subdivision impact fees and zoning impact fees. The only difference is that these particular fees favor in the inner portion of the city that has been scheduled for revitalization. The fees in both ordinances are higher for larger plots of land and lower for smaller plots of land. The inner city, with less available space to work with, would have the smaller lots; whereas, the outlying growth areas, with more land available, would have the larger plots of land to work with (City of Fort Worth, Platting, Zoning, and Board of Adjustment Fee Schedule (July, 2014).

The last thing to look at for these two goals would be the city of Fort Worth’s annexation policy. In its annexation policy the city indicates that annexation should be used to promote economic growth, facilitate long range planning, protect future development, and foster intergovernmental cooperation. To facilitate this process, the city keeps an active five-year annexation plan, where they define each year, those areas in their extra territorial jurisdiction, or their ETJ that they are planning to annex into the city. None of these areas are within the inner core of the city, so the annexation policy is obviously going favor the outlying growth centers. Their policy, however, until recently, while it has favored those areas, has not always been constructive. Fort Worth has had a tendency, in the past, to simply annex entire areas, without first encouraging development in those areas (Successive Stages of Fort Worth's Growth from Four Square Miles in 1873 to Approximately 100 Square Miles, A Map,” Fort Worth Star Telegram, p. 2 (October 30, 1949). Thus, in the past, it has cost developers a great deal of money to get those new areas up to city code regarding infrastructure. The city has only recently begun using a tool known as the Municipal Utility Districts, or MUD, to help alleviate the cost to developers of developing raw lands. The City of Fort Worth has authorized the formation of three MUDs, Live Oak Creek Ranch, Morningstar, and Tradition/Inspiration, and has given conditional consent to two additional phases of these MUDs. This policy, obviously, also favors the outlying growth areas, as it reduces the cost of new construction, thus making developers more willing to foot the initial bill for infrastructure costs (Price and Rand, 233-240).

This assessment will conclude with the city’s fifth stated goal, to celebrate the Trinity River by reducing the city’s environmental impact on the river and its tributaries. To do its best to adhere to this program, where they want to steer new construction away from the Trinity River and its tributaries, the city created the Trinity River Vision as part of their Trinity River Master Plan. It was initiated by Streams and Valleys, Inc., in 1990 and updated under the name of the Tilley Plan in 1999. The Vision in the Master Plan recommended improvement of forty-three miles of the Trinity River Corridor along both the Clear Fork and the West Fork. The plan emphasized the importance of using the river corridors to connect parks and lakes, activity centers, and neighborhoods. Nearly 40 miles of surfaced trails exist along both forks of the Trinity River and Marine Creek. The trails are within the floodplain of the Trinity River and its tributaries. Surfaces are provided for biking, walking, in-line skating, and horseback riding. These green belts are important, not only for protecting the Trinity River and its floodplains and providing accessible recreation and open space opportunities, but also for providing alternative transportation routes between neighborhoods and activity and employment centers, a boost to the city’s broader environmental goals. The 2010 Lake Worth Vision Plan called for the Trinity River Trail system to be extended to Lake Worth and to connect to a new bike and pedestrian trail around much of the lake. East of I-35W, the Trinity River will also provide linkages from Downtown to neighborhoods in east Fort Worth, such as Brentwood Stair and Meadowbrook, and eventually to Arlington and the eastern portion of the regional trail system (Ibid, 53-60).

They city of Fort Worth also does everything that it can to work with the Trinity River Authority, to whom it contributes a great deal of money to assist with the Clean Rivers Program. The Trinity River has a long history of water quality challenges, dating back to the turn of the century when it was known as a River of Death because of slaughterhouse operations and a rapidly swelling population that used the river for waste disposal. Over the past several decades, however, tremendous progress has been made towards improving and maintaining the water quality of the river. The Clean Rivers Program operates under the Clean Rivers Act, which was passed by the Texas Legislature in 1991. It’s stated goal was the assessment and improvement of the state’s water resources. The Act authorizes the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to levy fees on wastewater and water rights permits to cover the expense of the program. TCEQ then contracts with river authorities or regional entities to perform specific tasks within each river basin, mostly involving water quality. Typically, the most developed and populous areas of the state, such as the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, contribute substantial funding to the CRP. Fort Worth has done a lot financially to help boost this program (Trinity River Authority, “Clean Rivers Program,” Basin Planning).[36]

The city’s only real fatal flaw in this respect is its air and water quality. Fort Worth is among the worst cities in the nation for air quality. A 2010 Air Quality Study greatly attributes this to the number of natural gas wells in the city, several of which are in or near the Trinity River flood plain. All of these wells combine to put over ninety different pollutants into the air, which can put the river’s cleanliness at risk. Additionally, fracking, which is part of the drilling process, has been known to pollute underground water sources. (Pring, Michael O., Regi Oommen, and John Wilhelmi, “Fort Worth Natural Gas Air Quality Study,” Eastern Research Group, Inc. (March, 2010). Admittedly, the study showing this information is somewhat outdated, and that would normally be a problem; however, the city is not only still encouraging the drilling of natural gas within city, it has increased the number of drills within the city’s boundaries since the publication of the quoted report. The city does try to keep the wells out of the center of the city with the use of drilling impact fees that make drilling in the center of the city near the confluence of the West and Clear Forks very costly, but this just transfers the pollution to another location. It does not eliminate it, and it still does damage to the river and its surrounding environment (City of Fort Worth, “Chapter 15: Gas,” Code of Ordinances (2013), 1-63).

So, What is the Determination?

So, if an outside observer were asked to determine, using the information just given, if Fort Worth, Texas was taking care of its responsibilities and adhering to the latest edition of its Comprehensive Plan, what conclusion would they come to? Likely, as has been pointed out, they would start off by pointing that not all of Fort Worth’s policies are in line with one another. The city’s tax incentives and infrastructure impact fees are not necessarily working in harmony with one another, especially, when it comes to their desire to revitalize the inner core of the city. These policies, combined with their annexation policies, heavily favor the outlying growth centers, which better promotes their desire to enhance multiple growth centers at once. However, this person will hopefully attribute to the fact that revitalization work, despite the tax incentives, is still dramatically expensive. Further, it is just simply much cheaper to develop virgin lands. Further, Americans are still very much into the suburban feel. People want to live away from the bustling center of the city where they can see the environment around them. The workload and the expense in the inner city is just not worth the hassle for most developers. These are common notions that every major growing city must contend with when they make determinations to spend money on revitalizing old neighborhoods and the accompanying infrastructure.

This observer will also notice that the city of Fort Worth has a serious problem with the quality of its air and its pledge to keep the Trinity River clean. It’s among the worst in the nation in air quality and its natural gas policy is putting the Trinity River at risk. The observer will also note that the primary cause of this problem is the amount of natural gas drilling that the city allows within its boundaries. A pragmatic observer, however, won’t put a whole lot of blame on the city at this point. Natural gas is cheap, it is abundant, and it brings tax money and jobs to the city. Unfortunately, accepting the air and water pollution as the cost of doing business is what some cities have to do if they do not want to miss out on the income and jobs that the industry brings to their city. The observer will note this and understand it. The observer will also see a problem with the rise in homelessness in Fort Worth, despite stated efforts to address the problem. The observer will note the steep rise in recent years. Hopefully, however, the observer’s ultimate conclusions will be that Fort Worth, Texas, despite its sometimes contradictory behavior and economic opportunism, is a city with a rich history that is working fairly hard to keep pace with the monumental growth that the United States’ sometimes unpredictable economic shifts are throwing its way and that it is doing a fairly decent job at providing the services to its citizens that most Americans have come to expect out of the town that they live in, despite its persistent issue with homelessness. The observer will, hopefully, also see a bright future for the city.

Recommendations

To conclude, what does the future look like for Fort Worth? Generally, the city is going to have to continue doing what it is doing fairly well now. It will, much like the cities of ages past, as has been shown, have to continue to adapt with the times. More specifically, three recommendations come to the forefront. First, the city needs to find a way to break itself of fossil fuels and begin putting more, as there has been very little, effort into investing in renewable energy sources. As has been shown, Fort Worth has a tradition of nesting with the fossil fuel industry. It, however, has really not had much of a choice in the matter in the past, with its location atop the Burnett Shale, as it has been right in the middle of many of the major booms in both oil and natural gas. If the city really wants to have the best air and water quality in the country, it is not going to do so by continuing to support natural gas wells and the expulsion of pollutants into the atmosphere. Interestingly enough, the city is uniquely positioned for a local renewable energy boom, just like it was for oil and natural gas. It sits in a region that gets a great deal of sun light, so solar is in. It also rests on the south end of the Great Plains with no mountain ranges nearby to block the weather movements. Things makes wind energy a good option, as well. Investing in these two renewable energy sources would dramatically clean up the cities air and water.

Second, at the same time that the city slowly weens itself off of fossil fuels and moves into the green; as it were, it needs to gradually, but regularly, increase the reach of its public transit system. The city’s population is growing at a rapid pace. That has been shown. If it does not expand its public transit system, it’s air and water quality will only worsen as more cars hit the streets. This will only increase traffic jams and put more pollutants into the air and water from auto emissions and runoff. The city has a lot of old rail that can be repurposed to serve the city’s public transit needs, it can help to expand the TRE, and it has a very good model for a spread out city with a wide reaching transit system just fifteen miles to the east, in Dallas. All of the additional expenses from the new rails that it will have to build will need to be considered a forward investment for the health of the city, its resources, and its people.

Finally, as the city continues to rapidly expand, its ETJ is going to begin to shrink; and then, eventually, it will be like Dallas, a rapidly growing city with no more extra space to fill. Before this happens, the city needs to begin considering a new growth policy that might possibly head off any problems that would result from running out of free space to develop. The city needs to begin looking at the potential benefits of building upward, instead of continuing to build rapidly outward. Such a policy might help to alleviate their issues with chronic homelessness, as the city’s domicile per square mile rate would go up dramatically. This would, obviously, give the city more options when it comes to providing lodging for those people who, for whatever reason, are unable to provide it for themselves. These three ideas combined could potentially help Fort Worth to become the regional center of North Texas as its growth begins to outpace that of Dallas, but they are only recommendations.